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Planning Your Sporting Party

Whether you're hosting a Football Trivia Quiz in your local pub, a kids' football party or inviting your mates round to watch the Olympics on the TV, there are a few basic planning rules that will help the event to run more smoothly. Certainly there are a few things you'd do differently for a kids party or a soccer quiz night (and we cover those in more detail on separate pages within this site), but as with most things in life, the secret to having a good event is in the planning.

We've therefore put together an "ideal party planner" in some sort of chronological order. Obviously, not everything will be relevant to every party, so ignore anything you don't need. And if you have any great party planning tips you'd like to share with us, please do get in touch. There will be times when the timeframes have to be considerably "condensed", for example during the World Cup you can't plan too much detail on your semi-final party until a few days before, as you won't know who is playing! But we hope the following advice is helpful anyway.

Party Planning - 3-4 weeks in advance

Three to four weeks before the event, you should think through the basic "W's":

  • Why - what is the reason for the party? Is it just to watch a specific sports event, or is the sports theme combined with some other special event, such as someone's birthday?
  • Where - where will the party happen? It may be that you're just arranging to have some friends round to watch a game on TV in your front room. If you're hosting a larger event, such as a quiz night, you may need to hire a hall or venue. If you're throwing a football party for kids, you need to find somewhere large enough for them to carry out all the activities you have in mind, without breaking anything!
  • When - if you're watching a specific sporting event, make sure you know what time it starts (and what TV channel it's on!), and think about how long before the start you want people to arrive. Will you serve food before, during, or after the sporting action? Make sure you allow time for all the preparation, and have a rough timing plan for the day. It's no good getting in from work at 6.30pm for an evening event, and then start to panic because there isn't time to do everything!
  • What - what is involved in your party? Food? Drink? Nibbles? Other activities? Make an outline list of everything you will need.
  • Who - who would you like to invite to the party? How many guests will the venue hold?

Once you've thought through the rough plan for the event, the key actions to take at this stage are:

  • Book the venue
  • Send out the invitations, to make sure your guests have the party in their diaries

Party Planning - 2 weeks in advance

With two weeks to go, it's time to really focus on the what and the who of your party:

  • Follow up your invitations with any guests who haven't replied
  • If some of your guests can't make the party, now's the time to invite extra ones as "replacements" if you want to
  • Draw up a detailed list of everthing you need, under the following headings:
  • Go shopping! Anything non-perishable can be bought in advance, leaving you fewer last minute worries
  • Anything that you're ordering online should be ordered now, to allow plenty of time for delivery
  • If you're hiring glasses in - many supermarkets now offer this service - it's a good idea to book them well in advance
  • If you're going to be cooking "unfamiliar" recipes, why not have a "dry run" on your family, so it's a little less daunting on the big day?

Remember - if your party is themed around a specific team or nation, we have plenty of ideas for food, drink, decorations, etc on each team's page.

Party Planning - 1-2 days in advance

Now's the time to put your plan into action, and make sure there is as little as possible to do at the last minute - you don't really want to be slicing onions when all your mates are in the other room enjoying the sporting spectacle!

  • Go shopping - all remaining items - especially the perishable food items - need to be bought now
  • Arrange the furniture where you need it to be for the party
  • Pick up glasses if you are hiring them
  • Marinade any dishes with a long marination period
  • Make sure your fridge and drinks cabinet are fully stocked!
  • Put up all decorations
  • If you are serving food - either as a sit-down meal or as a "self-service buffet" - lay everything out on the table as you want it to be on the day; place settings, serving dishes, table covers, napkins, etc.
  • Any food preparation that can be done in advance - e.g. slicing, chopping, grating etc - can be done now
  • Work out a detailed timing plan for the "big day":
    • Work out how long each of the recipes you are preparing will take to cook.
    • Work backwards from the time your guests will arrive to ensure you leave plenty of time.
    • Make sure you allow extra time for serving, laying things out, unexpected events, etc

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