~Decide on a date, time, and venue.
~Create a theme.
Some occasions are easy to figure out a theme you want to use; i.e., tailgating--the theme would be based on the sport, using the team colors and serving foods that compliment the environment of the venue. Try to choose a specific element/color inspiration and incorporate that--starting with the invitations, continuing through the event, and ending with the party favors and thank-you notes, if gifts were received.
~Make a budget and try to stick to it!
~Create your guest list.
When creating your guest list, remember that the first guests on your list should be people who have invited you to their home. Even if you did not attend, etiquette dictates that you still need to reciprocate that act of hospitality.
~Choose your invitations.
Invitations set the tone for your event and provide the guests information about the theme and formality of the event. Whatever style of invitation you use--phone call, mail, evites, etc., be sure to provide all the necessary information that your guests will need to know:
Name of hostess
Name of honoree
Type of event (Luncheon, Formal Dinner, Surprise Party, etc.)
Day and Date
Invitations should be received no later than two weeks prior to an informal event and no later than six weeks to a formal event. Invitations should be phrased in the third person. It is not proper etiquette to mention gifts or a gift registry on an invitation. If the guest wants to know this information, they will ask the hostess when they R.s.v.p. (You will probably get more people to respond this way).