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The Ultimate Party Checklist

Place cards? Check. Swizzle sticks? Check.

Whether you''re planning an event with dozens of guests, or just inviting friends for cocktails, a checklist can help everything go smoothly.

Here''s a master list that you can adapt for almost any occasion. You may not need every item, but it''s a good place to start. And the earlier you get things done, the more time you''ll have to enjoy the company of your guests.

Send invitations for formal dinner, anniversary, birthday party or other special event.

Send invitations for informal dinner or cocktail party.

Order any wine that you plan to have shipped to your home.

Follow up with guests who have not replied to invitations. Follow up again a few days before the party for those who still haven''t responded.

Plan decorations and/or party theme.

Check your supplies of glassware, flatware and dishes.

Check cooking equipment needed for special dishes.

Clean house and place furniture as you want it arranged for your party.

Complete your shopping for all meal requirements and beverage service.

Select party music. Gather CDs, set up digital music playlist or burn party CD.

Pick up flowers so the buds will have time to open by the next day.

Put all party decorations in place.

Choose an area for your bar. Set out bar items that don’t need to be refrigerated.

Get as much cooking and food preparation out of the way as you can.

Buy ice. Place sparkling wine and white wine in buckets to chill at least 30 minutes before you expect the first guest.

Put away any clutter from the last 24 hours.

Pick up around your front door/front lawn.

Move your car if you want to let your guests park in your driveway or close to your streetaddress.

Light candles, turn on music and set out snacks and appetizers before guests arrive.

Check voice mail or answering machine for last-minute messages from your guests.

Your work is done. Enjoy the party!