I often prepare parties. Either for friends or for family. There are usually some drinks, some food, actually often there is a lot of food. And there’s really nothing special about it, but... But I’d like to share a way that works for me while preparing such parties. Why have any special way? Simply, not to overlook anything. I’ve had lots of situations when coming back from shopping I realized that I was missing a crucial ingredient. That was annoying, and what I am going to describe here helped me avoid these problems.

The Two Step Technique


The whole magic lies in two crucial steps. In the first one you build a mind map of your party’s menu and other things you need to do. In second step you reorganize the first map to reflect the shopping and preparations you need to do. It’s as simple as that.
As a quick reminder, a mind map is usually a graphical representation of your thoughts. A most popular form of a mind map is a central point representing your thesis or idea. From this central point you draw a branches that reflect your way of thinking and flow of your thoughts. If you’ve never seen a mind map before, don’t worry I’ll show everything you need to know. Let’s see how all  this works on an example. I’ll conduct a very little party preparation below.

Step One - Divide and Conquer


Let’s prepare a super small sandwich party with some drinks and, say, some decorations. From the first look at our idea I can see three main groups: sandwiches, drinks and decorations. These will be my primary branches. See the picture below.
My idea with main branches(46182)


Now, the main branches can be divided into some smaller things to-do or to-buy, like types of sandwiches, and their ingredients. I did such division on the following picture.
Main branches divided


I do this divisions until all smallest branches (sometimes called leaves - as they picture final thoughts) represent elementary things I need to buy, or do. Our example may look like this. I’ve also added some icons that show things to buy (small shopping bag), things I already have (green “tick” sign) and things to do (small hourglass).
The final mind map for the first step(46184)

Step Two - Organize


So I have a visualization of the things I need to do and things I need to buy. That may be all for some people, but I’ve decide to go one step further and better organise my lists. What I am going to do now is to separate to-dos from to-buys and sort to-buys to help me with shopping. Take a look what I end up with after doing so.
The final mind map for step two(46185)


As you can see I did additional division of to-buy to reflect shops I am going to buy at. And that’s all I am going to do. I have all the information I need to remember everything, in a clear and easily readable form.


One may say it’s too much work, and that it’s easier to just make a shopping list and a to-do list. Sure, sometimes that’s true, and for some people it works best. 

To me however, this simple two step mind mapping procedure is a best approach to planning a party. Try it yourself. You won’t forget anything anymore. You’ll see what ingredients belong to which dishes. And what’s also very important, spending few more minutes on planning, you’ll also do your shopping a lot faster, thus save a lot of your time.

Good luck with your mind mapping!