Planning any event can be either stressful or successful. The more time you have and the more organized you are, the less stress you will experience. There are many people who can throw together an impromptu gathering or party without batting an eye. And there are just as many who struggle with just the thought of hosting any event, even a dinner for eight. I think the best way to be successful is to get yourself organized with a folder or binder. This can serve as a catchall for the information you need. Any help you can enlist, even for a family party, can definitely ease some stress. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Begin with a budget. Although this is a great bouncing off point, you will need to revisit this concept frequently in order to keep everything aligned. How simple or elaborate is your event? Even weddings and corporate events have budgets as guidelines.
2. Create a guest list. For a corporate function, consider your goals and objectives along with your target audience. For a more personal gathering, decide whether it is family, friends, or a specific social group.
3. Select a theme. Is it a birthday? Milestone birthday? Is it a corporate fundraiser or maybe a corporate social gathering, such as a holiday, promotion or retirement? Select a theme, such as a luau, Mexican fiesta, or wine and cheese party.
4. Plan your invitations. Note the number of invitations you will need, starting with the first group on your list. Add that to your budget number. Send invitations out in enough time for people to make plans and RSVP.
5. Choose the best location. Where will you hold this event? If it’s a small gathering, your home or office might be the right place. If it’s a large event or fundraiser, you may need to seek other locations. Hotels, banquet halls, churches, golf courses and even veterans’ halls make for great venues. Some of these places will even organize your event for a per-person charge based on the complexity of the event you’re hosting.
6. Plan the seating and tableware. No matter where your event is held, make sure you have enough seating for your attendees. Not every venue has tables and chairs. In some cases, you may need to rent them, have them delivered, and arrange for pickup. Otherwise, work with the venue of your choice to make sure you have a great table layout and enough seating. If it’s an outside event, you may even need to rent a tent to prepare for inclement weather conditions.
7. Create a menu. Make a list of the food you might want to serve at your event. If you are having a small event, you can always make the food yourself. Keep in mind, however, that if you prepare the food and serve it yourself, you may miss out on the party. If you don’t want to make the food, try your favorite restaurant or your local Nino’s, as they always have great prices on prepared foods. Otherwise, some venues have inside catering departments that will work with you on your food selections.
8. Decide on decorations. The best place to find party supplies is online. However, you might not have time to wait for an order to arrive in the mail. In such a case, you can go to a local party supply place for all the items you need. If you’re at a banquet hall, the staff will most likely supply linen tablecloths, etc.
9. Entertain the crowd. If you’re planning a corporate event, you will more than likely have a guest speaker. If it’s a fundraiser, you will probably have an MC to run the event. But if the event is of a more social nature, you may want to hire a DJ, band, photographer, and maybe even a clown to help make your party a hit.
10. Do the final countdown. In making your final preparations, you will need to add everything up. Are you in line with your budget? Do you need to make cuts, or are you in line with your expenses? Make a backup plan for most things and a list of all deadlines to help keep you organized.
Planning any event can turn the most capable person into a ball of nerves. However, you can enjoy hosting any party and survive the planning process by keeping yourself organized and enlisting the help of the right people. Carpe Diem!