10 Pro Tips for Event Planners
Whether it’s a birthday party or a corporate function, a wedding or a seminar, there are certain elements that are required for planning any event. Below are the top ten tips for event planners.
As the old cliché states, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” You need to know what you’re planning for because sometimes it dictates how you proceed. Planning to watch a championship sporting event with friends looks very different than planning a 50th anniversary party for your grandparents. Have some idea of what you want the event to achieve as you plan. Is the event a marketing tool or a celebration, formal or casual, traditional or modern?
Once you know the purpose of the event, it’s easier to know who should attend. For budgeting purposes, plan for approximately two-thirds of the people you invite to actually attend. Set a specific number and stick to it. Those in attendance should understand and “buy into” the purpose of the event. Nobody likes the bait and switch maneuver.
Themes are optional, but they have a way of tying everything together. Usually, the purpose of an event lends itself to a certain theme (eg. Halloween, graduation, retirement). But on the occasion it does not, let your creativity explore the possibilities. Just make sure the theme doesn’t overwhelm the purpose. They should complement each other.
How do you plan to let your guests know about the event? Invitations can be as casual as a group text message or as formal as a custom print job. Many people are using online invitations to save the cost of postage and printing. The challenge with that method is that it can be easily overlooked or buried beneath other emails. Regardless of the method, give people plenty of time to mark their calendars and make arrangements to attend. For some events, two weeks is sufficient. Others should be sent much earlier, especially if travel is involved.
For the most part, centerpieces are the hub of all other decorations. If you only have one decoration for the entire event, it should be a centerpiece. You can use a floral arrangement, a portrait of the honorees, or a symbolic representation of the event. In some cases, the centerpiece can also be a food item, like a birthday cake or a cheese tray arranged to look like a basketball, for example.
Food and drink
You have countless options when it comes to food and drink at any event, ranging from chips and dips to a sit-down meal, from potluck to catering, from a buffet line to professional servers. The important things to note about food and beverages at your event are as follows:
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. You don’t want your event to be remembered for food poisoning.
- If you serve alcohol, keep watch for any guests who may try to drive home under the influence and provide them with alternative means of transportation.
- If you are unsure whether or not any of your guests have food allergies, label food items containing nut products and gluten to keep guests safe.
What will your guests do once they arrive? Will there be dancing? Is a presentation your focal activity? Do the kids want to play games? How you want your guests to spend their time is perhaps the element most closely related to the purpose of your event. If the event you’re planning is a Halloween carnival and the purpose of the event is so kids can obtain candy in a safe environment, then you need to ensure that the carnival is safe and that there are ways for the kids to get free candy. If you just want to have an end of school year celebration with friends, maybe local DJs are your best bet!
Choosing a venue is more than simply making a reservation. You need to consider the following things, too:
- Is it the right size for what you want to accomplish?
- Does it have the necessary equipment (eg. tables, chairs, projector screen, sound system, etc.)?
- Is there plenty of parking, or can guests arrive on public transportation?
- What regulations does the venue have about decorations, food or anything else that could potentially be prohibitive?
- Does your deposit apply toward the final fee?
If you choose to hire professionals to help you put the event together, make sure you have a contract of some sort explaining expectations and costs so there is no confusion later.
Documenting the event
Once you go to all the trouble to plan and host an event, you want to be able to remember it later. Don’t forget to think about video or photography needs, whether that means your brother and his iPhone or a professional and their entire gamut of equipment. Do something to commemorate the event.
Written by Tiffany Marshall
Tiffany Marshall is a freelance writer with experience in event planning, karaoke events planning in San Antonio, wedding videography and bridal consultation.