This list is the foundation to any event – no matter the number of attendees or occasion. The following is a reference of simple best practices, which if completed will reduce any anxieties on the day. Whether you’re new to event planning or looking to refresh on the basics, these 10 critical essentials for your next event will ensure your guests have an amazing time:
#1 | Budget
I’ve put this first as it is the highest priority when event planning. However, it’s difficult to build without first building out a task list. Once you have the vision of everything you want to see at the event, you can easily understand an estimated cost of what will be involved. Make special consideration of everything on this list. If you have a budget amount in mind, great – you’ll just have to allocate your spending to each item. If you don’t have a number in mind, not to worry – you can make judgements as you plan – but do not commit until you have all your numbers written and organised. Make your budget the number one priority! It is so easy to get carried away with a dream of all the wonderful finer details. Truthfully, you can create a great event with a manageable budget, but make sure you stick to it! Why? Well, if you find yourself overspending on one task identified, the amount of money available for all subsequent critical essentials will be impacted…
#2 | Guest list
You need to know who you want to be there before you can consider the cost per person (budget) and distance for travel (venue). It’s so important to have a list recorded before sending out invitations. Would Aunt May be devastated if she wasn’t invited? Would your superiors be offended if they weren’t included at the office party? Make these judgements and be sure you have everyone accounted for. If needs be, review the list with your friends, family or co-workers to make sure it is water-tight.
#3 | Date
knowing when you want to host the event, what time it starts and when your guests can expect it to finish will be an essential factor when creating your event. You will have clarity when requesting availability at your preferred venue(s), equipped when communicating with your invitees, and an understanding of likelihood of accepted RSVP’s. The last one may be difficult to judge, but if you are inviting parents who will need to organise a sitter during term time or a seasonal holiday leaves a number of your guests unavailable, it’s good to be prepared ahead of the big day. Of course, it is your event so you get to choose the date, however my advice is: preparation is key.
#4 | Venue and Location
Picking the venue can be a task in itself – before you can invite your guests to join, you will need to carefully select the location and relevant location. Think about where your guests will be travelling from, how easy it would be to get there, and how much it will cost them to attend. You don’t need to do this for everyone you want with you, but if you’re planning on celebrating on a yacht in the middle of the Mediterranean, having some thought for travel plans and accessibility will ensure your highest number of attendees
#5 | Food
Food choices can have some complexities, which if identified early can become very simple indeed. Always be conscious of visiting guests dietary requirements. You could be faced with religious, allergy or preferential meal options – make sure you are mindful of who is attending. You can gather this information as part of the RSVP request for accuracy, but certainly worth planning for when considering your catering company. With that in mind, it’s also a great idea to plan for meal times. As a general rule it is said that you should eat little but often, and having carefully selected snack times can keep bellies happy for more tomfoolery.
#6 | Drinks
There are 3 types of drinks to consider when purchasing your poison – and not everyone is going to want the strong stuff. Also look for options to keep your sober adults and children supplied with drinks options. A standard at most celebrations is a bottle of white, red and water on the table. You could go that extra mile and provide some fresh lemonade or something fizzy for the youngsters and sober pals.
#7 | Entertainment
You’ll definitely need to consider your audience for this one. Are they going to know the music? Do they enjoy certain performances? Is a clown relevant to the age range attending? While there are a lot of different factors running amok, always remember: your guests will be praising you for providing a night to remember. You want everyone to leave thinking they have stepped away from the best day / night of their lives, and also have a great time yourself!
#8 | Decorations
I’ve spoken a lot about considerations for your guests, and while you want them to have a the best time of their lives celebrating, give them a little more of you! Display your individual style with the finer details in decorations, create a real atmosphere of [insert your personal style here]. I have been to countless events, and I can look back with a smile at those who left their stamp on the scene. Whether it’s a super hero figure centrepiece at a Marvel loving friends, or their favourite colour incorporated in their outfits. These small things make a difference, but decorate with your heart and your guests will feel closer to who you are.
#9 | Favours
Everyone loves coming away with a well thought out momento. Something physical to remember that one day in their lives for years to come. Now, this could be a budget restraint, and dont think it has to be a big thing – perhaps a thank you note sent to all guests after would be sufficient, or maybe just a placecard with their name is a token of choice. If you can afford a small trinket for all guests then great, but dont feel you have to break the bank above the evening you are providing. More substantial favours may be expected at weddings and corporate training events, but choose what is right for you and your bank account.
#10 | Activities
Some of the greatest celebrations I have attended included small games and ice breakers for everyone to enjoy. Whether you have a scavenger photo hunt for each table team, outdoor activities to test the groups abilities or colouring table for the kids – each one of these can help those who dont know eachother to really get involved in the party. It helps everyone to know a little more about each other, build a little competition and keep your guests entertained for a small part of the evening.
I know that every event has different groups of individuals and different purposes of celebration. If you are planning an event and feel I have missed something crucial, I would love to read about your experiences. Perhaps you have found a particular topic helpful during your planning stage, or wish to discuss further. Please leave a comment for readers to expand their best practices. I look forward to hearing and learning from you soon.