Top 10 FREE tools to help plan and track your event – with Microsoft Office

Before the first note of your party playlist begins.There are a number of free tools available when tracking important elements of your event. Microsoft Office provides several templates that can help you keep everything aligned and in order. Below are instructions in finding and implementing available trackers integrated in your Office tools. You may need to search for these in the ‘New’ document window:

2017-09-22 (16)#1 – Party Planner | Excel

Starting with this template as it has pretty much all you need when tracking your event: Guests, Food & Beverage, Equipment & Supplies, Decorations and Table Plans. It is essentially a budget tracker that also helps you consider other elements of the event.

Although it covers a lot of the essentials, there are still some items it misses, or may not be suited to the way you like to work when organising an event. Start with this for budget ideas, but also check out the following trackers for inspiration of what else you may need to control.

2017-09-22 (18)#2 – Planning timeline | Excel

On the surface, event planning is quite straight forward, however what your guests may forget is the planning that is required in order to control the smaller elements. If you have contracted vendors who are expert in their field, you may not need to control as many elements as you originally thought. However, it is still a good idea to track your own timeline of items needed in the lead up to the event launch.

Consider the starting point and milestones you want to achieve. For example, if you want to confirm the cake decorations 3 weeks before the event, make sure you note it on the project timeline. This will keep you and your vendors honest, and (if you’re anything like me) you will want to have a quick and visual representation of the goals you achieve as you go through the event planning process.

2017-09-22 (2)#3 – Budget tracker | Excel

This is a great option for any event budget, and is completely customisable. Update the event date to see how many days are remaining until your event, update the estimated costs with how much you plan to allocated and, most importantly, input the actual cost for each step of the way. Don’t be put off by the title of ‘Wedding Budget’ if you are planning for a corporate or birthday event. It really is transferrable for anything, but will need some editing to fit with your needs.

#4 – 2017-09-22 (3)RSVP tracker | Excel

You can use this spreadsheet to primarily build your guest list, addresses, relationship to you (if applicable), what part of an event they will be invited too, and much more. This is especially helpful as you can send specific details to your vendors so they As a recommendation, I would also include a column next to ‘Food Choice’ for and dietary requirements. There could be some challenges with meal types for any allergy, religious and preference of meats if the catering team are unaware. It’s difficult to know unless specified if any dishes contain nuts, for example – which could lead to some unexpected difficulties for your guests.  or are aware of how to engage with each guest.

2017-09-22 (5)#5 – Seating Plan | Powerpoint

You will find a seating plan template for large groups of 8 people per table, in squares or rounds, for between 10 – 12 tables. If you’re planning a wedding, it also has the option to plan your top table.

This may be more or less than what you are looking for, and it should be adjust it as you need for your unique event. I would recommend creating a seating plan in whatever style is appropriate depending on venue space and table types. It really gives you a great visual of which guests will be sat with who, how the room should look at a birds-eye view for your venue, and if you’re planning a wedding, you can also arrange the top table.

As an alternative method, you could print out the table shape, write all guests on a post-it note, and move them around until you find the perfect fit. This will require more space and time, but if you have particular guest politics to contend with, it may be the easiest way. Make sure you consult others to ensure the guests will be happy at the tables they are sat on before the day.

2017-09-22 (8)#6 – Vendor Checklists | Excel

This is going to take some adjusting to ensure you are fully aware of all the relevant tasks and agreements with your vendors. It’s a great way to understand what you want from each vendor before sitting down to agree the final product. I would recommend copying the tabs and renaming them for each vendor – then updating the task list with what you want. This can be updated once you understand the vendors capabilities in each area, perhaps the cost if it will affect budget, but once you have made all necessary updates – send the relevant worksheet to them to enter the agreement. Unfortunately the success of a plan is the responsibility of those managing it, and those you’re talking with may misunderstand or forget about a detail you found most important. By tracking the requirements and providing it back to them, you can eliminate any misunderstandings and miscommunication.

What’s great about this particular ‘To Do List’ is you can set the priority so vendors understand what you hold most important, but also the status and progress in a visual format. Now, you must trust that the vendors will do their job once agreed to all tasks, but it doesn’t harm to have regular contact to ensure they are on track. You will not be aware of any hiccups if you are not in contact with your vendors. Get regular status updates from the time it is appropriate for the tasks at hand.

2017-09-22 (9)#7 – Playlists for all occasions | Excel

Whether you gather music suggestions from your guests, have a theme night of particular hits or the dancefloor out for a certain time – this is the tracker you need. It’s also great to know what specific music should be playing in a certain room or certain time of the day (particularly important at weddings with ceremony music and bridal entrance).

If you have asked your guests to request a song as part of their RSVP, make sure you track it including time. This will help your DJ to make sure the music is available and eliminates any chance of it not being available. Noting the time will also help to make sure there is no ‘dead air’ during the party – and that you’re packed full of those recognisable hits until the last orders bell tolls. This is a critical non-essential, but certainly worth planning ahead.

2017-09-22 (20)#8 – Event Checklist | Word

So you have everything planned, all vendors confirmed, you know who’s attending, where they’re sitting, what music to play and how the venue will be set up… This is the final step to ensure you have everything in place and your vendors are in agreement with what you have in mind and what they deliver. Make sure each item is listed, and encourage your vendors to confirm nothing is missing or to ask questions.

There are a number of templates available, and the one in the picture is actually for an individual on the day of the event (in this example, a bride), however there is no reason why you cant have a number of lists for individual responsibilities. It may seem like a wasted effort, but you wouldn’t want to forget the company branding, grandma’s necklace or your guests favours because it wasn’t included in the checklist. Leave no room for error before the first note of your party playlist begins.

2017-09-22 (11)#9 – Gift Tracker | Word

I would recommend taking extra care to track the gifts you receive at any event. Whether it is a celebration, charity or corporate gift be sure to provide a well thought out thank you card. If you do not receive a gift, still send a thank you for joining card to anyone who was able to attend. It really makes people feel a part of your event and grateful for their gifting of material things or time. I would recommend printing this out and filling in as you open. be sure to write the gift you were given, the name of those who gifted and follow up with their address and check in the ‘thanks sent’ box. Doing this as soon after the event as possible will make the biggest difference, but no matter when you send, make sure you do.

2017-09-22 (14)#10 – Thank you note template | Word

There are a number of templates available in Microsoft Word, and you will need to find one that suits your event best – or build your own!

You want your thank you notes to be heartfelt for your guests and vendors. Make sure you update the messaging for any gifts or exceptional service you received throughout the event – and track when they have been written and sent using the gift tracker. Thanking your vendors is particularly important if you have received a great service. Chances are this isn’t the only event you will want to plan for in the future, and having them as trusted support will be cemented with just a few kind words. You may wish to do this with an online review, but businesses also like to display the physical thank you notes as a sense of achievement and to identify where they have done great work to their employees. It shouldn’t take long, and will be gratefully received by all recipients.

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