How to Plan an Event

Any special event deserves a well thought out plan. No matter how big or small, a super bowl celebration, bar/bat mitzvah, sweet 16, or wedding, your event can be a success with the proper planning tools.

Event Planning Checklist
Who: How many guests (age range)
What: What kind of celebration (formal, casual, themed, etc.)
When: Date and Time (seasons, etc.)
Where: Venue (Renting a space, using your backyard, etc.)
Why: What’s the reason for the celebration?

Within those questions come lots of other questions. Some of these apply to certain events more than others, but you should consider each of these points prior to sending out a save-the-date or invitation for your function.

Who: Components of your event should be age appropriate. For example, you don’t want to serve fancy, unfamiliar dishes at your child’s 5th birthday party. Think finger foods, and easily recognizable food. It’s great to be creative, as long as your guests know what it is you are serving, and it appeals to them. Also beware of food allergies, dietary restrictions, religious beliefs and the like when planning your menu. Another example: serving alcohol at a baby shower is usually frowned upon, especially since the guest of honor really shouldn’t indulge. Be respectful of your guests, and don’t forget to consider the people whom you are celebrating.

What: Are you having a Halloween costume party? Super Bowl get-together? Celebrating a retirement, milestone, birth, or marriage? Your party can take on a special feel of its own, depending on the emphasis of your theme. You can express your theme first to your guests with your invitation. A guest should be able to gain a lot of information from the invitation. Of course the date, time, and place should be evident, but what about the dress code? Is the theme clear? There is a huge difference between sending a cute email with party details and mailing a 5”-by-7” letterpressed invitation complete with scroll text and a vellum overlay. There are thousands of options in between, too, leaving you plenty of options to choose the formality right for you and your event. Just because you are throwing an informal get-together doesn’t mean you can’t order printed invitations. Maybe your guests would expect something through the mail versus via email. Keep your options open and think what what be most effective for you and your guests.

When: This has a lot more to do with than simply the day and time of your event. Here is a list of things that can affect the attendance at your function:

  • prior scheduled family functions
  • local festivities
  • holidays
  • work schedules
  • season/weather

The only way to know about prior engagements and work schedules of your guests is to ask. Before setting the date, put your feelers out there and find out a commonly agreeable date and time of day for your guests to attend. Of course you won’t be able to please everyone, but you can try to see if there are any schedule conflicts exist prior to booking a venue and printing invitations. Local festivities, although great for your town’s economy, can affect your function in several ways. For one, you guests may want to go! If there is an annual festival that is in town, or a concert, sporting event, etc. happening near you, chances are, some of your friends and family will want to attend. A larger amount of guests in your hometown for an event other than yours can affect the availability of venues, hotels, parking, and also offer traffic detours and delays. If you have out of town guests coming to celebrate with you, this could be a nightmare for them. Try to avoid hosting your own function at the very same time something epic is happening in your hometown. Also think about prices-food and alcohol may skyrocket because of the Super Bowl weekend, and that doesn’t help your budget for your surprise 40th anniversary party happening at the same time.

Where: When researching venues for your event, you need to know more than the guest count. You should be sure to allow time for setup and cleanup, be sure food can be served in the space you are renting, and make sure people can find it! If your event venue is off the beaten track, or you have an abundance of out of town guests, plan on having sturdy signs (several), balloons, and on the invitations, have a link available with directions and a map. If your guests can’t find your party, they will be frustrated, sad, and probably hungry, and/or late to the fun! This makes for angry guests, and is usually simple enough to avoid.

Why: Whether a milestone or achievement, holiday or birthday, just be sure your guests are aware of why you are celebrating. Your invitations, emails, and event website or Facebook event are great tools for expressing the “why”.

In conclusion, there are many things to think about when planning your event. Most of it will come to you and be straightforward. Once you have simple answers to eat question above, be sure to research your options and possible conflicts that may arise during your planning process. A prepared party or event is a successful one!