Contributor: Katie Karpinski
Planning a successful event is by far one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. With so many moving parts, and with an endless supply of worst case scenarios, hosting an event is sure to bring on certain levels of stress and apprehension. The holiday season only adds to this stress, as parties are not only preferred but expected. Whether you’re hosting an intimate get together at your home, planning the office holiday party, or planning an industry-wide event, having a few event planning tips and tricks up your sleeve will put away those festive fears and leave you feeling like Martha Stewart. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Know your guests
It’s important when planning an event to know who your guests are. Are they your closest friends from high school? Your coworkers and colleagues? Your suppliers or potential customers? Regardless of the type of event, knowing who is attending is key to providing the best experience possible. This first step is crucial in putting together the rest of your event. The target audience can impact where the location is held, what activity or content is offered, how the event is marketed and promoted, and can even effect small details such as the menu options. Therefore, make sure you have a firm idea of who’s attending before spending time, energy, and money on elements that might not even be appropriate!
2. Get the word out
Nothing is worse than a party that no one shows up to. After establishing your guest list, it’s important to convey important information regarding your event to them! The method of communication will change depending on the type of event you’re hosting and the people you choose to invite. For instance, for a small get together with friends a simple text might do the trick, for a company party a memo or posting on the community board would be sufficient, for larger industry events you might want to consider branching out into traditional and social media channels. Whatever the case may be, communication is key to having a proper turnout. TIP: Include the value added to the guest in the invitation or call to action: what will they gain from attending your event?
3. Don’t do it alone
In a way, event planning is a creative process. It involves critical thinking and problem solving, and often involves thinking outside the box. Therefore, it’s helpful to include others in this process. With so much to coordinate and implement, having a few extra hands and minds will surely improve your chances of succeeding. It’s also important to delegate tasks to your team members or helpers. While it’s natural when planning an event to take ownership of everything, sometimes in order to get everything done correctly, you need to understand your own limits and let others assist you. Whether it’s handing off catering responsibilities or handling the guest list, assembling a team and working together effectively will help ensure everything gets done! TIP: Prior the event, make a list of all tasks and assign them to each team member. Make sure each person has a copy of the list. Doing this will decrease confusion and help team members stay focused on their specific tasks.
4. Make a contingency plan
Mistakes are bound to happen, and random mishaps are almost guaranteed. While there’s no way to fully predict if and when these might occur, you can create a contingency plan to help you deal with them if they happen. A good way to approach this is to sit down with your team and draw two columns. In one column, write down any and every thing that could possibly go wrong. When you’ve completed this list, use the second column to write down solutions to each problem. Make sure to have this list with you on the day of the event. This way if something does go awry, you’ll have a list of solutions to work from!
5. Set an example
On the day of your event, it’s important that you look your absolute best. You need to look the part. For an intimate house party this could mean wearing on ugly holiday sweater, whereas for an office party this could mean your favorite suit and tie. Whatever the case may be, as a host people are looking to you to set the mood. Showing up to an office party in sweatpants won’t set your event off in the right tone. This concept also extends to attitude. Guests often imitate the attitude of their host: being upbeat energetic will help your guest feel the same. By looking and feeling your best, you set a precedent for the event—don’t waste this opportunity to put your best foot forward!
We can’t all be Martha Stewart (sad, I know) but there is hope for us yet! These tips and tricks are sure to make your next party a smashing success!