10 Event Planning Tips
“The art of celebration is one we should all learn to master. When you decide to host a gathering, big or small, approach it calmly, honestly and with conviction.” –jesGordon, Event Stylist/Producer
I follow these words of wisdom from the very clever book Party Like a Rock Star by the brilliant jesGordon when planning all my events, from a small family dinner to a public event with hundreds of guests. Below you will find all my favorite tips and advice from this wonderful book and my own experience!
- Why Do this Thang?
Ask yourself the first and most important question: WHY are you having an event/party/gathering? Simply, you have something special to celebrate or share with a chosen group of people.
Despite all that has to happen for an event to be successful, determine the GOOD part of the event that appeals to you and draw excitement from that. This signature excitement will be what everyone remembers because you actually cared enough about it to do it right.
At times you will enjoy the planning process. At times you will want to cancel and book a one way ticket on the date of the scheduled event. Solution: Try to visualize the magnificent finished product.
Be brutally honest with yourself about the budget from the beginning. Whether you have a big or small budget, use equal percentages for each category. For the General Budget, consider breaking it down into these categories:
- Food & Drink
- Miscellaneous costs
Once you’ve established your General Budget, fill in the details of your “Nitty Gritty” Budget. Do your homework and get exact numbers. Bottom line, determine how much can you spend. Period. And try to get the money thing over as fast as you can so you can sit back relax and host your event worry free.
It’s important to know the difference between a concept and a theme. For example, if you want a Moroccan theme, every aspect of the event would be Moroccan. If you want a Moroccan concept, you are freer to take Moroccan elements and mix them with other ideas. You are expressing who you are with a Moroccan flavor.
Using a unifying principle that will tie the event together can be very helpful.
With your goals and guests in mind, determine whether a home or rented space would be most advantageous.
First, determine your guest list and send a Save-The-Date.
Important information to include on the Invitation:
- Date, Location, Time. A tip about timing: State the start time as 30 minutes earlier than your target start time; by the time people show up, they’ll actually be on time.
- Type of event: cocktail party, product launch, etc.
- Name of host(s) and guest(s) of honor
- Specify guest quantities, i.e. Plus one, no kids, etc.
- The attire, if you are specifying
- RSVP date
- Contact info (phone and email)
To create Ambiance, you have to appeal to the 5 senses all at once:
- Sight: through lighting or stylish decor
- Scent: natural florals, intoxicating candles or good things on the stove
- Sound: Great music
- Touch: textures, surfaces and drapery
- Taste: Food and Drink
Great audio should be heard on a consistent level from any point in your event space.
Keep the food you offer simple but delicious, and consider creating a signature beverage.
Jump at any chance to connect your guests. The key to successful hosting is to spread yourself out among your guests. Do not let one guest monopolize your time.
Provide gathering spots for your guests such as a buffet table or bar, and create standing gathering areas or lounge sitting areas.
Don’t forget about the art of the thank you note: If you are given a hostess gift, send a thank you in any form.
And as for post-party depression? Cheer up! Just because the party is over doesn’t mean your life is over!
Learning from your mistakes: It’s ok to make mistakes, just try not to make them more than twice.
If you plan from your heart, you will reveal yourself and your purpose for the gathering. You and all your guests will grow in connection because of your sincere effort.
Angela Maitland is the owner of Quintessential Productions, an event planning company in Vancouver, Washington. She organizes The Diamond Tea, a women’s philanthropy event hosted every year in October.