Ready, Steady, Book: The Beginners Guide to Planning a Successful Event

A beautiful venue, mouth-watering food, stunning décor and guests that are having too much fun to even contemplate catching that taxi home…that’s the way you want your event to go! But, as we all know, throwing a party of any sort isn’t an easy thing to do. After all, that’s why people hire professionals.

If you’re going it alone and are determined to throw the best celebration ever, here are some tips:

TED Conference
photo credit: TED Conference / Flickr

First, determine your budget

This is the most important factor in planning, as it will determine how ‘big’ your event can be, how many guests you can invite and where you can host it.

Figure out where you’re going to get your money from: are you going to require sponsors? And how much are you going to apportion to each element of your celebration? Set a limit on the amount you’re prepared to spend on hiring the venue, contracting caterers and enlisting the help of cleaners, among all the other things you need to pay for.

Second, choose your date

If your event is reoccurring (such as the anniversary of an annual celebration) then the date will already be set for you. However, if it’s a new event you’ll need to choose when you’re going to do it.

It’s a good idea to give yourself 3 to 6 months to plan it if possible, and it would be sensible to check dates with key participants (such as the people you’re hosting the event for, VIP guests and presenters for example) to make that they can attend.

Then, book the people you’re going to be working with

Check out the people you’ll be working with, from the venue to the caterers, the sponsors and the suppliers. You’ll need to do some research before you’re able to book them (confirming you’re happy with the price, their availability and the quality of their service), but above all else make sure they’re people that share your vision and commitment to throwing a great party!

Don’t forget about the entertainers too: you can find a speaker for a variety of events – such as David Walliams or Jonathan Ross, as well as musicians and performers – guaranteed to spice up your celebration and get people excited!

Christmas office party photo shoot
photo credit: Blake Danger Bentley / Flickr

Next, brand your event

If you really want your event to stand out, you’re going to need a brand or a theme. This will set your celebration apart from anything your guests have attended this year and really make it memorable! It will also help to determine your décor, your food and your music, choosing a 1920s theme (for example) will guide your choices of musicians, interior design and possibly even venues.

Then, make a spreadsheet

Even if you’re someone who shies away from admin, you’re going to need to get good at it! Make a spreadsheet to help you organise timelines, costs and insurances, as well as permits, contracts and payments. This is the only way you’ll be able to keep track of your planning, registration, guest list, budget, timings and other critical aspects of hosting an event.

Finally, decide how you’re going to publicise the event

You might only want to ‘advertise’ it to the people you’re inviting to attend it, but if you want lots of press coverage of your event or want to create a ‘buzz’ then you’ll need to use the internet and social media, as well as offline mediums such as printed programmes and signage.

Take note of these tips and see if they can help you to plan a great event. Good luck!