The most important advice for planning any event is to be organized. Make a detailed list early in the game of what needs to be done within a reasonable time frame. Having more time is better than not having enough.
Probably the two most important details to decide upon immediately are the venue and date. When choosing the date, be conscious to not plan an event during a religious holiday. The date of the event will help in determining location. Consider the following:
- Is the event taking place in the summer or winter?
- What is the purpose of the event?
- Is it to entertain, inform, honor, socialize, or advertise?
- Is the event going to be informal or formal?
Once these decisions have been finalized, a location needs to be locked down. Too often people plan out an entire event only to discover that the location they had counted on being available is not available on the date needed.
If at all possible, think outside the box when choosing a location. Try some place unique. Even when these important details seem to be finalized, always have a backup plan. Other options are especially crucial in spring and summer months when an outdoor event may be rained out. When my sister graduated from nursing school with her degree as a nurse practitioner (which is a huge undertaking!), I had planned to have a lakeside brunch. Of course, it rained us out, so I was luck to have had the cafe to fall back on.
The next broader decision that will help narrow down later choices is the budget. Whatever happens, do not overspend the designated budget. The budget will determine the possibilities in publicity, entertainment, and food choices.
Once a location and a date have been nailed down, send out invitations that are appropriate for the venue and formality of the event. Great invitations can be bought at a decent rate on Etsy - it's my go to site. On the invitations be sure to include the date, time, location, and any specific details that may be helpful, for instance, a suggested color scheme, particular theme, or parking provisions. (If the invitations mention a theme, make sure the theme is a major part of the event.)
Remember that the invitation is the first aspect to the event that the guests will see. The invitations should grab attention and impress. Be sure to contact the invitees a few days before the event to confirm their reservations.
And of course, thank those who come for their attendance afterward. Be aware of any dietary allergies or convictions.
Be sure to accommodate all food preferences among those invited. An event should be enjoyed in all aspects by all people attending. Include possible opportunities for making money in the budget as well.
Some general tips center around being prepared. Always have items ready in case of an emergency. These items may include disinfectant wipes, bandages, over-the-counter drugs, stain remover, or a portable sewing kit.
More often than not, the guests will come to the event coordinator in any sort of emergency, whether it be medical or fashion related. Have umbrellas handy in case of rain.
Go through all the technical aspects involved the day before the event takes place, especially if technological aspects are integral to the entertainment.
All these details can be easily kept track of using an Excel spreadsheet. Keep the information even after the event is over. Copy and paste the information to keep track of people attending, dietary restrictions, and people's addresses. Also, if you plan to store valuables on the premises, you can do what I did: look over gun safe reviews to find a good option to carry with me. While I'm not carrying a gun, I figure if a safe is good enough to hold a gun safely, it should offer protection for anything I have to store in it.
The information can also be used in the creating of place cards and thank you notes. Do not be afraid to make the work easier. Have a group of people help plan the event. Ask for volunteers for setup and cleanup. Be sure to provide some form of refreshment for the voluntary help.
Anyone on the committee should have a nametag or some form of identification for the guest in case of questions and emergencies. Have a program for the guests as they arrive to give them an idea of what to expect during the festivities.
Before the guests leave, have them fill out an evaluation, like these. No matter what the occasion, something can always be learned and improved. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn for the next event from the feedback. Remember to take any event one detail at a time.