As some of you may know, a couple of weeks ago I graduated from USW with a degree in Event Management and as well as studying the subject, I’ve also planned a few of my own events. The first event I planned was a birthday party for my mam, start small, right? So I thought it would be a good idea to give you a guide to planning a small event like a family party… so here goes!
In the early stages of your planning you need to:
- Set a date – Setting a date is the first thing you need to do so that you can ensure that your venue is available
- Create a guest list – It’s important to have a rough idea of how many guests you will have at your event because you don’t want to overfill the venue, there’s nothing worse than being in a party or an event with too many people and not enough space, it’s also extremely unsafe
- Find a venue – When you’re looking at different venues, you need to check the capacity of each one to be able to make the right decision for your event
- Create a budget – This is a vital part of planning an event, on any scale, even if you don’t really have a set budget, always keep a record of what you’ve spent (excel is great for that but you could also just save your receipts)
- Insurance or licences – most venues will have these things, but it’s always best to check, just in case
- Cake – if you’re going to pay someone to make you a cake, you need to order it early as lots of cake makers get booked up quickly (especially in wedding season), they also sometimes take a long time to make.
About six weeks before the event:
- Send out your invitations – you need to give your guests enough notice
- Book entertainment – are you having a DJ? A band? Another form of entertainment like a photo booth? Make sure you book these in enough time
About a month before the event:
- Confirm with the venue – by now, you should have your venue booked but it’s always a good idea to confirm that they have your booking in their systems
- Security – if you decide you want security, check with your venue when you’re confirming whether they have any they can include in your price if not, you’ll need to hire your own
- Food – another thing to do when you’re confirming with your venue is find out if they offer catering or if you want to cater it yourself, check that they are ok with that
2 weeks before the event:
- Finalise the guest list – by now, everyone you’ve invited should have got back to you, if not, contact them and check if they will be attending, it’s important to know these things!
- Any extras? – are you going to have any party favours? When I planned my party, I had little organza bags at each place setting with party poppers and sweets and everyone loved them, you could add little things that remind you of the guest of honour (hence why I had sweets, my mam loves them!)
- Decorations – if you want banners/balloons etc, now is the time to order them to make sure they arrive in time for the big day, even if you get them from a shop, buy them early enough that you have time to find what you’re looking for
- Confirm everything – confirm with any entertainers that they have you booked into their diaries. Also, confirm with the cake maker, find out how it’s all coming along.
1 week before the event:
- Food (again) – if you’ve decided to self-cater the party, buy everything you can now, mostly frozen foods that won’t go bad
- Confirm with the venue (again) – find out what time you can go on the day to set up etc
- Seating Plan – if you’re having a seating plan, give yourself enough time to get it right
The day of the event
- Decorations (again) – if you’re getting helium-filled balloons, you don’t want to get them more than (at least) a day before the event, you want them to be up for the party and sometimes you never know how long they’ll last. You also need to decorate the venue, make sure you do it early enough so that you have enough time to get ready for the party, you don’t want to be late to your own event!
- Food (again again) – if you did decide to self-cater, you need to cook any food that needs cooking, defrost anything that’s frozen, make sandwiches etc
- Enjoy! You’ve worked so hard to pull this event together so have fun and take pride in what you’ve done, it’s stressful planning an event!
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