Whether it’s a fundraising party, a fancy gala, or the sketch show you and your friends have always wanted to put on, sometimes you just have to plan an event. If you haven’t done this before, it can be pretty intimidating. Here are some steps to follow and things to keep in mind in planning:
Know your limits and keep good records. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re new to event planning is to fall in love with something expensive and end up with no budget for the things that are actually necessary to make things run. Don’t buy an ice sculpture before you’ve covered cups and napkins; don’t get a werewolf costume for a blackout sketch before you’ve rented the space. Making thorough lists up front so you know what you need and what it will cost can make the difference between a successful event and an uncomfortable evening with a werewolf costume.
Don’t forget to market! You can have the best event in the world planned, but if you leave invites until the last minute it won’t matter. Invite people at least 2-3 weeks ahead. Consider also your target audience and how they can best be reached. Look into options beyond Facebook events and mass emails. If it’s a small, fancy gathering, consider sending a paper invite or an invitation via a service like Paperless Post. If it’s an 800+ person warehouse rave, find ways to get the message out to a larger audience. Utilize social media as well as more traditional methods of advertising.
Be smart about when your event will be. Check out potential conflicts before you lock down a date. Is it the Superbowl? Know what the people you’re inviting might be interested in and make sure you’re not asking them to skip it. On the flip side, be smart about your own scheduling. Create a timeline for when tasks need to be completed and be serious about adhering to it. Pester your collaborators to follow through with what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it, and be even tougher on yourself.
All of this is to say, the biggest thing you can do to service your event is to be prepared. Do research, make phone calls, write things down, and do it all ahead of time. You’ll save yourself and everyone else a lot of stress and grief if you know what’s going on and what needs to be done.
Don’t be afraid to take charge.