This is the second in an occasional series from Kelly at Socialize Events about how to properly prepare yourself for a private event for your business or personal gathering. You can and should follow Kelly on Twitter.
6. Transportation. The need for transportation varies widely depending on the type of event you are holding. If you plan to serve alcohol at a small social party you should be prepared with some taxi numbers on hand or know which guests can serve as a designated driver. If there is limited parking close to your venue, consider hiring a valet service.
If you are arranging group transportation for an event; create a preliminary schedule to get a fairly accurate quote. You should also ask if the company has a minimum usage (typically 2-4 hours), what they charge if you go over your time and if gratuity is included in the price. Send your provider a finalized itinerary at least a few days in advance of the event.
If there are schedule changes or your vehicle isn’t on time, be sure you can reach someone. Ask for your representative’s phone number, their cell phone number and at least one other number for a back-up person (personally, I always get the cell phone number of each driver as well).
7. Communication. Whether electronic or formal; an invitation sets the tone for your event. Once you have the location, date and purpose of the event nailed down send an Outlook appointment or a save the date postcard. Guests don’t have to know every detail to put a placeholder on their calendar.
When you are ready to follow up, make sure your invite includes the basics: host name, event name/purpose, date, time, location and address and the RSVP date and contact information. Some extras that are appreciated by guests are suggested attire and information on speeches, activities or special presentations (so guests know if there is a certain time they should be there).
For some options on electronic invitations, check out Evite and Punchbowl – which both offer free memberships. In Des Moines, visit Ephemera design and Pink Fine Stationery for fantastic paper invitation options.
8. Supplies. Whatever the event, you know there will be decorations or banners or registration lists to bring. But you should also consider how each banner, streamer or check-in list will get where it needs to go. Then, make a list of everything; everything, that you might need – like tape, scissors, zip-ties, boxes of pens, etc. Having supplies on hand (as opposed to running to the nearest Target 30 minutes before the party) will make set-up go so much smoother.
9. Logistics. Working out timelines and room layouts well before your event will save a lot of set-up time and help you get organized. For timelines, start at the beginning and work your way backwards to create a to-do list. Think through all the steps it will take to get to each end result and work these into your timeline. After your list is compiled, estimate the time it will take to accomplish each task and start building your timeline out. Working through this will also help you compile a supply list (see #8) and determine if there are holes in your planning.
For most events, a rough sketch of your room layout can also be a timesaver. When things like the buffet table and DJ locations are already determined, you can direct set-up without hesitation. If you’re working with a venue, ask them for a copy of the room dimensions. You should also get their opinion on what arrangement has best flow. TIP: Always try to keep the bar away from the entrance to avoid traffic jams.
Determining logistics is just one of the many reasons to consider hiring an experienced event planner. Socialize is a Des Moines event planning and management company that can handle any of your party or meeting needs, but there is always the option to bring us in to handle just the logistics portion of the event. We can create a master timeline, manage your vendors and be at the event to make sure everything runs smoothly.
10. Atmosphere (or everything else!). Of course, don’t be afraid to bring Socialize in for total event management if needed! What we wrote for Café di Scala’s blog is a list of basics you should have in place for a well-run event. But there are plenty of things to add to your event to create atmosphere at your event – décor, favors or handouts, activities, photographers. Whether it’s a New Year’s Eve celebration at home or a training conference at the office; think about what you want your guests to take away from it and what you need to achieve that. Of course, this will also bring more people/vendors/projects to manage into the fold. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help!
If you need any help planning your next event – learn more about what Socialize offers with a complimentary consultation. You can also check out our website and blog or follow us on twitter @socializeevents. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season of party planning and fun!