This is the first 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.
Hello! I’m Kelly from Socialize, an event planning and management company in Des Moines. I was honored to be asked by the crew at Des Moines Restaurant Café di Scala to guest post on their blog and hope I can provide all of their readers and customers with some valuable information.
Not everyone needs the tools and resources to plan events for hundreds (or thousands) of people. But most people do have to play event planner at some point. If you have ever had to put together a baby shower, dinner party in Des Moines or a meeting for work, you’ve been there!
For my introductory post, Café di Scala asked me to put together some tips for people facing event planning in Des Moines. What I’ve created is a list of each aspect of your event you need to consider. Some of these are pretty basic but putting all of them together will create a foundation for a well-organized, successful event.
1. Location. Before you choose a site, find out what the potential location can provide for your group. Are tables, chairs and linens included in the price of renting the space? Do they have a sound system you can have access to if needed? What part of clean-up will you be responsible for? Are there enough bathrooms? Is parking easily accessible? In addition, if there is a required catering service, check the pricing and be sure to factor that into your decision.
If you are holding an event in your home or at your office, take into the account the extra manpower and materials that will be needed in order to set up. With the staffing and resources that hotels, restaurants and meeting facilities have; it might end up that holding the event off-site will be easier for you and a smaller price difference than you might think.
2. Rentals. Most often, the bulk of your rental needs will be seating (tables, chairs and don’t forget linens!). What kind of seating do you need to have available? Will you need additional tables for food, gifts or registration? Don’t forget to factor these things in to your planning as well. If you have a speaker and plan on more than 50 people attending, I recommend using a sound system. Often you’ll need to rent these A/V equipment from different company that your party rentals. A/V equipment is expensive and can require a certain level of expertise that regular party rental companies don’t always have. One important thing to keep in mind is your budget for these items. Make sure to ask the rental companies about pick-up, drop-off and labor fees. These can increase your costs significantly.
3. Food. Whether you’re in a Des Moines area restaurant, hiring a Des Moines area caterer or preparing everything yourself; food is generally a centerpiece of any event. Everyone eats! Put some thought the kind of meal you want to have and how it will be served. Be prepared to offer a vegetarian option. Gluten-free options are not as customary yet but they are growing in popularity. Once you start seeing them on most restaurant menus, we will all have to be prepared to offer them at your parties.
4. Beverages. Specifically, alcoholic beverages. If you’re using a hotel or Des Moines restaurant, you can put things in their hands for the most part. They will generally tell you how many bartenders they will require you to pay for. If you’re creating your own bar; drink calculators like this one from Evite.com are very helpful in determining what you need to stock. Make sure you have refrigerator space or coolers and ice for storage and serving. Don’t forget to have mixers, water and soft drinks on hand too.
5. Entertainment/Speakers. For a band or DJ you will want to make sure they fit the style of event you’re holding. Will the band be playing background music or will this be a performance? The speaker you choose will obviously be someone that aligns with the message of your meeting. Check to see what kind of microphone style they prefer and how they will provide you with their presentation. Whether you have a band or DJ, a performer or a speaker; your technical questions to them will be pretty similar:
• How much space do they need?
• What kind of equipment will you need to provide? Most DJs and bands bring their own A/V equipment. What you will need to check for are accessible power outlets near the location where they will be performing. A performer (think hypnotist, comedians) may want extra chairs and microphones. For a speaker, find out if they prefer to use a podium.
• Let them know how much time they will have on the schedule. Speakers and performers may have to adjust for this.
In my next post I’ll cover five more aspects of your event that you will want to make sure are covered. If you have an event in the Des Moines area coming up and this list is already starting to feel overwhelming and time-consuming, consider talking to me at Socialize to help you get started!