Planning a party or event but don’t know where to start? Lucie, the Managing Director of Jumping Jacks Events Limited has set out the essential steps to help you host a memorable event without breaking a sweat. Leave the stress behind with this comprehensive party planning checklist. Each party or event is unique and there is no ‘one size fits all’ option so it’s important to make sure you tailor your event specifically to yourself, your preferences and your guests.
Ultimate Party Planning Checklist:
- Notice – Plan your event with at least a month’s notice, possibly longer depending on whether your chosen slot is at a particularly busy or popular time of year. Notice may be required to ensure any preferred party services you would like to book or your chosen venue will be available, any items you need to order arrive on time and to give your guests as much notice as possible. It pays to be organised.
- Budget – Be realistic and concentrate on where you’d like to splurge and save. Make compromises on non-essentials if you need to.
- Must-Haves – Make a list of the most important elements for your event. What can’t your event work without? What are you not willing to compromise on? Do you have a first choice venue, entertainment, event company, guests that you would not want to hold your event without? Make a list of your must-haves. As long as this is documented, you cannot go wrong.
- Date/Time – Have more than one date in mind and try to be flexible with the time if you can if you want to the best possibility of having all of your ‘must haves’ above. Having one set slot may be your only option but you may have to compromise with some of your must-haves to make this work.
- Guest List – It is important to write out a guest list prior to deciding on the event location. Whether this will be at your home, outdoor space, in a marquee or at your chosen venue. Bear in mind the expected turnout is usually around the 70-80% mark but don’t be surprised on the rare occasion that everyone may attend.
- Location/Venue – Once you have drafted your guest list and you have a rough idea of numbers, it’s time to make the decision of where to have your event. Hosting at home can save you a lot of money, but hiring a venue can also make your life easier and alleviate the pressure. If the location is at a venue, make sure the venue size suits the number of guests attending. You do not want a particularly large venue if you are only having a small number of guests and vice versa. Think about parking and accessibility for guests whether this will be help at your home or a venue or other location. If you are booking a venue, make sure you include time to set-up and pack away in your hire/booking time as well as time for the actual event. Also, make sure you carefully read through any venue terms and conditions and any services not allowed before booking. Some venues do not allow outside catering for example.
- Entertainment – Book any essential and first choice entertainment first and foremost, For example, a DJ, entertainer, compere, band or singer. After booking the main entertainment for your event, you can also consider any additional extra’s, including photo booth hire, fun food machines, soft play etc. Make sure the entertainment suits the guests and the occasion.
- Specifics – Once all of the most important decisions have been made above, the date/time/location, then you can focus on the specifics.
- Decor – Decide on a theme and/or colour scheme. Do you want a welcome sign on the entrance, need table decorations, or a specific place for photo’s or an eye catching backdrop? It’s best to be organised and have this in place with plenty of notice for yourself or your supplier to order in stock and prepare. This will help make your event run smoothly and be less stressful on the run up to your event. When you are thinking of decor, also think about where this would look good and also be practical at your event location. If you have an event planner, ask for their help and advice.
- Invites – Your invitations should include the date and time, dress code, and party theme. In addition to paper invitations, you could also create a special event page on social media, such as Facebook or a WhatsApp group chat. This will inspire your guests even more and help create a buzz around your party, while hopefully maximising your turnout.
- Catering – If you are supplying the catering yourself, write a shopping list and work this into your budget if applicable. Consider everyone’s needs. Do your guests have allergies or special dietary requirements? If you’re taking charge of the cooking, devise a menu that’s easy to prepare and will also accommodate all your guests. If you’re using external caterers, be sure to let them know all the important details.
- Floor Plan – Usually at a venue there will be a specific and obvious location for a DJ for example on a dance floor or stage or for a buffet in a set area but it’s important that you consider any additional services needing a lot of space or even simply just plug sockets nearby for any electrical equipment. A welcome sign would always be in an obvious place at an entrance but if you were having a backdrop then it would be good to consider somewhere that has adequate lighting for photographs and also space to be able to get pictures with your guests or look visually appealing.
- Schedule – Try and come up with a rough schedule for your party. As well as checking if you have enough activities for your event, it will also give you a general outline on how the party should progress. If you have an event planner, they can assist with their expertise and advice.
- Communication – Make sure you keep in touch with your venue on the run up to your event so they are aware of any access times needed and any service providers that you have booked that will also need to access the venue. It is also recommended that you have the name for the person in charge at the venue on the day of your event as well as any ‘out of hours’ or emergency contact numbers if possible. If you’re organising from home, try and enlist a few friends or family members to lend a hand on the day. If you’re in touch with your guests on social media or WhatsApp, it might be nice to message them on the morning of or the day before the party with some last-minute hints, e.g. weather updates. Also, remind them about the details of your party and try and create some excitement by giving some teasers and encouraging them to attend.
- Make Memories – Imagine not being able to capture the best moments of your party! Fully charging your camera/phone and check you have enough memory the day before will make sure this won’t happen.
- Relax and Enjoy – So long as you’re organised before, there shouldn’t be many issues that arise during the party, so try to relax and enjoy it yourself!