Whether you’re planning a birthday party for 50 teenagers, a gala wedding for 300 guests, or an intimate 10th-anniversary dinner for family and close friends, you need to plan for a successful party or event. Your plan should include five key steps, which we go into detail on below.
Step 1: Budgeting
Plan your budget and make sure to stick to it. Having a realistic view of what your planned party will cost and staying within your budget is important. Plan what you’ll splurge on and where you can save money. Are you a crafter or a DIY enthusiast? If so, making the memory boards, party favors, and invitations, etc., will save you money and allow you to splurge on a better space or something like a cappuccino cart during dessert.
If you’re planning a party for teenagers, party bus rental is something to consider including in your budget. If you’re planning a lavish sit-down dinner, this allows you to save on other costs i.e., catering, so you can really put on a great dinner. Just make sure you don’t allow your budget to go over five percent of your original plan. If this starts to happen, go back to your vision of your ideal party and make any necessary adjustments.
Step 2: Where and When
One of the more discouraging but also avoidable dilemmas is a failure to check in advance with key friends and family members about the date. It’s possible to ruin a graduation party by not checking that one of your son’s best friends is having his own graduation party.
Are you looking to have an outdoor event? An intense summer sum or a pouring of rain can’t dampen an otherwise perfect outdoor party if you’ve failed to reserve a tent far enough in advance. You can avoid such disappointments, however, by being flexible with location, venue, and date., and speaking to family and friends at least two months in advance (if possible, allow 8-12 months if you’re planning a wedding), and speaking to multiple venues.
Step 3: Invitations and Guest Lists
Make a guest list to match your vision and stick to that vision even if a certain family member insists that your second cousins on your father’s side should be invited. Bear in mind that only around 80 percent of those you invite will typically attend. If you’re okay with 50 guests at your parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, but the venue can hold up to 100 people and you’ve invited 75, don’t worry about it. If you want to assure a larger affair, expand your list. The likelihood is that 10-15 invites or more will turn down your invitation, with a few more as it gets closer to the event.
Step 4: Food and Beverage
In your envisioned party, does your family enjoy preparing food for your friends or is it a catered event at home or at an external venue? Do you have a favorite caterer that you’ve used in the past? If so, ask them far enough in advance if you’re able to hire them for your party and/or if they’re approved to cater at your location?
If your goal is to stick to your budget, you could prepare some of the food yourself and either buy or cater the rest. A host should never toil in the kitchen when the guests arrive, so consider serving up some cold dishes and/or buy in prepared safe options such as sub trays.
Step 5: Entertainment
Whether your entertainment is a photo booth, clown magician, DJ, or a live band, ensure it falls in line with both your vision and your budget. Read contracts and get written receipts prior to committing. If you need to cancel a bouncy castle because of rain, can you get your deposit back? Will you have activities to entertain younger children addressing the wedding reception, such as puzzles, crayons, coloring books, a table with games, a clown, or face painting, etc.?
If you’re holding your party in a public space or at a venue, ensure to check with the manager, so they know what you’re planning and whether they’re okay with it or not. Music is an essential aspect of a party, but if your budget doesn’t allow for a DJ or a live band, use your own music collection to create a playlist or play music from an online service like Spotify or Pandora on your smartphone or tablet. Pick out a few stations appropriate to the occasion that will suit everyone’s tastes.