5 Secrets to Planning a Stress-Free Event
Whether you are planning a holiday party for the office, a book promotion event, or a conference, use this checklist after you think you have everything sorted out so you and your guests can enjoy.
Refreshments for all, and to all a good night
No matter what time your event is, food and drinks are probably one of the first things that you picked out after the venue, of course. You’ve probably agonized over the quantity and what appetizers are the tastiest, but have you thought about people who are vegetarians, vegan, or have food allergies? Try to find out in advance if you can, but always have some alternatives just in case.
Often times the event organizers and key players forget to eat a meal all day. They also forget to make sure that the people who are helping them set up and breakdown need food as well, until they notice everyone getting grumpy and frantically order a pizza to solve the problem. Take orders for sandwiches or salads the day before and put in the order in advance. A well-fed crew is a happy crew. This will also encourage the people who are helping you to raise their hand to help with the next event that you put together.
The frenzy of setting up and being hit with questions and problems every time you turn around might put a snag in your communication skills. In advance, type out a list of everyone who is helping you and what you would like them to do before, during, and after the event. Before jumping into the setup, gather everyone together and go through the list so all questions are answered. Having it on paper eliminates misunderstandings, and talking about it as a group makes sure that everyone is on the same page, literally.
After the event is over, remember to be speedy with your thank-you notes and gifts to the people who helped you out on the big day. As mentioned earlier, the more appreciated (and full) they feel, the more likely they will help you out next time.
Double your setup time and look bad doing it
After you tally up everything you have to do, give yourself a few extra hours even if you are sure that you don’t need them. It is inevitable that unexpected problems will come up, and there will be a few attendees who show up early. It looks unprofessional to still be running around setting up. You want to appear like you are the cool, calm, and collected guest of honor, even if it is your party.
In addition, don’t set up in the outfit that you are going to be in for the event. Break out the sweats and leave your hair in curlers. Getting ready should be the last thing you do, after the venue, food, and volunteers are all set. This is another reason why doubling your setup time works; no one likes to rush to get ready and then not feel that they are looking their best, especially at a party. Remember, more time is always better than less.
It’s likely that you have already been blasting your event on social media beforehand, but have you thought about how you will promote during your event? Having others talk about your event and post pictures while it’s happening is one of the best ways to increase followers and gain more attraction, so make it easy for your guests to do so.
Pick a hashtag a few weeks before the event that guests, volunteers, and you can use on social media. Search it on Twitter and Instagram first to see if it is being used for anything else. The last thing you want is to share a hashtag with a group or conference that is not associated with you. Then use that hashtag whenever you are posting information to publicize the event. When attendees arrives, have the hashtag prominently displayed on a handout or have an emcee announce it throughout the event. Having a hashtag will also make it easy to find pictures and feedback after the event from perspectives other than yours.
The number one rule of event planning is that something unexpected will always happen because when it comes down to it, you can’t plan life. If something breaks or a key player gets strep throat the night before and can’t show up, you have no control over that. That’s why it’s important to have an emergency kit set up somewhere that’s easily accessible to you. This kit should include scissors, three kinds of tape, lots of pens, scrap paper, business cards, ibuprofen, a stain-removing pen, and a first aid kit. While you can’t control everything, this kit could be a last-minute lifesaver for those things that you can control … if you could only figure out where you stashed the scissors.
Bonus tip: Even people who are event planners for a living get stressed in the moment of unexpectedness, but fake it ‘til you make it, and your guests will never know.