Beginner’s Guide: How to Plan an Event

'Beginner's Guide: How to Plan an Event'

Looking for tips on how to plan an event to remember?

We’re here to help! When you know everyone is relying on you to pull off a spectacular event, the pressure is on. When it comes to events there is a fine line between success and failure. But success can mean a tangible expression of your hard work and a real boost to your career and reputation. At the start of the process it might seem daunting and be hard to know where to begin. But the key to successful event organisation is plenty of planning. However hard you plan, there will inevitably be some curveballs that come your way. These obstacles are impossible to predict, but if you have done as much event organisation as possible in advance, hopefully they shouldn’t throw you off track! Tip number one: be preemptive rather than prescriptive with your planning – try to assess where potential problems might arise and put in place a plan that with combat those problems before they’ve arisen. We’ve set out a few crucial steps on how to plan an event to get you started organising your event.

Get a team together

If you’re planning a big event and you’ve got the resources available, try and enlist some help. Don’t worry if you can’t formally get a team together, but think about your contacts and who you know who might be able to give you a hand or offer some advice. Whether it’s a few people in the workplace who are willing set aside some time, or personal contacts who have expert knowledge, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Once you have a team in place and your event organisation is underway, you can start planning and delegating to your heart’s content. 

Set the budget

The budget is the most important, and often most inflexible, part of any event. There are a few limits to take into consideration when you’re thinking about how to plan a great event – namely the date, venue and location – but budget will affect and dictate all of these elements. So, first things first, establish the budget. Make sure you know if there is any leeway or extra funds in case unexpected costs crop up, and if there’s no way you can stretch the budget, then decide how much to set aside as a contingency fund. However confident you are in your event organisation skills, having a backup plan is essential. If it turns out you don’t need it, then why not put the leftover funds towards a surprise treat at the event itself.

Pick a date and venue

When you’re setting a date and picking a venue it’s important to be flexible. Sometimes you need to reach a compromise – you don’t want to have to discount the perfect venue because you’ve already settled on a date and can’t change it. Come up with a few dates that would work and see which of your favourite venues are free. Most venues charge different amounts depending on the day of the week, and others charge cheaper rates at non-peak times. If your budget is restricting your venue choice, think outside the box. Hire a nightclub during the day or a quirky coffee shop after-hours and get a better deal on the price. Being inventive with venue choice can really impress your Guests and they’ll approach your event with curiosity and interest. Our selection of venues on the HeadBox website has something for everyone, and we’ve made it simple to search, book and pay for a Space online. Just take a look at our London private parties collection!   

Organise food and drink

When thinking about how to organise an event, one of the most crucial aspects for ensuring success is the food and drinks. There are lots of decisions to be made. We think it’s a nice touch to hand everyone a drink on arrival – something fizzy or a cocktail – to set the tone and add a sense of occasion. It may be that your venue has catering and drinks options, in which case you’ll need to agree to a minimum spend, or if they don’t, you’ll have to approach external suppliers. Deciding on catering options can be tricky. How much? What kind? Sweet? Savoury? There is so much to choose from. If you’re hosting a stand-up drinks party for a couple of hours, canapés are ideal. If it’s a party that’s going to go on all evening – like an annual summer or Christmas party – your Guests will need something a more substantial. When handling the food and drinks side of event organisation it’s always better to overestimate the amount you’ll need rather than finding yourself short on supplies mid-way through the event. Make sure that the food and drinks are served at regular intervals throughout the evening to avoid running out prematurely.

Entertainment

The entertainment doesn’t necessarily have to mean a top band, circus performers and acrobats or table-top magicians. As one of the key steps in event planning, choosing the right music is crucial for setting the tone. Whether you’re looking for the latest hits, some old-school classics, or a softer touch with jazz or an acoustic band, who you book will help create your desired atmosphere so it’s important that you get it right! Think about your Guests. What would they want to see or listen to? 

Decor and finishing touches

When you’ve organised all the big, important parts of the event, it’s time to get creative with the finishing touches. For big budget events, you might be splashing out on spectacular lighting, lush fabrics and dramatic centrepieces. But, if you are keeping a tighter hold on the finances, just a few touches here and there – flowers and the like – can make a big difference. Sites like Pinterest are positive mines of information and ideas when it comes to tying together an event. Gather inspiration, and then do something unique. The small details speak volumes and they will not go unnoticed.

Transport

Assuming you’ve picked a venue that’s not a million miles away, if you can spare the cash it’s a nice touch to provide transport for your guests – a private coach from the office, or a few taxis. If your budget cannot accommodate transport, make sure you circulate instructions on the best way to get to the venue to save everyone the hassle of looking it up individually. It’s a small touch, but extra details like this in event organisation will be appreciated and recognised.

With so many things to remember, the secret behind how to plan an event is organisation. Keep track of everything throughout the planning process and you’ll save yourself last minute panics, or unexpected demands for payment. Store all the email trails in a dedicated folder so you know you can provide evidence of bookings and payment when you need to. Have a spreadsheet to track the budget, inputting all your costs and when payments are due and paid, keeping a running total as you go. It’s helpful to have another document with the timeline and reminders for due dates and when actions are required. You could even do a weekly or monthly task list to try and keep everything on schedule.

So, there you have it – our beginner’s guide to planning a great event with all the best advice on how to plan an event. If you’d like a helping hand finding a venue for your event, you can get in touch with our concierge team on support@headbox.com. They will turn your brief into a brilliant Space for free.

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