Whether you are planning a birthday soiree, holiday party, company picnic or fundraising event, you can use this approach to ensure that it is one of the most memorable events of the year for your guests.
Step 1: The Master Plan You’ve meditated, visualized and started to get excited about your upcoming event. Now, it’s time to map out your master plan. (My agency, along with other organizations, is launching a music series so for the sake of these steps, I will use it as an example.)
When first working on the master plan, it is most important to have the points outlined. Details can be layered in during the second draft.
Start with the major categories that need to be defined:
Event purpose: Entertain, showcase Texas talents at unique venue.
The theme: This is the brand of the event. It is important that you, the event planner, is clear and distinct in what you are planning. If you attend an event and are confused by the event’s objective, it’s most likely because the event planner over-planned and the focus on theme blurred.
We are calling the music series, the Trinity Junction. Trinity is an iconic symbol in North Texas. We also want to bring people together in the area to celebrate local talent in one place – the Junction.
Date & time: First, think of your target audience and which date is best for them. Do some research. Avoid dates with similar events and take note of holidays.
There are countless live music events in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. We selected a Wednesday night and an earlier time, to avoid conflict with the bigger acts that come through this area on the weekends. Also, our guests will be able to enjoy an evening of music without worrying about that needed beauty rest for work or school the next morning.
Venue: Consider venues that would be fitting toward your purpose. Remember to ask about any additional fees besides the actual rental fee, such as catering, staffing, equipment and parking.
In our case, we wanted a venue that is fitting to live music and that would be unique to other live music venues. We selected ZOUK, a venue famously known as the Starck Club of the 1980s, and well-known today for a recent live performance by Blink 182’s Travis Barker.
Budget: This is a separate step by itself but include it in the master plan. Start with the largest expenses and go through the categories. Categories to consider are: venue, food and drinks, décor, entertainment, music and entertainment, marketing and emergency funds (if the AC shuts down, if you run out of ice, etc.)
Entertainment: It doesn’t matter who your guests are: everyone wants to be entertained. In our case, the music is our focal point, and it will set the mood for the event.
Step 2 Budget See the above in the Master Plan. I work backwards where I envision my ideal event with everything and everyone that I would want to have. Then, I figure out how much I would need to spend and where I can be creative to still make the vision happen without breaking the bank. Get organized with spreadsheets and create lists to track your every financial move.
Step 3 Details, Details, Details The details make an event phenomenal. With your theme party, tie in the food, the drinks, decorations, entertainment and music.
Be consistent with your event visually but also verbally. Before the guests even arrive to the party, the invitation or announcement of the event sets the tone. In each aspect of the event, be creative. If you have staff working your event, do you want them to dress-up with respect to your theme?
Step 4 RED Factor This is your stamp to your event. I call this my RED factor, based on our agency name. I always have one surprise for the guests and also the staff involved.
Your signature could be as simple as always having a red carpet at the entrance or a guest singer who breaks out in a cappella during the event. Whatever you decide on, you must be excited about it and own it.
Step 5: Sprezzatura This is an Italian word that I go by. It means to make extraordinary things appear effortless. You can plan and plan and plan, and unfortunately or fortunately, the event does not go as plan.
Breathe. Relax. Do what you can do, and do it well. A jazz band was a no-show to event that I was helping with once. They were the background music, so I got a jazz CD, found a CD player (what is that, right?), and hooked it up to the sound system. Guests did not miss the jazz band.
A great event planner or host/hostess does not wear his or her event problems on his or her sleeves. You control what you can, smile and make sure the rest is in place.
In planning the event of year, it boils down to your creativity and attitude. It’s meant to be fun for you and for your guests. If you focus on the purpose of event, stay organized, work with the right individuals and trust them, add that RED factor and execute with a dash of sprezzatura, you are bound to have that much talked about event of the year!