Whether you’re a first-time planner or a veteran, missing an important detail during your next event is easy to do. The best way to prevent this is by communicating with your team, vendors, and speakers (if applicable), and making a thorough event planning checklist. Here is a comprehensive guide so you can breeze through your next event.

Create event planning checklist master sheets 

Develop a master sheet for crucial information, including vendor and speaker contact information, Wi-Fi passwords, deadlines, a budget master sheet, and a master event planning checklist. You could use an Excel Workbook. Also, consider printing your master sheet at the end of each day to capture the most recent information.

Emergency Kit

Pack an event emergency kit to help keep those stress levels down before, during, and after the event. Your kit should include:  

  • Last-minute printouts of master sheets
  • Scissors
  • Pens and pencils
  • Tape
  • Notepad
  • First aid kit
  • Clorox pen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Water bottle(s)

Establish your budget

Establishing your budget the least glamorous part of the whole shebang, but once you’ve determined how much you can spend on the event, you’ll need to divide your total budget among major categories so you know what you can and can’t afford while you’re speaking with vendors. Here are a few examples of budget categories:

  • Logistics (size, length, venue, staff, shipping)
  • Advertising
  • Printing costs (e.g., printed agendas and/or surveys)
  • Speaking engagement fees
  • Software needs (digital signage, event management software)
  • Catering
  • A/V equipment rental
  • Decorations and swag bags

Some of you may even find this part fun. If you like organizing, the budget is an essential part to making the day run smoothly. Think of it like a puzzle. When solved, you may even find surprisingly helpful loopholes to your budget, or that you may have more than you thought!

Find your venue

Depending on your event, the venue could be one of the most significant expenses in your budget. Therefore, this item should be a high priority on your event planning checklist. Consider sites that are centrally located and easy to find. Build a shortlist you want to explore based on popularity, referrals, and local trade publications. Then schedule tours of the venues that made your list. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and the vendors:

  • How many people do you expect?
    • The type of event you are planning will determine how you position the tables and chairs. For example, a classroom setup works best for seminars and can provide seating for a larger group. A U-shape setup is best for a meeting where open discussion is encouraged, but keep in mind this may not accommodate as many attendees. The answers to these questions will dictate the limit you set on attendance to reduce or eliminate overcrowding.
  • Are charging stations available and easily accessible for phones, tablets, laptops? Ideally, these will be located at the table or on the floor.
  • How close is it to the airport or hotels?
  • Does the venue have in-house catering? If not, which company do they work with regularly?
  • Is AV equipment included?
  • Do they provide security (if necessary)?
  • What amenities do they offer (e.g., notepads, pens, and water)?

Find your caterer

If the venue you choose does not have in-house catering, be sure to shop around to make sure that you are getting the best deal without compromising quality. Also, be mindful of allergies and food preferences of your guests. To ensure everything goes smoothly, you might consider asking attendees to list any food allergies or diet restrictions when sending in their RSVP. 

Plan out your advertising campaign

For small events, an “advertising campaign” could simply mean utilizing a Facebook event page or making a simple website through Wix.

For larger or professional events, consider email marketing, content marketing, ad buys, and social media marketing. Of course, don’t forget the importance of networking and word of mouth. Make sure that all your marketing design stays true to the theme of the event.

Day-of Breakdown

Create a detailed “Day-of” schedule to ensure a smooth event. It might look something like this:

7:00 am: Team arrives and begins setup

7:15 am: Stage, sound, light, and set tested

7:15 am: Prepare reception table(s) with necessities

8:00 am: Attendees begin arriving

8:30 am: Doors open

8:45 am: Breakfast served

9:00 am: MC takes the stage

9:10 am: the first speaker takes the stage

Of course, this example is for a professional or presenter’s event. You can cater your breakdown to anything from a wedding to a gender reveal party. Remember, no event is too small for superior organization.

Follow up

After the event, send out surveys to attendees so you can gauge success and get feedback for improvement. Or, if you prefer, pass out a brief survey during the final moments of the last presentation or speaker. And if your event is for something personal, don’t forget the thank-you cards!

Parties to Go is here to help. Drop by for some fun ideas for swag bags, decorations, or speak to one of our party professionals. No matter what stage of the planning process you are in, visit our website, or contact us at (541) 485-5587 for the inspiration you need for a successful event.