Tips For Experienced Party Planners or First-Timers
At Stuart Event Rentals, planning parties is a way of life. It’s what we do. All day, every day.
And when you’ve planned as many parties as we have, you get pretty good at it.
For many people, however, planning a party or event might be a completely new experience. Or one that’s just so infrequent you’re just not sure where to start.
You might have a big bash or get-together already planned and now you’re looking at the calendar concerned about everything you’ll need to make sure it goes off without a hitch.
Not to worry. We’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’ll get into why party planning is so important – even before you set the date – along with 10 great tips on how to plan a perfect event.
Why Having a Plan for Your Party is Important
From the event date to the invite list, a lot goes into party planning. This part of the process is essential because it provides a checklist and framework to work through.
Most of the effort involved in hosting a party and executing it properly is done well before any of your guests arrive. By the time festivities begin, you should have very little to think about other than making sure everyone is enjoying themselves.
Party planning consists of many objectives, from ordering enough food to getting the right decorations for the party’s theme. You’ll need to start with the basics to ensure the party goes well.
10 Must-Know Party Planning Tips
Here are 10 Must-Know tips for having a good party planning framework to provide you with an enjoyable event for both you and your guests:
1. Choosing the Best Date and Time for Your Party
First things first, you’ll need to select a date and time for your party. This is really where it all starts.
To ensure that everyone is able to attend, coordinate with invitees beforehand about who is free and on what day.
Ideally, the date will be weeks or months away, giving you ample time to plan and execute the party well. Anything less than a month away and you may set yourself up for major disappointment because renting or booking needed party rental items, such as a venue, tenting, catering or entertainment could be impossible to acquire on such short notice.
Depending on the time of year, you may need three to six months to safely fulfill everything on your checklist. The more popular the day and date, the more time you should give yourself to prepare.
The busiest seasons are typically Spring (for weddings) and December (for holiday parties).
As for days of the week, it should come as no surprise that Saturdays are by far the most popular for all types of events. Sunday afternoons can also be very busy for weddings and other occasions.
2. Planning your Party’s Guest List
When planning any party or event, one of the first things you’ll be asked by vendors is, “How many guests?”
This makes total sense when you think about it. The size of the room, the number of tables, table settings, food servings, drink servings, and so on, all depend on “the number”. In fact, virtually everything in your perfectly executed plan will depend upon knowing this one critical detail – including your budget.
If your budget is limited, you may need to carefully consider this number before setting a date and sending out invitations.
3. Planning Your Party’s Budget
Planning your budget will allow you to spend the right amount of money. Anything exceeding the set amount can be cut off or brought down to align with your event’s objectives. While you may not want to make any compromises when it comes to keeping guests entertained and comfortable, you still want to spend your money wisely.
You may want to run some scenarios on paper first just to have an idea of what it would cost to host a party for 50, 100, 200 or more people. This should give you a range to start with.
Moreover, hosting a party can mean running into unexpected costs, for which you’ll need some reserve funds, just in case. For this reason, always make sure to include a little leftover for these unexpected costs.
4. Why Hiring a Caterer Might be Good Idea
A caterer can help simplify one of the most difficult tasks at any party or event, which is the food service.
Cooking and serving even the simplest of menus can be a daunting logistical endeavor if you don’t have the experience or equipment to do so. This is why hiring a caterer is one of the best investments you can make.
If, however, you are inclined to prepare and serve food yourself, it’s a good idea to rent the proper food service equipment for cooking and serving both hot or cold dishes. For larger events, this is a must.
Many venues will offer catering or food service, so when choosing a location to host your event, make sure to ask if it’s available.
5. Sending Out Invitations
Sending invitations isn’t what it used to be. It wasn’t that long ago when invitations would need to be written or printed and then [gasp] sent by the postal service.
Nowadays, for better or worse, you’ve got more options. Of course, printed invitations would still be the classiest method, but there are many “cyber” options as well, including email, phone text, WhatsApp, social media, and others.
When you’re inviting guests, the invites should have all the vital information, such as the date, time and location address. It may also include additional information, like theme, dress code, RSVP, or whether to bring anything such as gifts, a potluck dish or beverage.
(Hint: Always ask for an RSVP so you are working with an accurate attendance when implement the rest of your plans)
6. Don’t Do Everything Yourself
Doing all the party planning and set up alone can get overwhelming, so have a few people lined up to help in case you need an extra hand. These could be family, friends or even hired hands. You may find that people you know have more party planning experience than you realized.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you. You may be surprised to find out how much people are willing to help out!
Of course, a professional party planning service is always recommended if your event is of a certain size or type. Party planners know all the tricks of the trade and can often pay for themselves by not only spending your budget wisely, but by helping you to avoid common pitfalls and mistakes.
7. Plan a Musical Playlist
Great music can help set the tone for a memorable event. Planning a playlist according to the event theme and itinerary helps you navigate how your friends and family will interact.
For example, cocktail hour would call for unobtrusive background music played at a volume that allows everyone to mingle and converse more easily. The same rule would apply during a meal or food service.
The music selection should be appropriate for the occasion. For example, for a wedding reception make sure to include some uplifting or inspirational love songs and nothing about breakups or heartache. It sounds obvious but in some situations it helps to know the lyrics before adding a song to the playlist.
If the party calls for dancing, then the playlist and the volume should change accordingly. A good DJ rule of thumb is to make sure and include dance songs that everyone attending knows and likes. Regardless of whatever your personal tastes might be, you have to think of songs that will get the party started.
Another option, if the budget allows, is to hire a professional DJ or even a band. That is the sure-fire way to make sure the music is top-notch and the dance floor action is being handled by professionals.
8. Use Your Party Checklist Properly
It’s not enough to simply make a list. It is imperative to list all of your to-do items by order of importance and then to check them off one by one.
This way you always have something you can reference and reduce any confusion about what is remaining to be done. Leave room for notes to remind yourself of details that you can come back to later. Some of these items will require multiple attempts to get accomplished.
By managing your checklist properly, you are essentially “idiot-proofing” the entire party planning process.
9. Choose Party Decorations and Theme
The party decorations are an essential element of setting up the theme and one of the really fun aspects of party planning. There are so many options to choose from, you’re only limited by your imagination.
When choosing a theme, a good place to start is with the reason for having your party in the first place. Why are we having this event? Is it a wedding? A holiday or other milestone, such as a birthday or anniversary? Whatever the answer, this should inform your choices.
Another consideration when choosing a theme is the level of difficulty involved in finding the appropriate decorations. For example, Luau themes are very common and very popular, so it’s relatively easy to find luau decorations, tiki torches, Hawaiian leis, and the like.
As a general rule, the more obscure or unusual the theme, the greater the challenge – and cost – for decorating.
10. Hire a Professional Party Rental Service
When you’re hosting a party, you could end up buying a lot of things that will only be used once, and then need to be re-sold or put into storage. This is just one of the reasons why hiring a rental company service is a much better option.
A professional party rental service can save you loads of time and money by providing you with one-stop shopping for many of the items on your party planning checklist. Often times, they can show you ideas that you may not even have considered.
From tenting to food service, dance floors, tables & chairs, glassware, space heaters, portable bars, decorations, and on and on. A great party rental company, such as Stuart, will have everything you need under one roof!
Not only that, but you can arrange for delivery and pick up as well, allowing you to relax and enjoy the special occasion that you’ve worked so hard to prepare for.
For more information on party rental services and more great party planning ideas, contact Stuart Event Rentals today for a free consultation with one of your event planning specialists.