Plan and Host an Event Like A Pro

Wednesday, June 14, 2023


So you have an idea in your head for a great party or social gathering or even some sort of workshop or training event, but you feel stuck because you are overwhelmed with the task of actually planning and coordinating the whole thing. Sure, you can hire someone, but that may not be in your budget. So what are you to do? Well, I’ve been told by many people that I have a knack for planning, organizing, and coordinating all types of events. I mean, I planned my own wedding reception and did it on a SUPER tight budget so I’d like to think I know a thing or two about this type of stuff. So today, I have put together a guide to help you plan and host your own events like a pro, without the excessive costs!

Step 1: Write It Out

This is the initial planning stage where you’re quite literally working with a blank slate, so you need a pen and some paper, or even a whiteboard and markers. This is where you’ll decide the basics of your event.

Budget: If your event will require you to spend a decent amount of money, it’s a good idea to set and stick to a budget. If you know you can only afford a certain amount of investment cost, write that amount down and then break down how much you’ll allow for other aspects of the event like venue, food, décor, etc.

Date and Time: If necessary, survey potential attendees to see what dates and times work best for them. Decide on the date and the time and duration of your event. It’s important to give an end time so people know what they can expect. If it’s just a casual party gathering it may not be as important.

Location: Decide on a location for your event. If you need to rent a place to host at, you’ll need to make a separate list containing the different locations, the cost, the pros and cons of each, and any other important information. This is a good time to ask friends for suggestions on venues. You shouldn’t go any further in the planning process until you have a venue secured.

Basic Agenda: This is where you need to write down how everything is going to flow. Even if it’s not a formal event, it’s helpful to have a dedicated time for cooking/eating, games, announcements, gifts, etc. If you are hosting a training or workshop, you’ll need to secure any external speakers or guests so you can add them (along with a summary) to the invitation. Keep in mind that a good event has an intro, main activity, and a conclusion. If it’s a formal training you’ll be able to structure that pretty easily but if it’s a more laid back social gathering, you’ll need to have some sort of intro period to allow for late guests arriving, announcing to attendees when it’s time to eat, the meat of your event (games, music and dancing, etc.), and if you have an end time selected, a formal time to thank everyone for coming, which also signals they can leave anytime they want after this. If you’re hosting a retreat that runs multiple days, each day will need the basic agenda structure of intro, main, and conclusion. Also, if you’re trying to decide on activities or workshops just think around the theme of your event. Look up ideas on the internet as well.

Menu: If you are having an event that will have a meal, a buffet, snacks, and/or refreshments, this is an important part of your planning. Keeping your budget (if you have one) in mind, decide what food you’ll purchase and provide or what you’ll ask everyone to bring. Keep in mind different people have different dietary restrictions so keep an open mind.

Theme: If your event has a theme, you’ll need to jot down any décor you might need, what guests should wear, any games or food that needs to fit the theme, and any other details. Remember that if your guests are required to participate in a theme, you must list that on the invitation.

Price: If you need to decide a price for registration, you can use your own method to figure it out or you can try to think of a way to cover all the little expenses per person like venue, food, decorations, special guest costs, etc.

Step 2: Start the Ball Rolling

Now is the time to put everything together to commit to the details. Secure the venue, secure providers for any food or drink, and secure any speakers or special guests. You can’t offer an event or gathering to people without a promise of what’s going on. Begin purchasing decorations and other materials.

This is also an important time to make a master supply list. In addition to the basic food and décor, you’ll need to be thinking of the small details like trash receptacles for clean-up, writing supplies, dinnerware, signage, and any other detail you can think of. This will help you get everything you need so you don’t have a meltdown right before your event because you realized you have NO way to dispose of trash at the outdoor venue you’re at.

Step 3: Create Invitations

This doesn’t have to be a typical paper invitation, it can be a flyer, a Facebook event, a webpage, or whatever suits your needs. This is important because this will not only give your attendees all the information you need but it also helps you realize any important details you’ve forgot to plan for. Your invitation or event document should include the following:

Name of Event and Description: Explain what it is and why you’re gathering

Date and Time

Location: Provide the venue, address, directions, and any parking instructions or notes on how to find your room within a large building

Agenda: If applicable, give them an overview of what to expect, making note that a formalized agenda may be available closer to the event time.

Menu: Let them know if food and drinks will be offered, an overview of what it may be, or if they need to bring their own food and drink.

What To Bring: If there are items they should bring for camping, projects, etc. this definitely needs to be noted on the invitation. Likewise, if you’re providing certain things, let them know that as well so it cuts back on the amount of questions you’ll receive prior to your event.

Rules: If you’re hosting an event at a venue that has some important rules, note them here. This is also a good place to note if kids and pets are welcome or not.

Cost: Be very clear about the cost. Some people choose to explain what the cost covers so people that see the cost aren’t as turned off.

Registration or RSVP Information: Clearly state how they should register, how they should RSVP, when the deadline is, and include any links for a formal registration sign up.

Step 4: Make A Formal Agenda AND Your Own Schedule

Finalizing the agenda is very important and should be done about a month before your event. This allows you to share with your guests what to expect and it also gives you a basis to build your own schedule for the day. As the host, you will be on the same schedule as your guests but also have extra duties in between. You may need to start setting up the buffet area in the middle of a session or activity. In order to keep an event running smoothly you MUST keep track of time. To do this, take the formal agenda you have and begin writing in your duties for the day. You should also have a plan for setting up in the hours or even days prior to your event. Plan out what times you’ll run the last-minute errands you need to get ice, fresh flowers, fresh food, etc. and if necessary, designate someone to do these things for you. When you do this schedule for yourself, make notes of things you need to announce like announcing when it’s time for lunch, explaining where the bathrooms are at the start of your event, etc. Keep a copy of this schedule with you at all times and go over it many times before your event so you are familiar with what times you need to keep watch for during the event so you can transition to the next thing.

Step 5: Relax

By the time your event starts, you won’t have time to stress anymore ESPECIALLY if you have everything all planned out. Nothing will go exactly as planned because that’s just impossible, but you won’t need to worry about what you forgot or what’s coming next if you have everything planned out somewhat beforehand. Enjoy yourself, take photos, and interact with attendees.

I hope this post helps you plan and host YOUR next event!


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