This post may seem confusing to release during the pandemic our world is currently in. However, I want all my readers to have the opportunity and advantage to be able to make plans as soon as they are able to meet up with their family and friends face to face. The post you are about to read is for full preparation to plan a gathering and be social once again.
Throughout my time as a college student, I have planned many events for social gatherings. Some of these events included on-campus gatherings, off-campus parties, and smaller social gatherings that had no affiliation with students. I will be the first to humbly say that after planning as many events as I did, most were successful. However, not all were. It is a learning process of what went great at one event and what went terrible at the same event. You ask yourself “what can we do next time to make it better?”
Planning events is a big trial and error. There is always a high potential that something may go wrong at any event at any given time. Here are some key elements and important questions to ask in planning a social gathering that I find to be crucial:
#1 WHAT IS THE EVENT FOR?
There are several types of social gatherings that you could be planning for. Some of these types may include:
- Birthday Party
- Holiday Party
- Organizational Socials
- Friends Outing
- Family Gathering
- Themed Parties
After determining the type of gathering you will be planning, a lot of the following details will fall into place. Of course, this is just the first step and there are a lot more logistics that come with planning an event. Nonetheless, meeting the first barrier is a crucial step when entering the next criteria.
#2 WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET?
It is crucial to know and understand the funds you have to use, how fluid they will be, and where they will be spent. Whether you are planning for a large organizational event or a smaller scaled friend gathering, funds are important. For example, if it is an organizational gathering that you are planning for, knowing how much money is allotted for the event and where that money might go is something that needs to be written down and planned. It is very easy to lose track of money spent when planning events. The last thing an event planner needs is to magically run out of money when only a portion of the event is planned.
#3 WHO WILL BE INVITED?
This spectrum is more important for larger events. For example, if you are planning a gala, a company work party, or an organizational social it more helpful to know who will be there for budgeting reasons. These events typically require having some sort of food dish served and drinks for the invitees. It is also important to have a list of people invited and people who RSVP so that you know who should be there versus who should not.
#4 TRANSPORTATION TO THE EVENT
When transporting individuals to an event, things can get a little sticky considering that it is third party transportation (typically) used. There are usually rules and regulations that come along with using transportation services including pick up times, costs, and damage fees. For weddings and larger social gatherings you may need a coach bus or limousine to transport people from point a (wherever they are now) to point b (event).
On the other hand, many events that are planned do not have transportation services if they are not required. Most events have invitees drive themselves and have parking services at the venue.
#5 WHAT WILL BE SERVED AT THE EVENT?
What is expected, by the invitees, when arriving to any event is there will be food to eat, beverages to drink, and activities to do at the event. Depending on the event depends on what type of food and drink you will have. For a wedding you would expect to have a course of meals, for a fraternity social you would expect to have a variation of salty foods, and for a holiday party you would expect to see foods that correspond to the season.
For most events there is a high likelihood that there will be alcoholic beverages. It is crucial that whatever organization is hosting said event makes sure that only people legally allowed to drink alcoholic beverages are the ones drinking them. This may cause later legal issues for the organization hosting or the venue.
As for activities, again there are certain things people look for at events when attending. For weddings they look for speeches, first dances, and tossing the bouquet. Some events have ceremonies for awards and recognition. Where each type of social gathering is different, there will be different activities. Activities make each event special and memorable while they are something that people look forward to.
#6 WHAT WILL THE DECOR OR THEME BE?
Where there is a theme, there is fun. Having a theme makes people intrigued to go and get dressed up. If there is a theme for an event it is much easier to design the venue and the decorations that go along with it.
#7 HOW LONG WILL THE EVENT BE FOR?
Time is a precious element in planning a social gathering. If the event is too short, it will make people feel like it was a waste of time; This is due to a few reasons. It will make them feel like they took time to get ready, to travel to the event, and be there for only just a short amount of time just to leave. With a longer extension in time for the event there could be more things done and more conversation made.
On the other hand, if the event is too long people get tired, bored, and irritable. There is only so much that can be done at each event. Whether it be food, drink, dance, or awards. the event can only go on for so long until people inquire leaving.
#8 ASK FOR FEEDBACK
The final step in having a social gathering is to ask for feedback. If you planned one, you will probably plan another; You’re that person now. There is a potential that you thought the event went great and overlooked everyone else’s moods. Or you might, think the event went terribly, but in reality everyone had a fantastic time and wouldn’t change a thing.
Planning an event takes time and asks for a lot of attention to detail. It may be a stressful experience (it will be every time), but in the end it is all worth it when you get to spend an awesome night with friends at a social gathering.