Top tips on staying organised when planning your Christmas party
There are many important aspects to planning a great Christmas party, including the food, venue and entertainment but the most important part is to stay organised so you don’t become overwhelmed or forget anything. Here are our top tips.
Use a spreadsheet
Spreadsheets are wonderful for keeping lists together and for tracking the budget. This way you can keep your list of attendees, their food options, seating charts (where appropriate) and have a nice running total of what is left in the budget through calculations in the sheet.
Send invites early
Send out your invites as early as possible. This will prevent too many people already being booked up during the festive season and will give you more time to get your RSVPs back. If you can’t let everyone know all the information straightaway, send out a ‘save the date’ as early as you can so that the date can still be put in the diary.
Make the invites as informative as possible
Give all details on the invitations, including the date, time, dress code, address, format of the event (three-course meal, disco etc.), menu options (where applicable), where to send the RSVP and the RSVP deadline. Having all this information in one place is useful for people to refer to later and will also mean that you should only have to send it out once.
Get responses electronically
If you can get everyone to RSVP to one place – namely your email address – you can have all the responses in a more convenient way, particularly if you encourage everyone to respond to the email (just to you), as you only need to search for that subject line.
Many venues will be booked up by the end of October, so make sure that you do your research (including site visits, taking photos and tasting their menus) by this point to avoid missing out. If you liked the venue you used last year, check their availability as soon as you can, even if it feels too early.
Work out your budget (including contingency) and stick to it
You’ll need to know exactly how much you’ve got to spend and on what areas you will need to be spending the money. Planning a contingency, perhaps 10% of your budget, will help to protect you if there are any unexpected costs or emergency purchases. It’s okay if you decide later that something isn’t worth worrying about and that you’d rather put the money into a different area but it’s important to be sure before you blow your budget.
Get a venue with a coordinator
If you’re hiring a venue, it can be worth hiring one with dedicated event coordinators, as they will be on-hand during the night to make sure everything is going well and they can also advise you on the décor and entertainment. They should be able to give you a list of what they can provide on the night, including sound and lighting equipment and food. You may wish to also get there early and brief the staff.
Make event rules and plus ones clear
It’s not great when someone shows up on the night with an unexpected plus one and no food for them to eat! Ensuring that the rules are clear from day one will help to prevent problems like this. If you’re having a dry event or if there are certain behaviours or activities that are not appropriate for the event, make sure everyone knows beforehand.
Get list of diets and requirements
If someone will need a little extra help getting into the building or has special dietary requirements, make sure you get a list of this as soon as possible so that you can make any reasonable adjustments. This is something that you may wish to keep in your spreadsheet (as long as it is not going to be broadcast), so that you will know where the information is.
Get everything in writing
If you have received a quote verbally in person or over the phone, make sure they also send you a written one too, either via email or with a company letterhead and signature for authenticity. This will not only prevent arguments later but also help you to plan out your finances.
Morning of reminder/calendar reminder
Set a reminder to alert people about the event in their calendars or send out an email or text message on the morning of (or a few days before) the festivities. Doing so will make your event more likely to be attended and give people time to grab a last minute outfit if they forgot.
Create an itinerary
You won’t have to stick to it rigidly, if it will detract from the enjoyment of the event, but planning out roughly how long each part of the night is expected to last will help to control the flow of the event and make sure that there is plenty to keep your guests entertained and happy.