Event Planning 101

I’m not sure how people don’t know this by now. I often feel like if I know something at my age, then shouldn’t everyone? Nevertheless, let me teach you the fundamentals of how to plan an event.

First some definitions:

Your Core

In your head, before you plan any event, you need to decide the “must attend” people. These are the people that primarily satisfy these criteria:

  1. Make a party fun
  2. People want to see
  3. You want to see

These people are helpful, nice, and will not add stress or unnecessary questions (Is there a jacuzzi?). Bonus: Those will assist you in planning or the details.


Target your audience. If you want to go snowboarding, target the people who snowboard. If you want to go see 100 hot air balloons at dawn, target your friends who you know are up for photography or new experiences. If it is your birthday, you basically win because that is something people will just go to because they love you.


Take a survey of your guest list. Where do they all live? Who would come despite the distance? Who do you need there? Pick a location that suits all your criteria for the Core.

Now for the planning.

  1. 5 Weeks Out – Vet your event by your core group early and gauge the response. If it sounds fantastic they will all let you know, if no one is interested, then change the plan early on. The core is always a good litmus test for your event.
  2. 4 Weeks Out – Figure out a date that works best for your core, then send an Evite or some kind of larger invite to the rest of the people that you would really like to go. God knows I’ve seen an Evite or two that has not been vetted by the Core only to have an invitation where zero people responded in the affirmative. It’s a sad sad day when an event planner has an event that no one will attend.
  3. 3-4 Weeks Out – Depending on the size of your party, either OpenTable or email/call restaurants that could accommodate your guest list.
  4. 2 Weeks Out – Confirm your guest list and book the restaurant
  5. 1 Week Out – Remind your guests again of the party, ask them to confirm again.
  6. 2 Days Before – Update the restaurant with the booking.
Tips and Tricks
  • Big venues need more lead time in planning.
  • When doing prix fixe meals always account for the flakes, as they will charge you for the missing head regardless. For large groups, I usually will choose a buffet style and BYODrinks. Buffet style means that you should do minus 4 in terms of headcount to account for flakes, but make sure seating is still to the maximum for guests that are not eating or attend late.
  • All large party events should have entertainment or an icebreaker. Either think up a game that will require everyone work together to solve it, or have an appetizers and drinks mixer where the guests are required to lurk around to get snacks. In either case, it will be memorable. My favorite game is something I came up with based off of the movie Inception. Ask guests to bring a bag with 3 items: A totem that represents themselves, their favorite candy and a cd they have in their possession. Have everyone switch bags randomly and guess who’s bag they have.
  • Forgotten event guest… OH NO… you forgot someone. It’s ok, simply add a sentence on the invite to start asking event guests to let you know if you’ve forgotten someone on the list, and then you can gracefully add them on. This also prevents someone from self-adding people you did not want in attendance and keeps you in control of the number of attendees and the quality (non-flakes) of the attendees.
  • A lot of venues will not charge you for private rooms on weeknights, that are not Thurs or Friday.


Leave a Reply