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Top tips for planning the perfect party

Have you got an important event happening this year? Perhaps a significant birthday, an engagement or a friend’s hens or bucks that you’ve been tasked with organising? If so, you’re probably feeling the pressure of making sure it’s an event to remember.

So how can you make sure it all goes off without a hitch? Dr Anne Kershaw, Arts and Cultural Management Lecturer at Deakin University, shares her key tips for making sure your party pops, no matter what the occasion.

Give your event a distinctive design

‘To have that ‘WOW’ impact and be a truly memorable occasion you have to design an event that is unique or different.

‘All sorts of elements go into event design. It can be timing, such as holding your event at dusk, sunrise or at summer solstice. It might be about location, such as an event on top of a mountain or in a historic building that isn’t usually open to the public. Or it might be about the activities you offer, such as hearing from a famous band or collaborating to produce an installation art work.

‘Once you identify the theme or distinguishing feature of your event, make sure that all other decisions are consistent with this theme. For example, if you were having a Mexican Day of the Dead themed event, this should influence things like your choice of food, drink, music, venue, decorations, invitations, dress, activities, and speeches.’

Get organised from the beginning

‘Event managers aren’t just creative people who design unique and memorable experiences. They are also sticklers for details and planning. That old adage ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ is a mantra for event managers.

‘You’ll need to make long lists of the individual tasks involved in delivering your event. You’ll also need to work out in which order these things need to be done, and put timelines against each of them. There is nothing to be lost by booking the larger elements like venues, performers and caterers well in advance, to ensure you secure your preferred provider.’

Work out a budget and stick to it

‘Your event will need all kinds of materials and resources so it’s really important you cost these out ahead of time and have a budget – and make sure you stick to it.

‘Great events don’t always need lots of money, and this is where an event manager’s creativity comes to the fore again. Sometimes having to make do or improvise leads to a creative solution – like using hay bales for seating and giving your event a rustic, country vibe.’

Send invitations early

‘Make sure your guests have early notice about your event so they can put it in their diaries. Even before your venue is secured you can send out ‘save the date’ invitations. In this digital age sharing information with your invitees has never been easier, such as via email or social media.’

Get a team on board

‘It takes more than one person to deliver a great event. Events are always the result of hard work by a team of people so you’ll need a band of willing workers to make it all happen.

‘Make sure you’ve got your collaborators and supporters lined up, and make sure that they are clear about what you want them to do. Delegating work is a special skill, and communicating clearly with people about what needs to be done, and how, will prevent all kinds of confusion (and possibly anger and frustration too). Also, make sure you reward your team and let them know how much they are appreciated.’

Keep your guests safe

‘When you organise an event, you are also taking on the responsibility of making things as safe as possible for your guests. As the event manager or host, you have a duty of care to help ensure the health and wellbeing of those who are going to attend your event. This extends to those who are working on your event too.

‘You will need to think through all the risks and accidents that could occur, and take active steps to avoid these happening. This includes physical risks, managing the potential impact of drugs and alcohol, and watching out for bad behaviour. A quick Google search will reveal lots of guides to help you with this crucial part of your event planning.’

Interested in pursuing a career planning events and celebrations? Find out more about studying event management at Deakin.

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Dr Anne Kershaw
Dr Anne Kershaw

Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University

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