Events are a great way to bring your team together, build company culture, and celebrate collective achievements. Whether you’re planning your annual holiday party, a summer celebration, a monthly happy hour, or a speaker series, events can help you cultivate a sense of energy, excitement, and togetherness. Events drive employee engagement which has lasting benefits in terms of team communication, collaboration, and retention.
However, event planning can be stressful, especially if you are planning a large event in addition to your day-to-day responsibilities. Without careful planning, events can feel unwieldy and quickly become very expensive.
Managed by Q has worked with thousands of office operations professionals to plan a great experiences for their employees, including assistance with event planning and management. We’ve created this step-by-step timeline, as well as an event planning checklist, to take the anxiety out of organizing events and ensure everyone has a great time at your company get-togethers, including you!
Before you begin
Define the purpose of your event
Before you leap into planning, set a goal for your event. Is it team bonding? Celebrating a specific achievement like hitting quarterly sales goals or a launching a new product? Professional development? When you have a specific purpose in mind, it will guide the planning process and help you plan the right event for your team.
Plan in advance
Advance planning is key to a successful event, especially during busy times of the year. Venues book up three-to-six months in advance for events in December, the summer months, and during industry events like fashion week or SXSW. For smaller events at less popular times of the year, planning a month to six weeks in advance is usually sufficient.
Event planning timeline and checklist
3-to-6 months in advance
To ensure your event will run smoothly and be well attended, begin planning early. Start by making a budget, setting a date, and securing a venue.
Set a budget
Work with your finance department to develop an approved event budget. Ensure it is realistic and will enable you to accomplish your event goal. For example, if you are throwing a red carpet gala, you will most likely need a larger budget than for a casual company picnic.
Your budget should include line items for the following:
- Venue and equipment rental
- Permits or additional insurance
- Food and beverage
- Set up and cleanup
- Vendors for activities
Set a date and time
When it choosing a date and time for your event, consider:
- What is the best day of the week and time of day that will ensure the most people can attend?
- Take into account differing shifts or working days in your company, and the schedules of those with long commutes, families or care-taking responsibilities, or who work remotely part of the week
If you are unsure, send out poll to find the preferred date and time that works for the most people in your company.
Find the right venue
If you are hosting your event outside of your office, use the following criteria to evaluate potential venues:
- What is the capacity?
- What do you need to reserve the venue in advance? A deposit? Proof of insurance?
- How far is the venue from your office and is it accessible by public transit?
- Is parking available?
- Are AV equipment, furniture, or linens included in the rental?
- Does the venue have exclusive vendors that you must work with?
Once you have found and booked a venue that is a match for your budget, requirements, and the type of event you want to host, you can start planning the details of your event.
1-to-3 months in advance
As you start to work out the details of your event, revisit your event goal and think about how each choice you make can help you realize it. You can assemble a small an event planning committee with representatives from different departments who can help research and weigh in on event details like food, entertainment, and activities. Just be sure to define who has the authority to make final decisions.
Get an accurate headcount
In order to plan accurately and not go over budget, consider:
- Are guests welcome or is the event for employees only? If guests are welcome, how many per person?
- Are employees welcome to bring their children and will there be kid-friendly activities?
- Do you need guests to RSVP to gauge headcount?
As you research caterers, consider what type of refreshments will help serve your event goals and create the kind of experience you hope for. Decide:
- Are you serving a meal or just snacks?
- Are you serving alcohol?
- Do you need to hire a bartender?
- Do you need to account for any dietary restrictions?
When planning activities for your event, think about how they fit with your event goal. Consider a mix of activities that can appeal to different personality types and ensure there’s space and time for people who don’t want to participate to relax and connect with each other. Some popular event activities include:
- Games and competitions
- Speakers or special guests
- DJ or live music
Book the services you need
Deciding which services you need and booking them in advance of your event will ensure nothing gets left to the last minute and you are not scrambling to find someone to take care of an essential task the week (or day) of your event. Depending on the size of your event you may need to hire:
- Helpers to setup and break down the event
- Furniture and AV equipment delivery
Publicize your event
Communicating event details to your team in advance will ensure everyone knows to block off their calendar and gets excited about attending. Figure out:
- How will event details be shared with your team?
- Send a save the date in advance for larger events and/or at busier times of the year
- Will there be any external communication?
Week of the event
The week of your event should be focused on confirming event logistics and wrapping up any last minute details.
- Send reminder to invitees
- Confirm timeline with all vendors and venue
- Create a document with a day-of timeline and contact information for vendors and staff
- Confirm roles with all volunteers or staff
- Pick up any last minute decorations or supplies
Event day should feel like a breeze thanks to your thorough planning. Trust that if you do hit any last minute snags, you’ll be prepared. On event day:
- Double check your logistics
- Remind your colleagues about the time and location and share how excited you are
- Arrive at the venue early to set up
- Check in with all volunteers and staff about timeline and expectations
Putting together an event is a big undertaking, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you need assistance planning an event for your team, Managed by Q can connect you with vetted event service providers. On our platform you’ll find bartenders, caterers, photographers, AV and furniture rental, security personnel, and event support staff. You'll receive one streamlined invoice for the services that you use. All that’s left is for you to bring the party!