Welcome, welcome to the first part of my two-part event planning series and a sorta update from my Author Launch Party series found here. I absolutely loved writing this series almost three years ago, it was packed and I had so much fun. AND don’t forget, this month’s FREEBIE printable. You can get it right here if you’d like, but do return to enjoy the good information below.
Smaller Soiree’s and Intimate Gatherings
The first part is about the smaller, more intimate party type events, when I say that I’m talking about a small event at someone’s house or maybe at a small community room at your local community center or parks and recreation buildings, where the rental fees are fairly reasonable.
First I wanted to go over some myths that I have rethought about event planning over the years.
- While I was never beholden to the idea of a theme, wherever I am on the spectrum, I’ve decided you don’t really NEED a theme. Is it helpful? Yes. I do believe that without one, you may have a more difficult time deciding and narrowing down what should be included in your party but it’s not impossible. Plus at the end of the day, what is theme? Working around a central subject or ambience and setting and that doesn’t have be formal, it can be a look or atmosphere you’re striving for, or a feeling. Not major for my new author types, you should really try to do something within your books, either using the food or somehow creating the same settings and subjects running through your prose. Now that, would be awesome. BUT my main point, if you don’t have one, don’t stress.
- You can do it all…. You can but you might end up exhausted, angry, unable to enjoy your party, really annoyed by the smallest snafu’s, or you could end up in the hospital. Truly, many people have symptoms of stress masquerading as something more and it’s compounded by little stressors that turn into larger issues when ignored. Yes that’s extreme, but it does happen. Plus, I don’t really think you can do it all. Take greeting people and being able to mingle and conduct other aspects of your party. If you don’t have any greeters of even just one other person to tell people where everything is, people will come to YOU for everything. Plus greeters are at the entrance or the “front” – as the host or the author, you can’t stay at the entrance all day, you have to move around. Remember to ask friends and family to help out, give them ONE task and one tasks only for the day or evening and that’s it! You’ll feel so much better. See one more tip about asking for help in my Free Event Planning Cheat Sheet and Printable
- You need food that lasts and lasts – No, you don’t. Yes, this is a hard one. My motto is that everyone who arrives in the first hour to ninety minutes of the event will eat IF your eating and mingling is during the first hour to ninety minutes. This is not a conference, this is an event. People can get pretty uptight about food but also remember that not everyone likes everything you will have, that’s just the way it goes.
Let’s move on to the rest of my tips.
- Develop a CHECKLIST with TIMELINE/ASSIGNED TO NAME
This is super easy – choose your date and work backwards outlining everything you have to do. Also if you can, assign specific tasks and delegate to your team. Before you assign tasks, I would make a short list of the pleasant, always friendly and warm people in your life that help you anytime you may asks. Do the list of those names first and then the tasks, it will be more clear who should do what. With the names you’ve generated, here’s some tasks that they can do, who would you have do each one?
- Greeters / Registration
- Set up/Clean Up Crew
- IT / Sound Technician – depends on what you’re doing
- Back up – one or two floaters to help out where ever needed
- Casher – depends on if you’re selling a product e.g. book/CD
2. GATHER INSPIRATION and IDEAS FROM OTHERS (EVERYWHERE) TO DESIGN YOUR CONTENT
I’ve mentioned in the past that Pinterest is a wonderful tool for just about anything but it is especially helpful for event planning and ideas. Whatever you see that you love, whether DIY easy or expensive, always DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOU AND YOUR BUDGET. The more you do at the event, the more you have to do to prep for the event. There is so much information already out there, take some time to look at all the ideas.
On my FREE PRINTABLE THIS MONTH – I list a bunch of resources that really upped the appearance of the electronic invitation. And remember there is nothing, NOTHING wrong with an electronic invitation. They can be just as beautiful. E-vite is a wonderful tool but since it’s inception, there are not even more kinds of electronic invitation sites available that I like that just give a tone of elegance and are visually very nice and a step above what E-vite offers. Remember, make it fun and related it back to your personality and your theme (if you have one).
One VERY important note about any invitation, NEVER FORGET to list an RSVP by (cutoff) date (do this regardless of sending electronic or print invitations because it does not matter). There will always be people who feel like they can just show up. Not much you can do about it. You’ll need to make accommodations in your meal, chairs and other important parts of the event for usually I’d say about 5 – 8 people that are coming but refuse to RSVP. You may have been that very person a time or two in your life so it happens. But remember, there’s also another 5 – 8 people that said they were coming and don’t show. I’ve always seen things work out fine. But ALWAYS, ALWAYS put a cut off date. I also think you should put a cut off time unless you like people to stay forever and the venue is rented well into the night. You don’t have to rush people out as the final call approaches, but if an event ends, it ends and a good three hour, four hours, and shorter for smaller events, is enough time to get done whatever you set out to accomplish by having the event in the first place. As for the cut off date for the RSVP, this should be realistic, say anywhere from three days to a week or so before the event date that you can still make adjustments and if you are using a professional place or a hotel, they will have their own dates when they need head counts and they usually put that information in your contract. If they don’t be sure to ask.
4. ALL OF IT… START NOW… CREATE the INVITATION and INVITE LIST
You can’t start your invitation list or any part of the planning process for that matter, early enough. I have ideas for a party now that probably won’t happen until 2019. Anything you want to go well and run smoothly has to have a well prepared list of things and attention to details. I’m not a fan of just thinking about an event and tomorrow, oh lets have it. That’s asking for chaos if you ask me. So really take time. Who is coming? What are we going to do? What kind of food will we have? Where will this food come from?
Also, start looking at the invitations you receive in the snail mail or electronically. Hold on to the snail mail ones if you like them. Keep them and start a small, off Pinterest, inspiration board for your party/event.
When thinking about WHO, start a list of people. Go through your contacts, there will be people you forgot about and then, you’ll be surprised at how many people you can come up with and who will want to come. You also have family in the area and your Mom/Dad/SO’s friends/family that will expect an invitation too!
5. PLAN A REALISTIC BUDGET with WIGGLE ROOM
Yes, I hate budgeting too but only you (or you and your SO) really know how much you have to work with and really no one else need to know this information at all. The reason why I think that you generate lists of ideas and numbers of people first is because depending on what you come up with, the list of invitees, the theme or the decor, venue and food and content, is that you’ll start to see how quickly things add up and honestly, the biggest costs of any event is the food, second to that, depending on where you’re having it, is the venue and any specialty items. Will you have music or a musical guest, will you do music from an iPod or other computer, tablet electronic device and on and on. It’s up to you to do what you feel is important but it’s also up to you to know what/how many you/your venue can handle and what you can afford. As you start to approach that number, you can scale the event up or down and you can trade things off your list for cheaper items or seek to barter items you don’t have. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and to get creative.
You really don’t need a lot to plan a spectacular small event and intimate affair, when you really settle down and just finesse out some details, you’ll find that your preparation and your checklists are key. You will also find (but not usually until AFTER the event) that people just want to sit down, relax, laugh talk and of course eat. Everything else will work out fine. People comment more to me, after an event, about the nice people they met more than any food or music you painfully selected and agonized over.
This month’s FREE PRINTABLE Event Planning Cheat Sheet has all the resources and extra details you need to start generating awesome plans for your upcoming event. Note, some of the resources will discuss book events and launches (what else is there) specifically but they can be used and applied to any types of event you choose.
Next month, I’m talking about planning a conference type event, like a writer’s conference or empowerment seminar which I do right here every year for my annual writer’s conference, called The Publishing Summit. It’s so much fun and we’ll go behind the scenes with pictures from last year’s event. If you’re local to the Virginia/DC and Maryland area and are interested in writing, come join us by registering here and check it out!