Hosting a successful social event requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure your event goes off with a bang!
Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley
Don’t wait until the last minute to organise your event. Calendars book up fast, and whether you’re hosting a charity auction or planning the party of the season, lay the groundwork well in advance to ensure success. Send out ‘save the date’ invites as soon as you have decided upon a date rather than waiting until everything is decided upon, and get in touch with potential venues and caterers as early as you can to make provisional bookings.
One of the advantages of planning ahead is that you often have your pick of venues, giving you the opportunity to find the one that will suit your event best. Never book a venue you haven’t visited – most will be delighted to give you a tour and tell you about the services they offer.
Choosing a venue that suits your event is vital. Aim to impress, and make sure the venue you choose is large enough to accommodate last-minute additions to your party. London has an impressive range of larger venues, from the Berkeley’s beautiful London based ballroom, complete with crystal chandeliers and mirrored ceilings, to the secluded Cannon Bridge Roof Gardens.
Whatever your event, the guest list is crucial. Invite busy people early on, and ensure that you have a mixture of people who will get along well together. If you’re planning a corporate event, see it as a chance to expand your business by inviting people you’d like to have as clients, and let them mingle with satisfied customers who will speak highly of your work. If some of your guests are likely to need overnight accommodation, be sure to ask about this early so that you can supply a list of suitable hotels or book rooms for them.
To avoid last-minute catering disasters, hire caterers you know you can trust. If you have recently attended a well-catered function, ask the person who organised it for the name of their caterer, or request advice from friends or colleagues. You can also check with your venue to see if they have an in-house caterer or recommend a particular company – hiring a caterer who is familiar with your venue is a good idea.
All good caterers should have a portfolio of previous events, with references from former clients, so be wary of very new companies or those that seem to operate with a minimum of staff. You should also be able to try sample menus and tailor your party menu to suit vegetarians, people with food intolerances and cultural preferences.
Make sure your menu suits the venue and event – buffets for open spaces, silver service for dinner parties and waiter service for cocktail parties and casino nights. Do not make food a barrier to conversation or planned activities by expecting people to juggle plates and glasses, or half your party will spend the evening looking for a chair with their hands full.
Keep your guests amused and encourage them to mingle. If you’re hosting a large, corporate event, consider including a game or activity that gets people working together and talking, such as a quiz or small group challenge. For family events or those where children might attend, hire a clown or magician to keep them entertained. For parties, hire a band or DJ that you’ve vetted in advance or seen live.
Once the hard work is over, have a canapé and raise your glass to a job well done!