Ever had a party disaster that could have been averted with a good plan? My question to you before we even start this journey is, “can you afford to have a party at a venue or just at home”? It matters. A lot. I could tell you some horror stories of parties due to budget constraints. One party I attended ended early, no one wanted to stay as there was no food available. That also goes with cheap buffets, some people would rather go to the takeaway down the street, than eat tasteless sandwiches and mini rolls thrown on a foil plate and some won’t go back unless the beer is really good. I’ve seen horrible venues with sticky floors and disgusting bathrooms, sometimes the party could be OK but if the venue you’ve chosen is just awful, people will remember that more. And what about the day all the suppliers for a party showed up to the venue that was locked up and on calling and asking why found out they had no record of the booking. Our party catering Sydney menus are all excellent value for money and using us to cater for your party may prove far less expensive than you may have thought.
Don’t let these embarrassing things happen to you. If you’re having a party it has to be epic, even a party in your home should be memorable for all the right reasons. Have a great plan, these 10 simple steps will see you well on your way to an epic party.
The first 3 steps are the most important components of your party and have these steps done before you do anything else. These top 3 are the party makers and breakers, the top ticket items that your party should have and if you have budget constraints, these 3 are the only things you need.
1. Choose a Date.
Start planning your party at least 3 months in advance, 9 if you are really organised. Venues are cheaper on weekdays, Sunday – Thursday. Friday and Saturday’s are the weekend and ‘party days’ and can be more expensive. Consider bank holidays as being great dates for parties, a Sunday night that means no work on Monday, fab idea. Keep these things in mind when taking the next step.
2. Choose your Venue.
For a party, a birthday, anniversary etc. choose a venue such as your home, a pub, social club, or function room, for a more formal occasion you could choose a hotel, park, or estate house. After booking, pay your deposit and get your booking in writing, it should be a contract but at the very least a confirmation email with a receipt for your deposit, that you can print as proof.
Do Not; Book a venue without having a viewing.
Do Not; Make any more party plans until you have your venue booking in writing.
Do; Beware of the venue that states free function room when you buy their buffet. Remember the tasteless sandwiches and mini rolls thrown on a foil plate… avoid at all costs! The only time to consider this is if you have checked reviews and hygiene ratings, if all is well and it all looks great, then book it, it could be a good deal.
Do; Choose a venue that has the facilities you need. E.g. does it have a bar, wheelchair access, stairs, toilets, a place for the DJ to set up? A smoking area, tables, chairs, tables for the catering etc.
Do; Check to see if the place needs a little sprucing up like; do the bathrooms need some air freshener, liquid soap, flowers? Does the stage look grotty, put a glittery banner over it. When the lights are dim, these things will look OK with these helpful tips.
Do; Call your venue with your name and booking date and ask for the time of access for suppliers servicing your party by 1-2 weeks before. This is also a great way to have a conversation with your venue and confirming your booking again.
3. Choose a Caterer
A lot of people make the mistake of booking the food for their party last, you really could end up disappointed. The caterer is one of the first 3 steps after booking your venue. Ever been to a party without food? When people drink, they want food, even if it’s just a burger. I’ve been to parties where nibbles and cake have been served, this is fine for a teenage house party but not if adults are invited, people will leave early in search of food, you don’t want this to happen. Consider your budget, your guests and what food you love. Choosing a buffet should be fun, choose the best one for your food tastes and budget. Get menus from a few caterers and compare them. Make sure your caterer is fully registered, insured, licensed and have a good hygiene rating. As soon as you know which caterer you want to work for you, get them booked, pay your deposit to save your date in their diary a.s.a.p. You don’t need your guest count or even your menu finalised to secure your date in the caterer’s diary. Make sure you get a confirmation of your booking and/or a receipt for your deposit.
Do; Hire a caterer. Catering is a lot of work and stressful work for those who don’t do it regularly. You don’t want to be frazzled for your party, you should enjoy your party and guests, not work it. Everyone remembers the food so make it memorable but it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, there are great caterers out there, who will provide burgers and wedges along with a few flourishes, and your guests will be impressed.
Do; Find out if you have any guests attending with allergies or have dietary requirements like vegetarian, gluten free etc. and tell your caterer.
The steps that make a lovely party epic!
If you need a cake for your event, book it next. I’m hoping I’m not surprising you by saying this, but not all the best bakeries have shop fronts in your local village or town, some of the most amazing cakes I’ve ever had are from bakers who have their bakery in their own home kitchen. I know and have used quite a few and I’ve never been disappointed check Facebook for home bakeries, check their portfolio, hygiene rating, reviews and get that cake booked.
Are you having a DJ or live band? A clown or bouncy castle? A soloist or a string quartet? Whatever you have decided, do your homework, look at profiles and reviews. A great place to get free quotes from is FREEINDEX, they are the king for comparison shopping when shopping for services. I always get 5 quotes on FREEINDEX, that I can compare against each other. Other well-known sites you can get supplier quotes from charge the supplier extortionate prices just to respond to you, and so are not good if you want to compare quotes, you are unlikely to get more than 1 or 2.
6. Venue Dressing
When guests walk into your party, the wow factor immediately hits them through the ambience created by your venue dresser. SO, how do you want your room to look? what do you want? Something simple like colourful balloons? Something more romantic like flowers and candles? Or do you want to go all out with chair covers and sashes, tall candelabra’s, or even trees with lanterns tied in them. Whatever it is you want, a venue dresser has the ‘wildest dreams’ type of imaginations and are great people to bounce off your creative ideas.
Party invites should be sent out 8 – 6 weeks before the event date and your R.S.V.P. date should be at least 10 days before your party, you’ll find that your caterer will need final numbers by 7 – 5 days prior to the event date and once you get the guest count locked in, your caterer won’t be able to decrease your numbers only increase them.
You don’t need these but epic parties do!
8. Free Drinks
Whether you have a beer or wine put behind the bar for your guests and hand out drinks vouchers in your invitations or you have a glass of bubbly on arrival for everyone. Your guests appreciate the thought that the first drink to get the party juices flowing is on you. If the bar at your venue doesn’t do arrival cocktails like bubbly or mimosa’s, then get your caterer to do it. If your venue doesn’t have a bar or you’re having your party in a marquee in the garden, you can hire a bar from an independent bar company or your caterer.
9. Party Favours
I’ve come across a lot of party favours in my time, from rolls of love hearts, lottery tickets, bags of chocolate covered fruit, popcorn bags, sweetie carts, cupcakes, cigars, luxury chocolates, the list goes on and on. Although party favours aren’t important and you don’t need them, they are appreciated by your guests especially when it’s a little quirky. Sweetie carts can be a more expensive choice for a party favour but people love it. A chocolate fountain is also a very welcome idea.
10. Event Photographers/Photo Booth
A great way to have a keepsake of your party memories. People love them and put them up all over social media, turning your lovely party into an epic event in the lives of those who attended. Don’t forget to tell everyone your hashtag for your party, have a sign at the bar, so everyone can see your pictures from everyone else in the same place online. #stephsgreatparty #johnis21 etc.
Lorna Robins is the owner and operator of Buffet Heroes in Stockport, Manchester. Buffet Heroes is a British – American family run catering service that specializes in the traditional British buffet and American fare. http://www.buffetheroes.com. If you found value in this article or would like our help with your next event. Get in touch.
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