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10 Planning Tips to Make Your Next Event Really Special

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/20/2006 | Finance
Weve all been there a special occasion is coming up, and youre suddenly put in charge of making sure that it all comes off perfectly!

Knowing where to start and what to do to ensure that your event is indeed special can be a little overwhelming, especially if youre new to the process. Here are some insiders tips that will help you to stay on top of all the details.

1. Start early. Whether your event is a yearly happening such as a prom, fundraising event or special birthday, or if its a one-time occasion such as a 50th wedding anniversary, the earlier you can start means youll have a better chance of booking the location, entertainment and date that you want.

2. Go the extra mile to make it really special. Adding little touches like hand lettered place settings, or designing your own program may seem like a lot of work, but they are what help to make your event special and unique. It doesnt have to cost a lot of money, if you use your imagination and get creative. Think outside the box, and look for new or different ways to use items that youve already got. See what you can borrow. If youve got friends, volunteers or family members who have creative talents, invite their participation and let them come up with ideas.

3. Get help. Planning a special event is not a one-person job. Its really amazing what you can achieve when you dont care who gets the credit. Break the event into specific components and then ask for help -- create a planning committee, a fundraising committee, and an entertainment committee -- whatever fits your needs and your event. Then stand back and let them get to work. Your job should be coordinating the effort, not trying to be superwoman!

4. Expect the unexpected. You may as well get used to the idea that no matter how well you plan, how many contingencies you take into account, there are always going to be things that you cant control, and something is always going to go wrong. Once you understand this, youll find you can deal with those little unexpected kinks in your plan. (Of course, it never hurts to have a back-up plan for your back-up plan just dont get crazy!)

5. Dont sweat the little stuff. Most event planners, fundraisers and organizers are typical type-A personality people. They have high energy, theyre creative, detail-oriented, and able to leap tall buildingswell, you know what I mean. So if that sounds like you, remember this on the big day as long as no ones life is hanging in the balance based on the outcome of your event, relax. Youve done everything you could do, and gave it your best effort. What happens now, is going to happen. Your new priority is to get out there and have a good time! (While you keep an eye on all the rest of the details, of course)

6. Keep the lines of communication open. While its not necessary to involve everyone in every single little detail, its important that people know whats going on with your event, and that they have access to the information they need to do their part. And, if something does go wrong, the sooner you know about the glitch, the better your chances are going to be to put Plan B into action.

7. Be a cheerleader. Theres always a surge of anticipation and excitement as the day of the special event gets closer. But while youre working on the project, and the day seems very far off, its important that you share your excitement with the rest of the group. Help them to see the big picture, to feel what you feel about this special day.

8. Dont forget to say Thanks. Remember when you were younger, and your mom always made you write your thank-you cards after every birthday or Christmas gift? Follow her wisdom and advice now, too. Make sure that you thank the people who helped you make your special event so special. But instead of writing an ordinary Thank-you card for the people who really put in extra effort and commitment, why not get creative? It doesnt have to be expensive to come up with a way to thank the people without whose help your event wouldnt have worked. Some ideas are: special certificates made on your computer, handmade Thank-you cards, gift certificates, a special book, calendar etc. Let your imagination be your guide.

9. Reflection, Recognition and Evaluation. As soon after the event as possible, gather everyone together. This could be a good time to pass out those certificates of merit, or you could just thank everyone again verbally. Create a one-page Event Evaluation and ask everyone to fill it out. Finding out what went really well, as well as what didnt will help you figure out how to make your next event even better! (Remember, this isnt a time to place blame or point fingers. This gives everyone a chance to pat themselves on the back for a job well done, and start the vision process for the next event.)

10. Begin planning for the next event now. (See number 1.)