I LOVE organizing!!! I really LOVE organizing papers, but I also found that I’m really good at organizing events. I’ve organized parties for up to 350 people and a 4-day sales conference, including hotels, food and entertainment for 100 people and they’ve all gone off without a hitch.
So, I thought that I’d tell you about my experiences on organizing an event. Whether it is a family barbeque, a graduation party or a company party, you can make it a success too!
First of all you need to know what kind of event it is. A family barbeque is a lot different than a company party so figure out what kind of event that you want to have. This past weekend I put on our annual company party for 350 people. When we had the first one last June there was a lot of discussion regarding what we should do. There was the suggestion of a picnic but I work with a lot of mechanics that have been in the construction business for many years. They really were not interested in a picnic in a park where everything had to be “G” rated. Someone else suggested a hockey game but the boxes that they have were not big enough for that many people and way too much money. I guess I should mention here that I had a budget of $10,000.00 so money was going to be tight. I suggested going to a baseball game at the local major league ballpark – The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That sounded like the best option so I was tasked with finding out all the costs involved. BTW, at this time both of my bosses thought that even if we allowed four tickets per employee since we wanted it to be a family event, we’d only get about 100 to 150 people to show up.
Okay, so we knew what we wanted to do and where but then comes figuring out the costs involved in feeding and providing drinks for all these people. The stadium could cater it but that ran about $40 per person on top of the ticket price so that was not going to be in my budget. Even though it would have been the nicest and easiest way to do it. I then decided to see about having a tailgate party in the parking lot prior to the game. While the stadium allows these, they do have strict rules regarding them. One – the food vendor could not be paid cash in the parking lot during the party. Two – there is no alcohol allowed in the parking lot. Now, if you’ve ever been to any type of tailgate party you know that there is alcohol. It’s one of those things that if they don’t see what is in your cup, they turn a blind eye so one problem solved. As far as the food, I contacted a local Taco Food Truck that we use for meetings and he was happy for the business. I ordered wristbands with our company name on them so that he could only serve food to those with a wristband. He quoted me $9.50 a head for 4 kinds of tacos, rice and beans so that would work. He’d come an hour early to set up and have it ready to go at the time we’d be ready to eat. Costco for the drinks – water, soda, diet soda for about another $200 I figured.
The next thing was trying to get a head count. The stadium needed a final count 2 weeks before the game with a deposit for the estimated total when we booked the date. We looked at all the home game dates and decided on the first Saturday in June. I then sent out text messages and emails to all the employees explaining what we were planning and asking for a response of how many tickets they would need with a limit of 4 per employee. I told them I needed the response within a week. Now, remember that my boss didn’t think I’d get more than 150 people to go so imagine their surprise when I got responses for 315 tickets. I rounded up to 325 at $18 each and made the reservation along with paying the deposit. Since we were coming in under budget, I also paid for one $10 parking pass per employee so that was another $850.00.
Between the time I booked the stadium to the day of the game, I sent out flyers and text and email reminders to get everyone pumped up and also asked for volunteers to come early to “mark our territory” and get things set up. Several of the mechanics with trailers volunteered to come when the stadium told me the gates opened – which was 3pm.
On the day of the game, I pulled into the parking lot at 3pm to find most of the tailgate area already full. I was scrambling to try to rope off a big enough area until the other people arrived to help. Come to find out, the lot opens at noon so we could have come earlier. We ended up with plenty of room but were crowed in between the cars.
Everyone showed up and had a great time at the tailgate party and then at the game. We had an entire section during the game to ourselves so we could mingle around during the game also. The only problem we had was that the taco truck didn’t bring trash bags or cans and the parking lot didn’t have them either so our guys were picking up trash and taking it in their motor homes to get rid of it.
The final budget came in as follows:
Parking $ 850
Credit Card Fee $ 40
Total: $9997.00 – $3 under budget
This year the employees wanted the same party so it was much easier the second time around even though we had more people (350) since the ones who didn’t go last year heard what they had missed. We got there at noon to stake out our place this year right under the Big A! We took trash cans with bags and our own caution tape. Obviously with more people I needed a larger budget but we kept the same taco truck since everyone loved it. Everyone had a great time – except for me. After being there since noon and it was a lot hotter than last year, I got faint and overheated and my blood pressure dropped significantly so I ended up going home before the game started. Not how I’d planned that one!
So, my takeaways for organizing events are:
Get a rough estimate of how many people will be attending so you can get an idea of what size of venue you need.
Find a venue location that is convenient to all and within your budget
If you need to provide catering start getting bids at least a month in advance
Verify with the venue the time frames that are important to your event
To cut costs, consider purchasing the drinks yourself and having someone bring them
Remember the little things like cups and trash cans
Don’t get over heated