5 Steps to Start Planning an Event

Whether planning for a gathering of friends, an office party, company open house or even a wedding, many of the same rules apply.  It is good to remember to do what you love and outsource what you don’t enjoy! For me, I love the details and making the event customized and special.  I don’t enjoy the food preparation, so my favorite saying over party planning is, “I didn’t make it, I MADE it happen.” ;o)

Step One – Theme

  • Planning events comes naturally to me and  is something I have always enjoyed! When the kids were little, we had birthday parties where we would make our own cake (no matter how badly it turned out) and it always was tied with a theme.  I find that once I have a theme for an event, my creativity juices start flowing.


  • Birthday – What is their passion?  Golf, gardening, the outdoors?
  • Company Party – Is it an appreciation event?  Is there a special holiday around the same time as your event?  Click HERE for our Sweet Perks Calendar that is filled with fun and wacky holidays.  
  • Wedding – What is the season?  What colors do you just love?  Do you enjoy the outdoors? Do you appreciate a traditional type of setting?  Do you and your partner LOVE coffee? If so, you might want an Espresso Bar at your wedding!
  • Gathering of Friends – What is in season?  Do you enjoy wine together?  Or maybe you want to focus the cuisine around a certain country.

Step Two – Date & Time

  • Once you have the theme, you’ll want to set the date and time of the event!  Depending on budget, logistics and other variables, you can have invitations printed or you can use many online tools such as: Evite, Green Envelope, and Zazzle just to name a few.  Invitations can be free or you can spend more for the customization you would like.
  • Send out the invite for weddings and industry events – 2 months in advance
  • Send out invite for most other events – 1 month in advance
  • P.S. Nothing is wrong with a spontaneous get-together with friends or at the office, and the details don’t have to be all planned out.  If you get a wild hair or there is something that needs to be celebrated,make it happen! Sometimes those are the best events.

Step Three – Food & Beverage

  • There are lots of options out there for both of these!  Think about your theme to decide what kind of food you want and how/where to source it.  We have all enjoyed letting Costco do the work, and you can also have everyone bring something to share.  I find a lot of foodies love bringing their speciality and seeing everyone enjoy their efforts.
  • Catering – Plan on having enough food for 75% of the number of people you think will be there.  For example, if you think 100 people will attend your event, order for 75. There is always too much food left over, and let’s face it – life happens and not everyone who said they would be there, end up showing up.  That saves you a little money and leaves less to clean up.
  • Alcohol Beverages – I often get asked if Pacific Perks has an “alcohol bar” … stay tuned!!  In the meantime I would recommend a company like My Bartender or Tin Cantina (margs served out of a retro camping trailer).  They do a great job of creating drinks or customizing a cocktail and taking care of all the liability so you don’t have to.
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverages – If you want to have some fun … take a look at an Espresso Bar, Smoothie Bar, Perks Energy Drink Bar, Frappe Bar, Italian Soda Bar or a Gourmet Hot Cocoa Bar.
  • Dessert – The best part!!  Everyone will have a little dessert so make sure to not have too much.  Also, keep the size of dessert on the small side. I find people are more likely to have a little taste of dessert.  Think about centering the dessert around the theme. For example, for my daughter’s Graduation Party, we had a Boise State theme for her college choice.  We used a BSU cookie cutter and had local bakery making blue & orange “B” cookies. Have you thought about an Ice Cream Cream Sundae Bar?  It is easy to add Root Beer Floats or Ice Cream Sodas.  

Step Four – Decor

Going back to the theme of the party can really help you create some fun decor!  Here are some of my favorites ideas and links:

  • DIY  Balloon Garland Kit, line the driveway with balloons tied to golf tees, check out Pacific Balloon Company for other great ideas. 
  • DIY Photo Booth – Fun backgrounds, Polaroid background – this can be done by getting foam core board from Dollar Tree ($1!) and cutting out a section for the “picture.”  You can label the bottom to match the party theme or celebration! #Class of 2020
  • Make-Your-Own Italian Soda Bar and/or Energy Drink Bar – it is easy, fun and your guests get to have fun experimenting.
  • Centerpieces can add so much!  You can work with a local florist (check out Stem Floral) or DIY floral arrangements.  Picking one solid color with a little greenery looks great!  Put them in Ball jars or other unique vases.  
  • Rentals – Add linens and/or table runners for a pop of color!  Your Party & Event Center is great for ordering tables, chairs, bistros (a must-have for any party), linens, props … the list goes on and on!

Step Five – Logistics

  • Get organized on when things are going to arrive for set up.  You need at least 30-60 minutes prior to the event start time.
  • If you are having sponsors, speakers or outside vendors at your event, make sure to create a Logistics Sheet and include the following:
    • When they should arrive and be set up
    • Where they are setting up
    • Wifi password if applicable
    • What is provided for them and what they need to bring
    • Attire or theme of the party
    • What time teardown takes place

Now that you have some event planning basics, it is time to Promote, Reward and Celebrate the most important people in your life.  And remember, you don’t have to MAKE it; just make it HAPPEN!


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