Social Event Planning 101

Social Event Planning 101

If you’ve been put in charge of the social event planning for a gathering with family, friends or colleagues, the task might at first feel overwhelming.

And if it feels like you don’t know where to begin, try not to stress! 

We’ve put together a social event planning guide to help ease you into your role as an event planner and get you moving through the event planning process. Rest assured, with a handful of simple tricks and a quick social event planning checklist, you’ll soon be hosting the party people just can’t stop raving about. 

Whether it’s your best friend’s backyard wedding or charity event for a nonprofit organization, event planning consists of coming up with the concept, finalizing the details and checking things off the to-do list.

From building your team to planning activities, here is a checklist of the top five things to think about when planning your next social event. 

Build Your Team

As part of social evenings planning, you’ll need a team! Even if you’re planning a small, intimate event, collaboratively working with a team helps streamline the process (and tends to make it more fun and less stressful). As you build your team of event planners, think about where each individual’s strengths lie. Someone might be a good visionary who can conceptualize the event and see the whole picture. Another might be good at crossing tasks off the to-do list and ensuring that everything gets done on time. Building your team builds the foundation of the event and allows all the minor details to fall into place. Eventually, it’s those minor details that turn an ordinary event into an extraordinary one.

Develop Your Budget

When it comes to social event planning 101, developing a budget is always a good place to start. If you’re working with little to no budget, for example, you want to make sure you select the right event venue or work within your contacts. A budget will determine whether you can hire caterers, a DJ or a bartender. It will also help you stay mindful of where you are spending too much and where you have room to spend more. If your decor is getting out of hand, it might break into your food budget. These are all things that are good to map out and consider beforehand so you don’t run into issues the week before or the day of the event. 

Create The Menu

One of the most crucial and anticipated parts of social events is the menu. Depending on what sort of event you’re hosting, there are many different ways the menu can go. For a casual daytime affair, a taco buffet might be your best bet. For something slightly more sophisticated, like a fancy cocktail party in the evening, you might lean towards organic catering with tray-passed appetizers and glasses of champagne. You can go the route of something more creative, like a food truck, shaved ice stand, ice cream cart or wood-fired portable pizza oven. A full-service catering company that brings everything from the linens and flatware to the servers is probably who you want to hire if you’re looking to make the event as stress-free as possible. There’s always the option of a potluck where each attendee brings a dish — or you can enlist the help of a few key players to each create an appetizer, entree, side or dessert. Food and drinks are a key part of social events planning and add a personal touch of style and theme.

Set The Location

After you set the date, you’ll want to book the venue. Season, time and day of the week will impact the cost of your event location if you’re planning to hold it in a traditional venue. A hotel might be more expensive on a Saturday night in the summer, for example, then on a Sunday afternoon in the early spring. You can also go the route of hosting your event outdoors, like at a nearby park or the beach. If you’re working with a smaller budget, or want to give your event more of a personal feel, consider hosting it at a family member or a work colleague’s home. When you’re setting the event venue, the size of your group will determine whether or not you can comfortably fit everyone, so make sure to map out your guest list and get a feel for RSVPs ahead of time. Inquire about whether or not the location has entrances that are accessible and see how many restrooms and parking spaces there are. All these minor details will factor into knowing if the location is a good fit for you, your guests and your event. 

Plan Activities 

If your social events planning checklist includes activities, you’ll want to give yourself an ample amount of time to plan and prep them. Activities can be simple, like setting up a DIY ice cream bar with all the toppings. They can also be active, like a game of bocce ball in the backyard. For certain functions, like a work mixer or a large bridal shower, it might be nice to do an ice breaker so that folks get to know each other. The type of activities you plan will go hand-in-hand with the type of event you’re hosting. As a good rule of thumb, sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and brainstorm! 

Whatever sort of event you’re planning, we know you’ll do a fantastic job — especially if you keep these five social event planning tips in mind! From birthday parties to team-building seminars, the most important part of any event is to come together, learn from one another and have fun. 

At Eco Caters, we’re here to help relieve the stress that comes along with planning an event. Whether it’s a private gathering, a corporate lunch or the cocktail party of your dreams, we’d love to work together throughout the planning process to fine-tune your food vision and help create a memorable event. 

From all of us at Eco Caters, thank you for reading our guide to social event planning 101! Now go out there and plan a stellar, sensational event! For additional information, see our blog post on event planning in San Diego.


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