Big events – weddings, family reunions, graduations – are fun. Family and friends come together to be together and celebrate. At the same time, for the host, big events can be stressful. Even with a lot of advance planning, the host is always the one burdened by last minute questions and emergencies. While there is no way to be 100% prepared, there are a few tricks that can avert some of the more common big event stressors:
- Plan in advance. This is sort of obvious, but the more you can get done beforehand, the easier the day will be. Cook and freeze meals, pack and label supplies, pre-open packaging, confirm hotel reservations, etc.
- Before the event, ask guests about food allergies and special needs. There’s nothing like planning a delicious spread, only to find out that someone can’t eat it. Food allergies can be serious, so offer choices and make sure you aren’t endangering anyone.
- Create a detailed timeline and email it to everyone. This list should include a schedule that details where people need to be at what time. Include addresses, parking directions and phone numbers.
- Specify dress code in writing. Large group gatherings come in all shapes and sizes these days: one event may be formal while another is “shorts and flip flops.” To save time and confusion, don’t assume that everyone knows what to wear.
- Consider hiring a photographer. Sometimes we feel pressure to document a big event in photographs or videos. The challenge is, while we are busy entertaining, we don’t have time to wander around and capture the best moments. If there isn’t a budget for a professional, perhaps there is a hobbyist in the group who would be willing to fill this role.
- Delegate specific tasks. Most people are very happy to help out, but just don’t know what to do. Make a list of tasks in advance that are specific and easy to hand off. When people start arriving, ask if they would be willing to take one of them.
- Arrange for off-site pet care. There is nothing like a crowd to agitate a pet. Additionally, guests don’t know the “regular routine,” and are likely to leave a door open or put food on the floor. To avoid an unwanted issue, move pets out of the space until the events are over.
- Assemble a first aid kit and have it with you at all times. Accidents happen, and having some supplies on hand can make the difference between a quick fix and a need to leave the event.
- Pre-pay whatever you can. For example, if girls are assembling to have their hair done for a wedding, pay the fee (plus tip) in advance. This will mean one fewer thing to handle on the busy day.
- Reconfirm everything the day before. Sometimes we make arrangements with a service provider and then arrive to find that things aren’t quite as we agreed. To avert this, plan some time the day before to do things such as visit a venue to make sure chairs/tables/etc. has been set up properly, confirm the time that the florist will deliver flowers, reconfirm the menu and arrival time with the caterer, etc.
If you have been given the job of hosting a big event, take a deep breath. There are many details, and some of them are sure to fall through. Keep a smile on your face and try and let the little things go. Remember, at the end of the day, sometimes the biggest “flubs” end up being the source of beloved family folklore in the years to come.
What tricks have you found helpful when hosting an event?