At many companies, corporate events aren't covered by any specific department because they're not a regular occurrence. That means employees likely take turns taking care of these important functions, and when your name comes up, you want to really rise to the occasion, even if you've never organized a major gathering before and even if you'd rather someone else handle such things. It's your responsibility to plan, prepare, and perpetrate an outstanding time for all and you can do it, with the right attitude, a good plan and a few helpers.
1. Start By Networking And Delegating
Since this is the first corporate event you're organizing, you want as much input from company regulars and insiders as possible. Ask people about past successful events and what made them so memorable. Find out what the company president's favorite foods are, what themes and activities may have bombed at previous company gatherings, and so on. Your due diligence will be appreciated by everyone and should lead to a smashingly successful event, with your name on it.
2. Create A List Of Who Is Responsible For What
Formalize your intentions for pulling off a successful event by naming names. Give specific people specific tasks as early on as possible. You want to oversee absolutely every element of the planning; however, since you can't conceivably do it all by yourself, assigning tasks on an individual basis (rather than creating a voluntary sign-up list) should ensure that everyone carries their weight, creating less of a burden for you.
3. Select A Theme For The Occasion
If you're tasked with choosing a theme and decorating for the event, make decisions regarding these things early. If you're new to the company and not yet too familiar with the personality of the establishment, opt for a conservative theme and tasteful decor. Consider who your audience is, the brand identity of the company, what the goals of the event are, and the impact this event will have on people and the company's public image. Be cautious of today's politically correct standards to avoid possibly offending anyone.
4. Plan A Healthy Menu That Incorporates All Tastes And Allergies
While you want to create a healthy menu for everyone attending, you should also consider special interest eaters. A staggering 90 percent of Americans consume more salt than they should, for example, meaning everyone enjoying your catered event could benefit from low-sodium items without, hopefully, compromising flavor. Consider spices that tantalize the palate over salt, and you just might convince a few people to try doing so at home if the food is tasty enough. Plan on placing ingredients lists by the presented food, including things like calorie counts, sodium amounts, and fat content. Be sure and highlight special menu items that those with allergies or on restricted diets would appreciate:
- Vegetarian and vegan
- Kosher or Halal
- Diet and low-calorie
- Heart-healthy (low or no sodium and/or saturated and trans fat)
- Common allergens, including milk, eggs, nuts, and shellfish
5. Contact A Corporate Caterer
The caterer you choose can make or break the entire event; thus, you need to verify the experience and reputation of the business you select. If possible, find out who successfully catered previous corporate events for your company and go with them again. If not, pound the pavement until you find an event caterer that can implement your existing plan with precision. Look for a corporate catering service with friendly, flexible people so you can be more productive through the crucial planning stages. Ask lots of questions, including how many staff members will be supplied the day of the event, who sets up and breaks down equipment and furniture, and when you can sample the food they'll be providing.
6. Decide The Venue, In-House Or Off-Site
If your company has an in-house venue, that should work to keep you within budget. If it doesn't, find one that suits your theme and can adequately house the number of individuals you're hosting. Ask the caterer if there's a particular venue they've worked closely with and would recommend, especially if you aren't finding enough information upon which to base your decision.
7. Revamp Your List, Creating A Last-Minute Checklist
Once you're satisfied you've brought the event out of the planning stages, go over your lists to make sure you've accounted for everything. From chairs and napkins to appetizers and beverages, let nothing escape your attention, lest it's likely to become a major obstacle on the day of the event.
8. Check With Your Delegated Staff
See that all the people you expect to be there for you are organized and ready; ask if they need any last minute supplies or have any last minute questions. If you can, have a few back-up people ready to fill in, just in case your roster sees an absentee or two on the big day.
9. Arrive At The Event Early And Connect With The Caterer
Plan on being the first person at the venue so you can check everything coming and going. Have your seating chart ready and be prepared to make adjustments as the furniture is arranged. Connecting with the caterer means you know what to expect and who can help with unexpected emergencies, such as spilled sauce or missing mayonnaise. Exchange numbers with the head caterer and other problem solvers, so you can all contact each other quickly if you need to. Being able to put out small fires throughout the day should lead to a successful event overall.
10. Mix, Mingle, And Get Constant Feedback From Attendees
While you don't want to go hungry, most of your time should be spent waiting on VIPs, checking the buffet, tables, and other important elements. Since you did so well with every other aspect of the event, all that should be left is to take credit for a job well done.