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Expert Guide to Stress Free Event Planning

22 Mar 16

Organising an event can be a stressful undertaking – whether it’s a wedding, birthday, a corporate event or you just want to throw a party it can feel like there is so much to organise. To help you plan your event we’ve created a guide that should help you on your way.

Make a List

So you’ve decided throw a party the first thing you need to do is make is make a list. We would recommend splitting the list in two. List One should be the to-do list and List Two the shopping and equipment needs.

For List One break it up into time frames. For example two month before the event you need to send out invitations, book the venue and decided on a theme. By breaking up your list into bite size chunks with clear deadlines the tasks will seem more manageable. Make sure you update your lists as appropriate to help you keep on top of things.

For list two, we recommend splitting it into two again. One should be for food and drink and the other for catering equipment and furniture.

Create a theme/Colour Scheme

Once you’ve made your list you need to choose a theme or colour scheme. This is important not just for your guests but for you too. A theme lets your guests know what is expected of them – for example if costumes should be worn. Choosing a theme will also help you know what you need and can stop you going overboard, every time you think of something you might need or like take a step back and think does this fit with the theme.

You can have a lot of fun with a themed party. Choosing a theme will help influence the venue, choices of linen, table decorations, flowers, lighting and even menu choices. However, make sure your theme fits in with the type of guests you are expecting. Things to think about when choosing a theme are:

  • If you want your guests in costume will they enjoy it?
  • Is your theme possible within the budget and venue constraints? 
  • Does it make sense?
  • Don’t over theme your event. If you get carried away you risk your event looking tacky.

If you are organising your event around a colour scheme – think about what colours are appropriate to the event. For instance if you are organising an Easter party, use colours that evoke spring such as green or pale pastels. Take into consideration what colours mean for different people. In the western world white invokes purity, cleanliness and innocence. In some Eastern cultures it is the colour of mourning.


Booking a venue

When booking a venue make sure it can comfortably fit the number of people you intend on inviting. Most venues will tell you what the capacity levels are for different types of events. Location is also important. Ask yourself where your guests coming from and how will they get there. Think about accessibility for any disabled guests. If your event is located in central London it’s always best to have it close to a station.

When it comes to cost work to a strict budget. Does the venue have a flat rate, weekend rate or hourly rate? Will you need to allocate further monies for use of a venue’s facilities? Many venues, especially in the capital, have different rates for different days so being flexible with your dates can save you money. One way to save money is to have the event at your home.

Ordering your catering equipment and furniture

Whether your event is taking place in a hired venue or at your home. You may need to hire glassware, tableware and furniture. Most of the time it’s cheaper and more convenient to hire catering equipment and furniture then to buy. 

 The first thing to do is decide what you need. How many guests are coming? Are you serving three course dinner or a buffet? Will there be alcoholic drinks? If so what kind? If you plan on having a champagne toast you will need champagne flutes as well as wine and beer glasses. When you contact a hire company tell them what you’re planning and they can help advise you on what you need. Remember when ordering to stick to your budget. What you need to think about when hiring equipment is:

  • Style: choose a style that’s right for your theme
  • Matching: the catering firm can make sure that everything matches from tables, chairs, and linen to cutlery, crockery and glassware. Choose a quality supply company: Have they been in business for a while? Have they won any awards? Can you view their collection online? Have they been reviewed by previous customers?
  • Delivery: speak to them about the delivery options when will the equipment be dropped off and picked up.


Food and Drink

When ordering food you need to think what type of event you’re holding. If it’s a sit-down dinner, its best to hire caterers so you can enjoy the event too. If you’re holding a buffet and you plan on organising the food yourself don’t over buy.

When catering for large groups the old adage ‘less is more’ is worth bearing in mind. If you are serving a cold buffet think about choosing a centre piece such as Salmon and then create salads of different texture and food groups such as grain, potatoes and pasta. If serving a hot buffet pick a couple of one-pot style dishes and pair it with a carbohydrate like rice or potatoes. If you are serving spicy food make sure there is a mild option – not everyone likes chilli. For dessert offer a two or three options of differing shapes and textures such as a palate cleansing lemon cheese cake, berries and cream or a chocolate cake.

If you are providing your own food, don’t buy your food too far in advance. The best thing to do is to order it online. You can do this well in advance and arrange a delivery time for the night before or the morning of the event. This will ensure that everything is as fresh as possible.

When it comes to drink ensure it has enough time to chill. It’s best to have it cooling in the fridge the night before.

Accept that not everything will go as planned

‘The best laid schemes of mice and men, go often askew.’ Think of this of this translation of the Robert Burns poemTo a Mousewhen things don’t go the way you want them to. Despite all your meticulous planning not everything will go your way and this is fine. Most of the time your guests won’t notice – when actors fluff their lines and improvise the audience most likely won’t know, but the director will. Sometimes the improvised lines can be even better than the original. Flexibility and adaption are important in event planning. 

Enjoy it

This is the most important tip of all. It’s your event enjoy it. Whether you’re planning your wedding, a celebration for a loved one or a corporate bash – enjoying the event is what it’s all about and why you put in all that hard work in the first place. Plus your guests will be happier if you’re enjoying the event too.

If you are hosting or planning an event and are interested in catering equipment available for hire, Allens Hire has an extensive list of options for you to browse through. If you would like further information or to discuss options and ideas for your event, please call our London office on 020 8574 9600 or email If you are based on the South Coast, please call 02380 652316.