Summer brings with it a flutter of invites, as it’s the season for weddings and celebration. Most people have at least a couple of events to attend. Outdoor events are wonderful in the summer months – if the weather stays fine. White tablecloths and patterned table runner with stunning flower arrangements and bunting gently blowing in the wind are what we envisage. Of course the sky is always a perfect blue, with the occasional fluffy white cloud! Reality can be totally different, with the weather being so unpredictable. A little planning will ensure that even a thunderstorm won’t spoil proceedings. Plan for all eventualities and if the weather is perfect, it’s a bonus.
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If you are hosting an event this summer, make sure your event is remembered for all the right reasons by following the tips in the remainder of this article. The earlier you start planning the more smoothly the event will run. Ensure that you meet event regulations in your area, especially if fireworks and music are going to be a feature.
Your choice of venue will be dependent on how large your event is going to be. To keep costs down a garden party in your own garden would work well, if you have the space. This option will also allow the planning process to be easier, as you’re on site to meticulously plan proceedings. If your event is large you may consider hiring a venue. Everyone needs to have sufficient space to move around, but too big and the party can feel a little lost. Check what facilities the venue offers, they may be able to provide catering and toilets.
Once you have decided on your venue take lots of photos and measurements, so that you can plan where everything will be situated.
If you are planning on having live music or a DJ, the equipment will need access to power. It will also need weather protection.
Plan your venue
One of the essential parts of planning an outdoor event is deciding where everything will be situated. You will need to plan a seating area and dance floor. If you’re are using portaloo style toilet facilities decide where you will situate them, preferably away from the food area. Most portaloos are not lit, so as the sun sets you need to ensure you have sufficient lighting at your venue, both for safety reasons and for creating ambiance and atmosphere. Consider positioning Pagoda Lights around your venue, most crucially in areas where people need to be able to see clearly.
Where to position food and the bar is another consideration. You will need guests to be able to access the food and bar areas easily and not to be too far from the seating area. Consider the distance needed to transport the food too.
If guests are travelling to the venue by car check out the parking area, will it be sufficient for the numbers you have attending? If your event is very large the amount of traffic may affect surrounding homes and businesses, so it’s worth checking with local highway authorities.
Provide your guests with detailed information on how to travel to the destination, where to park and the details of local hotels if your guests wish to stay over after the event.
Ensure you plan a covered area, just in case the weather turns bad. A gazebo or large canvas marquee would be good options.
What food to serve your guests will most likely be at the top of your list of priorities. If you’re having your event at home “bring a dish” is a popular option. Everyone brings a dish of food to share with the other guests. You will to retain a little control over what people bring, otherwise you could end up with lots of sweet dishes and no savory. Also give your guests an idea of portion size so that all guests are catered for.
If your venue provides catering and you are happy with the price and what they offer, that’s another task ticked off your list! The venue may also provide waiting staff, crockery, cutlery and glasses too.
If you wish to hire outside caterers for your event book ahead, as the summer months may mean that popular caterers are in demand. Ask for samples of the type of food they offer and look for reviews and recommendations from previous events they have catered for. Ensure you provide enough food for all of your guests and consider offering variations to take into account dietary requirements. Ensure there are plenty of vegetarian options.
A hog roast is another popular option and it is cost effective, seeing as it feeds a crowd. If you have children attending your event ensure there is food that will appeal.
Keep the drinks flowing, without the need for people to queue for long periods of time. Hopefully the weather will be hot, so keeping everyone hydrated is a must. Whether you serve alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks is down to your personal preference, but always ensure there are soft drinks available for the drivers, teetotallers and children. Tea and coffee is always appreciated and is a must for afternoon tea in the garden.
Ensure you hire plenty of bar staff if your event is large and make sure you have sufficient glasses, whether they are paper, plastic or glass. Ice will be appreciated if the weather is warm. A lukewarm G&T is not as appealing as one with ice and a slice!
You’ve ensured everyone is fed and watered, so what next? Most parties tend to naturally flow with no embarrassing breaks in proceedings, however if you really want your event to have a focus you should consider having some kind of entertainment. You could hire a band for some live music, a DJ with a large range of “tunes” to keep everyone happy or you could go for something a little different by hiring a magician, juggler, acrobats and dancers!
Remember the children at your event by providing entertainment or activities especially for them. If the children are happy their parents will be able to relax and enjoy the event.
You now have the enjoyment of decorating the venue according to taste or color scheme. You can really allow your creativity to take over. Many people consider having a theme for their event such as fancy dress, medieval or Hollywood.
Whatever you choose, with a little forward planning your guests are sure to have fun!