Everything comes by experience. Some details come by enquiries. Whichever way you look at it, there are still mistakes bound to happen and this blog post is a ready reckoner for those who would love to organize parties for their loved ones calling all near and dear. Particularly this post reflects on a recent birthday party I had for my son. Some important experiences I underwent while organizing this party has made me to pen them down here so that people organizing similar events would get a clue as to how to go about.
- I first wrote down a list of main invitees
- I then counted how many people are totally there in each of the invitees families, which gave me a total invitee count
- I logged into www.evite.com one of the well known invitation sites and added the main invitees and prepared a detailed invitation.
- I presented/mailed the invite to everyone I added so that step one was done.
- The total invitee list stood at a little over 200 (including family members)
Getting the people to respond:
This is no doubt the worst part of all, but then the organizers have to understand that the stakes of a birthday party are high. The main costs involved in organizing the party today is that of FOOD. Hotel’s charge per head and its generally about Rs.120 upto Rs.250 or even Rs.300 for some high end resort style hotels. So even for a meagre 100 people, this works out to Rs.12000/- bucks just for good. To add the icing to the cake, the hotel charges separately for the party hall in case your guests are less than a hundred. So basically this high cost covers only the FOOD and/or the party hall itself. Absolutely nothing else.
Always plan an event in advance. This will give you enough time for you to go behind people for their responses on their availability. This may mean calling them until they respond or even daily birthday reminders by email, but so be it. It is important that we learn to estimate almost exactly on how much food is needed to be served.
Nothing comes free:
Remember that nothing comes free. There is no such thing as a free lunch! So barring the party hall and food there are many more things that cost money and time to organize. This includes games for the party, the birthday cake itself, the music, magic shows, tattoo-ers, return gifts and so on.
Event organizers cost money. So do different parts to an event. Lets go over these briefly.
The cake is supposed to be chosen carefully from a cake joint that is not only well known but also one that serves up fresh cake even if the event is on a sunday morning. Reliability is the key thing here as we cannot afford to get embarrassed without a cake for the birthday! Also check out shops that provide good designs and an egg/eggless option. Remember that NOT everyone coming to the party may want an egg based cake. One of the things I found in Bangalore is that the list you see of the designs available are rarely translated into the original thing by the bakers. Unfortunately reproducing a said design is an art and the end result is directly dependent on how good the person who produces that art really is. The safer bet would be to go for one of those normal shaped cakes which not only are made to perfection but also don’t have much fuss associated with it in terms of preparation.
The games for the party are plenty. Some entertainers for the party not only entertain children present but also the adults there. While its impossible to find the perfect entertainer, its equally impossible to judge whether the chosen entertainer would do his job well. This was one of the biggest failure points of my party. A few suggestions for the party entertainer are these:
- Its preferred to find a friend or someone inhouse who is very talented in handling entertainment and event management in general
- Never go with the people the hotel suggests unless their reliability is verified. Unverified people not only present things badly they also give a general perception of incapability to put up with children and adults. Its best to go by word of mouth for hiring such people.
The music is charged for extra. While this is normal due to the setup involved I have found no one to be using some good quality speaker systems to conduct the event. This is disappointing really and I would love to see people hiring good bose speakers and the like to maintain clarity in the music. It otherwise boils down to a loud noisy package of din and disturbance rather than something pleasant. Even though you may find it costly go for a good system to enjoy the show properly.
The magic show creators and guys who put tattoos on children are quite creative with their work, so no worries here. They cost some bit, but its ok for what they finally are able to bring up in terms of their performance. These two would be a good hit with children.
Additionally I hired a caricaturist who came up with some spell binding caricatures. Though initially people did not appreciate what he started off with, he was the star of the show, to the end of the party as he proved to be a major hit with the adult crowds as well. These are the people who matter really and who can decide the success of an event single handedly.
Finally the decoration and the return gifts. These are by choices and the people doing the decoration do a good job usually with different themes to our liking. The return gifts are something we need to buy and choose for our near and dear ones. One suggestion though is to buy different sets of items according to the age profile of people (kids) coming to the party. You don’t want to be giving a toy to a 10 year old kid do you? So you need to plan accordingly.
This is where the event planning in advance helps a lot. Start atleast a month in advance so that you don’t get stuck anywhere.
Some final words for a great party:
- Choose a hotel wisely
- Choose the food package wisely. Less items are ok, as long as they have quality
- Invite guests quite early on in the planning and ensure they respond on their availability
- Always provide guests with a detailed map to reach the place along with your contact numbers
- Ensure the hotel readies the chairs, tables and decoration as per said date and time, this requires followup regularly.
- Ensure you keep the party to start after 11am or after 6pm.
- Ensure you hire good event managers, and good audio systems
- Ensure you plan your return gifts properly according to age profile of kids invited
- Ensure you add some good stuff like caricature, or even singing events as need be
- Ensure that you choose the right level of room decoration according to your budget
- Always follow up with stakeholders to bring them to function on time
- If you can find inhouse talent to handle the show use them
- You dont need expert photography, ask your budding photographers within the family to show their skills, its a good opportunity for them
- Always choose an egg cake and an eggless cake and ensure the cake does not have too much of colour in them (dye)
- For a crowd of 80-100 people a cake of upto 4kgs is enough. Increase accordingly by proportion if more people attend
- Always ensure the games planners keep kids occupied while adults get time to mix and talk with others around
- Always ensure you welcome guests, and keep speaking with them. Its a nice opportunity to introduce your guests to one another so that new friends are made.
- Always keep a tab on food necessities and keep the men organizing the lunch or dinner to be on their toes – you have paid for this and this is the most important thing in the event – the FOOD!!
- You can keep distributing return gifts to kids right from the beginning of the function, you will not have time to do this later
- Ensure you have paper plates, spoons, and mainly water with cups – these are bare minimum essentials.
- Ensure you have a couple of kitchen tissue rolls, these are very necessary and will certainly be used.
- Ensure party hall has a room to store your personal belongings including the gifts your kid receives
- Ensure you have upto Rs.10000/- in hundred rupee notes or five hundred rupee notes during the time of the function to pay off organizers as they leave. Alternative would be to settle upfront or after the function to avoid extra money from being paid without your proper notice.
- Bear in mind that food gets wasted. I had 115 final invitees of which 80 made it. The rest of the food IS A WASTE and won’t be packed for your guests if required. Its therefore very important to plan exact quantities of food properly.
LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST, CONSIDER DONATING MONEY TO A BLIND SCHOOL OR A KID’S ORPHANAGE FOR COVERING THEIR FOOD EXPENSES OR OTHER NEEDS. This is the best thing you can do to wrap up the party in style.
If you encountered any other experiences you would like to share, please comment on this post for the benefit of others. Thank you!