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Thump
11-11-2008, 11:08 PM
This isn't for a story I'm writing but I put it here because it may well help others as well.

I volunteered to organize a formal masquerade next spring. About 300 people, catered, not a lot of money. I've never so much as organized a prom.
I want this to be one heck of a party. How should I go about doing this? What are the dangers to look out for?
I've considered hiring a pro party planner but I don't know about how to select one (rather than a scam), also,I rather like the idea of it being "homemade".

Thanks for your advice :D

WendyNYC
11-11-2008, 11:19 PM
Is this a fundraiser? If so, I wouldn't hire a party planner. Save your money for food and decorations. Do you already have a venue?

I've chaired a few fundraisers that size. Your first step is to find a place, then get estimates for caterers if needed. What's the budget?

Popo Agie Flow
11-11-2008, 11:33 PM
Will you sell tickets?

Even if it's not a fundraiser, don't hire a planner.

Who are the attendees (i.e., business organization?, not-for-profit group?, anyone who wants to come?)?

You volunteered. Get a handful (or two handfuls) of helpers.

Delegate tasks (decorations, food: sit-down or hors d'oeuvres, entertainment, favors, prizes, donations).

There's more, but this is a start.

Most important: HAVE FUN.

Thump
11-12-2008, 12:47 AM
Right now, I don't actually have a budget. As in, I don't have any money. However, there is a good chance at sponsors as it is an event for my university program which is one of the best in the country.
I will be selling tickets, I'm tentatively going for 25 GBP max since most of the guests would be undergrads and postgrads although I will also be inviting industry people.
It's a publishing program, btw, anyone here wanna donate? ;)

I have a couple of venues in mind, I've only started planning so I haven't contacted them in person yet. It's on my list of priorities. I'm hoping to get good prices from the university itself and its caterers.

Scrawler
11-12-2008, 02:25 AM
I suggest getting some books or researching wedding planning. It's basically about the same thing: venue, invites, food, music, decor, favors, budgeting, time-frames, etc.

WendyNYC
11-12-2008, 02:31 AM
If you have NO money, you should probably get your sponsors first and then decide what you can do. You'll have to put up half to book the venue, and for the caterer. A formal dinner for 300 will be expensive. Less, obviously, if you have it at the University, but still. It's expensive for food and people to staff the event.

I agree with PAF about putting a committee together. Maybe you all can think of ideas.

waylander
11-12-2008, 02:32 AM
Get a venue now!
Places that hold these sorts of events book up months in advance

Fern
11-12-2008, 02:58 AM
First order of business is to make a list. #1 should be place and #2 on that list should be menu/refreshments. Someone else gave things to add, PAF's post I believe

Second - make a list of persons who will be attending. See if you can pull names from that list for prospective assistants.

Don't wait too long on firming up a commitment on a building - you may have to pay a deposit. I've had them slip right away from me when I've tarried too long. You think no one is interested in the building and you have plenty of time, then all of a sudden someone else has paid a deposit.

Delegate to your assistants, but don't forget to check on their status occasionally. Don't want to get to the last minute & figure out someone hasn't upheld their end of the job.

I've been wanting to have a masquerade party for years but can't get my husband interested in it. I always thought it would be fun to do one of those mystery solving "who dunnit?" games at a masquerade party. 300 might be too large a gathering to attempt that though. You could write your own script rather than purchase ready made game.

Dangers to avoid - Not quick enough on firming up place - running out of refreshments (if serving liquor, might want to limit drinks) - assistants not completing tasks and leaving you hanging at last minute -

Couple of suggestions - Send "save the date" cards early, and make them irresistable so they'll mark their calendar now - get on the fund raising immediately - Get your costume early -

Popo Agie Flow
11-12-2008, 04:22 AM
Right now, I don't actually have a budget. As in, I don't have any money. However, there is a good chance at sponsors as it is an event for my university program which is one of the best in the country.
I will be selling tickets, I'm tentatively going for 25 GBP max since most of the guests would be undergrads and postgrads although I will also be inviting industry people.
It's a publishing program, btw, anyone here wanna donate? ;)

I have a couple of venues in mind, I've only started planning so I haven't contacted them in person yet. It's on my list of priorities. I'm hoping to get good prices from the university itself and its caterers.


Ferret out the expenses (place, food, decorations, favors, etc.) then build your budget--that'll help you determine how much to charge per ticket.

I heartily agree with the others: get the place NOW, but don't take the first one you see.

Go to the university president's office; ask the administrative staff to share their experiences with large formal events at your university. You don't have to take their counsel, but you'll get some great ideas, and if you stay in touch with them through your planning you might sell some tickets to the top folks

Seek help, financing, and guidance from professors, students, and alumni.

Get the industry folks to back you with money or books (raffle prizes to raise money, and door prizes).

Book stores might sponsor tables or offer prizes for Best Costume, Best Whatever, etc.

MaryMumsy
11-12-2008, 04:50 AM
Consider having a cocktail buffet, rather than a sit down dinner. It is usually cheaper per person. And you need far less staff for serving. I would highly recommend having a cash bar, not paying for alcohol for the masses. Since it is intended to be a fund-raiser, no one should balk at buying their own booze. Good luck.

MM

ideagirl
11-12-2008, 06:16 AM
This isn't for a story I'm writing but I put it here because it may well help others as well.

I volunteered to organize a formal masquerade next spring. About 300 people, catered, not a lot of money. I've never so much as organized a prom.
I want this to be one heck of a party. How should I go about doing this? What are the dangers to look out for?


Look at books on wedding planning. There are a lot more books on that than books on party or ball planning, but the basic gist is the same: you're planning a big, formal-dress (or something like that) event where a lot of people will want to dance, eat and drink. In other words it's very much like a wedding reception. So raid your local bookstore and/or library for books on wedding planning, and see where that gets you.

IceCreamEmpress
11-12-2008, 09:10 PM
Go to the university president's office; ask the administrative staff to share their experiences with large formal events at your university. You don't have to take their counsel, but you'll get some great ideas, and if you stay in touch with them through your planning you might sell some tickets to the top folks.

I second this advice. There may be some small "seed money" available to help you get started, too--when I worked in university administration, we had a student activities fund which could be used by student organizations for just this kind of thing.

Soccer Mom
11-13-2008, 12:19 AM
Does the university have a formal hall or venue that they might let you use for free?

2Wheels
11-14-2008, 02:36 AM
I have a relative who is a professional event planner - especially for fundraisers etc. I've learnt a thing or to from them...

Few things you might want to consider:
1. Getting sponsors. What can you offer them in return for their funds/silent auction/whatever-it-is donation? A table for four at the event? Two free tickets? The opportunity to distribute a sample of their product to your guests? Their name on a billboard at the entrance?

2. Guest speaker/Emcee. Someone entertaining/topical. Give them a couple of free tickets in return. If it's an author, give them a table to do a book-signing, set up promo posters of their work etc.

3. Doorprizes/best costume prizes. From your sponsors? Maybe.

4. A good amateur photographer (there are lots around) willing to take pics of the event.

5. A writeup in the student rag/local newspaper afterwards (if guaranteed ahead of time, can be used to lure sponsors if their name will be mentioned in the article).

6. Foodbank donations made by the guests. Bring a can of ...?

That's a few things to think about. Good luck!