“Doing your own event planning sounds like a quick and easy way to save money,” Brogden says. “But once you throw yourself into organizing the menu, arranging the entertainment, figuring out the decorations, printing and mailing the invitations, and making decisions on a thousand details, you realize how much work it really is. Your stress level rises and you’re not having fun anymore.”
While an event planner is best equipped to handle all these details for you, Brogden says most people don’t hire event planners for smaller occasions like graduations, family reunions, anniversaries, birthdays, bridal or baby showers. So they try to do everything on their own, which often leads to anxiety. “That stress can create a bad experience for you and your guests,” she says.
For those who want to plan their own event, Brogden offers the following advice for reducing stress and putting the fun back into those special occasions:
1. Keep it simple. “Too many ideas leads to information overload and feeling overwhelmed,” Brogden says. She suggests picking a theme and sticking to it. “Once you decide on an overall theme it’s easier to make decisions about food and decorations. Your theme guides everything you do.”
2. Establish a budget. “You want to make it memorable, but you don’t want to still be paying for it months later,” Brogden says. “Deciding on the maximum dollar amount you want to spend sets a healthy boundary so you don’t get carried away with things that are nice to have, but not necessary.”
3. Keep the guest list short. “It’s better to do a great job entertaining a few friends than to do a mediocre job trying to entertain a large crowd,” Brogden advises. “A smaller guest list can help with your budget, reduces overall stress, and makes the occasion even more intimate and special.”
4. Stay within your comfort zone. According to Brogden, a big stressor is taking on more than what one can easily handle, whether it is a complicated menu or an elaborate tablescape. “Do what you are confident in doing,” she says. Her biggest tip? Don’t try out new recipes on your guests – stick with traditional favorites that are proven crowd-pleasers.
5. Delegate as much as possible. Brogden suggests enlisting a spouse, children, friends, or neighbors to help with preparation and clean-up. “You also need someone to help you during the event – for example, serving drinks while you greet your guests. You can’t do everything yourself.”
6. Don’t wait until the last minute. “It sounds cliché, but most people have a meltdown the day of the event because they’re rushing around, trying to quickly pull everything together,” Brogden says. “Plan well in advance, and have everything you need in place a day or two before the event, so you can be relaxed and happy to see your guests when they arrive.”
7. Consult with a professional. “Most event planners want to work on big events with big budgets. But just because an event isn’t as big doesn’t mean it isn’t as important,” Brogden says. She offers a Virtual Event Planning service, giving clients access to her by telephone and email, so she can help them talk through ideas and provide feedback and direction from a distance. “It really helps just to bounce a few ideas off of someone else. Thanks to the Internet, I can guide you every step of the way so you can concentrate on celebrating with your family and friends without stressing out over all the details.”
Karla Brogden is a nationally recognized award-winning event planner and tablescape designer with over 20 years of experience in organizing, decorating, and executing special events.
To get more creative ideas for planning, designing, and hosting your event, visit KarlaBrogden.com .