Seasoned Party & Event Planning Tips
Planning a corporate party or event requires lots of organising, creativity, logistics and attention to detail. Getting the right people in a room to celebrate means getting the right people to help you host them in style. As London’s original caterers, we have plenty of experience in event planning. We’ve put a few tips together to help with the process and assist you in putting on and pulling off a successful event.
Planning your event
A great event or party gets talked about year on year for all the right reasons. Learning from what works and what doesn’t work is a great place to start. Working with an experienced partner and bringing your own knowledge to the table, helps side-step any party poopers. If this is a new event for you it might be worth conducting a survey to your potential guests to see what type of event and format they prefer. Taking inspiration from other events is also a good way to inspire the type of event you host, we have a few case studies here that might spark some ideas.
Choosing your event format
The type of event you throw can be very influenced by the format, to a point this sets the tone. How formal or informal you want or need the event to be can influence the food and drink, steer the venue choice, and direct the dress code. Dinner Party or mixer? Sit down silver service or alfresco appetisers? Canapes and cocktails, amuse bouches and bubbles, or Negronis and nibbles? These are important factors to include or rule out from the outset.
Types of event dining
Banquets, bespoke menus and bowl food can make for a very special or social occasion. Dessert stations, donut walls, or intricate desserts that look like art on a plate. It’s all about the food and drink when it comes to format. At Payne & Gunter we cater for every type of event, so we’ve got the casual and conventional covered.
When to send event invitations
Dates, start times, duration, close, and carriages all need to be organised well in advance of the event, so people can confirm their attendance and make arrangements. Save the dates are also important to get people to reserve the day or night before all of the details are fleshed out.
The events agenda is the core framework around which all the event’s activities will be planned, so these should be as fixed as possible from the outset. However, building in some contingency would be advisable.
Selecting an event theme
A concept that ties your event together can set the scene and impact the look and feel of the entire event. This can span the décor, the dress code, glassware, entertainment, the menu, and venue. Seasons and occasions can help direct the theme – a winter wonderland, a nautical knees-up, or a Christmas Party with festive flair.
You can be as bold as brass with a theme even incorporating fancy dress for guests, this can break the ice and make the event feel more unique. Or if you want to go with something a little more understated there are plenty of little touches that can make a difference, rather than come on too strong. For example, the produce from the area of the event can influence and feature on the menu to localise the event simply, or perhaps a Christmas Party has a choir singing carols whilst guests sip on mulled wine.
We’re well practiced in helping create themes and concepts and also working well within as well as interpreting briefs where existing ideas can be built upon and reflected in the catering experience.
Selecting an event venue
Getting a venue that works for you, means getting the architecture, the ambiance and the amenities just right. Payne & Gunter is extremely proud of our venue partners, with a variety of versatile event spaces across London. We are also pretty well practiced in creating marque events in greenfield sites and parks. We can cater for any party inside and out.
Beyond the venue aesthetics, understanding access and surrounding amenities of event venues is critical to make sure travelling to and from is easy for your guests and that they’ll have all they need to keep them comfortable.
Venue images clockwise from top left: The Natural History Museum, London Transport Museum, Cutty Sark, Madame Tussauds
Event access & amenities
Location, Location, logistics! Every good host needs to provide a warm welcome and safe passage home, so from entrance to exit it is important to ensure the journey to and from the event is as seamless as possible. Great transport links, valet parking, and nearby accommodation are important factors to consider ensuring guests can relax in the knowledge that they spend most of their time enjoying the event, not getting there and back. Keeping guests comfortable with dedicated facilities is a priority, whether that’s plenty of porta loos or bathroom attendants to refresh and pamper guests.
Event food & drink
Food and drink make a party and the recipes need to satisfy appetites whilst looking the part on plates and in glasses.
We offer menu design and can create bespoke menus to reflect your event and make guests feel that they are sampling something unique and special. And don’t forget the refreshments, from mocktails, cocktails, champagne receptions, craft ales, and coffees and teas we have a tipple that's to every guest’s taste.
Event catering service
Servers with a smile and as attentive as you like. Our people make sure your guests are waited on hand, foot and finger so they feel welcome and want for nothing. We make sure we’ve got plenty of hands on deck so that your guests never feel neglected. Getting a team together from scratch could be very time consuming, and a bit of a risk. It’s essential that you have caterers that have access to the right people as and when you need them.
The catering team need to rely on the kitchen facilities and so working with a partner who can work from anywhere is important, and if they need to construct their own kitchen, they have the equipment and experience to do so.
The food and drink needs to look the part and suit the occasion so whilst it’s great to be experimental and creative sometimes keeping it simple suits larger events where quality over quantity options are on the table.
Combining business & pleasure
What better way to wrap up a conference or product launch with an after party that makes people feel well looked after? Getting the right people in the same place at the same time is like herding cats, so once you’ve got them in the same location, why not make the most of it. The after party can be a nice ending to an inspiring conference, perhaps it is the year ahead sales conference to kick off sales targets with a bang, or an end of year wrap up that coincides with the Christmas Party. Alternatively, an art exhibition or product launch can provide the perfect occasion to promote items, whilst networking and socialising.
Magic, music, comedians, comperes, motivational speakers, photo booths, singers and dancers, in crowd theatre, fireworks, charity auction, or escape artists – whatever the draw, the talent gets people excited and looking forward to the main event, so to speak. Again, this is a great focus around which a theme and format can be tailored or vice versa – perhaps the theme influences the entertainment.