Event Design Series: Day 4 – Budget

Continuing our discussion of event design (and please, make it a discussion by commenting)…

More about our Event Design Series here at Day 1, and where the questions came from

Day 4: Budget: What tips do you have for a client that has a very small budget but wants a big impact?

Inexpensive table centerpiece of glitter paper, shadowbox frame, and candles
Materials available at most craft stores for around $15USD. Design concept by EJP Events.

I will try not to write a novel here, although it’s very tempting. Budget is always a concern, even for so-called “big budget” events – no one wants waste or to go over. Here are a few thoughts:

1. Manage your and your guests’ expectations. Remember that your target budget needs to reflect real life. For example, whatever your target event budget is, take about half of that for food and drinks and set your style/formality level from there. So a $30/per person event has a roughly $15/per person meal (including drinks and service!), so keep it casual!

2. Focus your efforts. If there’s no budget for an item like decor or party favors, remove it from the program rather than trying to do it halfway. If you design what you do have carefully, attendees often won’t notice what you didn’t include.

2. Cut your guest list. The number one element that affects the budget is the scale. Each additional guest means an additional chair, spot a table, place setting, invitation, print suite, meal or food, drinks, and rental items. Also – carefully manage your invitations and RSVPs so you don’t purchase for guests who don’t show up. You will get fewer guests than you expect more often than not.

3. If you are doing any event functions in-house or DIY in order to save money, start early. There’s nothing more morale-killing at an organization than giving a job like registration/nametags, decor, or setup to your employees (or, in the case of a wedding/social event, to your relatives and friends) and leaving things until the last minute. Your hoped-for “big impact” will wither and die as people sense the stress of your DIY staff or volunteers.

4. Choose a venue wisely. For example, if there’s no budget for decor, avoid sites with little built-in appeal that cry out for flowers or lighting. And if a speaker is an important component of the event, look for a venue with a great sound system included in the rental (and test it!).

5. Support “lean” events with customer service. If you are having to cut back on food or decor, chances are these are less noticeable if your guests are treated well and with personal service from the time they register to the time the exit the event.

Have a tip on event budgets you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below!

Trying Out A New Resource for Canvas Prints, Car Magnets, and Promotional Materials { Sponsored }

canvas prints

I recently had the opportunity to sample Printcopia‘s online canvas prints service. I found the interface to be fairly straightforward and easy to use, and my print arrived within 7 days. While I’m not sure this would be the solution for personal items needing professional editing and cropping such as wedding portraits (please use your professional photographer for those!), I found the self-service canvas prints to be of excellent quality and more than adequate for my needs as an event planner. These would be great for display materials for tradeshows and decorative marketing of event photos around the office.

Printcopia also offers car magnets, custom banners, and inexpensive signs — items that all of us as event planners need to use at one time or another. I haven’t tried these items yet, but if they are the same quality as the canvas print I was able to sample, this would be a great resource to add to my list.

Disclosure: We received a complimentary 11×14 canvas print sample prior to writing this review.

Need a deal on event space? Ecotrust is offering Community Grants to nonprofits

 I am often contacted by non-profit groups looking for a planner to help them find affordable meeting and event space. Community groups should note that Ecotrust is offering Community Grants for just this purpose.


http://www.ecotrust.org/events/community_grant2010.html

I love that one of the preferential criteria is “Events that are unabashedly hopeful in nature”!

Note that Community Grants cover the cost of space rental only, but not support services such as catering or rentals.

Deadline is January 21, 2010, so get cracking.