6 to 12 months in advance:
Purpose Choose the purpose of the event. Is it a celebration, a fundraiser, or something else? This will influence the kind of event you will hold.
Theme Choose a theme that is relevant, but also interesting. Cliche themes won't attract many guests.
Site Look around for places that can hold the event. Meet with potential space providers.
Manager You might need to appoint someone, or yourself, as event manager.
Committees Build committees if they are required. With a big enough event, you might need several of them and need to appoint a chair for each.
Estimates Get estimates for food, drinks, space and rental equipment. This will help with budgeting.
Event entertainment If providing artistic entertainment, hire well-known entertainers or hold auditions.
Sponsorships Determine if you will require sponsorships. Build a sponsorship sheet, with the different levels, so that potential sponsors know right away at what level they want to participate.
Budget Get an initial budget from the financial committee. This step is very important.
Licences Check if you need any kind of permit or license to hold an event or serve alcohol.
Proposals Review proposals for decorations and printing.
Admission If charging a cover, decide the price.
Mailing list Build a mailing list with potential guests or businesses to contact.
Date Choose a final date and check for conflicts with your providers.
Designer Choose your graphic designer and draft the documentation and invitations.
Printing Order the printing for invitations, hold-the-date reminders and other early stationery.
Marketing Build your marketing timeline with your public relations specialist.
Reserve your professional photographer and have any pre-event photos taken.
3 to 6 months in advance:
Committees Hold committee meetings regularly, and request reports.
Funding Send your requests for funding to your potential donors.
Sponsors Ask your confirmed sponsors for their logos for publicity printing.
Stationery Meet with your graphic designer and confirm the design for all printed material.
Printing Order the printing for posters and other stationery after the design is finalized.
Tickets If required, have the admission tickets printed and ready for distribution.
Mailing list Write down the final mailing list for guests, and print the letters or send the emails.
Contracts Sign the contracts with the entertainers.
Posters Build a list of potential poster locations. Send out people to verify the availability of space.
Public relations Plan your publicity and interviews with television and radio stations, and printed media.
Catering If serving food, build the menu with your caterer. Make sure you consider the dietary requirements of your guests.
Permits Request permits from your municipality if required.
Insurance Sign an insurance contract with your insurer.
Celebrities Confirm celebrity participation in writing.
2 months in advance:
Pre-event party Organize a party that coincides with the sending of invitations.
Invitations Write personal notes for the invitations and have them mailed.
Posters Have your posters distributed and placed at previously chosen locations.
Accommodations Reserve accommodations for your VIPs, if required.
Transportation Arrange transportation for your VIPs, if required.
Media Confirm the presence of the media at your event. Assign journalist passes.
Sponsors Confirm sponsorships and request logos for the final program.
Committees Request final plans from each committee chair.
Budget Review and finalize the event's budget.
Tasks Build a final task list leading up to the event.
1 month in advance:
Tickets Follow up on ticket sales. Call any guests that haven't responded yet.
Publicity Place your ads in newspapers, television and radio.
Staff Hire staff for the day of the event.
VIPs Confirm VIP participation in writing.
Space planning Build space diagrams for the room or rooms, build a table plan and assign seats.
Catering Provide guest estimate to your caterer, and request a final quote.
Timeline Review the timeline for the event, and confirm the scripts with participants.
Traveling Organize the traveling arrangements with VIPs.
Security Confirm security needs and appoint a security agency.
1 week in advance:
Meetings Schedule last-minute meetings with committees. Work out final details.
Attendance Confirm final attendance with ticket or table sales.
Staff Confirm the staffing for the event. Hire any necessary extra staff.
Timeline Provide the timeline to all event participants.
Catering Confirm final catering order.
Beverages Confirm final alcohol order if not provided by the caterer.
Media Confirm media coverage with journalists or stations.
Rehearsal Schedule and hold rehearsals if necessary.
Cheques Write the cheques that need to be given to providers on the day of the event.
One day before:
Attire Lay out your clothes for the event. Prepare a change of clothes in case of emergency.
Supplies Verify that all supplies are available or confirm with providers for their delivery time.
Day of the event:
Arrival Arrange to arrive early to receive all deliveries and finalize last-minute details.
Inventory Make sure that all supplies are on hand.
Timeline Confirm scripts and timeline with VIPs.
Staff Confirm positions and tasks with staff.
Technical setup Make sure the lights and sound are working properly with your technicians.
Rehearsal If holding a final rehearsal, have it a few hours before the event, after the sound and lighting have been set up.
Have a great time at your event!
If you are looking to plan an event for your business or a charitable organization, this checklist is for you. We have put together this list to help you prepare your event as efficiently as possible. Hopefully, you are not the sole person responsible for planning it, so feel free to break it down and distribute the tasks among your colleagues. Depending on the size, a major event can take 6 months to a year to prepare; last minute planning will only make things more stressful and more difficult to control. You will have to start from the ground up by asking yourself and your colleagues basic questions about the purpose and the theme of the event; be ready to spend a lot of time brainstorming about the many possibilities. We hope this checklist will form the backbone of your planning strategy, and that you will keep it on hand whenever you work on your event. We have conceived it as a tool to help you create the perfect event for your organization.
If your organization has held such an event before, check the archives for previous suppliers: if you had a good experience with them in the past, there is a good chance that this good experience will repeat itself. Suppliers enjoy repeat business and will certainly be happy to help you again. If it is the first time your organization has such an event, make sure you get reviews from other customers; the Internet is especially useful to find those. Request quotes before you contract with any supplier. You may also want to retain the services of a public relations specialist when dealing with printed and electronic media, especially if your organization has little experience with them. Again, make sure you go to a reputable agency for these services.