The Ultimate 12-Month Event Planning Checklist

event planning checklist

If you’re not a professional event planner and you’re asked to organize a large (or small) event, the task can seem completely overwhelming. Where do you start? What do you do and when? There are so many moving parts and pieces to planning an event, but with a comprehensive event planning checklist, you can smoothly navigate the process and put on a fantastic event!

The key to a successful event is planning ahead, but all of the planning tasks can become unmanageable very quickly if you’re not organized. The Event Planning Checklist from AttendStar will keep you organized and on track to create an event that people remember for the right reasons.

You can click on the previous link to download the complete 12-month event planning checklist and start using it now. The list is divided into seven steps based on activities and timing:

1. Important Promotion and Ticketing Items

How will you sell tickets for your event? What will you do to spread the word and motivate people to take time from their busy schedules and money from their wallets to attend? Before you do anything, you need to make sure you have a marketing plan in place, which includes choosing a ticket sales tool that makes it easy for you to not only sell tickets but actually promote your event, too.

As an example, AttendStar makes it easy for you to not only sell tickets online but also to preprint tickets, communicate and promote through email, boost word of mouth marketing, and so much more. Your event will fail if no one comes, so be sure to put together your marketing strategy early!

2. 6 to 12 Months Ahead of the Event

A year to six months before your event, you need to think about budget. Of course, depending on the size and type of event, your budget could vary greatly. Venue, food, performers, speakers, sound, lights, decorations, and signage costs – to name a few – will directly affect your budget and the ticket prices you charge.

At this point, you also need to identify your event sponsorship levels and amounts and get all of your contracts in order. As you near the six-month mark, you should be securing sponsors, inviting VIP guests, and releasing press releases about performers, speakers, VIPs, and/or honorees. It’s also time to compile your mailing lists (both email and regular mail) and start early promotion efforts.

3. 1 Month before the Event

At least one month before your event, you should be finalizing all of the logistics. This includes transportation, accommodations, security, equipment deliveries, staffing, and so on. You should meet with all of your vendors to confirm everything in writing and have backup plans in place.

Furthermore, this is the time to finalize the event timeline and scripts, assign seats (if necessary), give guest estimates to the caterer, finalize decoration plans, and finalize the site plan or room diagram. Also, you should continue advertising the event, particularly in local publications and news media.

4. 2 Weeks before the Event

If you need to sell tickets at the door, now is the time to get ready! For example, with AttendStar Local, you can use a credit card swipe device to sell tickets at the door. These devices aren’t expensive and will save you so much time and frustration versus cash transactions.

Of course, you should still be promoting your event. You still have two weeks to sell tickets, so make sure you sell as many tickets as possible by investing in a marketing push during the lead up to the event!

5. 1 Week before the Event

With just seven days until your event, it’s critical that you confirm all of the details. Make sure all of your vendors and staff have your phone number and you have their numbers. No matter how much you plan, things will go wrong, and you need to have access to the people who can help you solve those problems at a moment’s notice. In fact, it’s a great idea to hire two to three people (or secure two to three volunteers) whose role is to help with emergencies.

Schedule rehearsals and set up staffing assignments, and do a full walk-through with all personnel. Don’t forget to determine how much petty cash you need to have on hand for tips and emergencies on the day of the event, and write out checks for any payments that are due on that day. Finally, keep promoting!

6. 1 Day before the Event

When the 24 hour countdown begins, you need to make sure the countdown to purchase online tickets also begins. For example, if your event begins at 6:00 p.m., your online ticketing application should close sales before that time.

This is also your last chance to recheck all of the equipment and supplies that have to be brought to the event to confirm everything is where it should be. At the same time, double check that your petty cash and vendor checks are ready.

7. Day of the Event

This is it! You’ve spent the last six to 12 months planning this event, and it’s finally here! Be sure to arrive to the event early wearing clothes you can get dirty in. Unpack all of the equipment and supplies to confirm nothing is missing. Double check the refreshments and meal schedule, and go over the final details with the caterer and staff. Set up the registration area, and check the sound and light equipment as well as the staging before holding the final rehearsal.

Once the logistics of the day are completely taken care of, you can change into your event clothes to greet VIPs and make sure they’re in the right places. Also, greet the sponsors and performers or speakers, and ensure they have the appropriate scripts if necessary. Finally, make sure your cell phone is charged and have a battery-operated charger with you in case you need a charge during the day when you’re not near an outlet!

Your Next Steps

If you haven’t already done so, download the PDF version of AttendStar’s 12-Month Event Planning Checklist. Print it out and check off each item as you go. You’ll stay more organized and feel less stressed when you know you’re on the right path. Even if you’re not a professional event planner, you’ll be able to plan an event like one when you use this checklist.

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