Saturday, October 29, 2011

5 Cost Saving Event Planning Tips

Whether you’re planning a charity event and looking for the best return on your investment, planning a party for friends from your personal stash of cash, or on a tight budget at work, these 5 tips will help to make your party successful without breaking the bank.

1. Invitations
Email invites can be a great way to slim down costs. Social media sites take a ton of work out of the process, but I will caution that using Facebook invites for a work event or LinkedIn invites for a personal party may not be appropriate. Instead there are many sites available that help you design invitations, event registration pages and include systems that help promote and organize your events.

My favorite site for professional event marketing is The combination of email promotion, event webpages and custom registration help you create a custom image without too much time, knowledge or effort. And the cost to use Eventbrite: a free event costs you nothing. If you’re charging for your event you’ll pay a nominal fee for each transaction or pass this fee to the ticket buyer. For personal events I’d recommend checking out sites like or; both sites allow you to send personal invitations and manage RSVP’s online.

2. Food & Drink
Negotiation for some can be scary, here’s a few tips to make the process less daunting. Almost everything is negotiable. Decide before you start meeting with catering companies what you’d like to pay per person attending. Think about the kind of menu you’d like to serve and how you’ll start that negotiation process. Like all negotiation, start low on price and set high expectations. Clear expectations are key.

As much as we’d like to give everyone what they want at the bar, its not always possible. Most will drink what’s available, keep your menu simple. One red and one white wine, a light and a dark beer. With too many options, you’ll need to overstock which leads to waste. 

3. Staff
It’s common knowledge that volunteers are the best way to cut down on staff costs. So what’s the key to getting volunteers and assigning them to a specific task? First think about what they’ve done well in the past and their interests. Also, take time to ask them how they’d like to help. Volunteers that are excited about their part will work harder and take responsibility. Share your list of to-do’s, make jobs clear including the time you’ll need the person available. Just like working with a caterer, it’s important to state your expectations.

4. Decoration
Check with the venue of your event to see what decorations they have available, many times you can use items left from past events, with a few alterations you can make them unique to your event.

The dollar store is a great place to grab accent pieces like candles, glass candle holders or vases, and even gift wrapping. Be creative, use a base product from the dollar store and incorporate your own accents.

5. Sponsors
Depending on the type of event sponsors will help with financing. Many times companies are more than willing to trade services as a sponsorship instead of spending their own cash. Typical sponsorships usually include signage at the event and incorporation into advertising. These traditional methods may work, but don’t be afraid to customize sponsorships. Just like your volunteers, ask them what they’re looking to gain from the experience and how they’d like to help. Donations such as tables, chairs, tents, decorations, or event staff will help you cut down on costs and are mutually beneficial to your business relationship.

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