Whether you are an up and coming business owner courting investors, a corporate giant pitching a new product, or a non-profit organization wooing new benefactors, there is nothing quite so effective as a well staged party. An exciting gala event is the perfect opportunity to network with investors and sponsors, and create some serious social cache for your organization. Amidst the fun and frivolity, strong business connections can be forged and new opportunities can be created. Throwing a stylish party may, at first, seem intimidating. But never fear. With a bit of know-how, solid planning, and some basic organizational skill, you too can stage a gala event that will help to lift your business or organization into a new arena.

The Guest List

The first step to throwing a successful party for your business or organization is to decide on a guest list. Before you can begin choosing a venue and hiring vendors you must first know who you will be inviting, and how many guests you will need to accommodate. This is, perhaps, the easiest part of throwing a business party. That being said, it is also one of the most important steps in the party planning process. Consider who you want to invite to your event, including guest speakers, and make a comprehensive list. When tallying up the total head count for your event, don’t forget to include a ‘plus one’ for each guest. Most, but not all, are likely to want to bring a companion.

Setting the Date

With a working guest list in place, it is now time to set a firm date for your gala event. This can be timed to a holiday or other social event, or can be dictated by the availability of any featured guest speakers. Holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, are particularly apt times for events intended to support non-profit groups. When setting a date, remember to consult your initial guest list and consider any possible scheduling conflicts that might preclude people from attending. The date you choose should be convenient for as many guests as possible to ensure a solid turn out. However, before you start sending out invitations make sure you can secure a suitable venue on the day you desire.

Choosing the Venue

With a guest list in place, and tentative date in mind, it’s time to start scouting out potential venues for your gala event. Three basic factors will guide your choice of venue – budget, number of guests, and the style or theme of your party. Obviously, a larger guest list will require and event space that can accommodate a larger group of people. The type of party you are planning will also impact your choice of venue. If you are considering a fun filled retro styled sock hop, a large event space or banquet hall will suffice. If, on the other hand, you are planning an elegant evening for your guests you will want to find a venue that can provide the necessary atmosphere. Here at Belvedere, we can support up to 1,000 guests! Whatever the style or theme of your party, one simple rule of thumb applies to hiring venue – take a personal tour before booking any events space or banquet hall. This will give you the chance to view the property, visualize the party environment, and discuss your party plans with the venue’s staff.

Catering Your Event

Hiring a caterer should be part of your early party planning stages, as the earlier you book the better your end product will be. If you do not have a catering service that you prefer, you may wish to speak with the events coordinator at the venue you have chosen and ask for suggestions. Most hired venues work with catering services on a regular basis, and can suggest reputable firms with which they have worked well in the past. One tip for the 21st century, whether you are serving a sit down meal or a series of appetizers, make it a point to offer a few vegetarian options for your guests. Nothing spoils a party for a potential investor or donor like finding there is nothing to eat at the buffet table. If you plan on serving alcohol (and let’s face it this IS a party) ask for referrals from the caterer and the venue’s coordinator to ensure that you only hire licensed bartenders and servers. This will ensure that your guests are served professionally, that liquor costs are kept under control, and that no one is over-served throughout the night.

A well staged party is a great way to bring people together, enjoy a night of fun and frivolity, and to engage in some serious networking. Whether you are introducing a new business venture, or promoting a charitable cause, a gala night out can help you advance your cause while showing your guests a good time. The important thing is to not let the prospect of planning a large party intimidate you. With a bit of forethought, and some careful planning, you can give your guests a night to remember.

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