The Ultimate Corporate Event Planning Checklist

You’ve been tasked to organise your company’s next corporate event and whether or not you’re a complete newbie or an absolute pro, there’s a checklist of things to get through to make sure you put on the best event possible; after-all, your reputation depends on it.

We’ve put together this ultimate corporate entertainment checklist as a guide to help you navigate, check-off, remember and make sure that everything is covered, every base accounted for and all your ducks lined up in a row.

Save the date

We like save the dates because theyre both a great way for you to get important information from your potential guests and it creates a buzz prior to the event.

It’s always nice to receive a personalised piece of communication for any event, validating each and every individual invited. This point of difference is validating for your guests and creates goodwill from the outset.

Even if you don’t know your theme or location yet, it’s a great way to tease the anticipation and excitement out of people and get them talking about your event.

Practically, a save the date is invaluable in creating an accurate list of guest numbers and dietary requirements. This will also influence and help determine what sort of location you are looking for and what kind of budget you will need to be working with.

Include a calendar invite into your invitation, people will appreciate the efficiency and consideration for their desire to be organised.

There are many websites you can visit to make a customised save the date. We recommend paperless post, check them out here. Their service features simple, beautiful designs, calendar invites and they capture dynamic RSVPs for your convenience.

Catering

There are people and they need to be fed. The best planned event can run smoothly and go off without a hitch but if the food isn’t great then that can overrun any goodwill created by all the rest of the things on this list.

Some important questions to ask yourself before continuing:

What time of day is the event taking place? ie.

Is it a sit-down meal or cocktail style?

What did I like / dislike about the food at functions previously?

It is important to take into account common food allergies and preferences / restrictions – Vegetarian, Lactose Intolerant, Gluten Intolerant, Kosher, Halal etc. you should get exact numbers around these dietary requirements from your save the date.

This is important information for your caterer and can impact your budget, so keep on top of this!

You likely are working with a budget and food can take up a big portion of that. Be smart about your options and work out what your budget allows for on a cost per head basis.

The Drinks

Some questions to ask yourself before thinking about the bar and the bar budget:

Am i having a day function or a night function?

Will people be returning to the office or going home after?

Do I know my company policy regarding alcohol at functions?

Are there safety / liability issues around providing alcohol at a company function and do I need to account for transportation home etc.?

It is important to have a thorough understanding of your company’s culture and code of conduct in order to know what is right when discussing bar tab.

Most venues will have bar tab packages which cater to different budgets. These are often broken down according to alcohol type. Decide if you want spirits, wine or beer, or perhaps a combination and go from there.

Venue Hire

If you wouldn’t want to give birth to your first born son at this venue, then you’re probably not going to want to host your function there either.

The venue you end up hiring will be influenced first and foremost by the number of people you’re expecting to attend.

How many people am i having?

Is it in a convenient location for majority of my colleagues?

Is there public transport to and from the venue?

Do they have their own onsite catering company?

Do they have venue-specific packages? Ie. table hire, service, tech etc.

Am i interested in using the venue-specific packages? Will this limit me later on if I want something unique or specific brought in?

Are the bathrooms nearby?

Is there a time-limit or noise restrictions on the venue after certain times?

We recommend organising a site inspection with the manager of the venue to make sure it looks as good in person as it does in the pictures. It is a good idea to form a good relationship with the venue manager, they know the venue better than anyone, have seen all the mistakes and triumphs across a wide range of events and can give you valuable tips or advice.

Entertainment

Your entertainment for the evening can play a huge role in the success of your event. Think about your audience and who will be attending to get a better idea of what would or wouldn’t be appropriate for your event.

You’ll have to consider budget and timing when booking your corporate entertainment as popular acts and entertainers can be booked out months in advance.

Are you looking for a band? a magician? a comedian? an MC? a unicycling unicorn who can juggle three balls on their head whilst singing happy birthday to the CFO? Consider your audience and remember, just because you think something is a great idea, doesn’t mean your colleagues or bosses will think so.

Crowdsource! Recruit your office staff and run a poll to decide what the majority wants. This is a great way to foster bonding in the lead up to the event, a sense of shared responsibility over the fail or success of the entertainment and it is also a great way to gauge what people are interested in. If it’s a unicycling unicorn then you’re in luck!

Do your research – read reviews and investigate the companies you’re looking at. Some questions to ask yourself include:

Do they have positive reviews?

Are they described as reliable?

Is there any negative feedback and does it apply to the type of function i’m organising?

Do they provide a comprehensive entertainment solution? Many companies will organise the entertainment only to let you know that you’ll have to organise lighting, a microphone, music maybe even a unicycle to complete the package. Whether or not they are able to provide it for you, this can be a hidden cost and a massive inconvenience which you can avoid if you know to ask the right questions.

Tech / Equipment

There are a lot of small details that go into running an event and small details like lectern stands, lighting, microphones and speaker systems can be overlooked. It is important to have an understanding of all the technical capabilities you require on the night and what is or isn’t available or permissible at the venue you hire.

If you know the format of your event, then you should have an idea of what equipment you will need. The hardest part is remembering to ask the venue manager whether or not it is included or provided in the cost of the function room.

Is your CEO planning to share a video presentation? Is there an MC for the event and do they prefer speaking from behind a lectern? Do you require a smoke machine for a particularly exciting part of the evening?

Tables, chairs, lecterns, speakers, lighting, smoke machines, amplification systems – these are all the types of things you need to consider and discuss with the venue manager prior to the event. MAKE NO ASSUMPTIONS on these things, remember what they say when you assume, it makes an ASS out of U and ME.

Theme / Decorations

Is your event celebrating or commemorating something special? Maybe you’re just tired of the standard corporate format and want to add a splash of colour and life to your event.

There are so many decorating options and they can cost as little or as much as you like.

Even the smallest details can make the biggest difference, so consider consulting with the internet for some good ideas. Don’t know where to start? Check out mood boards on Pinterest for ideas and see if you can find the perfect inspiration for your perfect event.

Decorations don’t need to go over the top, as it goes – simple is sometimes better. Ever sat down at a table only to find a bouquet of small trees blocking your view?

Small table decorations, coloured tablecloths or little vases of flowers are a simple and budget-effective ways of creating a wow-factor for your function.

Party Favours

Definitely not an essential but an often appreciated element of any party is a gift pack which says ‘thank you for coming, here’s some bubblebath, go relax’.

Sending people home with a token of your thanks will leave your guests feeling great for having attended.

Steer clear of little plastic bags stuffed with miniature sherbet and red skins, we’re talking about thoughtful, well-presented gifts which are practical and look great.

For party favours something that’s a balance between thoughtful, caring and practical always goes along way. Consider providing gendered party packs that can be genuinely appreciated by those receiving them.

Men – We like the idea of a tie clip, a money clip, a pen or an awesome paperweight.

Women – Perhaps you’re walking in heels all day – you could supply them with a pair of thongs for their commute home, gel cushions to slip into their heels, or even a pair of stockings for their draw, combatting that inevitable ladder on meeting days.

* Napkins

The number one most overlooked item on any function planning list is napkins.

We wont let you become the next victim of napkin oversight.

Think about the spring roll dipping sauce you inevitably spill down the front of your shirt or blouse. Now think about having no napkin to wipe it off.