Planning Your Party: How Organization can Prevent Disasters


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Most good event planners are a bit on the anal side. That is because “the devil" really is in the details.

And if the details are not well managed, it is very easy for all kinds of problems to occur.

A good example occurred just this week.

I received a call from a client this past Tuesday. She wanted to talk about the party she is scheduled to have for this coming Saturday.

She had done all of the right things including planning and booking her vendors well in advance. In fact, she had booked our services back in February.

The reason for the call? She received a panicked call from her catering hall.

It turns out that they double-booked the time slot for her event.

This catering hall is run by a husband-wife team. The wife generally handles reservations. But her husband had taken down a reservation for another event, a wedding reception. He didn't see that the time slot was already reserved for my client's event.

The wife discovered the oversight while reviewing arrangements for the weekend.

The upshot? My client, who didn't have the heart to displace a wedding celebration, had to reschedule her event on short notice.

Needless to say, the oversight caused my client a great deal of inconvenience. For starters, she is expecting out-of-town guests who will have to change their arrangements.

The hall is trying to compensate by giving my client its use for free.

Nonetheless, damage was done.

In this case, there was little the client could have done to prevent this problem. It was caused by conditions out of her knowledge and control.

The reality is that people are human and screw-ups happen to the best of us.

But you can minimize problems arising from items under your control.

The key is organization.

If you are planning an event, keep a timeline and keep records. The timeline will give you a way to impose order on the endless details by letting you quickly see what has to take place and when.

Records will give you concrete reference so you don't have to rely on memory. Contracts, receipts, papers, and your notes of phone conversations should be kept in a central place such as a folder.

A diary system based on your timeline will trigger necessary reviews and action on your part.

For example, if you book a vendor's services and they promise to send you a contract, ask when you can expect to receive it. Then, note the date in your diary. Check it off when you receive the paperwork.

Failure to recieve the contract or any other promised paperwork should precipitate follow up on your part.

Such failures can be caused by any number of things. Papers get lost in the mail, and occasionally vendors don't properly record an order.

It is rare, but it happens.

Likewise, many providers of party services require the payment of a deposit to secure your order.

Many clients shop around, change plans, or fail to commit for any number of reasons. Depending on the specific product or service, some vendors receive orders from a small percentage of their inquiries.

So a vendor may not follow up if you do not send in the deposit. And you may find yourself scrambling to obtain that service under a short deadline. This is more likely during peak periods when the vendor's resources are stretched.

A diary system will keep you on track and organized.

Experiences like my client's are rare. But mistakes do happen.

By being organized and on top of your diary system, you'll prevent a lot of problems. And you can be confident that you have the details of your event under control.

Ellen Zucker owns Faces & Fortunes, a party entertainment company specializing in providing Caricature artists and Fortune tellers in the Philadelphia area. Her website is

For more advice on planning your event, visit her sister site,


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