How To Plan A Banquet – A Guide To Planning Perfect Banquets For Company Or Private Parties

First time planners are sometimes stricken with full concern! Even people who plan occasions over and over nonetheless concern that one thing will go flawed they usually would be the topic of ridicule. Hopefully we will allay the fears and quell the butterflies in your abdomen by serving to you thru the complete undertaking.

There are a whole lot of questions you could ask. First timers most likely haven’t got the foggiest concept what inquiries to ask, so, the very first thing we would higher do is define these for you.

Perhaps the simplest means to do this is to fill out a kind. (I like kinds!)
If you have been to cellphone me and ask me that will help you make preparations for a particular occasion, the very first thing I’d do is attain for a clean kind, and over the cellphone we might fill it out. When I had all the data, I’d be higher ready that will help you.

Before you proceed studying, you might need to print the banquet planning worksheet(PDF) from my web site. That means you may observe together with the worksheet as I describe the planning course of. I’ve additionally included a pre crammed pattern planning worksheet that you simply would possibly assist.

Let’s start with reality discovering.


The first query to ask is, “What is the purpose of the event?” This query needs to be very easy, however it’s maybe a very powerful. The objective of your occasion will decide your occasion’s agenda.


Break out your calendar to determine a date in your occasion. Look for doable conflicts. It is likely to be robust to get individuals out to a Saturday night time banquet if it is a three-day vacation. It can be unwise to placed on a church social in case your native faculty, the place most of your congregation had youngsters attending, have been having an open home or play that night time.

Pencil in a date after which strive to consider doable conflicts. I do know of 1 group that booked a very talked-about and comparatively costly Jewish comedian into the membership home of a predominantly Jewish retirement neighborhood. Attempts to promote tickets failed miserably, as a result of that they had not realized that they had scheduled his look on a Jewish vacation – a really costly oversight!


There are many, many figuring out components in establishing a finances. First of all, what number of are anticipated to attend? You may need a fairly good concept for an organization get together, however in some circumstances you would possibly simply need to make a “guess-timate” till you will get extra data. Make the absolute best estimate primarily based on what details you may have, and proceed.


Another issue to find out earlier than we choose a location is how a lot your attendees are keen to pay. Sure, we will work the opposite means: we will decide a location, rent a band, choose the menu, and so on., after which add up how a lot all of it prices and thus decide how a lot everybody must pay, however doing so will most likely depart you hurting in the long run.

If you count on 1,000 individuals, and you identify $25.00 an individual is appropriate, then your total finances for meals, printing, leisure, and so on., is $25,000. If you count on solely 20 individuals and you already know they will not come if it is over $5.00 an individual, then you already know you are way more restricted.


Determine the geographical space the place the occasion is to happen. If you reside within the space the place the occasion will happen, you might already know of assorted resorts, nation golf equipment, eating places or catering halls that may accommodate your group. If you do not stay within the space, make sure you go have a look at the potential location earlier than you guide it. If the occasion is in a distant metropolis and it isn’t doable so that you can journey there, and the occasion is a major one, I counsel you rent knowledgeable assembly planner.

I as soon as attended a banquet in a quaint “50’s malt-shop-type restaurant. The party planner had not gone there to look at the room where the party was to be. She had just taken the word of a friend. True, it was a great restaurant, but their “room” had about 5 permanent booths on each wall. Guests were facing in all different directions. This made it almost impossible for the magician they had hired to perform. To further confuse the issue, it was not even a private room. Restaurant customers could not get to the restroom without disturbing the party, and the 50’s music continued to blare through the ceiling speakers throughout the evening because it was piped throughout the whole restaurant and could not be isolated from one room. A visit beforehand could have prevented this nightmare.

Many, if not most, facilities do not charge a fee for the use of the room but instead absorb the rental fee into the price of the meal. For instance, in our example of 200 people, a banquet facility would be delighted to supply a private room in order to sell 200 dinners.

Usually they will have several dinners to choose from – perhaps a chicken dinner, complete with beverage, salad and dessert, for $12.00 per person; or prime rib at $18.00 each; or sirloin steaks at $25.00 per person. In our example we are charging $30.00 per person. Let’s select the prime rib at $18.00.

Does that include tax and tip? Oh, Oh! Find out if it does, or you may get a surprise at the end of the night. Let’s say it does not. 15% tip and 8% (or whatever) tax makes the dinner a total of $22.14 per person. Our sample budget calls for 200 people at $30.00 each for a total of $6,000. If all 200 people attend, dinner will cost $4,428. That leaves $1,572 for all other costs.

By the way, the facility may ask you for a deposit and guarantee. If you guarantee 200 people, you will have to pay for 200 dinners even if only 175 show up. Generally, a facility is prepared to serve about 10% more people than you guarantee. So it makes sense to guarantee a lesser number than you expect. Even some of those who told you absolutely they would be there, maybe even gave you a deposit, don’t show for one reason or another.

Just to be on the safe side, in our example of 200 people, I would guarantee the restaurant 185. If you’re pre selling tickets, which I recommend, you can always adjust your estimate upwards with the restaurant a day or two ahead of time if needed. Ask the facility about their requirements in regard to a change in the guarantee.


The evening agenda is largely determined by the event’s purpose. A typical event might go like this:

6:00 – 7:00 – Social or cocktail hour

7:00 – 8:00 – Dinner

8:00 – 8:15 – Meeting/Awards/Business

8:15 – 9:00 – Entertainment/Speaker

9:00 – 9:10 – Raffle/Door Prizes

9:10 – 1:00 – Dancing

Having an hour to “collect” is always good. You and the facility both will want everyone present when you actually sit down to eat. It’s been my experience that almost everything starts late, so plan for it and don’t be disappointed when it happens.

Will you be having a cocktail hour? A “Hosted” bar means that drinks are free to the party-goers. If you choose to host the cocktail hour, be prepared to spend about $1200 for our sample group of 200 people. Most organization-sponsored events have a ‘No-Host’ bar, in which guests buy their own drinks. It’s appropriate to announce ‘Hosted’, or ‘No-Host’ in the invitation.

Some form of entertainment during the cocktail hour is certainly a plus. The facility may have music piped in through its sound system, which is certainly the most economical; however, for around $300 you could have live music. Most banquet facilities have a piano, sometimes on wheels, and will let you either rent the piano or use it for free. Fee for the piano rental should be around $50 to $100 and a piano player anywhere from $150 to $250.

Other cocktail hour entertainment could include a chamber group, a jazz or “society” trio, harpist, or a strolling accordionist. A strolling “shut-up” magician, performing from group to group or table to table, is always fun. Other forms of entertainment for the cocktail hour could include celebrity look-alikes, mechanical or conventional mimes, a balloon animal sculptor, caricaturist, graphologist, palm reader, tarot card reader, stilt walker, or just about anything else you can think of! Again, your budget is your gauge.


This is pretty easy. When the Maitre’d says dinner is ready, have your party sit down!

The vast majority of banquets have certain people assigned to sit at the head table while everyone else may sit where they wish. If you choose to have a head table, you should make small place markers for those assigned to sit at the head table, and don’t forget to discuss table arrangements with the facility.


Someone, perhaps you, should step to the microphone and announce that dinner is ready and ask everyone to take a seat. When this has been accomplished your President, or whoever is presiding, should welcome everyone.

It is appropriate at most banquets to have someone lead the flag salute, followed by a blessing on the food. People should not be called upon for these jobs extemporaneously, but should be asked in advance and their names and responsibilities should be listed on the printed program if there is one. Following the flag salute and prayer, your Master of Ceremonies (or who ever is conducting) should introduce the people sitting at the head table, introducing himself last.


If business of any sort needs to be conducted, begin when dessert is finished, or at least served. Make sure that the facility knows that you do not want any bussing (clearing of tables) or coffee served after the program starts, as it can become an irritating distraction and take away from the enjoyment of the program.


Following opening remarks, and/or other business, you could either introduce the main speaker, or present some form of entertainment.

This could be the highlight of the evening! There are many outstanding after-dinner performers and speakers. If you really want to have a successful event, hire a professional. At this writing $500 to $1,000 can buy you some pretty top-notch entertainment.

How about a comedian-magician who uses a member or two of your group and does some hilarious bits of business and audience participation magic tricks – 30 or 40 minutes of non-stop laughs!

Or picture this…the dessert has just been served and in walks “Lt. Columbo,” complete with overcoat and cigar…”Oh, excuse me,” he says, “I used to be in search of any person else.” All eyes are riveted on this familiar figure as he turns and starts to walk out. “Oh, yet another factor, is that this the Walker get together?’ Then for the following 30 minutes or so he does a comedy routine within the type and supply of Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo, utilizing names of individuals in your group.

That will rock your individuals out of their seats with laughter. These are simply a few strategies. Everybody likes to chuckle, and an excellent skilled entertainer could make you a hero.

How do you discover that sort of leisure? Again, be careful for the properly-which means pal. Sometimes hiring a pal of a pal who tells jokes or performs the banjo can put a moist blanket on the night if they do not stay as much as your expectations.

Probably the easiest way to safe expertise is to work with knowledgeable expertise agent that focuses on particular occasions. Ordinarily there isn’t any charge for his providers. He could make suggestions and strategies primarily based on what your wants are, and work inside your finances limitations.

Some entertainers could have particular necessities, like a stage, highlight, two mics or one thing else, and this stuff must be organized with the ability. There could also be a rental charge concerned.


Giving away door prizes or raffle prizes shouldn’t be held till after the leisure or foremost speaker. Perhaps it is an inducement in your company to remain till the tip.

If you are promoting raffle tickets, once more you could make out a finances. How many tickets do you count on to promote and for the way a lot cash? Do you need to make a revenue? Let’s say you count on to promote 100 tickets to these 200 individuals anticipated to return, and we promote them on the banquet for $2.00 every. That’ll offer you $200 to purchase prizes with. You can put this in your common finances or assign somebody to care for the entire raffle, together with buying the prizes and promoting the tickets.


Following the raffle, the formal portion of this system is de facto over. Your individuals can now go residence. If you’ve got elected to have a deejay or band, they could keep for dancing.

The facility would possibly cost to arrange a dance flooring. Sometimes this can be a moveable dance flooring they construct proper on high of the carpet. A band will value anyplace from $150 per band member to $450 per band member for 4 hours. A small trio of keyboard, drum and guitar might be anyplace from $750 to $1,500.

An $1,800 to $3,500 5-piece band, together with a vocalist, is common. If you rent a band, you might be able to use a number of of those self same musicians to supply cocktail hour and/or dinner music for a small further charge. You usually must make a deposit on the time you rent the band. Anything over 4 hours’ taking part in time is taken into account additional time, and it’s best to discuss with the band or agent about the price of additional time once you make the preliminary preparations. Bands additionally must take a 10-15 minute break every hour. Ask if the band will provide recorded music throughout their breaks.


Sometimes you would possibly want a DeeJay taking part in recorded music as a substitute of hiring a band. This offers you the benefit of listening to the unique recording artist as a substitute of a dance band’s rendition.

Another benefit is that almost all cellular DeeJay items will arrange earlier than dinner and provide to play dinner music at no further value, and naturally, a DeeJay doesn’t take a break throughout the night, so you may have non cease music in your occasion.

Cost-wise, there may be not a whole lot of distinction between a 3-piece band and a DeeJay. Some DeeJays provide a full gentle-present that few bands do, and even with a further cost, this might be an actual plus. I feel it is only a matter of style. Some individuals insist on a stay band and others are simply as adamant a few DeeJay.


Video taping an occasion, apart from historic functions, is pointless. Seldom will the video tape or DVD be watched greater than as soon as after the occasion. Yes, possibly a Bar or Bat Mitzvah will watch his or her recording years later when they get older, and possibly even a bride and groom would watch a properly-edited and condensed recording. A firm or group’s banquet, nonetheless, will likely be seldom if ever watched.

I’d suggest that you simply rent, finances allowing, knowledgeable photographer fairly than leaving it as much as one among your company or a pal of a pal who solely takes images twice a yr. You can have the photographer ship prints or a CD of digital images through which case you possibly can print simply the images you need.


Probably essentially the most traumatic factor that would happen is that you simply deliberate the complete occasion after which nobody got here. If it is an organization get together and the meals, leisure, drinks and dancing are all free, I do not assume you’ll have an issue, so long as you let all people know when and the place and that it is FREE!

But if that is not the state of affairs, you might want to advertise the occasion. Once you may have all of the details (WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, WHO, and HOW MUCH), you may create a flyer – a bit of paper with all of the details on it, designed to encourage individuals to attend.

If you are an artist, nice! You can create the flyer your self. If not, possibly somebody in your group is they usually may help you. Otherwise, you could “rough it out” the way in which you’d need it and take it to a graphic artist to do the “camera-ready copy” for you, then off to a printer to print nonetheless many you are going to want. How many you want will rely upon how you are going to distribute them.

The format, printing, envelopes and postage all want to enter your finances. There are, after all, further methods you may promote the occasion – phrase of mouth, bulletin boards, cellphone committee, membership or firm e-newsletter, posters. If your occasion will likely be open to individuals outdoors your group, you would possibly strive utilizing the publicity channels of different associated teams, firms, colleges, and so on., in addition to your individual. Have a “brainstorming session” together with your committee, you probably have one, to consider all of the methods you will get the phrase out.

And do not forget that if you would like individuals to return to your exercise, you may’t simply inform them. You have to inform them and inform them and inform them! Use all of the sources at your disposal, and do not hesitate to repeat your self. The extra instances you inform them, the extra will come!


There are as some ways to deal with this as there are methods to advertise the occasion. If you must lay out funds forward of time (which is normally the case), it’s good to get as a lot cash as you may up entrance. Pre promoting your tickets will show you how to do this. Of course, your publicity should state your necessities and deadlines. This additionally will show you how to get a deal with on what number of are going to attend. Remember although, that there’ll nonetheless be some final minute cancellations and additions, so keep versatile.


As talked about earlier, most organizations assign solely the pinnacle desk, and the remainder of the attendees are left to sit down the place they want. Some teams insist on drawing photos of the tables on a sheet of paper, numbering them, after which assigning individuals to particular tables.

I feel it is extra work than needed, however in case you should, then have at it.
Some banquets, particularly these honoring people or teams, provide total tables “for sale.” 10 individuals per desk at $30 every implies that for $300 somebody may reserve an entire desk. Make certain you place a “reserved” signal on that desk, exhibiting the title of the host.


When all of the details are in, if the finances will allow, a pleasant printed program might be put at every place setting or handed out as individuals arrive. It ought to comprise the agenda for the night and credit given to all those that contributed to the occasion.

Many organizations have been profitable in promoting adverts in this system to defray the price of printing and even to lift some extra cash. I’ve put $250 earnings underneath the earnings column of our instance. Don’t you assume you possibly can persuade 10 individuals to present you their enterprise card and pay $25 to be marketed on the again web page of this system? Of course, this concept might be slightly cheesy if the occasion is to rejoice little Bobbie’s 10th birthday. Use your finest judgment.


This might be a giant merchandise or not – strictly as much as you. If you picked an exquisite location, and it isn’t a particular seasonal occasion like a Christmas or Halloween get together, why not simply benefit from the facility’s decor? If you’re feeling you want decorations and you’ve got a adequate finances, name a celebration decorator who makes use of balloons. They go a good distance in the direction of dressing up a room with out spending some huge cash.

Centerpieces on every desk look good. You can ask somebody to donate these or have somebody intelligent make one thing for every desk. Many amenities make such a pleasant desk format {that a} centerpiece is just not needed. Don’t spend cash unnecessarily, however do do not forget that the nicer the atmosphere, the higher the reminiscences or the occasion will likely be within the minds of those that attend, which implies that they are going to need to come to your subsequent occasion, too!

One word of warning. If you are having leisure, watch out that giant
centerpieces, notably balloons, do not block the view of the performing space and even the individuals sitting on the alternative aspect of the desk who need to see and discuss to one another.


Yes, you’ll fret and fear till the entire thing is over, however each get together planner does. Just loosen up, do your finest and revel in! (Here’s a secret: If you get pleasure from what you are doing, the individuals you’re doing it for will get pleasure from it, too!)

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