Jay Rodrigues is the Founder and CEO of DormNoise
Some of the best memories in college come from the events and parties that make up your social calendar through the four or more years you spend on campus. Whether it be a fraternity party, charity fundraiser, or just the “rager” Party-Guy Steve throws in his dorm room every Thursday night, events are what keep you going between classes, projects and exams.
Of course, events of all shapes and sizes take planning, and even Party-Guy Steve will tell you that he has a list of things he keeps in mind. Even if you’re not the Social Chair of your sorority though, you can plan an event without overloading your already busy life. Once you decide to take on the party planning responsibility here are some good tips follow.
Make a Checklist/Timeline
It sounds simple, but laying out your timeline/checklist is an important first step to keep you on track. For small events and parties you can get away with a 4-6 week planning window. However, for big events, especially those that will require you to organize committee members, allow yourself at least 3-6 months.
Choose Your Venue/Date
There are a number of great places to host events right on campus – game room, function halls, the college pub, lounges, etc – but you’ll want to check the campus calendar when choosing a date to make sure you don’t have a lot of competing events happening at the same time as yours.
Create a Budget
Practice your negotiation skills to see what kinds of deals you can make. Be sure to approach your school to see if there are any vendors (like caterers and rental places) that they use frequently to see if you can get some price quotes. Speak with students in other organizations to see if there are any discounts local providers give college students as well. Once you have your quotes, figure out what you can budget and stick to it!
This is where having friends or a committee to help out is a great idea. The bigger your event, the more logistics you’ll need to consider, including: lighting and utilities, setup (tables, chairs, stage, parking, signage, etc) coordination, cleanup, transportation and public services like police and fire departments (though you hopefully won’t have to use those).
Have a Backup Plan
We all want our events to run smoothly, but you need to have a Plan B/Emergency Backup Plan for the BIG stuff. What if the band doesn’t show? Plug in your iPod with the playlists you created for the event. Did your roommate run off with all the beer? Break into your backup stash of wine. Someone fall on your buffet table? Call up three of the fastest pizza delivery places you added to your speed dial to make sure you’re covered.
Get the Word Out
You’ve planned the event and you’re psyched it’s shaping up just as you planned. Now you need... PEOPLE TO ATTEND. Get cracking on publicizing your event around campus. Talk to the school paper and radio station, hand out flyers, post bulletins, attend school sporting events and ask announcers if you can half 30 seconds of time on the microphone, run through a game wearing a giant poster if you have to, just spread the word!
Yes, it’s a little bit of effort, but there is no feeling like an awesome party or fundraiser that everyone enjoys and remembers for years to come. There are also ways to simplify the process as well thanks to the wonderful technology tools that are now available to college students. These online applications can shave off time and stress:
- Use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to have friends get the word out about your event
- Utilize Google Docs to centralize your to-do list and keep all your co-planners coordinated and updated
- Take advantage of free event planning sites like DormNoise - which allows you to plan and organize your college events with a series of interconnected personal, student group, and campus calendars, and then sync them to a desktop calendar application or mobile device/smartphone.
Oh, and don’t forget to actually enjoy the event!