How Soon Should You Start Planning an Event?


Organizing an event, regardless of size, requires a great deal of planning. If you are not sure how much time you will need, here is a quick guide on things to consider when determining when to begin:

9 Months or More

Examples: Galas, Conferences, Large Fundraisers, Weddings, Specialty Events

Typical Guest Count: 200+

Consider: Large-scale formal events that will include multiple elements such as speeches, performances, distinguished guests and numerous vendors should get started well in advance. Finding the right venue for your corporate event alone can often take a month or more when you factor in visits, meetings to discuss and contract signing. Additionally, large printing needs such as program booklets, conference packets, menus or personalized gift favors can easily take two months for the search, selection, design, editing, and printing process. Finally, bigger events often have a registration process that may require several months to iron out, market and manage as well as a day-of staff or volunteers that must be selected and trained. Give yourself enough time to map out large-scale event details and it is sure to be a success!

6 to 9 Months

Examples: Small to Mid-Size Fundraisers, Corporate Dinners, Product Launches

Typical Guest Count: 100-250

Consider: Big events that do not have too many moving parts as a conference or gala can usually be planned in less than a year. If your event will be an internal function but may have a handful of items that require more time to map out you should set aside at least six months. This time can be used to find a venue, secure raffle items, manage guest rsvp system, design seating charts, or rent any needed equipment (as with a casino night or other themed events.) Your office should have enough time to run through different iterations of plans and agendas while still having enough time to focus on the “fun” parts like décor, music, and dessert!

3 to 6 Months

Examples: Professional Development, Retreats, Full-Day Meetings

Typical Guest Count: 50-100

Consider: Some internal events fall somewhere between intimate shindigs and bigger functions. These events usually require a few months of planning mostly for the preparation of materials, purchasing items for giveaway (such as personalized writing pads or pens), creating presentation content or other logistical planning. These events shouldn’t require many outside vendors (with the exception of a caterer perhaps) and can typically be held on company grounds or a nearby space.

Under 3 Months

Examples: Departmental Party, Goodbyes, Birthdays, Staff Outing

Typical Guest Count: 10-50

Consider: The only corporate events that should be planned in less than three months are the ones that no one will know about except your department, floor or wing. These are the special informal functions that everyone loves! They are held in conference rooms or small local restaurants and do not require much by way of prep work or logistics. These are the fun impromptu goodbye parties, birthday celebrations, and holiday events that employees can attend in whatever they have on during the workday. Planning for these fun small events usually only requires setting a menu, coordinating employee schedules and getting the word out for a good time!

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