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Last-Minute Event Planning

Tips for Successfully Planning an Event at the Last-Minute

In a perfect world, one should have weeks or even months of time to properly think about and plan for an important event. The more guests you’re interested in having and the more elements that are involved – rentals, bar, staff, menu, and so on - dictate how much time you need to think everything through and avoid overspending. Sounds lovely, right?

But this is New York, and sometimes you need to get everything together and turn around a fabulous event in a New York minute. Here at Deborah Miller Catering, we’ve had everything from unexpected VIP corporate meetings to sudden ideas for birthdays come our way, and have had to execute such events for our clients seamlessly with less than a week to prepare.

While we don’t encourage last-minute planning, since we’ve had our fair share of experiences with them, we know a thing or two about getting it done under the gun. So we’ve gathered our best tips for things to keep in mind when planning an event in the 11th hour, to save yourself some much-needed time and maybe even some extra money!

  1. Make a budget and stick to it. This should be the foundation of any event-planning project, but when it’s last minute it is even more important. The sooner you have a number in mind that you don’t want to exceed, the quicker you’ll know what you can do for that amount of money, and where you should focus your energy on.
  2. Utilize your resources. Know a cousin that DJs on the side? Great. Call them. Have a supermarket nearby where you can get some things for cheap, or a big ice machine in your office to avoid having to buy ice? Perfect. Don’t be afraid to use what is accessible to you.
  3. Lists, lists, lists. They’re the easiest way to get focused and organized. Need rentals for your cocktail party? Make a list of what it is that you need, down to the quantities, even, and then present it to your event planner or to the rental company. It’ll make everyone’s lives so much easier. Chairs, cocktail tables, linens, glassware, flatware, china, food tables – these are some of the most common things a host needs rentals for, so think about each one and jot it down if needed. Same goes for decorations. Make a list!
  4. Know your guests. It’s already hard planning an event at the last-minute, and when you don’t know who your audience is, it’s even harder to get it right. So take a minute to step back and get to know your guests. Are there any dietary restrictions/allergies among the crowd? Are they going to be hungry and expecting a heavier meal at the time of your event? Do they like certain food items and cuisines? The sooner you have these things in mind, the less chance there is of having to change your menu later and do double the work.
  5. Don’t panic. Yes, it’s ideal to have time to think everything through and not scramble, but life doesn’t always work like that, and you can still focus as if you had months to plan if you handle one thing at a time. Remember what I said about lists? Make a big list of all the different categories you need to tackle, and then make a sub-list for each one and focus on them one by one. If you’re working with an event planner, it’s even better, and they can help get you organized even quicker. Just don’t think about how much you have to do in such little time. It’ll only get you overwhelmed and more prone to making a mistake.

So if you’ve just been put in charge of planning a last-minute event, or know a procrastinator who would find this useful, pass it along, and I wish you God’s speed! You can thank me later.

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