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How To Plan A Banquet: The Basics & Budget

Posted by Administrator on 3/31/2012 to Party Planning
This is the first in a series of articles detailing the steps to planning a banquet.  Although there are some similarities to planning a cocktail or dinner party, organizing and hosting a banquet event presents a number of unique challenges and details.  The complete banquet plan includes:
  • The Basics
    • Purpose & objectives
    • Dress
    • Number of guests
    • Budget
    • Date & time
  • Site Selection
  • Work Force & Staffing
  • Volunteer Program
  • Fundraising
  • Attendee List
  • Services
    • Planning
    • Food
    • Liquor & Bar
    • Talent
      • Emcee
      • Speaker
      • Entertainers/Performers
      • Auctioneer
    • Valet & Parking
    • Transportation
    • Photographer
    • Security
  • Decorating
  • Agenda
  • Set-up
  • Administration
The Basics

The first step in all party planning is to establish a few basic fundamentals, for banquet planning these are:  purpose, dress code, budget, number of guests, and date & time.

Purpose:

To ensure that you effectively communicate your objectives to your attendees, volunteers and staff, it is important to define the purpose or of your banquet as your first step.   Common banquet purposes include:

  • Social
    • Reunions
      • Class
      • Family
    • Anniversary
    • Holiday
    • Networking
    • Entertainment
    • Associations and Clubs
  • Achievement or Recognition
    • Sports
    • Academic
    • Political
    • Business
      • Retirement
      • Sales
  • Fundraising
    • Charitable
    • Political
  • Motivational
    • Corporate/Business
    • Political
  • Educational
    • Political
    • Business
    • Associations and Clubs
  • Religious/Spiritual
    • Baptism
    • First Communion
    • Bar Mitzvah
    • Bible Study
    • Fellowship
Although there is typically one primary objective, your event may serve mulitple purposes. Corporate banquets, for example, often encompass several objectives such as, a “thank you” reward to employees, morale-boosting, as well as, segments to recognize the achievements of employees.  With the purpose defined, decisions regarding theme, agenda, attendees, and content become much obvious.

Dress:

At this point, it is best to define the intended dress code for the banquet before or in conjunction with determining the budget. Even if the dress code is only used in planning, it will help guide consistent decisions regarding the formality of the activities.  In addition, it can have a significant impact on costs, as well as ticket sales, if this is a fundraising event.

Number of Guests:

The banquet purpose should partially or completely define the targeted attendee group.  Class reunions and corporate banquets will have a finite group of invitees, while fundraiser and networking banquets will be driven by promotions and ticket sales. Regardless, projecting the number of banquet guests is an important step toward establishing a budget for the event.

For fundraisers, first determine your ticket price based upon how much attendees will pay, not on how much the banquet will cost.  Use the banquet’s previous history and research the experience of similar events. Once a price has been set, forecast ticket sales for your event to estimate the number of attendees. You will need to continuously monitor revenue and, perhaps, adjust your forecast and budget as tickets are sold.

Budget:

Although your final budget will be key in decision-making and planning, the process of defining the budget itself will require choices that will have a big impact on your event. 

Step 1:  Start with a total cost based upon the history of this event, similar events, projected revenue (if fundraiser), expected number of guests, and/or allocated amount.  Where an allocated amount is a predetermined amount set by the hosting company or organization.

Step 2:  Establish a theme to add interest and cohesion to your banquet activities, as well as, involve guests and attendees with dress, favors, and interactive events.  A theme may influence the food you serve, the talent you hire, and the facility you use, so it is important to make this decision early.

The theme can also affect your total cost, so consider your budget when selecting your banquet theme.  For example, a Mexican Fiesta is a basis for a casual event with Mexican food and entertainment, while a casino night theme requires a more elaborate and costly setting.

A theme can be as simple as a color, which is a relatively inexpensive option. Here are some other popular banquet themes to consider:

  • Arabian Nights
  • Barnyard
  • Beach
  • Casino Night
  • Chinese/Asian
  • Circus/Carnival
  • Halloween
  • Hawaiian Luau/Tropical Island
  • Hollywood
  • Italian
  • Jungle/Safari
  • Mardi Gras
  • Medieval Castle
  • Mexican Fiesta
  • Nautical
  • Pink Flamingo
  • Pirate
  • Retro – 20s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s
  • Under the Sea
  • Western
  • Winter Wonderland
Step 3:  Now that you have a theme, create a rough draft of your agenda, event flow and duration.  Determine pre- and post-dinner activities, as well as the speakers and talent needed.  Allocate your budget to include these major expenses:
  • Facility Rental
  • Services & Staffing
    • Event planner
    • Food/Caterer & service
    • Liquor & bar service
    • Valet service
    • Photographer
    • Security
    • Transportation
    • Insurance
  • Equipment & Rentals
    • Tables & chairs
    • Linens
    • Serve ware: plates, flatware, glasses
    • Audio & visual equipment
    • Lighting
  • Decorations & Favors
  • Gifts & Awards
  • Advertising, Printing & Promotion
  • Door, raffle & game prizes
  • Talent
    • Emcee
    • Speaker
    • Auctioneer
    • Entertainers/Performers
      • Comedian
      • Magician
      • Singer/Band/Musician
      • Disc jockey
      • Artist painting the event
      • One-on-one
        • Tarot cards/palm reading
        • Caricatures
        • Balloon sculptor
      • Mime
      • Hypnotist
      • Ventriloquist
This is your starting budget, which you will probably need to revise as you gather more information on what is available and at what price.

Step 4:  Choose a primary and alternate date and time for your banquet.  Check for major conflicts, as well as, potential conflicts with your targeted attendees’ schedules. In addition to major holidays, check for conflicts with major sporting events, school vacations and events, gay events, religious holidays, and out-of-town work conferences.

Next Blog:  Armed with your theme, budget and date, you are now ready to select a facility for your banquet.

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Date 4/18/2012 2:16:50 AM
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Date 4/18/2012 2:17:09 AM
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Date 9/18/2014
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Date 1/22/2016
Yolanda Toure
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