Preparing for Pitfalls

Preparing for Pitfalls

If you’ve ever planned an event, whether a dinner party or a gala, you know that things rarely go exactly as planned. After all, there are so many things we can’t control—the weather, for example, or a difficult guest. All we can do is prepare, anticipate, and learn from our mistakes. Here are a few common pitfalls, and our suggestions for avoiding them.

“I don’t see my name here!”

Any number of things could go wrong at registration or the escort card table. Misspellings, a guest taking the wrong card, cards out of order, the list goes on.

  • Bring extra copies of guest list/registration list sorted alphabetically by last name, as well as by company name, if applicable.
  • Bring extra escort cards (or name tags) and a nice marker or label maker so you can still provide that guest with an escort card.

Decoration: FAIL.

Wrong size tablecloth? No grommets in that fancy new banner? No live flame allowed in your venue?

  • If you’re off-site, always ask the representative from the venue specific questions about décor : can you use tape on the walls? Are candles allowed? How many electrical outlets are there, and where are they located?
  • Make an emergency supply kit and include things like: masking tape, packing tape, ribbons, staplers, Velcro, scissors, votives, etc.
  • Bring theme backup: buy extra of your color(s)—pens, markers, paper, linens, etc. Even flowers—bring extra vessels and candles in case you need additional arrangements. You can always return unopened items to the store, and you’ll feel better knowing you have reserves.


Yes, we forget things. Event planners are human, too.

  • Designate one friend, family member, or staff member to be the errand runner on the day prior to and the day of the event.
  • Make a checklist: a week before the event, start a check list for things that need to happen, including any items/supplies that need to be picked up or brought to the venue, etc. Add to that list as the week goes on. Many smartphone apps are helpful here, making it so you can add to the list at any time, no matter where you are.

“Uh, who is going to clean this mess up?”

Sometimes we get so caught up in the planning, that we forget about the end of the party. Designating (or paying) a cleanup crew is essential, whether you are in your own home, or at a catering hall.

  • Bring heavy duty garbage bags.
  • Ask ahead: communicate with the venue or caterer about cleanup procedures, where trash goes, etc. If you’re hiring or relying on friends, make sure they are up to the task and take it seriously. The end of the party is just as important as the beginning!

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