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Banquet Coordination and Preparation Advice
Ten years have gone by and you canít believe it. Either you were a class officer, so planning the banquet defaults to you; or no one seems to have planned a banquet, so you were roped into the planning committee. No worries, putting together a banquet doesnít need to be overwhelming.
For starters, youíll need about six people for your planning committee, and one person to lead the group. The phrase, ďthe more the merrierĒ isnít always best. Decisions need to be made and too many people will cause you to get stuck in the quagmire. If others want to help, put them on sub-committees to delegate tasks to later.
Just like a wedding, itís important that you get a ring and a dress. No, thatís not right. Itís important that you get a date and a location. You canít move forward if you donít solidify those two factors. Before deciding on a location, get an idea of how much money you are going to spend. Do you have any funds in an account leftover from previous banquets? How much per head will you charge your classmates to attend? Some events end up costing $50+ per person, and your attendance will be lower if you donít keep it reasonable for people to attend. If you only want to be able to charge $25 per person, then that will influence your decision on location (union hall vs. country club).
Will you be hiring a DJ? If so, get this person reserved next. Donít wait for the last minute to try to find someone. Youíll need to compensate deposits on the banquet hall and the disc jockey. The last big thing youíll want to decide is if youíre going to be having dinner or just híor duerves. If youíre just going to have snacks, you can save a bundle by doing the food yourself. You donít need to have that catered.
Start getting a hold of classmates. This is a daunting job. Itís a little easier now with the internet and all the people-search resources. Women are a little harder to find because of all the possible name changes. Ask people to ask people to ask people. This is truly a word of mouth venture. Also contact parents. Other suggestions are to do a lot of publicity. Post your banquet notices on www.classmates.com and www.banquet.com. Send out press releases to media: newspaper, TV and radio. Build a website preferably with the domain name of your school and year dot com. Having your own website will simplify things as you can put all the pertinent information on the site, then in all your other notices, give a contact phone number then ďsee website for details.Ē Also contact your Alma Matter to see if they can post the info on the marquis out front. Mail invitations; even simple flyers made on the computer will suffice, but give them something to stick on their refrigerator.
Keep decorations simple. No one really cares. Theyíre coming to see each other, not how pretty the room looks. You can spend a bundle on room dťcor if youíre not careful. Photocopy pictures from the yearbook, cut them out, stick on poster boards and laminate. Voilaí. Get copies of the school newspaper and leave those on the tables. Donít go overboard here. Itís a waste of money.
Door prizes are optional. People always like to win stuff. Solicit business owners for donations if you want. You can delegate this task to someone who may have wanted to help but you didnít need any more decision makers. 50/50 raffles are always fun too. Check to make sure raffles are permitted before conducting this though. Most places donít have a problem with this type of activity.
One final word, if your banquet hall rental fee does not include after-event clean up, but offers that at an additional charge, take it! This option will be much appreciated at the end of a long day of setting up and pulling off your event. You donít want to mess with clearing tables and emptying trash at one oíclock in the morning.
More importantly, have fun and donít sweat it. The details arenít as important as old friends reconnecting.
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