There are so many types of events we as business owners can host. Whether it’s an educational event like a seminar or a client appreciation event, the key to success lies in the planning. I’m an extreme planner when it comes to events so I’ve created a checklist (if you know me, this is probably when you start laughing) to help streamline the process. Regardless of what kind of event you are hosting, this checklist should help turn your idea into a (successful) reality. 


Envision Your Event

Envisioning an event is one of my favorite parts of the process. This usually starts for me when I’m in the car…which is where I do some of my best thinking. I’ll be driving along and I’ll get a wild vision of an event that just needs to happen. I usually settle in at home and begin …I create a board on Pinterest for any and all events I throw. This is usually on-going, so throughout the months, I can save ideas and visions for the day. If you’d like to keep your ideas private, Pinterest allows a “secret board” feature. If you’ve never been on Pinterest before – get on board! Literally – the platform operates by finding images (called pins) that are linked to other sites (usually blogs) that allow you to save to “boards.” Click here to check out the “Pinterest Dictionary” as well as other useful tips from blogger, Kristie Hill. 


Pre-internet days this website (which is also available as a mobile app) was equivalent to cutting out photos from magazines and pasting them to poster board. So, create your board, start pinning, and start planning!


Themes, Thoughts, and Timelines

Okay, so if you’ve decided what kind of event you’re going to host, you’ll probably need a theme. What does that mean? Well, I’m so glad you asked! It doesn’t matter what kind of event you’re throwing, you need a theme. This will help carry the atmosphere of the event, it will guide you in your decor selections, and will help you when it comes to marketing and promoting the event. While thinking of your theme, be sure to consider whether or not you can tie it into all aspects of the event. While a “Roaring 20s” theme is sure to be present in the upcoming year (2020)- does that really play well to your event?


Once you’ve chosen your theme, begin to think of who your audience is, where you’d like to host the event, and what day your event will be. I always recommend 6-8 weeks out for promotional purposes, so take that into consideration when you’re looking at how long this event will take to plan. My final piece of advice here is to design events that can be turn-key. This means you can easily replicate the event later on. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel! 


Check Your List…Twice.

I make lists, I check them twice. (Santa and I get along really well.) Here is my go-to list that can be applied to almost any event! You can do this on notebook paper if you prefer, but I recommend creating a Google Sheets page and entering your data here. I am a big fan of Google Drive because you can collaborate and share docs so easily. If you’re working with a team on an event, everyone can enter notes into the same document, so you’re all on the same page…literally. 

First, I divide my list into the following categories:

  1. Who is the task assigned to?
  2. Date to be completed by
  3. Task
  4. Details/Notes

Next, I enter the tasks associated with the event. I break these down by the weeks and days prior to the event. 


When You’ve Decided You Want to Host an Event:

  1. Select date
  2. Select time
  3. Select venue
  4. Determine timeline of the event; when should people arrive/check-in, when will things ‘begin’ or ‘end’, is there anything happening after the event that people should know about?
  5. Book entertainment or presenters, if applicable
  6. Determine food and beverage situation – will you provide food? Will you need to cater the event? Can you swing by the grocery store to grab a few items?


6 to 8 Weeks Prior to the Event

  1. Create a 3-5 sentence description of the event. If you have entertainment or presenters, ask them to provide some information as to what they will do or cover. 
  2. Create presentation, if applicable. Again, I recommend using Google Slides.
  3. Create promotional graphics for the event. I suggest using Canva to create your graphics it can be free, is easy to navigate, and graphic sizing is taken care of for you! Your standard graphics package should include:
    1. Social media graphic 
    2. Facebook event cover photo
    3. Eventbrite cover photo
    4. Flyer
  4. Create your event on Eventbrite. This platform allows you to offer tickets to your event. It will also capture contact information for those who sign up, which allows you to follow up with attendees or remind them of the event. It also allows you to check-in your attendees the day of your event, very easily. 
  5. Create a Facebook event on your business page, link the tickets to Eventbrite, and use the graphics you created on Canva to promote your event. Pay for boosted advertising if necessary. 
  6. Promote your event through your CRM and personal networks. Tag all applicable vendors, venues, and other co-hosts in your social media posts and Facebook event. The more tags, the better! Encourage friends, family, colleagues, and business contacts to share your event. 
  7. Call to invite people to your event.


3 to 5 Days Prior to the Event

  1. Confirm attendees via your Eventbrite list. Use this to determine the number of items you’ll need to purchase for the day of your event. 
  2. Purchase any miscellaneous items you may need, such as:
    1. Dishware
    2. Cutlery
    3. Serving utensils
    4. Name tags
    5. Trays
    6. Ice
    7. Glasses
  3. Pick up decor items, such as:
    1. Flowers
    2. Balloons
    3. Gift bags
    4. Centerpieces
  4. Pick up “fun items”, such as:
    1. Giveaways
    2. Prizes
    3. Swag
  5. Print/order printables, such as:
    1. Handouts/packets
    2. Sign-in sheets
    3. Surveys
    4. Business cards
  6. Confirm with your venue:
    1. Seating
    2. Test your AV set up – do they have the right audio? Screens? Does their equipment “talk” to your equipment? Consider if you need a computer with you or a slide advancer, if applicable. 


Day of the Event

  1. Always arrive early! I suggest at least an hour. Once you arrive, confirm seating arrangements if applicable. 
  2. Test your audio/visuals one more time!
  3. Set out food/beverage to be available at least 10 minutes prior to the event.
  4. Be sure restrooms are clean and accessible. 
  5. Set up the room to your liking!


Events are a great way to brand yourself as well as create a great relationship with new and familiar faces. You can host an event on your own, with another business associate, or even a colleague. While this list was broad, you can use it to develop specific event checklists. I look forward to sharing more lists with you soon! 

-Hayley Hughes

Realtor, EXIT Realty HGM


Hayley Hughes is a Licensed Wisconsin Realtor with EXIT Realty HGM where she helps to serve clients looking to buy or sell real estate in South Central Wisconsin. She loves to meet her clients on the road, offering many of her meetings wherever she can get a strong cup of coffee.  To connect with Hayley, follow her on Facebook or Instagram: @Realtor.EXITHGM or call her at 608-921-8012.