Selecting a suitable event for a Sweet Sixteen or other major celebration


Time and time again the following question is asked: -

What should I do for my daughter’s sweet sixteen celebrations?

What I advise people is that planning any celebration is not rocket science but it is definitely a 2 stage process: -

A) Decide the celebration event

B) Plan the celebration event

The first stage, decide the celebration event, can be broken down into steps as follows: -

Step 1: Balancing the budget

If you are thinking of planning a special event it is worth noting the budget as the first step. If money is no object then move on but for most people there are some ideas that just won’t fly (like taking all your friends and family to Hawaii!). Whilst you can get creative in hosting a special event within a given budget, the amount of money you can spend is an important factor in the decision process.

Step 2: Types of event and number of people

A Party is only one type of celebration, the other main types are: -

1)     An unusual experience, that is something such as sky diving, bungee jumping, etc. that you would not typically do.

2)     An event that is common but pleasant, that is something like going to the shopping mall, cinema or spa etc.

3)     A party, inviting people to come together, which might include music, games and dancing.

All 3 of the above event types can be mixed and matched and can include a trip or hotel stay (depending on the budget).

The reason why type of event and number of people are together is that certain events, such as an unusual experience are more suited to small numbers whilst others, i.e. a party, are suited to larger numbers. As with budget this is a balance, in that a typical choice would be between taking 5 of your closest friends to the spa followed by a dinner and movie, or hosting 30 of your wider acquaintances in a rented room with music, dancing and games.

Step 3: The short list

As you discuss and consider the type of celebration, together with balancing the budget and number of people, you will eventually narrow the choice down to 2 or 3 suitable events; this will be your short list.

Step 4: The decision

Deciding on a particular event when you have narrowed the choices down to 2 or 3 is the final step. But only stay in this step when you have made a decision that you will only choose one of these events. If you find yourself thinking about events outside of your ‘short list’ or questioning the budget then go back to step 1 and start the process again.

Moving on to planning the special event

Make the decision as to the type of celebration event as early as is practical so that planning the special event can take place. In most cases it is the next stage, event planning within budget, that will turn any event a wonderful celebration. The most difficult event to plan is the typical party, as the other special events (trips, outings etc.) are narrower in focus.

Concluding remarks

Separating the decision, as to what event to host, from the actual planning of the event is key to a successful celebration planning process. That said some event ideas can and should be discussed in the selection stage in order to help with the event type decision but when the real event planning stage is entered it is important that the type of event together with guest numbers and budget are all well defined.


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