Follow these 5 steps to ensure you have a cracking summer party
5 Top tips to planning the perfect summer party from our friends at Tobacco Dock
Surely a summer party has to be one of life’s great treats. Free from the formality of the traditional Christmas get together and infused with that halcyon spirit of the season, summer parties are the perfect excuse to gather the team and have some fun. As one of the most popular summer party venues in London, we’ve got plenty of ideas for ways to make yours a bash to remember!
There are lots of things to take into consideration when you’re planning your summer event, but we’ve put together a checklist of the main things you might want to put in place to ensure the party goes with a swing.
1. It’s all in the planning
Our absolute top tip would have to be to get organised well in advance. It may seem extreme, but we recommend beginning the planning in January, right after the Christmas party. There are a few reasons why this is a good idea:
Firstly, summer is infamously tricky to get diaries to align as calendars jam up with holidays, weddings, sporting events, school presentations and other seasonal activities. To avoid a slew of ‘regrets’ in your RSVP inbox, make sure you get in first.
Secondly, a date in the diary gives your team something to look forward to and adds a touch of sunny motivation to the traditionally lacklustre post-Christmas months.
Another important reason to get your plans set early on is that you’ll have far more choice in terms of venues and suppliers. Remember that in summer months you’ll be in competition with weddings which are customarily organised a long time in advance. You’ll find that many venues offer special early bird offers, so you can get some terrific deals if you get organised.
Another important (albeit necessary and dull) part of the initial planning is finalising a budget. Getting this in place will inform all your other decisions such as venue, catering and styling. It will also help your event planners work effectively to create the perfect party for you with no nasty financial surprises later on.
2. Who’s coming?
As we’ve established, getting the invites out in plenty of time is crucial. When it comes to choosing a theme and deciding how to assign the budget, it’s important to not only consider how many people are coming but also who is coming. This should be the factor that most informs your choices later on.
For example, if you know you’ll be welcoming a foodie crowd then you’ll know to focus a large proportion of the budget on the catering. A gathering of party animals will mean that you’ll need to look for a venue that offers a late finish and nearby transport links, as well as entertainment accommodated for in the budget.
Bear in mind any major sporting events that might clash with your event and if your guests are likely to want to watch it, try to find ways in which you can incorporate the match or race into your party schedule. Don’t look at it as something which will take away from the party, rather something that can enhance the overall experience. For example, during the World Cup, we put up screens around Skylight, our rooftop bar, meaning that party goers didn’t have to choose between attending events here or seeing the matches! It worked really well and croquet games and other activities were timed around the football, so it didn’t disrupt the flow of the party and all the party goers were kept happy.
3. Well placed
Find the perfect venue to host your party. There are several factors you’ll need to take into consideration.
- Do they have a space which is the ideal size for your party? Too small and it will feel crammed, too large and it will feel under attended and lacking in atmosphere. The most centrally located London party venues are often on the smaller side, so you will need to weigh up what your priorities are.
- Is the venue in a location convenient to your guests? Are there transport links nearby to make the party easy to attend? You don’t want your guests to arrive late or frustrated by an awkward or expensive journey.
- Are the indoor and outdoor spaces that you can use to make the most of the weather no matter what the capricious British climate decides to throw at you?
- Does it fit your budget? It’s all very well choosing to hold your party in a stunning location, but if the hire of the space takes up too much of your budget, you won’t have enough to spend on the other items on your party list.
- Do they have the right licences to carry the party on into the small hours (if that’s your plan!)?
It’s vital that you foster a productive working relationship with the team at your chosen venue, and top of the list is communication! They want your party to be a success as much as you do, so keep them in the loop with your goals, your budget and your vision. Most good venues will be able to be flexible in their offering as well as having strong supplier relationships with companies who will be able to help the magic happen!
4. Catering for success
The food and drink options are one of the most important elements of a successful summer party. Guests typically want to make the most of the outdoors, so a sit-down dinner can inhibit the flow of your event. Summer is a time of year when you can work on a more informal and interactive service. We think this is a great opportunity for a high-quality barbecue, asado or hog roast, or to encourage mingling with street food or bowl food.
Use the bright weather for mixology inspiration and create your own party cocktail so get everyone in the spirit. Here at Tobacco Dock we often work closely with our clients to create drinks menus which assert their brand and cocktails are a really fun and engaging medium for this, not least because you can really play with the names and the adornments! Don’t stop at a cocktail umbrella, look for ways in which to make your drinks really striking – there are loads of cool ideas on Pinterest if you’re looking for inspiration.
Don’t forget the drivers or non-drinkers either – make sure you keep the fun for everyone and offer at least one alcohol free ‘mocktail’ as well as plenty of soft drink options. As a rule, non-drinkers have generally had enough elderflower cordial to last them a lifetime, so try to find something to surprise and delight them!
Finish the meal in style with light and zesty puddings. Why not switch things up with something that will encourage interaction and conversation at dessert time – how about an ice-cream pedal bike or a doughnut wall?
5. Making memories
If you’re looking for ways to keep your guests engaged at your summer party, we’d recommend that you think carefully about the entertainment.
Music is one of the most important elements in creating atmosphere at your summer party. Whether you’d prefer live music or a dj, your chosen venue should be able to help you with accommodating your choices or suggesting preferred performers who are used to the venue.
To really get the party going why not throw a little friendly competition into the mix? Up at our rooftop bar, Skylight, party goers can make use of our urban lawn club to play a tournament, taking in all the elements of croquet and pétanque. Events taking place in the main Tobacco Dock venue needn’t miss out on the fun. The Hitachi summer party featured games such as giant Jenga and Pass the Pigs, which got the party going with a swing.
Keep the jubilation going on past sunset with a silent disco and photo booth (along with plenty of interesting props and costumes!).
Parties are always over too quickly so we always recommend hiring a professional photographer who can keep a record of all the fun you’ve had.
Enjoy your party planning!
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