In December I threw a Christmas party for my beloved book club. The thing is, with no experience of doing so, I didn’t really know how to organise an event! It was a success and I learnt a lot along the way ready for next time. I had of course intended to publish this before February but personal tragedy and life got in the way. Actually, leaving it a few months has allowed me to really reflect on what went well and what I would do differently next time.
A special thank you to our lovely suppliers! We partnered with several small businesses (and a few bigger ones) to bring our attendees wonderful goodie bags and showcase some independent brands. As a non-profit, we’re very grateful for the support. You’ll find shopping links for the wonderful products below!
How to Organise an Event: 5 things I learnt
1. A survey is a great way to gage attendees but take it with a pinch of salt
I used Survey Monkey to run a free survey gaging attendees interest. I gave a choice of days of the week and times to vote on and asked those interested in attending to let me know if they were a definite (should date and time work!) or on the fence. This really helped me get an idea of numbers. However I also correctly anticipated that more people would show strong interest than would actually purchase tickets! I’m so glad I ran the survey as it allowed me to choose an appropriately sized venue.
2. Anticipate drop outs
We had a few drop outs in the lead up to the event a couple of no-shows on the day. Totally fine! Make sure you’ve anticipated for this though. In future I’d sell a few extra tickets, knowing not everyone would actually come. Also decide beforehand and make your refund policy clear. In this case, tickets were non-refundable as the venue had been paid per head regardless.
3. Name tags are a great idea
Most of our attendees had never met one another before! It was awesome to watch everyone mingling but in hindsight I wish I had thought of name tags. Even as the host, remembering 30 new names was a real challenge.
4. Don’t forget the goodie bags!
The actual paper bags I’d ordered to make up the goodie bags hadn’t arrived by the date of the event! Oops! It wasn’t a disaster. The products actually looked great displayed on a table rather than packed up in brown bags. I sent out a notice that morning and asked people to bring their own canvas tote. All in all it was a pretty eco-friendly alternative! However next time I’ll definitely be making sure I place that order well in advance, but I’d keep the open style of ‘pick n mix’ goodie bags.
5. Budget for service charge
I knew the event would end up costing me out of pocket as the Book Club doesn’t make an income and I wanted to keep ticket costs as low as possible for members. However when I’d thought about how to organise an event, I had forgotten I’d need to tip the venue staff! They totally deserved it. It just whacked a little chunk I hadn’t considered beforehand onto the final bill.
Beth’s Book Club Christmas Party Details
Venue: Tell Your Friends, London
The basement event space at TYF was absolutely perfect! I wouldn’t hesitate to host there again. It’s a great size for around 30 people. There’s nothing worse than a harshly lit room with too much empty space. This was cosy, festive and I didn’t have to do much in terms of decor as it already looked lovely.
Food and Drink
I had agreed a set number of canapés and a glass of prosecco per head with the venue for a set cost. I was worried that perhaps people would still be hungry but my concerns were unnecessary! The canapés were very generous and there were even leftovers to box and take home. Tell Your Friends is vegan and does lots of gluten free options so I didn’t need to worry about allergens either which was great.
I asked the venue nicely beforehand if we would be allowed to serve any of our own alcohol. They agreed we could offer a drink per head and Slingsby Gin very kindly donated some of their delicious Rhubarb Gin for the event! We created a little gin table in the corner where people could pour their own.
We also had sweet treats from Tiley’s Treats. Rachel handmade us dreamy iced biscuits complete with book club stamps and bookish quotes! They were a total hit.
What was in the goodie bags
It’s no book club party without books! We were so grateful to one of our favourite publishers, Quercus, for supplying an amazing array of our reads. Each attendee got to choose a book or two to take home including titles from Sarah Knight and best selling contemporary fictions.
Slingsby Gin miniatures
We wanted to create the perfect festive ‘evening in’ with our goodie bags. Well, what says cosy night on the sofa with a book better than an adorable (and delicious) miniature rhubarb gin?!
Jot + INK hand calligraphy baubles
Each guest was lucky to take home a beautiful hand-lettered bauble from Jot + INK with their own name on it! Perfect for the Christmas tree, though everyone agreed they were too pretty to put away come January so I’m sure lots will have found somewhere to hang year round. Jot + INK is a small business run by Emily and also offers bespoke wedding and event stationary and greetings cards. Have a look at her Instagram for more inspiration – the personalised champagne flutes are my favourite!
I’ve adored Spacemask since Harriet first launched her gorgeous self-heating interstellar eye masks. Beautifully scented, they’re guaranteed to transport you away from the stresses and strains of day to day life!
Lisa’s Sweet Treats candy baubles
Lisa creates gorgeous looking sweet treat tables for weddings and events as well as bespoke orders of confectionary. She filled little baubles with sweet shop favourites for our event! I wonder how many made it on to the Christmas tree rather than being scoffed on the train home…
Birchbox cosmetics pouch
Birchbox very kindly gave each of our attendees a gorgeous navy velvet pouch complete with full size and sample cosmetics. We loved the mini Rituals shower oil especially!
Tiley’s Treats chocolate brownies
Rachel’s personalised biscuits went down an absolute storm. You should’ve seen the look of joy on everyone’s faces when they realised they also got to take home some of her dreamy brownies in their goodie bag! They really do taste as delicious as they look. Rachel makes seasonal bakes and takes commissions too for events, birthdays and other special occasions.
A big thank you to Bloom & Wild for supplying some gorgeous flowers and a mini Christmas tree to dress the venue! Click here for £10 off of your next blooms!
All photography by Stories by Chloe photography. You can also follow Chloe on Instagram!
How to Organise an Event: pin this post for later!
Do you have any great tips on how to organise an event?