If this blog post caught your eye, you're likely an event planner, a committed PTO (or PTA, depending what your school district calls it) parent, or someone who serves on the PTO board or event committee. If so, what school event are you planning next? Is it sponsored by the PTO or school board? Is it an arts or music festival, science fair, book fair, a fundraiser, math or spelling competition, or a college fair?
No matter what type of event you're planning and regardless of previous event planning experience, here are a few tips that can be applied to any situation. These should be helpful to first-time planners, but also a good reminder to those who have experience.
Here are five tips for planning school festivals and other educational events.
1. Know Your Purpose
Before planning begins, be sure you understand the purpose and goals of your event. Both serve as the foundation on which everything will be built.
Is the purpose to raise money, gain publicity, connect parents with teachers, recognize the achievement of children? Is the goal to raise $5,000, get covered by the local news, or select competition winners?
Once you know what you're trying to achieve, you'll better understand what fits into the scope of your event. They will serve as your guide throughout the planning process.
2. Follow A Budget
When you start planning, make sure you have the event budget in front of you. If you don't have a budget from which to work, it's nearly impossible to move forward scheduling vendors or creating a list of needs including rentals, equipment, and materials.
There are many types of school festivals, fairs, and competitions. Regardless of the type of event, for some schools who have a large student body, having school-wide events off-site is ideal. Perhaps the need is a larger space, a bigger parking lot, or more restrooms to accommodate the expected crowd. If that's the case, venue rental will need to be factored into the budget.
The event's budget will provide the framework for all financial decisions. Here are some sample budget templates and expense checklists.
3. Utilize A Planning Team
If you're leading an event planning committee, be sure to involve the whole team. If you have responsible individuals who can offer ideas and suggestions and are ready to help with the heavy lifting, things should go smoothly. Your team can divide and conquer important tasks like researching venue options, arranging rentals, selecting vendors, overseeing set up and tear down, creating a program schedule, advertising the event, and more.
Want to thank your committee for their hard work? Here are four ways to delight them.
4. Get The Word OutThere are many ways to get the word out about your event. Here are a few.
- Ask to add it to the school online events calendar, if it isn't already there.
- Create several social posts that can be published on all the school's social media platforms. You may not be able to do it directly, but submitting your posts to the webmaster or the social media coordinator should get the job done. Ask if a Facebook event could be created.
- Figure out the logistics for creating and printing an ad or postcard for every child to take home.
- If you have the resources, make eye-catching posters to hang throughout the school.
- If sending an email blast is an option, consider adding that to your advertising arsenal as well.
Keep in mind, it's vital to go through the proper channels when advertising a school event.
5. Debrief The Event
Take time to evaluate your event after it's over. Meet with your committee to discuss what worked, what failed (and why!), what improvements could be made next year, and other key factors.
If you have the opportunity, survey a handful of attendees or invite attendees to fill out a short questionnaire in order to discover what they liked, what they'd didn't like, and what ideas they may have for next year's event. Browse these helpful debriefing tips.
Sandy Cove can help you!
If you're looking to host an off-site school-related event, we can help! We have the staff and space to accommodate your mid-week needs.
Our Chesapeake Lodge has meeting rooms that can accommodate groups up to 550 people. We offer a variety of meeting room arrangements including theater-style, u-shape, semi-circle, circle, and chevron. Several rooms have in-room A/V, and most are handicapped accessible with restrooms nearby.
If you need a meal for your event, we offer delicious buffet meals in our Water's Edge Dining Room. Let us know in advance, and we can accommodate your group at tables of 8-10. Our all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner buffets also include a full salad bar and a delicious dessert.