It can be intimidating to organize an affair as big as a Spring Formal. You’ll have a lot of moving pieces to keep track of as you consider a theme, entertainment, favors, decorations, food, and more. To get you going and help keep you on track, we have some tips from people who know what it’s like to pull off an event like this.
Tip 1: Accept that you need help
One of the biggest mistakes you can make trying to plan and execute a Spring Formal for a large group is thinking that you will keep track of everything better if you just do it yourself. While you’ll always have hurdles to overcome when you work with people, you need help to arrange an event of this size.
Build your team early
Gathering the planners early will give you some time to get to know each other. The stronger the team, the easier everything will be. On the big day, and those most stressful few days right before it, things will run much more smoothly if the team has already worked out the kinks of communication and personalities.
If you try to hold the reins on everything, you will quickly be overwhelmed. You need some leadership roles within your team, and then you need to fill them with people who have the leadership skills to handle the position. Taking time to do this early comes with a bonus. If you find an effective leader to help you plan Spring Formal, you might have also just identified someone to fill an important role later.
Consider giving roles to event managers in the following areas:
- Entertainment: contacting, liaising, and troubleshooting for the night’s entertainment
- Volunteer management: inspiring and coordinating all the helpers
- Venue: coordinating and troubleshooting interaction with the chosen venue
- Publicity: getting the word out and keeping up enthusiasm
- Food: planning and arranging as well as keeping within the theme
Tip 2: Make sure you have enough time
If you’re already thinking about your Spring Formal, that’s great. It’s never too early to set a date. Venues need to be booked, advertising has to be sent out, entertainment has to get nailed down. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get these things done.
Make a short list of dates
It’s highly likely that a conflict will come up on at least one date, so have a minimum of two picked out. Ideally, you should have four possible dates to work with. Before you choose them, check the calendar to make sure you’ve taken into account all the religious and statutory holidays that might create a conflict.
Check with key participants first
Never release any dates until you’ve checked with all the key players involved. This includes the venue, your event managers, any entertainers you’re hiring, any VIP guests you’re inviting, and any presenters.
Tip 3: Choose your theme early
Your theme will tie everything together and direct your choices for decoration, favors, entertainment, and possibly even food. Choosing a good theme means knowing your audience. Ideally, you want to choose something that has broad appeal, can be effective within your budget, and doesn’t create any problems. Avoid themes that are too edgy or politically sensitive when you’re dealing with a large group. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Vegas Nights
- Midnight in Paris
- Under the Sea
- Mardi Gras
- Ancient Greece
- A Night at the Oscars
- London Fog
- Opera Night
- Wishing on a Star
- The Frozen North
- South Pacific
- River of Dreams
- All That Glitters
Once you have your theme chosen, talk it over with your key event coordinators so you’re all on the same page. Make sure that theme is guiding choices across the board so everything fits together.
Tip 4: Choose your type of entertainment wisely
Don’t make the mistake of having just a general idea of the type of music you want until the last minute. When it comes to planning entertainment for the night, you need to decide early which of these three is right for your Spring Formal:
- A playlist of audience favorites chosen in advance
- A DJ to keep the tunes fresh
- Live entertainment
Each of these choices has its pros and cons. Having a playlist is the least expensive option and the easiest to coordinate, but also the least impressive on the big night. It offers the least flexibility if it turns out that your attendees aren’t enjoying the music. Either a DJ or a live band are probably a better option unless your budget is tight.
Again, DJs and live entertainment have pros and cons. The DJ will be less expensive, take up less space, and provide you with more musical variety. A band will be most impressive and best able to draw the crowd in and keep things punchy in the moment.
Tip 5: Plan a way to keep people engaged at the event
One of the biggest Spring Formal mistakes you can make is to throw all your effort and time into planning before the event and then just assume that on the night things will just flow along. The lights, entertainment, food, and decorations can all be perfect, but that might not be enough to get everyone engaged in the moment.
Use favors that keep people involved
A great way to keep people engaged is to get and customize favors to give away as people come in. These should be tied to the theme of the event and give people a way to interact either with each other or with the entertainment.
This can be as simple as glow bracelets that will shine out just as the lights dim, or something more complicated like coordinated hats to distinguish people by team or side for some kind of event. Don’t forget that customized giveaways also let you promote your brand or a cause.
Make sure to plan activities
A Spring Formal is usually all about the dancing (and possibly the food), but that doesn’t mean you can just push play on a music set and expect everything to go smoothly. It’s important to have a plan in place for getting people to engage with each other and with the night. This could be a group dance, a competition, or even a vote for Best Dancer.
Tip 6: Expect the unexpected
Nothing is more disappointing than to expect everything to go without a hitch and then find it doesn’t. Mistakes will happen, but it’s important to remember a few things as you plan:
- The farther in advance you start working, the less harm mistakes will cause
- The worst part of the mistake is the panic: get past it and look for solutions immediately
- If a volunteer makes a mistake, don’t destroy morale by getting overly angry
- Mistakes that seem huge to you are unlikely to seem so important to the guests
One of the best ways to minimize mistakes is to make sure expectations are clear right from the beginning. A lot of mistakes happen because no one set proper expectations. It wasn’t clear who was responsible for what or exactly what the goals were and how they were to be achieved. Be clear from the beginning and don’t be afraid to set specific targets and responsibilities.
Planning for a Spring Formal is not that different from planning any other big event. Plan early, plan wisely, get help, and keep things together with a unifying theme. Always keep the goals in mind, and your formal will go off without a hitch.