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25 Tips for Hosting an Outdoor Event


Outdoor events are spectacular, especially since the vast open space is so much less restricting than an existing venue structure. However with great potential comes great responsibility, so be sure to follow these tips to pull of your outdoor event with a bang:

  1. Find out if you need a permit to host the event at that particular place/venue. If you do, then be sure to get one – ASAP.
  2. Phone the venue management/local authorities and find out what the rules are – is noise prohibited, can you decorate the trees, may ladies wear heels, etc.
  3. Make sure that there are bathroom facilities available – if not, hire the required number. As a rule of thumb, two restrooms per 100 guests should do the trick.
  4. Make the necessary arrangements for electricity supply and extension cords. As an extra precaution, have a generator on standby and be sure to secure all cords to the ground to reduce tripping hazards.
  5. Hire security guards to safeguard the area and parking lot.
  6. Judge the available lighting and bring in a lighting specialist if it’s not sufficient.
  7. Map out the available space on a piece of paper and clearly mark where everything will be set up. This plan should be sent to all vendors and people involved.
  8. On the morning of the event, mark out the various areas with chalk dust so that vendors know exactly where to set up.
  9. Check whether the ground is level enough for tables and chairs to stand securely – especially buffet tables, as the heavy platters are more likely to slip off.
  10. Drinks are essential for an outdoor event, so make sure you boost the order to keep your guests hydrated.
  11. Find out what type of equipment and amenities your caterer will require and make the necessary arrangements.
  12. Because there are no walls against which to set up stations like the bar and DJ table, do think of ways in which to conceal the unsightly areas from behind.
  13. Bring in an exterminator to debug the area so that your food or guests aren’t attacked by pests. Alternatively light citronella candles, cover the food and keep repellent at hand.
  14. Make sure that the area is accessible to disabled people – whether you appoint an extra hand to assist them or lay temporary flooring in areas for them to navigate along.
  15. Set out enough bins so that guests aren’t left standing with dirty napkins in their hands.
  16. Make sure there are plenty of shaded and sheltered areas for guests to retire to.
  17. Ensure your guests’ comfort by supplying them with hand wipes, umbrellas, fans, sunblock, blankets or insect repellent.
  18. If the area is quite far out of town, be sure to have medical staff or a first aid kit handy.
  19. Have a Plan B ready in case of an unexpected weather change – don’t just consider rain, but also wind and harsh sunlight.
  20. Be sure to inform your guests that it is an outdoor event so that they can dress accordingly.
  21. Piece together a menu that is practical – in other words, nothing that requires refrigeration or hours to prepare.
  22. Choose cutlery and crockery that’s simple enough for outdoor use, yet still stylish enough to match your theme. For a daytime event, consider trendy recyclable serving ware.
  23. Make sure that all décor pieces are tied down or heavy enough to withstand a sudden gust of wind.
  24. Don’t forget to arrange for fire extinguishers, especially if you’ll be using candles or if food will be prepared onsite.
  25. Find out what will be happening in the area on the day of your event – for instance, is there a church bazaar across the road, will the neighbours be having a braai, is the traffic noise quite intense on that particular day of the week, and so forth.


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