Here’s a quick multiple choice question that might change the direction of your career or professional life. Ready?
Pick the sentence that suits you best:
A. I would love to go to work now.
B. I would love to go to a party now.
C. I would love to do both now.
If you chose “C,” you may want to consider becoming a professional party planner. Party planning can be a great way to tap into your creativity, show people a good time, and make money doing it.
So we cordially invite you to save the date, RSVP, and join us as we help you learn how to become a party planner.
Before jumping into how to become a party planner, let’s take a second to define what a party planner does. Party planners and event planners can sometimes be considered as the same role.
However, there are some differences. An event planner generally handles the overall design and running of a large event, such as a conference, trade show, or an awards ceremony. That also may include parties at those events.
If you’re interested in learning more about event planners, check out this companion article.
A party planner focuses more on social gatherings and may work with an event planner, depending on the project. For example, a trade show event planner might be responsible for handling the booth on the trade show floor, securing hotel and flight reservations, and coordinating speakers and demonstrations.
With all that on their plate, the event planner may hire a party planner to set up dinners, coordinate meet-and-greet sessions, and plan other social get-togethers. So for this article, we’re going to focus on how to become someone who primarily plans social events.
Before you look at renting chocolate fountains or hiring an improv troupe, it’s a good idea to create a business plan. This can be an important step in how to become a party planner. It provides a good opportunity for you to think about what types of parties you want to focus on, based on your experience and the amount of work you feel you can comfortably handle.
For example, weddings and corporate event parties can often require more long-range planning and work. As a result, you can often charge more. On the other hand, birthdays and other smaller celebrations can be less demanding but may have smaller budgets.
Thinking about the types of parties you may plan also can help you set your rates and pricing. Will you charge by the hour or by the event? Or maybe a combination of both, depending on the size and scope of the party.
If you have a knack and passion for planning parties, you’re already good at looking at all the moving parts and variables and pulling them all together to work. Those skills will help make creating a business plan a lot easier.
We can help make putting together a business plan even less intimidating with this short article and a free business plan template that can help you get started.
Just about every job involves some degree of planning and organization. So there’s a good chance you already have some of the basic skills you’ll need, even if you haven’t ever planned parties.
Maybe you helped run your school’s parent-teacher organization. Or you coordinated a fundraising auction for a local charity. Perhaps you were the one who people always asked to organize the office holiday party.
Think about the skills you’ve developed over the years and how you could use them currently as a party planner. It also can be a good idea to write those skills down.
They’ll come in handy when it’s time to create a website or to promote your business on social media, in brochures, and any other marketing materials.
When it comes to how to become a party planner, you also may want to consider some courses or certificate programs as well. Many of these focus more on event planning, but based on what types of clients you want to pursue, having credentials, such as a certified meeting planner (CMP), can help you stand out from the crowd.
You may have heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
In party planning, both know-how and connections are valuable assets. Whether it’s caterers and bartenders, DJs and musicians, or florists and videographers, being able to provide the best people with the right skills and talents is what will make your parties successful.
The same rule applies to venues and locations. A good way to start building your contacts is to read reviews on sites such as Yelp and Angi. Follow the people and venues you like on social media and attend an event if you can. Let them know what you like about what they do and start to build a relationship.
Once you’ve found a good vendor or venue, cultivate that relationship. Follow them on social media and share their posts to help build their networks. And always pay them on time and as contracted.
Even at a party with impeccable planning, a highly sought-after location, an A-list entertainment, and a five-star cuisine, something could go wrong.
That’s one of the reasons why certain venues may require party planner insurance.
Even if it’s not required, being properly covered can make a lot of sense for your business. One way to do that is with business insurance coverage that includes general liability and professional liability coverage.
Accidents can happen. Things can get damaged. People can get hurt. But general liability insurance (GL) can help cover your costs in those types of instances.
Let’s say you’ve commissioned a magnificent ice sculpture for a client’s garden party. But it's an unusually hot day and a guest captivated by the sculpture’s form doesn’t see the small puddle of water from the melting ice. They slip, fall, and hurt themselves badly enough to require a trip to the hospital.
They later sue you to cover the medical costs of their injury. Without GL insurance, the party’s over, and you might have to pay out of your own pocket.
However, with GL insurance in place, a lot of those costs could be covered. And that could include medical bills and legal fees, if needed, up to your policy limit.
General liability can cover you for a wide variety of risks and hazards, including third-party:
Here’s something that may be just as impressive as that ice sculpture. Simply Business (that’s us!) can find GL coverage for party planners from leading insurers, often as low as $19.58/month.* And it usually takes just 10 minutes.
You can do it all online or on the phone. Just call 844-654-7272, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., to speak with one of our licensed insurance agents. They know a lot about insurance, they love small businesses, and they certainly appreciate a good party.
Even if nothing gets broken and no one gets hurt, you still may be facing some costly risks. Imagine that you’re fortunate enough to be hired by a client to throw the social event of the season.
You’re knocking it out of the park. The guests can’t get enough of the Asian fusion cuisine or the music being played by the DJ you scored from that big-city nightclub.
However, the comedian you hired to fill in between DJ sets decides to try some new material that many guests find a bit off-color. This does not go unnoticed by your humiliated client, who claims you ruined the event and sues you.
Now you have to defend yourself, and the cost of doing so can add up quickly. Fortunately, professional liability insurance can cover both the claim and your legal fees, up to your coverage limit.
Here are some of what professional liability insurance usually covers:
OK. You’ve created your business plan, you have your insurance coverage, you’ve honed your planning skills, and you’ve added extra storage on your smartphone to house all your valuable venue and vendor contact info.
Now it’s time to get your name out there in the partysphere.
A website is a good “number 1” to put on your list of how to become a party planner. It’s your online storefront where you can list your services, show off photos and videos from some of your parties, share reviews from clients, and make it easy for people to contact you.
If you’re looking for some help getting your website off the ground, check out this helpful article.
Don't forget your social media channels. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all good places to share what you’ve been up to, promote parties that you’re planning, and exchange information and insights about the party planning business.
In addition, Pinterest is a great way to share ideas and find inspiration for new ones.
You’re often only as good as your last party, but if you haven’t planned a party as a professional, you may feel like you’re in a tough spot. Not to worry. There are still ways to show what you can do. Consider working with a nonprofit or charitable organization that may need some fundraising help.
If some of your contacts are vendors who are starting out as well, they may be willing to discount or offer their services to gain experience and exposure for themselves.
Volunteering not only gives you some real-world experience, it also shows your vendors what you’re like to work with and can provide you with photos, videos, and reviews to use on your website.
Remember Step #3 above? That’s where you put all that time into building your new cache of vendors, suppliers, and venue operators. That group of people can come in handy not only when you're planning a party, but also when you’re looking for parties to plan.
Think of it as a party ecosystem. Caterers are looking for people to feed. Entertainers are looking for audiences. Venues are looking for guests to fill their spaces. And party planners are often looking for caterers, entertainers, and venues.
Here’s an example. A client planning to have a party or event may start with a call to a venue. The client also may need a caterer and some entertainment. Having a good relationship with the venue manager could lead to your being recommended to handle all the party arrangements.
In turn, you’ve got your list of caterers and entertainers that you can recommend.
Speaking of recommendations, if you’d like some ideas and insights into other ways to grow your party planning business, we’ve got a lot of good information in our small business resource center, Simply U.
Here are a few articles to get you started:
Humans are social creatures. There’s scientific evidence to support this. There’s also nonscientific evidence to support this. I mean, who doesn’t like to have a good time, right?
But as a party planner, you’re often doing more than just bringing the fun. Consider these comments from Juraj Hulab, Marketing & Content Manager at Sli.do:
“Firstly, events are about bringing people together and creating powerful experiences. And amazing things happen when people meet; they learn, inspire one another, come up with new ideas and sometimes they even change the world.”
Not a bad way to spend your working day.
* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
As a 9-year-old at summer camp, I hated it — especially after being pulled screaming from the pool during the swimming competition. While this left me without an aquatic achievement patch, it also inspired the letter to my parents that got me an early release from Camp Willard. That showed me the power of writing. I’ve done my best to use it only for good ever since, such as writing helpful articles for small business owners.
Ed writes on a number of topics such as liability insurance, small business funding, and employee management.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.