You may have sold out the event, but last year’s Christmas party got out of hand, and not in that good way, which leaves you with a bad headache and perhaps a bill for a few broken windows, along with the reputation as the organization selling the hottest ticket in town. It was merely a matter of poor planning. Selling plenty of tickets to the event was just not enough. Long before printing the event tickets, there are stages of preparation that ensure the perfect party.

• Book the venue
• Hire caterers
• Hire bartenders
• Book the entertainment

Seems simple enough, but each of these steps requires more forethought. Don’t just sign the first contract that comes along. When booking the venue, consider your needs. How many people can you reasonably expect to show up? How many can the venue accommodate? Don’t forget the unmentionable basics: will there be enough restrooms for all the guests? How about easy access to the outdoors for smokers? The fanciest ballroom in town will still flop if partygoers are packed in shoulder to shoulder with no room to move.

As for caterers and bartenders, be certain that you understand the terms of their contract. While you may be impressed by the quality of the food, it will do you little good if you didn’t realize that you were supposed to provide your own plates. The caterer may be happy to bring their own tables and chairs, or these may be provided by the venue, but if nobody brings tables and chairs, that can lead to disaster. Some party planners are chagrined to find that their very expensive caterer provides only plastic flatware. Communication is key. If you think your guests may find the bartender’s tip jar a little tacky, assure him or her that you will be tipping generously at the end of the night. Ask for what you want. Negotiate up front.

Discuss your expectations with the entertainment as well. Will the band be willing to play an extra set if the party runs long? If that’s a possibility, you probably want to set up the terms in advance. If you’re hiring a Santa Claus impersonator, be sure to get some references. It’s important to know that you’re truly hiring a professional who won’t let you, or your young guests, down.

Once you’ve settled on the basics, printing event tickets is a breeze. With the knowledge that your venue, food, drinks, and entertainment are planned, you can easily add the event’s highlights to a ticket template and begin selling with confidence: confidence that the entire night is well in hand.