Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

What if you threw a party and no one came?

A month or so ago, I began putting together my Thanksgiving party. Figuring that I didn’t need to worry about the date, I delved into the guest list and menu. Somewhere along the way my son pointed out that he wouldn’t be coming home on Thanksgiving Day due to other obligations. Next, my cousin bowed out, which left my Uncle’s attendance in limbo. Undaunted, I changed the day – we would celebrate an Un-Thanksgiving. Once it was established that the entire clan could come over to celebrate, just not on the official day, the planning began again in earnest.

Planning events is never easy. Choosing the “right” date, from the get go, will help ensure the success of any event that you may be planning.

Many people will be overwhelmed with invitations to events and parties in the next few months. Fundraisers, company parties, open houses, dinners and other gatherings are very popular during the holidays. Planners focus on the holidays as a means of connecting their business or organizational theme(s) and value propositions with people predisposed at this time of year to have fun and to give to others. But often, the planning doesn’t take in to account other activities taking place. This may lead to less than successful outcomes.

Before embarking upon an event, decide what the goal is. What is the reason for the event? Everything should tie back to this. Once determined, consider timing.

Checking community event calendars is a great place to start. It isn’t reasonable to expect that your audience will attend several large events in one week, for instance. Many will have to choose, and they may not chose your event.

You might consider holding your event when other distractions are not taking place. It will create more focus and appreciation for your event. If your goal is to raise funds, think about how likely you are to raise funds when everyone else is doing the same thing, at the same time.

Noting what holidays are taking place is important. Failure to recognize major holidays, or holidays that could impact your target audience, creates uncomfortable issues when invitees are forced to choose between an event and holiday traditions.

Avoid redundancy. Part of the problem with getting my entire clan to come and visit was that they were going similar events already – turkey and gravy in abundance! A bit of promotion on my part concerning my husband’s famous smoked turkey ultimately got everyone back on track.

The first step, before planning any major event, is to remember that timing really is everything. Once you’ve determined the date, be sure to spread the news. Save the Date cards are popular because they help market events while ensuring that key invitees are aware of what is coming up in the future.

Think creatively. Thanksgiving doesn’t always have to be held on the fourth Thursday of November. That is the traditional date, but we had a wonderful event later that weekend. The purpose of the event stayed the same, but the timing had to be changed to fit everyone’s busy schedules.

Remember to keep your guests in mind. It’s not uncommon for event planners to become so tied up in the event that they forget what will make the attendees happy. It’s not about you, it’s about the experience.

Lastly, don’t forget to ask attendees about your plans ahead of time. If they are like my son, they may tell you that you are talking turkey. If you are like me, you’ll agree!

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
She may be reached at 303-651-6612; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or Linked In.

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