Have you ever gone grocery shopping without a list?  Did you end up with a full cart, but not a single meal?  Lists are beneficial for even the quickest shopping trips.  Similarly, even the smallest events require detailed plans, and shopping lists are no exception!

There are a surprising amount of supplies that must be obtained for small events.  Sure, many of them can be acquired from your own stash (scissors, a stapler, etc.), but others need to be purchased in advance.  On the cruise ship where I perform, Holland America, there is a Port And Shopping Guide, whose entire job it is to plan the shopping in for passengers while in the ports.  Don’t make the mistake of running out last minute assuming you’ll figure out what you need as you go.  Not only will you forget key items; you’ll also almost certainly violate the budget that you so carefully created after reading about Event Blunder #11.

The solution?  Simple.  Plan!  I know, it seems like that’s the solution for everything here, but despite the fact that planning is so crucial for avoiding huge mistakes, people often just don’t do it.  So stay organized and start planning a list of required supplies from the get-go.  Did someone request purple name tags?  Add ‘em to the list.  Did you notice the venue lacked sufficient outlets for all your electronic requirements?  Better add extension cords to the list.  Edit the list as you go and you’ll have less work to do right before the big shopping trip.  Also be sure to stick to budget and borrow as much as possible.  For example, if the theme of the event is Mexican Fiesta and you just happened to host a Cinco de Mayo party a few weeks ago, don’t hesitate to make use of that stash of cactus margarita glasses…no one will ever know you borrowed ‘em from your own house!

Another tip:  Visit as few stores as possible.  If you can get everything you need at the local shoppers warehouse, do it.  Don’t hop from the office supply store to the grocery store to the department store.  You’ll wear yourself out, waste time, and probably screw up and overbuy.  Also, don’t wait until the last minute to shop.  You don’t want to find out that every store within a 50-mile radius is out of name badges and won’t receive another shipment until the day after your event!

To sum it up: plan everything.  Allocate enough time to get the things you need.  Be clear on the budget.  Stick with supplies that fit your theme.  Try to limit the number of stores or websites you use to obtain the necessary supplies.

Happy shopping!

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