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Last updated January 21, 2015

Summer is a great time for hosting special events. Whether it’s a gala day, a music festival or a community day out, the warm weather and holiday atmosphere bring out crowds of people all looking for something to do. Check out this A-Z of Summer Events for a whole host of event planning tips and quirky ideas.

Apple Bobbing
Apple-bobbing provides a healthy alternative to the myriad of sweet foods usually offered at gala days and summer events. All you need is a big barrel of water, a few sacks of apples and a hand-towel to dry the freshly bobbed faces. A cheap and cheerful activity for kids.

Buskers are a great way to add variety to your event without extra cost. If planned well, you can even charge the buskers a fee to attend. Make sure you have set places where they can perform, so that the entertainment is appropriately spaced around your venue. Check out your local high school or performing arts class for some willing participants.

Cake Wheel
A cake wheel is a cross between a cake stall and a quick fire raffle. Ask volunteers to provide you with as many freshly baked cakes as possible and give each of the cakes a number. Punters pay $10 to buy a cake, and then they spin the wheel to see which cake they are taking home. Some will end up with a real bargain, others a nice morning tea and the feeling of having made a generous donation!

If you are hosting a free event, think about encouraging a gold coin donation at the gate. The donation doesn’t have to be mandatory, but by having volunteers on-hand with a bucket, you’ll be surprised by what you collect. You could also organise goody bags with vouchers and discount coupons from sponsors, so that those who do make a donation immediately get something in return for their support.

Events Websites
There are plenty of websites where you can promote your events for free, so make sure you get your events listed as early as possible. Some websites are more relevant than others, depending on the type of event you are hosting. Google ‘Event Listings’ to find potential sites.

First Aid
No matter how big or small your event, you need to consider what would happen if someone was injured or became unwell. For small events, it is enough to have a first aid kit on hand and ensure that one person is responsible for administering first aid. They should also have clear instructions about what is expected in the case of a serious emergency.

For large events you should have a first aid station and in some instances, an ambulance on site. You need to make sure that any emergency vehicles have clear access in and out of the venue. For more information about first aid services or to purchase first aid supplies, contact your local St. Johns www.stjohn.org.nz

Glow in the Dark
Nothing says summer like Glowsticks, but nowadays there are all sorts of other Glow-in-the-Dark products available as well. Flashing balls, glasses, jewellery, and even nail polish, face-paint and poi are all out and about. Compare prices online, as they can vary dramatically between suppliers.

Hellers ‘Sausages 4 Schools’
If you are a primary school, it’s worth checking out the Hellers Sausages 4 Schools programme. Hellers gives away free sausages to primary schools wanting to raise funds, with just a couple of conditions that are easy to meet. Check out www.hellers.co.nz for more details.

Your event is a great place to share information about who you are and what you do. Set up an information stand with relevant brochures so that people can get a sense of the services you provide in the community. Make sure you have a sheet available so people can sign-up for your newsletter, and don’t forget to have a wish-list on hand. (You will be surprised how many people can help you if they know what it is you need.)

January, February, March…
When choosing your date, consider what other activities are happening at the same time – both locally and nationally. Who is your target market? What events will they already be committed to? Is there a clash or the potential to collaborate? If your event is to be an annual occurrence, choose a date and keep it the same each year.

Ka-ching Ka-ching
The way in which people pay for goods and services has changed dramatically over the last decade, and you need to keep this in mind when planning your event. Will you have eftpos services available? Can your bank help you with this service? Will you be operating with a special ‘event currency’ and how will this be monitored? If you expect a large quantity of cash, you will need to pay special attention to security and cash handling procedures.

Lucky Draws
It’s really important to get a record of who attends your event. Not only because the participants are potential donors and supporters, but if they had a good time, they will want to attend the event again. By gathering their details, you can put them on a mailing list and let them know about future events in advance. It’s as easy as having a lucky draw at the gate – just make sure there is a tick-box on the form which gives you permission to send them promotional information.

When organising a summer event, you need to make sure you provide plenty of shade for people to escape the sun. Corporates often have marquees available you can borrow – you just need to ask.

Needle in the Haystack
Bring in a huge pile of loose hay and scatter numbered tokens throughout the stack. Each token relates to a specific prize, ranging from small novelty items through to one or two really good rewards. People pay $2 to be let loose in the haystack for 1 minute. They then cash in any tokens they find for the related prize.

Online Social Media
Online social media is not only a great way to promote your event, it is a great way to provide extra exposure for your sponsors. One way is to hold a competition where your Facebook friends take a photo of themselves outside your sponsors’ premises, making sure the sponsors sign is clearly visible in the background. To go in the draw (perhaps for free tickets) they need to post the photo as their profile picture. Not only does this get your sponsors logo all over Facebook, it gets people right to your sponsors’ front door. They can’t ask for better promotion than that!

Press Releases
Make the most of your local media by sending in a well written press release prior to the event. Make sure you begin with the most interesting angle, and then cover all the basics like when, where, who, what and why.

Before you jump feet first into planning your event, you need to ask yourself ‘Why are we doing this?’. There are lots of reasons why your organisation may be planning an event and it’s not always about raising money. Perhaps you want to raise your profile or simply give something back to your community. Without a clear purpose, it’s hard to make effective decisions in the planning process.

Using recycling and other waste minimisation options is not only good for the environment; it can save you lots of money as well. Contact your local council or Environment Centre to see how they may be able to help.

Most kiwis are pretty good at putting on sunscreen before they leave the house, but a couple of hours into your event, they are going to need to put on some more. Set up a sunscreen station with large pump bottles of sunscreen, and encourage people to reapply for a gold coin donation. You can purchase extra-large bottles of sunscreen from the Cancer Society. Check out www.cancernz.org.nz or contact your local Cancer Society branch.

Toilets are often overlooked at an event – that is, they are until they block up or the queues get so long that it causes a disturbance! If you are hosting a particularly large event, you may need to organise extra facilities and you definitely need a plan for keeping them serviced throughout the day. Asides from the number of people in attendance, the amount of toilets required also depends on the length of the event and whether or not alcohol will be served. Check with the events team at your local council for guidelines relevant for your event.

Make sure that all your event helpers can be easily identified by providing them with a uniform to wear on the day. It may be as simple as a branded t-Shirt or a hi-viz vest which they can wear and return. While there is an initial outlay to get these produced, you will be able to use them over and over again.

Finding enough volunteers to help with your event can sometimes be an issue for smaller organisations, but there are several places you can go to for help. Make use of your local Volunteer Centre, or get in touch with service organisations such as Lions or Rotary.

Having plenty of drinking water available is absolutely essential for summer events. Instead of selling bottled water, consider having water coolers or large scale water machines. People can fill their own drink bottles, or you can sell branded bottles which can be refilled at no charge.

When planning your event, you need to think about what will make it really special. Events with x-factor can become iconic within a community, with numbers and publicity increasing every year. Avoid trying to mimic an existing event and instead come up with something bold, new and different.

Yell, Holler and Scream
On the day of your event, it is essential that your event manager can be easily contacted and that other key team members are in constant communication. Mobile phones or walkie talkies are a good way to ensure that everyone is reachable, and there’s no need for mad-panic hollers across the event. Make sure that whatever you choose to use is fully charged, and that everyone has relevant phone numbers taped to the back of their handset.

Okay – I got zip when it comes to a tip starting with Z. If you have an event tip for Z, feel free to comment below.

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