How to come up with a realistic party or event budget

It might seem boring, but creating an event budget is a critical step in ensuring your event’s spend remains on track. Here are a few tips to come up with a realistic event budget.

Estimate your funding:

Once you’ve decided that you’re going to host an event or party, you’re going to need to get a good understanding of who is contributing to your event. Are you funding the entire party? Or is your event funded by family (think weddings) or sponsors (think tradeshows)? Once you know who is contributing and by how much, you can start tallying all the funds to create one grand total. Consider this your working event budget. The sooner you know this estimate, the smoother the rest of the event planning will be.

Set goals for your event

To have a stress-free event, you need to define the focus of your event and set a few event goals. Perhaps you want to sell tickets to a show or maybe you want to focus on a milestone. Whatever your focus is, this will allow you to define what is important for you and for this event. Be honest about what you want and what you think is important. Once you've created your goals, come up with a list of must-haves and non-negotiable items that relate to your event. No need to be fancy, but do get specific.

Get organized and and track everything

Using a party planning checklist, such as this one, write down all the fees associated with your event. This list would include basic information such as catering, decor, gifts etc. Be as detailed as you can. Don’t forget a contingency fund and all your must-haves and non-negotiables items from above. Organize it by category, item, item details, estimated expenses, and actual expenses.

With your complete list in hand, you can now start getting quotes. Estimate how much you would need in order to get everything on this wishlist. You can get quotes from looking at:

  • Past events

  • Reaching out to vendors

  • Reaching out to family and friends

  • Completing a quick search online

Make sure that your estimated expenses are as accurate as possible. This will help determine which event items are realistic and which ones might need you will cut out.

Re-Prioritize and Finalize

Now that you have a total budget and a wishlist, you need to compare the two to see which items make sense and which ones may need re-prioritizing. Remove any items you don’t need, like that swanky champagne waterfall or that entertaining acrobatist.

Remember, it’s okay to move on your budget as long as you know how you’ll pay for that splurge later on.