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How to organise a formal ADELAIDE

h i g h s c h o o l f o r m a l s. c o m . a u

how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

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how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

EDITOR Mandy Weidmann 1300 653 305


PUBLISHER Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd ABN 98 118 909 069 Head Office: PO Box 1516 Coorparoo DC Qld 4151 p: 1300 653 305 f: 1300 769 823

DISCLAIMER Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd takes no responsibility for materials in this publication or claims made by advertisers, or errors or omissions. Readers should not act on any representations made in this book without independent verification.

COPYRIGHT © 2012 Direct Digital Publications Pty Ltd


2012 how to organise a formal Editorial Your essential formal event checklist Getting your formal organised The first meeting Organising an organising committee! Choosing a date and a venue Budget Themes We must not forget… 1. Permission Forms 2. Security 3. Official guests 4. Photography 5. Student liaison 6. Thank you Have we thought about…? 1. Linen and chair covers 2. Balloons 3. Flowers 4. Menus and place cards 5. Props 6. Lighting 7. Sound 8. Favours Handling the guest list Sponsorship Fundraising Post-formal activities Search for formal suppliers how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

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Get ready in style for the biggest night of your school year, with FormalStyle. Keep track of dress designs, your formal budget, appointments and keepsakes for your school formal. FormalStyle is elegant and practical at the same time – a place to record everything about this exciting event.

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how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

editorial A night to remember How to organise your formal In America they are called ‘proms’. In the UK, they’re the ‘grad balls’. Here in Australia, the ‘formal’ is a word on the mind of most high school seniors. It’s a lavish celebration of the end of 12 years’ schooling. But magical nights like this – full of great hopes and expectations –don’t just happen. It is an important night and we at want it to be just right: after all, this is a once-in-a-lifetime night to remember! There’s a lot of organising involved. That’s where this guide comes in. A night to remember – how to organise your formal provides the essential checklist that will ensure you have every aspect covered and can relax and get on with enjoying your fabulous event. Enjoy! Direct Digital

how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012


Your essential formal event checklist

Getting your formal organised

Organising a formal is not a oneperson job. This is a major event. It requires a dedicated, motivated group of people to pull it off because it’s not just about finding a place, going there and having a good time.

Some schools have a protocol in place regarding who is involved in the organisation. It may be the responsibility of the prefects, or senior leadership team; you may elect a committee; or the school may appoint a committee.

Look at this list of things to Volunteer if you can! Chances organise! are you’ll learn heaps of useful organisational skills, have fun and • Venue make lifelong friends along the way. • Music • Food • Theme Home James Limousines • Invitations • Menu/place cards • Seating plan • Entertainment • Sponsorship Get your formals booked in early so that you can take that ride with all your friends. Stand out from the rest and get 9 or 10 of your friends to join you in our 11 Seater Statesman Limousine. • Fundraising If you need more than one limousine. Home James Limousines can try and help you with this if you like. Feel free to ring or email us on a no obligation quote for your special • Security night. Bring your own music and enjoy the trip cruising around in a limousine, bring your camera and we can take pictures for you to remember your night. • Permission forms Rather than go one way, book a return trip home too. Mention High School Formals and get 10% off for a return trip home • Guest list • Official guests • After party activities • Thank-you • Student liaison (conditions apply)


how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

The first meeting You need to know who’s doing what. Now is the time to appoint your key committee members and sub-committees. Read on for more details about these roles. You need a venue and you need a date. Perhaps that’s already determined. Some schools have created a tradition of having their formal on a particular Friday or Saturday of a particular month, at the same venue, booked a year (at least) in advance. Your school representative will be able to advise you. You need a budget too. Work out roughly how many people are going to attend. How much are you willing to pay for a ticket? Multiply that and you have a rough budget within which to organise the whole event. And remember – that’s not just the venue. That’s food, drinks, entertainment, decorations… Read more about how to set your budget.

looking to Whether you are get the girl , w ho s e th l a ste at your next n fu e v ha t s ju r o EAR will make formal event, F G st fashion te la e th h it w n e it happ ssories. in suits and acce

Organising an organising committee! A committee usually has a mixture of student and staff representatives. Decide straight up who makes what decisions: what the committee can decide and what is up to the school.

Appoint a chairperson, secretary and Draft up a timeline, working treasurer. You’ll also need a school backwards from the date of your representative (a staff member). event, listing everything that needs • Your chairperson is the chief to be organised, by when. Our coordinator. This person needs checklist will help you. to be mature and responsible, willing to take on a lot of work. how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012


The chairperson is ultimately responsible for the final decisions and has to keep everyone on track. •

Your secretary needs to be extremely organised.The secretary handles all correspondence, takes minutes of meetings, keeps all information filed and in a folder for handover to next year’s committee. Preferably a whiz with Excel.

Job#1 Compile a list of all committee members with: • home phone number • mobile phone number • email address.

Your school representative is a member of the teaching or admin staff who will ensure the school’s principles and ethics are complied with.

Let’s look at what subcommittees need to do.

Venue sub-committee – locates a number of suitable venues, liaises with the functions managers, and presents a shortlist to the committee. Your committee may want to inspect the short listed venues or you may want your subcommittee to do this as part of their assessment.

Music sub-committee – sources a suitable DJ, band or jukebox for the night, and makes a music selection Distribute this list to all committee that’s appropriate for the evening. members. Entertainment sub-committee – • Your treasurer must be responsible sources entertainment in addition to for preparing and overseeing your music (like roving entertainers a budget for the event, and or a fun sideshow). recording money received and spent. It’s best that this role is Food sub-committee – works with shared with the school. The school the chosen venue to select a menu. will usually handle the money. As a They will need to pay particular protocol – and a security measure attention to any special dietary – always have two committee needs of guests. members authorise a payment. Theme sub-committee – chooses Your school representative will a theme and then sources the help you with money matters. decorations or a professional theming company to transform the venue. Theming is ultra-popular. 8

how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012


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Choosing a date and a venue The date and venue will run pretty much hand-in-hand because you can’t have one without the other. Review your school calendar for events. Avoid the beginning of exam Read about some of the hottest block! And the night of the footy themes around. finals!! Invitations sub-committee – designs Keep your minds open to alternatives. the invitations, gets printing quotes Does it have to be an end-of-year and chooses a printer. This committee extravaganza? also keeps track of the RSVPs. Date will also be dependent on Menu and place cards sub- what’s available as a venue. Again, committee – designs and produces keep your minds open. the menu and place cards. This group works closely with the Foodies and Most cities have large hotels and convention centres that handle the Invitation sub-committees. these events all the time, but you may Seating plan sub-committee – wish to go for something completely decides who sits where. It’s not easy different. Our High School Formals trying to ensure everybody sits with website suggests lots of great places. friends or at the table they want! Consider some of these venues: Student liaison committee – informs • city hotels your Year group about what’s • ballrooms planned (without giving away any • reception centres secrets) and whips up enthusiasm so • convention centres everyone’s really looking forward to the event. • theme parks • cruise boats • museums • art galleries • warehouses 10 how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

• • • • • • •

zoo aquarium historic buildings RSL and other clubs marquees restaurants golf clubs

The five-star city hotel may be everybody’s first choice, but you may find the local RSL club can offer the same facilities at a fraction of the cost. And don’t rule out your own school hall! What you save on hiring a city ballroom, you can spend on professional theming. Get your committee members talking: throw around ideas. A marquee might be nice, but do you have a suitable place to erect it? How many people are you likely to be catering for? Would a river cruise be practical? Your venue sub-committee can draw up a short-list of possible venues and then approach them to find out: • available dates • cost

people! – will want to be a part of this night of nights. Don’t choose a place that makes it exclusive to a few, right from the start. The ticket price is not the only cost involved in a formal!

Tip: Make an initial online enquiry, requesting information about availability, pricing and menu. THEN actually visit the places on your shortlist. Talk to the functions manager. As a sub-committee, narrow your list down to three venues.




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You might be blown away by the look of a place but how much will it cost each person? Think about it. Is it affordable? Everyone – well, most how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012 11

Remember your school is on show. Your choice of venue will be a reflection of your school. Run your shortlist past your school liaison committee member (the teacher or principal). When you have made the final decision, the venue’s functions manager will be the point of contact for your DJ/band, decorators etc. Add the function manager’s contact details to your master list.

Check out on

If you are lucky enough to find an unusual venue, such as an aquarium or theme park, this can set the theme for your event.

Budget Running a large event will encounter a lot more expenses than the cost of the venue hire and food/beverages. These are some of the other items you need to pay for: • band hire • DJ hire • any other entertainment • pre-dinner drinks with parents • room decorations • table centrepieces • linen • chocolates • flowers 12 how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

• special invited guests • gifts • printing Each sub-committee will need to submit an estimate of their costs. These rough estimates totaled together are then divided by the number of anticipated paying attendees. That’s your ticket price. It looks too expensive? Look at ways to offset the costs. Be creative! Can you fundraise? Can you seek sponsorships? This guide explains how. Done well, they’ll dramatically reduce your costs.

Tip: The school administration We must not forget… usually handles the money. Its 1. Permission Forms business department will have Your school will probably seek signed suitable accounting software. parental permission to attend the formal. It provides the school with Themes some legal protection in case of The days of putting a bowl of accidents. flowers in the centre of the table 2. Security are long gone: themed events are Check that your venue includes increasingly popular. security staff. You may need some Theming adds excitement and extras. colour to your evening. It can be as Also check on cloakroom facilities. conservative or as over-the-top as Your guests need someone safe to you wish. leave handbags, cameras and coats A group of students can get together during the function. to decorate the venue – or you may choose a professional theming company. They’re experts in setting the scene.

What’s hot now? • • • • • • •

Winter Wonderland Casino Hollywood Nights Retro A themed colour – pink, purple, blue, etc. Jungle Boogie Butterflies



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how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012 13

6. Thank you When the formal is over, your committee needs to write thank-you letters to all played a part in making the event a success.

Have we thought about…? 3. Official guests Official guests – not paying attendees – are people like your school principal. Your committee’s school representative needs to provide the committee with a comprehensive list to ensure no-one is forgotten. 4. Photography Yes, there’ll be a lot of happy snaps taken but your committee really needs an official photographer to capture this big event. The cost of photos will be an extra; not something that’s included in your ticket price.

1. Linen and chair covers You only have to look at a photograph of a table set without chair covers or overlays to see the huge difference this makes to your event. Yes it will add to your ticket price but there are some ways to bring the cost down: •

Hire the chair covers and sashes and get a group of volunteers to fit them. (This may be a job to ask of parents since you may be tied up at the hairdressers!) Allow at least 20 minutes per table of ten. For an event with 40 tables, that’s 14 hours’ work – or seven volunteers working flat out for two hours.

Disposable chair covers are new to the market. They cost around $3 each and are not as timeconsuming to fit.

5. Student liaison Keep your Year group informed and interested. Make sure there’s an early date claimer. Whip up excitement and support for formal and make 2. Balloons Balloons are a great way to fill a sure those RSVPs roll in on time! large space economically and you have heaps of creative options: from a simple bunch of balloons on each 14 how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012 15

table to a scatter of loose balloons 6. Lighting over the dance floor or a net drop to Your theme may be to die-for but finish the night. if no one can see it, the effect will For more dramatic effects, use giant be lost. The right lighting creates 90cm balloons, exploding balloons ambience. A professional theming company will be onto this. If you’re and exploding balloon walls. doing your own decorating, ask a Foil balloons provide an exciting way professional lighting company for of theming your event. Foil stars are a advice and help. great complement to any Hollywood 7. Sound theme. Your evening’s entertainment 3. Flowers determines your sound needs. Flowers are a classic table decoration. Professional DJs will provide their A floral centrepiece is simple, clean own sound systems, as will bands. and timeless. For something a little But there are inevitably official more upbeat, use exotic flowers and moments – like speeches – and you cane. will need a good PA system for that. 4. Menus and place cards The Menu and Place cards subcommittee can unleash their creative skills to make these, continuing with ADVERTISE the night’s theme. Hand-made cards YOUR BUSINESS and scrapbooking takes time but the results will be memorable keepsakes. Your menu card should also include: • thank-you’s to business sponsors • space for signatures and well wishes • some background information on the theme. 5. Props Props can be hired to complement any theme. 16 how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012

HERE * email: phone: 1300 653 305

o t g in k o lo e r Whether you a l ir g e h t t e g , steal the show t x e n r u o y t a n u f e v a h t s u j or e k a m l il w R A E G F , t n e v e l a m r fo n io h s a f t s e t la e h t h it w n e p p a h it . s ie r o s s e c c a in suits and how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012 17

Are you showing a Powerpoint – like a retrospective of your years at Sponsorship the school? Have you organised the Local business sponsorships can offset the cost of holding your formal. equipment for that? They can provide: 8. Favours • financial assistance A favour is a little gift given to each guest. It may be as simple as • in-kind help. a heart or star shaped chocolate or But remember: if there are other as beautiful as a hand-crafted glass schools in your area, you won’t be ornament with the school name and the only one seeking their support. year painted on it. That means you need to know how

Handling the guest list

to ask and what to offer in return.

Start by looking within your

Your school will have rules about partners (e.g. whether they must school community. come from your own school if it’s co- Whose parents run or manage businesses that may be helpful? ed or have to be school-age). Think office supplies, caterers, party RSVP – responding to the invitation hire, even venues. to attend – is a must. Could they supply goods or Accurate records need to be kept of products at competitive rates or who is coming – and who’s not. The better still donate in return for free Invitation sub-committee will need a advertising? complete list of who has been invited and will need to work closely with Looking further afield, think of the Treasurer to make sure everyone businesses that your student group – and families -- uses a lot locally: pays. hairdressers, nail salons, gyms, ice The invitation may also include precreameries, pizza parlours, fashion formal drinks that include family boutiques, bike shops, fast food members. Keep track of these outlets, petrol stations; the list goes numbers too. on.

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how to organise a formal ADELAIDE 2012 19

Post-formal activities This is a contentious issue. Students want to party on – but many schools have laid down the law and said ‘no’. The committee’s school representative will be able to tell you what the school policy is. The You want to ask them in the nicest committee is obliged to work closely way to help subsidise your event with the school to ensure all guests with a small cash donation. In return, know what that stand is. their business can be mentioned. You may want to have a tiered level Have a great time! of sponsorship: printed mention The most important thing to in the night’s program; mention in remember is to have a wonderful speeches; and signage. time! Feel fabulous and enjoy your Remember: sponsorships also event! reflect on your school. Work closely with the school representative to make sure sponsors fit with the school’s image and beliefs.

Fundraising Fundraising is another way to offset your costs. Consider a product drive. Visit au for a huge range of ideas. Some hot tips for teens • chocolates • cookie dough • glow products

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How To Organise a Formal 2012 Adelaide  

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