Hosting at “Home”? 9 event details to think through

There are tons of beautiful event venues across Western NY, and there are numerous perks to hosting your event at a professional venue, but there are also some major perks to hosting at your own location. Throwing an event at your home gives your guests/donors an opportunity to see where your programs take place and where their dollars are making the largest impact. By seeing your space, and likely learning something new they didn’t know, it can re-spark their passion for giving.

Before jumping in with both feet, here’s a list of nine big things you should think through before sending out those save the dates:

1. event style

First things first, decide on what your event is going to look like. Think about who is going to be on your guest list and what you want them to experience at the event and take away from it. Other things that go into defining the event style are when you’ll be hosting (season, day of the week, and time of day), budget, messaging, the amount of time you have to plan, the needed transformation of your space, and bullets 2-8...

2. staffing

Depending on the style of the event, consider how many humans you need to maintain the event elements. How many people do you need at check-in so the line doesn’t get too backed up? Do you need someone passing hors d’oeuvres? Should someone be live on social? Look at your staff and their skill set to evaluate how much your team can handle and if you need to source volunteers or hired support.

3. inside vs. outside

We all know that Rochester weather is extremely temperamental, so think hard on the time of year and whether or not you want to host an outdoor event (regardless of if it’s at your location or not). Keep in mind the space you have available to have guests in and how comfortable they’ll be in that space. If you host outside, tents will be your best friend and be sure to budget in the need for tent heaters if you’re planning for spring or fall timing. If tents aren’t feasible, it’s vital to have an indoor back-up plan in case we have unseasonable cold or wet weather. 

4. permits & licensing

Based on how you answered 1 and 3, you’ll need to look into what kinds of permits and licenses you may need. If you’re planning to block off a road, host a walk/run, or use the park by your office, you’ll want to apply for a City of Rochester Special Events Permit. Check out their page here for more details around needs for permits. Chat with your insurance company to see if there’s a need for increased insurance for that day. And if you plan to serve alcohol, don’t forget about your liquor license (unless your caterer already has one). Last, but not least, check your area's noise ordinances if you’re bringing in live music.

5. rentals

Like mentioned above, tents are very important when hosting outside, but there are other rentals you need to think about. Will you need to rent your glassware, china, and flatware, or will you use disposable? Will anyone be speaking during the event, and do you need a microphone and projector? If you work with an AV company, have them stop by for a site visit before the event to ensure they come with the right equipment for the space. And speaking of power, if you’re hosting outside, check out if you are you able to connect to outdoor outlets or if you will need generators.

6. parking

Take into account your estimated guest count and make sure you have enough parking spaces to accommodate. If there are parking lots near your office, ask those companies if you’d be able to use them after traditional office hours. It’s likely that the lot will be empty and you can use it with no problem. If there aren’t any lots that are walkable to your building, you may need to look into hiring a valet company to ensure you won’t have disgruntled guests upon arrival.

7. security

Depending on the type of building/space you’re in and where it’s located, it is wise to consider security. If you’ll be serving alcohol, security can be helpful to ensure guests don’t leave the designated “beer garden” with a drink. If you anticipate collecting a large amount of cash at your event, getting security to ensure the movement of cash deposits is secure would be smart.

8. accessibility

Although a lot of buildings in our area are ADA compliant, there are still a few out there that might have a step to get into the building or other barriers that wouldn’t make your event accessible to all. And keep the flow of human traffic and distance between tables in mind when you go to make your floorplan. If you plan to have a spoken program, consider if you will need an ASL interpreter.

9. budget

And last but not least, be sure to build a realistic budget for your event. Planning out revenue and expenses should be part of your early stages of planning to ensure your event will be successful. If you need help getting a budget started, check this out. 

We get it — that’s a lot to think about, especially when one answer starts to affect the next. If you’re thinking about hosting on your home turf we’d love to chat it through with you. Email me at and let’s start brainstorming!