How to Budget for a Corporate Event, Company Picnic, Holiday Party

How to Budget

Start With A Good Foundation

Before you begin making your budget, here are a couple pieces of information to carefully consider. First you’ll need an idea of how many guests you should be expecting. This can be a rough estimate until your RSVPs come back in and you know a more accurate count. Be careful though, sometimes plans change and more (or less) guests can make it the day-of than RSVPed. Your professional party planner can help you account for this common issue, having additional resources on hand in case you need them.

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Once you have a rough idea of your guest count, you can calculate the size venue you’ll need, how much food and beverages as well as seating, entertainment and staff to manage the crowd.

Finally, you’ll need to consider:

  • Some venues might require you to bring in lighting – make sure you check with the venue coordinator for more detailed information on what’s included and what’s not.
  • Depending on the venue and the kind of things you’ll be including (alcohol, special entertainment, like hanging acrobats), you might need to secure specific permits. Make sure you include a line item to include the cost of permits if necessary.
  • Make sure that the correct tax is factored in to each line item cost, as well as the total cost. For Southern California, tax is higher than in some, less populated areas.
  • Utilities like water and power can get expensive for some events. Make sure you over-estimate the cost for these resources, especially if you’re providing utility-heavy activities (water park, light show, etc.). An event planner will have specific details about the cost of utilities for specific event items. If you’re working with a professional, ask them for more detailed information.

view from downtown los angeles venue

The Step-by-Step Guide

For the purpose of this sample exercise, values are approximated.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Excel or Word (or any program that lets you create a chart with rows and columns). We recommend using Excel so that you can add values with ease.

Step 2: Begin by listing the categories of things you’ll need on the X axis, starting with Row 1:

Step 2 for creating the best budget for your next big event!


Step 3: Add your essential event items in the A column. Carefully consider every single thing you will need to pay for. Include items even if you are not sure – it’s better to take note just in case something needs to be added later on. You can always remove items later:

Step 3 for creating the best budget for your next big event!


Step 4: Add detailed descriptions of each line item, along with the amount needed for each. Make sure you have all known guests accounted for.

Step 4 for creating the best budget for your next big event!

Note: Your budget may contain more or less categories, depending on your event needs.

Step 5: Add your estimated cost for each item. We recommend 10%-15% of emergency funding padding – you never know when you might have an extra guest (or 10)!

Step 5 for creating the best budget for your next big event!

Calculate the total using the AutoSum function. For more tips on how to use Excel, including the AutoSum function, click here.

Be A Money-Saving Maverick

Congratulations! You’ve successfully learned how to budget for a corporate event. Even if your resources are limited, or you’re just not sure which items will end up in the final production of your event, completing a line item budget is a great way to see where your money goes so that you can plan accordingly to the best of your knowledge. It’s also a great tool to rely on for future events. Take the time to complete a budget, and prepare for event planning success.

Staged Employee Award Ceremony in Los Angeles

Did this resource help? If you’re interested in working with an event planner who can handle the details without any hassle, contact one of our event planners today. Savvy budgeting starts with a solid foundation – we’re here to make sure you get it right the first time.

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