You’ve just been hired to do a catering event that is to happen in 2 weeks!  You are pulling your hair out (if you have hair) trying to decide what to do!  You were first asked to do a formal stuff-shirt seated food taste testing, now they want an outdoor southern-inspired cocktail party with fairy lights in the trees, Now What?  You need access to an Event Planner!  Here I am, your Fairy God-Planner!

First thing’s first…..breathe…inhale…exhale.  Life is full of surprises but when you take the time to be still and quiet yourself, it relieves the stress and allows you to put together a strategy.  Because I constantly receive e-mails from people frantic or overwhelmed with putting together an event, from need for a venue, tables and chairs, linen, décor, alcohol sponsors, knowing how to negotiate pricing, entertainment, staff, a PLAN with STRATEGY, I’ve decided to put together your basic “To Do” List to help you with any event from catering jobs to food truck festivals.  Then later, we’ll go deeper in depth.


  • Decide on Atmosphere/Setting: How do you want people to feel, i.e. warm and cozy, party mode, jazzy, etc.  This will align your focus and your choice of music sets the mood. If you’re organizing a food truck event, do your research and know where you will be stationed. Will you be in the sun, by the trees, what will you have access to? These are things you need to know and set the tone for the festivities.
  • Develop a Blueprint:  Whether you have 6 months or 2 weeks, you have to have a plan; you need vision. Develop your budget, decide on type of food/entrees, signature sandwich, meal, signature drink; it’s all part of branding.  Search for a venue/spot, decide on number of attendees, staff, décor, etc. If serving from a food truck, have décor that compliments a certain festivity or holiday. Know city codes. This is part of your checklist. By all means, do something different for holidays, let those creative juices flow; a red carpet with stanches, how about adding a photo booth and add the theme at top with your logo?  So many things you can do to make people remember you.  Whatever you decide, make sure it is executed well – and memorable.
  •  Design Your Timeline:  Draft up your time frame, i.e. your LIST: things that need to get done and by when.  Phone calls, checklist.  Time tracking. This keeps you organized.
  •  Event Day:  After you’ve done the above, here comes the day of the event.  Image is everything, so if you are serving your guests, make sure to use staff or friends who are very hospitable!  Also make sure your staff is color-coordinated in appearance; uniformed. If your staff is inside the food truck, and people just come to an order window, you still want to be in uniform.  People always remember neatness and how nice they were treated.  Bring the smiles, bring the fun!  Keep the drinks coming and food to nibble on too.
  • Enjoy Yourself:  If you are loving it, others will love it.  Make sure you have enough help so you are not running around like a mad man.  Mix and mingle with your guests, they love to meet the chef.

*Join LaTonya for the food industry event webinar Thursday, November 8th at 7:00 pm.  Register at We’ll go over the D’s of event planning (do’s and do nots) and creating your personalized checklist to success in the skin you’re in.  The space is limited so everyone in the webinar’s needs can be heard and met.

The stage is set for a fantastic experience. Are you ready?

Working with LaTonya gives you the rare chance to be personally mentored by a truly dynamic planner. Though the demand for LaTonya has become incredible, she truly has the heart to help others in the quest to make an event easier and fun!  She will make you accountable and make sure you get the most out of your connection.

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About the Author

La Tonya Washington is the owner of LW Special Events Management LLC, an event planning and production company, based in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Washington is the Events Director for The LIST, a conference for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the surrounding Los Angeles area, has had her hands in as the Co-Producer of the I'm Every Woman Expo Worldwide Los Angeles Division, Events Director for Elevate 2012 "Empowering Youth to be More" with Spokesperson Actress Tichina Arnold, Volunteer Manager for Save Africa's Children Jazz Fest featuring Yolanda Adams, Kirk Whalum, Pieces of a Dream and Producer of Event Doc Powell. Ms. Washington is a graduate of Youngstown State University and also attended the UCLA Extension Program in Public Relations, specializing in Fund Raising and Special Events. She has collaborated on projects with and for Multi-Platinum Recording Artist, Jay King, the mastermind behind Club Nouveau; Grammy Award Nominee Jazz Guitarist, Doc Powell, current guitarist on the Mo'Nique Show and Stellar and Dove Award Winner, Kurt Carr. She is also the Events Director for the ABA Basketball League SoCal Swish here in Southern California. She is on the Board of Advisors for Bradshaw & Co. Business Consulting; Leadership Council for The Connected Women LA Chapter and Saks Fifth Avenue Ambassador for CJ Jeans, the Blue Jean Line of Cookie Johnson, the wife of the Legendary Basketball Great, Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

  • Jeff Mayernik

    “Have a plan” Yeah, we found out what a large event with no plan looks like at Thanksgiving 2010 – Huge stress for almost everyone….

    • StitchesnDishes

      That can be a disaster Jeff. My first event was like that. I didn’t realize how much I had to think about. Everything hit me at the last minute, and I left out a ton of details. I was total chaos. I almost never organized another event after that! Checklists…. can’t say enough about them!

  • latonya washington

    I simply love what I do! But when I first started it was crazy. I was so overwhelmed and mentally my brain was scrambled! I now put together a business plan for each event I do….it is a must!

  • Claudiu Gabriel

    super article

    • StitchesnDishes

      Thanks Claudiu!

  • Harold Gardner

    So my typical invite a bunch of folks over; then go crazy is really not the only way to do it?

    • StitchesnDishes

      HA! Wing it can sometimes work, but even a pizza party can turn around and knock you on your butt!