Put your email in the box below

and we’ll send you a FREE, updated, more comprehensive guide!

8. The Guests

Okay, so you’ve got your event planning underway – you’ve decided where you’re going to hold the ball, what you’re going to have there, how much you’re going to charge and what date everyone should turn up. But who?

Don’t be selective

Don’t be selective and just invite people you like, or the “popular” people as this is a tactic likely to backfire on you in more ways than one.

You’d be surprised how much introvert people can come out of their shell in the right environment, and it’s always good to get to know new people – just because you’ve been sharing classrooms with someone for years doesn’t mean you’ve got to know them. Besides, it’s not very nice to leave people out for any reason.

Classmates & Coursemates

The first people to invite should be the target audience of the ball. These will usually be your coursemates, classmates, yeargroup or hall.


Once you’ve made a decision about numbers (likely constrained by the venue) you should consider whether to allow “outsiders” to attend – people such as boyfriends & girlfriends, housemates and friends from other departments, schools or other outsiders. Decide on your ticket purchasing rules – for example, if you’re organising a departmental ball for your physics society and are worried about the ratio of outsiders to the target audience, stipulate that all tickets must be purchased by someone from the physics department but that they can buy upto 1 extra ticket for +1s. Remember, if you’re running an 18+ event be careful that the +1s are also 18+ otherwise there may be difficulties further down the line with security, insurance, venues etc.

The best laid plans of mice and event organisers…

Ticket Allocation

You need to make it clear how tickets will be allocated – for example, if you know the event will be a sell-out, are you working on a first-come, first-served basis, a chance system or something else?

Table Plans

If you’re having a sit-down meal at your ball you’ll need some way of allocating tables. This can be a stressful job if you do it wrong, but it doesn’t need to be.

First, try not to micromanage who sits with who – it’s not your problem. It’s a biggest headache and will take hours and hours. Instead, use a simple method of table allocation – try setting up discussions in your Facebook group for each table, and asking people to comment on the discussion if they want a seat on that table. Another option would be to set up a sheet on a notice board showing the table plan with space for people to write their names down by the tables. This is also a good opportunity to find out if anyone requires vegetarian food, has other dietary requirements, needs wheelchair access etc. Hereis a basic table plan signup sheet for you to use & modify as you wish.

In many cases the venue will decide on the best table layout for the room – if they’re used to banquets you should probably trust their judgement. If you do want to organise things yourself, you might find the following helpful.

Table sizes:

  • 36” tables seat 4 or fewer
  • 48” tables seat 6-8
  • 60” tables seat 8-10
  • 72” tables seat 10-12

There is no such thing as a good table location. Some people think sitting near the band is the worst; others think they’re the best seats in the house. Some people want to be near doors so they can go out to smoke, others don’t. Some want to be near the kitchen to be served first, others don’t like everyone walking past. Why worry about it? You can’t please everyone anyway!

Don’t Forget yourself!

It might seem obvious, but don’t forget to include yourselves (team/committee) in the ticket allocation! This is a common mistake and will really upset your table plan.

Jump to relevant forum section for more help & advice ›

Next Section ›

This completely FREE resource is provided by the lovely ball photographers at Peasy Photos.