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Pagan Event Planning: Recipes for Disaster Part 2


In Part 1, we looked at Team Intrepid as it began an event planning process for a Pagan event without creating any structure for decisionmaking or establishing any goals, and diving right into minutia of the event. And this process can work as long as everyone agrees on everything. 

But that never, ever lasts.

As you begin to plan things out at the task and tactical level, you might start to notice some gaps forming. Each thing you plan starts to raise more and more questions. Maybe Team Intrepid has sent out the vendor invitations, but as vendors start booking slots, they don’t know how many vendors the event can sustain. They haven’t mapped out the grounds or the vendor room. 

Importance of Details

Mapping out vendor spaces is an art unto itself, because you need clearance space between the booths for tent stakes and ropes, and you need enough space in the aisles between the booths for people to walk. I’ve been to indoor events that didn’t plan enough aisle space for the vendors. I’ve been to other events as a vendor where I was told I’d have “about 10x10” which ended up being more like 7x8 feet. Huge difference, and it meant that I had to completely reconfigure my setup. If you want to piss off your vendors, do that.

You’ll also want to let vendors know if they get any additional promotion out of your event; do you have a web site, will you have a program book, will you be starting up an email list and promoting vendors that way? 

See how those tactical decisions start to stack up and cause more and more additional tactical decisions? And in many cases, more work for your team?

This gets worse particularly when you don’t have a mission, goals or high-level strategy in place because that’s the ruler you should be planning against. That’s your measure of success. With a mission and goals established you can say, “That’s a great idea, but it doesn’t really fall in the scope of our mission.” 

Dependent Tasks

There’s a concept in project management called “dependent tasks,” which means you can’t do task C until A and B are completed. It’s often represented in a Gantt chart, which is a graphic way (it looks sort of like a waterfall) to show which tasks must be completed before sub-tasks can be completed.

For instance, you might have decided you want to charge $50 for vendors, but you can’t yet send out the announcement because 1. You haven’t secured a venue, and 2. You don’t yet have a logo for your group. Or, you want to drop flyers for your event to promote it, but you don’t yet have flyers designed because the person doing the flyer design first needs more details.

It’s crucial, as an event planner, to understand the flow of dependent tasks so you can identify bottlenecks early on. A really obvious bottleneck is 1. Finding and 2. Booking an event venue. You can’t post event announcements, make flyers, invite vendors, or any of that without the venue. You also can’t really plan how many vendors you can accommodate, or figure out how many workshop areas you might have, without that. 

Here’s a snapshot of an event planning flow:

1.Decide on event date
     a.Research venues
     b.Visit venues
     c.Decide on event venue
     d.Book venue (pay in full or downpayment)
          i.Create Facebook event with “save the date” information

2.Design logo, banner, or other materials to indicate who is hosting the event
      a.Create a web presence for the event with details

3.Create a Paypal (or establish a treasurer for the group who will use their Paypal) to accept vendor fees
      a.Create vendor invitation letter
      b.Send out vendor invitations

This is just a few (of many) event tasks, but notice how some of these things can be done at the same time (deciding on event date, researching venues, designing a logo, and getting Paypal set up) whereas some of these things can’t be done til several other tasks are done. For instance, creating a Facebook event isn’t really feasible til you’ve booked your venue and you have a logo or other graphic designed. 

Knowing what tasks must be accomplished first is important. Having this in mind may also help you to be patient.

I was recently part of an event planning process where it was all, rush rush to get the banner graphic done and decide ABC and XYZ programming so that the invites could be sent out and the event made public…but there was no mission, no vision, no goals, no strategy. We hadn’t made crucial decisions like, “If we’re taking donations, how are we taking those donations? Whose Paypal account will we use for that? How will the money be kept accountable?” 

Consequences of Small Decisions

In a few planning processes I can think of, the registration forms were set up in a way that ended up being very complicated for the person managing registration, which leads to the registration person getting exceedingly frustrated. 

It takes a lot less time to talk things out ahead of time—even if we’re talking a few extra hours of meetings or a few extra weeks of planning—than it does to fix a problem months down the line when you’re frustrated about the ever-mounting workload of managing the event. That’s when all the new event energy has worn off, and Team Intrepid starts to get cranky.

Let’s go back to the idea I mentioned (in Part 1) of everyone on staff wearing matching t-shirts that get printed with Team Intrepid’s logo. Great idea. But, who’s designing the t-shirts?

  • Does the group already have a logo?
  • Is the logo attractive?
  • Is the logo based upon an artist’s copyrighted artwork that you don’t have permission for?
  • Does a new logo need to be designed?
  • Who's doing that? Do they have other tasks as well that they must finish first?
  • How much will the shirts cost?
  • Does each volunteer have to pay for their own shirt?
  • What happens if a volunteer can’t afford to pay for a shirt?

The point of all this tactical minutia is, every decision has a consequence. Often, event planners who are caught up in the excitement of planning an event feel the rush to make decisions and get things set, and only months later begin to see the problems they created for themselves. Early event planning decisions can paint you into a bad corner.

Pagan Event Planning: Recipes for Disaster Part 1

Pagan Event Planning: Recipes for Disaster Part 3


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An artist, author, ritualist, presenter, and spiritual seeker, Shauna travels nationally offering intensive education in the transformative arts of ritual, community leadership, and personal growth. She is the author of The Leader Within, Ritual Facilitation, and Dreamwork for the Initiate’s Path. She’s a columnist on ritual techniques for Circle Magazine, and her writing also appears in several anthologies. She’s also the author of several fantasy and paranormal romance novels. Her mythic artwork and designs are used for magazine covers, book covers, and illustrations, as well as decorating many walls, shrines, and other spaces. Shauna is passionate about creating rituals, experiences, spaces, stories, and artwork to awaken mythic imagination.  


  • Rick
    Rick Monday, 06 July 2015

    Beginners at event planning should start out building a pert diagram. This is a very simple exercise where you list all of the tasks that need to be done, then decide which tasks are the predecessors to each task listed. You should also make an estimate of the duration each task will take.

    Maybe I'm getting ahead of you, so I'll stop there.

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