Step by step guide: grand ball
A glitzy evening will make parents and guests feel like
royalty for a night. Create a buzz of excitement by adding a
grand ball to your events calendar!
With black ties, a sit-down dinner and flowing Champagne, it's a
spectacular way to raise a considerable profit. Success for this
type of event is all about good planning, so allow several months
to get everything in place, and appoint a sub-committee with clear
roles. Not sure if it would work for your school? Survey parents to
Six months before: Book the venue and any
entertainment, especially if it's a busy hotel, and pay a deposit.
Send out a 'save the date' to parents.
Three months before: Start advertising the
event and selling tickets through an online platform or in person,
possibly offering an early bird discount. Approach local companies
via letter, email or in person to ask for donations for auction and
raffle prizes. These could be a product, service or experience.
Contact local press to come and take photographs at the event.
Two months before: Continue
promoting the event. Confirm all prizes for auctions and the
raffle. Begin designing the programme, and approach companies and
businesses if you're selling advertising space.
Three weeks before: Decide how you're
going to utilise your auction prizes - consider increasing the
interest in lower-value items by creating auction 'packages', where
you group various prizes together. You might also split prizes
between a raffle, a main auction - where a compère shouts out each
lot and whips up excitement - and a silent auction - where guests
write down their bids against each prize.
Two weeks before: Finish the ball
programme and get it printed. Put a table plan together, taking
guests' requests into consideration. This will probably need
adapting a few times.
Organise a team of helpers for on the night. Have different
people in charge of each element of the ball (raffle, auction,
casino, games, entertainment, etc.).
Invite parents who cannot attend on the night to submit sealed
bids for the auction.
One week before: Liaise with the
hotel to finalise arrangements, including confirming guest numbers
and any dietary requirements.
On the day: Earlier in the day, take all
the prizes to the venue and check the layout of the room. Set up
and decorate the venue. Meet with the DJ and Event Manager to
confirm the order of events. Check if the venue's safe can be used
to store cash, with a view to collecting it the next day.
After the event: Gather feedback on what
went well and what could be improved for next time, making detailed
notes for future reference. Thank your volunteers, guests, auction
donors and any event/programme sponsors and give them details about
how much the event raised and how this money will be
Tips and advice
- Timing: Allow around six months to plan
your ball, avoiding major sporting fixtures and local events.
- Tickets: The right ticket price is vital
to ensuring a profit without deterring your audience. Once you've
estimated your costs, you will be able to make an informed decision
on ticket price. Remember that this isn't the limit of your
fundraising. Number your tickets and offer a discount on a table of
eight or ten to encourage bulk sales - challenge year reps to sell
a table each. If the ball is for a specific project, mention this
on the tickets.
- Boost profits: Auctions or raffles are
ideal for a ball as they create excitement and a focal point for
your guests. Reach out to parents, teachers and the local community
for support, whether it's for auction prizes or sponsorship. This
will increase your profit margin considerably. Simple party games
can also be popular - see pta.co.uk/boost-profits for
- Venue: The venue is of huge importance
for a ball. Research local hotels or golf clubs and see if you can
negotiate a charity discount. You could hire a marquee and hold the
event on school grounds, but this may not make the cut for a £30
price tag! External venues mean that food, drinks, music and
service are taken care of, enabling PTA volunteers to enjoy the
evening. It also removes the need for TEN and music licences.
When researching venues, consider the dance floor, capacity, how
far guests will have to travel, space for the band and whether you
can bring alcohol to the venue.
- Entertainment: Music is a sure-fire way
to get everyone in the celebrating spirit, so source a live band to
add some glamour to the night. In addition, how about booking a
magician or a comedian?
- Publicity: Design and print tickets,
programmes and posters to create a buzz. This will add a
professional touch that will reflect the ticket price.
Liz Hamilton, Chair, Barton St Lawrence PTFA, Preston
(160 pupils): 'Our local hotel has been host to the
annual Barton Ball since 2001. Last year, we booked the venue five
months in advance, receiving a discount thanks to our charity
status and the relationship we've built up over the years. We also
hired the resident DJ, who provided entertainment and officiated
We started selling tickets 12 weeks before the event, offering
an early bird price of £30 until the end of January, at which point
the price rose to £32. The ticket included a four-course
To boost earnings, we organised an auction - with prizes from
local companies. All businesses that donated were promoted on our
Facebook page, as well as in the event programme.
We created auction packages by grouping prizes together. For
example, a foodie package including four different restaurant
vouchers, and a beauty package containing hair straighteners,
vouchers for a hair salon and a nail treatment. Eight to ten
packages were created, with the rest of the prizes going into a
raffle, which was held before dinner and included a main prize of
bed and breakfast at a country hotel. To break up the dinner, we
played Irish bingo, as well as a 'roll a £1' game.
On the night, we divided the jobs between lots of different
people so that everyone was able to enjoy themselves.
There is always a great atmosphere, we have a lot of fun and
last year we made a total profit of £3,800.'
Ruth Weddell, Friends of Cranmere, Cranmere Primary,
Esher (502 pupils): 'We hold our ball every two
years, and it gets more successful each time!
We begin promoting the ball in January, with tickets going on
sale around Easter. We used to have an early booking offer, but
tickets sell out so quickly we don't need to do this!
Our 2017 ball was held in May at Hampton Court Palace Golf Club.
We agreed a cost for a two-course meal, including a complimentary
drink on arrival, charging £45 per head.
The evening lasted for five hours and, as well as
reception drinks and a sit- down meal, included a grand auction, a
silent auction, a raffle, a casino and dancing. We had a live band,
and as one of the dads is a member, they gave us a discount. We
introduced the casino last year. Each guest was given some fun
money to start off with, and after that guests could pay £5-£15 for
Our PTA's raffle coordinator organised the prizes, which
included two centre court tickets at Wimbledon with full
hospitality, and a cut, style and advice session with the Queen's
hairdresser! As all of our prizes were donated, and design and
printing was done free-of-charge, we didn't incur any costs.
Last year's ball raised a fantastic £9,000, with the majority of
the profit coming from the auction (£3,000) and the silent auction
On the whole, organising a school ball is a mammoth task that
requires a lot of dedication and commitment! Having said that, it's
also a lot of fun, and the satisfaction and achievement of raising
so much money for your school definitely outweighs the hard
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