Community Event Planning Checklist

Community Event Planning Checklist

Whether a farmers’ market, a film screening, or a block party, community events are all about bringing neighbors, acquaintances, and friends together to celebrate. But behind the scenes, these stand-ups require significant effort and pre-planning to execute without a hitch.

Plotting your course towards a successful event means setting the stage—often months ahead of time—for everything from event activities to waste management solutions. To ease the process and guarantee your event is a hit, read on for our community event planning checklist.

#1 Decide Your Event’s Agenda

Before it’s time to chow down on BBQ and turn up the music, you’ll need to decide your event’s structure.

Start planning for the occasion by brainstorming the following:

  • Event purpose – Some people hold events to raise money for causes, while others plan them simply to bring their communities together. Whether you intend to put on a parade, charity drive, or back-to-school fundraiser, knowing your event’s purpose will help you zero in on the equipment you’ll need.
  • Event size – Some events are small and cater only to invited guests. Other events invite the entire community. Determining how big you want your event to be can help you save and plan strategically when it comes to providing food and accommodations for everyone in attendance.
  • Event budget – Every event planning process begins with a budget. Finances determine what food, entertainment, and other services you can provide, and they also serve as helpful guidelines for determining your “musts” vs. “maybes.” Use your budget to prioritize which amenities are core to your event, and which can go.
  • Leadership structure – Unless you’re planning, organizing, and monitoring the event yourself, you’ll likely be working with others. As a result, identifying your teammates’ roles and leadership structure is important. For example, will everyone collaborate on ideas, or will one person have the final say?
  • Event theme – Event themes can significantly impact your overall budget. If you’re going for minimalism, you may want to shell out for amenities like portable toilets rather than carnival-style entertainment. But if you’re hosting a harvest festival, activities may be just as (if not more) important to spend on as your restroom facilities. Note that elaborate events may also require you to hire contractors to make your theme a reality.

#2 Reserve Your Venue

Your event’s size, theme, and budget will largely determine the venue that you’ll need. For example, while you may be able to use an empty field or parking lot for a small affair, however, these event spaces might require you to use temporary fencing and waste services. On other hand, you may need to rent out a ballroom for larger events like concerts and conferences for crowd safety.

Here are a few common venues for community events:1

  • Hotels, ballrooms, and conference centers, which provide a bigger event space but may need to be reserved months or even years in advance.
  • Restaurants, which can be ideal venues for small community events like auctions and charity dinners.
  • Parks and fields, which offer a large event space but may require you to apply with your community council to use. Attendees may also likely need to adhere to community regulations surrounding noise levels and safety measures.

Venue Fees, Permits, and Transportation

Depending on the city or town you live in, you may not need to formally apply to host the upcoming event. However, some communities require event hosts to undergo a formal application process. Be sure to investigate whether you need to apply for any special event permit while you’re considering event venues.

If you do need to formally apply for the upcoming event, you’ll probably have to submit paperwork to a municipal council. In major cities like Chicago, IL, paperwork typically pertains to:2

  • Fees – Many communities mandate that community events be free to the public. If event organizers need extra funding, they can ask for donations. Free events help ensure that the entire community can participate.
  • Permits – You may need to procure permits before hosting your event. While some permits apply to venues, others apply to food and beverage vendors. In most cases, food and beverage merchants need to have the appropriate food and liquor licenses before they can legally operate at your event.
  • Public transportation – Public transport can make gatherings in urban areas more accessible, but if you’re hosting in a rural location it may be harder for some attendees to reach your event without a personal vehicle.

Additionally, you may need to provide the council with a detailed map of your event at the time of special event application. This map should detail:

  • Vendor stations
  • Event stages
  • Entrances and exits
  • Restrooms
  • First aid facilities

#3 Purchase or Rent Equipment 

Unless you run an event planning business, you’ll probably need to research equipment rental companies in your area. While you can purchase equipment on your own dime, these purchases can quickly deflate even the largest event budget. Many hosts elect to work with an event planning company that can provide equipment or A/V packages at a discount.

Moreover, the equipment that you’ll need largely depends on your event type and size. For example, while you may need many chairs for an author meet-and-greet, you may only need a few seating options for a farmers’ market.

That said, most community events require the following:

  • Seating – If you’re holding your event in an auditorium or ballroom, you may already have enough seating options for guests. However, if you’re holding your event outside, you may need to procure extra seating, like folding chairs.
  • Tables – In addition to folding chairs, you’ll likely need several folding tables. Tables can be especially helpful for event registration or fundraising purposes.
  • Vendor stalls – Some vendors may provide their own stalls. However, you may also need to provide your own stalls depending on your event type. Vendor stalls usually feature both a foldout table and chairs.
  • A/V equipment – A/V equipment refers to the audio and visual devices that enable your event to broadcast sound and visuals. Some common A/V event equipment examples are microphones, sound systems, projectors, and amplifiers.

Portable Bathroom Facilities

If you’re holding your event in an area without public restroom access, it’s vital to rent portable toilets for guest use. This is especially true if your event centers on food and beverage vendors or occasions where sanitation is key for event success.

The type of portable toilets you’ll need will depend on the kind of event you’re staging. In general, there are five types of portable toilets that provide varying degrees of accessibility, hygiene, and user comfort. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Standard portable toilets – Standard portable toilets are common single-use toilets. While these toilets typically don’t feature flush capabilities, they do provide ample space for your guests.
  • Portable toilets with sinks – Portable toilets with sinks provide added luxury and hygiene. These toilets may also include baby changing stations
  • ADA handicap toilets – To best serve your guests with disabilities, you’ll need several ADA handicap toilets. In addition to providing extra space for wheelchair maneuverability, these toilets provide handlebars and lower seating.

After your event wraps, you’ll need to dispose of the toilet waste by having the portable toilets collected by a provider. Be sure to look into site service companies prior to your event to make this process easier and more streamlined. Site service companies can arrange the removal of your portable toilets for you so that you can focus on other event-closing duties.

#4 Gather Volunteers and Workers

Few major events are a one-person job, so once you’ve developed your vision for the event it’s time to line up an energetic team who can help you pull it off. If you don’t have employees ready to work the event, you’ll likely need to enlist volunteers.

When searching for volunteers, be sure to recruit workers who can help:

  • Set up the event
  • Provide security
  • Weather-proof as necessary
  • Offer guests directions
  • Answer guest questions
  • Run registration tables
  • Serve food and beverages

To decide how many volunteers you’ll need, start by estimating your event’s size in both guest headcount and the physical space your event will cover. Then, write down all of the jobs your event requires, from set-up to trash collection. You should also plan to enlist backups who can step in if a core staffer is unable to work on the big day.

#5 Prepare for the Event’s Conclusion

After the event is over, you’ll want to break it down with the same care and precision you put into planning it. Often, closing up shop requires a combined workforce—yourself, your volunteers, and the site service company that provided your rental equipment. By partnering with a site services firm that can make tasks like dumpster rental removal a breeze, you can close out your event seamlessly from start to finish.

Make Your Next Community Event a Hit with ASAP Marketplace

Rewarding your community with a reason to come together is integral to building and nurturing bonds. But before you split a funnel cake with your next-door neighbor, you’ll need a table and chairs to sit down and break bread.

From tables and tents to portable toilets, ASAP Marketplace has been an ally to event hosts for nearly 30 years. We help streamline your entire process, whether you need advice on your best rental options or assistance with waste removal after guests go home.

We love any reason to celebrate, and we want to help make your celebration unforgettable. Discover our event rentals catalog and visit ASAP Marketplace today. 



  1. Billeto. 12 Types of Venues for Events (And How to Understand Venue Cost).
  2. The Balance Small Business. What Are the Guidelines for Planning a Public or Community Event?