Tips to Find The Best Party Venue for Your Event

Whether you’re planning a holiday party, graduation party, anniversary celebration, company get-together, baby shower, or something else entirely, three big considerations include the venue’s location, what the center has to offer, and whether it fits within your budget. Those aren’t the only considerations, of course, but it’s a great place to start.

If you’re ready to tour venues, then we invite you to contact Thrasher-Horne Center online or call our rental coordinator at (904) 276-6815, ext. 2.

toasting at affordable party venue

Location, Location, Location

Convenience is key when it comes to choosing a party venue. To start, make a list of potential places in the region you’re considering. Think about where guests will be coming from and, if it’s from any sort of distance, consider what highways into the venue exist, along with nearby airports, and so forth. It can be helpful to pick one that’s centrally located, easily accessible, and close to hotels for those who need rooms.

This is an important process because, if the venue’s location is less than desirable, this may limit the number of party attendees. It may also cause attendees to be in a more frazzled mood by the time they do arrive.

Another key consideration is parking availability. Evaluate the size of the lot and the number of spaces that would be utilized by your party goers. Some may need accessible parking or perhaps an easy curb-side drop-off.

If the venue doesn’t have enough parking, brainstorm another solution. There might, for example, be parking lots in the area that can be used. If so, check to see if you’ll need to pay a rental fee and, if you would, how much that would be. Consider, too, how guests would be transported from their cars to the venue, and back again. Another option would be to arrange Lyft or Uber rides from the hotel or otherwise facilitate carpooling. Also, plan how you will ensure that rides back will be conveniently available.

What a Party Venue Offers

While it’s important to make it easy for attendees to get to the location, it’s equally as important that the venue has what you need to plan a party to remember. Make sure, for example, that there’s enough room for the number of people you expect, without them being crowded in the space. If you plan to have a live band and a dance floor, make sure there’s enough room for that, as well.

Perhaps your party will be more of an intimate gathering. If so, then you’ll need a venue that can provide you with a space that’s right sized for your needs. An over-large, echoing party room won’t provide the ambiance you want.

No matter the size, ask about traffic flow. You’ll want enough room for people to comfortably get to the buffet line, if there is one, to the restrooms, and so forth. Also double-check accessibility accommodations for people with disabilities.

Now, here’s the third main consideration. If—at a high level—you like a particular venue and it’s conveniently located, you’ll need to make sure it’s something you can afford.

party budgetEvent Venue Fees and Budgeting

With a corporate event, perhaps the company is providing a certain dollar amount for the committee to spend for the event; for a class reunion, funds may be being provided through tickets purchased by attendees. In other cases, one or more individuals may be paying for the party out of pocket. No matter which is true, the sooner you can create a budget, the better.

Whenever possible, build a reasonable cushion into the budget. Then, prioritize what’s most important so you spend your dollars wisely, using your cushion when necessary. (If you’ve hired an experienced event planner, then he or she will likely know ways to strategically allocate your funds.)

When talking to a venue about rental fees, ask what is due upfront, what is non-refundable, and what cancellation policy they have. Also, ask about any overtime charges or gratuities, and if there are other fees you haven’t yet discussed.

food at party venueFood and Drink

Whether you plan to provide a delicious multi-course meal or offer lovely h’orderves, have a sit-down meal or buffet, what you eat and drink at a party can play a key role in how much guests enjoy the event. Find out if the venue of choice has a caterer they always use. If not, ask if they provide recommendations and/or allow you to use a caterer you have in mind.

Whether you’re envisioning an open bar, wine at dinner, or a champagne toast, make sure the logistics will work at the venue you’re considering and that what you want is permitted.

Once you know what the venue allows and are clear about your budget, focus your menu planning on what will please attendees. If, for example, you’ve got a party theme, then it can be logical to craft a menu that dovetails with that theme. For a family reunion, you might think about dishes that relatives traditionally enjoy together. At a one-year anniversary party, you could replicate the dishes and drinks served at the couple’s wedding reception.

party entertainmentEntertainment Plans

Ensure that your venue of choice will accommodate what you plan for entertainment, and that, whether this means a DJ or live band, there is enough room. Double-check that the venue has the equipment you need and acoustics are of good quality.

You may want to project images on a screen for everyone to enjoy, perhaps of your graduating class or the anniversary couple throughout the years. You might want to dim the lights when dancing starts, have a photo booth with props for people to enjoy, or hold a scavenger hunt.

It’s important to ensure your party venue can provide what you need, both in terms of space and ability/willingness to customize your setup.

We provide plenty of tips about entertaining activities on our blog; for example, here are posts about baby shower games and corporate holiday games.

party decorDecorating Possibilities

If you plan to decorate, perhaps in the theme of your graduating class or for Christmas, ask when you would be able to have access to the venue to begin decorating before the event—also ask about any limitations.

The internet, by far, has the largest collection of party decoration ideas. Anywhere from simple ideas with balloons and streams, to DIY options, to elaborate decor with floral arrangements, archways, and backdrops—only limited by imagination! The Thrasher-Horne Center blog has plenty of decorating tips, too (as well as other party planning strategies!).

event venue rental itemsEvent Rental Items

Whenever your event venue can provide the rental items you need, this can save you plenty of time. Find out what items are included with the event space rental, which items are available at an extra cost, and then figure out what you may need to rent from a separate vendor.

Renting your party items from the venue will streamline your planning process. Coordinating transportation to and from the venue after the party will no longer be needed. Plus, when you rent from the venue, you know that sizes will be exactly the right fit in the space.

Affordable Party Venue at Thrasher-Horne Center

Our conference center is the ideal venue for any party and conveniently located on the beautiful campus of St. Johns River State College, a short distance from Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and surrounding areas. We’re an easy drive from the Jacksonville International Airport, easily accessible from highways. Parking is free and plentiful, with brand-name hotels and an upscale resort nearby for guests who want to stay overnight. Plus, on-site security is provided.

Our 6,135-square-foot facility provides a wide range of flexible options and we can customize special event rooms in numerous configurations. It’s ideal for large groups as well as for intimate gatherings, and we can share examples of how we’ve set up spaces in the past for similar events. Our furniture setup and breakdown is included in our affordable event rental fees, and you get your choice of table sizes and shapes, with chairs cushioned for comfort.

When it comes to food, you can use your caterer of choice or use one of our time-tested recommendations. You can have the use of our warm-up kitchen and we can share successful ways to set up food or buffet tables.

Our professional sound system is ideal for the music played at your party, and we can also provide specialized lighting. There is free Wi-Fi and we can also provide A/V carts, screens and projectors, a stage platform riser, and much more.

Need help with planning? Our experienced event coordinator can help. Or, if you’re already using a party planner, we will happily coordinate efforts for a premier party experience.

To take a tour or to book your date, contact Thrasher-Horne Center online or call our rental coordinator at (904) 276-6815, ext. 2.

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Located at St. Johns River State College
283 College Drive
Orange Park, FL 32065
904.276.6815

Box Office Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 AM - 3 PM
We are also open one hour prior to showtime on event nights.

Email us at boxoffice@sjrstate.edu