The first and most important thing is to judge the size of your community. If your community is small, you usually won't have any problems organizing based on size. If your community is large like mine, you must make a decision from the start: "Do I want to have a small meeting with limited seating, or should I organize a larger meetup?" Both can be fun in their own ways, but it is much more difficult to organize for large groups as you will always have to find a suitable location for the size of your group.
If you're part of a large community, and you want to organize a small meetup, I recommend having a 'first come first serve' RSVP system or choose to only invite your most closest friends. In that situation, it's always important to let it be obvious and well-stated that the seating is very limited! There is nothing wrong with having a small meetup with a large group as well, but if you do have them often it's good to try to invite different people every time so that it doesn't seem like you're picking favourites.
Choosing what to do at your meetup is probably the most important decision in hosting a meet. There are so many different options! One group could love, like, or loathe one thing another group enjoys. It's good to ask your other comm members what type of meets they'd enjoy or even put up a poll on your local comm's online community. You don't always have to organize a meet with their interest in mind (it's your meet after all!) but it's good to get a gauge of what they like and dislike to make it more enjoyable for everyone.
I've come up with a list of, in my opinion, what that sounds like fun meetup ideas:
- Pot-luck style picnic or visiting a park
- Botanical gardens
- Local festivals and events
- Museums (art, historical, natural, etc)
- Board game party
- Alpaca Farm
- Cake/Desert making classes
- Visiting a beach or boardwalk
- Berry/fruit picking
- Theme Parks
- Shopping/Visiting local malls
- Historical buildings, streets, etc
- Flower arranging classes
- High Tea or tea ceremonies
- Zoo or Aquarium
- Rollerskating/Ice skating
- Library or book-club style get together
Something to keep in mind as well, is that not all meets have to be 'traditional' lolita events. While tea parties, small cafes, the theatre and ballet all sound fun, they can be a bit dull if it's the only thing you're doing. It's okay to experiment or just do fun things for the sake of wanting to do them!
When choosing your meetup location it's also good to keep in mind how accessible it is for your community. Is it easy to get to with public transit? If it's outside of your local area, how will everyone get there? Will people volunteer to transport others?
If you're having a meetup where food is provided or made, it's also good to check everyone for allergies or food restrictions before the meetup. That way, it's respectful to your fellow comm members and doesn't draw attention to things they may not want to publicly disclose.
Details are the most important thing when organizing a meetup. Have a time, date, and place ready as far in advance as possible. It's good to give plenty of time in order to have everyone be able to make room in their schedules. Have a set time for your meet have a set time and be sure to be there at least 15 minutes early. As the organizer it's your duty to wait for everyone and not skip ahead if everyone isn't there yet. If your meetup is at a timed event, for example a movie or dinner reservation, make sure that people know to be there early and that if they are late they won't be able to take part!
It is possible to organize a meetup around a dress-code or a theme as well. When organizing a meet based on a theme or a dress-code, try not to be too specific. Having a very specific theme, like 'painting print dresses', would be unfair to those who don't own that style of print and could minimize the amount of people who would go to your meet. Having a theme like Alice in Wonderland would be easier since it's a bit more 'general' and easy to work with in multiple styles and colours.
It's also very important to check the weather, road conditions, and other variables the day before and the morning of the meetup. As an organizer it's good to be prepared for everything. For rain, sun, or snow, it's good to give your meet attendees an idea of what the weather will be like so that everyone could prepare and make their outfits suitable for whatever will come their way. Also, if you're going to a place where their clothes might get wet, dirty, or that there may not be a lot of room for big petticoats, it's also good to let them know this in advance.
Planning meetups can be very difficult and a lot of work, but in the end it's very much worth it! Meetups are very fun and it's so nice to get together with locals who also dress in the fashion. When organizing meets, there will always be mistakes and things that go wrong, but don't fret! Everyone learns with experience, I sure did. Good luck!