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Providing valet parking rather than having guests park their cars themselves can provide an elegant, upscale tone for your dinner party. Having a valet park their car and return it when it is time to leave can make guests feel they are experiencing a special evening. It also provides convenience, giving guests a short, easy walk from their car to the entrance. Whether you hire a valet parking company or organize a group of volunteers for your dinner party, following some basic guidelines can make the valet parking run smoothly.
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Make sure there is enough parking space nearby to hold all of the cars. If your dinner party is at a bar, restaurant or hotel, this should not be an issue. You can use the establishment's parking lot or parking garage in most cases. If your dinner party is at your house, check for parking on your grounds or on nearby streets.
Set up signs clearly stating that valet parking is available and where drivers should park to use it. Set up a podium for a valet or the chief of the valets to stand behind and direct the operation. The keys can also be stored at the podium.
Make sure your valets have a clean, professional experience and that they are trained in how to be courteous to guests. A typical valet uniform includes a pressed white shirt and pressed black pants. Bow ties are good for more-formal dinner parties. If it's an informal or themed dinner party, valets can wear easygoing apparel such as Hawaiian shirts.
Calculate how many guests are coming and whether they will be arriving throughout the evening or all at once. Plan how many valets to have on duty accordingly. Equip the valets with two-way radios so they can communicate easily while parking and returning cars.
Decide in advance how you want to handle tipping of the valets. If you allow the valets to keep their own tips, figure most drivers tip $1 or $2 per car. As an alternative, pay the valets a little more than you would have otherwise and instruct them to decline all tips.
Serve coffee or espresso to your guests while they are in the valet line if you expect any wait time for the valet at the end of the evening.
Provide small extras such as bottled water for your valets.
It is a nice touch to have the valets open the car doors for your guests as they arrive and leave the event.