Archive for February, 2011

The Essentials to Plan the Perfect Party

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

All hosts of a get together, celebration, reunion or any other kind of party want to throw a great party. These are some of the essential things you need to think about for your big bash.

Food

The food is often one of everyone’s favorite and most memorable parts of a great party. You might choose to have a full sit down meal, or a buffet, a potluck, a barbecue or just some tasty goodies available throughout the evening. Potlucks are great because everyone will have at least one dish they enjoy and they can try other peoples’ favorite dishes too. Barbecues can be a lot of fun too, as everyone can stand around and see and smell the great food cooking, which builds anticipation and appreciation of the food.

Invitations

You can choose to either do paper or digital invites but whatever you do, make it interesting! E-vites can be customized to be quite humorous or stylish, just like old-fashioned handmade ones. If you make the invitations interesting, people will know that the party is going to be something to remember!

Theme

Themes for parties make them much easier and more fun to plan, throw, and remember. If you have a good theme for your party you can plan all your food dishes, decorations and activities around that theme. For example, if you do a Mexican fiesta theme you can serve enchiladas and burritos, seven-layer dip, chips and salsa, etc. You can decorate with sombreros and saguaro cacti, and play Mexican music. Other ideas include an Italian night, ugly sweater parties, costume party, backyard barbecue, etc.

Activities

Fun activities to have at a party include things like group-friendly games such as Pictionary or Win, Lose or Draw, Charades, Rock Band, Guitar Hero, or Dance Dance Revolution. You might also try an adult version of Truth or Dare, which with the right group can become quite entertaining and enlightening. You could have several musical instruments available like guitars and bongos so people can make music together and entertain each other. Or if it’s chilly out, you could roast marshmallows together over a small backyard campfire (if it’s legal where you live), and then make use of hot tub if you have one. Don’t forget the sparklers!

Date and Time

Be sure to pick a date and time when the most people can come. Depending on how far in advance you plan your event and what peoples’ schedules are like with family obligations, planning your event around a holiday or other occasion that many people will be in the same place for, such a school’s Homecoming or something of the like, that could be a good time to host your party. On the other hand, it may be the worst time to try to plan it because everyone might be too busy with their other activities. You may want to send out a feeler ahead of time and see who could make it if you hold it on a certain day and time, and perhaps offer 3 different options for people to say which would work best. Then choose the date and time that will work for the majority of people.

Venue

Parties can be held in a variety of places. You can hold it at your home or a friend’s house if they are interested in helping you host it and have a more party-friendly house. Houses that make especially good party houses often have features such as a ping pong or pool table, swimming pool or large, nicely landscaped backyard. Other options for venues to hold your party may include a gazebo at a park, a bowling alley, ice skating rink, or community clubhouse or room.

What’s an essential piece to planning your perfect party? Share with us in the comments below!

6 Event Planning Trends for 2011

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

It’s a new year and everyone is excited for what’s in store. The freshly unwrapped calendars are starting to fill up with save the dates and celebrations, commencements and weddings, baby showers and bachelor parties, conventions and conferences.

Here are six event planning trends that are hot and fresh for 2011:

Event Planning Trends

Photos by @digitaljournal.com @Matt Hamm @TheTruthAbout

1. Go Social.

In 2011, you must have the ability to communicate easily and openly with everyone at the event, even while the event is going on. For example, a screen with a running bunch of real-time Tweets about the event, feedback on what a speaker has said or the topic at hand.

2. Giveaways, giveaways, giveaways!

Better giveaways, keepsakes and souvenirs from an event. Everyone loves free swag, and now that it’s easier than ever to customize a huge number of items for a company or event, a lot of people are getting in on bigger and better souvenirs and giveaways than the old pen and pad of paper. Things to watch out for in 2011 include fun and useful goodies like blankets, backpacks, sport and water bottles, high quality coffee mugs, first aid kits, hand sanitizer, digital photo frames, and more.

3. Forums and meet ups.

Instead of the old model of one person talking in front of hundreds from a one-way communication road, a lot of events are going to be designed around the idea that people are very used to being able to interact with everyone on a more personal level. This includes the “big wigs” of companies and events that were previously less accessible. Expect more round table events, informal meet ups instead of lectures, and other ways that gatherings can be more interactive and less static.

4. Greener decorations.

No, not the color! Happily, a lot of people are becoming increasingly more aware of the needs of the environment and how we can directly affect and preserve it. The streamers will be more likely to be made of recycled paper, the balloons less likely to be let out into the sky to float away and ultimately end up in our waterways and fields. Many decorations will be saved to be re-used, like flameless candles, by the event planner later, or passed along to a friend who can use it instead. And worst case scenario, the ones that are thrown away will likely be put into the recycling bin instead of just trashed.

5. Everything will be mobilized and digitized.

From the announcement and invitation on Twitter, Facebook, and on the event planner’s personal blog to the follow up posting of photos and videos from the event, everything will be found in digitized form and easily carried with you on your mobile phone. You’ll be able to find and save all the details you need to know including time and place as well as maps from your phone, laptop, iPod or iPad.

6. Analytics.

Because everything is digitized, it will be easy to keep track of the analytics of the event. Who came, who became friends afterward because of the event, what are their likes and interests, what other events have they gone to and where will they go next, and so on. Great help for event planners to plan accordingly for events in the future!

Have any predictions for event planning in 2011? Share in the comments below!

8 Ways to Plan Your Event on a Budget

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Whether you’re planning a wedding, a ten year class reunion, a family reunion, a mega birthday party, a retirement party, a going away party, or any other big event, budget considerations are always a major part of event planning. Many people mistakenly think that they have to pay an arm and a leg to put on a great event, that the best decorations have to be expensive decorations, or the venue has to cost a fortune. But none of this is true!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to put on a truly fantastic event. Great events can be had on a budget, and here are some tips to help you stretch your event money further and be able to have a really wonderful, memorable occasion.

Plan Your Event on a Budget

Photos by @puamelia @Seaners4real @kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop)

Make Lists

List everything you would like to do, have, and serve at your event, including where you would like to hold the event. Make a rough estimate how much each of these things will cost and how much the total will be. Is this amount reasonable for your budget?

Know the necessities

If the total amount of your ideal list is greatly higher than what you can afford, start taking out the things that you don’t absolutely actually need to hold the event. Maybe you can add them back in later if cost allows.

Brainstorm your options

Instead of spending money to rent out a special facility, such as an entire bar, restaurant, nightclub, etc., brainstorm some alternatives. Could you hold your event at your house or a friend’s house? Do any of your friends have a really awesome home that could be a great venue for a gathering, such as one with a large backyard, a basketball or tennis court, ping pong table, pool table, swimming pool, backyard fire pit, etc.? Offer to pay them some money, take them out to dinner or spot them some of their favorite beers to host your event at their place.

Rethink catering

Bring your own food and beverages instead of using a catering service. You could make it a potluck, or a barbecue where you provide all the sides and others bring their own meats, or the other way around.

Buy in bulk

Buy supplies such as food, decorations, and invitations in bulk. Purchasing things in bulk may result in wholesale prices.  It’s totally the way to go, especially if you’re having a large event.  You can even purchase things like wholesale tablecloths, party favors and candles in large quantities.

Think within your circle of friends

Hire friends or offer an exchange of service to friends that have special talents such as playing an instrument or who have a band. This will save you money on entertainment instead of hiring an outside group. Also recruit friends or family that have unusual talents or interest such as making balloon animals, decorating for a living, or has access to a big rig truck that could be used for hauling bulky items to your venue.

Rent when you can

Instead of buying expensive and awkward helium-filled balloons from the store and having to get them in the car and to your event, you could rent your own helium tank and balloons for simple and economical decorations.

Ask for donations when appropriate

If appropriate, ask any local schools or churches if they have things like tables and chairs that you can borrow for free or a small donation.  If you are putting on an event for a charity, people may be more than willing to donate services or money. Community centers are also a good place to check. You can also ask about things like lights, display items, serving items, etc.

Did we miss some essential budget planning tips? Feel free to add them in the comments below!

Destination Weddings

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

A tropical beach at sunset. A billowy white dress, no shoes. Hair loose, flowers in hand. There’s nothing more romantic in the world than a destination wedding. And while it may be your ideal way to say “I do” it can be a bit stressful to plan. But keep the following things in mind and your planning will be stress-free and your big day perfect.

destination weddings

Photo by @rcbodden on Flickr.

Go Local

When it comes to your reception the best thing is to go local for your decorations. Think local flowers, local foods, local drinks. It will add a colorful and unique flavor to your wedding and could save you some money since you won’t have to fly in your decorations. But check out ahead of time what will be available to you to make sure that you will be able to get decorations for the wedding. If you do want to bring your own, stick to light things like colored feathers and tulle.

Local Customs

Are there any local marriage customs that you could include in your wedding? A hand tying ceremony, local music or poetry read in the local language can add an exotic and beautiful touch to your wedding ceremony.

Bottled Water

It always makes sense to stick to bottled water when traveling somewhere exotic, and the same goes for destination weddings. The last thing you want is you or your fiancé getting sick before the ceremony. Same with exotic cuisine. You may want to wait until after the wedding to get adventurous.

Watch the Sunbathing

Make sure that you don’t get too much sun before your wedding. You could end up sick with heat stroke or burnt, both which could put a damper on your big day.

Backup Plans

If you plan on getting married outside on the resort lawn or on the beach, make sure that you have a backup plan in case of bad weather. Check with the hotel to see if there is a banquet room you could use if it’s rainy or windy on your big day. While there isn’t much you can do if a hurricane hits, you can still go forward with your wedding if there are just showers or even a weak tropical storm as long as you have a backup plan.

Help with Travel Plans

When you send out your invitations, include information on the hotel or resort where you will be staying. This can be a huge help to your guests and eliminate a lot of phone calls. Also include information about airlines and plane tickets.

Welcome Your Guests

Once you know everyone’s room number, have a welcome basket ready for your guests once they check in. Include such things as a bottle of wine, some chocolate, aromatherapy products and some local goodies. Also include pamphlets on local sites and any events that may be taking place at the hotel or resort. This will help them to relax and enjoy their time.

Have Fun!

Regardless of where you get married, whether it’s half way around the world or in your parents’ back yard, things can happen. Just go with the flow, relax and enjoy your wedding. Take everything in stride and delegate if you have to. Take a deep breath, look around and remember: to have your perfect wedding day doesn’t mean that everything has to be perfect.

Destination weddings can be a fun, romantic way to tie the knot. But like all specialty weddings, they come with their own challenges. But as long as you research where you’re going, plan ahead and have fun, your wedding day will be perfect.

Planning or planned a destination wedding? Where did you have your event?