Showing posts from 2005

Celebrate the Holidays With a Cookie Exchange

Cookies and holidays go together. This is the time of year when families pull out their favorite cookie recipes even if they haven't baked all year. You can add to your recipe collection and try new cookies by organizing a cookie exchange. The exchange can be its own special event or it can be combined with another holiday activity. If you would like to get to know your neighbors, invite them over for coffee and cookies and add a cookie exchange. Or plan one at your church to coincide with a hoilday program or coffee hour. You might also arrange to exchange cookies with your work associates during the lunch hour one day. To plan an exchange, ask each person or family to bring homemade cookies (no store-bought ones, please) to munch and a dozen cookies on a separate plate to exchange. The host can provide paper plates and perhaps large zip-lock bags as well. Then, each family or person who brought cookies goes around and chooses a dozen cookies to take home. The biggest problem will…

Don't Forget About Parking When Planning Your Event

If you plan to invite many guests to your event, chances are most will arrive by car and they will need a place to park. Many hotels and conference centers have parking lots. Others are located in areas where on-street parking is available. If your facility doesn't have adequate parking, you may need to rent a trolley, van, or bus to transport guests from and back to their hotel or a public parking area.

If you are planning an event to be held at a private home, street parking may not be an option for a large number of cars. If the cars block a narrow street, they could be ticketed and even towed for blocking a fire lane (this actually happened at an event held in McCall). Be sure to check with neighbors and with the fire department if you are planning an event at a private home.

If your event will be held at a college, university, or a business that allows only students or employees who have permits to park in their lot, you will need to contact the school or business and obtain…

Including Music in Your Special Event

Every event can be enhanced by music. Whether you are planning a backyard barbeque, a wedding or reception, or a formal dinner, music will add to the ambiance of the event. The type of music you choose should reflect the formality of the event and the overall mood you want to create. Your budget will also be a consideration. Hiring a band is the most expensive option and the price will vary by the number of musicians in the group. You can choose anything from a three-piece blue grass group to a 15 member swing or jazz band. A band offers less flexibility than a DJ. Most play for 45 minutes, then take a 15 minute break. If you plan to have toasts or make any type of announcements, those activities usually occur during the band's breaks. A band is great for events at which the primary activity will be dancing. If you are planning a wedding, you might choose to hire a string trio or quartet, a brass ensemble, a harpist, or several guitarists to play for the ceremony. If you have a chu…

Get to Know Your Neighbors - Have a Block Party

Fall is the perfect time to hold a block party. School is in session; vacations are over; the days are no longer miserably hot. You can host the party or you can co-host it with some of your neighbors. If you live in a cul-de-sac, you might close the street and party in it (be sure to check with the police and fire department first). If you live on a conventional street, then have the party in someone's yard. Set up games, such as volley ball, croquet, or bad minton, to attract the younger crowd. You may need to make it a BYOLC party - bring your own lawn chair - to have enough seating, or spread blankets on the grass. Be sure to provide munchies and something to drink. It might be as simple as cookies or you might have a barbeque and ask guests to bring a dish to share. The party is a good time to get acquainted with your neighbors and to also conduct any neighborhood "business." You might discuss safety or crime issues, set up a neighborhood watch program, or make plan…

Holiday Party Planning Guide to be Published

The Idaho Business Review will publish their annual Holiday Party & Catering Guide in the October 24th issue. This special focus section is designed to give readers tips and suggestions on the who, what, when, and where of holiday event planning. If you are planning a company holiday party or a personal one, you will find all the resources you need, as well as informative articles. If your business doesn't receive the Idaho Business Review, check their web site ( for information. It isn't too late to begin planning your party, so don't delay.

Planning a Tailgate Party

It's that time of year - time for football games and tailgate parties. Tailgating has become a national obsession. It is a great way to socialize and meet new friends as you prepare for the big game. Men who never cook at home create and serve a special dish that becomes their signature fare. Women raid their cookbooks and recipe boxes looking for scrumptious dishes to share. The name "tailgate party" is named for the tailgate of a pickup truck, which is the traditional vehicle used for the party. If you or a friend don't own a pickup, don't despair. An SUV or a van will work just as well, since you won't be cooking in the vehicle. You will, however, need to transport grills or stoves, coolers, tables and chairs, so you need a good-sized vehicle. Today, many tailgaters bring tables, chairs, and canopies to expand the available space and make cooking easier. If you have never tailgated before, here are a few things to consider. First, invite a group of friends …

Etiquette Challenged Guests - Are You One?

Yesterday I coordinated an event to which 180 people returned their RSVPs indicating they would attend. However, when the event occurred, only 85 guests were present. Think of the food that was ordered and not consumed, of the unused space that was rented, the tables, chairs, and linens that were needed to accommodate 180 people. Think of the money the hosts lost needlessly because of the thoughtlessness of their friends. This situation is becoming increasingly common the last couple of years. It isn't just a few people who fail to attend, but as many as 1/3 of the guest list or more. When the hosts go through their invitation lists, they discover that most of the no-shows are work associates or casual acquaintances. Certainly emergencies occur at the last minute, but surely 95 people didn't all have emergencies yesterday. The problem is more likely caused by co-workers who say they will attend, but when the day arrives their spouse balks at attending an event where they don…

Company Picnics and Parties

It's not too late to plan a company picinic yet this summer. Having a picnic or another social event is a good way to thank your employees for their hard work during the year. It also provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the families of your employees and to relate to one another in a non-work environment. Socializing together builds relationships between employees as well. You might plan a simple pot luck or barbeque at a park or arrange for an evening at Roaring Springs. You can also host an evening at a Boise Hawks baseball game. The options are limited only by your time, budget, and the number of people you will entertain. It is also not too soon to begin thinking about your company's holiday party. While most summer activities are family oriented, a holiday party is more often attended by only your employees and their spouses or significant others. Some company owners or managers choose to host a party at their home. Others arrange for dinner and perhaps dancing a…

Create a Web Site or a Blog for Your Event

If you are planning an event involving a large number of participants or guests, such as a family reunion or a wedding, you may want to create a web site or a blog as a way to keep everyone informed. Anyone with computer savvy can create a blog and you don't need much more expertise to create a simple web site. A web site or blog can include the date and location of the event, lodging information, planned activities, and much more. You can post photos, and if you are planning a wedding, registry information (which you should not include in an invitation). Guests can RSVP on the web site or blog. They can add comments as well. If you are planning a wedding, you can create a free web page at either or at Family and guests will appreciate the opportunity to be informed and you may generate more interest in attending your event.

New Travel Requirements will Affect Travel to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada

The U.S. State Department issued new travel requirements that will affect anyone planning a trip outside the U.S. Effective 12/31/05, anyone planning a trip to or returning from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico, and Canada will need to have a passport or another approved secure document. Effective 12/31/06, travelers to and from Mexico and Canada will need a passport. After 12/31/07, a passport will be required to travel anywhere outside the borders of the U.S.
The new requirements, which are aimed at fighting terrorism, will have a major impact on business and leisure travel, including travel for honeymoons and destination weddings and anniversary celebrations. Those who are taking a cruise to any ports in the Caribbean are affected as well. If you are considering such a trip, you won't want to wait to apply for a passport. Otherwise, you may be caught in the logjam of applicants that are expected near the end of the year.

Local Couple Tests Their Relationship on Fear Factor

If you were recently married, would you be willing to test your commitment to one another on national TV? A local couple did when they agreed to participate in a newlywed version of Fear Factor. One of the tasks involved eating a wedding cake made of live grubs, bugs, and crocodile eyes (yes, you read correctly). They had to chew the "cake" then spit the juice into a toasting flute. When the flute was filled to a certain level, they had to drink it. Ugh!!! They also participated in other challenging, and much less gross, activities.
The couple feels their experience brought them closer together as they learned to rely on each other and work together. Personally, I can think of other ways to learn to work with and rely on my spouse, but to each their own.

Are Your Vendors Paying Kickbacks Without Your Knowledge?

Every couple of years the issue of kickbacks surfaces in our local event planning community. A kickback is a fee paid by a vendor to another vendor or facility for the "privilege" of doing business with them. This is not yet a problem in the Boise area, but it is becoming increasingly common in other areas of the country and is beginning to rear its ugly head here. The Better Business Bureau considers the practice unethical and we agree. Here is how it works. A facility might offer an event planner or a caterer a kickback on the amount that you, the client, pays for the rental of a facility. This kickback is paid to encourage the planner or caterer to persuade you to choose one facility over another because the planner or caterer will personally benefit from your choice (without your knowledge, of course). Therefore, you might be encouraged to choose a facility that charges $2,000 over a facility that charges $1,500 because a portion of the $2,000 fee will be returned to y…

Wedding Planner Mystery Novels

If you enjoy a good mystery, you will enjoy the Wedding Planner mystery novels written by Boise author Deborah Donnelly. Deborah's newest book, the 4th in the series and set in Sun Valley, was released last week. Deborah will be signing copies of her book during First Thursday on May 5th at Book and Game on Main Street and on Saturday at Barnes and Noble.

Choosing the Perfect Dessert

Every event needs food but what kind and how much is up to you. Most events end with a dessert of some type, so why not make it spectatular. No longer is cake the first dessert of choice. Whether you are planning a wedding, an anniversary party, or a special birthday celebration, serve the dessert you or the guest of honor likes most. It might be pie, cheesecake, or a buffet of mini bite-sized desserts. If you love ice cream, serve ice cream sandwiches or ice cream baked potatoes.

One of the latest dessert sensations is the French croquembouche. This spectactular dessert is actually a tower of individual cream puffs held together with a light caramel glaze. You might fill the puffs with traditional vanilla cream or with chocolate cream or another flavored cream of your choice. We served this dessert at a wedding, to the delight of the guests, particularly the men. Your guests will love your innovative choice, no matter what it might be.

Celebrate Those Milestones!!

On Sunday we celebrated the 90th birthday of a family member with a reception for family and friends. The honoree was at first a bit hesitant about all the attention. However, as guests began to arrive, he was pleased to see people he hadn't seen for years. Guests came from Seattle and from Oregon, as well as some who had to drive a couple of hours. Guests commented that they were able to visit with people they hadn't seen for years, as well as visiting with the honoree and his family. If someone in your family is having a milestone birthday, a special anniversary, a graduation, or another event, use it as an opportunity to let the person know you love and appreciate them by celebrating in some manner. It doesn't have to be an extravagant celebration, but do something. Life is short and everyone needs to know they are loved and appreciated.

Choosing a Location for your Special Event

2005 is starting off as a banner year for events. I receive two or three calls a week from desperate people who can't find an available location to hold their event, particularly during the summer. Many people look in the Yellow Pages or try to think of places where they may have attended an event. However, there are many other less well-known places that rent their facilities for special events. By thinking creatively, you may find an affordable location that is still available.

The most obvious locations that host events in the Boise area are hotels, the Idaho Botanical Gardens, the Boise Depot, the Bishop's House, golf clubs, city parks, and wineries. Not everyone is aware that the Boise Art Museum, the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Center, and the Idaho Shakespeare Theater rent their facilities for summer events. Grange halls, fraternal halls (Eagles, Elks, etc.), Legion halls, community rooms in apartment and condo complexes, some senior citizens centers, and private scho…

Objective Journalism???

Last week I received a phone call from a writer with a national magazine. She had been assigned to write an article about the exodus to the "exurbs" (the suburbs of the suburbs for those of you who live in the wide open spaces). In places like southern California, New York City, and Chicago, those who want to purchase an affordable home are moving waaaaay out and commuting an hour or more each way to work. Many of exurbanites are young families.
Now those of us who are trained in rational thought and good research methods would surmise the phenomonem is probably caused by the lack of affordable housing closer to the city or perhaps by the desire for homeownership despite the toll on personal time and the added stress. But not our friends at the magazine, oh no. They decided the cause is that women are desperate to get married and are therefore jumping into marriage at a younger age and producing all these young families that need an affordable place to live.
The reporter had…

Event Planners Beware - Wedding Scam

A new scam is going around, apparently a version of the Nigerian scams that are so prevalent. In this instance, someone in another country, usually in the U.K. or Europe, contacts an event planner in the U.S. They say they are planning an event in the U.S. and need to hire the planner. Of course, the event isn't being held anywhere near where the planner lives, so there is no opportunity to ask for a personal meeting. The planner will have to travel to the site of the event - all expenses paid.
Once initial contact has been established, the person says they have hired a photographer, videographer, live band, etc. from Europe and they need the planner to send money to the person or group so they can purchase tickets. There are promises to wire both the planner's fee and reimbursement for the funds wired to the photographer. Money may be wired but the check will bounce. Should someone fall for the scam, they will never see their money again and of course there is no event.
I hav…

Best Ever Wedding Show

Our annual wedding show, the Wedding Party Show, held yesterday and today, was the best ever. We set record attendance numbers, both for the number of brides who attended and the total guests who attended. In addition to the paid advertising, we sent out press releases to several section editors of our local newspaper and to other daily and weekly papers, radio and TV stations in the area. The press releases generated three stories and a number of listings on community calendars.

The people who attended were serious about their planning, not just browsing, and they were booking merchants right and left. If the show was an indication, 2005 should be a banner wedding year.