BLOGS 9 Biggest Mistakes You Make Planning a Summer Party

April 24, 2018
9 Biggest Mistakes You Make Planning a Summer Party

By Natalie Gontcharova

Source: Good Housekeeping

Skimping on food isn’t the only rookie error our experts often see.

We’re not saying hosting a patio party is rocket science: Grill + warm weather + friends = fun. But don’t let your get-together turn sour by making these common missteps.

1. Considering neighbors “out of sight, out of mind.”
Invite the Smiths one door down. Even if they don’t show up, it’s friendly gesture —and might keep trouble at bay.

“Inviting your neighbors is the nice way of warning them without actually warning them,” says Helah Kehati, founder and president of the event planning company JPO Concepts. “Leave them your cell phone number, too. It’s courteous to offer a direct way of getting in touch with you if they’re bothered by any noise — and might discourage them from calling the police instead.”

2. Hosting a game of musical chairs.
Don’t assume that people are fine with standing. “If your party is longer than two hours, you should have seating for at least 80% of the guests,” says Kehati. Move indoor seating outside when you can, and borrow folding chairs from friends.

3. Leaving extension cords where guests might trip.
Place cords around high-traffic areas, or get metal-shaped U’s at a hardware store to clamp down cords into the grass, says Kehati. Don’t use any extension cords outside that aren’t UL-certified and marked “suitable for use with outdoor appliances,” says Rachel Rothman, Technical Director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.

4. Running out of food or drinks.
For a typical party, plan for:
• Eight to 10 hors d’oeuvres per person
• One-and-a-half burgers, or 1/2 lb of bone-in meat (like chicken wings) per person
• 1/4 – 1/2 lb of side dishes per person
• One-and-a-half drinks per person, per hour

5. Serving food guests must sit down to eat.
“Make sure food is fork-only,” says Kehati. You don’t want guests to struggle with more than one utensil when they’re standing and mingling. So for example, if you’re serving pasta salad, do tortellini, not linguini.

6. Not timing your grilling right.
Preheat the grill at least 10 to 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Not sooner —otherwise you’ll waste gas, says Sharon Franke, Director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute Kitchen Appliances and Technology Department. Start grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks about a half hour before you plan to serve them. “If you cook too soon, and keep items warm, they’re going to get too dry,” Franke says.

7. Going overboard on the booze.
People are more susceptible to alcohol when it’s hot outside, so serve lighter drinks, like sangrias, and make sure your proportions don’t tip too far in liquor’s favor, says Franke.

8. Leaving out food for too long.
You shouldn’t leave perishable food outside of the fridge for more than two hours —and cut that to one hour if it’s over 90° F outside, says Franke. Bring food out in smaller batches and replenish when necessary instead of serving everything you made all at once.

9. Forgetting a game plan for the trash.
Make sure you have at least one large garbage bag for every 10 people, says Kehati. Line trash bins with more than one bag so you can remove and replace full bags in one step.

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BLOGS 5 Event Planning Skills You Need for Success

April 17, 2018
5 Event Planning Skills You Need for Success

By Melanie Woodward

Source: The Balance

Skills You Must Have to Be an Event Planner

If you are contemplating a career as an event planner, whether that be with an event planning company, in an event planning position within a corporate organization, or starting your own event planning business, it is smart to make sure that the event planner job is a good fit. In addition to learning the ins and outs of event planning and what the work requires, it is equally as important to be sure you have the event planning skills you need for success.

The most successful event planners have a toolbox filled with an impressive skillset. Of those, these are the top 5 event planning skills you will reach for on a regular basis and the ones that can make or break your success.

5 Event Planning Skills You Need

Highly Organized
In event planning, success is in the details. And there are many of them! Keeping track of numerous tasks, multiple vendors, and constantly changing to-do lists all at once – while keeping your client happy — can be challenging for some and daunting for others. Being highly organized is a must for successful event planning. For those who make and manage to-lists to keep their personal lives running smoothly, being organized may come naturally. For others who struggle to remember deadlines or to pick up the dry cleaning, being organized may require more effort.

Event planners may manage one event at a time or be in the planning stages of multiple events simultaneously.

Some events, such as annual conferences, take more than a year of planning so event planners must stay organized over the long haul.

Organizational tools for event planners abound, from software that tracks registration to templates for forms and spreadsheets. An event planning checklistthat is customized for each event is one of the most valuable event planning tools regardless of your natural organizational ability.

So figure out an organizational system that works for you because this is one of the most important event planning skills you can have.

What do all events have in common? People! Who do you interact with and work with in the process of planning events? People! Successful event planners are personable, engaging, good conversationalists and excellent listeners. Event planning is a very social profession in that the end result – the event itself – is or a group of people, large or small. Understanding people and enjoying talking to them are part of the job. This does not mean that, as an event planner, you will spend most of your day out at client lunches and having cocktails at social events. Not at all. Event planning is hard work and much of it is spent at a desk with a phone or computer. But being personable is a must when tackling one of these common event planning tasks:

  • Negotiating with hotels
  • Discussing menus with catering managers
  • Meeting with vendors
  • Pitching your event ideas to a prospective client
  • Networking anytime and anywhere
  • Supervising event staff
  • Working your event and interacting with guests and workers

After all, in day-to-day life, most of us remember the pleasant, helpful people we interact with and that interaction can make an experience that much more enjoyable for both parties.

Knowing how to relate to different personalities, how to connect with someone whom you want to do business with and being someone that makes a positive impression are keys to success so consider this one of those essential event planning skills. No one wants to work with or assist someone who is difficult to talk to, hard to understand or rude and unprofessional in any way.

Excellent Communicator (Which Includes Listening!)
Excellent communication skills are essential in many professions. In event planning, miscommunication can result in numerous problems for both the event planner and the client, and a simple misunderstanding can have catastrophic results. Being able to effectively communicate thoughts and ideas is a very practical skill that is used on a day-to-day basis by event planners of all experience levels.

Here are a few examples of how these event planning skills are used when planning events:

Written communication:

  • writing event proposals for a prospective client
  • creating materials to market your firm
  • writing contracts with clients and vendors
  • drafting thank you notes to guest speakers and VIPs

Verbal communication:

  • ability to explain the scope and purpose of an event
  • effectively communicating your ideas to a supervisor, client or vendor
  • understanding and processing information that is provided, such as the concerns of a client or questions from a caterer
  • skillfully negotiating hotel rates, contract details, or extras from a vendor

Successful event planners have ideas. Lots of them. And with that creativity, the ability to transform the idea into something tangible. They can take a vision and bring it to life. From developing a unique theme for a party to coming up with an affordable decorating solution that meets a small budget, creativity is essential when planning an event.

Creativity also comes into play when facing the inevitable problems that arise during even the most diligently, professionally planned event. In this scenario, creativity takes shape in the form of problem-solving. Being able to think creatively to develop solutions to problems can positively impact the success of your event.

At various stages of the event planning process, there are numerous tasks being managed. You may be negotiating a hotel contract, meeting with the client to discuss potential guest speakers, booking a caterer, interviewing rental vendors and exploring entertainment options. And that is just for one event. Add multiple events in the planning stages all at once, and the result is a juggling act. Successful event planners need to know how to effectively multitask and keep many aspects of the event moving along simultaneously without any of those tasks falling by the wayside.

Success lies in the ability to prioritize and focus on each task in that priority order without becoming distracted by other things that need tending to or becoming overwhelmed by the numerous things that need your attention. Staying calm, focused and flexible are attributes of the successful multitasker.

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