So, you have the “opportunity” to plan the company holiday party. Great news! Right?
Often, the HR department or the administrative team is tasked with putting this event together. Sometimes you even get a committee – hooray!
Even if you enjoy event planning, it’s rare that the rest of the regular workload is lightened for the people taking this on. And, trying to find something to make everyone in the office happy is next to impossible but that probably won’t keep you from being stressed about it.

Some companies have the same party every year – which makes planning a bit easier. But if you’re starting from scratch or trying to shake things up a little; here’s a quick run-down of things that should be on your checklist:

Venue. If you’re having the party offsite and don’t have your location booked yet, do it now. Spaces around Des Moines are booking up – especially for Saturdays. (So if you want a Saturday party, stop reading and get on the phone!)
Seating. Some locations will provide tables and chairs, otherwise, you will need to rent. Don’t forget to include linens, too. The amount of seating you need will also depend on what style of party you’re having. For a sit-down meal, everyone needs a seat. For a cocktail-style party – providing seating for about half your guests is more than enough. Which naturally brings us to…
Food. Does your venue have a built in caterer or do you need to hire one? Dinner, appetizers (passed or stationed?), dessert, etc.  Consider the atmosphere you want as well as the time and duration of the party to help you determine your meal. Don’t forget to provide for vegetarian options. If you can gather dietary preferences of your co-workers and accommodate those, even better.
Beverages.  For an office party – you probably want an open bar you’re going to serve alcohol. If it’s a cost or risk management issue, consider providing the first two drinks for everyone. Another way to keep costs low is to limit it to beer and wine. You’ll need your non-alcoholic beverages and mixers for liquor as well. Consider how alcohol will be served if it’s not built in to your venue or caterer. And, have a few cab numbers readily available.
Entertainment.  Again, this is dictated by the style of party you want. DJs and live music are great.  Or for a more interactive twist, consider a dueling pianos show. And you can always use speakers and an iPod for simple background music (here’s a playlist to get you started).  Other activities like a gift exchange, scavenger hunts or holiday inspired games are always an option too.
Speakers/Presentations. With a company party, it’s likely that someone will want to say a few words. Besides planning the program and timing; make sure you have the right A/V equipment and a stage if needed. (And, on behalf of your co-workers – keep it short. People don’t want to listen for more than 15-20 minutes max).
Other.  Things that may apply – invitations/communication, theme, decor, photographers, valet parking,  taking care of VIPs special preferences, the company gift. And…
Budget. The bottom line. Enough said.

If you get these things covered, you’ll be in great shape. And don’t forget to enjoy the party after all of your hard work!

If you want something a little more turnkey – our friends at InnovativEvents provide a great option. Illuminate is an all-inclusive, ready-made celebration. Everything is built in to one fabulous night with some options to make it the best fit for your company. On top of all this – the production is top-notch (like anything else from InnovativEvents) so everything looks as amazing as your experience will be. All you will need to do is pick your package, choose any add-ons and enjoy!

Learn more at or call 515.287.2887 /email

As always, Socialize is available to help. Contact us to find out what we can do to help in your planning process. Whether it’s a basic consultation to create a detailed plan and give you vendor recommendations or taking it off your mind and coordinate it all.


If I promise to post more next week, will you keep reading? Pretty please?

The hours have just slipped away far too quickly the last couple weeks. Throw in a consulting project, a new 10-week business workshop and a couple days being sick and that’s how we get from February 3rd to February 17th with only one post in between. And today’s won’t be long because it’s my birthday! The big 3-0! So I’m off to have a small celebration with my husband and a few dear friends. The big party comes next weekend so I have plenty to post about in the days to come.

In the meantime, I want to send you over to the Des Moines Wedding Savvy site created by the ever-so-wonderful Rachel. In her blog she wrote a post about Socialize that is one of the best birthday presents I could have gotten!  Well, that and the fact that I think I found myself a new friend. Rachel is sweet, stylish, fun and a an all around great gal. And talk about a “get-er done gal” (see DMWS post) Rachel started her site just a few months ago and is already becoming the authority on all things Des Moines wedding. One of the best parts about Socialize is getting to meet people like her! So a big thanks to Rachel and Des Moines Wedding Savvy. If you’re a bride-to-be; make sure you check out her WHOLE site!

Today and tomorrow (and maybe for a few days after that), a large swath of the country is going to be dealing with a monstrous snowstorm. Even Dallas, Texas is under a freeze warning! For many of us, winter is just another part of the year. There is always a possibility that the weather will cancel your plans. This presents some inconvenience when you’re calling off a committee meeting, a class or a networking event. But what if it’s something with a significant investment involved – whether on your part or that of your guests?

For most people, calling off an event isn’t going to cause too much pain. There will be some rescheduling, you may face a loss of a vendor deposit, etc. But before any of this happens, you should still have a plan in place if you need to make the call.

-First and foremost, determine the definite reasons for calling off the event. Natural disasters are an obvious one, but it may get a little fuzzy after that. When does it go beyond what your contigency plan can handle? How icy do the roads have to be before you cancel? If a thunderstorm is predicted during an outdoor event; do you call it off completely or just have everyone take cover if lightning presents? If your keynote speaker falls ill but all other presenters can make it, do you proceed? These things need to be considered. You can’t account for every possibility but making some of these decisions will guide you for whatever may come up.

– The next thing you need to know is how you will communicate a cancellation to your attendees. Will it be personal calls, emails? Call the local TV and radio stations so they can include it in announcements if necessary. It never hurts to make your cancellation policies public knowledge either. Sidenote: This is also another reason why I am a huge advocate for creating registration systems or asking guests to RSVP. It’s so much easier to target your audience if you know who is coming and you have their contact information!

-Don’t forget your vendors! Always check cancellation policies on contracts and be aware of the costs you may incur with a late cancellation. If you are considering calling things off, let your vendors know so if they are able, they can hold off on preparations and deliveries.

However, if you are holding an event like a wedding or reunion that requires a lot of vendor deposits and expense, you may want to consider event cancellation insurance. Yes, it exists. (For some more in-depth information on event cancellation insurance, see here.)

If you’re holding an event that is supposed to generate income – like fundraisers, festivals, conventions, concerts, tournaments – you should definitely have event cancellation insurance. Of course, these things are generally major undertaking so I’m likely preaching to the pros on this one.

via Washington Post

The main thing to remember is that an important part of planning is planning on your event not happening. Even if you’re planning a baby shower for 20 – consider a cancellation plan. It will be much easier to tell the mommy-to-be (or other guest of honor) that the party is off if she knows in advance, the conditions for canceling.

It is not the most fun part of planning but it will serve you better than blind hope and keeping your fingers crossed!

I promise you, I tried. I thought a lot about my resolutions/goals/hopes for 2011. A lot. I spent a few weeks considering them and then a full Megabus trip to Chicago composing them. So these things were not taken lightly. Nevertheless, I have failed to make the time to focus on them.

I won’t make you sit through everything I hope to accomplish in the next year 11 months in hopes to become a better person. But one of them include becoming more disciplined. And that includes with this website and blogging. Now, there are no expectations on my end that the Socialize Blog become the next big stop in event blogs (there are plenty of talented people out there to handle that and I will use plenty of their ideas and photos here!).  Not everyone has the time to fill their Google Reader with feeds about dessert tables, garlands and baby shower themes. But many people do happen upon a time when they have to plan something – a wedding, a birthday party, the company holiday festivities. So I do want this to be a great source for readers to get some inspiration for those times, tips on how to plan effective parties and events and check out what’s going on in the world of Socialize. But the only way to make it that is by committing to it and making time for it most days.

So I am going to try to set time aside to blog every day. It’s very likely that not every post will be the witty, engaging work of word-art I want it to be but you’ll forgive me right?
There is plenty to cover! And I better get on it!  I owe my friends at Cafe di Scala a new guest post, I owe you some more Local Love and some updates on what’s in the works for 2011 (like my upcoming 30th bday bash!!).

You’re also invited to share photos and information about your events to be featured here. I would love to see what you’ve created and any tips you have to share.
OK – good talk!

It was almost a year ago that we talked turquoise. If you were a bride, designer or artist of any type, you couldn’t escape turquoise pallets. Now Pantone is back with their declaration of the “it” color of 2011.  Get ready for an onslaught of Honeysuckle!

According to Pantone, “Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.”
Interestingly, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute® says, “‘The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar.'”

There does seem to be some “controversy” over whether this color is to be loved or despised but I think that once we see how it can be used effectively, most people will give it a like.

Of course, I’m already a huge fan of the new color. Can’t really put my finger on why exactly…

I swear we didn't pay the people at Pantone to get the scoop!

It is a vibrant color and it is well, very pink. But the hue can work to works well with several colors (orange, yellow, navy, some greens, gold, gray, and of course, turquoise) and in many different settings; girly (of course), glam, rustic, fun and modern can all handle some Honeysuckle. How to make it work in each situation just depends on whether you use it as a major player in your pallet or as an accent.

via Beach View Rentals

via Elizabeth Anne Designs

via Save the Date for Cupcakes

via Eat Drink Pretty

via Amy Atlas

via Icing Designs

One thing you can be certain about – expect to see pink everything. everywhere in the months to come. What do you think? Will you be changing any of your event design or home decor plans to include Honeysuckle?

It’s that time of year! If you aren’t throwing a party, you’re attending one. Which means you aren’t just shopping for gifts this time of year, you’re also hunting down the perfect ensemble for every holiday engagement.

Lucky for us, the ever-so-wonderful crew at Kate Spade teamed up with stylist Luis Rodriguez to create a holiday campaign they call “a fresh spin on festive.”

“High fashion pieces were paired with cozy accessories and each look was finished with a signature twist.” How fun! I love how they put together a LOT of classic pieces to create a new holiday style. These looks may be a little indulgent, but if you can’t overdo it during the holidays, when can you?

I love the last image! What a great way to get glam without taking yourself to seriously! My favorite thing about all of these? With a little effort, you can replicate them easily with pieces you probably already have (with maybe a few accessory purchases!).  Because, while I would love to run out and buy anything and everything Kate Spade, I’m not that willing to take a second mortgage on my house to fill my closet. The thing I’m not so sure about? I’m still working on accepting the socks with peep toes thing. What do you think about these ideas? Would you wear one to a holiday party?


I am excited to let you know that there are about to be some changes around here. It just feels like it’s time to shake things up! Well, I suppose a few things fell into place that make this the right time as well.

Long story short, you may have noticed that “Set for Celebrating” blog title has changed! Initially, you’ll just see the name change on this page’s title (bad branding, I know) but soon enough, we’ll have a whole new world wide web address to direct you to! So stay on your toes so you don’t miss a minute of fabulous event insight.

“But wait – what’s Socialize?” you may be asking.

Well, that’s where the short story gets a little longer. Read on to learn more.
Almost a month ago, I had lunch with Tracy Fuller of Innovative Events. Tracy and I have gotten to know each other by working on some projects together for my employer (I could handle parties like this but needed to pull out the big guns when I needed more production resources). Tracy has built her business over 22 years and has planned events around the world. She is an amazing professional who I admire and look at as a mentor – even if she may not realize that! During lunch, I expressed to her that at some point, I wanted to expand my career in the events world and was looking for opportunities to do that. I was open to picking up production work with Innovative Events or exploring other full time positions.

Tracy spent a few minutes brainstorming some options. Then, she simply asked, “What about starting your own events planning business? Have you ever thought of that?”

The truth is, I have been dreaming about this very same venture for a while but wasn’t able to find the time to put the work into it while I had a full time event-planning job (crazy hours and all). Of course, my doubts and fears held me back too. But…I had a name (see new blog title) and had even gone to far as to buy it as a domain so it seems it was something I was longing to do. After Tracy spent the next 20 minutes or so encouraging me; I was convinced that this needed to happen. And I was going to make it happen, full time job and all. Socialize was going to get started!

I set to work that night (with the help and support of my husband), knowing that it would be a slow process with the little time I could spend on the project.

Strangely enough; a few days later I saw a posting from a local non-profit for a part time Events Manager and gave it shot. Within the week, they interviewed me and offered me the job!

My unbelievably supportive (fantastic, loving, sexy, intelligent, funny, perfect) husband and I discussed the possibility of me taking this part time job and using the rest of my time to start and run Socialize. We decided… to go for it!

After spending a couple weeks with a stomach that’s tied in knots and a few panicky thoughts (this is scary, people! but so exciting and fun!); things are getting underway.  It wouldn’t have been possible to do this without Tracy’s push and the love and encouragement I’ve received from my family, friends and of course, my ridiculously wonderful husband. But now, I’ve left my former company, started in my new position at the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) and spent the last few afternoons dedicated to this venture. It’s really happening!

There will be plenty of information to come about Socialize. For now, we’ll just stick with the blog name change. I’ll keep you posted on the rest.
Welcome to Socialize!

It’s the first day of the 2010 Iowa State Fair! Although the 156-year old event may not seem like a big deal to some,  the Iowa State Fair started attracting over 1 million people each year since 2002. It is a huge production with tons of entertainment, exhibits and of course, a midway set on 445 acres in Des Moines.

Now, can you keep a secret? I am not a huge fan of the fair. I certainly don’t dispute that there is Non-Stop Fun there for people. It’s just that the fun takes place among those million people attending and typically in searing heat. How about a backyard state fair?
Sounds like a plan to me! There are so many rustic elements that are popular right now that you could easily pull together to create a classic state fair atmosphere.

via JL Designs
via Hello Lucky – includes instructions and template
I love the idea of using streamers and lighting to create a ceiling outdoors. This would suggest the atmosphere created by the lights from the midway
Via Bash Events

And you have to have food on a stick!

via Eat Drink Pretty

These little pie pops may not be the healthiest thing you can eat; but they don’t scream “instant heart attack” like a deep-fried twinkie on a stick does! For the full list of Iowa State Fair foods on a stick (and to find out what an Octo-dog is) click here.
Enjoy the fair!

For what it’s worth – I feel bad for not writing anything for so long. Once again, the month has been crazy and I let myself get overwhelmed. Everyday I thought, “I’m too busy today. I’ll blog tomorrow.” Fiddle-dee-dee! Then I realized, I will probably never have “time” to blog unless I just make it a part of my day. So let’s see what I can do!
In addition to not blogging, I also ignored my Google Reader for at least two weeks, accumulating approximately 976 posts to read. Fun! One thing I came across that I wanted to share was this deliciously girly wedding that I came across on Something Borrowed, Something Fabu.

Side note before we get started: I promise I won’t feature too many weddings, but when I come across things that could provide inspiration and easily translate to other celebrations, I probably won’t be able to help myself.

All images via Something Borrowed, Something Fabu.

Holy Flowers! I don’t even know if this was used for anything or was just part of the decor. Fantastic!

Shrimp cocktail is such an easy appetizer but add a sculpted, LIGHTED ice tray and it becomes a great feature. If you’re willing to experiment, this is probably an easy addition to your next appetizer table. Grab a few containers or trays, fill with water and freeze (a la ice luminaries) and throw in some of these bad boys.

Wow, just wow. No tips here except to find a fabulous cakestress and channel your birthday cake dreams from when you were a little girl. (If any friends are out there reading, THIS is what I want for my 30th birthday.) Apparently, the bride was inspired by Marie Antoinette and I think she translated her vision perfectly with this cake.

How sweet is this? Dessert buffets are everywhere and while they are a great addition to a celebration, a cotton candy treat is a refreshing change of pace. It would certainly set a fun, lighthearted mood for your guests.

Loveliness all around!

 The shower was a success! Despite the distance between the three people coordinating it (myself included) everything was perfect. The mama-to-be loved all the decor and received some great gifts to boot!

Added bonus! I took some better photos this time – I’m learning!
As shown in my previous post, we used a pink and brown polka dot theme inspired by the new nursery. The welcome table had a photo mat for the guests to sign and write a message to Ashley and a memory board with tags for everyone to write a note to the new little Miss.

Love, love, love this idea from one of the sisters.

Some feathers, a Cricut and a little yarn to introduce the theme.


The meal was a light lunch with sandwich and relish trays, cupcakes and two delicious signature cocktails. A perfect baby-themed soundtrack played in the background. 


We were lucky to have a few little ladies join us so an activity table was set up for them as well.

The lovely Ashley and her precious bump!
I loved helping to put this shower together for one of my best friends. I’m glad her sisters didn’t mind letting me play with the theme and decor ideas. Congrats Ashley!