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 believe I recently mentioned that there was some planning going on for my upcoming (gulp!) 30th birthday. There’s a semi-tradition among my friends to throw a surprise party for this milestone birthday but I couldn’t let someone else have all the fun planning!
The theme is a little… out there. But it came to me during a moment of inspiration when chatting with some friends about an ad one of them saw for a cotillion in Missouri (long story). And “The Dirty Thirty Debutante Ball” was created. You may be wondering, “What does a ‘Dirty Thirty Debutante Ball’ look like?” An excellent question. Guests are encouraged to dress up as a dirty debutante – which is whatever they want it to be – give it a whiskey tango twist, a rocker edge or glitz and glam it up. It’s basically their excuse to wear whatever you want! The ladies will be happy to embrace this but I realize some of the guys in attendance may be a little hesitant. Which is fine but they have been challenged channel their inner Keith Richards-David Bowie-Elton John-Prince fashion sense.
But determining how the invitations, decor, entertainment all tie in is the current project that you may see a few posts on in the next month. First up, invitations. You may have noticed, I like to create my own.

More for the fun of it than anything else – there are plenty of a-mazing designers out there I should be using! A little more of my “handiwork” can be found here and here. Please note: this is only when somewhere between 5-20 invitations are being sent. Any more and it would be put in the hands of a pro. Naturally, I wanted to have a little fun creating the Dirty Deb invites. But I’m trying out some Photoshop fun instead of hand-crafting (centering, folding, gluing, etc.). The final product will be revealed later, but here is where some of the inspiration has come from:

source

source

source unknown

source

You may be seeing a color scheme here…
I hope to have an inspiration board up soon. But I do want to know – what do you think a Dirty Thirty Debutante Ball would look like?

Last Wednesday I hosted an Arbonne party for a friend who just became a rep. She was eager to get started so when she contacted me, we scheduled the event for about two weeks before the date. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem for me. But it just so happens that July was one of the wackiest months I’ve had at work in a long time. So I really had to do everything at the last minute!
I did leave work a little early that day (yes, with permission) so I could get things ready. I had already decided to do desserts because we were kicking things of at 7:00 pm. What goes well with sweets? Champagne, naturally!
With the limited time I had, I knew that most things would have to be from the store and not from my own two hands. I hit the jackpot with some specials one of the local grocery store chains was having!

My dessert table consisted of cherry and chocolate donut holes (10 cents each!!), some chocolate/cheesecake treats that were in the bakery case and a pudding/pound cake/strawberry/Cool whip dessert I made up. For as easy as it was the pudding and pound cake dessert looked impressive. I’ll add the super-simple directions at the end. But first, I want to let you know why this easy menu impressed my guests.

It’s all about the basics. Basic serveware, that is! Nice trays and bowls make an enormous difference in the presentation of food – no matter how easy the food was to make. If you enjoy entertaining, I believe serveware is essential to have in your party planning pantry. A couple platters and bowls will go a long way. Throw in a cake platter and a tiered buffet server and you’ll add some nice dimension to your table as well. If you’re just starting your collection, go with white and/or glass (clear). I like to use a mix of both. Later on, you can always purchase and add in pieces with a little more flair. Here are some great places to get started without breaking the bank:

Bed Bath & Beyond
CB2 (these are so on my wish list!)
Target 

Now onto that A-mazing dessert of mine! Here’s what I used:
Bakery fresh pound cake
Instant chocolate pudding mix (and the skim milk you would use to make it)
Strawberries
Cool whip

First, I made the pudding according to those handy directions on the package. I divided the finished product between five dessert cups and put those in the refrigerator to let the pudding set.
While waiting for the pudding to be ready, I sliced the pound cake into about 3/4 inch slices.
Then, I washed and sliced up most of the strawberries. I held a few back for garnish.
Out came the chilled and set pudding cups!
I put two slices of the pound cake in each cup, threw in some strawberries and topped with Cool Whip. I made a small cut in the remaining full strawberries and added one to the rim of each cup (you’ll see in the picture that I have a little bit to learn about the proper placement of garnishing cuts!).
Voila!

The compliments I received for the dessert were completely disproportionate for the amount of work it took me. I hope you get the same results!

I am a personal attendant in my good friend’s wedding this weekend. And well, I just won’t feel right if I’m not prepared to help her. She has a wedding coordinator who I’m sure is fabulous and has everything Krystal will possibly need but when I saw this adorable drawstring bag at Von Maur, I had to buy it and get it stocked!

I put an emergency kit together for my own wedding. Most of it didn’t get used but it was good to know it was there. Bonus – the leftovers are now in my guest room for visitors to use! Here is what I’m bringing along this weekend (mostly in travel sizes):

Shout wipes/Tide stick
Ibuprofen
Tissues
Safety pins
Mints

Band aids (more for uncomfortable shoes than actual injury)
Tampons

Bobby pins
Ponytail holders
Lint roller
Cough drops
Small brush/comb
Hairspray

Spray deodorant (I could NOT find this in travel size anywhere!)
Blotting papers

Contact solution
Ziploc baggies
Tums
2 Power bars
Hand lotion
Hand sanitizer

There are some other responsibilities and problems that come with the territory in my job as a corporate event planner. I carry a tool box that has some of the items above and try to put the rest in bathroom baskets for the attendees. My tool box stocks:

Various battery sizes

Zip ties (I LOVE zip ties)

Measuring tape

Bungee cords

Trash bags

Scissors

At least one extension cord

A long lighter (I’ve had a caterer forget to bring one to light the sternos)Scotch tape

Packaging tape

Ribbon or string

Velcro

Pens

Sharpies

Tylenol or acetaminophen (pregnant women are advised not to use ibuprofen)

I think that, by nature, event planners are horrified with themselves when a need arises and they are caught empty-handed. Although it’s probably next to impossible to be prepared for any

situation, the basics will probably get you through most pinches. What else would you stock in your bride bag or tool box?

One of the most potentially frustrating parts of planning any event with a meal can be assigning seats. Why bother? Whether it’s a party of 10 or 200 you want everyone to enjoy themselves and their experience with other guests is key to whether or not that happens.

First and foremost, you want to avoid awkward situations; so politics always play a role in who goes where. Although this can cause some I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out moments; it’s easier to work with it than fight it.
I like to plan seating assignments by creating an Excel spreadsheet like the one below. The spreadsheet makes it easy to move names around and can be broken down to give you a better visual.


List all of your guests in the first column and head the other columns with your tables. Start by filling in your hosts and special guests. Then, highlight the guests with “special requirements” (like not sitting next to other certain guests) and place those first.

But how do you mix in the rest of your guests? The always helpful, RealSimple.com, has a great article that breaks down personality types like The Diva, The Introvert, The Gossip Fodder and The Charmer and how they mix at the dinner table. This is a great tool to help you get started. Add a column to your spreadsheet and assign personalities to as many guests as possible (don’t forget to assign them to your special guests, even if their seats are determined – this will help you fill in their tables).

Assigned seating isn’t just for formal dinners either. If you’re holding a more relaxed event, Preston Bailey has a few ideas to keep dinner seating fun and fresh:

  • Leave a chair open at each table for the host (and/or hostess) to visit with their guests (This works best for smaller events. If the event involves over 200 guests, 20 tables is a lot to visit.)
  • Try having guests move to different tables for dessert and coffee to encourage mixing groups.
  • I also prefer to assign tables not seats. I find this to be more organic (and less controlling).

Throughout those pull-your-hair-out moments, keep in mind that it can be uncomfortable to walk into a dinner and hunt for a seat if you don’t know many of the guests. Although it may be a slightly painful experience for you, assigned seating will create a more enjoyable experience for your guests.