Event planning you say?


There are a few areas for which one might argue I’m posterchild.  One of them is hosting parties.  Today I was inches from sending someone a checklist when I realized others may benefit, especially as holidays roll around.

‘Cause I done seenteded folks who have wonderful events that are poorly hosted.

If you’ve ever held, or gone to an event and either you or someone else wondered who was throwing it, you… Or perhaps someone you know, wants to read this.

Tip #1:  Make sure people you want to be there will be.  I can’t count how many times I was involved in pre-planning events only to find I couldn’t make the actual event!  Do three things: a) Check with extra special folks to make sure they’re available.  b) Set the date with those folks before sending the mass invite.  c) Choose a date, time, and place other people you like can actually make it out to.  Or don’t. But, don’t be surprised if no one shows up…

#2:  Make sure you’re available to host.  This means more than being there…   This means, you’re fed, watered, awake, emotionally and physically ready to receive and interact with people.  I’ve been to events where the host was nowhere to be found.  Until hours after the event started.  Or was so busy/tired it seemed like they didn’t want to talk to anyone.  Who does that?

#3:  Look special.  I don’t mean special like special-ed.  I mean special like, it means a lot to me that you’re here so I took extra care with the space and with myself to look nice. Even if everything is perfect, seeing a frazzled, half-awake host with a wrinkled, stinky t-shirt and terrible breath makes you wish they’d take their pitiful selves home.  Except… They’re there already.

#4.  Make your space look special.  I don’t care if it’s your living room, garage or a ballroom.  Something has to be done to show you expected more people than usual to show up there because you asked them to.  Clean, of course.  But also, rearrange furniture, place candles, grab a bouquet of flowers, plop a case of beer on the coffee table.  Something.

#5. Be finished.  Not almost done.  Not waiting for Suzy to bring the forks.  Not buying water if no one byo’s anything. I don’t care what the scenario is, don’t try to go grocery shopping, cook, or prep cocktails for 20 after people arrive.  Events by definition are about bringing people together to interact.  That means as host, you’ll be busy with unexpected things whether you like it or not.  So have as little as possible to distract you by doing everything before hand.

#6.   Be ready early.  There’s always someone who mistakenly thinks it’s appropriate to show up 15 or 30 minutes early to help.  First of all, for those who pride themselves on being a little early… There is little to nothing you can do in the last 15-30 minutes before a party that will make things easier instead of harder for a host.  Really.  Second of all, knowing this, the host bet not be in the shower when the bell rings.  Stop an hour or two before event start time, get yo’self together, and finish prepping things fully dressed and fly.

#7.  Say hello to everyone at the party when they arrive and give them the lay of the land. Show them where whatever you’re offering at the event can be found, whether food/drinks/petting zoo/games/jumptoy/ restroom/etc. Not only does this make them feel more comfortable, you’ve made your job easier with fewer questions asked.

#8: Constantly maintain your space.   Throw away empty cups/trash/etc. Straighten things and refresh food occasionally.  If the space is too big for you to police personally ask someone early on to help.  You’ll have less cleanup to do and your event will avoid that frathouse garbage glow, glorious as it may be.

#9.  Be flexible.  Once the start time ticks it is what it is.  No use trying to force anything once it starts.  Avoid schedules if it’s not a work or discussion-based shindig.  Even then, remember the beauty of events is that they are not theater productions.  Actors, directors and producers are paid for a reason.  You can not and will not puppet master everything so don’t try…  Nor stress about your imminent failure to do so.

#10.  Be realistic and content.  If you’d be happy talking with 7 people drinking wine, don’t invite 50 people to watch the game over beers and pizza.  If you really want to get down with 50 people eating finger-lickin’ barbecue, don’t invite 20 people and ask them to byo-everything and spread the word. Most important, when whatever you do plan comes to pass, enjoy it and make the most of it.

Last… Get your mind right and have fun! It will be what you make of it, so think at your highest level! Numbers 2 and 3 relate to this…

I learned the hard way great events can have one drawback: You.  If you don’t get to enjoy your own event what’s the point?  Don’t go so hard in the host paint that you can’t relax and enjoy.

Happy holidays… 🙂

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