By Chika Ojiaku
Have you been thrust with the task of planning a future event and the butterflies in your stomach are giving you a nightmare? If you were a guest in an event, how would you like to be treated? Included or ignored? Are you intimidated by so called experts in the Events planning field to the point you doubt you can pull this off ?
What to do? Simple. How about identifying the needs of your guest and addressing them in such a way that your guests leave with a warm and fuzzy feeling, convinced that you the host(ess) really put some thought into planning the get together.
Here are a few suggestions on what a host(ess) would possibly include in making for a low on stress but high on memorable experience occasion; one in which the guests walk away with no doubt in their minds they were included and not ignored..
1. Location, Location, Location – Be it the reception hall or a nonconventional venue such as a Barn, the venue of the event could turn it into the talk of the town. Other choices are dance studios, rooftops, renting the restaurant space during non-service hours, an art gallery, a coffee, ice cream or pastry shop or maybe an airplane hangar, planetarium, yacht club or barn. How about having your guests chauffeured from a central location in a coach. This gives your guests an opportunity to chat. Who knows? they may make a new acquaintance by the time the coach pulls into the venue. How about making the big reveal, that is the actual destination, only upon arrival?
2. Warm Reception – Depending on the size and type of event it may help to have one or two people receive your guests at the entrance. Even for an event where guests are being chauffeured, it helps the confused guest in verifying that they are at the right location.
3. Cover for You – Appoint co-hosts to cover while you as the primary host(ess) attend to other matters. Their main role is to spot and engage that lost looking outlier in the corner with the uncomfortable but polite smile.
4. Mingle, mingle and mingle some more – Make it interactive using fanciful name tags that would encourage or facilitate introductions. Introduce your guests to each other. Engage your guests in team based activities such as a game night. This gives guests an opportunity to get to know their teammates.
5. Good Eye Contact and Name Tags are handy – Engage your guests in conversation, making good eye contact and addressing them by name. The name tags also come in handy in terms of remembering names – think large crowd with a lot of new faces.
6. Seating Options – Sometimes your guests do get weary from standing or walking around so make sure there are comfortable seats that are easily accessible. Customized escort cards are a nice personal touch. Also fresh flowers on display in colorful bottles or vases or mini fresh flower arrangements in mason jars or colorful teapots, Italian soda bottles or beer mugs could serve as centerpieces. How about hanging different sized paper lanterns from the ceiling and or placing the oversized ones in different parts of the reception space? For an even more intimate feel, votive candles can add an element of warmth to the ambiance. Clear signage to the powder room especially with the larger venues is helpful.
7. What is a Party without Flavor? – Good food and drink make for good company. The food station is another gathering point. The menu could be as simple as mixed punch with some non-alcoholic drink options served with crudités or as fancy as you choose. There are a slew of cocktail and mocktail recipes. Place the food and drinks in an area that draws guests all the way into the venue and not at the entrance for example. Use of place cards for labeling the food helps your guests in identifying items on the menu.
8. Wall of Fame – Have conversation pieces such as beautiful artwork placed in key traffic areas or an accent wall with a display of multiple images in different sized frames. This could draw groups of people together and provide an opportunity for guests to interact.
9. Keep the Party Going – Have your finger on the pulse of the party and provide music that matches the mood – know when to tone it down and when to kick it up a couple of notches so you have more people on the dance floor than seated.
10. A few Favors – Have unique favors. It could be something in line with the theme of your event. If the host(ess) is a known avid traveler, it would not be far-fetched to give away luggage tags or a mini-compass. For the movie buff, perhaps movie ticket vouchers. But why leave anything to waste? Even the mini fresh floral arrangements can serve as tokens of appreciation.
In addition to the tips listed above, the ability to repurpose spontaneously saves time and unnecessary costs. A good host(ess) with affordability and classy in mind, should be flexible and adaptable with regards to the venue, menu or even a decor item. It is all about leaving a memorable mark of creativity on the heart of the guests so they come back next time.
Chika Ojiaku is an attorney by training that loves writing, reading, traveling and a great adventure. You can read more articles from her at: www.thescarletredishrack.wordpress.com.
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