Christmas Parties at Home

admin | October 22, 2012

Christmas Party Planning

The Event Group has presented some amazing corporate holiday events. Your holiday dream event can be fun and exciting, but you need to have a plan. The holidays shouldn’t be stressful – a party at your home should be about fun for you and your guests.

Invites

Send ‘save the date’ emails to all your friends – this will add some mystique to your home event and let your guests plan accordingly.

Three weeks before your party send out your holiday Evite. If you’re presenting a themed event, make sure this is mentioned in the invitation and it is designed to fit your theme. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring something – it is the holidays and they will most likely want to. Within five to six days of sending your invitations, you should have a general idea of your numbers – and if you think some people are missing from your RSVP list, pick up the phone and call them. But don’t stress out on who should or shouldn’t be there – it is a busy time of year.

Décor

Accent your home in the classic holiday décor, not tacky or over-the-top holiday ornaments. Each faith carries a number of traditional décor choices. Carry your theme through your plates, glassware, napkins, etc.

IPod

There are some amazing holiday favorites and having them play at your party sets the tone. Download a variety of holiday favorites and stay away from one specific artist or premade mixes. Choose from classics and new renditions of your favorites and the best from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and beyond.

Food and Drink

A specialty holiday drink can be an inexpensive way to lubricate your guests. Punches, martinis, sparkling wine, and holiday brews will add some fun.

Your menu should match your theme and the holiday season. Spend some time on the web with recipe sites like Epicurious and All Recipes.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to feed your guests, but you should have something on hand to go with the holiday cocktails. Your guests can add to the fun be bringing their holiday favorite foods and drinks. A buffet table with all of these selections is an easy way to feed everyone.

Themes

A theme can set the tone for your party before it happens and create your party’s atmosphere.

Gifts

Gift exchanges are a great way to get your guests to begin to interact with each other. You can draw names and as the names are called, your guests can select a wrapped gift from the collection. Last name called can trade their wrapped gift for anyone else’s, then each person can unwrapped their gifts one at a time.

Donations

The holidays are a tough time for a lot of people in your community. Asking your guests to bring a donation is a way to show your support. You can have your guests bring cash donations for a chosen cause, wrapped toys for a local home, or shoebox gifts which you can send to a personal cause.

Bad Sweater

We all have had the bad holiday sweater. Invite your guests to break out their favorite. Give out prizes for different categories, such as oldest, cutest, worst, best overall, etc. If you go this route, you can get as tacky as you want with your décor – shop at your local next to new shop.

Karaoke Christmas

Rent a Karaoke machine from your local music store and let your guests entertain each other and be sure to have the Holiday classics as part of your music selection.

Holiday Charades

Everyone has played the traditional game of Charades but your guests can play holiday charades. Teams can compete making sure each team member act something at least once.

Your Oscar or Academy Awards Party

admin | September 21, 2012

Big Rock Eddies

Invitations Set The Mood

Make sure the invitation you send out sets the tone for the party, including the theme, dress, etc. It is your first impression to your guests. E-vites are fun and easy to customize.

Invite A Good Mix of People

Work, social, family – mix it up. Stay away from the same-old same-old.

Have fun

Don’t get to caught up in the details. Too many times the hosts are in the kitchen and miss the action. Add some flair with some games and contests. For example, you could order pizza from five different places and pick you Oscar winner.

Involve Your Guests

Get them involved by giving them a task – bartending, bringing food, planning a game, etc.

Music Matters

With all the music services on the Internet, you can create a special Oscar disc for the pre- and post-party. Theme the music to the awards and nominees, and make it a game in which guests can guess what the song is, what movie it is from, and who sang it.

Don’t Run Out

Food and booze can make or break any event, so make sure you have enough on hand. If you’re on a budget, send out for pizza and make it a wine and beer event or ask guests to bring their favorite concoction. If you have a bigger budget, have the party catered. And food is always a great topic of conversation. In the end, ask guests to vote on their favorite dish. And the Oscar goes to…

Self-serve is Always a Good Idea

Set up food and bar stations. It helps the guests mingle and keeps you from having to run around. A fun idea is a sundae bar, or wine stations where you can encourage your guests to try them all and vote on their favorite.

Plan Your Seating

If it is a seated meal, make a plan. Keep couples away from each other. Mix it up and make sure guests are seated with someone they know and someone they don’t. It is always fun to sit boy–girl–boy–girl and then after each course have the guys get up and move a spot to their left. The more people mingle the better the event will be.

Set the Mood

Flowers and lighting add to the atmosphere. Movie posters and cardboard cut outs of movies starts add to the fun. See if you can pick up some thing at your local video store. Add a red carpet at the entrance of your house – a red blanket folded properly will work also. Have more than one viewing area, and take a Polaroid of the guests as they arrive – or take digital picture and email it to them afterwards.

Add Some Games

You can download the list of nominees from the Oscar website. Hand these out to your guests at the beginning of the party and have everyone pick their winners. Individual prizes can be given for correct picks and one grand prize for the guest with the most correct.

Academy Awards Bingo! This is fun even for the kids, because even if they don’t know any of the actors or films they probably know how to play bingo! You can make the game easy for kids (spotting dresses by color) or fun for adults by looking out for key movements like a celebrity saying “I want to thank my mother.”

Transportation

Hire a limo to deliver your guests and provide an extra air of glamour – not to mention a safe ride home.

Babysitters

If your party is adults-only, offer to help provide a babysitter. Or, decorate a themed kids’ room with plenty of entertainment to keep the tots occupied and the adults free to relax.

Food and Drink at your Oscar Party

Champagne is of course the nectar of such celebrations like the Oscars. Moet White Star is the champagne that is served at the official Academy Awards Party. But if champagne beats your bank account there are great sparkling wines available that are great and cost-effective.

Dinner Party Themes – Five Ideas for Fabulous Dinner Parties

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Dinner Party Theme

Ethnic

One of the most popular dinner party themes is ethnic food. If you’ve got guests with finicky palates, stick with cultures whose foods are more mainstream such as Italian, Mexican or Chinese. Adventurous diners can sample Thai, Ethiopian, Indian or Japanese cuisine.

Decorations can be simple — a red-and-white checked tablecloth topped with a candle in an old Chianti bottle for an Italian theme; paper lanterns and a big bowl of fortune cookies for a Chinese theme; figurines of elephants and banana-leaf placemats for a Thai theme.

Play music from those cultures to add to the ambience. Just make sure the volume is set on the low side.

Unusual Holidays

A Valentine’s Day party can be lots of fun, but it’s hardly a novelty. So try picking a lesser-known holiday or day of note from which to create your dinner party. The sky’s the limit.

If you choose Groundhog Day, for example, you can serve all brown foods, foods shaped like the furry critter, or plan your evening according to the popular 1993 movie of the same name. Dine on dishes referenced in the movie, and play the soundtrack in the background.

And you could create your own holiday — or steal someone else’s. Throw a party to celebrate Festivus (every Dec. 23), courtesy of Frank Costanza on the TV show “Seinfeld.” The Feats of Strength, one of the hallmarks of Festivus, would make for some great after-dinner entertainment

Movies, Books and Plays

Everyone has a favorite movie, book or play. So why not plan a dinner around yours? It certainly helps if your favorite has a strong food component, such as “Eat Pray Love,” a movie which initially centers around pasta, or “Chocolat,” a story about a female chocolatier.

But even if your favorite is the Harry Potter book series, it’s not a problem. In fact, it might even be more fun. The books’ butter beer, pumpkin juice, treacle tarts and cauldron cakes, just to name a few, would be fun to invent if you like to tinker in the kitchen. But you wouldn’t have to do that. The series is so popular that lots of websites, including YumSugar.com, already have recipes that you can use.

Still other movie/book/play themes — “Casablanca,” for example — could center more around the decorations and ambience than the actual food served. With the movie playing, a sign reading Rick’s Café over your dining area and classic cocktails ready upon guests’ arrival, you’ll be all set.

Historical Eras

Certain times in history have left strong images in our minds, whether we were alive during the period or not. What do you think of when you hear about the Prohibition Era or Flower Power? What about the Victorian Era, the Renaissance or the Roman Empire? Translate that into a dinner party idea.

A 1960s Flower Power party can mean tie-dyed placemats, beads in the doorway and endless music choices (think the original Woodstock Festival). If you tie in the food from that era, you’re probably talking comfort foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, with whipped cream-topped gelatin for dessert. Add to the ambience by purchasing nostalgic toys for guests to tinker with before and after dinner. It doesn’t hurt to dress the part, either – bell-bottom jeans and a fringe vest would be right on, man.

Color Palettes

Dinner party themes don’t have to take their cues from food or drink. Color themes are a popular and fun way to make a meal unique. A lemons and limes party features yellow and green decor, and guests at black and white dinners (which are increasingly popular) are often asked to wear only black or white.

Of course, it’s easy to slip a little of the color theme into the food and drink — lemonade, lime vodka cocktails, lemon bars and key lime pie are all easy items to add. Similarly, a black and white dinner can conclude with, say, vanilla ice cream accented with chocolate syrup, followed by white and black russians as after-dinner drinks.

Booking Entertainment

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Since 1997 The Event Group has had the privilege of working with some amazing entertainers, such as Robin Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Anka, Ringo Starr and many more. Through years of experience we have built a great reputation with premiere agents around the world and this gives our clients the ability to tap this network for their events.

If you’re looking to book your event talent direct, consider these ideas and suggestions.

Go Local

For local entertainment such as bands, emcees, DJs, clowns, magicians, and more, The Event Group works exclusively with PM Gigs in Calgary. Pat McGannon, the owner of PM Gigs, is also a musician with the Dino Martinis, one of the best corporate and wedding party bands in Alberta. Pat knows what entertainers need and he always delivers on time and on budget. PM Gigs charges a percentage to book – but this commission comes off the entertainers’ end – so working with a local promoter like PM Gigs can save you a lot of time and energy.

Going Big

Need a headlining name? You should be calling the professionals. Most agents like William Morris, AG, Feldman, or the Agency Group will not return your calls or give you the time of day. If they do chat with you, you’re going to be paying almost double what we would be able to negotiate for you. Negotiation and experience is key. Another factor is the production of the show. Someone who can call the show – manage the lights, sound, stage, venue, etc. – is needed. Attempting to be your own stage manager could kill your event, so go with a professional.

Sound, Lights, Rider…

Booking the band is the first cost you will incur. You also have to include all the sound and lighting, and then comes the rider. The rider will review the bands transportation requirements and what they need for the show itself – their food and beverage requirements, their dressing room needs, their security, a runner, etc. The band’s booking fee never covers all of the extras, so make sure you review the entertainers rider before you sign a contract.

What Do You Really Need?

Make sure you understand your event needs and your audience. If people expect to dance, getting a classic rock band is not going to cut it. If you want background music, a jazz trio might be just fine and a full band might be too much. As with your entire event plan, make sure you have your goals and objectives clearly defined and make sure you pass this on to your entertainers. You would hate to have a band announce to your guest their hatred for big oil companies when one of your biggest clients is an oil company and is sitting in the audience.

Finding a Key Note Speaker

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The Event Group has been producing events throughout North America since 1997. During that time we have built up a very good reputation with keynote speakers and their agents. While most companies go to speaker bureaus and pay a large commission to secure speakers, The Event Group is able to go to speakers and their agents directly, saving our clients money.

Adding a speaker to your special event can bring tremendous value. Whether you’re putting together a major convention or a small sales conference, your guests will appreciate having a specialty speaker at your event. Here some ideas in securing the right speaker.

Goals and objectives

Create a list of your goals and objectives and then start your search for a speaker. Make sure you know exactly what you want your speaker to speak on, and find someone qualified to fit that role, whether it is motivational, relating to your company’s values, or just for entertainment.

Who’s Hot?

Search the web and finds out who is hot on the speaker circuit these days and what topics are being presented the most. A great resource is TED, which highlights various speakers and different talks from around the world. You can also narrow down your speaker list by considering what you’re expecting at your event.

Know Your Topic

You need to clearly communicate to your speaker what is to be the topic of their speech. Ask your speaker to send you their speaking notes and any other materials they may use before your event. Then you can make sure they are on point.

Many speakers use the same speech at multiple events, so this will give you the opportunity to help your speaker tailor their content to your event.

Budget is Key

Search for speakers in your budget range. If you’re going through a broker, make sure your budget is on the table before the search begins. The Event Group has presented marquee speakers such as Al Gore, Alan Greenspan, and Colin Powell, but they are hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can secure very entertaining and intelligent speakers for under $10,000 as long as you have your event goals outlined and a budget in place. It is also important to understand that most speakers quote a fee for speaking before they add on travel costs.

Speaker Agents

Booking through a speaker agency is very helpful, but make sure you’re talking to the right people. There are so many speaker bureaus out there and they all say they represent every speaker – but you need to be working with the exclusive agent for the speaker you hope to book. Too many times companies market on their website they represent a certain speaker and then they actually have to go to another speaker agent on your behalf – so you’re getting the upsell and paying 10% to 30% more than you should be. Ask to speak to the agent who exclusively represents the speaker you want.

Who is In-House?

Too many times clients look for speakers through brokers before they look to their internal database or staff. Make sure you look within your firm to see if there is someone who might be a good fit for your event. If there isn’t, is there an associate, friend or supplier that might be a good fit? Sometimes the best speakers can come from who you know.

Corporate Events on a Budget

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Have a Plan

No matter how small or large your event, make sure you have a plan of attack. Outline your event goals and objectives before you begin. What do you want to happen at the event? What do you want your event to focus on? What do you want your guests to take away from the event? And remember to consider your budget and location.

Be Flexible With Your Dates

Be flexible with when you want to host your event. February, March, October and Novemberare great times to get deals at hotels and convention spaces. Also, holding your event mid-week is a great way to save money.

Go Electronic

Use emails to survey your guests before an event and to send out invitations. If you have the ability to survey your guests to find out what they would like the event to look like and what they hope to gain from it, you will be in a better position to achieve these goals. Send out an electronic save the date message and follow up with an email invitation that gives your guests a deadline to RSVP. Two days prior to the RSVP deadline, send out a reminder. From there you have your guest list and the guests’ pertinent information, such as their names, addresses, email addresses, food allergies, and more.

Venue

Going to a little-known venue can save you a lot of money. Large hotels and banquet facilities can be very expensive but getting creative with restaurants, horse ranches, hiking lodges, and tenting outdoor spaces can save you money and add a very unique touch to your event.

Entertainment

Not all events need live bands. Certainly, bands can add an amazing touch to an event, but if you’re putting together an employee conference or dinner your workmates are not going to get up and dance together. Simply plugging in an iPod to the stereo system can give you the ambiance you’re looking for.

Free Booze

Not everyone expects to have the booze included at an event. If you want to include booze you can save on costs by having a Toonie bar, offering just wine on the tables, or offering a couple of drink tickets to each guest and then a cash bar. Free booze is a luxury and usually one of the most expensive items on an event budget.

Get Out of Town

Going to smaller towns in and around your home city can offer considerable cost savings. A three course dinner in the city can cost up to $80 per person – but in a smaller town that price can be cut by as much as half.

Let Us Plan Your Next Event! Call Us at 403-543-1509 or Get Started Online