20 Fabulous Event Tips for Your Next Corporate Party

Urban Solace Catering recently hosted “20-for-20:  20 Fabulous Event Planning Tips in 20 Minutes,” an event designed for leading and upcoming San Diego event planners with whom we love to partner for special events.

As the name of the event indicated, we shared twenty of our best event planning tips of the year.  After all, Urban Solace Catering has been around for a long time, and believe us, we’ve seen a lot.

One thing we learned early on, though, is that you don’t have to be a professional event planner to benefit from our industry tips.  In fact, many can be applied to parties you throw at home, at the office and over the holidays.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, these tips are the perfect incentive to help kick you into holiday planning mode.  The earlier you begin this process, the less stress you’re going to feel come November and December—and hey, there’s your very first tip!

Now, we’re going to share with you the 20 fabulous event planning tips that our special event planners received at the event!

20 Fabulous Event Planning Tips

1.  Turn the CEO and Managers Into Happy Campers.  When you know the event goals, you can prioritize accordingly and tug at the heartstrings of those in charge—especially when presenting your budget.  Show the CEO and managers that you really listen—and care about the overall goals of the event—with small details that really go a long way!


2.  Make the Boss Look Good.  Ask those higher ups and Senior Management members to greet guests and mingle on a rotating schedule so that guests feel important.  Also ask Senior Management and their spouses to rotate time at the registration table.


3.  Design the Event Around the Goal.  Always have a plan B (and C and D) for all of those unexpected corporate surprises, like extra guests and strategic seating arrangements gone array.


4.  Advertise the Full Experience.  Give guests detailed (and obvious) floor plans and food station displays so they know how to locate all of those “can’t miss!” menu items and activities.  The more organized you are, the easier it is for guests to experience the event’s full array of activities.


5.  Maximize Your Invitation.  What opportunities do you have to capture the most attention from your invitees?  A quarterly meeting or weekly newsletter perhaps?  TIP:  Tuesday, particularly at 10:00am, is best for sending an e-vite.

6.  Make It All About Them!  Employee appreciation events should really be all about the employees.  Seat internal employees at the front and Senior Management at the back, making it all about the hard-working individuals you’re there to promote.


7.  Turn Something Simple Into a Huge Tool.  Nametags, at the appropriate events, can be paired with fun personal information to serve as conversation starters and interaction opportunities.  Include fun details, such as “likes Rocky Road ice cream, The Beatles and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”


8.  Beware the Beautiful Venue.  Unique and special locations can be really fun and impressive; just know exactly what you’re getting into ahead of time.  Think about parking and transportation, available space versus guest count, a stage area (if needed), loading docks for deliveries and vendors, and more.

9.  Recognize Employee Spouses.  In addition to congratulating your employees, honor his or her spouse as well.  They’re a team, and any sacrifices your employee has had to make at the office, his or her spouse has felt those as well.  That goes for the “wins” too!


10.  Do Not Cut Back On This.  People will always remember poor service, so if you need to cut costs, lower your food budget before you lower your labor costs.  Great service is priceless.

11.  Suck Up to the Boss.  Find a cost that you would have otherwise contributed to something event-related.  Instead of incorporating it into the event, tell the boss that you have eliminated this item in lieu of donating the money to his or her favorite charity, and that you plan to announce this at the event.  Major brownie points for you!


12.  Channel Your Inner Child.  Create centerpieces and other décor out of children’s toys and, at the end of the event, donate those items to charity.  Guests will have fun with the items and will appreciate the give-back aspect.


13.  Take a Twist on the Traditional.  For events involving gift exchanges, pull names and then turn the goal of the exchange into the quest for the perfect gift—like each employee’s favorite childhood toy.  Guests can choose to donate the toys or keep for nostalgia’s sake—or, of course, for their own children to have.


14.  Help the “Fun” Along.  Keep scrolls at the end of each table filled with fun facts and information designed to help spark conversation and curiosity amongst tablemates.  TIP:  Make the fun facts related to your event theme, such as holiday song lyrics for a holiday party or Hollywood trivia questions for an old Hollywood-themed party.

15.  Save Money with Food Styles.  Consider skipping a course.  Incorporate family-style salads instead of individual ones, or provide a grab-and-go dessert to save money on food costs.  Sending guests home with a dessert is not only a more economical way to go, it also gives you the opportunity to send guests home with a memento and/or special message.


16.  Use Committees.  Delegate responsibilities to committees you know will be great at their assigned tasks or jobs.  Hand pick your staff based on some of the characteristics you have seen in each person.  You will thank yourself for asking for the help!


17.  Think Creatively When it Comes to Entertainment.  Think about local colleges, young and upcoming talent, or acts from within your own company.  Hire or ask them to entertain the folks at your event.  The local talent usually carries a lower price tag, and many times, up-and-coming artists are really just interested in the experience.

18.  Never Be Embarrassed As a Planner.  Pre-planning is everything, so consider having a meeting with all of your vendors prior to your event so you can hash out every small detail before it’s go-time.  It’s the perfect opportunity to talk over a timeline and get everyone on the same page.


19.  Treat Your Guest List Like VIPs.  Think about a divide-and-conquer technique for those guest lists full of important clients.  Assign employees to “host” each of the client company leaders so they can take care of and pay special attention to each of them.  Also, consider having your receptionists lead this initiative since they are probably quite skilled at meeting and greeting.


20.  Save Money on Food Costs.  Negotiate with your caterer or venue by explaining that you want “matrix pricing,” pricing based on your budget needs, seasonal menu items and ingredients.  That way, you can choose what makes most sense for your guests’ enjoyment and your budget.

25 Party Theme Ideas for Adults

Adults, every once in a while you need to spend some time with other adults, having a good time and relieving some of the stress that comes with the pressures of everyday life.

Finding a reason to let loose is the easy part. We all know you could use a night out. It’s the actual celebration part that can be tricky. Fortunately, we have experience in these kinds of parties, and to help you decide on an adults-only party theme, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite creative celebrations.

Pull out your party clothes and call the babysitter. Here are 25 Adult Party Ideas for your next adults-only night out.

Around the World. Find inspiration from different cultures and cuisines of various corners of the globe. How to choose: pick a country, research the typical cuisine, find out the colors of the flags, discover any big and important celebrations that the country celebrates and incorporate those ideas into the party décor, menu, entertainment and more. Need some help choosing? Here are 5 international theme party ideas:

1. Ole!: take your party south of the border with a Mexican fiesta
2. Down Under: put another shrimp on the barbie with an Aussie-themed party
3. Sushi Roll: serve guests Japanese food and east Asian fun
4. Tagines and Mint Tea: explore a traditional Moroccan food experience
5. Rasta Man: relax and have fun with a Jamaican-themed party

Theme #4: Moroccan Mint Tea

Theme #4: Moroccan Mint Tea

Time Warps. Parties from different time periods, decades and even specific dates are great themes. They let people relive fun eras and make them a bit nostalgic for those good times and memories. Pick any interesting decade, generation, era, etc. around which to form a theme, then incorporate as many typical or historical things from that time period into your party as you can. Costumes are encouraged! Try these decade party ideas on for size:

6. Cavemen and Women: going all the back to the beginning
7. Gangsters and Flappers: host a Roaring 20s-themed party
8. Sock Hop: host a 50s-themedparty
9. Plaid Shirts and Beanie Babies: invite guests to help you salute the 1990s
10. Peace and Love: relive a moment in history with a tribute to Woodstock ‘69

Theme #6: Caveman Designs

Theme #6: Caveman Designs

Inspired by Movies and Shows. If there’s one thing you can always count on from pop culture, it’s how easy it can be used to create a theme. You can take any particular movie, TV show, book, celebrity or artist and form an entire theme party around it. For example, try these pop culture theme party ideas:

11. The Walking Dead: host a zombie theme party
12. Hollywood Party: dress like your favorite celebrity or celebrity look-a-like
13. Toga, Toga, Toga: watch the classic Animal House for inspiration
14. Game of Thrones: take it way back with a medieval theme party
15. Survivor: create challenges in which individuals compete for points or prizes

Theme #13: Toga Party

Theme #13: Toga Party

Sports Celebrations. As if we need an excuse to host a gathering when there’s a sports game or match on TV, right? Well, in the event that you’re looking for something slightly more involved, then try these 5 sports-themed party ideas:

16. Pre-tailgating: entertain guests while conducting the annual Fantasy Football draft
17. March Madness: it’s an entire month-long excuse to get together with friends
18. Olympics: have groups of four people dress like a country represented in the Olympics and compete in a series of competitions
19. Sandlot Shindig: host a pickup baseball, slowpitch softball or kickball game with friends before barbecuing and having a beer
20. Lawn Games: host a series of lawn games—baggos, croquet, bocce ball, horse shoes—for fun, for prizes or to decide who gets to host the next annual lawn game championships

Theme #16: Tailgate Food

Theme #16: Tailgate Food

Just for Fun. There are so many party theme ideas that limiting your pool of possible ideas to just the above would be silly of us! Anything in which you’re particularly interested can be turned into a party theme with a little creativity and effort. Here are 5 more party themes for adult parties:

21. Sun and Sand: prepare a beach-themed Hawaiian luau
22. Stars and Constellations: find inspiration in the signs of the Zodiac for an astrological party
23. World History Party: dress like an historical figure
24. College: relive the good ol’ days with a back-to-school college-themed party
25. Wine Tasting: experiment with friends to find your newest favorite brand or type

Theme #21: Coconut Cocktails

Theme #21: Coconut Cocktails

The possibilities are endless really when it comes to choosing a theme.  Sometimes you just need to see one played out before you can make up your mind.

Is your adults-only gathering a party for the office?  If it is, then you’re operating with a whole new set of party planning rules.  Our 20 Fabulous Event Tips for Your Next Corporate Party ought to help keep you organized and worry-free.