Monday, October 27, 2008

Birmingham FAM

Last Thursday the Plan Your Meetings staff introduced about 20 planners from "Hot-Lanta" to other planners and vendors from "The 'Ham" (Birmingham).

The first order of the day was an early morning bus load in at the PYM office in Sandy Springs, GA. Gosh was this bus gorg! Leather all around, overhead storage, dvd player capabilities, and WI-FI!! So we could work on the way to Birmingham! Life is great! Donna Jakulski from Cooper-Atlanta really pulled out all of the stops! Plus, she gave us the best chauffer on Cooper-Atlanta's payroll, Derrick. (*And yes, they are on Cooper-Atlanta's payroll - they are NOT independent contractors!)

When we got to the Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, we attended the PYM LIVE event and met some great new vendors. This hotel is stunning.'s connected to a MALL!

Our next stop was a bus tour of "The 'Ham". One of the coolest things I learned on the bus tour was seeing the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. Gorgeous! I'm still a little twinged that I didn't get to try the spa, but maybe next time, eh?

My *almost* favorite part of the day was checking into our hotel room at the newly-renovated Hilton Birmingham Perimeter Park. Dawn, Layne, and Ashley were absolutely fabulous! Even though they had rush of new check ins for the Magic City Classic the next day, they granted me a 2 p.m. check out. WOW. I am so impressed with this property. Thanks Layne, Dawn, and Ashley! Thanks also to the Birmingham CVB and PYM for these cute, cute gift bags!

My FAVORITE part of the day was the Birmingham CVB Fright Night Event. Here are some pics. Great stuff. One of the philosophies I am so passionate about is "Territorialism and Cattiness is only for the weak in this industry. Because if we don't work together, then clients end up planning their events themselves. That almost never turns out as a Level 10. If we work together, then more people can have better parties." This event helps to foster that commeraderie and collaboration. Thanks, PYM!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Published!

The Cherokee Ledger-News just printed an article featuring Yours Truly. Here it is:

Not all fall entertaining has to be expensive

- by Meredith Pruden

With it's brisk temperatures and sunny skies, metro Atlanta residents can truly find no better time to entertain friends and family than the fall season. It's easy to find an excuse to host a party, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune either. "I'm finding that with this economy people are really watching their money," said Erica Prewett of A Big To Do Event. "But if it's a fun reason, they should give themselves permission to have that party." Prewett recommended some expert ideas for the upcoming season.

Have a mound of boxed photos or countless computer discs and files housing pictures? November 3 is Digital Scrapbooking Day. "This is a really cool opportunity to get friends together and spend the night looking at pictures," Prewett said. "It's a really easy, low cost way to have a good time with friends. Plus, if you wanted to host it, you could work on your pictures and make it a productive event." The best part? A casual get together focused around digital scrapbooking can be enhanced with the only addition of finger foods and a simple cocktail mixer, as the entertainment is already built right in.

November 6 is National Men Make Dinner Day and Prewett suggested using this day to invite all the men to bring over their favorite dish for a pot luck dinner. "You can even make this event all about the men and have it be sports-related if you want," she said. To decorate without spending a fortune, Prewett suggested using a roll of Admit One tickets, which can be purchased from party stores, as napkin rings and painting white or clear lucite plates (on the back side) as sports balls.

Veteran's Day, on November 11, is Prewett's favorite November holiday. "It's a really touching day," Prewett said. To celebrate she said throwing a patriotic party a la the Fourth of July is always a hit.

To get the house in tip top shape for these last minute get togethers, Jenna Daniels, of Clean by Repeatable Solutions, said to freshen up the house using these often overlooked but quick tips:

- Sprinkle carpet deodorizer befor vacuuming.

- Use a strong, scented cleaner on the bathrooms and kitchen a few days before to avoid strong smells the day of, and light scented candles in those places the day of the party.

- Clean the windows and mirrors. "You may not see the fingerprints and streaks during the day, but at night in dim ligting, these things really stand out," Daniels said.

- Check behind doors and under cabinets tof dust bunnies.

- If there are pets in the home, spray Febreze on furniture and vacuum to easily lift away pet hair.

Prewett said she also recommends sweeping and rolling up any area rugs to avoid messy spills and putting away any personal items if there are going to be any service providers or vendors in the home (such as caterers).

With only a bit of preparation and money, almost any day can be an excuse to spend time with loved ones. So dust off the favorite party hat and boogie down.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wedding First Dance

Ok, So I wouldn't be very good at what I do without being dilligently up to date on the trends and conversations in my industry. One of the blogs I subscribe to (and highly recommend) comes from one of my favorite resources, Real Simple magazine.


Great First-Dance Ideas
You can always wing your first dance with a basic grade-school–inspired slow dance, but here are a few more strategies for the uncoordinated:

· To choreograph the dance yourself, choose an easy one, like the box waltz, for which you can pick almost any song. Need inspiration? Log on to and type “wedding dance” into the search box. You’ll find (often hilarious) footage.

· Contact a ballroom-dancing teacher and begin lessons three to six months before the wedding.· Create a unique routine with the help of a professional. Consider hiring a local dance teacher or a member of a dance troupe at a nearby university. I highly recommend Rachel Braun (

Tip: Personalize your ceremony music, too.You don’t have to stick with the classics for your processional. Consider having a jazz combo play “La Vie en Rose” or a dj spin “Dancing Queen.” See what other brides walked down the aisle to:$OxideGj/doc.html?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ice Cream - What's More American Than That?

One of the coolest (literally) events I've done recently was an Ice Cream Social for Buckhead Church. For the last several weeks, Pastor Andy Stanley's sermons were in the theme of "Letters to Our Next President." So to wrap up the theme, Buckhead Church "treated" all of their members to Ice Cream. Is there anything more American that that? I think not.

Aside from driving home Pastor Andy Stanley's lesson and key topics, overall I think this treat was just that: a treat. How many times do you leave church or temple and have an ice cream cart waiting for you, begging you to take part? Personally, never for me.

I can't tell you how many times I heard:
  • "Wow. They are so nice!"
  • "I love this church!"
  • "I sure didn't expect this!"
  • "How cool is this?!"

All organizations should take note. THESE MEMBERS FELT APPRECIATED.

One of the most common reasons for under-performance in the workplace is that the employees feel under-appreciated - as if their contributions don't matter anyway. I'd like to challenge 10 organizations within the next 10 weeks to host some sort of Employee Appreciation Event. As you have seen, it doesn't have to be elaborate.

Sometimes, ice cream alone will do the trick.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Green Baby Shower

One of the most common trends in all of events is "Green." And no, obviously I don't mean the color green. I had the opportunity recently to throw such an event for a good friend of mine. Jenny is HAVING A BABY!

In keeping with her lifestyle choices, we chose to do her baby shower with only one rule: Everything had to either be organic, recycled, or recycleable. Pretty tall order, eh?

So here's what we did.

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods became our place to go in the planning process for the food part at least. The menu consisted of organic fruit, free range chicken for the chicken salad, and whole wheat pasta in the ziti. Naturally, we had more food that this, but you get the point.

The other thing to think about is plates, forks, napkins, and decor. Luckily, our good friend, Paul Brummer loaned 30 of his china plates and silverware to us for the day. Also, Monica Lamour loaned us her cloth napkins. The cool thing about this conglomeration was that it WAS a conglomeration. Nothing matched. And that is ok!

The decor came from $1 pots that I found at the local dollar store and plants that Monica bought from the local nursery. These were the table centerpieces - that doubled as favors for the guests. I also bought plants from IKEA that made great buffet accents.

Finally, because everything had to be recycled or recylable, we used recyled paper for the games, and I took home the remaining paper and recyled it again.

Here are some pictures from the party.

Congrats, Jenny!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Check...Done...Already Taken Care Of.: My Favorite Venues

Check...Done...Already Taken Care Of.: My Favorite Venues

My Favorite Venues

So I have to brag on one of my favorite venues. First, let's look at what makes a venue: GOOD.
  1. OPEN-MINDEDNESS: The venue has to be open to new culinary experiences. This could mean being open to working with new caterers and planners or, if the venue has an on-site caterer/kitchen, being open to creating new menu items.
  2. PERSONALITY: The venue has a characteristic of its own. It's important that the space has its own ambience. Using the current decor and natural experience of the space saves a lot of budget dollars in re-inventing the space.
  3. PARKING: Alright, I know this is a bit more logistical that the previous points, but still as important. There's nothing worse than a guest bringing bad mo-jo energy into your high energy, fun event space because they're annoyed they couldn't find a parking spot.

So would you like to know what my new favorite venue is?

They are located at 900 Mansell Road in the Mansell Oaks Shopping Center in Roswell, GA.

We just created an all Green baby shower and held it in their space. It was already decorated perfectly for an upscale baby shower, had tables and chairs, lots of counter space (so we didn't have to rent tables for the food and drink stations), and a large kitchen for clean up.

I am quite impressed with their execution of this event. I highly recommend it. Reanna and Lisbeth will have you in stitches before you even start your event. A sure thing to put you in a good mood! Hey, if that doesn't do it, the deserts will!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Invitations - Just a Piece of the Puzzle

In the sales world, we know that it takes 5-7 repeats (or “touches”) for a sale to be made to a new prospect. When hosting an event, it is imperative that the host understands he/she is in essence “selling” the guest on the idea of spending their otherwise free time with the host. Invitations are just a method of Marketing for an event. They are a “touch.”

I5 (Invitations to the 5th Power) is a marketing method for event attendance success. The I5 system assumes the host has at least one or two touches with the attendee, meaning the attendee will at least know the name of the host when the invitation comes in the mail. Note: for those events geared to gaining face time with “suspects” or business prospects who are not yet familiar with the company or host, more than five touches will need to be made.

For the purposes of counting to five, we will start at Touch 1. However, remember, this is not truly the first touch the host has had with the attendee.

Touch 1: Save the Date Card. These need to be mailed (email is ok, not preferred) no later than eight weeks prior to the event. This allows the attendee to put the date in his/her calendar and/or change his calendar to accommodate the event.

Touch 2: THE INVITATION! These should ALWAYS be mailed. Hand addressed. With a stamp. Your invitee will appreciate getting something so personal in the mail. This allows the host to set the tone for the event (formal/casual/byob/etc) and to establish rsvp expectations. These should be mailed during week 6 prior to the event.

Touch 3: Follow up email. This should go to all attendees. If they’ve already rsvp’d, that’s great. This is just one more reminder of the party. Those who haven’t rsvp’d, this is a good reminder to do so. These should go out during week 3 prior to the event.

Touch 4: Thank you notes or emails to early RSVP’ers and phone calls to those who haven’t. It’s important to recognize the behaviors we want to see repeated. RSVP’ing in this day and age is definitely a behavior we want to see repeated! Phone calls to those who have not rsvp’d. It is absolutely appropriate for you as the host to call those who haven’t been polite enough to tell you if they plan to eat the food you’re providing. You don’t want to run out of food do you? Or worse yet, you don’t want to over-spend to accommodate those who might show up. These should happen 7-10 days prior to the event.

Touch 5: Send Thank You Cards to the attendees. Some hostesses look at me and say, “They came to my house and ate my food; why should I send them a thank you card?” Because it’s good manners and those attendees will remember you and come to your party next year! These should go out the week after the party.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Delegation: The Key to Success in a Volunteer Event Scenario

I couldn't be more proud of my Junior League small group tonight. As provisional members of the Junior League of Atlanta, each small group must play "hostess" during one of the meetings during our provisional tenure. Not only must we as good hostesses provide food and drink, but we must also provide an educational piece about a community service agency that needs help from other Junior League members. Tonight was our night to be Hostesses With The Mostess!

And we couldn't have done a better job.

My purpose for writing all of this is not to toot my own horn, but rather to give you a checklist for what to do when you find yourself in a position to create an event that will (1) reflect on you, (2) reflect on a larger group/organization, and (3) is meant to be done on volunteer hours. You may find yourself in this situation at a charity or non-profit committee or board, maybe on your tennis team, or even with family. Get ready, your events are about to become a breeze!

Step One: Identify someone in the group who is "the most organized person in the group" (Hint: This is where self-nomination is key!)

Step Two (assuming you're the new chair of this committee): Give everyone something to do. I know that sounds contrary to what us Type A's do, but believe me, everyone feels a stronger committment to seeing this event out in a much more successful light if they are personally responsible for some aspect.

Step Three: Constant (i.e. at least weekly) communication/emails is important. Everyone wants to see the progress.

Some key checkist items:
- Make a list of what each person is responsible for.
-- Food
-- Drinks
-- Plates/Cups/Forks, etc.
-- Set up/Clean up Responsibilities

The reason tonight was so successful is because everyone had a task and felt personally invested in the process and success of the event.

My bottom-line advice: DELEGATE!

Saturday, March 1, 2008


So we're finally in the blog world.
And I couldn't be more excited.

One of the most common questions I get is "why do you do what you do? It seems like it's a fun job, but really...what do you get out of it?" In this blog I will show you on a weekly basis just how cool my job is.

The purpose of this blog is to teach you ways to make your social calendar stress free and to give you ideas on how to impress your friends with your event prowess.

First, let's look at an event we're helping a client with this weekend. The husband is turning 50 and there couldn't be a better theme than the pink poodle skirted, black leather jacket wearing 1950's. The black and white marbled dance floor, checkered table cloths, diner style burgers, and a soft serve ice cream dispenser will finish our theme with grace. Look for pictures next week.

Links We love

Blog Template by Delicious Design Studio