Archive for July 2016
Well this isn’t any magical formula that will make this task any easier – if there was and it was that easy event planners would be out of a job. There are however some tricks of the trade that make it a little easier. Rather than talk to you about the intricacies of planning an event I want to talk to you about how to ensure your guests enjoy the event.
An event, no matter what it is, is all about the experience. Any event that you go to should be an experience. You want to be able to use all 5 of your senses. You need to put yourself in your guests shoes and see the event, hear the event, taste the event, touch the event and smell the event. Only when you have done these 5 things will you have truly had the experience.
We all want our holiday event to be memorable and research has shown that when all the senses are stimulated our memory of the event is always so much more superior. So, when planning your holiday party ask yourself – are my guests really getting the full sensory experience?
Let’s start with the strongest sense – smell. This sense has the strongest effect on our memory. Even to this day the smell of freshly baked bread catapults me back to my childhood, coming in from school on a Wednesday afternoon and seeing my Mum bringing freshly baked bread out of the oven. The memory is as strong today as it was then over twenty something years ago. So if you are having a Arabian theme night remember to light some incense candles before the guests arrive to really put them in the mood and spark that all important sense
Sight is a harder one. We are used to seeing alot of things and being almost flooded with options to look at, so whatever we provide our guests with visually, we need to make sure it is relevant and eye catching. Try and find a focal point in the room that people’s eyes are going to be drawn to naturally and use this as your main feature. That way you don’t have to work too hard to get people’s attention.
The stage is a great natural focal point and one planners forget about all too often. I did a winter wonderland theme night once for a corporate holiday party and we ran the Narnia theme throughout it. I needed a WOW factor that would act as my focal point so I used a synthetic ice rink in the middle of the room. It worked a treat. When guests arrived I had two professional skaters performing on the ice to some Strauss waltzes dressed as old fashioned skaters with hand muffs. Using some good lighting we recreated the effect of falling snow onto the ice and the scene was set – there was my focal point.
Sound is similar to sight – our ears are used to having to filter on a regular basis so what we offer needs to be relevant and possibly give that element of surprise to make it memorable. Let’s use the winter wonderland event as an example again. The venue we used was a barn so we were able to create a wardrobe effect for guests to walk through as they entered. Once inside they walked down an avenue of stripped Pea lit birch trees and at the end was the White Witch holding a tray of Turkish delight. Now this was all very normal and quite in keeping with the theme of the event, but once all of the guests had come through all of a sudden the room plunged into darkness and all you could hear was a blood curdling scream. The lights came back on again straight away to reveal the White Witch standing menacingly over a dwarf with a silver dagger in her hand. The element of surprise was what made this sound memorable.
Taste is one that often gets overlooked. Just because you aren’t the caterer doesn’t mean that you can forget about the taste. Let’s go back to my Narnia theme again. At one side of the synthetic ice rink was a man with a roast chestnut booth offering guests bags of hot chestnuts. It was the perfect way to incorporate taste into the event experience.
Finally we have touch. As well as the visual your guests need the tactile experience as well. We’ll stay with the Narnia event again for this. This time we are looking at the tables. I could have just used normal white linen on the tables, but instead I used a crushed white velvet that had the appearance of snow on the tables. The texture of this was very different from a normal tablecloth. At each place setting was a small silver envelope. Inside was an invite to each guest to join the White Witch for some ice skating after the meal. So with just two very small elements I had incorporated touch within my event by getting the guests touching the tablecloth and opening their invites. Both adding greatly to the overall experience.