We all love a little DIY

Do-It-Yourself….. for some people those words are energizing and for others they strike terror in the heart. So where do you fall in when it comes to a little DIY?

I think everyone can feel good about a little DIY. There is something pretty amazing about creating something with your own hands and seeing it all come together. Pride of accomplishment at a job well done encourages you to try the next thing and before you know it….you are a full–fledged DIY’er.

It seems to be even easier to do-it-yourself because you can literally find YouTube videos on how to do just about anything. These videos make tackling projects a little less daunting. Add to that the fact that you can research anything on the web and it opens up everything as a possibility for DIY as long as you are willing to put in the time and energy to take on the project.

So what are some DIY tips and/or projects that are popular right now?

  • Use bright colors or at least one pop of bright color.
  • Use of geometric shapes is really fun and simple to do.
  • Rustic is all the rage right now.
  • Right along with rustic is vintage or restoring a retro look.
  • Converting garage sale finds into refinished furniture
  • Creating your own artwork

People want uniqueness. You can now have your own unique item. Exclusivity is very important to lots of people now days and with DIY it’s literally at your fingertips and up to your own creative thinking. Give it a whirl!



It’s always been a tradition

We are fast approaching the time of year when we begin to participate in family traditions, maybe even traditions at work but have you ever stopped to think about the importance of those traditions? Traditions are a powerful memory tying the past to this moment and the future moments to come. A lot of traditions are based on spiritual beliefs but they don’t have to be.

A tradition is something you do repeatedly, passing from one generation to the next. From one person to the next. It’s something that you can count on, look forward to, and often people can get upset when something or someone breaks the tradition. Traditions are the threads that tie our lives together, a weave that is the expression of who we are. Everyone participates in traditions. Its a unifying force in the human culture.

What makes the experience of traditions unique is that we all have our own twists on traditions. For example, for a lot of people it isn’t the start of the holiday season until Starbuck’s releases their Pumpkin Spice lattes. For some people it isn’t Thanksgiving without a turkey and a ham on the table. Or maybe it just isn’t Christmas if you don’t drive around looking at all the Christmas lights with a steaming cup of hot chocolate in your hand. The tradition itself isn’t the important thing. Its the feeling of connection that matters.

At PEC we love traditions. We love all those little things that bring people together to celebrate and love life. If you have some great traditions, we would love to know about them. Please comment with your favorite holiday traditions….who knows, maybe you inspire someone to add a new tradition to their own holiday repertoire.

Ask the Questions

As a corporate event planning firm we are often surprised how many people don’t know what questions they should be asking their event planner. Most planners offer a free consultation as a way of interviewing their potential client. They want to know if the event is in their scope of work and if they feel they can work well with the client. They always have a list of questions they ask and the answers help them decide if they want to move forward with the project. They are also the basis of the contract between the client and the event planner. What people aren’t realizing is that the free consultation is also their opportunity to interview the planner and decide if they want to work with them. Its very important that you ask the right kind of questions during this process.

So, what exactly, should you be asking? Good Question! This list of questions was provided by the International School of Hospitality but we’ve added our own answers.

  1. What are your services going to cost? Every event has a budget and if the planner’s rates are out of your budget then you should stop the consultation right there. Their rates aren’t going to change and asking them to discount their rates to you isn’t likely. There are planners for every style of budget so pick wisely.  Also, be aware there are different ways for planners to charge so make sure you are comfortable with the way they charge. You can have an hourly rate or a flat rate and both are good for different reasons so be sure to ask if they offer both options.
  2. Will your planner be attending the event? This seems like it has the obvious answer of yes but that isn’t the case. A lot of planning firms have Event Lead’s, Junior planners, or Assistants that are the actual onsite staff lead at your event. This isn’t a bad thing but you should know if the planner you are working so closely with will be onsite the day of the event or passing the fulfillment of the event over to someone else and I f so are they going to be included in the planning process so you are comfortable with them and their skill level. Another thing to note, it may cost more to have the planner onsite rather than their assistant so if you are comfortable with the assistant it may save you some money to not have the planner onsite.
  3. How much time do you need to plan my event? Just like every event is different, every event takes a different amount of time to plan. Some events can be turned around in a week and others take months to a year to plan based on the scope of work that is involved. Knowing if you are working on a shortened timeline can help you in the planning process. You should always ask your planner to give you a work-back schedule from the event date so you know when major milestones in the planning process are. That way you can plan accordingly.
  4. Do you have vendor contacts and are you experienced in contract negotiation? Why does it matter if your planner has a lot of vendor contacts? Well, established relationships can lead to discounts which in turn could save you money. It also lets you know how well known they are in their market. What about those contracts?  Everyone can sign a contract and agree to the terms stated but an experienced planner can often see where a contract request is unreasonable, can ask for different terms or special requests be added to the contract. They also need to be able to clearly communicate with  you the terms of the contracts so you aren’t surprised if something goes wrong. Another question to consider is if the planner will be signing the contract on your behalf or if you have to sign all the contracts. This is a big debate in the planning industry and you would be smart to know how your planner feels about the subject of legal liability on your behalf.
  5. What is your vision for my event and do you have a contingency plan if something goes wrong? This is a big one! If you and the planner do not have the same vision for the event you are likely to be unhappy with the end results and they may be too. It also makes the planning process difficult and painful on both sides. Who wants that? No one. A good planner has a back up plan, and a back up plan to the back up plan. Make sure your planner is thinking about what to do if things go wrong, although, unless its an act of nature a good planner will make sure things don’t go wrong. Still, it pays to be prepared.
  6. What types of events have you done in the past and how successful were they? References. References. References. Ask to see pictures of their work but more importantly ask to speak to previous clients. If a planner doesn’t want you to talk to past clients that is a huge red flag.


A successful event requires that the relationship between client and planner is based on trust, experience, future expectations, and a positive chemistry between the two individuals. As a last piece of advice: trust your gut and go with who feels right regardless of their rate. Cheaper isn’t always better and it also isn’t the determining factor on a successful event, as a matter of fact it almost always is a detriment. Planners can make your life so much better when you trust them so pick your planner wisely.


Learn to be a Concierge

You would be surprised who can use concierge/VIP services at events. Let’s start with the client paying the bill and extend it to any higher level VIP’s. However, don’t forget that the administrators who support those people are often in need of these same services. Most event planners are so busy handling the event details they sometimes forget that concierge services can make the difference between a successful event and a “beyond expectations” event.

It is the little, simple touches that stick in people’s minds. So how do you offer concierge services to your clients? You can offer them without advertising the services. Its all about anticipating your clients needs and wishes before they are even aware of it. So what kind of services are we talking about?

*Waiting in lines so your VIP’s don’t need to
*Arranging transportation
*Gift buying
*Picking up or giving an opinion on attire
*Running miscellaneous errands
*Making dinner reservations
*Making entertainment reservations
*Personal shopping
*Keeping them fed and hydrated
*Breaking them out of conversations that are monopolizing
*Locating hard-to-find items
*Handling administrative tasks for them
*Messenger & Courier Services
*Watching their timelines to keep them on schedule
*Storing their stuff in a safe location until they are ready to leave

Offering Concierge services is an easy thing to add to your services. Its really about making your high-level guests feel special and important without crowding them. Its about being indispensable to your clients even when you are busy with all the other logistics of your event.

The Hostess with the Mostess

Summer season is often the busiest time of year for people to host parties and get-togethers. The weather is beautiful and people want to spend time with friends and family. It’s a time to celebrate and create great memories that will last a lifetime. So, what happens if you do not feel comfortable hosting a party but you want to have a gathering?

Well, we have a few tips for you on how to be the “Hostess with the Mostess”. There are a few simple things to think about when planning a party that will make things go smoother and easier for you.

Step One: Give yourself plenty of time to organize the event. We often underestimate the amount of work it takes to throw a “simple” party together. Not giving yourself enough time puts stress on you right from the start that is not needed. Give yourself more time that you think you need. Seriously!

Step Two: We like to think we are Superman/woman but the truth is we can only do so much and a big mistake in party planning that people make is not asking for help. We often have a bigger support network than we think we do and people really don’t mind being asked to assist when asked. Especially when they get to participate in the fun afterwards.

Step Three: Food can make or break a party. You can do everything else right but if the food is bad or mediocre its all your guests will talk about so keep your food choices simple. Parties are not the time to try out new recipes. Stick with favorites that are tried and true and easy to make. Better yet, find recipes that you can make ahead so you have less to do the day of the event.

Step Four: Set the tone for your party before your guests arrive. Turn on music that creates the environment that you want. Light those scented candles that invoke smells you want to linger in guests mind. Post a little sign by the door if you want guests to take off their shoes. Open the patio door if you want guests to head out to your backyard. All these little things will set the tone and you will relax knowing that the feel for your party is set and ready to roll.

Step Five: Once the party starts – relax. People do not expect you to be perfect and in fact, relax more if they feel like you are just like everyone else. Watch the flow of the party and the guests. Keep conversation going, make sure people’s glasses are full and that they have eaten enough.

Step Six: Relax and enjoy your own party. The whole point of having people over is to enjoy their company. To have good conversations and make memories. You don’t want to be so busy “hosting” that you don’t even enjoy your own get-together.

Step Seven: Say Thank You! It only takes a minute in our day of technology to drop a quick thank you for attending. Choose your most convenient way of contacting people but be sure to say thank you. Especially to the friends that helped you out or stayed late to help you clean up.

With a little bit of pre-planning and learning how to keep it simple you can have a great party. You may even decide that you are quite good at hosting parties. Before you know it, you might be “THE” hostess of all your friends.


Christmas in July


I know… are wondering why on earth we would be thinking about Christmas in July but the truth is, now is the perfect time to start planning for the holidays. I know you are probably thinking this is taking advertising for holidays prior to when the previous holiday is over to a whole new extreme but really it is an attempt to avoid the crazy chaotic rush that happens once October hits.

You know, we’ve all been there, Halloween is fast approaching and it heralds a down hill race to Christmas and New Years. Before you know it the end of the year is here and everyone is wondering how it happened. So we like to be a little more prepared than the average person. Okay, maybe a lot more prepared.

The main reason we like to get started on planning your holiday parties now, is the more time you give yourself the easier time you will have to schedule the date and find the perfect location.  Believe me, you don’t want to be making do with what options are left by the time you get around looking.

Next, you want to give your employees, family, or friends, as much notice as possible so they can plan their holiday season early. The more notice you give the better chance you will get a large turnout. This is especially true when both spouses work outside the home. We’ve all had to try and juggle multiple parties because of last minute notifications.

Third, vendors get booked early so your choice of entertainment get less and less as we get closer to the holiday season. You don’t want your boss to be super excited about having a dueling piano show only to find out that they have been booked for all the prime December dates months ago. It sucks. It really does.

The more time you give yourself to plan, the easier it is to make decisions. You can sample food from different caterers before signing a contract, play around with different themes, colors and décor until you have it exactly as you want it.

Thinking about Christmas may not be the way you want to spend your warm, sunny July but later in the year you will thank us for prompting you along.

That Creative Spark

Creativity is the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Anyone who has been involved with the creative process knows that getting stuck or hitting a wall is part of the process. Everyone struggles sometimes to renew their creative spark. Being in a business where we need to stay creative makes that a bit of a bigger challenge so we have to have ways to re-energize that creative spark. Here are the just some of the ways that we do that:

  • connect with someone you think is creative and let their creativity generate some new ideas for you.
  • change up your routine.
  • doodle
  • play a game
  • free write
  • listen to new music
  • keep an idea journal with you at all times
  • play with toys
  • color
  • listen to a TED talk
  • take a class
  • get cooking in the kitchen
  • explore the outdoors
  • research on Pinterest
  • create a vision board
  • talk with children
  • walk through an art gallery
  • watch movies

Creativity is all about being open to the impressions of life as they flow and swirl around us. Its about letting that energy flow out of you and create something unique to you. Enjoy the process and don’t give up when you feel like you’ve hit a snag in the creative process. It’s easy to spark again.

Experiential Events

I recently was talking with someone about what makes an event a great event. I think there are several factors like hitting your core objectives, staying in budget, and how easy the planning process is for your clients but if you really want to know what makes an event a great event for your guests then here is my opinion:

  • Touch – Guests need to be able to touch aspects of the event. Hands on, if you will. They need to be able to physically feel components of the event. That can be everything from hands on activities to the texture of linens. Finding ways your guests can engage in the event through touch is rarely thought about but it matters. It really does.
  • See – The eyes are the first sense that must be engaged. Lights, color, activity all of it engages the guest first through visual anticipation. How many times have you taken more food than you can eat because your eyes found all the food appealing? Events are the same. Engage people’s eyes with things to look and experience visually and you will have made a huge impact right from the beginning.
  • Taste – Well, of course. Taste is a major sensory function and a party is not a party without food and beverages. Not all food and beverage is created equal though. Make sure that the things you are offering match with the vibe and feel of the event. You wouldn’t want to go to a BBQ and have them serve 5 star cuisine on paper plates. It just doesn’t work. Don’t be afraid to experiment with taste through textures and spices. Be creative it can pay off in a big way and great food and beverages will be remembered long after other things are forgotten.
  • Feel – This concept is a little more esoteric. Guests need to feel the core objectives without you stating them. For example: We appreciate you, thank you, we’ve reached our goal, we need to work harder, etcetera. If all the components of your event work together cohesively guest will walk away with an overall feeling, a concept of enjoyment, that they can’t exactly express but feel nonetheless. You want guests to believe that how they feel is of their own making and not something you designed into the creation of the event.

It’s important to think about these things when planning an event. If you have a hard time figuring out how to encompass these things in your event effectively – I would recommend working with a seasoned event planning professional. Nothing surpasses experience and event planners know when to go lavish and when to be subtle to get the point across.

Preparation & Planning

When you are in the event industry preparation and planning are your bylaws. You have to think of things that others don’t and you have to be ready for anything. We jokingly call it Plan C, D, E & F. Meaning that you plan and prepare beyond a Plan B.

No matter what part of the event industry you are in, you will have your own particular set of preparation steps that are required. For us, as corporate event and project managers we carry around an event kit. It’s basically our Mary Poppins magical bag. We can pull out just about anything for any situation as long as we keep the bag stocked.

It’s a great idea to create one that is specific to what you do. (Even working in an office, you can have a magical drawer where you keep those crazy items that you surprisingly need now and again). Here is what we keep in our event kits:

  • Nail polish remover/cotton balls
  • Ear plugs
  • Pills for ill guests: Advil, tylenol, tums, immodium
  • Hand lotion or body spray
  • Scissors
  • Nail clippers
  • Unscented bug spray (for outdoor events)
  • Baby wipes
  • Spray deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Granola bars and water
  • Travel sewing kit
  • Hair Goods: hairspray, bobby pins, hair ties, brush or comb
  • Safety Pins, double-sided tape
  • Charger with different charging tips
  • Lint Roller
  • Tide Sticks or Clorox bleach pen
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mints or gum
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and mouth wash
  • Small first aid kit
  • Screwdriver, pliers, wire cutters
  • Blades or pocket knife
  • Different types of tape: scotch, electrical, masking, gaffers tape and double sided tape
  • Paper clips, binder clips
  • Power strip, extension cords, converters
  • Twist ties, fishing line, zip ties
  • Sharpies in all colors
  • Pens
  • Measuring tape
  • Adhesive hooks and tape
  • Floral tape
  • Windex
  • Paper Towels
  • Flash drive
  • Flash light
  • Velcro
  • Batteries
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Notepad
  • Thumbtacks, Push pins, Rubber bands

Believe me….no matter what event it is, I always need something from this kit. It is a necessity of event life. As a side tip: we use a rolling hard shell toolbox to carry everything in. One with lots of little compartments helps you keep things organized too.

Major Multitasker?

According to the dictionary, multitasking is the ability to do more than one thing at a time. For a long time people focused on developing the ability to multi-task as a vital skill in the workplace. The better you were at multitasking the more productive you were. After all you were getting more done right?

Well, its been over a decade and now they are saying that multitasking is bad for your brain health. Some research says that multitasking actually reduces your brain’s productivity by 40%! That’s huge. The research says that our brain actually has a problem switching from one task to another rapidly and some research goes so far as to say we actually lose time when we are multitasking.

So what happened to the concept that doing more than one thing at a time produced more results because you are getting more done? I think the question here is, what is the quality of the work? Personally, I find that when I focus on one project at a time I get better results with the finished product but I still say there is something to be said about multitasking. (Of course, as Project Managers we multitask all the time so its hard to give it up) However, I think there is a time and place for both.

It is important to eliminate distractions and focus on the job at hand when you can but there are just times when you can’t and the ability to do more than one thing at a time is necessary. My suggestion is to practice the art of focused, intentional tasks whenever you can. You will most likely be happier with the end result of your task and you will most likely be less mentally tired at the end of the day too.