If I see another Hamburger or Hot Dog…

To me, July speaks of fireworks, watermelons, yard games and bbq’s.  Lots of bbqs.   In our industry, summer can be one of the busiest seasons of the year – and one of the most boring menu seasons too.  Planning a picnic?  What’s on the menu?  Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Watermelon or fruit display, beans or potato salad.  It’s fairly common to see the same kind of menu go out the door, proposal after proposal after…everyone wants a good picnic for a fair price, and when we’re talking budget for a picnic – we’re talking hamburgers and hot dogs.  Break out of the picnic doldrums! Spice it up this year – and you don’t have to sacrifice entertainment or any other part of the budget to do it.

It pays to ask.  Just calling and asking your caterer for a bbq menu doesn’t cut the mustard (pardon the pun) – and a good caterer won’t let you off the phone without asking a whole slew of questions about your overall event.  Cut the time down by being very clear about what you want from your caterer:

BBQ menu for 100 people (80 adults, 20 kids), date, time, any kind of theme that you may have for your event.  All pretty standard information, right?  Now give more.  Tell your caterer that you are getting bids from 2 other caterers, tell them what your budget is, and be fair.  You know how much you want to spend on catering, so tell them!  If they are a great caterer, they will do whatever they can to keep you in your budget, and if it’s too low, they should tell you that too so that you can move on.  Make sure you specify with them if your budget is inclusive of taxes and gratuities too.  And tell them what you don’t want. 

Need ideas? Lisa at Avenue Catering tells me that one of her favorite menus to bid out to clients who are looking for something different this year is the European faire menus.  Cold cuts, fresh rolls, fresh vegetables, fruits and cheeses – all arranged in a way that the guests can build their own sandwiches.  Add a few bottles of wine and throw down some good old fashioned picnic blankets, and VOILA!  You’ve broken out of the picnic mold!  I love this idea, and depending on just how European you want to get with your menu, it can range from $14 per person up to $25 per person.  You could really theme out this kind of picnic by including gifts for the guests too.  Each family receiving a picnic basket and a blanket with your company logo on it, Frisbees, lawn games, a little music for background – live or Memorex…  This is officially my favorite way to picnic.  (Thanks, Lisa!)

If the BBQ is what’s important to your menu, Porter’s may be your best bet to get away from the typical menus.  Simple menus ranging from 9.95 per person to 15.95 per person, all barbecue food and no hot dogs or hamburgers.  Plus, Porter’s has The Man.  Have you met The Man?  The Man is Porter’s signature hot sauce – a sauce that will make you re-think spicy.  I’m sweating just thinking about it!

Bandi at Design Perfect suggests a classic Fried Chicken menu, complete with salads and a build your own Strawberry Shortcake station.   MMMMmmmm….

Break out of the hot dog mentality!

– Marketing Maven

Modus Operandi

By very definition, an event is a moment to celebrate. What you are celebrating and how you chose to celebrate it is entirely up to you. Some events are meant to inspire and motivate the guests. Some are meant to support charities and organizations. Other events are meant to give guests an opportunity to “let their hair down” after the achievement of a milestone project. Still other events are designed to honor anniversaries, birthdays and graduations. In my years as an event planner I’ve discovered the reason for celebrating isn’t nearly as important as the memories you take away with you from the event.

I’ve also realized that as the event planner it is important to recognize what I end up walking away from an event with too. From experience I have learned that there are those event planners that are in the industry to make a profit and move on to the next big event. Their attitude is more about the bottom line than about the people they work with. Although cookie cutter packages works for some people it isn’t how I choose to operate.

My personal experience is that no amount of money is worth working with a difficult client. There is no monetary value that can be placed on seeing your creative design come together in living, breathing color. There is no way to replace the look on your client’s smiling, happy face because you have more than met their expectations. There is nothing as fulfilling as knowing that your client has truly become a friend.

When I take on an event I weigh out many factors. Is it something I am confident in my skills to accomplish? Does it give me the opportunity to be creative? Does it allow me the opportunity to grow? Is it something that I personally can have fun with? Most importantly, at the end of the day, will I go home with a feeling of accomplishment that I have provided top end service to my clients and found personal satisfaction in the doing so?

The reasons for being in the event planning industry are as vast and varied as the kinds of events that are created. However, for me and my partners, it’s all about being of service to our clients in a creative and fun way. There are aspects of planning an event that are not the glamorous visions people have gotten in their heads from movies and television programs and I’ve come to realize that unless you are doing it for the right reasons you will soon suffer from burn out. 

  – Logistics Mystic