Everything You Need to Know About Special Events At Home

Throughout the history of the world, special events have created the same, yet unique collection of problems and issues. Your will be the same!

Everything You Need to Know About Special Events At Home

When it comes right down to it, certain aspects of all special events or occasions go through the same collection of issues and face the same set of problems to one extent or another. It’s a safe bet that you can relate to all of them, to one extent or another, yet you still want to hold them. Why?! Holding a special event is asking for trouble, headaches and frustration plus joy, fun and excitement – simultaneously. Is it maybe this weird mix that drives something in us? Let’s hope so.

Much as we’d like to hold them for no reason, there is always a [significant] reason for holding an event. The list is endless (as sometimes any excuse is good enough) and includes the obvious ones, like Birthdays, Anniversaries, Weddings, Christenings, Christmas, New Year, Easter, a Bank holiday weekend, it’s Friday night, it’s Saturday night, there’s a Divorce, there’s a Funeral, a New Job, Getting fired, on and on and on. Thank goodness. It’s also a safe bet that you can think of any other number of reasons. So let’s treat all the reasons with the same respect and figures that they’re all as important as each other.

So who to invite? This can be a real mine field sometimes. There’s always something to do with getting the mix right. And that’s a good thing. Unless you’re itching for some sort of confrontation, bringing the wrong people together into what’s often a tight venue will end in tears for someone. On the other hand, when the right crowd comes the place will be jumping! In between is the option where you do everything you can to get the right mix, with the proviso that you and other appointed people will remain on alert for signs of trouble through the event, assuming that everyone you’ve appointed remains “on duty” and doesn’t forget themselves in all the fun.

The venue is often dictated by the reason and the guest list. It can range from 1 room to a whole building or more. Naturally, size means price and complexity and so the point about the budget comes up for the first practical time. It’s worthwhile noting here that budget can end up affecting the guest list and can be a point of pain and sometimes early disagreement between organisers. If called for, professionals will be used for the venue and they’ll come with a wide range of capabilities; from blithering idiot to cantankerous ass, but you can rely on one thing – they will more likely than not do the minimum they can get away with. From time to time, there are stories of how good the professionals were. These are to be viewed with suspicion when heard and cherished forever if and when they are experienced at first hand. It’s highly recommended that one never assume anything when dealing with the professionals.

“There’s always something to do with getting the mix right. And that’s a good thing.”

One item that is often underestimated with regards to the venue is the amount of and access to parking. This can cause the guest list a degree of frustration, especially if there is a weather element on the day or night. Some organisers have gone so far as to send inexpensive fold up umbrellas to the guests list. There are stories of these failing in moderate to light winds, rendering them useless and causing make-up to run and socks to be soaked. There’s no pleasing some people. Providing Wellington boots can be seen as lacking in confidence and so should be avoided.

Food causes a tremendous amount of concern and a tremendous amount of time is spent on it. It doesn’t matter if it’s to do with finger food or several courses, the food is a problem. It can also have an impact on the guest list in terms of budget but also because of cuisine. And of course there are always vegetarians to consider. More often than not, this is the most difficult consideration to get right. With food also comes the question of temperature, freshness, suitability for paper plates and standing while eating and of course, choice. Often the success of the event is judged by the food, so spending an inordinate amount of time getting it right can have tremendous payback.

If you’re lucky, your event won’t call for separate, independent entertainment. Ideally, the guest list will entertain itself without outside influence, organised by you. In fact, in situations where outside entertainment is called for, it can govern the success of the event even more than the food does. How many times have you been to an event where the DJ was just awful? It can happen. But then, Uncle Ben getting up to do his party piece can be a problem too. If entertainment is needed, the best advice is to get the best you can afford, even if it means having to scrimp a bit on the venue. Once the food challenge has been won, the guest list will react to good entertainment in a tight venue, but it won’t do the same with tight entertainment in a good venue.

Now, what could possible go wrong? And how are you going to deal with it when it does (because something will)? If you’re dealing with professionals you’re supposed to be able to relax – but stay on your guard. Resources (or even guests) will be late or won’t turn up. There’ll be a problem with the food. The weather turns. The fight breaks out. If something goes wrong, the news of it and impact of it will spread through the crowd before you can make your way through them to get to the rostrum (and then the microphone won’t work). You’re natural calm and connection with the guests will help you settle things down. Remember, don’t panic and bad things come in 3’s, so you need to stay alert.

Everything is ready to go and the hour comes; the first guests arrive and you’re suddenly on, especially if they arrive early and you haven’t finished yourself yet. This can be a real problem. Did you cater for it during risk analysis? Regardless of the reason and the size of your event, you want everyone to have a great time and because of all your hard work they likely will. Guests may have stories to tell you about funny things that happened to them on the way there, or about something that’s gone wrong, or was a completed disaster and they’re feeling really terrible. Naturally, you’ll do everything you can for them, especially if it’s bad news. And the first thing is often getting them a drink or directing to them to the bar as quickly as is practical. You have to keep your eyes on the door because the others will be arriving any minute. In situations where they don’t and end up coming much later than expected, you’re on your own.

In terms of the event, there’s little to say, except “Enjoy your-self!” Keep one eye on the risk areas and the food, Uncle Ben, the drink and the clock. Sometimes it’s in that order too.

At some point the guests will leave and that can bring its own set of issues. Do they leave with whom they came? Is that a problem? Is that a problem for you? Can they find their coat (can they find their car?!) Can you wake them up and get them out of the door? Do you care anymore?

In some extreme cases there could be an aftermath to Uncle Ben’s performance that you’re going to have to deal with. It could be funny (the best situation), embarrassing or worse. Let’s hope you don’t run into these because their impacts can last a long time.

One of the best, if not THE best benefit of dealing with professionals is that there’ll be little if any cleaning up. In some cases it may be a motivator to engaging with them and may save you a whole heap of work. The best advise here is to leave everything as it is until a particular time you set (preferably the day after) and you then get ‘stuck in’. If you’re lucky you’ll have a small team of people to help. If not, it can help to pour yourself a long something or other and take it with you as you go.

So, can you identify with this? Lucky if you do, unique if you don’t! On second thoughts, let’s call the whole thing off. – (BPT)

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