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Planning a Dinner Party? 5 Things You Should Know
2018 was what I called “Glow Up Year” and 2019 will be the “Level Up” Everyone is looking to come together and celebrate something these days. Whether you’re planning a dinner party for your best friend who is getting married, or you are turning 30, or you’re looking to do something grand for the holidays or you and your favorite influencers wanted to get together and celebrate accomplishments, planning a dinner party can be overwhelming just as much as it can be joyous. There are so many steps to making sure your night is memorable, not only for yourself, but also for your guests. You want your event to be a celebration an also be executed flawlessly. It can be a lot of pressure, especially if this is your first time. But I’m going to let you in on a few of my tips as an event planner and also someone who loves a good dinner party! This post originally appeared on FoodBeforeLove.com.
Tip 1: Utilize Online Invitations Printed invitations are great especially for weddings and baby showers but we’re at a time where some of us hardly even open our mailboxes let alone read our mail so I wouldn’t advise you to waste your time licking envelopes and buying stamps. (How much does a stamp cost nowadays anyway?) To send out invitations, I use Paperless Post. It’s an online invitation, stationary and card website. You can choose through hundreds of unique themes, customize your invitation and email it to as many people as you need. The best part about this tool is that you can also manage your event by tracking who has RSVP’d, create reminders for your attendees, and make changes to the event when necessary. First time using Paperless Post? Join here.
Tip 2: Choose the Most Appropriate Venue to Host your Dinner Your venue and theme go hand in hand for your dinner party. What do you want your guests to see, feel and experience from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. For an intimate setting I suggest hosting a dinner party somewhere private. You can find intimate spaces on Peerspace and rent a space for a few hours and even some AirbNb’s allow you to book a space for the day. If you’re planning a bigger dinner party, halls and restaurants make great venues.
Tip 3: Food is Everything so Choose the Right Caterer/Restaurant and Menu This is a dinner party right? So food pretty much is the biggest task of planning your dinner party. It goes without saying that the food should be incredible. But a few questions you want to ask yourself and also make sure you have covered are: Who is making the food? Are they reliable? How many people will be served? Is the caterer/restaurant’s service good? Are you having buffet style or a plated dinner? How many courses will you serve? Does anyone have allergies or special meal preferences/diets? Does the menu you have chosen match the theme of the event? These are some of the most important questions you have when planning the food portion of your event. But if you have a great caterer/restaurant then this part of your job will be easier to handle.
Tip 4: Plan to Have an Activity for Your Diners to Engage in
Yes at a dinner party at some point everyone will be eating and talking but what if everyone isn’t familiar with each other? Or maybe you’re planning to wait until the guest of honor arrives before everyone sits at the table. So what do you do when everyone is awkwardly standing around and only talking to the person that they know or came with? I think it’s a great idea to have a game, or good music or an engaging activity that will set the mood until it’s time to eat. I’m sure at networking events you’ve played games to get to know people, it at least gets people to loosen up and talk.
If you have an event where people don’t know each other, have everyone take a card filled with random questions, have everyone fill out the card with information about themselves. Then at some point before dinner starts, collect the cards, shuffle them and then hand them out at random. Then allow people to move about and try to locate the person whose card is in their hand. It could be cheesy, it could be fun but at least everyone isn’t standing awkwardly looking at each other.
Tip 5: Ask for Help Because Your Team and Vendors Make Any Event Successful
There is no way one person can execute an entire event by themselves and if you think you can do it by yourself, you’re either going to be extremely stressed or extremely unsuccessful. Having a team doesn’t mean that you have twenty people planning your event, it means that you have vendors on your team who can execute your vision. These vendors include caterers, florists, audio-visual people, DJ’s, photographers, entertainers, bakers, make-up artists, clothing designers, chefs, event designers and anyone who can help you make your event a success. Doesn’t it feel so much better to know that planning your event doesn’t have to be done alone?
A Paint Nite Party for You!
Hey Sharae, it’s your birthday and as my annual gift to you, I’ve planned your surprise celebration. My sister Sharae is an artist, a graphic designer, and a UX (user experience) designer. She’s been drawing pictures and painting since we were kids. I use to bring my classwork home from art class in junior high, have her do it for me and bring it back completed perfectly. (Needless to say my teacher caught on to this once she had Sharae as a student in later years.) So I thought a wonderful way to celebrate her birthday this year is to tap into her expertise and have all of her friends join in. This year I planned a Paint Nite celebration. Paint Nite is a sip and paint activity where you are instructed by an artist to paint a selected piece of artwork and drink creatively. It was the perfect birthday celebration for an artist and friends.
Our instructor for our event was Chris Ams, a very lively and encouraging instructor and our featured painting was the Homemade Bouquet. I chose something I knew Sharae would like and also a painting those of us who didn’t graduate from Savannah College of Art and Design could keep up with. Chris let us know that we could be as creative as we wanted to be and didn’t have to follow exactly what he was instructing. We were encouraged to be as creative as our abilities would take us. Sharae decided to paint her friend Jairus, Stephanie painted a pretty cool skull head with a floral face, Joe painted his background a vibrant blue color and Kaleb chose large flowers as his petals. I on the other hand had Sharae paint a vase for me instead of a mason jar. (Once again reverting back to the days Sharae did all, yes all of my art projects.)
Paint Nite lasts about two hours. We all enjoyed mixing colors, following along with the direction of our instructor and adding our own flair. Paint Nite is available in different areas of New York City as well as across the country. I encourage you to sign up for a Paint Nite near you. It’s a great date night experience, and it’s perfect for group activities including birthdays, bachelorette parties or any bonding experience. You may purchase tickets through Groupon here or sign up for emails and receive their monthly promotional deals at paintnite.com. Thank you Paint Nite for hosting a wonderful experience for my sister’s birthday!
My Favorite Moments From David Tutera’s “Your Wedding Experience”
As the budding entrepreneur of a wedding and event planning service, there is no better person I would rather learn the business from than David Tutera. David Tutera is a wedding and event guru, a known tv personality and an incredible entrepreneur. I was elated to be accepted as an intern for David Tutera’s “Your Wedding Experience” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 28, 2016. It was the day after my 4 year blogiversary and I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate. This wedding show is the perfect expo to experience if you are a new bride, a vendor who wants to showcase your services or an event planner who wants to network with your peers. This wedding expo has something valuable for everyone. I loved my experience so I’m sharing some of my favorite moments.
Your Wedding Experience began with a “Tips and Trends” talk with event designer, Preston Bailey. Preston is known for his immaculate transformations. Visit his site, prestonbailey.com to see how he transforms an empty dull space to an entirely new experience. Preston taught us how important it is to learn from previous design mistakes and to leave your mark on each event. He taught us that we should incorporate our own special touch. He incorporates a floral sculpture at each of his events. Now I’m thinking about what my special touch will be, thank you Preston.
(Photo via bashconference.com)
David Tutera graced the “Tips and Trends” stage with his boisterous personality and shared some important facts about the industry while relating to the audience of event industry members. We all nodded our head in agreement to his advice including “become a trend setter.” In this industry everyone is looking at what every one else is doing and he taught us the importance of setting your own trend. That is something I will always keep in my mind while creating and building my business. Thank you David.
Of course Preston and David were the highlights of Your Wedding Experience but what I also appreciated was the beauty of the exhibits and the information I learned at each one. These were some of my favorite exhibits.
The “Visit Barbados” exhibit designed by Chic Occasions Events, draping by Conceptual Event Designs, florals are Events by Nikki Diaz, photography by 2 One Nine Productions and Paper Design by Nicola. Congratulations to the team on winning “Most Creative Booth.” I can see why you won, the creativity and collaboration is fantastic!
A wedding isn’t complete without a grandeur wedding cake. Dana, creator of Desserts by Dana and winner of Season 1’s Cake Boss impressed us all with his amazing cake designs. I wasn’t able to join his cake tasting but from what I heard, they are as good as they look.
So you have the cake, you even planned your honeymoon to Barbados so now what about the event decor? Pretty Posh Events had it covered. Their table and centerpieces were gorgeous.
Okay, the honeymoon is booked, event decor is designed, you ordered the cake but now what is the bride going to wear? L&H Bridal showcased their wedding gown pieces, what do you think?
After taking a look around at all the exhibits, I stopped at the Girlfriends Lounge by Munaluchi Bridal and met Co-Founder and Editor In Chief Jacqueline Nwobu. She was so sweet and gave me inspirational advice about starting my business and joining the Munaluchi Coterie. I’m inspired by her and the business owners and entrepreneurs of Munaluchi.
My experience as an intern of David Tutera’s Your Wedding Experience was simply amazing. I enjoyed meeting my fellow interns, we all share such love and passion of event planning and are inspired by David. Thank you to David Tutera, the staff of Your Wedding Experience, Lovegevity and my fellow interns for an amazing experience.
If you’d like to attend a show visit yourweddingexperience.com for tickets to Your Wedding Experience in Houston, Fort Lauderdale or Atlanta.
A Birthday Picnic Planned By Me!
As a gift to my sister who inspires me and encourages me so much, I decided to plan a surprise 25th birthday picnic for her at Gantry Plaza State Park. The park is beautiful and as a simple girl who doesn’t necessarily like over the top, extravagant and lavish celebrations, I knew a picnic would be the perfect celebration. I invited her close friends, who have grown with her over the years and our immediate family who have shaped her to be the amazing young woman that she is. With family, friends, a beautiful location and good food, she was able to begin her quarter century of life, the right way.
The invitations are designed by Pamela Green, a creative designer.
The is an original creation by Buttercooky Bakery.
Photography by Vladimir Olivier
If you need an event planner for birthdays, baby showers, graduations and other special events, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, visit my Event Planner page.