Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Movie Night of Martial Arts!

Last month I hosted a first ever "Movie night" for a martial arts school the turnout was a huge surprise! Over 45 people attended (the estimate was originally 25) and attendees were happy to be able to enjoy a community feel while enjoying food, mingling, and watching a free movie (not to mention parents loving a few hours free on Friday night)! It was a fun event to plan because it was simple but still creative, unique, and fun! Here are just some of the things we did to create a "Movie Night" mood.

Choosing the right movie. Since this was for a martial arts school, obviously everyone was going to love action movies. We decided to go with a movie that featured the master of the school ("Ninja Turf") and that brought a lot of students in because it was a hard DVD to find. Attendees has a blast watching this "classic," and afterward we did a Q&A with him and the writer.Everyone loves food! We know everyone is struggling with the economy, so we didn't want this to be an expensive event to attend. Instead we offered this as a FREE event with a movie, popcorn, and soda. Then if people wanted pizza, we asked for a $5 donation. We called our local pizzeria and they were able to give us a great discount and even donated a gift certificate to raffle off. The pizza is always a big hit, and since our first Movie Night they've gotten even more business from the school and want to continue offering their pizzas at the event.

Add some fun accents. Since there wasn't much to decorate for the Movie Night, we had to get creative with the decor and fun additions. We popped fresh popcorn and put them into clear individual bags with the school logo on it to show off that school pride. We also made a mini candy station for the kids to enjoy in case they wanted something sweet. We were able to find old vintage posters of the movie, so we hung them up before the movie so that people could get excited about it.Ask for Feedback. Since this was the first social event of its kind, we wanted to see what the feedback was from the attendees. Immediately following the movie, we passed out "raffle cards" which basically had 5 questions about the event and how to rate it. We motivated people to fill it out and return it by making it a raffle drawing. After the Q&A, we collected all the cards and raffled some martial arts equipment, and of course, the Pizzeria's gift certificate. The school was able to pull together the pros and cons of the event and keep what worked and change what needed work.
Making friends is easy when there's food and a movie!
This event was a great way to build a community amongst the students without having to spend extra money. As the word spreads, more and more people are asking about the next Movie Night and what movies they'd like to see. Whether you do this with friends at home or as a social activity for work, it's a great way to build relationships while having fun!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Highlights from the Bride Expo

I attended the Bride Expo last Sunday at the Universal Hilton next to Universal Studios. Unfortunately, it was a fairly small trade show with a little over 50 booths, but I enjoyed walking around and seeing what new vendors I hadn't met yet. I was probably done walking it after about 40 minutes.
In addition to the girls dressed up in wedding dresses to showcase their designer, some of the booths did stand out, so I listed them below along with their links.

Hansen's Cake: Beautiful cakes that tasted delicious (yay for free samples!). What I thought was most amazing about these cakes were her design details ad frosting was all made from butter cream instead of fondant! Truly impressive!Heavenly Hands: De Leon was giving out free massages and I had to take advantage! In 15 minutes, he was able to work out all the knots in my neck and relax my entire back (I could have taken a nap then and there!). His services also include a manicure and pedicure station, and everything is available for bridal showers, pampering parties, and even as gifts to the bridal party from the bride.

Laserbird: What a unique and creative way to make personalized gifts! Kathy Ruiz showcased laser-engraved shotglasses, champagne flutes, party favors, even chopsticks! She's very affordable and will work with your wedding theme and decor to make sure you get beautiful customized gifts you can give your guests, your bridal party, your parents, even your new spouse!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

High School Reunions, Make it a Party to Remember!

I went to my high school reunion last weekend and realized that, though there must be thousands of these events all over the country almost every weekend, I never seem to find someone who says they had a blast at their reunion (feel free to let me know if you loved yours and why!). So I got to thinking, and besides being totally open to planning them in the future (for the sake of everyone who will have to go one of these days), there are many ways to make a high school reunion fun, entertaining, and possibly even an event that everyone looks forward to going to! Check them out below.

1. Make your invitation POP! With everyone getting married and having husiness meetings, holiday parties, and conferences, your invitation has to really catch the attention of your classmates! Think about the type of party you're hosting (casual, themed, cocktail hour) and try to get creative with it. Our mascots were the Tigers, so I was inspired with a tiger print "Walk on the Wild Side" theme to show a fun "cocktail hour" lounge theme.

2. Stop the food! We've all been to enough networking and social events to know that the food is not important!! Have enough hours d'ouerves to let people snack, but a full sit down dinner is not necessary. The reason people are attending the reunion is to reaquaint themselves with lost friends and catch up with what's been going on. The last you want to do is lock everyone down to a seat the whole night with food in their mouths. As a candy lover, I'm all about the candy stations with little take home bags that people can pack for later.3. Keep the Drinks Flowing! Not that everyone drinks alcohol, but for those that do, I imagine you'll want a cocktail in hand when you're re-meeting people again. Open bar would be fantastic, but it could also be dangerous. So perhaps allowing the ticket price to include 2 drinks, or if you come early that there's free drinks for the first 30 minutes would be an incentive to come early and start mingling.
Following the theme, create a signature drink! This one is called "Orange Blossom"

4. Play some games. Now this one will depend on the type of class you have, but since everyone attending is obviously interested in learning what everyone else has been doing, might as well make some games out of it and make it fun! Games can be as simple as asking who traveled the furthest, who has been married the longest, who has the most kids, etc. Prizes can be given afterward.

5. Be nostalgic. I personally had a great time in high school but didn't really keep up with as many friends as I'd hoped. I don't quite remember who was in what class and what our theme was for prom, so I would have loved some pictures, posters, or even a slideshow of pictures from the past. Ask guests to submit photos to be put into a slideshow that you can show that evening. Have a photobooth where pictures can be seen from the outside as well, like my fab vendors Photocube. Have the mascots show up for a portion of the party so that alumni can take pictures with them. There are many ways you can bring back that old high school spirit.
6. Invite the family. For those who can't make it to an evening reunion, consider having a picnic in the day time. This is great for those guests who did travel from afar to be there, and it also allows guests with spouses or kids to share in the festivities. This can be as informal as a potluck picnic in the quad of your high school or at the local restaurant hang out.
Reunions are supposed to be fun! Remember that you want to make all your classmates comfortable and make it worthwhile to have traveled all the way there to see everyone again. It should be a good mix of high school/adult mixer/ice breakers so that you can incorporate all types of people. Have fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Girl's Only Cocktail Party/Sleepover

I'm very excited about a party we're planning tonight for just the girls! I have about 5 cousins coming over to have our all-too-seldom "Cousin Sleepover." Of course our youngest cousin is 17 and the oldest are in our late 20's, but it's all in good fun and a great excuse to have a party and catch up.
Even when planning your most informal events, it's nice to show you care in the details that you present for the party. It just brings the whole event up a notch from a regular sleepover to a full-blown Girl's Night Cocktail Party/All Night Sleepover!

Food. Instead of ordering the typical pizza or snack foods, we opted for a fun activity food: FONDUE!!! There are so many fun ways to make fondue, and it's inexpensive but classy! Go with a cheese fondue for a dinner setting, or for those sweet tooths (like us), we're going for chocolate with all the fixings!Drinks. We asked everyone to tell us their favorite cocktails and we provided all the mixers and made up fun names for each drink to create a mini bar of our favorites to share with everyone. Every guest will get a drink charm that they can put on their drink glass to distinguish their cup. These can easily be bought or made at an arts and crafts store like Michael's. Activities. I'm a BIG fan of having activities, whether it be games, entertainment, or just a focal point that people can enjoy if there is ever a lull. We'll be playing boardgames (that's our "thing") but I also had a wonderful idea to make every single guest feel extra special, especially since it's difficult to see everyone all the time.
We'll be making "Cousin Jars" ( you can name them to fit your theme/purpose) where every person will get a jar with their name/special embellishment on it. There will be small note-sized cards given out with statements like "My funniest moment with you.." and "I admire you because..." that everyone can write about you and put in your jar. Each person can share their messages aloud afterward, and it makes a beautiful keepsake of memories!Entertainment. My cousins are unique in that we all grew up together and are very close. As an aspiring filmmaker in my younger days, I used to videotape entire productions involving all of my cousins as the cast. We thought it might be fun (and embarrassing??!) to find all those lost tapes and showcase all the recently discovered footage. Afterward we'll give everyone a copy on DVD to keep whenever they need a good laugh!