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How to Plan a Surprise Party: The Ultimate Guide

Looking for tips on how to plan a surprise party, organize the attendees, and keep the guest of honor in the dark until it’s time? Here are some instructions on how to plan the best possible surprise party for anyone and any occasion. Keep reading to discover some useful tips on a variety of surprise party types, as well as a step-by-step guide to planning every detail.

Learn how to plan a surprise party in 17 simple steps:

Follow these step-by-step instructions for how to plan a surprise party your friends, family, or client will talk about for years to come.

1. Make the decision.

Surprise parties are polarizing. People who love them really love them. People who hate them really hate them. Unless the guest of honor has specifically said they enjoy surprise parties or would want one, it’s hard to know if it’s a good idea.

Here are some ways to tell if a surprise party is a good choice or not:

  • Ask someone who would know best (partner, close family member, etc.).
  • Tell the guest of honor about a recent surprise you loved and watch their reaction.
  • Reflect on how they reacted to surprises in the past.
  • Consider their personality — someone who likes to go with the flow will likely enjoy a surprise party.

Weirdly enough, you should actually consider throwing a surprise party for the person who swears they don’t want one. According to Business Wire, 43.5% of the people who say they don’t want one actually do want that very same party.So unless there are strong reasons why they wouldn’t enjoy it (and no, not wanting people to go out of their way isn’t one of them), then do it!

2. Play Sherlock Holmes.

Get the guest of honor(s) to help plan the party without telling them about it by carefully investigating their party-related likes and dislikes. Use natural conversation to bring these ideas up, otherwise you might give it away.

You can:

  • Pretend you’re planning a party for someone else. Get their opinion on your Pinterest inspiration board.
  • Remind them of other parties you’ve been to together. Talk about what you liked.
  • Comment on celebrity parties you see on social media.

And don’t forget to use your other available resources. Friends, family, coworkers, and event stakeholders who are close to the guest of honor can all chip in their two cents.

Pro tip: Reserve the sleuthing for someone with a great poker face. If the guest of honor gets suspicious, you’ll need to convince them why they’re wrong and that there isn’t a party being planned for them.

3. Assemble your team.

You can plan a surprise party all by yourself. But if you have friends, family, or coworkers who are willing to help you out, add the following roles to your mini planning committee:

  • Team lead: Communicates with every team member, creates and oversees a party-planning workflow.
  • Designer: Chooses the theme, color palette, and decorations.
  • Sponsor: Funds and/or defines the surprise party budget.
  • Runner: Runs errands and keeps track of expenses.
  • F&B manager: Cooks or coordinates all meals, snacks, and refreshments.
  • Guest manager: Creates a guest list, sends invitations, arranges transportation, and confirms RSVPs.
  • Guest of honor point person: Creates or implements the decoy plan that gets the guest of honor to the venue without ruining the surprise.

4. Start organizing.

To learn how to plan a surprise party, you need a checklist tool to track all tasks and a communication tool to coordinate everyone involved. The most popular tools for for planning surprise parties include:

  • Facebook: Create a secret group, invite guests and collaborators, and add a Facebook Event with party details so guests can RSVP electronically.
  • WhatsApp: Start a private group and invite people to chat about details before the party.
  • Slack: Instant message and start conversation threads that all your team members can respond to with ease.
  • Trello: Create and assign party planning tasks with due dates to keep everything on schedule.

5. Decide on a theme.

Base the theme on the guest of honor’s interests (fandoms, sports, and hobbies work well), the type of surprise party you’re throwing, and the color scheme you’d like to use. Also, choose a level of formality you’d like to have now. Casual parties work better for a surprise party because it’s easier to hide your preparation, but formal surprise parties can be pulled off with a little extra creativity.

Pro tip: The key to throwing a formal surprise party the guest of honor doesn’t see coming is to choose an upscale location that doesn’t seem too far out of the ordinary. Or, go with one near an area they already spend time in.

6. Set a budget.

The budget for a surprise party varies depending on guest count, location, level of formality, and much more. But there are always ways to trim the costs a bit. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Limit your refreshments to BYOB.
  • Serve light snacks instead of meals.
  • Use one main decor focal point instead of decorating every inch of the space.

Surprise parties don’t have many additional costs compared to a regular party. In fact, most surprise parties maintain that important element of surprise by using venues that aren’t too out of the ordinary. Think: a neighbor’s backyard or a public park.

7. Choose a date and time.

Follow the traditional dates and time of day used for that party type. For example, weddings typically take place during the afternoon, so a surprise wedding party should do the same.

Pro tip: If you’re choosing a date and time for a surprise birthday party, go with an option that takes place before their actual date of birth to maximize the chances they’ll be truly surprised. One to three weeks before their actual birthday will do the trick.

8. Book a location.

The best locations for a surprise party are:

  • Somewhere the guest of honor won’t accidentally go while setup is happening.
  • Near a location they frequent, such as a restaurant district or a friend’s house so that you don’t tip them off by breaking their expected routine.
  • Easy to sneak people into with multiple parking options spread apart, plus entrances and exits on different sides of the building.

9. Create a floor plan.

Use 3D event diagramming software and tools to figure out where you’ll hide people and supplies, place tables and chairs, and much more. You can also share your plans with your guests and designate entrances and exits for individual groups. Less is more when it comes to decorations — create one large focal point the guest of honor will see when they walk into the main party room, and plan tables and chairs around that.

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10. Design and purchase decorations.

The point of a surprise party is the surprise, and if there are too many decorations around, your guest of honor will be tipped off before they even see all of the guests. A banner, some streamers, and a balloon or two will be more than enough. If you’re going to order custom balloon colors or a special sign, plan this at least two weeks in advance in case of delivery delays.

11. Decide on activities to include.

Add some relaxed activities to your surprise party plan to take the heat off of the guest of honor so they can mix and mingle. Board games, poker, and a DIY cupcake bar area all great choices, but it will of course vary depending on the type of surprise party. Brainstorm what makes the most sense for the guest of honor and all of the attendees and go from there. Did you and the guest of honor frequent the pool hall in college? Consider choosing a venue with pool tables. Is the guest of honor your boss who loves darts? Set up a few dart boards throughout the location. The options are endless — this is where creativity is incredibly important!

12. Create a menu.

Once again, this step will depend on the type of surprise party. Food isn’t always a requirement, but most hosts like to at least bring a birthday cake and cupcakes if it’s a surprise birthday party. If you choose to create a menu for a full meal, go with something you know the host will love. Save on setup and cleanup time, plus help keep the secret under wraps for as long as possible, by ordering takeout or delivery set for after the guest of honor arrives.

13. Send invitations.

Digital invitations are the most discreet and easiest to hide. Paperless Post and Evite offer free customizable designs plus RSVP features and guest updates. Send your invitations one month to two weeks ahead of time and collect RSVPs a week in advance.

Make sure you clearly communicate the fact that this is a surprise party by adding “surprise party” to the evite subject line and the main header of the message. Include parking and entrance instructions for those who want to jump out and surprise the guests. And for those who will arrive later, ask them to hold off until 15 minutes after the planned guest of honor arrival time so they don’t walk in during the surprise.This is another time that having some sort of communication tool or app will come in handy. You don’t want to be unable to communicate with guests if something goes awry (i.e. the guest of honor is running late) at the last minute.

14. Iron out the decoy plan.

To surprise the guest of honor on the day of the party, create a decoy plan. A decoy plan is what the guest of honor thinks they’re on their way to go do. The activity shouldrequire them to dress in a way that will be appropriate for the surprise party so that they’re not caught over/underdressed and embarrassed about their outfit. You’ll need a point person to create the decoy plan with them, arrange transportation, and time everything out.

15. Prepare food and drinks.

If the party is catered, share the floor planyou made with your chef and finalize arrival times for party staff. If you’re bringing your own refreshments, purchase shelf or fridge stable items 3 to 5 days in advance. Order any baked goods for the day before or morning of.

16. Make a playlist.

Use Spotify or another similar music app to come up with a playlist of relaxed beats, classic jazz, or top 40 hits the guest of honor will love to set the tone for the party. The faster, more intense the music, the more of a party vibe you’ll get. The slower, more casual the music, the more of a laid back vibe you’ll get. More relaxed music fits the tone of most surprise parties, so if you’re not sure which to do, default to this option. You can always mix it up, too. What makes sense during the surprise portion of the party might not make sense later on in the night.

17. Outline the reveal.

Ask yourself these important questions to plan the big reveal:

  • Do you want everyone to wait standing in the dark then flick the lights on?
  • Do you want attendees to pop up/out from behind furniture?

If you do a virtual surprise party, ask everyone to leave their meeting IDs blank or change it to an appropriate party greeting. Have them turn their cameras off. Then invite the guest of honor to the meeting or, if you’re physically present, enter the meeting for them ahead of time, turn the microphone on so people can hear you coming, and open the screen for the guest of honor to see everyone.

For in-person surprises, you may also want a professional photographer to capture the moment. Or add some fun party props like cardboard glasses, streamer headbands, and glow-in-the-dark jewelry.

Quick tips for common types of surprise parties:

Plan your surprise party with these key ideas in mind to pull off any celebration.

  1. Virtual surprise party.
    • Change all your backgrounds to photos of, or with, the guest of honor.
    • Use brightly-colored props like wigs, birthday candles, and balloons to make the call more like a party and less like a work meeting.
  1. Surprise birthday party.
    • Trade the tired “we forgot your birthday” cover up for solid alibis that explain why you “won’t be able to celebrate” this year to make the surprise work without hurting anyone’s feelings.
    • Let guests know their presence is the gift and that additional items are optional.
  1. Surprise wedding ceremony and/or reception.
    • Consider telling your parents so they have time to emotionally and physically prepare, but don’t tell anyone else.
    • Pretend you’re throwing a party with a strict time and dress code to keep it a surprise.
  1. Surprise proposal and engagement dinner.
    • Choose a venue nearby the proposal spot to make the surprise dinner more convenient.
    • To truly surprise them, don’t go to an unusual location – stick to your favorite date night places instead.
  1. Surprise homecoming party.
    • Prepare your home ahead of time with their favorite foods, entertainment, and supplies.
    • Consider limiting your guest list since the event will likely be emotionally and socially positive, but also draining.
  1. Surprise baby shower.
    • Go against tradition and forego limiting the guest list to women, only to throw off the guest of honor.
    • Pick a venue where you can easily display and open gifts since they might be large (think cribs and strollers).
  1. Surprise going-away party.
    • Ask everyone to sign a card, memory book, or photo album with their name and well-wishes for the perfect sentimental gift.
    • Don’t throw the party within three days of their move since they’ll likely be stressed over last-minute packing.

Frequently asked questions about surprise parties:

How do you organize a surprise party?

Organize a simple surprise party by choosing a location, date, and time. Then secretly invite guests and trick the guest of honor into showing up. 

How long does it take to plan a surprise party?

It can take as little as one week to plan a surprise party or as long as six months. The timeline of surprise party planning is determined by the guest list size (groups of 25 or less are quicker to plan for than groups of 250+) and event type (i.e. a birthday is less complex than a wedding, etc.). 

How far in advance do you start planning a surprise party?

As a general rule of thumb, you should start to plan a surprise party at least three weeks in advance. Give yourself one week to prepare, another week to give guests an opportunity to clear their schedule, and a final week to collect RSVPs and make last minute arrangements. 

How do I plan a cheap surprise party?

You can plan a cheap surprise party by choosing a free location, doing BYOB, and limiting (or eliminating) decor. 

Now you know how to plan a surprise party!

In addition to party planning basics like picking a theme, decor, and venue, surprise parties require you to think outside the box and come up with creative elements that make the celebration extra special. Combine these step by step instructions with our ultimate party planning checklist to plan your next surprise party like a pro.

Up next, check out these unique event decor and design trends you can use to deck out your surprise party even further.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post How to Plan a Surprise Party: The Ultimate Guide appeared first on Social Tables.

The Ultimate Guide to Cabaret Style Seating

Cabaret style seating is used for events such as presentations, galas, award shows, dinners, and even training seminars. Chances are you’ve been to — or planned — an event that used this type of seating. But what is it, exactly? Keep reading to discover the pros, cons, and best practices of cabaret style seating. Then, explore ways to make the most of this seating arrangement no matter what venue you book, with examples from leading brands. 

What is cabaret style seating?

It’s similar to banquet style seating, but it differs in one key area. Usually, cabaret style seating features round tables with chairs placed 2/3 of the way around. This leaves an open end at each table, which directs an audience’s attention to a focal point, such as a stage.

Advantages and disadvantages of cabaret style seating:

With cabaret style seating, guests can easily pay attention to a focal point but also socialize and work together. Event planners have the option to assign seating by team or ticket group. Or they can let guests mix and mingle as they please in this versatile arrangement. 

The biggest disadvantage of cabaret style seating is that it can take up a lot of floor space. While this can be avoided if you use event diagramming tools to make the most of your space, it’s worth noting if you’re at max capacity. Also, watch out for audience visibility in this style of seating arrangement. Double check all key sightlines before finalizing your layout.

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Explore 10 cabaret style seating arrangement ideas:

Follow these tips for how to make cabaret style seating practical and aesthetically-pleasing at the same time.

1. Use pyramid formations.

Start with a long front row. Then, place the next row of cabaret tables in the spaces between the previous row. Continue on backwards until you’re able to seat your entire guest list. Not only is this easy to plan out, it also gives everyone the best possible view if they’re all on the same level. 

2. Add screens.

Add a screen up front and center for presentation materials, supplementary videos, or to livecast the speaker so everyone can see them better. If your space is extra large or oddly shaped, put smaller screens up on either side of the main screen. This is also a great work around for awkwardly placed poles or columns. 

3. Try mismatched centerpieces.

Keep centerpieces short so that anyone sitting behind them can still see the stage or speaker. Unify all of your mismatched centerpieces under one theme such as fall florals or vintage typewriters. Remember the venue colors when you choose your centerpiece. Also, do your best to choose items that work well with the established theme and color palette. 

4. Align chair backs.

Remove the temptation to pull chairs around the table to fill the signature cabaret style gap by staging all chairs so that they’re facing the front of the room before the event starts. Make your focal point extra obvious with a podium, archway, or presentation equipment so guests can instantly understand why this arrangement was chosen. 

5. Use table runners.

Stylishly designate which side guests should not sit on by adding a statement table runner. Use a contrasting color and drape it over the 1/3 of the table surface closest to the front. Not only will this discourage participants from moving their seats, it will also provide decor without limiting anyone’s view.

6. Hang ceiling decor.

Leave sightlines unobstructed and add stunning visual elements to any conference, meeting, or performance using the air space above tables. Spotlight them with lightweight and temporary decor such as LED clouds, upside-down bouquets, or themed items such as clusters of beach balls. Always check with your venue, but keep in mind there are many sturdy yet temporary ceiling hook options out there.

7. Bring in risers.

Avoid the risks of same-level seating and use risers to either lift your audience or your speakers. Add levels to the back of the venue and place your tables on top to give guests a better view. Make sure to follow ADA guidelines and set up railings on three sides. Or, if there isn’t a built-in stage, place a layer of risers up front so speakers are above the audience’s sightline.

8. Make aisleways obvious.

Cabaret style seating can quickly become visually messy, so make sure you create a floor plan that features crisp aisleways. Add one down the middle in front of the stage so audiences don’t have to crane their necks to see. If you have more than 10 tables, consider putting in another aisle that runs down the middle and is parallel to the stage. This way, guests can comfortably enter and exit as needed without disrupting the presentation. 

9. Match the chairs.

One of the best ways to visually tie all of your cabaret tables and seating together is to use the same exact color and style of chair throughout. Not only does this unify the group, it also brings a sense of balance to any cabaret style seating arrangement living inside an otherwise lopsided or uneven venue. Match the chairs belonging to the presenters to further connect them with the audience. Or, if you’d like to elevate their importance or prestige, give them a chair in a dramatic shape (like wingback) or use a contrasting color in the same style. 

10. Add high tops.

High-top tables can be created in the cabaret style as long as you leave out chairs in the frontmost part. Place a few rows of taller tables toward the back of the venue to give the audience more visibility. Or, give speakers a place to land once they’re done by putting a high-top table off to the side and out of the spotlight. This ensures they can see the rest of the event without having to slide into a pre-existing table. 

Discover 5 examples of cabaret style seating:

Nail down decor, maximize your floor plan, and mix in some other seating types like these leading brands did for their cabaret style seating arrangements.

  1. Work around poles by splitting the arrangement in half and offering screens on both sides to maximize visibility like London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale did for their meeting room. 
  2. Follow this example from the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club and strategically place cabaret style high-top tables at the end of the middle aisleway to designate an on-deck area for speakers. 
  3. Take inspiration from this idea from Carden Park and add a folding screen off to one side of the stage to give presenters a chance to ready themselves. 
  4. Since table decor options can be limited with cabaret style seating, do what the Howard Johnson by Wyndham Kolkata does and match tablecloths and seat bows using bold colors. 
  5. Use individual carafes with refreshments such as coffee, hot water for tea, and all the essential add-ins as your table centerpieces like the Camberley Theatre does. 

Now you know all about cabaret style seating!

Next up, make a final decision about whether open or assigned seating is the right choice for your event. 

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How to Run a Roundtable Discussion in 7 Simple Steps

Roundtables date back to 1155 A.D. when King Arthur popularized the phrase with his group of advisors known as the Knights of the Round Table. Since then, everyone from world powers developing actions for global peace treaties to Fortune 500 companies debating the future of their industries have all learned how to run a roundtable discussion. And so can you! Keep reading to discover some must-know tips for what format this event type follows, what steps you need to take, and the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding roundtable discussions.

What is a roundtable discussion?

A roundtable discussion is an organized conversation with one moderator, several chosen speakers that bring a variety of perspectives to a subject, and an audience who may simply observe or participate by asking questions. Some events use the roundtable discussion format as a breakout exercise for small groups during a conference or lecture. 

Explore how to run a roundtable discussion in 7 simple steps:

Learning how to run a roundtable discussion requires a keen understanding of what roundtables can and cannot do for brands, as well as the steps you absolutely must take to pull it off. 

1. Use strategic goals.

If you’re hosting a corporate event of any kind, create a goal that supports the business as a whole and aligns with messaging from active marketing campaigns. For example, tire brands that want to attract stay-at-home mothers should consider using their current taglines or copy as inspiration for roundtable discussion topics. 

Moral of the story: Connect the dots between business goals, marketing goals, and event goals to find the best possible roundtable discussion ideas.

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2. Pick a type.

There are three main types of roundtable discussions: In-person, virtual, and CEO. 

  • In-person roundtable discussions are appealing to guests who want to network with speakers but the audience is limited to those who are local or can travel to the venue.
  • Virtual roundtable discussions are highly accessible but require more preparation in order to avoid distracting technology issues and awkward conversation.
  • CEO roundtable discussions, which are typically done monthly and have a rotating list of industry topics to choose from, host speakers who all run and/or own notable businesses. This type of roundtable discussion is more labor intensive because they are usually recurring or part of a series. They also may involve more expensive speaker fees if participants will be compensated. 

3. Find a moderator.

Search for moderators that are charismatic, have a lot of knowledge around the chosen topics, and are recognizable within your industry. Keep in mind that being recognizable does not necessarily mean they are famous on social media or otherwise, but that may be the case. Choose a moderator who has credentials such as experience working with leading brands in your field or have award-winning media such as a book or well-respected podcast. 

Before you confirm your moderator, make sure they are interested in either conducting or reading your notes on the necessary research for the speakers, the topic, and the audience. Reach out to social media connections, speakers from past industry conferences, and look within your own company to find the best possible host. 

4. Choose speakers.

Tailor the experience to the background of your audience. If they are beginners in the field, look for speakers who have a variety of experience levels. Also, be sure to get a good, diverse spread. As a general rule of thumb, you should book a minimum of three experts who offer different points of view or areas of expertise. 

If your roundtable discussion is around a hot topic or a highly-debated one, choose at least two people who will represent both extreme ends of a given spectrum and one person who falls somewhere in the middle or offers a wildcard in terms of their experience.

If your roundtable discussion is less about a debate and more about covering various aspects of one subject area, get a group of niche experts together to form a comprehensive education on the topic. For example, a roundtable discussion on the future of the hotel industry may want subject matter experts who can touch on marketing, technology, the travel industry as a whole, climate change, and hospitality economics. 

5. Make an agenda.

Start with a 2-5 minute-long introduction that welcomes the audience and sets the tone of the event. Reiterate the title of the panel and call out any event sponsors or partners. Say each panelist’s name, occupation, and a one-sentence description about what makes them an expert on the subject. Have the moderator introduce themselves too, along with their credentials. 

Then, introduce the topic for the event and provide interesting facts, statistics, or anecdotes that illustrate why it’s important in five minutes or less. Write this section with the audience’s perspective in mind. For example, if the roundtable speakers are a group of expert outbound marketers but the audience consists of first-year college students, quickly review the basics of the topic before diving in. Ask moderators to memorize the topic introduction or create a bulleted list of discussion points to hit before moving on. 

Next, divide the remaining time by however many questions you plan to ask. Order the questions the way you would a good story: Set the scene, introduce the conflict, offer solutions, and end on a high note. A roundtable discussion on hospital bedside manner, for instance, would begin with a question on the importance of it, followed by why it’s often overlooked and how medical professionals can create a new standard of excellence. When in doubt, stick with the “what, why, and how” order to create a natural discussion arch. 

Finally, conclude by thanking participants and attendees in a quick 1-2 minute wrap up. Add a strong call to action such as signing up for your email newsletter to get invitations for future events or to follow up with speakers on their social media. 

6. Listen effectively.

Follow advice from clinical psychologist Jordan Peters, who says the best way to listen is to focus on learning one new thing from each person that you didn’t know before. Dr. Peterson goes on to explain that the host’s job is to help guests “express the truth of the situation.” Help speakers get there faster by making sure they are physically and emotionally prepared with plenty of water, comfortable seating, and information on what they can expect. 

7. Capture marketing assets.

Get the most out of your roundtable discussion by turning your event into evergreen marketing content. Transcribe the audio for hearing impaired audiences to enjoy. Share it on your blog to support your inbound marketing or keyword strategy.

Use data from virtual roundtable discussions to get a better understanding of your audience. Capture email newsletter signups and share special product or service offers. Record the roundtable discussion and share it as a video on YouTube, social media, or your website.

Livestream and tweet the discussion to reach audiences on a wide variety of platforms. Further engage audiences through live polls, Q&As, and topic submissions. Survey attendees afterward to learn more about what they like and dislike about your content to improve your next roundtable discussion. 

Frequently asked questions about roundtable discussions:

What is the purpose of a roundtable discussion?

At its highest level, the goal is to share expert advice or relevant industry trends. Roundtable discussions are also great for having conversations about opposing viewpoints on the same topic. Participants and speakers alike takeaway new perspectives and information from every discussion. 

How do you lead a roundtable? 

To lead a roundtable, you must have a strong meeting agenda, a timer to keep everyone on schedule, and a welcoming personality that will make guests feel comfortable sharing their truths. 

Now you know how to run a roundtable discussion!

Now that you know how to run a roundtable discussion and what you’ll need to do it, take your newfound knowledge one step further by maximizing your investment. Follow corporate event management tips to align the roundtable discussion with relevant, big-picture goals. Then, consider hosting or streaming your roundtable discussion online with these must-have virtual event technology tools.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post How to Run a Roundtable Discussion in 7 Simple Steps appeared first on Social Tables.

Check-In Web Sunset Notice to Clients

As of January 26, 2021, Social Tables will no longer support Check-In Web from our Event Services platform. 

What will happen after January 26, 2021? 

Users will no longer have access to Check-In Web. 

Why are we no longer supporting Check-In Web?

Check-In Web has had low usability throughout the years and has been a high-maintenance feature for our team. We did extensive research and gathered user feedback about Check-In Web to help our team develop a new product – Attendee Manager. 

Attendee Manager is a more advanced and better-developed way to manage your attendees. We’ve gotten great feedback on Attendee Manager and have seen lots of traction among users, so we decided it was the right time to sunset Check-In Web.  

What about my data?

Great news! We’ve migrated all of your attendee information into Attendee Manager for you. There’s no action needed on your end.

Can I still use Check-In by Social Tables Mobile App?

Yes! Check-In by Social Tables will still be accessible to our users and will be available in the app store to download. 

Where can I learn more about Attendee Management?

We hope that our Attendee Management tool can continue to assist you in managing your attendees. For more information, please read the Overview of Attendee Management Tool.

If you have any questions, please contact your Account Manager or our Support Team.

The post Check-In Web Sunset Notice to Clients appeared first on Social Tables.

21 Creative Super Bowl Party Ideas

Want to throw the best Super Bowl party of all time? The key is creativity. Although there are some best-loved traditions for this event type, you can still make your get-together — whether it be big or small, at home or at work — completely unique. Discover some foolproof ways to feed and delight guests with these 21 original Super Bowl party ideas everyone will remember for years to come. 

The key to planning an unforgettable Super Bowl party:

Stereotypical Super Bowl parties use tablecloths, paper plates, and temporary decor pieces with standard football stadium designs. They typically serve wings, burgers, and/or pizza. There’s usually a lot of beer involved and plenty of shouting at the television. However, if you’re planning a Super Bowl party for the first time or would like to make one that will really stand out, consider switching up some of these traditional items with more creative options. Although you may not have a choice about the shouting, you do have options when it comes to how your party looks and feels.

The best way to put your own personal spin on a Super Bowl party is to have a unique take on food, decor, and activities. Focus on the dietary needs and interests of your guests when creating your menu. For decor, lean into team colors or go with a classy color scheme of black, white, and silver. And to keep everyone entertained in between the action, create spaces for children away from everything, line up fun mini-events for adults who are less interested in the game, and use your overall event goals as a guide for additional activities.

Whether you’re hosting your party in a home, a bar, or a ballroom, take your venue into account when planning the entire event. Want to go above and beyond? Create a layout using Cvent Event Diagramming to get a 3D representation of where your food will be staged and, most importantly, how easy it will be for guests to view the game.

Also, always weave in the natural style of the venue into your decor choices. For example, if the space has rustic architecture, make a hang out lounge outside with hay bales for seats. In other words, choose furniture and decor that blends the football theme with all existing features of the space. 

Explore 21 creative and fun Super Bowl party ideas:  

1. Use virtual reality.

Grab some virtual reality headsets and give your guests a chance to experience the game up close and personal without having the pay for expensive ticket prices. Use the Fox app or website, Sling TV, YouTube TV, or Hulu live TV with compatible hardware. Encourage guests to bring their own or rent them from an event technology company. Remember to clean and disinfect them in between users.

2. Raise money.

Super Bowl parties are a great opportunity to raise money for your favorite charity. Raffle off tickets for next year’s game or authentic sports memorabilia. You can also do a silent auction.  Alternatively, get active with a flag football game that has a special twist such as the Three Piece Suit Football Charity Festival, which asks the participants to wear actual three-piece suits while they play. 

3. Strategize your layout.

Keep in mind that layouts create the atmosphere of any event. No matter what type of space you’re in, make sure yours has each of the following:

  • A dedicated lounge area with television screens to watch the game on, plus coffee tables and side tables.
  • A separate kids zone for activities that gives them an option to relax away from the grown-ups.
  • Food staging — whether it’s a buffet, a kitchen area, or a formal dining area — close to the game yet out of the way.

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4. Play Super Bowl commercial bingo.

For some Super Bowl party guests, the commercials will be the main event. Use a pre-made Super Bowl card for the activity or DIY using a template or website that creates custom designs. Create squares for the type of product in the commercials, the tone of the commercials, and elements such as props or celebrity appearances that you expect to happen.

5. Give out swag bags.

For higher-end Super Bowl parties, a swag bag is required. Use designer brands for items such as stadium blankets and seasonal candles. Include football-themed gifts such as replicas of Super Bowl rings or Gourmet BBQ sauce. Feel free to give away officially-licensed NFL gear, too. 

6. Use a voice assistant.

Google Home and Alexa units can now help you prepare for the Super Bowl. When getting ready for the party, ask them to set timers when cooking food or give answers to popular football trivia. During the game, you can have your voice assistant update everyone on the score, mute TVs during commercials, or even order extra beer and pizza for delivery.

7. Do Super Bowl trivia.

Test party guests on their knowledge of this year’s Super Bowl or Super Bowls of the past. Include trivia about players, coaches, teams, and even sportscasters. Hand out prizes or play for bragging rights.

8. Hire professional servers.

Make your Super Bowl party run a little smoother with professional servers who can keep your food warm, clean in between servings, and rotate in fresh options whenever possible. You can also get a cake from a local bakery, order takeout from a trendy BBQ spot, or hire a caterer to do all of the above. Even if you can afford an entire party team, even just one of these things will make your event seem that much more polished.

9. Copy Vegas parties.

Las Vegas Super Bowl parties all have these things in common: Great TVs, tons of drinks, and delicious food. Model your party after one of your favorite hotels on the Strip or follow these three commandments for an expert-level celebration. And if you’re selling tickets to your Super Bowl party, include some exclusive VIP options. 

10. Put a twist on the classic menu.

Nearly every Super Bowl party has wings, meatballs, macaroni and cheese, chili, burgers, pigs in a blanket, and some sort of potato dish. If you plan to serve any of the above, make sure you add a unique spin on it to make your recipes even more special. For example, you can color your burger buns to match the final two teams. Or wrap something unusual in bacon (like dates). Another great party trick guests love is homemade sauces, which are actually quite simple.

11. Serve heavy appetizers.

Skip a formal sit-down meal in favor of multiple rounds of heavy appetizers that are meat or carb-based. If you plan to serve a salad, fill it to the brim with a variety of colorful vegetables such as peppers and carrots. Station your appetizers throughout the room or have event staff pass them on trays at regular intervals.

Alternatively, you can serve food in a buffet-style setting. Guests can comfortably get up and refill their plates when they’re hungry. Just make sure the tables are out of the way of the viewing area but close enough that people can still follow the game. 

12. Have a DIY bar.

Let everyone customize their own meal with traditional toppings and some surprise additions in a DIY food bar. Popular options include nachos, tacos, pasta, personal-size pizzas, wings, and popcorn. Add in “normal” ingredients like sharp cheddar cheese and “weird” options like toasted coconut strips. You can do the same for cocktails!

13. Give out stadium snack packs.

Used cardboard trays and miniature boxes for this individual meal experience. Add peanuts, popcorn, soda, hot dogs, pretzels, and candy. Or, let guests customize their own box by mixing and matching pre-prepared snacks.

14. Offer themed charcuterie.

Create a charcuterie board in the shape of a football or use football-themed snacks. Include meats, cheeses, fruits, and dips. Add a variety of popular flavors such as spicy, buffalo, ranch, sour cream, and beer.

15. Serve football-shaped desserts.

Craft your own football-shaped cake pops, ice cream sandwiches, or brownies using a cookie cutter and some white icing for the laces. You can also create referees by dipping cookies in black icing, drawing faces at the top, then adding in white stripes and whistles to complete the uniform. 

16. Serve team-colored Jello shots.

Color coordinate your Jello layers with the colors of the teams playing. Use flavors that are inspired by the teams’ cities. For example, tropical options like mango would be appropriate for Florida.

17. Shake up beer cocktails.

Even if you serve beer in bottles and cans, consider making some craft cocktails, too. This delicious bourbon and honey beer cocktail pairs well with a smoky jalapeno popper. 

18. Use faux grass.

Bring the outdoors in with a faux grass table runner, carpet, or serving dish filler. If you use a large piece, mark off the appropriate lines with white paint or tape to make it look as if it’s ripped right off of a football field.

19. Buy balloons, streamers, and pom poms.

These are some of the most common of all the Super Bowl party ideas on this list, but they’re certainly effective. Use these items to create a grand entrance outside of your hall or hang them upside down from the ceiling to give the space more visual complexity. You can also use these accessories to fill in gaps on a table or on the wall. And don’t forget to create a social media-worthy backdrop with plenty of texture and color using these tools.

20. Use whistles and stripes.

If you’re sick and tired of using footballs in your food and decor, why not try swapping in some referee-themed items instead?  Add black and white stripes wherever possible. Bake some whistle or flag-shaped cookies. Or put out real whistles as name tags for glassware or even as markers for takehome Gatorades.

21. Hang paper football lanterns.

If you have a large space you’re trying to fill, use an oversized football lantern in the middle to create an interesting focal point. If you’re working with a smaller space, consider using at least one dozen medium lanterns scattered throughout. Or if you just need a little extra light and whimsy, try football-shaped fairy lights

Frequently asked questions about Super Bowl parties:

What do you do at a Super Bowl party?

At most Super Bowl parties you watch the game, eat great food, and socialize. Some Super Bowl parties also include fun activities and charitable mini-events.

What should I make for a Super Bowl party?

If you are making food for your own Super Bowl event you should choose one of the classic dishes such as burgers or wings and combine it with sides you would normally find at a football stadium. Don’t forget to sprinkle in some healthy options such as salad, veggie trays, or nuts.

What time should I start my Super Bowl party?

Aim to start your party at least one to two hours before the game is scheduled to start so guests can casually arrive, mingle, and eat at their leisure. 

What is the most-eaten food during the Super Bowl?

Traditionally chicken, red meat, and dips of all kinds are thought to be the most-eaten foods during the Super Bowl every year. However, a recent study shows that the most-eaten food at the average Super Bowl party over the past three years has been vegetables, including carrots, broccoli, and celery.

Put these Super Bowl party ideas to good use!

Whether you’re on a budget or have to celebrate virtually, make the most out of any event by giving it your own spin with unique food, activities, and decor your attendees will love. 

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The post 21 Creative Super Bowl Party Ideas appeared first on Social Tables.

Creative Wedding Reception Layout Ideas and Tips

Wedding receptions are, to many, an exciting party filled with socializing, dancing, and great food and drinks. But they don’t just happen. They start with a layout. A fun and practical wedding reception layout helps maximize both indoor and outdoor space at a venue while providing ample room for the many different activities that will take place. So whether you’re a planner, a DIY couple, or anyone else simply interested in wedding layouts, keep reading to learn how to choose creative seating options and design floor plans guests will love.

5 things to consider when creating a wedding reception layout:

Before doing anything else, it’s important to view the wedding reception from every perspective. Then, use 3D diagramming software with custom measurements so you can do a virtual walkthrough of your own design before you finalize it to save lots of time and potential headaches later on. 

Remember accessibility

Keep in mind that areas like dance floor entrances and buffet lines will need to leave the appropriate amount of space for those who need it. For wheelchairs, be sure to leave a minimum of two feet between tables, the chairs that surround them, and activity areas. Place food or gift tables in such a way that any lines that form will be out of the way. 

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Consider staff needs

Include space for trash disposal, dish and glass staging, and cleaning supplies. Think about assigning a staff only area, if you have room for it, off to the side so they can take their meal breaks in peace. Add an extra space behind the bar so mixologists can prep fresh fruits, garnishes, and table displays without bumping into one another.

Create different atmospheres

Get real about how different age groups and personalities like to enjoy themselves at weddings. In addition to a dance floor, consider a lounge area for additional drinks, laidback seating, and a little quiet away from the main celebration. Create conversation areas with high-top tables and chairs in addition to regular ones. Add a decor focal point at the head or center of the dance floor to heighten the mood even more. 

Use groupings

Cluster furniture to encourage socializing outside of assigned tables. Group at least three tables, lounge chairs, or benches together at a time to help guests mix and mingle. Place the chair in circles to keep things intimate yet comfortable.

Consider flow

Remember that no one likes having the food or drink stations near the restrooms. Think about the footpath most people will follow throughout the night. Make entrances and exits clear with signage and by creating distinct paths between tables through proper spacing. Connect these paths to main points of interest including the sweetheart table, dance floor, DJ booth, and buffet table. 

Creative seating ideas for any wedding reception:

Swap plain old chairs and benches for unique seating options like these:

  • Bring living room furniture outside for an eclectic glam look with table lamps, side tables, couches, and coffee tables. 
  • Use natural stumps as stools for campfire seating. Make sure to sand the tops and use a coat of clear or colored waterproof paint on them ahead of time if it might rain. 
  • Place straw bales in a circle and cover them with cozy blankets for extra comfort. Skip the hay bales — they’re itchier and aren’t usually as tightly packed. 
  • Dot the lounge areas with Morroccan poufs and yoga blankets for a boho look. 
  • Place a grouping of hammocks in a designated “hammock garden” for stargazing, lounging, or just enjoying a nice cocktail. 
  • Bring in patio rocking chairs for late-night coffees and tea service. 
  • Use RVs and campers to create indoor/outdoor chill out zones. Bonus: Guests will have a few extra bathrooms to use. 
  • Place a loveseat at the sweetheart table. 
  • Opt for adirondack chairs near the bar area for a relaxed kickback feel.

Whichever seating idea you choose, consider the following:

Not everyone has the ability to sit on the ground, especially if they have knee or hip issues. If you’re going with this option, keep activities to 30 minutes max. Or, leave the space as an optional hangout for those who want to enjoy it. 

Also, consider the material the seating is made out of and the climate expected at the wedding. For example, velvet couches might be overkill at a muggy Florida wedding in the middle of the summer and bare, uncovered metal chairs might be way too chilly outside in the Vermont snow.

Finally, match the seating with the wedding theme. Modern farmhouse or country themed weddings can use hay bales covered in plaid blankets. Or a bohemian wedding can try morrocan poufs and plenty of floor pillows. 

Wedding reception layout ideas for floor plans:

Spice up your wedding reception layout with one of these unique, crowd-pleasing suggestions:

  1. Create a chevron pattern by aligning tables in V-shaped rows. 
  2. Form a heart shape around the dance floor with rectangle tables forming the straight sides and round tables creating the curves at the top. 
  3. Surround a square dance floor with rectangular tables that are the same length as each side. 
  4. Do alternating rows of square tables and rectangular tables around a centered dance floor. 
  5. Seat the bridal party at one long banquet table in the middle then dot either side with round tables for guests. 
  6. Sandwich round tables between rows of rectangular tables for a more symmetrical look. 
  7. Create one large X-shaped table by combining four rectangular tables. Then, use a small round table in the middle for the cake and speeches. 
  8. Alternate between staggered circles and square tables around the dance floor. 
  9. Create a semi-circle around the sweetheart table with the dance floor located behind or to the side. 
  10. Center the cake table and place larger circular tables in box-shaped rows all around it. 
  11. Group three circular tables together in a triangle alignment and scatter the groupings throughout the venue. 
  12. Make the buffet the star of the show by placing it in the middle so everyone has equal access. 
  13. Line up bistro tables around the dance floor so guests can take breaks, put their drinks down, or just watch all the fun up close. 
  14. Place a round dance floor in the center of the design, then create two semi-circles around either side so a clear path from the outside to the center of the dance floor is formed. 
  15. Place a banquet style table at one end for the bridal party and a couple to sit at then face all the tables towards them in rows like in amphitheater seating. 
  16. Form a checkerboard arrangement using staggered square tables and leave aisleways down the middle for easy access. 
  17. Create angled rows of rectangular tables that fill up an entire square of tables starting from one corner and working diagonally toward the other. Rows in the middle will be longest and rows towards the beginning and ending corners will be shortest. 
  18. Create heart-shaped tables by placing two small round tables next to two adjacent sides of one square table then draping the entire arrangement with a tablecloth. 
  19. Put a sweetheart table in the middle followed by four rectangular tables pointing inwards in an abstract sun shape. 

Tips to create an atypical wedding reception layout:

  • Make sure that no matter where anyone sits they can comfortably see the bride and groom as well as the dance floor. 
  • Put in at least some options for seating with back support so guests who need it will feel comfortable. 
  • Consider power outlet locations for things like microphone wires, DJ booths, and practical lighting. 
  • Use high-top seating for casual conversation and a mix of standing and sitting. Then, use average height for practical activities like eating and cake cutting. Finally, use lowered seating or floor seating for cozy hangouts in between conga lines. 
  • Don’t aim to fill all the available space with seating. Instead, have as many seats for dinner as there are guests then offer 20-30% of your guest list alternative seating after they finish eating. 

Add the final touches to your wedding reception layout!

If you’re using one or more wedding tents, consider using a layout that maximizes space without spilling too far outside of its perimeter.

Up next: Turn your favorite wedding reception layout draft into a wedding seating chart with guest details, meal preferences, and RSVP status.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post Creative Wedding Reception Layout Ideas and Tips appeared first on Social Tables.

22 Inspirational (and Funny) Event Planning Quotes

Event planning is a challenging profession, and sometimes a little inspiration is needed to help to get through the peaks and valleys, no matter how rewarding they may be. So whether you’re just starting out as an event planner or you’re looking for ways to refresh your established business, these 22 event planning quotes are here to support you, inspire you, and maybe even give you a laugh or two.

Save these event planning quotes — spoken by planners, authors, scientists, musicians, philosophers, and more — for whenever you need a little pick-me-up. Screenshot your favorites for a phone or tablet background, write them in your planner, or print the best ones for your bulletin board.

Explore 22 of our favorite event planning quotes:

1. “Always remember the reason why you started, especially in those moments when self-doubt comes in. The reason you started will always pull you out of the shadows.” –Lily Ehumadu

2. “An event is not over until everyone is tired of talking about it.” –Mason Cooley

3. “A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.” –Brian Tracy

4. “The days of serving a vegetarian a bowl of overcooked pasta while everyone else eats filet and shrimp are over.” – Cassie Brown

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5. “Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan

6. “Spontaneity is one of the joys of existence, especially if you prepare for it in advance.” –Alan Dean Foster

7. “If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you’ll die a lot of times.” – Dean Smith

8. “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

9. “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

10. “A bad plan is better than no plan, and the most important quality of any plan is the flexibility to change.” – Judson L. Moore

11. “The first rule for choosing vendors is to avoid those who suggest your budget isn’t sufficient. The planning process should be about taking your ideas and making them work.” – Mindy Weiss

12. “Mile by mile one hits the milestone.” – Amit Kalantri

13. “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the ax.” – Abraham Lincoln

14. “’Plan B’ might have been ‘Plan A’ all along.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough

15. “I’m in charge of thinking of things before people know they need them.” – Joan Harris (fictional character on Mad Men)

16. “If creature comforts (room temperature, proper food and drink, places to sit, etc.) have been addressed, you have creative license to entertain and design with as progressive or unorthodox of an approach as desired – there are no rules.” – Kristin Banta

17. “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

18. “She knows herself to be at the mercy of events, and she knows by now that events have no mercy.” – Margaret Atwood

19. “People make events into stories. Stories give events meaning.” – Scarlett Thomas

20. “We overestimate the event and underestimate the process. Every fulfilled dream occurred because of dedication.” – John C. Maxwell

21. “I’m always saying to my friends and my family and my clients, let’s just multiply this thing. Not one beautiful inflatable unicorn in the swimming pool, let’s have 20. It’s a simple idea but it will make a big impact.” – Bryan Rafanelli

22. “Whether I am working with an individual on life goals or a company on a big event, I create, I coach and I empower. The ultimate story I like to tell is to love others as you would like to be loved yourself,” – DeJane Hill

Bookmark these event planning quotes for later!

Up next, move past the motivation and check out event budgeting tips every planner needs to know. Then, be sure you’re equipped with all of the essential tools to make your planning flourish — starting with Cvent Event Diagramming.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post 22 Inspirational (and Funny) Event Planning Quotes appeared first on Social Tables.

9 Event Budgeting Tips Planners Need to Know

Event budgeting is often one of the least favorite parts of the planning process for anyone putting on an event. It’s tedious, constantly changing, and has to have every detail correct in order to be useful. But with some strategic planning (and the use of event budget management software), your event budget can also be one of your most helpful documents. It can clearly convey a huge amount of information about your event to tons of different stakeholders, can show the changes in your thinking throughout the planning process, and can serve as a helpful learning tool for future events. 

So, how can you create an event budget that will cover every detail and remain flexible for contingencies? Keep reading to find out!

Explore 9 tips to help streamline your event budgeting process:

1. Know your event goals and KPIs.

Your event budgeting should directly reflect everything you’re picturing for your event — from your overall vision to the decor, technology, setup, merchandise, and talent. If you close your eyes and picture a certain important element, then it needs to be in your budget. 

If you’ve already crafted your event marketing plan, you can use language that you drafted for your vision and goals section. Otherwise, it’s a great idea to take some time to think through your objectives for this event. What do you want to accomplish? Beyond happy attendees, what goals does your organization have in putting on the event? What do you personally want to get out of it?

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Your event objectives will have a direct impact on the budget in the form of important decisions you make. For instance, if event attendees are VIPs that you want to impress, then venue and decor will be important line items. If this is an internal corporate event, you may want to focus more on engagement in the form of event technology, audio/visual equipment, and food. Certain objectives, like a routine company meeting, support cost cutting measures. Others, like sales conferences, lend themselves to spending more in return for better ROI. Think about how you’ll measure success for this event, and how your budget will be affected by these KPIs.

2. Look at past and similar events.

It doesn’t make sense to start your event budgeting from scratch every time you hold an event. Instead, look at past events that are similar in scope, objectives, and scale. For instance, a company anniversary event might happen every year or on specific milestone years. Even if you haven’t held this specific event before, you’ll likely have some related events you can look to. If you have multiple offices or departments, ask them about any events that are similar to yours as well. It’s much easier to edit a draft budget than to stare at a blank screen and try to come up with your own out of thin air.

Keep in mind that event trends and costs may have changed in the time since your inspiration event, and you’ll still need to research your specific costs. What you’re looking for isn’t an exact blueprint, but a ballpark figure and some inspiration on the types of line items to include so that you know where to start your research.

3. Start with a ballpark figure and refine.

Your budget will need to be constantly revised and updated throughout the event planning process. This is a living document, and will likely be edited and updated by multiple stakeholders with different (and maybe competing) priorities. Because of this, it’s helpful to start with a ballpark estimate for how much your event will cost, and then add detail to the estimate as you research your costs. This gives you the flexibility to start talking to stakeholders early about the costs involved, and to back those conversations up with hard numbers as you get closer to holding your event.

4. Start researching specific expenses.

Now is the time to start researching the specific line items for your budget. You should have a good list going of the things to include based on past events and similar inspiration events. But here are the basics to make sure you check them off:

  • Event marketing and promotion
    • Graphic design
    • Social media and paid advertising
    • Printed marketing materials
    • Affiliate and influencer fees
    • Paid content marketing

5. Get multiple vendor quotes.

For all of the costs mentioned above, you need to make sure to get multiple quotes from different vendors. This is a best practice to ensure you’re getting a good deal, as well as giving you the power to negotiate with vendors for a better price. The other advantage of multiple quotes is a better understanding of the cost landscape for that particular item. It’s only by talking with multiple vendors that you’ll get a sense of the range of costs. Vendors are the best source of information about their area. They can also help you to figure out what you need (and what you don’t). They may even have great tips on how to save money for a particular line item.

Some costs are contingent on other line items. For example, your A/V setup will depend on the venue. Other costs will be included with some venues and not others. For instance, parking, transportation from the airport, or Wi-Fi could all be included (or be add-ons) depending on the venue. 

As you start to get quotes, make note of what’s included with each estimate and which costs are contingent on each other. That way when you do decide on a vendor, you know which items you can check off your list.

6. Consider how event income will balance expenses.

The amount of income you expect to generate from the event will have a huge impact on your overall budget. Your income can come from ticket sales, sponsorship relationships, goods and services sold during the event, and other creative sources. Make sure to include estimates for all of these sources of income in your event budgeting so that you and other stakeholders can see the true cost and estimated ROI of the event. 

This can also work in reverse. Once you have a good idea of the expenses you expect to incur, you can craft sponsorship packages or ticket prices to offset the total figure. This gives you a clear objective for event income as well as keeping your costs under control.

7. Decide where to save and where to spend.

When it comes to event budgeting, no one is ever given an unlimited amount of spend (and if they are, it probably won’t happen again). This means planners have to pick and choose which aspects of the event are most important. These will be the areas where it makes sense to spend a little extra for really high quality options. As you move down your list of priorities, you’ll start to find areas to spend less, or even areas you can eliminate. Maybe you don’t need a separate VIP room after all, and can get away with a digital VIP experience. Or maybe you can skip the plated dinner and instead serve snacks and refreshments throughout your event. By prioritizing your needs, you’ll know where to invest those valuable resources.

8. Add in extra for incidentals and emergencies.

If you’ve had any experience with planning events, you know that something always seems to go wrong. You may end up without flowers and need to run to a florist the day of the event. Your A/V setup could be incompatible with the venue. Your speakers could call in sick. Whatever it is, you need to have a rainy day fund ready to put to good use. The extra amount you need will depend on the scale of your event and the contingencies you’re planning for. However, a good rule of thumb is to factor in an additional 15-30% of your total budget. 

9. Make your budget document work for you and your team.

Remember, your budget is a living document that will change and grow as you get closer to your event. It will be an even more useful tool if you do a few things to format it well:

  • Include notes about payment deadlines alongside estimates, including deposits and when they need to be paid.
  • Include a column for actual costs as you start to pay for things so you know how your expenses compare to estimates. This is especially helpful for subsequent events to help you plan the next budget.
  • Write notes about cost contingencies, special deals offered, contact names, and details about each item so other team members can easily get the information they need.

Get started using these event budgeting tips today!

Armed with a solid understanding of what you’ll spend on your event, you can now make sure it’s worth the cost. Up next, take a look at our event ROI tips to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post 9 Event Budgeting Tips Planners Need to Know appeared first on Social Tables.

Wedding Tent Layout: 8 Tips You Need to Know

Whether you plan to host a ceremony or reception outdoors, creating the right wedding tent layout is key to helping everything run smoothly. Create the right atmosphere, sort out logistics, and maximize space by following the suggestions listed throughout this post. Then, learn more about how to create a wedding tent layout for your unique event and what our Event Diagramming solutions can do to make the process a whole lot easier. Plus, stick around to get the exact measurements you’ll need for your party size.

Before getting started, keep in mind that the following recommendations don’t take social distancing protocols into account. If you’re putting together a wedding during which social distancing protocols are in place, be sure to follow all necessary guidelines in order to put on a safe wedding.

Follow these steps to create the best wedding tent layout:

1. Select a tent shape.

Choose between square, rectangular, circular, or oval tents. We suggest ordering the same shape tent if you need more than one for the same purpose such as a dining area or dance space. Or, order a variety of shapes if you need tents for different areas of the wedding venue to serve as dividers. For example, you can put a food table in one area, seated dining in a second, and a tabletop or social activity in a third. 

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If you’re tight on space or need to be economical with your seating plan, go with square since it’s easier to maximize ground space for guests both inside and outside the tent.

2. Get started putting together the wedding tent layout.

Use our Event Diagramming solutions and get started! First, add custom dimensions for tables, dance floors, banquet tables, DJ booths, bars, and decor. Then, mark all electrical outlet access points, possible cable locations, bathrooms, and emergency exits. Next, create more than one version of the floor plan and compare them side by side before finalizing the design.Here are a few ideas for each tent shape to help spark inspiration:

Wedding tent layout options for square tents:

  • Dance floor center: Put a round or square dance floor in the center of the tent. Host the bar outside the tent or angled in a corner away from other activities.
  • No dance floor: Line the edges with circle-shaped tables but leave the middle open
  • Socializing only: Trade sit-down tables for high tops and stools. Fill the space or leave a walkway going down the middle for more accessibility.

Wedding tent layout options for rectangular tents:

  • Dance floor front: Place a square dance floor in the middle of your tent and move it to the top of your floor plan. Put your buffet tables on one edge of the tent and your bar or gift table on the other.
  • Dance floor center: Place the DJ booth above the dance floor and the bar or refreshments below it. Use round tables on both of the remaining two sides.
  • Thrust dance floor: Put in a rectangular dance floor that begins on one side of the tent and ends in the middle. Mix and match square and circular tables on either side. Place a small rectangular table opposite the dance floor.

Wedding tent layout options for circular tents:

  • Dance floor center: Place a round dance floor in the middle with four rectangular tables evenly spaced outside of it, pointing towards the edge like sunbeams.
  • Half and half: Create a pathway going down the center of the tent. Place a half-moon shaped dance floor on one side and tables on the other.
  • Cabaret: Place your stage on one side of the circle. Put high-top tables around it in a semi-circle and regular tables on the outside of those.

Wedding tent layout options for oval tents:

  • Thrust dance floor: Place a stage and a dance floor stacked above one another on the flat side of the oval and stage tables around the perimeter.
  • Banquet seating: Place one long table for everyone to eat dinner. Put your stage or dance floor at the very end of the tent.
  • Dance floor center: Place a circle-shaped dance floor in the middle and add two or three rows of rectangular tables on either side.

3. Try a template.

We also offer templates that will help streamline the layout planning process. We recommend choosing staggered, aligned or U-shape for your wedding tent layout. Use staggered if you want to encourage mingling between tables, aligned if you want to create an audience-like feel for any special dances or performances, and the U-shape for smaller wedding parties or micro weddings to encourage everyone to eat together and dance in the middle afterward. 

4. Factor in spacing and capacity.

Give round or banquet tables 60 to 80 inches of space between each other. Add in at least 52 to 66 inches between chair backs that face each other as well as square or rectangular tables. And, if square tables have corners facing each other, aim for 24 or more inches.

If you’re creating a layout for a venue you work with often, be sure to save your setup so you can use it again for a future wedding or event. Also, don’t forget to enter max capacities. If you go over the limit, our event diagramming tools will flag it so you know right away and can adjust as needed. 

5. Create a seating chart.

Want streamlined day-of instructions, smoother logistics, and better wedding guest experiences? Create a wedding seating chart so everyone knows where to go when they arrive at the reception. Using Event Diagramming, you can upload your guest list, track RSVPs, and add detailed notes to each guest file such as dietary restrictions or mobility accommodations.

Then drag, drop, and place each guest. If you have room for more plus-ones or want to change the layout now that you have updated RSVPs, adding or subtracting guests is just as simple. After, share your guest list and seating chart with your catering team. Servers can flag important meal requests, venue attendants can assist disabled guests to their seats, and chefs can stay updated on important details such as food allergies.

6. Choose the best lighting.

Lighting is an incredibly important aspect of events, especially weddings. When it comes to incorporating lighting into your wedding tent layout, some of our favorite ideas include:

  • Include weatherproof, outdoor string bulb lights around the perimeter of the tent.
  • Crisscross at least six strands inside the roof of the tent to give the space a nice glow at night.
  • Wrap the lights around poles if it’s safe to do so.
  • Add a statement pendant light to the center or above the sweetheart table to draw the eye.
  • You can even add a disco ball to the top if the tent has support beams near the ceiling.

7. Add all necessary areas and items.

Consider including each of the following to your wedding tent layout:

  • DJ booth
  • Music cart or technology stand for charging and cables
  • Speakers with stands
  • Band area
  • Wet and/or dry bar
  • Waiter station for easy access
  • Photograph table
  • Wedding favor table to easy grab-and-go gifts
  • Gift table
  • Cake stand or dedicated table
  • Heaters/air conditioning
  • Trash cans for guests and staff

Remember to figure out where outlets are and how cables will run around or near some of the space. Avoid putting them near high-traffic areas. Also, consider placing any activities that involve more talking (ordering drinks at the bar, sharing memories at the album table) away from the speakers and music so people can hear each other better.

8. Mark tent pole locations.

Note the number of poles and the space in between each of them. Make sure not to place chairs in front of them, otherwise people won’t have enough room to get to or from their seat. Designate which tent poles will be the exit and/or entrance areas. Create a floor plan that directs flow by incorporating walkways that lead to obvious entrance and exit locations.

How big should a wedding tent be?

The tent for your wedding should be big enough to hold:

  • Guests
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Dance floor
  • DJ booth
  • Speakers
  • Tech station for music and microphones
  • Bar
  • Band
  • Stage
  • Waiter stations

And don’t forget the space you’ll need for walkways in between each furniture piece. Use the guest list size to measure how many tables and chairs you will have then use the remaining space for the entertainment and food and beverage stations. 

In general, the tent size you need for… 

  • 100 guests is 1,600 ft.
  • 150 guests is 2,300 ft.
  • 200 guests is 2,800 ft.

If your party is larger than 200 guests, or includes additional entertainment and logistical areas, keep in mind that every additional 10 guests needs at least another 100 feet of space.

Put these wedding tent layout tips to use today!

Whether you want to try new wedding layout ideas or need a backup plan for your outdoor venue, a well-thought out plan made with a visual tool is the best way to do it right on the first try. In addition to logistics such as tent size, occupancy and seating, factor in what kind of ambiance you want to build. Explore visual representations of your layout using our diagramming tools to make sure your plans match your vision and build an unforgettable outdoor wedding.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post Wedding Tent Layout: 8 Tips You Need to Know appeared first on Social Tables.

How to Leverage an SMMP to Create Safer In-Person Events

When event programs were turned upside down due to COVID-19, companies with a strategic meetings management program, or an SMMP, were well-equipped. These programs provided companies with immediate visibility into all meetings and events, allowed them to leverage attrition clauses to cancel contracts with lower liability, and saved millions of dollars in potential costs.  

Now that we’ve made it through the “crisis management” phase that sits at the core of an SMMP, many program owners are wondering how they can demonstrate the value of the program to facilitate a safe return to in-person events.

Everyone knows that health and safety is a chief concern to get people meeting again in-person. So how does an SMMP help? Keep reading to learn how to leverage an SMMP to keep guests safer at your events and provide peace of mind to your organization.

Evolving your SMMP to include safer in-person events

At its core, strategic meetings management is meant to provide guidance for how meetings and events — whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid — should be executed and planned within your organization. 

As you expand that definition to include heath and safety considerations, think about these additional benefits of an SMMP for safer in-person meetings and events:

  • Publish your company policy on your events webpage, or somewhere easily accessible by anyone in your organization.
  • Maintain up-to-date health standards for in-person gatherings. Remember, this may be different based on region.
  • Create an organized project workflow and communication strategy that includes partners, vendors, and attendees to ensure everyone feels confident and comfortable with your event plan. 
  • Maintain a list of approved in-person vendors or require safety standards for all vendors in the RFP process.
  • Include and clearly outline any legal, financial, and safety risks for everyone involved. 
  • Negotiate clear contract terms with all vendors that will save the company money in the event the in-person event is cancelled.

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Explore how to make in-person events safer using an SMMP:

How can you accomplish the standards set forth above by using an SMMP as the framework? It’s easier than you think. One of the key areas for maintaining health and safety standards starts with planning out your space and creating guidelines in your program for space planning. Here are three key steps:

1. Create safety-minded layouts.

The World Health Organization’s recommendations for small public gatherings includes that they should happen at outdoor venues. If that’s not a possibility, indoor spaces are acceptable as long as they are well-ventilated, well-cleaned spaces. You’ll know if an event space is well-ventilated if you see windows that can open and if you smell fresh air. If not, check with the building management about what, if any, air is being circulated indoors, and how you can increase natural ventilation. Some indoor venues are going so far as to invest in new HVAC or air filtration systems specifically built to cleanse the air of virus particles.  

But no matter which venue option you choose, you still need to designate physical areas where participants can and cannot go. To organize where people should be over the course of the event, you’ll need to create strategic floor plans. 

By now it’s common knowledge that event attendees who are not from the same household should maintain six feet of distance from each other. Although this seems simple at first, you also have to account for speakers, venue employees, and everyone else in attendance. With all of this information in mind, here are some ways to use Cvent Event Diagramming to create a safety-minded layout for your next in-person event:

  • Place chairs, tables, and podiums six feet apart. Ensure consistent spacing on all sides by using accurate room measurements to properly scale your design so your vision maintains compliance and looks exactly how you thought it would once it’s physically set up. 
  • Use both 2D and 3D event diagramming. The first gives you a bird’s-eye view of the space so you can arrange furniture, space out assigned seating, and place your stage. The second helps you virtually walk through the venue and look at your plan through the eyes of your attendees without having to visit the space. 
  • Try remote collaboration. Virtually meet with partners and event venue managers to go over your layout and update it in real-time. Hold virtual walkthroughs to confirm safety guidelines are met while creating a plan everyone is happy with. 
  • Color code and tag key areas. Some seating and standing areas will need to be taped off if you aren’t able to space everyone out properly. Make sure you color code these areas so other collaborators know to avoid using them too. 
  • Automate compliance. Add custom distance standards to your diagram check. Cvent Event Diagramming will highlight areas that don’t comply so you can fix issues before they come up. 

2. Ensure compliance with mandated standards.

The guidelines put out by your city, state, and country will largely dictate how you can safely plan and execute in-person events, and all planners will need to comply with these standards. Compliance is another area where SMMPs shine. Program owners should help their organizations know and understand these regulations by posting on their event websites and updating their meeting workflow to ensure any in-person events adhere to these mandated standards.

However, these standards are continually evolving based on pandemic case numbers, new travel quarantine rules, and changes in research. If you use Cvent Event Diagramming, you’ll be able to make adjustments to your layout quickly by simply dragging and dropping.

Additional best practices include waivers for anyone attending, temperature screening, and COVID-19 testing. Your event management technology can collect these signatures, either through registration or at on-site check-in. No matter what your area currently requires of in-person events, you should make sure to include the following in your waiver:

  • Attendees are expected to wear masks in all public areas of the event venue. 
  • Attendees agree to not attend the event if they exhibit any flu-like symptoms such as sore throat or coughing. 
  • Attendees with known recent exposure to COVID-19 within the past 14 days are forbidden from participating. 

It’s worth noting that some people who are asked to sign waivers are distrustful of the organization requiring them. In their eyes, waiving liability could also mean waiving responsibility. To combat this and foster goodwill among event attendees, include jargon-free explanations of the steps you and your events team are taking to maximize their safety. Doing so will put their minds at ease and show that you consider compliance a two-way street at all in-person gatherings. When they sign the waiver, they’ll know that you’re both agreeing to a certain set of controllable behaviors, which is a win-win. You can even include images of your event diagram so potential attendees know what they can expect as they make their decision. 

Also, make sure you follow the latest pandemic protocols by keeping up with the in-person event rules from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and state and local officials. You can even follow local officials on social media for up-to-date notifications. For example, offices like the City of Los Angeles offer daily pandemic briefings via Instagram with news on business closures, health statistics, and travel restrictions. If big updates such as instant bans on certain public activities and indoor space usage happen, you can adjust your plan on the fly through flexible layouts and centralized communication tools. 

Keep in mind that what you plan for today might not be what’s required of your event tomorrow. So leave some wiggle room in your timeline and budget to accommodate last-minute changes. 

3. Update company-wide policies for in-person events.

If you have an SMMP in place, now is the time to take a good look at your existing event policies or write a policy if you are looking to implement a program. These company-wide standards give employees something to base their decisions on in moments of uncertainty. 

No matter where you are located or what your event goals are, the following company-wide policies should be on your list: 

  • Require venue diagramming. In addition to wearing masks and providing hand sanitizer, making sure your guests can safely stay six feet apart from one another at all times is critical. Venue diagramming makes it easy to maximize floor space, accurately estimate max occupancy based on guidelines, and offer room between furniture.
  • Establish important tools. All in-person events should provide hand hygiene stations, closed lid bins, and distance markers for areas such as check-in and bathroom lines. 
  • Streamline guest communication. Decide what health and safety information all guests will receive before, during, and potentially after the event, plus how the information will be shared in an accessible way.

Don’t forget to include virtual in your event plan!

Up next, check out some of 2020’s most impressive and unique virtual event examples from across various industries.

Plan Events Seamlessly

The post How to Leverage an SMMP to Create Safer In-Person Events appeared first on Social Tables.