Holiday Entertaining and Beyond

How to Put the ‘Special’ in Special Events

One of the surest ways to execute smooth, spectacular events is to work with event planners. They can save clients time and money while offering creative ideas and solutions. They provide end-to-end executions and pay attention to the details, which allows hosts and hostesses to actually enjoy those same events.

Event planners absorb the stress of event preparation and serve as objective mediators between competing views or plans, often breaking any potential ties for decisions. Many people also enjoy the peace of mind event managers provide from being the go-to person for negotiating with and dealing with vendors.

Proper event management planning is vital for any successful and safe event. Just ask Mirela Karic and Jasmina Menkovic, who own and operate Elegant Events by MJ. They handle corporate events, weddings, bridal showers and special occasions.

“We make our clients' imagination come to life by executing their extraordinary vision. Each event is completely unique and customized to fit clients’ needs from start to finish,” Mirela says.

Unique events come from close attention to details.

Tips for Budgeting Events

A perfect first step is to determine an event budget and establish its main purpose.

Because many people struggle with keeping on-budget due to the lack of prioritizing and being realistic about what’s affordable, Jasmina says a planner is a great way to have a guide for budgets, along with realistic options.

“Through honest, detailed conversations, we can find out what’s truly important to be spending money on,” she says.

She suggests dividing event budgets into five major categories through a detailed spreadsheet, including items projected expenses, actual expenses, details and unexpected costs.

“Each category should have its own sub-category, such as venue, catering, decor, transportation, entertainment, marketing and event planning fees. Ensure your budget includes service fees, gratuity and taxes,” Jasmina says.

At least 20 percent of event budgets should be allocated to the unexpected costs category, she forewarns.

To make the most of budgets, Jasmina and Mirela secure quotes from multiple vendors.

“Pricing will vary from season to season, but the more details we gather, the more accurate event estimates will be,” Jasmina says.

To extend budgets for corporate events, one idea is to ask vendors and industry partners to get involved by supplying products, donations or in-kind services.

Ensuring all parties involved in event planning are on the same page regarding budgets is a vital step as well.

Unique Ideas for Holiday Special Events

Thinking outside the party box creates a memorable event, encourages Mirela, especially with themes and dress codes. Start by sending guests interesting, numbered invitations in the mail with themes such as “How the Grinch Stole Our Christmas” or having guests dress as elves.

For table settings, she recommends using unique name place cards, such as do-it-yourself ornaments or stump wood holders that guests can take home.

For a unique look, she suggests adding pops of color to plate settings through placemats, chargers or napkins to make them stand out. She also emphasizes how important having proper lighting is when setting a certain ambiance or just simply wanting to showcase an event environment in its best way.

For floral centerpieces, fresh flowers are the most elegant look.

“Use greenery and flowers from your garden and yard to save on your budget. Other items, such as artificial antlers, can be added for an exclusive look,” Mirela says.

To add table sparkle, Mirela says they can create eye-catching centerpieces for clients by reusing different sizes of clear vases filled with a variety of sparkling pieces in water, topped off with a floating candle.

She says hiring a catering company to handle cooking goes a long way during the holiday season.

“A good Santa Claus DJ or band will make your evening a night to remember,” she adds.

Creative Themes for Office Holiday Parties

Looking for something new to do for and with employees? Consider the following fun ideas.

  • Conduct a themed bowling night to have an action-oriented gathering, complete with costumed teams and awarding prizes for the best-dressed bowlers.
  • Build your own holiday escape room adventure at an appropriate spot in your building, or go to a commercial one.
  • Splash into fanciness by dressing up and having a Christmas masquerade ball.
  • Host a healthy breakfast party by supplying a vendor who offers made-to-order omelets or smoothies.
  • Have an Olympics, with events custom-tailored to your type of business. Make or secure fun medals and trophies that surely will be enjoyed year-round.
  • Go goth with A Nightmare Before Christmas party that has Tim Burton flair; be sure to make use of leftover decorations from Halloween.
  • Do a party that’s a flashback to a favorite decade, with guests dressing in that period. Entertainment also can mesh with whatever timeframe it is.
  • Have an “around the world" potluck meal to celebrate diversity among co-workers, with recipe sharing and cultural traditions exchanged.
  • Conduct an office talent show to discover secret skills among employees.
  • Be sure to celebrate your company’s anniversary by planning a special event, especially if it’s near the end or beginning of the year.

Elegant Events by MJ




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