Making a Splash

Our client was a law firm that had just moved into a brand new office space. To celebrate this momentous occasion, they invited 150 of their clients and partners to see their new digs. From the very first, the client was clear with his objectives. He wanted to make a splash, while keeping his elegant clientele in mind.

The challenge: The new office was beautiful but oddly shaped. I had to find a design that would unify the space and not alienate guests on either side of the office.

Second challenge: The purpose was to showcase the office, but it was still a party. I had to create a social event with design that would highlight its features, not hide them.

The solution: Lighting and beautiful flower arrangements. Up-lighting turned the party into an event, while keeping it upscale. Orange gels softened harsh office lighting. Flowers dotted the entire space with the same colors, giving the office a sense of unity and elegance.

At our first meeting the client said: “You know, I’ve never used an event planner before. Let’s see what you can do.” I gladly accepted the challenge, and the client couldn’t have been happier with the result.

Thank you to the wonderful professionals who helped me pull this all together.

Flowers by LS Blooms
Catering by Cheat A Little Catering
Cookies by CookieXChange
Lighting by MEGA Event Production
Music by Dmitry Greenberg, Non-Stop Productions

Blog, I still love you!

A sprained ankle is forcing me to slow down a bit. I’m taking it as an opportunity to get back to this blog.

I’m finding that balancing 3 clients at the same time, while running the business and juggling social media is proving a challenge. While I can (sort of) keep up with Facebook (“Great event today, here’s a pic!”) and sneak in a tweet or two (“Sprained ankle. Sucks”), this beloved blog has fallen off the edge of my planet. It’s time to reach back into the ether and give it a good hug.

My event last week went very well, and the client was thankful for my help. It made me smile to see him give me two thumbs up as soon as the reception started. He was beaming, and I was too. Photos coming up in another post (I’ve got to keep you reading this blog, right?).

Right now is my busy season, with proposals flying out the door for anniversaries, milestone birthdays and corporate parties. Three events are on my radar right now, with two intimate parties (20 guests and 50 guests), and a 100-guest 60th birthday that would be so much fun to plan: a birthday party that will be a prom! The woman’s daughter wants to give her mom the prom she never got. I’m definitely crossing my fingers for that one.

Time to give the old ankle its 20-minute ice pack. Having a sprained ankle definitely sucks.

I’m two years old!

Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m not technically a two-year old child prodigy writing this fabulous post. Unless you think more readers would follow this blog if that were the case, then perhaps I could bend the truth a bit…but no. I am unquestionably honest, and alas! I cannot lie.

It’s my precious little business: 99 Red Balloons. It’s turning two this week! Time is a strange thing. The first year felt interminable. The second was quick as lightning. I can’t wait to find out how the third year will go!

Happy birthday to us!

99 Red Balloons turns 2!

Try things out

I really enjoy designing tablescapes. And I usually get my best designs as I’m trying things out. Maybe you’re thinking “What?! you call yourself an event designer but you have to try things out? You mean, ideas don’t just spring into your head?!”

Ideas? I have a thousand ideas a minute! They’re springing into my head as we speak. But I find that if I don’t try things out before an event, something is always a little off. For example, it’s very difficult to imagine the true height and width of objects.

When I visualize a table arrangement for example, sometimes my mind plays tricks on me. It’s telling me that plates are larger than they really are, or that an 8ft table isn’t really that long. The result: A table design that doesn’t have the right proportions. The centerpiece may be too slender and makes the table look empty. Or the color of a tablecloth looks dull because it’s missing a runner.

The simple solution: Try it first, pat yourself on the back later. Once my ideas are (literally) on the table, more creativity spring along. Let’s add confetti, napkin rings or knife holders! The details fall right into place and the design is complete.

Red Carpet Event

One of my clients was featured on reality TV. Yep! I know someone who was on House Hunter’s. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a reality show — I use the term “reality” very loosely here — that follows a couple or a family looking for a new home to buy. A real estate agent shows three homes to the “house hunters” who have to pick one by the end of the 30-minute show.

My client was a real estate agent featured in one of those episodes. He approached me to plan an event at his home to show the episode in question to his closest 100 friends.

The theme: “Red Carpet” Hollywood premiere. The challenge: Client’s home had an awkward layout, and we needed to fit 100 people in a small space. The house was also chalk-full of furniture that we had to remove almost entirely to rethink the entire layout design. Second challenge: My client wanted movie food (hot dogs, nachos and pretzels) and his partner insisted on gluten-free foods.

The result: Transformed the home into a chic Hollywood premiere with a movie-theater like atmosphere and red carpet photographer to boot. The added bonus: The invitations looked like movie tickets and most of the guests brought them along to make sure they could get into the party. So fun!

Centerpieces can be corporate, too!

If I say the word “centerpiece,” chances are you’re thinking “wedding.” Those enormous vases heavy with dripping flowers, feathers and/or major bling at the center of every wedding dinner table.

Not so, I say! For one thing, centerpieces don’t have to be 6ft tall and act as pillars hiding you from the other guests around the table. They can be short, long, wide, transparent, handmade and even fun. Yes, FUN!

For another, centerpieces can also work for corporate events. You are dubious. That’s probably because if you think hard about your last corporate event, all you can recall are a few flowers. Probably something red, with a couple of leaves. Carnations? Or maybe they were roses. Bo-ring. The opposite of fun.

To do this right, designers need two things: imagination and a good idea of the company’s culture. For example, it would be terribly inappropriate to use plastic elements for a company’s “Green Certification” celebration. You get the idea.

For a recent corporate event, I spent some time thinking about the centerpieces I would design. This was a social event in nature, but corporate at its core: Employees were throwing a party for their departing CEO. My first move was to ask a lot of questions about the CEO’s personality, the atmosphere at work and the company’s core values.

And I really liked the answers. The CEO was kind of quirky. He’d dressed up as a viking with horns on an enormous helmet at their last Halloween party; he had all his employees wear a mohawk on the day they launched their product. But he’d also instilled an atmosphere of trust, he’d pushed his employees to think big and rewarded innovation.

I decided to think outside the box, and keep a clean look that would be absolutely unique. I played with the company name (IMVU), transparency and a little tech element. Corporate centerpieces accomplished!

It’s Magic

This weekend, I had my largest event yet: 537 people. That was 150 families with small children, coming together to celebrate summer with some great food and fun entertainment in a park. I was hired for this event a little over 6 weeks ago, so timing was good and I was excited to plan an event with some good clean fun.

I was in charge of overall planning, entertainment, games, event timeline — that’s the flow of the event, what happens when — and on-site event management. I had just a few guidelines, but was free to create an event that would be fresh. Creation: that’s my favorite part!

This event happens every year. To break from past events, I spent some time finding out what had worked, what hadn’t, what was important to families and to my client. Only then did I narrow down entertainment options, the theme and started selecting vendors and entertainers who would be just right.

Theme: The Magic of Summer!
Entertainer: a magician (of course!)
Bounce House: a large castle (that’s where magic happens!)
Family Game: scavenger hunt
Bonus: ice cream truck! (what’s more magic than hearing the sound of the ice cream truck?)

Families were bringing small children — between 2 and 4 — and we needed to cater to them. The games I designed were simple but exciting. The smallest child could do them, and older children had a blast, too. I kept the prizes simple, not fancy, because this was not about competition but about participation and excitement. Their little eyes lit up every time they got their stickers. Parents were beaming to see how excited their children were. That’s magic!

Baby Shower

Baby Shower event design. The mom-to-be picked light blue and brown, with polka dots. We delivered! We used many handmade items for this design. It created an elegant feel to the overall event, but you could still tell it was in celebration of a baby. We were delighted to find out that the mom kept the banner and put it in baby’s room!

Patterns and Colors

I like bold colors. They add excitement to elegant table decor. But it’s only recently that I realized I could pair them with black and white patterns.

When I’m working on a client event that requires rentals — plates, linen, glasses, etc. — I like to head over to my favorite rental company warehouse and try different combinations. My sales rep knows how I work by now. She brings me some table linen I pre-slected, then leaves me alone in the room with their entire collection. And I start putting things together. Does this plate work with this linen? How does the weight of the glass feel? It takes a while, but it’s a fun creative process and it always gives me ideas I would never have had by just looking at pictures on a screen.

And that’s how I discovered that black and white patters work with bold and bright colors. What do you think?

Transformation

Here is a design for a client’s 60th birthday party. She was going to sing with her band at her party and wanted a fun “club”-like atmosphere for her 100+ guests.

The colors: Red and silver. The challenge: The event location was my client’s garage — an actual working shop — with tubes, wires, shelves and machinery that couldn’t be moved. Second challenge: The size of this garage was enormous, and its concrete walls and floor made it feel cold and impersonal. Result: The band was awesome and all the guests had a blast!