The Reason for a Rain Plan

The Reason for a Rain Plan

Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of planning the 2ndAnnual Street Hockey Festival presented by the Andover Hockey Association and held at Merrimack College. Last year’s event was a huge success and we were thrilled to be brought on board again this year.

There were around 75 kids signed up for an exciting day of fun: street hockey tournament, food, bouncy house, yard games, a raffle with really great prizes and of course a beer garden for the parents.

Everything sounded great, except for the weather…Mother Nature did not want to cooperate on this one. We were hearing varying weather reports on just how bad and the exact timeline, not that unusual for New England weather, so we decided to go for it. Unfortunately for us, that morning it was downpouring with no sign of letting up and we were forced to make the last-minute decision to postpone it to the following day.  It was definitely the right call and the event still ended up being fantastic!

As an event planner, we always recommend having a rain plan. Often, it’s an indoor option so the event can happen on the same day with some modifications; in this case, it made more sense to have a rain date, given the event could not really take place indoors.

Here are some tips for choosing a rain date and still pulling off a great event!

  1. Pick a day close to the original date: This will help to save money if you need to make a last-minute decision, as we did. The rentals were there and we were able to keep them for an extra day at no additional cost and the same for the bouncy house. If the rain date was the following weekend, we would have paid for everything twice.
  2. Have it in writing: Ask your vendors to put the rain date in your contract, if possible, to make sure they are holding it for you.
  3. Know your deadline: Find out when is the absolute latest that a decision needs to be made.
  4. Let attendees know of the planned rain date: Communicate the rain date in advance so that attendees are saving this date as well.
  5. Hire Swank so you don’t have to deal with any of the above 🙂

We’re always here for you and would love to assist with your next event, rain or shine!

Wine for Events

Wine for Events

Wine is an incredibly popular beverage option – especially when it comes to holding a special event! Whether it’s a company outing, celebration or special event, having a great menu includes having wonderful wines to go with it. Swank Events recently sat down with Kim Simone of Vinitas WineWorks to talk about some frequently asked questions when it comes to wine and event planning. Kim is a Certified Specialist of Wine and a French Wine Scholar who brings her knowledge of wine to groups and consumers through events and courses.

Vinitas WineWorks Kim Simone

Kim Simone Photo Credit Verdi Studio

Swank: What are some of the most frequently asked questions you get when it comes to wine and events?

Kim: Quantity! How much should you have on-hand based on the number of people you are expecting. The rule of thumb is 1 drink per person, per hour. From there you would evaluate your wine types based on the menu you are planning to serve. If you weare holding a tasting as part of your corporate event, then you generally only offer an ounce of each wine, so the quantity will go down significantly.

Swank: You mentioned menu planning, so that brings us to our next question: what wines should we be looking to serve?

Kim: Traditionally, you should have at least one red and one white but the key is to offer varieties that are going to be “flexible” with your food choices – meaning they pair well with many different types of food. My go-to types are Pinot Noir, light Chardonnays (ones that are “unoaked”), and Rieslings that are not overly sweet.

Swank: Nowadays, wine drinking seems to be more popular than ever; and as a result, there is an increased focus on food and wine pairings. We want to know – how does one make sure they are pairing correctly?

Kim: When pairing with food, focus on what the wine does in your mouth, how it feels. What’s important is the weight of the wine in relation to the weight of your dishes. Is it sweet or tart, heavy or light vs. just the flavor profile. This will really help you focus on what you like and how it goes with your food. A great example is off-dry Riesling – which might have a bad “rap” out there, but you should give it a try with spicy food like Thai, Indian dishes or sushi, as it creates a great balance of sweet and tart with the spicy – which goes back to what you are experiencing in your mouth.

Swank: Tell us more about some of the popular seasonal wines out there right now like Rosé.

Kim: It is a great gateway wine and Rosé is NOT your mom’s White Zinfandel! It’s grown in popularity over the past 3 years and for good reason, as it pairs wonderfully with summer seafood favorites like fish, seasonal veggies and shrimp! Even though it’s made from red grapes, there are a lot of fruit notes in the different varieties and styles – from strawberry, to raspberry and watermelon. If you are going to be circulating appetizers or have a varied buffet – Rosé is a great choice.

Swank: What’s another factor people need to keep in mind when planning an event with wine?

Kim: Serving temperature! Most people serve their reds too warm and whites too cold! Reds should be chilled a little before serving and white wine should be out of the fridge or cooler 20-30 minutes before serving. If you are having an outdoor event then you should chill both and protect against the wines getting hot.

Our thanks to Kim of Vinitas WineWorks for these amazing points of advice when serving wine at an event!

Avoiding Event Disaster

Avoiding Event Disaster

Have you heard these before?

“The best laid plans can go awry.”

“Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

When you are planning a company event, sometimes things can go wrong. Working with a Professional Event Planner can help avert trouble based on the event planner’s industry experience BUT there is still a chance for unforeseen challenges to arise. Now here is where a planner’s problem solving skills really come into play. A great planner will not only anticipate issues before they become problems, but will also address challenges on the day-of before guests even know there was a potential hiccup. Here’s a quick list of things to think about when planning your next corporate event:

1 – Keep on schedule 

Identify potential bottlenecks that will impede your event from staying on its planned timeline. There are often components to an event that have a timetable attached to them and it’s always a good plan to think through these to ensure you have adequate bandwidth.

  • Registration periods – Do you have enough stations or people to help with keep people moving through based on the number of attendees?
  • Providing food – Do you have enough buffet stations, or boxed lunches or tables and waitstaff to keep up with the crowds?
  • Transportation – If you are moving people from one place to another, do you have enough busses or the like to move the number of attendees based on your locations, time of day and number of attendees?
  • Out of town Speakers – Are they arriving before the day of the event to make sure they are there on time? Are they crystal clear on how much time they have to give their talk? Is there a visual reminder you can have to help them stay on track?

2 – Test the technology

There is nothing worse than finding out a projector is broken, you don’t have a video adaptor for a mac, the microphones in the ballroom are cutting out, or the Wifi at the venue can’t handle the bandwidth needed to play your video! Carefully prep your venue with ALL of the technology requirements for your event well ahead of time by actively asking all speakers for their needs, listing all required items out in detail and what your backup options are with the venue (or internally). Then take it one step further by requiring a dry-run (ideally) the night before the event to check all components and their set-up.

3 – Outsmart the Weather

The weather will always be a risk factor in planning any event, but having a way for it to continue despite Mother Nature’s meddling is important.

  • Outside alternative – If your event is outside, what can your venue provide as an alternative space should the weather not cooperate? If the venue isn’t able to bring your event inside, rethink the location.
  • Virtual experience – If your attendees aren’t able to reach you but paid for the experience then LIVE stream the event!
  • Stick to low-risk weather locations & time – There are seasons and reasons to avoid specific locations all across the country, so do your homework to ensure you aren’t going to the Caribbean during hurricane season or Minnesota in the height of winter – no matter how cheap the venue costs are (as you may never get there)!

Again, working with a Professional Event Planner, like Swank Events, will help you avoid the most common issues when running an event and keep your company’s reputation intact!


Lighting your Event!

Lighting your Event!

Creating the mood and feel of your company’s event can be enhanced by well-designed lighting. Swank Events has had the pleasure of working with DesignLight on several projects and wanted to demonstrate how lighting can bring a new dimension to an event!

DesignLight Event Lighting

We spoke with Sandy Mulrey of DesignLight and she enjoys working with clients that …”are open to ideas and are involved in the process.” DesignLight works “….with everyone across different industries and are in touch with all kinds of vendors during an event planning process. You have to ask about details – like what color is the dance floor – because that will impact what we are doing. A professional Event Planner can help fine-tune the client’s vision and make sure all [the vendors] are on the same page.”

DesignLight Event lighting

DesignLight has worked with all kinds of clients in different types of venues and has used lighting to enhance specific aspects of an event based on the customers needs. A perfect example was working with a footwear company that had a new line launch and DesignLight was brought in to help design a fashion catwalk that would highlight the shoes being presented.

For DesignLight, their favorite venue is a blank slate; open spaces and little or no preexisting fixtures to work around. One thing they wish potential clients did know is to bring a lighting service into the planning process as early as possible. “We tend to be brought into the process after a venue has been selected and it may be a difficult place to work in to fulfill the client’s wishes. Historical sites can be especially tough.” states Sandy. “LED lighting has mitigated some of the issues relating to power usage, but there can still be some site restrictions. We’re familiar with locations all over New England so we can advise clients based on what they are planning.”

DesignLight Event Lighting

Sandy knows that most corporate customers understand the value of a lighting plan at an event and DesignLight can help with all kinds of lighting; functional lighting in addition to atmospheric lights, projection, set design and creative focus lighting – like the footwear product launch catwalk. If you want to feature it – DesignLight can light it!

DesignLight Event Lighting

Our special thanks to Sandy and DesignLight for this helpful discussion! We look forward to working with them again in the future and remember, if you need an Event Planner – contact Swank Events today!