Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Volunteering - Do It!

Volunteering is something that I have started to do in recent years and boy do I wish I started to do it earlier! Currently, I am Event Support for Bright Ideas Event Coordinators and an Event Manager for the Festival of Chocolate. I am really enjoying volunteering because of the satisfaction that it brings me and the support I am providing to great organizations.

Here are the reasons why I think everyone should volunteer:

  • Build your skills and experience. Even if you already may be experienced and have a lot of skills, volunteering is still a great way to build on your skills and experience. I'm sure there is a skill that you could improve on and volunteering can help you with that. I have over 6 years of event experience and I am still learning!
  • It feels good. It's really rewarding to support the success of an organization/cause. Taking the time out of your schedule to reach out and help your community feels good (atleast I think so).
  • Increased network. By volunteering you will work with a number of people and in doing so you will increase your connections and build your network. This could help you down the road when you are looking for employment or need a recommendation. 
  • It could lead to full time work. I would definitely not go into volunteering thinking that you will get a full time job, however, if you impress decision makers and build relationships with the right individuals it may lead to a full time job down the road.
  • Great for your resume. If you have volunteered recently or you are currently volunteering, put it on your resume! Showing employers that you support the community and want to contribute your skills and experience without anything monetary in return will impress them and help you stand out from the crowd.

If you are currently looking for volunteer opportunities the Festival of Chocolate is currently looking for volunteers, go here for more information: http://festivalofchocolate.ca/en/contact/volunteers/

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and give back to your community!

-Shira :)

Monday, 29 August 2011

Event Sponsorship

Hope everyone had a kick ass weekend! The weather was absolutely beautiful.

Just a heads up to all my readers that this week is pretty busy for me so I MAY not be able to post everyday this week but I will try my best :)

So today I am going to discuss event sponsorship. Event sponsorship involves companies providing monetary or in-kind support for an event. Sponsorship is often needed (especially for large-scale events) to help fund events. What companies get in return usually includes brand awareness, visibility, increased revenue and recognition for supporting an event.

The following are some event sponsorship tips and guidelines:
  • Create sponsorship objectives. In the initial planning stages of your event, you should develop your sponsorship objectives. How much sponsorship dollars do you want to attain? How many sponsors do you ideally want to have? When do you want to secure sponsors by?
  • Develop your sponsorship strategy. After you have developed your sponsorship objectives, you should develop your sponsorship strategy. Your sponsorship strategy basically outlines how you will attain sponsors which could be through phone calls, emails, social media etc.
  • Develop your sponsorship options. You should layout all the sponsorship options that you would like to present to businesses. There should be a variety of options/levels for potential sponsors to choose from. What you are willing to offer each sponsor really depends on your event but here are some examples: company logo on website and signage, social media mentions, exhibitor booth and complimentary passes. You typically divide each level by a dollar amount - $2500 get these options, $5000 get these options and so on and so forth. Sometimes, companies want to have a custom package and this is definitely something an event planner should be open to.
  • Create your sponsorship package. Before approaching businesses, you should develop a sponsorship package to provide to sponsors. The package usually includes an overview of your event, event history, your event audience, expected attendance, a breakdown of the sponsorship levels/options (includes what you will offer them and what they will offer you) and the benefits for sponsoring. The package should provide a really good understanding of the event, what you are willing to offer the company and what the company will be providing in return.
  • Create your sponsorship deadlines. It is important to create sponsorship deadlines because you need to make sure you have all the sponsors in place well before your event so you can promote the sponsors and fund your event. Depending on what you are asking and the scale of your event, I would recommend starting to attain sponsors 6+ months in advance of your event. Some important deadlines would be the following: Sponsorship confirmation, payment and logos.
  • Make a list of potential sponsors.  Make a list of all the companies that you would like to contact for sponsorship. When you start contacting companies, mark down their contact details and make notes on what you discussed.
  • Provide value to companies. When trying to attain sponsors, it is really important to explain to businesses what is in it for them.Before contacting each business, I would suggest determining why the event would be beneficial for them specifically. Once the business realizes that it is a beneficial investment, they will most likely become a sponsor
  • Don't get discouraged. There will be a lot of companies that you approach that won't want to sponsor, no matter how much you show them the benefits. Don't let this discourage you and don't take it personally. Companies will say no and that is just part of the process. You can get sponsors, it sometimes just takes a lot of time, persistence and patience. 
  • Use your network. Inform your colleagues, friends and family that you are looking for sponsors. You never know who will pass on a referral to you. It's also good to post this information on your social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Follow through. If you promised your sponsor several types of exposure make sure to follow through on those promises. If you break your promises things could get bad. Not only will you lose a sponsor but you will most likely damage the relationship and word could spread that your event is not reputable. Word of mouth can be a nasty thing :P
  • Treat your sponsors well. Treat your sponsors like you would a good friend or colleague. Always talk to them in a pleasant and professional manner. Be accommodating to their needs. Greet them at your event. Thank them. The reason for doing this first and foremost is because they are supporting your event but also because you want to build a relationship that will last for the long term.

This is another shameless plug but one of my tips above is to use your social network and I should really follow my own advice: I am currently looking for sponsors for the Festival of Chocolate opening event called Panache. It would involve showcasing product/services to chocolate and food enthusiasts. If you know of anyone that may be interested please have them contact me - shira.chocolatefest@gmail.com.

-Shira :)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Networking - It’s All in Who you Know

I have made a lot of changes this year. I left my Event Coordinator position at Vancouver Film School. I worked out consistently every week and lost about 10lbs. I started to volunteer. And I started to network.

I'll be honest, initially, the thought of networking scared me to death. Going to an event by myself where I knew virtually no one was overwhelming and made me nervous. But you know what? I did it anyways. Know why? Because I wanted to get outside of my comfort zone and I wanted to face my fears head on. I also wanted to meet new people, discover opportunities and promote what I can offer to others.

Going into my first networking event, my heart was beating really fast and I got that anxious feeling right away. I decided to ignore it and introduce myself to the first person I saw. I told them my name and and gave them my background (otherwise know as an elevator pitch). They were more than happy to talk to me. We learned a lot about each other and also found out that we could both offer each other something. I then realized that this isn't so bad at all, in fact, I was really enjoying it. My confidence boosted from there and I started to talk to more and more great people. They were more than happy to help me, recommend opportunities and listen to what I had to offer and I was more than willing to do the same. After all, I love helping others and seeing them succeed.

After I attended a couple networking events, my fears slowly subsided. I still get nervous but not even close to as nervous as my first time. I would leave each event knowing that I connected with so many talented and successful people. People have told me that networking is really important to promote yourself, develop opportunities and build relationships but none of that really sinked in until recently. Individuals that I met were able to recommend me for positions that I applied for. I received an email from a colleague telling me about a job opportunity they thought it was perfect for me. Another person promoted me through email to all her contacts. After seeing all of this, I realized that these people that I met were there to help me because I took the time to get to know them and express what I had to offer them.

I do have to say that you shouldn't come into a networking event expecting a job offer, or someone that wants to buy your product/service. I think you should go in with an open mind and see what happens, that is what I did. I have gotten so much out of networking - increased confidence, a stronger network, increased self promotion' and much much more!

I highly recommend networking to anyone, whether you are looking for opportunities or just looking to meet great and interesting people. If you are in Vancouver, there is a website that I found that lists all the different networking groups in Vancouver - networkinginvan.com, check it out!

-Shira :)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Venue Selection

Selecting a venue for your event is definitely not something you should take lightly. You really need to consider what would be the best space as you want your event to be a success. If you are well knowledgeable about the various venues in your area, finding a venue may be a relatively easy task for you. If you are not, you really need to review your event needs carefully to determine what venue would be perfect for your event.

The following are some guidelines and factors to take into consideration when choosing your venue.

Event Date

Some venues that you contact may already have their space booked depending on your event date. It is important when choosing your event date that it doesn't conflict with other large events that are happening in the area as many venues may already be booked. If your event is in the summer you also need to be aware that a lot of venues will be fully booked well in advance as it is wedding season.


A large factor when choosing a venue is your budget. Your budget will determine what you can and cannot afford. If you have a tight budget, this is where your negotiation skills may come in handy.

Venue Costs

Relating to the above, when inquiring about rental costs from a venue make sure you get all the costs laid out for you so you can calculate if it is within your budget.  Sometimes there are hidden fees/costs that sometimes appear, so make sure the venue manager is providing with all the costs up front in the proposal. The last thing you want after an event is to see an invoice that is way over your budget.

Event Specs

When initially inquiring about a venue find out all the space specifications  - square footage, capacity, furniture, lighting, audio/visual etc. It is also good to get a floor plan of the venue so you have a visual. Finding out these details will help you decide if the venue is right for your event.

Number of guests

The number of guests you are expecting will of course help you determine what venue you should choose. Make sure to book a space that will accommodate more than the expected amount of guests just in case there are more guests than you expected.

Type of Event

The type of event you are having will definitely be a factor when choosing a venue (gala, reception, sit down dinner, presentations, trade show etc.). If your event will be a sit down dinner with presentations you need to find a space that is large enough to accommodate.


You should take into consideration the type of guests that will be in attendance when selecting your venue. If your event is a classy event that consists of 30-50 year old's in the mid to upper income range, you may not want to have your event at a venue in the bad side of town.

Venue Rules

It is important to find out what you can and cannot do at a venue for your event well in advance. If you want to have drapes and hang items from the ceiling for example, it is best to find this out when you are initially inquiring about the space.

Visit the Venue

To really make sure that the venue is right for you it is imperative that you have a tour of the space. When you are at the venue really try to visualize if the space will work for you. Ask the venue manager a lot of questions so you are clear on everything. Take pictures if you are able.

Book your Venue Well in Advance

When you have nailed down your key event details (goals, vision, date, how many people, theme, type of event, budget) the next step is to book your event venue. It is important to book your venue at least  6+ months in advance, depending on your event. The later you wait to book your venue the more likely the spaces will become unavailable. This is pretty crucial as you want to have the best possible space for your event.

I hope these tips will help you when choosing a venue for your next event!

-Shira :)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Who Doesn't Love Chocolate?!

Today's post is about chocolate! I don't think I know anyone that doesn't like chocolate. If you don't, well....maybe I will keep my comments to myself, haha! I love the taste of chocolate and how it makes me feel. Mmm Mmm mmmm. I am particularly a lover of milk chocolate and I would say my favourite chocolate bar is Ritter Sport Alpine Milk Chocolate. I do take milk chocolate in moderation because I know what it can do to my hips, haha. Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of dark chocolate and I know it does have health benefits :)

Considering I am a lover of chocolate and food, I have the privilege of being one of the volunteer Event Managers for the Festival of Chocolate  (yes, I am doing a bit of promotion here, why not?). The Festival features over 100 individual events over a 3 week period – October 15- November 10, 2011. Examples of events include Wine and Chocolate Tastings, Tea and Chocolate Events, and Children’s Halloween Chocolate Pumpkin Making Events. The great thing about the Festival, aside from the promotion of chocolate, is that it is a non-profit organization that provides mentored work experiences for youth. Even though I am a seasoned event professional, I wanted to be a part of the Festival because I want to support a good cause and further build my event experience and skills.

If you are chocolate lover, I would encourage you to check out the Festival, it is going to be awesome! You can get more information by going to: http://festivalofchocolate.ca.  You can also like the Festival on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. And lastly, if you are interested in volunteering for the Festival go here:

I know the above was a shameless plug but I just felt that it was my duty as an Event Manager of the Festival :)

I don't know about you, but all this writing about chocolate is making me crave, well, CHOCOLATE! I think I am going to go find some right now...

-Shira :)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Follow Your Deadlines!

I haven't posted since Thursday! Ack! Bad Shira bad! I did have good reason though, I promise :)

So here is yet another event planning advice post.

I have mentioned this in a few posts, but when planning your event it is important to have deadlines and follow them. Deadlines will hold you accountable for all the various tasks you need to complete for your event. They will keep you organized and show you everything that needs to be done from beginning to end. Deadline items can include creating a floor plan, booking cartering, confirming a venue, confirming sponsors etc. Laying out deadlines and following them will help you execute a successful event.

Here are some guidelines when making your deadlines:
  • Make your deadline list early. It is important to lay out all your deadlines at the initial planning stages of your event. By doing thing this, you will know everything that needs to get done well in advance. Of course, you will probably have to add more items to the list as you go through the planning process.
  • Be detailed. Think of every single item that needs to be complete in order for your event to be successful and record it. It's important to think of every little detail of your event and this will help you with figuring out all the deadlines. A good exercise that a previous boss taught me is to have a blank sheet of paper and write down all your event tasks. Once all the tasks are written, review them, record them into a spreadsheet and assign deadlines to each.
  • Be prepared to make adjustments. As much as you want the deadlines not to change, they will. Make sure you are prepared to make changes to your deadlines, if need be. If you are postponing deadlines because of time constraints, make sure you can realistically finish everything on time for your event.
  • Be realistic. It's important to make realistic deadlines. Really think about how long it will realistically take you to finish each event task. You can of course make adjustments, but you also don't want to disappoint yourself, clients and suppliers if you promised for an item to be complete by a certain time.
  • Share your deadlines with your event team. If you have event planning assistants, depending on their role, it would be a good idea to share the deadlines with them. By doing this, your team will be organized and everyone will be working towards a common goal.
Event deadlines are crucial for a successful event. Without them, you will have no idea what needs to be complete and you won't be able to see the finish line.

-Shira :)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

I love Jack Russell's!

Taking a break today from blogging because my head is too full with information. Here are some pictures of my favourite kind of dog in the whole wide world for you to enjoy, a Jack Russell! I can't stand how cute they are!!

Annnd check out this super cute Jack Russell video:

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Planning Your Event - What to Consider

If you are new to the event world or have just started out, there are of number of things to consider when planning your event. There is SO much that goes into an event that a lot of people don't know about. Planning an event can be fun but it of course isn't all fun, it is a lot of hard work as well. When you are in the initial planning stages, you need to think about all the little pieces that will allow you to execute a successful event. And believe me there are MANY pieces.

Here is a thorough list of what to consider when planning your event:
  • What is the purpose of your event? Why are you planning and executing this event?
  • What are your event goals/objectives? What is the end result you are hoping for?
  • Who is your target audience? Age, Sex, Income Level, Location, Interests
  • What is your event about? What will happen at your event?
  • Where  and when will your event take place? 
  • What is your budget? 
  • What is your event theme?
  • What kind of decor will you have? Drapes? Lighting? Centerpieces? Linens?
  • Who is involved in the event? What companies/organizations/individuals/departments are involved?
  • What are your event deadlines? What are the various event item deadlines? eg. What is your call for sponsorship deadline? When does collateral need to be printed? When do you need to have confirmed volunteers?
  • How will you promote your event? Depending on your goals, budget, type of event and audience there are a variety of ways to promote your event including: posters, radio advertising, print advertising, TV commercials, local newsletters, email, social media (Twitter, Facebook), media
  • Will your event need sponsors?
  • How will you get sponsors?
  • What marketing materials will you use? Posters, Programs, Signage, Gift Bags, Advertising, Postcards etc.
  • How many staff/volunteers will you need and what are their roles? See my post on Volunteers
  • What is your complete event schedule? This should include setup and teardown
  • Do you need catering? If so, what kind of catering do you want?
  • Do you have a floor plan of your event? Of your setup? A bird's eye view of your whole event
  • Do you need photographers and videographers?
  • Do you need to rent equipment and furniture? 
  • Do you have audio/visual needs? Are there any presentations? Do you need mics? Will there be music playing?
The list can go a little further than the above but those are some of the main planning points to consider. I hope you aren't too overwhelmed ;)


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Do What You Love!

Another sunny day in beautiful Vancouver, yay! I also found out from the dentist that I don't have any cavities :) Annnnd I have an interview for an exciting job! It's turning out to be a great day.

Continuing with the positivity, I wanted to express to everyone that you should do what you love! I've come across way too many people that hate their jobs and aren't happy with their life because of it. I do understand that SOMETIMES people have circumstances that can prevent them from having a career they love, however, it usually can be overcome. By doing what you love your job is no longer really "work", it is just something you love doing everyday.

Now, sometimes, people don't always know right away what it is they want to do with their career. It can take some people a while to figure out, and that is just fine. I didn't always know I wanted to be an event planner. It started with me being passionate about marketing and then I took a special events course in college and became quite interested in the field. After college, I had a marketing & sales position which involved some event planning and I started to just fall in love with planning events. My strong organizational, planning and people skills coupled with my marketing and sales background I felt were perfect to succeed as an event planner.

It's sometimes hard to get to a place where you love your job but I believe that anyone can get there. It takes a lot of hard work and determination but it is possible. Being unhappy is really enough motivation to strive for a career that you love.

I believe that everyone is good at something and is passionate about that something. Sometimes it takes a little while to figure out that something but when you do, it's pretty awesome!

It makes me happy to know that I have a career that I am passionate about and that I love. I don't think anyone else should settle for less :)

Like Confucius once so wisely said "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life"

-Shira :) 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Keeping Organized - Key to Being a Successful Event Planner

Hello Hello! I am back and ready for another great week! I had a wonderful weekend that included a fun-filled bachelorette party that I organized and wonderful dinner at a friends. I hope everyone's weekend was just as good :)

So I will just dive right into it. This is probably pretty obvious to most but one of the keys to being a successful event planner is keeping organized. It's really important to stay on top of all your event tasks and have everything in order. It is pretty much a prerequisite to be an organized event planner because you need to be able to juggle multiple projects and tasks. Without organization, you will most likely not meet deadlines, upset clients, lose business and have poorly executed events.

Here are some tools that I have used to stay organized and focused:
  • Calendar - Having a calendar is essential for a planner. Put all your appointments and deadlines in the calendar. If you want to be super organized you can color code each calendar listing by the type of listing. Make sure your computer calendar syncs with your smart phone (if you have one) so you are able to put in appointments/tasks and check your availability on the go 
  • Deadline List - You should have a list of all your event deadlines in chronological order. This gives you a visual of how much you need to complete before the event date. This list should be as detailed as possible. Make sure to check back on this list frequently and check off the items that you have completed.
  • To Do List - At the end of each work day you should create a to do list for the next day listed in order of priority. This list will keep you on track to complete the deadline list and will help you not become overwhelmed.
  • Contact List - To keep track of all your clients and suppliers make sure you keep a detailed contact list. This contact list typically can be created in Microsoft Outlook or something similar. Make sure to include all the necessary information - business name (if applicable), contact, position, phone number, email, address, website and any applicable notes
  • File Organization - Create detailed titles for each file you create and place each file into the related event folder - ie."VolunteerSchedule_ABC2011Event.doc" goes into the Volunteers folder under the ABC 2011 folder. Files that don't have a detailed name and are scattered all over the place will create confusion and will become overwhelming. 
  • Project Management Software- It may be good to invest in a project management software to keep your projects and deadlines organized, especially if multiple people are involved. I have used Basecamp in the past and it worked really well for me. 
Those are some of the tools I use but everyone has different techniques that work for them. How do you keep organized??


Friday, 12 August 2011

An Active Lifestyle Keeps Me Happy

Happy Friday! Hope everyone is enjoying the sunny weather here in Vancouver. I played tennis a little earlier with the boy and it was lots of fun!

Speaking of tennis, I want to share my love for being active! It's really important for me to stay active because it keeps me fit and healthy (of course), happy, and full of energy. I'm the kind of person that can't stay still for too long so being active comes naturally to me. Don't get me wrong, I do get lazy every now and then but I am usually always up for something active.

I love all sorts of activities that keep me fit but some of my favourites are hiking, biking, boot camp and running.

I love the challenge that hiking brings. Going up those steep hills, your legs burning. There's is often a reward after hiking though - beautiful views and the satisfaction that you succeeded.

Biking is just so much fun. I love wizzing by the city streets and feeling the wind against my face. I also love challenging myself by peddling through steep inclines.

I was introduced to boot camp in the last year and it is awesome, hard work but AWESOME. Boot camp kicks my ass and pushes me out of my fitness comfort zone. Thanks to my awesome boot camp instructor Russel (highly recommend him!), I have lost weight and inches and I am stronger!

Running gets my endorphins going, is a great stress-reliever and makes me feel alive. I have taken part in a number of 10k races in the past and boy do you feel amazing as you cross that finish line.

Other activities I love are yoga, walking, tennis (as I mentioned), kayaking and rollerblading.

When I don't do anything active, I just don't feel right. I just have to keep moving otherwise I don't feel... well, normal. It definitely keeps a bright smile on my face and I think that's a really good thing.

Everyone has varying degrees of fitness and activity levels but I really encourage everyone to keep an active lifestyle. It definitely helps improve your mood and your energy level and who doesn't want that?

Have fabulous weekend everyone!!

-Shira :)

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Event Teardown - Important to be Efficient

Sorry guys, I missed a blog post yesterday because I was out all day running errands with a bride-to-be and networking with some great ladies.

Last week I discussed event setup and so today I going to talk about what happens after the event is complete, which is called event teardown. It's important to plan your event teardown ahead of time, be efficient and organized. At the end of an event, you want the teardown to be as smooth and easy as possible so that you can clear out quickly and not waste time. The last thing you want after a long and busy event is to be running around trying to determine how everything should be torn down and put away. Just like your event setup, you want to have a detailed plan.

Here are some guidelines for a smooth and organized event teardown:
  •  Create a schedule. Creating a teardown schedule will ensure that all the items are torn down in the most efficient manner. The schedule should include a list of all the items and the associated teardown times. Like I have said before you should expect the unexpected, so make sure you allocate more than enough time to complete each item As you go through each item you should check it off the schedule. Make sure to double check that all items are complete.
  • Create a floor plan - To have a visual to go along with the schedule, you should review the floor plan that was used for the setup. The floor plan is a great way for you to see the overall vision of the teardown
  • Create an item check list. To ensure you don't lose any event items and all items are accounted for you should create a thorough checklist of all the items. Make sure to check off each item as you pack it away.
  • Determine how much help you need. Just like the setup, you will need a lot of of help to teardown. You should definitely determine how much help you need beforehand by reviewing how many items need to be torn down and how long the teardown will take. It's much better to have more than enough people to help than not enough as teardown will take longer and won't be as efficient. If there is any heavy lifting or tall items to take down make sure you have the appropriate staff/volunteers on site to help.
  • Keep track of time. Most venues would like you to be finished tearing down at a certain time so you need to make sure to keep track of how long everything is taking. If you have planned out everything, you should not be going over your allotted time, unless something unexpected happens (if you have allotted more than enough time, something unexpected happening shouldn't be an issue).
  • Be careful not to damage the venue. Sometimes during the hustle and bustle of event teardown, the venue property can get damaged. You and your staff/volunteers need to be extra careful not to damage anything because you will lose your venue deposit and may also be charged an additional fee depending on the damage.
Your event teardown should go without a hitch if you follow the above guidelines!

-Shira :)

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Breaking out of your Comfort Zone

I think there's a time in everyone's life where they get stuck in a rut and don't know how to get out of it. I know it has happened to me numerous times. Everything is a constant routine day in and day out and your life doesn't seem have any excitement anymore. You want to break the routine but you don't know where to start and don't want to step out of your comfort zone.

Through personal experience, I found that breaking out of what I feel is comfortable and safe is really difficult. You become so used to doing things a certain way and exposing yourself to the same experiences that you become afraid to introduce new things into your life. Many people are afraid of change, afraid to take that leap. Fear can definitely hold you back but you don't have to let it.

I became so fed up with being unhappy with my life to the point that I told myself that change needed to happen and it needed to happen NOW. I started with writing down a list of goals and changes that I wanted to make for myself. The list included some of the following: ending toxic/negative relationships, meeting new people, pursuing a career that I am passionate about, singing in front of an audience, doing activities that scare me. After writing down my list, I shortly after started to complete it. Crossing off the items from my list felt really awesome and my life started to be exciting again. The rut was gone and I broke down that comfort zone wall. I felt like I could do anything!

My list of course never really ends, I always set goals for myself and think of changes that I want to make to my life. I try to challenge myself often so that I can push through my boundaries and face my fears. I like a good challenge anyways ;). If you think you are in a rut, if you are unhappy with your life, if you want excitement,  get off your ass and make the change TODAY! When it comes down to it, you are accountable for making those changes, no one else.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is scary but believe me, it is worth it. You can thank me later :)

-Shira :)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Event Catering

Hope everyone had a great weekend, I sure did!

Today's post is all about event catering. I would say that most events involve catering of some kind but there are some that of course do not have any. The amount of catering varies on the size of the event and the audience. In past events that I have attended I have noticed that some event planners do not put enough care into catering an event. Catering is an important part of an event and needs to be  planned carefully. If the event guests are not happy with the catering this will provide a negative experience for them which is of course no good. To avoid unhappy guests and have a successful event, here are some guidelines for planning your event catering: 
  • Amount/Type of Catering 
    The amount/type of catering that you will have depends on what kind of event that you have and the number and type of guests that are in attendance. I organized a Game Design Expo for several years and I learned that a lot of gamers like meat and sweets and not a lot of veggies or fruit. I also learned that gamers eat a lot and the catering numbers had to be significantly higher than the actual attendee numbers. You need to make sure that you have enough food for your guests because if you run out of food, the guests will have a negative experience.
  • Budget  - The amount and quality of the catering does depend on your budget. You can't have an extravagant sit down dinner on a shoe string budget, it just won't happen. Sometimes event planners do need to be creative when it comes to catering if they have a low budget (ie. get friends to help make food). It's also important to get quotes from several catering companies and compare prices.
  • Catering setup - There are a variety of ways to to setup your catering. There is buffet, sit-down dinner and cocktail reception to name a few. The kind of setup really depends on your budget, audience, event type and and event objectives.
  • Choosing a caterer - You do need to do your research when choosing a caterer. I would advise researching five or more catering companies to ensure you get the right caterer for your event. You should make sure they are reputable and have really good testimonials. I would also ask other event planners about their experiences with these companies. As I said above, it's important for guests to be happy with the quality of the food. 
  • Catering Quality/Presentation - The above point leads me to my next point which is ensuring that the catering quality and presentation is top notch.The food needs to look very appealing and it of course needs to taste good as well. This is something that is obvious, but no food should be rotting or spoiling. There should be someone checking up on the food frequently to see if anything needs to be refilled or taken away. Garbage and food scraps should be cleaned up often and quickly.
Planning the catering for your event does take some work but it's worth it as it will leave a lasting impression on your guests.

- Shira :)

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Music Soothes my Soul

All my friends know that I am very passionate about music and singing. My love for singing started at the young age of 5 where I constantly recorded myself singing (I need to find those tapes!). As I got a little older I joined a choir and took singing lessons. In more recent years I have sung a few covers on YouTube and joined Sing City Show Choir as a second soprano. In terms of music, I have always loved going to live shows, collecting a vast amount of CD's and online albums and surrounding myself with musical people. The reason I love music and singing so much is because it is a creative outlet, a way of expressing myself and makes me feel alive! Music has also helped me through tough times. Whenever I was going through a rough period in my life, I would listen to my favourite tunes and it would automatically put me in a better mood. Music really does soothe my soul.

So instead of going on and on about the reasons why I love music I thought I would provide a list of some my favourite artists/bands and why I love them so much. Here goes:
  • Matthew Good/Matthew Good Band - My love for MG started when I saw a music video for "Everything is Automatic" when I was about 15 years old. Ever since then, I have been hooked. He's always had a really unique sound that I really love.
  • The Bravery - I just love the sound that they have. They make the kind of music that makes you want to move and rock out. 
  • Muse - Their music is so different from everyone else (I'm sensing a theme here).  I love Matt Bellamy voice and they are one of my favourite bands to see live.
  • Two Door Cinema Club - Their songs always make me happy and want to get up and dance. They really have a great beat
  • John Mayer - His sounds are really soothing and always get me in a relaxed mood. He's an incredible guitar player and has a sexy voice, what can I say? ;)
  • Mother Mother - Again, they have a really unique sound and they are such talented musicians. Another band that makes me want to get up and dance and they are REALLY good live.
  • Zero 7 - I love the way they put music together, they are very creative! 
I'm going to stop there because I really could go all day listing all the music that I like. I really just wanted to express to everyone how much music means to me :)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Shira :)

    Thursday, 4 August 2011

    Successful Event Setup Requires Detailed Planning

    Here's yet another event planning post from yours truly :)

    Today I am going to discuss event setup. For those who do not know, setup pertains to putting together an event before it opens. Setup items can include the following:
    • Tables
    • Chairs
    • Signage
    • Audio/Visual
    • Catering
    • Lights
    • Linens/Drapes
    • Decorations
    • Marketing Materials
    The setup time and details varies depending on the size and complexity of the event. Regardless of the size of your event, it is important to properly plan your setup. Without proper planning, you won't be prepared for the unexpected and your event won't have a smooth execution.

    Here are some guidelines to follow when planning your event setup:
    •  Make sure you have enough time. It's important to allot enough time to setup your event. To determine how much time you would need I would go through everything that you need to setup and estimate how long each setup item will take and then add everything up. Once you have determined the approximate setup time, add another half hour to an hour - it's better to have more than enough time than not enough. You really don't want to have to rush through everything and delay the opening of an event because you didn't allot enough time for setup.
    • Determine what items you need to setup. Make a list of all the items you need to setup and the equipment/supplies (tape, scissors, ladder, dollies etc.) that will help you setup those items. This list will establish exactly what you need for setup.
    • Create a setup schedule. This is connected to the above two points because when you determine the setup length and items you can then create a setup schedule. A schedule gives you a visual of everything that needs to get done and will help you get everything setup in time. Not all event planners do this (everyone has their own way) but I would suggest that all the items be listed in order of priority. Each item should have a specific time that you want to start and complete them by, this will create the order of priority.
    • Create a floor plan. To determine where all your items need to be, you should create a floor plan. If you can, get the basic floor plan from the venue so you have something to start from. Indicate on the floor plan where all the items need to be setup. 
    • Determine how much help you need. This relates back to my past post about volunteers. When you have determined the setup items and how long the setup will take, you can then figure out how many people need to help with setup. As I said before, it's important to have more than enough people than not enough. You want the setup to be as smooth as possible and if you don't have enough help, things will most likely go wrong.
    The underlining message I'm really giving in all my event planning posts is that an event planner should always be prepared and plan, plan and then plan some more. Preparedness and proper planning are the keys to event success.

    Wednesday, 3 August 2011

    Hiking is a lot Like Working Towards your Dreams

    Can I first just say again that I LOVE summer?! I just can't get enough!

    Sorry - I just had to get that out before moving forward with my post for today.

    So today I hiked the Stawamus Chief (near Squamish, BC) with some good friends. Like the sign says when you first walk up to the trail, it isn't a walk in the park. I have done the Chief several times and I am in pretty good shape, but this hike is hard work. Rough and steep terrain up a mountain, doesn't sound too appealing does it? I'm sure there are many people that question why I do this type of "torture" to myself. The sweat, the pain in my thighs, being short of breath (I'm really selling this aren't I?).The reason why I do it is because of the personal rewards that I get including spending quality time with friends, improving my physical fitness and seeing the beautiful views at the top. I don't think I would do it if I didn't get any satisfaction out of it.

    While wiping the dripping sweat from my face, pushing through the pain and arriving at the first peak that had tremendous views, a strong realization came to me. In order to truly fulfill your dreams, you have to work hard and get out of your comfort zone. You usually have to go through some type of pain and suffering before you get to where you want to be. Reaching your goals is definitely not a "walk in the park" and you have to be determined and disciplined. All this hard work does pay off when you finally achieve your dreams. Reaching that "peak" is so incredibly rewarding and makes you feel like you can do anything.

    After reaching the first peak, we decided to grin and bear it and head off to the second peak. The trail was rough and steep and I did get a little scared at times (I am slightly afraid of heights). Another realization came to me. When you have reached your goals/dreams you still have to work hard and there will always be more goals to achieve. There may be times where you need to go through a rough patch and face your fears. Even if you are wanting to quit, it's important to persevere. It's important because it pays off. When we came to the second peak the view was even more beautiful than the first, it was a bit overwhelming. Continuing to improve yourself and achieve your goals and your dreams is unbelievably fulfilling (and sometimes can be a bit overwhelming).

    I am SO grateful for today because I am going through a career transition and these realizations have shown me that my hard work and determination will pay off. I know I will see those breathtaking views very soon :)

    -Shira :)

    Tuesday, 2 August 2011

    Volunteers - Vital to Event Success

    In my experience as an event planner, volunteers are needed for practically every event you execute. They help with a variety of duties including but not limited to registration, security, crowd control, setup/teardown and way-finding. Volunteers are important as they represent and contribute to the success of your event. They are the nuts and bolts that help your event run smoothly. For the most part, your event would not be able to be executed without them.

    To help you with selecting and managing volunteers, here is my process and guidelines:

    Number of Volunteers

    To determine the number of volunteers for the event you need to thoroughly review the event schedule from start to finish and determine where you will need help. One way to help with this is to create a floor plan of the event so you have a good visual of where volunteers need to be. Another way is to actually go down to the event venue and create step by step scenarios.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that on the day of the event you have to be prepared for volunteers being late or not showing up (an event planner should always be prepared for the unexpected). I would recruit more volunteers than you need just for this reason, that way you won't be scrambling to find a replacement.

    Volunteer Positions

    Once you have figured out how many volunteers are needed for your event, you will need to determine the types of event positions. Make a list of the volunteer position titles and their descriptions. Make sure the descriptions are specific and provide enough information.

    Recruiting Volunteers

    There are a variety of ways to recruit your volunteers. You can make a post on the following websites:
    There are of course more websites than that but that is just a sampling. You can also create posters and place them on community center boards, have event planners promote recruitment to their existing volunteer list (if they have one) and communicate to your friends/colleagues about your need.

    To help attract volunteers you can offer them incentives such as a free t-shirt, free entrance into the event, raffle draws and gift cards. 

    You should create a volunteer application for volunteers to complete which includes the following fields: first name and last name, contact information, address, work experience, references, preferred volunteer dates/times and preferred volunteer positions.

    Once you have received enough volunteer requests, it is important to review each volunteer application (if feasible). You really want to make sure you recruit the kind of people that will show up, work hard and provide a positive image for the event. Reviewing may take some time and you may need to get some help. It would be best to call the references the volunteers have provided to make sure they are the right fit and can do the job. It may be good to also do a bit of digging on LinkedIn or Facebook. This process may seem tedious but it's important to select the right candidates as they will be the faces that represent your event.

    Once you have selected your volunteers, send them an email letting them know that they have been selected. The email should also include their volunteer position and description, schedule, event contact/address information and orientation information.

    Volunteer Coordinator

    Whether it be an event staff member or a volunteer, it's a good idea to have a volunteer coordinator to monitor the volunteers and be a go-to person. If it is a small event, this position may not be needed but if it is a large event I would say it is important. As an event planner, you have many things to oversee on the day of the event and a volunteer coordinator would help tremendously.  

    Volunteer Orientation

    When possible, it is important to have an event orientation for all the volunteers. This will give you, the event planner, the opportunity to give a run down of the event and provide your expectations. You should discuss the following key points:
    • Overview of the event (what, when, why, where, how)
    • Volunteer roles
    • Expectations (ie. come early, don't use your cellphone, be helpful, what to wear etc.)
    • Emphasize that they are contributing to the event success
    • Event staff contact information
    After discussing those points, provide an opportunity for the volunteers to ask any questions they may have so they are crystal clear about everything. It is also good to provide a handout to all volunteers recapping the key points you discussed.

    Once the orientation is complete, it is best to send an email out to all the volunteers going over what was discussed to really make sure they understand their roles and volunteer expectations.

    Send Out a Reminder

    A couple days before the event send out an email to all the volunteers reminding them of the date and time of their shift, their role, the event location and event staff contact information. 

    Event Day

    When the volunteers arrive, have the volunteer coordinator (or yourself depending on the size of the event) brief them again on their position and guide them to their volunteer location. Make sure the volunteer coordinator and/or yourself monitors all the volunteers frequently to ensure they are doing their job.

    Each event planner deals with this differently but if a volunteer is late I personally would give them a chance to redeem themselves. First ask them why they were late and explain to them that being late is unacceptable. Once you have had a discussion with them, brief them on their position and bring them to their volunteer location. If a volunteer is late for the second time, I would tell them they they are no longer part of the event.

    If a volunteer does not show up for their shift, I would first try to contact them. If you cannot get a hold of them, I would ask a volunteer to do double-duty and take over two positions or if you recruited more than enough volunteers (as discussed earlier), switch a position. If you are not comfortable with having a volunteer do more than one position, I would get the volunteer coordinator or yourself to step in and help out.

    If you find that a volunteer is not doing their job, I would bring them aside and emphasize the volunteer expectations and their volunteer role. Explain to them that they need to focus on their position to ensure the event runs smoothly and is a success.

    Post Event

    After each volunteer shift is complete it is important to thank each volunteer, tell them how much you appreciate their help and how they contributed to a successful event. You can also ask them for feedback on the event itself as this will help you improve future events. For larger events, event planners sometimes throw wrap-up parties for the event staff and volunteers to express their gratitude for a job well done. Taking the time to thank them will make them feel valued and want to volunteer for future events with you.

    I know this post was a bit of a long one but I wanted to give you as much information as possible on volunteer coordination and management.

    -Shira :)

    Monday, 1 August 2011


    As promised in my first post, I am going to talk about something more personal just so everyone can get to know more about me and what I am all about. I can also express about the things that I love, which is awesome of course, I mean, who doesn't love doing that?!

    Anyways, this post is about summer and how much I LOVE it! I don't really know many people, if any, that don't love summer. Even though spring comes in second, summer is still the best for me. I of course try to see the good in winter and fall, even though you will see me complaining about the rain and the cold from time to time (ask my boyfriend, hehe). There is just so much to love and I just want to express that to everyone!

    The summer in Vancouver has been a bit of a slow start  this year but I think it's finally starting to turn around. I have to say, summer's in Vancouver, actually pretty much all of BC, are pretty darn awesome. I think anyone that lives here or has been here can agree with me wholeheartedly.

    So I'm going to get right into the specific things I love about summer in Vancouver, here's the list (and believe me this is a heavily abbreviated list):
    • The way the sun makes you smile and feel good
    • The way the sun feels on your skin
    • Wearing pretty summer dresses/skirts
    • Going to the beach
    • Laying in the sun
    • The sun not setting until late
    • Fireworks
    • BBQ's
    • Going hiking
    • Going biking
    • Richmond Night Market
    • Music festivals
    • Summer fruit 
    • Camping
    • Swimming outdoors
    • Kayaking
    • Couples getting married
    • Picnics
    • Ice cream or frozen yogurt on a hot day
    • Drinks on a patio with some good friends
    • Blue skies
    • Beautiful views of the mountains
    • Road trips
    • Playing frisbee
    • Playing tennis
    I really could go on and on but I will stop there.  Perhaps this list will give you some ideas as to what to do this summer (if haven't already done all of them).

    Enjoy the summer while it lasts, I know I will!

    Shira :)