Event Planning

Picture 9I got four invitations in the mail this week: Two are fund-raising luncheons, one is a gala and the last one requests the pleasure of my company for a “we’re going to honor someone really awesome in the community to raise money so please pay $150 and come join us in the celebration.”

Let’s be honest here. Does anyone really have an amazing time at a charity fund-raiser? OK, maybe ‘amazing’ is asking too much, so let me rephrase that. Does anyone have their allocated tax deduction worth of fun? Yes, yes, yes, I know you are attending to support a non-profit you believe in and it’s all about the cause, not about having a good time. BUT, I would argue that the event shouldn’t be painful — as in tedious, boring and resplendent with long-winded well-meaning speakers — and if it is, then by God there better be a hosted bar. I’m not going to name names (but the worst offender starts with a Ch and ends with amber) primarily because I don’t want to be run out-of-town. But what I will do is offer some sage advice.
The first piece of wisdom I have to impart is if I walk into any event and see a Powerpoint I’m leaving. Correction: First I’m getting a drink and then I’m leaving. Nowhere in the annals of gracious entertaining does it say to torture your guests with a Powerpoint. I don’t care if it’s a Powerpoint worthy of an Academy Award nomination, it’s a deal breaker. Am I the only one that’s ever wanted to rush the stage and abscond with the presenter’s laptop?
Also, and this is going to hurt a bit, a big no to choirs, high school singers, concerts. Really any kind of children’s performance should be verboten. Harsh? Yes. But, consider the fact that, I, as a mother, and most of the other parents attending fundraisers, get weary (gasp) of seeing even our own precious, precocious children perform at their countless school musicals and concerts. Sadly, we have reached our kid performance threshold. And even if the event is an entertainer-free zone, by no means does that call for the blaring of music so loud it makes having a conversation impossible and renders the guests to talk in party sign language where the only form of communication is pointing at the red or white wine on the table. Remember, most of us are 40-plus and our hearing is not what it used to be.
Most importantly, people speaking at the podium should be on a timer, a really big timer like the ones at swim meets, and it should have a buzzer. I’m aware the non-profit CEO, event host or honoree wants to be sure to thank everyone, but save the list of names for the program or your obituary. Ouch, how mean. But you know I’m right. Oh and if anyone goes on and on effusively thanking their spouse for 20 minutes, two words for you: Red Flag. Something’s going on in that marriage and it’s not good. Any happily married person does not feel the need to smother their spouse with a half hour of ooey gooey praise in public.
Okay, I just lied, there is something even more important than the timer. It’s the on site fund-raising or as it’s called on the mean streets of Non Profitville — the cash shake down. This is the asking for a monetary donation that goes above and beyond the price of your ticket, and it should be handled in a discreet and dignified manner. Sure, we all love when the live auction gets crazy and someone pays $15,000 for a trip to the Flint Hills, but the whole shout out to the audience, also known as the “Fund A Need” ask, should not start at upwards of $50,000 and oh so s-l-o-w-l-y work its way down to $5. Worse if while this is going on the hosted bar gets shut down. That’s bad form. Or as my mother would say, IJND: It’s just not done.
***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new winter Snarky line of clothing and accessories. (Flannel Snarky P.J.’s anyone?) Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.)

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

Snarky’s Guide to Hosting An Event

Ah, summer, a brief respite from the flurry of fund-raising events that will soon start clogging my fall calendar. Do I attend all these events because I am the essence of popularity?  Um no. I attend because my husband’s job requires that I enjoy a chicken dinner with a mystery cream sauce at least several times a month.   Praise be to the gods of hotel catering, not all of these shin-digs are black tie required galas. Some are lunch time fundraisers others business banquets or yuck, a golf tournament.  You know what that makes me? An event expert and like any expert it would be unkind of me, ill-mannered even, not to offer the gift of my wisdom.  As always, feel free to take notes and don’t hesitate to share this valuable information with any and all fundraising volunteers and professionals.

The primary mistake any event makes is being in love with itself.  Yes, your mission is truly inspirational and you admirably fill a community need.  But, all of us who paid upward of $2,000 for a table didn’t come to be punished by your 40 minute video, masquerading as a wannabe PBS documentary.  Nor did we attend to be beaten into submission by a cavalcade of earnest speakers who as soon as they touch the microphone fall madly and oh so passionately in love with the sound of their own voice.  I know your rationale was that all 20 of your most special donors and volunteers must have a chance to speak because they give so much to your organization.  Fight that urge with all you’ve got and pick three speakers, at the most, to “tell your story.” I don’t care if you have to draw names from a hat. Trust me, I’ll thank you with my wallet later. Your event attendees also never ever want to be tortured by a powerpoint presentation. Under no circumstances should you unleash the P.P.  Showing me one at an event makes me want to rip off my spanx, rush the stage and smother the powerpointee with my newly purchased space aged polymered, gut sucking, lycra.  Remember less is more – especially when it comes to event presentations.

Well, there is one exception to that less is more rule at events.  You can never have enough alcohol. Nothing gets my Target knock off designer handbag in a bunch more than having to pay for liquor at an event.  Seriously, I dropped some major coin to attend and you have a non-hosted bar?  I can’t even get a club soda with twist of lime without paying for it?  It’s like the airlines charging to check a bag or an orange spray tan – wrong, wrong, wrong!  Let me share with you a little Event Math – every drink I have to pay for is equivalent to about $100 less I’ll be spending on an auction item or a fund-in-need.  I know what you’re thinking and don’t you dare go there.  You’re thinking, “Well there’s a bottle of red and white wine on the table.”  Yes, there is and here’s the hard truth, that’s not good enough.  I want my liquor and I want to enjoy it before we’re all herded into the banquet area and lassoed to our seats for a couple of hours. Oh and don’t get all sneaky and go covert ops with the bar while I’m in the banquet area.  I want your hospitality extended so when I excuse myself to go to the powder room or to make a phone call to check in at home there’s still a bartender waiting to pour me a  little vodka with a splash of cranberry and just a wee bit of lime.  Yes, I can afford to buy myself a drink or two or three. But, that’s not the point.  The point is a fundraiser is still a “party.” Well, a party you pay to go to, but a party nevertheless and good hospitality should be the rule not the exception.

As far as entertainment at events, for the most part, I say no.  A big no to choirs, high school singers, really any kind of children performing should be verboten.  Harsh?  Yes. But, consider the fact that, I, as a mother, and most of the other parents attending your event get weary of seeing even our own precious, precious children perform at their countless school musicals and concerts. Sadly, we have reached our kid performance threshold. That, by no means, gives you permission to torture us with a comedian or really loud music where it makes having a conversation at our table impossible and renders us only able to point at the red or white wine on the table.  Remember, most of us are 40 plus and our hearing is not what it used to be.

Unfortunately, we can still hear some man at a podium over thanking his wife.  What’s that you say – how can a man over thank his wife?  Is that even possible? Why yes it is.  A man comes up to accept his award or to say his farewells to his board chairmanship and he goes into what I call “suspicious over-thank mode.”  He calls out his wife and gushes about her eternal greatness, raves about how he couldn’t have done it without her, how she makes it all possible and worthwhile.  Really, all this outpouring of marital praise because you’re term as board chair is up?  (Hello, you were board chair, not the patron saint of philanthropy.) This is what I’m thinking, along with most of the married females in the audience.  1 – You’re trying too hard in a show offy “Look at me, look at me, I’m husband of the year” kind of way.  2 – You’re trying to atone for some sin you’ve committed.  3 – That sin is you’ve cheated and/or are currently cheating.  4 – She wrote your speech. Or 5 – All of the above.  So, married gentlemen keep your wifely praise appropriate to the occasion and save the officious gushing for your anniversary dinner or better yet, shut up and give your wife want she wants – sole beneficiary of your life insurance policy and executorship of your will.

Of course, I have more event guidance to offer, but I’ll follow my own advice and remember that less is more.

**Many thanks for all of you who “liked” me on Facebook!  May the Snark Be With You.  For those that haven’t done the deed yet to stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs. Oh and while you’re at it go ahead and share my link with friends.  Cheers!