Category Archives: Event Planning

Make Lasting Memories at your Prom or Homecoming!

Plan the Perfect Dance!

Choosing the Theme is the First Step.

What are the hottest themes this year? Poll your student body and find out what is HOT at your school, or search online for ideas! Will this be a formal or casual dance? Once you pick a theme, you can begin gathering your prom supplies and decorations to create those lasting memories!
Add this post to your blog or webpage!
Stumps Blog Prom Themes

How to Host a 20 Year Reunion

One of the most important things to understand about hosting a 20-year reunion – or any reunion – is that outreach is as important to success as the big party itself. Start early to build anticipation and maximize participation.

Email and social media such as Facebook make this easier than ever. Chances are you already use Facebook, have joined the “You know you’re in/from [insert hometown here] if…” FB page, and have spun off a reunion page that you administer. (If not, all these ideas are translatable to email, message boards, etc.) The next step is to utilize it effectively. Use the page to:

Find high school classmates and 20 year-old artifacts. Put out short lists regularly of people you’re seeking, yearbooks you’re missing, and old photos of landmarks you’d like to display.

Build new reunion memories. Use status updates to provide a personal welcome to new members as they join. Ask questions: “Anybody here from the CHS Choir?” “Did you catch Jurassic Park when it opened? Who’d you see it with?” “Tube skirts or flannel shirts?” Conversations will nurture a comfort level among participants. They will also tell you what’s still universally memorable to the Class of ’93.  At the reunion itself, many committees set up stations that replay a high school video or leave scrapbooks filled with pictures.  Ask attendees to sign a physical or digital guest book with messages about the past or predictions for the future.

Add value to the reunion ticket. Perhaps reunion committee members have worked out a deal for a block of discounted hotel rooms, or someone is organizing an afternoon picnic. Give reminders of these extras regularly to ensure that new page members see it – some folks will search older threads and the Events page when they join, but many won’t.

Let’s say that the Jurassic Park mention got a huge response. What do you do with this information? We recommend planting a cardboard cutout of a T-Rex somewhere in your venue as a symbol of a good time had by all.

Take the symbolism as far as you want: Empire State Building prop to stand in for Sleepless in Seattle, Red Roses backdrop for Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses,” and so on.

Party props mixed with Class of ’93 artifacts (game balls, photo canvases of class outings, etc.) can form the basis of a guessing game about senior year events that classmates start on upon arrival.

The overall party theme could reflect early 90s popular culture or could come from other shared experiences, such as:

  • Favorite hangouts: beach, movie theater, dance club
  • Special events: annual fair/carnival, excursions into the city
  • School pride: winning-est sports, music and academic teams; school colors
  • Other: senior prom theme duplication, crowd-sourced ideas put to a vote

Again, let outreach interactions be your guide. Once the reunion theme is chosen, you’ll be able to coordinate banners, favors and tableware with theme decorations.

Two areas may require extra supplies: tableware and favors. Be sure to know how many display tables you’ll need for name tags, yearbooks and the like so that you can cover them similarly to the dining tables. Likewise, have contests worked out in advance of ordering (dance moves, classmate-who-traveled-the-farthest-to-get-here) so you can select favors as prizes.

Are you planning a reunion party this summer? Let us know how it’s going!

Forget You’re in a Tent. Decorate Elegantly for Outdoor Events

Summertime means outdoor parties, barbecues, and bonfires. If you’re planning a summer wedding or a more elegant graduation party, maybe even an outdoor prom, you’re challenged with decorating in a tent. With the right decorations and the proper planning, you can make it so your guests completely forget that they’re in a tent! With a few tips and tricks, your decorations can be elegant enough to make your venue seem like an outdoor wonderland, not a party under a tent.

Table Settings Make a Difference Outdoors

If you have tables under your tent for your summer event, you’ll want to use them as a decorating tool. By covering your tables with a white cloth and a shimmery strip of gossamer as a table runner, you’ll create a light, airy feeling for your summer event. A centerpiece for your tables will play a huge role in creating an elegant event, also. Depending on your theme, you could choose a centerpiece that will fit with the theme. You could also simply choose an elegant centerpiece that will go with any theme, such as a candelabra. When the sun begins to set, switching to candlelight versus bright LED lights or no lights will make your event that much more elegant. Also, the candlelight reflecting off a shimmery gossamer fabric will create an interesting effect.

Don’t forget about the chairs that will go with your tables. Seeing just a simple folding chair doesn’t say elegance. You can use folding chairs for your event, but look into chair covers. You could just use a ribbon or you could use a complete chair cover and a ribbon.

Hide the Tent

As you’re preparing your decorations, try to find a way to disguise the tent you’re decorating. Try wrapping the tent poles with shimmery silver iridescent chiffon. If you decide to use candles when the sun sets, the candlelight will Silver Chiffonreflect off the chiffon. You could also station a bunch of balloons at each of the four corners of the tent, as a way to disguise the corner tent poles.

If you want to disguise the poles running along the top of the tent, try twining garlands and flowers around them. Or you could do a combination of chiffon, garlands, and flowers. Another good option is hanging decorations from those poles, such as an ivory floral topiary.

Remember, summer outings don’t have to be all fun and no elegance. Even if you’re using a tent for your event, the decorations and the table settings can help you create an elegant sure-to-be-remembered event. Centerpieces and chair covers are a way to help guests forget about the tent, but if you want to disguise the tent, shimmery, flowing fabrics are the way to go. As you plan your elegant summer event, choose fabrics and other decorations that will set your colors off perfectly—create an event that your guests will remember for a long time!

Go Back In Time With 20s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s Prom Themes

Sometimes there is nothing more fun that pretending to be somewhere else or becoming someone else. Small children love to play pretend – it comes naturally. We have whole industries built on fantasy. Just look at Hollywood for a major example. Again, Halloween is one of the biggest party holidays of the year, because even the adults get to dress in costume. We, the people, love to play pretend.

Elegant and beautiful formal evenings are one of the perfect places for people to be able to become someone else in another place and another time. With a decade themed prom night, your evening can range from the truly glamorous of the 20s and 50s to the glittering glitz of the ridiculously fun 80s. All it takes is an imagination and a little bit of elbow grease. With some luck, the following ideas will get your started on the imagination end; this year’s prom crew can provide the rest!

1920s Prom Theme

Known as the “Roaring Twenties” or the “Jazz Age,” when we think 1920s, we often think of Bette Davis, flappers, speakeasies, and Greta Garbo, to name a few off the top. To create the look and feel of the 1920s without revisiting the popular Great Gatsby theme from 2012, turn the prom into a speakeasy. Start with some invitations with iconic Art Deco lettering to invite the juniors and seniors back to a particular moment in time, and make sure all the guests know the “secret entrance” code: knock twice, give a whistle, and then knock once more. “Park” a gangster car standee near the entrance for added back-alley authenticity.

For drinks, make sure the punch is a clear liquid – perhaps mix sprite with clear kool-aid – and instead of traditional cups, use coffee mugs! (Since alcohol was illegal then.) Set up plenty of fog machines, because a real speakeasy was sure to be filled with cigarette smoke.

To announce the prom court, instead of doing it in the traditional fashion, stage a “raid”. Have the principal or whomever is going to announce to court come and “raid” the prom venue, complete with police sirens and everything. Once you have secured the attention of everyone in the room, announce the prom court!

Decorations can be simple, yet swanky. Black and gold satin and gossamer table linens, votive candles, and gobs of real looking strings of pearls on the table tops. For the photo standee, be sure to have fedoras and feather boas on stand-by to complete the point.

1950s Prom: At the Hop

Pink and black poodle skirts. Greasers and bomber jackets. Greased Lightnin’! And it is all going to happen at the hop! The 1950s was a time of hope and promise for the U.S. as soldiers returned from war and the war economy produced a time of prosperity that had been preciously unprecedented. Keep this feel good vibe in mind while planning a 1950s prom.

Be sure to have a juke box, or at least a cardboard reproduction. Keep the music themed to the 1950s, or use music from bands like Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s, who do updated covers of classic tunes. This is definitely the time to be channeling Elvis Presley, milk shakes, and cat eye glasses.

Set .45s on every table in the form of centerpieces, of course. Have records whirling from the ceiling, as well.

Alternatively, this could also be a good decade to use to play off the popularity of the new film, “On the Road,” featuring James Franco and Kristen Stewart. Beatniks, blues, wine, and social commentary could make for an interesting spin. Prom night attendees can even pose in the car from “On the Road!”

1960s Prom Theme

In contrast to the feel-good fifties, the 1960s was a time of turmoil and swift change. Playing on the art and ideas brought to the fore in San Francisco by the beatniks in the previous decade, protest slogans and peace signs are two prominent icons of this decade. Rainbows and flower power interspersed with some hand-made protest banners about Vietnam can set the stage here.

Use leis for favors at the door to give guests the look of flower children as they make their way through the beaded curtain. Face painting is always an option, and not as childish in the proper context. The music choices for the evening are varied, as the songs of the sixties remain some of the most popular music of all time. Create Haight and Ashbury street signs and hang faux-electric guitars on the wall. Scatter guitar picks at the tables, personalized with your prom info.

You could even make your prom into Woodstock, minus the illegal drugs, violence, and mayhem, of course. As any prom attendee would have obviously been too young to attend the ACTUAL Woodstock, the summer of ’69 and the famous music festival remain an idyllic fantasy for many young people. Capture the moment in time with 1960s peace sign stand in to help guise the brilliantly bedecked teenagers in sixties garb for a photo op. All in all, being able to attend “Woodstock Prom: 2013″ (through rose-colored lens, of course) could be the perfect magical evening.

1980s Prom: Studio 54

Many schools who choose to do an 80s prom theme go with neon, leg warmers, and feathered hair; more “Breakfast Club” than “Rent,” if you will. Those proms can be fun and special, to be sure. This year, however, consider a spin on the 80s prom theme and consider styling the venue like an 80s nightclub. Dark lighting, a mirrored disco ball, and dancers in the background help create the illusion of the infamous New York nightclub, Studio 54.

Brick corrugated paper should line the walls, complimented by strategically placed reflective metallic curtains to help with the illusion of dark and depth. Place different lights, like LED balls, throughout the venue space to create an understated yet dynamic lighting effect.

Be sure to play some *timely* 80s rock and dance music to fit with your theme. Instead of setting up a typical drinks and snacks table, create a bar tableau. When each couple comes in, give them city favor bags with money clips and some fake cash to spend “at the bar” for their drinks at Studio 54.

Make Your Symphony’s After Event a Music Party to Remember

A successful post-symphony music party embraces certain essential elements. Add your creativity to these elements to mix up an after event to remember.

Establish the Goals
Part of planning a symphony after party is having a clear vision for why you’re doing it. Usually the goal is to add value to an evening out, which may translate to more ticket sales, but it is sometimes the vehicle for an annual or semi-annual fundraising event instead.

For many symphonic organizations it’s important to try to attract new subscribers, especially younger participants who may then develop a habit –- hopefully a lifelong habit — of attending classical musical events as a social activity. In other words, after events can be mixers with longer-term goals.

Understanding the goals enables you to gear advertising and ticket pricing to match the demographic you’re trying to attract.

Create Your Own Hot Spot
Everybody will be dressed in their best, so whether you are holding the music party at your own or another facility, you will want to present an elegant venue to play and nosh in.

Be prepared for anything! Although holding after parties in hotel or convention rooms is typical, you may end up preparing an unusual venue, such as a wine cellar tasting room or a symphony patron’s home.

In general, look to event fabrics for room-softening powers and luxe look – especially in showcasing the musicians’ area if the location doesn’t have an actual stage.

Theme decorations should harmonize with some aspect of the evening program just as the after-party music does. For example, winter decorations work for a party that follows a Christmas program, Italian event decorations when the works of Italian composers are featured, and so on.

Other themes that work well for after parties are black tie event or city theme – do check for your chosen theme design in invitations and tickets, too. We’re sure you’ll be delighted with the quality and the pricing of our event printing services.

Encourage Memorable Mingling
Attendees will be eager to talk about the symphony program when they first come in. Bring them together with symphony musicians and guest artists over good food and drink.

The hottest party trend right now is the tasting party.

Tasting parties can be about food or drink, with wine sampling being the classic and dessert tasting particularly trendy. Food tastings are as much about “eye candy” presentation as anything else, so carry your elegant theme to the table decorations and consider clear tableware (including petite bowls and cube cups) to show off every beautiful bite.

After Party Inspirations
Large cities like San Francisco and Miami have hosted posh post-concert events for years, and smaller towns across the US are just starting to pick up on this excellent event formula. Don’t let size put you off of the idea; if you’re large enough to support an orchestra, you’re large enough for this type of outreach and what it can mean for the cultural health of the community.

Who Done It? Start Planning Your Clue, Murder Mystery Prom

With a Clue or other murder mystery event there’s no subtraction, only addition as you bring extra anticipation and entertainment into a spectacular prom setting.

Mystery Themes
Nowadays you can go online and buy complete kits for hosting murder mystery parties, and they match popular, exotic prom event themes beautifully. Make the decision to hold your murder mystery prom in a medieval castle, a Vegas casino or an Egyptian tomb with confidence that there’s a murder script available to fit the setting.

Want to do Clue? Although you can also buy a kit specifically for a Clue party, another way is to sit down with friends, play a game of Clue while taking notes, and develop a script from them.

Managing a large group is different from the small, dinner party-sized games you might have played before. If working with a kit, be sure to find one that is designed for large groups; and if writing a script, you will need to find ways to block and pace the action so it doesn’t get bogged down.

Decorating Clue
Probably the best main setting for a Clue theme would be the ballroom. We would recommend building a sumptuous ballroom by selecting decorations by color, perhaps lots of rich red or purple event fabrics accented with gold and involving indispensable ballroom pieces such as a grand chandelier.

Light it subtly, with lots of candelabras and LED candles placed on pedestals and tables for an old-fashioned look.

It’s probably not realistic to try to recreate all the rooms of Clue in the party space. In the game from which you get your script, you can name some of the rooms “off-limits” if you want or need to. The remaining Clue rooms – perhaps located in the corners of the party room – can be suggested by certain props: trees and plants for the conservatory, a desk for the study, a bookcase for the library and so on.

Advance the theme further with a magnifying glass prop, Clue weapons set and favors from Game Night Event Theme pages.

Solve Other Decorating Mysteries
When the prom committee has chosen the murder mystery theme setting (or at least narrowed it down) browse decorative props and theme kits to see what’s out there in larger, show-stopper type decorations and to get a feel for color schemes. And once the theme and color scheme is set, you can begin the work of selecting decorations, from large to small, to fit both your prom budget and your dreams.

Decorate for a Semi-Formal Theme Dance

Ah, how we love the social whirl of fall heading into winter: semi-formal dances, fundraisers and holiday events galore to plan for!

Let’s tackle today how to decorate for a semi-formal theme dance, for this season or year ’round.

Dress for the Weather
Dress up your theme for the weather – or more precisely, for the season you’re in. Paris event themes, for example, are popular year ‘round because you don’t always have to adorn them in springtime pastels. Robin’s egg transforms into midnight blue, daffodil yellow into gold when the mind turns to autumn pursuits, and come full circle when it’s April again.

Some dance themes will tend to dictate the dress of the room. What would Hollywood be like without lots of red, for instance? Still, there is usually plenty of leeway in which you can affect the ambience of the room. For an Arabian theme, you may want to capture the colors of the gorgeous desert sunset instead of the sand; and a nautical theme cruise ship can launch at any time of day, including midnight.

There’s not really a secret to it, just your thoughtful choice of background materials. Placement and texture are important, and color is key. Select event fabrics, curtains, murals and other large, wall-covering decorations by color once you have a handle on what you wish to achieve.

Gossamer is a perennially popular choice in event fabrics. Here’s Wendy Moyle of Shindigz on the basics of working with gossamer:

Get Propped Up
Take a look at the Paris photo setting above, using To Paris with Love Kit pieces. The Arc de Triomphe and the lighted Eiffel Tower are the theme props, while the other pieces are more generic. Note that the columns and street lamps could be used again next year for Mardi Gras. While you’ll want to have one or two sassy big props that match the theme of the day, it’s also a terrific idea to invest in sturdy reusable decorations whenever you can.

In any case, it is a good idea to try to “prop up” several areas within the dance party location because nowadays, lots of snapshots will be taken by phone for online photo sharing such as Facebook. Be prepared to create an eye-catching entrance, wowza photo setting and a thematic background for fabulous table settings, too.

Opportunities for the Unexpected
Two other areas of decorating for semi-formal dances – hanging decorations and event lighting – lend themselves well to unexpected touches, so spend some time in these departments! Consider spotlights, laser lights or other lighting effects. A bevy of colorful round lanterns hung from the center of the ceiling, or a bunch of scattered loose balloons with lights inside are not expensive ideas but are sure to capture plenty of attention.