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Theme ideas - Back to School

Last year I planned an association meeting with a back-to-school theme. You can use elements of this if you're doing a philanthropic event that benefits education, or if the setting for your meeting happens to be at a school, or if it takes place in early September.

This particular meeting happened mid-day, and members were expecting some sort of light snack. Sticking with the theme, I created the following:

Personalized snack bags for each attendant

Each bag had a selection from the above.

These bags got a great reaction, and trading did in fact happen! It was completely cheap and easy to create - just some lunch bags, sharpie pens, and some snacks from CostCo. I think it ended up being about $3-$4 per bag. The signs were made with an apple border that came bundled with MS Office, and Kristen ITC font.

Other elements to consider:

Create a Welcome sign on a portable chalkboard
Offer crayons, colored pencils, and butcher-block paper for brainstorming sessions
Seat everyone on those really tiny plastic molded chairs (KIDDING! Guests should always be comfortable, and I know my rear has outgrown those chairs!)


Party killers

Way back in my days as an aspiring hostess I made a lot of mistakes. By my sophomore year of high school, however (what can I say, I was an early bloomer with the party-planning) I developed a small yet highly accurate list of party killers - Light, Space, and TV.

Since that revelation in 1992, I can honestly say that the list still holds true. Of course, it does not apply to backyard barbeques, Guitar Hero tournaments, or Superbowl Sunday bashes. It's more for your average cocktail-type party. Here they are, broken down for you:

Too much light: Dark equals mystery. Mystery equals sexy. When it's dark, people feel less self-conscious and inhibited. I'm not saying it should be so dark that you can't make out the hors d'oeuvre you're about to eat, but it should be dark enough that you can't read the small print on a beer bottle. Use dimmer switches or replace bright bulbs with lower wattage. Experiment with a mix of dim bulbs, colored bulbs, and candlelight. A night or two before, do a lighting run through - you'll be glad you did.

Too much space. If people are spread out, they're not socializing. Again, it shouldn't be so cramped that you can't move, but you shouldn't be able to roll a beach ball down the center of the space, either. Having your guests in close quarters encourages conversation ("I couldn't help but overhearing you're also a big fan of Siouxsie & the Banshees, pre John McGeoch"). If you don't want the party spilling over into certain rooms, make them uninviting with a lack of seating, and zero light (especially no candlelight...partygoers are attracted to candlelight like moths to a flame).

Television. Obviously, the exception for this is any sort of viewing party. If you're not getting together with the implicit purpose of watching something, then there is NO REASON FOR TV TO BE ON. Let me repeat - TURN IT OFF. Nothing will kill a party faster. The main reason for having a party is for people to have fun and talk to each other. If the TV's on, you'll get a handful of wallflowers who will sit there glued to the tube, and from there it's a slippery slope into No Interaction Land.

Halloween bash, nary a party killer in sight

Of course, it's still up to you to provide good music, libations, and friends, but avoiding the Party Killers is the first step to throwing a memorable party!

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