Updated: Thursday, February 5, 2015
The end of last week marked the culmination of three of our large annual events: When the Whistle Blows; Faculty & Staff Honors Luncheon; and the Student Honors Luncheon. While the general purpose and goals remain the same year after year, we strive to bring a new, fresh approach to each every spring, which I admit isn’t always easy. How do you transform the Student Center Ballroom so it can hold 400 people in a different configuration? How do you pre-set a cold luncheon plate and not serve chicken?
My team and I constantly ponder these issues and sometimes the answer is simply – we can’t! However, this year, we thought about a few new ideas to bring new vitality and life into traditional annual events:
Let Your Caterers Get Creative
Caterers love to create and cook, so let them do what they do best. Ask if you can participate in a tasting where they create samplings of all their new spring creations. Perhaps they can also tailor the menu to something specific to a current event or the event itself (i.e. farm-to-table fare, dishes germane to the region you are in or are special to the host, foods that follow a color scheme, etc.).
Experiment with Different Centerpieces
A bubble bowl of hydrangea or tulips can always be a go-to, but why not have an edible centerpiece serve as your dessert? Or, a container filled with programs/goodies that can be given out at the event’s end? You can also incorporate photos, mementos, and other visual cues into your centerpieces or tables to reinforce the purpose and goals of your event.
Add A/V Components
Could you incorporate a slideshow into your event to help recognize your guests or tell a story of how the winners were selected? Perhaps you could show video clips of students, faculty, or staff thanking others? Could you consider lowering the lights on the floor and illuminating the stage, creating a theater effect? Can the event be webcast so family and friends can participate from afar? Can you incorporate musical interludes into your event? Our student groups would love the exposure, and this can create a wonderful ambience.
Create Social Media Components
For an annual student awards luncheon, perhaps you can create buzz on Facebook or Twitter by showcasing the students’ path to receiving the award. You can upload videos of the students’ friends or professors discussing what it takes to receive certain awards and showcase the student recipients and their reactions to winning the awards. Photos of the event can be showcased on Flickr afterward and easily uploaded by the recipients. In addition, ensure your website is mobile accessible – most will gather info about the event from their smart phones.
These are only a few ideas to get us all thinking of ways we can revitalize our annual events. What do you all do to make your annual events new and fresh?