Yesterday started out just great and ended with lots of stress. Argh! It was the worst. One really important quality that a party planner needs to have is the ability to handle lots of stress. I have been in situations at events where the world seems like it is literally falling down around me, and still I usually manage to remain even keeled and make the best of things. In fact, a strange sense of calm comes over me. Not yesterday. The number of details involved in our events, the complexity of running the business and the challenge of staying creative in the midst of it all seemed really overwhelming.
So, I adopted one of the techniques that I usually use to solve a single event crisis and tried to adopt it to the mountain of drama that seemed to suck me in so quickly. I decided to clearly state, in writing, the biggest challenge that was facing me. Below that statement, I brainstormed 30 things that I could do to potentially solve the problem. This idea was not my own; I got if from two of the websites and e-zines to which I regularly subscribe: www.markvictorhansen.com and www.cherylrichardson.com.
Both of these websites, in their own unique manner, teach us how to confront and remove obstacles. While I didn’t completely fix yesterday’s problem with my unedited brainstorming session, I did feel immense relief today just because I was being proactive and trying to actively solve my main issue. In my opinion, keeping your stress level low when planning events is about organization, anticipation of trouble spots and then ultimately keeping a level head should something run amok.
Some big picture helpful hints for stress-free events:
* Plan ahead and overcompensate if necessary… It’s better than running out of a particular item. You can always plan your beverage menu ahead of time and do all of your purchasing days before your event. In our latest, very unscientific comparisons, we have found the best variety and lowest prices at Beverages and More. This chain’s prices consistently beat Trader Joe’s and their variety is much better than even Costco’s.
* Don’t try and cook everything yourself. If you don’t hire a caterer, pick a few key things that you’d like to make and round out your menu with a few store bought items that will leave your guests none the wiser. A great website for menu planning is www.epicurious.com. Bristol Farms, Gelson’s and Trader Joe’s all have really good prepared “supplemental” options.
* Be organized so that you can socialize. We all like to walk through the door of a party and be greeted with a smile. Don’t forget that being a hostess is your primary roll. While I consider myself to be pretty efficient by nature, I couldn’t do without my Franklin Covey organizing system for all of my lists and to help me prioritize. You can shop online at www.franklincovey.com.
* Should all else fail, rely on your music to put you in a festive mood or keep you relaxed. Whether you’re hiring a disc jockey or downloading party tunes for you iPod, don’t forget that any event will benefit from a few planned melodies.
Good luck, stay loose and roll with the punches!