Amazing Holiday Race

So, you have to roll out a holiday party for 15 board members and their guests. You’ve secured the venue, the menu is chosen, the room is decorated for the season, and you’ve hired a popular jazz quartet. Here is your challenge:  Your client wants her guests to have fun, to play a game that encourages them to interact with each other, and she has an idea! She wants you to create a game and call it the “Amazing Holiday Race.” What do you do?

We divided guests into 6 teams of 5. We set up the room with 6 stations with easy, inexpensive tasks for the team to complete. Client staff supervised each station. We wrote rules for each contest and made sure the players understood them.

Everyone played the games, all of them laughed—hard, and all of them were filled with holiday spirit – even the losing teams.

Here are the games we chose to play.

  1. Client knowledge – come up with 15 questions about your organization. Each group gets one answer sheet. Don’t make the questions too easy.
  2. Penny stacking – each member of the group must stack 25 pennies using only one hand.
  3. Mascot Game – you’ve probably played this before yourself. Download the 36 well-known company mascot quizzes from the web. Each group gets one answer sheet and they are not allowed to use their cell phones to look up answers.
  4. Red Cup, Blue Cup: put at least 20 red cups in a stack with a blue cup at the bottom. Each team member, using alternate hands, restacks the cups until the blue one is back on the bottom.
  5. Map of the World:  put a 50-piece puzzle together. We used a map of the world.
  6. Decorate your Ornament: each team member decorates a plain wooden ornament with paint pens.

The game materials cost $200! The winning team each received a $25 gift card. You can spend more if you like, but the fun is in the doing not necessarily in the winning.

Do you have an idea for an unusual Holiday Party? Let Your Great Event help you put it together.

Not the Same Old Venue

Not the Same Old Venue

An event in a non-traditional venue can produce surprising, unusual, and innovative experiences for guests. Your Great Event can produce your event in some unique venues. How about the Dodger Stadium? 

Event Planners Dodger Stadium.jpg

Angelenos are rightfully proud of Dodger Stadium. From its central location to its magnificent views, from its beautifully-manicured grounds to its perfectly-maintained stadium seats, from the skill of its vendors to the taste of a Dodger Dog, the Los Angeles Dodgers do everything right. And that means protecting the natural grass that covers most of the playing field. In order to have an event in the outfield, a sub-floor will need to be laid over the grass and carpet laid on top of the floor. Roped stanchions must surround the entire cocktail reception and dining area to keep guests off the grass—and the infield.

Dodger Vision can display your logo. The scoreboard will welcome your guests with a continuous scroll of their names.

You can separate the dinner area with free-standing candle walls covered with flowing fabric. Put baseballs on the shelves of the walls. Later in the evening guests can be invited to take one of the baseballs and have your honorees sign them as a memento of the evening.  In the dining area, you can set tables with silver chargers. Beautiful and delicate orchids of varying heights can be your centerpieces. Instead of table numbers, guests can be assigned to tables named after a famous Dodger Baseball Star.

Dodgers Stadium Event.png

A garden-fresh salad can be pre-set. Waiters can carry out each meal on individually-covered plates. As the covers are removed, guests can be treated to—what else—Dodger Dogs accompanied by gourmet broiled tomato and roasted asparagus. The meal can be a perfect blending of traditional and fun!

And what would a Dodger event be without Roger Owens, aka “The Peanut Man,” who can toss, just as he does at Dodger games, bags of peanuts to guests.

One extra bonus for guests will be quickly evident:  Guests can be invited to use the restrooms in the Dodger Dugout Club. To get there, they walk along the third base line past the Dodger Dugout. Throughout the entire evening, you will look over at the dugout and see someone sitting on the Dodger bench while someone else takes their photo.

What is your fantasy location?  Let Your Great Event help you organize your next event at a venue with an authentic wow factor. 


Site Visits are About More Than the Site

Sure, you’ve done your research and you’ve chosen three different venues to show your client. You know that you can fit the 350 estimated guests and a dance floor in the ballroom. (For purposes of this writing, we’ll assume that you are showing hotels to your client. The steps described below apply to all kinds of venues, so keep reading even if you want your event on a rooftop.)

Have you done your homework? Have you asked the right questions so to know if the venue fits within your client’s budget? The last thing you want is your client falling in love with a space he/she can’t afford.

  1. Have you determined what dates are available at the hotel for your event?
  2. What is the F&B (food and beverage) minimum for the night you’ve chosen for the event?
  3. Do you have the menus for the event and will you meet or exceed the F&B minimum?
  4. Are there charges for the bars and bar tenders you need? Based on consumption? Based on sales? Can you have a cash bar at the event?
  5. What is the administrative service fee percentage that will be charged on everything the hotel/venue provides?
  6. What AV provider does the hotel/venue use? Is their use mandatory or can you bring in your own vendors?
  7. What kind of parking is available and what rates are charged?
  8. Does the hotel offer discounted room rates if guests want to stay overnight?
  9. Is the location in an area that will fit your event demographic? If it isn’t, is the venue so spectacular that your client might be interested anyway? (Remember, a little push, a little shove, a little stretch for something different, when presented carefully, can mean that the client sees your creative contribution in a meaningful light that takes your relationship to a deeper place of trust.)
  10. During the site visit, be sure to point out any special features that the hotel/venue has to offer – features that made you want to show the location to your client. This could be special chandeliers, or spectacular views, or a spacious lobby, or a waterfall in the foyer. Let your client know that you’ve done your research so that they know that you can create an event that they will love – and that works within the budget they envision.

Your Great Event always works within a budget approved by the client. Let us show you how we can make an event sing on any size budget.

To Hotel or Not to Hotel?

To Hotel or Not to Hotel?

Not all events need to take place at a hotel.  Given the nature of the celebration or the audience, certain events require some creative thinking when choosing a venue. You might consider a street, a rooftop, a courtyard, an event venue, or even a parking lot to create the proverbial Wow factor you want.

Glendale Community College is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year. To showcase the college and make the celebration of this special anniversary an event to remember, we decided to host our 400 guests to a seated dinner, on the campus outside under the stars. The reception was held in a space separate from the dining area and included a large silent auction.

Reaching for the Stars was the theme for the gala. The theme was carried out throughout the evening from the colors used to decorate the space, through the names of the menu items and the star shaped hors d’oeuvres. The expanding universe of stars was displayed on the blue carpet that led guests from the reception into the dining area and on one of the buildings surrounding dinner tables.

And the entertainment was provided by student stars—including a dance flash mob that signaled the end of the reception and enticed guests to follow the dancers to the dining area.

This event was both a financial success and a memorable event. But it did require the development of an extensive budget and timelines for the both the entire event, the days before and, of course, event day. Close inspection of rental orders, catering orders, staffing orders, volunteer responsibilities, and campus capabilities all come in to play. A kitchen was created for the caterer and coffee, water, and ice needed to be brought in. Bar service was provided by a catering company that specializes in providing alcohol. No hotel means no hotel staff.

Your Great Event can provide the expertise you need your own wow factor—even the out-of-the-box events you fantasize about.


Photo: Ken Allard/El Vaquero

Full Media Coverage by the Los Angeles Times, click here.

Your Great Event Produces Cirque Fantastique!

Your Great Event Produces Cirque Fantastique!

Glendale Memorial Health Foundation’s annual fundraiser Wine and Roses celebrated its 30th Anniversary this year with an evening of excellent food, spectacular entertainment, and a very special award presentation.

As a part of the “Human Kindness in the Making” initiative, the Glendale Memorial Health Foundation’s goal is 5 million dollars over five years. We are proud to say that the 2017 Wine and Roses gala, recently held at the Langham Pasadena, raised more than $340,000 toward that goal. Led by committee co-chairs Dr. Kathleen Dennis-Zarate and Haig Youredjian, Wine & Roses started off with a delicious dinner followed by the posthumous presentation of the Human Kindness Award to Edwin “Eddie” Johnston. Eddie was a well-respected businessman who supported Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center for many years. His family accepted the award in his behalf. 

Interspersed throughout the evening were performances by cirque artists including, Michael Raymer whose signature trick is spinning a McDonalds cheeseburger on an umbrella. Joining Michael were Sofie Dossi, contortionist extraordinaire, Marawa who holds the world record for 200 hula hoops at once, Maya Kramer, world renowned aerial artist, and Chris Crabber who balances more than 20 feet in the air on 9 chairs. The audience danced the night away to the music of Splash, a group of talented performers who have entertained at the Oscars and the Emmys.

We were excited to, once again, produce Wine and Roses for the Foundation. We’ve been creating events for them since 2006.  They took a risk by changing it up with a new theme, new entertainment, new start time, new everything. But these changes paid off by in a big way. At Your Great Event, we believe that our clients should experience event excellence – and be a guest at their own party.

We can replicate the same magic that was created for Wine & Roses for your event. Contact us today!

The event was also covered by the Los Angeles Times. Read more here.

The Crescenta Valley Weekly also covered the event. For the full article click here.

Dinner Set-up at the  Langham Huntington Pasadena Hotel    

Dinner Set-up at the Langham Huntington Pasadena Hotel


Silent Auction at the  Langham Huntington Pasadena Hotel

Silent Auction at the Langham Huntington Pasadena Hotel

The Delicate Balance in Managing Nonprofits’ Boards

Are you in the dark about what your board of directors is supposed to do?  You're not alone. Nonprofits’ board responsibilities are often poorly understood and/or badly communicated.  Board duties fall into two categories: legal responsibilities and “moral” duties.

Legal Responsibilities of the Board of Directors

A nonprofit is incorporated in the state where it is headquartered and is governed by laws of that state. Many states have laws governing the broad functions of the board of directors of nonprofits and the conduct of board members.

The board of directors of a nonprofit is charged with overseeing the nonprofit organization's operations to make sure that the staff and volunteers act legally and ethically. Some key functions of a board of directors are:

  • To make sure that the organization follows the law.
  • To approve all key contracts.
  • To hire and supervise the executive director/president.
  • Make sure the organization remains financially solvent by evaluating financial policies, approving budgets, and reviewing financial reports. 
  • States often use the following principles to guide the conduct of the nonprofit organizations’ boards:

Duty of Care:

A board member must be active and prudent in organizational planning and decision making. Board members must exercise reasonable care when they make a decision for the organization.

Duty of Loyalty:

A board member must never use information gained through his/her position on the board of directors for personal gain; and must always act in the best interests of the organization. Board members must avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts.

Duty of Obedience:

A board member must be faithfully committed to the organization's mission.  He or she cannot act in a way that is inconsistent with the organization's goals. The donors trust the board to manage donated funds to fulfill the organization's mission.

To strike the delicate balance between the needs of a nonprofit organization and the board’s conduct, it’s incumbent on the executive director or the chairman of the board to make sure that each and every member of the board realize the seriousness of their duties when they agree to serve on the board and commit to the cause.  Some organizations have formalized this process and have a ready list of board responsibilities for the incoming board members.  This is best if it is coupled with formal training at which the new directors learn about the organization’s history, mission, bylaws, activities, and more.  Depending on the size and nature of a nonprofit’s operations, a new director may find it very beneficial to have a tour of facilities, meeting staff and observing a program in action.

Areas that could particularly benefit from clarification are:

  • What a nonprofit organization is
  • how it is different from a for-profit corporation
  • the role of staff versus board
  • potential conflicts of interest
  • and/or how nonprofits get their funding

Match Board Members to Your Organization's Needs

Your board can be a powerful source of pro bono expertise in areas that you may need expertise –but can’t afford professional help.  For instance, your board members could have skills in:

  • finance
  • public relations
  • legal and human resources
  • social services, education, religion, etc.

Put Fundraising Front and Center

Some nonprofits are reluctant to mention fundraising to their board members. Yet, helping to raise funds has everything to do with making sure the organization remains financially sound.  Finances are not just about overseeing the budget. It is about understanding how the organization is funded, how fundraising works and taking an active part in it.  

So, do consider the fundraising potential of every board member before inviting them to join. That doesn't mean that every board member should be wealthy. However, they are expected to set an example by donating to the organization; and, more importantly, by soliciting other contributions. Every board member should participate in giving in the way that they can; but more notably, they should all act as catalysts in this vital function.

Many nonprofits require a donation to the organization from their board members.  Although this should not be critical in deciding whether or not to invite a prospect to join the board.  Far more important is the commitment to the organization’s cause.

In the end, board members should be comfortable with fundraising. In fact, the most successful nonprofits have active and engaged boards who take an active part in the organization’s fundraising campaigns.  So, when a new board member is recruited, fundraising duties of the board should be made very clear. 

Make a list of ways for the board to help with fundraising.  Board members should be able to identify and reach out to potential major donors. If auctions are part of your fundraising exercise, ask that board members solicit items from businesses for the auction. 

In summary, keep board members active. No one should get a free pass. Just showing up for board meetings is not enough!

Your Great Event is the leading event planning company with a focus on nonprofit organizations’ needs. We specialize in cause marketing, fundraising events, auctions and other special events in support of our client’s missions.