Thursday, December 27, 2012

How to Plan your Trade Show

If you want to achieve your exhibiting goals and maximize your return on investment (including both time and money) with your trade show, planning strategically is necessary. The first step in the planning process is to find conferences and events that reach your target audience of prospects.

You can begin the research process by speaking with current customers and learn about the events they attend. Also, reach out to professional organizations and colleagues in your industry for more suggestions. A few more great resources are online trade show planning directories, your local chamber of commerce and area business associations. When you find an event that looks like a great opportunity, ask to review lists of past vendors and attendees if they're available.

Be sure that the show you choose attracts the type and number of prospects you want. Other things to consider include timing, location, cost and sponsor reputation. To promote sales, think about your needs in regards to audio visual rental rental equipment and sound systems, banners, promotional items, literature, special displays and other marketing tools.

Finally, create a detailed plan and trade show checklist that includes the following steps:

Develop specific event objectives, like the number of product sales, leads generated, publicity acquired, image and awareness initiatives, etc.
Create a realistic budget that includes a projected R.O.I. (Return On Investment)
Establish a compelling sales message that can be used in all trade show marketing and sales initiatives; this includes booth graphics, banners, brochures, sales presentations and advertisements.
Create a "WOW" exhibit that interests people and quickly conveys your brand and product message. The overall design and graphics need to deliver your marketing message with a "powerful punch," whether you choose custom-designed booths, tabletop displays or pop-up stands.

To see more checklist items, visit our source Trade Show Planning: Your Roadmap To Success.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

3 Last-Minute, Simple DIY Christmas Decor

Place not decked out for the holidays yet? Don't worry! There are several last-minute projects that you can take on in just a few hours: 

  1. Create festive jars. Use stickers or paint letters onto milk or mason jars to spell out one of your favorite festive saying. It's a simple and effective way to spread the holiday message; also, a few votive candles will make it more elegant.
  2. Pine cones. Want a project that'll save you both time and money? Gather some pinecones, and spray pain them in one or more holiday colors. And if you want a more festive feel, finish them off with glitter.
  3. Snow globe candleholders. Fill a wine glass with little Christmas trinkets and white garland, then turn it upside down. Top the glass off with a candle and that way, its purpose can be twofold.

For even more ideas, check out our source, Last-Minute, DIY Christmas Decor.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to Increase Attendance at Your Events

8 Tips to have a Sell-out Crowd Every Time!

By Heidi Richards Mooney

Have you noticed a decrease in event attendance over the years? If so, you are not alone. Every day, more and more groups and organizations are popping up, vying for the attention of specific targeted groups of people. Increasing event attendance is generally the biggest challenge facing meeting and event planners. Many people think that if they plan a fantastic event, people will just show up. Of course, today, with all the competition for people's time, this does not happen.

Event planners and hosts can sometimes find themselves in a quandary about just how to promote the event to get maximum exposure and participants. Some will hire a public relations firm to get them much needed publicity in the hopes that it leads to more attendees. Others buy "lists," which can be very costly and there are really no guarantees that the list will draw the type of attendees that will add to the overall success of the event. Keep in mind, a PR firm's responsibility is to garner publicity for the event, not necessarily bring attendees. It will, of course, raise awareness of what you are trying to accomplish, but may not result in adding to your bottom line or database. That is partly because in most cases, the media covers events "after the fact." There are exceptions, like a slow news day, a celebrity involvement or a totally unique concept that has never been done before; these would greatly raise the chances of the event being covered on the spot.

Advertising, on the other hand, is totally different. It can cost money that results in zero return on investment because it too may not be seen by your target audience.

So then you may be asking yourself, what can I do to create a successful well-attended event? One thing you can do is what some groups I have volunteered for is to cross promote. By that I mean either share your mailing lists with them and vice versa or promote one another's events to your stakeholders.

If you do this, make sure your "list" is always kept up to date. And ask any partnering organizations how often they update their lists. That is because people move away, lose interest and basically get "tapped out." Or their interests change and they go on to other groups. The same holds true of events themselves. Organizations today have to keep reinventing themselves and their parties, galas, fundraisers and other events so they can continue to draw the people they can count on. If not, you've lost them before the date for the next event has even been set. That is why it is important to have a plan and a specific targeted list of supporters, those with the highest probability of attending and becoming life-long supporters.

Here are eight strategies you can use to see immediate results:

  1. Research other available mailing lists. Look for associations and organizations who present events to similar audiences. Offer to trade sponsor recognition in exchange for their mailing lists. The sponsorship could include a table at your event for them to distribute promotional literature. It could include their name and logo in your brochures, programs and other printed materials. It could include an exchange of your mailing list as mentioned above. Be sure to spell out the terms of using your mailing lists. For instance, can the list be used multiple times or only once?
  2. Negotiate what they would accept or develop sponsorship guidelines to include what they would receive. This will cost you nothing, and your mailing list could go from 1,000 to 10,000 (or more). Of course, it will cost more to mail to more people. When my church decided to host an auction, we looked at our community, asked volunteers for their input and found several other organizations that had hosted auctions in the past. We were able to trade lists with some of them, which tripled our original list. Since our events were at different times of the year, we agreed to trade our list for theirs, which resulted in almost half of our tickets coming from those lists.
  3. Since printing and mailing to a larger list will increase costs of promotion, use other strategies to save money. Print expensive self-mailing brochures to save on envelopes, which can be costly. If two color will get the message across effectively, opt for that instead of a four-color process. Use eye-catching graphics and good copywriting to "sell the event." If you must hire someone, I recommend a copywriter, a good investment. She or he will know the words that "sell" and can come up with copy that is both appealing to the target audience, and it can be used again in multiple ways to spread the word such as postcards, email invitations and more. Be sure you bid on the print job. Unless you are getting it donated or sponsored, printing costs can vary greatly from company to company. I also recommend using bulk mail instead of first class, which will save you considerable investment and you can increase your reach by sending to more of your target audience.
  4. Brainstorm lists with your in-house "staff" and volunteers. It is said each person has at least 200 in their circle of influence. Tap into those circles if and when possible.
  5. Create a publicity "stunt" to increase pre-exposure for the event. When a women's organization that I am involved in (American Business Women's Association) wanted publicity for a regional conference we were hosting, we brainstormed ideas that would get the media's attention. We were hosting a cocktail reception, open to the public the night before the conference was to start. The event had two goals to meet: One was to increase local awareness of the organization. The other was to increase event attendance. Our theme for the event was Hot, Hot, Hot in South Florida. We invited the South Florida Calendar Firefighters to the event to "mingle" with attendees and sell their calendars. The calendars were a fundraiser for the Jackson Memorial Burn Center in Miami. So we created a "pre-event" to promote the reception. We called the Cooper City Fire Department (two of the calendar guys worked there). We asked if we could take publicity pictures with the firefighters on their fire truck. They said "yes." We asked a member who was a professional photographer to take the pictures. The results were great,  full color photo on the cover of the Society page, prior to the event and mentions in other local papers! We had a sell-out attendance. In fact, the firefighters sold all the calendars they had brought that they had to take orders to fulfill the rest. And the "pre-event" was FUN. This may not work for every event, especially if it is for members only.
  6. If your event is open to the public, check out other local papers and journals to see what other organizations would be likely partners with your organization. Of course, if you have it in your budget you can also offer to purchase their mailing lists, which then removes any partnering responsibility on either part. Always, always be on the lookout for new lists. Chamber of Commerce and other business leagues and organizations make it a practice of selling their lists to earn extra income.
  7. You can also promote the event with broadcast faxes and emails. Be cautious when doing so. Unsolicited advertising is not only intrusive, it can give the event a bad reputation and may even cost you money in fines, etc. I do send emails; however, it is to lists I have created through the several associations I am involved in. If the event is for a nonprofit or service organization, you can create your list using volunteers. 
  8. Check out local high schools and colleges for students who need service hours. Offer them service hours in exchange for inputing information into your database.

Follow these eight tips and see how many more people attend! 

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Plan an Amazing New Year's Eve Party

New Year's Eve will be here before you know it! If you're planning to throw a party this year, planning ahead is key so you can have some fun, too. Here are some tips to help:

  • Send out your invitations early. This is a popular party night, and people often make plans weeks in advance. So, get the invite out early so your friends will know your house is the place to be. Instead of using paper invitations, consider using a website like Evite where invitees can respond online. One other benefit of using Evite: You can post items you need people to bring, and they can let you know when they respond. Additionally, you can track who has viewed your invitation and when.
  • Delegate. You don't have to do everything yourself. Let your friends know what they can do to help you out with the party. It'll make your job easier, and you'll feel a lot calmer when it's time to party!
  • Food. The food for a New Year's Eve Party should be simple. Serve a variety of finger foods and other items you can make ahead of time. Also, set up a buffet-style table so your guests can serve themselves during the evening. Suggestions include vegetables and dip, a gourmet cheese and cracker tray, pigs in a blanket and mini quiches. You can also include a cold cut platter or put your crock pot to use for more options.
  • Decoration. If your house is already decorated for Christmas, keep them up for your party, which will add a more festive feel. Additionally, you can add gold and silver streams or balloons. And get some fun things like noisemakers or New Year's party hats to add to the theme. 

For more tips, check out our source, How To Plan a New Year's Party.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to Get Started With Planning a Bachelorette Party

Have you found yourself in charge of planning a bachelorette party and not knowing what to do? Bridal party brain freeze: It's common and it's easy to get past. Here are a few things to get your party planning off on the right foot.

There's a little bit of etiquette involved in planning a bachelorette party. Typically, the tradition is for the maid of honor and the bridesmaids to throw the bride a bachelorette party. Nothing is written in stone, but it is pretty customary for all the bridesmaids to chip in on the night of fun. The bulk of the responsibility usually rests on the maid of honor's shoulders, but often times, there is a born party planner in the group and it can often be better for everyone to let that person take the lead.

When it comes to budgeting, I recommend setting a limit that is comfortable and reasonable for all the bridesmaids and then collect the money up front. This enables you to plan within your budget right from the start and eliminate hard feelings that will put a damper on the fun evening.

Another thing that you will really want to take into consideration is remembering who the night is really for. This means thinking about what the bride will enjoy. Is the bride mild or wild? This will help determine what bachelorette gifts, games, apparel and decor will be right.

Once you've got a theme, it's a good idea to start planning ahead. I know this sounds silly, but it's amazing how quickly time slips away. Believe me, you don't want to find yourself empty-handed when the big night comes around. You're going to want to start shopping a few weeks out and ordering any gifts a minimum of two weeks prior to when you need them. Most bachelorette gifts are ordered online nowadays. The Internet has certainly made it easy to get great gifts at reasonable prices. You will want to take shipping into consideration when making your purchases. Ground shipping is often going to give you the best rate, but again, planning ahead is going to be a big help with this.

As with many things, the Internet is a great place to get started with not only shopping but planning as well. Bachelorette parties have become big business, so just type in "bachelorette party" or "bachelorette party ideas" into Google, and the first page results should give you plenty of information to kick-start your brainstorming.

Personalized or custom gifts have become very popular over the past few years. This is another area that online shopping has really made getting great personalized gifts like custom t-shirts at a fairly cheap price. Custom bridal t-shirts have proven to be a big hit. Match your theme or make 'em bling. Sexy, funny or whatever you decide, you bridal party will look great.

Here is quick checklist to help you get prepared:
1. Pick a date and send out invitations ASAP.
2. Collect the money from the bridesmaids.
3. Pick your party's flavor: mild, hot or super spicy?
4. Order your gifts and accessories with enough time to spare.
5. Are you going to need an ice breaker? If so, here are some game ideas designed to get the party warmed up:
  • A scavenger hunt
  • How well do you know the bachelorette?
  • Bride and Groom Trivia
6. If you're going out, be prepared and take a little extra cash because coming up short sucks!

Lastly, enjoy your time together. You are the bridal party, the bride's closest friends and family. Have fun!

Paul is the creator of The Funky T-shack which is all about custom t-shirts and custom t-shirt printing, providing top-notch shirt customization services such as screen printing, digital printing and custom tagging, using the latest and most advanced technologies at the best prices in the industry. 

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to Plan a Successful Boudoir Shoot

Have you decided to do a boudoir photo session for yourself or your fiance? Here are a few tips to have the best experience you can:

  • Gather as many photo inspirations as you can. Some good places to look include photographer's websites, wedding boards, men's magazines (like Maxim) and websites such as Email them to your photographer so he or she can work with you in recreating the shots you love.
  • Find a photographer you feel comfortable with. Many times, brides will feel more comfortable with a female photographer. Meet with potential photographers prior to booking them to be sure the one you choose has a good personality and seems fun and engaging. Also, ask to see boudoir shots they've previously done (if they have them) so you can see if his/her style suits you.
  • Email around if you live in a place that doesn't offer many boudoir photography options. Contact photographers who don't advertise boudoir services; a lot of times, they'll offer less expensive options for just as good of a product. You might even be fortunate to come across a photographer who's just starting out with boudoir photography who may be willing to do your shoot for free if you allow him or her to use your photos in their portfolio.
  • Bring lots of outfits. And don't forget to bring accessories, stockings, shoes and props. Bring more than you think you'll need. It's better to have too many items than to wish you had brought something you left at home.

For more tips, check out our source, 10 Tips for a Successful Boudoir Shoot.

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Christmas Ornament Tradition

by Rachel Paxton

When my husband and I got married, my mother-in-law introduced me to one of her favorite Christmas traditions. She has five children, and for years, she has been collecting ornaments for each of her children so that they can take their collection of ornaments with them when they have their own families.

I decided to start this tradition in our own family. Every year, my daughter picks out a new ornament for her own collection. It's fun to look through all of the old ornaments and see how her collection has grown. The variety of ornaments shows how her tastes and interests have changed throughout the years.

You would think only girls would be interested in collecting Christmas ornaments. Actually, my husband has a lot of Christmas ornaments he enjoys. He has several ornaments representing his favorite college and NFL football teams. He also treasures many of the keepsake ornaments his mother has made for him throughout the years.

There are a variety of ornaments you and your children can choose from to collect. If you have the time and desire to make them, you can purchase many types of ornament kits at craft stores. You can find beaded ornaments, ornaments made from felt, ornaments made from plastic canvas and many others. This year, I found a Nemo felt ornament kit at Walmart. My boys love Nemo and I thought they would be fun to make. They are turning out beautifully, but are taking much longer to make than I expected. I'll maybe have them done by next year! You might choose to make ornaments with your children. Clay ornaments are easy and fun to make.

If you don't want to make ornaments, buying them can be fun, too. This year, I purchased my boys' ornaments at a Christmas craft show. They had clay ornaments made to look like Thomas the Tank Engine that were absolutely adorable. They personalized the ornaments with their names and the year for free. Christmas bazaars are a great place to look for unique ornaments. Look for ornaments while you are travelling. Many gift shops have ornaments you can purchase to remind you of your favorite vacation spots. Ebay is also a good place to find ornaments. Last year, I purchased an ornament on Ebay that had my husband's favorite football team on it. I'd never seen another one like it, and he loved it.

As you can see, collecting Christmas ornaments can be fun for the whole family. Every year, your kids will look forward to picking out their new ornament to put on the tree. Make sure to write their names and the year on the back or bottom of the ornament with a permanent marker so you can keep track of everyone's ornaments!

Visit to find out how to decoupage a beautiful box to store your keepsake ornaments in.

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom who is the author of What's for Dinner?, an e-cookbook containing more than 250 quick easy dinner ideas. For more recipes, gardening, organizing, home decorating, holiday hints and more, visit Creative Homemaking at

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to Create the Perfect Wedding Scrapbook

By Kris Prim

If you are looking for a way to display the hundreds of photos that were taken during your wedding, a scrapbook may be the answer that you are looking for. Homemade scrapbooks are a great tool for memorializing special occasions in a personal way and allow those who make them to provide context for photos to add their own thoughts to better remember their feeling on this special day. Even if you have never made a scrapbook before, you will find that scrapbook pages are easy to put together, given the amount of guidance that is available online and in books that may be found in craft stores. Use the following scrapbook page ideas as a jumping off point from which you can create your own, customized wedding scrapbook.

Do not confine your book to only your wedding day. Instead, start off with a few pictures that were taken around the time of your engagement. This is the perfect starting point from which to begin the story of your marriage and will help you remember this special time in your lives. After your engagement photos, include some pictures of the wedding planning process, like dress fittings and selecting venues to your scrapbook layouts to capture the days leading up to your big day.

Include other momentos in addition to photos in your book. Scrapbooks need not be confined solely to pictures. This is a great place to save your invitation, wedding program and the menu that was served on your day. Many books enable creators to add the invitations to the front of the book itself, which will both label the book for guests, as well as allow you to prominently display this document on a coffee table or in a book shelf. You may also want to include things like pressed flowers from the ceremony or a copy of your marriage certificate.

Do not be afraid to have a little fun when creating your pages. There is no reason that a wedding book must be serious all the time. By including scrapbooking stickers in your layouts, you can help convey the fun that was had on that day. From colorful wedding bells to doves, wedding-themed stickers are widely available in most craft stores and will fit well with ceremonies for those from any denomination.

If you are trying to put together the perfect wedding scrapbook, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it should reflect the personalities of the couple who has married as well as the guests who were in attendance. By taking the time to arrange your pictures in this way, you can ensure that they will be enjoyed throughout your marriage.

Other Resources:
Scrapbooking Stickers

Scrapbooking Paper

[Article Source; Photo Credit]

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to Plan a 50th Wedding Anniversary Party

The 50th wedding anniversary is a milestone commitment for married couples -- the golden anniversary. And although there's a lot that goes into the planning process, you don't have to feel overwhelmed. Here are some helpful tips to assist you in planning an amazing party:

Plan in advance. Clearing your head and getting organized is key to planning a 50th anniversary party. So make sure you give yourself enough time. Start thinking about when you'll have it, the budget, etc. well in advance. Doing so will help you stay organized during the planning process.

Decide.  Envision the type of party you plan to have -- big, small, surprise, etc. This will help you estimate about how much time you'll need to plan it. Don't try to determine all the details immediately; you don't need to and it's way too overwhelming. But, it's a good idea to create an initial checklist of things you need to do and get for the party. And as you work out more of the details, you can add or take away from the list.

Outline a guest list. Make sure you invite family and close friend and friends whom you haven't seen in a while or those who live far away. And if you're planning the party for someone else, be sure to invite any people they'd want there. Creating the guest list early will also help you figure out, in advance, a date that will work for as many guests as possible. While you won't be sending invitations until a later date, you'll want to spread the word and maybe even send out save-the-dates.

For more tips, check out our source, Planning a 50th Anniversary.

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fun Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

Not into the idea of having a formal rehearsal dinner? No worries! There are several alternative options for you. Here are some ideas from Yifat Oren, celebrity wedding planner and event design expert:

Have a picnic. No matter where you live, having a picnic is a great idea. Check with a local park or boardwalk and prepare an old-fashion spread (with sandwiches, salads and lemonade).
Tip: Be sure you have enough food for guests to make a meal of it, or tell them a full dinner won't be served. Although it's a picnic, you can't skimp on the servings. Don't want to be responsible for a whole meal? Consider having the dinner in the early afternoon or later on in the evening; that way, guests will know what to expect.

Fire up the grill. Organizing a casual backyard barbecue can be a great way to hang out and allow everyone to get to know each other, just be sure you balance your time away from the grill. If you're working with a planner, see if he or she can help with the rehearsal dinner as well.
Tip: If you feel that your bonding time with your new family will be utilized by serving food, consider having the dinner in a restaurant.

Play Some Games. Sometimes, nothing can be better than an old-school game night, like the ones you had as a kid. So pull out Outburst!, Trivial Pursuit and other games.
Tip: Keep it casual and order some pizza, have a nice home cooked meal or have it catered. Eat first before starting the games. That way, you won't have to worry about serving food and cleaning while in the middle of an intense Monopoly game.

For more tips, check out our source, 8 Fun Rehearsal Dinner Ideas.

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 Things to Know Before You Remarry

By Ron L. Deal, LMFT, LPC (Author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family)

Specializing in stepfamily therapy and education for over a decade has taught me one thing: Couples should be highly educated about remarriage and the process of becoming a stepfamily before they ever step down the aisle. Remarriage -- particularly when children are involved -- is much more challenging than dating seems to imply. Be sure to open your eyes well before a decision to marry has been made.

Eyes Wide Open
The following list represents key challenges every single-parent (or those dating a single-parent) should know before deciding to remarry. Open wide both your eyes now, and you -- and your children -- will be grateful later.

1. Wait 2-3 years following divorce or the death of your spouse before seriously dating. No, I'm not kidding. Most people need a few years to fully heal from an ending of a previous relationship. Moving into new relationships short-circuits the healing process, so do yourself a favor and grieve the pain, don't run from it. In addition, your children will need at least this much time to heal and find stability in their visitation schedule. Slow down.

2. Date two years before deciding to marry; then date their children before the wedding. Dating two years gives you time to really get to know one another. Too many relationships are formed on the rebound when both persons lack Godly discernment about their fit with a new person. Give yourself plenty of time to get to know them thoroughly. Keep in mind -- and this is very important -- that dating is inconsistent with remarried life. Even if everything feels right, dramatic psychological and emotional shifts often take place for children, parents and stepparents right after the wedding. What seems like smooth sailing can become a rocking storm in a hurry. Don't be fooled into thinking you won't experience difficulties. As one parent said, "Falling in love is not enough when it comes to remarriage; there's just more required than that."

When you do become serious about marriage, date with the intention of deepening the stepparent-stepchild relationships. Young children can attach themselves to a future stepparent rather quickly so make sure you're serious before spending lots of time together. Older children will need more time (research suggests that the best time to remarry is before a child's 10th birthday or after his/her 16th; couples who marry between those years collide with the teens developmental needs).

3. Know how to cook a stepfamily. Most people think the way to cook a stepfamily is with a blender ("blended family"), microwave, pressure cooker or food processor. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of these "cooking styles" attempt to combine the family ingredients in a rapid fashion. Unfortunately, resentment and frustration are the only results.

The way to cook a stepfamily is with a crock-pot. Once thrown into the pot, it will take time and low heat to bring ingredients together, requiring that adults step into a new marriage with determination and patience. The average stepfamily takes five to seven years to combine, some take longer. There are no quick recipes, only dedicated jouneyman. (Read more about how to cook a stepfamily here).

4. Realize that the "honeymoon" comes at the end of the journey for remarried couples, not the beginning. Ingredients thrown into a crock-pot that have not had sufficient time to cook don't taste good -- and might make you sick. Couples need to understand that the rewards of stepfamily life (e.g., security, family identity and gratitude for one another) come at the end of the journey. Just as the Israelites traveled a long time before entering the Promise Land, so it will be for your stepfamily.

5. Think about the kids: "Yours and Mine." Children experience numerous losses before entering a stepfamily. In fact, your remarriage is another. It sabotages their fantasy that mom and dad can reconcile or that a deceased parent will always hold their place in the home. Seriously consider your children's losses before deciding to remarry. If waiting till your children leave home before you remarry is not an option, work to be sensitive to your child's loss issues. Don't rush them and don't take their grief away.

6. Manage and be sensitive to loyalties. Even in the best of circumstances, children feel torn between their biological parents and likely feel that enjoying your dating partner will please you but betray their other parent. Don't force children to make choices (an "emotional tug-of-war") and examine the binds they feel.Give them your permission to love and respect new people in the other home and let them warm up to your new spouse in their own time.

7. Don't expect your partner (new spouse) to feel the same about your children as you do. It's a good fantasy, but stepparents won't experience or care for your children to the same degree as you do. This is not to say that stepparents and stepchildren can't have close bonds; they can. But it won't be the same. When looking at your daughter, you will see a sixteen-year-old who brought you mud pies when she was four and showered you with hugs each night after work. Your spouse will see a self-centered brat who won't abide by the house rules. Expect to have different opinions and to disagree on parenting decisions.

8. Realize that remarriage has unique barriers. Are you more committed to your children or your marriage? If you aren't willing to risk losing your child to the other home, for example, don't make the commitment of marriage. Making a covenant does not mean neglecting your kids, but it does mean that they are taught which relationship is your ultimate priority. A marriage that is not the priority will be mediocre at best.

Another unique barrier involves the ghost of marriage past. Individuals can be haunted by the negative experiences of previous relationships and not even recognize how it is impacting the new marriage. Work to not interpret the present in light of the past, or you might be destined to repeat it.

9. Parent as a team; get your plan ready. No single challenge is more predictive of stepfamily success than the ability of the couple to parent as a team. Stepparents must find their role, know their limits in authority, and borrow power from the biological parent in order to contribute to parental leadership. Biological parents must keep alive their role as primary disciplinarian and nurturer while supporting the stepparent's developing role. Managing these roles will not be easy; get a plan and stick together.

10. Know what to tell the kids. Tell them:

  • It's okay to be confused about the new people in your life.
  • It's okay to be sad about our divorce (or parent's death).
  • You need to find someone safe to talk to about all this.
  • You don't have to love my new spouse, but you do need to treat them with the same respect you would give a coach or teacher at school.
  • You don't have to take sides. When you feel caught in the middle between our home and your other home, please tell me and we'll stop. 
  • You belong to two homes with different rules, routines and relationships. Find your place and contribute good things in each.
  • The stress of our new home will reduce -- eventually.
  • I love you and will always have enough room in my heart for you. I know it's hard sharing me with someone else. I love you. 

Work Smarter, Not Harder
For stepfamilies, accidentally finding their way through the wilderness to the Promised Land is a rarity. Successful navigation requires a map. You've got to work smarter, not harder. Don't begin a new family until you educate yourself on the options and challenges that lie ahead.

Ron L. Deal, LMFT, LPC is President of Smart Stepfamilies, author of The Smart Stepfamily: Seven Steps to a Healthy Family and the forthcoming The Remarriage Couple Checkup with David H. Olson. He has appeared on numerous national TV and radio broadcasts and leads stepfamily conferences around the country. Find other articles, resources and conference information at

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

4 Tips for Planning an Outdoor Event

Planning an outdoor event? Here are some tips to help you minimize stress:

  1. Get a permit. You'll want to do this as soon as you've finalized where and when you'll have the event. The fastest way to get your event shut down is to hold it without a permit.
  2. Check out all ordinances. Every town has noise ordinances; many times, noise is prohibited after a certain time. Also, look into fire and safety codes, which may have limits on overselling tickets, seating and advertisement. Speak with the state and local authorities, the local fire department and the police about these.
  3. Power. Food stations, DJ/music and other areas that need lights will need power stations. If there aren't enough, have your vendors bring extension cords, and check the power load per plug. Additionally, have a back-up power system to fall back on.
  4. Be sure the guests are comfortable. Have enough drinking water and fountains, and make sure they are spread aound the venue. You can also consider renting portable air conditioners (if your event is during the summer). 

For even more tips, check out our source 16 Tips to Plan a Successful Outdoor Event.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wedding Mistakes Bridesmaids Should Avoid

It's an honor to stand by your friend's side at her wedding, and with that recognition comes a variety of responsibilities. However, when it comes to wedding dos and don'ts, the boundaries aren't always clear. So, if you're going to be a bridesmaid soon, here are a few common blunders to avoid so you can keep your integrity and be sure your friend feels supported on her special day:

  1. Comment on every detail. Making a decision can become difficult after some time, but that doesn't mean the bride needs your input on all of the wedding specifics. If she asks for your opinion, then give it to her while being honest. At times, however, she may just need a listening ear. With that said, know when to throw your two cents in and when to just act as a sounding board for ideas.
  2. Bend over backwards. While being a bridesmaid certainly calls for a few necessary responsibilities, that doesn't mean you're the bride's servant until her big day. Offer to help out when you can, but don't be scared to say no, whether it's for financial or other reasons. Going overboard will drain you, and you don't want to feel resentful toward your friend during this special time.
  3. Be picky over the details. Don't like the shoes she chose? Wish your dress was another shade? Being the bride means your friend gets to call the shots. Feel free to speak your mind if it's a pricing issue or if she asks about what you prefer; otherwise, just grin and bear it, and keep your choices in mind for your own big day.

For five more mistakes to avoid, check out our source, 8 Mistakes Every Bridesmaid Should Avoid.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

4 Simple Tips for Planning Your High School Reunion

In charge of planning your high school reunion? Here are four simple steps to take to make the reunion a success while impressing your former classmates (from

  1. Begin early. Bear in mind that some of your previous classmates may have to travel, so it's good to give as much advance notice as you can. So, begin the planning process 12-16 months in advance.
  2. Create a reunion committee. Planning the reunion by yourself will be overwhelming. Reconnect with a few of your classmates and get comfortable with assigning some of the tasks to others.
  3. Make a list and a timeline. List the tasks that are associated with the reunion planning and the timeframe they need to be done in. (Reunion Announcements can help if you're not sure what these things are).
  4. Create an Eventbrite page. Check out tips on this from our source

Have you ever planned a high school reunion? What tips do you have?

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Biggest Wedding Planning Mistakes

  • No personality. You don't necessarily need a theme wedding, but you don't have to do what everyone else does or allow your planner to do all the work. This is one of the most important days of your life, so it needs to reflect you and your fiance's lives.
  • Blowing money. While there is a ton of good wedding planning advice out there, you'll also see advice from individuals who will profit from it. With that said, make sure you're not spending where you don't need to, whether it's being talked into having more flowers or a more expensive dress. Know your budget, and know what's important to you and what's not.
  • Being inconsiderate. Yes, it's your wedding and your big day. However, you should also take other people into consideration as well. Really consider what you are asking people to do; for example, is what you're asking the wedding party to do fair? Will your guests be comfortable in the weather? Do they know what to expect?
  • Losing perspective. Stay focused on what's truly important to you. Don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed with all the small details that you don't spend appropriate time on what's important. And if something goes wrong, take some deep breaths and envision the big picture. Most of all -- maintain your sense of humor! 

For six more mistakes to avoid, check out Top 10 Biggest Wedding Planning Mistakes

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Best Time to Evaluate Your Event

By Heidi Richards

When should you evaluate your events?

As soon as the event is over...if not sooner. In my experience, the best time to evaluate your event is immediately! It is important to do your evaluation/assessment of the event while the details are fresh in your mind. Include anyone in the evaluation process that had a stake in the event. Stakeholders would include vendors, hired staff, volunteers and employers. You could host a debriefing session or a wrap up meeting to accomplish this task. Make this a pleasant experience. Include refreshements and lots of kudos (thank yous for a job well done). Prior to, or when the meeting begins, enlist a "scribe" to record the comments and answers from the group.

Ask yourself -- and them -- the following questions:

  • Did the event fulfill the goals and objectives set forth?
  • What worked? What didn't? What would you do differently? The same?
  • Did the event run smoothly and on schedule?
  • Which vendors/stakeholders should be hired/recruited again?
  • Were any items missing from the checklist that should be included in future events?
  • Did you generate favorable publicity for the event?
  • How was attendance? Were the attendance goals achieved?
  • Did you receive positive feedback from those who attended? Did you use formal (written, documented forms or one-on-one surveys) or informal (chatting in the restrooms, lines, seminars, etc.) methods of evaluation?
  • What could you do differently, better to reach your goals? To involve more people? To spread the word about the event?
  • Was the event worth doing? What were some of the benefits? Would you do it again?

Encourage alternative forms of feedback from those unable to attend, such as via email, website and fax back forms. Once you have received feedback from the group, have the notes transcribed for distribution to all the stakeholders (clients). Be sure to incldue this in the event portfolio for future reference. Proper evaluating of the event will lead to even greater success in the future. In fact, it is important to evaluate all aspects of business from time to time. Otherwise, how and when would you know what needs to be improved? One final thought: Make sure you get feedback from attendees.

And here's a key question to ask, especially if it is an event that is open to the public: How did you hear about this event?

Heidi Richards Mooney is a Professional Speaker, Business Coach and the Author of 7 books including "Rose Marketing on a Daisy Budget ~ How to Grow Your Business Without Spending a Fortune." She is also the publisher of WE Magazine for Women. Stop to get a FREE copy of YOUR Marketing Calendar today! 

[Photo Credit

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mix and Match Bridesmaids Dresses

By Laura Firenze

The chorus line of perfectly matched bridesmaids is so old-fashioned. For a contemporary wedding, it looks much fresher when the bridesmaids coordinate without wearing the exact same dress. Learn how to mix and match bridesmaid dresses in a way that will look modern and cohesive at the same time.

The key to successfully mixing and matching bridesmaid dresses and accessories is to choose a few main elements that will be the same throughout. That will ensure that the bridal party looks like a group, even as each woman is able to express her individual taste. Without any sort of unifying elements, the bridesmaids will not look like a group at all, more like wedding guests. Good choices for an element to carry throughout the entire bridal party include color, shape of dress, style of dress (cocktail, preppy, beachy, etc.) or fabric. The same idea works well for the accessories -- choose unique bridesmaid jewelry with something in common, such as the type of gems.

One very popular trend these days is to mix and match convertible bridesmaid dresses. These are also called twist wrap dresses because the tops are designed so that they can be styled into a wide variety of necklines. Simply choose one color and skirt length, and let your bridesmaids make their own decision about how to wrap the dress into their favorite design. It is a very easy way to create a unified look for the entire bridal party while allowing each woman to wear a style in which she feels comfortable. This is also a great solution when the bridesmaids have very different figures; the bridesmaid with the supermodel figure can twist her dress into a halter with an open back, while the ladies who prefer more coverage can arrange their dresses to have wider straps and higher backs.

Patterned bridesmaid dresses have become more popular in recent years. Allowing each bridesmaid to mix it up and choose her own dress is great because a large group of women wearing the same pattern can be overwhelming. There will naturally be an eclectic vibe to an assorted collection of patterned dresses, so this option is best for less formal weddings. Consider it for garden weddings, those with a homespun flair, shabby chic weddings and so on. Select a general guideline, such as prints which are predominantly green or a design idea such as Liberty prints to give the group some sort of unity. Unique bridesmaid jewelry will be the perfect finishing touch.

Another variation on the mix and match bridesmaid dress theme is to choose one color family from which each woman may choose. Colors such as pink and blue tend to work very well for this because all shades of pink look good together, and the same is generally true of blue. Request that your bridesmaids select dresses with a general skirt length, such as knee length or floor length so that they all have a similar degree of formality. This concept can be used for formal weddings as well as more casual celebrations. Create bouquets for your attendants which incorporate several shades of your color family as a lovely way to further unify the group. The effect will be absolutely lovely.

Mix and match bridesmaids dresses is a trend that definitely has staying power. Bridesmaids are less and less willing to dress up like a row of Rockettes, and ultimately, they will look their best when allowed to choose a dress that suits their own taste and figure. Perhaps best of all, the mix and match approach frees brides from the age-old dilemma of trying to find a single bridesmaid dress that will look beautiful on a diverse group of women.

Laura is interested in wedding planning and wedding trends including jewelry, receptions and gifts. Unique bridesmaid jewelry is the perfect way to thank your attendants for being a part of your wedding. Order your bridesmaid gifts from, and receive free shipping on your jewelry order over $129.

[SourcePhoto Credit]

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to Choose a Speaker for Your Next Chapter Meeting

One of the most important aspects of chapter meetings is the speaker-- the person you choose can make or break your event. With that said, you need to select someone appropriate for the audience and your location, someone who is informed on a topic but engaging as a speaker -- all within your budget. Check out a few tips on making this process simpler:

Keep an organized database of previous speakers. Be sure to include contact information, a brief rundown of their speech and subjective comments on the speakers' performance and reception from attendees. It's fine to draw on past successes every now and then: If a certain speaker begins to gain popularity as an engaging and entertaining presenter, the event attendance can only get better.

Plan ahead. Know what your meeting topics and goals will be for the next six to eight months, and choose speakers accordingly.

Tell your speaker what you expect, and be specific. Although the speaker has the task of creating the content, you need to tell them what the meeting's goals are. They might have the expertise on their subject matter, but you are the expert when it comes to your meeting, your members and your association. If you can, show examples of previous successful presentations, give clear time limits; tell them exactly what equipment will be available; and get a copy of the speech ahead of time. If the speaker isn't prepared, you'll look unprepared.

Check references. Speak with other local associations to learn about their experiences with a certain speaker. Find out what worked well and what could be improved on.

Ask members for referrals. Is there a person at his/her job that knows their stuff on a certain topic? Did they see a great presentation at a meeting? Referrals and word of mouth can be a great way to find speakers.

Connect with the National Speakers Association or a local speakers bureau. This is a chapter-based organization with members who are professional speakers and presenters. Use their expertise and suggest a potential joint venture with a local chapter.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

4 Signs You're Becoming a Bridezilla

We all know that weddings can be stressful, and as the bride, you want everything to be perfect. Most brides want to call the shots when it comes to their big day. However, you want to make sure that you're not becoming a bridezilla.

If any of these signs apply to you or sound like something you'd think about doing, it's time to re-evaluate your priorities -- planning your wedding should be fun!

1. You're putting your parents into the poorhouse. It's natural to want the best of everything for your wedding. But, if your parents have a fixed income, don't have much disposable income, and you're not footing the bill, don't hold on too strong to a vision of $100 per-person dinners. By doing so, you'll be well on your way to becoming a bridezilla. You can have a fabulous wedding without your parents having to take out a second mortgage...just tone it down a bit.

2. Your pictures have to be absolutely perfect. If you're like most brides, you'll hire a professional photographer to catch every single minute of your special day. Since you'll still be admiring them when you're gray-haired, it's understandable that you want your wedding party to look their best. However, it is not okay to get rid of a bridesmaid who let you know she's expecting and you don't want her to look "fat" in your pictures. Your bridal party members are beautiful the way they are, and hey, if they're so "flawed," your beauty will stand out even more.

3. You no longer have time for anyone -- or anything-- else. Have you missed a ton of work since you've been engaged? Been too busy to be there for your best friend after a horrible breakup? If you're asking someone to postpone a planned, major surgery or you're considering telling your boss you need two days off per week to plan your wedding, you are, more than likely, being a bridezilla.

It's time to get real. Yes, your wedding is important, but so are your other relationships and responsibilities. Don't ignore everything else in your life or expect others to drop everything they're doing simply because you're saying "I do." Get back to work, and be there for your friend. You can handle your upcoming nuptials later.

4. Your registry total is more than most college educations. If you fill your registry with $100-plus items, all you're going to get is several congratulatory cards. Yes, your families will likely splurge on a nice gift and your close friends may, too. But the rest of your guests probably won't spoil you with high-tech toys and crystal. So, make sure you include some less expensive items in your registry as well.

For six more signs, check out 10 Signs You're Turning into Bridezilla.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

6 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Wedding

  1. You don't stick with your budget. Simply put, you have a budget for a reason. Early on, prioritize what you want to splurge on and what you want to save on. For example, do you care more about the flowers or the photography? When you have an idea of how high you're willing to go in each of the main categories, it'll be easier for you to narrow down your vendors and negotiate exactly what you're getting. 
  2. You plan your own bridal shower and/or bachelorette party. Let your mom, aunt, maid of honor, best friend or anyone else plan these two events. It's okay to give particular guidelines (like no strippers), but you shouldn't book any hotel rooms or create a detailed itinerary. Your friends will have lots of fun planning it, and you'll be better off since you'll have more time to focus on planning the main event. 
  3. You choose to do your own hair, makeup and/or flowers. Although you might be able to make your own favors or print your own menus, there are particular aspects of your wedding you should leave to the professionals -- hair, makeup and flowers are generally at the top of the list. Having your hair and makeup done professionally ensures you'll look amazing from beginning to end. And there won't be enough time for you to do every single centerpiece, bouquet and boutonniere yourself.
  4. You don't have a Plan B for an outdoor wedding. Always ask about rain when you're visiting potential venues, even before you book. By doing this, you're guaranteed to get something you're equally happy about, no matter what the weather does. Also, think about other weather conditions: Get heat lamps if you're planning your wedding for early fall, and provide paper fans just in case you have an extra sunny summer wedding.
  5. You wait until the big day to try on your shoes. Yes, you want to keep your fabulous shoes in perfect condition, but you should try wearing them around your house, at least, for several hours on a few different days before your wedding so you can avoid blisters or pinched toes. Even if you plan to change shoes after the ceremony, you want to be sure you can both comfortably and confidently walk down the aisle in your heels.
  6. You assume you'll be coordinating the day-of. The only thing you should have to do on your wedding day is enjoy yourself. You've likely heard this many times before, but the day goes by very quickly. If issues pop up that can't be handled beforehand, try to hand them off to your mom, maid of honor or a helpful family friend to deal with. Even better: Consider hiring a day-of coordinator to be certain everything runs smoothly. 

For other things to avoid for your big day, check out 20 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Wedding.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

5 Simple and Quick Tips for Improving Your Relationship

Want an instant love boost? Sometimes, all you need is the obvious for your relationship to feel fresh and new once again:

  1. Make small, unexpected gestures. Many times, the best validation that you're loved and appreciated is when you experience an act that shows your partner is always thinking about you. Of course, planning a romantic date night takes thought and is always appreciated; but, buying your spouse a sweet treat just because you happened to pass a bakery and know he/she would love it really makes an impact. The feeling of "for-no-real-reason" makes the gesture mean a lot.
  2. Let your spouse breathe. Why? Because you'll be more excited to see one another. Yes, having a person to come home to is a big plus of being married. However, sometimes, it's nice to walk into an empty home, and take a bubble bath or just chill out in front of the TV without having to talk. Whatever space your spouse needs, give it to him/her, guilt-free; you could make dinner plans with friends or conveniently come home late from work one evening. Just a little distance makes the heart grow fonder.
  3. Write it down. While it may seem sappy or cliche to let your mate know how much he/she means to you, expressing your feelings (even when you assume they're known) is important in long-term relationships. Otherwise, you risk getting into "taking each other for granted" syndrome. You don't have to pen a 10-page love letter (or a really long email); an "I love you" written on your dry-erase board or leaving a "Have a fantastic day!" post-it note on the bathroom mirror is all it takes to let your significant other know you cared enough to take some time to write it down.

For the final two tips, check out our source.

How do you keep the romance in your relationship and/or marriage going?

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to Plan a Party That's More Fun With Less Money

One of the most stressful aspects of planning an event is its cost. When you add everything up -- the food, decorations, etc. -- it's easy to spend a small fortune on just the basics. Check out five easy things to consider that can help you save money while planning your bash:

Imagine. Think about what your dream event will be like. Create a list of all the things you'd like to have, and don't hold back. Include every thought and concept, both big and small, regardless of how unbelievable you might think they are. Give this serious thought since this is your brainstorming session.You won't use all the ideas you write down, but putting them down will give you an outline of your ideal event and gives you a great starting point.

Theme. Evaluate your list, then place all related ideas together. More than likely, you'll have one or two main themes, and those will help you determine what you really want to do. Get rid of everything else that doesn't fit with your theme; and keep in mind that you might need to readjust a few times before you get it just right. Determining a theme is the first step in making a festive mood; it also provides you with a focus that will help you maintain your budget and even makes the party planning process more enjoyable!

For three more tips, check out our source.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

5 Ways for Event Planners to Use Twitter

Are you an event planner? If so, here are a few ways you can use Twitter more effectively:

  1. Create a list of people you think are influential in the industry. Doing this will give you a real-time feed of what those in the industry are up to. Additionally, if you use a tool like Hootsuite (or something similar), you can create a specific feed for a hashtag (a couple of good examples, #eventprofs, #eventtable). Not only can this help inspire ideas, it can also keep conversation flowing.
  2. Use lots of @s and RT's (retweets). People will unfollow you if you're not active on Twitter. So, be sure to keep your page lively by being involved in conversations; don't just tweet out your own content. When you retweet other event industry professional's content, people will begin to see you as more of an expert. And that makes your page a place someone goes to for ideas and/or information. 
  3. Ask questions. Ask your followers for their opinions of events, blog post ideas, etc. People love to feel like they're included in something. 
  4. Share any content you create on Twitter. Make sure you keep your content flowing. Everything you post -- articles, blog posts, videos, etc. -- should also be shared on Twitter.
  5. Update often, and keep it relevant. Being consistent and posting often will increase your number of followers and activity. And be sure that about 90 percent of your posts pertain to your expertise.

For four more tips, check out our source, 9 Easy Ways to use Twitter for Event Planners.

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What to Ask Wedding Cake Bakers BEFORE You Book

Because your wedding cake is the centerpiece of your reception, you want to be as careful in choosing it as you were with your dress. So, here are some important questions you should ask a cake baker before hiring him or her:

Do you customize? Will the baker create a unique cake, or does he or she have particular styles to choose from. If possible, look at photos and actual cakes. And make sure you bring along fabric swatches, pictures and any other resources if there is a custom style you want.

How far in advance are cakes prepared? Remember, cake bakers often have more than one cake to make per weekend. With that said, don't be surprised if your baker prepares your cake three or four days before your wedding. Of course, the closer to your wedding date, the better.

What are my filling options? Determine what filling options are available and the ingredients used. No matter what you're looking for, the ingredients used will make all the difference in how it tastes. A few common filling ingredients are fresh fruits or purees, Italian buttercream and farm-fresh buttercream.

How do you price your wedding cakes? It's common for cakes to be priced by the slice, and the price usually increases, depending on how complex your flavors and fillings are. This goes for custom-designed cakes, too. More intricate details add to the cost.

Is the baker licensed by the state? This question might seem silly, but it's worth confirming that your baker is licensed by the state health department.

For more questions to ask a potential wedding cake baker, check out our source.

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, August 9, 2012

5 First Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas

You're coming up on the anniversary of your first full year of marriage -- happy anniversary! Traditionally, paper is the gift for the first wedding anniversary. However, it can be difficult to find ideas for gifts that feature paper prominently and that are romantic. Luckily, it's not impossible; read below for a few ideas that your spouse will surely love:
  1. Tickets. Whether they're for a concert, sporting event or maybe a second honeymoon, be sure it's an event your spouse will truly enjoy.
  2. An invitation. If you want to make dinner or take your spouse out, you can invite him or her with a nice invitation you create yourself or buy. This shows that you put thought into the date since you're paying attention to the details while still incorporating paper.
  3. Scrapbook. Creating a paper scrapbook that features photos (which are printed on paper) is a very meaningful gift. You can focus on the wedding itself or document your first year as a married couple, from your wedding to your first anniversary.
  4. Gift certificates. A gift certificate to your spouse's favorite store or spa or a movie rental subscription gives him the opportunity to choose whatever he desires. Also, this can be a good excuse to shop together, get a couple's massage or have movie night.
  5. A love letter. There's nothing that says, "I love you," more than a thoughtful, sincere, handwritten love letter. Not only is it old-fashioned and sweet, it will also warm your spouse's heart.
For 10 more first wedding anniversary gift ideas, check out our source, 15 First Wedding Anniversary Gift Ideas.

[Photo Credit]

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Biggest Event Planning Fears...And How to Face Them

Hosting a company event is a great way to meet new people, get the word out about your business and just have fun. If you're the organizer, however, it can be intimidating.

Read below for some ideas on dealing with some of the biggest event planning fears so you and your guests can concentrate on having fun:
  1. No one will attend. Here, the most important thing is to promote your event like crazy in your store (if you have one) and on your website, blog and social media networks. Additionally, local media usually have calendar or community events sections that you can submit your event to. A few other ideas include creating an online event marketing page, making a Twitter #hashtag and encouraging people to tweet about it and using an e-mail marketing campaign.
  2. People aren't mingling. Although name tags aren't the most fun thing (particularly if you forget you have it on hours after an event), they're very helpful in getting people to mingle with each other. To get people talking, try including a surprising bit of information. Additionally, put the food, drinks and seating in different areas -- this will encourage people to move around the room. 
  3. People leave early, or they won't leave. Organization is very important for any event; everything needs to be set up and prepared before the early birds get there. If you have scheduled things that will take place during the event, pass out printed programs so people will know the timeline. Also, create a "soft" end time for the event. As that time gets closer, politely remind attendees that the event is about to conclude, but don't be too strict on the exact time. Most people won't hang around.
  4. Uninvited party crashers arrive. Inevitably, you'll have a couple of unwanted guests, whether it's your competition, former employees or even your ex. You've heard the saying, "If you can't beat them, join them," right? Well, the same applies here. Surprise them by saying "hello" first. Hopefully, any issues they have will be discussed with you in private, not with everyone else.
  5. Someone has had too much to drink. How do you handle this? Begin with the bartender(s) and have them limit the amount of drinks given to any one person and to offer coffee, water or juice as an alternative. If someone has been over served, call him/her a cab or ride home.
Although you might try to plan for everything, an event rarely goes perfectly. So, if something you weren't expecting does happen, stay calm, and get your employees to help. Know that you did the best you could, and everyone else will know as well.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

4 Things to do before you have a baby

Photo from:

Are you and your new hubby thinking about bringing a baby into the mix? No worries -- your life won't end when you do. But, there are some things you should probably check off of your 'life list' before you do:

  1. Go bungee jumping, zip-lining or whatever crazy, life-risking activity you have on your bucket list. These things are not looked highly upon when you have little ones who basically depend on you to be injure-free and alive. So do them before the baby.
  2. Value your alone time in the bathroom. Seriously. Really appreciate it.
  3. Go on a road trip. To anywhere, together or alone. It doesn't matter; just completely enjoy total silence or blast whatever kid-unfriendly music you want. Only stop when you want or need to, and really enjoy the freedom. Your car will never be the same after you have a child.
  4. Take that career risk. Try for that promotion, change careers or any other risk that's work-related that will feel too precarious once you have dependents. You'll have the rest of your life to worry about stability, your income and shelling out for diapers and college. Make the most of this time by pursuing your passion or determining what you really want to do.

For 11 more things to do before baby, go here

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What If No One Signs Up?

By C.J. Hayden, MCC

It's the nightmare of every professional who offers group programs. You design a powerful workshop, schedule a date, broadcast your marketing message...and no one registers. Then what?

Let's assume you have the basics down. You've chosen a compelling topic, identified a likely audience and clearly described the benefits of participating in your program. Even the price is right. You've already sent information about your program to a list of strong prospects. What else can you do?

Preventive Measures. First, let's back up a step. There are several measures you can take early on in your promotion that will improve your chances of full enrollment:
1. Offer your program in-house instead of to the general public. Selling your program to a company, association or learning center with an established base of employees, members or students can be much easier than trying to sell each seat yourself. You could also partner with an existing organization with a track record of filling programs and share the profits in return for a full house.
2. Build your prospect list to equal 20-100 times the number of people you want to attend. A typical response rate from a postal mailing is one to two percent. Response to opt-in email is often even lower. (Don't even consider using unsolicited email). In general, expect no more than one percent to respond if they don't know your work and rarely more than five percent even when they know you well. Make it a habit to capture the name and address of every prospect and get their permission to mail or email.
3. Plan to promote on multiple channels. Your promotion plan should include announcements in your ezine or newsletter, a description on your website, postal mail, a brochure or flyer to distribute, calendar listings and personal invitations. Don't rely on just one or two avenues -- students are much more likely to enroll when they see your program mentioned in many different areas.

Emergency Enrollment. If your program has low or no registration as the date approaches, here's what you can do to increase enrollment:
1. Call everyone on your prospect list and invite them personally. Don't count on mail and email to do the job. Place a phone call to each person you have a phone number for, give a brief description of the program, and invite them to attend. You'll be amazed at how many people will say, "Thank you for calling -- I've been meaning to sign up."
2. Ask clients and colleagues to make referrals. Just mailing an announcement to potential referral sources isn't the same as asking for their help. Call or email people who respect your work, and ask them to suggest two or three others who could benefit. If they have suggestions for you, ask if they will also contact those people themselves to endorse your program.
3. Make a special offer. Tell the people who are already registered they can bring a friend for half-price. You're not losing any revenue that way if the space would otherwise be standing empty. Offer a bonus gift with minimal cost to those who enroll -- 30 minutes of your professional time or an ebook, audio or report you've produced. To encourage people to spread the world, offer the same gift to people who refer students to you.

If All Else Fails. In the last few days before your program, if you still have only a handful pre-registered:
1. Hold your program anyway. Invite people to attend for free if necessary to have good participation. Your clients will enjoy the chance to spend more quality time with you; colleagues will benefit from the opportunity to see your work and meet other attendees. Ask people who attend at no charge to write you glowing testimonials and refer paying participants for the next time.
2. If you can't fix it, feature it. The meaning of this classic sales maxim is that if your product has an obvious flaw, make it a positive selling point. When only six people enroll in your big seminar, convert it to an intimate group experience. If you have only two people for a group, turn it into a success team. Your participants will be thrilled to have more individual attention. Never apologize for a smaller-than-expected turnout.
3. Plan ahead to do better next time. Analyze what went wrong with your marketing and strategize how to do it differently the next time around. Should you have allowed more lead time? Does your mailing list need to be larger? Do you need to factor in more promotion channels instead of relying on mailing or email alone? Make a list of all the key elements you think are necessary to successfully promote your next program.

Filling programs becomes easier when you offer them regularly. When students see the program advertised two or three times, they are much more likely to enroll. Think of all your marketing efforts as part of a long-term plan to make more people aware of your business. If the outreach for your workshop introduces your business to many new people, you may ultimately find that much more valuable than just filling one program.

(Copyright 2004, C.J. Hayden)

C.J. Hayden is the author of "Get Clients Now!" (TM) Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of "Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll Ever Need" at

[Photo Credit]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What To Do When You Have The Post-Honeymoon Blues

After all the craziness and excitement of wedding prep, the big day and your honeymoon, you may be a little sad when everything is over. While it's perfectly normal to have the blues when the enthusiasm of being a bride-to-be has passed, it's important to remember that you have a lifetime with your honey to look forward to. Here are a few tips for maintaining that honeymoon high as you move to the next chapter of married life:

Celebrate a little milestone. More than likely, you won't celebrate every month you're married, but you can keep the momentum after your wedding by doing something simple on your first-month anniversary. It could be simply sharing a bottle of wine while watching your wedding video, flipping through your wedding photos or reading through your guest book.
Save a little fun for after the honeymoon. Wait until you get back from your honeymoon to open your wedding gifts. That way, you'll have something to look forward to other than getting back to work.
Have some girl time. After months of bride-centered activities, it's now time to switch the focus from you to your girls. Once the wedding frenzy is done, spend some quality time with them and catch up on what you may have missed in their lives. Grabbing some coffee, visiting the beach or going shopping will put you in a better mood in no time.
Make your house a home. The best way to get out of a funk? Start working on a project. Whether you and your hubby are moving in together for the first time or just finding somewhere for your gifts, most likely, you'll have to do some work at your house after the wedding. So, dedicate a weekend to home-work with your hubby; the experience will not only strengthen your bond, but the sense of accomplishment when you're done will get you excited about moving forward.
Catch up on missed hobbies. Since you won't be knee deep in bridal magazines and busy planning your wedding, you can spend your free time doing what you love. Restart your favorite hobbies by taking an art class, getting more active or tackling the books you've put aside.

Do you have tips to share? Please leave a comment!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

3 Tips for Finding Your Wedding Reading

Finding the right wedding reading is important because it helps set the tone, whether it's romantic, emotional, light-hearted or reflective. The right reading can be perfect in completing your already special day; so, you need to set some time aside to find a reading that mean something to you.

How to Decide
The best advice: Decide based on what hits your gut first and what draws you in. Next, be sure it's something that's not so vague that no one understands it. Additionally, you don't want it to be too shocking. You want the focus to be on you when you leave the room, not people whispering to each other about how sexy the poetry was. 

Who should read
Your wedding reading is a great way to involve your bridesmaids in the wedding ceremony. Or, you might be able to include that friend who didn't have time to be a bridesmaid or who live far away and couldn't commit to your schedule. Be sure that whoever you choose is comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.

Start your search
You should definitely consider involving your groom in the choosing process. You can find a couple of readings at our source. Other poems to consider: Love Of My Life by Mr. Dvyne, My Soul Mate by Jessica Ammons and I Wrote A Good Omelet by Nikki Giovanni.

Happy searching! : ) 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your Checklist for Planning a Conference

Planning a conference? Check out these tips to help:

1. Determine possible dates. When you're looking at dates for your conference, it's helpful to have many possible dates in mind. At times, the location of your choice won't be available on the date you prefer, so you have to choose another date. Additionally, you want to be sure you're not holding the conference on any bank/public holidays, and avoid having it the same day as another industry-related conference.

2. Create a budget. The purpose of the budget is to provide the event planner with a limit financially. The budget should be specific and include revenues (sponsorship, ticket sales, etc.) and expenses (printing, location, food, etc.).

3. Find a conference venue. This is key for the well-being of both your attendees and speakers and for your conference's success. As soon as you have determined possible dates, you can begin the search for the best venue. One idea: a hotel that has conference rooms -- You'll have staff and a good infrastructure, which means less work for you. Also, the venue size should be ample enough for the conference and the expected number of attendees.

4. Program and speaker(s). Aside from networking, the topics and speakers are key reasons to attend a conference. For conference success, it's important to book well-known speakers early on: The'll help you gain more attention, attract more attendees and can help obtain other well-known speakers.

Additionally, before pre-selling conference registration, your agenda should be at least roughly determined. Be sure to make enough time for networking, and if you're having food, be sure there's enough catering.

5. Pre-sell and online registration. Since conference registrations are the primary revenues for the event and event planner, attendee registration and payment management is vital; it should look professional and be simple for attendees to use. You can also use the registration form to obtain attendee data for marketing activities after the conference.

Something else to keep in mind: Your website should have more than just a registration form. It should also include the agenda, speaker, directions and hotel recommendations. You should also be sure to have a reliable provider who offers several payment methods and currencies to make registration simple for attendees.

For five more tips, visit 10 Tips for your Conference: The Checklist.

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