Planning the Perfect Party

Whether it’s a solstice shindig, a holiday celebration, or a New Year’s bash, plenty of us are going to spend the next few weeks planning parties and methodizing menus. This month, our resident events specialists are here to give you some tips and fun ideas that include everything from tubs to tulips.

Perfect PartyIt’s the most wonderful time of the year… unless you’re worried about squeezing 25 people into your 500 square foot apartment and then having to feed and entertain them. Pace’s Special Events department, responsible for University events that include everything from intimate presidential lunches to large-scale events like Commencement, are here to make that winter party a winner.

Preparation Is Key

Before you get down to grocery and decoration shopping, University Director of Special Events Allison Sokaris has three key words for you: “Envision your event.”

“Each event has a unique personality and should be treated that way,” Sokaris says. “But before you can embark on the party, you need to ask yourself if you can afford it.” Plus, Sokaris emphasizes, you want to be able to enjoy the event you’ve planned so carefully—so doing everything in advance is critical.

To Theme or Not to Theme?

While some love the idea of a themed party, others worry it’s too reminiscent of bridal showers and Tupperware parties. But since what’s really important is what you like, here are some tips for those who are theme inclined.

A cookie exchange party is a perennial favorite, and easy as (whoopie) pie. Mail out invitations (along with a blank recipe card) asking guests to bake a batch of their favorite cookies and bring the recipe to share. Then sit back and get ready to enjoy the fruits of their labor—though you’ll probably want to provide a few nibbles of your own.

Just moved into a new place? A tree-trimming party will give you great insight into decorating the tree and some new ornaments and memories that accompany them.

Other themes can include a “winter wonderland”—deck your halls in whites, greys, and blues and ask guests to dress for northern exposure; a white elephant gift exchange/Yankee Swap/Parcel Pass grab bag game; a potluck; or even an ugly holiday sweater party.

The People Make the Party

“What will bring it all together is the people you invite,” Sokaris says. “It’s a big component of a special evening.” So develop a guest list, then send out invites. What you send is up to your budget and your preference (Evite, Paperless Post, or regular mail) but invitations are a crucial step. Try to give at least three weeks notice and make sure to plan in the event of a winter storm with an alternate date.

Food for Thought

The menu is a very personal thing, Sokaris says. So instead of telling you what to make, she offers a few suggestions: People worry about packing on the pounds over the holidays, so keeping it on the healthy side (or some healthy options) makes for less severe New Year’s resolutions; try to factor in people’s dietary restrictions; and a one-pot-meal like lasagna keeps you with your guests and out of the kitchen. Additionally set up a table with soft drinks, bottles of wine, and one prepared signature drink (like a candy cane martini or spiked cider) to keep things simple.

Design with Details

For a unique look on a budget, pour salt or sugar into small vases, throw in some twigs, and voila!—a picturesque winter wonderland!

One aspect that Sokaris stresses is flowers, and she wants you to know that you don’t have to pay $100 at a florist for a couple of nice arrangements.  “People think you need to spend a lot of money on flowers, but you don’t,” she said. “And flowers really make a party pop.”

Sokaris adds that you can go to your grocery store or local bodega and get tulips for $5 or red and white roses for less than $20. You can even pick up some holly and pine branches for that special holiday smell. If you’re lucky enough to have a tree in your backyard, you won’t even need to spend the money.

Small details will stick in the minds of your guests: fill martini glasses with nuts; float tea lights in red and green water with some food coloring; if you’ve got a nonworking fireplace, add pillar candles to create a statement.

Know Your Home

Before your guests arrive, make sure you have a plan. Find a good place for food so people don’t bump into things and keep the coasters handy!

Tight on space? Fret not. Sokaris recalls an event, where the hosts put their large and fragile items into the bathtub to create space and keep things safe. Moving furniture to the side or against the wall can also help create the illusion of space.

Be Eco-friendly

Put down the snowflake plates and step away from the paper aisle. The EPA estimates that Americans generate about 25 percent more trash than usual during the holidays. So why not rent? Renting supplies is green and economical, and it can make your job easier, as many companies offer delivery and pickup and only require a quick plate rinse!

A Special Thank You

A great way to thank your guests for attending and share the memories is a photo gift. Snap some photos at your party and then send a collage or slideshow of photos to attendees as a thank you.

Save a Space!

Special Events introduces the Friends and Neighbors Space Rental Program; plus a new date for Drupal.

New Space Rental Program

Pace has recently launched its “friends and neighbors space rental program,” which allows local businesses, organizations, and individuals the opportunity to affordably rent event space at our Graduate Center at One Martine Avenue in White Plains.

Located just two blocks from the White Plains train station and with onsite parking, the Center is a perfect venue for corporate workshops and retreats, training, conferences, or parties. Our full-time special events team can handle all your needs including catering, AV equipment, décor, and your event will be staffed by your personal event planner.

Our event specialists will guide you through all planning stages of your event. We will provide pricing for any services needed for your event and will liaise with our internal service providers to make sure your requirements have been met. We will be on hand at the event to address any needs and to ensure that you have a truly successful event.

For more information on hosting an external event at Pace University please contact Kristen Vinciguerra, Associate Director of University Special Events, at 914-923-2667 or via email at kvinciguerra@pace.edu.

New Date for Drupal Launch

The date for the launch of our new CMS, Drupal, has been pushed back to March 1 to give users more time to practice on the new system and prepare their sites. A number of webmasters have been trained during the past few weeks and feedback on the new system has been positive. Look for the live site on March 1!

Special Events Training

Starting last month, the Office of Special Events is offering its second round of trainings for the 2010-2011 academic year. This series of training sessions will continue with the specialized topics noted below.

Planning a Successful Event with the President:
New York City – Wednesday, February 23, from 12:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Board Room North & South
Westchester – Tuesday, March 1, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Conference Room A/B

Special Events Roundtable:
New York City – Wednesday, March 30, from 12:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Meeting Room A
Westchester – Tuesday, March 29, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Conference Room C/D

All are welcome to attend! To register, e-mail rmarmolejos@pace.edu.


Planning the Perfect Party 2.0

If our special column this month wasn’t enough to satisfy your drive to be the next Martha Stewart, Special Events has a number of training sessions lined up this year to help make your next Pace event will be a success. Plus, updates on our new content management system.

Starting this month, the Office of Special Events is offering its second round of trainings for the 2010-2011 academic year. This series of four training sessions will include specialized topics, noted below.

R25 Webviewer Descriptions for Marketing your Event:
Westchester – Wednesday, December 15, from 12:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Conference Room C/D

Sponsored Events:
New York City – Wednesday, January 26, from 12:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Meeting Room A
Westchester – Wednesday, February 2, from 12:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Conference Room C/D

Planning a Successful Event with the President:
New York City – Wednesday, February 23, from 12:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Board Room North & South
Westchester – Tuesday, March 1, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Conference Room A/B

Session Four – Special Events Roundtable:
New York City – Wednesday, March 30, from 12:20 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Meeting Room A
Westchester – Tuesday, March 29, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Conference Room C/D

All are welcome to attend! To register, e-mail rmarmolejos@pace.edu.

Do You Drupal?

As you know, we are in the process of implementing Drupal, a new content management system (CMS), for our website. Marketing and Communications and ITS are nearly finished with the work involved in writing the code, creating the templates, and all else necessary to migrate the content from the current CMS Hot Banana and Empower systems into Drupal.

We will conduct training sessions for all webmasters and content managers on January 11 and 20 in NYC, and January 13 and 18 in Pleasantville.  An advanced training session for school/library webmasters will be held in White Plains on January 26. Edyta Zych, technology training manager, will conduct the training sessions, with assistance from Michael Johnson and Danny Samuel in ITS and Melissa Evans from Marketing Communications. We will then work with each of the content managers to clean up all sites so that we can be ready to launch the new CMS system-wide on February 7.