The forecast looks brighter. A mini heatwave is on the horizon. But as we fast approach the summer festival season, things will look and sound a little different this year. Music lovers won’t be treated to the usual buzz around the iconic Glastonbury Festival. Wellies and beers will have to be kept for socially distanced festival parties in gardens across the country. An I-pod list of ‘banging’ tunes can still be the soundtrack to our summer, but there is no doubt we will all miss the incredible artists, from all genres, who come together to play on those legendary stages. So, if you’re getting ready to create your own festival inspired party, details of this brilliant event, shared by one of the event’s planners Lauren Worsley (now Business Development Director), will provide all the inspiration that you need.
What Was the Aim of the Event?
To create a festival inspired party in a tipi! A sensational party, influenced by the rock festivals of Europe, and produced for one very lucky young man.
When Was the Party?
Where was it held?
Private land in St. Albans, with five giant tipis as venues
The event has 210 guests, including 90 children. Guests traveled primarily from London and Manchester, but some from other parts of the UK too. A festival inspired party is a bit unusual, and so the RSVPs came back thick and fast!
Was this Solely a TLC Event or Did You Work With An In-House Event Team?
This event was pure TLC in concept and in production. We brought together a team of suppliers to work with us, but the event was developed and delivered by the TLC team.
Had You Worked With this Client Before?
This festival inspired party was a very special Bar mitzvah. We had worked with the family before, and this occasion was in celebration of their second son’s ‘coming of age’. Having a relationship with the family already is a bonus, but also an inspiration to create a Bar mitvah bigger, and better, than previous events with the family. We love a challenge!
Taking the legendary Lollapallooza festival, and blending a bit of Glastonbury, was the foundation of our concept. We wanted to create the informality of a festival gathering, with incredible music and a real buzz in the atmosphere.
Tributes to The Best
Entertainment should be at the heart of any festival inspired party. We showcased the best tribute acts in the country, who honoured the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Queen and Oasis. The bar mitzvah boy was also a musician, and so we organised it so that he could join each act for one song and play as part of the band. Keeping the music going all day was key to keeping that festival feel, so there was also a DJ and beat-boxer who performed between band sets.
There were lots of other activities around the tipi which appealed to people of all ages which included a merchandise stall, tattoo artist, face painters, glitter artists and a bespoke camper van photo booth.
The food was festival inspired! It was served from a choice of catering vans positioned at the front of the main tipi. Vans included pizza, fish and chips and poke, whilst there was a live cooking station serving stir fry! Desserts included choices of ice cream, waffles and crepes.
On arrival guests had to queue through crowd barriers to gain entry. the innovative table plan was a hand stamp with their table number on as they checked through “security”. Together with a wrist band this identified their table.
Inside the tipi the detail was insane! Plastic cups, branded with the festival logo, were used to serve drinks in. The seating was a combination of wooden tables and benches with large “wellies” in the centre with the table number painted on. Each guest had a poncho with their name on, which did double duty as their place setting. Branded paper napkins were placed in retro holders down the centre of the tables. Large dustbins were filled with ice, and bottles of beers and wines were added for adult’s tables. For the kid’s tables, we included cans and bottles of soft drinks. Keeping to a ‘make-shift’, rustic feel, we had a large square central bar made from pallets which guests could go to and order additional drinks. All bar staff in branded yellow security waistcoats with the event logo on the back.
The private land used for the event was at the end of a long lane, which made getting all equipment a little difficult with vehicle restrictions. Where there is a will, there is a way!
When an event is booked at a venue, we get logistical support from their in-house team. This is not the case when using private land. For outdoor events, we also primarily use marquees which come with toilets and the water supply enabled. But with this site, and using tipis instead, there were a lot more logistics for TLC to arrange. This included the 150m hose pipe to get water to the event site!
Lesson to learn …. it was underestimated just the amount of space required with the large about of acts all requiring back of house space to change and wait for their set. We set additional gazebos at the back of the tipis for their use, but it’s something I wouldn’t overlook again. So much happens behind the scenes!
This was a 3-day event in all; quite a challenge. On the Friday night we arranged a dinner at one location. Following synagogue on the Saturday, we planned celebrations at the family home, and then on Sunday the festival event. Splitting yourself into three pieces to set up the different elements of the weekend isn’t an easy task, but with good communication and an amazing team around you can manage anything.
Your Personal Highlights
Showcalling. With all the bands, their requirements and different equipment this could have been chaotic, but it worked seamlessly and was packed with the festival vibe!
Would You Change Anything?
The weather! Or at least when the bad weather joins us. We had ponchos ready for the guests once they had been into the tipi, but instead it came just as they arrived!
A large amount of the event was also outdoors, and we really needed the weather to stay on our side. But, its England, and it doesn’t always work like that. It did brighter up later on, just in time for the food service. A collective sigh of relief could be heard!
Recently, weddings of up to 10 people were given the go ahead in Northern Ireland and with UK officials currently:
“examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings”
it’s likely the rest of the UK will soon follow suit. It’s always been my view that small weddings can be just as impactful as larger ones. In fact, I’ve seen a real shift in recent years – couples shunning larger parties in favour of a more intimate ceremony or ‘micro wedding’. Our micro wedding ideas bring together stylish tips to make your big day special and memorable, whilst harnessing the best of boutique style.
Post-pandemic, even more than ever, a small wedding can be an empowering choice for couples who just can’t wait any longer to tie the knot. It’s a chance to focus on only the closest family and friends and feel more in control of the wedding budget.
Here are just some of the reasons I think that the best things come in small packages. As well as micro wedding ideas for planning and décor. Everything you need to know about planning a stylish and memorable small or micro wedding.
How many people can attend my small wedding?
Firstly, we’re yet to see the government’s definitive guidance on how many people will be allowed to attend weddings. But it’s certain to be less than the average for pre-coronavirus weddings – which stood at around 82 at the end of 2019. Micro weddings are defined as those with 20 guests or less. In my view the number permitted will likely be around 20 – 40 guests.
What are the benefits of smaller wedding?
What a small or micro wedding really does is focus on your ideas. It’s a way of sharing your special day with the people who really love you (and visa versa). One thing lockdown has taught us all, is to focus on the important people in our lives.
Smaller weddings also tend to have an incredibly warm, relaxed atmosphere because everyone knows one another. There’s no awkward table plan or distant relatives to look after.
It also means you can go to town on the little details that will make your wedding truly unique and memorable, without trying to please too many people.
Types of venue that suit a small wedding
Importantly on our list of micro wedding ideas, is your choice of venue. A smaller ceremony opens-up more choice for your wedding. This means that you can look at quirkier spaces that just wouldn’t be able to host a wedding with 80+ guests.
With social distancing in mind, however, I’d currently opt for a room that’s much bigger than your party requires. And one that has outdoor space that’s easily accessible. Weather permitting, an outdoor wedding would be even better under current guidelines.
You can still have all the grandeur of a larger wedding in the spectacular setting of your choice. It’s just a matter of organising your space and ‘zoning’ the area so as not to split your party.
The challenge is to make it feel cosy and welcoming rather than like a large proportion of the guests just didn’t show up. I would use draping and lighting in this situation to add texture and warmth. Along with food stations and cocktails bars dispersed around the room, adding a more personal touch to the service and of course limiting the amount of contact guests will have.
Tips for Planning Your Small Wedding
Make a ‘can’t do without’ list rather than how you would normally go about inviting people to your wedding. You can be more selective than usual which is great for the more decisive couples, but if you’re struggling to whittle down your list, this a good place to start.
Similar to how you would traditionally categorise guests as day or evening, a big change now may be that you categorise them as actual and virtual. Virtual attendees can enjoy a live stream of the ceremony or you can set up iPads with a Facetime for each one.
Then try to find ways to include those guests who can’t attend because they’re shielding or because of the limit.
You could send them a home delivery of some of the menu to enjoy from the comfort of their own home, with some of the flowers to bring the décor to their table. Alternatively, something like an afternoon tea or cocktails to make at home would be brilliant to keep the budget down.
Another idea is to ask your virtual guests to do a reading via video link or read out their message at the wedding breakfast, similar to how telegrams would have been included in years gone by.
Of course, this brings a whole new level of wedding etiquette so it’s important to be very clear and communicate your criteria for ‘real’ guests – close family, no children, wedding party only etc. – because of coronavirus restrictions.
Catering Ideas for a Small Wedding
In my opinion dinner is one of the most important parts of creating the right micro wedding ideas. Just because there are less guests doesn’t mean it has to be anything less than sensational.
My advice is to swap out the traditional three course meal with an interactive dinner or dessert experience. You can personalise the experience and get your guests opening the door to a variety of creative food ideas. Whether it be a grazing table or Teppanyaki style meal with a live chef, food is no longer just about the eating, it is a culinary experience and often is the most talked about part of the day. There are so many options, from providing a conveyor belt for your appetizers (similar to a sushi restaurant) to revealing a gorgeous doughnut wall after dinner for guests to devour.
Or go completely personal. Individual ‘wedding branded’ boxes of hot fish and chips. A mini picnic hamper with individual bottles of fizz. A bento box on each place at the table. Or to celebrate Asian food, try a tiffin box for every guest filled with spicy curries and hot naan.
Décor Ideas for a Small Wedding
If anything, a smaller wedding means you can be even more flamboyant and inspirational in this area because, with less guests, there’s likely to be more budget. Huge floral canopies are one of our signature styles. Simply divine over my favourite banquet style table – which can’t be beaten as a romantic and easily customisable blank canvas.
For a small wedding a banquet table has more presence, facilitating conversation, creating intimacy and offering unique options for centrepieces. Creating one long runner down the centre of the table. Fill with clusters of roses, foliage and tea lights. Or a higher structure with eclectic bulbs and flowers hanging above the guests. Seat people 2 metres apart to conform to the social distance rules, and the table will be spectacular.
And you can’t beat hanging wisteria amid a sea of candlelight for the most romantic of ceremony spaces – especially when outdoors.
Weddings certainly aren’t going to look the same for a good while, so rather than be disappointed, try to look for the positives in a smaller get together and be creative in how you can involve your wider circle of family and friends. Work closely with your wedding venue or planner to generate bespoke micro wedding ideas and ensure social distancing rules are managed. Measures including additional hand sanitiser, room cleaning and staggered arrival times for guests will become commonplace. But they don’t need to detract from the style and fun of your wedding day. Embrace the smaller scale by infusing with unique, personal touches. Make this small ‘big’ day, a special day.
With groups of up to six given the go ahead to meet outdoors in England, and Scots now allowed to BBQ with eight of their friends and family, it’s clear that dining al fresco will be on the menu for much of the UK. Even the weather seems to be in agreement, most of the time! But outside events have a whole different set of considerations to those held indoors. And serving up a few burnt burgers isn’t going to cut it. TLC events director Jess Randall has created her top tips on creating perfect outdoor parties and the best BBQ events.
Upgrade What’s on the Grill
BBQ’s used to be so basic. Throw on a packet of sausages or burgers and serve with a simple side salad. Zero creativity needed. That was before the days of Instagram. And pre-coronavirus when so many people have missed out on their planned events. People are well and truly upping their game.
If you want to join the BBQ elite then remember that preparation is key. Marinades are one trick to elevate a BBQ experience to the next level. Massage your meats and fish in tasty homemade marinades the night before, placing them in the fridge to give them time to develop that extra flavour. They’ll be so juicy and succulent your guests won’t be able to get enough.
Meat is the BBQ staple but when it comes to the grill, don’t forget the delicious non-meat alternatives that can sometimes steal the show. Think of vegetable, halloumi or tofu skewers drizzled with a dressing or grilled corn on the cobs covered in salt and chilli power. Creating perfect outdoor parties means catering for all tastes.
Supercharge Your Sides and Salads
Where salad was once an afterthought there’s now a new mantra. ‘Salad maketh the barbeque’. Fix up a variety of different salads. Italian caprese, potato salad, roasted vegetable cous cous, spicy avocado or Asian slaw are just some ideas. Be as adventurous as possible and expand your salad repertoire, not overlooking that cooked ingredients are just as at home in the salad bowl as raw ones. Add nuts for texture and chopped herbs for a fresh and fragrant bowl of goodness. Don’t forget the dressing which should be added at the last moment or served at the side for guests to help themselves.
Another table (and tummy) filler is piling up a selection of different breads from your local deli or bakery. Many places are starting to re-open and deliver now, so add breads of all different shapes, sizes and textures to your shopping list. Nestle in some homemade dips like hummus, pesto or balsamic vinegar and oil and you’re onto a winner.
These delicious accompaniments are exactly what guests will be talking about post event. It’s the little extra TLC details that make all the difference when creating perfect outdoor parties.
Deliver on Your Drinks
If you want to make an impression as soon as they walk through the gate, choose a classic English or Italian aperitif to serve on arrival. Pimms chilled, then filled with fresh fruit or a crisp sparkling Aperol Spritz will never disappoint. There are some fabulous cocktail ideas here .
Another top tip, that we often do at TLC parties, is take large aluminium bins or buckets, fill with ice and bottles beers (or soft drinks for the children). Add a bottle opener onto the side of the bucket or provide a personalised one for each guest as a favour. Then nobody needs to make numerous trips back to the fridges to refill their drinks!
Avoid sharing bottles of wine – opt for an individual bottle per guest or personal cocktails. And on a hot day, go for fabulous frozen vodka or mojito lollies (with fruit versions for the kids)!
Filling different size Kilner glass dispensers with iced water, fresh fruit and herbs is a great way to serve unlimited water to guests in the hot temperatures. Or add homemade lemonade. It’s also a great way to add a bit of colour and décor to a BBQ table that needs filling. To keep your little guests happy, why not think of a similar match to the cocktails to serve to the children. Fruit punch or fizzy orange with grenadine would work brilliantly and kids love nothing more than a mocktail to get involved with the adults.
Create an atmosphere
Infusing your party with ambience and atmosphere is one of the most important aspects in creating perfect outdoor parties. The best way to do this is by using simple decorations.
Depending on the number of guests and size of your space, a long central table for guests to eat as is ideal – keeping in mind social distancing rules of course. Your table filled with the delicious salads and side dishes that you have prepared along with the meats, fishes and vegetarian dishes will already add a sense of décor without any additional effort. Decorate the long table with a gorgeous centrepiece using simple household items. You could order your favourite flowers online and split them up into different sizes vases. Or create a low runner and add a few petals, leaves and candles for a beautiful floral display. For a nice finishing touch, buy some new matching crockery and glassware, especially if it’s a special occasion. Layer the table with all of the beautiful plates and wine glasses and see your table come to life!
Additional chill out areas, loungers, garden furniture and maybe even a hanging chair is a great way to create different zones for your party. Group them to allow social distancing. For an easy and super effective way to decorate these areas, fill smaller Kilner jars, jam jars or vases with flowers from your garden and tea lights. Stringing fairy lights throughout your garden is a great way to create ambience ready for when the sun goes down.
Top Notch Entertainment
Entertainment is another key component of your BBQ or outdoor party. Particularly when everybody isn’t confined to one small space when it can help hold everything together. It always takes longer than you predict to get the BBQ going. Whilst guests are arriving earlier on, why not set up some garden games for people to play. Try lawn bowls, croquet or something a little more fun like giant Jenga or giant connect four. Even an oversized chess board if your space allows. This is a great way to provide entertainment for those who want it, without forcing those who don’t into something that makes them uncomfortable. Have sanitizer wipes on hand to wipe down all the games between players from different households.
Music shouldn’t be forgotten. Finding that perfect playlist will also help to set the mood. Start off the evening with something more chilled and relaxed maybe summer songs to encourage people to relax and socialise. Then as the night progresses, pick up the music. If you really want to go the extra mile you could look at bringing in a small, local acoustic band who can mix between playing background music and then livening the night up later on.
So, with the current temperatures soaring throughout the UK and the desire for people to see their families and friends, outdoor events and BBQ parties are looking likely to be the events for the remainder of 2020. Try some of our tips to creating perfect outdoor parties and BBQs – TLC style!
June 25, 2020: Sally Lindsay: Star Almost Missed Big Break Because She Didn’t ‘Look Like an Actor’
In the next installment of the Events That Made Me podcast, Mount Pleasant star Sally Lindsay revealed that she never considered acting as a career, because she didn’t ‘look the part’. In an in-depth chat Sally talked of the pressure for budding actors to look a certain way, admitting that it took a university lecturer to flag up her talent. She said:
“I had a tutor called Neil Sinyard who was a theatre critic for The Times, he said to me, “if you could write your essays like you act you would be getting a double first, you really need to think about this as a career.”
“Now this is [me] someone who is size 14, I had blonde hair with black roots down to here, acne and I just thought actors don’t look like me. They’re little and dark (hair) and posh and pretty – they don’t look like me. But I took his words to heart, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Sally went on to attend the North Cheshire Theatre school, other graduates of which include Antony Cotton, Sarah Lancashire and Scott and Bailey co-star Suranne Jones. Although, in her own words, a ‘late starter’, she would go on to star in some of the UK’s best loved dramas and comedies and has enjoyed over 20 years of success on stage and screen.
“I was 22 when I went there,” continued Sally. “It sounds so young now, but it was comparatively ancient to start an acting career.”
When asked by Liz if she has ever been invited to feature on hit show, I’m a Celeb, Sally replied: “Oh yes, most years, but, oh God no! If one of the kids needed life-saving surgery, then maybe I would go. Not that I don’t think it’s brilliant. I love watching it! But I can’t even eat prawns because they look like insects. I could do all the other things, but it’s the eating I couldn’t do, They’d all be starving.” Listen Here
Rumors about this year’s line-up for the hit show have already begun, with Manchester United legend Eric Cantona and Netflix sensation Carol Baskin thought to be among the contenders.
Sally’s latest project was set to start filming in Malta this springtime but has been pushed back until Autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic.
16 June 2020: In the Events That Made Me podcast, airing on June 17, 2020, TV Presenter Eamonn Holmes OBE has spoken of the pressure he has felt being in the spotlight for so many years, as well as fears over keeping his job as one of the UK’s best-know TV presenters. The This Morning frontman admitted to host, to celebrity event planner Liz Taylor, that the need to ‘stay relevant’ and ‘continuously reinvent’ himself has been a challenge.
The ‘Events That Made Me’ interview examines events that have shaped the lives of a series of well-known celebrities. 60-year-old Eamonn discussed the pressures to stay in the public eye: “As good as you do, staying in employment, people like me have got to stay relevant. To stay relevant, you have to know your market …. you’ve got to see the trends coming and you have to reinvent yourself. “What I would say about my job is that getting on the conveyor belt is very, very tough, very hard, but – staying on the conveyor belt is harder.” Listen to Clip
During the 30 minute chat, Liz and Eamonn delve deep into his 40 year career in broadcasting, including how his peers would ‘laugh’ at his insistence that he wanted to be a TV reporter when he trained in journalism. Eamonn says: “My journalism lecturer would go round the class and say, right, ‘what do you want to do when you qualify’ and people in my journalism class would say, ‘I want to write for the Irish Times’, ‘I want to write for the Guardian’ or I want to write for the Independent’ and when it got to me I would say, ‘I want to be on TV, I want to be a TV reporter’. And the class would laugh. I suppose their point was you shouldn’t really express ambition like that, but to me it was direction, it was the area of journalism I wanted to be in.” Listen to Clip
It was this clarity on his future that eventually led to Eamonn’s big break, and a career that would see him become the face of Morning Television first at GMTV and then later as the anchor of Sky Sunrise, positions he held for a combined 26 years. Eamonn continued: “A year later the journalism lecturer called me and she said: ‘You always said you wanted to work in television didn’t you, well there are auditions being held at Ulster Television for farming reporters, do you fancy that?’ I didn’t know the first thing about farming, and I told her that, so she said: ‘rule number one of journalism Eamonn – find out!’
“I did find out, I did get the job, against very stiff and more experienced competition and I got it on the basis, I suppose, of style over substance, because I knew how to behave on TV. It was absolutely incredible because that changed my life.”
5 June, 2020: A labour of lockdown love for our CEO, Liz Taylor. The Events That Made Me podcast is finally here, and has been well received by listeners. Already featuring in Apple’s top business shows, the podcast combines fun, fearlessness and life lessons. Liz discussed the events that have shaped her guests’ lives, both personally and professionally.
Commenting on the podcasts Liz said:
“I believe throughout all of our lives there’s one specific event that we can say affected the course of our journey. There certainly has been for me. Coupled with the fact that I spend a great deal of time getting to know the people that I work with and finding out what makes them tick, I felt there was a great way to share some of these events and experiences to help others. And so, my Events That Made Me podcast was born.”
In the first podcast, actress Catherine Tyldesley talks of how she secured her role on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2019. Importantly, why it took producers two years to get Catherine to agree to put on her dance shoes. “I had a huge fear of dancing. When the opportunity for Strictly came up I thought, this scares me, so I should do it. I think you should face your fears head on.” Click for audio clip.
And how it felt to secure her famous role on Coronation Street: “As a child I was always talking and singing. I then fell in love with drama and I can’t imagine doing anything else.” She adds: “I’d grown up watching Corrie and was a huge fan. Landing that job was a dream come true.” Click for audio clip.
Simon Lycett explains why his challenging public-school upbringing led him through times of bullying to a place of greater strength. The chance meetings led him to create flowers for Muppet creator Jim Henson. And later for the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Any why pride has been one of the important, but sometimes unspoken, emotions in his life Click for audio clip.
Now a celebrated florist to members of the Royal household, Simon explores the series of events that, as Liz quotes: took you from the Muppets to the Royal family”. Simon says: “I have been fortunate enough to work on the wedding of Prince Charles to the Duchess of Cornwall. I created the flowers for the dinner that the Queen held the night before William and Kate married….and the flowers for Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack.” Click for audio clip.
“I’d like to do flowers for the next Coronation. Wouldn’t it be an amazing, iconic thing.”
“I’m talking to a whole host of really fascinating people about events shaping their lives, and there’s an interesting mix of answers. Cath Tyldesley talking about the positive effect that competing on Strictly Come Dancing has had on her confidence. Mr Daytime TV himself Eamonn Holmes explaining why you shouldn’t ‘hide your light under a bushel and how meeting me was the most expensive lunch of his life! To the incorrigible raconteur Christopher Biggins, on why meeting Sinatra changed the direction of his early life, and how I’m A Celebrity then transformed his later career.”
To listen to the podcast, click here: Events That Made Me and please leave your feedback on the show. Our next guest will be announced shortly and feature on June 17, 2020
My team is incredible. Their loyalty and commitment over the last few months have been exceptional. As many of us tentatively head back to our place of work now lockdown measures are lifting, team building within a business has never been more important. But team building during social distancing comes with unique challenges. Let me explain.
It’s clear that our offices will look and feel very different with new social distancing measures in place. Some with physical divisions to keep workers apart. And of course, many companies have taken the decision to continue to work remotely. But within this ‘new normal’, companies are faced with an impossible quandary. How do you bring your team together without, bringing your team together?
Why team building is important in business
Even before most of us even knew what a coronavirus was, team building activities were hugely important. The many benefits of team building include a workforce getting to know one another better. Camaraderie, boosting performance and fostering innovation and creativity.
When delivered properly, team building and staff recognition events can help your workers to engage with your vision and values and become more loyal to your company. Team building will lower staff turnover and boost staff morale. And let’s face it, we all need a morale boost right now?
What can team building achieve?
But don’t just take my word for it. There have been many studies into the benefits of team building and how encouraging a positive workplace culture and fostering an engaged, happy workforce can result in increased profit and productivity.
I read a survey by research-based consulting company, Gallup, for instance, which revealed that engaged employees are 17% more productive with absenteeism reduced by 41%. The same study found highly engaged companies to be around 21% more profitable.
And according to the University of Warwick, happy employees are up to 20% more productive than other workers.
Why do team-building activities while social distancing?
With our teams segregated, these qualities are of utmost importance if businesses are to recover from the coronavirus shutdown. As the world of business regains its focus, the companies that will thrive are those who foster team spirit and bring employees closer during the tough times. Team building during social distancing will allow employees to continue socialising and communicating. In addition to learning new things about one another in order to promote the kind of bonding that makes physical space disappear.
Team Building During Social Distancing Ideas
Here are team building during social distancing ideas that can keep your team focused and motivated during the transition back to work. These team buildings exercises can be adapted to overcome the physical challenges of social distancing, so that when employees return to the office, it’s almost as if they never left!
Individuals and teams can participate in a virtual scavenger hunt. A perfect team building exercise due to the friendly competition that they bring. Combine different elements of fun, problem solving and interaction in order to bring a team together to meet an end goal.
There are a number of different online platforms for this however with the Scavify app, everything is brought together efficiently in one place. The app includes a list of tasks for players to complete by uploading photos, taking videos, answering questions and scanning QR codes. The app takes the hassle out of organisation with automatic scoring, the ability for individuals to track their progress, real time leader-boards and photo-streams to see completed tasks as they happen. It also allows for social media integration which is so important during this current climate. Try it at https://www.scavify.com/
Fancy Dress Friday
Forget casual wear Friday! Dressing up is the new dressing down. With a lack of variety in our daily lives, weekdays can easily merge into one. Therefore, it is crucial that leaders in a company are able to liven up team meetings and boost morale when we head towards the weekend. Employees are given a different fancy dress theme each week to attend the online meeting in. Prizes are given out for the best dressed. It’s a great way for employees and employers to get to know each other on a different level and have fun. Breaking down barriers that may never have fallen while in the office.
Knowledge Share Training Days
Online training is a great way to further diversify your team’s skills, as well as sharing knowledge between departments. Ask for volunteers to create a webinar or online forum to share some of the transferable skills involved in their job. Or get your team involved in areas of the business they’ve not worked in before like social media. You may even discover some untapped talent.
Alternatively, your team could sign up to a webinar run by a professional in your field. Due to the power and availability of online webinars and the fact that professionals want to share their knowledge so willingly during these tough times. Tthere have been a huge number of webinars run by our favourite professionals. You can run a zoom session alongside so that your team can interact during the breaks or downtime.
And team building during social distancing doesn’t have to stop professional development. Spreading your cultural horizons as a team can still have the same outcome. Famous faces, galleries, museums and performers are giving unrivalled free access to content like never before. So, make an event of it and attend that virtual gig, performance or exhibition together.
Despite our best efforts as a nation, it doesn’t seem that coronavirus will be going anywhere anytime soon. Optimistically though, companies are embracing the challenge of adapting to new ways of working in order to survive. Within that, team building during social distancing should be near the top of the priority list. Afterall, a company’s true resilience and strength to recover comes from its greatest asset: its team.
Social distancing will affect bringing the team together for a company meeting too. Here’s one way in which you can safely meet: Social Distance Meeting
There has been one winner through the coronavirus pandemic; the environment. Changes we never dreamt were possible have happened in a matter of months. And on a global scale. We’ve seen the cancellation of eight out of ten international flights. Waters are clearing of plastic and pollution. Air quality is improving. Endangered species are returning to their natural habitats. In Venice, the waterways are clear. The people of China are able to breath clean air. And in New York, where my daughter lives and coronavirus has devastated so many, the levels of pollution have dropped by 50%. This city epitomises the sustainable dilemma – can we maintain the environmental benefits without the threat of pandemic pain?
It may be a miracle amongst the madness, but will we learn lessons for the long-term? Will doubters such as Donald Trump accept global warming as a scientific fact? It was the change our planet badly needed. Yet it may never have happened without a threat more imminent than the environmental catastrophe that has been lingering in our peripheral vision for many years.
The Events Industry
Within the events industry this raises a huge dilemma; one that I shared my thoughts on in my Conference News column at the beginning of this year. Events are by nature consumers of environmental resources. Energy use for a full lighting production for instance is substantial. Many elements of an event will be single use. Then there’s food waste, plastic consumption, car travel and air miles. Plus, a whole host of other factors to consider. It gives planners the sustainable dilemma – and a challenge!
In recent years, the conundrum has been that people have been eager to reduce their impact on the environment, yet they still want the impact and drama of lavish, glamourous events. As event planners, we’ve been charged with marrying desires that are polar opposites to one another. An almost impossible task. But has the coronavirus crisis given us the beginnings of a solution?
In the short term, social distancing measures will go some way towards keeping up the progress we’ve made environmentally. It’s unlikely we’ll be allowed to host large-scale events for some time. While we find our feet in a new world, small is better. We’ll have to throw all of our creativity into making events that are pared back in scale, but NOT in vision.
Another consequence of time spent in lockdown, is there has been a renewed understanding that we can survive on less. People are taking joy from the smaller things in life. Events will therefore need to respond and show reductions in energy, food and environmental consumption, honing-in on attention to detail. Small events CAN be beautiful. More thoughtful. More manageable. Clients will however need to invest in the finer details to make them successful. That TLC touch that makes all the difference.
A different question is, can events really become more sustainable while maintaining their scale and impact? On this point, only time will tell. Event planners need to turn to their greatest assets to solve the dilemma: innovation. As I mentioned, I wrote a column about this very subject at the beginning of the year and I’ll leave you with some of those thoughts to summarise now.
“We need to tackle the challenge in the way that I deal with every event. I take every individual element and assess how we can deliver it with creativity and style, and now, with a more sustainable edge. Work with suppliers to minimise plastics and packaging. Look at low-energy options. Take care of your team’s wellbeing. Employ local venues, caterers and ﬂorists to lessen the burden of travel. For large events, I accept the task is daunting, but it shouldn’t be avoided. Perfect? Your solutions will evolve over time. You may not be able to change everything at once. But every swap, change, new idea and alternative option will make a difference.”
Having also been lucky enough to visit Venice for work and fun, the pictures here of the beautifully clear canals are astonishing and make the sustainable dilemma more apparent: https://youtu.be/HVwjs_D_kRI
Over the past two months I’ve done a lot of thinking about how we can begin to deliver events again. Most of you will know. I’m not the type of person to just accept that I’m unable to work indefinitely. When I hit a wall, I tend to look for something to knock it down with. If I can’t knock it down, I find a way to climb over it. So, my self-isolation has become a time for reflection. Brainstorming and planning for how we can start to deliver events when the Government begins to ease the lockdown rules. Embracing the social distance for meetings philosophy.
In this article I’ll present my ideas about how the events industry can begin to recover. Ways in which we can get back to doing what we love; meeting.
As an event planner of 36 years of experience, I know that finding a social distance for meetings solution will only be possible by working collaboratively with venues and clients. I ’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts. Can we make this possible?
Beginning with baby steps
My first thought is that restrictions will determine that we will need to start off small. So, my skeleton plan is about how I think TLC will be able to deliver meetings of up to 50 people in the first instance. Simply put, adopting the social distance for meetings approach will be much simpler with smaller groups. We’ll need to hone our provision of these smaller micro meetings, then begin to think bigger and better until we can get back to delivering the large-scale wow factor events.
One solution could be to spread an event out over a few days, with smaller groups attending each day. You could even bring everyone who has attended together virtually on the final day with.
Alternatively, in a venue with more than one event room, organise the event content into smaller sub events. Delegates could be moved round the venue in an orderly and organised way. This could ensure that different groups don’t mingle, with each event space being cleaned in between.
All the Ps – protection, preparation, prevention
Staggered arrival times. Sending out pre-meeting safety packs detailing the steps a company is taking to protect delegates. Giving access to easily reachable sanitisation stations. Meetings will be all about thorough preparation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
And until the world returns to normal, it will be our job as organisers of events to allay any fears and reassure delegates every precaution has been taken to ensure their safety. That means clear communication will be key.
Finding the right venue
Finding the perfect space to host your meeting will never be more important. Bigger will most certainly be better for smaller events. Businesses will need to find a venue that’s much larger than needed, so for a meeting of 50, we’d probably suggest a room that can host 250.
Layout within that space will be another consideration – with each delegate (or group of delegates depending on what’s allowed) being given ample space to social distance themselves from other people in the room.
Access to the outdoors is going to be another key factor in choosing to hire an event space. The latest information on COVID-19 shows that it’s easier to prevent the spread of coronavirus outdoors. Giving delegates frequent breaks in the open air will be hugely important also give venue teams time to clean the rooms frequently. But this will need to be staggered and well organised to prevent a mass exodus!
If the weather permits, why not hold the whole thing outside.
Buffets with precision organisation should be the way forward when it comes to catering at events. I’m fairly certain there will be no sit-down meals for a while, unless we adopt the approach that some restaurants in Europe are taking with clear Perspex screens segregating diners.
My preference would be small plates. There’s no need for service and attendees can help themselves without touching serving utensils – limiting the possibility of cross-contamination between groups of people.
Another idea would be to make up individual picnic baskets with single servings for each person, this could include some gorgeous cakes for afternoon tea, or a selection of cold meats, cheeses and breads for a more continental approach. Blankets could be laid out on a lawn with adequate spacing in between to adhere to social distancing while still allowing guests to mingle.
And for teas and coffees why not send out a personalised reusable cup ahead of the event within a delegate welcome pack. Another way to reassure your guests of cleanliness and minimal contact with venue staff.
With a limit on numbers, businesses will really have to think about who they send to meetings. Only those who are integral should/will be able to attend. But by embracing technology and with careful organisation, it may be that a mix of virtual and actual attendees becomes the new norm.
Here is where an event planner would be able to add lots of value. Making those virtual attendees feel as much a part of the event as those there on the day will be a challenge. Interactive elements will need to be handled in a creative, innovative way to bring the room together.
But with the recent VE Day celebrations as an example, it could mean that we reach even more people with events and messages.
By providing people with the means to have their own social distanced garden party at home, organisers believe that thousands more people became involved in the celebrations in their own way, than would have attended any official gatherings.
Attention to detail
In a world where smaller gatherings will become the norm (even for a short time), personal touches will become more important than ever. Small is certainly more manageable when it comes to delivering the right social distance for meetings approach. And small can be beautiful. But companies will have to invest in micro events to elevate them and ensure they’re successful.
So, these are some steps I feel could be taken to mitigate risks of small-scale events and meetings as we begin to get back to business. Some companies may think ‘why would we get an event planner in for a small event?’ As always my answer would be that ‘the devil is in the detail’. But in fact, it’s even more important now to ensure that smaller events are planned to perfection, to allow us to progress further in the future.
Can we get people meeting again with the right social distance for meetings approach? Thoughts people? Over to you.
We are in the midst of our industry’s perfect storm. There is no doubt that whether you are a corporate event planner, SME or event agency professional, the next few months will present incredible business challenges. I am an optimist. I believe that we can build a strong future for the event sector. The companies who will get through these times will be those able to diversify, navigate the choppy financial waters and are bold enough to look long term with their marketing. I intend to be one of them. And I believe that on the ‘other side’ of this virus, companies will more than ever look to events as a vital communication tool. Whether it be reconnecting with customers, rebuilding their brand or rewarding loyal staff; an event is still a unique brand platform. That’s why, although I wrote this earlier in the year to offer advice on how to choose the right event company, I think it is just as relevant now as it was then. Those businesspeople planning ahead, and wanting the support of an event professional, read on.
Set your objectives
Firstly, when understanding how to choose the right event company, remember this. Events come in all shapes and sizes. And so do event management companies. Whether it’s an employee recognition event to celebrate achievements, a staff Christmas party to boost morale or a customer event to generate sales or launch a new product, the first step in any event is to define why you’re holding it in the first place. Draw up with a list of measurable objectives covering exactly what do you hope to achieve and why. Only then can you begin to hone your list of potential suppliers and see how they hold up against your aims.
Go by word of mouth
I’m a firm believer in recommendations. It’s how I’ve grown my business and built my reputation. Reach out to individuals and organisations within your professional network for their advice, introductions and honest opinions. You can also do this via LinkedIn and via other social media outlets. If you’ve attended a particularly memorable event, then contact the organisers to see who was behind it.
Unpick their Portfolio
Once you have a shortlist, research a company’s testimonials and case studies. There’s no harm in contacting some of the companies they’ve worked with to gauge their experience. If they’ve done repeat business with recognisable brands, it’s a good indicator you’re on to a winner.
On the other hand, don’t just opt for the company that shouts the loudest, that’s always appearing in the media or who has scooped all of the top awards. Accolades may highlight that an event management company has achieved great things, but they can’t tell you if it can do great things for you. Which brings me to the next point.
Is the chemistry right?
Over the past thirty years I’ve worked with many different people – from huge organisations and to celebrities and private clients who prefer to stay that way. Some relationships thrived. Others fell by the wayside. The difference was chemistry.
The litmus test for anyone in knowing how to choose the right event company, should always be whether you feel you can work with the person or team that’s putting your event together. Ironically there’s no scientific formula for how to measure this. It’s all about the feeling. Your gut instinct. You don’t have to socialise with them, you don’t even have to like them personally (although it helps), but a mutually respectful professional relationship is essential.
Make sure you’re on the same page
If you’re thinking low key and affordable and they’re wanting to hire Beyonce to play at Grand Central Station (either of which would be fabulous by the way) the relationship is never going to work out. Agree the budget from the outset. And that doesn’t mean an event can’t have the wow factor, it’s about making money work hard by spending it in the right areas. If they’re worth they’re salt they’ll find creative ways to achieve your goals within budget
Are they qualified?
Experience vs qualifications. The old conundrum. For me, the perfect recipe should include a good mix of both.
Are your philosophies aligned?
What are the core values that set your company apart? And how does the event management company fit into your overall philosophy? If environmental issues are at your core then choosing an event management with great eco credentials should be a consideration. Perhaps CSR is high up your priority list – find a like-minded company to reflect what you value most. You might also find this article interesting too: CSR
Become a secret shopper
Attend an event the company has planned. This may feel like snooping, but it doesn’t have to be done under the radar. I’d have absolutely no problem with a potential client attending one of our events. In fact, I know that allowing them to experience one of our events as a guest is the best way that I can promote my company. Seeing a team in the full throws of an event will allow you to see first-hand how they operate. It will alleviate any worries or lay bare any issues – either way it will help with your decision.
How do they measure success?
Simply putting on a brilliant event then moving onto the next one isn’t good enough. Neither is saying an event was successful without any measurable results to back this up. Events can only prove their worth if there is a robust evaluation process in place. And this needs to be front of mind right from the outset. What monitoring and evaluation steps has the company built into the pitch? If it’s not mentioned that’s a red flag for me.
Check the T’s and C’s
Last on my list of key advice to anyone asking how to choose the right event company is – check the fine print. What is their billing structure? When does their invoice need to be paid? And does this fit with your internal processes? These are questions that need to be answered at the outset to stop a relationship turning sour at the end.
I hoped this has helped you in understanding that knowing how to choose the right event company is about more than a just a spreadsheet exercise – if not – call me!
The organisation of any wedding needs a keen eye for detail. However, when the bride’s vision involves three days of celebrations, a bespoke-built nightclub, a wedding breakfast in the backdrop of a magical garden, a Game of Thrones inspired wedding feast complete with medieval village and sunken banqueting hall, AND a guest appearance by the couple’s favourite band Texas. Well, that’s when a little bit of TLC magic goes a long way. Oh, and did we mention we had just four months to pull the whole thing together?
This show-stopping wedding was certainly a party to remember, and a tale of two themes. It was a huge production, that involved some extreme logistical conundrums that would have challenged even the most seasoned event planner. But luckily – if there’s one thing that as one of the country’s top wedding planners, TLC loves, it’s a challenge. Here our Operations Director, Ellie Barnes shares the unique event from her perspective:
Firstly, like most TLC productions this wedding was completely bespoke. It was to take place in Autumn in the magnificent surroundings on 18th Century Country Manor in Hampshire. The bride was very creative and had some very specific and imaginative ideas which made it both challenging and immensely exciting to work on.
It was to be a two-day event. Both days being hosted in a marquee structure that we had purpose built on the venue lawns. The wedding ceremony would take place inside the hotel, with the wedding breakfast in a marquee. This was to be dressed as an enchanted garden. A French band providing the entertainment. Then it was on to the ‘after party’, which was a “nightclub” we created in the venue’s event space.
Day two took the form of a medieval banquet. A Game of Thrones inspired wedding feast. Here the wedding party spent the whole day in the grounds dressed in medieval clothing and had to gain entry to a purpose-built medieval village. It ended with a feast to rival that of any Winterfell celebration!
And the icing on the cake. We had just four months to organise the whole event as we were brought on board when the couple realised they needed extra resources. An event management company that could really make things happen.
The client had committed to The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire before securing our services. Although it may not have been our recommendation for this event due to the very specific instructions from the bride, it’s an absolutely magnificent property and the staff there were brilliant to work with and couldn’t have been more helpful.
There were 220 guests, a combination of some from overseas and those from the UK. The bride was German, and her parents didn’t speak English, so right from the off we knew we’d have to arrange practical things like translators so that all the guests would have the same wonderful experience.
Throughout the planning of the event we worked very closely with the groom’s PA – she was the key contact for the event, and we were in almost daily contact for around two years leading up the event.
One of the reasons for this was that the production was huge. We basically had to put together two vastly different full events, back-to-back. The construction of the sets for these events would usually take multiple days but TLC is renowned for thinking outside the box and making an event even more sensational. It was in trying to solve this problem that we actually came up with the masterstroke that made the event even more special. A sensational turnaround, exposing a medieval banqueting hall and home to our Game of Thrones inspired wedding feast, that had been built underneath the original marquee.
The marquee-build started 10 days prior to the wedding, and it wasn’t just a simple structure. The bride envisaged a magical garden for the wedding breakfast marquee. This included a huge central orchid tree and floral canopy, scenic stone tables and an abundance of flowing ivory drapes. It looked sensational.
For the day two of the celebration, the bride (an avid Games of Thrones fan) wanted us to create a huge Game of Thrones inspired wedding feast. A banquet room complete with a sunken floor and long wooden tables.
To enable us to achieve this, we came up with a two levels concept for the event. As with all of our events, this was the intricate and unforgettable element that provided the wow factor. Firstly, the Game of Thrones inspired wedding feast marquee was built. It was dressed and then covered with the magical garden marquee. After the wedding reception finished on the Saturday, we then ripped out the magical garden to reveal the banquet underneath. We then worked through the night to complete the build of the medieval marquee. Top wedding planners have to be inventive all the time – finding solutions is part of what makes us a key element to wedding planning.
The Party – 1
This was one of those parties that part of me wishes I’d been a guest at, rather than being the organiser. Guests arrived on the Thursday evening/Friday morning and we arranged spa treatments, hairdressers as well as all sorts of activities within the grounds of the hotel including falconry and horse riding.
On the Friday evening there was a welcome BBQ for all the guests on the terrace of the hotel, where the London Essentials band performed.
Saturday was the day of the ceremony. This took place in a room at the hotel, guests then enjoyed a drinks reception and canapes on the terrace while being entertained by a string quartet and magician.
Guests were then taken through to the magical garden for the wedding breakfast. They were partying and on the stage before the starters even came out thanks to the amazing Swan Band. The hotel staff looked shell-shocked – they had never seen such a high energy party. After the food, champagne and speeches we had purpose built another terrace outside where there was a huge firework display. During this time, we had transformed a conference room within the hotel into a nightclub, complete with banquet booth seating, a bespoke dancefloor and bar where a DJ, saxophonist and percussion band performed.
Nobody at the party would have guessed that during this time we were busy getting the marque ready for the big reveal the next day.
Related Topic: Fresh look? Want to update the traditional elements of your wedding? Here’s how!
The Party – 2
The following day, we arranged for more spa treatments and activities in the hotel grounds, where we had created a medieval village. It had a kind of festival feel to it. With a tavern bar, market stalls, pottery making, book binding, jewellery making tents, BBQs cooking food authentic to the era, as well as medieval songs/dances. All in keeping with our game of Thrones Inspired wedding feast theme for that day.
All guests were dressed in costumes they were asked to bring with them for the weekend. We hired a roving herb seller, a keeper of the fayre and pickpocket and all fayre workers to add to the excitement.
On return to the marquee everyone was amazed by transformation. The Game of Thrones inspired wedding feast was waiting!
The bride and groom were sat on thrones and the banquet was laid out centrally down the long tables. The meal was purposefully interrupted by a jester who then introduced different medieval acts/entertainment. After the meal, our piece de resistance. We dropped a surprise reveal of the bride and groom’s favourite band, Texas, who performed a 60-minute show. The party went on until the early hours and everyone, I’m sure, had the time of their lives.
All of the above! The sheer magnitude was the biggest challenge of this event. The fact that we turned it around with such limited planning time is nothing short of a miracle. That, and the quick turn around of the different party elements, should have been impossible. Somehow, we made it work. It took the most meticulous planning to have all the different elements come together smoothly but there were relatively little hitches over the weekend. That is something we are very proud of at TLC.
The images do not even do justice to how spectacular this event was. There were so many highlights to choose from. I have to say the big reveal of the Game of Thrones inspired wedding feast marquee was a big highlight. And not forgetting the surprise of Texas performing. The bride and groom had no idea that this was going to happen. They were awestruck. It was like something out of a movie.
Just talking about this event now still really excites me. I am so proud that not only did I do it, but it was a huge success and the bride and groom were thrilled. It felt impossible at the beginning, but everything went so well and was so well organised – we left nothing to chance. Working on this event was a dream come true and the whole TLC team pulled together to make it extraordinary. Top wedding planners don’t work in isolation. We rely on an army of amazing suppliers. What a team we make.
Well this party was a huge success – if you had to choose two themes for your wedding….what would they be? We would love to hear from you!
Creating a party with a unique atmosphere is a challenge that the TLC team rise to. Clients sometimes come to us with a clear idea of what they want the ‘theme’ of their event to be. Other look to our imaginations to design something bespoke to the occasion. We work closely with them to uncover the things our clients love and motivate them; sport, music, tv. The inspiration always needs to reflect their personality and personal style. There have been some truly innovative parties as a result, and one of most detailed ideas was taken straight from the Netflix screen, with a ‘Stranger Things’ Party.
‘Stranger Things’ is a sci-fi hit and a favourite show for one young client, who asked us to immerse guests into the supernatural world of Hawkins, Indiana (home of the series). Two years in the making, here’s how our ‘Stranger Things’ party came to life. Reinvented as the ‘Stranger Twins’ party, thanks to TLC event director, Jess Randall. Here’s the event in Jess’ words:
The client had worked with us on a number of occasions, so we were thrilled to be asked to plan this unique party. We had organised the parent’s wedding, produced one of the couple’s 40th birthday parties and planned two of the children’s Bar mitzvahs. They family have four boys, the youngest being twins, and the father is a creative in the music business. Having delivered a Back to The Future party, and our take on a rock festival, the Louispalooza party, we were now tasked with creating STRANGER TWINS.
A party inspired by the series STRANGER THINGS, and as with all our events, the detail was paramount!
February 2020. We started the planning of our ‘Stranger Things’ party from the end of 2018, as so many elements were being specially commissioned for the party.
Firstly, any ‘Stranger Things’ party needs a unique venue. We had sourced two venues before finding the final one for the client. Both venues then let us down. As a result, the search was really on to find somewhere amazing. Weeks of searching and visiting potential places – as always, the backdrop was crucial to the party success. There was a huge adrenalin rush when I secured 26 Leake Street in Waterloo, as I knew the pressure of the search has been worth it. It was an amazing venue. Raw, unique and contemporary. It was the blank canvas required to turn the fantasy into reality!
There were 240 guests in total, 120 adults and 120 kids. Bar mitzvah parties celebrate a boy’s coming of age in the Jewish faith, so the guests were a combination of friends and family. Most were based in the UK, but some travelled from abroad to the celebration.
This was an exclusive TLC event. It was ‘dry hire’ (completely empty space), so we took absolutely everything we needed into the venue and removed it as soon as the event was finished. The party set-up took two busy days. We worked with numerous appointed suppliers to create the party. Caterers, florists, theme dressers, lighting technicians and production teams. Not to leave out our incredible entertainment!
We had never produced a ‘Stranger Things’ party before and yet it has become one of our most popular party theme ideas. I totally embraced this because new concepts are always challenging for me, and I enjoy researching into the detail needed to bring the party to life. I also knew the client’s expectations were high, so I had to focus on engaging in his daily instructions and then making them my own. We liaised almost every day for a year in order to make the event perfect. It was about adding the extra little touches to immerse guests into a “film set” atmosphere.
Anticipation was electric because the invitation had been meticulously designed around the theme. So, when guests arrived, they were in awe of the incredible reception area. It has been transformed into the upside-down forest area from the series. Entering through a long graffiti archway under Waterloo Station and leading into adjacent railway arches. Guests were immediately immersed into the theatre that we created.
Guests were greeted with ‘Stranger Things’ party themed cocktails (and mocktails for the children). Cocktails were named based on different ideas from the series. Eggo Waffles, the Science Lab, the Demogorgan Monsters and the main child in the series. We then themed these drinks to match their names and ingredients. Presentation was key. For example, the Hawkins Lab cocktail we served in a science beaker with dry ice coming out of it. 80’s American style canapes were circulated. Slider Burgers, Mac & Cheese Balls and Mushroom Vol-au-Vents.
During the drinks’ reception, a sensational acoustic boy band entertained guests. A roaming performance amongst the guests. But the entertainment didn’t end there. At the far end of the drinks’ reception tunnel, we created an arcade area for the children which included a large variation of 80’s style arcade games such as Dig Dug, Pacman and Pinball.
We transformed the second tunnel into the dining and party area. At one end we created ‘Joyce’s living room’ for the adults dining area. This space was filled with random shelves and tables scattered with ornaments, 80’s games and vases with flowers. A ceiling of coloured fairy light bulbs was created to give the space the “Joyce” touch. A fabulous ‘Alphabet Wall’ was installed. This is an iconic image associated with the Stranger Thing series and we used it both as a backdrop and as a unique photobooth area.
The adults’ main menu was based on a restaurant in London called ‘The Coal Office’ which served Lebanese small plates. We had been for a tasting at this restaurant when we first started planning the event and fell in love with the food. Our event chef re-created the menu and served the food in waves.
The upper level of the second tunnel was more contemporary and had white walls, pillars and metal stairs. It worked perfectly for us to turn this into ‘Hawkins Lab’. This was the kid’s dining area. We used high white lab style tables and metal stools. Tables were dressed with pieces of science equipment; Bunsen burners, syringes, petri dishes, goggles, lab coats. We also hired some amazing lab equipment such as X ray machines for authenticity. .
We kept it the kids’ menu simple and to match the theme. They enjoyed KFC style fish fingers with a range of sides such as fries, smoky BBQ beans and corn. We had a nitro ice cream station and a doughnut wall set up for the desserts.
We had a live DJ, Sax and Percussionist who performed sets throughout the evening, and they brought unimaginable energy to the party. A combination of a DJ and musicians is a perfect combination. Importantly, they can engage with all ages, so that the children and adults are on the dancefloor from start to finish. They played a lot of 80’s style music to match with the theme of the party.
As a huge amount of time was invested in planning our ‘Stranger Things’ party, and a number of planning challenges overcome.
The first venue we contracted had a fire and burned down, so I was tasked with finding another venue quickly. I researched and investigated about 70 different venues in London to suit our theme over a number of months. Essentially a blank studio space was needed. Days and weeks invested in going on site visits to different venues. Finding perfect venue, only to then find that the first option hold on the venue wanted to confirm the space. Back to square one!
In the process of all of this, our client decided to change the theme of the party from a film theme to a Stranger Things party. I found 26 Leake Street after a lot of research, and following a visit, everyone immediately fell in love with it.
It was evident from the start that this was going to be a huge build, with a number of suppliers needing to arrive at exactly the same time on the day of set up. Only the day of the party had been contracted for set up, and we had just 4 hours after the event finished to de-rig everything out of the venue. In addition, every single thing had to be cleared out of the venue and our rubbish removed, with not even a single bin provided. As we were building everything bespoke and bringing in numerous props, this was going to be a massive challenge.
Thinking outside of the box – what TLC does best – we negotiated with the venue. The project was a great subject to create a time lapse promotional video.. So, we swapped a copy of our time lapse footage for the venue’s own promotion, in return for an additional days’ set up.
As the entrance to the venue is in the middle of a tunnel that is accessible by the public, we had to ensure that security was tight. During the whole set up, the public were constantly trying to get into the venue to have a look what was going on which was a challenge, as we needed to have the doors open for deliveries. Additional security were hired for the day to keep the public from accessing the party.
Set-up was completed with an hour to spare and we were excited for guests arrive. We underestimated how much space the ‘Forest’ area would take up in the first tunnel. That meant by the time 250 people had arrived, space was limited for the drinks’ reception. As amazing as it did look!
When we called people through to the main space, jaws dropped! A separate adults’ dining area and a kids’ dining area had been arranged. Due to the tunnel being so long, the dancefloor was situated in the middle separating these two areas. We had to ensure that we incorporated both groups into the party and onto the dancefloor. This was a struggle.
Lastly, there were a number of speeches due to happen at different stages throughout the night from a temporary stage, so logistics, specific timings, event management and organisation were all a priority.
With a massive team effort from our amazing suppliers, we managed to clear everything out of the space in the allocated hours without any problems.
I was secretly very proud of myself. I had orchestrated a magnificent event and accepted the glory graciously! The feeling that after 18 months of planning, a 48-hour crazy set up and over 40 different suppliers, the space was transformed into an incredible ‘Stranger Things’ party. It that captured exactly the feel that we wanted it to and am thrilled it has become one of the team’s most popular party theme ideas. Every last aspect had been thought of, and each area resembled the theme to a tee. Seeing the guests faces as they arrived at the venue and then again when we revealed the main room; it was so rewarding. Guests were able to immerse themselves into the world of ‘Stranger Things’ – even just for as few hours.
On Reflection ….
I think that the excitement of finding this venue took-over from a creativity perspective. Next time I would definitely consider the challenges from the logistical side a lot more. There were definite challenges to overcome in terms of set up and then the running of the party. These I would look at more closely before confirming and contracting with a venue. The set-up is usually the hardest part of an event however, the running of this event on the night, due to a number of factors, was really difficult. We overcame many challenges with the ‘Stranger Things’ party – thanks to a great team. I can definitely take experience from this party and invest it into my next e