I've been acknowledging recently that August isn't what it used to be. Once upon a time, August used to be about having an office tidy, clearing out my drawers and taking a two-week holiday. This year seems to be quite the opposite and it feels like it's been non-stop.
At the beginning of the month, we hosted a breakfast with the Special Events Forum focusing on the Death of the Gala Dinner. Taking place at Ark's offices in Holborn, the event saw 40 events managers from the charity sector arguing for and against the notion that "The traditional gala is dead". It's clear that organisations including Great Ormond Street Hospital, the gala dinner still generates significant funds and there continues to be a great demand for this style of event. But for others, their clients and guests have event fatigue and they feel challenged to devise new and original event concepts. Those referenced included The Elephant Family's unique format (hosting numerous simultaneous, intimate dinners across London on one night then bringing together all guests for a glitzy after party) and UNICEF's move to a standing party with VIP booths. It's clear that there's no easy answer - two hours simply wasn't enough for us to come up with a solution or to fully discuss the merits of the gala ball and how to tackle the challenges faced by less formal events. It's clear the gala ball isn't going anywhere fast but I'm intrigued to see how others develop their plans for something different...
The late nights, box lugging, hours of admin and random requests (more on this to come in my next post) are all balanced out by one of the highlights of this job - let's be honest - the food tastings! I've worked with The Recipe for a number of years and their food never disappoints. Known for their creative flair and their incredible street food, the team is on the preferred caterer list for most of the major London venues and are equally comfortable serving their food at more unusual spaces (such as a busy secondary school just a few months ago). I had the honour of joining John, Bella, Philly and the team for a beautiful lunch with the Special Events Forum committee over the summer and their more formal, three-course menu was as beautiful and as memorable as their grab foods. I'm looking forward to working with the team again soon.
Getting my ducks in a row
With 15 events to get cracking on over the coming months, it's vital for me to ensure that my project plans are rock solid and deadlines are firmly fixed in my diary. As well as getting my timelines up-to-date and event briefs complete, my team was able to take a day out to regroup and recharge and look at the dreaded bigger picture. When you're stuck in an event and the day-to-day grind, it's easy to get distracted from your wider vision, so it was really valuable to think about the mid- and long-term ideas and being in the sunshine on the gorgeous Blackheath certainly helped with our creativity!
10 years in events means I'm pretty happy with my templates and tools but they continue to evolve. Over the next few weeks I hope to share some of these as downloads, starting with wedding tools to help loved up brides- and grooms-to-be get their heads around their plans. Watch this space...