Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seven Topics to Consider When Planning An Outdoor Event

Seven Topics to Consider when Planning an Outdoor Event
So you’re planning an outdoor event? After you've decided on the event and where it will be held, you need to acquire the appropriate permits. That’s the easy part, once that is completed there is so much more! So here is a list of seven things to consider when planning an outdoor event.

Nothing is better than knowing every inch of your venue. One great trick is to get a map and pencil in where everything will be, as well as taking pictures! Once everything is mapped out, you’re going to want to start making a schedule of when supplies and vendors will be coming in and out, as to not create a traffic jam.
You’re also going to want to consider timing of the event. When does the sun rise and set? If your event is going to run long enough for the sun to set, you’re going to want place lights on the walk ways and in the parking lots.

Does your outdoor event need power? Are you going to have food stations or vendors there, a stage with a sound system or even a DJ? If so, then the power sources need mapped out. It doesn’t hurt to see if the vendors have their own power supply to offer, or at the least can bring their own extension cords. You’re also going to want to make sure you don’t exceed the maximum power to each supply source. Having at least one backup generator is also a good decision.

Public Needs
You want to make sure there are plenty of water fountains or drink vendors, as well as public restrooms; not only for the guests, but the workers and volunteers as well. You might also want to check and see if your city or county has a requirement on public bathrooms compared to estimated number of guests. (A safe number is 1 port-a-potty to every 150 people)
Another thing to check on is what are your cities requirements on public safety? Does there need to be law enforcement and medical staff there, or are volunteers and a first aid kit sufficient?

Unwanted Guests
Depending on the time of year, the climate, and the space, you might have some unwanted pests. There’s several different ways to handle pest control, one being to have an exterminator spray the area. However, make sure to be aware of how long after the chemicals are sprayed till the food can be safely prepared. Another is to add citronella candles and other repellents into the decorative mix.

If you've forgotten it, you know the hassle
Make sure to have extra supplies at the ready, whether they are complimentary or through a vendor. Supplies such as sunblock, bug spray, hand wipes, and anything else you think someone might need. If you’ve ever gone out and forgot something you know the pain and hassle of it.

Make arrangements
 The biggest problem with outdoor events is the weather. Will you’re event be held rain or shine, or will it be postponed? From the day you think of the event to the day of, you want to monitor the weather. You also need a backup plan in case it does rain. Can you’re event be moved indoors and if so where, can it be put under tents and pavilions, or does it need to be rescheduled? Each of those choices needs to be further looked into. If its moved indoors is it close by, or does your guests need to relocate as well? If it can be put under a pavilion will it hold up against the weather, and will it be large enough for the event? Then there’s rescheduling, you can plan ahead and already have the day marked down for all guests attending, or you can play it by ear. You can reschedule to a new location, or a future date in time. Rescheduling is something you need to have preplanned and something that you need to be prepared for.

Finally: Clean Up
Just as important as setting up, is cleaning up. Will you need dumpsters, or will the local waste management pick it up? It’s always good to have a plan for trash pickup. If it’s a multiple day event, can you get the local trash collectors to pick up daily, or will they only pick up on routine? You can also contact the local waste management company and see if they will donate any trash receptacles as well as any products to help clean.

Written By
Brandon Mitchell
I’m a current intern at Kilgore Events and Meetings, as well as full time student at the Pittsburgh Technical Institute. When I graduate in July of 2013 I will have an Associate’s Degree in Business Management, to then continue on with Robert Morris’s Bachelor’s Degree program for Business Administration. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Salad Spinners

Welcome to Planner's Pointers!   Here's a little tip about how to add a little zest to your next function.  Budgets are tight these days so doing extravagant  meals can be off the menu .  But what if you take one thing and do it differently?

Let's take a look at the humble salad.  How many times have we seen it as mixed greens with tasteless tomato slices.  On a good day sometimes you get feta cheese or blue cheese crumbles.  Usually you get  with two choices of dressing. While mixed greens are a little better than iceberg lettuce, it's still not particularly  memorable. 

Let's talk about salad that is pictured.  This salad came from a fall luncheon I attended.  The pears were in season which made them less expensive than other times.  See how interesting it makes the plate by wrapping the  leaf lettuce in a thin slice of cucumber?  Add some cheese and candied walnuts.  One amazing presentation!  People are still talk about  it. 

Talk with your catering manager and the chef for your next function.  Ask them what they can do for you to make your next banquet one to remember.

Thought for the week:  "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Planner's Pointers is written by, Mary Pam Kilgore, CMP of Kilgore Events and Meetings.  You may reach me through my website You can find my blog at  You can reach me by phone at 412-260-4178.  Follow me on Twitter @marypam.

Answering the Call for Papers!

Welcome to Planners Pointers! 

Each month I like to share words commonly used by professionals. The words along with their meaning will be from the APEX Industry Glossary.

The ConventionIndustry Council is the organization of 33 associations coming together to exchange information among the meetings, convention and exhibitions industry. One of the initiatives is APEX, Accepted Practices Exchange to develop practices that reach industry wide. One of the practices is a glossary of terms used in the industry. The goal of the glossary is to standardize the definitions of words used by the meetings industry.

When you attend a conference do you even wonder how panels are determined?  Sometimes management companies who represent speakers send information.  Sometimes program committee members will suggest speakers that they heard at other conferences.  Often times though many organization issue  a  "Call for Papers."  The definition of a "Call for Papers" is   1) An invitation to submit topic ideas for the conference program. 2) Document containing detailed instructions for submission of papers for assessment and selection by a review committee; often referred to as “Abstract Forms.” Also known as "Call for Presentations".

When a potential speakers responds what is usually included in the response is a" Curriculum Vitae" (Also known as a CV meaning a short account of one's career and qualifications) or resume.  They will also include an  "Abstract" of their presentation.  An "Abstract" means written summaries of speeches or papers, generally between 200 - 500 words or a brief statement of content.

At a conference along with scheduled sessions maybe a "Poster Session."  A "Poster Session" is :  1) Display of reports and papers, usually scientific, accompanied by authors or researchers. 2) A session dedicated to the discussion of the posters shown inside the meeting area. When this discussion is not held in a special session, it can take place directly between the person presenting the poster and interested delegate(s).

The posters are often mounted on "Abstract Board."  An Abstract Board is usually rolling corkboards used for attaching copies of research papers for authors to discuss with participants. Sometimes people use foam core for their poster and then use easels like the picture.

Planner's Pointers is written by, Mary Pam Kilgore, CMP of Kilgore Events and Meetings.  You may reach me through my website You can find my blog at  You can reach me by phone at 412-260-4178.  Follow me on Twitter @marypam. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

2013 Food Trends -- Survey says!

Survey Says -- 2013 Food Trends

Each year the National Restaurant Association, the world's largest foodservice trade surveys the more than 1,800 professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation and members of the United States Bartenders Guild asks "What's Hot?" The results forecast the menu trends for the coming year.

What were the results? In a word -- Local. Locally grown. Locally sourced. Locally produced. And even a term called Hyper-local sourcing.   Locally grown refers to fruits and vegetables. Locally sourced refers to meat. Locally produced refers to beer, wine and spirits. Hyper-local sourcing refers to the roof top gardens on top of restaurants.

How does Pittsburgh stack up with the trends? A quick web search shows many choices for all including local farms, markets, bistros and brew pubs. Even roof top gardens can be found in places like the David Lawrence Convention Center and Six Penn Kitchen.

Seat Belts -- A trend that saves lives!

Seat belt use climbed to an all time high in 2012.  Nine out of 10 people are choosing to buckle up according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration climbing from 15% in 1984 to 86% in 2012. AAA states that even in today's era of active safety systems and crumple zones seat belts remain the single most effective safety device for preventing death and injury.  

Websites to discover --

Brownielocks and the Three Bears ( is a website that has been around for more than 10 years but I only bookmarked it a little more than year ago or so when my friend, Becky, talked about it at a meeting. If you are an event planner, school teacher or anyone looking for a theme for an event or school project then Brownielocks is the place to go. Pick a month -- any month -- and there are listings for holidays, weeks of or month of celebrations and awareness. For example: Did you know there was a National Hot Dog Day? (July 17th) or that May is Go Fetch! Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month.

The creator of  Brownielocks said she did it as a fun way for older children to learn.   Which means to me that listings on the site are actual days, that the illustrations are cute without being silly and the content is "G" rated.

For people like me who like to plan ahead, the listings are for all months and not just one at a time. While the current month is the centerpiece, you can still access previous months or go click to choose future months. If a day or month has a link, they are also posted.

A great website to discover.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


A goal is a dream with a timeline -- Weston Lyon

Welcome to Planner's Pointers!  Today I am going to talk about what is a timeline and why it is important  in meeting and event planning (and lots of other places).  According to one dictionary I read a timeline is .. a sequence of related events arranged in chronological order and displayed along a line (usually drawn left to right or top to bottom).  Another described as a management tool that described when items are to be completed and by whom.  Both of these entries are really good explanations of what a timeline is. 

Here are six ideas  why a timeline is important

  1. A timeline is one of the best ways to keep track of what needs to happen when.  That is what organization is all about. Never think that just because you have done something many times you can keep things in your head.  You will absolutely miss something if you don't have a written timeline.
  1. A timeline gives you peace of mind.  You have an action plan and you know when tasks need to happen.
  1.  A timeline is one way to help keep you within budget.  You can order items well in advance so you are not paying for things as 24 hour shipping, or on site printing.
  1. How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  A good timeline is the one bite at a time because it  carries the event forward.
  1.  I believe  committees work best with clear direction.  Timelines are one form of clear direction.  When you have multiple committees doing 50 or so items a piece, a timeline is the only way you will keep moving and everyone on track.
  2. Timelines also keep you accountable to your clients by keeping them informed about your progress.

New to using a timeline?  Develop one by making a list of all tasks that need to be done in an Excel spread sheet.  A good idea would be to do it with  your team that way you won't forget anything.  Add dates when you will start the task and complete the task.  An example of this is:

 It gets easier after you have created one a few times.   One idea is to develop a generic timeline and customize it as needed.

How did the word "toast" become an expression?  As many sites on the Internet describes it:   A toast is a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honor or goodwill.   In the 17th century, the custom was to put small piece of spiced toast in the bottom of the glass.  Since you drink to a person or to an occasion, you drain the glass so you drink the bit of toast.    Let's toast to 2013!  

Planners Pointers is a blog and talk cast to help beginning event planners with their event planning share ideas on planning better events, books to read and websites to discover.

Planner's Pointers is written by  Mary Pam Kilgore, CMP,  of Kilgore Events and Meetings.  You may reach me through my website or you may call me at 412-260-4178 You can find podcasts of Planner's Pointers at

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to beat the winter blues --

Welcome to Planner's Pointer's Planners Pointers is a blog and talk cast to help beginning event planners with their event planning. Give them ideas on planning better events, books to read and websites to discover.

This Sunday morning at 2:00 am, we will "fall back" as Daylight Savings Time comes to a close. 

I have often wondered how Daylight Savings Time came to be and this is what I learned.  Daylight Savings Time was started during World War I in order to save energy for the war production.  It was mandatory during that time and again during World War II.  Between the wars and after World War II it was up to the states to determined if they wanted to go by Daylight Savings Time.  In 1966 Daylight Savings Time became the law of the land with the passage of Uniform Time Act.  In 2007. in order to save more energy four weeks were added to the time period that ranges from the second Sunday of March to the first week of November.

What I notice the most about when we go back to "regular time" in November is not only does the day seem so much shorter is that people's moods seem to change.  While, seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression as a result of lack of light, effects only 4-6 % of the population, many of us still seem to feel "a little blue" during the winter months.  Here a couple of things that I do during the winter to keep me going.

1. Go outside for a short walk.  Even in colder weather a walk around the block can  lift the spirits.

2. Watch your diet.  I know that a bag of chips and onion dip are great additions to an evening of TV watching, but they will cause you problems in the long run.

3. Keep in contact with your family and friends.  No, not with Facebook, but face to face.  Yes, snow happens, but not every snow flake is a blizzard in the making.  Play cards, share a meal, go to a movie, take in a museum all these things make for a great time together. 

Before you know it, or just in time, depending on how you look at it.  Spring arrives.  Keep the faith.

Planner's Pointers is written by me, Mary Pam Kilgore, of Kilgore Business Services, LLC  You may reach me through my website  You can find my blog at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ideas for Stress Reduced Holidays

Welcome to Planners' Pointers! 

"The Holidays Are Coming!  The Holidays are Coming!" is the thought among many of us starting in October.   From Halloween to New Years Eve, the time will fly by potentially causing a great deal of stress.  Here are  ideas to help you avoid the holiday stress.

  1. Holiday Cards.  Start working on the list Now!  If you are like me and like not only a great holiday message, but good art, boxed cards can get expensive. 
    1. One of my first stops is Tuesday Morning. I know that I will have to do some searching through the boxes, but I have been successful in finding exactly what I want . 
    2. Do you have a Hallmark Card Gold Rewards Card?  If you do, then head on over to your local Hallmark Store ( for their Buy One Get One boxed card sale.  Don't forget the wrapping paper!  It's on sale to!  
    3. Want to design a card yourself?  Add a picture?  Send cards  to your list without cramping your hand?   Send Out Cards  is  a wonderful website that allows you to both choose among their  thousands of cards or design your own by adding pictures, designs and your own words.  You can choose or design your own holiday card and send it to your card list in the same time as it takes to make a batch of cookies!  Becoming a card sender is easy and there are several levels of membership.  

  1. Decorations -- When the first flameless tea lights came out a few years ago I was not a fan, after all  they didn't even look like candles.  With  the introduction of wax flameless candles, I have changed my mind.  The flickering is more natural and they have timers that allow up to 5 or 6 hours of continuous flame.  I think they work well in center pieces or anywhere you want to set and forget.  Leave it to Energizer, the battery people,  to have a line of wax flameless candles that work really well.  Check it out at their website 

  1. Shopping.   For me shopping early helps me avoid the crowds.   According to the best time to get the lowest  prices on all your electronics is  from mid November till Black Friday.  Toy prices are better after December 1st, but you have to realize that what your children want may be out of stock by then.  The good news is that on-line prices for all goods will be the same as what is in the store.  A fact that wasn't true a couple of years ago.

  1. The Holiday Party.  The Holiday Party was hit by the recession recently, but is coming back.  It may not be as lavish as it once was but businesses have learned that parties have a positive effect on the company morale.
    1. Make it less about the booze.  Instead of an open bar use  drink tickets  and limit the number you give to everyone.  Purchasing your open bar by the drink instead of by the person is sometimes cheaper.  Having only beer and wine available is another way to control costs without eliminating alcohol all together.  Add a soft drink service for around $100.00.
    1. Add Activities   Give people something to do beside sit around.  Photo booths are hanging on but one of the hot trends is making  flipbooks.  How about having  indoor 9 hole mini golf and having an indoor golf tournament? 
    2. For the cost conscience out there have a holiday luncheon instead of a dinner.   Several restaurants are offering rewards if you book before October 31st. 

Happy Stress Free Holidays!

Planners Pointers is a blog and talk cast to help beginning event planners with their event planning share ideas on planning better events, books to read and websites to discover.

Planner's Pointers is written by  Mary Pam Kilgore, CMP,  of Kilgore Business Services.  You may reach me through my website or you may call me at 412-260-4178 You can find podcasts of Planner's Pointers at