the gaylord kitchen tour that opened my eyes

behind the scenes kitchen tour

When I was in Nashville a few weeks ago for The Special Event conference, I had the opportunity to go on a behind the scenes tour of the Gaylord Opryland Catering Kitchens. I love behind the scenes anything, but especially things related to hospitality. Even though I’ve been a planner for years and I know more about hospitality than the average person, I love every opportunity I get to see “back of house.” So naturally, I jumped at the chance to see the kitchens.

I was one of the few planners on the tour – mostly it seemed to be catering professionals from other (smaller) hotels or banquet facilities. Many of them ooh’d and ahh’d at the sheer scale of the Gaylord operation since it was noticeably bigger than their own. Several asked questions about procedures or logistics that I didn’t really understand, comparing their protocol to the Gaylord’s.

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super bowl party ideas

super bowl party ideas

The Super Bowl is one of the most oft-hosted parties at home. Some people love to watch the big game at a sports bar, but plenty more get together with friends and family and watch the big game huddled around the big TV. It’s also one of those parties where some people will just not care at all about the details (read: men and hardcore female football fans), especially if the game doesn’t go your way.

The interwebs are full of fun and cutesy ideas for Super Bowl parties. But before you spend all week googling “chevron + football” and try to make burlap referee stripes happen, consider your guests. If your guests are predominantly male and/or actually care about the game, feel free to scale back, because no one will notice your fun details. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything, just add one or two fun details, not a full-scale themed affair. Now, if you are hosting a lot of non-football fans (um, who’s playing again?), feel free to add more fun details, perhaps even some extra-game entertainment.

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let’s learn about flowers: peony edition


I have a secret. I don’t know that much about flowers. I know more than a lot of people (namely men) but for an event planner, my knowledge is really lacking. But while I love and appreciate flowers, I can’t always tell specific varieties apart.

When I was at The Special Event a few weeks ago, I sat in a fabulous session on creating floral arrangements presented by the ladies of Fifty Flowers, which is a great online resource for wholesale florals. I had heard of Fifty Flowers but had never used them. What a great resource – in addition to fabulous prices, they have lots of information about each flower they offer, including when they are available, when to order them in time for your event, and how to care for them. I highly recommend Fifty Flowers, even just for browsing!

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friday favorites – best event ideas of the week

I spent last week in Boston at PCMA’s Convening Leaders, a conference for meeting and event planners. There were 4,000 meeting and event professionals in attendance, over half of them were planners. Can you say pressure? Your audience is full of people who are going to scrutinize every detail. I had a great time in Boston and overall thought Convening Leaders was a great conference. I found tons of ideas that I can’t wait to implement into my own events. While the educational sessions are why most people come to Convening Leaders each year, I wanted to share some of the small details and ideas that I gleaned while there.

#5 – Lamps as branding opportunities

lampshade branding opportunity at events

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hynes convention center in boston

hynes convention center

I recently attended PCMA’s Convening Leaders at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. The Hynes is the smaller convention center of Boston’s two. It was built in 1988 and feels somewhere in between modern and dated.

The biggest draw of the Hynes is location. The Hynes is connected to a mall and the Sheraton. The Westin and the Marriott hotels in the area are also attached to the malls and walkways, meaning you can host a convention at the Hynes with many (if not all) of your guests ever having to go outside. I stayed at the Hilton which is right across the street from the Sheraton, which made it a close by choice as well. Read my thoughts on the Hilton here.

The Hynes has 193,000 square feet of space, including the auditorium which seats 3000.

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do you love fondue as much as i do?

how to have fondue at your next party - recipes included!

Like most normal people, I love fondue. I especially love cheese fondue and chocolate fondue – which is interesting because I don’t normally LOVE cheese or chocolate (I know – I’m strange). But both cheese and chocolate fondue are the best possibly forms of themselves – I love delicious, hot, melty cheese and the same goes for lovely, flavorful, melted chocolate. Chocolate fountains were all the rage for a while but they tend to be messy. Restaurants like The Melting Pot are usually pretty popular, despite the high price tag (every time the local one runs a Groupon deal they sell out almost immediately!). So whether you think fondues are stuck in the 70s or are a reemerging trend, or somewhere in between, why not try fondue at your next dinner party? Here are a few suggestions to make sure your fondue doesn’t turn into a fon-don’t (eye roll!).

To start, I recommend only doing either cheese fondue or chocolate fondue. You can certainly have an entire fondue meal and cook meat and vegetables in a broth (which is the main course at fondue restaurants like The Melting Pot). I might try this with just my husband and I, but I’m not about to try that with other guests. You never want people eating undercooked meats and getting sick, so I think I might leave that up to the professionals.

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hilton boston back bay

hilton boston back bay

I was in Boston last week for the PCMA annual meeting, Convening Leaders. I did something that I almost never do anymore – I stayed in a hotel and didn’t see any of the meeting space! All of the sessions were in the Hynes Convention Center and the Sheraton. I was in and out of sessions so much that I forgot to peek at the Hilton’s offerings! So this site report is based on sleeping rooms only, like I was a regular guest and not a crazy event planner!

If you are traveling to Boston for a meeting at the Hynes, the Hilton Boston Back Bay is a convenient alternative. While it’s not attached to the center via skywalks and the mall like many of the other hotels that are nearby (and were part of the official PCMA block), it’s actually closer to the Hynes than other hotels, such as the Westin and Marriott.

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weddings at the bridgeview yacht club – long island, ny

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m a Long Island girl. It’s often a surprise to my colleagues because I have no accent (I survived growing up on Long Island without one!). Plus I haven’t lived on Long Island since I graduated high school. But I still have a special place in my heart for the island – and I like to keep up with wedding venues and locations.

I wanted to share some beautiful photos from recent weddings at the Bridgeview Yacht Club. The venue is in Island Park, on the south shore of Nassau County, only a town or two over from where I grew up. It’s a gorgeous venue, right on the water and very popular with brides (plus sweet sixteens and other events). In fall 2012, Island Park (and most of southern Long Island) were hit really hard by Superstorm Sandy. The Bridgeview Yacht Club was not spared, but as you can tell from these photos, it has rebounded beautifully.

weddings at the bridgeview yacht club, long island, ny

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