Events may look different going forward in a post-COVID world, but some of the more important aspects that can make or break events — such as decorations, marketing, and themes — are still just as needed. Like rules that govern gathering sizes slowly diminish, you’ll see more and more events spring up in late 2020 and as we enter 2021. In fact, you may even be asked to host one. Whether you’re in charge of a cocktail party or a fundraiser, some of the most basic principles still apply. You’ll need to decide on a theme, and you’ll need decorating ideas in order to make your event pop. Read on to learn more about event decorating ideas and how to handle hybrid and remote events as well.
Decide on a Party Theme
Deciding on a theme is still just as important as it was before the novel coronavirus. Perhaps, now you’ll have to be a little more creative, depending on your event, but having a good theme is imperative to start off on the right foot. For example, solid cocktail party themes would include a masquerade ball. An idea where masks are incorporated into the theme can help make the event feel less restrictive while still following CDC guidelines to the letter.
When it comes to fundraising themes, you can always stay true to what you’re fundraising for. For example, if you’re raising money for a children’s charity or for a school, a bit of whimsy or even a child-like theme can be the backbone of your event. Corporate party themes can certainly fall in line with your cocktail party ideas. Try something creative, such as a luau theme where social distancing can also be incorporated easily, or stick to a simple party theme but take it up a notch with a layout that pops or a food or drink display that catches guests’ attention. A buffet and self-serve food at an event may be out of the question, for now, so keep that in consideration as you begin to draft party plans.
Factors That Affect Every Event
Even if you’re hosting an event where guests may be watching remotely, such as a fundraiser, factors like blending color and art are still important. You’ll find that there are slight differences between corporate events, fundraisers, and cocktail soirees, but overall, some factors affect every event regardless.
When you first take a look at the event space that you’ll use, imagine how you can create a solid layout with the space you have. Prior to booking the space, check with the venue on its social distancing guidelines and what alternative layouts it’s offering in order to help keep your event attendees safe. This is where good theme ideas can come into play. Perhaps a 1960s theme could lend to using bean bags creatively as these are the perfect individual seats. Or, have empty tables that enforce social distancing with eye-catching displays, such as an ice sculpture. Incorporate other ideas that don’t make social distancing seem quite so — distant.
Use of Color and Art
You can also make good use of color and art in order to catch the eye of your attendees. Going completely monochromatic can be as eye-catching as brightly colored layouts or wall hangings. Depending on the type of event, you may want to use audiovisual equipment to add lighting to an otherwise drab room. Where you can add brilliant or captivating pieces, especially at empty tables, do so.
Food and Drink Displays
Food-themed displays are always an integral part of many types of events, but with buffet-style events being quite out of reach for now, you may want to think of alternative ideas. Adding Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup cans to a table (if they work for your theme) is a great idea, as is setting up beverage displays that aren’t meant to dispense beverages. Instead of food, you can also turn to non-edible decorations, especially for centerpieces. Think of wildflowers, branches, or pine cones organized well as part of a display.
A Solid Decorating Team
You need a team behind you to help execute your vision, particularly if you have to think outside the box. Make sure the members of your team are fully familiar with current CDC guidelines and protocols. It may be necessary to have hand sanitizing stations in the event space, but it doesn’t have to carry with it a hospital sort of feeling. For example, many scented hand sanitizers help to contain the alcohol smell. Make sure you dole out responsibilities from the start. If you’re handling all of the arrangements, assign each team member an important task when it comes to decoration and setup.
Decorating for a Fundraiser
Fundraisers are always slightly different from other events because not only do you want to get guests through the door, you also want them to give even more beyond the entrance ticket, such as is the case of a silent auction. Fundraising efforts can’t stop just because of the pandemic, so many quick-thinking fundraising planners have turned to more remote ideas in order to help keep donations flowing. While it’s likely that there will be some semblance to normal events as we enter 2021, we can’t always be sure. So, have a backup plan if you suddenly have to go remote. In essence, this means drawing up two separate plans and finding an event space that suits those needs.
Themes to Match the Cause
Fundraisers are one of the easiest events to theme because you can always simply match the cause with a corresponding concept. If you’re campaigning for autism, you can decorate in blue, puzzle pieces or infinity symbols. If it’s a breast cancer charity, pink is the obvious theme — just make sure to add in some more colors from the color wheel. If you’re fundraising for a school or local charity, choose themes that make sense with the cause.
Restaurants across the country have already done a good job of managing their seating whereas guests are still being seated, yet social distancing rules are being followed. The quandary concerning an event or fundraiser is this: At a restaurant, you’re seating friends and families together, but at an event, you’re seating strangers. Therefore, until something changes, the 6-foot rule between guests needs to apply. At a corporate event, you’ll likely be seating people that work with each other every day, but at a fundraiser, your audience may be strangers to one another. Opt for long tables where you can space out guests, as opposed to round tables, which can take up the entire room. Keep this in mind as you sell tickets and as you plan seating. Charity auctions can have similar seating, but with individual chairs and rows. Unfortunately, there may not be any true charity balls for a little while, so don’t worry about the dance floor as you pick your venue.
Remote Fundraising Ideas
There’s always a chance that your event may have to move to a remote platform or have a fundraiser that’s a hybrid of both. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should forget about the decorations or the theme. Unless there’s a strict stay-at-home order in your area, keep your event space and simply broadcast from there. In fact, you may want to go more “all out” on decorating than tone it down. Use balloons, streamers, centerpieces and food and drink displays in a way so that you can showcase them on camera. It’s also not impossible to do a silent auction remotely. Just keep this all in mind as you plan the fundraiser. It’s likely you won’t find out about the change to remote or hybrid last-minute, so it’s good to keep abreast of local news and keep in relatively close contact with your attendees. A few informative emails won’t hurt.
Planning the Perfect Corporate Event
Let’s face it, corporate events can be a bit humdrum. If it’s an awards banquet or you’re showcasing a new product, don’t make the mistake of decorating like it’s the senior prom. While a corporate event theme may be less subdued than a fundraiser, there are still ways to grab your guests’ attention.
You need to be innovative even from the planning stages because of social distancing and cleanliness measures. But when it comes to decorations, there are ideas you can incorporate to make things more fun. Digital decorations — such as building a social wall — can make an event fun. You can also elect to have a special hashtag or Snapchat filter for your event, depending on your company. Look to event rental or party furniture rental for different design ideas.
Use of Every Space
If you have a fair amount of people in attendance and must distance them, use every space wisely and to your advantage. Not all guests may be fond of social distancing rules, so feel free to place elegant displays, such as floral centerpieces, candles or vases in the areas where guests are not supposed to sit. Ceiling decorations are a fantastic idea too. Whether you hang lanterns or string lights, this helps add extra lighting to your space without going over-budget.
You can still feel free to prepare goodie bags for guests ahead of time. If you’re pitching a product, the goodie bags of 2020 and 2021 may include hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, small soaps or other gifts that are more in line with modern times. Have labels made up ahead of time or pre-printed packaging that features your letterhead or logo? Then, your message isn’t lost, and you’ll be giving items out to guests that they’ll want and appreciate.
Decorations for a Cocktail Party
Cocktail parties may look a little different, but the foundations remain the same. Depending on the rules in your area, you may have to wait a few months before planning a true soiree, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for it now.
Quality Over Quantity
While you want to remain in budget, you also want decorations, lighting, and food and beverages that guests will appreciate. A good rule of thumb is not to skimp on these items, and also, don’t overdo it. Instead of 20 centerpieces that are so-so, opt for several that are eye-grabbing. Instead of plastering the entire event space with decorations, you can choose to have an ornate entryway or foyer decoration. Get together with your design team, analyze your budget constraints, and see what you really need. You likely don’t need a decorative lantern at each table, for example — quality on a budget is possible.
Use the event space and decorate it like it’s not an event space. For instance, you can rent event furniture to give a cocktail party a “living-room” type of vibe, outfitted with styles and decorations that scream the 1960s or 1970s. Not only is this likely to please your guests, but it also gives you an opportunity to play with social distancing and alternative seating, depending on the type of selections you choose.
Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the best. You may want a fundraiser or a corporate event to have a gala-type feel, but the same may not be true for a corporate or smaller cocktail party. Instead, opt for monochromatic decorations and styles. If there’s a pitch behind your party and you have branded items to feature or give away, having unified colors and muted backgrounds is a good way to help your brand merchandise stand out.
When you’re looking for ways to help your event succeed during these unprecedented times, CORT Events is here to help. With everything from furniture rental to helping you plan the event, CORT has you covered