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Planning for Family

As you might imagine, being a planner for a family member's event can be both amazing and frustrating. I planned my dad's 50th birthday that was held this past weekend. We didn't decide to even have the party until about 6 weeks before - "But we have an event planner in the family for that, right?" :| That meant we needed to find a venue, decide on a time, design invitations, print them, and mail them in about 2-3 weeks. Exactly what kind of an event they wanted to have went every which way in that time. We discussed having it at a golf course pro-shop, at a casino, a nice restaurant, and finally landed on having it in the shed at their home, as I figured we would.

The "shed parties" are typical for my family. My sister and I both had our graduation parties out there, my sister's rehearsal dinner, and my parents have even hosted birthday parties and class reunions in the shed! Did I mention I was in the process of moving too!?!? I sold my house in January and had been living with my parents temporarily before moving out less than 3 weeks before the event. Yes, as I type this, I STILL have stuff to move out of their house... and shed. Thankfully the shed is a big one and already had tarp to hang!

Plus side of living feet from where the event will be held: being able to drop everything and see if my latest idea would work in the space. Down side: hiding any surprises from the guest of honor. I only wish that the weather would have been nicer on the day of the event. What I wouldn't have given to send my dad golfing that morning. Instead I simply asked him to not come out to the shed. About 3/4ths of the way through set up we catch him peaking through the window. Walks in and says "I'm bored", so he came out to sarcastically take over as planner. The cake even arrived as he was mocking me but it was a fun break to give each other a hard time.

When planning for family, I would suggest setting ground rules and explain the environment you typically work in with clients. My parents have never used a planner, so they didn't exactly communicate with me like a paying client does. So when one family members couldn't come without bringing kids, the event suddenly changed from no one under 21, to anyone and everyone is welcome, without my knowledge. I didn't find out about this change until 4 days before the event. Obviously I wasn't happy seeing as it affected several aspects of my plans but we decided we needed to contact all of our guests with children to apologize and let them know it would be ok to bring kids. I adjusted plans for centerpieces knowing kids would play in them more than the adults and changed plans on signature drinks in pre-mixed containers because we didn't want to make it too easy for any minors to get their hands on alcohol, whether accidental or intentional. Instead, I made a mixing station complete with recipe suggestions for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic mixers. In the end, most people didn't bring kids because they already had sitters planned anyway.

Now, I can happily report that there were no fights and we even got up and chatted as a family over breakfast the next morning! Planning for family is so much fun and may come with its own set of frustrations, but it was so worth it. They support this dream of mine and will do anything to help me be a success. I'm probably a little biased, but I really have the best family in the world.


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