- Trending your way through food, design and fun
- Invite attendees to “unplug”
- Surprise and delight in 2015
The last few years has seen an influx of food and cooking shows and with that, everyone has become a foodie. What that means is that, more than ever before, food creates an experience for guests. While people still “make the party,” interaction with food makes for a memorable event for everyone.
According to Amy Zaroff, principal and lead event designer and producer, Amy Zaroff Events + Design, “The industry is seeing food used in a variety of ways.” The number one way has been food trucks.
Food trucks have a home at any type of event from causal to formal, you just have to get creative with how they’re incorporated. Zaroff and her team used a multitude of food trucks at one event, but kept them out of sight. Waitstaff, each wearing the shirt of the food truck they represented, served guests throughout the evening, providing a sense of upscale service with a much more engaging, casual setting.
Another food trend that’s on the rise is donuts for dessert. “For a while we had cake pops, then pies,” said Zaroff. “Now it’s donuts that are fast becoming the new, hot dessert.”
Boutique bars have been really popular at all types of events - corporate, social, non-profit, etc. - for well over a year now and it’s a trend that Zaroff doesn’t see going away. “Bubbles bars, bellini bars, beer tastings… guests enjoy pairing their beverages and food and they love trying a variety of new drinks,” said Zaroff.
A social event trend on the rise, especially at weddings, is “unplugged.” Guests are asked to refrain from posting on social media and just be in the moment and enjoy the event as it happens.
It’s vital that brands get play in the corporate meeting world, and that’s how many events achieve success, so you may never see an unplugged general session. But why not an unplugged breakout session or networking event? Face-to-face time is vital to business, so encourage your attendees to put the phone down and really connect with each other.
If you really want to spice things up, consider reaching out to a select group of attendees for your next event and choreograph a secret flash mob. Run with your theme and design your flash mob around it. Zaroff mentioned a group whose theme was “glamping” and they incorporated a Dirty Dancing flash mob, which was a huge hit. While not necessarily a new trend, it is a fun, tongue-in-cheek way to add another layer of entertainment for your guests.
When talking about the design aspect of events, Zaroff believes the trend is moving more towards simple and classic elegance, looks that continue to include the use of mixed metallics, soft pastels, lace and muted ivory.
Food as decor and food as entertainment is huge on the coasts. It’s a trend that Midwest chefs are beginning to embrace. For example, attendees at MPI’s WEC 2014, held in Minneapolis, MN, were treated to a display of framed charcuterie during the opening reception. It’s Zaroff’s personal goal to encourage more local vendors to start using food as art or entertainment at Midwest events.
For Zaroff, constant surprise and delight every 30-40 minutes is imperative to any event, meaning every 30-40 minutes switch up what is happening. For social events or weddings, consider dancing between courses or offering surprise entertainment. “At corporate events, that might mean attendees come into a general session thinking they’re going to hear from one speaker that’s on the program and then they’re surprised by something else,” said Zaroff.
It’s all about shaking things up, something that Zaroff tries to do with every event she plans. And it’s something she challenges all planners to do in 2015. “There are no rules in event planning,” she said. “You can do it however you want.”
Event planning is a lot like TV production, with a distinct beginning, middle and end. And if you’ve done your job correctly; you’ve written, produced and designed your event to be a cliffhanger that leaves them wanting more - the “season finale” if you will - then your guests will definitely be “tuning in” next year.