Creative Elements of Event Planning

Festively laid table in the garden
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Creativity is a common denominator in event planning. No one sets out to coordinate the “most uninspired meeting of all time." Event planners want to be remembered for integrating originality and imagination into their events. Often times though there are boundaries placed on that creativity. It could be a limited budget or a conservative theme that leaves a creative event planner wondering where to sneak in a dash of personality.

To help your creativity prevail in situations such as these, we've outlined some of the nearly infinite event components where planners can add their creative touches. Under each one, you’ll see an example of how to spice up these details beyond the standard fare.

Event Title

Your title is the first thing that sells prospective attendees at your event.

  • Standard Example: The 23rd Annual Black & White Ball
  • Creative Example: 23 Years in the Making … Tuxedos under Twilight

Invitations

This is another first-impression element that should effectively market your event.

  • Standard Example: White card with plain text in a white envelope
  • Creative Example: Bright envelope with image-rich postcards that describe the occasion

Venue

A special location can spark excitement weeks before the event takes place.

  • Standard Example: Hotel meeting room
  • Creative Example: Restaurant or private suite at an arena or ballpark

Catering

Every meeting and theme can be partnered with a unique food experience.

  • Standard Example: Grilled chicken with rice
  • Creative Example: Chipolte BBQ pork loin served with mashed sweet potatoes

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most basic elements of design, and it can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Standard Example: Spotlights on stage
  • Creative Example: Colorful uplighting to illuminate walls and white linens

Seating Arrangements

After registration, the next top concern for guests is where they will be seated.

  • Standard Example: Round tables for eight
  • Creative Example: Crescent rounds of six to eliminate guests having their backs to the stage

Design Props

Props come in many different forms, from simple stage ferns to detailed scenery motifs.

  • Standard Example: Backdrops and banners on the stage
  • Creative Example: Themed inflatables set outside the room or venue entrance

Staff

Greeters, servers, and registration staff can integrate the theme of your event into their uniforms.

  • Standard Example: Monogrammed polo shirts and khakis
  • Creative Examples: Sports uniforms, construction hats, or costumes

Stage Design

The stage is the focal point throughout the event, so keep it visible and engaging.

  • Standard Example: 8-by-12 rectangular stage centered on the wall
  • Creative Example: Runway stage that extends into the audience for more engagement

Table Linens

Napkins have the capacity to become a visual design element by themselves.

  • Standard Example: White table linens with burgundy, flat-folded napkins
  • Creative Example: Floor-length table linens in a solid color with contrasting napkins in a pyramid fold

Chair Covers

Even the nicest banquet chairs look complacent at a large event.

  • Standard Example: White linen chair cover with a bow tie
  • Creative Example: Spandex stretch covers that match the table linens

Guest Speakers

Speakers and their messages represent the content of your event and thus are tied closely to its success.

  • Standard Example: Vice President of Sales and Marketing
  • Creative Example: Celebrity or outside presenter who can tie past success with your company’s objectives

Entertainment

Entertainers can perform before or after the main content to add another unique element to the occasion.

  • Standard Example: DJ or jazz trio
  • Creative Examples: Recording artists or talented performers from an area school

Centerpieces

Whatever sits in the center of each guest table will be viewed for hours. Don’t waste the opportunity to create a conversation-starter.

  • Standard Example: Fresh cut flowers or portable plants that can be taken home by guests
  • Creative Examples: Ceramic artwork, picture collages, or fiber optic centerpieces

Table Cards

These are the signs placed at each table to identify the table number or guest seating position.

  • Standard Example: Printed card stock
  • Creative Example: Framed table numbers that match the décor of the table

These are just some of the nooks and crannies where planners can add a creative accent to events. The truth is that just about any facet of event production can be customized in some manner. The easiest way to get inspired is to attend as many industry conferences as you can and network with other planners when possible.