Event Planning Series

4 Essential Event Planning Tips

4 Essential Event Planning Tips

Whether you’re looking to host your corporate launch party or throw the Bar/Bat Mitzvah party of your child's wildest dreams... your event isn’t just going to come together all by itself! We’ve compiled a list of our 4 top event planning tips (plus our own insider tips) to help make sure your event is a complete success!

1. Plan Ahead

The success of your event is determined long before the event day arrives. To put on a successful event, you need to plan it out well in advance. If you’re holding a large event with a lot of attendees, you’ll want to start brainstorming months beforehand. Depending on what kind of event you’re putting on, you’ll most importantly want to book your venue ahead of time to give you enough breathing room to put everything else together.

HELEN MILLS INSIDER TIP: We are busiest in the spring and fall months - grab your ideal dates as early as possible or consider switching to either an afternoon event (for more availability) or a summertime event (for more affordability)!

2. Organization

You’re going to need a way to let everyone know about your event - or else you might be the only one enjoying your own party! A great way to invite guests, keep track of RSVPs, and provide your guests with all the necessary information and updates about the event is registering it with an online event management tool. This allows you to keep everything nicely organized online and easily share your information via email and social media.

HELEN MILLS INSIDER TIP: Make sure you set a clear RSVP date for your guests. We recommend 2 weeks before your event since final headcounts are typically due 1 week before the event - this gives you an extra week of wiggle room to hunt down anyone who is being lazy about RSVPing!

3. Food, Drink, and Supplies

When you book your venue, make sure there’s someone accessible who can help you plan out your event in the months leading up. You’ll want a reliable contact making sure all food, drinks, and supplies are taken care of. Some events will provide catering packages and some will require you to coordinate out your own food and drink situation. You’ll also want to know what’s included with your booking in terms of supplies like tablecloths, plates, silverware, balloons, and other decorations. Make sure you take all of these things into consideration from the very beginning since they can quickly add up to a surprising additional cost!

HELEN MILLS INSIDER TIP: We have a supportive venue team that you can reach out to anytime during your planning process with questions! If you choose to utilize our in-house services, we even include all our food/beverage menus & pricing in the initial contract so there are no surprises later. Oh, and did we mention that our in-house AV specs and furniture are included too?

4. Entertainment

It might just be co-worker karaoke (believe me, that’s very entertaining), but odds are you’ll want to have some kind of entertainment at your event. Whether it’s a guest speaker, musician, or private film screening, there’s going to be a fair amount of preparation required. If you’re having a speaker come in, you’ll need to coordinate details such as if there’s a stage or where they’ll be speaking from, the microphone, sound system, and lighting. Even if you are just having a little office karaoke party, you’ll still need to ensure your venue has the appropriate accommodations or at least has the option to add them later.

HELEN MILLS INSIDER TIP: Is the entertainment a main focus of your event? Consider renting our intimate theater, located right downstairs from our main event space, for an easy transition from cocktails to showtime.


Don’t underestimate it - there’s a lot that goes into putting on an event! Who’s invited, how they’re being invited, if you’re having food and drinks, where you’re having the event in the first place… the list goes on! Make sure you’re as prepared as possible by having a strong reliable connection with someone who works at the venue you’re booking (like us!), and doing so plenty of time in advance to be ready for whatever hiccups you may or may not encounter.

Cheers to planning your next great event and many more! - The Helen Mills Team

Planning an Event? Contact Us to learn more about events at HELEN MILLS, or check out more recent events here.

Alumni Events at HELEN MILLS

Alumni events are wonderful occasions where former classmates get together to relive the glory of college, network, and form new relationships.

Whether you are looking to plan a formal presentation, or throw a casual mixer, The HELEN MILLS Event Space and Theater is a versatile, all-inclusive, and convenient location for your next alumni get together.

Alumni event group photo
Alumni event mingling
Alumni event seating

Our 4,000 sq. ft. event space offers state-of-the-art sound and digital-video projection systems, as well as high-speed, wireless Internet.

Alumni event custom signage

Our street-level entrance offers fun and unexpected branding options, so your guests immediately feel school spirit before ever entering the event!

one hundred forty seat theater available for alumni events

Connected to the Event Space is our intimate 140-seat Theater, including a large stage and green room. The theater is equipped with surround sound, HD projection, theatrical lighting, and more to create the perfect space for your next presentation, panel, and more.

Event bar area set up

At HELEN MILLS, we can take care of your catering, beverage, furniture, audio visual needs, and more!

Contact Us to learn more about hosting your alumni events at HELEN MILLS, or check out more recent events here.

Event Planning Series: Lightning Round!

Q and A graphic

Over the past few weeks, we've challenged some seasoned event planning professionals to reveal their hottest tips and insights as part of our Event Planning Series. To wrap up the series, we're bringing you an Event Planning Lightning Round. We asked each of our featured experts to choose the One Thing that Every Event Needs. Below are their thoughts!

What is the One Thing that Every Event Needs?

A Coordinator. Someone who’s good at coordinating to make sure the event is successful and going in the right direction.
— Brian Rosenbaum, The Entertainment Company
Three elements of organization: coordination, communication and a plan. This should detail how the event is going to come together before during and after the event and should include all the parties working on the event from the planner to the event marketing team to the signage designer and printer to the day-of staff.
— Peter Zalezsak, Atlas Print Solutions
Every event needs a production person or event planner.
— Rhonda Cosaluzzo, AFR Event Furnishings
A strategy. I always want people to take a step back and establish their goals - when the party is done what do you want to accomplish? If you can only have one thing, what is it? If money were no object, what would this party look like? People are often limited by money even when they don’t even know what things cost.
— Lindsay Landman, Lindsay Landman Events
When you plan an event, you’re designing an experience for people. It’s really a combination of elements that make an event ‘great’. It is the surprises and the personal touches in terms of food or entertainment that set an event apart. The setting (lighting and music), the orchestrated flow, professional and friendly service, and thoughtful menu are all the elements that come into play not to mention the right mix of guests along with an engaging host. Lastly, some cocktails never hurt!
— Jessica Alton, Thomas Preti Caterers
Lighting. You can take a room and put a thousand roses in it and you’ll have a room with beautiful flowers. You can take a room and light it beautifully and take one rose and you will make much bigger impression.
— Zev Greenfield, Milk & Honey Productions

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Event Planning Series: Doing Event Signage Right for Maximum Impact

Great signage can transform how guests feel at your event. Signage is an essential element in branding a space and when done well, can encourage guests to share their experience beyond the walls of the venue. If you’re unsure where to start, read on as Peter Zalezsak of Atlas Print Solutions provides essential tips and examples of state-of-the-art signage.

Great signage comes in all shapes, sizes, and places. Below is an example of how a client branded their event at HELEN MILLS:

Signage Tips to Rock your Event

Signage can take many forms other than posters. Consider ordering or reusing swag items as signage, décor or favors for guests on their way out. It will be a welcome surprise.

Consider the special layout and architecture when creating signage, the most unique signage takes advantage of the venue where it’s displayed.

Consider mixing video displays with print signs for the ultimate combination of cool, interactive and effective.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Q&A With a Professional

Digital signage is increasingly a part of the event marketing mix, along with print, depending on how tech savvy the company is. We did the Guess? fashion week event and it was like no other show we’d ever been a part of…They had digital signage elements that included two huge screens – maybe 30’ x 10’ - playing a montage of video clips on the screens that you couldn’t really achieve through print. But not everything was digital. We also printed 40’ x 15’ high panels of step and repeats with a hundred polaroid’s printed on each, showing the Guess? lifestyle. If you got up close to it you could see each individual one and people were really engaging with this graphic. Digital and print met and succeeded.

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Check out our other event planning blog posts or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Event Planning Series: How Planners Can Save you Time, Money and Your Peace of Mind

Hiring an event planner is often more than just a nice-to-have service. Today, the costs and complexity of planning an event have many people turning to a planner, helping them save time and have a better event for their investment. Why? Read on for details and words of wisdom from Lindsay Landman who founded Lindsay Landman Events in 2001.

Reasons To Hire an Event Planner

This is the opposite of what most people expect because the assumption is that by simply having to pay an event planner, you’re spending more money. Not so. Once you develop the budget with an event planner, the planner can save you money by working with vendors to cut costs in a variety of ways.

Flower decor as part of a bar mitzvah at HELEN MILLS Event Space and Theater

Planners have a rolodex full of partners, a wealth of knowledge about their pricing, and advantages/disadvantages. This knowledge will save you hours of time when planning an event and insure you get what you need to fulfill your vision at the best price.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget


Lindsay Landman, event planner extraordinaire

People are often limited by money without knowing what things cost. I have to educate clients all the time about what the investments really are. Don’t make the assumption that red costs more than purple. Don’t let what you think are the costs limit your imagination - when you’re first planning, think, if money were no object, what would this party look like?

I think the best investment in an event is staffing. It enhances the guest and client experience in every way. I would rather have a limited bar that is well staffed, than fewer bartenders with a full bar that the guests can’t reach. The product has no value without gracious service.

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Check out our other event planning blog posts or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Event Planning Series: Rethink Your Event Catering - S'mores, mason jars and fresh flavors

As many people who have planned events know, catering can be one of the biggest expenses. Having good quality food is also one of the most important elements of a successful event. Poor food can leave guests with a literal bad taste in their mouth, and complaints that might ruin guests’ overall memory of the event. We spoke with Jessica Alton of Thomas Preti Caterers for advice on how to have food that will make your guests happy and your event a standout.

HELEN MILLS Event Catering Photos

Catering Tips to Inspire

If your caterer cares about how their food looks, you can rest assured that they care even more about how their food tastes. Confidence in flavor typically leads to confidence in presentation.

Instead of serving traditional desserts, which are costly and usually go uneaten, win over your dessert lovers with a fun dessert table. Some crowd pleasers include a chocolate fountain with dipping treats, a candy bar table for guests to fill small bags, or mini cupcakes on a pedestal. All of these options require little staffing, and create a ‘wow’ factor, while being cost effective.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Private Event - Ishi Systems 20th Anniversary Dinner celebration


Often clients are looking to do choice entrees or duet entrees. We recommend not offering a choice (we always have a silent vegetarian option) and providing instead a wonderful meal that you select for your guests. As you are the host, this shows your guests that you care about them and have chosen for them what you think they will enjoy.

We’re always out there looking to create new things. Some great ideas include:
• Fun, thematic cocktails. It works great to match your cocktail with the menu, season or the preferences of the guest of honor
• Presenting things in a mason jar - it’s fun and people love it.
• S ‘mores are everywhere. S ‘mores cupcakes, cookies, brownies, open faced and cheesecakes.
• I’m a fan of black and white cookies. It’s a perennial favorite. They’re always going to be fabulous.

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Event Planning Series: Extending The Life of Your Event with Photography

Choosing an event photographer and/or videographer can be challenging – they must be able to tell a strong visual story while capturing important moments. Photographer Zev Greenfield of Milk & Honey Productions outlines questions to ask and things to keep in mind when recording your next event.

HELEN MILLS Event Space Events, Fashion and Meetings & Conferences

Think Beyond the Moment

From signage to venue setup, make sure your event lends itself well to being photogenic and easy to share on social media. In this day and age, lots of photographers offer interactive photo-sharing technologies so attendees can share photos on-site during your event. If you want guests to share photos during the event itself, be sure to bring this up during your initial conversations to see if this is an option.

Events are a huge investment, make sure to get the greatest return. Have compelling photographs and beautifully told stories on video to make the event memorable and engaging for guests who aren’t able to attend. Photographs can also help to increase interest in future events.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

HELEN MILLS Event Space Events, Fashion and Meetings & Conferences

Q&A With a Professional

Video is often a second thought, however, people should consider using a videographer for any event where there’s a speech involved or a message being given to people. While it’s easier to upload and share pictures and videos, video captures words, emotion, movement and sound in a way that photography simply cannot. It takes skill and expertise to tell an event story. It’s easy to shoot images but to tell it in such a way where there’s a thought process, beginning to end, and also convey a message, that takes talent and experience.

Plan how and when you’ll use your event photos before the event. People often want photographs and video immediately. Go in knowing the timing you’ll need post-event and be clear about this schedule with the photographer.

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget or Contact Us for an event consultation. 

Event Planning Series: Event Entertainment To Wow Your Guests

Entertainment can make the difference between a unique and memorable event and one that
guests forget once they step out the door. Never considered having entertainment at your event? Read on for recommendations and a Q&A from event entertainment expert Brian Rosenbaum. Brian is the President of The Entertainment Company and has 25 years of experience in the event entertainment industry working with 1,000's of clients.

HELEN MILLS Event Space and Theater Event Planning Series - Event Entertainment

Do Something Different

Encourage your guests to interact with the event by using mobile technology. Some ideas to consider:

  1. Set up a projection screen with a twitter wall of live tweets from the event.

  2. Set up a projection screen that displays photos taken at the event in real-time.

  3. Set up a hashtag print station where guests can print photos from the event that they have posted on social media. This type of interactivity will keep your audience engaged throughout the event (as well as publicize your event on social media).

Hire entertainers that your guests won't expect. Some crowd pleasers include dancers, acrobats, stilt-walkers, magicians, graffiti artists, and balloon artists. These entertainers will liven the vibe of your event, and make your event stand out.

...FOR MORE TIPS, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Q&A with a Professional

We’ve had aerial performers with high ceiling venues. We’ve also done indoor ice-skating for winter themes, complete with professional ice skaters doing performing a show for guests.

Strolling performers are great when there are a lot of people at an event. These performers are like the street performers you see in New York City. They are extremely talented and will circulate throughout the room, doing a number of performances a night for small groups of people. They create intimate performances that don’t disrupt the flow of the event. 

...FOR MORE Q&A, Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget

Want to Learn More about Planning Your Next Event? Download our eBook - Essential Event Tips You Can't Forget or Contact Us for an event consultation.