In January I was fortunate to get to co-host an Alt Summit mini party with Anne Cropper and Erica Nielsen. You can read all of Anne’s details of the party here, and my post from Handmade Mood here, but I thought I’d share my top ten lessons learned just in case you’re thinking of applying to host a party next year!
1. Find Amazing Co-Hosts: This will be the best indicator of you party’s success. Does your group get along? Do you make each other laugh? Do you all share the work? It sounds like an application for a dating site, but you’ll be spending a lot of time with these people, so pick the right ones.
2. Work Within Your Budget: Alt Mini Parties come with a budget; ours was $1000. You think it will last forever, but it will not! This is like budgeting for your wedding: pick the most important things and do those first. Also, keep track of what you’re spending; it adds up faster than you think.
3. Reach Out to Other Companies: At the party we could only have signage from our official sponsor (thank you Maurice’s!), but there were lots of companies that were willing to work with us. Pepperidge Farm supplied the cookies for our S’mores kits, and Birch-Logs.com and Blank Extreme Entertainment gave us reduced rates. While we were at the conference, Hayneedle was a huge help! Don’t plan on a free ride, but every penny counts, and it never hurts to ask. Just have a plan.
4. Come Up With a Plan: Since the three of us all live in different cities, we emailed back and forth a lot. We also wrote everything down, and tried to keep track of what we were spending. Anne’s husband also was a lifesaver in the design arena. He created our floor plan, which made set up very smooth. It’s okay for the plans to evolve; the important thing is to keep track so that everyone is on the same page.
5. Enlist Your Friends to Help: Since all three of us were from out of town, we were very grateful for friends who did everything from receive all of our packages and making Ikea runs, to helping us put together and disassemble marshmallow chandeliers!
6. Don’t Plan on Getting Much Sleep: Even with all of our extra help, we still had late nights setting up and taking down. If you want to have time to meet people and attend classes, most of the set up work will have to take place during the conference downtime, which is when everyone else is resting!
7. Take Your Vitamins: Combining cross country travel and roommate life with lack of sleep and hundreds of people means lots of germs and increased likelihood of illness. I made sure to pack vitamins and hand sanitizer, and all was well!
8. Don’t Be Rigid About Your Conference Class Attendance: One of the perks of being a party host is a ticket to Alt, but that comes with the expectation that you do your best work. For me, that meant that I couldn’t spend all day in classes, workshops and sponsor suites. I had to pick and choose the most important things to do so that I was leaving enough time for party prep. If I had gone into the conference thinking I was going to attend every session I might have been disappointed, but being prepared
9. Eat: You will be happier and healthier if you stay fed. No one wants a grumpy hostess. The great thing about being at The Grand America was that there were plenty of food options. I also made sure to sneak in an online order for my beloved Café Rio!
10. Leave Yourself Time to Get Ready: This is the thing that’s hardest for me whenever I throw a party. I feel like I’m always prepping right up until the last minute. For something like this, where there are a lot of people taking pictures, and you’re chatting up potential sponsors and trying to make a good impression all around, you want to make sure you’re feeling like you look your best. Set an alarm on your phone so that you have a physical reminder to go get ready. There will be time for last minute room touch ups after you’re prepped.
It’s been so fun to look back and reminisce about Alt Summit. Hosting a party was an amazing learning experience. It’s a little like childbirth. You may not want to do it again right away, but once time gives you a little perspective, you know you’d do it again in a heartbeat!
All images are courtesy of Alt Summit.