Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guest Post: Fun & Creative Event Planning...With Chronic Illness!

Hey guys!! 

Kelby from Peachey Planner here. When Maya asked me to write a guest post about being an event planner, as well as someone who lives with a chronic illness, I got really excited! And then really nervous. This is my first guest post for another blog, so I’ll do my best and hope I don’t disappoint. I’m a 27 year old, who has been living with Ankylosing Spondylitis for the last 11 years of my life. YIKES!! However, I’m also a professional event planner and have been doing it for over 7 years! I plan, develop, create and execute any type of event. They’ve ranged from baby showers to corporate picnics; dessert tables to large gala fund-raisers for charity. Even a festival! I’m here today to give you a few tips of advice on how to plan your next event (regardless of size!) while dealing with a chronic illness. Here we go…

My first task for every event (and I highly suggest you do it too) is to write an extensive to-do list for your event. I love putting my list on pretty paper, using my favorite pen, and adding some decor. This will not only help you to want to look at the list, as well as not lose it, but ultimately will give you a perspective on what needs to be accomplished. So, how do you use the list? First, find out if you have enough time to accomplish 1 or 2 tasks a week before your event. I know when I divide out my tasks (even daily house chores), my flares stay away. Such an easy task, yet so easily overlooked. If you don’t have the option of tackling 1 task at a time, then the next tip will be beneficial (and somewhat crucial!)…

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I know when I’m dealing with my disease, I have found it difficult to ask for help from others. After all, I’ve been told I’m in my “prime years” and should be able to do it all alone. It is possible, but if you're feeling overwhelmed, just reach out and ask for help. This will not only reduce your likelihood of having a flare, but you probably have family and friends who are actually eager to help! You may have an aunt who is outstanding at arranging flower decor or a best friend who is a great at creating handmade cards. Ask them if they would be willing to help you out. It will only make your memory of planning your event a pleasant one. Why? Because the people you care about the most are giving you a piece of themselves. What a wonderful way to make your event so special!

Not the creative type? That’s easy to fix. A great place to capture ideas is I am OBSESSED with this site! Its a great way to browse through the internet, create a dream board, and find creative ideas!

Let's talk VENUE! Often when I'm planning an event I like to utilize a city's visitor’s bureau website! They’ve proven to be a valuable resource for getting detailed information on all event friendly properties in the area. This will allow you to not only pinpoint venues that fit within your budget, but also have the quality and uniqueness you're looking for. Why do all the research when someone else has done them already? Plus, its free. :)

Now, onto CATERING! Did you know that 30% of your bill goes directly toward taxes and gratuity! WAIT, WHAT?! Yes, that’s correct…30% of your bill! For example, let’s say you have a $100 per person budget to feed everyone, that means $30 of it will go toward taxes and gratuity. So, really your budget just became $70 per person. This is a BIG deal if you are on a tight budget! Plan ahead, and know what you're working with. Another little idea is to ask if your caterer if they would be willing to serve your food family style. This usually cuts down on costs and planning time for your event, ultimately leaving you more time to relax and stay healthy! An added bonus? Sharing dishes has been known as a natural icebreaker. Not an option with the caterer? No problem! Ask if you can do the lunch menu instead. Usually the dinner menu is just a few ounces more of each food item, but a dramatic difference in in price. Your guests will never know! My last little tip about catering - cut out those water bottles! Instead of having individual water bottles for everyone, provide pitchers and glasses instead. Not only will it save you a costly penny, but your also helping out our planet.
Last, but not least, ENTERTAINMENT/AUDIO VISUAL/DECOR. Phew, almost there! Looking for some affordable entertainment? Turn to your local university! Not only can you possibly find local music or theater students willing to do the job, but you’re incorporating your local community into your event. 

Along the same lines, see if you can bring your own Audio Visual equipment to your venue. For example, power strips and extension cords are usually what we have lying around our house (especially under our computer desk!), but can cost us big bucks if you end up renting them.

Not every table at your event needs to look exactly the same, so let that stress go. :) Use some of your high-cost “wow” elements as accents to compliment other, less costly features. One of my favorite centerpieces for a table is to add an element of seasonal fruit (or even frozen fruit!) inside the centerpiece and less costly flowers at the top. SEE??

Well, I hope this post was helpful with planning your next event! Thanks Maya for the wonderful opportunity to post on your blog. I really appreciate it!!! Bye everyone!!


  1. Great ideas and helpful hints! Thanks!

  2. What wonderful ideas Kelby!

    I've got a big event coming up - your tips will help me so much!

    xox Jenna