5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Man in Your Life

It’s no secret that men are hard to shop for. If you’re at your wit’s end in picking out a gift for your significant other this Valentine’s Day, consider these top five gift ideas for inspiration:

  1. Personalized Cufflinks: If your boyfriend is a closet nerd, he’ll appreciate playful, personalized cufflinks, like Monopoly top hat cufflinks that he can wear on special occasions.
  2. Manly Moisturizer: Even though your husband may scoff at a gift like moisturizer, he’ll secretly love a beneficial product that is made just for men to keep his face silky soft after shaving.
  3. Mad Libs in Love: This is a great Valentine’s Day gift to give if you’re hosting a casual gathering. Couples can gather round in padded folding chairs to participate in this wacky game as an icebreaker to get a party going.
  4. Swanky Socks: Who wouldn’t love a pair of striped or argyle socks to add a pop of color to a formal outfit? Your guy can appear all business in his regular suit-and-tie work attire with fun socks underneath to show his sense of humor.
  5. Beer Kit: If your significant other fancies himself a Brewmaster, he’ll love his own beer kit so he can brew up a custom batch of his favorite ale.
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Tips for Working Parents to Find the Best Childcare Solution

If you’re getting ready to go back to work after maternity or paternity leave, be prepared for a major adjustment. First and foremost, you may be on the lookout for a safe, enriching childcare option for your little one – at an affordable price.

Does such a thing exist? Here are several childcare options to consider for part-time or full-time working parents:

  1. Nanny: A live-in or live-out nanny will provide your child with care in the comfort of your own home. If you’re a parent that works from home part-time or full-time, this may be the most logical option since you’ll be at home to supervise the childcare provider. Nonetheless, a nanny may not be able to offer the same activities that a daycare or preschool would for a young child, beyond backyard folding tables for arts and crafts.
  2. Daycare: For many parents, daycare provides an affordable and reliable solution since you won’t have to worry about a single care provider getting sick or quitting at the last minute. Yet if your child does get sick after being exposed to a crowded daycare, you’ll have to find alternate care or stay home from work yourself.
  3. Home Daycare: Home daycare is an up-and-coming solution for working parents that can’t afford traditional daycare. Many parents seek out home daycare specifically because of the smaller group environment with more potential for flexible hours. Still, there is one drawback to consider: If a home daycare provider gets sick or goes on vacation, you’ll again have to find alternate care for your child.
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Good News for Event Planners: AMEX Estimates That Corporate Travel Spending Will Remain Stable

According to an American Express survey conducted on 200 corporate financial officers in the US, corporate spending for business travel is estimated to remain steady in 2013.

61% of survey participants confirmed that they plan to spend the same amount or more on business travel within the next year. 37% of corporations plan to invest in business travel to drum up new business, while 35% will continue to spend on business travel to maintain current clients.

Should Businesses Travel Smarter?

Thanks to the recent economic downturn, many businesses now promote cost-effective travel for all employees on business trips. For example, employees traveling by car are encouraged to use GPS to find the shortest and most efficient route from point A to point B to save money on gas.

In addition, many businesses are switching to economy airfare instead of business class. Employees that must travel to multiple destinations are often scheduled with back-to-back stops on a trip so that time and money isn’t wasted by flying home in between.

Savvy Businesses Pay Attention to Budget Travel

Businesses looking to make their dollar stretch further can heed budget travel tips to keep yearly expenses manageable. For example, businesses that have unused plane tickets for employee travel can track each ticket to ensure that the cost is put toward future airfare.

Last but not least, American Express recommends paying attention to details. Small price increases in hotel rates upon booking could make a major difference in total travel expenses at the end of the quarter. In addition, businesses can account for extras during travel, like meal and Wi-Fi charges, to ensure that all expenses fit within a yearly budget

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Is It a Good Idea to Search for Event Speakers Online?

If you’re looking for an interesting, relevant, and fresh speaker for an upcoming conference or event, Internet research may seem like a logical place to begin.

But not so fast… Although it’s possible to find the right speaker online, many experts advise using personal recommendations and word-of-mouth referrals to ensure that you book a guest lecturer that all meeting attendees will enjoy.

Don’t Book Based on Internet Credentials

Unfortunately, motivational speakers are aplenty on the World Wide Web. There are thousands of speakers and coaches that post videos regularly to YouTube, claiming that their material is both powerful and engaging.

In addition, it’s difficult to separate the good from the bad when it comes to Internet reviews. A guest speaker website may post glowing testimonials from clients, but who’s to say that they’re all true? On the other side of the coin, a guest speaker may have negative online reviews that could be biased or fabricated.

Use the Internet as Backup

While there’s no harm in checking the experience of a guest speaker online, it’s often best to network first to find a lecturer for your upcoming event.

If you do search for a speaker online, make sure to interview and research them extensively before booking. A face-to-face interview or Skype chat is preferable to ensure professionalism and confirm identity before scheduling for an event.

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Quick Tips to Control Costs for Your Event or Conference

If you’ve been designated to plan an upcoming meeting or conference for your office, your boss probably briefed you well in advance of the budgetary constraints for the event.

Fortunately, you can use these helpful tips to control costs when planning a meeting or conference – without having to cut corners and sacrifice quality:

  • Request all vendor agreements in writing to avoid unpleasant billing surprises.
  • Ask that furnishings are provided at a location site, like church furniture in a church conference center, to save money on unnecessary rentals.
  • Check and double check all invoices against initial price quotes provided by vendors.
  • Reduce your total budget by 10% to cushion unexpected expenses that arise.
  • Question vendors about any charges that don’t match up.
  • Review employee accounts daily to monitor any extraneous charges.
  • Don’t sign off on a bill or invoice until you’re satisfied with the total.
  • Watch extra charges on each invoice for tax, shipping, or overtime labor.
  • Request help from volunteers instead of hiring a waitstaff.
  • Serve tap water instead of bottled water with each meal.
  • Reuse centerpieces for lectures, awards ceremonies, and group meetings.
  • Provide snacks, appetizers, and hors d’oeuvres instead of a full sitdown meal.

By using the guidelines above, your boss will thank you for a job well done as you stay within the constraints of a set budget.

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How to Increase Attendance at Your Next Business Meeting

Given the recent slump in the economy, more and more companies are reluctant to set aside the extra funds to pay for employees to attend statewide or national business conferences and meetings.

If you’re planning an upcoming business meeting, it will involve much more than choosing the right venue and providing comfortable church chairs for guests to sit on. You can take to heart these helpful guidelines to boost attendance at your next conference:

  1. Setup reminder calls. After invitations have been sent out, designate a receptionist or staff member to call invitees as a reminder to attend the event. Telephone follow-up has been proven to significantly boost attendance for a conference or special event. It also helps to promote an upcoming meeting at other events and conferences.
  2. Make the event stand out. By introducing new activities or a new format, guests will be more likely to attend a meeting. This may include promoting a roundtable discussion or one-on-one critique for event guests with an expert business person in the industry.
  3. Schedule an important guest speaker. Many times, the guest speaker that you choose says it all. If you’re able to secure a legitimate celebrity or near-celebrity in your field, it will be likely to create a buzz and help to promote the event through word-of-mouth.
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Do You Want to Start Your Own Event Planning Company?

If you’ve always had an affinity for organization, decor, and customer service, event planning may be right up your alley. The even better news? Event planning profits are on the rise, providing a freelance event planner or event planning company with the opportunity to make a lucrative income.

What Does Event Planning Entail?

Just like it sounds, an event planner may be responsible for organizing and executing special events for:

  • Celebrations like anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, and weddings
  • Conferences for graduation, business, and educational meetings
  • Promotions for fashion shows, product launches, and political campaigns
  • And much more!

In order to pull off an event without a hitch, an event planner will be responsible for:

  • Researching an industry
  • Choosing an event theme
  • Selecting a location
  • Hiring vendors for decor, food, and entertainment
  • Scheduling event transportation
  • Sending out invitations
  • Arranging accommodations
  • Supervising the event
  • Evaluating the event

In most cases, an individual or company will hire an event planner because they don’t have the time and know-how to plan an event on their own.

How to Become a Certified Event Planner

For the utmost in credibility in your industry, it’s important to become certified as an event planner with a certification or degree from a local university. In addition, Meeting Professionals International provides a Certified Meeting Planner credential, or CMP.

In order to get your business off the ground, it’s important to back up your talent with the right experience and education to prove to clients that you can be trusted.

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How to Use Pinterest the Right Way

The latest social media sensation Pinterest is most often used for fun to plan parties, organize kids’ activities, and even decorate the home. But beyond personal enjoyment, Pinterest can be used for a number of business purposes, like wedding planning, event organization, and even blog and website marketing.

If you’re hoping to expand your brand, here are several tips to consider to use Pinterest to draw traffic the right way:

  1. Spend time on the website. According to Inc.com, the best way to gain followers on Pinterest is by investing time to build relationships. Once others get to know you and the quality pins that you circulate, they’ll be likely to pin and repin again.
  2. Pin compelling content. Interesting images and videos related to your industry will catch the attention of other Pinterest users. For example, if you’re an event planner, you can post elegant photos of basic folding tables that have been decorated for specific event themes, like conferences, graduations, and weddings.
  3. Steer clear of self-promotion. Even though your main purpose is to gain more followers on Pinterest, users will be turned off by shameless self-promotion. In addition to pinning your own product and blog images, you also need to pin other interesting posts from a wide selection of relevant websites to maintain interest.
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The Benefits of Organizing a Business Conference

Depending upon its purpose, a conference may be organized for a number of reasons. A special event like a business conference can be planned for:

  • Academic groups
  • Professional associations
  • Workplace training
  • Problem management

At its heart, a conference is a gathering of a group of people with a common background or interest; it provides the opportunity for attendees to meet each other and learn more about a designated topic or issue.

A conference can be scheduled to last several days or just a few short hours. Conferences are often advertised as one-time only events, as well as annual meetings to bring a group together for collaboration year after year.

What Are the Benefits of Organizing a Conference?

If you’re wondering if your business is in need of a seminar to provide cohesion, a conference can offer a number of critical benefits, beyond the opportunity for a mutual group to gather at plastic folding tables.

  • Examine an issue. Many health professionals gather together at conferences to discuss specific health problems, like childhood cancer, allergies, or asthma. Physicians and health staff can work together to propose a plan of action to address a problem.
  • Support unity. A certain industry may benefit from a conference if there aren’t other organized events currently available. A field or career may need more structure with designated leaders and experts that can supply ideas, methods, and new research.
  • Gather feedback. When a business hosts a conference, it provides the important opportunity for employees to supply their feedback and input. This will ensure that employees feel valued in a company and can also offer a business a new perspective to improve daily operation.
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Event Planners Can Use Pinterest for Inspiration

An event planner’s work is never done. Yes, working as an event planner, party planner, or conference coordinator entails much more than putting folding chairs away at the end of the night. Event planners are responsible for executing a memorable event from start-to-finish, often bending over backwards to please difficult clients.

Where to Find Inspiration for Your Next Event

If you’re an event planner that doesn’t have a Pinterest account, it’s time to get moving! With a bustling website like Pinterest, it’s easier than ever before to search through virtual scrapbooks for specific pins and boards related to almost any party theme.

For example, you can type a keyword like “party décor” or “table centerpieces” into the Pinterest search bar to find hundreds of pins to choose from. Instead of scouring the Internet, taking inspiration from other experienced party planners is one quick way to stay on trend when planning your next event.

How to Stay Organized

One of the main benefits of Pinterest is its ease in organization. You’re able to create a virtual pin board online that will link out to all related blogs and websites for further reference. This is much more efficient and effective than making a spreadsheet of ideas and vendors on your computer.

Additionally, Pinterest makes it easy to delete specific pins or even an entire board if the party theme changes or if a client rejects an idea.

Don’t Forget Social Media Marketing

As an event planner, Pinterest can provide multiple benefits. In addition to organization and inspiration, Pinterest can be used to market to clients and drum up new business.

If you pin particularly unique and interesting party ideas, more users are likely to follow you and share your pins. When you gain a following on Pinterest, it’s easy to drive traffic to your main website for the purpose of client referral and new event bookings.

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