Food For Greater Elgin: Grand Victoria Casino

Another year of planning flew by and we closed out the fifth annual Food For Greater Elgin Pallet to Palate fundraising event, which came to life late this May. We came back again this year with the goal of increasing the revenue, increasing the participation AND making the event more meaningful and more fun.

This year, the event was held at Grand Victoria Casino, in their newly remodeled ballroom overlooking the Fox River. With over 265 guests, this year's event had more participants, and it also raised over $50,000, which was a $25% increase from the year before. The evening was centered around food and beverage tastings, but also included some games, a photo booth, prizes, a raffle, a silent auction and live jazz music. 

Founded in 2011,  FFGE is the largest client-choice food pantry in the Elgin area.  It strives to combat food insecurity in the most effective ways, and also addresses the fight against hunger holistically by coordinating weekly client-choice food distributions full of fresh, nutritious foods, offering a Community Resource Center designed to connect individuals to additional resources to help address underlying root causes contributing to food insecurity. and collaborating with other organizations and businesses. FFGE currently provides stability to nearly 6,000 individuals, of whom nearly half are children. What an honor to be invited to be a part of such amazing work!

The evening featured chefs and mixologists from the Elgin-area, each of which provided tastings of their favorite menu items. From Cajun to BBQ to Italian to Indian, there were scrumptious tidbits of all types to try! A bar stocked with wine and craft beer rounded out the menu for the evening. Vendors included: Cafe Roma, Cooper's Hawk Winery, Crumpet's Luncheonette, Chic Chef Catering, Delish Cakes, Dream Foods, Emmett's Brewing Co., Grand Victoria Casino, Lagunita's Brewing Co., Los Fernandez Restaurant, Martini Room and Rosie O'Hare's Public House. 

Photographs were captured by Gil Feliciano. Marketing and design was done by ColorWord Creative.

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A Noteworthy Festive Trend: Grazing Tables

As Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, it is the perfect time to feature one of this year's hottest trends... grazing tables! A common sight I first noticed coming from Australia, these artful arrangements are made of crudites and charcuterie, This type of table is full of vibrant color and seasonal flavor.  Below are a few samples of how the arrangements might look. They are an awesome addition to any corporate event, wedding reception or holiday party... and certainly a way to wow your guests!


This grazing table was put together by Your Platter Matters, an Australian-based catering company for a beautiful summer wedding. Can you imagine guests leaving a ceremony to find this spectacular work filled with tasty tidbits available for them to peruse?!


This grazing table was the dreamy creation of KaraKara for a foodie styled shoot, shot by Bird on the Wall Photography and Home Thugs n Harmony as a part of a decadent soiree for a bride. The rustic vibe was formed on a pallet table, where an abundant charcuterie feast is spread between crystal glasses, antique silverware and black crockery – think juicy figs and grapes, creamy international cheeses, sweet cinnamon poached pears and fresh honeycomb.


This amazing grazing table was from an Australian wedding. It was pieced together with care by Jo from Garnish Creative Catering. This legendary feasting table was complete with a 12 hour smoked ham, fine cheeses and arancini balls.


I couldn't help but include this darling breakfast version of the grazing table. Not only is breakfast one of my favorite meals of the day, but then to be offered on a generous spread on the table is just too much! This spread was designed by Honestly Yum for Mother's Day. I wouldn't mind celebrating a bridal shower, baby shower or Mother's Day in this style!

The Law Offices of J. Jeltes Holiday Party: House of Blues

Many companies have some sort of holiday party this time of year for employees and/or clients. The Law Offices of J. Jeltes was no exception this year. They hosted about 40 special guests in the exclusive Divinity Room in the House of Blues at their 2016 holiday festivities.

While I have been to the House of Blues Chicago a number of times, this was my first opportunity to be upstairs. The space was filled with character and I couldn't help but snap some of the unique pieces I spotted before I even got to the event space.

Once arriving to the Divinity Room, I saw the charm continued. Dark wood, masculine furniture and gold framed images filled the room and provided the perfect setting for the holiday party. We set up a sweets buffet, which included four varieties of mini cupcakes, a candy cane tree and jars of original and peppermint hot chocolates for guests to take home. Guests and the hosts had a wonderful evening and the party continued long after the event formally concluded. 

This event was done in partnership with the Escandar Group

 Image of the House of Blues Chicago, courtesy of the House of Blues website.

Image of the House of Blues Chicago, courtesy of the House of Blues website.

 Image of The Foundation Room, courtesy of the House of Blues website

Image of The Foundation Room, courtesy of the House of Blues website

 Image of The Divinity Room, courtesy of the House of Blues website.

Image of The Divinity Room, courtesy of the House of Blues website.


RefugeeOne Annual Conference

This fall, RefugeeOne hosted its second annual conference for businesses, schools and congregations interested in supporting the work of the organization. The event included plenary sessions, workshops and presentations, time for networking and treats from countries around the world. More than 175 people from 50+ faith communities gathered at the Gratz Center on Michigan Ave to learn more about getting involved.

This organization has been near and dear to my heart for many years because of the powerful work it does. RefugeeOne uses its resources very well (it runs a very lean budget with no waste!) to resettle hundreds of refugees from around the world who are fleeing war, persecution, violence or genocide. The organization provides a comprehensive and multi-faceted range of programs that empower newly-arrived refugees, such as relocating them to homes in the Chicagoland area, teaching English skills, and providing vocational training and counseling in a compassionate, non-threatening environment. All services are provided with a single goal in mind: to provide refugees with self-sufficient new lives within the United States. Interested in the work of the organization or want to find out more about how to provide friendship and/or financial support to a refugee family in Chicago? Click here.


Felix Goldrush Album Release Party: Kinfolk 94

Each time I am invited to plan and execute an event, I am honored. Events are typically for momentous occasions… celebrations, get-togethers, milestone markers... and I love receiving invitations to play such an integral part in these important occasions. This recent event was no different.  

Brooklyn-based artist Felix Goldrush debuted his premier album, “Deeper than Gold” at an October event at Kinfolk 94 in New York City. The album presents an honest portrait of the depths of human emotion, covering topics like love, obsession and heartache. The show was opened by artist Mariami

The second I learned of this event, I jumped at the opportunity. Planning an album release party for a rising artist who is gaining ground in the Big Apple? While a bit different from the general planning requests I receive, I couldn’t help but be excited by the opportunity! Below are some of the images from the event, captured by Bearded Monkey Photography unless otherwise credited.

  Venue image from Metropolis Magazine

Venue image from Metropolis Magazine

  Venue image from Metropolis Magazine

Venue image from Metropolis Magazine


Juicy Luzy Sangria Product Shoot

This past December, we served as an extra set of hands at a photo shoot of Juicy Luzy Sangria at Morgans on Fulton! Emmanuelle of the Escandar Group and Karina of Metts Photo were the masterminds behind this fun promotional shoot; Angles on Design provided the furniture.

It was a lot of fun to see the props and designs unfold for a product shoot - a bit different than the events we usually design for. Below is a peek at the shoot.


10 Simple Steps to Planning Your Company Holiday Party

Holiday parties are a tradition most companies participate in. According to data by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, nearly 90%  of companies offered a party for their employees in 2014. Holiday parties are ideal for gathering staff together, showing appreciation, and celebrating the past year. 

It isn't as easy as throwing everyone in a room and calling it a party, though. Planning a holiday party requires coordination and forethought. Below is a checklist of steps to plan your own corporate event. 

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't plan it alone. Contact us for help planning your holiday party.

1. Decide on the type of event.

Lunch-time events are the most common (51%), while evening parties are the second most common (38%). The type of holiday party your company is throwing will affect the date and time you select. Evening parties are often hosted on Friday or Saturday nights (83%), while luncheons are most commonly hosted during the workweek. Also, luncheons tend to be a more budget-friendly option; evening parties tend to be more costly.

2. Choose a date and time.

Most organizations plan their holiday parties for the second week (33%) or third week of December (28%). Fridays are the most popular day of the week for holiday parties (50%), with Saturdays (16%) and Thursdays (15%) also being popular days. 

3. Create an invite list.

Most organizations (61%) elect to invite all employees to their holiday parties. Some employers (30%) allow for spouses/significant others to attend.  Other companies also invite extended family, clients, partners and/or competitors. Who is invited affects the feel of the event. Not inviting all employees can lead to feelings of exclusion. Inviting employees' spouses and/or children may be a nice gesture if the budget allows. Inviting clients and partners usually turns the event more into a networking style event.

4. Select a venue and caterer.

Companies use a wide range of venues for their holiday parties. Some host the parties in their own office space, while the most popular option is to host the event at venues like country clubs, restaurants and hotels. The vast majority of organizations (74%) use a caterer. The caterer might be the same as the venue, or it might be a separate vendor. Typically having the venue and caterer be the same vendor is easier on the planning end, but may be less budget-friendly and may provide less creativity in menu.

5. Send out invites.

Once the basic details are arranged for, send out invitations at least a three weeks in advance and request RSVPs by a certain date. Email invitations are the most popular way to invite guests, as RSVPs can be easily tracked electronically. If your party is very formal or has a theme, you may want to send out a mailed invitation. 

6. Select entertainment.

Every party should have some form of entertainment. Whether it is a mix of music in the background, an entertainer, a speaker, a program, a DJ or something else, entertainment allows for the party to have a focal point and for your guests to have a conversation piece. Party themes can also make your event unique and memorable.

7. Create an outline and agenda.

To better ensure that your holiday party runs smoothly, create an agenda that outlines timing for vendor arrival, guest arrival, cocktails, lunch/dinner, the program or entertainment, employee recognition, gift-giving and a closing. When creating the agenda, be as realistic with timing as possible. Ask yourself questions like, "How will guests be arriving? Departing?" "How will people check in?" "How will people get food or drinks?" "Who will make the transitions between each part of the agenda?" These questions can help you consider what might be challenging, what might take more time or less time, or what could go wrong prior to the event so that you are able to consider all aspects of the party and try to solve timing challenges ahead of time.

8. Determine your alcohol policy.

Many employers elect to serve alcohol at their holiday parties, but employers are split in terms of whether they limit or do not limit alcohol consumption. It is about an even split between those that serve alcohol but limit consumption and those who serve it without a limit. The most common way for organizations to limit alcohol consumption is by providing drink tickets -- usually 2.

9. Give a gift.

Holiday parties are the ideal time to provide an annual gift to each employee. Over half of organizations plan to give gifts to employees. Gift cards are the most common gift (54%), while cash is the second most common gift (17%).

10. Recognize and appreciate.

An end of the year party is ideal for giving employee appreciation. It's important to recognize the successes of your staff as a whole and share how much you appreciate their hard work and contributions throughout the year. This raises corporate morale and starts the next year off stronger.

Companies with small and large budgets alike can have successful holiday parties. The quality of your organization's holiday party is more tied into how well it is done, how appreciated employees feel after leaving the event, how prideful the employees and organization are about their accomplishments throughout the year and how connected they feel to one another and the company. These components will define how memorable the experience is... and will define whether or not it is a successful celebration.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don't plan it alone. Contact us for help planning your holiday party.


Most stats and tips borrowed from this ERC HR Insights Blog.

18 Palettes to Inspire Your 2015 Events

When you walk into an event, the right colors can take your breath away. And after all the time, energy and resources you've spent planning this affair, that's exactly what you want the response of your guests to be. Our blog about Marsala, the Pantone Color of the Year,  provides inspiration based off one particular color and its compliments. But why should we be limited to just one color when there are so many? Be sure to check out these palettes for other breath-taking color combinations to inspire your upcoming affairs. 

Canary Yellow - Teal - Fuchsia - Marigold


Dusty Blue - Gold - Soft Peach - Moss


Magenta - Beige - Lime - Maroon


Lavender - Off White - Sage - Chocolate


Gold - White - Kelly Green - Carnation Pink


Peach - Straw Yellow - White - Sand


Red - Black - Canary Yellow - Emerald - Sienna


Off White - Sandstone - Copper - Black


Canary Yellow - White - Jade - Royal Purple - Auburn

Baby Blue - Cobalt Blue - Forest Green - Brown


Moss Green - White - Navy - Silver


Royal Blue - Lemon - Apricot - Fuchsia - Gold


Tea Rose - White - Gold - Chocolate


Magenta - Purple - Silver - Rose - Scarlet Red


Seafoam - Ivory - Gold - Silver - Amaranth


Black - White - Kelly Green


White - Pale Yellow - Teal - Slate Gray - Silver


Eggplant - Lilac - White - Yellow Iris - Dark Green

Article and images modified from The Knot.