One of the most-read features on mcmag.com is The Frugal Planner's Tip of the Week, so we decided to round up some of the most popular tips we've presented for throwing fabulous events that come in on or below budget. Want more? Follow the simple instructions and sign up to have a new tip delivered to your inbox every Monday at bitly.com/frugalsignup.
1. Out of the Closet Planners might be unfamiliar with the hotel prop closet, the repository for themed decorations from meetings past. At the Loews Miami Beach Hotel (305-604-1601), for example, planners are allowed to raid the prop closet to come up with an unexpected (and free!) theme. Consider asking other hotels to share their props for free; after all, it doesn't cost them anything to repurpose props.
2. Table the Salt Want to keep the bar tab down (and keep attendees sharply focused the next day)? Hold the salty hors d'oeuvres and snacks, recommends Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach. Replace potato chips and nuts on the bar with low-salt munchies, and ask the venue to prepare low-sodium hors d'oeuvres. This way, attendees won't be drinking just because they're thirsty from the snacks.
3. Bargain Blooms For floral centerpieces and displays, the type of flower used is less important than the texture, size and artistry of the display. Therefore, save a bundle by incorporating garden spray roses instead of more expensive peonies, Dutch tulips instead of French tulips, or spray stock instead of hydrangeas. Thanks to Brent Long, director of special events at Holliday Flowers and Events in Memphis, Tenn., for the idea.
4. Waste Not Rather than letting hotel staff toss out leftovers from the buffet breakfast, ask them to rearrange individually packaged items -- chilled yogurt, granola and power bars -- and present them again at the first coffee break. Thanks to Fran Rickenbach, CAE, executive vice president of the Association of Destination Management Executives, for the idea.
5. Don't Pay Retail In this economy, forward-thinking real-estate brokers would be happy to have something going on in their empty retail space. If you see an empty space for rent, call the broker; the space's owner might be happy to offer it for a very reasonable fee (or possibly for free).