At most networking events, attendees are collected in a room and urged to mingle, with nothing to facilitate interaction except alcohol. Enter Ignite Speed Networking. The computer program arranges a sequence of table setups so that, by the end of the night, everyone has sat at a table with just about everyone else. Using the program for one networking event costs $600. (866) 577-4579; ignitespeednetworking.com
Thought for Food
Chocolate might be a beloved treat, but it's difficult to give unless you know recipients' dietary needs. Before giving edible gifts, consider asking about food allergies and offering alternatives. Raising the Candy Bar offers chocolate in gluten-free, lactose-free, casein-free and sugar-free varieties. (800) 590-6887; raisingthecandybar.com
Do an end run on the TSA's 3-ounce rule with these liquid-free soaps and detergents. NPW makes soap, shampoo, body wash, shaving cream and laundry detergent in paper form; once they hit water, they lather up nicely. Paper Soap costs $6 and is available from Flight 001; a travel pack with both soap and laundry detergent will soon be available. npw-usa.com
Cast Your Net Wisely
Environmentally conscious planners know that figuring out which fish have been sustainably caught can be time-consuming and frustrating. One easy way is to work with hotel or restaurants that partner with a sustainable seafood supplier like CleanFish (415-626-3500; cleanfish.com). Thanks to Gregory Griffie, executive chef at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel and the adjacent restaurant, 606 Congress, for the idea. Griffie also partners with Heritage Foods USA (718-389-0985; heritagefoodsusa.com) to source meat raised on small farms.
The Loews Hotels Wine Line, which allows the public (event planners included!) to ask questions of the hotel chain's experienced sommeliers, is up and running. The free service was designed to give users advice in the all-important task of beverage selection. E-mail email@example.com with your question.
treats from Silver Moon come in 14 liquor-laced flavors. Our favorites:
Creamsicle and Mojito Ice. $48 per 5-pint pack. (877) 778-8009; silvermoondesserts.com
Sylvia Wildfire, a medic who oversees safety at large events and awards ceremonies in New York City and Los Angeles (805-807-2517; oncallmedic.net), notices that attendees often unknowingly create hazards after the event has started. What to look out for: people saving seats by leaning chairs toward the table (the exposed legs can injure someone walking by), and purses and event materials left under chairs, which also can cause passersby to take a fall.
Liquid soap has become so prevalent in public rest rooms, single-use bar soap has come to symbolize old-fashioned luxury. Soap Leaves are actual leaves dipped in soap, good for a single use at the sink (or in the shower). Arrange them in a bowl to elicit coos of delight from the rest room. Individual orders can be purchased at flight001.com for $7 per pack; those interested in private-label packaging should contact Suburban Silk (702-433-0035; suburbansilk.com).
Nobody likes to see the amount of waste that results from meetings and events, especially when things in perfectly good condition are thrown away. EventLeftovers.com, an online marketplace to buy and sell new and gently used supplies, is one solution. Post your leftover décor on the site, and if it sells, the company asks for a small percentage (4.5%) of sales. It's simple to browse or to post, even for beginners.
Drink If You Dare
These Halloween-inspired cocktails, available at Omni Hotels through Nov. 1, will make a scary event scarier -- and all it takes is a drizzle of strawberry puree here and a freaky eyeball garnish there. For the eyeball (which is really the most brilliant twist of all), simply pop a blueberry into a lychee fruit and run a skewer through it. (888) 444-6664; omnihotels.com
Cruise ships can be great for getting a group's undivided attention, but after a few days of meetings, the space can feel claustrophobic. Orlando-based event-planning company Wildly Different devised a scavenger hunt that mixed physical challenges in the ship's activity areas with puzzles and quizzes that relied on just-learned information. In that way, attendees kept learning but didn't feel so cloistered. (877) 494-5359; wildlydifferent.com
Giving employees or clients a magazine subscription can be an inexpensive way to remind them of your generosity throughout the year. Plus, by ordering a number of subscriptions at once, you can secure rates at 10 to 20 percent off the lowest available rate. Thanks to Linda Rosenberg, a marketing consultant in Culver City, Calif. (lrmarketingconsulting.com), for the idea.