The Perils of Party Planning

A few weeks ago I volunteered to organize the after-party/parties for this year's MidCamp. After getting some feedback from my initial post, Twitter, and Reddit, I began to brainstorm possibilities for catering and entertainment, working from some initial assumptions (since I hadn't gotten budget numbers from the Finance team yet).


While people didn't seem excited fully-structured group activities, it would be nice to provide a space for self-organized activities: board games, knitting circle, firespinning (okay maybe not that one), etc.

Some ideas to tie into the Alice in Wonderland theme:

  • Tea party
  • Human chess (people as pieces)
  • Card games with giant-sized cards
  • Raffle grab bag with playing cards as raffle tickets


I'd wanted to include dinner (rather than just appetizers/snacks and drinks) as part of the event, so that attendees don't leave the venue for dinner and decide not to come back. However, since we're limited to catering provided by the venue, costs quickly skyrocketed beyond anything we could reasonably expect a sponsor to cover -- ten times the amount the Sponsorship team is trying to raise through the a la carte sponsor option.

When Budget Bites You in the Butt

This is at least partially a chicken-and-egg problem. We're trying to organize events for two to three times last year's attendee numbers, with last year's finance numbers. We also don't know how many attendees we're going to have, never mind how many of those would actually come to a social event on Friday and/or Saturday evening.

Exploring Alternatives

At this point in our planning, I can see where the benefits of going to a bar or restaurant begin to look enticing. In purely economic terms, you'll get more bang for your buck: cheaper food and drinks, options of open bar vs. cash bar vs. special discounts. However, relocating means that we lose control of the venue and start running into dark, noisy, and/or crowded environments that just aren't conducive to socializng and networking.


Option A: Hold a "Tea Party" social for a few hours in the evening, providing snacks/desserts and drinks at the venue. Leave some time between the end of camp sessions and the start of the social for attendees to head out into the neighborhood for dinner.

Option B: Try to convince a local bar or restaurant to host the group. We would need to provide dinner or appetizers in order to keep the group together as much as possible.

Option C: ???


So again, I'm reaching out to the community. What would you prefer? What ideas have we missed?

(Image from Disney's Alice in Wonderland)