My favourite recipe of the year – baked crispy eggplant parmesan

I have a blog entitled Green Smoothies & Juice but it’s a bit misleading. From over there it looks like I’m 100% vegan and I do try to eat a vegan diet as often as possible.

However, I’ve been obsessed with this recipe for eggplant parmesan for the last couple of months. I highly recommend it! It’s a lacto ovo vegetarian recipe. It’s baked, not fried, and the eggplant comes out crispy. Even my husband who doesn’t like eggplant likes it! It’s very convenient in the fridge for up to 3 days and also freezes well.

Ingredients

  • 1 big eggplant or 2 normal sized eggplants, peeled and cut into a little less 1/3-inch slices length-wise of the eggplant (the long way)
  • 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs (or almond flour to make it paleo)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 eggs beaten (I’m sure eggwhites would work for mom)
  • Salt for sweating the eggplant
  • Tomato sauce of choice for serving (not baking)
  • Mozzarella for melting (optional)

Directions

  • Place eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt. Allow to sit for at least 3 hours so that the extra moisture comes out of it. Wipe excess moisture from eggplant slices with paper towels.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Use non-stick silpat mats, otherwise grease a baking sheet.
  • Set up a breading station by mixing the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together in one dish.
  • In another dish, have the beaten egg ready.
  • Coat each slice of eggplant with the egg first, then with bread crumb mixture.
  • Arrange the coated eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake in the preheated oven on each side until lightly browned and crisp. This will be between 11 and 15 minutes on each side depending on your oven.
  • Serve on top of tomato sauce but only just before you’re going to eat it. That way it doesn’t get soggy the way it would if you poured the tomato sauce over it.
  • You can also melt mozzarella over it and serve on top of tomato sauce which is especially delicious, alone or with pasta.

**The eggplant cutlets keep in the fridge really well for 3 days. They also freeze really well and you can just heat up a couple of slices at a time, preferably in an oven, not microwave, so that it’s crispy.

**If you have leftover parmesan and breadcrumbs, you can mix it in with eggs and make a crispy omelette kind of thing that’s really tasty to use up leftover ingredients.

Vienna, June 2018

We had a wonderful time in Vienna in June!

It was a business and pleasure trip. You can read about our reason for traveling to Vienna here.

I don’t have time to write about the entire trip and I’ve left it a bit long, but here are my top recommendations for Vienna that I shared with a friend who was traveling there shortly after we returned.

***

Schonbrunn Palace is awesome. Save it for good weather. The ticket situation was annoying. You have to get them right at the front gate in the building on your immediate left. You can book a time for the tour, which we enjoyed a lot. While you wait for your tour, the gardens are free and fabulous. This is definitely worth at least a half day and depending on how long you spend in the gardens, could be a lot longer.

We liked the ease of the Vienna Pass which includes the Hop on, Hop Off Bus. That way we could pop into a lot of places but not feel like we had to stay. The bus is great and the red line in particular gives you the full tour of the downtown which helps you get to know the layout of the centre of the city where most of the stuff is.

The Hofburg Palace is also great. I would have liked to see more of it. When we were there, the Spanish Rididng School was closed for a few days to prepare a ball which was disappointing. It’s supposed to be a highlight.

Definitely if it’s opened, the Spanish Riding School, which is part of the Hofburg. I think if I were to do it again, I would have gone to more of the various museums and exhibits that are part of the Hofburg. There are a few different parts attached to it.
Beyond that, I went to some art galleries that were nice and there are lots of cathedrals but the other parts don’t stand out quite as much.

Had amazing apple strudel at a bakery called Backerei Cafe Felzl.

We had a funny experience going to see a concert. There are people on the street selling tickets to concerts. The one we ended up in was in a tiny basement, the sales guys dressed up in the streets were very deceiving, but the music was excellent. I think it’s worth getting some info and splurging to see a good performance with costumes, etc. that walks you through the most historic and important Viennese music. The thing that has stayed with me the most is the wonderful music so next time I would try to see a good show.

Those would be my top recommendations.

Geoff’s Facebook album

https://www.facebook.com/geoffrey.holmes.77/media_set?set=a.10156520994580126&type=3

Who’s Kale – Best Creamy Kale Salad

If you’re looking for the best kale salad, this is it! I became hooked on kale salad when I first discovered this recipe at the Whole Foods near a dance event in Washington, DC. It was so good, I ate it for 3 days in a row.

I immediately looked it up on the internet and was not surprised to learn that other people were as keen on the same kale salad that I was. I found the recipe, though I’ve since made my own tweaks to improve it. Credit to the original internet source: http://www.eatingbirdfood.com/2011/02/garlicky-kale/

How this salad got its name

Last Sunday at Niagara VegFest I picked up a couple of I “heart” kale pieces of merchandise–a bag as well as a couple of buttons. Two days later, I was riding the subway in Toronto late at night and a guy asked me, “Who’s Kale?” which became a running joke among my other kale-loving friends. The name stuck.

Who’s Kale?

The Kale Recipe everyone’s talking about – Who’s Kale? 

  • 1 bunch raw curly kale, washed, de-stemmed and dried
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 4 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos, tamari, or salt to taste (I actually use soy-free miso to taste lately)
  • 6 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (or more – yum!)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (1 – 2 cloves of garlic, when I’m lazy I use garlic powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard (optional)
  • a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it out to the thickness of your choice
  1. Wash, dry and remove the stems from your kale. Rip into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.
  2. Puree all ingredients (except kale) in a blender or food processor to blend the dressing.
  3. You can make this dressing thinner by adding more water in which case you can pour it directly on to your kale and massage it in. However, I’ve since changed to keeping my dressing thick with only a couple of tablespoons of water so it’s more like a paste, and then adding my kale to it and massaging it in that way. It gives more flavour punch and sticks to the leaves better.
  4. Eat it right away, or let the salad sit in the fridge for an hour or so to marinate. You can skip this step if you need to eat right away, but allowing some time to marinate will wilt the kale a bit and make it a little softer – particularly for those who are skeptical about eating raw kale.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BX821OKgPkT/?taken-by=mandigould

https://www.instagram.com/p/BHsHSrpgj97/?taken-by=mandigould

 

Wikipedia has this to say about kale:

Kale or borecole (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group) is a vegetable with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbagethan most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables, including broccolicauliflowercollard greens, and brussels sprouts. The cultivar groupAcephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically.

Want to know more about the various varieties of kale? Check out ilovekale.com.

Dapper Day 2017 at the Magic Kingdom & Epcot

Geoff, Dean, and I went to Dapper Day Spring 2017 at Disney World and had a great time! Saturday was at the Magic Kingdom and Sunday was at Epcot.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTeXfkkgfx7/?taken-by=mandigould

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTeXTbcAEBT/?taken-by=mandigould

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTknKFVAb2r/?taken-by=mandigould

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTkn3g3gHDd/?taken-by=mandigould

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTg5cqzFC2n/?taken-by=mandigould

Surprise

Shhh… it’s a surprise!

For Geoff’s birthday, which will be just a few days before our trip to Disney World, I’ve had these custom t-shirts designed for him. I hope they arrive in time!

These are sort of “black market” custom Disney t-shirts, highlighting our own favourite inside moments at the parks. There’s a Haunted Mansion t-shirt, Haunted Mansion t-shirt, Enchanted Tiki Room t-shirt, and Carousel of Progress t-shirt.

Inspiration: Haunted Mansion /  Text: We’re assembling for a swingin’ wake

 

 

Inspiration: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror / Text: This, as you may recognize, is a maintenance service elevator still in operation, waiting for you.

 

 

Inspiration: Carousel of Progress / Text: You know that pilot fellah… Charles Lindberg? He’s about to fly a single winged airplane all the way across the Atlantic. He’s never gonna’ make it.

Inspiration: Enchanted Tikki Room / Text: My siestas are getting shorter and shorter

And they’re in! They came out great. I can’t wait to see Geoff wearing them at Disney World!

And here he is, happy as pie at the Enchanted Tiki Room.

And at the Haunted Mansion:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTl95UwAPIK/?taken-by=mandigould

Everything You Need To Know About Green Smoothies

365 days of green smoothies! Well, I maybe take a few days off for juice fasting and vacations when I don’t carry a mini blender with me, but still… there are a lot of green smoothies in my life! I make at least 2 servings of green smoothie every morning for my husband and me, and sometimes I make extra. Green smoothies store very well in mason jars in the fridge and are perfectly good the next day, so sometimes I make a batch in advance if I know I’m going to be busy.

Green Smoothie Benefits

How many servings of fruits and veggies do you think you really eat every day? Most people just don’t get enough, and a lot fewer servings than they’d like to think. Most people only get 3-4 servings a day when they should be consuming 5-9+. More fruits, and especially vegetables, helps to regulate your blood sugar and prevents heart disease, cancer and other illnesses.

Starting your day with a green smoothie is a quick and convenient way to start your day with 3+ servings of fruits and vegetables. Blending also makes the vegetables easy to digest and assimilate, and each smoothie is full of healthy fibre. A smoothie is a particularly great way to consume leafy greens; with no chewing involved and the sweet flavour of the fruit, it couldn’t be easier to kickstart your day.

Green smoothies are full of phytonutrients and are very high in antioxidants. With all of the vitamins, minerals, and all around nutrients that you’re consuming first thing every morning, green smoothies really help boost your energy. They also help with mental clarity.

You’ll not only feel better from drinking green smoothies but you’ll look better too. Green smoothies are great for your skin and are great for weight loss and weight management. Starting your day with a green smoothie will also help to reduce your cravings for sugar and junk food.

Components of a Great Green Smoothie

I’ve been playing around with green smoothies on a daily basis for a few years now, and I’ve come to understand that a good green smoothie is made up of the following components:

  1. Leafy Greens
  2. Fruit of Choice
  3. Thickener/Something Creamy
  4. Liquid
  5. Superfoods/Supplements (optional)
  6. Sweetener (definitely optional)

1. Leafy Greens

It wouldn’t be a green smoothie if it didn’t contain a green vegetable. My preferences are spinach or kale. I use a lot of baby spinach, and generally I use one serious handful of spinach per serving. Note that my smoothie recipes are always for 2 servings, so for spinach I would use 2 big handfuls. For kale, I use 3 leaves per serving, so that’s 6 good sized leaves.

I also sometimes use mixed greens, chard, or other green vegetables that I have in the fridge. However, some of the other greens can have stronger flavours that don’t integrate into the smoothie quite as well, so I would be more conservative with other greens. Romaine, for example, is surprisingly sour in a smoothie.

On occasion, I do a wacky smoothie with something like shredded carrot instead of a green vegetable. You can also throw in the ends of raw zucchini that are left after spiralizing zucchini noodles.

2. Fruit of Choice

The defining flavour of your smoothie (unless you’re making a chocolate or peanut butter smoothie) will be the fruit that you choose. I like to use frozen fruit, and the frozen element also acts as a thickener in the smoothie. Frozen berries, particularly raspberries are my first choice, followed by mixed berries. While blueberries are delicious, they have a lot of pectin and using straight blueberries rather than a mix of berries will cause your smoothie to over-thicken and even separate. Another reason why I like raspberries is that because they have the strongest red colour and will make your green smoothie red. Other berries will give your smoothie a muddy colour when mixed with the greens, but you get over the colour pretty quickly. However, it’s still appealing to have a red smoothie once in a while, and raspberries are bold and delicious.

My second and third choices for fruit are pineapple and mango. These have good flavour profiles to go with the greens, and you have the added bonus of a bright green smoothie when you use these.

Rule of thumb: I use about 1.5 cups of fruit for 2 smoothie servings.

Note: I don’t include banana as a fruit in this context, I use it as a thickener. See below. 

3. Thickener/Something Creamy

Without a thickener, your smoothie will come out watery which is less tasty and also less filling. I don’t believe in smoothies as a “meal replacement” or just a drink – rather, to me a smoothie is a meal. Including a thickener is important. Thickeners also add a delicious creamy element. Thickeners include:

  • Banana
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Avocado
  • Coconut, hemp, or flax oil, or sunflower lecithin
  • Something frozen (like your banana, your other fruit, or ice cubes)
  • Protein Powder

Though banana is a fruit and there is other fruit in your smoothie, I find that a smoothie just isn’t the same without at least some banana in it. 1/2 to a full banana per serving is ideal. I often use 1.5 bananas for 2 servings and set aside the other half a banana to have with my lunch. If you’re not keen on banana, consider adding avocado, hemp seeds, raw cashews, almonds, or pumpkin seeds to your smoothie and definitely don’t skip a frozen element as you’ll need these other ingredients to thicken in the banana’s place.

My absolute favourite protein powder is Sunwarrior Protein-Vanilla. We include it in every single smoothie. It’s a raw vegan protein powder and the classic vanilla is delicious. The Sunwarrior Protein-Chocolate is also really good. I’ve tried a lot of different protein powders over the years and this one is by far the best. It’s tasty and makes the smoothie wonderfully creamy.

I also often add some coconut oil to my smoothie. Because coconut oil reacts to the cold, I blend it with water and all of the room temperature ingredients first before adding anything frozen. That way, it won’t get tiny specs of solid coconut oil. Hemp and flax oil can have a strong taste so you might like to add a pinch of stevia. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium which helps to prevent small tumour formation – particularly in men – and I include 3 brazil nuts per serving for my husband and me. I don’t personally use avocado in my smoothies very often but it does add a luxuriously creamy component that can be a great treat.

4. Liquid

While many people use nut milk, soy milk, coconut milk or coconut water, or even juice in their green smoothie, I absolutely don’t see the point. If you’ve used the right quality ingredients for the rest of your smoothie, you don’t need anything but filtered water. These other ingredients just contribute to a higher cost per smoothie, and also unnecessary calories. I would adjust your creamy component of your smoothies first, but if you aren’t using a protein powder for example, you might consider using a nut milk in your smoothie.

5. Superfoods/Supplements

You can also supplement your smoothie with superfoods and supplements. I always include maca, reishi, and chaga to my smoothie, as well as drops like B12, iodine, and vitamin D in the winter. There are so many supplements and superfoods available and it can be a tough field to navigate. I’ve tried most of them and it’s taken me a while to figure out what’s right for me and my husband. 6. Sweetener (Optional)

You don’t necessarily need a sweetener! However, when supplementing green smoothies with certain strong superfoods, like reishi, I do sometimes find it necessary to sweeten the smoothie if it’s become bitter. I personally always use stevia. I would never use any kind of processed sugar.

A date or two are also good choices if you have a good blender. I might consider a drop of maple syrup, agave, or coconut syrup, but stevia in either liquid drops or a pinch of the powder does the trick. Depending on the flavour profile of your smoothie, a little cinnamon can also be a nice complement.

How to Blend Your Smoothie

If you have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you can put all of your ingredients in and not worry about the order of things. However, if you’re working with a standard blender, you can take a few steps to make things work more efficiently in your machine.

  • Start with your liquid and your base fruit. Pulse first, then blend.
  • Add your thickening ingredient. Pulse first, then blend again.
  • Add your greens. You can also add your superfoods and any powders at this stage and put the greens on top of the powder so that it doesn’t puff up. Pulse, then blend.
  • Once all of your ingredients have been added, taste your smoothie and determine if it needs a little sweetener like stevia. You can usually skip this step altogether, and definitely taste first before assuming that you need sweetening. Only bitter superfood powders should require the addition of sweeteners as the fruit is already sweet enough.
  • NB: When I include coconut oil in my smoothie, I change the order of ingredients. Because coconut oil reacts to the cold, I blend it with water and all of the room temperature ingredients first before adding anything frozen. That way, it won’t get tiny specs of solid coconut oil.

Invest in a Good Blender

My prized possession – truly, my dessert island piece of kitchen equipment – is my Vitamix. Yes, they’re pricey. However, I use it every single day and have been using it every day since I bought it in 2011. Seriously. Everyone who owns a Vitamix will say the same thing. It’s an amazing piece of equipment and you’ll never regret the purchase.

How to Wash your Blender

It wasn’t until I got a Vitamix that I learned about how to really care for a blender. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this technique sooner? When you’re done making your smoothie, give it a rinse and then fill it part way with water and some soap. Then put the lid on it and run it! It becomes a self-cleaning tool! You’ll still want to wipe it out with a sponge to make sure that no residue builds up in the various nooks and crannies but this is by far the most efficient way to clean and care for your blender.

Get into the habit of washing your blender right after use rather than letting it sit around. With this method, cleaning is super quick so there’s no reason to leave it sitting around, especially not over night. I like to flip my blender upside down to let the water drip out while it’s drying.

More Dresses for Sale

I’m selling some dresses. Open to offers. The prices are listed in USD but I’m open to offers in CAD.

Prices do not include shipping from Canada. Shipping to US destinations is $17 USD. Shipping to Canadian destinations is $18.50 CAD. If you’re Canadian and would like to make an offer for everything in CAD, just give me a shout.

“Alice” Dress – L – $25 USD

 

“Summer of Love” Dress – L – $25 USD

Eva Franco Dress – size 10 – $30 USD

No longer has the belt, therefore the great price.

Charming Blue Dress – XL – $25

Damzels Seahorse Dress – L – $25

Please contact me if you’re interested in any of these items.

Click here to see more dresses.  

Stop Staring Dresses For Sale & More

Closet purge! Brand photos appear first followed by photographs of the garments. Prices $30 and up. Everything is in excellent condition from a smoke and fur-free home. I’m a clothing “collector” so I keep everything in excellent condition.

  • Stop Staring, Suit Dress pink/black – “like new” condition, L – $85 USD
  • Stop Staring, Black Timeless – “like new” condition, L – $70 USD
  • Miss Candy-Floss – Trixie-Rose skirt, new with tags, MEDIUM – $60 USD
  • Bettie Page, Scottie Dress – shortened slightly, L – $30 USD
  • Rock Steady, I call it the Calamity Jane dress, L – $40 USD
  • Bernie Dexter, patterned dress, L – $40 USD
  • Collectif, beige with floral print*, new with tags, L – $30 USD

**Prices do not include shipping from Canada. Shipping to US destinations is $17 USD. Shipping to Canadian destinations is $18.50 CAD. If you’re Canadian and would like to make an offer for everything in CAD, just give me a shout.

Stop Staring Suit Dress – $85 USD

Stop Staring Timeless Dress – $70 USD

Miss Candy-Floss Trixie-Rose Skirt – M – $60 USD

NEW WITH TAGS 

Bettie Page Scottie Dress – $30

Bernie Dexter – L – $40 USD

Rock Steady – L – $40 USD

Collectif Dress – L – $30 USD

NEW WITH TAGS.

Please contact me if you’re interested in any of these items.

Click here to see more dresses.  

Event Organizing Checklist

A Seasoned Event Organizer’s Tips & Checklist

Everyone loves a great event! It takes an incredible amount of planning, project management, and also stage management to run an event that feels great to participants. Detailed planning is critical. You need a great team of people that you can work well with, you need a high level, realistic perspective, and you need to be organized. Really organized.

I’ve created a checklist that you can refer to when you’re planning your next event. I’ve tried to include all of the best event organizing tips that I can offer from my extensive experience as an event planner. This advice comes from my own experience running major dance festivals like Frankie 100, over 12 years of dance workshop weekends, and local specialty festivals like the TD Niagara Jazz Festival, Rawstock Niagara, and the Niagara VegFest.

Obviously, every event is different and this checklist should be scaled accordingly depending on the size and scope of your event. A two-hour book club party is going to be scaled much differently than a four-day jazz festival. However, the core principles remain the same.

1. Set the Date 

As early in advance as possible, set your dates. If your event is an annual one and the event takes place at the same time each year, you have an advantage, but either way you should lock that date in stone ASAP. Make sure to add the date to your website as early as possible.

Be courteous and coordinate your dates with other organizers in your community. Let them know what you have planned and avoid conflicts when possible. Reach out to other nearby organizers, or related community leaders, and be respectful and communicative.

2. Secure the Venue

The next most important step is to book and confirm the venue. Even if your event takes place in the same place every year, confirm it and get it booked. Unless the event is taking place in your own backyard, this is really critical. Make sure to lock into your venue as early as possible.

3. Send Out a Save the Date Announcement

Your full promotions might not begin for some time, and you might not even have any other details set yet, but as soon as you have your date confirmed and your venue booked, update your public. In today’s day and age, people are becoming more and more busy and it’s essential to notify your community as soon as possible. Update your website with the preliminary save-the-date information, and send out the high level announcement on social media and in your newsletter.

4. Build A Great Team

You may already have a core team in pace, but consider what staffing needs your event needs based on your new event scope and budget. Depending on the size of your event, key members might include:

  • Director/Producer
  • Fundraising Lead
  • Sponsorship Lead
  • Treasurer
  • Stage Manager
  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Registration/Tickets
  • Decorations/Creative
  • Marketing & Promotions Lead
  • Guest Liaison & Hospitality
  • Security Lead
  • Green/Eco Team Lead
  • Roadie/Logistics Team Lead
  • Travel Liaisons
  • Etc.

A great event is only as good as its people. Not only do you need to find great people who you can work with, but you need to build a team that will be communicative and caring with each other. Building a team of hard working, dedicated, mutually respectful, inclusive people is probably my number one tip when it comes to event organizing.

5. Establish an Organizational System 

These days, there is some great project management software available. I love Asana. It’s really changed the way that I work and think about work. If you’re new to it, consider picking up the Asana Definitive Guide. And where would we be without Google docs? I can’t live without my shared Google spreadsheets. A shared Google Calendar might also be useful for your team.

6. Set Out the Organizational Timeline

Depending on the lead up time to the event, determine what benchmarks should take place when. When considering major timeline benchmarks, consider all factors, like the launch of your promotional campaign and the date that ticket sales will open should not conflict with other related events or holidays that will distract from your message.

Make sure that as much of your organizing will ready in advance as possible so that in the final weeks (or even final month, depending on the timeline), most of the large pieces have already been finalized. That way, you can leave yourself wiggle room for putting out fires (the inevitable unexpected) and troubleshooting.

Also, if you’re planning to have any type of after party or volunteer appreciation party, set that date in advance and stick to it. Otherwise, it’s likely to fall by the wayside.

7. Create a Schedule for Regular Team Meetings

Depending on the size and scope of the event, meetings might take place in person or by conference call and should ramp up from monthly or bi-weekly to weekly leading up to the event.

Strive to keep meetings on topic. It’s important to respect people’s time. The meetings should be friendly, but not so casual that you just end up winging it. If you’re in charge, take your leadership role seriously and work to continuously motivate your team and make them feel valued. Take the time to communicate and check-in frequently with your Team Leaders to make sure that they are on track and equipped to mobilize their team own smaller teams if they have subordinates. The larger the project, the more important it is that you focus on mobilizing your people.

8. Budget Budget Budget

Get serious about your event budget. Remember that every event is scalable. If your event is in it’s infancy, be conservative. Start out small. Make modest projections of how many guests you might realistically expect to attend your event. It’s advisable to under-budget on attendance while over-budgeting on costs to ensure that you have a safe buffer zone for unexpected expenses.

There are always unexpected costs and even with extensive experience, you never can anticipate what they will be. If you could, they wouldn’t be unexpected. Set aside some a reserve in your budget for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. I recommend a buffer of about 10%-15% as a safe buffer zone.

  • Petty Cash & Expensing

Set out a clear policy for expenses. It can be very tough for staff, and especially volunteers, to carry expenses around for too long before submitting for reimbursement. Setup a clear system for your team. Be very cautious about asking volunteers to expense items. I much prefer a petty cash system, and the petty cash available on-site during the event should always be bigger than you think, just in case.

9. Give Your Event Shape

Determine the specific details that will give your event character. This will depend on the type of event that you’re holding. Whether it’s booking and determining special guest needs, booking bands or artists, securing guest instructors, celebrities, local officials, etc. now is the time to work within the budget that you created and shape your event into a blend dreams and reality. This is also the time to manage any artist contracts and riders, and lock in to specific guest requests.

Consider all the ways that the event will affect the guest experience:

  • The event’s vision & mission
  • Event branding, tone, messaging, communications
  • Entertainment and/or educational value
  • Decorations & overall feeling of the event
  • Flow & energy; what kind of “ride” will you be giving your attendees throughout the course of the event. You don’t want to underwhelm your guests, but you also don’t want to overextend and plan more than is realistic for them to absorb.
  • Create value so that guests walk away feeling like the event was a worthwhile experience that was worth the price of admission – even if the event was free!.

Go back to your budget constantly to tweak it and ensure that everything still fits.

10. Operations & Logistics Planning

Now it’s all about balancing logistics with the flow of your event. What should take place when? What parts of the event will be the best attended slotted in where? What logistical support will be required based on how your schedule flows? Think about the way that your event flow will feel from your audience point of view, and also consider the human resources that will be required to execute that plan. As you lock in to your finalized schedule, be as realistic as possible about how much time needs to be allotted where. Various aspects of event setup always take longer than you might think.

  • Organize Registration and Tickets

Unless your event is free, you’ll need a way to manage attendance. What type of ticket or wristband will be most appropriate for your event? What will your re-entrance policy be if someone leaves and wants to come back in? Will the tickets or wristbands be enough for re-entrance, or will you need a hand stamp of some kind?

  • Determine Technical Needs
  • Determine Equipment and Supply Needs
  • Determine Administrative Needs
  • Establish an On-Site Communications Plan

How will your team communicate throughout the actual event? I’m a big fan of walkie talkies with the ear piece attachment. I’m also a fan of being as hands-free as possible. As a woman who usually dresses up to be presentable at the events I’m running, I plan on wearing a belt so that I can attach the walkie talkie to the belt.

I am not a fan of cell phones which you don’t hear ringing in loud spaces. I still carry my cell phone on me because you always need it for something, but I set an out-of-office reply on my email to let people know that I’m in event mode and won’t be able to attend to email. If it’s important, it’s better that they call.

Make sure that you have someone who will be in charge of fielding phone calls and email from the public during the event, or set an office responder for that account that includes all of the FAQ information that someone might need at the last minute.

  • Consider All Possible On-Site Needs

Get your team involved to make sure that as many brains are considering gaps that may need filling as possible. Will your guest artists need water? Lunch? Who will be responsible for that? Are there enough toilets onsite or do you need to order port-a-potties? Are there enough seats? What about coat check? Think about all of the variables, then think about them again so that nothing slips through the cracks. Revisit this line of thinking often.

11. Return to the Budget

Review your budget again to make sure that costs are still lining up with projections or revise the budget as needed.

12. Launch the Full Advertising Campaign 

And begin ticket sales/registration, according to the timeline you originally set out. I’m not going to go into too much detail about the PR side of this other than to say that a strong social media presence is very important. Establish a hashtag for the event and encourage photo uploads during and after the event. Having someone live Tweet the event can also be a good idea.

13. Check Up on your Event’s Health

Check ticket sales in the weeks leading up to the event. Are they where they need to be? Does the event need to be re-scaled, either up or down, based on the current level of sales? Consider whether or not you’ve over or under projected your supply quotas and scale back or add on to make sure that you can meet the needs of the event without either losing money or overselling.

Also, make sure that you’re checking-in with your team members regularly. How are they feeling? How is morale? Take care of your team, and they will take care of your event. Neglect your team, and the event will suffer for it. Your people are everything.

14. Walk the Critical Path

Walk the Critical Path of your event with your Team Leaders to make sure that all aspects of event flow have been considered. By this, I mean create a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, schedule for the event that includes who/what/where/when for event details and staff. You can do this as a flow chart, or I happen to love spreadsheets. However you do it, get it down in writing and get your team on-board to create a functional critical path.

  • On-Site Responsibilities

There needs to be a clear understanding among your team members of who is responsible and on-duty when. Who is committed to the early morning setup shifts? Who is dedicated to late night and clean up? Your team must take the time considerations seriously.

Part of running an event is understanding that you really aren’t there to have fun. Of course you enjoy seeing your vision come to fruition, but while the event is taking place, you are responsible. Drinking, dancing, socializing, celebrating, etc. is for your guests and not for you to partake in unless you are clearly off-duty or taking a break from responsibilities at a time when you are clearly not needed by your fellow team members.

  • On-Site Financial Control

You need a clear plan for managing cash and financials on-site. Who will be responsible for delivering the float/cash box? Who will check-in periodically and remove excess cash to a safe location? Who is paying bands, guests, artists? This should be decided and scheduled clearly in advance.

  • Printing & Personal Tech

Who will be responsible for bringing any printed lists or information that you’ll need on-site? I really prefer to go paperless in the rest of my life, but there is always a need for printed information on-site. Whether it’s registration and ticket lists, lists of volunteer schedules, site maps to facilitate smooth setup, or even something as obvious as the schedule of events, you’re going to need printing and someone needs to clearly be responsible for bringing it.

In terms of equipment, don’t just assume that everyone will have their own laptops on-site, and don’t assume that they’re comfortable using their own laptops. I personally am happy to use my own laptop but I’m not comfortable sharing it. Other people will have their own preferences and that needs to be respected. Same with the use of cell phones. That’s another reason why I prefer walkie talkies; it’s not fair to assume that your volunteers are willing to use their own air time, and the same goes for staff unless there’s an expensing policy.

If you’re using a square to accept credit cards, you must determine in advance whose phone will be used. Giving up their phone for credit card transactions means that they won’t have it for personal use. This needs to be taken into consideration.

Don’t assume that there will be wifi available and be careful about relying on the internet for important on-site tasks. Check in advance, and save or print backups of the information.

Make sure to review the Critical Path again in the final week before the event.

15. Run the Event – Show Time! Event Proper

Follow the plan that you set out in your Critical Path. However, there are times when you need to be flexible. A really good event organizer will know when it’s time to change parts of the plan. Do what needs to be done based on the reality of the moment.

Take the time to respect and appreciate your team members while the event is on, even – no especially – when you’re under pressure and feeling stressed.

You’ll be overworked and busy during the event, but try to be as present as possible aware that your plan is materializing into fruition. As an organizer, events tend to fly by from your vantage point behind the scenes, but try to appreciate what you’ve created!

  • Self-Responsibility

As an individual, I try to be as organized and responsible for myself as possible. By that I mean, I try to pack all of the clothing, gear, a bottle of water, and also snacks so that I have everything I might need for the day already with me. Even if there is a planned break where I might have time to go back and change, etc. things can change and it’s better to have everything you need with you from the outset. Get your coffee and breakfast first before the call-time. If you’re the point person for volunteers or subordinates, brief them with the same suggestions in advance so that they can also plan accordingly.

  • My Personal Must-Have Onsite Items, aka. My Event Kit
    • Ziplocks – In a variety of sizes, ziplocks are extremely handy to keep at your event’s front desk. They can be used for a variety of things, from organizing cash, receipts, loose papers, pens, pencils, tickets, etc. You can never have too many ziplocks!
    • Sharpies – ie. permanent markers. There is always a need to write signs or label items (including writing on ziplock) and it’s very handy to have extra sharpies around.
    • Cell Phone Charger – Because you always run out of charge. Always.
    • Laptop – And charger, because you never know what you might need to reference or look up onsite.
    • A Small Purse – As a woman who dresses ‘up’ for events, I don’t usually have pockets and there are things that I need to have with me for functionality. I have a small purse that’s big enough to hold my cell phone, a pen, a sharpie, a little change, an event or personal credit card, and lip stick. 🙂
    • A Larger Bag or Backpack with Everything I Might Need – Including print outs of my important documents, a folder that seals or a large ziplock to keep and seal important incoming documents, a bottle of water, a change of clothing and change of shoes (usually I leave the house wearing something very casual and then change into something nice before the event starts), several snacks, hand wipes in case we end up doing something dirty and it’s inconvenient to find a washroom to wash up, makeup and a comb to freshen up before the event proper.
      • Great suggestions from Rich:
        • First Aid kit // Combo of Band-Aids+Tylenol+Advil
        • Safety-Pins
        • Sewing needles and white+black-thread
        • An 1/8th”-to-1/8th” audio cable (headphone size) with an 1/8″ stereo to 1/4″ mono adapter. (Can come in really handy for emergency DJ’ing / Audio issues.)
    • A Belt – So that I have something for my walkie talkie to hook onto. In a pinch, I can hook it to my small purse instead but it gets clumsy.

16. Conduct an Event Post-Mortem

After the event, conduct a post-mortem meeting as soon as possible to review the event. Create detailed notes while the event is fresh in your mind. Discuss the successful or needs-improvement aspects of the event with your team.

Don’t postpone the post-mortem! Despite being tired, it’s important to attend to this as soon as possible or you’ll lose all momentum.

Review finances and budget in the first few days after the event.

Also look at how the team worked together. Sometimes the truth can be a bit brutal, but it’s important to be communicative with your team so that you can learn and grow. Make yourself listen to the good, the bad, and the ugly, as well as any praise. The constructive criticism is far more valuable than any pats on the back. Don’t be self-deprecating but don’t succumb to hubris either. Live, learn, improve.

Once the wrap up has taken place, relax and look back at what you’ve accomplished. Feel proud of a job well done!

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions of items you would add to your own checklist, please let me know!