History can be an amazing teacher in politics and economics, but it can also be a great way to learn from some of the best event planners who have ever lived. Take a look at 5 notable event tips from people who knew how to entertain. From Manhattan Socialites who dominated high society newspaper columns, to heads of state, to famous entertainers, our list is filled with unique individuals known for hosting amazing events. So take a second to learn from history’s greats to discover invaluable event planning tips.
1. Brooke Astor
Event Tip: One must always be poised, no matter the circumstances
Wife of millionaire, William Vincent Astor, Mrs. Astor became a fixture of New York City high society. Her numerous parties, philanthropic fundraisers, and luncheons were stuff of legend. To be invited to one of Brooke Astor’s events was to be included in a very exclusive club indeed.
Brooke Astor’s events were so popular and successful not only because she was tied to wealth, it had to do with her incredible ability to remain calm and graceful no matter the situation. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she talked about the need for a host to forget about their problems in order to remain attentive to guests. She said, “Forget disasters; they are part of life. Nothing is meant to be too easy. You must take these incidents in stride—tonight you are [entertaining] friends.”
2. President Franklin Roosevelt
Event Tip: Make your events fun and you shall be rewarded
The only President of the United States to serve three terms in office, President Roosevelt knew a thing or two about hosting incredibly important events. During World War II, he often invited heads of state to the White House to discuss things like world peace, and how to stop the spread of Nazism (ya know, small stuff).
But despite the enormity of what was discussed at these events, President Roosevelt always made sure his guests had a good time. In a biography of his Presidency, Dorris Kerns Goodwin recounts how he and world dignitaries like Winston Churchill would share a few glasses of brandy, and dance around the White House before getting down to brass tax.
So take a page out of President Roosevelt’s book and be sure to create a fun environment for your guests to relax and network with one another. It doesn’t matter if you event is focused on a serious and professional topic like business best practices, fun (and maybe a bit of alcohol) is always welcomed by guests.
3. Consuelo Vanderbilt
Event Tip: Create events with a purpose
Not all Victorian era socialites were just concerned with corsets and high tea. Consuelo Vanderbilt was one of the first high-minded women to champion causes such as labor conditions and women’s rights. She organized meetings and larger events to bring her peers together to discuss the most pressing issues of her time.
Rather than hosting another frivolous get-together, Consuelo Vanderbilt created some of the most talk-about events of her era by making them meaningful. Attendees were expected to come with an opinion and a desire to make things happen. This helped to infuse the Vanderbilt’s events with fantastic energy and optimism.
The next time you host an event, be sure to communicate why exactly your attendees should come, and give them a small assignment to do before they show up to give everyone a sense of purpose on event day.
4. Frank Sinatra
Event Tip: Engaging speakers go a long way
It seems that every celebrity worth mentioning has a notable Frank Sinatra story. From sports anchor, Ahmad Rashad to preeminent oscar nominee, Meryl Streep, most famous people have a story or two to tell about Mr. Sinatra. Sinatra was known to be a gregarious host and regaled his guests with stories of his escapades on the road. Of the galas, and parties celebrities like Streep and Rashad had attended, why is it that Sinatra’s parties stand out in their minds? It’s because Sinatra supplied his guests with an amazing and captivating speaker – himself.
Event professionals should recognize the importance of providing attendees with speakers who are not only informative and qualified, but who are also engaging. For an event speaker to be memorable, they must be able to pull their audience in, away from distractions of work and fellow attendees. It’s key to making sure attendees will remember your event.
5. Jay Gatsby
Event Tip: Create a spectacle and wow your audience
Ok, so maybe Mr. Gatsby is a fictional F. Scott Fitzgerald character. But, wouldn’t you have wanted to attend one of Gatsby’s famous parties? The well-to-do characters in Fitzgerald’s book certainly did, why? It’s because Gatsby always went all out when hosting a party. From beach-side fireworks to endless champagne and impeccable food, Gatsby created a spectacle at his events.
Keep these event planning tips in mind the next time you’re in a position where you must truly entertain attendees. Create a spectacle by using unique lighting and event design in addition to providing attendees with a high-quality experience. Whether that means finding outstandingly good event speakers or making sure that the catering at your event isn’t just good, but excellent, #eventprofs must go above and beyond to truly create a memorable event. Consider partnering with a food or beverage brand that fits your event, they’ll like the exposure and will be sure to put their best foot forward, and your attendees will appreciate top-notch catering.
The five event planning pros we have profiled might not be the typical sort of planner. But we can learn critical event planning tips from each of them. Whether it means being poised, gregarious or sparing no expense, each of the profiled event planners are famous for being fantastic hosts. As a result, they each have at least one critical tip for all event planners to note.