The following story is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
It was pure luck of the draw that got her stuck with the job. Mr. Morgan gave the task to his top admin team. “It doesn’t matter to me which of you takes this on, but one of you own it and make it happen.” Jamie and Mandy agreed to a coin toss: heads wins supervision of office Christmas decorating; tails loses and has to plan the party. Jamie’s face fell as Mandy snatched the heads-up quarter off the desk, kissed it and whispered a relieved, “Yes!”
The Christmas party is a big deal. Responsibility rotates among departments year-to-year because it’s a full-time, three-month focus for whomever in the department gets assigned the gig. Blue Sky Corporation’s 175 employees are not the single audience, though planning for a group that size is a big enough chore by itself. Loving the holiday season as Mr. Morgan does, he includes the Blue Sky big wigs and major stakeholders from around the country on the invitation list and uses the festivities to woo and wow and make Blue Sky shine like the star on the giant Christmas tree. It is no small affair. If not done impressively, Jamie has no doubt her stocking will be full of coal this year.
With nothing to go on but a budget ceiling and memories of past years, Jamie started making a list. Determine theme. Find venue. Design and print invitations. Arrange travel, accommodations and in-town transportation for executives and stakeholders. Find caterer and choose menu. Find and hire appropriate entertainers. Find valet service. Select and order unique party favors. Figure out decorations and floral appointments. Find Santa Claus. “I’m asking him for a vacation as soon as this is over,” she said to herself, already feeling overwhelmed.
For the six years that she’s been with Blue Sky, the party has been great. It’s the trek to and from the event that she dreads. She supposes it is cost prohibitive to try and plan anything of this caliber here in Denton even if there were a venue that might work. Besides, she would have to find and hire all the servicing in Dallas or Fort Worth plus allocate extra budget to get it to Denton. “I guess that’s why we never have the party in Denton,” she thought.
Wait right there, Jamie! You’ve got it all wrong. Every single to-do on your list is available right here in Denton. Just because those who’ve gone before you didn’t possess enough creativity to look at Denton doesn’t mean a thing. You can be the one who breaks the mold and plans the original, independent festivity everyone from top to bottom on the Blue Sky ladder will remember for years to come
The Planner’s Zone has the answers. This coming Thursday, October 22, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UNT Gateway Center is the Denton CVB’s 9th-annual Planner’s Zone Expo. Dana Lodge, CVB Director of Sales, has been at the helm of The Planner’s Zone since it was just an idea.
“My mission on the CVB team is convincing groups to meet and stay in Denton,” Dana says. “Over the years, the biggest challenges have been our own Denton citizens, because they either don’t believe Denton has what they need or they think planning something in Denton will bust their budgets. Neither is true.”
Dana shaped The Planner’s Zone to prove it, and the expo is changing Denton’s consciousness. More than fifty exhibitors are showcasing their products and services. “Attendees can easily make lunch out of the catering and restaurant samples. It’s one of the reasons we have it at lunch,” Dana laughs. “It’s delicious, and there are giveaways and door prizes, too.”
We’ve all been in Jamie’s place. For me, I was helping plan a wedding. Dana recently got to plan her mom’s 80th birthday celebration. Maybe yours was the family reunion. An educational seminar. A Sunday School gathering. A professional conference. Maybe even the office party. In these roles, we are every one a planner.
That is why The Planner’s Zone is for everyone. It is free, and so is parking at Fouts Field this Thursday. For future reference, Dana’s creative planning expertise is a complimentary service of the CVB for groups meeting in Denton and utilizing Denton venues.
Don’t be a Jamie. We have what you need. Have lunch on us at The Planner’s Zone this Thursday and meet the people with the resources to make your event original and independent right here in Denton.