5 ​Unique ​W​ays to ​W​elcome​ New Employees

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1. Start date on a Friday - I can't take full credit for this one.  When I read Jack Daly's The Sales Playbook: For Hyper Sales Growthhe suggested that Fridays are actually the best day to make an employee feel welcome.  On Mondays, employees are back from the weekend so they're busy catching up. And besides, often times we'd rather be anywhere but work after a great weekend.  But guess what everyone loves and thanks God for... FRIDAYS!  Your new hire gets to see employees rounding out their week in a good mood.

2. Have an orientation plan already laid out - Show them you've been expecting them instead of cleaning their desk off as they stand above you waiting to start their day.  Have their work area clean, have their computer functioning and mouse and keyboard with new batteries.  Be sure to have an email already set up so they can start communicating internally.  If you're trying to up the ante have the other employees each write a welcome letter on a post-it and cover the computer screen with them.

3. Create a company welcome kit - Tour of the office? Sure. But do you remember how fun back-to-school shopping was? Do you know why? The anticipation of making new friends, you get new stuff (lunchbox, bookbag, pens, etc...) AND you just went up a grade which means you're smarter than you were last year.  A new job can be treated exactly the same.  Instead of sticking a bunch of pens in a holder, give them a gift box "survival kit" for their first week.  You can include snacks, branded water bottle, highlighters in the company color... anything you could find useful during your first week at work

4. Assign a buddy - Provide them with someone that's friendly and knows a lot about the office.  The 'buddy' doesn't necessarily need to be in the same department, just someone with a good grasp on company workings.  The purpose is to provide them with a go-to person they have access to during their first few weeks to ask questions they may feel embarrassed to ask a supervisor.

5. Ask for feedback - At the end of their first week, be sure to schedule a meeting to ask "How's your week been?" This is a great time to check-in if you haven't worked with the employee all week but more importantly, it shows them that they are part of the team and their opinions matter to you.

et Voilà!

Do's and Dont's at the Company Holiday Party

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Like life, many “Dos” would be better decisions if accompanied by a few “Dont's”. So, while other naughty or nice lists tend to lean on one side, we’re giving you a well-balanced etiquette guide to this year’s holiday party.
Let’s start with the obvious ones...

1. Do indulge in the open bar but Don’t call out sick the next day from being hungover.  Not only is that poor etiquette but now the whole office knows you can’t handle your liquor.

2. If you’re company allows inter-office romance, Do come as dates but Don’t make your boss regret it. So many Don’ts with this one: 1) Don’t make out 2) Don’t disappear together 3) Don’t get drunk and talk about what’s happening after the party

3. Do let the furry friends attend if the party or office is dog friendly. Don’t let them mistake the boss’s office for the bathroom. If you’re bringing your dog, then Spot is your responsibility and shouldn’t be left unattended.

4. Do bring a funny gift for Secret Santa but Don’t embarrass your coworker by exposing something they’ve told you in confidence or by gifting sex toys. I’ve actually seen this go down... at a corporate hotel!

5. Do let your guard down but Don’t take this as an opportunity to vent about work.  It’s a social affair so I’m sure you can find something else to talk about, like… what’s Beyonce up to these days?

Now here’s where it gets dicey...
6. Do go to the after party and let your hair down. You’re off the company clock (and the company’s dime) so let loose! But Don’t spill the beans to those who couldn’t make it. Whatever happens at the after party...

7. Do attend the party even if you don’t want to.  Don’t skip it or show up and complain about how stupid it is. That’s just unfair to the person who was tasked to put this together for you.

8. Do sport your fancy holiday attire but this one gets dicey for the ladies.  Don’t lose your job or change people’s perception of you for the worst by showing too much. If you can wear it to a club, don’t wear it to work… unless you work at a club.

9. Do thank the boss for throwing the party.  After all, countless companies end their year with not so much as a mention of the holidays, let alone a celebration.  Don’t hug your boss and give the drunken “I love you maaaan” speech. It’s never pretty.

10. Do have a great time.  It’s a party!  Don’t encourage others to talk strictly business because you can do that on Monday. Put the reindeer antlers on and get on the dancefloor! #no-twerking #not-werking

et Voilà!

Top 10 Wedding Traditions and Their Meaning

Over the years, I’ve planned many weddings across various religions and in this way, I’ve gotten to know and admire a lot of wedding traditions outside of my own faith that I found fascinating.  Some are thought provoking and others are just down right romantic, but either way, this is my list of top 10 wedding traditions I appreciate even more now that I know their meaning.

Exchanging of the Rings
Let’s start with one we’re familiar with.  While we know the ring symbolizes a never-ending circle of the couple’s bond and eternal quality of love, the Bible says it’s an exchange of resources as well.  Your wealth, your possessions and your lives all become one and your wedding ring is a reminder that having a joint bank account just makes paying bills easier.

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Knocking on the door
Many wedding traditions involve the bride leaving her family behind.  In a Chinese tradition, the bride returns to her family’s house 3 days after the wedding as a guest.  I understand the symbolism but the literal thought of leaving my family makes me sad. In African culture, marriage is considered the joining of two families – no one is left behind, not even grandma.  Bearing gifts, the groom and his family knock on the bride’s parents’ door and if the bride’s father answers, wedding planning and celebrations begin!

A Choora is a set of beautiful bangles worn by traditional Indian brides.  That’s just one of many pieces of jewelry that adorns the bridal garb.  Here’s what I didn’t know until I was having a chat with one of my brides after her ceremony… she has to wear it for a whole year!!! So 365 days with all those bangles jiggling every time she does the dishes, types on her computer or just moves her arm. The best part is her in-laws have the responsibility of removing it after the year is over.  Great way to make her suffer if you don’t like her. It’s no wonder some brides decide to take it off after 30 days… #compromise


San San Kudo
In traditional Shinto weddings, the main goal is simply the pursuit of good fortune.  This tradition can be seen in both Shinto and Buddhist Japanese weddings and the words literally mean “three, three, nine times”.  During this wedding ritual, the bride and groom take three sips of sake from three stacked cups. After the bride and groom sip their sake, both sets of parents also sip the sake. The ritual is complete after a total of nine sips. I know it’s just a sip, but I’m a big sipper and that’s a lot of sake.

Arrival of the Vara Yatra
This was honestly one of my favorite wedding traditions ever witnessed.  As part of the Hindu faith, the groom and his party (together make up the Vara Yatra) arrive at the ceremony venue making as much noise as one can handle.  There’s music, lots of flower garlands, live instruments, dancing in the streets and a white elephant.  If you’re getting married in Long Island like my Hindu couple, you rent a white hummer with external speakers and start the processional a block from the venue.  With a little help from the NYPD, you’ve got yourself a proper arrival.

Henna is so beautiful!  Also called Mehndi, it is one of the oldest forms of body art conceived by man... take THAT tattoo artists!  Instead of a bachelorette party the night before the wedding, the bride decides to get inked.  Traditionally, this ritual is meant to “improve and brighten” the bride’s complexion but dang it, it’s just really pretty.  It’s usually applied to the bride’s hand and feet by a female relative.  The bride is not supposed to step out of the house after this ceremony so hopefully she has a Netflix subscription.


For the most part, the wedding veil has similar meanings across many cultures – purity.  But something really tricky (and so wrong) happened ages ago.  A man named Jacob got tricked into marrying his fiancée’s less desirable sister.  So in Jewish wedding tradition, the groom is encouraged to take a look under that veil to make sure he’s marrying the right girl.  Can’t assure a job is done right unless you do it yourself, right?

Joining Right Hands
In ancient Catholic tradition, bridal couples would cut their right hands and by joining their bleeding palms, they would be joined together in the “blood covenant”.  It’s definitely unsanitary (love you, babe) so Catholics have just settled for joining the right hand while saying your vows as a public commitment to becoming one.  Thank God!

Throwing of Rice
Another familiar one with Christian weddings.  This started with the throwing of seeds (ouch!) and was meant to be a reminder that the purpose of marriage was to start a family.  So today, guests throw rice as a way to say “you better start the baby making on the honeymoon… or your marriage will fail.” I like the symbolism of seeds where planting something isn’t enough.  You have to care for it, water it and give it light so it can grow.

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The No-Tradition Tradition
Gay weddings are creating their own traditions as a way of finding a place in the wedding industry that better reflects their love.  There are a couple “remixes” in same sex weddings that I really love.  Some couples choose to not have an aisle or walk together at the processional.  Most same sex couples opt to see each other before the wedding especially if they’re both wearing suits or wedding dresses.  Also, traditional vows tend to be gender specific, so most same sex couples are choosing to write their own. So romantic!

et Voilà!

No Second Chances: How to Create a Memorable Wedding Proposal Worth Bragging About

This one is for the guys!  Or the ones doing the proposing.  We can’t forget the progress we’ve made in the wedding industry with same sex marriages or women now proposing to their male soulmates.

While doing a little digging on this subject, I realized that most proposal stories, ideas or articles about the special moment are all written from the recipient’s perspective, often a woman.  That was really interesting to me because although it’s the Propos-ee that gets to brag about it, it’s the Propos-er that creates the magic worth talking about. So after talking to 3 men and 1 woman, I noticed a common denominator.  The most memorable proposals were crafted by someone who completely put their significant other first.  The proposal was ALL about the other person and what they like.
P.S. My subjects were a little shy so I changed the names to provide anonymity.

Michael’s Plan – Mike and his now fiancée Jessica are both New Yorkers.  They’re not the type to veg out in front of the TV on the weekend.  Their relationship was all about 8-hour dates.  They would start with a quick breakfast at a cute coffee shop in the West Village, then a visit to the MOMA for the newest art exhibition, followed by a picnic in Central Park.  Really laid back, no frills type of a Saturday.  Jessica loved their Saturday’s together.  So Mike decided to craft THE perfect day with what he called “Jessica’s Favorite Places”.  They got to relive the places they had been to and loved, ending the day at her favorite Italian restaurant for dinner where he popped the question.

Louis’s Love Letter – Louis moved to Atlanta for college and never left.  It was at the Georgia Tech football game that he met the love of his life, Sara.  Unfortunately, she was rooting for the other team.  After giving up the fake “you’re my enemy” flirting session, Louis finally asked her out on a date.  Their relationship progressed quickly and soon after their 1-year anniversary, they bought a house together.  There was one really important thing both Louis and Sara had a common… their closeness to their families.  So naturally when Louis popped the question, he did it in the house they had bought together and wrote her a love letter about building their own family in this place they would now call home.  The entire family was there to celebrate the proposal, just like she would have wanted.

Bill’s Moment – Bill is a hedge fund manager and traveled a lot.  On one of his business trips, he met Lucas at a hotel bar.  Lucas is a fashion designer and was also traveling for work.  They lived in different cities and had to make plans on the fly in order to see each other.  They spent more time at hotels together than they did in their own homes.  They talked about moving in together and getting married but the timing never seemed right.  Lucas had a huge announcement to make… he was taking a 6-month project in New York where Bill lived.  Lucas planned this elaborate dinner and as he smiled from ear to ear while delivering the news, something washed over Bill and he said, “I want you for the rest of my life.  You are home to me.  Will you marry me?” Simple and spontaneous.

Cindy Pops the Question – Cindy and Doug were an untraditional pair.  He was studying to be a nurse and she, an architect.  They moved in and had a baby soon after.  The more their parents pressed them to get married, the more they resisted.  It was with the birth of their second baby that Cindy realized she really wanted to marry Doug.  So she took matters into her own hands, as she usually did, and bought him a ring.  After his winter finals, she got her kids around the Christmas tree and asked Doug to be hers forever.  He was beyond moved and said yes! The next day, he bought Cindy an opal engagement ring to look like the one her grandmother gave her.

What did you learn? REALLY get to know your partner.  Everything you need for a memorable proposal is in your relationship.
et Voilà!

No More Pumpkins: 5 Creative Ways to Incorporate Fall at Your Next Event

Fall to me is about much more than just pumpkins. Fall is sensory overload! From the beautiful colors of the turning leaves, to the colder air filling your lungs (well not yet, in New York) and of course, the smell of cinnamon and squash, all get your senses working overtime. It’s magical when it hits you all at once.  So why is everyone just stuck on pumpkins? Yeah, finding monochromatic “white” pumpkins makes for an impressive tablescape but it’s not the pumpkin that you’re taken by... it’s the rarity of the white pumpkin that makes it impressive. Now that we’ve established that pumpkins in fall are about as groundbreaking as florals for spring (The Devil Wears Prada? Anyone?), let’s get a little more creative!

1. FOOD - When I say fries, you think Ketchup. But what if I said apple fries? Your brain should think along the lines of a Caramel Cream Dip, and cinnamon coating your fingers. Food is one of the best parts about Fall so use expected and seasonal ingredients in an unexpected and creative way. You can do mini candy corn pastries or cinnamon squash soup shooters as passed hors d’oeuvres.





2. FLOWERS: By some definition, I would be considered a “girly” girl. I love roses, peonies and any usual suspect you’ll find in a plush floral arrangement. Cockscomb (birth name: Celosia Cristata) is a beautiful flower that looks like a brain. I know it sounds peculiar but trust me, it’s beautiful. When a deep red Cockscomb is paired with a tradition flower, like a red rose or calla Lilly, the result is quite magical. And it’s kind of an ode to Halloween so win/win!






3. COLORS: Nothing says Fall like the turning of leaves. Those beautiful vibrant hues of amber, deep reds and mahogany are the perfect color palette for your event. Try to elevate the experience by adding a metallic accent. While gold pairs well with Fall colors, silver and copper are often forgotten. When paired with our favorite color palette, they make things beautifully interesting.



4. DÉCOR: Speaking of leaves... dried fall leaves are some of the most versatile decor items I’ve worked with (not to mention the cheapest). Use them as an aisle runner, menu, centerpiece, party favor, place cards... you name it, the leaf can do it! Trust mother nature to give you all the colors you need to make your event decor stand out amongst the rest.


5. ENTERTAINMENT: And I leave the best for last... the booze! Corporate parties are looking for new ways to entertain their guests beyond the photobooth. Planners are creating interactive bar experiences with expert mixologists and “do it yourself” bars.  This experience can include a whiskey tasting with yummy flights or showing guests the art of making a carefully crafted cocktail.  Get into the season by making some of the most unusual and tasty cocktails from my “7 Fall Foods You Should Be Drinking” blog.

et Voilà!

7 Fall Foods You Should Be Drinking

Tis the season, folks! Well not that season.  I mean it’s Fall.  This is definitely one of my favorite times of the year for all the obvious reasons… great weather, turning leaves and the smell of pumpkin or cinnamon.  We’re taking a page from some foodie diaries to bring you some of Fall’s tastiest cocktails.  From pomegranate to sage, we’re covering all the seasonal goodness Fall has to offer, just in a glass.


Apples. Jack Rose. Combine 2 oz Laird's Applejack, grenadine, ¾ oz lemon juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well chilled, about 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Squeeze lemon twist over surface of drink, skin-side-out to release fragrant oils. Rub rim of glass with skin side of lemon twist and discard twist.
Courtesy of www.seriouseats.com 


Figs. Fresh Fig and Honey. Combine 1 1/3 cups fig puree and 1/4 cup honey, mix with a spoon until homogenous. Add 3 1/2 cups ginger ale, 2 1/3 cups vodka, 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and ice. Stir to combine. Add more honey to taste if you need it.
Courtesy of www.toriavey.com 


Grapes. Grapes of Wrath. In a chilled highball glass, combine 1 oz mezcal, ¾ oz fino sherry, ¾ oz Barolo Chinato, ¾ oz fresh lemon juice and ½ oz Vanilla Simple Syrup. Fill the glass with crushed ice and mix by spinning a swizzle stick or bar spoon between your hands. In a mixing glass, muddle the grapes with the Simple Syrup and pour over the drink.
Courtesy of www.foodandwine.com 


Pears. Matador Norteño. First you make your Habanero tincture by combining 4 habanero peppers and tequila in a sealable jar and letting it rest for 3 or more weeks.  Then, combine 2 oz of Sotol, ¾ oz of pineapple juice, ¾ oz of fresh lemon juice, ½ rich agave syrup (2 parts agave nectar, 1 part water) and 5 drops of that juicy Habanero tincture.
Courtesy of www.liquor.com


Pomegranates. Pom Pomme. Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add 2 oz of pomegranate juice, 2 oz of ginger liqueur (such as Domaine de Canton), and 1 oz (such as Laird’s Apple Brandy 100 proof) apple brandy. Shake until well-chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain evenly into two coupe glasses. Top each glass with 1 oz Crispin original cider and serve.
Courtesy of www.seriouseats.com



Sage. Sage Bees Knees.  Combine 1 ½ oz gin, ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ oz honey syrup, and 2 sage leaves in a cocktail shaker and stir to dissolve honey syrup. Fill shaker halfway with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled, about 10 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Courtesy of www.saltandwind.com






Beet. Clinton Kelly’s We Got The Beet. First make your ginger syrup by combining 1 cup of coarsely chopped ginger, 1 cup of sugar and ¾ cup of water. Simmer over heat for 1 hour, then bottle and let cool.  Then, in a mixing glass, combine 1 ½ oz tangerine vodka, ½ oz ginger syrup, orange juice, and 1/4-1/2 oz of beet juice (for color). Add ice and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass filled with 3 block ice cubes. Top with seltzer and garnish with the beets.
Courtesy of The Chew on abc.go.com


et Voilà!

5 Last Minute Events that EVERY Planner Should Leverage

Just cause you don't have a ticket to the main event, doesn't mean that it's too late to host your own soiree. Whether it’s for an existing client, or to scout new ones, take advantage of the major industry and life events when they hit your calendar.

Ad Week (9/25/17-9/29/17) - This is technically still in Q3 but at the tail end. During this week, marketing, advertising and technology professionals get together to discuss innovations in their field.  With a hub in Times Square, Ad Week attendees are going to be looking for post-conference relief after a long day of workshops. Host a happy hour for some of the most notorious ad agencies and marketing firms by taking up a private or semi-private area at a bar. You can access attendees by doing an email marketing campaign the week before Ad Week. Call up each agency and say "We're hosting a De-Stress Reception at Bar 89 in honor of Ad Week and I would like to invite your team as our guests. It's no charge to you." Guess who's coming and ready to mingle?


Comic Con NYC (10/5/17-10/8/17) - There are dozens of auxiliary activations popping up around the Javitz Center. There are after-parties, pop-up shops and street activations.  Get in on the fun by hosting a ticketed spin-off party like some really smart people at San Diego Comic Con.  From the themed “Ghostbusters Fan Party” to the “Wonder Women Cosplay March”, a little planning and a lot of marketing will help you not only pay yourself back for the cost of throwing the event but also you’re sure to garner some good press if done right.


New York City Food and Wine Festival (10/12/17-10/15/17) – All the events and their locations have been confirmed so you’ll have to wait until next year for the opportunity to host.  However, even this late in the game, it’s not too late to be a sponsor or volunteer.   At the very least, working with them in this fashion gives you an opportunity for brand engagement and social media content.  And more importantly, you’ll get the lay of the land in order to position yourself for festival opportunities next year.  


Engagement Season (11/23/17-2/14/18) – From my years in the wedding industry, I would guess there is an influx of people getting engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day more so than any other time of the year, so I call it Engagement Season.  If you’re looking to get involved in the wedding industry, now is the time to start advertising your product.  Within Engagement Season, there are a few opportunities to capture clientele – Thanksgiving, Holiday, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day.  You can either get them early and market to the prospective groom by offering your services to help plan the big engagement OR you can market to the bride as her new BFF Wedding Planner.

Holiday Parties (dates vary) - Start partnering with venues and caterers and get an email campaign ready. One thing to keep in mind… there's a huge number of companies opting to thank their employees in the office. The only person that's good for is the boss who gets to save money. Not only is some poor office coordinator ripping their hair out because planning a lame party on a tight budget is hard as is, but they also have to deal with the evil eye from the employees for making them attend.  Put a comprehensive and inexpensive experience together and pitch an in office extravaganza to every small business or office you know. If you need ideas on how to keep costs low, check out my blog on How to Throw a Holiday Party for $5,000 or Less!


You're welcome!
et Voilà!

Fashion Run-Away

5 Places to go to avoid Fashion Week… like the plague!

 Look at the boredom on everyone's face!

Look at the boredom on everyone's face!

New York Fashion Week, while it’s still a cool event to attend, has been thrown into the bucket of things New Yorkers take for granted, along with the Statue of Liberty and Central Park.  It’s in our nature to act like we’re too cool for school and for some of us, Fashion Week means 8 days of pure hell.  If you’re not into super skinny people dressed in funny clothing, then this blog goes out to you!  I hear your pain and want to give you hope that your life won’t be taken over by fashion designers this week.                                       

Here are 5 places to go to avoid Fashion Week like the plague it can be:

1.     You know where you’re guaranteed not to find any Fashion mongers? Anywhere North of 45th Street.  Grab brunch with friends at Jacob’s Pickles this weekend and feel right at home with the disgruntled, too-cool-for-school hipster in a graphic t-shirt.  Get there early because there happens to be an overwhelming following for this hiding spot.

2.     If you’re still into fashion but draw your boundaries at heavy shopping, check out a list of sample sales this week worthy of your attention.  Go to www.thestylishcity.com or www.chicmi.com for this week’s listings.

3.     Now for the professional, you need a place to entertain clients and need to do so without the Fashion Hustle.  Well first off, I would avoid the Financial District.  It’s usually quiet there but with major fashion brands moving their headquarters downtown, it’s become a hub for shows.  Whether for drinks, dinner or just a coffee, Zuma is ideal for privacy.

4.     Bruno Mars is killing it right now! He’s at the top of the charts and song after song, hit after hit, he’s climbing even further.  With tickets well over $100 for his upcoming concerts (that I might have to sell my belongings to attend) there’s a rumor started by none other than the artist himself, that there will be a secret concert on Sunday 9/10 at an undisclosed location.  You can RSVP here to find out more.  Hmmmm…Bruno Mars? or packed in a venue with fashionable people giving you the side-eye?

5.     And I have to take it back where I started.  The ideal sanctuary without the egos, the bloggers or the wannabes is right under your nose; Central Park. She’s that trusted friend you forgot you had but once in a jam, you send her that text “Been thinking about you! You free to hang later?” and like Old Faithful, she’s always free to hang.  Grab a book, a snack, some sunscreen and head over to peace and quiet.

et Voilà!