Thursday, September 22, 2011

Something I Know, Something I Don't - Keeping Up with the Blogs

I am having trouble. I can't keep up with the wonderful blogs I find. I'm like a digital version of hoarders; I collect interesting, shiny, lovely blogs and then stuff them - sometimes still in their original packaging - into an overflowing list of blogs I follow. One day I'm going to be buried alive by the blogs I follow but, lamentably, don't read.

Help! How do you manage your reading list? Do you have any tools (I know Google+ seems like a good place to start) or tricks? Is there a way to prioritize your following list? Do you rotate them? Am I over thinking this? (duh)

In exchange for the answers to above I am offering something I know a lot about: Event Planning. Sure, you may not be throwing a bat mitzvah or baby shower anytime soon, but file this away for when you do.

Six tips for planning a party at a venue*:
Whether it's the local VFW or a swanky 4 star hotel, you need to:
1) Do a tasting. Even if you've been there before, even if everyone tells you the food is great. Taste it for yourself. Have them do a selection from your proposed menu. Ask about special meals: vegan, kosher, dairy-gluten-free.
2) Negotiate on the contract. There's never a need to be mean or bridezilla with a venue. Treat them with the respect they deserve. BUT. Know that there is always wiggle room. If you have a budget of $1000 for a small lunch, tell them it's $800 and see if they can work with you. One thing that venues can often waive if you spend enough on catering is room rental fees. See what they can do. There's no shame in asking (nicely).
3)Do you need a sound system? Music? Flashing lights? A dance floor? That all comes from A/V specialists and not from catering. It's an additional cost. Talk to A/V about what you need carefully.
4) Do I need to say this? Review the contracts carefully. There are things you will be responsible for when you sign on the dotted line. And if your expectations are not listed on the contract, the venue doesn't have to deliver. Make sure you have everything in writing. That's why email is so awesome.
5) Following up from the above, when you have a phone conversation, follow up with an email reiterating what was discussed.
6)What's a catering guarantee? Literally, it's the number of lunches/dinners/'covers' you agree to pay for in advance. That's why you never give a guarantee that's above the number you expect. You don't have to worry if one or five more people show up unexpectedly. A good venue can serve extra covers (within reason) when needed. What you don't want is to have paid for 50 covers and have 25 people show up. That's also why you don't give a guarantee until the last possible moment, when you are sure(ish) of your numbers. As a loose rule, assume 10% drop off and guarantee for that number (50 guests, 5 won't show up, guarantee for 45).
Hope that was helpful. If not, then tune in next time as I share with you my Salsa recipe.

*These are my opinions on how to plan an event.


  1. Yeah, it's daunting keeping up with my blog list. In fact, to be honest, I do not succeed. The most I can do is catch those who have posted recently when I'm on the internet and the get to the people who comment on my blog. :)

  2. Angela -that's what I've been doing, but it seems so random. I feel like I'm missing so much! Having said that, going to head over to your blog now, so it does work!

  3. I give myself an hour in the morning to read new blog posts, and sometimes an hour in the evening. I don't get to everyone, but I do get to most. People in this community are so great and supportive, most of them don't mind if you miss their blog occasionally. We're all busy, after all. :)

  4. I've finally developed a system that works for me. I read blogs through google reader on my iPod while exercising and "favortie" the posts I want to leave comments on. Then I can leave comments sometime later in the day.

  5. @J I - like it! I should get myself on a schedule like that.
    @Angelina- you mean you write AND exercise? What kind of mad genius are you? ;) actually I have to check google+ out for favorites, this could be the answer for me!

  6. It is hard to keep up with all the great blogs. I add the ones I follow to my Google Reader (on my Google home page--haven't used Google +) so I get updates when there are new posts. Sometimes I can read the post right from there, other times I have to click on it to see the full post.

    I didn't know about doing the favorite thing Angelina mentioned, but think I will be looking into that!

  7. I keep telling myself I'm absolutely not going to follow any more blogs, then up pops another great one, and I think 'ah well, it's just one more...'

  8. I have a blog list on my blog and when I pop in throughout the day (fifteen minute moments); I read the five that happen to be featured. That helps me hit different ones every day. LOVE your tips for party planning! (Just in time for the holidays)

  9. Another blogging friend introduced me to a wonderful free program called Feedly. It presents the new blog posts to you in a cool magazine-like interface, and you can click to see the whole post.

    More importantly, feedly allows for favourites and categories. When you don't have a lot of time for reading others' blog, you can make a straight line to your Must Read and come back later.

    Here's my friend's post explaining it more, along with pictures of what it's like:

    I've saved tons of time that way. Hope it helps you!

  10. @claudie - genius! I can't wait to check it out. Thanks!
    @catherine - thank God I'm an event planner at my day job - it's how I survive the holidays!
    @mary, @ sarah - thanks for weighing in

  11. Try organizing your google reader. It's not necessary to comment on every blog. You can skim the reader and see what it is that you like and comment when something catches your interest.

  12. I had to admitted to myself that I can't read them all. I go in once a week and read as many as I can. This usually means I wont read more than one a week from each blogger, but it also means I have time to write, work on critiques, do my day job...
    I do some event planning for my day job too (also communication and database management. all good things). Nice post on event planning.

  13. @michael - what I don't understand about google reader could fill an entire IKEA billy bookcase - but I'll give it a go!

    @liz - yay! another event planner with writerly dreams!

  14. i have so many blogs on Google Reader I rarely use it anymore. I may troll thru there once in awhile,and when I do, I'm looking for catchy post titles. Otherwise, I tend to stay with visits on those who comment on my blog... for sheer ease alone. Also, the blogs I find essential to writing and the blogosphere, I sign up for their emails so I don't ever miss them.


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