Word on the Tweet says that last week’s 2010 Blogger Prom: Hollywood Confidential at Yamashiro was a smashing success. And while the glamorously dressed blogger attendees that night enjoyed the beautiful venue, the yummy nosh, tasty drinks and each other’s company and thanked us for putting on such an event, they might not really know just how much work went into it. So, I figured I’d just share the components of what made it such a “success.” Sure, this may be only the second blogger prom we’ve thrown, but I’d like to think that as bloggers we have developed a sense of what our peeps like and what makes an event a hit.
Have a committee comprised of people who can each bring something to the table and who work well together. Our Blogger Prom Committee is made up of these fine people, and although most of us share the same contacts, each of us also offers unique expertise in certain areas. Really rounds out the event. And if anything the fact that we’re all good friends really helped us get through the truly stressful times during the party planning process. When I felt overwhelmed, I knew I could lean on them as well as vent my frustrations without any judgment.
Pick an intriguing theme. After the fun ’80s theme last year, we worried how to top it. We took suggestions on Twitter and Facebook, asked our friends, asked each other and still didn’t know. Finally after weeding out zombie, disco and Enchantment Under the Sea options, we agreed on going for glamor this year, old Hollywood glamor to be specific. We wanted our guests to dress up. Hell, WE wanted to dress up.
Choose a kickass venue that can accommodate your crowd and either has a view, a fun activity or is buzz-worthy. Having our theme set made it easier to filter out the venues that didn’t fit. But finding a venue that was not only fabulous, spacious and would do it only for the publicity proved to be difficult.
However, it was during a night cap with bloggers Mattatouille and Teenage Glutster when the subject of prom came up and Mattatouille suggested giving Yamashiro a try. With Yamashiro’s newish Thursday farmer’s market, I knew they were trying to change up their image.
For years, they were known as the beautiful Japanese restaurant where you either got married or took out-of-towners for expensive but mediocre sushi. This Mountain Palace, seemingly out of reach for the average Angeleno looking for a casual bite, is accessible via a winding road and offers only valet parking.
So when fellow BPC member Lindsay of LAist had arranged a tasting preview of Yamashiro’s brand-new bar menu, it seemed like the perfect time to bring it up. Fortunately, General Manager David Comfort and Chef Brock loved the idea. Hosting a bloggers-only party, what better way to get us up there?
Suffice it to say, the crew at Yamashiro was an absolute dream to work with. Restaurant event coordinator Alana Ulloa helped us to lay out a party that would take over the gorgeous koi pond room as well as Skyview room. We couldn’t ask for a more perfect setting.
And after the party, everyone kept saying how they saw Yamashiro in a whole new light. Mission accomplished!
- Don’t make it all about you. Unlike last year, this time we decided to do it for charity. Sure that would mean charging our guests but all proceeds would go to a good cause as well as help assuage any concerns potential sponsors might have about doing anything “for free.”
So, on BPC member EstarLA‘s suggestion, we went with Operation Frontline. Since BPC is mostly made up of food bloggers, supporting a charity that teaches families how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget, was a perfect fit. Suffice it to say, at the end of the event, we were able to raise $2,400 for them.*
- Wire the venue. Since it is Blogger Prom we had to make sure our social media-addicted guests could Tweet, Foursquare and live blog to their hearts’ content so once again BPC’s TaraMetBlog hooked us up with Verizon Wireless, who ended up having to send over eight engineers to wire the restaurant, which already has very spotty coverage. It was a lengthy process but it was worth it. The huge screen in the koi pond room displaying live #bloggerprom tweets was a big hit. We used Twitter to not only announce when someone won a giveaway prize but to call out our Blogger Prom King and Blogger Prom Queen aka Leading Man and Leading Lady. By the way, congrats to Food Marathon and JozJozJoz. May your reign be a blast.
- Present lots of food options. Yamashiro was open to our inviting other food venues as long as we focused on their own bar bites and Chef Brock’s uber popular farmer’s market tacos. So we let them handle the savory while we handled the sweets. Because of the limited space, however, we didn’t want it to get too crazy in that Skyview room where we’d also have a dancefloor and DJ Steve. So we stuck to the basics of cheese, ice cream, chocolates and of course cupcakes.
The Cheese Impresario, a big hit at last year’s prom, returned but with a bigger spread. Ice cream truck, Coolhaus, seemed the perfect fit with their ice cream sandwiches in edible wrappers; that way our cocktailing guests wouldn’t have to contend with messy spoons. ChocolateBox Café brought a fun, beautiful selection of chocolates. And Crumbs, although bailing from the event last-minute pfft!, still had their cupcakes out.
- Bring on the free booze. And of course, the sure way to get bloggers to go anywhere is to promise and deliver lots of free booze. Cocktail hookup and international BPC member, Natalie of The Liquid Muse, not only designed a cocktail especially for the event — Pinky Confidential — but lined up a Dalmore Scotch tasting as well as sponsors Zaya Rum, Cabana Cachaca and Casa Noble Tequila. We were even able to score a hosted bar at the after prom party at Test Kitchen.
Oh, and if you’re going to have booze at the event, always make sure to present your guests a safe way to get home. For this party, Y Drive LA set up a stand in valet and gave our attendees a 10% discount off the services.
- Give prizes and gift bags! These are not necessary components for a good party but they are mandatory for an awesome party. What can I say, bloggers like their swag. And if they can win a valuable prize, too, well that’s just the icing on the cake.
This year, even though we cut our list of giveaway prizes from 36 to 19, all were still highly covetable. Heck, even though it was against our BPC rules, I still wanted in on the giveaway. La Descarga gift basket, Fred Segal Eyes designer sunglasses or The Edison’s Downtown Romance package? Yes, please! But no, I kept my name out of the bowl. In any case, since our event is for charity and bloggers, generous giveaway and gift bag sponsors weren’t too difficult to come by.
With the gift bags, we amassed a vast collection of goodies, which totaled $300 in value! And every bit of paper in that gift bag was worth something, be it a voucher for a free Sprinkles cupcake, a Manila Machine ube cupcake or admission to an American Cinematheque theater.
Get your guests’ feet moving. It ain’t a party if they can’t dance. Originally we were going to have a live jazz band play in the koi pond room to welcome our guests but the band canceled just a week before the event. What can I say? They got an actual paid gig. Fortunately DJ Steve, from last year’s prom, offered up his services again. And even though the jazz standards he spun weren’t exactly what our young bloggers knew how to dance to, the music brought our theme and venue to life.
Never be afraid to ask for help. This time we made sure to recruit volunteers. (Thanks to BPC’s ShopEatSleep for organizing them.) At last year’s prom, all of the BPC members were too busy making sure the party was running smoothly to even enjoy our own event. So we learned our lesson and asked friends, Tweeps and PR girls if they wanted to lend a hand. For one hour of work, they’d get a gift bag and two hours of fun. Seemed like an even trade.
In any case, we wouldn’t have been able to actually enjoy this year’s prom without them. Huge thanks to Dre, Christina, Chris, Sam, Sean, Stefani, Caleb, Bridgette, Tu and David! And shoutout to Goldstar and BPC member Happy Go Marni for handling the event’s donation page and ticket sales and to BPC’s HC for handling the Blogger Prom Twitter, Facebook page and event blog!
So that’s it. Thanks to all our guests for looking so gorgeous and taking part in what was a big night for us, the BPC. It made us feel good to see the fruits of our months’ labors come to life and be enjoyed in such a way.
_* If you’d like to donate to Operation Frontline via Blogger Prom, you still can via this Goldstar page, through the end of October. Thanks!_