Dry January, and alcohol-free options for your event

Image: Illustration of Man in suit holding out hand to refuse an alcoholic drink
From an old Soviet anti-drinking poster.

There has been a “Dry January” trend over the last decade of either cutting out or dialing back alcohol consumption in January. It’s a reaction against the overindulgences of the holiday year and a way to have a fresh start for the new year. As alcohol consumption has increased over the last two years due to pandemic and other stresses, now is a good time to be questioning your alcohol intake.

The concept of a sober, or dry January, started in 2013 in London. It’s part of a broader campaign called “Mindful Drinking”, which aims to rethink our approach to alcohol without quitting it completely. Ruby Warrington, who wrote the book “Sober Curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol” said in a recent New York Times article that “interrogating one’s drinking habits often leads people to adopt more mindful drinking strategies.”

There are definite benefits to drinking less. Alcohol is expensive, so cutting down is a great way to save money. Less drinking can lead to better sleep, better overall health, and can help with anxiety and depression.

But if you are used to having a drink or two on most days of the week, it can feel daunting to give up alcohol for a period of time, even if the period is relatively short. Several organizations, like the one who started Dry January, Alcohol Exchange UK, offer apps and coaching emails to support the decision. And it’s best not to approach the challenge as an absolute: take it one day or week at a time. It’s OK if you end up enjoying an alcoholic beverage during the challenge.

And there are ways to make cutting back on drinking easier, like exchanging alcoholic drinks with a non-alcoholic equivalent.

A good place to start is with beer. If your only experience with NA Beer is O’Doul’s, you’ll be relieved to know that now there are more and tastier options out there. Athletic Brewing serves up a selection of craft beer styles like India Pale Ale (IPA.) Clausthaler has been brewing German style NA beers for fifty years.

If spirits are your thing, Zero Proof offers booze-free rum, gin, tequila, and whiskey alternatives. Spiritless has their own alcohol free take on bourbon. For lovers of fermented grapes, Surely has non-alcoholic wine.

Are these options not available to purchase in your area? Since these products either don’t contain alcohol or a negligible amount (under 0.5% alcohol by volume), they don’t suffer the same shipping restrictions that actual alcoholic beverages encounter. You can buy many of these drinks directly from their manufacturer, or find an online store that specializes in booze-free booze, like Sipple.

You can still accessorize your non-alcoholic beverages. Groovy Guy Gifts offers up personalized decanters for your spirits-free spirits, while their “sister” company Bridesmaid’s Gifts offer insulated stemless wine glasses for your alcohol-free pinot!

And alcohol-free options should not just be limited to one month! With the hopes of weddings and more in-person events returning this year (fingers crossed), one should think about options for their non-drinking participants. Emphasizing alcohol without giving options for those who aren’t imbibing can make people feel unwelcome. And being unwelcoming is no way to have an event! So consider some of the “dry” options listed above in addition to the normal alcoholic beverages. Your teetotaling guests will thank you!

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Unique Event Venues in Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Hall

As event planners, we’re always looking for unique and interesting venue options for our clients. Our recent trip to Southern California gave us the opportunity to explore what Los Angeles has in store. L.A. is a humongous city, with just about four million people within its city limits and a further ten million people in the surrounding metro area, so we barely scratched the surface of what is available. Hopefully these four options will give you something to start your search with!

We love train stations! They make great event venues. And LA is is the home of what is considered to be the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” built in the United States! Opened in 1939, Los Angeles Union Station is a mix of Art Deco, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne architectural styles. You can rent out the gorgeous Ticket Concourse for an indoor event, or either the South or North Patios for outdoor events. The various event spaces in the station can accommodate anywhere from 100 to 1,000 people. Pricing can range from $6,000 – $20,000 depending on the size and scope of the event. The best part? Union Station is still an active train station and transportation hub, serving over 110,000 passengers a day! Metro Rail, L.A.s local rail-transit system and Metrolink, the region’s commuter rail service serve Union Station. And several Amtrak lines, both California regional (Pacific Surfliner), and long-distance (Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Sunset Limited) call on the depot. And you know we are definitely fans of Amtrak. So your guests can get there without driving!

Los Angeles Union Station

How about an event in a former Catholic cathedral? Built in 1876, The Cathedral of Saint Vibiana served as Los Angeles’s main Roman Catholic Church until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake severely damaged the structure. After a battle with preservationists, the Church built a new cathedral, leaving St. Vibiana to the city. It eventually got sold and transformed into the event space now known as Vibiana. In 2012 Chef Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser, who own the adjacent Redbird Restaurant, took over operations. They can accommodate corporate gatherings in the 18,000 square foot Main Hall, and/or the 15,000 square feet outdoor courtyard. Food and beverage service is provided in-house. And Vibiana also offers full-service weddings!

Vibiana (from their website)

Getting out of downtown, LA River Studios is located in the growing LA River Arts Corridor. This building was a former toy truck factory built in 1931 that was abandoned for decades until it was restored as a premier event space. LA River Studios has 15,000 feet of flexible space (including outdoor space) and can fit up to 400 people. The space is supported by on-site VOX Productions.

LA River Studios (from their website)

Looking for a spot for a corporate party or even a wedding? Candela La Brea is located in a historic 1920’s building in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. They feature a Mexican restaurant, bar, and a flexible16,000 foot space that could be great for your next event!

Candela La Brea. (from their website)

And finally we’ll end with a grand and historic event venue that is also a place you can stay! When opened in 1923, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel was the largest hotel west of Chicago. This storied hostelry, located downtown across from Pershing Square, had hosted the annual Academy Awards eight times in the early part of the twentieth century. (It is rumored that the design of the “Oscar” statue was sketched on a napkin during the founding ceremony in 1927!) Now the Biltmore has 70,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space and 683 guest rooms. You can have an event in the main Crystal Ballroom (6,300 sq. ft., up to 800 people), the same room where those early Academy Awards were hosted, or in one of the other four ballrooms. The charm of the Golden Age of Cinema can still be found at the Biltmore, yet with modern amenities.

Millennium Biltmore’s Crystal Ballroom (from their website)

We hope this gives you a snapshot of what’s available for events in Los Angeles. If you’re interested in setting up an event in LA, please contact us.

Boise Event Venues

We recently traveled to Boise, Idaho for a couple days of work and fun. The capital of Idaho, Boise is located in a broad dry valley about 40 miles east of the Oregon border. Boise was established as a city in 1863, but spent the next century as a small outpost in a sparsely-settled region. Since the 1960’s Boise has rapidly expanded to become a mid-sized American city of 240,000 with a full selection of amenities and things to do.

Entrance to Boise Centre
Boise Centre’s Main Ballroom (from their website)

Boise Centre. Boise’s convention center is located in the heart of downtown and right next to the Grove Hotel. With 80,000 feet of space, Boise Centre bills itself as a space for “conventions, corporate meetings and trade shows to banquets and video conferencing”.  Their Grand Ballroom is 24,426 square feet and can be divided into three sections, and there are 31 individual meeting rooms. Boise Centre can accommodate groups from 10 to 2,000. Catering is exclusively provided by Front & Centre.

Boise Depot, set up for an outdoor event. (from their website)
Boise Depot’s Great Hall, set up with rounds (from their website)

Boise Depot: Just across the Boise River from downtown, Union Pacific built this grand train station in 1925. It last saw train service in 1997, since then it has been used as an event venue. The station’s Great Hall, where one could once wait for trains like the Pioneer and City of Portland, now can be used to host your next event. This 77 foot by 46 foot, 3,542-square-foot multi-story atrium can hold 300 people in standing configuration or 165 seated. You can also rent the exterior for weddings and informal meetings.

Capital City Event Center is located in the historic Adelmann Building
Interior of Capital City Event Center (from their website)

Capital City Event Center: If you are looking for a smaller, more intimate venue, the Capital City Event Center may be suited for you. Located in the historic Adelmann Building just two blocks from the State Capitol, Capital City has two ballrooms (each with a capacity of 110) that can be rented separately or together. Bonus: Capital City has a full service, classic mahogany and brass bar that can serve up a variety of drinks!

Egyptian Theatre
Interior of Egyptian Theatre (from their website)

Egyptian Theatre. Finally, if you are looking for a historic theater as a venue, the Egyptian Theatre could fit your bill. Originally opened in 1927, the Egyptian is Boise’s remaining classic cinema palace. The ornate theater with state-of-the-art sound can hold 740.

The view of downtown Boise from Camel’s Back Preserve

Staying there: There are a number of centrally located hotels. The Grove Hotel is in the Boise Centre superblock and right next to the convention center. The views from the building (fifth-tallest in the city) are grand. Across from Boise Centre is Hotel 43, named such due to its location in the 43rd state on the 43rd parallel. The Modern Hotel is located in a renovated motel about a ten minute walk from the Boise Centre. All three hotels provide rental bicycles.

Getting there: Boise is about 425 miles east (by car) from Portland, making for a doable but long one-day drive. It’s a quick one-hour flight from PDX to Boise, and Boise has direct flights to most West Coast cities. From the airport it’s a ten minute drive to downtown. Amtrak no longer serves Boise, as the Seattle-Portland-Salt Lake City-Chicago Pioneer was discontinued in 1997. We hope that taking the train to Boise will become an option again.

Getting around: Boise lacks any rail transit, though a streetcar has been proposed. Valley Transit, the regional bus operator, provides service to most major destinations. (A bus trip from the airport takes about a half hour.) Boise suspended its bike share service in 2020 with no definite plans for reinstatement, but many hotels provide free loaner bikes and bikes can be rented at Idaho Mountain Touring and George’s Cycles.

Louisville Kentucky Event Locations

Louisville, Kentucky is located on the Ohio River across from Indiana. It is well known for being the home of Muhammad Ali, the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Slugger bats, and of course, Kentucky Bourbon. It’s location in the heart of the US, the meeting place between the South and the Midwest, means it’s a good place to have an event.

We were in Louisville, Kentucky in August of 2019 for the annual Connect event, so we got to see some things around town. We also checked out various spaces for meetings and events. There are a good deal of interesting Louisville Kentucky event locations.

loudtn-omni-louisville-exterior-twilight

We stayed at the Omni Louisville, right in the heart of town. This modern hotel offers 612 guest rooms and suites. They also are a good place to have an event, as they have 33 meeting rooms with a total of 70,000 sq ft of space. (Their largest room is 20,361 sq ft.) We loved the on-site amenities, including Falls City Market. This marketplace was a good place to pick up sundries and food. (We loved the pizza at Iron Quarter!)

louisvillemarriottNext door to the Omni is the Louisville Marriott Downtown.This hotel features xx rooms and is also a great place for a meeting. They have 37 event rooms with 45,025 square feet of total space. The largest room is 20,000 square feet and can hold up to 2,400 people. The Marriott features a multitude of on-site amenities, including a bourbon tasting room and Porch Restaurant, which features Southern cooking.

Exterior Night ShotBoth hotels are close to the Kentucky International Convention Center. This freshly-renovated, LEED Certified facility features 300,000 square feet of total space and 52 rooms.

48629468788_fa7ede1ba7_bWe can’t forget to mention Louisville’s most unique event venue: Churchill Downs. While this horse racetrack is world-renowned for the annual Kentucky Derby, the Downs provide a multitude of venues for all sorts of meetings, from 15 to 1500 people! And yes, a wedding can be held under the iconic Twin Spires.

48642083603_ff246313c0_b
Big Four Bridge over the Ohio River. Note Emee on the Louvelo Bike!

And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the fun activities we had in Louisville, like sampling all the fine bourbons produced locally, going on a bike ride with the local Louvelo bikeshare, and checking out the Big Four Bridge! This old railroad bridge spanning the Ohio River into Indiana has been transformed into a magical place for pedestrians and cyclists. And for a fee, the lighting on the bridge can be customized for your charitable cause or special event.

Hope this gives you some ideas of Louisville Kentucky event locations for your next meeting!

Event planner podcasts to motivate and inspire

EJP Events has recently been featured on a few event planner podcasts, so we’d like to share them with you! I hope you give these worthy programs a listen and let me know what you think.

Image ID: a banner with the text "Events:Demystified", and an image of a woman in business attire with her hand on her chin, leaning on a sound mixing board. This is one of the popular event planner podcasts available.
Tree-Fan Events produces the event planner podcast, “Events: Demystified”.

Events: Demystified

Here’s the first one, from March 2021: The show is called (in-person, virtual & hybrid) Events: Demystified. We’re on Episode 31: The Importance of Time Management and Friendors When Planning a Virtual Event . Anca Trifan of Tree-fan Events has been leading this podcast for over 2 years, and it was so great to work with her on a large virtual event, then to go on her show and talk about it.

Image ID: a black banner with the words "Miracle Workers: A Podcast for planners, by planners." (This is one of the popular event planner podcasts available.)

Miracle Workers: A Podcast for Meeting Planners by Meeting Planners

And the other, from July 2020. This show is called Miracle Workers: A Podcast for Meeting Planners by Meeting Planners. Episode 14, Using Events To Change The World. Amanda and Darryl have been producing Miracle Workers since 2019 as well, and their topics range from “Wi-Fi pricing to last-minute requests for kosher, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-salt meals.” The episode we are on dealt with diversity, and why it’s important to change the world through inclusive events – right up EJP Events’s alley!

In addition to these two podcasts that EJP Events has been featured on, here is a list of some other event planner podcasts that you might be interested in, whether you are in the profession of event planning, wedding planning or production; or thinking about it as a career.

  • She Doesn’t Even Go Here: Unsolicited Musings on Life and Business. By Terrica Skaggs. Terrica is so informative and entertaining, the minutes just fly by and suddenly you’re doing more laps or miles on your treadmill just to have an excuse to listen to another ep. Highly recommended!
  • The Savvy Event Planner Podcast. We haven’t tried this one out yet, but it has been going since 2015, and covers such interesting and timely topics as Active Shooter Protocol and Event Safety; as well as International Event Planning.
  • Talk With Renee Dalo. Renee Dalo is a respected industry veteran, and invites high-level guests such as Liene Stevens, Kirsten Palladino, and Kawania Wooten to talk about everything from entrepreneurship to combating burnout.

Do you have a favorite event planning podcast you want to share? Or helpful tips on how to stay up on the latest event planning news? Leave us a comment, please!

Hear ye, we’re planning a Shakespeare festival!

Image ID: a Banner showing an illustration of William Shakespeare with text showing the date of the event: July 16-18, 2021.
Planning a Shakespeare Festival? Check out what Westside Shakespeare Festival is doing in 2021!

EJP Events is pleased to announce that we are working with Experience Theatre Project to assist in planning a Shakespeare festival – specifically, their 2021 Westside Shakespeare Festival! We are so excited to be working with this organization, as well as the City of Beaverton, to safely welcome back the return of live events. The City of Beaverton is working closely with the festival through its permitting system and guidance from the City events manager, to ensure all Oregon Health Authority guidelines are followed.

Currently, Westside Shakespeare Festival is running an online fundraiser in support of its performing arts programming in the community. To learn more and donate, please check here. You can also view the fundraiser through the Instagram app at this location.

Planning a Shakespeare festival involves the entire community, including food and vendors! EJP Events is now accepting vendor applications for food cart and table vendors for the event. Please note, all vendors are expected to participate in the theme of 1550s-1650s era, through costumes, offerings, and services. All merchandise should represent something that could have been made or sold in the Shakespearean era. To review the vendor application please click here. If you have questions, please contact the event planner, Emee Pumarega, at emee @ ejpevents . com or phone (503) 284-6756. This is a great way to get back in the festival vendor game, if you had to sit out 2020 like many of us!

Finally, do make sure to attend the festival in July! Free festival attendance will include access to the performances, as well as a wide array of food and merchandise vendors. For an additional ticket fee, one may attend the Queen’s Feast with seating for the Saturday evening stage production, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). It will be held outdoors, rain or shine starting from Friday 4pm July 16th, through Sunday, 5pm on July 18th, 2021. Full schedule and details are available at experiencetheatre.org.