I bet that company picnic planning is not top of mind in January, but it’s actually the best time to start thinking about it. With Portland still a bit cold and dreary at this time of the year, it’s hard to believe we only have about six months to do your company event planning for summer. Above is a photo of a kayaking add-on that we planned for a tech company’s employee outing at a riverfront park on the Willamette. Just a few extra touches like this can make your event really special and make your employees feel so appreciated and re-energized.
What else goes into an event like this? First, you’ll need a great venue. Then most likely, you’ll need delicious food. Finally you’ll need to choose some entertainment, such as DJs and photo booths; or games like Capture the Flag or an obstacle course. This particular group also added treats like chocolate, beer, and wine tasting booths. There are tons of ideas out there for planning your company picnic, but if you get stuck, feel free to contact us at EJP Events – Portland Event Planning.
How do you get your wedding invitations hand-cancelled at Bridal Veil Post Office? And where is this post office, anyway?
To call this post office inconspicuous is an understatement. Maybe you’re zooming east put of Portland on Interstate 84. You spy what looks like a shack on the right, just before the off-ramp for Exit 28. What could that shack be? Maybe you followed Google directions and wondered aloud to yourself as you make the turnoff for the post office: “There surely can’t be a post office down this back road, right?” Welcome to the Bridal Veil Post Office!
This post office sits in a small wooden building, no bigger than 10′ x 10′, making it one of the smallest post offices in the country. It technically serves a “town” that no longer exists, what remains of this former mill town is a cemetery and small collection of houses along the Historic Columbia River Highway (Old Route 30). Besides 40 post office boxes contained in the postage-stamp sized lobby, there seems to be no reason for a post office like this to exist.
What keeps this post office afloat is the thousands upon thousands of wedding invitations sent from here. Sending your announcement from a place named Bridal Veil is romantic enough, but what puts it over the top is hand-cancelling. Rather than a postmark generated via automatic sorting machine (what you’ll see on 99% of letters sent via United States Postal Service), the staff at Bridal Veil Post Office will cancel your stamped letter with a hand-stamp. Many people will go there in person to get their invitations hand-cancelled, while some will mail them in.
How do you get your wedding invitations hand-cancelled at Bridal Veil Post Office? You can check their Facebook “Friends” page for details, but it comes down to this:
Make sure you don’t use wax seals or anything that will stick out too much from the envelope
You can’t use regular first-class/forever stamps (current value 60 cents). You’ll need at least 99 cents of postage on each envelope to get the “non-machine” rate. You can buy special non-machinable stamps at your local post office or order online.
Or better yet, buy the stamps from the Bridal Veil Post Office! Stamp sales help keep this unique post office afloat.
For less than 50 invitations there is no charge to hand-cancel your invitation. For 50 or over, there is a 10 cent fee per envelope.
Please note that this above information was verified on July 27, 2022. Policies and prices can change.
The Bridal Veil Post Office is located at 47100 W Mill Rd, Bridal Veil OR 97010-7010. They are currently open from 10 AM to 2 PM Monday through Friday, and 8 AM to 2 PM on Saturdays. Operating hours and days can change, check the USPS web site before you head out. And if you have questions, you can call the post office directly at (503) 695-2380.
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.
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!
What is a “Quarantine RSVP”? As events open up, event planners and hosts are wondering, How do I hold one of these safety-compliant events, and still keep everyone as safe as possible? Even though gatherings are slowly returning, there are potential pitfalls:
You could provide all the hygiene items, but some guests refuse to wear masks, or they remove them while still mingling
You could create a physically-distanced setup, but without clear instructions or a program of activities, guests devolve into the typical “cocktail hour” behavior where they cluster within less than six feet.
Everyone starts out with the best intentions of social distancing, but after a couple of glasses of wine, the inhibitions fall and people are hugging, touching, and coming in to close contact with people outside their home group.
There is no such thing as a risk-free event during COVID. As of March, most of the US is months away from full vaccination levels, and most states still have some kind of restriction on gathering and nonessential travel. But if you are in a location where your type of gathering is permitted, and you want to do it as safely as possible, here are some reminders, plus an additional tip you may not have thought of:
Most of us know by now to do the basics: avoid indoor or poorly-ventilated venues, keep 6′ or more distance, and wear masks at all times that it is possible to do so (besides when you are seated alone eating or drinking).
Here is one more idea: Identify the groups attending your event who have been previously quarantined together, and allow them to RSVP and be seated together.
A quarantine pod may be a single family; a couple; or a group of roommates. “Quarantined together” could also mean that they share the same household; or they have limited their contact to only themselves and a limited number of other households who all agree to observe the same level of infection-avoidance precautions. For example; two families with children who are friends, who allow their children to play together each week, is a good example of two houses, one quarantine. The goal of this practice is to prevent COVID spread at the event, while allowing groups that are already in contact to be together.
Would you like your own Quarantine RSVP printable template? It’s your lucky day, because we’re sharing this free template with you! Simply fill out your name and email below and we’ll send it right along. We hope you find it helpful.
A virtual and hybrid event attendee listens to a wine sommelier explain wine pairings at a small hybrid event. Additional attendees view remotely and are connected to the event on a big screen. Photo: Tom Cook Photo
Virtual and hybrid events have been on the upswing since the 2008 recession, but 2020 pushed them to the forefront. As EJP Events fielded many requests to move events online this year, we employed our existing knowledge and pulled in technical production teams, as well as software platforms like Whova, Eventsquid, and vFairs, in order to create compelling virtual and hybrid event offerings.
This table is set for a virtual at home wine experience, complete with charcuterie box, bottles of wine, notebook, and the computer with which to participate in the event.
The challenge, however, was how to relay our vision to new clients. As much as we love to dial in every detail and think critically about the attendee experience (have you ever thought how many physical items an attendee will need to gather in order to be on camera at a virtual wine dinner? We have!), it’s hard to convey that to someone who has never done this before. And it’s not like we could go into our existing clients’ living rooms and take photos of them attending our events during a pandemic, let alone the privacy issues!
Livestreaming and video-recording of events has become de rigeur due to the pandemic-created virtual and hybrid event requirements starting in 2020. Photo: Tom Cook
So we put on our creative agency hats, and put together a content shoot (or styled shoot as it’s known in the weddings world). Emee and Katherine spent many hours in the fall brainstorming over Zoom, which best practices would make a virtual event shine; as well as what needs to be done to make your small hybrid event not only fun and memorable, but over-the-top in safety. We even experienced the now-common pandemic phenomenon of having everything scheduled and ready to go for our shoot event, only to have Multnomah County go into a four-week freeze and have to re-schedule the entire event and all its vendors.
We’re happy to note that because of this team and their experience and professionalism, it reinforced our faith in the event process and things went off without a hitch. (Unless you count that Emee forgot her on-camera outfit and had to send someone back for that.) And we now have this wonderful content to share with you, that I hope tells the story of how EJP Events would envision a safe, engaging, delightful, and productive virtual or hybrid event where everything is dialed in, from the food and drink, to the individual sanitized microphones on each attendee. Check it out in the gallery below. Our main ideas are:
Tell people what to do. Pre-COVID, people didn’t need a lot of instruction at a networking event or a happy hour. During COVID, however, structure and format is needed. Open networking leads to too-close gathering. Offer each attendee their own seat, table, or area and provide a program of activities.
Speaking of program, make sure to explain the program to everyone through multiple channels: Pre-event communications, on-site signage and directionals, live staff offering directions and guidance, and audible instructions through the use of announcements.
If people are attending remotely as well as in-person (a “hybrid event”), ensure that the home viewer is not left out of the action by creating an online, digital broadcast that is just as interesting as the in-person experience. Make sure audio is good, not just of the speaker but of the in-person attendees, to give home viewers the feeling of “being there”. Offer opportunities for the home viewer to be “seen” at the in-person event and interact with the in-person guests. It’s a two-way street!
There are so many more details I could share, so I hope you’ll follow up with us if you have questions. For those of you who believe we’ll be back to normal and there’s no reason to keep perfecting virtual and hybrid events, here are a few headlines and quotes from news around the world:
While the Christmas personal shopping rush is winding down, the winter/spring 2021 conference and gala season is just heating up. Hundreds of fundraisers, seminars, symposiums, annual conferences, and board meetings are held between January and June every year. Most of these in 2021 will still be virtual due to COVID-19 still rampant in our communities. A conference or business gift brings tactile experience into the virtual and hybrid event world, making it interactive, engaging, and more likely to be remembered.
We love to give and get gifts – who doesn’t? This year is markedly different as many of us have been isolated from colleagues and friends; and we haven’t been attending meetings and events to keep us connected in our business relationships. Even though we’re heartened by news of a vaccine, it will be months before it’s widely available enough to change what’s happening with hybrid and virtual events.
I produced this corporate event gifting guide to make it easier for you to find the local Portland businesses creating unique gifts for corporate and social events. I hope it helps you support small businesses (especially those that are BIPOC-owned), and helps you reach out to your friends, clients, and colleagues with a little something to spread cheer and let them know you’ve been thinking about them. Whether it’s conference swag, a personal touch for a nonprofit gala, or a wedding party favor, there are so many reasons to celebrate in 2021 with a token of appreciation and affection.