Updated November 30, 2021

The main photo is courtesy of Splacer, a marketplace where you can book, list & discover unique places. This Malibu property is listed as an Ultra Modern Cocoon with Majestic Views.

Nine ideas to fuel your creative thought process when planning a truly special and memorable occasion. Plus tips to make sure your event is an exclusive offer and not another dreaded obligation!

Having worked in corporate America for many years, we have been fortunate to have attended many uniquely interesting corporate events that continue to bring us many happy and fond memories.  Some of the most memorable and unique affairs serve as seeds for ideas for entertaining at our own home.

A good portion of these recollections focus on countless creative themes, which delivered unforgettable experiences in both large venues and exquisite intimate settings. Conversely, many experiences were quite practical and low-key in nature that facilitated invaluable learning opportunities and long-lasting industry relationships.

Though we recognize that some of the concepts mentioned may be cost-prohibitive, our intent is to fuel your creative thought process when planning your own special and memorable occasion.

An effectively designed and well-marketed event should be received as an exclusive offer and not another dreaded obligation!


Table of Contents

Also see these related articles:


Our Most Salient Event Planning Tip

Our most important piece of advice for planning a successful social event is to accept the fact that you will be in competition for the cherished free time of your guests! In other words, you need to provide provocative reasons for why your guests should willingly choose your event over other options.

Keep in mind that reasons for not wanting to attend an event may not have anything to do with the host, guest list, itinerary or venue, but rather, dreaded and inconvenient “logistics”, such as heavy traffic, night time driving, challenging parking, days with many conflicting schedules, or inclement weather.

By empathizing with the busy and varied lifestyles of your guests, you will be better equipped to host an event that invitees anticipate, and also involves conducive logistics that make it easy for them to attend.

Conversely, if there are certain logistics that cannot be mitigated, take this as a challenge to make your event worth experiencing, whatever these inconveniences may be. Envision your attendees later reflecting:

“The traffic was a nightmare, but boy was it worth it for such an enjoyable time! I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

The second most important advice that we can impart is to be sure you provide ample time to plan your event that is on par with the scope and size of your event. Big events will always need more planning than you realize and will fuel higher expectations from your guests.


9 Event Themes

On the topic of competition, the purpose and style of your event should earn the attention of invitees by quickly dispelling the expectation that your event will be “just another party”. Offer your intended guests something uniquely special that they may regret missing. Corporate marketers refer to this phenomena as the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).

The type of event you host needs to be determined up front, as all other decisions and choices will flow from your central vision and goals. Exploring innovative themes can also help to breathe new life and interest into staid, long-standing get-togethers.

Here are event themes that have proven themselves in the world of corporate events with tips on how they could be modified for residential settings and situations:

  1. Cook-Togethers
  2. Local Demo Events
  3. Discussion Events
  4. Focus Groups for Home Projects
  5. Local Tradeshow Expos
  6. Mentoring Events
  7. Neighborhood Networking Events
  8. Local Fundraisers
  9. Off-Site Retreats


1. Cook-Togethers

  • These are effective Get-to-Know-You/Team-Building experiences that have groups preparing, cooking and enjoying a full-course meal together.
  • To learn more, see our piece on Hosting Culinary Events to explore several companies that facilitate unique in-home food and cooking events.


2. Local Demo Events

  • The corporate version of this type of event is are sponsored by a vendor who provides the venue, food, drinks and entertainment to prospective customers, in exchange for the opportunity to demo their company’s products or services
  • Many, many luxury boxes in sporting venues are used for this purpose
  • A residential example of this event type could recruit the following types of local businesses as the sponsor: real estate firms; design/build construction companies; event planners; wellness providers; etc.
  • This would be an especially good fit for a new company in your local community


3. Discussion Events

  • This is a favorite corporate event type of ours, as it often entails a small group of professionals within a narrowly defined industry (e.g. retail) and/or skillset (e.g. technology, marketing, etc.) to discuss an intriguing topic informally over dinner.
  • For a residential setting, relevant topics that come to mind include: local initiatives; home schooling; working from home; local history; local celebrities; architecture; gardening; landscaping; bird-watching; fauna & flora; interior design; renovations & building codes; etc.
  • This type of occasion could also be pitched as a Guest Speaker Event.


4. Focus Groups for Home Projects

  • This is another fun type of corporate event that invites existing or prospective customers to provide in-person feedback on various issues for a given product or service, such as: naming tests; design mockups; preferred features; etc.
  • Examples of a focus group for a residential setting could involve getting external feedback on home projects, such as: options for a major remodeling project; deciding on outside paint colors; taste testing the results of new cooking appliances; etc.


5. Local Tradeshow Expos

  • The largest and most well-known type of corporate event is the Tradeshow. This combines a large convention center area for vendors to setup booths, with related learning breakout sessions.
  • For a neighborhood setting, this could be a great way to spread awareness for local businesses that you support or endorse.
  • To be extremely topical, we recommend inviting neighbors with home businesses, and those who primarily work from home to share ideas and best practices for being productive at home.
  • You could pitch this type of event as a Home Business Expo.


6. Mentoring Events

  • Though we have never attended a corporate event that was strictly focused on matching mentors with protégés, this is a natural occurring process at most corporate events, especially within entrepreneurial communities.
  • For a residential setting, this could be a great way for students of all ages, as well as less-experienced professionals, to learn about the careers and professional experiences of their neighbors, especially retirees. We like to think this could be a lot more interesting and impactful than the traditional in-school career day events.
  • This type of event could be pitched as a Career Day or Night in your neighborhood, e.g. Come Join us for Career Night in Springfield Pines!


7. Neighborhood Networking Events

  • Most professionals are familiar with networking events, typically with mixed results.
  • For your neighborhood, however, this classic event format could be a friendly excuse to get to know your neighbors better.
  • The best networking events, however, work hard to make it easy for guests to meet others with mutual interests, such as using informative nametags and color-coding to signal specific interests.
  • Following the corporate lead, a neighborhood networking event could make it easy for neighbors to find others with similar interests, such as: home-schoolers; golfers; musicians; walkers; gardeners; home DIYers; etc.


8. Local Fundraisers

  • This is another classic event format that can be used to raise money for many local interests, such as: local organizations, school activities, neighborhood initiatives, etc.


9. Off-Site Retreats

  • Another popular corporate event type is the Off-Site Retreat, which typically has the primary purpose of fostering a creative planning session in a new setting removed from the daily distractions of the main office
  • Though this event type would not be hosted at your home, it is possible to find nearby residential properties that are available for short-term use, such as hosting events
  • To learn how to find a neighborhood event venue see our Host Photo-Film Shoots & Events section, as well as the Rent Your Swimming Pool by the Hour section, in our article 10 Creative Ways to Monetize Your Home. We especially like Splacer to find a uniquely inspired space for an event.
  • Depending on your location, there’s a terrific chance that you can find a truly unique setting that will make your event a must-attend opportunity!


Event Planning Resources


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