Event Planning Tip: Hamster Toys Make Great Table Centerpieces

Let’s be honest — I never imagined that I would use a hamster toy as a centerpiece at plated dinner. But at the Chamber’s annual banquet & meeting in January, that’s exactly what I did.

Our theme was the 50th anniversary of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. This bridge crosses the Columbia River and connects Washington to Oregon. It’s a pretty important feature in our community, and our staff thought it deserved a little extra recognition at our banquet.

Our marketing manager, Regina Willkie, used photos of the bridge and road sign motifs on all our promotional materials. She and I also dreamed up creative ways to incorporate the theme into the event itself, such as making all necessary signage look like road signs and putting strips of yellow duct tape on the floor in the hallway like the dotted line between lanes on the highway. But my weirdest idea was part of the table decor.

Some of the banquet tables were decorated by generous Chamber member businesses, but the remaining 10+ tables were decorated by Becky Kraft, owner and operator of Party Jesters in Astoria. Becky pulled together some great decor featuring photos of the bridge and the most adorable little favor boxes — with highway sign tags! — but then I approached her with an insane centerpiece idea: What if we used plastic hamster bridges I found online?

Thank goodness that Becky is a professional and totally capable of taking the crazy ideas of her clients and making them work! She ordered the plastic hamster bridges (thoroughly confusing her husband when they arrived at their house) and spray painted them green to match the Astoria-Megler Bridge. She seamlessly worked them into her existing ideas to create an overall design scheme that was more beautiful than I could have imagined. The hamster bridge idea was mine, but the perfect implementation was all her!

Click on the photos in the slideshow below to see Becky’s decor for yourself.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a ridiculous idea, extensive Google searching and fantastic collaboration can produce a stunning end result: hamster toy centerpieces that rock.

VENDORS: Decor: Becky Kraft with Party Jesters; Venue & Food: the Astoria Golf & Country Club

10 Tips for Young Journalists

I frequently worked with college journalists at my previous job in Washington, D.C. This involved everything from sorting through their internship applications to editing their work. Unfortunately, some of these budding writers were more promising than others, and I had to dish out correction and tough loving when needed. (Oh, the horror stories I can tell.)

So when a D.C. associate, the ever-vivacious Alyssa Canobbio, asked me to write a blog post with advice to young journalists, I jumped at the opportunity. After a hearty brainstorming session and considerable editing, I finally nailed down a list of 10 tips for young journalists. The list is certainly not exhaustive; there have been books written on this subject, after all. It’s just the most important things I wished our journalism interns had known before stepping into our office on their first days.

Head over to the America’s Future Foundation blog to check out the list!