During December my community hosts its annual holiday gala dance. It is a semi-formal event with high-end appetizers and a first-class dinner. Every year we try to raise the bar on this special night. After working with my company for the past 18 years, it is a challenge to keep it fresh and exciting, but the evening always seems to be very well received.
With those years of experience come a few lessons that I have learned. You may not host a gala dance, but I think you will still find these points helpful in your job as activities director.
- Promote the date of your event well in advance so that residents have time to plan their evening (outfit, guests, table seating arrangements)
- Book a special musical talent for this night. This should not be someone your community uses on a regular basis.
- At the same time, you should develop a good working relationship with the performers so that in case they must cancel on you at the last minute, they will work hard to find a replacement for themselves that is as good, as or better than they are for you.
- Make sure the musicians understand the group's ability to stay on the dance floor is not as long as those of people half their age.
- Remind the musician that most of the audience will not be dancing because they do not have a partner. Ask them to include line dances or a song or two that audience members can do from their chairs.
- Hire dance hosts for the single ladies who want to dance.
- Decorations do not have to be elaborate, unless you want them to be. Sometimes simple and understated can be viewed as classy.
- If your dance is after dinner, you will not need much more food - but you must have something. A little salty and a little sweet.
- You will never please all the people at a dance with the temperature of the room. Dancers will want it colder and those listening to the music will want it warmer.
- Create a special feeling with the lighting in the room. Dim the lights like at a dance club
- Just like at the parties that you go to, there needs to be a fun person that gets things started. Be that person or find someone else who will be!
- Make a personal connection by going from table to table and sit down. "How are you enjoying the party?" is a good opener or "I haven't had a minute to talk with you lately, how are you?" Residents love to have the personal contact that only you can offer.