In Any Event 

Stay calm when the calendar is covered

The arrival of March means full event calendars.
The pending arrival of spring means full event calendars.

While it’s a little tough to think about spring with the frigid temperatures, March is just around the corner. As the weather warms, planners heat up with events covering their calendars. We have some timely tips to keep planning as stress-free as possible during a busy season.

Mickey Mallonee, director of events for Historic Westwood, is a rarity in that she doesn’t get stressed. For the rest of us, she offers this advice:

“While each event has its own challenges and stressors, it can all be overcome by proper planning and preparation.”



Natalie Lester, account executive with Moxley Carmichael, echoes that advice. Lester offers these tips for an ASFAP (As Stress-Free as Possible) Event:

Start early. It’s never too soon to get all key players in the room and on the same page. It’s important to have a shared vision that will meet everyone’s goals.

Partner with the right people. Think strategically about who shares your goals and can help achieve them. Working with reputable vendors – catering, rentals, décor and audio/visual – is perhaps the most essential component for minimizing stress.

When you have solid relationships with professional vendors, it’s easier to address problems should they arise and, even better, avoid mishaps altogether.

Natalie Lester and Amanda Shell Jennings
Account executives Natalie Lester and Amanda Shell Jennings of Moxley Carmichael can smile at any event because they know they planned for every possible scenario.


Media partners are important. When Messer Construction Co. launched a campaign to alleviate holiday hunger, WBIR-TV Channel 10, WIVK-FM 107.7 and the Knoxville News Sentinel supported the effort on behalf of Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

They already had a heightened understanding and appreciation of the mission of Second Harvest and were a natural fit for Messer’s Holiday Canstruction, a giant art exhibition where teams of architects, engineers, contractors, designers and students construct holiday-themed works of art made of canned food that is later donated to Second Harvest. Their participation raised public awareness of the event at the Knoxville Convention Center and the problem of hunger in East Tennessee.

Prep details in advance. For events with lots of details and moving parts – such as Holiday Canstruction, which included over 19,000 cans of food and hundreds of props and promotional items and numerous media materials – you can’t start early enough.

“We began plans for Holiday Canstruction in the summer to have ample time to get everything organized and prepared when the exhibit opened in November,” Lester said.

Even if you’re not trying to assemble 19,000 cans, you still need to work out details in advance. Little things like tea lights, trash receptacles and name tags can become big things without proper advance attention.

“A CANtastic Peanuts Christmas” was the entry by Johnson Architecture, Moxley Carmichael and Partners.
“A CANtastic Peanuts Christmas” was the entry by Johnson Architecture, Moxley Carmichael and Partners. A lot of behind-the-scenes planning leads to the smooth assembly. (Photo courtesy of the Blue Streak)

Be prepared for emergencies. Despite all of the planning, the team still encountered last-minute issues. The problem – which involved canned food delivery – was out of the team’s initial control.

“But because we were well prepared and had a savvy team on hand to help, a significant problem did not derail the event,” Lester said.

Cynthia Moxley’s Blue Streak explains in detail the successfully handled challenges of the event.

While proper planning didn’t completely eliminate stress in the event of Canstruction, it would have been nearly insurmountable had it not been for all the advance work that freed up the team to address the problem without missing a beat – or a can.

Planning and executing memorable and successful events require hard work, thoughtful preparation and professionals in charge.

It reminds me of a Mark Twain quote: “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

Michelle Henry is a recovering event planner who now serves in a part-time role at Moxley Carmichael with a focus on writing. When not at the keyboard, you’ll likely find her at the pool – or thinking about being at the pool – or somewhere with her nose in a book.

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