We’re officially heading into our third consecutive Longest Table event, which means we’re pretty much pros. Right?
When we first got started with the Hospital Research Foundation’s annual cancer fundraising event, we already had a bit of event experience. We wanted it to a truly amazing night, because we felt so passionate about the cause — which for us, was raising funds for breast cancer research. There are so many amazing women in our lives that have been impacted by breast cancer, and while research and treatment has come so far, there is still a fair way to go.
Looking back now, it’s amazing what tips and tricks we’ve picked up since that first year. Running these events is SO MUCH FUN, and incredibly rewarding, so we’ve put together a bit of a checklist to make it super easy for you to host your own Longest Table.
1. Put your guest list in alphabetical order
This sounds super simple, but TRUST ME. When you’ve got a big group of people arriving at once and you’re trying to greet them, direct them to their seats AND tick them off a list all at the same time, this tiny trick will save you a load of stress!
2. Sort out your music situation
This is the format we’ve found works the best…
- Acoustic covers as background music as people arrive (there’s a lot of excitable “helloooooo” and “good to see you!” at this time, so keep the other noise to a minimum)
- Quiet music during meal times, so people can hear each other across the table
- Crank it up to party tunes from about 9.30pm onwards, and drag your friends up for a boogie
The biggest lesson we’ve learnt is that no matter how perfect every other part of your event is, if the food doesn’t hit the mark, that’s all people will talk about. If you’re getting the event catered, make sure to give them some strict instructions surrounding timings and quantity. And if you’re catering yourself then make sure to have a clear plan and plenty of help.
When it comes to food, more is MORE!
I’m a big supporter of free-flowing champagne at all times, but have a suss of your guest list before you go buying every bottle of Bird In Hand left in Adelaide. If you’ve got an older / younger crowd, make sure you’ve got soft drink, and if you’ve got a lot of blokes (sorry to gender-stereotype here) keep some beers in the fridge.
And NO MATTER WHAT, make sure you’ve got plenty of water — still or sparkling, I’ll leave that up to you.
The Longest Table is all about fundraising, so we totally encourage your enthusiasm towards raising a lot of moola. BUT — it’s important to make sure your guests are getting bang for their buck. If you’re charging $150 per head, a sandwich and a Coke Zero won’t cut the mustard. As long as your ticket pricing covers your costs plus a little extra, you’re good to go. You can make those extra dollars from the fundraising activities.
6. Don’t have more than three fundraising activities on the go
Speaking of fundraising activities! You know how I said that when it comes to food, more is more? When it comes to fundraising activities, less is more.
Generally, people come to an event with an idea of how much they’re willing to spend. Take into account that they’ve already forked out for their tickets, and don’t bombard your guests with a raffle, a silent auction, a lucky square draw, a wine wall, and a live auction all in one go.
Pick two or three fundraising activities that will work for you, and make them your focus. It will save you some effort in organising countless activities, and it will save your guests the awkward moment of saying no to some of the fundraising on the night.
The Longest Table is the best event to invite every man and his dog to. Everyone ends up on the same table, sharing food and a laugh together, so no need to worry about your friends not knowing each other — this is the time for them to GET to know each other!
Plus… the more people that attend, the higher your fundraising will be. Double whammy!
8. Photos are worth it
A picture is worth a thousand words. Everyone loves to look back at the good times they’ve had, AND its great exposure for the Longest Table (especially when you use #FORKCANCER to spread the word). Hopefully your friend’s friends will see how great your Longest Table was, and want to come next year — or better yet, hold their own!
9. Get moody
Mood lighting goes a long way, especially when you’ve got a group of people that aren’t besties (yet). It’s human nature to feel a little exposed when you’re standing in glaring light, so set out some candles and set the dimmer to low. Everything looks a little bit fancier with some atmospheric lighting.
This one will involve you walking a fine line, but it’s worth it. Our general rule of thumb is to think of everything for your dream event, put it all on the table, and then work out which ones are worth the money and which ones you don’t really need.
- Great food, and lots of it = NEED.
- A multicoloured disco light suspended from the ceiling = WANT, but don’t NEED (unfortunately).
At the end of the day, you want to be raising as much money for the Hospital Research Foundation as possible. Don’t frivolously spend it, when it could be supporting this amazing cause instead.
Finally, we’ve got an unofficial point 11: have the best time ever. If you’re having fun with it, your guests will have fun too. Longest Table is a great opportunity to get together with the people that you love and celebrate life — those that you’ve loved and lost, and those that are sitting right next to you.
Stay tuned for our 2019 event details, we’d love to see you there.
The Adelady team xx