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There are events every night of the week on campus. And there are the folks that are supervisors of the organizers, the organizers, the organizers’ staff and volunteers.

Here’s my advice to all three groups via a list of items and when to say no. No thanks to Martha Stewart.

  1. Balloons of any sort. No balloon arches, drops or releases. Balloons kill wildlife and the staff dealing with the aftermath. 
  2. Soloists. Choirs only. No one wants to hear a diva. She is not the next Broadway star. A chorus looks more impressive. They just do.
  3. Food bars of any sort. No pasta bars. No potato bars. Gross. Gelatinous goo. Barf-o-rama.
  4. Edible arrangements as centerpieces. Even buffets have sneeze guards for a reason. 
  5. Pipe and drape. Everyone knows you’re in the gym. 
  1. Fake plants. No, they are not like bridesmaids’ dresses; you can’t use them again. Rent some live ferns and ficus trees, for God’s sake. Be done with it.
  2.  M.C.s. No one wants to listen to some bourbon- and nicotine-saturated Buddy Hackett–type idiot trying to tell jokes at the president’s expense.
  3. Branded plastic/acrylic crap (minimum order 500). It's just like McDonald’s Happy Meal toys—they’re headed for the landfill. Why contribute to that?
  4. Large, framed (with colored mats) photos of campus. Coming to a tag sale near you.
  5. Branded entry floor mats. They’re filthy, and you do you really want people stepping on your logo? 
  1. Glitter. Glitter is litter. It is the herpes of the craft world.
  2. Lamé tablecloths. Even Bob Mackie and Cher would recoil. 
  3. Themes. Be careful. Be very careful. Don’t promise Paris and deliver Dollar Tree. Best left to the arts and museums.
  4. Indoor fountains. This includes chocolate, champagne, punch, water. See Nos. 4 and 19 for rationale.
  5. Does anyone really like sheet cake? Nothing quite says “we loathe you” more than a sheet cake from Walmart.
  6. Large bowl of shrimp. The provost will never let anyone else near it. And someone is likely to wipe out on an errant shrimp tail on the floor. 
  7. Butter mints (also known as toilet mints). You must ask yourself … does anyone ever throw out the butter mints?
  8. Red wine served in concert with Stilton cheese, hummus, deviled eggs and bar nuts at a reception. In a phrase sick with alliteration: donors, deans and directors with death breath. Stink. Stink.
  9. Water in a punch bowl. During the Civil War, it was also known as Jefferson Davis Punch. 
  10. Costumes. Think twice. Costumes are a caution. Google “cosplay.” (Also see No. 13)
  11. Black tie optional. No, no and no. Either it’s black tie or it’s not. 
  12. Drink tickets. People who are going to drink are going to drink. “You can have my drink ticket” is often followed by “Why is the CFO singing? Get that mike now!”

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