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The 80/20 of Event Planning

Published December 18, 2019

Allow us to introduce a brilliant guy by the name of Vilfredo Pareto. Ol’ Vil is the genius behind the Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 Rule, and he should be on every host’s VIP guest list. In terms of not-so-famous guys with great ideas, he’s up there with Otto Frederick Rohwedder, the honest-to-god inventor of sliced bread.

Pareto was an Italian economist who, in 1895, came up with the theory of the “vital few” (20%) and the “trivial many” (80%). We’re about to greatly paraphrase his principle—this a catering blog after all, not Business 101—and put it like this: if you make a list of 10 things that need to be done for your event, only 2 of those things really matter. The other 8 are sheer fluff.

Yes, Martha Stewart, we’re talking to YOU. The scale model of your childhood home made from organic gingerbread and imported sugar plums? Doesn’t make the cut. The hours you plan to spend on your hands and knees cleaning baseboards after the cleaners leave? Rise up and celebrate, Cinderella. Nobody cares. Truly they don’t.

So what are the two things on that list that actually matter? The vital 20% that will ensure your party is the best on the block?

  1. Good food
  2. Good company

That’s it. The rest can go right in the trash.

We get your skepticism. We know you’re rolling your eyes so hard right now, because obviously it can’t REALLY be that simple. So let us run this theory through the filter, shall we? We’ve collected a few tried and true scenarios that are so common they’re practically cliche.

The Cleaning Crew Snafu

You wanted to get the house sparkling before your holiday cocktail hour but ran out of time, and in your frenzied pre-party hustle and bustle, you booked the cleaners for two days AFTER the big event. By the way, the guest bath ran out of toilet paper halfway through, but nobody wanted to tell you. Hey, my friend, guess what? It doesn’t matter one tiny iota, because mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and bacon will get people past most anything trying in life. And if that doesn’t do it, our Chocolate Mousse Cups certainly will.

The Overdone Roast

You plan a huge retirement party to honor your favorite co-worker’s 30 years of dedicated service only to find three speeches in that the honoree is the only person in the room who didn’t grasp the concept of a roast. He flees the room yelling threats about suing for libel, but your co-workers just head happily to the dessert bar for another Warm Pecan Apple Crisp.

The Wrong (Key)Note

Your top pick for keynote speaker at the annual shareholders meeting was booked, and the act you landed instead looks and sounds more like the owner of Crazy Eddie’s Bargain Basement Auto Sales than the TedTalk inspiration of your corporate fantasies. Before you succumb to the white-hot flames of humiliation, take a moment to look around and realize NOBODY cares, because they’re full to the brim with hand-crafted cocktails and Lobster Mac & Cheese. In fact, there’s talk of featuring Crazy Eddie and his orange plaid blazer on this year’s company holiday card.

The Musical Mishap

The lead singer of your favorite backyard band, Odd Joe and the Kazoos, suffered an unfortunate accident involving a pinball machine and his primary kazooing finger, but your sweet nine year old niece stepped up to the plate with her new recorder she just learned how to play. Shut the back door, and lead everyone to the buffet. You won’t hear “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor” more than once before the compliments on the Smoked Roast Beef Brisket drown it all blessedly out.

The Berry Bust

You spend a day and a half creating a wreath of live cranberries to hang on the front door, but what Martha Stewart didn’t mention was those little babies start projectile popping at freezing temps, and 32 degrees hits just as the top partner in your law firm and his lovely wife in her white fur coat come sauntering up to the door. Hand her a Tide Pen and a Caprese Skewer with our famous balsamic reduction, and keep working the crowd. It’s all going to be okay…at least until Monday.

The Great Debate

You stayed on task, and everything came together beautifully. The house is gorgeous, the candles are lit, and just as everyone sits down in front of their Pinterest-worthy name cards and holly-bedecked place settings someone brings up…POLITICS. Relax. Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Breast with Blackberry Compote shuts that nonsense down within two bites. Seems impossible, we know, but it really is that good.

In the world of sophisticated—or delightfully unsophisticated—entertaining, it’s the food that matters most. It always has been and always will be. Go ahead and embrace the “trivial many,” if that’s your thing. We’re not here to judge. At the end of the event, though, we guarantee all anyone will remember are those “vital few” elements.

When you partner with Black Plate Catering, we can help you take that 20% and make it look like you put forth 150%, effortlessly. Call us today to see how we can help get your party started!

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