DIY centerpieces: Money-saver or time-waster?

Event expert Heather Pilcher, CSEP, of Blue Spark Event Design examines the cost and benefits of outside design talent to create event centerpieces.

Corporate events can provide a great platform to showcase your company brand, communicate with shareholders and/or foster relationships with new or existing clients. The look, feel and presentation of the event must be carefully planned and be representative of your company’s image. With each corporate event, a budget should be carefully scrutinized for the value versus the price, but oftentimes internal employees planning corporate events are challenged to offer cost-saving scenarios for particular event elements. For this article, we’re going to focus on one element of the event design that often receives push back from management on the cost involved: the centerpiece.

 

Let’s assume that your company is hosting a corporate awards banquet to recognize its top clients and thank them for their continued and future business. A budget has been predetermined for the design of the room and is presented to the CEO by her administrative assistant in charge of the event. The CEO decides that the centerpieces, although lovely, are too expensive based on the overall budget and she asks the administrative assistant to find a better solution. His solution is to "do it himself" and save the company money. Here are pitfalls of attempting the DIY centerpiece for a corporate event.

 

1 The Do It Yourself (DIY) Risk:

Impression, impression, impression. The largest risk you take is the presentation of your company brand at the corporate event. Assuming that your company employee tasked with planning this event is not a professional florist on the side, the DIY centerpiece is never going to compare to something that is professionally crafted. The top clients for your business will either be impressed or distressed by your event execution. Plus, there’s no escaping a centerpiece. Your top clients will be staring directly at your employee’s DIY creation for the entire event. So although a centerpiece may not be as important as the content of the event, it will leave a lasting impression and may influence a client that can bring in additional sales. Don’t let an unprofessional DIY centerpiece reflect poorly on your company.

 

Sample Budget Comparison:

Here is a sample of professional florist budget compared to the cost and effort of a DIY floral budget. The cost savings are minuscule compared to the additional effort and uncertain outcome of the DIY centerpiece.

 

 

Sample Professional Floral Budget

Item

Quantity

 Price

 Total

Beautiful crafted floral rose centerpieces with elegant greenery accenting the design in a square glass vase filled with floral beads and LED floral lights.

50

 $   75.00

 $ 3,750.00

Delivery, set and strike of centerpieces

1

 $  250.00

 $  250.00

 

 

 TOTAL

 $4,000.00

 

 

 

Sample Do-It-Yourself Floral Budget

Item

Quantity

 Price

 Total

Roses and greenery from a floral wholesaler

50

 $   45.00

 $ 2,250.00

Floral containers for the centerpiece

50

 $   12.00

 $  600.00

Floral wire and green floral foam to set the centerpiece

1

 $   25.00

 $   25.00

Floral bead bags (1 bag fulfills half of the centerpieces)

2

$   25.00

$   50.00

Floral LED lights (2 per centerpiece)

100

$    2.00

$  200.00

Rental van for 24 hours with A/C so your flowers don't wilt during delivery

1

 $  100.00

 $  100.00

Floral cart to get the centerpieces from the van to the tables

1

 $  278.00

 $  278.00

Gas to go to the floral wholesalers, the craft store for the containers, the rental place for the van and the floral cart, and then to and from the event

1

 $   30.00

 $   30.00

Employee TIME:
(2) hours to obtain all floral items and van
(4) hours to create centerpieces
(2) hours to deliver and set centerpieces
(2) hours to remove centerpieces and return the van

10

 $   30.00

 $  300.00

Location to create the centerpieces (the employee’s home?)

1

 PRICELESS

 PRICELESS

Design ability and flower knowledge to create an elegant centerpiece with consistency and professionalism

1

 PRICELESS

 PRICELESS

 

 

 TOTAL

 $ 3,833.00

   

DIY Savings

 $ 167.00

 

 

Suggestions on Reducing a Floral Budget to Accomplish the CEO's Goals:

Here are some tips on reducing the centerpiece cost without losing value:

  1. Discuss flower options with your planner or florist. Although most flowers are grown year-round across the globe, the flowers that are in season are traditionally the best looking and least expensive. So plan ahead. Look at your corporate event dates and ask your planner to suggest flowers that are in season and coordinate with your event colors. Also consider flowers that are grown locally or regionally which can reduce shipping costs for the florist and can impact the cost of the design.
  2. Consider the intricacy of the design. Some designs require more labor than others. If the centerpiece design you’ve selected has more than a couple steps to complete the design or if it requires on-site assembly with the floral designer, it may be more costly because of the labor. To reduce this, find a design that you like and ask the planner to suggest comparable designs that are less labor-intensive.
  3. Alternate centerpiece looks throughout the room. Sometimes, a larger more ornate centerpiece on every table can kill a budget, but if you pair the larger ornate centerpiece with a smaller, complementary centerpiece on alternate tables throughout the room, you can reduce the overall floral costs as well as add dimension to the room.
  4. Less floral, more greenery. Utilizing more greenery in a design can be a cost-effective way to create a unique centerpiece with a lower floral cost. This is where the floral designer can be creative with their use of elegantly placed leaves, foliage and other floral greenery to create an interesting centerpiece that allows the limited floral to be the pop of color. Be warned though, don’t ask for a too involved piece because the more involved, the more labor intensive (see suggestion #2).
  5. Leverage relationships.Professional planners have researched, procured and developed vendor relationships with value-driven professional florists. Benefit from their buying power and research by letting them guide you through the centerpiece process and meet your budget goals. Plus, because of a professional planner’s consistent volume of business with their vendors, the vendors give them the best service and attention which can help you create an amazing event design for your corporate event.

 

Money-Saver or Time-Waster? My Answer: Time-Waster

Based on this scenario, we think do-it-yourself centerpieces for corporate events are a time waster. Leave your company’s brand in the hands of professional planners and florists so you can focus on the objective of the event and keep the company image intact.

 

 

About Heather Pilcher, CSEP

Heather Pilcher, CSEP, is national director of sales for Blue Spark Event Design. The in Orlando, Fla.-based company is a full-service event design company special events, destination management for conventions, and meeting planning services throughout the United States.

 

Pilcher has more than 12 years of experience crafting events. She started her career at Parents Magazine assisting in designing events with more than 200,000 attendees, celebrity promotional events, and intimate branding experiences. She has a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism management from the Rosen College at the University of Central Florida and is an active member of the International Special Events Society.

 

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