February 6, 2012

How to Plan a Mixer

Mixers should serve it's purpose: allow guests to mix & mingle. When you're mixing and mingling, it's important that a couple of things are provided to allow you to really absorb the atmosphere: food, drinks, personalization, and entertainment!


Food is a MUST at any function. As it pertains to a mixer the type of food to be offered should be finger foods; appetizers that can allow you to comfortably walk around the room without consuming your time scarfing it down. You don't want to spend your time sitting at a table eating a 3-course meal-save that for a more formal gathering. Below are some examples of appropriate finger foods:
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Chicken Wings 
  • Shrimp
  • Potstickers
  • Mini sandwiches
  • Pita bread/chips
  • Dips: ranch, hummus, salsa, spinach or artichoke
  • Vegetable platter
  • Fruit platter
  • Cookies, brownie bites, small cake slices

If you're having an adult mixer it is wise to have a drink station with a hired bartender. Stick to beers and wines as refreshments as hard liquor doesn't always mix well with crowds. For a mixer in which no alcohol is to be offered or alcohol is to be offered as an option, have a table dedicated to self-serve refreshments like water, punch, or lemonade. Mini soda bottles and soda cans add a nice variety of drinks for the mixer but do encourage waste as people often place their can or bottle down, forget where they left it, and grab for another. In the end, it can create more to clean up so I prefer the self-serve refreshments where people can write their name on their cup/glass.


If you are the host of a mixer, YOU are the face of the party. It is your responsibilitly to add personality to the mixer and encourage guests to mix and mingle. The first thing you need to do to personalize the guests' experience is to have a welcome table. The welcome table should include the following:

  • A greeter at the table to greet the guests and provide them information on the mixer
  • Pamphlets on the agenda for the mixer in the event that there is a guest speaker/s or sponsors who have booths
  • Blank name tags and markers for the guest to write their name on
  • Pens and mini notepads to encourage guests to make connections with other guests
  • Business card jar for guests to submit their business card
    • This is a nice addition to the welcome table because the jar will serve two purposes. The first purpose is to use it as a raffle! At the end of the mixer you can draw a business card from the jar and the winner can win a prize. The second purpose is to use the business cards as a means to keep in touch with your guest. You can add them to your email list serve and for business purposes reach out to them. 
 Parting gifts are always a great way to leave a lasting impression on guests at a mixer. If a company is sponsoring the mixer, have them donate useful items that pertain to the theme of the mixer (ie: business card holders if it's a business networking mixer). Place the parting gifts in nice party bags halfway to the end of the mixer so people don't try to walk in, grab a bag, and walk out. The parting gifts are like an incentive for staying at the mixer.


Lastly, but in fact one of the most important needs at a mixer, is the entertainment! Live performances such as dancers or bands are not usually the forms of entertainment appropriate for a mixer. Rather, a DJ playing Top 40s music or Pandora playing at a mid-volume so as not to overpower the mixing & mingling, are the best routes to go. Remember, people will be conversing so they will want to hear the person next to them. Moreover, the mixer is not a dance party so the music should be loud enough that it creates an inviting atmosphere and not loud enough that people are breaking it down in the middle of the event space!

I hope this gave you a better idea of how to plan a mixer! Have fun planning!

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