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Elevate Any Event with this Simple Secret

The holidays are upon us and with that a) we don’t really feel like thinking about work and b) our calendars may have more ‘forced-fun activities’ than normal––multiple office gatherings, family celebrations, etc.

In the spirit of the giving season, I am going to let you in on the party secret that has changed my life...for the better. Not only was it photo-worthy, but it turned into an ice-breaker, and even got the introverts talking.

First, a bit of backstory––recently I partnered with a fabulous female entrepreneurs group in Charleston and we co-hosted an in-person retreat for about 12 women in my darling new town of Beaufort, SC.

The retreat was over-the-top, with workshops and experiences to help these female business owners soar into Q4 and 2023. But we also had a lot of fun, and some gorgeous events.

For the final night, at a dinner of about 14 people, we needed place cards, and I decided to recreate something I did for a luncheon in Atlanta years ago.

holiday tablescape
gorgeous tablescape

I traipsed to Kroger and Publix and found those little white pumpkins, and to each one I tied a little tag, and the tag on the pumpkin was the place card.

Here's the kicker: since both events were for all women, I asked in advance, “what is your favorite quote about or for women?”


It was a hit!! Think about it––the women had given us their quotes a couple of weeks before and when they went to the table to find their names, they were surprised and we heard all sorts of “ooohs” and “ahhhs.” They enjoyed reading the other people’s quotes and the conversation was in fifth gear!

festive tablescape
find your quote! each is tied to the pumpkin
The attendees were surprised and we heard all sorts of “ooohs” and “ahhhs”

During dinner, one of the attendees asked if each person could read her quote out loud. I thought this might feel a little cheesy, but we were outside, under the stars, all dressed up, and this turned into a wonderful moment.

pretty handmade menu cards
pretty handmade menu cards

We also had a gorgeous handmade menu and we included a two-page spread of all of the quotes so the attendees could take them home.

Pro tip: keep a master list of all quotes in case someone forgets what they said!

How does this have anything to do with marketing and guest experience (what I usually talk about)?

When I started writing this, it was really just me sharing a cute idea, but actually, it does several things that you need to create an exceptional client/guest experience (which will also strengthen your brand!).

Make an emotional connection

Stay on-brand

Make it Memorable and Mentionable

Be sure it works operationally

To keep it biz-focused for one more second, that is exactly what you want with every single customer touchpoint: be on-brand, actually serve a purpose (operations), make an emotional connection, help clients talk about you.

Now, back to the fun stuff: how else could you use this idea as a tablescape, a place card, and an icebreaker? There are so many ways to do a variation of this, even if it’s not the holidays.

At this time of year, you could ask people what they are the most thankful for, or their wish for 2023, etc. You could use Christmas tree balls in colors that coordinate with your tabletop or pinecones if it made sense for your location. I bet you could brainstorm about ten things in less than two minutes!

And the “quote” needn’t be serious. Some ideas of things to ask are,

  • What would you want your name to be if you weren’t given the name you have?

  • What is your favorite magazine?

  • What is your favorite podcast?

  • What is your favorite drugstore beautify product?

The important thing is to think about who is attending and what the purpose of the event is. Make sure it makes sense for the attendees and the event. That right there will help you stay on–brand and create a moment that is memorable.

table scape for women
The place cards were a natural ice breaker.

Oh, and my quote for that final night dinner?

“Be responsible for the energy you bring into this place.”

Please be responsible for the energy you bring into this place, - Oprah Winfrey

That might be a good one for each of us to remember as we walk into this holiday season.

Kimberly Sundt Bring Your Brand to Life
Kimberly Sundt

Kimberly Sundt is a branding and customer experience expert, who specializes in simplified and stylish marketing strategies for the boutique hotel, interior design, and retail industries. With over 25 years in luxury and hospitality, she uses the strategies and human connection practices learned in those industries to help business owners bring their brands to life. Learn more about Kimberly at

Kimberly also hosts purpose-led retreats for women,


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