10 Award Ceremony Fails to Avoid

March 11, 2020

In Celebration / Ceremonies

Make sure not to make these award show fails

Planning an award ceremony this season? Let us help you by laying out some common mistakes and how you can flawlessly avoid them and enjoy your event.

To celebrate your employees is one of the most important things you can do for your organization. Having awards in a company culture is imperative; having an award ceremony is the icing on the cake! You are giving your team an arena to not only celebrate with each other, but to celebrate all of their accomplishments; this can help with morale, retention, you name it!

Here’s the thing though: hosting these sorts of events can be tricky. It’s easy to rent out a restaurant or even decorate the office to host an after-work gathering, but it’s the things you don’t plan for that can make for a questionable evening.  

Bad news: there are several things that could go wrong at your award ceremony.  

The good news? There are ways to prepare for the mishaps so you can focus on what’s important and the reason you’re all there: your recipients! They have worked hard to be honored with what you’re acknowledging them for, so let’s steer clear of any distractions from the stars of the evening. 

Here’s a list of 10 things that could go wrong at your award ceremony and how to avoid them.

1. OH NO! Someone has a food restriction.  

There is nothing worse than having one person, or even multiple people, with no food options. It’s very common for someone in attendance to have some sort of food allergy or just a preference. Some might not want to eat meat, some might not be able to have cheese, some are vegan. It is important to ask these questions ahead of time. This way you can make sure that what you are serving is good for everyone in attendance, or there are substitutes available for them.  

If it’s a sit-down meal, make sure the menu has a variety of options. If you’re doing buffet style, include some vegetables and salads as well. It’s easy to order for yourself, but you must accommodate to the audience as well. 

This also goes for alcohol; not everyone will want to consume an alcoholic beverage. Make sure to have options for them. Maybe provide some sparkling cider if there’s a champagne toast. 

award ceremony fails - food


2. Yikes, looks like you’re out of food.  

This is probably the worst of the worst. Not having enough food can be detrimental to your award ceremony. If people are hungry or they didn’t get to have any of the entrée they wanted, this can set the mood for the rest of the evening. Have you ever been hungry and had to sit through something? It’s awful!

By having your guests RSVP, you can plan ahead. Even just getting a headcount from walking around and asking can help. Consider if there will be any plus ones as well. From there, you can guesstimate 2-3 servings per person. Then consider apps, desserts, and salad to pair with the entrée.  

3. You went over budget!? 

One of the first steps to putting together an event is allocating a budget to go towards this awards ceremony. You’ll need to think of things such as decorations, food, tax/tip, drinks, and custom awards. Being able to have a number (with hopefully some wiggle room) is imperative. You don’t want to have to go over budget and explain as to why you didn’t budget well enough.  

award ceremony fails - over budget

Use some of these key questions to think about what number you’ll be aiming for:  

  • How much are people eating? 
  • How much money can I spend per head? 
  • How much have we spent in the past on events such as these? 

Asking yourself these questions will surely help you plan ahead and have an accurate budgeting plan.

4. Did you just say the wrong name during your speech?!  

Believe it or not, this can be quite easy to do. If you’ve watched Friends, you’ll know what I’m talking about (hint: her name isn’t Rachel). Although you’re not saying the wrong name during your vows, you will still be lessening the importance of someone’s achievement. Other things such as pacing or looking down, can also take away from the message at hand.  

To be able to give a powerful speech, preparation is absolutely key. Outlining your message and thanking the audience are two of the most important. If you want to dive deeper into how to write an employee recognition speech, check out this post we wrote.

5. You forgot an award? How could you! 

In the mayhem that is an award ceremony day, it is very easy to forget something. But please don’t let that be your awards! Transporting them can be tricky as well, especially if you (like most) celebrate yearly. You could have upwards of 15 recipients.  

Make sure you go over all of your options in this case:  

  •  You can mail them to the recipients with a handwritten note.  
  • You can give them out at the office before going to celebrate.  
  • You can have your provider mail them to the specific venue (make sure you talk to the person helping you coordinate at the venue first).  

Make sure to reach out to us and we can help you design showstopping awards as well as help you with all things logistics around delivery.  

6. Was that thunder? 

don't ruin your award ceremony due to weather

The weather is unpredictable! Nothing you can do about that… other than prepare. Keep in mind if you have people coming in from out of town; it might be harder for them to make the trip into town. Do you have any remote workers? Make sure they are involved as well. The point of having an awards ceremony is to give your team, not only a chance to celebrate any accomplishments or milestones, but to give them the chance to see each other and communicate outside of an office setting. Having a team that can bond off-work hours will only make your workflow at the office go smoother. So, let’s make sure they can make it into town!  

If you live in an area that is used to getting things such as massive snowstorms, maybe try planning around the seasons? No one will be able to enjoy their team members if the weather gets in the way.  

7. Is that the Cha Cha Slide playing? 

Okay, this is a tough one: music. It’ll be playing the background of the entire event. Or, you might have it as a backdrop between awards. It’s completely up to you and what you think your team would like best. Either way, at some point, there should be some tunes to set an ambiance.  To do this, you can curate your own playlist or find a pre-made one online for download. What sort of room are you going for? Fun and lively or something a little calmer and soothing?

Here are some great playlists we found that can serve as a great medium for your next award ceremony:

8. You need water. 

Simple, yet, easy to forget! Not much to say here, other than please make sure the event space has water for those in attendance. If food and drinks are to be had, you want to make sure everyone stays hydrated! 

9. Okay, we’re running out of time… 

It’s important to plan out your event time. You might get a window of 2-3 hours, but you still have to make a “soft” schedule. What that means is, know that if people are enjoying themselves, things might run a few minutes behind here and there.  

You must also provide enough time to start! We all know the saying: “people love to be fashionable late.” The case still stands for employee award ceremonies. So, make sure to leave 20-30 minutes, give or take, for people to trickle in and mingle before starting off the festivities.  

You should also schedule how long each speech should be per speaker. A nice rule of thumb: the higher up they are in the company, the longer they’ll want to talk! For example, if you are recognizing two employees, one has been with the company for 3 years and the other for 15; odds are, there will be much more to say about the 15-year milestone, so keep this in mind.  

10. “What is this place?” 

The event space must match the event. If you’re having a small gathering, make sure you have an intimate setting. You don’t want to have so much space that it looks as if people didn’t show up, but you don’t want to be pushing and shoving past each other.  

Also keep in mind where you are: if you’re in a city environment, you’ll want to be close to the subway or bus lines. If you’re in a more rural area, make sure there’s accessible parking.  

Most importantly, before the event begins (maybe day of or a few hours before heading over to set up) make sure you send out an informative email. This will break down everything that the person in attendance might be questioning.

Your attendee might be wondering:  

  • What is the easiest way to get there? 
  • Will there be parking? 
  • Will there be a coat check? 
  • What do I wear to this event? 
  • Will we be going anywhere afterward? 

In the end, what matters is the honorees!  

celebrate all award recipients

At the end of the day, no matter where your event takes place, you’ll be sure to have a great time! Just make sure the faux pas above don’t happen to you. In planning a busy evening, one thing you can count on is that Altrum will have your back when it comes to breathtaking awards. Give us a call and we’ll bring your dream award to life

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