What Are Your Pre- and Post-Event Routines?

Industry professionals share the ways they mentally and physically prepare for—and relax after—long event days.

From left: Justin Boone, Jaime Geffen, Cara Kleinhaut, Debi Lilly
From left: Justin Boone, Jaime Geffen, Cara Kleinhaut, Debi Lilly
Photos: Anthony Thailer (Debi Lilly), Courtesy of Event Professionals (All Others)

“Before going onsite, I make a point to take care of all of the little details in my own life—whether that's getting a haircut, working out hard at the gym, running those nagging little errands, or just tidying up other loose ends around the home—so that I can fully dedicate my attention and energy to creating the best event possible while onsite. It also makes it a lot easier to return home after an event is over knowing you don't have a long to-do list waiting for you, and you can focus on getting back in shape to start the process all over again.”
Justin Boone, executive producer, Mas Event & Design, Los Angeles

“The morning after, I have an event hangover. Nonstop, no-sitting-down, 18-hour wedding days or Saturday event days make you feel like you’ve been hit by a Mac truck. My go-to, back up-and-at-'em recharge routine includes a lazy morning watching movies in bed with the family, followed by a late-morning Sunday family brunch and then a long, soothing spa pedicure. Soaking your feet, plus foot and leg massages for an hour, literally pampers you right back into the good vibes zone. 
Debi Lilly, chief eventeurA Perfect Event, Chicago

“Before an event, I wake up super early and get to the venue with the first shift. But before I arrive, I make sure to pick up the largest Americano I can find along with coffee for my team. We always have a team meeting and make our plan for the day. I'd love to say we take five minutes to meditate, but the adrenaline is usually pumping and we're all excited to hit the ground running. I guess we'll make that a 2018 plan! Then, the first thing we do once the event is over and guests have left is take a group picture. So much blood, sweat, and tears go into building the event that brings us closer together, so it's great to capture the camaraderie. And obviously thanking everyone onsite and afterward is a priority. I like talking to as many staffers throughout the day and telling them how much I appreciate their work, whatever it might entail.”
Andrew Kilbourn, head of experiential activation, Condé Nast, New York

“I work out very heavily before I go to any kind of event, because it alleviates any kind of stress. Even if the load-in is that 4 o’clock in the morning, I will either run to the event, or I’ll jog or do something. I’m extremely physical, and I think that you need to be physical. I’ll be in sneakers and wear all black, and if I need to change in the bathroom before the client comes, that’s fine. … I do a postmortem the next day in the office—but I do it personally first, usually in the bathtub."
Jes Gordon, owner and creative director, JesGordon/Proper Fun, New York
[Note: Gordon's quote comes from this week's episode of the GatherGeeks podcast. Click through to hear more about Gordon's event-day routine.]

“I’d love to tell you I do a 5- to 10-minute positive mindset meditation before every single event, as that would be ideal, wouldn’t it? Well even if not perfect, I strive for it. It helps settle my mind, which is always at full speed, to just breathe and relax, and, whatever is going on in my head, just act my way into right thinking and smile. I have enough experience now to know that no matter what, it’s all going to turn out OK. After many years in this business, I don’t know if those pre-event butterflies in the stomach ever really go away entirely—but isn’t that part of the excitement?”
Cara Kleinhaut, founder and C.E.O., Agenc Experiential & Digital Marketing, Los Angeles

“No matter what time I have to be up to begin event prep, I wake up an hour before that to moisturize and do a full beauty routine. I feel so much better throughout the day knowing I don’t have to do my makeup when I should be focusing on the event.”
Ashleigh Poff, vice president of programming and events, Net Impact, Atlanta

"The night before an event day, I really try to have dinner with my family and get to bed early so I am rested and ready to take on the day. Then usually, the morning after an event, I create some 'me time.' I love to go horseback riding or spinning to celebrate success and breathe."
Jaime Geffen, owner, Geffen Events, Los Angeles

“Prepping for an event means re-visiting the checklists, making sure everything is in order, loading important contacts into my phone so I don't have to spend time searching for them, and packing sustaining snacks like protein bars and nuts. After an event, with tear-down complete, I make sure to get a good meal in and rest. And then it's always important to follow up with your clients and seek feedback on your performance.”
Ashley Lachney, event coordinator, Cowlitz County Event Center, Longview, Washington

“My pre-event strategy is to stay out of my very capable team's hair. Show up with enough time to give feedback, but not too early to drive them crazy. It’s also important to get proper rest and to not over-caffeinate. I meditate and/or work out if I can. And eat! Nobody needs the boss 'hangry.' Along those lines, we appoint a 'director of happiness' who is in charge of making sure all staff is fed, hydrated, and as rested as possible.

My post-event strategy is to send my famous ‘thank you’ email where I detail everyone's contributions to the event's success, and to start thinking of what my team thank-you plan will be. It’s usually a memento of the amazing event we just executed, but one year, I took the team to Disneyland (on my own dime). It was a blast and the perfect way to let loose after a stressful event. And personally, I love to get a massage the next day to get rid of any knots and help turn off my brain. Then, finally: Sleep, and start dreaming of the next big idea.”
Erica Boeke, vice president of experiential, 23 Stories, New York

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