Every chapter banquet is unique. Here, members share their priorities for planning and executing a memorable end-of-the-year event.
1. List your non-negotiables.
“This is the time to make a list of the things you cannot do without,” says Joelle Grubbs of the West Central Valley FFA Chapter in Iowa. “Things you’ll definitely want to include are going through all the awards and honors received by the chapter or members, the retiring address and year-in-review moments. Making a list will allow you to keep your banquet organized and under control. It also keeps you from leaving anyone or anything out!”
2. Make some memories.
“Chapter banquets are usually the last event that senior FFA members get to attend, and we want to make sure that it is memorable,” says Brodee McCormick of the Athens FFA Chapter in Illinois. “We like to thank the seniors one last time with a retiring jacket ceremony. We recognize how much work they have done and how big of an impact they left on the chapter and its members.”
3. Add a service element.
Make a request for attendees to bring canned food to donate to a local shelter. Aim for a zero-food-waste banquet. “The end-of-the-year banquet can be a great time and place to add something to serve your community,” says Tate Stevenson of the Lincoln County FFA Chapter in Tennessee. This is your chance to end the year with a bang. Go for it!”
4. DIY when possible.
Bailey Marshall of the James River FFA Chapter in Virginia asks, “Do you have an exceptionally talented florist in your chapter? What about an incredibly gifted carpenter? Maybe even a budding graphic designer? Use the skills and talents of different members of your chapter to add do-it-yourself elements to your banquets, such as table centerpieces, hand-crafted frames for certificates, and self-made invitations and flyers.”
5. Follow up.
Take a moment to write thank-you notes to guests, post well wishes to the graduating class on social media and ask all attendees for feedback. “Chapter banquets are an opportunity to get the whole chapter together, reflect on your accomplishments and laugh about the good times,” says Katy Lantz of the Winner FFA Chapter in South Dakota. “Celebrating success is important to the individual and the chapter.”