Step 5: Iron Out the Details

Whether you’re hosting a fun, themed celebration, an educational health fair, or a run/walk to get everyone’s blood pumping, the success of your event depends on how well you handle the details. Making the necessary preparations will ensure that your event goes off without a hitch.

Let’s start with the decorations 

Decorating appropriately will set the tone for your event from the moment guests walk in the door. The NCSD Foundation can help you get started with t-shirts, commemorative buttons and more, all available in our Merchandise Catalog. The type of program you choose, as well as your event location, will determine the additional necessary décor.

If your event has a theme, your décor should reflect that. For instance, tropical flowers, Tiki torches, leis, and hula skirts are practically required for a Hawaiian luau. A program that’s focused on the arts or art therapy can benefit from a display of artwork or photography created by survivors. Candles, luminaries, and a scattering of inspirational writings will help create a reflective mood for an inspirational or religious ceremony. For more ideas, see our “Themespiration” page.

Next up – food  

At any type of event or gathering, food is always appreciated. But you don’t have to bust your budget by serving a gourmet meal. Unless your event is centered on dinner or lunch, some simple hors d’oeuvres or desserts will do. A popular option is a “Celebration of Life” cake with the NCSD logo in red, white, and blue frosting.

Here are some additional tips to help you feed your guests without breaking the bank:

  • Ask local restaurants or grocers if they would be willing to donate food, beverages, or supplies to your event. Make sure to thank them by recognizing their donation or listing them as an event sponsor. 
  • Recruit volunteers to help you with setup and food preparation, serving, and then cleanup after your event. This is a great way to get local high school or college students involved.
  • Have hospital staff help out as “celebrity servers.”
  • Ask a hospital dietitian to create a menu that includes healthy, cancer-fighting foods.
  • Consider these budget-friendly options: simple hors d’oeuvres, a buffet-style brunch, barbecue, a brown-bag picnic, ice cream sundae bar, or a potluck.
  • Contact local food truck vendors and ask if they would be willing to provide food for your guests at a discount. 

Keeping guests entertained  

Providing entertainment and incorporating activities into your event can help assure that everyone has a good time. From craft tables, to keynote speakers, to live music and dancing, anything goes when it comes to keeping guests entertained. The key here is to play to your crowd. Here are some time-tested ideas you might want to try:

Arts and crafts  

Set up an arts and crafts table where attendees can create a memento of the event. If your event has a theme, use that as guide.

Play games  

From classic standards like bingo and card games to silly relays and tug of war, there is something for everyone when it comes to playing games. Organized sports such as softball, soccer, volleyball, and golf lend themselves well to celebrity participation and promote team building. Trivia contests are also a popular choice. Don’t forget to reward the winners with special prizes.

Wow the crowd  

Magicians, jugglers, dance troupes, and drama clubs can put on a dazzling show for your spectators.

Don’t forget the music  

Music can enhance your celebration. Performing artists of any genre (jazz, country, blues, classical, barbershop) are sure to be a hit as the featured entertainment. You might also want to consider a pianist, harpist, guitarist, string quartet, or high school band to provide background music. Or get a disc jockey to play some tunes that complement your theme.

The keynote address  

Whether humorous, inspirational, or informative, a guest speaker is the highlight of many NCSD events. Consider inviting a local or national celebrity who has been touched by cancer to share his or her story. Have a healthcare professional give an update on treatment advances, offer advice for coping with side effects or emotional issues, or discuss complementary therapies. Invite an author of a cancer-related book to speak and hold a book signing. Register your event to gain online access to our exclusive NCSD Speakers Bureau Roster, which contains contact information for nationally recognized celebrities and keynote speakers.

Spotlight on survivors

Consider drawing your entertainment from among survivors rather than using professionals. Survivors can share messages of hope by telling first-person stories, reading journal entries, reciting poems, or giving a comic monologue about dealing with cancer. You can even organize a panel of long-term survivors to discuss cancer survivorship issues and answer the questions of newly diagnosed survivors and their families.

Something for the kids  

If children will attend, make sure to plan age-appropriate activities for them, such as story-telling, games, face painting, and bounce houses.

Honor survivors  

National Cancer Survivors Day is the day each year that we pause to honor those who are living with a history of cancer for their strength and courage. Take a moment during your event to acknowledge the cancer survivors in attendance, whether through a processional, an art display or collage created during the event, or even just a simple keepsake photograph. This day is for cancer survivors. Make sure that they are recognized. However, survivors are not the only people worthy of recognition. Be sure to honor dedicated healthcare professionals, caregivers, and volunteers as well.

Step 6: Order Official NCSD Merchandise

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