Cathy Riva, Event Planner, Riva Events

Image courtesy of Riva Events

Clever food presentation: Decorate to get people talking, advises Riva. "When I plan celebrations, my main objective is to help people connect," she says. "I like to provide opportunities for this to happen with 'conversation sparkers.'"

Often, that can be achieved with food presentation, she contends. "For example, I love color in food. Skewer pineapple squares and blueberries with a sprig of mint and add a dash of balsamic vinegar and you've got a great-looking summer treat. To present these, stick them in a watermelon rind or wheat grass tray," she says.

Another pretty conversation starter and clever cost-saver that Riva demonstrated on The Today Show was using hollowed-out melons as vases for flowers.