3 Party Planning Hacks – Baby Shower Ed.

This past weekend was my sister-in-law’s baby shower and I was lucky to help with the planning and was in charge of the decor.  I love a good party, and I love a good party with a theme.  The theme for K’s shower was Woodland, and as I worked through the decor it quickly morphed to a Woodland Glam theme especially once we learned the baby is a girl. So instead of breaking everything down, I wanted to share a few hacks I did for this baby shower that made a statement and helped pull everything together.
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Framed Art: One easy way to help decorate and pull the theme through was with framed art of little Woodland animals with flower crowns. Since Woodland was also K’s baby room theme, I wanted to get prints framed that could work for the shower and that could then be hung in the nursery for room decor! It was a fun conversation piece during the shower as party guests spotted them throughout the house – plus I think N&K really liked them. I purchased 6 Baby Animals with Flowers Crowns and these 11×17 frames from Michaels Craft Store.
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DIY Floral Letter: This was another piece that was used as decor at the shower and will now find a home in the nursery as well. The muted colors that were picked out play into that glam, Woodland and romantic feel.  Not to mention this was super easy and an affordable DIY that made a huge statement as part of the main centerpiece in the opening room as guests came into the baby shower. Read the full Floral Letter DIY how-to by click here.
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Dessert Table:  A dessert table has been my must-have staple for all the parties that I plan.  This is an easy way to make a great statement, while having a lot of yummy treats, lots of options and it’s another way to help pull in a theme.  There are a few pieces to mix and match for your dessert table, my go-to’s are at least one cake, maybe two depending on the size, cake pops and chocolate covered pretzels. Designed sugar cookies are another great addition to a dessert table too! Displaying everything at various levels helps give another wow factor to your sweet treats and finishing off with greens and a table runner pull it all together.
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A few other must-haves at parties are balloons and the way we pull this off is by buying those personal sized helium tanks – these make it so easy and transportation a breeze. Depending the occasion, fresh flowers are always a nice touch especially if it’s a baby or bridal shower.  I also love making sure napkins, plates and glassware are on theme and compliments to the entire party.  I love how everything came together for K’s special day, it was exhausting pulling it all together, but definitely worth it!

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Ultimate Summer S’more Board

It’s time to step-up your s’more game, and I’ll tell you just how to do it with my ultimate summer s’more board. It’s the charcuterie board of s’mores and it’s only going up from here in the wow, mouth watering, #goals department. Don’t worry the only thing that doesn’t change is that delicious perfectly toasted marshmallow. So whether this is for a girl’s night, date night or low-key hang with the neighbors the way you eat s’mores is forever about to change – and you’re going to wow your guests in the process. Oh, and don’t forget the bubbles!
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My Hubby’s Surprise Party & Tips for Planning One

For the last 6-months or so I’ve been planning a surprise party for my hubby, B — this quickly turned into a bit feat as we got closer to the actual surprise date!  You see, I get really excited about presents I pick out, gifts, or surprises – I like to bait people and often can’t wait, just wanting to spill the beans.  Planning this party was definitely a test of that (that I passed!) but was also a bit stressful, yet very exciting!
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So here are a few tips and areas to focus on when planning a surprise party!

Plan a Date.  Since B’s birthday is a few days after Christmas, it often gets looped in with the holiday and overlooked – so I wanted to make sure we avoided the holiday but also wanted it to be close.  Since December tends to be a busy month for everyone I planned over the summer and sent out my digital Save the Dates.  I also picked a Friday night, thinking it’d be easier for me to sneak away on a work day than a regular Saturday.

Location.  This one can be tricky! I initially had the perfect place picked out with an ideal party room – then they closed over the summer.  The options got smaller and I got picker, so the fall back was our house, that way I could control the food, decorations, alcohol, etc.  I just needed to keep the hubby away long enough to get the house decorated and sneak 30-people inside.

Plan the Diversion.  I wracked my brain on this for months, until I finally reached out to MW to help with the diversion – he was all over it and a HUGE help to this all working out!  This started getting planned just a few weeks before, and then initiated with B the week of the party – drinks after work, and then getting back to the house in time for the surprise!

Pick a Theme & Decorate.  To keep a somewhat complex event, simple – I wanted to stick with a classic color scheme of gold, black and white! I kept decorations easy too,  with lots of balloons, big gold number balloons, fun themed thirty banners, some ‘Vintage 1988’ plastic cups, pictures of the birthday boy and a photo booth with polaroids.  Pro-tip: Buy a mini-helium tank, it’s easier and cheaper! 

Food & Drink Favorites.  Since I was hosting, I could pretty much pick whatever for the food and I wanted to make sure to incorporate some of B’s favorite things. To do this, I ordered chips and salsa from his favorite spot picked up dark chocolate pretzels, another favorite!  From a beverage perspective, I made sure there was plenty of B’s favorite Christmas beer – and our friends/families brought plenty of beer options for him too!
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My goal was to plan a surprise party for B to celebrate his upcoming 30th, while keeping it simple and intimate – which isn’t easy to do with big families and lots of friends, but somehow I think I pulled it off! B was DEFINITELY surprised and had no idea, I kept the charade up all day – even though I took a half day and had planning for months.  Another plus of planning so early is I slowly ordered decorations and party supplies throughout the months so I really only needed to worry about the food the week of!

It was fun, but I don’t think I’ll be planning another surprise party anytime soon!

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5 Hosting Tips for Fall

It’s getting to one of my favorite times of the year – the time for holiday parties and plenty of opportunities for hosting friends and family.  Whether you’re planning an intimate sit down dinner or a more festive party, these five tips will help cover your bases, wow guests and have a fun night to remember!
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These tips will also help you relax as a host while still having those finishing touches and taking your party to the next level.

  1. Consider a Bulk Signature Cocktail. Signature cocktails can be fun, especially if it’s more of a seasonal drink for the fall and winter months.  As a host pro-tip, make these in bulk ahead of time in a pitcher or shaker – that way you won’t be stuck making everyone a drink as they come in.  Don’t forget the garnish and a fun cocktail napkin to top off the full effect!
  2. Make a Killer Charcuterie Board. This can serve as your focal point and will cover the bases on a variety of food categories from meats and cheeses, to breads, jams, nuts and fresh fruit that will make guests want to dive right in.  Check out Skinnytaste or Spend with Pennies on some tips to making a killer board.
  3. Don’t Forget the Dessert! It’s easy to get caught up figuring out the main dishes for the evening and overlook the best part, dessert!  This is something to keep simple whether it’s buying some more expensive chocolate bars, baking fresh chocolate chip cookies or asking friends to help bring this, so you can check it off the list!
  4. Plastic vs. Non-Plastic Plates. The great debate on which to use continues! I often shy away from plastic because I prefer the aesthetic look of plates – but depending on which type of party you’re hosting, one might make more sense than the other.  For example a more intimate dinner party or smaller guest count may call for plates to add that extra touch, but if you’re having a large party that is a bit more casual save yourself the end of the night clean-up and grab plastic bowls and plates!
  5. Create Welcoming Smells. This can be an easy victory – if you’ve been prepping food all day, your house might have a mixture of smells, so to clear it up light a few candles with similar scents throughout your home (don’t forget the bathroom!) or throw in some chocolate chip cookies right before guests arrive for a homey welcome.

If you’re looking for inspiration to host a fall party and ways to keep it simple read; 5 Reasons to Host a Fall Party.  And don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your own party, as the host it’s easy to get caught up in perfection and making sure everyone else is taken care of – but don’t forget to grab yourself a drink too!

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Image Sources:  Skinnytaste \ The Effortless Chic | Apartment 34

Parties – Festive Cocktails

Since I’m SO pumped for the holidays this year – I can’t help but get excited for all the fun leading up… the decorating, the tree hunting, our Christmas party, baking cookies, just all of the things!  One way to customize your holiday party is to have a signature drink, these drinks have me totally inspired for our upcoming holiday party.
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Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer: This drink just looks light and refreshing especially with the garnish of rosemary to top it off.  I think substituting out the pomegranate for cranberries would also be a great option if you wanted to make it a little more affordable and easier to create. This would also be a great drink for a NYE party!

Pink Peppermint Russian: Although I would need to substitute the milk, perhaps with almond milk, this drink looks so pretty and delicious and has Christmas written all over it. Not to mention, it’s a warmer drink which is perfect for warming up your guests from the cold and snowy nights.

Crockpot Cranberry Apple Cider:  This is perfect for a party to start up, and let it simmer and cook in the crockpot while you fine too the decorations and prep the food!  Easily add in some whiskey or rum and you have an instant cocktail to keep you warm and keep the festivities going!

My other go-to holiday party drink is getting the party start with Little Beers, or red and green Jell-o shots!

Cheers!

 

My Bridal Shower – Part 2

In case you missed it, part one was up yesterday, gushing over all my friends and family who came to my bridal shower this past weekend and helped make it so so special!  Part two, is all about the decor and food that was the cherry on top to everything else! And since I am used to running the show, it was hard for me to take a back seat and not be involved in the planning or decorating, but I kept myself busy and let them do their thing, and I was BLOWN AWAY!
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My mom, MIL and MOH<3 did an amazing job of coordinating all of this across state lines and literally building a beautiful space out of our garage.  From the food to the decor, everything was thought of and done to a tee, on theme, and exactly what I would’ve done! So now, here are the deets you’ve been waiting for!

The Menu: Cucumber cream cheese sandwiches,  egg salad sandwiches, turkey apple cheddar sandwiches, fresh fruit, and salad.  Accompanied with Sangria and a Mimosa bar!

The Dessert Table: Two amazing cakes from Scratch Bakeshop in Rochester (with GOLD!), peanut butter bars, raspberry bars, dipped chocolate pretzel sticks, custom sugar cookies, doughnut hole kabobs, and fruit pizza cups. OH. MY. GOD. It was a dream come true.

The Decor/Games:  Centerpieces filled with white and pink roses, gold, pink and black stripes everywhere and on the Date Night cards, the Who Am I? game cards, card table signage, and lots of balloons! It was all so beautiful.
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The shower was just an absolute dream, and I know how much everyone put into this to make it a special day for me, and it truly was!  The weather also shaped up and the sun was shining so it was a beautiful day for an outdoor backyard party.  I was overwhelmed by all the love and support.

Next up, the bachelorette party and then… the real thing!

Wedding Planning – Flowers

When it comes to flowers for your wedding, there are a lot of things to consider, like… first and foremost if you even want real flowers at your wedding! There are so many alternatives from realistic fake flowers to paper flowers! For me, I knew I wanted fresh flowers at our wedding. Flowers are something I’ve always dreamed about for my wedding, lots and lots of flowers… everywhere.  But as you’ll quickly come to find out, like I did, flowers are not cheap! In fact, I had a few vendors reply first stating their minimum price for an event, and it was double my budget, so I kindly responded and said thanks, but not going to work for me!

I will admit, I was a bit discouraged, and started mentally talking myself off the ledge of needing over the top florals, and starting thinking of how I would be able to simplify everything in order to at least have some flowers that I could afford.  Well upon many searches and reaching out to a few more unknown florists, I found my one.
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Here are a few tips for when you start the chats with potential florists:
1. Have pictures ready on pinterest to share with your florist! If you’re talking over the phone, try and send these ahead of time or a link to your pinterest page so you can talk through your vision live
2. Know ballpark numbers of how much you’ll need of hand bouquets, boutineers, centerpieces, ceremony space, hand corsages, etc. this of course helps with that estimating part
3. If your florist is asking you questions about your venue and ceremony space that is making you think, for example – does your church expects that the bouquets/centerpieces are donations?  You’ll want to gut check to see if other florists ask the same question, this verify’s experience and level of detail
4. Because…. if they’re considered donations you may not be able to reuse them in your venue space as additional decor or a centerpiece. Speaking of which, talk through with your florist how pieces can be used in both the ceremony and receptions spaces
5. Get ready to take notes and google a lot of different flowers, I know the basics, but a lot of what I wanted I only knew by seeing it – also ask about similar more affordable flowers that might work to get you the look you want
6. Don’t be afraid to ask your florist for a mood board/image to support pricing to make sure the vision and reality will match!

Our flowers for the wedding, are one of the things I am most excited about – besides the stunning venue and marrying my B.  I can’t wait to see how they’ll turn out, they’re definitely close to the level of my wildest dreams, and I can’t wait to see them come to life, in our venue, on our wedding day!

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Christmas in July Party

Confession! I love Christmas!! And what better than to have an excuse to pull out some decorations, drink some Christmas Ale and have a bunch of your friends over, than Christmas in July!  This upcoming Monday is officially 6-months until Christmas, so next week and weekend are an excuse to throw a party. If you haven’t made this a tradition yet, I highly recommend it, regardless of how all out you go!

Here is your go-to guide for everything you’ll need to throw an epic Christmas in July party this year!

Food/Snacks:  The best part about all of these ideas is that they’re easy, a little healthy and super cute! You can also do a cheese spread in the shape of a tree or a wreath. Also bust out those Christmas cookie receipts and make some good ol’ cut outs or peanut butter cup cookies, they’ll be a hit.

Drinks: Our local breweries always release some of their Christmas Ale’s around this time, so it’s definitely a treat and fun to snag a glass or 6-pack. Add a cinnamon sugar rim to your glasses for an extra treat for you and your guests! Next up, red and green jello shots – yup! It’s a must, not to mention easy and refreshing, and perfect for your Christmas in July festivities. I like to serve with pop-rocks poured on top, so yummy.  Last but not least, find a punch that is both refreshing and light but still hits those Christmas sentiments you love – like this Cranberry Orange Punch, make in bulk and you’re ready for a fun night.

Decor: Have some old Christmas wrapping paper that you’re sick of seeing every year? Wrap some empty boxes as accents around your space.  Pull out some colored lights and string them up in the back yard, garage, or shrubbery.  No need to go crazy here, any other lawn ornaments that’re sitting around put them on prime display!

Dress Code: Asking that your guests dress in red and green or even throwing on an ugly Christmas sweater helps make this party an event.  If it’s mostly couples you can request that each couple comes as a “Christmas Couple” an excuse to get creative!

Details: This is when Pandora really comes in handy, click on your favorite holiday tunes station (mine is, Mariah Carey Christmas) and the mood will truly be set! You can also play a favorite Christmas movie on repeat, either in the house or out in the garage – Elf and Home Alone never get old.  Finally, napkins, plates, and cups that are red and green help add to the theme without breaking the bank – check the Dollar Tree!

Remember all of these things will really bring your Christmas in July theme to life while being able to enjoy a cold Christmas Ale on a hot summer day and all your nearest and dearest by starting a new tradition!

Happy Christmas in July!!

MOH Duties – Let the Countdown Begin

A little over a year ago I was thrilled to be asked by my high school best friend to be her Maid of Honor (MOH)!  I was also a bit worried and nervous that being a few states apart would hinder my MOH game and participation with planning things.  It’s hard enough for me to find my own ME time, that adding in extra planning that’re hours away would be just as hard. Well it’s almost go time, so no more excuses. We are 4-months out from Kates & Travis’ big day, which means there is a whole lot of bachelorette and bridal shower planning to do!

First batter up: The Bridal Shower
The bridal shower is in March, and I am helping her mom with as much as I can (mostly decorations) and hopefully ordering some custom cookies from Snicklefritz Bakeshop. Here are a few of the  decoration ideas I’ve found that I’m going to adapt for Kates’ shower.

Main items needed: Centerpieces | Cute signage for gift table | Signage for desserts, mimosas bar, food | banners | balloons

Of course I am going to adapt and make a lot of these pieces myself – I always love a good DIY.  I’ll also be in charge of wrangling the other bridesmaids to make game prize gift baskets, luckily we will be splitting this up, so it shouldn’t be too painful *famous last words*

Next batter up: The Bachelorette Party
Now I am not one for all of the typical bridal fo-pah stuff, so luckily it’s not me getting married :-)… yet… luckily Kates isn’t really either, so planning a fun weekend getaway for her is more like hosting a party than buying penis straws, cramming into a tight short skirt and going out solely to get drunk.

Originally Kates wanted to keep this SUPER low-key and have a ‘girls night in’ at her own house, I pushed her to explore at least a mini weekend getaway in wine country – it looks like that might be the winner.  Now all we have to figure out is how many people, the house, the limo bus, invitations, the food, the cost, and the rest of the 500 other logistical things I am probably forgetting 🙂   Planning is kind of on hold until I get more deets from my girl, and then it’ll be full swing – this will be in early May so still coming up in the very near future…. as long as winter usually feels, I have a feeling this is going to go by quick!  Until then, I am doing my research and vetting out options along with gaining inspiration to make this a fun and memorable weekend for Kates.

Thank goodness for Pinterest and all the inspiration and great ideas I’ve been getting – it also helps me think of creative, low cost ideas to adapt to make these events super special for Kates!

Let the planning begin!