Posts Tagged ‘Party’

6 Tips for Hosting a Gift Exchange Party

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As a last hurrah before we tore up our main floor, I threw a gift exchange party. It was a rather small group of friends, but just perfect. It’s truly such a joy having some of my favorite people under one roof. 

Since Christmas is a hectic time (for business owners and moms, especially), I threw it on the 28th. I also threw the party mid-day and provided childcare so my friends with little ones at home could still enjoy the party. It was easy to find a babysitter since the school kids were out that week, and I just had her party with the kids downstairs and keep them entertained with food and a movie. 

I kept the party festivities rather simple. I used Paperless Post to send out the invites and manage RSVPs, but I think in the future I may try out Evite instead. I’m curious to see which one is better.

I kept the food fairly simple and somewhat dietary-inclusive. My menu: 

  • Quinoa salad (Gluten-free with avocado, cilantro and chopped chicken on the side)
  • Bananas and oranges
  • Kale salad
  • Various herbal teas as a hot drink
  • Chipotle cheddar biscuits
  • Churros

It was a simple spread, but delicious. The churros were definitely the best part of the food situation. 

I teamed up with San Diablo Churros. They catered the event and provided us with mini filled churros. We had dulce de leche, nutella and salted caramel. Each one was made fresh right there. That was the one special thing I wanted about the party. I feel like when it comes to planning a gathering, it’s best to plan one thing you want to be perfect. Everything else is a bonus. Otherwise, I personally spend the whole time focusing on all the things that didn’t go exactly as planned. 


Tips for hosting a simple and fun holiday gift exchange: 

  • Use a digital invitation service
  • Plan it on a day when not a lot is going on (post holidays, is great)
  • Provide childcare during day-time hours so more friends can come
  • Keep the menu simple and ask for help! Get a friend or two to bring a dish, cater what you don’t have time for
  • Introduce everyone, tell everyone your favorite characteristic about each guest (this is especially helpful if you’re inviting friends from different circles)
  • Do White Elephant gift exchange rules. Stealing good gifts from each other is fun!

Have you hosted a holiday gift exchange before? What are your tips for hosting a good one? 

Freebie: Floral Calligraphy Party Invitations

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Our sweet Miss Penelope got baptized this month a new member of The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormon, aka LDS). It was a really sweet day for the whole family, it was hard not to get rather emotional over it.

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As a way to make a big deal out of her birthday and her baptism I threw her a party. The first real party since her dino brunch (favors, printables, invitation) when she turned three. I’ve got an amazing track record, folks. AMAZING.

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As I was looking around online, many of the baptism invitations I found looked a lot like wedding invitations (super formal copy, formal design and a glamor photo). Photos usually included the girl wearing the poofiest princess dress. And while that’s exactly what some girls want (hey, you do you!), it just didn’t seem like Penelope. But hey, I’m sure you could use these graphics for a wedding invitation. Just depends upon how formal/informal the thing is. So, you know, I’m totally a hypocrite.

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For the design, I hand-lettered the whole thing with bits of watercolor. Materials used for the design work:

For the process, I sketched out the wreath idea, and inked it up. Instead of watercoloring directly on top of the wreath I used a light pad and watercolor paper to do watercolor. I wanted to have as much flexibility as possible for changing things up as the design progressed.

Then I sketched the outline of the wreath and drew out lines for the text. I inked and scanned. Beyond cleaning up scans, I pretty much just layered everything together and printed. Coming up with the concept took longer than the actual design time itself. It still took a fair amount of time to complete.

 

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Penelope invited her closest friends to the baptism, but since many of them aren’t of our faith, I wanted to include separate information in case a friend didn’t feel comfortable attending the baptism (everyone’s welcome to baptisms, but it can be uncomfortable if you’re not sure what to expect).

Since making the artwork, I wanted to put it out there for anyone to use (for personal use only, obviously). So see below for the printable blank version! I think it’d be the perfect printable invitation for a tea party, outdoor picnic, baby or bridal shower. Prints 2 5×7 invitations per sheet. Single-sided, full color. I hope you like it and use it!

melissaesplin-penelope-baptism-free-printable-3aCLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Click the link above to download the printable. The printable is free for personal use only. Alteration or distribution of the files without written permission is prohibited. Feel free to email if you have questions about the artwork (see contact form above or comments section below).

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For the actual party, I didn’t get around to taking many photos of the set up. It was just pure family and friend chaos. But so fun. We decorated for the party with handmade paper flowers and succulents. I managed to sneak shots of the cupcakes I made. I made strawberry vanilla cupcakes with these darling liners that kind of reminded me of flowers.

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The food faire was simple. Make-your-own sandwiches, veggies, fruit, chips, dip, etc.

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And I set up a photo booth for Penelope to take photos with family and friends. As soon as the baptism was over Pen swapped her darling dress for play clothes. She had so much fun goofing off in front of the camera. I printed out all of the images she took with friends and created a little scrapbook for her with them.
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I kind of went a little bit on the crazy side for her big day! Part of me thinks I set a terrible precedence by making a big deal out of it; but I’m looking forward to Felix and June’s big days should they decide to get baptized as well.

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FREEBIE: Penelope’s Tea Party

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At the beginning of the summer, I scored a precious set of cups and dishes perfect for a tea party. I told Penelope she needed to gather her friends for a tea party at some point and use them. She squealed.

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It wasn’t until a few days later that she came up to me asking to get everything out for the tea party. After explaining to her that she needed to give her friends some kind of advanced warning if she wanted them to show up, her finger in the air as she enthusiastically said, “I need you to make me invitations!”

Well OKAY, my dear! The cutest little art director hovered over my shoulder to make sure all the details were correct. She needed gold bits on the invitations (see the little foil dots in the above pic?). And she needed them sealed with glitter washi tape to deliver to her friends.

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I was thrilled to have a little peace and quiet while she walked the neighborhood, dropping them in the neighbor’s mail boxes. Since it was a Monday and she was inviting her friends to a party on Tuesday, I made sure to text each mom to double-check invitations were received. All but 2 girls showed up. We had a full house of giggly girls with their pinkies high as they sipped “tea”.

I served honey chocolate toasts, mint oreos (at Penelope’s request) and raspberry lemonade. They thought it was the best tea ever.

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(taken from an entirely different party, but I love this pic of her)

Penelope was the most gracious host exclaiming, “Welcome!! I’m so glad you could make it!” while I sat there, hands over my mouth, trying not to squeal and giggle at the same time. She is incredibly more socially astute at her age than I was in college. The girl knows how to throw a party.

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Download the freebie by clicking the image above! By downloading you agree to the Terms of Use below. Are you new here? Check out the “printables” tab at the top of the page for more freebies!

*This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

Partied Out: Secret Garden Party Details

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This post is sponsored by Tai Pan Trading, where you can find outrageously awesome decor and fashion for a fabulous price.

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First off, I want to give a huge shout out to Tai Pan for making our party possible. We couldn’t have made quite the visual impact without their generosity or fabulous decor.

Alt Summit put a call for party submissions several months ago (August? September?). I quickly emailed Erin (I’ve been wanting to collaborate with her for some time), and we put our minds to work. Alt went with Erin’s genius plan for a Secret Garden themed soiree.

Why the genius? Because it totally played into the styling and decor that already exists at the Grand America (our venue)!

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photo by rue rococo

We took on two more extraordinary creative partners, Alix and Brittany, and planned the heck out of it. I can’t begin to tell you how much hard work went into every little detail. Nevermind. I guess I can because you’re here, reading this.

Our hurdles:

  • $1000 decor/photography budget
  • a refrigerator box and a dishwasher box and a bundle of 10′ pipes that needed to be transported 700+ miles
  • arranging seating in a 500 sq. ft. room, half filled with a meat carving station
  • hanging things without touching the walls
  • finding time in our busy schedules to make everything happen

 

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photo by Justin Hackworth

Knowing that the florals were taken care of (minus shipping them 700+ miles), it allowed us to focus on the decor. Unfortunately, if we wanted any kind of big statement (and we did) $1000 wouldn’t get us a whole lot.

Tai Pan let us borrow the most magnificent over-sized urns, topiaries, ceramic gnomes, 4′ lions and more! Every little piece was the right kind of whimsical detail to make the party great.

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photo by rue rococo

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photo by Brooke Dennis

We used two 5′ planters on either side of the interior of the door to hold the 8-10 tall florals. With our team and the help of serious floral foam, we got them to create a cozy archway that made such a fabulous impact on entry of the room. Sort of an Alice-in-Wonderland moment.

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photo by Justin Hackworth

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photo by Erin Mercado

I didn’t get nearly as many photos as I would have liked, but here’s a little snippit of some of the signage I made and the hankie wall. We pinned the hankies onto several moss plaques. It made a fun statement, but when the hankies were gone it still looked nice.

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photo by Erin Mercado

Flanking either side of the exterior doors were lions. They were at least 3 feet tall. Alix made giant floral crowns for them. I loved the juxtaposition of those two elements.

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photo by rue rococo

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Shhh!! It’s a secret! It was so wonderful to work with such talented ladies. From left: Erin, Brittany, Alix, Me

Alix made the photo backdrop from shredding lace and dyed thrift store bed sheets. Inspired by this pin (anyone know the original resource?), but a TON fuller. It made a fabulous impact in the room.

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photo by rue rococo

We kept the tables pretty simple with moss runners, river rocks, ceramic gnomes and inspirational quotes. Trying to find quotes that would fit the Secret garden theme was TOUGH! I watched the movie with Penelope about a month or so ago. I forgot how sad it was. Penelope even started crying! She was so sad to see the little girl’s mom ignoring her. It might have hit a little too close to home for Penelope (Chris has been picking up a lot of slack lately with all this Alt craziness).

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photo by rue rococo

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photo by rue rococo

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View all photobooth pics here.

Planning a party of this scale couldn’t have been done without such great support of these fabulous ladies (and a husband or two). Working with these inspiring women was so much fun (a little too much fun at times, even).

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Another special thanks to all of the people and brands that helped make our vision happen: Tai Pan Trading for decor and jewelry, Lizy Bowden for florals, Spoonflower for the hankies and Tiffany for the C-stands for the backdrops.

Now I’m ready for a nap.

Boy Dino Party Suite Download

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As promised, but a week late, I give you the boy version of Penelope’s dino party suite.

I changed a few minor details, the color, the script font is now my handwriting & the heart in the middle is now a star. This is definitely more suitable for a boy than my pink invitation suite, but It could still totally work for a girl. Hope someone out there gets some use out of this freebie! Send me pics if you ever end up using any of my downloads! I’d love to see how you use them!

This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering the file NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this tutorial for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

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