Posts Tagged ‘party planning’

A Special Graduation Celebration

My daughter has just finished her first year of college and I’m reminiscing about her graduation party as I post these pictures.  I wanted to do this last year, but if you are going through this now, you know how busy and stressful senior year and everything that goes along with it can be.  I will warn you that I was VERY emotional for about 4 months prior to the graduation.  I guess the preparing and anticipation really got to me.  Going through old pictures, hearing the songs that would play, and buying things for college just really made me a mess.  However, I did not cry on graduation.  So there is hope for those of you that are feeling very weepy out there. Get it all out now so you can enjoy that day and share it with your family and friends.  That day was truly special and I felt I was present in the important moments of the day.  I hope these tips will help you have a great experience too.

Planning an amazing party for my daughter who was an honor graduate at her 2017 high school graduation.

Our family was so proud of my daughter at her 2017 high school graduation.

Gorgeous white flowers for a high school graduation party.

Black and white color palette for my daughter's high school graduation party.

Tips for Throwing A Grad Party

  1.  Listen to your child.  They know what kind of celebration best suits them.  I am very over the top when I throw a party and my daughter is the exact opposite.  She would be happy putting out a Chick-fil-A tray and having a couple friends over.  I wanted to be able to mingle with everyone so I did have it catered, but I did do it low key like she asked.  We didn’t do a DJ or other party extras that I would normally do.  We had close friends and family and I think she was a lot happier.
  2. Don’t have it on the same day as graudation. One of the best things we did was have it the next day.  Some people even had it the weekend before, but we had lots of family in from out of town so this didn’t work for us.  Graduation day was so busy and hectic that we wanted to enjoy that and my daughter wanted to attend her friend’s parties too. This also gave me the day to pick up flowers, balloons and other last minute items.
  3. Delegate if you can.  People really do like to help.  If you can and feel comfortable, designate people to pick up the cake, balloons, and flowers.  This will really save you time while you are doing last minute things at the house.
  4. Set up the party in an Open House format. This type of get together allows people to come and stay as long or as little as they want.  We knew Saturdays in June were valuable family time so we wanted there to be little pressure.  A lot more people popped since we had this type of party. I know at least five people that came by and stayed about 15 minutes to let her know they cared and brought her a gift.  However, they had other parties they had to attend or their child had games that day.
  5. Do the extra pictures you want several days before.  I don’t know about you guys or how your graduations are held, but our city does them all in one location at the local college. They give you time for one high school and then get yours out and the next high school is literally scheduled right behind you. You know all the cute pictures you see on Pinterest that you noted that you wanted to do like throwing up your cap or of you and your family doing something staged? I suggest you stage these at your house a couple days before.  Do your hair and make up and get a couple good ones knocked out that you really want.  Then you will have time to actually look at them and see if you got some good ones.  Then do other ones quickly on the real day and that’s all you will need.Black, white, and teal wreaths for my daughter's high school graduation.

Black, teal and white backdrop for my daughter's high school graduation party.

I hope this day is all that you and your child imagined.  It can be a really good experience if everyone keeps their cool.  The more you plan in advance the better it will turn out.  Remember it is a day for all of you, but you want it to be special for your child.  I hope it turns out wonderful!

Yours Truly,

Jenn

How to Start Planning A Big Party

My husband and I entertain quite often, but our big party every year is the 4th Of July.  We really get into the fireworks and have it catered so I can mingle and enjoy our guests.  It takes a lot to pull off having large numbers of people at your home, but there are key points to planning any party that can keep you on task and organized prior to the big day.

Secure All your Vendors

The first thing I do is secure all my vendors (DJ, caterer, party rentals etc….).  I have done this for so long now.  I just go back to my party notebook from last year and see what worked out and what I would like to change.  Actually most of the companies call me now and say, “Are you having your party and should we secure this date for you?”  It’s actually kind of nice when you do an annual party and you use amazing people.  You take care of them and they take care of you.  I’ve had the same DJ and caterer for 4 years now. Getting someone you’re comfortable with really helps take that part of the entertaining off of me.  I like to roam around and greet everyone and feel like part of the party.  If I’m constantly refilling food dishes then I really can’t  be with my guests the way I like to.  I just say the word and choose my theme and we work on a menu together to create the right feel for the party.

Here are some pictures from last years’ party!!

Sailboat from 4th of JULY 2015 party

The menu is something I spend extra time getting it just right.  I feel like the food really sets the tone for your party.  You want to have food for adults, but items the kids would enjoy as well.  I also have some “old favorites” that are requested every year like the mini funnel cakes and fried oreos that I have to have or I would have some very disappointed guests. If you are in the Hampton Roads area and are looking for an amazing caterer check out Chesapeake Bay Catering.

If you can’t have your event catered here are some tips to think about when planning your food set up.

  •  Keep your menu items simple.  You don’t want to spend your entire time in the kitchen.
  • Think about the food prep and how to keep it cold/hot.  Your food can be the most amazing dish, if it is supposed to be hot then you want it to stay hot for the guests.
  • Try to prep as much food prior to the party as you can.  This will help you save a lot of time the day of your party when you’re running around finishing last minute details.

Dessert and drink station 2015

Once I have all my vendors locked down and know for sure the party is going to be happening on a specific date then I work on invitations.  I still like to use evite. They have the free ones still as an option, but they also provide a premium version if you want something with a little more pizzazz. For this fourth, I was able to find a free one I liked.  Then you just gather your guests’ list and start emailing your evite out. The evite keeps a tally of who has replied to your party and who still needs to respond.  I like this because it gives you a place to look at a quick glance for a head count.  I like to send out my 4th of July evites a month in advance because it is a holiday.  However, I don’t expect the RSVP until a week before because people are still making their holiday weekend plans. Some people already know they will be out of town and I have found those people tend to go ahead and let you know that immediately.  This always helps me get a head count to give my caterer as an estimate.

Love using layered tiers to put my food out so everything can be at different heights.

For the 4th of July we always do fireworks at the end of the party, but I think you need to have some kind of entertainment set up whether it is structured games, a pool, water games so people have something to do.  I like to keep a loose timeline for the way I want the party flow.  These are some of the things I like to include in my party timeline.

Sailboat and food- 4th 2015

Party Timeline

6:15 Dinner is starting to come out

7:00 first structured game

7:30 DJ run songs to get crowd going

7:45 dessert and candy station go out

8:00 structured game

9:15 Fireworks

That kind of gives you a look into how I would run my outdoor party.  Of course any inflatables or water games would be going on simultaneously.  I hope this gives you a little peek into how I plan my parties.  If you have any tips or ideas on party planning I would love to hear them.  Leave me a comment below and I will get back to you.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Valentine’s Day Family Brunch

As I’ve stated in other posts, Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday.  I don’t think you have to have a Valentine to celebrate this day.  You can think of it as spending extra time with your loved ones or doing something nice for a friend. People really just want to know that you appreciate them.  I thought it would be a great idea to hold a little brunch for your girlfriends or your family to show them how much they mean to you.  It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, but just something to show you care.  Plus, I always love a good reason to have a mimosa.

Mimosa

Use Champagne and Juice to make a great mimosa

Brunch

The family Valentine’s Day Brunch

Let’s start off this brunch with some wonderful beverages.  To make some fabulous mimosas use a dry champagne of your choice and juice.  You can go with the traditional OJ, but the Mixed Berry is a wonderful alternative and that is the one I chose to make.  You use half part champagne and half part juice.  I chose to use cute glasses I got from Target and some decorative straws to add to the festivities.

brunch

Mixed Berries and Doughnuts make great brunch choices.

Mixed fruit made for a great addition to the breakfast for something healthy to eat.  you could also have muffins and bagels with cream cheese if you so choose.  Doughnuts on a gorgeous cake plate from CWonder was the main attraction, but don’t forget the cupcakes on the heart appetizer plates also from CWonder.  These plates were embellished with gold and black polka dots.  I just love them. As soon as I saw them I just had to have them.

Appetizer plates

I love these adorable heart appetizer plates.

The ribbon garland was one I made for my daughter’s 13th birthday and it just so happens the colors worked perfectly with this theme. I also had the red pom poms and thought they added to the decor.  I chose to use my mirrored gold chest for my display instead of my kitchen island because I thought it was a little more festive for this occasion.

My Valentine’s Day brunch is actually a new tradition I’ve started for my family.  We have always had a special breakfast, but I’ve never included my parents. This year I want to include them as well.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

 

 

Best New Year’s Eve Table Setting

I’ve always wanted to do a New Year’s Eve table and just never have.  We’ve always gone out with friends or done something low key with the kids.  Once I had my color scheme, from there it really came together nicely.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

 

I started with silver chargers from Joss and Main (Similar Here and Here).  These give a very timeless and elegant look and can be used over and over on many occasions.

Chargers & China

Base China with Silver Chargers

 

Table Place setting

Finished Table Place Setting

 

Next, I kept my Lenox Eternal China I used in my Christmas table setting, but used Nate Berkus’ line of Fall collection plates from Target.  I love the monochromatic pattern on these plates.  These had just the look I was going for.

 

IMG_1569

NYE Table Setting

New Year’s Eve Table Setting

 

The wintery table runner and the blue and silver napkins are all from Pier 1.  Then, I took silver and white ornamental decorations from around the house to finish off the centerpiece.  I already had all of these pieces so it made for a fun table setting, without breaking the bank.  Now, I can entertain on New Year’s Eve with a beautiful table.  I just have to decide what I’m serving for dinner.

Pier 1 napkins

Pier 1 blue and silver napkins

 

final touches

White, silver, and blue final touches

 

What do you normally do on New Year’s Eve?  Do you even make it to midnight? Do you go out with friends and ring in the new year with a bang?  OR….. Do you hang with family and have a more low key evening?  I would love to hear how you spend your evening.  Leave a comment below.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

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Christmas Cocoa Bar

There is nothing better than sitting by a warm fire, mingling with friends and sipping on a hot chocolate.  Setting up a hot cocoa bar is the perfect entertaining tool for any type of holiday party.  I have done this type of bar twice already.  Once after a family Christmas brunch and the other was for my daughter’s Cheerleading Christmas party.  Both times it was a big hit.

Christmas Cocoa Bar

Hot chocolate

A nice mug of Hot Chocolate

monogrammed mugs

My monogrammed mugs

Holiday Cocoa Bar Setup

The great thing about this type of bar is, once it’s set up it basically works itself.  You can make it as elaborate or as simple as you want.  I have only done different kinds of hot chocolate, but you could also do tea and coffee if you wanted.

Cocoa bar toppings

Cocoa bar stirring sticks and toppings

You will need a way of warming up your milk or water.  It is also fun to have the hot chocolate flavored stirring sticks.  They come in different flavors.

cocoa bar toppings

Your toppings bar can be elaborate or simple

marshmallows

So many marshmallow flavors

Cocoa Bar Toppings

You can set your display up on a table, beverage cart, or counter in your kitchen.  Here are a list of the items I used as toppings for my cocoa bar:

*whipped cream                                                                                *stirring sticks

*white chocolate chips                                                                    *chocolate chips

*crushed peppermint                                                                       *peppermint stirring sticks

*Gingerbread marshmallows                                                       *miniature marshmallows

*french vanilla marshmallows                                                      *hershey’s chocolate syrup

*caramel syrup

My cocoa bar

My Christmas Cocoa Bar

The last thing to do is enjoy your guests and make you a mug of hot chocolate.   What is your favorite way to entertain this holiday season? Leave me a comment below.

Yours truly,

Jenn