Friday, August 22, 2014

Party Planning 101

I have this friend.  She's my best friend, actually.. and she is UH-mazing.  We all have friends like that, right?  I hope you do. For your own sake..
This friend of mine is an event planner, and in turn never leaves a detail behind when it comes to developing an idea for all kinds of events.  If you read my blog, you know her.  My girl, Ash.  From weddings to birthday parties, and even as simple as dinner.  Dinner at Ashley's house is always a 4 course event.  I always LOVE Supper Club at the Dunaway's.  I feel like calling it just 'dinner' doesn't do justice. Plus, she's a really good cook. 

ANYway.  Whenever I have an event or party coming up I always seek her out for resources and assistance and she never lets me down.  It honestly frightens me to think about how my parties would turn out if I didn't have her pushing me along to create the very best bang (for my buck).  That being said, my skills have improved after years of friendship, and I've got some confidence in myself for getting things done effectively.   

I've planned many many parties and events with Ashley's talents (and they are 100% her talent, you guys) and each and every time they come out beautifully.  Just a few (pintrestable) events I've been apart of and always love to look back on:


Ashley's Wedding (Every detail was remembered- right down to the matchbooks..)
Vintage Tea Party Baby Shower (My most trafficked post- over 12,000 visits to date.  Featured in multiple online collections for most unique baby shower themes)

Styled Events

I have been asked time and time again for assistance with party planning (first birthday assistance seems to be the biggest request), and with the help of the expert, I have come up with some key points to follow along when planning your party event.
Well- really.  There is just one Ashley.  Call her.  
The End.
(kidding)

Choose a Date
     - Saturdays or Sundays are usually better for the guests of a first birthday party.  Lots of family and friends of the adults tend to come to this type of party, so making it convent for them is your best bet.  I have been to a few parties on a random Tuesday, and that most often works out for small events and young children are in attendance
     - Near a holiday? If so you may want to consider having the party earlier or later in the month.  Parker and Jolie's party was in the month of December, but still early enough it didn't conflict with holiday events.   

Choose a Time
      - Managing nap time for young toddlers is key for a successful (and non-breakdown) event. Choose a time that is best for your little, but also know that there will be some guests that do not attend due to their own schedules, and that's ok.
      - Also- be sure to consider your Guest List.  Do you have a lot of families coming? Are there people with children in sports at that time?  Spring and Summer can be tough for weekend events due to the sports schedules.  Earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon can be a good place to start for a time.

Choose a Theme
The theme is your most important piece of the puzzle.  It is what brings to event together as one.   It can be as simple as a color theme (black and white), or take a more specific approach.  In these first few years of birthday party planning, you (the parent) have the control and say so.    
       - A favorite character.  
       - Color Scheme
       - Play on "One" for a first birthday i.e.; Winter ONEderland; Alice in ONEderland
       - Nursery Theme?

The Guest List
       - Large or small; your choice most definitely effects the budget.  Be mindful of the guests and how many they bring with them.. cousins with 5 kids, most likely will bring their 5 kids:) 

Invitations and Printables
These are the most fun to plan and design.  This can be done a variety of ways - DIY is very common and pretty easy to do so these days, but finding someone to help create them for you can relieve some stress when planning every other detail of the event coming up. 
       - ETSY.  The greatest online database (for small business shopping) on this planet.  I am not very computer creative, but I can tell you all the details I want, and so my go-to is the Etsy marketplace for outsourcing this sort of thing.

       -Sarah (CKFIreboots on Etsy or email her HERE) is our favorite for printables and invites. Ashley and I keep her busy, busy, busy!



       Try to send out invitations at least one month in advance and even sooner if the event is around a holiday.  The greatest convenience to your guests is to be able to plan around your date, and in turn make it easier for them to actually attend.  Getting an invite in the mail just a couple weeks in advance can make it difficult - especially for families. 

       THE Printable Staples to make the party details special:
Food labels - such a special touch to the food table
               Drink labels
               Quotes - printed and displayed in picture frames to go along with the theme of the party
Banner 





Stay Organized

  Pinterest.  What did we all do before Pinterest?? We love to create a private board for inspiration.
Parker & Jolie's HERE 

This is your place to find ideas for décor, menu, take homes for the guests - literally anything you can possibly need or think of, you will find it on Pinterest.


Ashley is the KING of organization.  If I could share one of the many email chains between Ashley and myself when planning a party or event together, you would be overwhelmed with the details (good overwhelmed, though). Ashley generally creates an email draft with every detail possible (link lists, menu ideas, theme, dates, vendor selections) and continuously add to and delete it as things for the party come together.  But the end of it all, the email is rainbow colored due to the change in ink color after each reply.   

Choose a Menu
Here in America our social events are almost always surrounded by food- so this part in planning could essentially be the most important.  

Time of day dictates your menu selection.  Planning around nap time (morning or afternoon) can be a big part of deciding what to serve. 
 Brunch
Lunch
Heavy afternoon snacks
Dessert only option

            

     Consider your audience. If there are a lot of children, be sure to have kid friendly options. If there are a lot of men in your family or friend pool, be sure to have heavier items available regardless of the time of day you are hosting them.  

Think Décor

       Do a quick Pinterest search of your decided theme. Be creative. Don't just recreate a party you see on there. Make it your own and pinterestable.




DIY: Another decision factor that depends on budget for the event.  Ask yourself: is it worth the time and effort to make on your own, or would it be worth spending the money on the same thing for someone else to make it?  DIY invites and printables aren't an option for me personally - but can be an easy one for some.  Luckily these are relatively inexpensive, but things like banners, tassels and such can add up quickly and easily become out of control. This is a great way to cut budget costs and save where needed.  
       Photos of your littles - the guest of honor!  
              Professional pictures are always fun to have, but candid photos are just as great.
             In the example of a birthday party event, share (monthly) photos over the first year, and find a cute way to show these off (banner or a bulletin board)

       What in your home (or family/friends' home) can you repurpose for the party?  I always outsource this to my mother in law for little things like votive candles or picture frames.  Serving dishes, too!


       If you have to purchase some decor, shop wisely.  Always hit up the sales and discount stores like HomeGoods and TJ Maxx, etc.  Hobby Lobby ALWAYS has a coupon and most often has a sale of some sort.

Take Homes

       - What is your guest going to take home with them to remember the party?
       - Make it simple, useful
       - If a lot of children are attending your party,  goodie bags are a fun way to go.  
       - Skip the "junk" and try fewer items rather than a lot of cheap trinket ones.  Puzzles, coloring books with crayons, mini figurines, etc.  Offer something that will actually be useful after they leave.


       
Food items to take home like trail mix or personalized sugar cookies are a good touch if tangible items aren't the way to go for your theme.



Photographer or Photo Booth

Pictures!  Make memories of this event you've planned.  You want to capture this fun time and milestone (as well as all your hard work in planning!)  
       - friend or family member
       - professional photographer.  This can be very pricey - but there are some affordable ones out there.  Having someone else take your pictures and capture the event professionally can be so special for looking back to.  They tend to understand the event itself and examine the surroundings.  Not just 54 pictures of opening presents.
       - Photo Booth.  Super trending, but a really inexpensive way to add detail to your party.  Have a bucket or suitcase full of cheap costume props (hats, sunglasses, boas, wands) and let your guests have fun with it! 
Photographer References


There you have it.  The basics {and a great place to start} for planning your (first birthday) party.  It can be a lot of fun, but a lot of stress if you find yourself unorganized.  

For Ashley's (amazing) assistance in your planning needs feel free to email her HERE.


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Nursery Revamp | I'm Desperate

I'm desperate to decorate a nursery.  I suppose I feel somewhat deprived because a couple of my closest friends are decorating nurseries at the moment.. and all the details they are putting into them makes me slightly envious due to the fact that my nursery decorating was done from the confines of my regular sleeping space. 
Bed rest was glorious.  I say this with all seriousness - how I wish to go back!
I introduced Parker and Jolie's nursery {HERE}, and have since made a few slight changes that have been good as they've grown. 
Really, though, good for their mom.  

 Truth behold there isn't a ton different, but just enough to make it my favorite room in the house all over again.
You know what I mean?
Sure you do.

This nursery 'change' came with the printing of these pictures {HERE}. They are my all time favorite pictures - for a hot minute at least. Canvas on Demand almost always has a Groupon and so you can't go wrong with that kind of deal.  
Sarah over at Sweet Papel Designs matched my corals and pinks perfectly with her twin inspired nursery print.  


 The other rather minor(?) detail were these decals from All Four Walls.
Gold is good, good, good.  
 I shared with BB my desire for the room and initially asked for her to help me place the canvas prints level on the wall.. I'm so terrible at that, and the woman did it for a living as an interior designer for years.  I got a text of the new 'canvas wall' as well as her interpretation of what I was wanting to do with these decals.

 FAR exceeded any idea I had in my head. 
"I got started and couldn't stop"
By all means, BB.. work away.  On everything.  Get my house in order.
Totally fell in love with how it turned out.
 Parker and Jolie talked about those circles with delight for about a week to come after putting them on the wall. 
 I took down the crib bumpers.  They had been {literally} trampled, smooshed, and looked pretty terrible.  I honestly can say with confidence that I will not be purchasing crib bumpers for the next one.
not pregnant.
We also rigged up our very own version of a black-out curtain.  Three blankets covering the window. Hence the terrible quality of the photos {sorry}.  I need to learn to use my camera.
Its amazing what a little change can do to refreshen up a room. 
I wanted to paint.. and then Jordan vetoed me.  
Soon enough, I'm sure.
Stickers work to suffice.
For now.
TWINE, I'm ready for my close-up.

Dream Big Nursery Print - Sweet Papel Designs via Etsy
16x16 Canvas Prints - Canvas on Demand via Groupon
Photography - B Faith Photography
CribsBaby Italia Mayfair (similarvia Babies R Us
BeddingDandelion Baby Blanket via Etsy
Ceramic Dresser KnobsAnthropologie
Large Wood Letters- Canton First Monday Trade Days
Large Wood Frames- Handmade by BB
Lace Curtains- Bed Bath & Beyond
Shaggy Raggy Lavender RugRug Market America via The Wooden Swing
Glider- Little Castle via Target
Shelving- DIY kit from Home Depot and painted linen white 

Polka Dot Vinyl Decals - All Four Walls (1 (4 inch) large pack & 1 (3 inch) small pack)

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Monday, August 18, 2014

End of the Summer Road Trippin' | Hot Springs

We've been talking about it all summer long.  What are we going to do?!  We usually try to plan something (anything) over the summer holiday, and this year we sort of fell to it late in the game.  
Last year we traveled solo to Mexico (HERE) while the babies stayed with Ashley and Jarrett/BB & Poppa (HERE), but this year we really wanted to plan something with the babes..and with friends.  We've traveled multiple times with Ash and J, and threw about a million things out in the air of places to go, and things to do.  Typically we make several circles around various ideas, but usually always make it back to making our trips as laid back as possible. 
Some of my favorite trips (HERE & HERE) with our sweet friends usually consist of a sleepy town, somewhere on a lake.  PJs and wine required.  Oh, and of course good food and if we can find it, football on the tv.
Which brought us to our 2014 summer destination..
Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Totally random, and seemed like a fun idea for a family road trip.
Ashley travels A LOT for work, so it is rare for her to find a place she's never been. And then there are those commercials wooing us all the Arkansas..makes total sense to head that way for a long weekend.  

Thursday morning I had a doctor appointment, so my family of four loaded the truck to head out of town directly afterward.  While we waited for Ashley and Jarrett to give us the call to head out, we decided that we should let the little birds run off some steam before confining them to their carseat for the 5 1/2 hour drive.  

We headed to the mall place area, and made a stop to the potty for a quick selfie failure before I downed the tallest coffee the 'bucks has to offer.  FOR the record - that bathroom was immaculately clean as the mall wasn't even open yet, so we were the first to lay on that floor. I doused her in antibacterial post tantrum just to be safe.

We are learning with Parker that routine is super important.  She must eat and sleep on the regular or else the hangry fits are inevitable.  
It was most definitely snack time for this one.
 As of late, my kids are super impressed by other children and adults around them.  Jolie sat perched on this spot for a good 10 minutes.. just watching.
 Finally. We are off - not totally sure what to expect for this road trip or this weekend.  The longest we had ever driven in the car with Parker and Jolie was the 4 hour drive to Austin.  We were hoping for a decent trip without too many meltdowns and fights to break free.. and for them to sleep a looonnggg time.
They slept for 45 minutes.  
whomp. whomp.
We read lots of books, listened to music, danced, played, and ate the weekend's worth of snacks in those 5 hours.  Surely there was a Kroger or something in town.  
When searching for a place to stay while traveling we have always had amazing success with VRBO. This little beauty popped up on my screen in the search box for 'hot springs, ak', and I was in love.  The Central Loft was everything the pictures boasted about.  Super affordable for the weekend rate, and the perfect amount of space for all of us.  There were just two rooms, but the master closet was enormous and allowed me to set up shop as a mock-nursery.  Two pack and plays, changing area, and plenty of room to move around freely.  It couldn't have been a more perfect place.
Not to mention it was right smack in the middle of Bath House Row (the prime attraction for this little town in Arkansas)
note: baby gates were a must.
The decor.  The location.  The fact that it was walking distance from basically everything.  AND.. and.. gourmet cupcakes were just two doors down.


The girls were elated to be out of their car seats, and ran like crazy sillies around that loft of a solid 20 minutes before settling down in what came to be a favorite spot for the weekend- the heavy window sills were perfect for baby feet.  Not to mention to view.
We arrived late in the afternoon, so after getting settled we took the recommendations of the loft home owner and wandered across the street to Fat Jack's.  Fried pickles (baby favorite!), crawfish stuffed jalapenos, oyster po'boy, Rueben sammies, shrimp pasta.. we were stuffed with amazing food.
headwraps / ruby blue inc

Not to mention the patio was surrounded by what felt like a canyon of rock. 

A quick trip to the grocery to grab snacks and food for the weekend, and we were settled down for the night.  Snuggles and board books with Auntie are the best after a long day in the car.

The next morning we were up and at'em.  While Jordan made a pancake breakfast we explored our new living space and I only hoped the shops below didn't mind the pitter-patter (or stomping) of baby feet as we more of less played 'fetch'.

Friday was designated as the day we played tourist of Hot Springs.  There was so much history (more than I could have even imagined), so we were ready to roll right after breakfast.
city select stroller {here}

The downtown streets were lined with gorgeous trees and provided perfect shade on the mild 89 degree day. Naps were held in the stroller, and while sister napped, Parker got some one on one time with momma and dad.

We stopped at the visitors center for a map to guide our way, and took some time to read about the fame that came out of Arkansas. 

I was really impressed with the condition of the original architecture of Bath House Row.  Many Bath Houses are still in use today, and then some, like the Superior BathHouse were vacant, renovated and repurposed into something new.
The Craft Beer Tasting Room is also technically a café, so we stopped for lunch to check it all out.

A flight to start my lunch out right. 
I chose the lighter beers, and even though they were 'light', they weren't lacking on flavor.  One of the most unique beers I've ever tasted- The Leaky Roof (smoked jalapeno pineapple mead)
straight up smokey, ya'll.
My favorite was Lemon Harvest Wheat.  If you've ever had Summer Shandy, it is very similar to that in color and flavor.

The Hot Spring National Park was directly across the street from the loft, so we took to trekking up the mountain to the observation tower.  You can see everything from up there!  It was gorgeous (and so breezy and cool). 
headbow / bean & bubs // shirt / baby gap

Parker was obsessed with the view- the went on and on about all the trees and the sights to be seen from up there.

All around the city there are random 'fill stations' tapped into the water of the springs. How could we come to Hot Springs and NOT fill a jug?  We found a really cool souvenir jug at one of the BathHouse shops, so tourist-y of us.

The water comes out at a steamy 143 degrees.  It is amazing how hot it actually is!



We made our way back 'home' and threw on a change of clothes for the babes and hopped on a 'Duck Tour' to get a real history lesson.
I told you - total tourists.

Oh, hay Dunaway's

After the tour we walked over (we walked everywhere) to the live spring before making our way to dinner- and if you look close you can see the steam.  The temperature of the water was almost unbearable to the touch.



When we tell the girls to 'put their arms around sister', this is Jolie's reaction- hug herself.  Too sweet.

My super picture perfect idea didn't work out so well.  I have about 100 pictures of my traveling toddlers that resemble this very frame.  Too busy for you mom.

Mexican dinner at Rolando's hit the spot.  Their black bean and corn salsa held this little girl's heart for the evening's entirely. 

Morning came quickly on Saturday, and Jordan was in the kitchen (he's good good good at making breakfast)



We were ready for the water- we rented a boat for the day to take out on Lake Ouachita (Wash-ah-taw), just a short 30 minute drive from downtown Hot Springs.
Baby's first boat ride..in fact the first trip to the lake! 
headband / shelby chic boutique // cover up / circo for target 

I feel like I need to throw a disclaimer for the remaining lake pictures- there were life jackets- we used Puddle Jumpers (per the recommendations of my readers - thank you!) 99% of the time.  They are still much too large for the girls to wear leisurely, and when we weren't moving or just cruising, we let them 'free' as long as we were close by and had a hand on them.   
Having a ball with Daddy's help



We found a lazy cove and laid anchor for the rest of the day.  We stocked up on comfy rafts before we left, so we were ready to float!

Parker stayed very close to mom the entire trip.  She was so nervous about everything, still having a great time, but really un-easy if ever I got too far away.

 

We packed a picnic lunch of turkey and Swiss sandwiches (turkey roll-ups for the babes), Ashley's pasta salad, and chips and salsa.

It was getting late, and we wanted to catch the Cowboy's first pre-season game while we ate a dinner 'at home', so we called it an afternoon.
The way my girls' love her and her hubby.  SO very thankful for them.

headband / sweet t shoppe

Greasy 55 SPF sunscreen coated hair in the wind.  Nothing like it.


My sweet sister girl (we are not actually sisters, for the record)

Parker and Uncle J set up post at the front of the boat as navigators for Daddy..

..while Jolie took it upon herself to snooze the lazy river away.
It was a long day at the lake, and we were all exhausted.  Baths and bed for Parker and Jolie, and then it was adult time.  Cowboys football, wine, appetizers, and a pasta dinner hit the spot. 

This weekend was so much fun and we couldn't believe it was time to head back to real life.  Check out was at 10:30am - so we loaded the truck and then walked to breakfast before heading back to Texas.

The Pancake Shop is where its at.. and if you ever happen to make the stop in, have a banana pancake.  AMAZING.
Board books..

..and people watching while we waited for our breakfast. 
headwrap / heavenly headwraps // necklace / bub & bug studio

Had to get a shot of all four of us before we called it a weekend and went our separate ways home.

The car ride.  Again with the shortest naps in the universe, coupled with discomfort, and the record for the most diapers that needed to be changed in one hour. 
It was enjoyable.. I was officially brain dead by the time we got back to the Dallas area. 


We whipped out the puzzles for the ride home that proved to be somewhat of a frustrating nightmare in holding the pieces out to see.  So, back to the books, music, singing, dancing, and snacks.  Buckets of snacks.   

Shout out to Sarah Tucker for dog-sitting our little Ginny for the weekend.  THANK you for allowing your pups to make a new friend.






Seriously great weekend.  LOVE spending time with those people, and the location was fab.  We were able to enjoy the town, the food, and then take a day to be lazy on the lake.  Totally our cup-o-tea.


Thanks, Hot Springs for a great end-of-summer trip!


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