Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ask the Experts #4

(don't know what's going on right now?  Read the intro here, read about our experts here and join the party here!)

I don't know about you, but I could definitely use some help when it comes to party planning.   I've asked several of my blogging friends:
What tips, tricks and advice do have for making your parties successful and (potentially) less stressful?
And now I'm going to share their answers with YOU!  You better pay attention too, because these guys are good.  

Jess, from Craftiness is Not Optional, is a party planner extraordinaire!  She's really a Jill of all trades and on her blog you'll find lots of fun stuff from sewing for kids, to upcycles, to scrappy projects, to jewelry, to techniques, to, to, to... I could go on forever.  But instead I'll let her talk.

1. Research! After you've chosen a theme, search online or on Pinterest for parties with the same or similar theme you've chosen. Chances are you can find amazing ideas out there that someone has already thought! For each party I do, I create a new Pinterest board to organize ideas and vendors. 
2. Plan ahead of time. I'm already planning my daughters' parties for this year (which are 4 and 6 months from now). At least I like to have picked out the theme so that I can keep my eyes out while shopping for; party items, favor ideas, or my favorite - scoring awesome trays or party items while thrifting. (just found an awesome ceramic cow for a cowgirl party I'm planning!)
3. Be ORGANIZED. I use a spread sheet to plan my parties. Neurotic? Maybe. But it definitely helps me keep track of supplies that need to be purchased, things I need to DIY, and I even create a to do list for the week before the party. IE: what to bake on what day....etc.
4. Prep Ahead. This goes along with Be Organized...but do as much prep for the party as you can ahead of time. (making decorations, labels, cupcake toppers, special party dress or shirt) That way you can spend the week or two before the party baking, shopping, and actually setting the party up!
5. Details...a spectacular party always has the best details...the little things like cute labels...a special presentation of a simple item....ribbon wrapped around utensils....I like to mentally "walk" through what I imagine the party will look like and think about what I could add to make it more special. I think these little details make all the difference! 

(Ok, seriously?  Am I the only person in the world who did not think to use a spreadsheet?  I love how Jess also includes "what to bake on what day" in hers... that's way better than rushing around the night before like a chicken with your head cut off... not that I ever do that... yeah... I am definitely going to have to take her numbers 2-4 very seriously in my party planning from now on.)

Creative Raisins is a place you're bound to find inspiration.  Whether it's redoing a room (you HAVE to check out her playhouse!), making unique signs and wall art, refinishing antique pieces for her home, or being merry and bright for the holidays, Lisa has some great ideas.  She's even got a page dedicated to the cakes she's made or parties she's helped decorate.  

Two parties I've done for my boys:

I think the first and most important thing is deciding on a location and theme.  The location might determine the theme you go with.  From there I like to go full throttle on the theme from start to finish.  I love to do a DIY invitation that will clearly show what the party is all about.  The decorations are key to making the theme come to life and I search my home to see what I can use and figure out what I need.  Wherever possible I like to make decorations too; banners, etc.  The final piece of the puzzle is the cake.  In the past few years I have been learning new skills and creating cakes for my family so each cake has been special for that particular party.  

(This is similar to the plans I make for parties - for me it all starts with a theme idea and my invitations try to set the tone.  However, the amazing creations over at Creative Raisins are definitely beyond my level thus far!)

Antonella from Quilling, Art and Expression, has the most beautiful paper crafts.  She creates one of a kind cards, calenders and more using filigree and quilling techniques.  She provides free patterns and shares her photography.  In short, she makes me want to send better cards to people.  Just take a look at her beauties.

I cannot say that I am the best "party planner" but I love to do the following for the Thank You's (I've been doing it since my girls were little - and my oldest is now 19).

When all the guests arrive, I try to get them all together and take a picture (I like to do it early, so everyone still looks nice and clean).  I then use this photo on our "Thank You" cards.  It works great for kids parties if you also include a picture of the child blowing out the candles (I love those shots, don't you - where the glow of the candles is on their face?)  These days, I have used the walmart photo printing for the "Thank You" cards - they have a collage feature where I can take a few pictures from the party and add a "Thank You" caption and that works well... I like the personal touch, so I still make the kids add personal thank you's for the specific gift they received, but I love visiting and seeing the collage on people's refrigerators!
A friend of ours took their son's graduation photo, added a "Thank You", and everyone attending the graduation party took one instead of sending out individual "thank you's."  As I mentioned above, I believe in the written thank you, but if it is this or nothing, this is better than nothing!
As far as the "planning" part, some themes we've done are:  
1.  Mini-golf Kids Party - that was a lot of fun.  The invitation included a picture of the "golf course" in the background and the invite information printed on top.
2.  Pirate Party - The invitations included a "pirate map" (found online).  At the party there were eye patches for everyone and lots of red and black.  But the funnest part was a "treasure map" where the children each had to collect a clue to find the treasure.

(I admit to being HORRIBLE at thank you cards.  How awful is that??  I need to teach my children to be more gracious than I am, and this thank you idea is a great place for us to start!  Plus, I totally want to do a mini-golf themed kids' party now, but my kids have birthdays in December.  That's kind of a bummer.)

If only I'd done this series BEFORE my kids' birthdays...

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

1 comment:

Creative Raisins said...

Oh my gosh thank you for all the kind words and featuring my parties.


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