Today’s post is a guest post from my friend Kristen aka The Party Queen…
I bet you are wondering who I am and why am I giving party advice! Here is a little background on me… I married the love of my life 8 years ago and we have 2 precious little girls that I am blessed to be able to stay home with. I have a passion for photography, crafting and all things girly (I mean, can you ever have too much pink?!?). I have always loved going to parties and planning parties. My mom will even attest that I would always begin planning my childhood birthday parties in June and my birthday was not until October!! At this stage of my life planning parties has become my creative outlet since I no longer have time to scrapbook, quilt, knit etc.
I met Kara Noel at Cal State Fullerton over 10 years ago. We met in sorority and I instantly knew she was AMAZING and someone I wanted to have in my life forever. We were in each others weddings and we had our first borns just months apart. In preparation for our little ones’ birthday parties Kara Noel and I went through 16 weeks of cake decorating classes at Michaels! We had a blast! I highly recommend the classes
(Side note from Kara Noel: I was 8 weeks preggers with Cora Jane in this picture and no one knew!! It was so hard not to tell Kristen AND my mom – who was also taking the cake class at the time.)
We all have regrets…well one of my regrets was wasting the cherry theme (I LOVE cherries – aren’t they just cheery?!?) on my daughter’s first birthday party! Knowing all I now know about parties I could have elaborated so much more on this theme. Let’s be honest you only have about 2 years to do the themes you want before your child has an opinion of his/her own! Oh well, it’s in the archives now. I’m still going to be sharing this party with you, even though it was not the greatest party, because #1 I stuck to my cardinal party rules and #2 Everyone starts somewhere. You don’t just wake up one day knowing how to throw a fabulous party. For me a “good” party is only as good as its details. Follow some of these tips and turn your ordinary party into something extraordinary…
Party tip #1:
Send out an ADORABLE Invitation…this is the first impression your guests will have of your party.
I’m not a fan of the Evite craze. I think something is lost. I love it when I get mail (especially when it’s an invitation to an upcoming party)! I put it up on the refrigerator and look forward to the upcoming event. When I get an Evite, I look at it once and then I usually forget about the party until I get the Evite reminder just days before the event.
Invitations don’t have to be expensive. THINK outside the box. The invitation I used for my daughter’s first birthday was actually made from a thank-you note I had received in the mail a few months before her party. I scanned the thank-you note into my computer, Photoshopped out the words that were written on it and then added my own text to the image. My only costs were the ink and the white cardstock I printed them on. Cardstock can be purchased at Michaels or JoAnns. Take advantage of the 40% off coupon they have in the weekly Sunday paper to use on an item such as this. If you don’t receive the Sunday paper, go online and sign up to receive Michaels and Joanns’ emails and the 40% off coupons will be sent directly to your Inbox.
Party Tip #2:
Use Cloth Tablecloths…plastic ones are so TACKY!
Cloth tablecloths are not only the “greener” choice, they will also class up your party. Pick a fabric that coordinates with your theme. Once again I use my 40% off coupon at JoAnns for the material. I buy one long piece and cut it to the desired lengths at home. If you are wondering what you will do with it afterwards #1 Sell them on Ebay once you are done. #2 Let friends borrow them (Yes, I have had people ask to borrow my tablecloths!) #3 Reuse it in a different manner. If you have sewing skills, use some of the fabric to make an item of clothing, a cute skirt or dress for your little one. I have also been known to make a baby blanket or burp cloth from the fabric and have used them as gifts. Be creative. If you aren’t so sure about committing to that much fabric, use a solid color tablecloth you already have and then buy a smaller amount of fabric. Cut them into large squares, and place them (diamond shape) in the center of the table. I couldn’t find any cute cherry fabric at the time of my daughter’s first birthday, so I bought red gingham fabric instead (which still coordinated with the invitations).
(Please forgive me for the boring centerpieces! Reason #99 why I wish I could redo this party theme!!)
(Side note from Kara Noel: This is me, Hot Hubby & 9-month-old Eli!)
Party Tip #3:
Have an Outstanding Cake or Cupcakes
This is a centerpiece to the party. Take the time and put in the effort to purchase or make a coordinating cake/cupcakes. Making cakes/cupcakes can be fun, easy and inexpensive. Get ideas by going online. The possibilities are endless. I made this cherry cake in just a few hours (bake time included) I had an idea of what I wanted and I just went for it. The cherries were made from a dome pan I actually borrowed from Kara Noel (thanks again KN!). As for the stem and leaf, I made a few sheet cakes and cut them. It was a chocolate cake covered in fondant (you would be surprised, fondant is not that hard to work with). It turned out a bit large, 2 feet tall to be exact, but I had 60 people to serve. Everyone loved it and we even had some left over.
(The epic 2-foot-tall cherry cake and Grace’s adorable smash cake!)
Party Tip #4:
Make/Buy a Personalized Banner
My daughter’s first birthday banner was very simple. I made it using some white butcher paper I had purchased from the teacher supply store and Tempera paint. It wasn’t the cutest banner, but it worked. I have since invested in a Cricut and now make my banners using that, but my LOVE for my Cricut will have to wait for a later post. Birthday banners just give the party a nice personalized touch.
Party Tip #5:
Keep the food simple…It’s only one meal of your guest’s day!
I have NOT been blessed in the kitchen, so I keep my party food pretty simple. Most of the time I serve sandwiches, fruit, and salad. I have purchased party platter sandwiches from Costco, Subway, The Honey Baked Ham Store and Togos. They way I figure it, my guests will be eating 2 other meals that day, why do I have to feed them something spectacular?!? I would be surprised if one of them remembers what they ate, even if you did happen to serve something that was impressive. Personally, I want my guests to be wowed by my décor, not by my food. Sorry to disappoint, if you were looking for some fabulous food tips!
Party Tip #6:
Party Favors Should Coordinate with the Party
Send your guests home with a fun memento. Your launch pad for party favors will once again coordinate with your theme. Don’t send home a bunch of random tchotchke (pronounced: chachkees…one of my favorite words!) from Oriental Trading Company. They are a waste of money and I assure you will just end up in the trash (or if you are like me you will end up with a huge pink box full of them because you feel too guilty throwing it away) within days, if not minutes after the party is over. Keep it simple. I bought cherry gummies that came in packs of around 15 and I divided them up into little sucker bags that I got at Michaels. I only had to buy a few bags. It was a very inexpensive yet cute (and yummy) party favor. I made simple tags on the computer and tied them with coordinating red gingham ribbon. Simple and easy.
Party Tip #7:
Don’t Forget to Send Thank You Notes!
Make/buy coordinating Thank You notes (Do I sound like a broken record yet?? …EVERTHING should be coordinating, at the very least in the colors of the party if not the theme). I made the cherry Thank Yous from the envelope I had received my thank you note in. I scanned in both sides of the envelope and copied and pasted them onto a blank template. I also try and include a picture of the birthday girl in the thank you to most family and close friends. Don’t send it to everyone because chances are it will just end up tossed or lost! Remember sending a thank you note late is better than never…
Thank you Kristen!! I remember how much fun this party was for our new little family. I can’t wait for your next post