Who Needs Inspiration?

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Last week, I had the chance to host a very Whovian gender-reveal party for some dear friends who are expecting their first little one this summer.

Check out a few of the details!

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I tried to include as many relevant quotes as possible. . .

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Classic Whovian foods made their appearance, with toasted-coconut encrusted marshmallows taking the place of fish fingers in this classic:

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I found some incredible fanart online that combined Doctor Who with classic children’s literature like Doctor Suess. These printouts made the perfect accents for a baby-centric party!DSC_0596

DSC_0587With all the sweets that were forthcoming in our snacky-menu, I was thankful for the 5th Doctor’s appreciation of celery to cut the sweetness a bit.DSC_0595

With the adorable doctor who printouts I found on the lovely blog A Typical English Home, and some really adorable heart-shaped sugar sweets, I managed to whip up some very cute Regeneration cupcakes. . .

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. . . in red velvet AND blue velvet!DSC_0593

These little marshmallow-adipose were perfection, and just as fluffy and delightful as the Weeping Angel Food Cake you can see behind them!DSC_0592

I made my own mini-TARDIS out of a box to hold the mystery balloons that would announce the gender of the impending arrival.DSC_0591

The two hearts that kept it closed were a nod to the Doctor’s makeup, with a little River Song reminder on top.DSC_0590

The Doctor Who mobile that I made for the baby made an excellent makeshift chandelier. DSC_0589

Red and blue flowers were a nice accent to the overall red and blue decor – and the chocolate stars made a lovely favor!DSC_0582

In planning this party, I discovered that I particularly enjoy Jelly Babies myself. How apropos that they should sit next to the Adipose. DSC_0577

The white-cheddar cheese puff Lost Moons of Poosh were a hit, and made great table fodder for people who were writing their well-wishes and best parenting advice for the new family in the TARDIS book. I also thought the Mr. Potato Head Dalek was pretty great. DSC_0581

We did not forget the classic party essential: Bananas. Not to mention the Jammie Dodgers that we had in abundance next to the name-suggestion station!DSC_0598

Before the happily expectant couple “gazed into the void”, we made sure that all the invitees were properly supplied with 3D glasses, à la David Tenant. DSC_0599

Matt Smith (my first Doctor) was not overlooked, and his affinity for bow-ties proved highly useful when it came to other savory snacks!DSC_0605

We had a few Calzone “Planets”, too, just to top things off. DSC_0606

There was more. In particular, the photo booth was pretty fun, but I’ve filled this post with enough pictures for one day. To finish this all off, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t share the best part of the entire party:

announcement

That’s right: the utter joy and excitement shared between dear friends!

“Remember the best. My friends have always been the best of me.”

A Frozen Party

Frozen Party Fun - Title

My niece, like most four-year-old girls lately, is deeply obsessed with the film “Frozen”. I know there’s an awful lot of hype surrounding this movie, and most of you feel a little (if not a LOT) fed up with the song “Let it Go”. . . but what four-year-old gets the concept of too-much-media-coverage? Not my niece, that’s for sure. So, when she had her Frozen Birthday Party, it was my job, as a lovingly obsessed aunt, to make sure the details were as wonderful as I could help make them.

Question 1: What to Wear?

The first question regarding any theme party is one of fashion, am I right? SO, with trepidation and a healthy hatred for mass-produced , overpriced, and poor-quality products, I set about sewing/making a dress fit for a (four-year-old) queen.

Frozen Dress - Details

The fabric is all courtesy of Joann Fabrics, and I used a soft t-shirt as the basis for the bodice , so that no itchy seams would bother my sensory-sensitive niece (nothing was sadder than the day she got a beautiful new Cinderella dress and had to take it off because “it hurts real bad”). I made sure the cape was detachable, and (since I was sewing it without my little model present) we used a fancy snowflake pin (thrift store find!) to bustle up the back.

Dress - Details - modeled by Bizz

It was by no means a work of art in couture, but it did the trick. Izzy was delighted. When I walked in and hung it in the front hall, she saw it and immediately exclaimed “MY DRESS!!!” with such joy, that it was worth any&all work involved. Izzy sees the dress

With a little assistance from her Mommy, her hair was tucked into an Elsa-appropriate braid, and the party could start, since the most beautiful princess of all time felt prepped and ready!Bizz's Dress - frozen party

Seriously, though? One more picture, because never has there been a mini-Elsa this adorable. Queen of her party - Bizz

Question 2: What to Eat?

A birthday is not a birthday without a cake. And D’Amici’s bakery knows how to make a phenomenal cake!

frozen cake

With the cake as a central element, I whipped up some colorfully-appropriate cake pops for those children who prefer all of their food on a stick (ahem: my nephew being one of them!).cake pops - frozen party

It was also deemed important to include some more-substantial/less-sweet snacks to balance out all that sugar. food - the spread

Question 3: What to do?

Having a movie-themed party kind of sets the mood for entertainment during the party right? I mean, it’s a given that you will watch the movie at some point. SO, what better idea than to provide cutely-themed popcorn? movie time - frozen entertainment After movie-watching either ends or loses it’s luster with 3-5 yr. old attention spans, its also nice to have some other potential entertainments. I drew/cut out a large Olaf-shaped snowman for a game of Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Snowman. no nose olaf Olaf also made for a nice decorative touch, chilling on the wall (yes, pun intended). It also turns out that my adorable niece loved the decor far more than the game, because she took one look at the wall, gasped, turned to me, and asked very seriously: “I . . . I marry him?” warm hugs - can I marry him While she is a bit young to get married, in my humble opinion, Olaf definitely fulfilled his quota on “warm hugs” for the day.  One other small activity we chose to include was a mini salon (staffed by yours truly) where all of my frozen-colored nail-polish could be displayed for the kiddos selection and subsequent nail-painting. This was fun, and the many small individuals in attendance loved it!nails by elsa

Question #4: What little treats will  enhance the day?

Well, there are certainly many of these ideas floating around to choose from.

It’s a great chance to check out printables available online (many for free!) that can add to the cute-factor. The Melted Snowman labels for water bottles was a nice touch, and as you can see, there are small olaf-stickers on the chocolate kisses! It’s also a great chance to tap into any stores of crystal or milk glass flatware and princess-costumery you have lying around.

Food Decor - setup and cuteness

Another fun detail that my sister pulled off beautifully was the sparkly gift-bags for kiddos who attended the party. These were full of everything from sweet treats to coloring books to tiaras to the little blue wands that you can see peeking out from the tops of the perfectly-chosen glittery gift bags!favors - frozen party

 

And that, friends, is all-questions-answered how we celebrated my niece’s 4th birthday . . .

Frozen Style!

Dance Details: Candyland Prom

Beauty is in the Details

If planning events (albeit somewhat informally) has taught me anything, it is that the devil is in the details, but so is the delight! If you get too caught up in details of an event, you can overlook the fun – but the right details can enhance an event magnificently! This year, our prom theme was “Candyland“, inspired by the classic  board-game, and I had more fun orchestrating the details than I should probably even admit.

Venue/Decor

Decorating the venue is sometimes overlooked when planning events, but adding little details to the overarching venue decor can really pull a theme together. Thankfully there are an incredible number of fun sources of inspiration for these details. We chose to go with the 1978 edition of the Candy Land board for color inspiration and then proceeded to look for fun ways to incorporate those 7 (!) colors without becoming overwhelming!

Candyland Color Palette

The first small detail we chose to incorporate was the lollipop balloons. While I’m fairly certain PVC pipe might have created a better lollipop-balloon stick, we used dowels, because they were very easy to procure. Once we had the balloons (in every color but the pink, which was our accent color), all that remained was to attach the balloons to the dowel tops (duct tape) and wrap the whole thing with cello-wrap before displaying these outside! While we originally wanted to do more (possibly line the walkway into the prom), we decided that it might lessen the elegance of the occasion, so kept it to a minimally sweet splash of color.
lollipop balloons - outside

Our second venue decor involved adding colors (and an extra dose of candy-theme) to the chair backs. Inspired by a blogpost, we purchased dollar-store paper plates (in our six main colors!), a massive spool of ribbon and one serious roll of cello-wrap. Chaos ensued briefly while we wrapped and tied and juggled all 80 or so of these fake, over-sized sweets. However, once in place, the candy decor really lent a nice touch to the venue without detracting from the simply elegant setup. If doing this again, I would be more careful to purchase paper plates that were colorful on both sides to avoid the touch of white peeking up over the uninhabited chair-backs.

Candy Chair-backs

Since it is rare to find a truly nice venue that permits wall or ceiling hangings, tabletops are always a huge element of the decor at our events, and this year was no exception. We started by seeking out the perfect central element to feature, and settled on colorful tulle puffs for the centerpieces. Since our goal was to incorporate the six general colors (red, orange, green, blue, yellow, and purple) with accents of pink and tie in many of the elements of decor, we chose to have pink and black table-runner-squares to offset the riot of color above and around. To this, we added mad-libs made to lo0k like over-sized Candy Land game cards, brightly patterned paper bags for students to use at the candy bar, a low jar of colorful gumdrops, and a few oversized-polka-dot shaped pieces of confetti. Fun fact: we used paint-samples from Home Depot to make the confetti, and were thus able to individually select exactly what colors we needed! Prom Tabletops

Ice-Breakers

A second, oft-overlooked detail is the need for some ice-breaker or fall-back activities. Just like when planning any social gathering, you want to try to foster a balance between creating a convivial atmosphere in which everyone can feel comfortable and fall-back options for people who may wind up feeling slightly uncomfortable. Let’s face it, nobody wants awkward silence to fall at a table, and when you take a big group of teenagers and add in assorted unknown individuals brought as dates, yards of extremely fancy (and often uncomfortable) clothing, and top it all off with unstructured time before dinner/dancing . . . well, the odds are that somebody will feel a little uncomfortable at some point. To try to get rid of this, we always include Mad Libs as an ice-breaker activity.

mad-libs-game-cards

You may have already seen my post about Candyland themed mad-libs, but these were a colorful addition to the evening, and with their glorious tendency to wind up inappropriate or hysterical, all we have to do is casually include them in the decor and many (dare I say: most) people wind up bonding through the ensuing laughter.

Food

In all honesty, after choosing the venue, we mostly wound up going with their catering options/suggestions. Thus, we can’t really take credit for planning any of it, aside from heartily agreeing to the delicious-sounding suggestions put forth by our fantastic liaison, Marie. The resulting feast was everything we wished for and more.food service - tupper manor

The Menu for our Dinner Buffet

~Caesar Salad with Grilled Focaccia Croutons and Parmesan Cheese~

~Classic Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressing~

~Roasted Sliced Beef Sirloin and Roast Breast of Turkey with Pan Gravy~

~Penne Marinara~

~Garlic Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes~

~Glazed Baby Carrots~

Entertainment

Now, you may think Mad Libs, friends, and dancing are enough activities for any school dance. For some, you might be right. Buuuuuuuut, there are those moments when you are so hot and sweaty that you just need a dance break. Or those moments when the DJ plays a slow song and you want to avoid the awkward couples-dance with your platonic date while a nearby swaying duo is kissing like they’ve just discovered lips. OR maybe you just don’t like dancing all that much. I mean, school events shouldn’t be potentially fun just for the dancers among us, right? What a conundrum, you might be saying. Well, allow me to introduce you to the perfect solution. The Photo Booth.

photo booth - for entertainment

If you aren’t sure how to set up your own photo booth, I have a couple of sure-fire tips, but this is a great activity to include for those less-inclined to dance or who might need a break from crazy-dancing throughout the night!

Dessert

sweets abound - prom theme

In addition to the fresh baked cookies and brownies, we almost always choose to include an ice cream sundae station. With all sorts of delicious treats (including Crushed Oreos, Reese’s Pieces, Rainbow Sprinkles, Shredded Coconut, Chocolate Sauce, Strawberry Sauce and Whipped Cream), students are free to momentarily cool their heels and build their ideal Sundae!

Favors

So, as you can see, the details have carried us throughout the evening, and as the night winds down to a final dance, we want to make sure to include something students can take home to remember the occasion. Unfortunately, this usually means that you wind up with chintzy picture frames or a single engraved piece of stemware that will prove fodder for many yard-sales to come (if they last the ride home). With this in mind, we have recently taken to selecting favors that are consumable or thematically fun rather than the stereotypical trinkets. So it is with great anticipation that we included a simple Candy Bar in our evening plans.

candy bar - prom

To let students know about the Candy Bar, particularly since it was slightly out-of-the-way, we made an informative tag, which we attached to brightly colored paper bags (found on Etsy) for students to use for candy transportation.

Candy Bags!

We also purchased old-fashioned candy sticks, flavored like cotton candy, butterscotch, tropical punch and JOY. After adding a little homemade flag and placing the sweets on each place setting, the favors were ready. Based on their enthusiastic reception, I think it’s safe to say that they were appreciated.

candyland favors

With the details in place and the evening past, I think it’s safe to call it a successful soiree. I can’t wait for the next!

Free Printable: Candyland Madlibs!

candyland mad libs

Every year, as part of the annual school dance preparations, we include the making of Mad-libs. . . after including these as part of the table decor a few years ago, they were met with such positive feedback that we’ve included them ever since! Functioning as a fun ice-breaker and a laughter-filled prelude to dancing, were can you go wrong? (Well, I mean, they are mad libs . . . they tend to go gloriously wrong.) Finding theme-specific mad libs, however, can be something of a challenge. Thus, I have undertaken the writing of original mad libs from time to time, and our recent Candyland Prom was no exception. If you would like to download and use a PDF of my two Candy Land Themed Mad-Libs for use at your own sweet event, feel free to click the pink link and do so with my blessing! Also, if you want to make changes to anything or use the candy-stripe font I used on anything else (for uniformity’s sake), you can find the font available as a free download here.

If you would like to follow our example and transform these mad-libs into part of your decor by making them look like large-scale Candyland game-cards, check out the picture and explanation below for some inspiration!

madlibs - on the tables

We printed the mad-libs on cream-colored stock paper (they are formatted tw0-to-a-page) and then used a paper cutter to make uniform 3.5-inch squares of tissue paper in the requisite colors to adhere to the backs of the mad-libs (using either double-sided tape or glue sticks, depending on availability!).mad libs - game cardsTo keep with the colorful theme, I bought the brightest mechanical pencils I could find at Target (which, incidentally, is also where I purchased the polka-dotted paper cups to hold the pencils). I also bought small fake lollipops from Etsy vendor Twisted Lolly Boutique and hot-glued them to some of the pencils for an added candyland-accent!

DIY Tutorial: Tulle Puff Wands

Every year, a few times a year, I am faced with the question of centerpieces.

puffs in a row

Cut flowers are pretty and generally okay, I guess . . . but they tend to be expensive, not to mention difficult to transport, oftentimes fragile and, in the long run they’re inconvenient. They cannot be prepped very far in advance, but they also don’t last long past the date of the event – rendering them VERY high maintenance for the limited time they’re used. THUS, over the 4+ years of event aesthetics-coordination I’ve undertaken at work, I have continued to seek out new and innovative centerpieces. For example, one year, we had fish as centerpieces. Now, even though there were 15 VERY delighted new-fish families  afterward the event ended, I would probably never do that again just because of the sheer logistical headaches it caused. 15 mini-fish-bowls and gallons of water later, I decided that I should go more towards practical instead of interesting in the future. As a result, over the years, we’ve wound up doing some very fun pieces, including candy-jars, silver leaf branches and several others. This year,  with an impending Candyland themed prom, I thought I would share the latest innovations in centerpiece decor in the form of a tutorial.

Heading - DIY puff tutorial

 Step 1 – start with the raw materials. You will need:

Raw Materials

Step 2 – Measure and Snip

Cut 5-6 foot strips of the tulle/gauze ribbon- each strip will make one “flower” or puff, so plan accordingly. I found that 7 of them filled a typical vase nicely!

Step 1

Step 3 – Fold ‘n Roll

This step is a little self-explanatory. I eye-balled about 5-6 inch folds in the ribbon. If it helps your measurement sensibilities, wrap the tulle around a book which you can then slide it off of. At the end of the fold ‘n roll stage, you should have a loose-yet-neat little coil (pictured below on the right).

step 2 - tulle rolling

Step 4 – Sew

Once you have your little packet of tulle, sew straight across the middle , effectively making the piece bow-shaped. I sewed from the middle out, just to make sure it was a reinforced and tight cinch in the middle.

step 3 - sewing through the middle

Step 5 – Peel Back the Layers

At this point, you just take the bow-like creations that came from Step 4 and shape them, peeling them out layer by layer so that the tulle gains some shape and starts to resemble a blossom.

tulle puffs26

Step 6 – Hot Glue!

There is no picture for this part, because I had my hands a bit full. First I hot-glued two paper straws together for each “stem”. I put the hot glue directly into one end of a straw, and then took the second straw and creased it so that it would fit easily into the other straw, attaching them where I had just put the hot glue. That done, I dabbed hot glue onto the base of each tulle puff and held the straw-stem in place for a moment while it began to set.

Step 7 –  Finishing Touches!

Remove any loose glue-strings and arrange the stemmed tulle puffs as desired in your vase of choice. Then, step back and survey your handiwork. They are like a miniature garden of hothouse Truffula Trees!
tulle puffs!!!

They are so colorful and bright!!!

 

One Winter’s Night: DIY Dinner Dance Decor!

I’ve coordinated a couple of high school dances over the past few years, and I always have a lot of fun with the creative ideas my creative students come up with for decorations and details! Each year, I am fortunate to have have a couple of truly fantastic students who volunteer to be on the planning committee, and 2014 was no exception! After polling the student body for ideas, we met up and settled upon our Winter Ball theme:

One Winter’s Night

Keeping our plans simple and elegant, we set out to provide thoughtful details that might enhance students’ experiences of the evening in question. Some of the things that we organized as part of this year’s festivities included . . .

Setting the Menu & Enjoying the Venue

Winter Ball FOodWe have the delightful opportunity of enjoying the delicious menu of italian cuisine provided by our venue of quality! The spread was delicious and everyone ranted about the chicken parm in particular. The food, however, was just a small organizational detail of the rest of the planning, which was far more hands-on!

Warm & Cozy Favors

What better to give as a favor for a Winter Ball than Hot Cocoa? Inspired by some adorable winter wedding favors on pinterest, we decided that it would be a fun direction to go, and we were not mistaken. We designed our own label, used some of the same cardstock we used for the leaf-creation, and put them together one chilly Wednesday afternoon. They turned out adorable!

Favors - Winter Ball 2013

They looked so pretty on the tables, as did our second focus of decor:

Twinkling Centerpieces!

centerpieces and tabletops

For several weeks before the dance, we brainstormed ideas for the centerpieces. In years past we’ve done everything from live fish to traditional floral arrangements to elaborate candy jars, and we’ve come to the conclusion that non-living centerpieces can render the set-up far less stressful! After doing some scouting and brainstorming, one of my students remembered that I had made some paper-leaf branches at one point. We looked at the paperstock available online, and decided to make our own silvery foliage, just for the occasion.

centerpieces 1

Making these branches  was a cinch, actually. First, we gathered up some sticks from the trail around the school. Then we made two different sizes for leaves and cut them all out by hand before attaching them with hot glue to the branches we had collected. The result looked quite lovely!
centerpieces in action

 After making the branches, we purchased some beautiful twinkly lights (via Amazon.com) to twine through them and the result was like something out of a fairy-tale!

Centerpiece - silver leaves

To these leafy, twinkly, not-quite-floral arrangements, we added a cut-crystal dish of navy-blue, white, and silver m&ms as well as a small glass to hold those lovely, snow-flakey pens pictured above. What might theeeeey be for, you ask? Well, I’m so glad you brought it up, because that brings us to our next element of themed fun . . .

Wintry Mad-Libs
madlibs - winter style

Mad libs are something that we make a point to include every year, at every dance. For one thing, they help break the ice and fill those occasionally stilted social moments before dinner or dancing commence. But, for another thing, who doesn’t like mad-libs? We used a paper punch to make this batch particularly dainty and then placed them at each place setting on the big night. madlibs in action

After that, as students found their way to tables and seats, all that remained was to watch as they took their snow-flakey pens in hand and general hilarity ensued! Let’s face it:

There is no better atmosphere than laughter.

In Case You Missed It…

Me, in a mask, because it was a masquerade!

This year’s Masquerade Prom was a visual feast and a resounding success. . . check out a few of my favorite theme/decor photos from the event:

Lovely Table Setup

The whole evening just glittered!

Mad Libs

Masquerade Libs So fun!

Settings

Elegant and Fun!

Scintillating

Photo Booth Sign

photo booth funAll photo credit goes to our awesome photographers, Danny and Brandi Ebersole!