Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ice Cream Social!

This past weekend brought a Team Building Event for a local Networking Group. The theme was Ice Cream Social! Perfect for these 100+ degree Summer days! Perfect for our company too since our very name is a play on the ice cream sundae.
 The set up was inside the home of one of the founders of the group...inside the air conditioning! It was 106 that day so we, and the ice cream, were thankful for the cool interior of their home.
But we started off with the food first. The idea behind the light dinner was picnic bbq! Easy to eat off of a plate in your lap. That didn't mean it had to be plain white plates and napkins though! Color was the name of the game that day...the brighter the better...and the plates and napkins reflected the theme perfectly!
There were two salads, a plain green salad of mixed lettuces, carrots and cabbage and this pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes which turned out to be a huge hit! Guests were even loading up their hot dogs with it!
There were chips for those who wanted them, like the kids! The banner you can just see in this photo said "Get Your Hot Dogs Here!" Originally the party was supposed to be held outdoors and this banner was going to go over the tables but a 20 degree increase in our Summer heat drove us and the food indoors! Always have a back up plan if you are having an outdoor event. A heat wave or a sudden storm can ruin your plans unless you know exactly what you want to and can do in that event!
And, of course, hot dogs. We used Millers Dogs because they are made without preservatives, with premium beef cuts and no bi-products. This makes them leaner and more healthy than your traditional dog which was important for the Nutrition and Health Counselors in the group!
The condiments were your traditional Ketchup, Mustard and Onions but why not dress them up with a little chalk board? It's a way to add color to your table with the bonus of being a piece you can use again for your next event!
The drinks included lemonade and iced tea as well as water. We provided cups and colorful straws to extend the color palette and placed the drinks in easy to refill decanters. If you tend to have a lot of parties in your family then decanters make a great investment!
The water bottles were also decorated for our theme! We were able to find this FREE clip art online and were tickled pink to see that one of the labels says "You're The Cherry On Top!" These were placed in a tub of ice to keep them nice and cold for the guests.
We even set up tables inside with colorful tablecloths in case some of the guests wanted to spend more time inside the air conditioning than outside. Tables were set under shade awnings outside as well for those who wanted to partake in the games. There were water balloons and other carnival games and even a pie eating contest for guests!
 But when they came back inside it was ALL about the Ice Cream! Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry ice cream were stored on ice. Tip here...put the cardboard cartons into plastic bags first before submerging them into the ice to protect the paper. Raspberry and Lemon Sorbets were available for those who wanted a non dairy option!
Each guest had a choice of which Ice Cream (or all of the ice creams!) in a cup or cone.
 After that it was all about the Toppings! We found these little tropical colored buckets and specialty ice cream spoons at Target. Such an easy way to add to the color and theme of the party plan. Notice the "shakes" in the back? We have a lot of friends who go to Starbucks so we asked them to save their washed out cups for us including lids and straws. Then we filled them with colored papers to look like ice cream shakes and covered the traditional logo with matching Ice Cream Social logos. Since we had the tissue paper on hand this extra detail cost us just pennies to add around our "Toppings" chalkboard sign!

 We went with some traditional ice cream toppings for the guests. Crushed Oreos and M&M's started it off.
 We kept the variety going with marshmallows and chocolate chips!
 For many it's just not a sundae without nuts! We picked these candied nuts and everyone loved them!

 For me, it's the Sprinkles. I actually had to look all over for these Rainbow Jimmies but found them in a cake decorating store!
We set out Chocolate Sauce, Caramel and Whipped Cream for the final toppings. Notice the pink and white plate? Yup, just one from our regular supply so it cost us nothing from our budget to add this pop of color and a safe place for those sticky toppings to rest! So look around your own home for items that may fit in. It's a great way to stretch your budget!
And, of course, there have to be Cherries! 
Because Everything's Better With A Cherry On Top!
 The final Sundae's were not just delicious, they were beautiful too! We heard from many of the guests how much they loved their sundaes and how cool it was to have custom cups and spoons. Whenever you are having an event don't forget the details. Even with a small event, as this one was, it's the little details that leave the biggest impression!

See you next time where we will feature a FROZEN themed birthday party!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

One Couple ~ Two Parties!

This past week brought two events for the same couple with some unusual circumstances. The family of the Groom contacted me because they were responsible for the rehearsal dinner. In their family it's also customary to host a "family day" the day after the wedding to invite all of those who are still in town or those who couldn't make the wedding and reception the day before. The Mother of the Bride had completed all the needed details for the wedding so they had these two events, one the day before the wedding and one the day after, to host themselves and they were hoping to get a little help.

First off was the Rehearsal Dinner. One of our biggest tips is to find a place that is already beautiful and then you save on the cost of decorating. If you can save costs anywhere else then it just gets better. In our area we have a wonderful chain called The Old Spaghetti Factory and this is a chain I can highly recommend for several reasons.

 The first reason is obvious. It's gorgeous. The entire restaurant is decorated to look like an ornate Victorian home. Lovely antiques are to be found everywhere and the feeling is one of pure elegance.
Because of this all I needed to do was to add some place cards to the single long table.
This is the other reason I love this place. They are able to set one very long table up, perfect for an event like a Rehearsal Dinner or Anniversary Party, in a semi private room and it looks beautiful! They easily accommodate a large group.

 In this case I just added a place card but we have, in the past, set the tables ourselves with tablecloths, centerpieces and other decor items. Spag (as we lovingly call them) allows you to do this and gives you access to the room so that you can decorate the tables as you wish.
But with details, such as this gorgeous chandelier hanging over the tables, you really don't need to do anything at all to have a beautiful space.
The last two reasons we love Spag? There is no room fee. The only cost is that of the food, which is very reasonably priced, and there is no "venue fee" or "rental fee" for the space. The food is very good but the service is amazing! We have never hosted a party there where the service hasn't been exemplary. Our clients were thrilled with their party here!

The second event was themed along the lines of "Country Wedding".  A casual "luncheon" where all of the family drops by during the afternoon to hang out with the Bride and Groom. Many of the Groom's side of family and friends were not able to attend the wedding so this "After Wedding Party" was a very important part of their three day celebration.
 To begin with the property was absolutely gorgeous. There were beautiful flower gardens in each section of the yard.
To guide the guests to the home we used hand painted signs to direct and set the mood. We used six signs in total. The Father of the Groom made them for us out of scrap lumber he had sitting around. We white-washed them and hand painted the words on the signs that began at the top of their long driveway with "Celebrate". Then there was a "Parking" sign to direct guests to the open field set aside for parking. The next three signs said "Happily" "Ever After" "Starts Here". 
The final sign, placed on the lawn directing guests to the front door just had the happy couples names on it with a big heart. And, yes, Greg does love Lauren!
 A grouping of very bright and colorful Adirondack chairs were set out under the huge shade tree welcoming guests to take some time, hang out in the cool shade and enjoy the breeze.
 Their view? This lovely pond surrounded by flowers. Just a really gorgeous location for the party.
 Inside we added the "country charm" touches. Setting the scene with checkered table cloths, checkered ribbons around the simple main centerpiece and a sign welcoming hungry guests to the table are inexpensive details that really count for your theme. We decided to add the wire "cookie rack" as another layer of detail and loved how it looked!
 Sturdy sectional plates and white plastic flatware wrapped up in checkered napkins and tied with red and white raffia before being placed in this lovely basket added more decor to the food table while also making it easier for the guests to carry their food out to the tables.
 We matched the sign on the food table with one on the drink table! Simple 8x10 frames, a computer printed sign backed by more of the checkered napkins made this detail an inexpensive one to add to the day. 
And speaking of inexpensive. Over on our Facebook Fan Page we are always talking about simple ways to save money. Centerpiece containers can cost between $8 and $40 each. But why pay that much money when you can get totally adorable containers from the Dollar or 99cent Store for so much less? It cost us just $8 for all of the containers, another $2 for the ribbon to make these theme matching "vases" for this event!
 Whenever we can we save money for our clients by loaning them pieces that we have purchased previously. This tin tub has been used for many events and just seemed to fit right into the decor for this party too! Filled with ice and water bottles it was easy to maintain throughout the party. Red Solo Cups, ice in an aluminum roasting pan and huge gallons of party punch rounded out our drink table. We set this station up in their extra wide hallway which leads out onto the patios were more tables were available for guests. One happy detail was that his hallway is filled with family photos for guests to enjoy. Lovely.
 The flowers were the best buy of the day. With the $10 spent on the containers already saving us a bunch we were hoping to find some deals at the local grocery store. Yup, Grocery Store. When you are buying flowers for your Sweetie you want them to last for several days. Use a florist for those. The flowers are high quality and fresh and will last for days. But if you are throwing an event you really only need your flowers to last a day or two so why not save money? We got 5 bunches of flowers, 1 hydrangea bunch for the food table centerpiece, and 4 mixed flower bunches for the other containers, for just $5 each at Safeway on our way up to the event. So for just $30 we were able to have fresh flowers on the tables!
 Every shady spot on the patios was dressed up with seating. Each table got a tablecloth and a centerpiece but extra chairs were set out in the shady spots all over the patios in order to give guests a choice on where they could sit and enjoy the shade.
 One of the patios was quite sunny so they set up a pop up shade to give their guests a break and make for a cooler area to enjoy their food.
 Want to know a secret? These glasses come with a lid and straw. Using containers that can be used again is a big part of saving money for your events. Pitchers, glasses, and bowls, all make for wonderful vases. 

 The food was amazing! We used Smiley Guys Smoke House for this event because they were local to the venue and their food is incredible! They even pre-packaged our order into these easy to serve aluminum roasting trays which fit right into our decor. Our client chose the Tractor Pulled Pork and we have to say that it was simply delicious!
 There was also their Uncle Jessie's Chicken which was tender and moist and definitely a hit with the crowd. Two sauces were served. Their regular sweet Bbq sauce as well as a very good peach flavored sauce.
 The Sweet Potato Chips didn't stay crispy for long but, Oh My, were they good! Even soft they were SO yummy! The cole slaw and potato salad were big hits as well. 
Corned bread was served on the side in tins that we set down the middle of the dining room table along with some paper towels in case the guests needed a little extra! (you can just see the drink table to the right of the tables in this photo)
 After everyone had grabbed at least one plate of "Grub" they took a few minutes to have a "Dave's Top 10" for the Bride and Groom, giving the Top 10 reasons why Greg loves Lauren and why Lauren loves Greg. Very cute! While they were doing that we removed the food from the table and replaced it with the dessert. The Groom's sister created easy to eat cupcakes for this event. These were Honey Bun cupcakes and were some cinnamon honey goodness for the guests...not to mention beautiful!
For those chocolate lovers she created these raspberry filled chocolate cupcakes and topped them with mini chocolate chips to make them extra yummy!
Finally there were even cupcakes for the Gluten-Free crowd. This way everyone got a chance to celebrate!

A couple of notes about having a home event. This family gives large family dinners all of the time so they already had tables and chairs for this event. If you do not have these items then you will have to rent them and have them delivered. For an event such as this one where you have a large amount of your guests that come and go throughout the entire day, not just during set hours, this is a great idea but it is an added expense. With an "At Home" event you may end up needing to rent quite a few of your items so while you can save on your budget it's not a "cheap" way to go. Fortunately, between our clients and what we already have in our supply closet, we were able to have this event and keep it very affordable. 

And it was a very lovely event. It was wonderful to be able to set up and then greet all of their guests as they arrived, to be able to actually spend some time with some of them as they sought us out to speak to us about the event and to be involved with both of these celebrations. We are some lucky party planners!

Congrats again Lauren and Greg! We were thrilled to be part of your special days!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Daniel Tiger's 3rd Birthday Party!

Having a little kids party is always fun but when it's a member of your own family it can be a blast! However this theme is a fairly obscure one in the animation world and really obscure in the party goods world! So finding stuff for this party was a real challenge and some of it had to be custom made or DIY'd in order to have it fit the theme.
 First off were the invitations! Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is an animated version, sort of, of Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood on PBS. While he is very loved by every kid we know, he's not yet loved by the mass marketers. So we turned to Etsy for help!

 When people arrive you need to make sure that they know where to go. The family had just moved so it was the first time a lot of the guests had even visited the new house! We put out a sign and a couple of balloons to wave in the wind to get the guests attention.
 This door sign was printed on a computer and then backed with a few different colors of scrapbooking paper. 
 After guests were greeted at the front door they were led into the main room where this custom printed poster (thanks to an Etsy vendor again!) was waiting for them to enjoy. And, no, that isn't a typo. Parker calls his Mama, Moggy instead of Mommy! 
 Tory hand made the banners for over the fireplace and food table. Printed circles were backed with two types of scrapbook paper and then tied together with ribbon for hanging. She added a Daniel Tiger book as well as a Trolley toy to dress the mantle.
 The grand display was in the dining area. Dollar store plastic tablecloths were draped from different areas in the dining room into the center, secured with push pins, and then coordinating balloons were added to the center. Number 3 balloons in orange were paired up with red ones to flank the food table which was filled with pizza, garlic bread and fresh strawberries!
 We tied the balloons together first before securing their strings to a hook in the middle of the ceiling and then we let the strings hang down a bit before trimming them off just at head level.
Tory made custom water bottle labels (her specialty) and there were also sodas and juice for the guests.
Most of the kids were under the age of 3 so we kept the activities to the outdoors and simple. Sidewalk chalk, bubbles and little kid basketball were a hit with all of the kids.
But they each seemed to love the sidewalk chalk most of all. Even the oldest of the kids grabbed a piece of chalk and drew their own works of art!
The grown ups got into the act as well. Both boxes of chalk were purchased for under $8!
 Then it was time for cake! The cake table was decorated with one of each type of balloon, more of the Daniel Tiger squares as well as other sweet treats for the guests. 
 The "Tiger Tails" were a DIY project. Pretzel rods were dipped into orange candy melts and then drizzled with dark chocolate candy melts, set up in the freezer before being bagged up. But there was a lot of the chocolate left over so another cookie sheet was covered in parchment and the left over pretzel pieces were crushed and then covered with the left over orange chocolate. Finally the left over dark chocolate was dizzled over that and all of it was put in the freezer to set up. Once set it was chopped up into long thin pieces and bagged up for the guests as well! These were a huge hit!
 The main favor were these wonderful Daniel Tiger themed cookies from Snickerdoodle Sweets! We really can't recommend this vendor highly enough. The artistry is amazing and they are SO yummy! She even ships so if you don't live in Northern California you can still get these! Check out her site and you will find yourself amazed at her artistry!
 The cake is, of course, from Cat's Cakes! The benefit of having a Nana that is a cake artist is that you will always get a great cake for your birthday! The big Daniel and the Trolley are actually edible transfers and the other characters are licensed figurines. 
 The inside of the cake was "tiger" too! It's actually a very simple technique where you start with one color of batter and place a ladle full of another color onto the center of the first color and then just alternate till the pan is 2/3'rds full. Something about the way a cake bakes and rises makes it stripe up like this!
The favors had a coloring sheet, a tiger tail, some tiger bark, a few Hershey Caramel Hugs as well as a Daniel Tiger cookie for the boys and a Katerina Kitty Kat cookie for the girls.
All of these goodies were placed into tiger striped goodie bags right as they were leaving the party as a sweet little Thank You for Joining us gift for each little guest!

It does take a little work to have a great "At Home" party but if you are willing to do a little DIY then you can not only save money but also be able to have a theme that may not be readily available in stores! Just make up some "accent pieces" and then use solid colored paper goods to coordinate with your theme!

See you next time!