Party Animals Birthday Party

Why do kids have to keep growing up?! I feel like we were just celebrating our baby boy turning one, and now I blink and he's TWO! 

After Ryan's first birthday fiesta, I swore I'd take it easy on the next birthday party. But once I decided on the theme of "Party Animals", I just couldn't hold back - there were too many cute ideas floating around! Let's face it, there will eventually come a day when Ryan doesn't want a birthday party (cue tears!), or he'll want to do something less adorable than what I have in mind. So I'm making the most of it for now! Plus, the party planner in me just can't help it.

I went with "Party Animals" because Ryan really loves animals, especially cats ... or kitty kittys as he calls them. (I think it's the thrill of the chase that he's attracted to, really!) Once that theme clicked, the ideas started rolling in.  Tiny animals wearing party hats, a big colorful balloon garland, tails on chairs, a primary color palette, tambourine favors - the possibilities for decor were endless. A lot of love went into this party. The two major (and easy!) DIY projects were the tiny party hats for the mini animals and the colorful balloon garland decor. Tedious projects, but honestly they really only took a few hours each, and the end result was well worth it!

General party tips to parents: I'm a big believer in renting certain items to make life easier on the host(ess), like linens, tables and chairs. I personally don't want to have to invest in purchasing those things and then storing them. I also recommend outsourcing catering. It is 100% worth it! We went with BBQ, at my husbands request - and I love it because it was easy for guests to eat, crowd pleasing and it's filling. And yes, even a kids birthday party needs a signature drink! It's perfectly acceptable to serve alcohol at a kids birthday party. You want to cater to your guests - adult and children, alike! Our two signature drinks were Zoo Water (a non-alcoholic option) and Jungle Juice (an alcoholic option).

This was such a fun party to design, and I'm really excited to share it with you!

You can recreate this party, too, using the Party Animals party kit in the shop!


The Perfect DIY Holiday-Inspired Cocktail

Who's ready for holiday parties?! You can't tell, but my hand is currently raised.

DIY Ornament Holiday Cocktail

It's no surprise, I'm sure, but I love parties. Like, you know how Buddy the Elf loves Christmas? Well, that's how I feel about parties! Since having Ryan (now a year and a half old ... holy moly, how did that happen?!), we don't get out much. Sad, but true ... #momlife. But it doesn't mean my love for parties has dimmed even slightly.

One night I was thinking of ways to fancy up my Friday couch session, and thought - hey, wouldn't a fun cocktail make this laid back night feel more exciting?? And that's how this Cran-Raspberry Vodka Fizz was born. I'm no mixologist, though. This is inspired by a drink created by One Sweet Mess, because I prefer vodka over gin.

You'll need:
yields 1 serving
1oz Vodka
1/2oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
2oz Cranberry Raspberry Spritzer (I found a great one at Trader Joes) OR you can use cranberry sprite
~1tbsp Orange juice (I squeezed 2 orange slices)
2 Rosemary springs
Cranberries for garnish
Cocktail shaker
Glass ornaments, large (I found these at my local Michaels)
Acrylic paint pen, oil-free (I used Sharpie brand to letter these)

DIY Holiday Ornament Cocktail

First up, time to do some faux calligraphy! Take your acrylic paint pen and write anything you'd like on the ornaments. I was going for a Holiday vibe, so I went with Holiday-ish stuff. But you can write your name on it, or your guests names, if you'd like to personalize them a bit more! The paint should be dry after about 3 to 5 minutes, so let it sit while you move on to step two. (Pro tip: if you mess up your lettering, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to take off the paint and just start again.)

Now it's time to make the drinks! Take your shaker and add in the vodka, cointreau or triple sec, and rosemary sprig. Give the rosemary a little shake prior to adding it to the shaker to bruise it a bit, or you can muddle the sprig  just a little to release some fragrance. Add in some ice, the cran-raspberry spritzer, and a few squeezes of orange. Give it all a really good shake. Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass ornaments. Add in a fresh sprig of rosemary for garnish and a straw, so it's easy to drink. You can even pop in a few cranberries for extra garnish.

The tart of the cranberry mixed with the sweet of the orange makes this drink extra delightful, and really refreshing!

DIY Holiday Ornament Cocktail
DIY Holiday Ornament Cocktail
DIY Holiday Ornament Cocktail

Cheers, y'all! And happy shaking! 


Photography credit: Paige Winn Photography



How To Throw A Fiesta Party


Who wants to throw a fiesta?! There is no better party theme - for gatherings both big and small - than a Cinco de Mayo theme. All the vibrant colors, the energy of the holiday, and of course, the food. Tacos, anyone? Oh, and margaritas! Enough said, am I right?!

My sweet little boy, Ryan, recently turned one. (I can't believe I typed that! We have a one year old - Ekk!) So to celebrate such a big milestone, I decided to go with a fiesta party for his birthday. Pulling all the details together was so much fun! I'm sharing some of our party details so that you can also throw a fabulous fiesta birthday party - or a "just because" fiesta for Cinco de Mayo on Friday!

Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party invitation minted

Loved our invitations from! They were beyond perfect. Since all our family members live out of state (and not necessarily in driving range), I sent the invitations out 2 months in advance so that everyone both near and far would have time to mark their calendars and make arrangements, if they wanted to attend. I recommend sending invitations to your guests 6 to 8 weeks in advance for parties with primarily out of town guests, and 4 to 6 weeks for parties with guests mostly located in town. I'm a big fan of snail mail, so I went with a paper invitation. Minted is my favorite for purchasing invitations online. And you can always go the custom route and use a local stationer or Etsy shop vendor. But, evites are perfectly fine for party invitations, too! Some of my favorite places for electronic invitations are Minted, Paperless Post, eVite, and Punch Bowl.

Fiesta birthday party birthday cake and cupcakes
Fiesta birthday party cactus succulent cupcakes
Fiesta birthday party iced cookies
Fiesta birthday party
Fiesta birthday party birthday cake cinco de mayo party

I was completely obsessed with the cake and cupcakes Craft Cakes CLT created for the party! She executed my vision to the T! And bonus, y'all - they taste just as good as they look! Oh, and those cookies. Holy moly. Talk about delicious! Andrea with OneChic Cookie created these yummy and beautiful cookies. There were none left by the end of the party! The adorable cake topper is a banner from Etsy shop, Ay Mujer.

Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta birthday party
Fiesta birthday party margarita bar drink display
Fiesta birthday party

I seriously love a good margarita. So, I had to make sure we had plenty of tasty marg's for our guests. I know it's a childs birthday party, but let's face it - how many friends does a one year old have?! These early birthday celebrations are more for the parents, so don't forget to include adult beverages in addition to child friendly options. Keep scrolling to the end of this post where I'm sharing my tried and true margarita recipe!

Fiesta birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party oversized gold balloons
Fiesta birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces
Fiesta birthday party centerpieces for cinco de mayo party

When you're planning a party, think carefully about where you place food and drinks. Your guests will tend to gravitate towards the bar and the food. So for a casual party, like this, I decided to put chips and salsa on each table so that guests had something to munch on while sitting and chatting with each other. I didn't want everyone to feel like they had to stand and eat because tacos aren't exactly a one handed food. Don't feel like you need to keep the food located in one place - spread it out amongst the party area.

Fiesta first birthday party cocktail napkins cinco de mayo
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces cinco de mayo party
Fiesta first birthday party mini maracas
Fiesta birthday party centerpieces serape runner tablescape

It's no lie that I'm a all about the details! So when planning for this party, there was no way that I would cut corners when it came to the details. Believe it or not, this was very easy to pull together thanks to a fiesta Party Kit. Serapes, pinatas, paper banners, colorful plates and napkins - everything you need to throw a fabulous fiesta is included in this Party Kit! By the way, aren't these mini pinata's a trip? I'm obsessed! I went to good ol' Home Depot for the cactus' and succulents, and wrapped them in tissue paper. It was an easy and inexpensive way to add color to the table and stick with my fiesta theme. We gave the succulents and cactus' away to our family and friends as parting gifts, if they wanted to take them. But we did keep one cactus for ourselves as a little memory of Ryan's first birthday party, and hope to incorporate it to our garden one day so that we can tend to it together once he's older! I sprayed cans gold to hold the "viva fiesta" paper flags. Cocktail napkins are always an easy detail that gets a lot of attention. These hilarious napkins can be found in my Etsy shop.

Fiesta birthday party decor cinco de mayo inspiration
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces
Fiesta first birthday party centerpieces cinco de mayo mini maracas

I had way too much fun planning the details of this party - can you tell?! So grateful to Paige Winn Photography for capturing all the details for me so that I didn't have to have my phone on me at all during the party!

I decided to make his smash cake myself, and it's one of my favorite recipes! Especially if you aren’t quite ready to give your kid all the processed sugar at age 1 - it’s gluten free, grain free and paleo friendly. And if there is any doubt as to whether or not Ryan loved his first taste of cake, just keep scrolling down! (Spoiler: He demolished it! And it was the greatest thing I've ever witnessed!)

Fiesta first birthday party smash cake
Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party
Fiesta first birthday party smash cake


Okay, so now for the good stuff - the margaritas! This is the recipe I used for the party, and it's my overall go to for a refreshing cocktail that is easy to make.

The Perfect Margarita
- 2 oz Silver Tequila (whatever brand! I prefer silver over gold)
- 1 oz Triple Sec/Cointreau
- 1-2 oz Lime Juice (basically, 1 medium lime)
- Garnish with sliced jalapeño peppers and/or cilantro for extra flavor


Happy Cinco de Mayo, y'all!


For more information about the Party Kits, visit this page


How To Create A Centerpiece Using Grocery Store Flowers

how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's

Everyone has asked themselves the question: "What would I do if I had endless amounts of money??" You probably thought about little luxuries to splurge on like a personal chef to cook all your meals, or a housekeeper that cleans every day. While I wouldn't say no to either of those things, I love the idea of having fresh flowers in my house all the time. It just makes a home feel like a home - and a bit fancy! But, we don't need to wait to win the lottery in order to have beautiful flower arrangements in our home on a regular basis. Anyone can create a flower arrangement for under $30 - even with grocery store flowers from Trader Joe's! I'll show you how.

Trader Joe's always has the best flowers, so it's my go-to for fresh blooms. But the farmer's market is also an amazing place to find gorgeous flower from local growers. So, hunt for the best place in town. Know what vase you're planning to use before you purchase flowers. That way you know you will have enough to work with - or on the flip side, not have a whole bunch of left overs. My floral style tends to be more organic and textured. I was looking for flowers with natural lines, and tulips are perfect for that! Hyacinth was my go to for a little color contrast and texture.

flower arrangement using grocery store flowers from Trader Joe's
creating flower arrangements using grocery store flowers from Trader Joe's

Once you purchase your flowers, you'll need to process them them. This basically means that you will want to prep the flowers for being arranged. Be sure to stick the flowers in water after you get home - especially if you don't plan on arranging them right away. You'll want to cut each stem on an angle. This helps the extend the life of the flower because it can drink water better. You'll also want to remove any leaves and stems that might go into the water. Not only will this also help extend the life of your arrangement, but it'll create more space in the vase for your stems - which you will need! Put some water in the vase before you begin, and don't forget the flower food. I like to start with some greenery and the larger blooms first, adding in just a few pieces at a time to create a base.

Next, you will layer in the other blooms and start to create your shape. You can take stems out after you put them in! This is your arrangement, so edit as you go until you're happy with the look.

Depending on where you plan to display your masterpiece, you can either make a one-sided bouquet or one that can be viewed from all sides. Mine is going on my kitchen table, so I made an arrangement that can be viewed from any angle. And as you can see I did this on my kitchen counter, so you don't need a fancy work space or tools. Just a good pair of scissors! All in all this arrangement took me roughly 30 to 40 minutes to create, from the start of processing the flowers to filling up the vase with water after my last edit. It was the perfect creative project to do during naptime! 

And here is my final arrangement!

how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's
how to create a centerpiece using grocery store flowers from trader joe's

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this floral arrangement is cat approved!




It's All in the Little Details

I'll admit that I have a special appreciation and love of the little details.  After all, it's the little details that make life special, and the special moments in life personal.  With each new wedding design, my goal (always) is to make those little details, that are so important to brides and grooms, come to life! I've had the opportunity to create a lot of things over the years for brides and grooms. And, after finishing some watercolor creations for a wedding at Daniel Stowe, a Chuppah for two spring weddings, and lots and lots of escort cards, programs, and favor tags, I thought "I really need to gather up all these little projects and share them!" So, without further adieu - here are some of the things I've created for weddings so far in 2014 that I wanted to share! A few have been complete surprises, and revealing those surprises to my sweet clients brings me so much joy!  Just a warning: the photo quality is not that great - actually it's down right awful! - and is courtesy of my trusty iPhone. (Thank God for real photographers!) So, please excuse my photos... I'll just stick with wedding planning and leave the photography to the pro's! 

Custom table runners for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding


Prop pillows and ring bearer pillows for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding

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Sashes for the draping to match the runners and pillows for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding


Floating frame display for Katie & Eric's Mint Museum Uptown wedding


Watercolor table numbers for Mia & Alex's Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden wedding


Watercolor seating chart for Mia & Alex's Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden wedding


Chuppah and organza draping for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding (Okay, confession: I can't take all the credit for this one. My amazing husband actually built this chuppah for two weddings this year, and has come to both weddings to help me assemble it on-site. So grateful to have such a supportive and super crafty husband!!) 


Ceremony programs for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding


Calligraphy favor tags for Mindy & Brett's Biltmore wedding


Acrylic table numbers for Whitley & Darian's Brakefield at Riverwalk wedding


"Here Comes The Bride" sign for Veronica & Chip's Mint Museum Uptown wedding


Travel-themed escort card display for Veronica & Chip's Mint Museum Uptown wedding


Travel-themed table numbers for Veronica & Chip's Mint Museum Uptown wedding


Citrus-themed escort cards for Taylor & Kyle's Byron's South End wedding


I hate to even share all of these terrible iPhone quality photos, but I'm really proud of the little details that leave my office each weekend to make their way to the amazing brides and grooms wedding days. I'm honored to have the opportunity to be creative and give priority to the special touches of a wedding day!  And believe me when I say that each has been an absolute labor of love.  But it makes me so happy to see my brides and grooms smile with excitement over these details they never expected!