Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BASH Conference Re-Cap... and Crying it Out with Amy Atlas

I feel like I'm super late to get on the "BASH recap" blog post train and as per usual, I've put pressure on myself to blog this experience in a somewhat timely manner... Damn you Type A self! So here we go...

I've just finished reading through 5 or 6 BASH recaps and a few things (facts) stood out that I'd like to get out of the way before I actually start the post.

#1- Kim from The TomKat Studio is crazy sweet. And beautiful. Damn her! If only she could have been not as sweet and normal, I'd have every reason to hate her.

The TomKat Studio

#2- Michelle Burt, Owner of Maddy Cakes Muse and the founder of BASH is a badass mamma who knows how to put on a show. And a conference. And make people laugh... What is up with all these overachievers?!

#3- Meeting like-minded party gals made me feel way less crazy and took online friendships and turned them in to full blown REAL friendships. I loved my roomies Tali from A Party Studio and Meghann from Always the Occasion... (I have a grand master plan to get Tali to Cali so we can be besties). Meeting Keisha from Cupcake Wishes and Birthday Dreams and Tonya from Soiree Event Design after having exchanged idontknow 1,000 Facebook messages with each of them over the last year and a half...? Priceless. (My husband can no longer call them my "virtual friends"- which he does solely to annoy me). All of these ladies (and many more) I consider my true friends after the BASH conference.

Getting to BASH.
Let me give you a little personal back story with this conference. It was announced about 6 months ago and the minute I heard about a conference specifically for party planners, I was dead set on going. I knew a lot of fellow party gals I'd made friends with online would be there (The Wigwam Resort in Phoenix, AZ) ... And I knew that the speaker line-up would be killer. However, when the dates were released I was borderline ugly tears because I knew my husband would be gone that week and I also knew it was my son's birthday weekend. Hmmm... A party planner's son's birthday weekend... Kind of the only parties WE LIVE FOR?!

As ticket sales approached and the name Amy Atlas (the dessert table QUEEN) was released as a keynote, I was dying inside. I told my husband how it was just terrible timing and how sad I was to not go, and to my total shock and suprise he said, "Well then go! Figure out who can help with the kids and buy a ticket!" No seriously, that was insane that he said that. We do not just throw around money for shits and giggles people. Well, I do... But he is very frugal and tries to control my insanity at every possible chance. So I called my sister, and then my mom and I rallied them to come to Santa Barbara in January and watch my two crazy kids for 3 days, take them to school- the whole shabang. Have I mentioned they've never done this? Anyway it worked- they said yes... It takes a village ya'll! It was like a sign from the party gods that I was meant to be at BASH. And then, to totally pave the way for me to go, my mom said the 6 most beautiful words a party planning daughter could ever hear... "I'd like to buy your ticket"... I think confetti fell from heaven. It did actually... And it was the custom, expensive kind with metallic BASH dye cuts in it.

So there I was, a ticket in to BASH. My party dream come true. I pushed Cormac's party to the following weekend (which just passed, January 24th) and the rest is history... Well, it will be after this post.

Being Me at BASH.
One thing I promised myself upon purchasing a ticket was that I was going to be myself once I got to the conference. In the last year of my life (2014 mainly) I've questioned who I am, what I like, what I wear (a blog post I'll get to eventually) in terms of trying to fit in to certain groups after our move to a new town. At BASH I went in with the mindset that I'm going be 100% me... And if you like it: grand... If ya don't, then don't Facebook friend me after! My goal was to learn, meet and mingle... But I was not going to portray anyone other than me. Now that's it's over- I feel quite successful in this regard. I went in to a new environment knowing almost no one, and left feeling like I met the people I was supposed to meet and that they got to know the real Kenna... (Or Miss Party Mom, if they can't remember my name?)

Jenny Cookies Cookie Class

Shoes, shoes, shoes!
Being me is bringing a pair of shoes for each outfit... and I have no shame in that!

Things I Learned At BASH.
I'm going to get to the story about me and a group of girls crying with Amy Atlas over breakfast, don't worry. No, that's not some weird dream, that really happened. But I'm going to make you wait because I learned other things first, as that happened the very last day.

First I learned that there are successful women in this party industry who are killing it... And that that are seriously hard workers. Savvy workers. Go-getters. I left every class saying to myself, "CRAP that's a lot of work! Where do they find the time? How did they learn that? Were they the valedictorians of their class?!? Am I ready to put in that much work? Do I want to even do that?" I know, this isn't like all confetti filled 36" balloons and shimmery tassel garland here people! I was honestly overwhelmed by a lot of the knowledge given during the 8 classes I took during BASH. I felt incompetent at some points... Like the learning curve was too steep for me- like somehow I was being passed by and not taking good enough notes. I felt like why can't I just be good at styling parties and kill it this way? Why do I have to monetize and vlog and figure out my way around a camera?! I felt like I MIGHT HAVE A PANIC ATTACK AT A CONFERENCE. Pull it together Kenna! For the love of all that is glitter and gold, breathe.

I realized that for most of us, our business success doesn't come over night... You have to grow the business from any angle you can- capturing opportunity as it comes (if that's via the blog, social media, You Tube, etc)... Alison from The Alison Show said she worked for 7 years on her blog, brand and social media before she got to where she is making money on her brand and talents. SEVEN. FLIPPING. YEARS. I'm on year 2.5 and I'm so close to burn out it's ridiculous. I had to ask myself at the end of each night of BASH.... Do I love party planning enough to want to do all of these things to further my business? I DO... I think? I just wish the party gods would babysit from time to time... Is that too much to ask? In all honesty, I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm in the midst of what I'm thinking is a mid-life crisis... But again, that's a blog for another day... When the party gods start babysitting.

The Alison Show
I've been following Alison via IG and her blog for most of 2014... This chick is the real deal and I was so happy to be able to hear her speak.
I took all kind of notes in the classes at BASH... But nothing struck me more than Loralee Lewis' class. Which is crazy because while I was well aware of her and had respect for her work, I was not yet on the Loralee Lewis fan-bandwagon. I almost didn't take her class for that reason. She has a very stylized taste and while it is beautiful and has been all over print and is a wildly successful brand, her style is not what I'm naturally drawn too as it's mainly pastels and a sort of etherial look... (kind of the opposite of my style!). Anyway, I decided to take her class on a whim... and WOW. It was literally a holy moment for me. Holy hour.

Her main point was, "Dreams Never Come with Expiration Dates" and I swear when she said it, I was almost a puddle of tears. I had to hold back some serious emoting (you know- like the emoji with the snot dripping from it's nose?) as I realized I have felt like my dreams very much DO have an expiration date and that because things have not "happened" for me in my first year, or my second year... That I am doomed and will never be successful in this industry. When she started to mention the many woman (Vera Wang, Martha Stewart, Paula Dean, Julia Child, etc.) who got started in their respective industries at 40+ years old.... Well, that was just the encouragement I needed to hear.

"The world will tell you that you only have one chance and if you don't act now, someone else will grab your opportunity- and all is lost. In reality, there is only one you and the universe waits for the authentic." -Loralee Lewis

Her other points, "Believe in Yourself a Little More" and "Don't Be Like the Rest of Them Darling" also resonated with me on a deep level. I heard a dessert blogger I respect say at the conference, "All parties are starting to look the same now if you ask me!". At first I wasn't sure if I should be offended. And then I thought about it and realized there was a lot of truth to her statement... Which brought me back to Loralee's point about not being like the rest of them (darling). If there is one thing I want for MPM, it is to throw parties that are not like anyone else's. I realized that in full at BASH and it's helping me to define, refine and own my personal party style (as Loralee has).

BASH Events.
I loved how the conference was organized. We were encouraged prior to arriving (via the BASH blog) to participate in a roommate gift exchange (fun!), a celebrity dress-up night and have business cards and swag to pass out to fellow attendees (which I got really in to- at the very last minute). I am always looking for a reason to craft my brand up and so I loved making my business cards extra cute with a new iPhone-esque business card inside of a "clutch"... and a few other designs, bringing FIVE different cards with me to pass out. Who makes 5 different versions of business cards?! Me dammit.

cute DIY business cards

Celebrity costumes
Amy Winehouse (Tali from A Party Studio) and myself as Gwen Stefani

Conference SWAG
SWAG! Loved collecting some super creative business cards and then going through them once I was home.
Roommate Gifts
My amazing roomie gifts from Always Occasion (left), CWBD (center), and A Party Studio (right)
On Saturday night a group of about 20 party planners competed in a Gold/Black & White Hollywood Glam table top design competition judged by Eddie Ross from Better Homes and Gardens, Jen from Hostess with the Mostess and Kim from TomKat. This was really fun because each design was so unique and truly beautiful. I LOVED walking around looking at each table- I was so impressed by the talent in the room. One table was as beautiful as the next and I was honored to sit at Kylie's (Made by a Princess) table which had personal touches like name cards a star on the back of each chair with our name...

Tabletop design

BASH Conference
Kylie's table guests... Representing CA Party People!
Tabletop Competition

Tabletop Design
Add caption

A huge congrats to Montrilla Jones from Lavender Pudding who just straight killed it with her table top design and won both the judges award and the people's choice... For more pictures, see her Facebook page linked above.

Gatsby Dinner Table

Proud of this Cali based planner for bringing home the prize!

Crying with Amy Atlas at BASH.
Ok... Our breakfast with Amy Atlas... Let's do this. I woke up Sunday morning and started packing and my roomie Tali asked me if I wanted to get a quick coffee before she left for the airport. I protested because I had no makeup on- but she won and off we went to the hotel lobby, (one of us cute and homeward bound... The other with 3 day old hair, no makeup and bags under her eyes from staying out too late the night before.)

We got to the front desk and she had to depart sooner than we'd planned for... I figured I might as well go get some coffee and breakfast anyway and sit and ponder all I'd learned the last few days. I was just about to sit alone when I saw a group of girls I love and respect from SoCal- so I naturally joined them. 10 minutes in to our breakfast and a couple of other ladies joined us and then a few minutes later... Amy Atlas strolls in and casually and as humble as can be stops at our table and says, "Would you mind if I joined you ladies for breakfast?" Like hello... WOULD WE MIND?! Let's see, for me personally I have only been following your every party planning move for almost 5 years, read your book from cover to cover countless times and have submitted and been featured multiple times on your blog... I would not mind Amy. She sits down and within a few minutes I can tell she is genuinely a kind and caring person. I mean up until that moment I had only heard her as the key note and had waited in a line to have my photo taken with her during her book signing night... But I could tell she was easy to talk to right off the bat, like a real person. AND... WAIT FOR IT... She ordered PANCAKES. With syrup. This celebrity party planner was sitting with us eating real people food. I think we were all kind of shocked... And impressed. It made me feel better about not having any makeup on.

As we started to talk about the conference I asked her if she'd herself enjoyed it and as we all chatted about our learnings, the subject turned to our children. For the sake of not over sharing anyone else's personal details I will just say that at some point I began to share about my 6 year old son Cormac, and how I've noticed that he's picking up my Type A personality and is already becoming a perfectionist... And that it kills me. I shared about a recent moment I had with him where he'd drawn a bunch of Star Wars characters and then crumbled them up, because they weren't "perfect"... And then I confessed that I know he's seen me do this with my own work, whether it's been a sketch or a party project... That he is indeed mimicking my behavior. As I shared this, I started to cry... Right there... To a table of other party planners I've known for 3 days... and Amy Atlas. I'd like to mention at this point that I am not a crier. Even though this conference had me a ball of emotions, I rarely cry. But there I am... tears a flowin'. Then other girls started to share stories of raising children while running a party business or blog and they started to cry... And then Amy Atlas shared and she started to cry.

Meeting Amy Atlas

As we all pulled ourselves together, Tiffany from Fizzy Party reminisced about a party photo with a crooked straw flag and how the planner had pointed it out and how silly it was... (and yes, she is right!) and I confessed that was my photo, my crooked straw flag... and that those are the things I can not let go of... that they haunt me! And Amy got it. She got that the flag on the straw is a big deal. And we both knew it sounded crazier than crazy to say a straw flag matters... But that doesn't change the fact that we want that damn straw flag straight. We walked back to our hotel rooms and she looked at me and told me it was not too late to correct Cormac's behavior and teach him that not everything has to be perfect and that there is always room for mistakes. She encouraged me to watch my Type A behaviors in front of him and shared personal examples of how to do so. She begged me to be present at his party the following weekend and not to be a perfectionist but to just enjoy the party with my son. She reminded me that he is a sponge and watches everything I do. I was a sponge as she spoke to me... She gave me so much that breakfast and I will seriously always be grateful for it. She spoke to straight to Miss Party MOM.

So there you have it. My first conference... So much learned... So much TO learn.

Cheers to BASH 2015... and counting down the days to BASH 2016.

xo Party or Die xo

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Whimsically Bright Vintage Inspired Wedding, March 2014

In a week of blogging firsts, this is my first of two things: first wedding post and first non Miss Party Mom feature! It's that good, I promise.

When I saw these photos pop up in my Facebook feed from my old high school bestie Elena, I knew I had to feature her wedding... It's fun, fab and funky... All things this blog stands for!

These photos bring a huge smile to my face, not only to see my friend happy in love, but to see the amazingly styled wedding she and her now husband Paul, put together. I am just in love with every little handcrafted detail.

Although I married in 19 days- my reception was, like this one- FULL of color and quirkiness. I knew Elena and I were high school buds for a reason! In a total twist of coincidence... After I left Mattel Toys, Elena went on to work for them- we've been two ships passing in the night but our style has remained similar... Gotta love it!

Starting off this post is their fantastic engagement pics... I MEAN!! Insert emoji with heart eyes riiiight [here]...

xo Party or Die xo

Paul & Elena Wilson
March 8th, 2014
Portofino Hotel, Redondo Beach Ca

Vintage Wedding Shoes
Vintage Wedding Table
Vintage Owl Wedding

Vintage Owl CenterpiecesVintage Owl & Pom Pom Centerpieces

Vintage Wedding Cake with Owls

Wedding Photo Booth
Silly Photo Booth

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Open Letter to the "No-Santa Christians"

This last week I'm bursting at the seems with things to complain about during the 2014 Christmas season. I know, I know, there's irony in that sentence. Noted. 

There's a chance I bum a lot of people out in the process of blogging this particular "Christmas annoyance" and after pondering that thought for a while today- I came to the conclusion that it's worth it. In case you don't know... This is always the fine line we bloggers walk... "Who will I bum out?" followed by, "How much will I bum them out?" followed by, "Is it still worth it to make a point?"


Here's the deal, some of you out there are big time on my nerves. In my head I've labeled you the "No-Santa Christians". And the truth is, I know that I too have bummed you out with my decision to go deep in to the satanic Santa lifestyle- and so yes, it's a mutual bum-out fest between Christians that I am keen to: To believe in Santa... Or not. 

I have felt the tension for two years now. Prior to that my oldest was just a toddler and we weren't "tuned in" to the Jesus vs. Santa issue yet. While I could get in to all of the reasons why I feel believing in Santa is a childhood right of passage and that NEWSFLASH a lot of people have been raised on Santa and SHOCKINGLY still love the Lord (hand raised)... I am not going to touch on too much of that because we will probably never agree and I'm kind of half-ass writing this as I watch The Voice and hope Matt McAndrews gets through anyway.

My point in writing this is to ask you this: Can you possibly talk to your child about NOT RUINING SANTA for those who DO BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF SANTA? I feel like it's crazy I'm having to even blog this... but seriously people- this is a common courtesy! The number of children who've said to my son in some form or another this year, "Santa isn't real- Jesus is the reason for the season!" is making my want to throw a bible at a child.

Here it is: If you want to get all sorts of real with your toddler/small child and tell them Santa isn't real and you're the ones buying the gifts, then fine- I'll respect that enough to not tell you or your child to your/their face I think it's weird. But can you kindly offer me and my family the same respect and communicate with your kid it is NOT their responsibility to then kill Santa for every child?

Let's do some role play...

Mom or Dad, better yet- both: "Hey Tommy... I know that you know there's no such thing as Santa because that's just not something we believe in" (You see how respectful I'm being here?) "But Tommy, it's important that you don't try and convince other children there isn't a Santa because some kids do believe and it wouldn't be right to spoil it for them... So this stays in our family, okay buddy?"

Side note: If you don't refer to Santa as "Santa" (I've heard a lot of "His name is Saint Nick, so stop calling him Santa!" this year) I think it's also important to tell your kids that others DO USE THE NAME SANTA. It's not a bad word and I do not want my child or myself to be reprimanded for it.

Now, to every Christian shaking their head that Santa exists in our God-fearing home... I assure you that my 5 year old can tell you everything that happened that day in the manger. He probably knows the story better than I do. He is about to be a shepherd in a Christmas play and he GETS IT as much as any 5 year old can possibly get it.  He also gets a twinkle in his eye when he thinks of a big ol' jolly fat guy named Santa shoving himself through our chimney to leave us presents.

Do I think in a few years he will figure it out? Yes, of course. I'm not saying in 2nd grade a kid won't "present the facts" but he's in Kindergarden for now and I'm cherishing the time he does believe, because I cherish those memories myself.

All I'm asking for is a little mutual respect and a teachable moment for your child that not everyone shares the same beliefs and in the same way we as Christians (hopefully) don't walk around telling people they're going to hell upon meeting them... We don't tell kids who believe in Santa that he isn't real.

Please note, my husband is a pastor and our family believes in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as well as the birth AND resurrection of our Lord and Savior. But so help me God if another kid plays the "God card" on my Santa-loving son, I just might have to tell them that there's a BIG chance Jesus WASN'T EVEN BORN IN DECEMBER!!!

Merry Christmas.

Jesus Loves You,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Trends 2014: Black, White & Mixed Metals!

When I was contacted by Tiny Prints to collaborate on their social media holiday campaign #tinyprintsholiday, I was truly thrilled. In my opinion MPM and Tiny Prints are an absolute perfect match! Having just received their Holiday Catalog days earlier I was drooling over their Christmas card line- SO many designs I was in love with!

When the opportunity arose for me to choose my families Christmas cards and other holiday decor- I was seriously in heaven! I decided to go with a "theme"... as any good party planner would. Because I love black, white and gold in our home decor- mixing it in to this year's holiday decor was a no brainer! (I also love that this color palette makes the perfect transition from Christmas to New Years Eve!)

While creating my Tiny Prints order I came up with the idea for an edgy-yet-classic Black, White and Mixed Metals Christmas Mantel. We have a fabulous mantel in our little Santa Barbara bungalow and I could see this mantel played out in my head and I was pumped to create it!

In front of the mantel I styled a "Christmas card and gift wrap station" (I mean, every woman has one of these, right??) which included an area for addressing all of my Tiny Prints Christmas cards- complete with coffee and treats... Hello... Necessities!! The other end of the table was devoted to wrapping presents with style and flair, my two favorite words.

I'm really pleased to show you all of my Tiny Prints picks, including two versions of the 2014 O'Brien Christmas card, our new personalized pillow, a family pic photo block and SO. MUCH. MORE. Also note that today and tomorrow (December 1st & 2nd) Tiny Prints is having some crazy Cyber Chic Sales... 40% off Christmas cards... Don't miss out!

As well as working with Tiny Prints, I have included some AMAZING Miss Party Mom approved items from some of my favorite vendors in the biz which collaborated with me to bring this little in-home photo shoot to life.

Get ready to swoon and drool... All at once. I promise I won't judge.

Here are a couple photos from my Instagram to start us off, search the hashtag #tinyprintsholiday on IG & Twitter for more!

Below I have called out all of the Christmas trends I used in the shoot. I'm seeing these trends in everything from Christmas cards, to stockings to ornaments and more. Thank you to Elena from World Wide Party for this awesome Christmas Trends 2014 graphic below... Show it some love and Pin it, will ya?!

  • Mixed Metals
  • Black & White
  • Faux Fur
  • Sequins
  • Deer, Buck & Antlers
  • Polka Dots/Gold Dots
  • Subway Art
  • Personalized everything! 
  • Glitter & Foil accents
  • Words: "Gold", "Golden", "Happy", "Merry Merry"
  • Bracket Shaped Christmas Cards

Look for these simple DIY touches I used as well... Perfect for you to try this season... In all that spare time of yours!
  • Framed wrapping aper
  • Fringed tissue tree
  • Gold dots on fireplace
  • Christmas cards tucked inside of sweet bags instead of envelopes (see IG photo above!)

Vendor Info:

Styling & Photography: Miss Party Mom Event Planning
Christmas Cards & Envelopes, O'Brien Family Pillow, Acrylic Photo Block, Photo Postage Stamps, Wrap Around Address Labels, Gift Labels: Tiny Prints
Mixed Metals Christmas Bulb Garland: Party a la Mo
Gold Glitter "Merry Merry" Banner: Pink Elephant & Co.
Black & White Pom Pom Garland: Cupcake Wishes and Birthday Dreams
"The O'Briens" Felt Name Banner: String Dearie
Subway Art: "Have a Golden Xmas" & B/W "Christmas" print: World Wide Party by Elena
Gold Glitter Votive Candles and Mini Gold Glitter and Gold Polka Dot Gift Boxes: Kate Aspen
Gold Dot Stickers on fireplace: Polka Dot Wall Stickers
Black & White Gold Glitter Deer Plate & Coffee Cup: The Pink Poppy Party Shoppe
Custom Name Cookies: Creating Awesomenessity
Mini Gold Glittered Donuts and Biscotti: Autumn Lynn's Chocolate Sins
"The O'Brien Family" Gold Glitter Ornament & Black/White Striped Sweets Bags (with Christmas cards slid inside): Celebration Lane


How great is my O'Brien felt banner?! This would be perfect for Christmas photos!

Loving my Tiny Prints Favorite Memory Acrylic Photo Block... Such a perfect gift! 

This super fun tissue fringe tree was handmade by ME! 
Start out by making a cone out of poster board. Get a few different colors of tissue and cut 2" strips. Then fringe them and layer about 1/4" apart starting at the bottom and moving to the top... It takes time and dedication... But boy is it cute!
These garlands hanging from the buck's antlers are just amazing! I love the glitter and the glam in both of them!

My new Tiny Prints Bold Crossing Pillow... I LOVE the personalization with our last name! 

I adore my striped and polka dot envelope liners that perfectly match my Christmas cards- they really add that extra bit of detail I love. 

{Please note that I have TWO Christmas cards... The one shown above is a purely CANDID shot of me and the husband arguing during photos... I thought "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" was a fitting greeting for this shot... Can I get an amen?!}

Who can address 100 cards without some adorable mini-donuts and custom sugar cookies to keep them fueled... Well obviously not me! Personalized sweets are SO Christmas 2014!

My Tiny Prints Personalized Postage Stamps with Cormac & Birdie on them looking adorable topped off my Christmas card envelopes perfectly!

Check out my personalized Tiny Prints Gift Tag Stickers... How easy is that!
And seriously... This personalized gold glitter ornament by Celebration Lane... I'm in love! What a perfect gift! 

And lastly... A polka dot fireplace- well why the heck not?! I may keep it all year.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year...
Thank you for your support this year!

xo Party or Die xo

This was a paid post and I did receive product and compensation from Tiny Prints... DUH!