Thursday, May 9, 2013

Affording a Party Planner: Part 2- The {Potential} Client's View

Kenna here giving an intro to Miss Party Mom's first ever guest blogger- woo-hoo! I thought it only be fitting that the editor of the blog be the one to ring in the inaugural guest post, especially when a couple of days ago we got to talking about how her son's 2nd birthday went. If somehow you've stumbled across this post without reading Part 1, do yourself a favor and read it, otherwise you might be totes confused- and we wouldn't want that!

I've introduced Angie one other time when I blogged about her becoming my editor (here). But in case you forgot... Angie is my husband's best girlfriend. Yes, you read that right. They're besties. If you remember recently when I wrote about marrying the man in 19 days- you can see how I could have missed that minor detail. I mean, he wasn't dumb- who would mention a best friend of the opposite sex to someone they're trying to make their wife- like, pronto? Anyway, I'd now consider Angie my friend as well- we have a lot in common (thank God) and although I know she won't admit it- one of those things is that we both love to throw great parties. One of my the first times I ever met her was at a Gingerbread Party where she and her husband hand made gingerbread cookie pieces for their guests to build into houses. I mean, that's even a little crazy for Miss Party Mom. (Can I just say that our house had a garage and should have won?) Moving on. I hope all you moms out there can relate to his- I know I did when I read it!

Hi, it's Angie. Here's a quick intro before I tell you my party story: I've been a stay-at-home-for-now mom for 3+ years with two kids; Naomi, age 3, and Rand, 2. My husband, Andy, and I once (or three times) threw a Gingerbread Party with homemade gingerbread and loads of candy, but that was long before the kids... Oh, and I am NOT a party planner. And the party you are about to read about was thrown, not by Kenna, but by little ol' me.

As of this posting, it’s been five days since the party bomb exploded in the Sparks (that's us) household. And that’s just the party itself. If I were to count the days of preparation leading up to my son’s Vintage Airplane Party, I’d have to admit that our house has been ground zero for at least two weeks… OK, three. Stuffed clouds hanging and sporadically falling (more on that later) in the kitchen, done up jars of party candy stuffed into unreachable cabinets, cake stands and trays and platters littering our guest bed, half spray painted airplane parts lying around the back lawn… we’ve been airplane-obsessed hermits for weeks, and only now are we stepping foot out of the hole I call my home.

That may sound admirable, like wow, this non-party-planner mom really got it together for her son’s airplane party. But looking back, I think I might just have been momentarily insane for a month or so. You see, I’m not Miss Party Mom, nor anywhere near the caliber of creative that Kenna is. I have style, I even have my own set of glass cake stands, I’ve even gone so far as to learn a few event and party planning lessons over the years of throwing less than stellar birthday parties for my two kids. But I am still no Miss Party Mom, and this latest party of mine is case in point.

Let me also say that Kenna and I didn't plan this post ahead of time. It just so happens that she wrote a post on affording/hiring a party planner a couple of days after my son's party. As I edited her post, it got me thinking about what my expectations had been for my son's party, and how some of them went horribly unmet. I'd never considered hiring a party planner, even after going to some of Kenna's crazy beautiful parties. I figured it was only for people who wanted the most stylish, perfect events -- not for people like me who just wanted to gather friends and family together for a warm and beautiful celebration.

But now that I've agreed to lay out my little boy's party for Kenna's blog fans to dissect, I've become even more critical of how things went. To start, even though we did have a warm and beautiful celebration that everyone loved, the photos don't do it justice at all. And let's be honest, they're downright boring; even the cheat photos I styled up for this post aren't anywhere close to the cuteness of every single Kenna-photo in every other post. Then there are the things I had no idea I wouldn't have the juice to pull off. Just what things, you ask? Well, let's see:

I spent hours pre-party on cute little details, only to have no plan for how to do an equally cute set up day-of. I feel like my set ups were missing about three to five layers of cute. And I’m not wrong. I just flat ran out of time/energy/ideas. Even with all the extra prep I put into this party, starting weeks ahead, I still sputtered up to the finish line. Adorable mini trophies with twine and sticker detailing filled with blue sixlets? Check. Mini trophies hidden on a shelf until the moment I gave them out to children? Also check. Winner! Mini root beer and orange floats with mini paper straws and mini spoons? Check. Cute way to present them? Negatory. Mayday. Mayday. Eject!

Not only did I spend tons of valuable time pre-party, I spent all of my focus and energy pre-party. So the lunch spread was fabulous (thanks Dad for making sandwiches ALL morning), the house and yard were presentable (thanks Shannon-sister) and the decorations were adorable (Kenna, you are amazing), but every last drop of creativity was spent even before the party began. Did I have the presence of mind to snap a few pictures of the sweet party I had worked so hard to set up? Um, no. So all pics are courtesy of my husband, who would never even think that peanuts in a mini wagon is a very important thing to be photographed. Not his fault. Mine. All mine.

But even with the help of a legitimate party planner, I still managed to mismanage the décor. Did you know there is a vast difference between the utility of Scotch brand no-damage hooks and the Command brand? As in, one works and one doesn’t AT ALL? Kenna knows. She even told me. Did I listen? Well… I was at Target at the last minute and all they had was Command. So, no I didn’t listen. And because of it, all 14 of the custom painted, detailed (with pinstriping and name stickers!) hand-assembled biplanes my husband and I slaved over for weeks didn’t fly – literally, they were grounded to the counter rather than flying high in the coolest stuffed felt clouds imaginable (suspended by screw hooks that ate holes in my ceiling, by the way).

And the kicker…

My son slept through 2/3 of his own 2nd birthday party. He was up late the night before because I was working on décor, and he woke up early on party day to play with his cousins. With 20 minutes to go before party time, my boy was a screaming, dirt- and tear-smeared wreck. My husband had to drive him around town and tuck him in a minute before party time. If I had not spent so much time prepping, decorating and obsessing about the details of the party, I might have managed the small detail of making sure my boy had a full night's sleep before his own birthday party. Minor oversight. So the birthday boy was fashionably late to his own party. Great job, Mom.

With all of that said, my son’s Vintage Airplane Birthday Party was a sweet, smile-filled adorable party. It was a blast for the kids and the parents. And it was cute! Even if you can't tell from the photos. Who doesn’t love some good Cloud Blowing or a quick Cloud Scoot across the kitchen floor? Who isn’t excited to see a vintage mid-century set of View Masters with over 100 films (my great grandmother's). And the custom, “Sparks Are Meant to Fly” poster (remember, our last name is Sparks?) hanging behind the missing-a-few-layers-of-cuteness dessert table? Perfect (even if it wasn’t framed, Kenna). Of course it’s going to hang in my boy’s room for the next 10 years, and of course it will be framed, but getting a custom frame in time for the party? That detail was one thing that had to go if I was going to survive.

And for everything that went a bit haywire, there were scores of things that went right. We had enough indoor and outdoor seating, including my awesome vintage yellow couch, for our almost 50-person party. The food and candy, which was all 1930’s appropriate, looked and tasted fabulous, down to the last bitty red apple. My teal kitchen walls were the simplest, most attractive backdrop imaginable for Kenna’s big puffy felt clouds and sweet custom banner. The printables by Party On! Designs that Kenna assembled and sent to me were so perfect I cried when I opened the box. The orange and root beer floats were such a happy treat. I loved seeing the kids all lined up slurping them on the porch. They even brought the mini spoons home they loved them so much! (But do I have a good photo? Uh no). But best of all, and this is something I wouldn’t trade for anything, my son loved his airplane party. He had been looking forward to it for weeks, and to see the wonder in his face was worth it. What’s more, we didn’t have a house full of bored family and friends. EVERY person there had fun. Every. One.

If I’m completely honest, nobody who came to the party was judging me on whether our awesome biplane favors were suspended in the air or not. They were hugely impressed that we even did them. And to be even more honest, I'd rather have a poorly photographed fun party than a beautifully shot snooze fest. We all know those happen; I've even been to one before (not Kenna's). Still… I know the party could have been better.

On top of that, I read Kenna’s post a couple of days ago about adding up how much the party actually costs and seeing if it may have been worth it to spend that money on a party planner… And I have to admit, I spent enough to have afforded a Miss Party Mom dessert table, I’m sure of it. Eek!

Of course, I make myself feel better by saying that most of the big purchases (custom posters, EZ up canopy, market umbrella etc.) are investments and my family will use them over and over again… But then there’s that stress cost that has no receipt. If I had let someone else manage the favor bag printing, the candy and party favor shopping, the hours of online searching, of etsy trolling, if I had let someone else find and assemble mini trophies and mini floats and actually get them styled up all adorable… that someone else would have also shouldered the stress cost.

As it was, my mom got my dress ironed just in time and a lick of red lipstick can work wonders. Everything, including my family, got pulled together in the minutes leading up to the party, but I still can’t help wondering now… If I had hired a party planner, I may have had time to take some decent photos or actually put my son to bed the night before. I might have walked into my kitchen to see a perfectly formed squadron of biplanes flying overhead (suspended by Scotch no-damage hooks, no doubt). I might have had framed food labels and a cute little “See the World” saying for the View Master table. I might have had time to clean my fireplace or the porch… or myself. And wonder of wonders, I might have been able to pass off some of the stress and maybe even gain back some of that time that we all know is so valuable.

Maybe, just maybe. But you know, I’d never actually considered hiring a party planner until today.

What about you? Have you ever hired a party planner? Did it pay off or is the stress worth it?

In Party Recovery Until Further Notice,
Kenna: One of the perks (ok, the only perk) of being my blog editor is that of course I will hook you up with party decor! I ordered this adorable printables package from Party On! Designs, assembled it and shipped it off.
Angie: This stuff knocked my socks off (not to mention my guests'). Even better? The little aviator boy looks like Rand!
Angie: I had planned on whipping up some stuffed clouds myself, but how crazy is it when your guy friend's wife makes them for fun in her spare time?
Angie: You'll see these pieces again later.
Kenna: Miss Party Mom would NEVER let a child near a dessert table. Like, ever. The fact that Angie is not distressed in this pic shows me how calm a person she is.
Angie: One of my problems was that we needed the big table for lunch (this is halfway set up by the way), so our dessert table was in a completely different (not teal) room. Boo.
Kenna: See, she's married. Happily. One thing that makes me crack up about this picture is the difference between Shawn and me pre-party and these two. Let's just say you couldn't find a more opposite image of a couple before a party.
Angie: Who needs professional photography? This is a pretty clear pic of how relieved we are the house is ready.
Graphics by Party On! Designs
Angie: Getting real with the pre-party biplane assembly (kits were $1 apiece at Michael's), but we tricked them out with spray paint (in party palette colors, of course) and stickers. Boom!
Angie: The squadron. Rand's plane is designed to look like the invitations, of course!
Angie: Our vintage View Master set went on the pub table where only adults could access it. Perfect addition to the party. Custom poster by POSTERORAMA.
Angie: Some of our antiques with Kenna's props. No wonder we're friends.
Angie: Me attempting to set up the plain (yes, pun intended) dessert table. At least the cupcakes had toppers in them.  Custom poster by POSTERORAMA 
Angie: The birthday boy, fresh from his nap and sipping on a root beer float.
Angie: Cotton balls + slick kitchen floor = Cloud Blowing fun. It's the simple things.
Angie: And then there's Rand. Happy birthday, Son.


  1. You give me hope, Angie...

    1. Angie here: Thanks, Karissa. Hopefully by the time my kids are 18 and out of the house, I'll have learned enough to throw some pretty awesome parties for my husband and myself.

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  3. believe it or not, "my life's story" or my son's 1st birthday party story.
    i started planning for this party 5 months ahead!!! i did the menus food and desert, the designs, the streamers, the buntings the wall decorations, the table decoration the ceiling light decoration, i cooked the food and and and and , at 5 pm (almost half time from the my son's party started) i was still in my pjs without shower and guests were already siting and eating.
    it was a total mess, after grilling the main course, salmon filets, i just throw a jeans and a top, scotched my hair with gel and went out to start celebrating with my son.
    it's not a piece of cake, especially when the weather channels PROMISE u it's gonna be sunny and suddenly all the garden tents my husband set the day before just flew. the weather turned to cold icy cold, with a strong wind, and the day of the party i had to change all the party venue and put plastic tables that were in the garden up to the thrid floor in my parents dinner room/living room. it was crowdy but everybody was happy. my son was happy, and everybody just loved everything, i loved myself for doing all of it, although it lead to many stressful nights and days, and some childish fights with my husband... u know what i mean.
    but it was worth it,
    as for hiring a party planner, it is wise, but if i have the skills (creation, cooking) and i learned a lot on how to manage best my schedule, no party planner will put her heart more than a mother that's for sure.
    but a party planner will perfect all the above and the mother will enjoy the perfection.


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