Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Rules for Politely and Properly Attending and Throwing a Holiday Party

I was asked by our local Santa Barbara ParentClick to write a post for their website on the subject of Etiquette & Manners... Well ya don't have to ask me twice! I decided to make it season appropriate with a Holiday Party addition since I know a lot of people are gearing up to attend some form of party this next month- including yours truly! I researched this post quite a bit so if you don't agree with something... Too bad, you're out numbered because someone else thinks it too.


1.) Sending The Invite
I used to be opposed to sending online invitations but the more of them I get, the more I'm feeling outnumbered on this one. It seems that going digital with an invite might just be the future of invites, boo-hiss... Maybe because in this day and age with email at our finger tips- it's the quickest way to actually hear back from people?! (Oh- don't worry! We're getting to that nasty little 4 letter word you're all thinking of). So there, you have permission to Paperless Post and Evite away! However you choose to communicate you're hosting a party- just be sure you give people notice! Sending a "Save the Date" is the easiest way to do this. A December invite should never go out less than 3 weeks before the party date (preferably a month) and if doing a "Save the Date" you should be looking at 5-6 weeks out.

Card by Tiny Prints

2.) The RSVP
You get an invite- either paper or emailed... And of course, you're crazy busy- aren't we all? It's Christmas time which makes things extra busy and there's just plain not enough time in the day to get it all done... I get it! Sometimes when I get an invite some of these thoughts swirl through my mind... Who else is going, What other invites are coming... Do I have to spend a lot of money to attend... Would I rather be blogging or crafting than hanging out with these people... There are a LOT of reasons not to respond to an invite... And guess what? Unfortunately for you (and me), they're all rude. If there is an RSVP timeline, make note of it! No you shouldn't be RSVPing the day before the party! If you're infamous for losing invites- create a space this holiday season where you will put all of your invites: a cork board, magnet board, just somewhere you know they will be.

DO NOT text, email or call the host the week or God forbid the day of the party and say, "I know your party is soon but I lost the invite so I forgot the day, time and place." You'd be better off not attending and just faking your own death in my opinion. Nothing says, "you're not that important" than "I lost the invite and failed to put any of the info in my planner, phone, etc."

3.) The Hostess Gift
If someone is throwing a party and has invited you- you should by all means, thank them with a hostess gift. As in YES you should ignore the host that says, "Just bring yourself!"... Too many hosts have said that in years past and now the very gracious art of bringing the hostess a gift seems lost. In the same way you wouldn't dare attend a birthday party without a gift (unless they've specifically requested it... And even then I wouldn't listen) I encourage you to not show up to Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas or New Year's Party without something small, thoughtful and/or alcoholic. Ideas: High-end chocolate, favorite bottle of wine, personalized ornament, small potted plant. A note attached is always a classy addition so they don't forget who brought what- and will remember to invite you to their next bash of course.

4.) Gift Exchange Etiquette
There are quite a few ways to do gift exchanges... And with each one comes a slew of rules to follow. To be honest they can be downright confusing! I'm going to touch the two most obvious ways: White Elephant (aka The Yankee Swap) & Normal Gift Exchange (following a monetary value)... THESE ARE NOT TO BE CONFUSED.
  • White Elephant: Your goal is to make the other exchangers laugh, it is all about coming in over-the-top with THE most ridiculous thing you can find- or already own and have been dying to re-gift for this very occasion. In the end it is meant to be funny. Don't come in all over-the-top Michael Scott style with an iPod... Unless you're the boss and it's purposeful, then by all means, do. Just remember: big laughs. One year in my time at Mattel a co-worker of mine hand-bedazzled an amazingly awful bikini... Let's just say that thing was THE most sought after gift going around... And guess who go it... THIS GIRL BABY!

  • $25 Gift Exchange: Do not show up with a Jesus candle from the .99 Store thinking it will be ok because it's funny. If you go this route, Jesus better be carrying a $25 gift card to Chipotle... Do you feel me here? Stick to the monetary rule no matter how funny you think your gift is. You see, someone who put together a movie gift card basket (or iPod) may not think the fact that you found an actual white elephant statue for the gift exchange is all that funny... Trust me, I'm speaking from experience here.

5.) Arriving On Time and NOT Early
You know that saying about, "being early is on time, on time is late and late is just unacceptable?" Well, that doesn't apply to parties. Maybe to a job interview but to a party it's just down right annoying. You can ask any party guest that has ever tried to show up to a party of mine even 15 minutes early... I'm not exactly thrilled. Hosts and hostesses are working until the last possible second to ensure everything looks perfect, so don't stress them out with an early arrival! Stroll around the neighborhood looking at the lights for all I care, but don't dare knock on the door...

On another note, do not arrive more than 30 minutes late (I'm being generous here). Just try and be on time. A lot of effort has gone in to this party and it's just polite when people arrive on time.

6.) Day-of-Party Time Management
In the same way I'd hate for a guest to show up early... As the host of the party it is your job to make sure you're planning your decor set up/food arrival/guest arrival accordingly. Hosts can sometimes under estimate the amount of time that goes in to day-of set up. It can be a gruelingly long day (especially if you're doing it without a planner) and a lot of times this puts people way behind schedule. The worst case scenario is you're not ready when your guests arrive- OR your house isn't ready- both look sloppy. Don't make guests feel like they have to pitch in and help set up... That's your job as the hostess. And please, PLEASE- the day before, or morning of- allow time to either deep clean your home or have it professionally cleaned. Bathrooms should be spotless. It's just part of throwing a party- everything should look guest-ready and in tip-top shape.

7.) Control the Liquor
Look, we're all looking to have a fabulous night out, especially with a date like 12.13.14 quickly approaching us on a Saturday in December... I myself have been invited to a Christmas Party and I couldn't be more excited to get out with my husband and no kids! But people, have some manners! Do not show up tipsy. And do not get wasted. You can get tipsy while at the party... But do not leave the party wasted. Tipsy is still in control. Do not let yourself lose control of your words, your bodily fluids or your volume control- ESPECIALLY, I repeat especially if you are at a company party. There is always going to be one boss there who's not feeling "Little Miss (/Mr.) Loud & Drunk”.

8.) Your Email Can Wait
Nothing says, "I'd rather not be at your lame party" than being on your phone 1/2 of it. If you absolutely need to check your email then you should do so in the bathroom. If you want to get an Instagram photo up asap: snap it and upload... If you need to edit the photo and hashtag it to the moon and back, take a tinkle break.

9.) Time to Say Ba-Bye!
Don't overstay your welcome at Thanksgiving dinner, a Holiday Party or an Open House. Be aware of an end time and when people start leaving the party. Create an appropriate exit strategy yourself, thanking the host/hostess before of course. If you'd like to stick around and offer to help clean (especially appropriate for Thanksgiving) then genuinely offer that to the host and see if it's a welcomed gesture. Otherwise say your thank you's and goodbyes before the hostess puts on her robe and starts brushing her teeth.

10.) Thank You Notes
I know, I know... I'm getting crazy now! As with the RSVP and Hostess Gift it seems that the Thank You Note is at the top of this list of the "gracious lost arts"... Especially around the holidays! I'm not saying you have to send a thank you for every hostess gift you received but I am saying that if someone went out of their way to buy you something special... The most proper and polite thing to do is to thank them by taking the time to write a note and making sure they get it (writing it and leaving it in a pile does no good by the way).

No matter how busy you are, a handwritten (not texted, not emailed) thank you is the classiest way to show your gratitude... Don't forget this! A note goes a long way in making someone feel appreciated.

On the other side, if you've attended a holiday party- you should also consider sending a thank you note, or at the very least a follow up email, text or call within 24 hours of the party thanking the host for putting together something so splendid and being thoughtful enough to invite you.

Okay, now that we've got "the rules" out of the way... Remember to go shopping for something party-fabulous! By all means always show up to a holiday party dressed-to-impress... It's not everyday you get this opportunity!

You can consider than my bonus tip ;)

Enjoy the Holidays!

xo Party or Die xo

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How To Throw a Team Soccer Party in 5 Easy Steps!

As some of you know, this year my husband and I decided to coach my son's U6 (under 6 years) AYSO soccer team. Growing up in AYSO I've been really dying to do this for quite a while and this year, with my Saturday-free work schedule- it made perfect sense. We had a blast and I learned a lot about myself in the process- especially while my husband was gone in Egypt for 3 weeks and I had to run practice and coach the team on my own! Garnering the attention of 8 five year old boys is no easy task, that is for certain! I wouldn't trade this experience for anything and I look forward to it again in future years.

The Blue Lizards were not only amazing on the field (no seriously, we only lost one game- yes we kept score against the rules) but they also had some major team pride which we loved as coaches. When we decided on our name we didn't know our team color yet... But they DID NOT care. They were going to be the LIZARDS no matter what... And when we suggested "Blue Bellied Lizards" they just weren't feeling it... So Blue Lizards we were!

As a born crafter of course I was excited about the banner and team party, duh! Well I lost the banner battle... But I wasn't going to loose the team party battle!!

In my time as a party planner, I have never thrown a party that was as simple as this one... Which leads me to believe anyone can do it! On the front end I put in about 2 hours and the day of about 45 minutes. I was actually sitting down waiting for guests to arrive and listening to my entertainer-obsessed son ask me for an hour, "Is my team almost here?!"

In total this table cost me about $65 to create (not including the medals- which each player paid for). If you wanted to ask each player to chip in for a similarly styled table, I think asking $10 from each player is more than reasonable!

I am going to take you through the set-up of this table in 5 steps! Pulling off a quick and easy team table for an end-of-the-year soccer party (or a simple soccer birthday party) for less than 10 kids really shouldn't be too hard or break the budget...

1.) Use the team banner as your backdrop and the team picture for some table decor! Set up the banner the same way you would on the field and place a 6 foot table in front of it.

2.) Work with the team colors. I had a perfect table cloth- so of course I used it- but you can also use a solid colored queen size sheet or a heavy plastic table cloth will do (Smart & Final sells quality ones in most colors)... YES I just gave you permission to use plastic... But please avoid the .99 Store ones, please.

3.) Stocking the table with sweets... I suggest personalized soccer cookies, custom candy kabobs and coordinating cupcakes... See my vendor list for the talented shops I used! I provided black gable boxes with each child's name on them for them to take home their treats and medal home in.

4.) Printables! A small graphic package goes a long way! A simple "I <3 Soccer" banner, team logo cupcake picks and team player name labels go a long way in making your soccer party personal and fun.

5.) Balloons provide and big bang for a small cost! I used 6 total to rim the table... Give one to each kid as they leave to get rid of them!
Vendor List:
Styling: Miss Party Mom Event Planning, Santa Barbara Ca
Soccer Printables Kit: World Wide Party by Elena
Soccer Name Cookies: Creating Awesomenessity
Soccer Candy Kabobs: Sweets Indeed
Soccer Medals: Express Medals
Team Banner: FasteamBanners

xo Party or Die xo



Thursday, November 13, 2014

{Funky & Fun "Welcome to the World" Baby Shower} November 2014

I had the honor last weekend of collaborating on a Baby Shower for my friend Mimi and her soon-to-be 3rd baby boy. In terms of making close friends since I've moved to Santa Barbara... Mimi is my girl! Her son's Axel and Kaj have become Cormac and Birdie's little besties... So we hang out quite a bit.

{Coming Up With A Theme}
When Mimi and her husband Ethan found out they were having another boy I let them have a set of my BOY mylar balloons for their announcement photo... (I sell these in my Gender Reveal Box on Etsy)... When I saw the fabric Mimi used for the background photo I knew it was going to drive a baby shower theme somehow- it was just THAT good.

One thing I always like to take in to consideration when I'm doing a shower for a friend is what other party themes am I trying to shop for around the same time so that I can try and kill two birds with one stone. My son's party is in January and we're doing a pirate theme for him which I'm ready to cry about  SO excited about. I'd been planning on a heavy "map theme" to distract from add to the pirate theme ...And so I started brainstorming... Maps... Globes... Paired with that amazing mod atlas fabric and the fact that Mimi is from Sweden... (accent and all) and wa-lah!... "Welcome to the World".... A PERFECT baby shower theme for her that remarkably hasn't been totally played out yet. I was stoked by how organically the theme came together.

We wanted an outdoor shower because the theme just seemed to lend itself to that. I knew the beautiful outdoor area we were having it at was going to be heavy on trees but true to always I failed to take in to consideration how horribly the table would photograph due to the tree shadows. They were inescapable and I had to just be ok with it or else I was going to be dwelling on that instead of a fun shower... So I snapped a few shadow-y pics and moved on...

{Designing the Dessert Table}
One thing I've always loved is mixing prints. I've been mastering the art of print-mixing since my high school days and at this point if I see a dessert table without a couple of prints- I'm usually bored. I hate shabby chic... I hate all white... I like a lot of color, a little funk and tons of fun and detail. The more dessert tables I do, I learn to claim my own style and not whatever the current "dessert table trend" is... It's very liberating actually!

For the graphics on this shower I partnered up with Cara from One Swell Studio... She definitely took the theme to the next level with her "Welcome to the World" printables... I was so in love with everything she came up with and she totally got my vision.

Andrea from Paper + Pop was able to take the graphics and create a custom cake topper for me that matched perfectly with the table and graphics... It turned out awesome and I am so happy to know that I have someone who can make custom cake toppers and other party decor to match my party printables.

When I mentioned earlier I "collaborated" I actually stuck to decor only on this shower and asked a few of Mimi's other friends to bring the sweets to fill the dessert table... My main strength is being a party stylist so when throwing a shower for a friend (ie: not a paid project) I'm learning to give up more and more control so that my bank account doesn't scream, "WE THREW A SHOWER THIS MONTH"... Can I get an amen?

{DIY Favors}
I searched Pinterest high and low for some "Welcome to the World" favors that I could make but there was nothing I loved enough to recreate... Then one day I came across a bubblegum machine party favor and it sparked this idea: The Sixlet Globe Favor! I used glass 55mm ornaments (I'd recommend plastic) and filled them with green and blue Sixlets and then punched the top of the ornament in to a small ketchup cup... I was pretty proud of these, I must admit!

{Game Time}
One thing I did differently with this shower is I didn't do games... What I did instead was have guests fill out a sweet little "Wishes for Baby" page where they finished sentences like, "I hope you LOVE..._________" One Swell Studio designed these for me and they turned out adorable. Then I asked whoever wanted to share to do so. I've been seeing this trend more and more with different shower themes and I just love it- it adds the perfect touch of sentiment. It's also really fun to hear what guests wrote, for instance, Cormac filled in, "I hope you GROW...__________" with "plants". Classic.


xo Party or Die xo

{The Shower...}

Custom Cake Topper by Paper + Pop

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

{Birdie's "Whimsy Woodland Chic" 3rd Birthday Party} June 2014

I'm so excited to finally get this party up on my own blog! It was on Hostess with the Mostess last month and now I'm finally able to share it in it's entirety...

I loved creating this party- not only was it for my daughter but "we" chose a woodland theme and although I don't exactly love animals a lot (or at all), I LOVE woodland critter anything... And Birdie just loves animals... Did I really give birth to an animal lover?! Seriously though, is there anything cuter than little woodland baby animals? NO... Hence it being the perfect theme for both the birthday girl and her party planning momma who still has "theme say" until the 5th birthday party. (Yes, it's a new rule I've come up with since my kids are growing up and getting crazy opinionated...) Birdie's "Whimsy Woodland Chic" 3rd Birthday! Two happy gals.

{Side note: I've been collecting ceramic deer for like 5 years now- I have a nice little display on my living room shelf... These deer bring me pure joy. I used to love owls before deer and then they went all top-of-the-trend-charts on me and I had to shift my love to deer, squirrels and foxes. Now foxes are all, "Hey I wanna be trendy like the owl!" and I'm all, "WTH, why can't you cute little animals be happy outside the mainstream?!" Everyone wants their prime time in Urban Outfitters these days I swear...}

Back to the party... I knew I had to work with Elena from World Wide Party for my graphics. We've been working together for 2 years now and she does such an amazing job on my kid's birthday parties- I was so incredibly pleased with the adorable graphics she came up with... It was like she read my mind completely.

My friend Shauna from Poor Pitiful Pearl custom made patchwork dresses for Birdie and I to wear- these were some of the first things I purchased to get the party "feel" kicked off... I was so happy with the way they turned out and the vintage vibe they brought, I decided to add a lot of my vintage home decor to the party to compliment our dresses! The dessert table's backdrop turned out to have quite a few of my bedroom's wall hangings!

The party favors were some of my favorites that I’ve created yet. Each child got to choose a handmade felt critter ears or a felt crown & they looked adorable running around in their custom headpieces! Another favorite were the mini spray painted woodland animals — each was set on top of a mini wooden stump, and then placed inside a clear plastic “souvenir” box. As a take home for the parents we had “Birdie’s Homemade Trail Mix” which I put inside mason jars and topped with different colorful fabrics. All of these custom favors are now in my Miss Party Mom Etsy shop!

For the kid's seating area I set up a woodland-esque food table in our back neighbors side yard. The week of the party, a friend asked me if the kids would want a her children's old metal chair set... I took one look at it and gave a resounding YES! I spray painted all four pieces gold and was so happy to add them to my children's woodland seating area- they really added the "chic" look I was going for. For the table in this area I used a huge sheet of wood and draped it with a vintage daisy afghan I've had forever. The sweet fawn center piece (borrowed from Ace Hardware) lay right in the middle looking just adorable. I used wood palettes underneath the wood sheet and wooden stumps for the kids to sit on. I covered some of the stumps with vintage pillowcases to add in some floral and vintage prints to this area to keep that cohesive feel going between the two decorated spaces. Even though the lighting was pretty terrible at the kid's food table, somehow we managed to get a few really great photos of Birdie chatting with her party guests!

Even though food isn't totally in my wheel house, I tried to keep our "Critter Snacks" as "woodland-y" as possible with mini turkey sandwiches, pretzels, dried fruit, strawberry walnut salad, etc. The food table was kept in doors and I loved that is was something other than pizza or hot dogs (our two usuals!). My friends Jennifer and Lauren came down to help make sure the food wasn't touched by me (a sure party disaster!). I am always so thankful I have friends that are "foodies" and Hannah who can bake my lovely custom cookies... I think I'll stick to designing!

Another element I had to add in were small woodland stuffed animals because Birdie loves her stuffed animals. The month before the party we must have picked up 5 or 6 of them for the dessert table- from Ikea, the Santa Barbara Zoo, a camping store... It seemed like everywhere we went someone was selling a sweet little woodland plush!

In terms of set up- I have such fond memories of setting it all up and crafting like a mad women all week... Which is rare for me because I'm usually behind schedule and let's be honest, STRESSED! But this was actually pretty mellow because the party was in our backyard and I was able to get my "practice runs" the few days leading up which is vital to a smooth set up. I've bragged before that during "Party Week" for both of my kids, I have a pretty sweet deal worked out with my mother-in-law who takes the kids for a few days so I can finish everything up without loosing my mind with/on the child I'm actually throwing the party for.

During the party we had a woodland scavenger hunt where 30 kids ran around like crazy people trying to find a leaf, twig, snail, etc... It was great. I love a good scavenger hunt, always have.

Although this party was almost 6 months ago- it was such a sweet day. The birthday girl was feeling a little shy to start out- probably nap-deprived... But I am so glad she was because my photographer, Santa Barbara based Nicole Williams Photography got some of the sweetest photos out of her... I am still really needing to put one on canvas to add to our gallery wall.

I'll always think back on this day with a smile... I can't believe how much Birdie has grown and matured in less than 6 months... My baby isn't a baby anymore!

For "day of" pics you can search the hashtag: #birdieturnsthree on Instagram!

xo Party or Die xo

Vendor Credits:

– Party Stylist: Miss Party Mom Event Planning
– Photographer: Nicole Williams Photography
– Graphics/Printables: World Wide Party by Elena
– Cake & Cupcakes: Tasty Treats by Toto
– Felt Deer Cake Topper: Lovely Friend
– Pink Roses on Cake: Sweet Estelle’s Baking Shop
– Cookies: Hannah’s Cookies and Treats
– Birdie’s Dress: Poor Pitiful Pearl
Mom/Daughter Flower Crowns: Isabella's Boutique
– Matching Boys Critter Tees: Gnome Enterprises
– Felt Fox Mask: Opposite of Far
– Tassel Garland: Studio Mucci
– TeePee: Land of Nod

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