Browsing articles in "Party Ideas"
Sep 19, 2012

A Great Outdoors Surprise 30th for Jared & Justin!

Planning a surprise birthday for your significant other definitely has its challenges. The fact you can’t really plan anything at home because he/she is always around is half the battle. I certainly learned that I can definitely keep things a secret from my husband…haha. If you didn’t know, my husband is a twin. Him and his brother, Justin, were born just 16 minutes apart from each other. They’re very close and pretty much did everything together growing up, which included being in boy scouts. With that in mind, Justin’s wife, Amy, and I designed the ultimate camp-themed, great outdoors surprise 30th for them.

With a theme in mind, a limited budget and a strict guest list of 50 of their closest friends and family, we were set. To make my life easier, we hosted the party at Arianna’s Grill in Richmond. Even though the Italian food wasn’t in line with an outdoor theme, they do serve some damn good Italian food. Afterwards, the party continued at our house for more fun, yard games, drinks and late night s’mores. Take a look at all the details that were involved in surprising Jared and Justin. Special thanks to our helpers — Sharon, Sheila, Emily and Rachel — and for everyone else keeping it a secret since May! Amy and I couldn’t have done it without you!

The decorations were pretty important in this camp-themed party. I was able to get everything on the Internet. I shipped items to my work and stacked them under my desk…haha. I really looked like a hoarder. The first thing I purchased were these Chinese Moon Light lanterns for $40 off Etsy. I swear, Etsy has got to be the most wonderful thing on the Internet. These lanterns were used as part of the centerpieces.

To go along with the lanterns, I cut out fabric squares out of a woman’s wool skirt I found at The Salvation Army for $3. Can you believe it?! The skirt was large enough to cut out 5 large squares for the tables. I liked the rustic colors on the fabric, a perfect platform for the colorful lanterns. I also purchased an 11-oz bag of dark green softened and preserved Reindeer moss from Save-on-Crafts for $11.

Pine cones were actually a lot more difficult to find at a store like Michael’s since they weren’t in stock yet. They might be now. So, I had to buy them through Save-on-Crafts as well, which was fine because I think it was slightly cheaper. I got 1 bag of the Lodgepole pine cones, which were the smaller pine cones, and 2 bags of the Ponderosa pine cones, bigger pine cones, at $4 a bag.

I repurposed some of birch candle holders from our wedding and included them in the centerpieces. The small birch card holders were used for the food, drink and s’mores table. I designed little signs using a free font I downloaded online called Pinewood. The signs said “Don’t feed the bears” for the food, “Happy trails” for the drinks and “You wanna s’more?” for the s’mores. The birch just worked right into the woodsy theme.

The birthday sign utilized the same Pinewood font that were used throughout the signs and s’mores tags. With 2 great friends, Rachel and Emily helped cut them out the letters and helped me assemble them onto jute twine. They hung it at the entrance of the room.

So these were the wonderful, earthy and outdoorsy centerpieces. Each centerpiece had a single lantern adorned with pinecones, birch candles, moss and a photo of the boys. They were just perfect! I’m so happy they turned out great!

For more decoration, I blew up a photo of Justin and Jared while they were backpacking in New Mexico during their boyscout days. I scanned their photo and got it printed through Costco as a 16×20. We also hung up childhood photos of the boys all around the room. We got chocolate and dark green balloons from Kroger and placed them at the gift tables.

Lets move our attention to the birthday cake. How adorable is it! We ordered the actual sheet cake, half devils and half yellow, through Martin’s. It was only $45! Not bad at all. For such a cheap cake, it pretty yummy. As for the camp topper, I ordered it through an Etsy vendor called Parker’s Flour Patch. She was great to work with. She packaged all the pieces so carefully and even though a piece of the tent cracked, I was able to use water to put it back on. No one noticed a thing! I just love the two faces of the boys, the tent, fire and s’mores on a stick. It was so awesome!

Jared and I have eaten at Arianna’s numerous times, which is a big reason why we ended up hosting the party there. I wasn’t new to any of their food so I already had in mind what to order for a hungry crowd. I had pre-ordered off the menu making it more affordable in the long run. Most restaurants have a special menu for large parties or sometimes you have to pay per head, which ends up being super costly. We didn’t have that kind of money so we stuck with some of our favorites. We got 5 bruschette al pomodoro (aka bruschetta) appetizers, 5 orders of toasted ravioli, 8 philly steak subs and 6 cheese and pepperoni pizzas. It was just enough food for 50 people. We even had half a pizza left for late-night munchies.

As a thank you to our guests for coming to the party, we made s’mores packages. My sister was gracious enough to do assemble them the morning of. She included 2 graham crackers, 1 Hershey bar and 1 marshmallow into a clear plastic bag. She tied them with butcher’s twine and hung a tag that I designed that said, “Take home for s’more fun! Thanks for coming!” These certainly were a hit because at the after party, we started a fire in our chiminea roasted some s’mores! I think I had too many for my own good :)

Photo of us roasting s’mores at the end of the night! I had convinced Jared to buy a chiminea the week before. Little did he know I had a plan in mind :)

So that wraps up our surprise birthday for Jared and Justin. All the secret planning and running around was totally worth it. The boys had so much fun. I know I did! I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all for traveling near and far to attend Jared & Justin’s surprise party. The boys had NO IDEA and were completely shocked. I know they felt the love. It was one of the best days and I know the boys were so happy and grateful to see every single person that day. Totally meant a lot to them. Thank you!

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Jun 4, 2012

Sara & Bryan’s Handmade Vintage Wedding

Meet the newly Mr. & Mrs. Sara & Bryan whose wedding we had the honor of attending several weeks ago. Let me just tell you how freakin’ lovely and adorable this wedding was. Imagine going on a wedding blog like Green Wedding Shoes or Once Wed and picturing this wedding on there. Everything about it was so personalized, it was damn impressive. Lets take a look at all the handmade details the bride and groom put together for their friends and family.

Entrance: The wedding took place at the bride’s parents’ home. As you walk towards the house, you’re greeted with just some wonderful touches right off the bat. On a table, the bride placed turquoise Mason jars with a variety of bright and colorful flowers on a floral print linen. She also made a “Bryan & Sara” embroidered sign hung on a tree trunk, as well as, a “Welcome” sign in gold glitter letters. The DIY fan programs, ideal for a hot day, were placed in an old suitcase. Family photos were displayed in vintage frames on an old desk. Gifts could be placed in a wheel barrel of sorts that was covered with a quilt. Lace was hung in embroidery hoops off to the side. Seriously, there wasn’t anything Sara missed!

Ceremony: The ceremony was set off to one side of the property where the two said their vows. A bright red-orange, Indian patterned rug was placed at the foot of their handmade wooden altar. The ceremony was very sincere and sweet. It was short, which was nice because the sun was right on top of us. However, the vows and simplicity of it all, was very tender and emotional. They even had their pet dog walk around the ceremony. So cute!

Reception: After the ceremony, guests congregated under the tent where round tables were set up. Each table was covered in white linens and some had fabric or burlap overlays. Wine bottles were covered in yarn adding more color to the table. They also included a disposable camera with “Lets Play I Spy” game. The flowers were just so simple, carefree and colorful. Around the main centerpiece were smaller bottles with a single flower in each. The reception was very rustic and homey, which was very fitting because it was at a family home. I thought the décor was absolutely perfect.

Beverages: Guests could help themselves to all the beer and wine they could drink! The couple purchased three kegs — Fat Tire, Legend Brown and Miller Lite — and placed them in a canoe filled with ice. I drank white wine most of the time since the weather was warm. But, by the time I tried getting a beer, the kegs had been kicked! Missed my chance of drinking really good beer at a wedding…darn! Haha!

Food: And the food was served! I love the chalkboard frame Sara created to display the menu. Guests helped themselves to a buffet-style meal. Wooden disposable utensils and plastic plates were set on the table. Delicious food from steamed spiced shrimp to green salad with orange ginger dressing were served, which were my favorite items on the menu. Towards the end of the night after more drinking and some dancing, I definitely found myself at the buffet table eating more spiced shrimp…haha.

Cake: Seriously, one of the best slices of cake I’ve had at a wedding. It was homemade, moist, flavorful and not overly sweet with the icing and raspberry filling. The slice I got was practically the size of my head. Couldn’t finish it all, but that’s why I have Jared. He ate the rest of my slice, as well as, a slice of apple and key lime pie that were also served.

Style: Bryan and Sara’s style was totally them. Bryan looked cool with his black Raybans, blue plaid shirt, linen vest and khaki pants. Sara was a Greek goddess with her flowy off-white dress, hair loosely braided to the side, turquoise & gold earrings and red shoes. They were rocking it that night and there was nothing I didn’t love.

Sendoff: Sparklers and a scooter. Have you ever seen a more perfect combination? I loved it. I thought this was so personal and completely them. Bryan was cheesin’ from ear to ear, and so was Sara. I honestly think this was one of my favorite parts of the wedding.

Thanks so much Sara & Bryan for allowing me to share your beautiful wedding with my PTT readers! I know I didn’t showcase every single detail, but I was having too much of a good time :) Your wedding was one of my favorites that I’ve ever experienced. You guys did such a wonderful job on all the little details. I love when couples take the time to showcase their personality and style through the décor. Makes it memorable and special. Bellissimo!

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May 22, 2012

A Sweet and Southern Welcome Party

When I get party submissions from readers, I get so jealous. Case in point, this Sweet Southern Welcome Party, just submitted by Meghan and her team at OFD Consulting. I know you’ve seen her parties here before. Just last winter, Meghan submitted “A Winter Wonderland Holiday Cookie Box Social” and last May, I attended her “A Very Royal Wedding Viewing Party.” Well, she did it again with this Welcome Party for wedding expert Blaithin O’Reilley Murphy all the way from Ireland! Blaithin was a keynote speaker for her wedding marketing workshop called Illuminate. To welcome Blaithin to Virginia, Meghan and Ariana, her stylish partner in crime, themed the party to center around the South and welcomed her in style to Richmond.

Ariana used a navy and yellow color scheme with DIY projects including a doily garland (spray painted to match the party), a repurposed thrift store window for the drink/food menu, an elaborate dessert display set up on top of a desk created from a vintage door, polka dots made from paint chips, and food signs in white frames to match the linens. DIY heaven! Love it all!

A bona fide hit of the evening were the Sweet Tea Lollipops from Mihow on Etsy. Check out her shop!

Located in the corner of the dining room was an old window placed above an old wine barrel. If you look closely enough, the menu was written on the glass panels of the window. Very creative. I see a lot of this done at weddings when brides actually write the seating chart on these old windows. With the addition of a sweet pop of color from the yellow flower, this menu board area is quite attractive.

Love Meghan’s parties because she always have plenty of beverages for guests. The drinks for the evening included sweet tea (with the option to add Firefly Vodka to it…sign me up!), lemonade and Horton’s Cabernet France, a personal favorite of Meghan’s. Now this is my kind of bar area. Look how nice this bar area is put together. Love how the sweet tea and lemonade are both in beverage dispensers. You can find inexpensive ones at those bargain shops like Ross or TJ Maxx, but most likely Bed, Bath & Beyond.

I love mason jars! For my next party, I’ll definitely invest in a case or two. Just adds character to every event. The straws are pretty popular, too. They come in a variety of color and can easily be purchased anywhere online.

The simplicity of the flowers are just so delicate and pretty. Placed in milk-white vases, they go great with the pale yellow tablecloth and the other decoration.

Last, but not least, the barbecue! Here, they set up an area with buns in mini bushel baskets, yellow plates, napkins, sauce and wooden utensils. Great spread to get guests organized before they get to the goods.

The menu was an easy decision for them. Q Barbecue is a regular “guest” at their parties. Blaithin, their special guest, had never eaten Pork BBQ or Macaroni and Cheese, so this was the perfect introduction to Virginia.

Friends at the welcome party. The party planner is Meghan in the right photo in blue. Thanks so much, Meghan for submitting your party to Pretty Tasty Things! Your parties are always so beautiful and whimsical, a true inspiration for anyone planning a party. I know I found some great ideas for my next event, especially recommendations on some local vendors. Thanks!

Here are the special vendors that made it happen:
Catering: Q Barbeque
Linens: Classic Party Rentals
Flowers: Coleman Flowers
Straws: Shop Sweet LuLu
Sweet Tea Lollipops: Lollipops by Mihow
Pies: Westhampton Bakery
DIY Projects: OFD Consulting
Wooden utensils: Webstaurant
Mason Jars: Elegantly Yours Events
Plates/Napkins: Target
Wine: Horton Vineyards

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Apr 26, 2012

First Canfield Beer Olympics!

If you enjoy drinking copious amounts of beer while competing in yard games, then this is for you. Jared and I hosted the first “Canfield Beer Olympics” in honor of the summer games and for the honest reason of just because. Technically, it was my idea since my best friend from college was visiting for the weekend. We held Beer Olympics during our senior year at JMU and it was utterly ridiculous. Lets just say, I ended up in the creek tossing a yearbook in the water. LOL. This time around, we were a little older and wiser so there was no falling in the creek or tossing around books. But, it was still loads of fun with some friends. I also came to the realization that I’m not as young as I use to be, and drinking beer fast is not my forte.

I seriously went all out with a handmade Olympic rings and “Canfield Olympics” sign courtesy of Jenny. We prepped the yard with tables, got all the materials out, printed out the games/rules on my clipboard and got the medals ready for the winners. Oh yes, when I throw an event, I go all out. Paper for the rings were from Dollar Tree. Medals from Party City.

If you’re interested in hosting a Beer Olympics at your home, definitely keep it outdoors. Beer on hardwood floor is not a good idea. Have a variety of games that doesn’t involve TOO much drinking. Lets be real here. You don’t want people puking. Invest in a keg and have some can reserves in the fridge. We started around 3:30pm and the keg was kicked by 7 or so. Also, we got a keg of PBR. Go for the cheap, but still drinkable stuff. Last but not least, stick to your house rules. Be loud, if you need to. It makes it easier if you have a game plan and that you stick to them. Now, lets take a look at the games we played:

1. Straw Sippin’ Beer Tray (Team Race): This was the first game, which was probably a good idea since it was a lot harder than you think. This game is a timed-relay challenge. The first team member must drink an ice cube tray full of beer with a regulation-size straw before the next team member begins. The team to complete the race the quickest wins this event.

2. Flip Cup (Team Race): We played this bracket-style. Since we had four teams, 2 teams would compete against each other in a best out of five in the first round. The winners of round one moves on to the championship round.

3. Egg Toss (Partner Race): Each player pairs up with a designated partner from their team. Partners line up across from each other at the top of the yard. Start about a foot away and toss the egg to your partner with the right hand while the left hand is holding a beer. The partner tosses back the egg. After everyone has completed that first toss, the back partner takes a few steps back and the tossing continues. At one point someone will drop their egg. Once that happens they are out of the game and they have to chug a beer.

4. Survivor Flip Cup (Individual Challenge): The rain came and we moved inside to the side-covered porch to play my favorite game, Survivor Flip Cup! Unfortunately, I didn’t last very long, but it was still my favorite. This is like flip cup, but every man for themselves. No teams. Chug, flip the cup and then raise hands. Last person to raise their hands are out. Continues on until you have a winner! Shout-out to Jared for being the ultimate Survivor Flip Cup champ!

5. Beer Pong (Team Race): Last, but not least, Beer Pong. Played bracket-style as well. My house rules were, no bounce, girls can blow and rack at 3-2-1. At that point, I had enough beer and didn’t play. Since this was the fifth game, it was more casual. People were just chilling and watching. I usually play with 6 cups per side, but as you see in the image, that’s clearly not 6 cups. Some teams were playing a very different style of beer pong called Chuck Norris…haha.

Also, had Dizzy Bats ready to play, but no one really wanted to! Incase you wanted to include this in your Beer Olympics, here are the rules: Chug a beer. Run to your bat across the lawn. Spin around the bat three times and then run back to the end of the yard. Each member of the team must compete. Quickest to complete the race wins.

Congratulations to Team Sticky! Beau, Scott, Kyle and Bartos definitely killed it winning three of the the five events becoming the ultimate Beer Olympic Champs! As a prize, they got beer mugs I got from the Dollar Tree :) Thanks everyone for coming out. Hope you had a blast!

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Dec 28, 2011

Party Inspiration: A Winter Wonderland Holiday Cookie Box Social

I know the holidays are sadly over, but I have one last holiday party inspiration I am super excited to show you exclusively on Pretty Tasty Things. Ariana Ewing and Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting based here in Richmond, Virginia designed this impeccably beautiful and crafty holiday cookie box social this season. It’s just insane how everything from the DIY touches to the color scheme was put together so perfectly.

According to Meghan, this cookie exchange party is an annual tradition with her friends. In her words, the party itself came from humble beginnings. I held one my first year out of college in my new city of Richmond with what I imagine to be about a $25 budget. The decor was paper chains made from construction paper and I believe the menu consisted of chips and salsa. The party is truly proof that the best part will always be the party goers themselves. Although, I’m happy to say that the menu has gotten much better over the years. We normally spend the first hour visiting and then dive into the cookie exchange itself with everyone introducing themselves and telling us about their recipe. Everyone then walks around and grabs cookies until they’re gone. I ask all guests to bring copies of their recipes, which comes in handy.

Lets take a look at all the wonderful details!

Ariana designed all the details for the social. She said she found inspiration in everything and everywhere especially gathering ideas from Pinterest, a virtual pinboard that lets you organize and share things you love from the web. She took her favorite photos and created an inspiration board that would help her stay on track of exactly what her vision was. In her words, I chose a sort of winter wonderland theme with touches of peacock blue, silver, white and touches of grey to use throughout. I wanted the guests to feel as though it was a departure from the traditional with the color scheme, touches of DIY and glamour mixed in, but I did not want to stray too far away from the holiday feel.

According to Ariana, yarn is the new up and comer in the wedding and event planning décor. The trees are made from styrofoam cones with yarn wrapped around and secured with a hot glue gun. For an added whimsical touch, pom poms where added in white and silver as ornaments. Silver and turquoise ornament balls were added as accents.

I just love the pom-poms on top of the yarn tree!

A wine barrel? I need me one of those!

To create the tree skirt and table runner, they purchased the fabric from U-Fab. They selected a grey and white chevron print, which is very hot this season. The table runner was made using No Sew tape and excess fabric was used to drape around the bottom of the tree.

The fireplace. Man-oh-man. Isn’t this gorgeous? Above the fireplace they decided to take a tree branch and dust it with white and silver spray paint. It was then hung from the ceiling, dripping in sparkly ornaments. I just love the branch above the fireplace, it’s a beautiful piece of art! Bunting was strung across the fireplace easily made from gorgeous scrapbooking paper and ribbon.

In front of the fireplace, a hot chocolate bar was set up. It’s always the main beverage at their cookie social parties and this year, Meghan brought back more chocolate from Murphy’s Ice Cream in Dingle, Ireland. It was a huge hit with the guests and luckily, they have enough for next year’s party as well.

An array of appetizers and desserts were served along side all the cookies and desserts. My favorite appetizer I see are the tater tots, which according to Meghan, pays homage to the weekly happy hour started with her work friends at Maymont back in the day. Her favorite spot for the best tots are, of course, Sticky Rice!

Special thanks to Ariana and Meghan for submitting their seriously fabulous holiday cookie box social! You ladies certainly outdid yourselves. Stay tuned later this week for Meghan’s Spicy Pepper Cookies she prepared for her social!

Design: Ariana Ewing, OFD Consulting
Cookies: Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting
Photos: Travis Ely
Fabric: U-fab
Craft Supplies: Michaels, Ikea and Hobby Lobby

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