Backyard Brunch Baby Shower

Baby showers are special. They provide an occasion for everyone who loves a certain new mama to come together and celebrate her and the very much loved little life inside of said new mama. When it came time to plan my baby shower, I knew exactly what I wanted. (I know, I know — it’s sort of crazy to plan your own baby shower, but it has to be expected given my profession, right?!)

There are fewer things in life I enjoy more than spending time in the backyard I grew up in, eating brunch and good cake, and enjoying the company of my closest friends and family. Thus, the backyard brunch baby shower was born! I’m going to give you the skinny on how to create and execute this shower concept yourself, but first…

A huge, heartfelt thank-you to all of the lovely women in my family who spent so much time and poured so much love into hosting this shower for me, and also to all of my wonderfully fabulous friends who came to celebrate Baby (not to mention spoil him rotten!).

The Location

Given the fact that my grandmother’s yard is large and in pristine condition, it was a no-brainer to host the shower there. If you don’t have access to such a location, consider a pretty park or open space in your area. Most will allow you to rent out a certain area for a small fee.

The Menu

Although there are a million ways to do brunch (and all are absolutely delicious), our menu consisted of:

Quiche (one veggie and cheese, one meat and cheese)

Hash brown cupcakes (bake shredded hash browns into cupcake liners to make a brunch favorite easier to serve)

Fruit salad

Belgium waffles complete with a toppings bar (strawberries, whipped cream, syrup, chocolate chips…the options are endless!)

A delicious white cake with raspberry filling

And to drink, sparkling orange juice and cucumber water (so refreshing!)

The Color Scheme/Theme

I wanted to keep the shower’s colors consistent with baby’s nursery, so opted for a muted palette of grey, white and mint green that had an inherent vintage feel. I understand not everyone digs grey for a baby shower, however. Sticking with colors and a theme that you love will keep your shower unique and personal!

The Decor

To keep all guests together and encourage active mingling, I opted for one long banquet table, covered in grey linens and loaded with mix and match vases, “baby” potted succulents and candles down the center. The vases were filled with various single stems of flowers, which played to the vintage aesthetic (and were very cost-efficient, too!).

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Thankfully, my grandma had enough china covered in a pretty rose pattern, pretty water goblets and vintage silverware to accommodate all of our guests, but had she not I would have rented mix and matched china and the other necessities from a local vendor. The food table was covered in lace, and featured a fun and playful assortment of vintage serving dishes, along with one statement floral arrangement.

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The Special Touches

I worked with the fabulous givewithJOY to create a few special touches that really made my shower feel like me. Based on my theme and colors, she created a banner that read “mama” for my chair, food flags for marking the quiche, a banner for the cake that shared baby’s name with all of my guests, and “Wishes for Baby” cards that provided both entertainment for the shower, and also sweet keepsakes for baby.

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Since I have baby on the brain, I’d love to hear from you! Are you planning a baby shower for someone? Did you absolutely love your baby shower? Feel free to share what made it special by commenting on this post!

Life is Sweet!

All of life’s sweet moments (both large and little) deserve something equally as sweet for celebration! One of my favorite things to do when something worth commemorating occurs is indulge in a little dessert.

For fellow sweet-tooths, the fact that dessert bars at events have become all the rage is fantastic news! Gone are the days when a cake is the only go-to sugary selection — although cake is still delicious, and there are some stellar bakeries that make not only tasty but absolutely beautiful versions! As I sit here and enjoy a brownie (no occasion, mind you), I wanted to blog about my top five favorite treats that make for the perfect dessert (or addition to a dessert bar) at weddings and other social celebrations.

Dessert Fondue

I guess my parents instilled in me at a young age the fact that fondue is both delicious and special. There would literally be one night each year — New Year’s Eve — that my mom would break out the fondue set, and it was magical! I love incorporating this delightful treat into events, and really — who doesn’t love dipping juicy fruit or candy bar bites into melted chocolate, caramel or marshmallow?

Donuts

If you’re like me, you don’t eat donuts often — but when you do, oh boy are they delicious! Donuts are quickly becoming the next cupcake, as great bakers are dressing them up to create gourmet masterpieces. Consider adding this scrumptious goodie to your dessert buffet, and I assure you guests will devour them!

Ice Cream

Never considered ice cream as a catered food? Think again! There are plenty of companies and caterers who will provide your guests with a lip-smacking assortment of ice cream flavors (and toppings!), all sure to please and be a truly fun food experience.

S’mores Station

If you live in Colorado, you have likely camped — and certainly if you’ve camped, you’ve roasted s’mores before. Plan a s’mores station for your event, complete with various types of grahams and chocolate options. This is a great interactive outdoor activity, and will certainly leave guests entertained and satiated.

Grandma’s Signature

We all have that one dessert that has been a family favorite for years. Regardless of who you are, it’s likely something classic and delectable that quite literally nothing could top, no matter how fancy or expensive. Grandma’s pecan pie or mom’s chocolate chip cookies are always a surefire hit when included in dessert buffets, and I promise when you ask grandma or mom to bake her specialty for your special day, she’ll be thrilled!

Share your sweet stories! What dessert(s) did you have at your special event?

Details, Details: Guestbook Alternatives

Last week, I blogged about imaginative alternatives to standard event table numbers. This week, I thought I’d tackle another creative detail that’s often passed over or underdeveloped:

The Guestbook

Having a guestbook (in some form) is especially important at weddings and other personal affairs, such as showers and anniversary celebrations. It functions to capture the name of each and every person who was significant enough to be there (and sometimes even a special message from them). This is why I think it’s best to have something guests can sign that won’t collect dust as it sits on a shelf, in a box, or at the back of a closet after the event. Following are some out-of-the-book ideas that will function as a guestbook, while creating a true keepsake:

1. Find a large, decorative chalkboard (or make a DIY project out of it!), and ask guests to sign and share their words of wisdom here. Once the event is over, preserve these precious messages with glass.

2. Take blank puzzle pieces made of heavy (but pretty) card stock or wood, and ask guests to each sign a piece. Once the event is over, assemble the puzzle and frame it. Tip: Search Etsy for blank puzzle pieces — you’ll find various handmade and unique options!

3. Ask guests to sign pre-cut pieces of fabric at your event, and transform them into a quilt afterwards. If the sewing machine isn’t your specialty, ask a friend or family member with stitching skills to help!

4. Collect postcards from any meaningful place (or places), and ask guests to leave a special message on one as you embark on a new journey. For a bit of added fun, self-address and stamp each postcard before the event, and ask guests to mail them — today, tomorrow or a year from now!

5. Ask guests to take photos (either Polaroid or from a photo booth) of themselves, adding truly personalized well wishes to each photo. Frame the collection of images filled with written love for a unique and meaningful piece of wall art!

These are just a few of the limitless options for upgrading your event’s guestbook. Most importantly, make it you! Guests can really sign anything that’s tangible, and most tangible items can be clustered or framed to fashion a creative keepsake. For a vineyard-themed wedding — wine corks, for music-lovers — a guitar, for those who love travel — a map or globe…

What ideas do you have for innovative and creative guestbooks?

Stay tuned for next week’s Creative Detail #3: Escort Card Display Upgrade!

Wordless Wednesday: 12.12.12

StreamersThis is so beautiful — the epitome of romantic bohemian chic. It’s a gorgeous way to distinguish the bride and groom (or guest of honor) at an event, but even more than that, I love these mixed ribbon streamers. Wouldn’t they be pretty as decoration for a wedding ceremony, a dessert table backdrop at a bridal or baby shower — or any other event space that needs a little whimsy?!

Photograph by Joey Kennedy Photography.

Details, Details: A New Take on Event Table Numbers

If you were to ask me what event planning really boils down to, I’d say the answer is easy. Details — both creative and logistical. The details are what make an event one to remember, and the planning so excitingly complicated. Today marks the kick-off of a 6-week series on event details that are often either not fully developed, or worse — forgotten about entirely. First, the creative details:

Table Numbers

Most event venues include the use of standard printed table numbers (often black numbers on white paper or plastic) and stanchions (metal bars that hold table numbers). While the use of these is easy, there are so many creative ways to mark event tables that can carry through a theme, or be personalized to the occasion being celebrated.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words (and Even More Memories!)

Nothing makes an event more unique and special than photos of the person or people who are being celebrated that day! I love the use of engagement photos as table numbers at a wedding, ultrasound or growing belly photos as table numbers at a baby shower, or pictures of a couple’s life together as table numbers for their special anniversary celebration. If you plan in advance, you can incorporate actual numbers (made of fabric, painted wood, etc.) in photos (this works especially well for engagement photos), or you can be crafty and add numbers (cut from fabric, paper, etc.) to photos already taken.

Freestanding Numerals

Most craft stores carry actual numbers of various sizes made of wood or cardboard that are the perfect base for a creative transformation! These can be painted, polished, distressed, wrapped in wire, covered in moss, bejeweled — you name it — to create a functional and beautiful addition to an event’s tablescape.

Creatively Framed

Start with fun frames — either all the same or eclectically different — and go from there! Some of my favorite uses of frames as table numbers include utilizing cork board, fabric or chalkboard paint as a base. Add numbers in buttons, a contrasting fabric or chalk (respectively) for a unique and theme-carrying display!

Stay tuned for next week’s Creative Detail #2: Alternatives to The Guest Book!

What event details do you feel are often forgotten about?! I’d love to address them in an upcoming blog post!

Oh, Baby! The Big Reveal

A lot of energy and love go into planning a baby shower — from the decor to the delectables, every last detail should be just as perfect as the little one in mama’s belly. Recently, expectant couples have been utilizing the baby shower a bit differently — oftentimes as joint celebration, and therefore an optimal opportunity for the big reveal (baby’s gender)! Following are a few fun, interactive (guests have their guess!), and perhaps unexpected ways for couples to share the big secret.

About to Pop!

As guests arrive, ask them to either add a blue gumball to one decorative jar, or a pink gumball to another — obviously based on their guess as to whether the bun in the oven is a boy or girl. When glowing mama and proud papa are ready to share their secret with the world, they should each discreetly pop one of the correct-colored gumballs in, chew, and exhibit their blue or pink blown bubbles to guests on a 1-2-3 count turnaround! Can you imagine the priceless photos this would create?!

Up, Up and Away!

On the baby shower invite, ask guests to wrap their gifts according to whether they believe baby to be a boy or girl — pink or blue. After the expectant parents have opened all their gifts, there’s a large one left in the corner wrapped in pink and blue (what could it be?!). Upon opening this gift, balloons of baby’s corresponding color float out and fill the room for a reveal that will leave guests soaring with delight!

Bow or Bow Tie?

Buy plenty of bow ties and hair bows for all guests who will be in attendance, and ask each one to don the respective accessory, depending on their gender guess. P.S. It doesn’t matter if a man is wearing a hair bow, or a woman a bow tie — it’s all a fun part of the surprise! When it’s time to share the big news, gather all guests in one area, and have mom and dad come out dressed in the appropriate bow version. Ta-da!

I know there are so many wonderfully imaginative planners and parents out there — how did you (or would you) reveal baby’s gender? I’d love to know!