October 20th, 2014 | Comments

HOLIDAY PHOTO CARDS | NEW DESIGNS & SAVE 20%

preppy modern christmas photo cards from wh hostessIt’s always an exciting day around here when we officially “launch” our holiday collection.  It’s no secret that I love a good party (in fact, we celebrated my son’s 1st birthday yesterday!  more to come on that soon….), but when October rolls around, we kick into holiday gear around here.  Personalized gifts at great price points (perfect for teachers, hostess gifts, and stocking stuffers), amazing packaging ideas for gifts (gift stickers, foil gift tags, foil cello bags, and personalized cookie tins, just to name a few), and my personal favorite….our holiday photo cards.

I always consider it an honor to design my clients Christmas cards – to be trusted with their family photos and creating a design (either from our collection or custom) that perfectly suits their family – it’s a pretty fantastic job!

This year, we revamped our holiday card collection, and I’m thrilled to share it with you today.  Don’t worry, we kept some of our favorites from over the years, but we gave them a little update and added in about 30 new designs!  They are fresh, preppy, modern, updated….but yet still have that classic feel that resonates so deeply with me.  Whether you are looking for classic red & green, or super colorful & preppy, or clean & crisp – there are options for everyone!

Here’s where it gets fun…..  This year, all of our holiday cards are offered as double-sided. We were able to lower our prices, and give you way more bang for your buck!  Offering you a gorgeous, beautifully printed card, with your choice of customization on the back.  You can select from either the coordinating patterned back, or from one of our 9 different collage back options, giving you the opportunity to showcase more pictures of your family.  Oh, and PS – many, many of our designs are now offered in multiple color ways!  Want something custom? Absolutely!  Want to add gold foil accents to your card? Absolutely!

Here are just a few of my favorite designs…..

preppy modern christmas photo cards from wh hostessAnd here are the different collage photo back options…..

photo back options blog postTo celebrate the launch of our holiday collection, we are offering you a 20% discount on your order if placed before October 31, 2014.  Using the code HOLIDAY2014, it’s the perfect time to place your holiday card order, get a jump start on gift giving or order your personalized gift tags.  Happy Shopping!DISCOUNT

October 7th, 2014 | Comments

PARTY-PLANNING | GRUMPY CAT PARTY DECOR

grumpy cat halloween party decorationsToday, I am so excited to announce my partnership with Friskies and Petsmart to throw a Grumpy Cat themed Halloween party for my friends and family.  Have you ever seen The Grumpy Cat?  He’s HILARIOUS and my little friends LOVE him.  So I was thrilled with the opportunity to design a party that I know they will get a kick out of.  Over the next three weeks, I am going to share my tips and ideas for throwing this theme party.  I hope it inspires you to throw your own party!

suppliesI want to create a simple DIY party decoration that fills up some blank walls and is theme appropriate.  I came up with these simple paper fan decorations.  Using basic supplies and a little creativity, you can take a plain paper fan and turn it into a black cat, a pumpkin, a red devil…the options are endless!  For this Halloween party, I think the black cat and pumpkin are just perfect.

Here’s how to do it:

Gather up your supplies: paper fans, solid color scrapbook paper for accents (eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc), scissors and double-stick tape.

Open up your paper fans, and cut out your accents from the scrapbook paper.  I chose to do ears, eyes and a nose on my cat, and a stem, eyes and mouth on my pumpkin.

diy stepYou can secure your accents with double-stick tape, or glue if you wish for them to be more permanent.  And voila – they are complete and ready to be hung as party decor.  Simple, inexpensive and quick to make!  My kind of party decoration! ;)

tableNow, if you are interested in planning your own Grumpy Cat party, the first step is to visit PetSmart.com/friskies to download the exclusive Friskies Grump-O-Lantern pumpkin stencil.  Your kids will get such a kick out of carving a Grumpy Cat pumpkin (or a “Grumpkin”!). Upload and share your Grumpy Cat pumpkin carving masterpiece to their site or any social media site using #Grumpkin and #ThePartyDress.

Friskies will donate $500 to PetSmart Charities on behalf of the blogger whose audience uploads the most #Grumpkin images.  Don’t forget to tag #ThePartyDress, too!

THIS IS A SPONSORED POST. THE PARTY DRESS HAS RECEIVED PAYMENT, TRADE AND/OR PRODUCTS FROM FRISKIES IN EXCHANGE FOR PROMOTION, HOWEVER ALL IDEAS AND OPINIONS STATED ARE MY OWN.

October 6th, 2014 | Comments

CRAFT PARTY BACKDROPS | EPSON PROJECTOR

When it comes to party crafting, there are so many options for making your special day extra festive and theme appropriate.  When discussing events with clients or blog readers, the questions I get asked the most often are about dessert table backdrops and photo booth backdrops.
I partnered up with Epson to bring you two creative, and simple to execute backdrop ideas using their latest projector.
dessert table 1Planning a birthday party can be a daunting task when you want to present a stylized dessert table.  Using a projector and my free image download, you too can create a stunning piece of art to bring your dessert table up to the next level.  And, the great thing about this project, is that you can color coordinate your backdrop to your individual party.
Here’s how I did it:
I plugged my laptop into the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2000 and pointed it at a wall that I had cleared off and hung a large sheet of white craft paper. Using the dial on the lens, I was able to adjust the size of the projected image – ensuring that it was the right size for my specific needs.  I should tell you that it was so simple to use, and only required one cord to plug in my laptop (you could also use a smart phone or tablet).
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I used paint to create my backdrop, but also use markers or colored pencils.  It’s also a great project to do with your kids.  Following the projected image on the wall, I painted on my first coat of paint.  Once I allowed that to dry, I removed the paper from the wall and laid it flat before painting on a second coat to get those really vibrant colors you see in the photo.  The projector made it so simple to create a festive backdrop – and much more cost-effective than printing a large scale poster.
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Here are some creative ideas for styling your dessert table:
dessert table 4
I love styling a colorful dessert table that could be used for any type of birthday celebration.  When working with a color palette that includes more than 3 colors, I suggest grounding the table with all white linens, cake stands and serving pieces to really let the colors of the candy pop.
DSC_0560CANDY
Since Halloween is rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fun to create a festive backdrop that could be used for a modern-day photo booth.  Hosting a party this month?  This is such a fun addition, and kids and adults alike will enjoy posing for funny photos in front of it.
painting pumpkinI followed the same steps for this backdrop as I did for the birthday one above.  I scaled the size of this one to be about 4-5 feet tall, so that my little friends could pose in front of it.
painting the pumpkin backdropHere are some cute shots of the kids posing in front of the backdrop:
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halloween backdrop
It turned out so fun, right?!  So, here’s where you get busy….
Download the free printables HERE and use in conjunction with your favorite projector (we LOVED working with the Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 2000) to create your masterpiece.  And….if you hurry, you can enter to win your very own Epson projector.  Click HERE to head over to explore the Epson site and enter the sweepstakes.
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This post was sponsored by Epson, but the opinions expressed in it are all mine!

October 1st, 2014 |

WELCOME, OCTOBER!

october

Image via Fashion Jackson

Welcome, October!  I know I say this every month, but can you believe how fast this year has gone?  I think back to a year ago, and I had a round belly and was anticipating the birth of my first child in December.  As most of you know, he shocked us with his October arrival and our world changed forever.  This has truly been the fastest year of my life, and certainly filled with the most joy.  October is a happy, happy month for us.  We get glorious weather here in Chicago, and bask in those last few weeks of outdoor time before the winter hibernation begins.  We celebrate our wedding anniversary, and this year – our sweet baby boy’s first birthday!  (see the start of my plans here)

Fall entertaining is one of my favorites.  From a simple chili bar to entertain a crowd, to a cozy wine tasting to celebrate the harvest this month….October is a great time to pull out the fall decor and throw a party!

October is also a busy month, both here on the blog and in the shop, WH Hostess.  The blog has a ton of really fun Halloween posts coming up, we’ve partnered with a few great brands to bring you some great ideas that are simple to replicate for your family or classroom parties.  We have some darling real parties to share with you, and will continue to share new products from WH Hostess that are perfect for the holiday season (did you see the new foil-embossed stationery yesterday?!).

Speaking of WH Hostess, there are A LOT of really exciting things going on behind the scenes that I will share with you soon.  Although birthday parties remain a focus in October, it also brings the launch of our holiday collection!  Our brand new holiday card designs have already been added to the shop, in case you want to take a peek.  We are SO excited about the collection this year.  It’s fresh, updated and has so many options for you to customize a card just for your family and photo.  Multiple color options, the option of a patterned back or a photo collage back to share more photos of your family, and wait for it……we were able to lower our prices, bringing you a stellar product and allowing you to save just a little bit more for those holiday gifts!  More to come soon about the holiday products and gift ideas at a great price point…

Enjoy the month, friends!  See you back here tomorrow for some more fall inspiration!

kelly signature

 

 

 

 

 

September 30th, 2014 |

WH HOSTESS | FOIL-STAMPED STATIONERY

personalized foil stamped stationery with preppy modern designsWe’re downright swooning over our new foil-stamped personalized stationery! New to the shop, we offer 18 fresh, modern designs that have you covered for your everyday social stationery needs. Here’s where it gets exciting….

textThese fold over cards and envelopes are made from a beautiful high end Italian paper and are available in 15 exquisite colors. The darker colors look great when a light or metallic colored pen is used! Our collection includes a variety of designs for everyday notes, and gift enclosures, with countless paper and foil options. Choose from one of our preppy, modern designs and customize your folded notecards to fit your family’s personality. A dream come true for paper lovers!

foil embossed personalized notecards with preppy modern designs
Whether you are looking for a gorgeous monogram, a modern preppy pattern, or a simple graphic such as an anchor, pineapple or bow – you can create a unique gift set of stationery perfect for your letters, thank you notes, and gift enclosures.

At $58 for a boxed set of 50 folded notecards and envelopes, they make a fabulous birthday or holiday gift!

designs textdesigns

September 29th, 2014 |

PARTY PLANNING | APPLE 1st BIRTHDAY

apple party itemsI can hardly believe that I am about to utter these words, but…..I’M. PLANNING. A. FIRST. BIRTHDAY. PARTY.  Already!  This has been the fastest year of my life and I truly can’t believe we are here already.  I’ve spent the last 6 years planning birthday parties for other people’s children, so I am SO excited to finally be able to plan one for my own.

I wanted to choose a theme that was fun, somewhat seasonal, yet would have a very classic undertone.  A theme that when we look back at pictures 10-20 years from now, it wouldn’t seem trendy or outdated.  So, an “apple of our eye” theme was chosen.  I knew right away that I wanted to incorporate a gingham check into the paper goods, but went a little un-traditional by opting for a black and white pattern.  Mixing it with my “mod apple” pattern, a lot of crisp white accents, and a little chalkboard accent, I think it’s going to be really fun and playful.

We are having the party at our local park and other than getting the invitations in the mail and the start of this little vision board…..I haven’t done much else!  3 weeks to go and so much planning to do!  Do you have any ideas that you think would be perfect for this theme?  Pass them on!!

Images: paper goods by whhostess.com, ceramic bushel baskets by crateandbarrel.com, black and white buffalo check fabric by ikea.com, apple fabric by whhostess.com, red 36″ balloons by shopsweetlulu.com

September 26th, 2014 |

BABY STATIONERY + ETIQUETTE TIPS for THANK YOU NOTES

baby stationery personalized notecards and tips for writing thank you notes

Thank you notes can be a tedious process, especially with a newborn. People tend to underestimate the power of the hand-written thank you note. Some think it is better to send an immediate e-mail or simply say thanks in person. But, a hand-written note is the ideal way to show your appreciation. Follow our tips to simplify the process and write a charming note.

BABY STATIONERY SELECTION

We prefer classic notecards that stand the test of time. A simple stripe, a soft gingham check, or a perfect monogram to share your baby’s new “logo” are an excellent choice. If you are sending thank you notes around the same time as your birth announcements, coordinating them is a lovely option.

CREATE AN ADDRESS LIST

One of the best suggestions we can give you is to create or update your address list prior to your baby’s arrival. Creating a cohesive resource list saves you time and also can allow your husband to help you address thank you notes and birth announcements!

THANK YOU NOTE TIMELINE

Thank you notes for baby shower gifts should be sent within three weeks of the shower, unless the baby has made an early arrival. Once a baby has arrived, you have a little more time to get notes sent. However, we encourage you to send them within 3 months of receiving the gift.

PERFECT YOUR PENMANSHIP

No matter how badly you wish to type up a letter, or even send an e-mail to express your thanks – please don’t! A handwritten note will best express your gratitude and warm the hearts of the people who put thought into a gift for your baby.

PERSONALIZE IT

Not just in the personalized stationery, but in what you actually say in the note. Make sure to express your thanks for the specific item that was gifted to your baby, and offer how you plan to use it. Close by mentioning a time you hope to see the person in the future, or possibly introduce your child to them.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

Show your personality in your note, don’t try to be too formal if you aren’t. Don’t over exaggerate your love of the item gifted, and never mention an exact amount of money.

SEND THANKS FOR ACTS OF KINDNESS

No act of kindness is too small in my opinion! If someone took the time to bring you a meal, or take your older children on a playdate so you could spend some time with the baby – thank them properly!

Along with the launch of our digital magazine, BABY by WH HOSTESS, also came a new collection of baby stationery.  Featuring soft colors, and classic patterns such as stripes, gingham checks and polka dots, our personalized flat notecards ooze that fresh baby look.  And, as an added bonus, they coordinate perfectly with our baby shower invitations and birth announcements!

classic preppy personalized stationery for baby

September 25th, 2014 |

BABY SHOWER GIFT IDEAS + PROJECT NURSERY: THE SHOP

When it came time to put together the BABY by WH HOSTESS issue, I knew I wanted to invite a few friends to share their tips and ideas.  Of course, I went straight to the ladies at Project Nursery + Project Junior!  Melisa and Pam run projectnursery.com, a trusted source for its millions of readers who are in search of children’s design inspiration.  They were the perfect people to ask “what’s your favorite baby shower gift?”

baby by wh hostess digital magazineMelisa and Pam came up with great gift ideas that are perfect for both mama and baby.  You can read all about them in the issue (click on the images or HERE), and the truly exciting news….they just launched an e-commerce shop where you can now search for baby nursery décor and gifts.  To say we’re excited is an understatement!

PN spread

The shop’s mission is to offer carefully curated products and exclusive collaborations with brands that meet Project Nursery’s discerning taste in an effort to elevate nursery design. Simply put, The Project Nursery Shop offers parents access to incredible products that guarantee a well-designed nursery.

Mindful of the fact that new parents are often overwhelmed by the children’s market, Project Nursery purposefully selects the best items in each category to reflect what is trending in nursery design. Project Nursery plans to strategically update its products, all while continuing to offer a small assortment of timeless products that are handcrafted and of high quality.

Shop_Birth_Announcement_v1

Project Nursery Co-Founders, Melisa Fluhr and Pam Ginocchio have been fielding the same questions year after year: Who makes that bedding? What color is that? Where can I find that rug? “The answer is easy,” said Fluhr. “Our active community has been our main source of inspiration over the last 6+ years. As our audience and traffic continues to flourish, it’s important that we listen to our readers. This means providing access to the most coveted décor items found in our Project Gallery pages via The Project Nursery Shop.” The new shop offers a wide selection of products such as paint, furniture, bedding, room decor, party decor and gifts for both mom and baby.

Congratulations!  We can’t wait to shop!

September 24th, 2014 |

TIPS for PHOTOGRAPHING A NEWBORN

tips for photographing a newborn

WE ASKED CHICAGO-PHOTOGRAPHER, KATIE GIERKE, OF KATHRYN HASTINGS PHOTOGRAPHY TO GIVE US HER BEST TIPS FOR STYLING AND CAPTURING YOUR LITTLE ONE. READ ON FROM THIS EXCERPT OF OUR BABY by WH HOSTESS DIGITAL MAGAZINE, TO LEARN HOW TO CAPTURE YOUR FAMILY’S PERFECT LITTLE MOMENTS.  THIS LIST WILL HELP YOU TAKE THE PERFECT PHOTO FOR YOUR BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT.

TIP 1

photographing newborns

Light, light, light! It is so important to have really great natural light. Babies are so naturally beautiful you want to make sure that the lighting in your pictures is as natural as possible. I love shooting early in the morning in a room with lots of windows and if possible on a bright overcast day. The soft natural lighting will eliminate your little one.

Tip 2

tips for photographing newborns

Simplicity. I love simple, beautiful and natural pictures. The baby should be the main subject in your picture. While backdrops are cute, real life backdrops are more natural and classic. Your pictures will never be dated and will never go out of style. Get rid of all the extra stuff (stuffed animals, signs and props). You want your back ground to be clean. I think a great location for a newborn shoot is a bed. Clear the extra clutter off your nightstands, dressers ect. You can’t go wrong with simple!

Tip 3

ideas for newborn photography

Dressing your baby. Wraps are timeless. Babies seem to sleep deeper if they are swaddled and you will be able to play with them more for pictures while they are in a deep sleep. I love the beautiful Aden & Anais wraps and they are easy to find on Amazon, target or a baby store. Make sure you get the blankets that are plain colors. Once your swaddle them tightly you can add a cute hat, bow or just leave them as they are.

Tip 4

photographing a baby

Preparing your Baby for the Shoot. When you shoot a newborn you want to make sure the heat in the house is turned up. Make sure it is warmer then normal. This will help them sleep and stay asleep. Make sure the baby is fully fed and their diaper is clean. It takes patients and time to photograph a newborn.

Tip 5

tips for photographing babies

P.S. That is Kelly’s son Daniel!

Your Camera. This amazing instrument can feel like a very daunting task to figure out. I would recommend you read the manual. I know that sounds like a silly tip to give, but honestly so many people have these great cameras and never pick up the manual. Auto is a great tool that all these cameras have, but there is so so so much more to them then just the auto click and capture. If you are getting adventurous Throw your camera in M (manual) and keep the lens in AF(auto focus) play with your ISO settings. If you want to keep it simple for now then keep it in auto and play with your angels. Don’t be scared to off center your picture or to take your picture from farther away. An inch one direction or another can change a picture.

“Photography is so much fun and can be so rewarding. It take a lot of patients and practice. Keep playing with that camera and you will be so happy with the images you create all on your own. If you have any questions or would like me to photograph your newborn, please reach out to me, katie@kathrynhastings.com. Now grab that camera and get to work!”

~ Katie Gierke of Kathryn Hastings Photography

For more tips, follow Katie on Facebook.  If you are interested in a shoot in the Chicagoland area, please contact her thru her website, kathrynhastings.com.

 

September 23rd, 2014 |

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS by WH HOSTESS | KELLY’S TIPS

After waiting nine long months for your little bundle of joy to arrive, you are naturally eager to share the news with your friends and family. Birth announcements are a wonderful way to introduce your precious baby to the world, yet proper birth announcement etiquette can leave new parents with questions. We’re hoping to answer those today and also introduce you to the new birth announcement collection from WH Hostess (featured in the new digital magazine BABY by WH HOSTESS).

birth announcements intro

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT SELECTION

While it’s wise to have a short list of announcements selected prior to your baby’s birth, we encourage you to select a design that compliments the photo of your newborn.  (see tips from Kathryn Hastings Photography tomorrow on the blog!)

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT TIMELINE

With social media so available these days, chances are the arrival of your baby was news minutes after it happened. A classic birth announcement should be sent out within the first 6 months of life. We like to encourage clients to aim for sometime within the first 3 months!

CREATING A RECIPIENT LIST

Clients often ask us how many cards they should order, and that is a very personal question. The simple answer is: send them to whoever you think would want to celebrate your big news. This may include you family, best friends, neighbors, coworkers, workout buddies, old college friends. Bottom line, who wouldn’t want to celebrate the arrival of your brand new baby?

WHAT YOU SHOULD & SHOULDN’T INCLUDE

You should absolutely include your baby’s full name, birth date, and height and weight. Make sure to include “welcomed with love” followed by the parents’ names or “Daniel has a little sister” to include the whole family in the joy. Don’t include any registry information on your birth announcement. If recipients wish to send your little one a gift, they will seek out the information. If you do receive gifts for your baby, don’t forget to send a thank you note as soon as possible, though it is acceptable to take up to three months.

UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Can you send a birth announcement for an adoption? Absolutely! What if your baby was a premie in the NICU for 2 months? We suggest sending announcements once the baby comes home. Bottom line, there are no rules and you can make up your own guidelines for your specific situation.

Printed on a luxe, smooth cardstock with classic, yet updated designs that ooze that fresh baby look, here are a few of our favorite new birth announcements from WH Hostess:

birth announcements by wh hostess

And if you can’t find the perfect card to suit your image, or are looking for a more unique design, please contact Kelly to inquire about a custom design.

custom birth announcements by wh hostess

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