October 29th, 2014 | Comments

HALLOWEEN PARTY IDEAS from STYLISH KIDS’ PARTIES

trick or treat table

Halloween is one of those holidays that evoke such happy childhood memories for me, including colorful costumes, festive school parties and trick or treating in the neighborhood.  It’s an ideal time to host an after-school party, offering a quick snack for the kids and an opportunity to chat with the parents before trick or treating commences.

book store listingIn today’s post, I’m sharing a few simple ideas for creative desserts that could be used as a school treat or as part of a party spread.  It also includes a couple of creative décor DIY projects and a few “tricks” that will make you the most stylish mom on the block.  All of these ideas are from my book, Stylish Kids’ Parties.

My book makes it a snap to plan, design and execute festive kids’ parties that wow adults and thrill little ones! Filled with 12 creative and colorful party ideas, Stylish Kids’ Parties shows you how to confidently tackle party preparation by using color palettes and themes that carry through–from invitations and decorations to party favors and treats. Complete with DIY tips, recipes, projects, themed activities and templates, you’ll love these party ideas for boys and girls, first birthday celebrations, baby showers and holiday gatherings.

Order your signed copy HERE.  It makes a great holiday gift, too!

jumbo balloon

DIY Project:

Reinvent the traditional paper chain garland with this fresh update.  Using 5” pieces of patterned ribbons in my color palette, and double-stick tape, I created this garland in no time flat.  It’s very lightweight, so you can hang it virtually anywhere.  I love it hanging as decoration off of our jumbo balloons!

pumpkin jelloDIY Decor:

Mini spoons and forks are a fun accessory for individual sized desserts.  Embellish your utensils with glitter, ribbon or washi tape.  I dipped these mini wood spoon handles into craft glue and then into silver glitter.  I love the touch of shimmer they added to the table.

DSC_0931DIY Party Favor Tags:

As a child, seeing your name on a party favor or gift is a big delight.  Dress up your basic party favor bags with kraft paper tags dipped in glitter.

whoopie piesKelly’s Halloween Whoopie Pie Recipe:

Whoopee pies are a little chocolate cake sandwich with a creamy filling; a timeless treat that can be embellished for any holiday or theme party.  Add Halloween sprinkles to this whoopee pie recipe to make them party-ready.

Whoopee Pie Cake Ingredients:

6 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 Cups Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

3 Cups Sugar

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Tbl Baking Soda

1 Tsp Salt

1 ¼ Cup Butter

4 Eggs

3 Cups Milk

1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together sugar, butter and eggs until combined.  Add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract and mix again.

In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and being to slowly add the mixture to the egg mixture.  Continue beating until the ingredients are well combined.  Slowly start incorporating the milk into the bowl as you continue to mix on a slow speed.

Using an ice cream scoop (for consistent size), scoop out an even number of scoops onto a baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

Whoopee Pie Filling Ingredients:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup shortening

1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature

1 cup marshmallow fluff

1 pinch salt

Directions:

In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add the whole milk to the bowl and beat well until you reach a creamy consistency.

Pipe the filling in between to cake cookies and the roll the sides in Halloween sprinkles.

October 21st, 2014 | Comments

DIY HALLOWEEN PARTY FAVOR | THE GRUMPY CAT

party favor coneAs you know, this season I have partnered with Friskies and Petsmart to throw a fabulous Grumpy Cat themed Halloween party for my friends and family.  In the last couple of weeks, I shared a very simple party decoration that makes a big impact for very little effort.  Check out my paper fan halloween decorations here.  My meringue ghosts and pumpkin soda bottles were a hit last week – and oh, so simple to create.  And this week, I’m back with two simple DIY projects: a candy corn paper cone for party favors and a glittered initial pumpkin!

Every party needs a coordinating party favor, right?!  Whether you are gifting candy, sweets, or small trinkets, these candy corn paper cones are simple to create and just darling in little hands!  I’m supplying you with the template for both the cone and the cat gift tag.  You can download them here:

template for blog postInstructions:

Cut out the template and fold into a cone shape, matching edge to edge.  Place a paper clip at the top, holding the two edges together.  I used my hot glue gun, but if you are doing this project with small children, I would suggest craft glue or double-sided tape.  Attach the two edges together and allow to dry completely, before gluing a loop of ribbon onto the inside of the cone to act as a handle.

glitter pumpkinIt’s no secret that I love a good initial/monogram – so why not jazz up your pumpkins?!  You’ll see how I use these darling glittered pumpkins at my party next week.  But for now, I figured I would show you just how simple they are to create!

pumpkin stepsUsing craft glue, I drew the letters onto my small pumpkins.  (PS – I think this would make an AMAZING monogram on a big pumpkin.  I might have to get on that this week….)  Once the glue was on the pumpkin, I covered it with silver glitter, making sure to get all of the edges.  Afterwards, I shook off any extra and then let them dry overnight.  It’s that simple!

I’m gearing up for my big pumpkin carving party next week.  If you would like to carve the perfect Grumpy Cat Pumpkin (or “Grumpkin”).  Friskies and Petsmart were kind enough to provide us with a downloadable template to make that part a snap. You can join the fun by downloading the Grump-O-Lantern stencil available at PetSmart.com/friskies and uploading images of your personal Grump-O-Lantern, including the #Grumpkin hashtag and #ThePartyDress hashtag.

pumpkin stencil

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 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 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

Page 1 of 10712345...102030...Last »