March 29th, 2012 |

Girly Elmo Birthday Party

Character Parties week continues here on the blog with one of my favorite parties to date: a girly Elmo party with modern patterns, including a bold rainbow chevron.  We worked with one of our favorite clients in Houston to design this party, and she executed it better than we ever could have imagined!

When it comes to creating ‘character‘ parties, I prefer to focus on great patterns and colors, and accent with the character!

While putting together the original party plan, I decided to incorporate a child-friendly color palette of ‘Elmo’ red, pink, yellow, green and turquoise, but use three modern patterns to appeal to the adult’s design aesthetic.  A bold chevron pattern and two-tone clover pattern mingled beautifully with colorful polka dots and served as the basis for all of the paper goods designs.  I created my own “furry friend” that resembled Elmo to use on the paper goods – note how he has her age on his party hat!

A personalized street sign was included in the return address label and we used Sesame Street sayings on the invitation and throughout the party goods (‘brought to you by the letter ‘A’ and number ’2′, ‘Alexandra’s World’, etc.).  You will see coordinating party goods throughout the party, including custom fabric used for pillows and the dessert table backdrop.

Guests were greeted in true Sesame Street style at the front door with green street sign for ‘Alexandra’s Street’.  When they entered into the house, there was a large ‘A’ made out of yellow roses along with colorful decorations leading guests through the house into the official party space.  The adult tables were inside and out, and were dressed with bold, solid-color tablecloths and gorgeous flower arrangements.  There was a combination of high and low arrangements, and some also included jars of candy, and ribbon pomander balls.

The kids table was set with a bold pink, satin tablecloth and the mini white chairs were wrapped in turquoise satin bows.  Each placesetting had a polka dot plate, a party hat with an Elmo sticker on it, and a cello bag full of crayons with a chevron topper.  (there were also coloring pages to keep the kids busy)  There were three monochromatic centerpieces lining the table – each filled with a different color of gerber daisies. Jars of candy with custom centerpiece sticks sat between the flowers.

The self-serve bar was set up with rainbow striped glassware, paper cups for the kids dressed up with stickers, and water bottles with coordinating labels (big ones for the adults….mini ones for the kids!).  The food was served as a buffet in the dining room, and the table was set with three tall monochromatic flower arrangements to create a whimsical touch of drama.  Coordinating food tent cards labeled yummy eats such as mini sliders, sweet potato fries in paper cones, rainbow fruit kabobs and goldfish for the kiddos.  Pink silverware was tied in our coordinating napkin rings.

The kids were entertained with face painting, a huge Sesame Street bounce house, and a visit from Elmo, himself!  A Sesame Street bounce house was flanked by colorful balloons and the outdoor living room was dressed with throw pillows made out of our custom fabric in the chevron and polka dot patterns.

As usual, the dessert table STOLE THE SHOW!  Bright and colorful, it literally makes my heart happy to see how this came together!  A fabric-covered backdrop (made with our custom chevron fabric) defined the space and an amazing cake from Cakes by Gina held center court. (Don’t you love how she incorporated all of our colorful patterns into each tier?!)  Jars of candy were embellished with coordinating candy jar tags, and we used cupcake toppers to brand the candy in the tilt bowls.

Brownies held fondant toppers by Two Sugar Babies in our coordinating patterns, and The Cookie Jar created cookies in the letter ‘A’ and number ’2′.  Elmo cake pops received rave reviews from the little ones and cupcakes were a hit as always.

There were small polka dot and striped boxes for people to fill up with candy (dressed up with a coordinating sticker, of course) and there was signage all around the party helping brand it.

Guests went home not only with their box of candy, but also with a cello bag with two containers of play dough (each wearing an ‘A’ and a ’2′ sticker on top) and a large Elmo cookie, tied with a polka dot gift tag saying ‘Thanks for partying at Alexandra’s World’.”

{Party Resources}

Party Design, Invitation, Paper Goods and Fabric: WH Hostess | Photography: Ellenzilla Photography | Green Street Sign: I Do Invitations by Michelle | Catering: A Fare Extraordinaire | Fondant Toppers: Two Sugar Babies | Cake Pops: Angie’s Cake | Cookies: The Cookie Jar | Cake: Cakes by Gina | Favor Boxes: Shop Sweet Lulu | Flowers: Wedding Flowers by Lisa | Ribbon Pomander Balls & Plates: Polka Dot Market

March 28th, 2012 |

Eloise at The Plaza Party

My daughter Madelyn has loved Eloise since she was 2 years old. She collects the dolls, books, and has ALWAYS asked for a party at The Plaza. Since it is such a special “number” birthday, for her 5th birthday, I decided to style a pink, black, and white Eloise themed soiree. I enlisted the help of Kelly from WHHostess to create an amazing invitation and coordinating party goods using Madelyn (and Eloise)’s favorite color, pink, and my love for black and white patterns. For the invitation, we had Vana Chupp of Le Papier Studio create a custom silhouette of Madelyn in an Eloise “pose” that we carried throughout in several of the other party goods.

Madelyn’s request was to have a tea table set up for her and her friends to use at the party. As a surprise, I ordered an actual Eloise tea set from The Plaza to decorate the table, along with some pink and black cupcakes topped with pink and white swirled lollipops, strawberry cream cheese tea sandwiches, Eloise- themed stuffed animals, and pink and white polka dot suitcases. I made curtains using more of the Ikea fabric, and to tie the theme together, styled the floor with a black and white chevron rug. The tea table was so simple to pull together, and it was Madelyn’s favorite part of the party!

When Madelyn suggested the idea of an Eloise party, I immediately thought of an all-pink bakery that Eloise might visit on one of her trips outside of The Plaza. We built large risers to mimic the interior of a bakery store window, and created an awning using black and white striped fabric from Ikea. I used white cake stands and dessert ware from my collection, and I also greatly expanded my collection with a fabulous (and super inexpensive) project: DIY milk glass using glass- ware from Goodwill and white spray paint.

The dessert table was styled with all pink desserts that were created by myself, with touches of black and white throughout.

One of Madelyn’s special requests for the pink “bakery”: two different cakes: a pink rosette cake, and a fondant covered creation with pink stripes and a replication of her silhouette in fondant. I also had absolutely adorable marshmallow pops made especially for Madelyn by The Marshmallow Studio.

Some of Madelyn’s favorite desserts were on the display, including: pink chocolate coated Oreo truffles, hot pink macarons filled with dark chocolate ganache, chocolate cupcakes with pink strawberry buttercream, NYC black and white cookies, mini donuts sprinkled with pink coconut, chocolate dipped pretzels, meringue “ice cream cones” that rested on WHHostess patterned paper to match that theme (and on a DIY ice cream cone stand!), pink gum balls and hard candy from Candywarehouse.com.

I branded the dessert table with coordinating paper goods from WH Hostess: pink striped food tent cards featured Eloise’s signature hairbow and identified all of the delicious treats to the guests, as well as charming black and white, swiss dot candy jar tags on all of the containers. A festive pennant banner hung across the table, featuring custom patterns.

The most talked about (and loved by the adults) part of the party was the inventive drink station we created. I have always found it amusing that, in the books, Eloise knew to order Nanny a drink from room service. Just like Nanny, the adults at our parties like a little “libation” or two.

I created a simple background for the table using a large silhouette from the stationery in an ornate frame from Ikea. Kelly created custom labels for the liquor bottles that were displayed on a cake stand for some height, and mixers were displayed in simple glass carafes. Another creative signlet all of the guests know that these were “Nanny’s Libations” and were not for kids.

A small game was also created using hot pink sixlets, as the guests had fun guessing how many “champagne bubbles” were in the jar.

For the favor table, I really wanted to make it fun, whimsical, but also fitting for the preppy and modern theme. I made the “FIVE” letters using wooden letters and small rectangular wooden plaques painted white and filled a bookshelf with the favors and lots of pink balloons.

 

For favors, the kids at the party received a marshmallow pop from The Marshmallow Studio, ridiculously cute pink Eloise headbands made especially for the party by EmzBowz, and a custom memory card game featuring WHHostess graphics. The display was topped off with a banner from WHHostess and striped fabric.

One of MY favorite parts of the party were the little signs that Kelly and I came up with, using phrases and key words from the books, including “Gifts from ME, Madelyn” for the favor table and “oooooohhh, I absolutely love BIRTHDAYS!” for the tea table. All of the hard work paid off when my daughter announced after the party that “Mommy brought The Plaza to my house!”

 

March 27th, 2012 |

Stylized Cookie Monster Party

We are talking {and sharing ideas and inspiration} about stylized character birthday parties this week on the blog, and to kick it off, I am here with photos from P is for Party’s Modern Cookie Monster Party that she hosted recently for her son’s birthday.  It’s always a pleasure to work with Christi (see some of the other parties we have done together here, here and here just to name a few….and another one is coming up on the blog on Friday!) and we are always thrilled to see how flawlessly she executes parties! Read on for the details of Conrad’s Cookie Monster Party as told by Christi:

“Conrad LOVES cookies, so it was almost a no-brainer when I was trying to come up with a theme for his third birthday party!  The funny thing is that he does not even watch Sesame Street, but every time he sees Cookie Monster, he can’t help but laugh.  I love a challenge and even though I was going with a commercialized theme, I wanted to make the party as unique and chic as I could.  I immediately went to Kelly of WH Hostess to design a non traditional Cookie Monster invitation for me.  We went with the colors of blue, chocolate brown and pops of green.  I was thrilled with the design and all of the coordinating paper goods.

I was so pleased with the custom fabric that I ordered from WH Hostess to serve as runners on the kids tables, as well as the dessert table backdrop.  I also ordered small galvanized tins from Lime Tree Gifts and had a different wording on each.  For example, some tins said, “C is for Cookie” and another said, “I Want Cookie”.  I placed a centerpiece stick in each tin and filled them with Famous Amos cookies.  This was a simple and fairly inexpensive centerpiece that was perfect for the little ones!

 

Other small decor details that made an impact were the darling Cookie Monster piñata, festive banner, and adorable Sesame Street signs custom made by I DO Invitations by Michelle.  Michelle hand paints the base and can create the street sign to say whatever you wish.  I chose the signs to say “Cookie Way” which was placed by the cookie table and the second sign said, “Conrad’s Street” and was placed by the outdoor fireplace.  I also brought in a handful of 3 foot balloons along with smaller polka dotted balloons ordered from Sandra Downie’s new party shop, Pretty Little Party Shop. This age group loved seeing the balloons surrounding the party area!

Since the party was centered around Cookie Monster, we of course had to serve LOTS of cookie.  I created a cookie bar with a large variety of cookies for guests to choose from.  We had everything from chocolate chip to snicker doodles to cookie-wiches with blue filling and sprinkles.  I placed each cookie in a glass cookie jar on top of blue tissue paper.  Kelly made coordinating jar wraps and labels for the buffet.  To give the jars heights, I placed them on white lacquered trays from West Elm and even had Kelly make tray liners for the tops of the trays.  I also ordered custom fabric from Kelly’s line and hung a sign from ribbon that said, “Conrad’s Cookie Bar”.

The cake was another focal point and was made by one of my favorite Houston bakeries, Who Made the Cake.  Divine! I also had brownies with fondant toppers from Two Sugar Babies that matched the petal pattern from the paper goods.

To wash down all of those cookies, the kids had their choice of mini milkshake shooters or bottled water with coordinating labels on them.

For the favors, I had Kelly package a bundle of crayons tied with ribbon and small Cookie Monster coloring pages in cellophane bags.  Each bag came with a tag that said “C is for Crayons.” Since I had served so many sweets at the party, I wanted to send guests home with a non-edible favor and this was perfect!

We had so much fun celebrating our little cookie monster turning 3!”

Images via Ellenzilla Photography


 

March 26th, 2012 |

{How to Throw} Stylized Character Parties

One of the most popular features in the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine was “how to throw stylized character parties.”  This comes as no surprise to me, as it never fails, Charynn and I both get about 10-20 e-mails a week inquiring about {the dreaded} character parties. Clients looking for ideas, inspiration, invitations and paper goods, fondant creations. The e-mails all start out the same….”My child is obsessed with {fill in the blank} and is DYING for a themed party. How do I throw a party that will make my child happy but not go against every design principle I believe in?! Help!”

It’s a tricky tightrope to walk: appeal to the birthday child, as well as create a party that speaks volumes to the parent’s design aesthetic. Like I said, it’s tricky…but it is also totally do-able! We start with colors, patterns and icons to formulate our party plans. We created a chart of ideas for our most-requested characters, which you will see below (to see the chart larger, click over to page 30 in the issue).

It’s been my pleasure to work on numerous character parties for clients over the last two years.  Some of them include: modern train, princess, barbie, alice in wonderland, and so many more.  I have also worked on some where we took a child’s love of a character and tweaked it a bit to be a non-specific character, such as a monkey, a dinosaur and a jungle safari. And let’s not forget Charynn’s kai lan party, or batman party!

This week, we are focusing on kids parties with amazing style and will be showing you four uber-chic character parties that will have you signing up for a character party in no time!  So check back often!

March 23rd, 2012 |

Limoncello Ginger Lemonade

In continuing our “lemon day”, I am back to share my cocktail recipe that is TO.DIE.FOR.  The perfect Spring drink, use this for your Mad Men viewing party this weekend, or even for a festive Sunday brunch!

Ingredients

2T Ginger Simple Syrup
1/2c lemonade
3 oz limoncello
Sparkling water or ginger ale, to taste
Lemon slices, for garnish

Simple Syrup Directions

Mix 1/2 c water, 1/2 c sugar, and 2T fresh ginger heated in a small saucepan and then strain

Cocktail Directions

Shake all ingredients in a martini shaker full of ice. Strain into a martini glass and add a splash of sparkling water or ginger ale. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

March 23rd, 2012 |

Weekend Baking: Lemon Cupcakes

Happy Friday, Everyone!  I don’t know about you, but it’s been a busy, busy week around here!  So happy to see so many parties and celebrations coming up, and we have been shipping out lots, and lots {and lots, and lots} of magazines to happy homes.  I’m looking forward to a some down time this weekend, including a little baking and celebrating the return of one of my favorite tv shows, Mad Men.  {Check back later today for a fabulous Spring cocktail recipe that would be perfect to toast the new season!}

I’ve always been obsessed with lemons {view this and this and this!} so I was thrilled when Charynn came up with two unique lemon recipes for the Spring magazine: a raspberry cupcake with lemon curd and a lemoncello ginger lemonade.  Enjoy!  Have a great weekend and see you all back here on Monday!

xo, Kelly

Happy Friday!  I’m looking forward to doing a little baking this weekend, and first up is going to be my Raspberry Cupcakes with Lemon Curd that I created for the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  This recipe is the perfect example of dressing up a super simple {boxed} recipe….anyone can do it!

Ingredients

1 box white cake mix

1 cup frozen rasberries, thawed and drained

Lemon Curd

Swiss Meringue Frosting

Directions

Prepare cake mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Lightly stir in the raspberries so that large chunks still remain. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way, and bake according to the package instructions.

After cupcakes are cooled, use a paring knife or a cupcake corer to make a hole in the middle of the cupcake. Fill with lemon curd. Ice with your favorite frosting–this is your chance to be creative! We used Swiss Meringue, but you could add lemon or raspberry flavoring, dust with lemon sugar, or use meringue that you can brown on the edges with a kitchen torch. Experiment to your taste and to fit your occasion!

 

March 22nd, 2012 |

J. Crew Inspired Spring Party

Let the Spring 2012 runway looks inspire your next party. Today I am showcasing one of the two themes that were featured in the Spring 2012 issue of The Party Dress Magazine.

Take your favorite Spring look and let it inspire! This J.Crew ensemble is simple, sophisticated and classic….with a little whimsical on the side!

{The Details}

Focus on soft pastels & a pop of yellow – just fill the table with lots of pretties! We are just smitten over this oh-so-perfect palette with a mix of patterns. Think Spring brunch with your best gal pals. Lean on fashion for the perfect inspiration when it comes to planning your next party!

Tip: Have extra fabric around? Use it to cover your beverage labels and add a little flair with a ribbon or throw it over the table for a quick pop of color. We love Michael Miller Fabrics for Spring.

{Get the Look}

Cupcakes(Georgetown Cupcakes) Banner, Cupcake Toppers, Tray (WH Hostess) Don’t Forget to Smile Print (UUPP Prints) Graham Whiskey Decanter (Juliska) Shabby Chic Cupcake Holders (A Little Lollipop Tree) White Roses Flower Arrangement (AE Home Designs) Soft Pink Flower Arrangement (Target) Milkglass Vases (Local Thrift Store) Bamboo Plates (Juliska) Jardins du Monde Ceramics Whitewash (Juliska) Burlap Banner (Butterfly Above), Chevron Lucite Tray (Tily Mason)

 

March 21st, 2012 |

{Crazy for Carrots} Easter Centerpiece

It’s no secret that I am over-the-moon, head-over-heels in love with the color orange this season.  It’s the hot color right now, and we are having a blast making it a part of our fresh, new party collections and decor for Spring.  When it comes to decorating for Easter, I try to come up with some fun, but still sophisticated decor ideas (I’ll save the cutesy stuff for once we have kiddos running around!) and this carrot centerpiece is just the ticket!  We were so happy with how it turned out, it made the cover of the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine!

The carrots offer a fabulous pop of color on any table, and this centerpiece was so easy to make!

Here are a few of my tips:

  • Choose a large, cylinder vase that is about the same height as your carrots.
  • Place a second vase of the same shape inside, to block out some room (you don’t need to completely buy out the produce section at the grocery store, right?!).
  • Place your carrots in between the vase a few at a time, so you can line the up straight.
  • Once your carrots are in place, add your water.
  • If the green tops are a little out of control, just trim them to your desired shape.
  • Add some daisies into the top of the arrangement for a little touch of whimsy!
March 21st, 2012 |

Stylish Easter Basket

When Charynn and I sat down to start planning the Spring Magazine, the first item listed under the “Easter” category was “create an amazing, stylized Easter basket that every kid would love!”

We started with this gorgeous, open-weave basket from Pottery Barn, created a basket liner out of our signature green clover fabric (and had it monogrammed in that gorgeous hot pink thread), and then started filling it up with goodies.

Card games, finger crayons, a paper flower-making kit, a new book, a darling striped bunny, a set of the new legos for girls, jelly beans and more……what’s not to love?! Here are a few more detailed pics of the basket.

Looking for more Easter ideas and inspiration?  Check out the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine!

March 20th, 2012 |

Easter Egg Hunt

When it came time to officially launch our latest Easter party collection, we asked Lynlee Beckett of Lynlee’s Petite Cakes to conjure up a fabulous fete perfect for kiddies to be featured in the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  Our collection features a sweet little bunny frolicking in the grass, so it was perfect for an Easter Egg Hunt.

Lynlee did a fabulous job designing a fresh and fun party with lots of ideas that you can carry into your own celebrations.  Read on for more information from Lynlee…..

Once Spring has sprung and the grass is green once again, you know Easter is just around the corner! And what can be more fun for kiddos than inviting friends and family to hop on over for an Easter Egg Hunt? I styled this festive party around the adorable “Grass Easter Bunny” collection from WH Hostess, specifically for children. I fell in love with the darling designs and vibrant colors, including the little bunnies in the grass, the infusion of orange (perfect for carrots!) and the pops of pink.

To complement the graphics, I focused on a bunny patch theme, with white picket fences and trellises, bunny garden adornments and more natural items, such as burlap, wood crates and baskets. The vivacious pops of color paired with provincial decor made a perfect pairing of modern lines and rustic elements.

The lunch table was set with this combination in mind, utilizing little baskets embellished with grass and bunnies on top of polka dot plates. You can personalize the settings by adding name tags to each basket and accompany it with some little details, such as carrot ribbons and little white poms for bunny tails. I also used the water bottle labels on glasses and inserted striped paper straws that coordinated with the graphics.

The sweets are always one of my favorite aspects of any party and the dessert table matched back to the entire theme. For the rural feel, you can utilize a simple backdrop, such as the white trellis, and accentuate it with a banner, like the adorable “Happy Easter” banner coordinating with the collection. The cupcakes were displayed on wooden crates with picket fence liners and fondant bunnies and carrots in the patch! On one side of the table, I added cotton candy bunny tails to polka dot straws, as well as jello cups, hopping fondant bunnies and jelly beans in ceramic egg crates.

The other side included egg-shaped rice treats with cupcake toppers, orange candies in carrot containers and pudding push pops with rabbits entering their bunny holes! You can really add an extra punch on the table with additional details, such as food tent cards and cupcake and centerpiece toppers. The infusion of the vivid colors was also accentuated with the hot pink frame and dried flower balls, which really made the table pop.

Tying back to the country, bunny patch atmosphere, you can utilize different containers than the traditional Easter baskets with which the kids can hunt eggs. I found cute wooden boxes with handles and added little tags with ribbon to each one. You can also add the children’s names to each to avoid any disputes regarding to whom they belong! After hunting for eggs, the kids had a blast with the bubbles! For favors, say goodbye to your little guests with cello bags and toppers, which can be filled with so many different options! I added orange candies for the boys and edible fondant bracelets, which I specifically made for the girls. Going home with their baskets full of eggs, candy and bubbles will be the perfect end to the Easter Egg Hunt at the bunny patch!

Resources: fondant bunnies (edibledetails.com), polka dot straws (cakes and kids too via etsy.com), push pop containers (cupkateeventdesign.com), paper goods (whhostess.com)

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