January 4th, 2011 |

Project Nursery: Party Themes for the New Year

Looking for party theme ideas for this year?!

Head on over to Project Nursery to catch my latest post and ideas on what the hottest themes will be in 2011.

January 3rd, 2011 |

Searching for a Little Sunshine

Happy New Year, Everyone!  I hope you all had a magical holiday season!  I took a short break from blogging over the holidays to re-charge my battery and get my creative juices flowing!  But….I’m back!  And have tons of inspiration, real parties and creative ideas to share with you in the upcoming weeks.

My love of holiday decorations quickly vanishes after New Year’s Day.  My house starts feeling cluttered and I have to strip down the decorations and create a clean slate.  Living in Chicago, winter is just beginning.  Although we have many months of hibernating under {my new cashmere} blankets still ahead of us, I feel the urge to create a spring-like environment.  Warm, cozy, sunshine-y.  Yellow is the first color that comes to mind, and the collection of images above demonstrates simple ways you can infuse the color into your home.

Images: yellow wall plaques (bhg.com), yellow ball tablesetting (theknot.com), lemonade (stylemepretty.com), seaside tablesetting (saltharbordesigns.com), floral arrangement (detailsdetails.com)

December 31st, 2010 |

2010: Reflection on a Fabulous Year

2010 has been one AMAZING year for us.  Plain and simple, it’s going down in the books as the start of some amazing things.  I wanted to take a few moments out of my holiday break to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every reader that has been a part of this daily journey with me, and to reflect on all of the wonderful things that have happened this year.  I hope you will join me for a quick walk down memory lane….

The Party Dress has been providing daily party inspiration for {almost} two years now!  Inspiration boards, real party features, creative food ideas and new must-try products.  For me, it provides a creative outlet – for our readers, I hope it inspires each of you to get creative in your daily life.  Our readership continues to grow and we have had the privilege of showcasing parties from some seriously talented people!  We have had countless websites link to our ideas, and was named one of Nesting Newbies top 10 websites!

We have an amazing support system of some fabulous sponsors, including The Celebration Shoppe, Munchkin Designs, Busy Bee Paperie, Luna Bazaar, Curly Cue, Tiny Prints, Wedding Paper Divas, Minted, Beau-Coup, Tea Collection, Plates & Napkins, Paper Culture, The Land of Nod and Layla Grace.

Our biggest news this year was a mention in the November 2010 issue of InStyle Magazine.   I’m going to share a quick little story with you…  I was on vacation when I received the news that The Party Dress was going to be included in a “best of the web” section in InStyle.  My husband and I took a much needed trip to Maui, back to where we honeymooned just a couple years ago.  I PROMISED him I would stay off my e-mail and website (and facebook and twitter) for that whole week.  But let’s be real….I run two internet-based companies….there was no way I could completely ignore it!  So one afternoon, I hid my phone in the beach bag and as soon as he disappeared into the ocean to jump some waves, I pulled it out for a little “me” time.  And there it was – and e-mail with the biggest media news we had ever received.  InStyle knew who we were…..and they were going to list us in their magazine!  I couldn’t have been any more excited!  And of course, had to fess up to checking my e-mail when my husband emerged from the ocean….

Probably the biggest news of 2010 was the launch of our social stationery company, WH Hostess.  Pulling from my roots in graphic design,  my retail buying/merchandising experience, and my love for all things party, I decided to launch a new website featuring fresh, modern stationery that would reflect my style and work with ideas that I showcase daily on The Party Dress.  My goal was to design invitations that would inspire full party themes.  Bold colors, fresh patterns, and modern takes on classic party themes.  The collection quickly grew to include party accessories and decorations, birth announcements and a fabulous holiday collection that was launched with a flip-book holiday catalog!

WH Hostess received an amazing welcome from party bloggers, readers, friends and family….and in just a few short months grew from a part-time business to a full-time job!  We have worked with amazing customers to create some pretty fabulous parties this year….and already have a ton of amazing parties in the works for 2011!

It’s next to impossible to mention all of the blog love we have received this year, but some of the highlights include our elephant parade party featured on Amy Atlas, our modern train party, bumble bee and mad for plaid holiday dessert table were all featured on Hostess with the Mostess, and we have had countless features on P is for Party, Stem Parties, Scout, Celebrations at Home, Happy Hour Mom, Kate Landers Events, LLC and so many more……

Speaking of the Modern Train Party….  It was WH Hostess‘s first BIG party and we were lucky enough to have one amazing client in Melisa of Project Nursery!  I have been blogging for Project Nursery for a long time now, and had so much fun partnering with her to create this party.  The party was featured all over the blog world – my little modern train was on at least 30 blogs (that we know of) and is still our most popular party theme!

It’s been a fabulous year of amazing parties and celebrations….what more could a girl ask for?!

Big things are in store for both The Party Dress and WH Hostess in 2011….and I can’t wait to jump into this exciting year with both feet!  First up?!  Some amazing new party features coming soon on the blog, new collections on WH Hostess and a trip to NYC to attend the Martha Stewart Doers into Dreamers Conference.  (and that’s just in the first couple of weeks of 2011!)

I hope you will all continue to visit us for your daily party inspiration!

Happy New Year!

xoxo

Kelly

December 21st, 2010 |

Holiday Table Challenge: The Party Dress

Today’s Holiday Table Challenge comes from yours truly!  I’m going to skip over the part where I say nice things about the person and website {because that would just be odd!}  and head right into the party feature.  I hosted a holiday “sweets exchange” last week for a bunch of girlfriends with a “Mad for Plaid” theme.  I asked each lady to bring  their favorite holiday sweets to share, but I wanted to create a festive, holiday dessert table full of goodies for everyone to enjoy during the party!

I wanted to create a dessert table that truly spoke to my personal style – preppy, with a touch of updated style!  Always inspired by Ralph Lauren, I decided to play on my love for tartan plaid and mix different plaids to create a whimsical table, perfect for a cozy night of cocktails and sweets.

The table was set with a red herringbone tablecloth and two tartan plaid table runners.  The centerpiece was full of fresh greenery, berry branches and curly willow branches.  I used a white happiness jar to give it a touch of my modern prep style.  To add to the whimsy, I tied strips of different plaid and check fabrics hanging off the branches.

Using all white serving pieces and glass jars, I added swiss dot polka dot ribbon and candy jar tags to accessorize them.  I also used a combination of food tent cards and cupcake toppers to label all of the different sweet treats.  I also spray painted reindeer head cut-outs a red lacquer to sit on the back of my cake plates for a little extra holiday cheer.

Desserts included my famous Christmas cookies (decorated in plaid this year….just for the party!), peppermint and double-dark-chocolate macaroons from Sucre, polka-dot chocolate-covered oreos from Sweeties by Kim, brownie bites, fudge cups, mini cupcakes, chocolate-covered pretzels, roasted-marshmallow milkshake shooters, and chocolate mousse shooters.  Jars of candy held red hots, green m & m’s, apple sours, peppermints, pearls and chocolate foil balls.

I hope you enjoyed this little peak into my holiday party!  Thanks to Hostess with the Mostess for featuring it!

December 20th, 2010 |

Holiday Table Challenge: Pen n’ Paperflowers

Happy Monday, Ladies!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend! Christmas is getting closer and closer, and although I am sure you are all crazed getting ready – I do hope you will take a few minutes out of your day this week to view the next bunch of fabulous Holiday Table Challenge entries.  Today’s entry is from the fabulous Jessica Kirkland from Pen N’ Paperflowers Design Studio.  Always wowing us with her creative parties and her “keeping it real” section of each blog post, Jessica also offers a darling collection of invitation and party designs through her etsy shop.  Her sweet holiday table is sure to inspire you, read on for more details as told by Jessica herself:

A Holiday Breakfast is the perfect way to spread holiday cheer this season.  Gather some friends, neighbors, best girlfriends or extended family together during the month of December and take a minute to share each other’s company and take a breather from the host of holiday activities that tend to consume all of us. Send them off with homemade favors of pumpkin butter and a bag of simmering potpourri. Or…surprise your kids/family on Christmas morning with a festive spread of holiday breakfast foods.

I created a simple Holiday Breakfast table consisting of: Raspberry Crumble Muffins, Quiche Lorraine, Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls, Cranberry Scones, Cinnamon Nut mini Bread Loafs, and a Oatmeal bar containing cinnamon, raisins, dried cranberries & brown sugar

I also included homemade favors for guests to take home: jars of pumpkin butter, and bags of simmering potpourri.

My favorite idea: Use brown coffee filters as a creative way of wrapping up mini bread loafs as well as topping off jars of homemade pumpkin butter (or jams).

Minted personal stationery gifts

December 17th, 2010 |

Holiday Table Challenge: Fresh Chick Design Studio

Today’s Holiday Table Challenge entry comes from the darling Rebecca Propes of Fresh Chick Design Studio.  Known for her cute, perky designs and love of interior design, Rebecca keeps busy with her blog, etsy shop and as a contributor for Project Nursery.  She recently thru a FABULOUS first birthday party for her son, Blake, and we are lucky enough to have her share it today as her holiday table challenge entry!  Get excited for some sweet details, as told by Rebecca:

The party was put together for my younger son Blake who turned one on December 9th.      My planning process started with a color palette of red and aqua and as it evolved I added a few accent colors so that the theme could be unisex as well.  The theme was a “Winter Candyland”.   I created this cute penguin graphic to add some wintery detail and incorporated lots of candy to bring in the whimsy factor…I wanted it to be festive without being over the top holiday.  I designed all of the printables for the party along with much of the decor.

My first project was to create “birthday posters” as the building block for the desert table…I printed up 13×19 posters that were mounted on foam board and hung from candy cane stripe ribbon.  The posters were layered on top of an aqua and lime damask fabric.  Above the posters hung a flag banner that I made from digital papers I created.  The dessert table was flanked with paper trees made from the same digital papers. (I was inspired  to make these paper trees by my sweet feathered friend of Bird Crafts)  I also made lollipop bouquets to add height and interest.

The center focus of the table was the cake.  I ordered a cake from Target…I made some special requests to accommodate a few ideas I had.  They offer a typical 8” round double layer cake…I asked for them to add a third layer, add fudge between the layers, ice with smooth buttercream, add polkadots in red with a red beaded border.  I would take care of embellishing the rest.    The cake decorating was totally last minute with a few items I had for the party…some large swirly lollipops and some super cute decorated cookies to match the theme sent by The Cookie Jar.

I kept the everything else fairly simple with the treats on this table since there were lots of colors and patterns.  The only other items were decadent red velvet cupcakes from Modern Cupcakes with toppers from Two Sugar Babies, and some adorable custom sugar cookies.  Since I was limited with space on the dessert table I added a candy bar loaded up with all sorts of sweets.  To carry the theme over, more custom signs adorned the table, along with treat bags, fondant topped cupcakes, colorful fabric, and a cute DIY stocking garland.

For entertainment all of the kids had a blast taking turns hitting the penguin pinata.  All of the pint-sized guest were sent home with candy bags, penguin drink cups, and a fun ornament to hang on their tree! This was the perfect theme for a December birthday…the possibilities to carry out this theme were endless!!

Photography: Jackie Lindfors Photography and Apple Velvet Photography

December 16th, 2010 |

Holiday Table Challenge: The Celebration Shoppe

Today’s Holiday Table Challenge entry comes from one of our long-time sponsors, Kim Byers of The Celebration Shoppe. A stylish online party shoppe full of birthday, girlfriend gathering and holiday fun, The Celebration Shoppe not only offers up great designs and an easy-to-navigate shop making it simple for you to pull together a fabulous party, but Kim also offers her readers daily ideas on her blog…..baking, craft and party favor ideas, real parties and tons of inspiration!

Kim (and her little boys) came up with a darling idea for this table challenge…..read on for all of the details as told by Kim:

When the lovely Kelly asked me to participate in her holiday table challenge my first thought was “FUN!” and my second thought went to the man we all talk about this time of year, but likely spend little time styling a placesetting for. So with my little boys in tow and their blue eyes bright, we thought about what Santa’s placesetting for Christmas Eve should look like this year at our house. After some debate we agreed on a woodland theme and started wandering the house looking for natural items that we could use. Our first find was several huge pinecones the boys had been given by their uncle over the summer. We strung popcorn for the garland, and then we hot glued on the candy ornaments and the tiny star that we plucked from their playroom Christmas tree.

Taking the popcorn string one more step, we added chewy cherry sour balls and threaded it with green cross-stitch thread. (Tip: I recommend cleaning your needle between each candy chew with a moist paper towel.) Admittedly there was much more eating than threading on the kids’ part, but there were lots of giggles. My very favorite sound!

My oldest loves powdered donuts so we skewered a few on a lollipop stick (he of course had to test one out for his dessert that night) and tied it with a pretty red ribbon. We also chose some sugared tea cookies and a butter snowflake cookie from our partners at Sweet Tooth Cottage. And what better beverage for Santa placesetting than a bottle of Coca-Cola (since, after all, our modern day Santa is based off of the image they presented in their advertising from decades ago)?! We embellished the bottle with a lovely snowflake ornament and it was all set!  Last, but never least, the Christmas list must be very prominent near the plate. We wouldn’t want Santa to miss it! {wink} Merry Christmas everyone and as always, I hope you’re inspired!

Next we made this yarn pom pom Rudolph reindeer. I’m just in love with how he turned out, especially his acorn nose. The boys were so giggly while he was coming together. Admittedly a few pom poms ran off during the process, but he finally came together. Here’s a quick tutorial on how you can make him too.

December 15th, 2010 |

Inspirational Website: Call Me Cupcake

This holiday season has thrown me for a loop….it’s the first holiday season of WH Hostess and {thankfully} it’s been quite busy!  This is a fabulous problem to have, however I have noticed things in my day to day life have just been pushed back.  The shopping, tree trimming, party planning….I’m normally the girl that has her presents bought and wrapped a month before Christmas.  Not this year!  After my daily run to the post office to ship out orders {twice today!}, I decided it was time to take 5 minutes to sit down and drift away into the blog world.  I just wanted to spend a few minutes relaxing and to drool over something inspirational.  I found a new blog {to me} that allowed me to “ooh” and “ahh” for a few minutes, and I just had to share it with you!

Call Me Cupcake, a blog from Sweden, is responsible for all of this loveliness!  It’s unfortunate that I can’t read any of her posts….BUT the images on her site more than make up for that!  Beautiful, feminine dessert tables.  Clean, sophisticated styling that looks fresh and new.  As you can tell, I’m in love.

I love this mint green and white dessert table.  So sweet and simple – perfect for a bridal shower or spring birthday party.

How fabulous is this white, doiley-covered cake?!

Or this stunning take on the classic pale pink and black color combination?!  Stunning!  I encourage you to take a few minutes to scroll thru this blog and enjoy the eye candy!

Images via Call Me Cupcake

December 15th, 2010 |

Holiday Table Challenge: Scout – A Mom’s Guide to Stylish Living

I’m so excited to share today’s Holiday Table Challenge entry…..not only is it absolutely charming, but it was also done by a good friend of mine.  Let me introduce you to Melanie Knopke – a stylish mom living in Kansas City, a former retail buyer (we were co-workers and became great friends very quickly!) turned blogger.  She currently writes for the Kansas City Star, as well as her blog, Scout – A Mom’s Guide to Stylish Living, where she offers up style suggestions, great new finds and ideas on how to get the best for less.  Mel has impeccible style, and her taste shines thru in all of her posts…..Scout is a staple on my daily must-read list!

In her “free time”, Melanie makes a darling collection of girl’s hairbows.  Gorgeous ribbons, fabulous embellishments and so reasonably priced!  I love giving them as gifts to all of my little girl friends.  You can find these darling bows in her etsy shop, Mel-Belles.

When I asked Mel to participate in our Blogger’s Holiday Table Challenge, she immediately came up with a fabulous theme…..”Belles and Bows” – a hairbow-making party for her nieces.  I came up with some cute paper goods for her, and wait until you see where she went from there!  Read on for all of the lovely details, as told by Melanie:

I am not a professional party planner by any means, but I love to throw a great soiree whenever given the chance!  Being that I am the only girl in a house of boys, I thought it would be fun to get my nieces together and throw a very girly tea party! I make hair bows, and my nieces love to do crafts, so I also let each girl pick out ribbon and some sparkle to make one of their own. It was great to have a few hours of total girl time and I think my nieces had a blast. Here are some of the details…

Ribbon is an inexpensive way to dress up a table. Kelly had given me the trick of using ribbon for a runner, and it always looks so cute! I also used ribbon to wrap up the bottom of the napkins and secured them with a small pin and then a flower hair clip (the girls promptly put them in their hair!)  My favorite part of the table is the chairs! I got the idea from my friend Susan who had seen this on HWTM blog. I cut strips of fabric, and used some ribbon as well to drape down the back, then I just tied it together and tied on a silk peony. It’s an extremely inexpensive way to make a chair look fabulous.

I was on a budget for this party, so I really spent some time searching out inexpensive ways to make the table look festive. I found the tiny tree and canister in the dollar section at Target. The pink sparkly trees and pink glass bottles were from Hobby lobby and were $3.99 and $5.99 (half off, of course!) and I bought an assortment of ornaments at Target for about $8.99. The silk flowers were $10 a bunch at Hobby Lobby as well. The cut glass canisters were all mine handed down from my grandmother. I have already used them so much, and I think they make the table looks so pretty and feminine.  I found the adorable glass plate and cup set on Etsy from the vendor Halvorson’s. They are so gorgeous, and I can’t wait to use them again.

For the sweets table I used big gumballs, candy cane candies, M&M’s, a sweet chex mix (made with white chocolate chips, peanut butter and powdered sugar)and marshmallows dipped in white chocolate and pearl nonpareils to make snow covered marshmallows.

Holiday Free Shipping

December 14th, 2010 |

Holiday Table Challenge: Two Sugar Babies

Our next entry in the Blogger’s Holiday Table Challenge is from Charynn Olsheski, the amazing talent behind Two Sugar Babies.  Known for her amazing fondant and gum paste creations, Charynn has created a whole new aspect to dessert tables – the fondant cupcake topper.  Her fondant toppers have graced a few of my party tables lately and they are always a hit!  You can find styles for every occasion in her etsy shop, and follow her musings on her blog.   I recently had the pleasure of working with her on her daughter’s birthday party (if you missed it, you can see it here) and was thrilled when she excepted our blogger’s challenge.

Read on for more details, as told by Charynn:

I decided to do a “Christmas Morning Breakfast” table that included bite-size items and drinks. One of my family’s favorite holiday movies is “The Polar Express”, so I decided to tie that theme in as well. I completed this table with the help of my mom and grandmother, as they are the lovely women who will be preparing Christmas morning festivities with me (and my mom has an extensive collection of holiday tableware)!  We wanted to keep it simple and inspirational for those non-professional event planners just like us. We used some awesome silver wrapping paper and peppermint striped ribbon as our background, and a red tablecloth under our display.

Everything seen was baked/prepared/designed by the three of us: chocolate-dipped gingerbread grahams, powdered sugar donut “Christmas tree”, gourmet donuts, snowball cookies, double chocolate muffins, and mini egg and bacon puff sandwiches. For drinks, we used orange juice and hot chocolate with marshmallows and peppermint sticks served in Christmas glasses. Polar Express bottle cap designs were purchased online and made into quick muffin toppers and display cards using card stock.  We used large apothecary jars filled with candy canes to give our plates of muffins and sandwiches some height. To add a little sparkle to the jars, we found red glitter snowflake stickers that were really detailed (I can’t wait to use these again!). And to top off the background, I added a hand-drawn “Believe” sign in a traditional Christmas font. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

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