Featured Today on Preggie Pals, Talking Baby Shower Planning!

Some of you may know that I went on vacation with my husband back in April.  We’d been saving up for a long time (like, since before we were married), and making mental plans, and finally just had to pull the trigger.  It was a fantastic recharging of our batteries, and a seriously fun time.

What very few people know, though, is that I was sitting in our hotel in Paris when I got an extremely interesting e-mail.

“I’m hoping you can help me out. I’m looking for an experienced baby shower planner in the San Diego area. I host/produce an online radio show called “Preggie Pals” which is focused on new and expecting parents, and I need an expert for a show we’re taping in May about baby showers/sprinkles. Is this an area/service you offer and would feel comfortable talking about?”

Confession: I once seriously considered voice acting as a part-time career and even narrated a training video (that has long-since been replaced) about unemployment in New Mexico.  No, really, I did!  Don’t laugh!

So there was really no way I could turn down the opportunity to ham it up.  Er, I mean, educate moms-to-be about baby shower planning. 🙂

Honestly, I was honored to be asked.  I jumped at the chance.  And Sunny, the “Mommy-in-Charge” at New Mommy Media, the company producing Preggie Pals and their sister shows (Parent Savers and The Boob Group), was so welcoming and so nice…  I am so happy I did.

Preggie Pals

We taped this show back in mid-May; I was on my way to a wedding right afterwards, and the mommies on the panel were all about a month and a half away from their due dates.  When I checked in with Sunny last week, she told me that 2 of the 3 babies had been born already…  I’m so excited for them!  They really made this non-mommy feel comfortable during my interview, and I appreciated that very much!

You’ll have to listen to the interview itself to hear everything I had to say – we talked budget, etiquette, expectations, trends, and even what to do when someone wants to throw you a shower you don’t really want…  I really tried to emphasize what a shower is about – showing love and support for the new parents – and we all agreed that it’s an important part of having a new child (even an adoption or second baby).  I loved being able to share my expertise, and learned from the mommies’ experience too!

You can check out the whole interview on New Mommy Media’s website!

Edited on 7/05 – WE’RE LIVE!!!  I haven’t even listened to the show myself, yet…  But I’m SO excited to announce that it’s live and available right now!!!

Check it out!

At http://www.preggiepals.com/ or Itunes!

 

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Lynn’s Peter Rabbit Tea Party Baby Shower, 01*21*2012

This baby shower was a very special one for me to plan.  It was for a very special momma.  My friend Lynn, also known as the bridal half of Lynn + David, my very first clients!

Lynn’s sister in law Leita called me at the very beginning of January asking for my help planning Lynn’s shower for her baby boy.  Typically parties like these take 2-3 months to plan, but Leita gave me free reign to let my creativity run wild (within our very modest budget!).  My only words to go on were “Peter Rabbit” and “tea party.”  So I threw Lynn a Peter Rabbit Tea Party, of course! 🙂

Lynn and her family are British; they moved to the states when Lynn was quite young, but she still considers England “home.”  So I knew that the “tea” portion of the shower had to be spot on.  I contracted with Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe to provide us with an authentic taste of the UK.  The provided us with delicious scones and tea sandwiches, and the three hosts provided lots of varieties of tea, cream, sugar, honey, and lemon.  I got a beautiful hand-painted Peter Rabbit cake from Sweeter by the Dozen Cakes and carrot-shaped cake pop favors from Calculated Whisk too!

Of course this was a small affair (with total decor and food budget of approximately $450), so we didn’t have a professional photographer or a big spread.  I’m going to have to start taking photography classes for things like this, but in the mean time I don’t want to not share an event just because my photography skills are sub-par.  After all, I’m a designer, not a photographer! 🙂  I just have to share the darling details with you, starting with our “MacGregor’s Garden.”  We had planned to hang Peter’s jacket above the hand-lettered garden sign, but had to move to Plan B when it didn’t work out:

And the buffet, complete with hand-lettered chalk signs (I love these so much – I wish I’d bought more when they were on sale at Michael’s because they were so cute!):

We used real mismatched serving plates, teacups, and silverware from my collection, which made the party feel more elegant and special than using paper cups and plastic silverware:

And of course no baby shower would be complete without sweets…  Specifically this gorgeous hand-painted cake (the fondant apparently didn’t like the rainy weather much, but you can see the detail that Jessica put into it!):

And the adorable cake pop favors!  I had a little too much fun cramming them into my wooden wheelbarrow like they were vegetables going to market:

This was one happy momma (despite my out of focus photography job…  yowch!)…  And back in February, she and David welcomed a healthy baby, Simon, into the world! <3!

Lynn’s Peter Rabbit Baby Shower Details:

Natalie’s Under the Sea Baby Shower Featured on Baby Lifestyles!

Lots of big things happening at Events by Elisa behind the scenes…  I can’t wait to share them with you (it will happen, soon).  In the mean time, I just found out that Natalie’s Under the Sea Baby Shower was featured this week on Baby Lifestyles!  Their editor e-mailed me in February saying she’d seen the party on my blog and asking if they could feature it; of course I said yes!

Head on over to Baby Lifestyles to check it out, and while you’re there take a look at all the other gorgeous inspiration there! 🙂

Under The Sea Baby Shower 11*12*2011

I created this “Under the Sea” baby shower theme for a very special momma – my cousin Natalie!  She wanted a big affair – 70 people, including kids and men – so it had to be anything but ordinary!

Wishing Tree

This shower was originally scheduled – and styled – for outdoors in a pretty, terraced backyard.  But a week before the shower was to take place, we found out that our Southern California sun wasn’t going to behave.  Instead of having a beautiful relaxing sun-soaked November day, we’d have soaking of a different sort.  Rain.  Buckets of rain.

I can’t lie – it was a bit of a shocker, since no one counted on rain during what was supposed to be a very dry November in San Diego.  What was worse was that the home where we’d planned to hold the shower couldn’t accommodate 70 people indoors.  So, thanks to a very generous coworker, we moved on to Plan B: the gourmet kitchen and bar areas of a private clubhouse (the rest of which was already rented out that day for a bridal shower!).

Luckily it was an absolutely gorgeous venue, and luckily even the rain didn’t keep away the throngs of guests.  We showered this Mama in style!

We created some really fun touches, from GORGEOUS sea urchin vases custom made by the insanely creative Desiree of Penny Blooms to cascading bubble chandeliers made from clear glass ornaments provided by the mom-to-be to a wishing tree made from driftwood.

Sea urchin vases by Penny Blooms!

Sea Urchin vases custom made by Penny Blooms

Bubble Chandelier

Driftwood Wishing Tree

Driftwood Wishing Tree

Driftwood Wishing Tree

Natalie and Tony decided that they didn’t want to know the gender of their unborn baby, so we threw a completely gender-neutral party (complete with coloring pages asking if the kids in attendance thought the baby was a Stella – girl – or Brayden – boy, and a single game asking adults in attendance to fill in their guesses for birth stats and gender).  I have to admit, it was kind of tough staying firmly in the “cute and gender neutral” category, but it was helpful that Natalie chose such an adorable “Under the Sea” theme, inspired by a set of scrapbooking stickers she found when she found out she was first pregnant!

I created a set of printed pieces including an invitation featuring original artwork (inspired by the stickers) an original poem by Practically Perfect Poetry, Prose, and Proofreading – I just love how much personality there was in that sweet little turtle!

Invitation featuring original artwork by Events by Elisa and and original poetry by Practically Perfect Poetry, Prose, and Proofreading

Food tags by Events by Elisa

Sweet Table Tags by Events by Elisa

Custom Thank You cards by Events by Elisa

Then of course there was my personal favorite feature of the party – a huge ocean-themed sweets buffet featuring a gorgeous “wave” backdrop of fabric that my amazing assistant found at Joann’s Fabric, hand-assembled clamshell cookies (made by me!), a sculpted sandcastle cake by Hey There, Cupcake!, and the most adorable sea creature cake pops by Calculated Whisk!  The “sand” was actually brown sugar, and the rocks and shells were candy – and every kid there (and some of the adults) loved that they could eat every bit they wanted!  Plus brown sugar was inexpensive, non-toxic, and looked and smelled amazing!

Sweet Table by Events by Elisa, featuring Hey There, Cupcake and Calculated Whisk

Clamshell cookies, assembled by Events by Elisa

Sweet Table by Events by Elisa, with brown sugar "sand"

Gummy fish and Godiva Gems on the Under the Sea Sweets Table created by Events by Elisa

Turtle cake pops by Calculated Whisk!

Gorgeous sand castle cake by Hey There, Cupcake!

A sand castle made of cake, by Hey There, Cupcake!

I can’t help but throw in one extra shot of those cookies…  I just love them so much!

One more shot of

And of course I’m happy to report that Natalie gave birth to Baby Boy Brayden last month and he’s beautiful!

Natalie’s Under the Sea Baby Shower 11*12*2011 Party Details:

Baby Shower Printed Materials

My friend Christina is having a baby!  We got married around the same time, and met while planning our own weddings.  Our group of friends has a tradition of throwing group baby showers where we do a sort of group hosting, each contributing something to the day.  I was so honored to be able to provide printed materials (and florals – but those were really thanks to Trader Joe’s and my milk glass collection!), including a custom Mardi Gras-themed invitation (to go with Baby Girl’s purple and gold room!).

First of all, though, my friend Jennie’s awesome custom bunting (with some of my flowers…  oh, do I love my milk glass!):

Baby Bunting by Jennie

I don’t know if she’s ready to start taking orders yet but I swear she should make and sell her handmade goodies – that girl is so talented! 🙂

I’m super-proud of the invitation, featuring original artwork by yours truly and an original poem by Practically Perfect Poetry, Prose, and Proofreading.  Seriously, all, my friends are the bomb.  Cassiopeia IS taking orders, and I swear I don’t know how she does it.  She whipped up this perfect Mardi Gras poem in less than a day! 🙂

Baby Shower Invitation

Baby Shower Invitation

Last but not least, my friend Helena picked these cake pop favors up from CakeyPops, and I made the sweet little tags to go with!

Baby Shower Favor Tags

Congratulations Christina!  I can’t wait to meet Baby Girl!  Thanks for letting me be a part of your shower day! ❤

Vintage Children’s Book/English Garden Baby Shower!

I loved designing this gorgeous Vintage Children’s Book/English Garden-themed Baby Shower!  The hostess and I worked on the details for about two months and I’m really pleased with how it all turned out!

This party featured lots of lovely details and used LOTS of my event inventory, including my new beverage dispensers and thirty mason jars.  In addition to some of the hostess’ own serving pieces and my event inventory, I used lots of pieces from local thrift stores and the swap meet, some handmade goodies like bunting and poms, and flowers from Trader Joe’s!

Sweet Table with Homemade Bunting - Events by Elisa

Sweet Table with Homemade Bunting - Events by Elisa

Themed Cupcakes by Sweeter by the Dozen - Events by Elisa

Themed Cupcakes by Sweeter by the Dozen - Events by Elisa

Scones Table - Events by Elisa

Scones Table - Events by Elisa

Savories Table - Events by Elisa

Savories Table - Events by Elisa

Homemade Tissue Pom - Events by Elisa

Homemade Tissue Pom - Events by Elisa

Garden Box Display - Events by Elisa

Garden Box Display - Events by Elisa

For more photos, check out my Facebook page!

Pretty Book-Themed Baby Shower Invitation!

I have been waiting to share this one with you for a while!  I absolutely adore this custom-created Baby Shower invitation, featuring completely original artwork based on the characters of A. A. Milne (illustrated by E.H. Shepard) and Beatrix Potter!  The characters from both authors are sitting down to a beautiful picnic and tea!  I absolutely loved this beautiful invitation – and creating it was a great reminder that the creative process is all about collaboration.  I’d come up with something completely different and had a sort of vague idea of an alternate invitation.  When the party’s host saw my alternate invitation draft, she told me to run with it – and offered some crucial ideas about how to make it better (namely, add more characters!).  The result is one of my favorite projects EVER!

Baby Shower Invitation Featuring Custom Artwork - Events by Elisa

Baby Shower Invitation Featuring Custom Artwork - Events by Elisa

Check in tomorrow to see photos from the shower itself, or visit my Facebook page!

Any Ideas? – What Will Our Activities Be?

This sort of ties in with the audience question, above.  What activities are you planning for the guests at your event?  This can be a big space consideration, especially at a wedding, where dancing is typically expected. Do you have enough space for your activities?  Do you have a clearly defined space for them, or will you have to clear away one part of the party to make room for another?

Whether you’re throwing a wedding, birthday party, or shower, how will you entertain your guests?  Board games?  Charades?  Shower games?  Scrapbooking?  Photo booths?  Will you make a wishing tree, or use a traditional guestbook, or paint onesies?  Will you start a massive game of capture the flag, or decorate cookies, or play beer pong?

When you start thinking about party themes, your party activities may or may not heavily feature in the planning process.  But unless you know how your guests will spend their time, the details of your theme will be murky.

Again, I like to use examples, so here goes:

Sack Races

Sack Races

Say I’m asked to plan out a party.  The honoree likes my “Born on the Fourth of July” inspiration board, so I’m working with a red, white, and blue palette and going for an old-fashioned feel.  If the activities for the day included a sack race and a game of Blind Man’s Bluff, the party would have a very different overall feeling than if guests spent their time creating ice cream sundaes, or if they pulled taffy by hand or played a Tiddly Winks tournament.  These would all be pretty standard Victorian-era party activities, consistent with the theme of the party, but would yield dramatically different results with your overall party theme.

Tiddly Winks

Tiddly Winks

Even at a wedding, a careful planner will consider what the guests will be doing.  Will there be a large enough dance floor for everyone?  Is there a photo booth?  A fun guest book?  A sweets table or candy bar?  A slide show?  Trading card favors?  Or are your guests more of the “stand around and enjoy each other’s company” variety?

Keeping guests busy at a party is one of the hardest jobs for any planner; it involves a thorough knowledge of your party space and your audience, and (hopefully) a good deal of thought.  We’ve all been to parties where we were bored to tears (or worse, uncomfortable with strange getting-to-know-you games that didn’t make a lot of sense).  Tying your theme and your activities together helps you to have a clearer picture of what your guests will be doing, and helps your guests to better enjoy your careful planning.

Photo credits: Book Drum, Object Lessons.

Any Ideas? – What Does the Honoree Really Like?

Forget for a minute that vintage-inspired weddings are “in.”  Forget that sweet tables are the hot thing, or that jewel tones are “so last year.”  What does your honoree like?  If you’re the bride and groom planning a wedding, what is your style?

My wedding cake table - Events by Elisa

My wedding cake table - Events by Elisa

I got married in 2008.  This was the very beginning of the mismatched table decor trend.  In fact, the first magazine article I saw mentioning putting flowers in various china vessels was published a month or two before my wedding in Martha Stewart Weddings.  But my husband and I – both avid swap meet goers, both in love with vintage looks, both more at home with mismatched and homespun than slick and modern (our house is a great example – we’ve furnished almost the entire thing secondhand) – decided early on in our planning process that we’d enjoy picking out vintage china pieces to fill with mismatched flowers and decorate our tables.  This theme – a whimsical vintage garden – was born when we first visited our venue (a vintage-themed restaurant) and was the perfect mixture of our taste with distinct, inexpensive details.

If you are more couture than campagne, a mismatched garden look is probably a mismatch for you.  Likewise, if I’m planning a birthday party for a 4-year-old-girl who is obsessed with monster trucks, I probably won’t be dressing her up as a princess (unless she’d like a princess-at-a-monster-truck-rally party, in which case I’m all for it!).  Trends are trends – but just as in fashion, if a trend doesn’t fit you, don’t wear it.  Skinny jeans or cutoffs may be in vogue, but I look like a tree stump in them – so I consistently choose long bootcuts.  Don’t reach for the “in” thing if it’s just not you.

Likewise, if a trend does happen to be you, don’t be afraid to embrace it.  You may remember my peacock bridal shower invitations.  What I didn’t say in the original post was that my friend, for whom I’m throwing the shower, originally wanted peacock feathers to be featured at her wedding.  But when she realized that they were a hot wedding trend, she decided against them.  She didn’t want to follow the crowd.  I understand and embrace the creative spirit – but no two parties are identical, even with the exact same printed materials.  Just because something has been done a hundred times doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing again – if the theme is something you love.

Photo from my website.

Any Ideas? – How Many People Will be in Attendance?

How does this play into the theme, you might ask?  What does it matter if I’ll have 10 people at my event, or 100?  Well, unless your budget and your space is unlimited, the number of guests in attendance is crucial to the planning of your event.  You may have your heart set on a fancy sit-down dinner for 200, but if your backyard only has enough room for half that many seated, you may have to plan on serving cocktails and appetizers instead, or cut your guest list in half.  Similarly, if your budget is only $1000, you can invite 10 people and spend $100 on each, or 100 people and spend $10 on each.

Not surprisingly, the less people you expect to have, the more elaborate a theme you can have.  Consider favors – just a small part of a wedding or other event.  With a $250 favor budget, you can give 200 people a handful of jordan almonds wrapped in tulle, or 10 people personalized sterling silver charms.

You can still have the same general theme – say, bohemian wedding – if you have 15 guests or 150.  You may still have the same basic costs – like DJ, coordinator, photographer, lighting, and paper goods – but your per-person budget will determine how many beautiful themed details you can include.  The more guests you have, the less you can spend per person.

Your expected guest list also helps determine your exact venue – if you absolutely must have room for 300 wedding guests, the back room at your favorite restaurant probably can’t hold them.  But if you’re having a small wedding celebration with just a dozen close family and friends, there’s no reason to rent a ballroom.

If your venue is set – say, your home – you’ll need to know the number of guests early on for planning the flow of traffic.  In our living room and kitchen, we typically can’t fit more than four comfortably.  But for my husband’s board game birthday party, we removed all the excess furniture, set up a bunch of small chairs, and transformed our kitchen into an appetizer serving space.  It was tight, but we enjoyed the company of eight of our closest friends (and could have probably fit another couple or two!).

One of my favorite recent examples of the importance of knowing your guest list is the Cinderella-Inspired Birthday on Hostess with the Mostess.  The party host admits that cutting down the guest list was hard – for her daughter’s previous birthday she’d invited over sixty kids – but was able to make a beautiful, lavishly-decorated party with elaborate gift bags for just ten guests.  “This year, ten girls was just perfect!” she says.  Had she tried to plan the same party for even twice that many guests, it would have turned out very differently; from the setup of the party space to the gift bags, she would have had a completely different party.  This is not to say it wouldn’t have been lovely – or that you shouldn’t invite every last one of your friends to your next bash – but the number of people you invite will always be a consideration for your space, your budget, and the scope of your party.