My Enchanted Unicorn and Rainbow Birthday Party (Featured on Hostess With the Mostess!)

First of all, let me say how much of a thrill it is to be featured on Hostess With the Mostess…  And to see the great responses!  There are certain blogs I’ve been reading since I started my business…  Style Me Pretty, Every Last Detail, Hostess With the Mostess, Kara’s Party Ideas…  And I’ve been featured in them all over the last year.  Oh my, yes, do I feel blessed!  In this new year I look at what I accomplished over the last year and think, “I can hardly believe I did all that!”

This party is very near and dear to my heart.  It’s because it’s mine.  I decided last year that I hadn’t had a proper birthday party in a long time (although I had invited friends over when I first started my business to sort of play at setting up a party) and that it might be my last birthday before having a little one (and I found out a week later that I was, in fact, pregnant with the little one who has been repeatedly kicking my bladder this morning!).  So why not celebrate it with pretty things? 🙂

I also decided that I wanted to celebrate with rainbows and unicorns party because of this post.  An inspiration board I created way back when I officially started Events by Elisa (almost two years ago now!) that, for whatever reason, has been bringing people to my blog consistently every month.  It’s been one of my most popular posts and one of the most pinned photos from my blog on Pinterest (along with some pictures from Natalie’s Under the Sea Baby Shower…  By the way, Natalie is getting married today and I’m a bridesmaid!!!)!  I decided I had to do something with it.  My inner eight-year-old demanded it.

I gathered together a bunch of my favorite people and rolled up my sleeves and went to work.  Like anything else I do, I trusted my vendor friends to come up with the most amazing interpretations of what I wanted – and boy did they!!!  Desiree of Penny Blooms Floral Design went especially above and beyond, crafting the huge paper flowers, putting together those phenomenal rainbow arrangements, and painting the Pin the Horn on the Unicorn (by hand, in front of me!).  Mark of San Diego Desserts couldn’t possibly give me a plain white frosted cake (especially after I gave him such trouble to tint each layer separately!), so he airbrushed away…  Jenny of JennyWennyCakes did such a beautiful job of making the colors on those macarons pop (even though I know that they spread more than she wanted because of all the color!), and the cake pops by Nicole of Calculated Whisk were gorgeous!!!  Alyssa of Hybrid Photography captured all the elements beautifully!!!  But I think you really just need to see them to get the full effect! 🙂

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A HUGE thank you to everyone who was involved with helping me to make this a fantastic birthday party!!!  I know this is going to be another extraordinary year!!! 🙂

My Enchanted Unicorn and Rainbow Birthday Party Vendor Credits:

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Another Feature – Aidan’s Birthday Party on Baby Lifestyles!

Lauren, the editor of Baby Lifestyles, spotted Aidan’s First Birthday on my blog and fell in love with it.  “OMG so cute!” she said.  “Can we feature it?”

I said yes, of course! 😉

Check out our feature today on Baby Lifestyles!

The Amazing Desmond’s First Birthday Party Featured on Apartment Therapy!

I am totally late to the party on this one…  I wish I’d realized forever ago that this was actually published here (it was, back in April!).  But I just discovered yesterday that The Amazing Desmond’s First Birthday Party was featured on Apartment Therapy’s blog!

The Amazing Desmond!

Desmond’s Circus-Themed 1st Birthday Party featured on Kara’s Party Ideas!

I just happened to look at my blog’s stats yesterday…  And noticed a new referrer.  And clicked through.  And realized that Kara’s Party Ideas – one of my favorite party planning blogs – featured Desmond’s Circus-Themed 1st Birthday Party!!!  I just submitted it earlier this month and thought, “Well, it’s worth a shot!”  And they obviously liked it!!!  I.am.so.excited!!!!  Go check it out and leave us some love in the comments!!! 😉

"Come One, Come All, for One Night Only, the Amazing Desmond Will Astound and Mystify You!"

Thank you so much, Kara, for the awesome feature!!!

Aidan’s Teddy Bear First Birthday Party in San Marcos, 02*18*2012

I have been doing a lot of talk about weddings lately, but it’s not all I do!  I also design and plan social events (birthdays, showers, and other parties and galas).  Today’s event is a birthday party!!

Aidan’s mom Jennie e-mailed me in mid-January, asking for planning and design help with his first birthday party.  She had a pretty clear idea of what she wanted, but needed assistance tying everything together and making it happen.  The challenge was getting the sweets buffet to look elegant and beautiful without it looking girly, and to keep Jennie’s fantastic ideas under budget. 🙂

I think that the result was a great balance of whimsy, elegance, and boyish fun, tying together the themes of teddy bears and milk and cookies.  We featured a sweets buffet in the center of the backyard and a build-a-bear vendor on the patio, along with bunting handmade by Aidan’s dad Sal.  Jennie got in on the handcrafting too, making all the tablecloths and runners as well as all the savory items and some of the cookies and cupcakes!

Jennie purchased printables online at Pink Pickle Studios, including hats, water bottle labels, and a banner:

And Jennie used Aidan’s red wagon as a focal point.

The younger guests had so much fun with Fabbiola of My Beary Best Friend, choosing their animals and watching them be stuffed:

Of course we had to have teddy bears (with individual cookie jars at each table, inside and out!).

Aidan’s parents designed an extra special birthday cake for him, which was brought to life by the amazing Stevi at Hey There, Cupcake!

And now…  The showpiece of the party.  The fabulous sweets table!  I had waaaay too much fun styling this, using my pieces and Jennie’s.  And at her request I made the fantastic fabric flowers from some tutorials I pinned on Pinterest (whew!  Try saying that three times fast!).  I LOVE them SO much!

Yes I know.  They’re just fabric flowers.  But I adore them.

Anyway, on to the rest of the sweet table!

And of course you can’t have a first birthday party without a smash cake!

Aidan’s Teddy Bear First Birthday Party in San Marcos, CA 02*18*2012 Details:

Miss Maya’s Dia de Los Muertos Birthday Fiesta!

Last October, I got a phone call from my friend Jacquelyn, asking for help planning her daughter Maya’s first birthday party.  She wanted something really special and unique – a Dia de Los Muertos celebration!

Maya came into this world six weeks early.  It’s my theory that she was just way too excited to finally meet her parents and couldn’t stand waiting any longer to do so.  I mean, with incredibly awesome parents like these, I don’t know if I’d have waited around either!

It was, understandably, scary for Maya’s family and everyone who loved them, back in November of 2010.  But now, it was time for a fiesta – a celebration of life honoring this beautiful big-eyed rosy-cheeked smarty pants!

She looks a little worried here, but I think she just wanted to get back to the party!

Jacquelyn sent me artwork she liked (purchased off Veer) and I laid out an invitation fit for a fiesta, along with food tags for the dinner and cupcakes!

Invitation lay out by Events by Elisa, featuring artwork from Veer.com

 

I created these gorgeous giant tissue paper marigolds with the help of my incredible assistant Rachael, and Maya’s mom loved them so much that she kept them to hang from Maya’s bedroom ceiling!  Of course I couldn’t have hung them without the help of my “other” assistant, my amazing husband Ryan!  If you like them, you can buy a custom set in my Etsy shop, here!

Tissue flowers by Events by Elisa, available in Elisa's Etsy Shop

Tissue flowers by Events by Elisa, available in Elisa's Etsy Shop

Tissue flowers by Events by Elisa, available in Elisa's Etsy Shop

Something I try to do whenever I’m shopping for a social event is to look everywhere, all the time.  Whenever I’m out and about, shopping for groceries or office supplies or the like, I have a constant list of things I’d like to find in the back of my mind.  I usually find the best – and best value – decorations for social events and inspiration shoots this way!  This party was no exception – I found the lollipops on clearance at Target and the fabulous fabric used for the table runners on sale at Joann’s fabric.  Actually, I should say that my assistant Rachael and my sister Jessica (who were shopping with me) found the fabric.  I just decided we had to have it, and I was right!

It pays to have social event decor on the brain!  I looooove this table runner!

Of course this amazing cupcake display would not nearly have been as beautiful without the artistry of Stevi from Hey There, Cupcake!, who created all the cupcakes you see, as well as the sugar skull smash cake in the center (yes, that’s a cake!!!!).

Cupcakes by Hey There, Cupcake, with custom tags created by Events by Elisa from artwork purchased at Veer.com

Yes, this is a cake, by Hey There, Cupcake!

Maya had never eaten sugar before, so she wasn’t quite sure what to do with her cake, but everyone else enjoyed these gorgeous treats!  She also loved opening her presents –  so she could play with the tissue paper and bags! 🙂

Her mommy thought of every detail – down to the bib she wore for her cake smash.  🙂  This family photo makes me so happy too – aren’t they beautiful?

Maya's adorable Dia De Los Muertos bib, and her family!

Thank you Jacquelyn, Dave, and Maya for letting me be a part of your fiesta!!!  I loved helping to make your day memorable and beautiful!!!!

Maya’s Dia de Los Muertos First Birthday Fiesta 11*13*2012 Details:

The Amazing Desmond’s First Birthday Party!!!

Sometimes you meet people and you just know you’re going to be excellent friends with them.  It was that way the first time I met Desiree of Penny Blooms Floral Design.  I can hardly believe it was just two months before this incredible party!  This is a very photo-heavy post…  But it’s worth it because these photos by Lindsey Gage of Eyelet Images are totally worth drooling over!!!!

Circus Birthday Party, Photo by Lindsey Gage

Desiree’s son Desmond celebrated his first birthday at the end of August.  When you’re the son of an event professional, your birthday party is sure to be a blast!  Sure enough, Desiree’s amazing creativity shone through each and every bit of this gorgeously styled outdoor event, from the handpainted circus elephant cupcake tower topper to the multicolored fabric streamers decorating the tents to the popcorn box “vases.”  I was honored to be print materials designer and to assist Desiree with setup, coordination, and styling!

The Birthday Boy!

It all started with the circus idea.  When Desiree approached me about doing invitations for the party, I asked her if she’d rather have a cutesy or modern/edgy vibe.  She chose modern/edgy, so I worked on a text-heavy invitation that captured perfectly the whimsy and creativity we were going for (if I do say so myself!).  Designers are always cautioned to stick to no more than 2 to 3 fonts in a single page, but I had far too much fun mixing and matching, and threw caution to the wind.  I love it!

"Come One, Come All, for One Night Only, the Amazing Desmond Will Astound and Mystify You!"

The Amazing Desmond!

Of course the party wouldn’t have been as stunning without thoughtful details provided by Penny Blooms Floral Design!  She even had a ball pit and a mini big top, along with a photo booth area for the grownups!

Handpainted elephant by Penny Blooms Floral Design

Peanut boxes

Popcorn box

Handmade PLAY blanket

"Popcorn" Floral Arrangement by Penny Blooms

Ringmaster Suit in the Ball Pit

Favors in Pop Corn Bags

Photo Booth (can you spot my piece?)

I couldn’t resist bringing along a few of my favorite items too:

Vintage Brass Carousel Music Box (in my inventory at Events by Elisa!)

Handmade Photo Booth Props from Events by Elisa's Etsy Shop!

The food was provided by the incredible Jason.  He’s currently working on his catering business name (I’ll post it when it’s official!) but I’ve got to tell you that this guy is worth checking out.  I can’t wait to share when he’s ready to take on clients, because  in addition to being a really nice guy, his food was fabulous!

Pasta Salad with Printed Materials by Events by Elisa

Cupcakes and cake pops were provided by Nikki at Calculated Whisk.  She even made gluten-free flourless cupcakes (which totally made my day)!  And they were soooo good.

Cupcakes by Calculated Whisk

Cupcakes by Calculated Whisk

Lion and Popcorn Cake Pops by Calculated Whisk

Nicki also made a spectacular smash cake just for Desmond!

Elephant Smash Cake by Calculated Whisk

In addition to designing the invitations, I designed a bunch of additional signage for the party.  Like these:

The Amazing Desmond sign for his high chair

High Chair sign by Events by Elisa

Soda Sign by Events by Elisa

And this was probably my favorite sign to design:

Thank You Sign by Events by Elisa

Of course I can’t have a first birthday post without some cake smashing photos!

Cake Smashing Begins!

This is FUN!

Tasting the Fondant Elephant

Tiny Fingers!

YUM!

THANK YOU Desiree for letting me be a part of your handsome son’s special day, and thank you to all the amazing vendors we worked with!

Thank You!

Get This Hat Offa Me! :)

Vendors:

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.

Inspiration: Enchanted Unicorn & Rainbow Birthday Party

I have to admit that this board was inspired by all the gorgeous rainbow cakes I’ve been seeing lately!  I thought I’d take a day off of my how-to series and give you some pretty pictures to look at!

This birthday party was designed for a seven-year-old me.  It’s got second grade Elisa all over it!  In fact, at that age I used to use my grandfather’s typewriter and Xerox machine to create “newspapers” for my family, with poems I’d made up or stories I’d written.  At the bottom of each one was a hand-drawn rainbow with fluffy clouds at each end and a big star and the name of my “publishing house” – Elisa Press.  I was obsessed, too, with unicorns (I was for years) and collected a ton of LisaFrank folders!  I dug up this picture from inside one of my old binders (a Lisa Frank one at that!).  I think I was about 9 when I drew it (the paper is so yellow!):

 

An Events by Elisa original (no idea why the pony's name was "Carol"). :)

An Events by Elisa original (no idea why the pony's name was "Carol").

Anyway, this inspiration board is for you, Little Elisa! 🙂

Enchanted Unicorn & Rainbows Inspiration Board - Events by Elisa

Enchanted Unicorn & Rainbows Inspiration Board - Events by Elisa

Photo credits (clockwise, from top left): Broke-Ass Bride, Babble, ArtNectar, Inspired Parties, Juicy Bits, Love to Know, The Wedding Queen, SmugMug, Hostess With the Mostess, The Cake Blog, Creative Genius Printables.