Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cooking Party Invitations : It's TIME to Celebrate!

My sis and I had so much fun making Monkey's cooking party invitations!  Well, I had so much fun.  Guess I can't speak for my sister...

I love to make my own invites to save budget money for fun things like the kitchen timer we attached to each invite.

I fell in love with these timers from World Market back in the spring when I first spotted them, and I have been watching for them to go on sale.  They finally did, and I was able to snag them for $1.50 apiece!  See, it pays to plan ahead!

We found 4 different types of timers (pear, carrot, strawberry, and lettuce), so I wanted to incorporate those words into the invite.  This is what we came up with:

It's TIME to celebrate
Monkey's 7th Birthday
LETTUCE bake up a BERRY good time
Join us
Wear something you won't CARROT all about getting messy
Take a PEAR of cupcakes for your siblings at home

I often get the sibling question, "How do you handle whether or not to invite siblings?"  I find it hard to leave out siblings with our close friends, because we are also close to the siblings.  However, for this party, I gave Monkey a 10 child limitation (crucial for a cooking party, IMHO).  But...I felt kinda bad about having to exclude siblings, so I decided that we would send home cupcakes for them.  As a side note, since we tend to have parties at home (which are smaller and more intimate), we usually have a park and cupcake play date on our girls' actual birthdays and we invite everyone in the class, siblings and all.  That's definitely a "more the merrier" occasion.

When it comes to school friends, I feel it is perfectly fine to only invite the friend and gracefully ask for siblings to stay home ("Due to space limitations, we cannot accommodate siblings this time.  Thank you for understanding").  I have a friend who has decided not to attend anymore parties unless both her girls are invited, because it leads to hurt feelings.  I can see both sides of the issue, and it's definitely tricky, but I feel like I can make a party more special if it is a smaller group of kids.

What do you think?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Make sure your next party flows seamlessly: Create a timeline

This is a snap shot of part of the timeline for Monkey's cooking party.  I wrote the time, activity, and the room we will be using.  Having a visual timeline helps me to make sure the party will flow from one area to another and will ease in setting up for the party.

Below that information, in blue, I added the things that will need to be set up for the activity.  This way, I can quickly look and see what I need to do to prep for each activity.

Even if you don't follow your timeline exactly during your party, just having an idea of what you want to do and when will help.

Note:  This is not an activity to do the night before the party, or even the week of the party.  This timeline was written 2 months before the cooking party, during the brainstorming phase of planning. Brainstorming is much easier when there is no impending deadline.  See my timeline suggestions here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Time to Think About Halloween Costumes!

Why not organize a costume swap?

Check out this great site for details!

Or, if you want to buy your own, check out hip2save for this costume deal.

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WEEK THREE: Brainstorm Your Guest List and Choose Your Theme

Print this guest list at top party ideas

This week's 15 minutes includes finalizing your theme and brainstorming your guest list.  It's an easy-breezy week, if you did your homework.  If you haven't gotten around to brainstorming your party theme, do that first.  Once you've brainstormed possible themes, and mulled the possibilities over for a few days, pick the one that most speaks to you.  The more excited you are about your theme, the easier the planning will be- and the more FUN.

Once you've chosen your theme, grab a piece of paper or print out a guest list template and fill it out.  If the one above doesn't strike your fancy, a simple google search of "party guest list" will bring up several images that you can click on and download for free.  You could create your own, but try not to get bogged down in the perfection of what your guest list looks like.  I quickly scribble mine in my party planning journal and it looks like this:

I simply erase or strikethrough my list as guests RSVP.

You're just brainstorming your list this week- you will finalize it in a couple of weeks after you've had time to reflect on the size of party you want to throw and which names you want to add or delete.  So, set your timer for 15 minutes and try to beat the clock as you create your guest list.

Have fun!

Want to start from the beginning?  Here's what we've done so far:

Friday, September 2, 2011

Don't forget to leave yourself breathing room in deadlines!

I am making something for some very special people for a very special occasion.  The occasion isn't for a few more weeks, but I decided I wanted to finish this project by this Thursday, so I could take it to them when I see them this weekend. stepped in and put the kibosh on that.

While working on my french memo board Monday night, I realized that I did not have enough ribbon to finish my project!  I went to JoAnn's on Tuesday morning to buy more, only to find that they didn't have enough in stock.

This has been such a powerful reminder to me to always leave breathing room for the unexpected.  Though I may not meet my Thursday deadline, I still have plenty of time to complete the project for the big day.

So, my advice to you is: Don't wait until the last minute to start your projects.  You never know when you will have a sick child, run out of supplies, have a work crisis, etc.  Giving yourself a self-imposed, early deadline will help to ensure you have plenty of time to meet the REAL deadline!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WEEK TWO: Brainstorming Party Themes

Last week, I encouraged you to choose an upcoming party you plan to host and follow me as I show you how to plan it in 15 minutes a week.  Read more about that here.

So, I am assuming you did your "homework" and have chosen the party you will be hosting.  You should also have your planning book (anything you can doodle in will do!).

Once you know what party you are hosting, the next step is to brainstorm a theme for your party.  Not all parties have a theme?  I disagree.  All memorable parties have a theme of some sort- though the guests may not know exactly what it is.  Great events stem from an inspiration- it may be a color palette, a character, a book, an era...the possibilities are endless!

If you still don't have any idea what type of theme you want, think of the GOH (guest of honor) for the occasion.  If it's a birthday party, think of the interests of the GOH.  If it's your birthday, it should be easy to think of what you like!  Even if you're planning your Thanksgiving party, it's fun to have a theme in mind.  It could be a certain color scheme, or a favorite thankfulness phrase.

Still stumped:  Read Party Themes 101-another post on brainstorming themes.  If you like that, here's Brainstorming Part 2.

Ok, now that you have your theme in mind, the fun begins!  I love to do mind mapping or webbing for my brainstorming.  Sometimes I just doodle all my possible ideas for a party, like this:

The idea of brainstorming your theme is to get your creative juices flowing.  Remember in grade school when your teacher taught you to brainstorm and she wanted as many ideas as possible, the crazier the better?  Ideas beget ideas- and that next idea may be the golden one!  So go crazy on paper and brainstorm as many ideas as you can.  In 15 minutes.  Then put it away for another day.

So, your homework for the next 7 days is:

  • Choose the date/time of your party
  • Brainstorm ideas for your party with a web, a list, some doodles- whatever floats your boat!
Extra Credit:  If you're type-A like me, and you want a long term vision for where this is going, go ahead and create your party planning timeline.  Once you have your party date, count back 4 weeks.  That's the date that goes next to "Send out invitations."  Then you just fill in the rest of the timeline with dates, one week for each step.  You can copy my timeline here or copy my online timeline here.

Want to start from the beginning?  Here's what we've done so far:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WEEK ONE: Sit down for 15 minutes this week and plan your next party

Raise your hand if you promised you wouldn't let your next party sneak up on you.  

Were you able to keep that promise to yourself? If so, congratulations- I bet your party rocked!  

If you were not quite successful, and you ended up stressed and running around like a headless chicken (poor chickens!), don't despair. 

Focus on now and let's plan a party that will not sneak up on you.  From start to finish, I'm going to walk you through your next party...15 minutes at a time!  Seriously. So, choose the party you are going to work on and get ready to have some fun!

Even if you don't have any parties coming up, just choose your next one.  It may be your child's party that is 6 months away.  Or maybe you want to plan your Thanksgiving holiday.  Maybe you want to plan a school holiday party.  It doesn't matter.  This is about learning the process of planning ahead.  So just choose a party you'd like to throw in the relatively near future and let's get to it!  We will be doing 15 minutes a week, every Wednesday, so it's better if your party is at least 3 months away.  I know that sounds crazy, but once you see how easy it is to plan in advance, you'll see the method to my madness!

All you need to start is a journal to take some notes in.  


Just grab something you have lying around- could be a spiral, a journal you started but only wrote a few pages in (tear the pages out and it's new!), or even a legal pad.  If you have a journal you want to make party-plan-a-licious, check out this link for inspiration.

I'll see you here next Wednesday to start planning our next party!  

To recap, your homework for the next 7 days is this:

  • Choose what party you'll be planning (you don't need a theme, just an occasion- birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.)
  • Find a notebook to keep your planning notes in
If you're feeling adventurous, tell us what party you will be working on.  I will try to incorporate your needs into blog topics to help you with your planning.