seriously, it’s time to start planning your holiday parties

start planning your holiday parties now

For those of you who gripe about seeing holiday decorations in the mall earlier and earlier, I understand that sentiment, but you seriously need to start planning holiday parties yesterday. Well, at least if you live in a market like DC.

I started working on one of the annual holiday parties that I do this week and I feel like I’m already behind. Venues are booking up fast, caterers are as well. But more importantly, so are people’s calendars – which is the one part of planning holiday parties that is trickiest to work around.

Because while YOU are planning YOUR company’s holiday party, so is everyone else. And many people get invited to multiple parties. Holiday party planning is one giant scheduling conflict to work through.

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children’s party themes that won’t break the bank

When i was growing up, my mom threw me the best birthday parties. They weren’t particularly elaborate, my parents didn’t go into debt to pay for them. But they were sweet, with girlish themes, goody bags full of mostly candy, and lots of memories.

There has been chatter around the interwebs on how increasingly elaborate children’s birthday parties have become. There are all sorts of theories – fingers pointed at the rise of mommy blogs, on the ease of sharing ideas on Pinterest (and getting jealous of other mom’s ideas), even at Sheryl Sandberg’s advice to Lean In and the now perpetual debate on whether women truly can have it all.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not currently a mother, so I’m not planning any birthday parties for my own children. But as an event planner, I’d be more than happy to help plan someone else’s party, for the same reason I enjoy planning any event – including weddings: so that the host of the event can enjoy the event. But many moms can do it on their own, as well.

Here are some of my favorite ideas for children’s parties. Most of these can be held in the backyard, or a living room or basement. Most of the food and drink can be made at home (if desired).

Little girls love ballerinas – even the ones who never grow up to be ballerinas (like me!) dream of being one. There are lots of ways to have a ballerina or ballet themed party – you don’t even need to include ballet! I love this simple decor idea of putting tutus on the girls’ chairs – very chic! Photos by Christy Martin Photography via Hostess with the Mostess:

children's party ideas | amanda jayne events blog

How many little girls love a certain color? You could design an entire party around that color! This goes well with an art theme, but I really love the concept of the pantone paint chips named after the birthday girl. This would work with any color. Photo via Amy Atlas:

children's party ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Another cute idea is the princess party for little girls. I see lots of moms go over the top with this one, buying princess gowns and hiring princess impersonators. I think this can just be a “royal tea party” that’s just as special and a lot less costly. It only takes a few props to make a table feel royal to a little girl – I bet you can even raid your attic for a few antique-y pieces that you can dress up with some fake pearls or rhinestones. Photo by Heather Renee Photography via Hostess with the Mostess:

children's party ideas | amanda jayne events

A carnival theme works for boys or girls – and just like the ballet theme doesn’t necessarily need to involve ballet, a carnival theme party doesn’t necessarily need to involve the carnival – especially since taking a bunch of children to the carnival sounds like a nightmare and hiring the carnival to come to your party sounds really expensive. But you can have some carnival like games and carnival decor – I love this photo which uses ticket rolls as part of decor. Photo by Naomi V Photography via Hostess with the Mostess:

children's party ideas | amanda jayne events

Another gender-neutral idea is the movies! This theme could really go anywhere. You could take a bunch of kids to the movies and spend a ton of money, or you could show a movie at your home and get the same goodies – sodas, popcorn, etc. for cheap. I love the centerpiece made out of popcorn boxes and ticket stubs. Photo via Between Naps on the Porch:

children's party ideas | amanda jayne events blog

Finally – a pirate theme might take a bit more work to pull off, but many of the necessary props (eye patches, bandannas) are easily found at the dollar store. Plus everything is supposed to look homemade! Photo via Hostess with the Mostess:

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And of course, these bananas are the cutest things I’ve ever seen:  (Photo via Hostess with the Mostess)

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just a few suggestions, but it doesn’t take a ton of money to be super creative!

Top photo via Makoodle

if I planned Kate Middleton’s baby shower…

baby showers | amanda jayne events blog

Since everyone is royal baby crazy, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ideas for baby showers, which have come a long way from pink or blue everything and a half-hearted attempt at a diaper cake.

Now I’m not a mother and I have some time before I plan on becoming one, but I have told my team that between all of their event expertise and creativity, I expect the BEST office baby shower ever. Hint hint, ladies! But no seriously, there’s plenty of time for that down the road.

On to the inspiration!

I love bride and groom chair signs at weddings, but this Mama-to-be sign seems even more appropriate. Obviously the lady needs to get off her feet! photo via The Party Dress:

baby showers | amanda jayne events blog

I personally think the “Keep Calm and…” is a little played out, but here it kind of works for me for a baby shower theme. Photo via Hostess With The Mostess.

baby showers | amanda jayne events blog

This is a pretty clever baby shower invitation without being gross or creepy (there is some weird stuff out there). Printable by HWTM on Etsy.

baby showers | amanda jayne events blog

While the above is appropriate for the summer, this would be better for the winter. Very cute hot chocolate bar, with a baby shower twist. Photo via Hostess with the Mostess.

baby showers | amanda jayne events blog

Finally this is honestly, seriously an idea I would want when the day comes: a children’s book themed shower. I LOVE books (spent 6 years working at the local library when I was younger) and I love the idea of starting a library of books for a baby. Great idea! Photo via Pizzazzerie.

baby showers | amanda jayne events blog

What are your ideas for a baby shower?

Top photo via How Does She

happy 4th of july – have a patriotic cocktail

In honor of the 4th of July, here are some red, white and blue cocktails that are perfect for the holiday or could be adapted as signature cocktails for weddings or events. I love the bright colors!

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A Frozen Firecracker – made with daily’s frozen punches

Red, white and blue lemonade

Red, White & Blue Sangria – made with white wine, triple sec, simple syrup, vodka, lemon juice & berries

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A Blueberry Nation – with cognac, elderberry, lemon & lime juice

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A Blue Citrus Splash – made with rum, blue curaçao & pop rocks

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A red, white & blue shooter  – made with grenadine, peach schnapps & blue curacao

Cheers!

why i love meetings and events

This may look like a simple centerpiece to you, but to me it represents a problem I had to solve at the last minute - and my solution ended up better than my original plan!

This may look like a simple centerpiece to you, but to me it represents a problem I had to solve at the last minute – and my solution ended up better than my original plan!

Three things: Solving problems, little details & bringing people together

Solving problems…

Any event planner will tell you that a big part of any meeting or event is solving problems. Because despite the best laid plans (and we’re planners so we like to think we have the best plans), things always go wrong. Maybe things go a little wrong, maybe things go majorly wrong. But for me, I love being able to solve problems. I love a challenge. In fact, when an event comes together too easily I can get bored. Whether its preemptively solving problems while planning an event or fixing something that has gone awry during an event, I love that feeling of accomplishment of making something happen or sometimes even saving the day.

Little details…

Some people are details people, some aren’t. I love details. I know that some of the details (probably a lot of details) I spend time working on will go unnoticed by event guests, even by clients. But I get a great deal of satisfaction out of focusing on details because they just might mean something to somebody. The details make an event just a tiny bit better.

If the point of an event is to bring people together, there is nothing better than seeing people having a good time!

If the point of an event is to bring people together, there is nothing better than seeing people having a good time!

If the point of an event is to bring people together, there is nothing better than seeing people having a good time!

Bringing people together…

At the end of the day, any event – conference, meeting, wedding, dinner party – is about bringing people together. I find that people who love planning events often also love entertaining – I certainly do. While I love to cook and I love to host dinner parties for my friends, as much as I love compliments on my cooking, I secretly love watching the conversation unfold more. I love bringing people together, facilitating connections, and creating an atmosphere where the goal of the event can happen – celebrating, networking, business, teaching, etc.

I could go on and on about why I love meetings and events. Why do you love them?