I was inspired to write this blog post by a recent question on an online forum I belong to … ‘what are some good baby shower games?’ For anyone who has planned a friend or family member’s baby shower you have run into this some quandary. You want the shower to be fun – therefore wanting to include a few fun games, yet not be too cheesy (at least this is what I hear a lot!) And, I will add that it is a great idea to include some kind of game/activity. Here is why – whilst many of your guests will know each other and enjoy chatting and nibbling on food and drinks, some guests may not know another soul at the party. We have all been there, invited to a co-worker’s shower and arrive to find you are the only friend from work there – and while some of us can jump right into conversation with a complete stranger, others are left hanging out by the edges with no one to talk to. So give that shy guest something to do! Have an activity station or two to provide a task to create conversation. Here are a few easy activities to consider:
Pass the Parcel. While the mom-to-be gets to open wonderful gifts why not share the love by having guests get to open some presents too. Wrap up a few gifts with layer upon layer of wrapping. There are a couple ways to unwrap – one is to have music playing and when the music stops the guest holding the gift gets to unwrap a layer, this continues until the final layer is removed and the guests who unwraps it gets to keep it.
Advice, Wishes, and Prediction Cards. I have created a number of custom cards that can be set at each place-setting or in one area (along with pens), so each guest can make fun predictions, provide thoughtful wishes, or useful advice for the mom-to-be. Be sure to provide a basket or similar to place the completed cards in. Fun alternatives to this can be - write encouraging words on a diaper (might be useful for the parent doing the midnight diaper change) or signing a book to give to the infant (‘Oh the Places You’ll Go’ is always a favorite).
Blindfold Diaper Change. If you have the right crowd who love a good laugh, have team relay races to cloth diaper (disposable is way too easy) a baby doll with a blindfold on. Hopefully guests won’t mind the occasional prick from the diaper pins!
Word Search, Quizzes, and Baby Libs. Another easy option, that doesn’t involve too much work, is to have printed games. A word search of baby names can entertain guests for the few moments between chats and nibbles.
I hope whichever games and activities you select for your friend or family member or perhaps your own baby shower you and your guests all have a fabulous time, afterall isn’t that what it is all about – having a great time! So happy planning and let me know if I can help.
Living and working in Newburyport I have the good fortune of being surrounded by beautiful venues and creative spaces for events I design and plan: depending on the type of event my clients are hosting there is always a number of wonderful locations to choose from. So I thought it would be interesting to showcase some of these venues.
One (or really two) of our more historic and wonderful venues is at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church here in Newburyport.
As a a local to Newburyport or as a visitor to our lovely city you have probably driven along High Street and marveled at the beautiful exterior – of both the main church and St. Anna’s Chapel. And the inside of both the church and chapel are equally beautiful, but with two very different looks. The main church, with its all–white very traditional New England interior, including closed pews and high ceilings, is reminiscent of the Old North Church in Boston, MA, and large enough for quite a grand ceremony. St. Anna’s chapel has a more intimate feel, with dark wood pews and soaring stained glass windows. It is the perfect location for a smaller gathering, such as a small wedding, baptism, or memorial service.
Couples wishing to tie the knot within a beautiful space can know they will be welcome at St. Paul’s regardless of their religion; as are couples who want to a hold secular wedding with their own Justice of the Peace. And, indeed, all are welcome, including same sex couples. So if your image of a perfect wedding is walking down a beautiful aisle – I encourage you to visit St. Paul’s in Newburyport.
Here are links to find out more
St. Paul's Church, Newburyport, MA:
The breathtaking photos are by Brooke Whicher Photography:
And the floral, of course, by Willow Event Planning:
One of my favorite things to do for an event is create custom personalized elements – and one of the smallest elements happens to be one of my favorites – custom chocolate wraps! They are delicious and adorable. Whether you add them to your favor bag, have them dotting the table, or stacked in bowls around an event, they add a little personal touch that every guest is sure to notice. After all – who doesn’t like chocolate!?
And, they are not nearly as difficult to make as you might think. So, in case you want to try making some for you next event, here's my ‘how to’ guide.
Now for the trickiest step: create a table in Word with each cell the size of the wrap you want. Rather than trying to describe it here, if you want to create a ‘nugget’ sized wrap feel free to ask me and I will be happy to send you my template.
Then add your design element / logo / slogan to the center of the cell. Once you're happy with the look you have created print and cut out each individual wrap. I am a great fan of my paper cutter – if you are making a bunch of these this is not a job for scissors!
Now you have your little rectangular wraps and it is time for the hot sticky step – gluing. So, warm up your glue gun – I set mine to the hot setting (in case yours also has this option) as you don’t want them falling open. Make sure the design is perfectly centered on the top of the foil wrapped chocolate nugget, fold the wrap around the chocolate and glue it down. Be sure to wipe away any glue that oozes out – and be sure not to burn yourself!
And then – Voila! Adorable custom chocolate wraps ready for your next event.
I hope this was helpful … but if it sounds too much for you to do yourself please feel free to contact me to make some for your next event.
So what better time than at the beginning of a new year to commit to seeking out all the reasons to celebrate. From the small moments to those that make history, there are reasons every day to take time to celebrate.
So I am kicking off my new year #reasontocelebrate by sharing that today is National Joygerm Day! Yes it sounds icky, but really it is recognizing that being in a positive mood around others is infectious and spreads positivity. So spread the germ we all want to catch - joy.
And, if Joygerm day doesn’t fit your fancy it is also National Argyle Day, National Sunday Supper Day, National English Toffee Day, and National Bubble Bath Day!
Follow Willow Event Planner on Facebook and Instagram (jenwilloweventplanning) to join me in learning all the reasons to celebrate this year. #reasontocelebrate
New Year’s Eve parties are rarely kid-friendly, leaving parents either stuck at home or calling every babysitter in town in hopes they are free. So a couple of years ago my husband and I started a new tradition for New Year’s Eve: celebrating the English New Year! Why the English New Year? Well, one: we are both English and most importantly, two: here on the East Coast of the US the English New Year happens at the perfect kid-friendly time of 7pm. So our kiddos can join in the countdown and still go to bed at a reasonable hour (OK, in all honesty – our eldest usually ends up staying up late with us!).
So as I’m now beginning the preparations for this year’s party, I thought I’d share with you a few photos and info about last year’s “English New Year’s Eve Party”.
We had a gold theme, and went a little wild with the gold spray paint, including spraying all the sparkling wine bottles gold. Hint: use painter’s tape to cover all areas on the bottle you don’t want gold and spray the bottle in an area you don’t mind becoming gold – for us we used a cardboard box with one side cut out and turned the bottle as we sprayed.
We had photo booth props, which made for some fabulous and hilarious photos. And a basket full of sound makers, hats, headbands, necklaces, and poppers to help ring in the New Year.
Being a dinner-time party there was plenty of food,- including some kiddo favorites such as mac n’ cheese, fruit, and - sausage rolls – our nod to it being an ‘English’ party. And, of course, plenty of drinks for adults and kids.
As for party favors - each guest was able to take home some midnight kisses.
As 7pm approached we rounded up everyone into the living room and did the full countdown to ‘midnight’ followed by lots of hugs, kisses, and singing Auld Lang Syne. It was a fabulously fun and festive night thoroughly enjoyed by adults and kids alike – and I can’t wait to do it again. Here’s to 2017!
I’ve been debating whether or not to share photos of a party I recently planned … because it was my daughter’s. But it was so fun, and the venue was so perfect, that I can’t help but write a quick blog post. So here it is - my daughter’s fabulous ‘Teddy & Me Yoga’ party.
When my daughter first told me she wanted to do a teddy bear party and invite all her school and playdate friends I panicked! I love my home, but it was certainly not designed for twenty plus preschoolers. So I reached out to Yogi Elissa Shoreman at Buddhaful Souls Yoga Studio in Rowley, MA, and she agreed to share her studio and provide the kids with a fabulous yoga class (and to include the game freeze dance to my daughter’s favorite song, Uptown Funk).
I created invitations that told parents they were welcome to drop off their children or stay and enjoy drinks and snacks, whilst their children enjoyed yoga. (I do think it’s important that the invitation be a useful guide on what to expect at a party.) I also asked parents to be sure to be back for the picnic and cake portion of the party. And it worked perfectly! Some parents remained in the front lobby and chatted with other adults over snacks, wine, and sparkling water while Elissa used her magic to keep twenty preschool children happily engaged in yoga and other fun activities. The yoga lesson was followed with a teddy bear picnic and cupcakes. Elissa also helped out with this part, and even asked the kids to share their favorite thing about my daughter (which yes, brings sweet tears to my eyes as I write this).
Every child was asked to bring a favorite teddy bear to share in the yoga, but I was sure to provide some ‘loaner bears’ for any children that forgot to bring their own. And to continue the theme, every child left with a small teddy bear and lollipop as a favor.
It was a truly lovely party, enjoyed by all. I cannot recommend Buddhaful Souls Yoga more highly. To learn more about Buddhaful Souls please visit: www.buddhafulsoulsyogastudio.com
Last week I stopped by Parker River Winery to pick up a case of my client’s favorite wine, rosé. While there I met winemaker Jim Ellis, who started the winery 10 years ago in his Boxford home’s basement. And he was nice enough to give me a tour of the winery.
It was such a pleasure to see up close how they make their delicious wine. From growing and pressing grapes to labeling the bottles, every step takes place in their Boxford location, utilizing traditional methods.
Here are a few snapshots I took in the winery.
And here are a few photos of the grapes growing on site.
Being creative and designing elements for events is among my favorite aspects of event planning, but I know my artistic abilities can only go so far. Give me a paint brush or calligraphy pen – and I am stumped. Luckily for me, and my clients, I work within a community of talented artists who are happy to help create one of a kind beautiful décor pieces.
On a number of recent events I have had the pleasure of working with Philippa Dunn, a local artist and mother. She has painted some beautiful signs and menus, which not only add a very personal touch to an event, but are also wonderful mementos for clients and their guests to keep.
Most recently she hand-painted signs for a fabulous Luau party – including a welcome sign, selfie station sign, painted fans, and a sign inviting guests to take a lei.
She created a chair décor for a 'Soon-to-be Mrs. P' bridal shower.
And, designed a fabulous bar menu and signature board for a wedding.
Philippa’s artistic talents also include painting in oil on canvas and linen, and working in graphite on paper. Living here on the North Shore, much of her work is inspired by the buildings and landscapes surrounding us. She recently displayed her work at a juried show at the Newburyport Art Association, www.newburyportart.org, and has an upcoming show this October in Peabody, MA.
To learn more about Philippa’s artwork and see a sample of her pieces, I invite you to visit: www.philippadunn.blogspot.com/
I can’t help but pull out my camera and take a few snapshots of flowers when I am setting up to create some arrangements. Even sitting in buckets on my work table the beauty of each flower always begs to be photographed. So, whilst I love seeing the final product – and yes take tons of photos of each arrangement, bouquet, and boutonnière I proudly create - I also fill my camera with images of buckets of flowers, wrapped flowers, and each flower alone in its strikingly detailed gorgeousness.
So I am sharing here a few of the shoots I just snapped of the flowers as they await arrangement and taking center stage at two fabulous events this weekend. I hope you enjoy.
Staying consistent with themes, colors, fonts, and styles always makes the event special. But to make it extra special why not think about adding a catchphrase that captures the spirit of the celebration? And how fun it will be to find ways to tie in your theme and phrase throughout your event.
Last weekend I was honored to help plan and design a bridal shower at the Tewksbury Country Club. The colors chosen were peach and white, with a little kraft brown added for a rustic touch while keeping the event beautiful and classy.
One of the bridesmaids came up with a perfect yet simple catchphrase for the event: ‘Soon-to-be Mrs. P’. And we ran with it! The invitation asked guests to celebrate the ‘Soon-to-be Mrs. P’; custom wrapped chocolates dotted the tables with ‘Soon-to-be Mrs. P’; the date night activity game asked for suggestions for the ‘Soon-to-be Mrs. P’; guests received thank you cards from the ‘Soon-to-be Mrs. P’; and we even had a hand-painted chair decoration for the bride (painted by local artist Philippa Dunn) saying - you guessed it - ‘Soon-to-be Mrs. P’.
Yes, the beautiful flowers, delicious food and drinks, gorgeous settings and, of course, special guests are essential for any event. But I believe it can be the little personalized touches that truly make the event.
So, thank you to the ‘Soon-to-be Mrs. P’ for having Willow Event Planning & Design help make your day beautiful, enjoyable, and personalized.