Today? Today, we talk parties. Later this week, I’ll share the sacramental love.
With six kids and as the self-proclaimed birthday junkie, I adore a good party. What can I say? I’m a southerner. Hand me some sweet tea and a slice of cake and I’m yours. Some of you have asked how I do it. I’m making good on that promise. Please know that throwing parties and planning celebrations are my love language. I really dig the details. You might be the kind that books your favorite restaurant and calls it done.
And that’s okay.
We all have different gifts and this one just happens to be mine. Let’s get to it.
1. I hit up Pinterest. Honestly, I don’t really know what I did before the St. P. I think I was BFFs with Google. It’s a huge help for me to begin a board for the party or celebration I’m planning. That way, when something catches my eye, I can easily pin it and then read or check out the tutorial when I have more time. Just make sure you pin the original source.
2. Next, I have a sit down with the star of the party and find out what he/she wants. For Clare’s First Communion, I asked her about colors, cake flavors, party decorations, invitations, you name it. The day is about her and I wanted her to see the love in the details. I’m praying I deliver.
3. Budget? That’s up to you. People always ask if I have a budget for our celebrations. The honest answer is no. With the exception of sacraments, we don’t buy our children birthday gifts. The party is our gift to them. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a ton of party staples, serving ware and accessories, I always swing by the party clearance aisles at Target and Michael’s and usually hit up my favorite online party store, the TomKat Studio, for her annual Cyber Monday sale. I don’t go too crazy, but I also don’t feel guilty for splurging on my kids’ special days. I invest in the things that keep. You may need to set a budget. Just find a system that works for you and your family finances.
4. Once I decide on the color scheme, then I build everything around that, maintaining a focal point. In many ways, it’s like decorating a room. What’s the “star” of your dessert table, or the food table, or the backyard? Decide on the one feature that you and your child really love and then add in the details to fill it in. What do I mean by that? Well, for our daughter’s baptism, her baptismal gown and the cake were the stars of the table. Once I had that dress hung and the cake placed, then everything else fell into place. You can see here that our primary colors were pink, tangerine and white.
5. Think symmetry. To have a successful dessert/food table, you have to match height for height but that doesn’t mean that both sides of your table have to look the same. Case in point, this train-themed party I created for my son. I elevated the favors on a suitcase, put two lower treats in the middle (steam and coal) and then elevated the cupcakes by using two cake stands, one inverted on the other. Honestly, I think this might be my favorite table I ever created. That blue/green sure would make for an awesome First Communion palate for a boy. I added a little fun by tying a polkadot balloon to the back of the table. Again, an unexpected but favorite feature of the table.
6. Don’t forget the details. I’m a labeler. And, if you have multiple people coming to your house for a party, I think labels save you precious time. Not only are they cute, but they’re functional. If a guest has an allergy, they can typically glance at the label and know if it’s something their child can, or can’t, consume. The best part? Guests don’t have to ask you what everything is or where it’s located! The labels pictured below also used ribbon, to echo that detail from the invitation.
7. Flowers. Flowers. Flowers. When it’s sacrament time, my family always knows because they can smell the sweetness – literally! These don’t have to break the bank, either. Get thyself some mason jars and some twine (found at any hobby/craft store). Then, fill that jar full of your favorite flowers. You can gather the bunches at the grocery store, the farmer’s market or your backyard. Whatever you create will be lovely. I mean, who doesn’t love flowers? Two things to keep them fresher longer: 1) Buy the stems two days before and keep them refrigerated until the big day. They should be blooming and beautiful by the time they make their debut and 2) Be sure to strip the stems that are immersed in water and add a little Sprite to the vase. They love the sugar.
8. Break it into zones. I guarantee if you put all the food, desserts and drinks in your kitchen, the guests will never leave that area, no matter how cute you decorate the dining room or the backyard. Spread it out, y’all! Plus, it really helps with traffic flow. We tend to put the desserts in the entryway or dining room, the main course in the kitchen and drinks both in the backyard and in the breakfast area. That has really helped with traffic flow and I think you’ll find different pockets of people congregating in different places.
9. Choosing your food. I did a whole post about choosing your food and/or the venue for your celebration. But for the purpose of this post, I’m assuming the par-tay is at your house. We always cook our own and have found the easiest food to make? Fajitas! Scott grills and slices all the meat and onions/peppers the night before, just slightly undercooking everything. Then, he loads it all into disposable aluminum pans. When we leave for First Communion the following morning, he pops it into the oven at a low 200 degrees. That way, the meal finishes cooking and is piping hot when we arrive home. The morning of, he whips up a batch of guacamole while I cut the fruit salad and put out all the drinks. Our house is party ready as soon as we walk in the door.
10. Cue the sweets. If you can’t have sugar for a sacrament, I’m not sure we can be friends. For sacraments only, we have a cake made. Birthday parties usually get cake pops, cookies or cupcakes. I usually go all out and have an entire dessert table because nothing says love like lots, and lots, of sugar. You can check out my love for cookies and a whole slew of First Communion sweets here. Really, it’s up to you and what desserts your family and friends enjoy.
11. To favor or not? It cracks me up that this is even a debate. But, people. And computers. If you love favors, do them and make no apology. If you think they’re ridiculous, then don’t do them and make no apology. I’ve only done them for birthday parties and my cardinal rule is that they must be functional. But then I saw these tiny herb pots on Pinterest and got to thinking about a simple “thank you” to our guests for Clare’s big day. No matter what, I plan on having her write a tiny note of thanks that the guests can take home as our way of saying thank you for being an integral part of our child’s faith life. Still not sure if we will do actual favors, but I guess you’ll find out the verdict in a few weeks!
At the end of the day, seek out love. And I’m pretty sure it will find you.