Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Planning a Stress Free New Years Party

While there is always some stress involved in planning any event, there are a number of steps you can take in reducing the amount of stress involved while you are planning your New Years Eve party.

There may still be a few areas which cause concern or stress but if you follow these tips, the event will likely be more enjoyable for you and the guests.

Consider making the dress for the event casual instead of formal to create a more stress free environment.

This simple step can be very effective for reducing the stress level.
First of all, if the affair is casual, the host will have to spend less time getting dressed for the party. This frees you up to deal with the last minute details not the formal attire.

It also helps to reduce the stress level because guests expect more elegant food for a formal party than they do for a casual party so there is less stress to prepare and serve an elaborate meal at the party.

Regardless of the type of food you decide to serve, preparing the food for a New Years Eve party can be a significant cause of stress.

Hiring a caterer is the most efficient way to minimize this stress. But this is not always an option. So stick to simple foods that can be made in advance. Or pick up party trays from the local grocery store.
Or one fun way to do food is to make the party a potluck event.

Having guests bring dishes such as side dishes, salads, appetizers, desserts and even main dishes or drinks greatly reduces the amount of work for the host.

In this scenario the host only has to worry about providing one or two items and coordinating the other guests to ensure they do not all bring similar items.

Another option is what I call the buffet bar. Set up a pasta bar with a few different pastas and a few sauces serve a salad and garlic bread and guest are happy. Or a taco bar with taco shells meat and fillings so guest can build their own. Both require minimal cooking and go a long way.

Another inexpensive option which can help to reduce the amount of stress typically associated with preparing the food for a New Years Eve party is to serve only appetizers, desserts and cocktails at the party.

This is significantly less expensive as appetizers are traditionally much less expensive than main course items.

It is also acceptable to do this because most New Years Eve parties do not start until 8:00-9:00 at night.

It is acceptable to assume most guests will have had dinner earlier in the evening but as a courtesy to the guests it is worthwhile to indicate on the invitations that only appetizers and desserts will be served.

Keep the guest list down, and know your guests. Limiting the number of people at the event will keep cost down and you won't have as much to plan for. Also know your guest. If they have children let them know in advance if this is a party for kids to attend or not. If children are welcome plan some things for them. Like movies and popcorn in a separate room. Be sure to have some sparkling grape or apple juice and plastic champagne flutes so they can toast in the new year as well. And provide lots of pillows and blankets for those that might fall asleep before the end of the party. In fact tell parents to bring the kids in the PJ's and slippers.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stress Free Baby Shower

Planning A Baby Shower - Stress Free Success
Do you need help putting together a baby shower?
Because you're about to learn how to put together a successful party the expectant mom will remember fondly for years to come. A successful baby shower is easier to put together than you might think. Really? The secret to your success is -- all in planning a baby shower.

Waiting until the last minute is a recipe for disaster and is almost guaranteed to stress you out, give you sleepless nights and countless days in the panic mode. Not a pretty picture.

When to start

Since most baby showers take place a couple of months up to a couple of weeks prior to the babies due date, you need to start planning things about four months before the babies due date. That will give you about two months at least to put everything together and send out invitations early enough to give everyone time to put your party on their calendar.

What to do first

The very first thing you should do is to just sit down with the expectant mom and find out what kind of party she'd like. Ask her if she'd like a theme and if so what? What kind of cake does she like, who does she want to invite, women only or are you going to invite the guys too? And what kind of baby things does she need? And if she knows the gender of the baby, have they chosen a name?

Now that you know what the expectant mom would like, you have enough information to plan a wonderful party.

Decide on a theme

Planning a baby shower gets a whole lot easier once you've decided on a theme.Does mom have a theme in mind? If not, the sky is the limit. You can get very creative here. Prepackaged themes include everything from "Rubber Ducky" to "Baby Einstein" and everything in-between. Winnie the Pooh, Noah's Ark, Rainbow, Animals and the list goes on. But don't limit yourself to pre-packaged themes. I have done fun shower with a Peter Rabbit theme and one with a Nursery Rhyme theme.

Once you know the theme, you'll know what kind of invitations to send out, what kind of cake to put together, decorations, party supplies and games to look for.

Invitation wording

What's the reason for sending out invitations to any event?

It's not a silly question, or even a trick question.

The reason you send out invitations is to get people to show up. Because without invited guests your baby shower would be much more than a disappointment for your expectant mom. So you want your invitations to let everyone know that you're planning a baby shower they won't want to miss.

Be sure to include all the important information like the date, time and location. Also include the full name of the mom-to-be, and if you know it, the gender and name of the baby. This will help your guests when it comes to buying baby gifts and other things. Also include if possible where the mom is registered. This unlike weddings is proper.

Play up your theme. If your theme is "Rubber Ducky" you might want to pick up some cute little rubber duck thingies to include in the invitation. You can start off by stating "Rubber Ducky says you're the one... and you are! You're invited to attend our Rubber Ducky baby shower for... "Everything is going to be lots of Ducky fun."

Of course if you aren't feeling creative you can play it safe and pick up some preprinted invitations. I strongly recommend picking up your invitations, decorations, and party supplies online. It's convenient (no driving all over town only to discover they don't have what you need) the selection is wonderful and your choices will be shipped directly to you. It doesn't get any more stress-free than that.

Your baby shower cake

Oh the yummy thoughts!

Everybody loves a colorful tasty cake. And when planning a baby shower you want to make sure the cake is special. Now before you panic, you'll be very happy to learn that you do not have to bake a cake from scratch. Just visit your favorite bakery and pick up a delicious, pre-frosted cake (make sure it's the kind our expectant mom likes) and have the baker write something appropriate on it. But we're not through yet.

You can easily make this cake very memorable by picking up a theme appropriate cake topper. Just visit that online party store. You can even find edible cake art images. Now all you need to do is place the edible cake art and the topper on your cake and -- instant 3-D masterpiece.

I told you it would be easy! And don't forget to take lots of pictures of your cake.

But in case you want to be found on Cake Wrecks blog avoid cakes that look like babies or pregnant moms. They may look cute in the picture but who wants to eat the swollen belly part of the cake or the babies arms? Think it through.

Diaper cake

In case you haven't heard a diaper cake isn't a cake at all (but it sure can look like one). A diaper cake is a very creative "cake" made up of things like diapers, blankets, baby pens, rattles, bibs and just about anything else you can think of. Diaper cakes aren't there to replace your yummy cake, but a diaper cake is really a wonderful addition to any baby shower.
Just check out craigslist or ask around the office someone is bound to know someone who makes these, or there are online video's that will show you how if you are patient and creative.

Decorations for a fun party location

Get decorations to match your theme. Banners, streamers, posters, standees (a stork). Keep it fun, keep it colorful and don't be afraid to be creative. If the shower is for some reason being held at the home the new baby will be coming home to then keep the direction posters simple and not baby themed. It does not happen often, but putting out baby shower here signs and welcome home baby signs can be an invitation to sick people to break in and try to hurt or steal the newborn. So keeping signs simple are best. Better to include a map and not worry a bout street markers.

Baby shower games

You can find lots of fun printable games online. From baby word scrambles to baby bingo. These games are very popular and easy to play. You should plan 3 or 4 games. You don't want to wear everybody out -- especially our mommy. Also make sure she wants games. And what her comfort level in participating in the games is. For example she may not want to play guess what's in the diaper if she has been dealing with bad morning sickness. Or guess how big her belly is. That may be a sensitive subject for some women. But you can have fun without games as well.

Food to nibble on

Keep it simple - finger foods are best. How about a healthy veggie tray, finger sandwiches, fruit bits, party mix, chips and anything else mommy might like. Use paper plates and you won't have a big clean-up. Now pick up a fun guest book, some disposable cameras for the guests and you're all set.

Planning a baby shower well in advance makes all the difference. You won't get all stressed out and by shopping online you don't even have to drive all over town. Your mommy-to-be is going to love her shower, your invited guests will have a great time and everyone will be thanking you.

Now you've learned all the secrets to planning a baby shower that's going to be a big success. And all without stress, without a single sleepless night, or an "oh-no, I forgot ---"

Instead, you'll be able to sit back and enjoy the party. Planning a baby shower will make you a super star.

Have fun

Or you can call me and we can sit down and plan it all out and I can help make decorations and invitations and such.


Top 5 Money Waisters at a Wedding

Top 5 Biggest Wedding Money Wasters
Save Your Money and Avoid These Wedding Planning Traps
By Nina Callaway, About.com Guide
Regardless of budget size, brides of all kinds say that after the wedding, there were several things on which they wished that they hadn't wasted their money. For every person, this list will be different of course. But here is a brutally honest look at what I think are simply not worth it.

1.Meaningless and Expensive Wedding Favors Wedding favors can be a thoughtful way of saying thank you to your guests. But far too often they're a meaningless knickknack. Your guests don't need a candy dish, or a little silver bell. Don't think their cute place card holder doubles as a favor; what are they going to do with one place card? And do you really want a plastic Frisbee with your friends' wedding date on it?

You're going to spend a lot of money on things that will just collect dust, or end up in the trash. I think it's far better to not give favors, or to make a donation to a charity. But cute favors include ones that are personal to the bride and groom. You might give food favors from the city you live in, or a box of your very favorite chocolates.

One of my favorite ideas is a breakfast bag. Send guests home with some beautiful muffins, a couple of good quality tea bags, and perhaps a little pot of jam or honey. The next morning they'll be sure to enjoy your treat as they reminisce about everything that happened.

Money Saving Tip: Some of the most thoughtful wedding favors can be handmade. Put together a booklet of family recipes, or create a CD with an insert explaining why you chose each song.

2.Endless Bride and Groom Swag It may be fun to have a pair of track pants that say "Bride" across your butt, but how long are you really going to wear them? You certainly don't need to own multiple pieces of clothing that say "bride" or "groom" because they've got a limited shelf-life. And, you do have an identity beyond that of a bride. You don't own a sweatshirt that trumpets your profession, do you? So why would you want people out in public to see you first and foremost as a bride?

Perhaps the biggest money waster of all is giving your bridal party "bridesmaid" and "groomsman" gear. Do you really think that groomsman is ever going to wear that tacky hat ever again? Do you think he'll even enjoy wearing it the first time?

Money Saving Tip Buy a pair of pajama pants or underwear that says "bride" or "groom." Rather than feeling embarrassed about wearing a bride sweatshirt out in public, clothing meant for the home will remind the two of you of your wedding day. Leave the other bridal swag at the store.

3.Huge Wedding Cakes Some couples only invite 50 guests, but they still order a cake that serves 300. With cakes going for $2-$15 a slice, that extra size adds up quickly. While a large cake looks impressive, a small cake can be charming. If height is a priority, consider asking your baker to use a separator set, and adding fresh flowers between the layers. Or, use a large cake topper, such as this tiered floral centerpiece.

Money Saving Tip If you are having more than 100 guests, ask for a display cake that only feeds 100 people. Use inexpensive sheet cakes in the back to feed the extra guests. No one will know the difference!

4.Too Many Mementos The wedding industry loves to sell you goods by promising they will be keepsakes you can pass down to your children. Having mementos of your special day is a good thing, but you don't need very many. Put together a wedding album, and perhaps preserve your wedding dress. But deeply consider every other item. Do you really need a personalized pen to sign the guest book? Is preserving your bouquet worth the money and the space in your home? You don't need to have a wedding video, unless you will really watch it and enjoy it regularly. And not every toasting glass, picture frame, and photo album needs to be monogrammed with your wedding date.

Rather than filling up your house with tons of wedding mementos, leave room for creating new memories.

Money Saving Tip If an album is not included in your wedding photography package, consider doing it for yourself! That way, you can include the shots that are most important to you, as well as any mementos like your wedding program.

5.Too Many Bridesmaids and Groomsmen Have you ever seen a wedding with more than a dozen attendants? It starts to look like a wedding army. Of course, if you are inviting lots of guests, it makes sense to have a large wedding party. But before you start adding your friend who you haven't seen since high school, and all of your cousins, consider what the role of the wedding party should be.

Even if you're not paying for the wedding party's attire, each of those attendants requires a bouquet or boutonniere, a thank you gift, and an invitation to the rehearsal dinner and other parties. Tack on just a few unnecessary bridesmaids or groomsmen and you're potentially talking about hundreds of dollars.

Money Saving Tip Give some of your friends and loved ones different roles in the wedding. Consider asking them to read during the ceremony or give them a special role at the reception. You might even just thank them in the program for helping to support you during the wedding planning process.

Rachel and Erik 12/19/09

Rachel and Erik had a beautiful wedding. I was so thrilled to work with them on this very special day. There were so many great details that I think only photos will capture best. Their awesome photographer Any DeYoung will be getting photos to me soon, but in the mean time I wanted to let you all know that the details on this wedding are coming.
Until then let me list some of the great "cast of character's" that made this event happen
Venue: The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio
Caterer: True Flavors
DJ: Encore Entertainment
Photos: Amy DeYoung
Video: Distinct Video Design (dvdsatx@yahoo.com)
Centerpieces: True Flavors
Personal Flowers: Edens Echo
My Staff: Channin Young, JT Lauderdale, Andrew Lauderdale
Chuppah: Stress Free Events built by my great dad Tom Lauderdale
(and yes we still have this structure and it can be rented out, or borrowed under certain circumstances, just ask).
(Photos here are from Erin at Edens Echos of the flowers. They were stunning. More photos coming).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Slow to blog

Sorry I have been so slow to post to the blog. Its been that crazy busy time of year. I will have to try and get better about finding things and blogging for you all. I have a wedding this Saturday and I am looking forward to it. There will of course be a blog from that very shortly. Stay tuned and let people know we are here. We are ready to take off for a fab 2010 and need your referrals to keep up the momentum.


In the meantime Merry Christmas and enjoy this photo taken by Cari with Inked Fingers Photography of my family.