Bring the NYC Experience Home this St. Patrick’s Day

Before 2020, NYC natives, visiting tourists, and East Coasters alike practiced the long-held tradition of venturing into the heart of Manhattan on St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy the festivities. What festivities, you may ask? Well of course, there was the late morning parade, but before, during, and after that parade, folks celebrated in Irish pubs drinking proper pints. New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is sadly cancelled again this year and instead going virtual. BUT, just because we can’t celebrate in the manner we’re accustomed to, doesn’t mean we should forgo the rowdy Saint Paddy’s Day traditions that are typically found along 5th Ave or in NYC’s Luck of the Irish Pub Crawl. Bring the NYC experience home this St. Patrick’s Day with this list of festive activities!

All the Best Moments, St. Patrick's Day fashion illustration
Illustrated by Sarah Ditterline

At Home Pub Crawl

Picture this: infamous NYC St. Patrick’s Day bars like Blarney Stone, Bar None and Plug Uglies meets your living room. Stay with me here.

It’s casual, it’s rowdy, and it’s a bit grimy, but that’s the true experience. Deck out your living room and kitchen with dive bar decor and dim the lighting. Think: chalkboard menus, wooden serving platters, and plenty of pint glasses. Prepare to play some rather loud, traditional St. Patrick’s Day bar music that’s folk style, yet eclectic.

Need help with a playlist? Try this custom St. Patrick’s Day Playlist on my All the Best Moments Spotify Account.

Invite that punchy green color into your home with pennants, four leaf clovers, shamrocks and ivy garlands. Green yourself out, and accessorize your friends with green wigs, leprechaun hats and beaded necklaces with shot glasses attached.

Play bar games like darts, pool, Jenga, beer pong, and flip cup, or go all out with karaoke. Stream the virtual parade in the background.

St. Patrick's Day themed solo cups and gold coins

Serve shots of Jameson, Irish car bombs, and classic pub food. If you want to take the NYC St. Patrick’s Day experience to the next level, serve a signature Irish drink, like a Massey cocktail with Irish whiskey, out of individual flasks.

Keep the drinks flowing and the folk music on high, and you’ll have yourself an at home pub crawl atmosphere in no time!


Floor is Lava: Pot of Gold Edition

NYC on Saint Patrick’s Day involves drinks around every corner, and the luck of the Irish calls for a quintessential pot of gold. So why not combine the two? Thus I bring you, Floor is Lava: Pot of Gold Edition.

Fair warning, this game is best played at the beginning of your gathering, before the festivities get carried away. It’s a GREAT icebreaker, and is sure to jump start those rowdy NYC St. Paddy’s Day vibes.

Four leaf clover table decorations

Gather as many throw pillows and blankets as you can, and spread them out strategically around your living room furniture. The goal is to leave enough space to create a bit of a challenge between safe spots (if you’re competitive, you know what I mean).

Pick up between 3-5 nips (tiny bottles of booze) per person, but don’t be the host that makes people drink the whole thing straight. Instead, empty out the different kinds of liquor into their own respective glasses. Create mini mixed drinks that pair well with each liquor (try these Shamrocked Shooters or these Irish Margaritas), then pour those mixtures back into the nip bottles. Make sure to use the right nip bottle for the liquor you used in the mixed drink, because some people don’t tolerate (insert liquor here) very well.

St. Patrick's Day bar

Disperse the nips around all of the “lava” areas that are in-between your pillows and blankets. Ask your guests to start at one end of the room, standing on a shared blanket, and make their way across the room to the pot of gold, without stepping on the lava. When someone lands on a pillow or blanket, they’re safe. If they fall into the lava, they need to drink the nip that’s closest to them!

St. Patrick's Day gold chocolate coins

Don’t forget the key rule: only one player can make a move at any given time. This way, folks will have to hold their awkward positions a bit longer than usual (perhaps I’m the competitive one ๐Ÿ˜‰).

As the host, you get to decide what’s in the pot of gold. I’d recommend picking up some chocolate coins, because… nostalgia.

St. Patrick's Day pot of gold with chocolate coins

St. Patrick’s Day… But Make it Classy

If you’re the kind of person that likes to indulge in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but without all of the drinks to imbibe, I’m here for you. Your lowkey, but still festive, St. Paddy’s Day at home calls for another form of indulgence; baking.

There are endless recipes for authentic Irish comfort food to host a seated dinner with (think of it like Thanksgiving, but swap the turkey for corned beef and cabbage). Although, I personally prefer to satisfy my sweet tooth, and if you’re reading this, I think you might too!

St. Patrick's Day dessert and Irish coffee

Your baked goods don’t need to be authentic, or complex, to be celebratory. Pick up a four leaf clover shaped cookie cutter, bake a batch of sugar cookies, and frost them in varying hues of green to create an aesthetically pleasing (and very Instagrammable) ombrรฉ pattern.

St. Patrick's Day four leaf clover cookies

If you do want to dabble with a dessert drink, try an Irish coffee, or make it a milkshake!


๐Ÿ€Disclaimer: this blog post is intended for readers 21+. Please drink responsibly!๐Ÿ€

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Emergency Kits for Your Wedding or Event, What You REALLY Need

Emergency kits are a total necessity, no matter the season, size or style of your wedding or event. You could spend a year (or more!) planning down to the minutiae, and still end up troubleshooting on the big day. While we can’t predict unforeseen circumstances, we can anticipate and prepare for the more common hurdles that are typically encountered on the day of a celebration. Before you buy out everything on Amazon, consider these essential items, and use the venue, time of year, and flow of the day to inspire other items that you or your guests might need. In the following list, I’ll share the staple products that I find myself reaching for time and time again at weddings and events. Keep reading to discover what you REALLY need in your emergency kit!


Medicine

When someone is feeling under the weather, it can prevent them from fully participating in your celebration while affecting the mood of those around them. More often than not, I’ve found that the client (bride, groom, or host of the party) or the people closest to them (bridal party, family members or friends) are the ones who tend to request medicine the most.

Maybe it’s the pressure of the day, dehydration, or something they ate the night before. In any case, it’s extremely helpful to anticipate your own needs and the needs of the people around you. You know your crowd best, so if aunt Becky is notorious for complaining about her headaches, pack a lot of Advil!

Pills on pink background

If it’s not the host or someone in their immediate circle, a guest may fall ill. The last thing you want is for someone to feel unwell and unable to enjoy your event. Get ahead of it, and pack these items in your emergency kit to treat common symptoms that may arise.

Pack pain reliever like Advil, Tylenol, Aleve or Alka-Seltzer for all of those headaches, sore feet, cramps, and random aches and pains. Folks will go through these quickly, so be sure to stock up. Also include Pepto Bismol, Tums or Imodium for upset stomachs. Finally, pack Benadryl, in case of an allergic reaction or seasonal allergies.

Pro-Tip: If you’re hosting an event at a location that requires guests to travel together for a lengthy amount of time, or if your celebration is taking place on a boat, include non-drowsy Dramamine or other medication to offer motion sickness relief.


Cosmetic Supplies

Cosmetic supplies are most frequently used during formal photos to put a stray hair in place or blot an oily patch. Keep items like bobby pins in various colors, hairspray and hair gel, hair ties, blotting sheets, tweezers, and a comb close by.

When it comes to makeup, to each their own!

Bride's hair with flowers in it

First Aid

This includes your standard first aid kit items: bandages in various sizes, Neosporin, sterilizing wipes, hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, burn cream, gauze pads and latex-free gloves. Make it easy for yourself; purchase a pre-filled pack like this one to include in your emergency kit.

First aid kit

Garment Gear

Garment Gear covers a lot of random bits and bobs to include in your emergency kit, but trust me when I say that it’s necessary.

We all know that weddings and events traditionally entail dressing in a fancier attire, which means that many people will show up to a party in an outfit they’re wearing for the first time. Or, in an outfit that they’ve only worn on a handful of occasions. Since it’s not the normal everyday apparel people are familiar with, things can go awry fairly easily.

Bride and groom

I’ve sewn the entire inner seam of a groomsman’s pants during a wedding (while he was wearing them, I might add). I’ve safety pinned the backs of more bridesmaids’ dresses than I can count. I’ve also removed plenty of stains from deodorant, drinks and makeup from guests’ outfits. Which is why I’ve found all of these garment care items to be absolutely essential.

While getting ready, you’ll want an iron and an ironing board, as well as a hand-held steamer. In your emergency kit, you’ll want: safety pins, a sewing kit, deodorant remover pads, lint rollers, Tide To Go Pens, Hollywood Fashion Tape (get the double-sided kind, it works magic at keeping dresses in place), and finally, static guard.


Menstrual Products

Tampons (the ones with applicators tend to be most popular), panty liners, and pads. Don’t feel the need to stock up on a ton of these. There’s usually plenty leftover at the end of events.

Pads and tampons

Miscellaneous

This is the part of the blog post where I list significantly more items than any other category, but I promise you’ll thank me later!

Here we go: Scissors, Q-Tips, lotion, mints, eye drops, deodorant, disposable razors, disposable tooth brushes, mini toothpaste, Listerine strips, baby powder, tape, envelopes, sharpies, pens and a pad of paper.

The last thing I want to do is make you feel like Mary Poppins, but I have tried and tested many emergency kits at many weddings and events, and have found all of these items to be extremely useful, frequently requested and fully tapped into. Use this post to stock your kit with only the essentials, rather than barreling through Amazon without knowing which products will actually get used!


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Tips for Hosting in a Small Space

Hosting a party, or even a small gathering, can feel overwhelming when your home is tight on space. Perhaps you’re living in a tiny apartment, working around roommates, or you’re planning to invite more bodies than your place can hold comfortably. In any scenario, don’t let your small space prevent you from thinking big. It’s taken me a few tries and a few different living situations, but I’ve come to establish a bit of a routine for hosting in a small space. In this blog post, I’ll share a list of tips that I follow to maximize space, reduce clutter, reinvent and repurpose the use of everyday furniture to create an open environment for guests to flow freely. Welcome friends, family and neighbors into your home with confidence, by implementing these tips for hosting in a small space.


Tip No. 1

Establish party zones. Chances are, you aren’t planning to open up your bedroom to guests. Or your linen closet, or any other storage areas that are tucked away behind closed doors. Think of these spaces as the crown jewels of your party. They offer entirely open and usable space to conceal any clunky home furnishings, hide personal belongings, and temporarily store unneeded items that take up too much surface area or floor space.

Determine which rooms you’ll invite guests into, and which rooms will be the main areas dedicated to the party, AKA, the party zones. The majority of house parties tend to rely on kitchens and living rooms as dedicated party zones, especially when hosting in a small space.

Apartment Decor

Tip No. 2

Walk into your party zone with a fresh perspective, as if you’re seeing that space for the first time. What impression do you get from your home? Consider how it makes you feel, where your eyes are drawn to, and what words you would use to describe it.

Pay extra attention to any clutter, piles of empty boxes, overstuffed shelves, unused dinnerware / kitchenware / home decor. You don’t need to tackle these areas right away, but do make a mental (or physical) note of the obvious stuff.

Decor

Allow yourself a healthy dose of criticism, and identify any spaces that aren’t serving their full potential. Untapped potential is going to be your biggest waste of space, so don’t let it rob your party of that coveted square footage!

Evaluate how you could better capitalize on those areas. Do a massive clean out, donate unused or unwanted items, or rearrange any sections of your home that stand out as an eye-sore. Remember, the changes you make don’t have to be permanent. You could always rely on those crown jewels spaces to temporarily store your things.

Apartment Decor

Tip No. 3

Reconfigure the floor plan. Before you roll your eyes at this tip, consider the possibilities. The way you use your space to live your day-to-day life isn’t very harmonious with the way your space is used during a party.

The top changes that will make the biggest difference in opening up your space include:

Relocating furniture to the perimeter of the room to develop an open floor plan.

Remove extra seating, especially if you’re planning a cocktail style event. Leave enough seats for guests to rest comfortably, but not enough for the same guests to remain seated the entire time. You want to encourage a version of musical chairs ๐Ÿ™‚

Shift chairs and ottomans around to create vignettes. In a small space, you could use two ottomans and a side table, two chairs, or a couch and coffee table to make your vignettes. These furniture pairings will give guests a designated space to have a more intimate conversation.

Pro-Tip: Use software like AllSeated or Merri to generate a floorplan of your space that’s completely to scale. Or use the Houzz app to upload photos of your space and test out different remodeling options.

Stools

Tip No. 4

Get granular about the dinnerware, platters and glassware that you intend to use. The more that you limit these items, the more minimalistic and streamlined it will feel when guests are actually in the room.

Take your food and beverage presentation for a test run, by setting aside some time to put together a mock table sample. In events, we call call this a design presentation. Though, it doesn’t need to be as elaborate to be as effective.

Plates

Pull all of the items that you plan to use and arrange them strategically on your kitchen table, island, or countertop. Play around with the placement until it’s as concise as possible. Remember that less is more, because once your gathering rolls around, each of those dishes will have food on them and will look much more abundant than empty serving trays.

When your final few trays are left standing, use post-it notes to label those trays with how you plan to use them (i.e. “Cruditรฉs,” or “Petit Fours”). Take a photo of the full set up and revert back to it on the event day. This will reduce clutter by keeping you from grabbing more dishes than you need.

Plates with cards ontop

Tip No. 5

Use vertical space!

Consider your closet, for example. If you’re hosting an event in the winter, folks will likely arrive at your home wearing heavy coats, hats, gloves and scarves, and will inevitably leave them all over the place. If you can clear out any seasonal items from your closet (either in your entryway or bedroom) and temporarily lay those clothes under your bed, you can use the closet space as a coat check of sorts.

Woman holding fur coat

Get that recognition as hostess with the mostess by offering to take your guests’ jackets when they first arrive. Stuff the scarf into the sleeve, the hat into one pocket and the gloves into the other pocket, and hang up the coat in your closet. It’ll stay out of sight during the event, and mitigate one major reason why small spaces fill up so quickly.

More vertical space hacks:

Tiered serving trays and risers to optimize food stations.

Decorative ceiling or wall installations to maximize standing room.

Eliminate curtains or open blinds entirely to draw the eye up and create a sense of more space.

Vanilla frosted donuts with gold sprinkles on tiered stand

Tip No. 6

Don’t go crazy with decor. Negative space is important at any gathering, but especially when hosted in a small space.

Clean, untouched areas give the eye a place to rest. These open areas will help your guests feel calmer, less confined, and eager to keep the party going rather than feel overstimulated and uncomfortable.

Champagne glasses against neutral background

Choose a neutral color palette that evokes a fresh, light and airy vibe. Try to stay away from patterns and stick with solids.

Utilize pre-existing decor in your home, instead of bringing more materials. Think: greenery, white candles, and transparent materials like glass instead of heavy materials like gold. Again, bear in mind that less is more. The perk to this tip, is that it’s really budget friendly!


Tip No. 7

Make friends with the neighbors, but do it authentically! Relationships with your neighbors are everything, and if you buddy up early on, you can often lean on them for a helping hand when you’re hosting.

The favor could be as simple as storing a few bottles of wine in their fridge, or keeping desserts on their table until after dinner. A note on etiquette; if the gathering lends itself to it, invite your neighbor as a guest. It’s the polite thing to do, especially if you’re hosting a more casual affair.

Women popping champagne bottle

Tip No. 8

Do away with the conventional bar or buffet. Instead, disperse drinks, appetizers and desserts throughout the home to prevent heavy foot traffic in the kitchen. Serve a charcuterie board from a coffee table, or a coffee station from the entry table, to help alleviate congestion caused by serving all of the food and beverage from one central location.

Coffee on table near flowers

There you have it! Now go own that tiny space and make something beautiful.


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Socially Distanced Holiday Ideas

Holiday season festivities, but make it COVID friendly.

This post contains affiliate links.


Christmas Tree Tailgate

Gather up a group of your core friends (you know, those folks that you’ve been spending all of quarantine with) and head to a Christmas tree farm with an open parking lot. Some farms are super tailgate friendly, while others will not embrace this idea, so make sure to scout for a solid location before packing up the car. If you’re living on the East Coast, Maple Row Farm in Easton, Connecticut is a great option. Just be sure to arrive no later than 10:30am, because the lot will fill up well before noon on weekends.

Then, delegate your traditional tailgate essentials amongst friends. Here are a few ideas for folks to bring along:

Cornhole – The more festive, the better. This Christmas Tree Cornhole Set is a little pricey, but one of those investments you probably won’t have to make again and can enjoy for years to come.

Cooler – Full of holiday bevi essentials. I like this Sagebrush Green Yeti Cooler, especially for its wine friendly packaging. Pack a bottle of bubbly to make some mimosas with; the perfect pairing for your morning Christmas tree tailgate.

Snacks – Individually packaged options are the best way to stay COVID friendly. Keep it super simple by purchasing a bulk variety snack pack, like this 50-count Ultimate Snacks Care Package from Amazon.


Movie Marathon

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is watch the staple movies of the season. Every year on Thanksgiving night, my family kicks off the countdown to Christmas by watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We also watch the classics like A Christmas Story and Christmas with the Kranks.

Virtual movie marathons are a great way to safely enjoy the company of friends and family, and create a virtual spin on holiday traditions. If you have a streaming service that offers multi-viewer options like Netflix, Hulu, Disney + or HBO, you can easily plan a holiday movie marathon from multiple locations using Teleparty.

I’m still surprised that not everyone knows about this!

All the Best Moments Socially Distanced Holiday Ideas - Movie Marathon

Download this extension, and follow these steps to set up the application. Then ask everyone to sign into their own individual Netflix accounts. Select a movie, then look for the Teleparty icon. This will sync movie playback across all accounts, and create a group chat feature.

Upgrade everyone’s night in, by sending care packages of classic concession-stand snacks, like Movie Theater Candy or a Variety Pack of Popcorn Seasonings. This pack is the gift that keeps on giving!


Virtual Wine Tasting

Virtual wine tastings have been all-the-rage since the start of the pandemic, but they’re especially convenient for this time of year. They offer a chance to gather with a group of friends, couples or neighbors, and celebrate the joy of the season without risking an in-person get together.

All the Best Moments Socially Distanced Holiday Ideas - Virtual Wine Tasting

There’s tons of virtual wine tasting options to choose from, ranging from free classes (try Coursera’s Course by UC Davis), to just $10 per person (try Corkbuzz), up to $250 (try Matthiasson) and more. The price depends on a few factors:

Exclusivity: If the tasting is limited to your private group of friends, or open to anyone who signs up.

Inclusions: If the tasting includes a bottle of wine, two bottles of wine, or none at all. Some wineries will ship the wine directly to your doorstep, right on time for the tasting, while others will ask that you go out and purchase them on your own.

Vineyard: If the tasting is hosted by a top-end winery, their classes will tend to be more expensive.

All the Best Moments Socially Distanced Holiday Ideas - Virtual Wine Tasting

If you choose a virtual tasting from a winery that doesn’t include any bottles of bubbly, try sourcing wine from Drizly. Order liquor, beer, wine and hard seltzers from the website, or download the application to your phone, and have the drinks delivered directly to you.

Pro-Tip: To easily elevate the experience, research which cheeses pair well with the variety of wine on the menu, and curate a cheeseboard to enjoy during the tasting.

Prop your laptop up at the dining table, bring along the wine and cheeseboard, and raise a glass to this special tasting experience!

All the Best Moments Socially Distanced Holiday Ideas - Virtual Wine Tasting

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Sunset at the Beach

If you’re like me, it can be hard to stay in one place for long. When you’re eager for a change of scenery, find the nearest beach, and plan a few special touches to elevate an evening away from home. Celebrate life over a glass of rose and good conversation, watching the sunset at the beach.


Sunset Vibes

Sunset at the beach is quite possibly one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. I don’t get to the beach as often as I’d like, so it feels really special when I can block out an evening to getaway.


Beach Moment

Plan to arrive to the beach a few hours before sunset. Typically, two to three hours is the perfect amount of time for me. Though, if you want to spend the latter half of the day at the beach, be my guest!

When I go to the beach for a day trip, chairs are definitely my forte. But when I head to the beach for an evening away, I like to keep it as simple and lightweight as possible. I pack a blanket to cozy up on, and set up a little vignette of the following things.

Lifeguard deck at beach

Bubbles & Bites

Wine, rose, and champagne always taste better at the beach! Chill the bottles beforehand, and add them to a little cooler or insulated bag with ice right before leaving. Always opt to bring acrylic wine glasses or plastic cups over glass.

Wine glasses at beach with beach hat, flip flops and sunglasses, on a blanket

I’m a big fan of a charcuterie board. It feels super indulgent, but it’s relatively low maintenance to compose. Plus, what goes better with wine than cheese?

In the morning, prepare the board with a few cheeses, prosciutto, bread or crackers, and jam. Cover the board with tin foil, pop it in the fridge, and take it out right before heading to the beach.

Don’t forget: plates, napkins, cheese knives, hand sanitizer, and garbage bags for trash.

Pro-Tip: Don’t go overboard; less is more for an evening at the beach. Think: easy in, easy out. The simpler, the better!

Cheese board at the beach

Games & Activities

If you’re going to the beach with family or friends, consider packing a few lightweight games to play when you first arrive. It’s an easy way to break the ice, kick off the evening and keep people entertained. Especially if little ones are involved!

A deck of cards, kite, or a game like ring toss are perfect options.

ocean waves crashing on shore during sunset
Photo by Jess Vide on Pexels.com

Music

Most beaches are pretty lenient on allowing visitors to play music, especially in the evening when it’s less crowded. Charge up your portable speaker, and find a few good playlists to set the tone for the evening.

Music is such a simple way to completely transform the vibe of a space. Plus, it can inspire off-the-cuff moments of singing and dancing, spark a new conversation, or give a little background when the conversation falls as you watch the sunset.


Relax and Enjoy

It’s so important to build in time to recharge and celebrate the small things that life has to offer. What better way to do that than with your feet in the sand, and sunset on the horizon?

For more ideas to elevate special moments, see my blog posts under Happy Hostess.

birds flying under orange clouds
Photo by Jess Vide on Pexels.com

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Vintage Stamps, A Love Letter

Vintage stamps have their own story to tell. They always make me stop and look before opening a piece of mail.


Why Vintage?

Vintage stamps have an aged and antique appearance, which can add a sense of character and whimsy to an envelope. These historically unique and artistically unexpected touches can elevate an invitation suite, and make it feel more valuable.

Clients that opt for vintage stamps are seeking a distinct look for their save the dates or invitations. If the current selection of postage from USPS doesn’t harmonize with your style, or reflect the message that you want to convey to your guests, opt for vintage stamps to expand your postage options, and significantly increase your chances of finding a stamp that best suits your event and aesthetic.

I also tend to prefer vintage stamps to custom, as custom stamps always include a barcode that USPS scans during the mailing process.

Pile of vintage stamps in assorted colors.

Pomp & Circumstance

While there’s a variety of options, the caveat is that vintage stamps are limited in availability. The higher the guest count, the more difficult it is to find the same collection of stamps in the quantity needed to mail out invitations.

Several different vintage stamp designs will likely be required from an availability standpoint, as well as to meet postage requirements. I love the look of alternating stamps on each envelope. It contributes to the appeal of this particular look, as the invitations come across as dynamic and editorial.

Blossom Curated vintage stamp collection using variations of pink roses and cherry blossom tree stamps from Little Postage House
Blossom Curated Collection by Little Postage House

Pricing & Logistics

The price of postage is greatly dictated by how heavy the parcel is. Elements like paper type, number of enclosures and use of wax seals all contribute to the cost of mailing a letter or invitation.

When planning events for clients or myself, I always make a trip to the post office to have the invitation weighed, before planning out any stamp purchases. Then, I’ll search for curated stamp collections, or I’ll plot out stamp designs via an Event Deck and curate a collection myself!

Some vintage stamps have higher value than others, depending on how many stamps were produced. Which means, the age and rarity of the postage will also dictate the quantity of stamps required.

As the cost of postage has increased steadily over time, you’ll need a higher volume of vintage stamps to meet the cost of postage today.

Since vintage stamps are of lesser value, mix and match postage like two 5-cent stamps, one 13-cent stamp, and one 32-cent stamp to amount to the cost of postage for a letter, which is currently 55-cents. Again, check with your local post office to ensure you prepare for the correct postage value!

Pro-Tip: If you’re on a budget, but love the look of vintage stamps, consider these options.

– Buy stamps at face value.

– Mix vintage and modern stamps.

– Use vintage stamps on the exterior envelope, and modern stamps on the reply card envelope.

Vintage stamps next to blank piece of paper and gold pen, pink flower and gold paper clip.

Sourcing Stamp Collections

Find some of the best collections of vintage stamps, from both online and in-person retailers, on the list below. Always double check to ensure the postage is unused / uncanceled before purchase.

Little Postage House

– Local stamp and coin shops

Champion Stamp

– Etsy (Try Verde Studio, Postage Stamp Studio, Vintage Postage Shop, or Love the Postage)

– Stamp museums

US Mint Sheets

– Antique stores

Underwood Letterpress

– eBay

Magnolia Postage

– World Stamp Show (It’s held every ten years in NYC. Mark your calendar for the next one, 2026!)


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How-To: Make A Self Serve Bar

When gatherings at home feel too intimate for a bartender, self serve bars are the name of the game. They’re an ideal option for guests to help themselves to their beverage of choice, without overwhelming the host with drink orders. Follow these steps on how-to make a self serve bar that’s just as aesthetically pleasing as it is convenient.


Select Beverages

The best piece of advice I could give to determine which beverages to include on a bar, is to think in terms of “knowing your audience.” I pose that phrase to clients and myself all the time, because it’s true!

As a host, you can recount occasions with your specific group of guests that remind you how popular Aperol Spritz’s are, or inform a decision to purchase one pack of beer because you know only two people will drink it.

Consider the guests, their go-to drink orders, and your favorite recipes to share and introduce via a welcome drink or signature beverages at the bar.


Standard Bar Guide

Spirits: Vodka, Tequila (I prefer Blanco), Bourbon, Gin, Cognac, White Rum

Mixers: Club Soda, Seltzer, Lime Juice, Cointreau, Bitters, Vermouth

Garnishes: Lime Wedges, Lemon Wedges, Orange Slices, Maraschino Cherries, Mint, Salt & Sugar

Barware: Ice Bucket & Scoop, Bar Spoon, Cocktail Shaker, Strainer, Muddler, Jigger

Glassware: Rocks, Highball, Red Stem, White Stem, Champagne, Martini

There’s a method to the madness! There are about five, five-ounce glasses of wine in one bottle… A 750 ml bottle of liquor will account for about twenty-five, one-ounce shots… And so on and so forth. Pro-Tip: When in doubt, plan for three drinks and three glasses per person for a two hour event.


Create Mini Vignettes

Once your beverages and barware accounted for, the next step on how-to make a self serve bar is all about organizing.

Group like items together that compliment one another in color, texture, and most importantly, use. Functionality is key for a self serve bar to operate like it’s intended to. Guests will be more inclined to ask the host for assistance, or skip the drink altogether, if beverages and barware are too far out of reach.

Choose tableware that coincides well with the event theme and color scheme. My list of Most Loved Sites for Party Supplies is a great resource for unique finds.


Prepare Cocktail Recipe Cards

Everyone appreciates drink recommendations! Even self-proclaimed bartenders.

There are dozens of vehicles for presenting drink recipes to guests. A picnic might call for a chalkboard, while a cocktail party might opt for acrylic signs in stands. Either option would double as decor on a self serve bar.

Here’s a cheap and cheerful way to create cocktail recipe cards...

Format a Word document to a 4×6 layout

Add the drink name, along with a photo, to the first page, and list the ingredients and instructions on the next page

Design each cocktail card with the font and colors of your choice

Save as a PDF

Email the file to Staples to print each cocktail recipe double sided (picture on the front, ingredients and instructions on the back), on a high-gloss cardstock. Request they laminate each card to protect them from inevitable spills.

I created three cocktail recipe cards for just under $14. Click the Download button below to view some pretty stellar recipes.


Form a Back Bar

The last thing that any host wants to do is restock a bar, especially in the middle of a party.

Use a ledge, table or shelf as a back bar to house extra bottles of club soda, seltzers and mixers. Keep like items together by grouping beverages according to brand, flavor and use. Juices in one spot, sodas in another!


Get Welcome Drinks on Deck

Welcome drinks with an unexpected twist are a fun way to kick off a celebration. For my Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash, mini margaritas in Patron Silver bottles were a must!

Miniature Bottles of Patron Silver with Pink Flamingo Straws inside
Photo by Mel Barlow & Co. Click here to find Pink Flamingo Drink Straws

I also filled an inflatable pool with a variety of spiked seltzers and a metal cooler with beers.

I left tumblers on the bar, each with their own unique design, for guests to choose from when they first arrived. The tumblers doubled in use as guests refilled water bottles from drink dispensers throughout the party, and took them home as gifts upon departure.


Add Surprise and Delight

Lastly, don’t forget to incorporate some form of Surprise and Delight.

Unique drinks in unexpected places can activate a space, and add value to a design-driven concept. I left guests to discover Jello shots stacked up in a retro cooler that was nestled among lawn games.


Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more from the Happy Hostess.

Most Loved Websites (for Childrens Parties)

Little people deserve big parties! Check out this list of Most Loved Websites to find the perfect piรฑata, tassel garland, DIY balloon arch, and other unique goodies for children’s parties.

This post contains affiliate links.


Meri Meri

Meri Meri is my all-time favorite party supply store, for children’s parties and even for celebrations of my own.

Meri Meri Party and Gifts

The site is playful but refined, with so many unique party themes to choose from.

Check out their hanging decorations, and elevated tableware. Fun fact, I actually used their plates, napkins, cups and cutlery for my Twenty Fifth Birthday Bash! It was very Katy Perry meets California girls, so flamingo themed tableware was a must!

I love their pre-designed party sets like the one pictured below.

If you’re short on time, take a look at their Party in a Box collections.

They have all of the essential supplies for themed celebrations, like Mermaid in a Box (such a sweet collection!). Most boxes are prepared for up to eight people, so make sure that you select the right quantity of boxes, depending on the guest count.


Clafoutis Creations

Children’s parties made elegant. Clafoutis Creations is a wonderland of whimsy, from enchanting tableware to pretty party supplies, with tons of themes to choose from.

One of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties is Clafoutis Creations. Pictured: Pink and Silver Sparkle Birthday Candle Set

Find cupcake kits in an animal parade theme, iridescent confetti fit for a swan lake theme, hyper-stylized paper goods, everything you need for gifting, and enough accessories to please even the pickiest of kids.

Busy parents – turn to Clafoutis Creations when you’re looking to find more than the standard set of matching plates and cups. It offers unique touches that really pull a party together.

Three small square circus tents in whimsical linear patterns with blue, pink, green and gold color schemes. Glitter and rose petals flood the background.

Candy Warehouse

Because, what’s a party without candy?

If your eyes are set on a candy bar, sweets to include in favor bags, or if you plan to incorporate candy into a tablescape design, chances are you’ll need a lot of it. Candy Warehouse offers a wide range of bulk candies in varying quantities and flavors, with the option to select unwrapped or wrapped candy.

Candy Warehouse is one of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Pink and white candy display in vessels of varying heights.

They carry well known brands like Hershey’s and novelty ones like eFrutti (home of the gummy hot dog, hamburger and pizza). If you’re sticking to a specific color scheme, this site also offers a shop by color option, which even includes metallic, rainbow and pastel categories.

Different types of yellow candy

I find it SO MUCH EASIER to buy candy in bulk, online, and find the exact type and quantity that I’m looking for, versus making a trip to a store that offers fewer and more costly options. The value is unmatched!

Rainbow swirl lollipop sticks

Ellie and Piper

Chic party supplies with a boutique feel. Ellie and Piper partners with brands like Talking Tables, My Mind’s Eye, Harlow & Grey, Knot and Bow, and so many other stylish stores.

Ellie and Piper is one of my Most Loved sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Pastel drink umbrellas in blue, green, yellow, orange, red and pink

There’s a sassy, upbeat energy to the products on this site. They’ve made an appearance at many of the parties I’ve planned for the little ones in my clients’ lives. Find balloons, decorations and tableware on this site, pre-sorted by category. Or, browse inspiration on their Instagram for loads of theme and installation ideas.

This is also a sweet site for gift ideas that fly under the radar. A curated collection of wooden toys, activity kits, art supplies, and unique bags live here!

A pastel rainbow with wooden dowels displays pink strawberry frosted donuts with gold sprinkles

Maisonette

Another one of my Most Loved Websites for Children’s Parties is Maisonette – it’s cuteness overload! They carry apparel, toys and furniture for little ones, but the Birthday Party Shop is where it’s at.

Maisonette is a favorite for knick knacks like unicorn brooches, stickers, favor supplies, candles, crowns and many more fun finds. They sell brands like Meri Meri, Handstand Kitchen, and bling2o. It’s a super turnkey site for games that entertain an active audience!

Maisonette is one of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Pink, green, silver and gold unicorn accessory set. Includes headband, necklaces, hair clips, and hair ties

If you’re in the market for the sweetest tutus, Maisonette also sells iloveplum, which is an absolute need-to-know for princesses, fairies, and ballerinas alike. They also carry other brands for costuming, like Lovelane for little mermaids and super heroes, and Great Pretenders for dinosaurs and pirates. It’s one of the first places that I turn to, especially when outfitting is involved!

Mauve tutu onesie for baby by i love plum

Oh Happy Day

This site is PURE JOY. Giant round balloon kits? Check. Cute message boards? Check. Out of the box tabletop supplies like superhero bolt party cups? Check. Neon cactus and rainbow lights? Check. Ok, I’ll stop now.

Oh Happy Day is one of my Most Loved Sites for Children's Parties. Pictured: Colorful rainbow balloons

Oh Happy Day is actually divided into two different sites, a blog and an e-commerce shop. The blog is a great resource for kids craft ideas, printables and DIY projects, while the shop is a hub for modern party supplies. Sort by color and find all-things metallic or filter through decor to find goodies like party fans, horns, stirrers, banners and garlands.

Pro-Tip: Skip the assembly process and opt for pre-made favor kits. Each kit comes with all you need for one favor bag, featuring nostalgic toys, candy and games. Think: Slinky, Pop Rocks, Rubik’s Cube… the works!

Oh Happy Day Favor Kits
Favor kit materials, including mini ping pong paddles, Pop Rocks candy, stickers, and other goodies

If you liked this post, view more of my go-to’s on the Most Loved Websites Series.


Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.


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Building the Perfect Welcome Bag

A guide to an all time favorite topic, welcome bags! From whether or not you need one, to which guests receive them, how much to budget, what contents to purchase, how to assemble the final gifts and tips for staying organized on delivery day. It’s everything you need to know on building the perfect welcome bag. Let’s jump in!

This post contains affiliate links.


To Do or Not To Do

The first thing to note, is that it’s absolutely not necessary or expected to distribute welcome bags. Guests that choose to stay overnight are looking forward to joining in your celebration, and not anticipating any kind of gifting experience in return.

The primary reason that past clients have opted to distribute welcome bags, is due to the number of out of town guests that require overnight accommodations prior to the event day. If guests are staying more than one night, some clients will also opt for turndown gifts in guest rooms.

Welcome and turndown gifts usually coincide with hotel blocks and villa rentals. So, if we’re arranging overnight accommodations for anywhere from 15-20% of out of town guests, they are usually given welcome gifts. They are almost inevitable for destination events, when the majority of guests travel domestically or internationally for a celebration.

Building the Perfect Welcome Bag for Destination Weddings and Events. Pictured: Plane traveling through pink and blue ombre sky
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

How Much Does it Cost?

Depending on the number of guests receiving welcome bags, the cost of contents can accumulate quickly. Budget restraints are perhaps the most common reason why some clients decide to nix them altogether. Generally speaking, welcome gifts can average between $15 – $100+ per bag, for the vessel and the contents.

The variance in price is contingent on a number of factors:

– Cost to hire a company to curate contents, assemble and distribute bags (there are some AMAZING companies out there, but this service doesn’t come cheap!).

– Fees imposed by the hotel to hold and distribute bags (typically $1 per bag, but some properties will charge more).

– Range, type and quantity of contents.

– Paperie enclosures (think: welcome notes, itineraries, maps, suggested activities / restaurants to try during down time).


Contents

NecessitiesSnacks!Fun Stuff
Basics:
Welcome note, water, mints
Fresh bakedApparel, or accessories like sunglasses
Warm Weather Essentials:
Sunscreen, insect repellent, chapstick
SeasonalGames / Activities:
Think: golf balls or a deck of cards
Travel Goodies:
Aspirin, antihistamines, mini toiletries
Locally madeMini bottle of bubbly

Think about little luxuries that guests can use in the event environment. Solemates are always well received by guests that wear heels to outdoor weddings or events. These heel protectors are designed to prevent heels from sinking into grass or cobblestone and inevitably getting ruined.


Reminders

Keep it Authentic Don’t Go Overboard
Stay true to the locationNice to have vs. need to have
Locally crafted or inspired bag / box
(think: pretty & functional)
Quality > quantity
Contents that speak to the destination or represent the host
(add a touch of personalization here!)
Ask yourself, “Would I use this?”
Sweets and other edible contents are perfect items to include when building a welcome bag. Pictured: Robbin's egg blue ribbon with blue and pink macaroons
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Assembly

Track the quantity of guests slated to receive welcome gifts within a separate column in your guest list spreadsheet.

The general rule of thumb is one bag per room. Although, some clients will purchase two of certain items, particularly water bottles or apparel / accessory items, such as baseball caps or luggage tags. Paper goods can definitely be limited to one per bag.

Pick a spacious room in your home to spread out all of the contents and take Inventory. Once everything is accounted for, remove any wrapping, stickers, or tags from the items. Form an assembly line, placing all of the bags in the beginning, then organize the contents in piles, followed by paper goods, and final touches like ribbon at the end. One by one, complete the bags by following the assembly line.

Pro-Tip: It can be tedious process to assemble bags all in one day. Spread out the workload over the course of a few days to make sure each bag is assembled correctly, without any stickers left unturned or contents left out.

If you’re planning a destination event, it’s not advisable to pre-assemble welcome bags and ship them to the destination (cost being the number one factor, plus items can shift in the delivery process). Work with the event manager to ensure they will accept and store deliveries of the items at the destination, shipped directly from the source. Ask the hotel to confirm receipt and label boxes on your behalf.

Plan to arrive to the destination at least a full day in advance to unbox, unwrap, and prepare the bags. Trust me – this process takes a lot more time than one might anticipate, and the more time to prep, the better. It’s ideal to reserve a conference room for assembly, as there’s typically not enough space in guest rooms for a project of this size!

The Beverly Hills Hotel
Photo by Erica Zhao on Pexels.com

Getting Gifts to Guests

This phase is best left to an event planner, especially for weddings. If you don’t have a planner, delegate this task to a trusted relative or reliable member of the bridal party. It’s not the kind of task you want to do the day before an event!

Request the reservation list from hotels with room blocks arrangements, and triple confirm the number of guest rooms coincide with the quantity of welcome gifts for each location. Work with the group sales manager to identify which rooms will receive gifts. Confirm if they charge a holding or distribution fee, and inquire if guests will need to mention the hotel block to receive their gift upon check in, or if gifts will be placed in guest rooms prior to their arrival.

If you know of certain guests that are staying at rental properties, reach out to confirm where they’re staying and when they’re checking in. Create an itinerary of your drop off route to save time, along with addresses and whom to contact upon arrival.

If a welcome party is hosted prior to the event, it can often be easiest to distribute the gifts as guests depart that initial celebration, especially if guests are spread across various lodging facilities.

Then, celebrate the completion of a massive undertaking – You’ve earned it after this process!

Champagne toast
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.


All the Best Moments reserves the right to receive commissions for purchases made through the above links. For more information, view our Privacy Policy.

Event Planning 101

There’s a running list in my mind of gatherings I’d love to host. Pizza tastings, thematic holiday parties, Shark Week celebrations (my annual guilty pleasure brought to you by Discovery Channel)… the list goes on. Regardless of what kind of celebration it is, these common denominators play a pivotal role in the early stages of planning, as they shape an event from start to finish. Keep reading for a peek into Event Planning 101.


Timing is Everything

Seasonality plays a huge role in Event Planning 101. It dictates everything from venue and vendor availability, to travel conditions, design, pricing, and menu items.

For example, your favorite flower may only be available during certain months, or could it be quite costly to import if desired during it’s off season. The availability and pricing fluctuates depending on time of year.

Venues, bands and photographers book years in advance, but they tend to be busiest in the spring and fall months. So, depending on the venue or vendor’s availability, it’s possible to negotiate discounts for lower rates. This especially applies to weekday celebrations, which are often priced significantly lower than events on the weekend.

Let’s pretend that you’re planning a celebration on a Saturday in June, but find yourself on a tight lead time. Given the popularity in the date,
(which is among the busiest times in the event community) it’s unlikely that you’ll have your first pick of vendors. Last minute events are also more likely to face a premium for rush fees.

Or, if your eyes are set on hiring an amazing photographer that comes at a hefty price tag, there may be more room to negotiate for coverage in the off season. This is typically during the winter months, unless the photographer takes on a lot of destination work.

What does this mean for you? Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of different event dates before signing any contracts. Gauge how viable it is to meet the Goals that you’ve set for the event, while bearing in mind budget parameters.


Location, Location, Location

The location of an event sets the entire tone a celebration, and how it will flow.

Seated and standing capacity will determine the maximum number of guests that one can invite. Some venues have restrictions on which vendors can work in a space. Other venues will limit clients to working with their list of exclusive vendors. Catering could be in-house, or require an off-premise caterer. Factors like access times, ancillary fees for maintenance or security, and items that need to be rented can hike up the cost of a space. The venue dictates a lot!

If you’re planning an event at a private residence, whether it’s a rental house, a friend’s property, or in your home, there are entirely different considerations at play.

Pro-Tip: It’s a common misconception that weddings and events at home are less expensive compared to venue fees. Though the cost of tenting, flooring, HVAC, restrooms, staff, cleaning and grounds maintenance, not to mention rental items like basic tables, chairs, linens, china, glassware and flatware, can be substantial if not more than the cost associated with an event venue.

Circle back to the Event Goals and the budget to determine what location is best. An event planner can vet potential options and share a cost comparison to help flush out the nuances of each space.


Know Your Audience

People make the party. They’re the biggest part of Event Planning 101, because they influence every decision you make while planning a celebration.

In opting to host an event on a Monday, for example, it’s possible to receive discounted pricing from venues and vendors. Although, this may inadvertently cut the guest list in half due to the competing priorities with work and family schedules. But, if the goal is to trim down the guest list via less RSVPs, this could be a good way to do it!

You know your audience. Bear in mind travel distances and guest comfort as you consider how to celebrate. Your audience also knows you. Keep it authentic; the way you host should feel like an extension of who you are!


Create a Narrative

In the events industry, the flow of a celebration is sometimes referred to as ‘Storytelling,’ or an event’s ‘Narrative.’

When we start the planning process, we ask, why gather? And what story do we want to tell? If it’s a wedding, we’ll want each aspect of the wedding to represent the couple, and feel authentic to who they are.

As planners, the options we put forth to our clients aim to tell their story, and serve a narrative that’s revealed as their event unfolds.


Decide How to Celebrate

This is the fun part!

What really inspires you? Inspiration is everywhere, and chances are you’ve already seen something that’s caught your eye and sent your imagination soaring.

Reference the above points to guide you towards the best ways to bring your guests together in celebration of your next event. Then take a look at Seven Ways to Prepare for An Amazing Event.

If you’re in the market for inspiration, visit my Pinterest for everything from theme ideas, to concepts for installations and activations.


Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.

Event Decks

Decks provide visual reference for event concepting, design, layout, form and function. They’re an extremely useful tool to curate how an event will look and feel.


What is an Event Deck?

After I’ve surfed through Pinterest, mulled over different designs, and have a skeletal plan for an event, I launch Powerpoint and begin working on a deck.

The deck serves two purposes; representing inspiration and actualized ideas. It flushes out concepts, serves as a hub of information and is ultimately a decision-making platform.

When I build a deck, I like to think in terms of event flow, with a beginning, middle and end. I start by choosing a cover photo that best represents the vibe I’m after.

My Event Deck features tropical concepts, represented by this pool with palm leaves
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

Finding Inspiration

In the early stages of a deck, the next 10-20 slides are filled with inspiration images ranging from stationery ideas, to welcome moments, decor, activities, food and beverage, and guest gifts.

There could be as many as 3-5 different themes shown in these initial images. Think of this step as a jumping off point to guide you towards a final theme direction that best accomplishes the goals you’re after.

Read more about the importance of defining goals for your event here and the role they play during the planning process.

My Event Deck includes concepts like a beauty bar activation, represented by this image of powdered eyeshadows in pink, blue, orange, and purple
Photo by ๐•๐ž๐ง๐ฎ๐ฌ ๐‡๐ƒ ๐Œ๐š๐ค๐ž- ๐ฎ๐ฉ & ๐๐ž๐ซ๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฆ๐ž on Pexels.com

Looking at Logistics

As the deck is populated with inspiration, consider the following for each concept shown:

How does this support the overarching goals of the event?

Is this feasible in accordance with the event budget?

What labor will this realistically require for set up, during the event itself and strike?

All of these questions will prompt you to play out scenarios for each design.


Finalizing the Theme

Look for patterns in the inspiration photos that make you most excited, and identify exactly which parts of those images you are drawn to and why. Research the marketplace for the concepts shown, it may become clear that certain themes are out of budget, or lacking in availability.

At this stage, you will have fully flushed out the design, compared pricing to the event budget and confirmed availability. Check the box for due diligence!

Once the theme is selected, deep dive into design. Remove any inspiration images that no longer fit the scope and scale of the event.

It’s totally fine to mix and match inspiration images that showcase different themes. The point is that the deck makes sense to you. It doesn’t need to represent one continuous design plan just yet.

My Event Deck includes flamingo stakes, pictured here, and pink accents with palm leaves
Photo by Linda Eller-Shein on Pexels.com

Pro-Tip: Lean into the design by creating vignettes for each phase of the event. Consider the presentation of everything; treat all vessels, activities, food & beverage, and decor as a decision. Be thorough here, anything within the event environment should be on-brand and represent the theme.


Planning for Purchases

While sourcing materials for the event, add product links and pricing to the notes section of the Powerpoint slide that houses the items you’re considering.

Look for multiple suppliers of those products – don’t just purchase the first one you see. Starting far enough in advance of the event will position you to purchase items when they’re on sale.

When your first purchase has been made, separate the event deck into two sections: Inspiration and Purchased. Reference and compare the two sections against future purchases to stay on theme. This is also when an Inventory List will come into play.

Two nude pool umbrellas
Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

It’s All Coming Together

At this stage, the deck is no longer a shell of a design, but instead a cohesive lookbook of actualized purchases.

Populate your deck in real-time, as purchases are made and orders are confirmed, to account for each piece of the puzzle.

Don’t forget to include stationery, like the save the date!

Pink exterior envelope with my name on it in white script. This was the save the date invitation for my twenty fifth birthday bash
Envelope liner with palm leaves
Save the date invitation with pink flamingos and gold and pink writing

Final Edits

Once all purchases are reflected in the deck, play the presentation on full screen a few times, and organize slides in a cohesive way; mirroring the beginning, middle and end of the event.

It’s super helpful if the items on each slide make up the vignette being produced on the event day. Then, it can be easily translated to a visual checklist of items to account for once you or any staff hired starts to set up.

Final edits solidify the vision and goals for the event, and demonstrate how to properly execute those moments in a turnkey way.

Round beach towels in palm leaves and pink flamingos. Yellow palm leaf pillows
Tropical sun visors in playful patterns like rainbow, mermaid, orange, iridescent and pink and green palm leaves.
"Baby Got Bounce" inflatable beach ball, "Island Vibes" inflatable flyer and inflatable volleyball net for pool

The Completed Deck

Toss the confetti, the deck is complete!

Download the presentation to your phone for quick reference on the event day. This step-by-step guide is such a helpful resource to identify where every item will live, so be sure to share with anyone assisting with set up on the event day.

To view an example of a final event deck, click the Download button below. This deck shows the plans for my twenty fifth birthday celebration that took place over the summer of 2020 (I had a blast with this one). To read more about that party and how it came to fruition, click here.


Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.