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.

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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.

Get 10% off your first Wild One order

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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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Most Loved Sites (for Children’s Parties)

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

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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 Sites 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

Red Bubble sells cute and protective masks that are perfectly sized for kiddos.

Consider purchasing a variety of masks in the theme or color scheme of your child’s party, and leave them in a basket or tray for little ones to pick up on their way into the party. Safety is always first!

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


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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!

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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.

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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

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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.


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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.

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