Tuesday, April 28, 2009

party pick: Baskin Robbins 31 cent Scoop Night

Photo Credit: Eric E Yang

Tomorrow [Wednesday April 29th 2009] is 31 cent scoop night at Baskin Robbins and Baskin Robbins Canada. Bring your friends and family in to your local Baskin Robbins location and enjoy a scoop of your favourite BR ice cream for only 31 cents plus tax. Baskin Robbins Canada is donating $10,000 to the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation in celebration of this annual event. Since the boy is a firefighter, it is a cause that I personally find important, so I encourage you to get out there and get some ice cream!You can also make an individual donation to CFFF at your Baskin Robbins location. Baskin Robbins in the US will be making a $100,000 donation to the National Volunteer Fire Council National Junior Firefighter Program.

So head over to Baskin Robbins tomorrow night between 5pm and 10pm. There may even be a firetruck at your location and firemen on hand to serve your scoops! You can RSVP to the Canadian event on Facebook here. Follow the American event page here. For more information, visit the Baskin Robbins 31 cent Scoop Night home pages here and here.


Friday, April 24, 2009

2009 Spring wedding trends: invitations

Photo Credit: Cynthia

According to my newsletter from The Knot, here are some trendy but classic ideas for your wedding invitations:

Vintage Flair
When it comes to invitation design, think Parisian soap label art, Givenchy couture, and swirl or damask patterns. To extend the design's shelf life, give your cake baker a copy of your invitation and ask him or her to decorate the cake using a similar design.

Modern Monograms
Monograms are becoming more thematic via stylistic elements, like elaborate ampersands. Rather than a simple font, consider using intertwined initials for an updated look.

Couture Envelopes
Invitation envelopes are your guests' first glimpse at your wedding style, so don't skimp on them. Beautiful liners in coordinating colors and patterns make this otherwise ordinary packaging a memorable wedding detail.

Says Cynthia from Bella Figura, here are some more trends from the wedding stationery front.

  • Embellishments
  • Bold colours
  • Jewel Tones
  • Green
  • Nautical combinations
Hope that's enough to get you inspired for now!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

free greeting cards

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Good luck!!


sitting down with... ZEELICIOUS Confectionary Delights

Photo Credit: Zainab Saleem

I found Zainab of ZEELICIOUS Confectionary Delights through an ad she had posted on kijiji. I visited her Facebook page and browsed through her photos and suddenly I was seeing stars! I had to message her right away and ask her about her business. As a planner, I like to hear perspective from other people in the industry and I was so interested in ZEELICIOUS that Zainab and I began to message back and forth, learning about each other. I asked her the other day if she would give us a little glimpse into what goes into her cake and confectionery business.

How did you start your business?
Frankly, to tell you the truth, a friend was the one who inspired me to get into this. I have no formal training as a pastry chef, [but] I do have a Bachelors Degree in Design. I ordered my sons first birthday cake from my friend who has been in the business for about five years now. I looked at the cake and I thought 'I can do this. It's a little bit of sculpture, a little bit of design with some painting, a little architecture and boom , you have a piece of art.'
As far as baking itself was concerned, I started that really young, inspired by my mom's love of fresh loaves of bread and decadent desserts. A lot of the recipes she had were actually created by my grandmother and my mom together, so you could say they are a bit of a family secret :).

How would you describe your work?
The best way to describe my work would be 'art' I would like to think of myself as an artist rather than a pastry chef or baker. That is how I see every cake project: a piece of art. I put a lot of heart and love into [each cake] so that every single cake is its very own masterpiece; not just great to look at, but equally great to taste.

Who are your main customers?
I cant really say my work caters to one particular kind of customer . Lately I have been doing a lot of children's cakes, but I have wedding orders lined up for the summer. For me, each and every customer is important, be it a large order or small.

What information from your customers helps you best envision what they are looking for?
In terms of design, if it's a child's cake I would ask what the child's favourite cartoon character is? Favourite toy? Is there a theme to the party that the customer would like me to work with?
For weddings, again the theme is important. Colour scheme is another consideration and for brides that like it very customized, I like to incorporate the design or bead work on their dresses into the cake [design].

Describe your typical day.
I’m a stay at home mom, so my typical day revolves around my four-year-old daughter and my very energetic two-year-old son. And, during the somewhat chaotic day-to-day life that any stay at home mom has, I manage to attend a few phone calls and jot down a few emails to my clients.

What is the most difficult part of running your business?
The challenging part of running a business from home is trying to juggle your day-to-day life with all the little extras of running a business. I am lucky enough to have a wonderful support system of family, especially my husband, around me who look after my little darlings when mommy is "working". And, since my cakes are almost always due on weekends, it helps me to be a regular stay at home mom with a weekend job.

What is the most rewarding part of running your business?
The most rewarding part of my business would be when the clients actually see their cakes. I remember there was one time when a mom came to pick up her 2-year-old daughter's cake and stood there in front of the cake, just staring at it. I was very unsure as to what she thought because she just stood there for what seemed to me was a long time, until I finally asked her what she thought. She gave me the biggest smile and a big hug, [and] needless to say she loved her cake. But its always rewarding when a client really appreciates the time and effort and all the hard work you have put into their order.

Zainab donates a percentage of profit from every ZEELICIOUS order to SickKids Foundation.
Visit the ZEELICIOUS Confectionary Delights Facebook page for more information.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Navigating the Tablescape: Earth Day

How amazing would this be for Earth Day? Or any other day for that matter? You could do something similar with carrots and it would also look really cute.

Thank you to CasaSugar for pointing me to Re-Nest


everyone loves cupcakes!

What's hiding under this lovely plain cupcake-y exterior?

Pscyhedelic rainbow goodness!! Hooray for rainbow cupcakes! I called my cakes 'Psychedelicakes'. I had been reading about rainbow cakes all over the place for the past few weeks, originally here and since I generally prefer cupcakes [nothing against cake, I will gladly mow down on cake, cupcakes are just easier to handle] I decided I was going to turn my desire to make a rainbow cake into some delicious handheld treats. The occasion was a class 'party' to mark the final class of my Event Theory and Practice course. Here's how it turned out for me.

I started by preparing the batter in my mixer. I separated it into four bowls for each of the colours I was using in the cupcakes. I left a little bit in the mixer bowl in case I needed extra of a certain colour.
I used blue, yellow, red and green food colouring to colour the batter. I used about 8-12 drops of each and stirred it in with a whisk.Here's how the batter looked as I was spooning it into the cups. Some of them I started with red on the bottom and some with blue.
I was quick to wash out my bowls, spoons and whisks so that the coloured batter didn't stick to them.
Here they are just out of the oven and on the cooling rack. Aren't they trippy even on the outside?
I iced them pretty thick so that the colour didn't show through. I hate icing so I ate one before I smeared the plain white icing on them. I think I did a pretty good job of concealing their secret!

Here's the boy holding a cupcake. Psychedelic!!

I also made little toothpick toppers for each one, but sadly I have no pictures. It was two embossed foil balloon confettis and a foil squiggly confetti glued on a toothpick.

Here is the table card I made for my treats.

Visit this site to get the full tutorial.


party phD: Earth Day

Photo Credit: Earth Day Canada

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is a 39-year-old day of celebration for the Earth. The focus of Earth Day is on conservation, preservation, education, awareness and appreciation. The importance of ecology and Earth education had become a prominent topic in the 1960's and so in 1970, United States Senator Gaylord Nelson constructed an 'environmental teach-in' to be held on April 22. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed each year on April 22 by more than 500 million people and national governments in 175 countries.

The significance of April 22 has long been debated, but the truth seems to be that Sen. Nelson chose this date because he felt it would maximize participation on college campuses. Other theories surrounding the date of Earth Day include the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, the birthday of John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club and the birthday of Vladmir Lenin [suspected by those who suggested the event was a Communist trick].

In many places, Earth Day has expanded to Earth Week and, in some cases, Earth Month. Events of every kind happen during Earth Day/Week/Month from galas to grassroots garbage clean ups. If you are looking to find an event in your area, click here for Earth Day Network listed events. Or, use this funky widget to find a Canadian event near you.

If you are around the GTA, I suggest this event. Alternatively, check out Disney's amazing new film, out today, called Earth. View the trailer below.

How will you be celebrating Earth Day?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2009 Spring wedding trends

Photo Credit: Conny Liegl
Anyone can claim that something is going to be a trend. People predict trends based on numerous factors, both research based and non-research based. There are sites all over the interwebs listing trends for Spring 2009 weddings and I'm going to round up what I feel are the best of the best.

Small luxurious weddings: a no-brainer here, really. We may be in a recession, but that doesn't mean people aren't still getting married! They are just doing it with less guests to trim costs since the average [American] wedding budget is down over 33% from 2007. Less guests means more intimacy and more creative license to really get the details you are lusting after without the price tag that comes attached to your 150 count guestlist.

Photo Credit: Diva by Design

Empire Waist Goddess Gowns: how gorgeous and effortlessly elegant is this gown? an empire waist dress will flatter many different figures. you can show your collarbone and shoulders and camouflage flaws underneath the full bodice. very feminine and super-appropriate for Spring!

Photo Credit: Iampeth

Black Flowers and Accessories: well, maybe not black flowers, that is a little too Goth for a Springtime wedding, but definitely black accessories! I'm thinking black table runners, black chargers, black vases or black calligraphic accents on the menu like the one above.

Photo Credit: Portobello

Vintage Fashion and Fascinators: Etsy is all the rage, especially with hip, in-the-know brides [there is so much Etsy love out there it's crazy!]. Etsy is an Ebay-like marketplace for people all over the world to buy and sell handmade goods. There are so many amazing pieces on Etsy for fashion forward [or backward? we are talking vintage here] brides-to-be. Combs, flowers, fascinators, birdcages, pillbox hats... the list goes on. Unique, one-of-a-kind items that are instant heirloom pieces are what's in for Spring.

Do you agree? What do you think the biggest trends are for weddings this season?

Source, Source


party pick: ELLE Fashion and Beauty Event

If you live in or around Toronto, the place to be on Saturday is The Carlu which will be playing host to the annual ELLE Fashion and Beauty Event.

The ELLE Show will feature clinics and seminars boasting the colors, tips and trends for the upcoming spring/summer season. Lunch and a gift bag are included with price of admission. The daytime event will run from 10:30am to 5:oopm. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.

The evening is a benefit/fundraiser for the Toronto Fashion Incubator, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and nurturing young business entrepreneurs. Guests have the opportunity of purchasing V.I.P. Cocktail/Dinner/Silent Auction & Show tickets [$255] or General Admission Cocktail/Silent Auction & Show tickets [$55]. The evening is dedicated to the Toronto Fashion Incubator New Labels Competition. After a rigorous six-month design competition, the runway show will unveil the four finalists from the competition: Faren, Jody Leigh, Gushueswim and Thieves, as they compete for an ELLE Canada prize package valued at over $25,000. Anne-Marie Mediwake of Global News will be the event emcee.

Will you be attending the ELLE show?


Monday, April 20, 2009

finding inspiration: best entertaining websites

Photo Credit: Sergio

My list of websites and blogs to visit daily is about a mile long and consists mainly of entertaining, lifestyle, design and recipe sites. I love sites that are beautiful to look at and have quality content. I get so much inspiration from these blogs and websites everyday. When my boyfriend asks what I'm doing on the computer, my response is often 'checking my daily sites'.

Here are the all-stars in my bookmark tab:

YumSugar I started frequenting the Sugar Network a number of years ago and I've watched it blossom into one of the best online communities for women. I visit YumSugar everyday to get filled in on food and drink trends, party planning, recipes and food news from around the globe. For more inspiration on the Sugar Network, I also like to check out CasaSugar, their home décor blog, from time to time.

Hostess with the Mostess
and Hostess Blog I actually prefer the Hostess Blog to the main Hostess site [the blog could easily stand alone as the main attraction] but together they are a duo of drool-worthy online pleasures for partygeeks like me!. The Hostess Blog is an invaluable resource for party planning inspiration. Jenn Sbranti, the founder of HWTM, pulls from all of her favourite blogs as well as her own experiences in the party planning world and reader submissions to churn out one of the most visually appealing and content-rich entertaining blogs around.

WeddingBee I don't remember how I stumbled upon WeddingBee, nor do I remember how I lived without it. Actually, I think I may have found it through a Google search of some random wedding term where I happened upon this wedding blog of a girl who was simultaneously blogging her wedding planning experience on WeddingBee. The bloggers on WeddingBee are brides-to-be from all over the US [and sometimes other places... like Canada!] who write about the process of planning their wedding and they are a veritable pantheon of wedding and party inspiration. Whenever I am at my computer I am checking WeddingBee for updates. They also have a 'Pro' website featuring wedding vendors and their own daily exploits which is inspirational to me in two ways: creatively and as a 'vendor' myself I can glimpse into the lives of other people who are in the industry. I also follow some of my favourite 'pros' on their personal blogs.

I also frequent the following websites and blogs on a less-than-daily basis, but would like to send some love to them.
Mix Mingle Glow
Alison Events
Cookie Mondays
Tastefully Entertaining
Totally Tabletops
100 Layer Cake

What websites inspire you to create what you do?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

free Earth Day e-cards

Photo Credit: Nasa, The Visible Earth

Earth Day is fast approaching! I am a big eco-freak so I love Earth Day. I just received an email from World Wildlife Fund containing this year's batch of free e-cards. I am obsessed with e-cards! While I love love love real cards, e-cards can be sent out at any time, even the day-of the event or occasion and there are so many different holidays and milestones to be celebrated, it can get expensive to send out real cards all over the world to friends and family for each one.

So, without further ado, you can access the WWF e-cards here to send to your friends and family. Come back on APril 22nd for my Earth Day party phD!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

POGO Gala 2009

My sister is published! [well, sort of]. The picture above was taken at the 8th Annual POGO Gala which took place April 4th at the Liberty Grand in Toronto. My sister did the makeup for these lovely girls for this event and this picture was snapped as they walked down the leopard print carpet and posted on the Toronto Arts and Events website.The Gala is a fundraiser for POGO [Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario] and the girl on the right, Lauren, was a speaker at the event.

I was excited to see my sister's beautiful work featured on the event website and I'm sure there are many pictures floating around the interwebs of her two pretty clients from this event.

Let me know if you see any!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Create a Timeline to Stay on Track

If you are planning a party or event, the most important tool you can have in your arsenal is a detailed timeline. The timeline can help you foresee conflicts and serve as a schedule for everyone involved in putting the event together. My timelines always start from the day I begin to plan. The timeline will include everything I need to do to get me up to the day of the event and then I create a seperate timeline for the party date to give to everyone involved [though not guests, obviously!]

A good timeline will include everything necessary for each step along the way. For example, you may write that the guests will begin arriving at 1:00pm. At this time, you may also write on your timeline where everyone should be when guests arrive and what will be going on in terms of welcome activities, etc.

Be careful not to allow too much "buffer" time in between activities. Yes, it may take time for your guests to travel from one area to another, but once you start to factor in all this extra time, your timeline will be thrown off or you may end up with guests standing around. Though your timeline should be flexible, its purpose is to keep you on track so try to stick to it!

Have you ever used a timeline or agenda when planning an event?


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

finding inspiration: yellow white and black

I am planning my sister's 20th birthday party in September. It's her 'champagne birthday' [when you are turning the age matching the day of your birthday, ie she is turning 20 on the 20th] so she really wants to do it up. I put together a preliminary inspiration board from her vision of white and yellow.

Rock Candy and Rock Candy
Background Picture
Favour Boxes
Yellow Martini
White Carnations
Yellow Carnation


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Navigating the Tablescape: Easter

Happy Easter everyone! Just a quick post about Easter brunch I had the other day and how we set up the table. I had very little notice to go on for this Easter brunch, so don't mind the wrinkled tablecloth!! I went with a dusty yellow and dusty pink colour palette and kind of a simple country aesthetic. So I started with a neutral table cloth and put brightly coloured plates down.

Then i placed a neutral napkin on top of each place and put our shiny heavy silverware on top. I did a google search on Easter quotes, poems and sayings and found this one by Edna Dean Proctor that I thought was cute

I think of the garden after the rain;
And hope to my heart comes singing,
At morn the cherry-blooms will be white,
And the Easter bells be ringing!

I printed this out on white paper and accentuated a few words and cut it out into a thin strip. I wrapped a pink ribbon around the napkin and wrapped the paper around over top of the ribbon so only the top of the ribbon was showing. Then I secured it with a clothespin. In the middle of the table I put some yellow and pink flowers in a clear glass vase.

I put some cute little porcelain bunnies by the flower vase and they were really the only "Easter-y" things I put on the table. I served mimosas in flutes with sheer pink ribbon tied loosely around the stem.

Again, have a Happy Easter everyone!


Thursday, April 9, 2009

recessionista party tips: $5 coupon from Party Packagers

I am a coupon queen. I love to print out money saving deals or clip them from print ads. I received this one in my email inbox a few days ago from one of my go-to party stores, Party Packagers.
Party Packagers has toys, candy, balloons, favours, décor items and gifts galore. Sometimes I find that their stuff is a little overpriced, and sometimes I find amazing deals. I guess it depends on the location and the time of year. They do have things that I don't see anywhere else though, and I enjoy just perusing the aisles and getting inspired.

So click here for the ad and a $5 coupon when you spend $25 or more. Have fun finding fabulous party supplies!


party phD: Passover

Photo Credit: Alan

Passover is a Jewish and Samaritan festival and Holy day commemorating God mercifully sparing the Hebrews when the tenth plague killed every firstborn son in Egypt [Exodus]. The Bible says that God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves. The Hebrews were instructed to mark their homes with the blood of a lamb and, upon seeing this, the Angel of Death passed over them. When Pharaoh freed the Hebrew slaves, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for their bread to rise. In commemoration, no leavened bread is eaten for the duration of Passover, also earning it the name "The Festival of the Unleavened Bread". Matza, unleavened bread [also called Matzo], is the primary symbol of the holiday.

Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan [March/April in the Gregorian calendar], the first month of the Hebrew calendar's festival year. In 2009, Passover spans from April 9-16. In Israel, Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the first and last days observed as legal holidays and as holy days involving abstention from work, special prayer services and holiday meals.

The Seder
A large part of the Passover celebration involves a feast called the Seder. In Hebrew, Seder means 'arrangement' or 'order'. The Seder is held on the first and sometimes second night of Passover. The Seder is all about tradition and family ritual and is a key component of Jewish religious and cultural identity. Families gather at the table to read one of the Haggadah, the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt. Seder customs include drinking of four cups of wine, eating matza and partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate.

The Seder Plate
The Seder Plate ["ke'ara"] is a plate with symbolic food arranged in a special way. Each item symbolizes a part of the story of Exodus.

Three matzot are placed on top of each other on a plate or napkin, and then covered.
The matzot are symbolic of the three castes of Jews: Priests, Levites, and Israelites.

The following items are placed on a cloth or plate placed above the three matzot:
  • The Shankbone ["z'roa", symbolizing the lamb sacrifice]
  • The Egg ["Beitzah", symbolizing the festival sacrifice]
  • The Bitter Herbs ["Maror" and "Chazeret", symbolizing the harshness Jews endured while enslaved to the Egyptians]
  • The Mixture ["Charoset;", symbolizing the mortar used by the Jewish slaves while building]
  • The Vegetable ["Karpas" which is dipped in saltwater. The saltwater represents the tears shed by the Jews during their enslavement]
Passover is full of amazing imagery, tradition and history. There are many steps to the Passover Seder, including blessings, ritual asking of questions, and the order in which food and wine is consumed.

President Obama added a second-night seder to his official schedule, to be observed April 9, 2009. This is the first time that a sitting president is known to have hosted, and observed, a seder at the White House.

Do you celebrate Passover?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

celebrate this: beer tasting party -- drinks

For the beer tasting party, the drinks are obviously the most important part of the entire evening! you want to make sure that your supply is fresh, broad and sufficient. If this is your first tasting or your guests are a little finicky, it's best to stock some easy drinking beers that aren't too wild. Try the first 5 or so on the list for the timid beer taster. If your guests are adventuresome, don't be afraid to purchase beers you've never tried before; be creative and dig deep for some hidden gems at your local beer or liquor store. Check out selections from the entire list here for your tasting party.

  • Light lager [try Coors Light, Stella Legere, Steelback Light, Amstel Light]

  • Lager [try Amsterdam Natural Blonde, Mill St. Organic, Kirin Ichiban, Zywiec, Sapporo]

  • Pilsener [try Steam Whistle, Krombacher, Holsten, Labatt Blue, Warsteiner, Jupiler]

  • Dark lager [try Waterloo Dark, King Brewery Dark Lager, Heritage Traditional Dark]

  • Canadian ale [try Kawartha Lakes Raspberry Wheat Ale, Molson Export, C'est What? Homegrown Hemp Ale]

  • Amber ale [try Robert Simpson Confederation Amber Ale, Fat Tire Amber Ale, Alexander Keith's Red Amber Ale]

  • Dark ale [try Wellington County Dark Ale, Sleeman Original Dark, Smithwick's]

  • Stout or Porter [try Murphy's Irish Stout, Mill St. Coffee Porter, Sleeman Fine Porter, Beamish stout]

  • Trappist style strong beer or a Bock [try Faxe Festbock, Westmalle Tripel, Aventinus Ice Bock]

  • Fruit beer[try Früli, Bell's Cherry Stout, Unibroue Éphémère]

  • The Set-up
    How much beer should you buy? A simple rule is to pour three ounce samples for your guests. This means from each standard size bottle, you will get four samples.If you can buy beers individually, purchase this way, or buy each beer in a six-pack. An idea may be to let your guests take a bottle of their favourite home.

    Serve your samples in small clear cups. The cups must be clear to fully experience the colour of each sample and note it on your beer score sheet [remember each guest should receive these score sheets in their sampling bag]. Create a backgrounder sheet for each beer you are serving and let your guests appreciate the history of each sample. If you are setting up your room in tasting stations, set the backgrounder sheet at each station.

    Take the beer out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before the tasting starts. If beer is too cold, it will numb your tastebuds to the intricacies of the flavour and aroma.

    Ensure that you have water and water glasses for your guests to cleanse their palate between tastings. The goal is to appreciate each individual flavour without skewing the results.

    The Tasting
    When you are ready to start your tasting, set out the cups and introduce the beer to your guests. Pour directly into the bottom of the cup and fill the cup halfway. Ensure there is ample foam [head] in the cup. Follow your beer score sheet and make your observations. Try using the following guidelines to help your guests make informed observations.
    • Look at the beer and observe its colour.
      Colour will give good indication of what kind of malts have been used and some of the flavours and aromas you should expect.

    • Smell the beer.
      The secret here is to get your nose to the back of the glass or cup. This will bring out all the aromas. If you are having trouble with aromas, swirl the beer a little to generate some foam and try again. Start to think about what kind of aromas you are picking up.

    • Taste the beer.
      The first sip should be a slow process – allow it to rest on your tongue and envelop your mouth. Once you’ve swallowed, think about what flavours you found and how did it feel in your mouth.

    • Take a second taste.
      The first sip did a good job of preparing your mouth but the second sip should alloy you to notice some softer, more intricate flavours.

    • Share your thoughts and comments with your guests and ask them for their thoughts.
      This is the important part. We all have different palates and our experiences may be similar but never identical.

    If you are serving food along with your beer, try the foods after you have made your initial observations. See how the flavours interact and note how the food may bring out new flavours in the beer and vice versa. Then, drink about half a cup of water and begin your next sample!

    I hope you enjoy your beer tasting!


    Sunday, April 5, 2009

    hiring an event planner

    Photo Credit: Karin Dalziel

    Whether it's because you don't have the time, desire, resources, know-how or nerves, hiring a professional event/party planner/coordinator for your celebration can be a lifesaver. They can do the behind the scenes tasks, hire vendors, negotiate contracts, set-up your event, manage your event and guests and may even cut you some money-saving deals.
    If you've decided that you want to bring in professional help to coordinate your event, there are many questions you will want to consider before hiring. How do you know what the planner can bring to the table? What exactly can they do for you and your event? PartySpot.com is really a wonderful resource for all things party. Recently I came across this list that they posted called 13 Questions to Ask Party Planners and being a party planner myself, I thought I would share it.

    (1) Will the coordinator commit to your budget and not push you in the direction of things you simply can't afford?

    (2) Will the coordinator devise a master plan mapping out all the little details, from announcement to zebra-striped decor? (This will clue you in to organizational prowess and a willingness to keep you in the loop on every matter imaginable.)

    (3) Can the coordinator name the best and most original locations in your area (that would be suitable to your party size, style, and budget)?

    Photo Credit: Evan

    (4) Is the coordinator familiar with the best florists, photographers, caterers, bands, and DJs in your price range? Can he/she explain their strong points to you briefly? (Ask yourself: Does the coordinator seem both knowledgeable and passionate?)

    (5) Can the coordinator score you some discounts with any vendors? (Coordinators bring volume to favored vendors; often vendors will reciprocate by slashing prices or throwing in extras.)

    (6) Will the coordinator read over the vendor contracts for you? What are some common traps to look out for?

    (7) Can the coordinator create a timeline that tells everyone involved in the planning process -- vendors, family members, etc. -- what to do and when to do it? How will she/he make sure that everyone sticks to the schedule?

    (8) Will the coordinator handle the invitations, from wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing?

    (9) Can the coordinator counsel you on etiquette matters and alert you to hot trends on the party horizon?

    (10) Will the coordinator organize delivery, arrival, and setup times with photographer, florist, musicians, caterer/banquet manager, et al?

    (11) For the day of the event, will the coordinator be willing to oversee the entire event by supervising vendors, troubleshooting emergencies, and soothing nerves? Can she/he share any anecdotes that required performing above and beyond the call of duty?

    (12) Will the coordinator be willing to step in as your advocate, conveying your visions and desires to vendors when you don't feel up to the task?

    It is important to remember that these are simply guidelines. You may not feel the need to ask your planner/potential planner all of these questions. For instance, your event may not require your planner to handle the invitations. There are definitely other things to take into consideration when hiring a planner. What is their educational background? What events have they worked on in the past? What is their main strength/signature style? These may be questions that are important to you!

    Make a list of what is important to you about the event and what you can't do on your own. This can help you decide what questions to ask the planner during the hiring process.
    Have you ever hired a planner/coordinator/event designer? How did you make your decision?


    party phD: Palm Sunday

    Photo Credit: Eric Molina

    Palm Sunday is a Christian Feast Day which falls on the Sunday before Easter.
    Palm Sunday ranks as one of Christianity's holiest days, second only to Christmas and Easter. It falls on the last Sunday of Lent and marks the beginning of Holy Week. It is called a 'moveable feast' as it is not celebrated on the same day each year. In 2009, Palm Sunday will be celebrated on Sunday April 5th. This day commemorates the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem before his Passion and Crucifixion.

    The significance of Jesus riding a donkey and having his way paved with palm branches is a fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by the prophet Zechariah. In biblical times, the regional custom called for kings and nobles arriving in procession to ride on the back of a donkey. The donkey was a symbol of peace; those who rode upon them proclaimed peaceful intentions. The laying of palm branches indicated that the king or dignitary was arriving in victory or triumph.

    The scene of the crowd greeting Jesus by waving palms and carpeting his path with them has given this Christian feast its name. In the Gospel of John, he specifically mentions palm fronds which were a symbol of triumph and of victory, in Jewish tradition, and is treated in other parts of the Bible as such.

    Palm Sunday traditions are long-standing. The ceremony begins with the blessing of the palms. The procession follows, then Mass is celebrated. Afterward, many people take the palms home and place them in houses, barns, and fields.

    In some countries, palms are placed on the graves of the departed. In colder northern climates, where palm trees are not found, branches of yew, willow, and sallow trees are used. The palms blessed in the ceremony are burned at the end of the day. The ashes are then preserved for next year's Ash Wednesday celebration.

    Figs are sometimes considered a traditional Palm Sunday food because Jesus had wanted to eat figs on his journey into Jerusalem. Some people refer to Palm Sunday as 'Fig Sunday' and make foods containing figs. Click here for some fig recipes.

    Palm Sunday is an occasion for reflecting on the final week of Jesus' life. It is a time for Christians to prepare their hearts for the agony of His Passion and the joy of His Resurrection.


    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    celebrate this: beer tasting party -- décor

    Photo Credit: Shindigz

    Depending on the theme of your tasting, you could come up with some interesting ideas for decoration. For example, if you are going with a domestic tasting, you could decorate with patriotic memorabilia, or if you are going for a beers from around the world theme, try setting up a station for each country/region with a little flag and a fact sheet about that country.

    If your theme is simply 'beer drinking' [what better theme, really?] then there are a number of really cute decorations available like the beer mug lights pictured above available online at shindigz.com. Set up the tasting area/room so that everyone can sit at the same table as they sample the brews. The beer lights can be strung around the ceiling, or I like to have a string of lights down the centre of the table amongst snack bowls, other decorations and tasting information. Cover the table with a table cloth [try a paper one so you can toss it in the recycling when you are finished, as it will likely be covered in crumbs, beer and sauces!]. I like black or orange because that is the colours of the invitation.

    They also have beer mug candles! These would be great set down the centre of your tasting table if you end up stringing the lights around the doorway, chairs or ceiling.

    Photo Credit: PartyCheap.com

    Tie a few of these beer balloons to the chairs around your table or make/buy a balloon bouquet with one of these balloons and some orange and black plain balloons.

    Party Favours

    To help your guests with their tasting, provide a little bag full of tasting notes and tips. Just a plain paper bag will do with their name on it and a picture printed from your computer [try the same one you used for your invitation]. Inside the bag, put a sharpened pencil or a pen, some beer score sheets [depending on how many beers you are serving. if you are serving 8, put 8 printed sheets together and punch a hole in the top left corner and tie a black or orange ribbon through it to keep it together] and a list of terms you can use to describe the taste of the beers.

    Try this list:
    • Amber: Describes medium intensity colored beers, ranging between pale and dark.
    • Balance: As with wine, describes how a good beer should exhibit a perfect balance of ingredients, bouquet, texture and aroma. Neither the malty sweetness nor the hoppy bitterness should dominate.
    • Bitterness: In beer comes from the hops. Generally the higher the hop content, the more bitter the beer.
    • Big beer: Refers to the richness or fullness of flavor derived from the malt. Big beers often have a high alcohol content.
    • Black: Describes non-transparent, deep, dark brown beers.
    • Body: As with wine, refers to the "mouthfeel," the impact and texture of the beer on the palate.
    • Bouquet: Another wine tasting term, describes the beer’s complex aromas.
    • Caramel: Refers to a buttery, toffee-flavored aftertaste.
    • Clean: Refers to pure, crisp, fresh tasting beer, free of sediment. The opposite of clean is cloying.
    • Clove: Refers to the flavor of wheat beers that often resembles the taste of cloves.
    • Crisp: Often associated with lagers and weiss beers, refers to a beer’s acidity and refreshing qualities.
    • Depth: Denotes both the beer's richness and its complexity of flavors.
    • Finish: Another wine tasting term, describes a beer’s aftertaste and your final impression of it.
    • Flat: Refers to characterless, dull, insipid, often insufficiently carbonated beer.
    • Flowery: Refers to the flowery aroma hops give beer.
    • Fresh: Refers to a beer free from oxidation. .
    • Full-bodied: Characterizes malty beers with complex flavors.
    • Haze: Caused by yeast or protein suspension, refers to a cloudy appearance and slightly musty taste.
    • The head: Is the frothy top layer that forms when beer is poured into a glass.
    • Hoppy: Refers to a beer with a high hop content.
    • Malty: Is the term for sweet, smoky, earthy flavored beers that have undertones of treacle, caramel or molasses.
    • Oxidized: Like wine, refers to the liquid's exposure to oxygen.
    • Smooth: Characterizes easy drinking beers with great mouthfeel.
    • Spicy: Refers to a distinctly hoppy flavor or the aroma of herbs.
    • Thin: Refers to a watery, one-dimensional beer that lacks body or character.
    The next and final installation in this series will include some tips on what beer to serve to your guests and how to serve it to them!


    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    party phD: April Fools' Day

    Photo Credit: Jonathan Assink
    April Fools' Day, also known as All Fools Day is a faux-liday 'celebrated' on April 1st in many countries around the world. Read on to find out more about this day of pranks and jokes.
    The origin of April Fools' Day may have had little to do with the way it is now celebrated. There is no real 'first April Fool's Day' to speak of.
    Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, where those who celebrated the arrival of spring too early were dubbed 'April Fools', while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar, where those who hadn't yet switched to the Gregorian calendar and attempted to celebrate New Year's on what was now April 1st were called April Fools. Whatever the origin, we have no come to mark this occasion by playing pranks on people.

    April Fools' Day is observed throughout the Western world. In some countries, the jokes only last until noon such as Canada, The UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. In other places, such as the USA, the jokes can last all day.

    Photo Credit: MarthaStewart.com

    Martha Stewart's website has some cute ideas for some April Fools' Day pranks to pull on friends and family including this one where you secure a rubber band around the handle of the sink sprayer so when someone turns on the water it shoots from the sprayer instead of the faucet!

    What pranks have you successfully executed for April Fools' Day?

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