We recently threw a first birthday party for my twin grandchildren, the theme was a take off on the children’s classic “Alice in Wonderland”. We called it “Harper & Sadi’s Onederland”.
It was a good size party with almost 100 guests in attendance. The tables were arranged in 3 long rows of 6′ tables, 5 tables to a row.
We needed centerpieces for them and decided we’d do I guess what you’d call “tablescapes” along each row; to accomplish this we made groupings of 3 theme related arrangements and scattered them down the tables.
One of the easiest ones we did were these teacup floral arrangements. We used teacups we had in the kitchen and added to it with some bargains we found at Ross & TJMaxx. We threw in a couple of teapots as well.
It doesn’t take a genius to stick flowers into a teacup, not does it take much time. We were able to finish about 10 of them in less than an hour. Since we put them together about 2 hours before the party and only needed them to last a few hours we didn’t bother to wire the flowers, but if you are going to make them earlier and need them to last longer you may want to wire each stem to keep them from drooping, but that will take more time.
These teacup arrangements will compliment almost any decor. You can use them for just about any event, just change up the colors, flowers, and extra add ons like the hearts we used. Since Halloween is coming up they’d be really cute in Halloween themed mugs with fall flowers such as Asters or Chrysanthemums, you could embellish it with a witch, pumpkin, or other Halloween ghoul or goblin.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own teacup arrangements and how to do it.
Materials: (links below are affiliate links)
Teacups or mugs
Oasis Floral Foam
Floral Craft Wired Floral Picks (optional)
1. Cut Oasis Floral Foam to fit snuggly into cups.
2. Fit foam into cups making sure they sit inside tightly. You don’t need to glue them. If you’ve cut too small push in small pieces of foam until it’s snug.
3. Add water to soak the foam. If you’re transporting the flowers to the venue pour out excess water to avoid spilling. You can always add more water when you get to your venue.
4. Snip flowers to the height of the cup.
5. If you will be wiring each stem wire them to the picks.
6. Insert the cut stem with or without wire picks into the foam where you want each flower to be.
7. Continue to insert flowers into the foam until you’ve filled the cup opening.
8. Add any embellishments or favors such as heart picks, photos, etc. If your photo or whatever you’re adding isn’t on a stick just tape it on to a bamboo skewer, chopstick, or lollipop stick.
Recently my family and I attended the wedding of one of our relatives. I’ve attended many weddings, anniversaries, and other milestone events and I have to say this last wedding has gone on record, at least in our family, as the worst wedding ever; or to quote my 7 year old grandson, the ring bearer, the event was an “epic fail”.
Just about everything that could go wrong did. Starting with natural (lightning strike) and domestic (busted pipes) disasters at the couple’s home days before the nuptials, last minute venue changes for the bridal shower a week prior to the wedding, canceled hair dresser and missing wedding flowers on the day of, culminating in a power outage at the reception venue for 4 hours during the party (the wedding was held at a Chinese Buffet on the Fourth of July in 100+ degree Texas heat)
One can say the wedding was memorable, it will be dissected and discussed by family members for many years. The discussions started most likely at the church when the bride, missing her bouquet and struggling solo to open the door of the bride room while holding up her heavy train, failed to follow the bridal party down the aisle on cue, prompting the priest to severely demand the bride’s appearance ASAP.
Having been assigned a part in the wedding I was seated on the second pew giving me a prime spot to witness the beginning of this fiasco, ( in keeping with Filipino wedding traditions I was appointed veil sponsor, it was a surprise, I found out when I saw my name on the wedding invitation).
I’ve listened and spoken with many family members about this wedding. The consensus seems to be that it’s a good thing the bride took events in stride without having a major meltdown, and the fiasco was due to a combination of poor planning, lack of coordination, and poor judgement by the “wedding planner” aka the mother of the groom. I’ve heard it said that the poor woman lacked experience and was overwhelmed by the responsibility of planning and hosting such a big event (the guest list numbered over 100).
Having been privy to much of the planning, thanks to my grapevine aka my mother, I tend to agree but fail to understand. They had over a year to plan this event. Of course lightning strikes and busted pipes are beyond any wedding planner’s control, but there’s no excuse for arriving to church a half hour late or forgetting the flowers in the refrigerator!
My mother maintains that limited funds made planning difficult, there was not enough funds to hire a professional planner. I disagree, funds do play a major role, but in my opinion planning and research are more important, successful events can be pulled off on a shoestring budget. It’s really a matter of deciding what you want and how much work you’re willing to spend to achieve your goal. In my opinion the couple and the MOG had high expectations but didn’t do their research, didn’t have a viable plan, and didn’t invest enough time and effort into the event (out of town relatives were recruited to decorated the reception venue the day before the wedding).
My daughters, daughter-in-law, and I have successfully planned their weddings, bridal and baby showers, and more. Recently we planned and hosted my mother’s 80th. Birthday Party, which was held the day before this notorious wedding. Our events came with their own issues and drama including a maid of honor quitting 2 weeks before the wedding, firing the wedding planner a week before the day of, and a last minute venue change for a destination wedding; each issue caused stress, but each issue was overcome and all our events were successful.
Over the years we’ve developed our own keys to planning and hosting successful events. Of course even the best plans can go awry; one can’t control the weather, and other acts of God, nor can one consistently predict people’s emotions and actions, but planning, hard work, common sense, and a healthy sense of humor have helped us pull off all of our events so far.
In our world planning doesn’t begin by choosing a theme, colors, venue, or menu; it begins well before that. Here are our 5 keys to hosting a successful event.
1. BUDGET! Unless you are lucky enough to have unlimited funds for your event setting a budget is an absolute must. It should be the first decision that is made, budget determines guest count, venue, food, beverage, decor; in short everything to do with the event. Discuss the budget with everyone who will be paying for the event, parents, partner, friends, etc.; decide on a budget that is comfortable for all involved and determine each person’s share. Appoint someone to keep track of expenses and make sure you stay on budget. If your budget will allow you to hire an event planner he or she can help you stay on budget.
2. SET A GOAL. Take the time to decide on your goal for the event. Choose 3 words that will best describe what you want your event to be; memorable, fun, romantic, exciting, etc.
3. WISH LIST. Make a list of ALL the things you need and want to achieve your goal; venue, food, beverage, cocktail hour, lounges, cake, DJ, live band, string quartet, favors, etc. Categorize the items as Non-negotiable and negotiable. This is important if you have to cut out certain items to fit your budget. For my daughter’s Las Vegas wedding she wanted her party favors to be individual dice shaped cakes, they cost $15 each and were non-negotiable. She also wanted a martini ice slide that would have added several thousand dollars to the bar cost, that was negotiable and was ultimately eliminated.
4. RESEARCH! Get online, make phone calls, and make enquiries about everything that is on your wish list. Find out how much each item will cost. Ask questions, get written estimates, and get all the details, you don’t want last minute surprises. If you’re considering hosting the event in a restaurant, hotel, or party venue you will need to know how much the service charges and taxes will be. A $100 per head dinner may end up costing $135+ per person once service charges and taxes are added, that’s an extra $1350+ if your guest count is 100. Compile a vendor list and compare prices. Know what
your choices are; hotel venue vs. a catered event at a rented community center, 3-tiered cake vs,
cupcake display, DJ vs. Live Band, plated vs. buffet, etc.
5. EDIT THE WISH LIST. Once you know what things will cost get out your wish list and price everything; add it up and see if it fits your budget. If it does, great! It’s now time to roll up your sleeves and sign contracts, pay deposits, and work on the details.
If you’re over budget then it’s time to edit the list. Cut out things that you’ve marked negotiable, do you really need that cute harem style pink tent for the cocktail hour? Or look for cheaper alternatives, for instance can you DIY those favors instead of buying them for $5 each? Many times you can have the things on your wish list if you’re willing and able to put in the time and effort to make things yourself or with the help of friends and family.
Once you’ve gone down these 5 steps the fun and hard work begin. You may run into snags along the way so patience and a good sense of humor will keep you on track!
It’s almost time to bring entertaining outside. Warm weather is on it’s way, or so I’ve been told; along with it comes backyard barbecues and garden parties.
You don’t need a special event or holiday to host a barbecue, we host one for friends and family every Sunday. It doesn’t take much effort to make a backyard barbecue special, just some creativity.
Take advantage of the up coming warm weather and take your party outdoors. Here are a few fun ideas for your next outdoor event.
Turn ordinary burgers into a Gourmet Burger Bar with a tasty array of toppings and sides. Here’s a great idea from the Card Store.
If you prefer make it a Gourmet Hot Dog Bar instead. Here’s an idea from Big Dot of Happiness.
Serving cold side dishes in covered glass canisters help keep bugs away. You can get these canisters at Walmart or other discount stores.
Keep utensils organized in one place by placing them in mason jars. You can carry everything out in a handy caddy. You can also use caddies for condiments such as mustard, ketchup, etc.
For larger events set up a barbecued meat buffet with all the sides.
Set up a drink station of infused water, lemonade, and iced tea.
This Beverage Station by LilLuna is a great way to keep drinks, straws, and napkins in one place.
An Ice Cream Station is a great way to cool off on warm summer nights.
Set up a S’more Station and roast them in a fire pit.
|Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Party
One of the first things you must decide on when you’ve decided to host an event is venue. Whether you’re planning a kid’s party, a wedding, or a family reunion, you need to know WHERE you’re holding this affair.
When planning all our events, including 2 weddings, choosing the right venue proved to be the most difficult decision we had to make. The venue had to fit our date, guest count, budget, and most importantly our expectations. It was time consuming and at times frustrating. We learned many things about fees, service charges, rules, and more. Some venues are more flexible and others, so it helps to know what your expectations are.
When looking at venues you need to keep your budget, guest count, and date in mind and know the right questions to ask. It’s helpful if you list them in the order of importance as you may have to compromise on one or the other to secure your venue.
If your party will be at your home consider the following:
1. Can your home and/or backyard accommodate your guest count comfortably?
2. Does your neighborhood have ample parking?
3. Will your neighbors be okay with the extra noise and traffic your event may create?
4. Do you need to rent anything to accommodate your guests? Tents, tables, chairs, linens, etc.
If you’re considering hosting the event at a restaurant, ballroom, banquet hall, country club, etc. these are the 2 most important questions:
1. What do venue fees include? Tables, chairs, linens, decor, audio visual equipment, security, kitchen facilities, clean-up, event insurance, guest parking, etc.
2. What are the venue requirements?
- Must you purchase food and beverages from them or can you bring your own caterer and bartenders?
- What is the service charge and what do they cover?
- Can you bring your own cake?
- Can you use your own vendors (photographer, DJ, entertainment, etc)?
- When and how can you reserve the venue? Some venues will only reserve dates up to 6 months before the event, others require more time for popular dates. Most venues require a deposit upon reserving, deposits may be non-refundable.
- Guest parking – Is there ample parking? Is there a charge and who is expected to pay it? Some venues will charge you for parking, it will be added to your final bill, others charge guests who use their parking lot.
Beware of “FREE” venues, most of them will require that you purchase everything from them and will add service fees plus tax to your purchases. Fees and taxes can add up to almost 30% of your purchase.
It may be cheaper to pay a venue fee of $500 and bring your own vendors than going with the FREE venue that requires you to use their catering, linens, DJ, photographers, etc.
Assuming you have a 100 guests and the venue’s caterer charges $50/guest. Your bill will come out to $5000 PLUS service charge of 20% or more (most venues charge anywhere from 21% on up) PLUS tax. Service charge alone will be $1000. So do your math!
We’ve held events in many types of venues. The easiest of course is at home where you have free reign and are limited mainly by space.
|Backyard Halloween Party
|Bridal Showers at our home
Here is a brief run down of what we’ve experienced in other venues we’ve used.
Community Centers/Halls – These by far seem to be the most flexible. Some will require that the person renting the facility live in the community or be a member of the organization renting out the space.
You can usually bring your own food, drinks, and vendors. Most have kitchens for your use, but not to cook, just for warming food you or your caterers brought in. Some may not allow alcohol consumption on the property and may require you hire security for larger functions.
They usually include tables, chairs, and some audio visual equipment you can plug mobile devices to. You must however bring your own linens and tableware.
Rental fees will give you set-up time where you can decorate as long as you follow their rules, i.e. no nails on walls. You will also be alloted clean-up time, there will usually be a fee if you fail to clean up properly. Check with the facility for a list of all their rules and regulations before you sign a contract or leave a deposit.
|“Arabian Nights” Welcome Dinner at our Community Center
Restaurants – Many restaurants have private party rooms that can accommodate different sized functions. All restaurants will require that food and beverage be purchased from them. Most do have catering or banquet menus and will work with you to customize it to fit your needs.
All restaurants will add a service fee to the entire bill, service charges can run anywhere from 15% – 20%+. Sales tax is added to the entire bill, meaning the service charge is subject to tax as well.
Functions at restaurants will of course include everything needed for food service. Many will include a simple centerpiece on each table. Many will allow you to bring in your own decor including specialty linens, centerpieces, etc. Some may allow you to bring your own cake and even your own wine, although a cake cutting fee or corkage may be charged.
If you’re hosting a large event, one that will take up the seating capacity of the restaurant, you might be able to negotiate a buy out. As a rule your event date can not be during peak season and busy nights. I recently negotiated a buy out at a waterfront restaurant in Kingwood, Texas. I worked directly with the owner who designed a special menu that included 3 courses and beverages for a Sunday evening function. I got the charge down to $5000 including service fees and taxes for 100 guests. Unfortunately my mother decided to hold her party elsewhere.
Some restaurants, Chuck E. Cheese, Dave & Buster’s, Farrell’s, to name a few, are ideal for hosting kid’s parties as they have entertainment and activities for the guests. They usually have reasonably priced party packages that you must purchase from them and provide party hosts to keep your guests entertained. Most of them usually allow you to bring your own cake.
Hosting your event at a restaurant allows you to enjoy your own party. An added plus is no cooking and clean-up!
|Chuck E. Cheese allows you to bring your own cake
Hotels, Country Clubs, Resorts, and other “traditional” venues – These types of venues usually have more requirements and all add service charges. They will almost always require that all food and beverages be purchased from them and that you use only their approved vendors for music, entertainment, cake, specialty linens, decor, and photography. Some may be more flexible than others.
These types of venues are basically all inclusive and offer different packages and will work with you to fit your needs and budget. You will more than likely be working with their event planner which helps make planning less stressful. Just remember that the service charge and taxes can account for almost 30% of the final bill.
If your planning an event away from home these venues will make it easier. Their event planner can help you not only with the event, but with guest accommodations and activities as well. You and your guests can stay at the hotel or resort where the event will be held. Many hotels and resorts offer special room rates for event guests, after all selling rooms is their main business.
|Wedding at The Mix in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Resort, Las Vegas
You should also know that most venues who require you purchase food and beverages from them make the biggest profits off your bar tab, drinks can run about $5+ per non-alcoholic drink and $10+ per alcoholic drink, cocktail, or wine. Most places have several beverage options which can be beverage packages, hosted and non-hosted bars. Some will charge bar set-up fees or require a minimum guarantee for no host bars.
Alternative Venues – If you want something “different” you may need to think outside the box and consider alternative venues such as parks, museums, barns, and even zoos. Thinking out of the box generally involves more work on your part; you may need to arrange for equipment rentals and caterers among other things. It can give you more flexibility and may work better with your budget. However it doesn’t necessarily mean a big savings, it may in fact cost you more. As a rule I’ve found that an alternative venue doesn’t mean cheaper, it just means that you can get more for your dollars. That 20%+ service charge can be used towards better food, decor, and other extras you may have on your wish list.
|Wedding at a Cultural Park on the Beach
|Birthday Party at the Community Park