Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tips for Throwing A Festive 4th of July Party

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The 4th of July is right around the corner, but you still have time to put together an amazing party for your friends and family. Check out these tips:

Evite your family and friends. When you're planning a party at the last minute, take advantage of technology to get the word out. Websites like evite.com or punchbowl.com allow you to send free email invitations and keep track of your guest list. Additionally, make a Facebook event and invite your friends.

Decorate the party with stars and stripes. Of course, flags can be a main theme for your party decor. Small flags are not only affordable, they can also be found at any party supply store or superstore. Other decorations to consider are balloons, paper lanterns and flowers in red, white and blue. For your table centerpieces, you can use Mason jars or other glass containers and fill them with red, white and blue jelly beans or other candy.

Set up a craft table. Kids love to make crafts, so set up a crafting station at your party where the kids can make 4th of July star wands, patriotic handprint flags and American flag tissue paper wreaths. You can come up with a craft that kids of all ages can do together or something that teens can help the younger ones put together. Another idea: Have a beading table where children can make necklaces and bracelets. Just keep in mind that beads can be a choking hazard, so supervise the project at all times, or just let the older children participate.

Celebrate the states. Add a little fun to your party by making it a 50 states theme. Have your guests dress up (or act) like someone from a different state. Having a potluck? You can have each guest choose a state, then bring a dish or food that particular state is known for.

Allow everyone to pitch in. Hosting a 4th of July party doesn't mean you have to do it all. Ask your guests to bring drinks and side dishes, while you provide the grilled food. You can ask them to bring traditional sides (like potato salad), but encourage guests to bring something that reminds them of their own family traditions; and you might find a new tradition to try.

Serve patriotic desserts. Grilling is awesome, but you don't want to forget the desserts. You can find some ideas by checking out our source here.

What tips do you have for throwing a fun and festive 4th of July party? Please share by leaving a comment!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tips for Planning Your Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

Check out these tips for pulling off your rehearsal dinner without a hitch:

When to have it: While most people have their rehearsal dinner the evening before their wedding, right after the ceremony run-through, you can have yours whenever works best for you.

Paying for it: Usually, the groom's parents plan and pay for the rehearsal dinner. However, these days, many couples pay for it themselves or ask both sets of parents to contribute to the cost. If you feel strongly about which venue is chosen, you should start talking about everyone's plans.

Who you invite: Must-includes are: all members of the wedding party (with their spouses/dates); parents of flower girls and ring bearers, if the little ones are invited; all parents, stepparents and grandparents of the bride and groom and siblings who aren't in the wedding party (and their spouses/significant others); and many times, the officiant and his/her spouse. Out-of-town guests should be invited as well, but if you'd rather keep the gathering more intimate, schedule an event for them at another location, like a restaurant, the hotel where they're staying or informal cocktails at a friend's or relative's home.

Formality: It can be however formal (or informal) you want it to be, but it should not be more formal than the actual wedding. Whatever style you choose, send the rehearsal dinner invitations after you've received wedding RSVPs.

Where to have it: Try to keep it simple. Places to consider: a restaurant (preferably one with a private room); someone's back yard; or a pizza place for a super-casual shin dig. As long as you and your guests are comfortable, relaxed and having a good time, anything goes.

And don't forget these moments:

Toasts. If the groom's father is hosting, he can welcome guests with a formal toast, or the best man can do it. Then, other-well wishers can toast as well (keep in mind that toasts can be a little longer and more humorous at the rehearsal dinner than at the wedding). Be ready to rise and thank those who've toasted you. And later, you and your fiance may want to take a minute to toast each other and thank your hosts.
Gifts. Give your bridesmaids and groomsmen their thank-you presents, particularly if it's something they'll need for the wedding.
Performances: If secular readings or popular songs aren't right for the ceremony, you can include them in the rehearsal dinner.
Special presentations. A lot of rehearsal dinners have videos that incorporate footage from the bride's and groom's pasts.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to Throw The Best Birthday Party Ever

By Annette Yeturn 

Photo from / freedigiralphotos.net
Are you one who has determined that having birthday parties at home is just too stressful so you avoid them with fear and trembling? A little planning can go a long way. With it, you can help turn a potentially chaotic mess into a wonderful birthday party that your child will remember for the rest of his life.

So how do you throw the best birthday party ever and still remain sane? Let's review four top tips to help make the day stress-free:

Make a Plan -- A birthday checklist will help to keep you on track and in control. No more "Oh, I hope I didn't forget something." With this single step, you will have built-in reminders and will take the pressure off instantly. Include even the things that you know you won't forget like 'bake a cake' or 'buy paper goods' just so you know that everything is there and will be taken care of. Have a section on your list to keep track of the items you need to buy as well as a detailed timeline. This also helps if you have people helping you with the party as they will know what's been done and still needs to be done on your checklist.

Get the birthday child involved -- Keep in mind that your child is the focus of the day, so he should be consulted and involved in a majority of the planning and preparations. It may take some extra time but having him involved will really make him feel special -- and that's the goal of the day after all! Have him choose the theme, take him with you when you shop for the party favors and paper goods -- ask him what he wants! You'll be glad you did!

Grab a photographer -- You want to remember the day in photos, but often, the last thing on your mind during the party is taking pictures because you're so busy with the kids, the parents or getting the candles on the cake that the camera gets left on the counter unused. Snag one of the other parents or a neighbor friend to be in charge of the photography of the day. Make sure you communicate which pictures you want to have taken if you special ones you want, but otherwise, let them just snap away. The beauty of a digital camera is that you can take tons of pictures and delete the ones that don't work.

Hire help -- Ask an older sibling or cousin to assist you during the planning and especially on the birthday party day. Your helpers can serve as clean up crew or even be in charge of the games and activities. This way. you can focus on your child or the guest's parents, etc. You can, of course, pay them a small wage for their time, give them a special present or gift certificate from you for their help.

These small steps and some advanced preparation will help you to have a fun, memorable party without pulling your hair out. Keep your birthday child as the focus, and the rest of the day will go smoothly! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

5 Tips for What to Wear to a Wedding

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Attending a wedding soon and have no clue what to wear? Here are a few tips:

  1. Do not wear white. It'll appear that you're trying to upstage the bride.
  2. Think about the location before you purchase your outfit. And if it's an outside wedding, consider bringing a wrap.
  3. Go with wrinkle-proof material if you're attending a destination wedding.
  4. Purchase (or bring) two pairs of shoes: one for the ceremony and another for the reception in case you want to hit the dance floor.
  5. Planning to hang out with the bridal party after the reception? Be sure to pack some extra clothes.

Do you have tips for what to wear to a wedding? Share below!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Party Favors Aren't Just for Weddings

By Cherie Johnson
Photo from | freedigitalphotos.net

One of the many things a bride has to consider is the favors that will adorn the tabletops at her reception. Since party favors are usually marketed to brides, however, most party planners bypass the charming addition that they make for any occasion. Affordably priced and useful, party favors help liven up a gathering, and party planners who want to add a little panache incorporate their various party favor ideas into a celebration to provide guests with a special memento. And regardless of the nature of the gathering, just remember that party favors are no longer solely meant for weddings. Here are some party favor ideas to get you thinking creatively!
  • Anniversary: Whether it’s the first or the 50th time, celebrating the bonds of marriage is a special affair for both the couple and their family members. Often, anniversary celebrations are thrown secretly for the couple who have no hand in its planning. Friends and family choose the cake or dessert, the decorations and invitations; occasionally, they also choose to incorporate party favors into the festivities, which are always a big hit. Anniversary favors, usually a spin-off from wedding favors, herald love in all its forms and are available in a variety of different styles, colors and shapes; popular party favor ideas include handy wine bottle stoppers, personalized champagne flutes (so everyone can toast the happily married couple!) and always useful barware sets.
  • Baby Shower: It’s an exciting but hectic time when it comes to being a mother, and everyone wants to help out by providing assistance, advice, gifts, and, of course, by throwing a baby shower for the mom-to-be! With trays of delicious finger foods and cute baby gifts, the expectant mother and her friends celebrate the momentous occasion. And the perfect way to decorate each attendee’s spot at the table is with functional baby shower party favors, such as cheese graters, salt and pepper shakers, measuring spoons and timers – all of which have a fun, festive baby shower theme.
  • Birthday Party: Birthday party favors, which make excellent grab bag gifts or table decorations, are perfect no matter how old the ‘birthday girl or boy’ is. For children’s birthdays, selecting age appropriate party favors, such as lip balm, candy in personalized favor tins and picture frames are ideal; while, for an older teen’s or adult’s get together, party favor ideas such as candles, ice cream scoops, pens and bookmarks not only help guests reminisce but are also fully functional.
  • Bridal Shower: This get together is one of the bride’s most cherished events; she has time to mingle with her best friends and just kick back and relax. Planning the bridal shower is often relegated to the maid of honor or other close friend who takes care of all the responsibilities of selecting a theme, sending out invitations, choosing a caterer (or cooking it herself) and decorating the space festively. Providing just an extra touch of personalization, bridal shower party favors are a classy, thoughtful way to help your guests remember the party and thank them for coming. Whatever party favor ideas you choose – from candles and photo albums to monogrammed make-up bags and coasters, your guests will have a stylish memento to remember the festivities long after they end.
  • Graduation Party: From high school to college and beyond, the graduate in your life deserves a little recognition for his or her hard work over the years. And what’s the perfect way to celebrate? With a party, of course! From a cook out to a day at the beach, there are just as many party favor ideas to complement whatever theme you choose, including customizable favor tins, memorable photo frames, and stylish, yet feminine koozies to keep those drinks cold all summer long.
  • Quinceanera: Celebrating the day when a girl turns 15 – a rite of passage for many – is an important milestone and one that has been planned for months. Dressed entirely in white, she looks forward to this day, sharing in the festivities with her friends and family members. While planning the big after party, finding a way to thank the guests for their attendance is a necessity! Along with the food and entertainment, decorating the tables with festive party favors for all who showed up is a great way to say thanks. From manicure and pedicure sets for the younger attendees to candles and personalized shot glasses for the older folks, there are many different party favor ideas to show your appreciation.

Keep the Memories Alive
The perfect place setting or little thank you gift for any get together is a party favor! Regardless of whether the event you’re throwing is for yourself or a loved one, party favors add a special touch to any affair. Small, customizable and affordable, party favors keep the memories alive long after the party is over.
Cherie Johnson is the founder and owner ofCreative Wedding Favors, a one-stop shop for personalized, unique baby and bridal shower, graduation, quinceaƱera, anniversary, and wedding favors, helping countless couples and families make their big events a success. Cherie's wedding advice has appeared on several websites including Little Wedding Guide, Wedding Lenox, and The Wedding Source. Before she launched her company in 2006, Cherie worked as a professional wedding photographer, capturing the most special moments of the bride and groom's big day. For more information on Creative Wedding Favors or to find a variety of colorful, customizable gifts and favors, please visit www.CreativeWeddingFavors.com.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Live Marketing Events For Any Size Business

By Courtney Marie Smith

A common misconception in the small business world is the notion that only big brands and companies can
Photo from: freedigitalphotos.net
benefit from live marketing events. Furthermore, most businesses doubt they can afford to host or participate in events, as common belief views publicity-geared events as expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, any business owner or manager can implement the following strategies to expand awareness, enhance customer relations, drive sales and maximize media exposure.

Host a customer appreciation event
Whether you own a small fashion boutique, an exclusive diving venue, luxury salon or thousand-room hotel property...you undoubtedly have loyal customers. Perhaps they frequent your venue so often you know them on a first name basis, or maybe you recognize them from a couple of visits throughout the year. Either way, they represent your biggest fans, most able connectors and willing word-of-mouth promoters. Host a fun thank you event with light food and drinks, special offers, contests, giveaways and feedback opportunities.

It does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Simply tap into your preferred vendors list and ask them to participate and support your event (they, in turn, gain product and brand exposure). So the saying goes, "I scratch your back, you scratch mine." A little appreciation goes a long way.

Create buzz with a product launch or promotional event
Is there a new product that no other local venues offer? Are you bringing in a new spa line that will wow your customers? Perhaps your property is offering a summer rate special at your hotel? Whatever the case, you must effectively publicize your promotions. Sure you can advertise, but ads can be a bit costly. Why not host a publicity-geared event to maximize media coverage and exposure to your customers?

My advice? Get creative, but keep it simple. A friend of mine created a highly successful spa and salon happy hour that featured mini spa and salon treatments at a reduced rate. Of course, there were special sales, bites of food and cocktail samplings that made the guests feel welcomed and well...warm and fuzzy. The warm and fuzzy feelings lead to impressive ROI and valuable customer feedback. The end result? An increase in sales, exposure, measurable analytics and prime media coverage in local lifestyle publications, television spots and radio mentions.

Implement an Event Calendar
Event calendars are great ways to drive traffic to your website and keep your brand fresh in customer's minds. If you feature an ongoing happy hour special, exclusive trunk shows, live entertainment or books signings, you must have a method for delivering the information to your customers. Many website plug-ins are available free of cost and can be easily integrated into your website or company blog. Post all relevant information including date, time, cost (if any), RSVP directions and a contact number or email for questions. Your business' event calendar serves as a promotional foundation and can be easily linked to additional promotional channels, such as social media.

If you have a computer and a heartbeat, you have undoubtedly heard the term social media. My recommendation is to use it, and use it often. Social media promotes highly personalized referrals and recommendations through viral means at a mind-blowing pace. "Monkey see, monkey friends usually do," as I like to say. Chances are if one or two friends attend your marketing events and have a great experience, they will tell their entire social network about it. Bingo! Welcome to the influential world of social media.

Link your event calendar to your blog, micro-site, Facebook fan page, Flikr account, etc. (the list goes on and on). These days, social networks are growing rapidly and can provide valuable momentum for buzz campaigns.

Measure the results
Live events put you face to face with your customers, providing an opportunity for interaction, sampling, feedback and data collection. Be sure to collect contact information including name, email and phone number. Ask attendees their opinions on new products, current products and special promotions. Many guests are eager to provide feedback, but collect it in a professional manner and organize it after the event to be used in future outreach campaigns. Many businesses have incentivized survey participants with give-aways or promotions in order further enhance the feedback process.

As you collect contact data from attendees, be sure to ask them permission, especially if you plan on sending email, mobile or direct mail campaigns. This will ensure you have creating an opt-in database, which will lead to fewer bounce-backs and unsubscribers, while also ensuring you have obeyed spam laws. Lastly, have fun! Marketing events are creative, social and engaging. When you plan them, put yourself in your customer's shoes. What would you want and expect from your favorite businesses?


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wedding Traditions to Consider Borrowing

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Are you a bride-to-be who's bored with the typical American wedding traditions? Well, why not make your "something borrowed" a wedding custom from another culture? All countries have their own twist to matrimony; here are a few to consider trying for your own big day:

1. In Hindu ceremonies in Southern India, the blissful couple takes seven steps together to indicate their friendship, which is considered the cornerstone of the marriage.

2. The custom of jumping over a broom represents sweeping away the past and beginning a new home. The tradition began during slavery, when African-Americans weren't allowed to marry and sealed their love with a leap. These days, brooms are often made by hand as keepsakes.

3. In France, the bride and groom drink a wedding toast from a two-handed goblet known as a coupe de marriage, and it's often engraved and handed down from generation to generation.

4. In Venezuelan weddings, the honeymoon begins right away. And it's not unusual for the newlyweds to slip away from the reception to get the private party started.

For six more tips, check out 10 Wedding Traditions Worth Borrowing.