Posts filed under ‘Theme Parties’

Make Your Milestone Birthday Party Memorable

July 5th is my birthday, the day after all the Independence Day celebrations. Everyone was back at work. My kids were enjoying a summer’s day with the neighborhood kids. In the afternoon, one of my daughters had a swim lesson, but other than that, there was nothing much going on; no plans for any sort of birthday celebration that I knew of. That’s alright, I told myself. It isn’t a milestone birthday, after all.

When I was small, it seemed every birthday was celebrated in grand fashion. Now a days it seems folks only celebrate the birthdays with a zero or a five after the first number—milestone birthdays—and of course, the La Quinceanera and the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs when one turns 15 and 13 respectively, not to mention Sweet 16 and that all-important 21st (in some states 18th). That’s cool, I thought, such birthdays should be celebrated in high style.

While I prefer the childhood notion of making each birthday a memorable fete, it isn’t always practical or cost effective. In keeping with today’s trend, here are a few tips and tricks for celebrating those milestone birthdays in style and always from the heart:

  1. Think about the birthday boy and girl. What does he or she like? What does he or she like to do? Does he or she like large groups or intimate gatherings? Where’s their favorite place to spend time? The answers to these questions will help resolve the four W’s – the Who, What, Where, When.
  2. Answer the following question as best you can. What is your intention for the party? This is the fifth W and the one that will set your party apart from others because it will create a context for the celebration to occur.
  3. Use balloon bouquets. Nothing says “party” like balloons. I don’t care how old you are, you’re never too old or too young to enjoy these festive decorations. Balloons can be used in dozens of ways. Consider balloon bouquets on sticks. They’re simple to create and make quick and easy centerpieces. 
  4. Be sure to add at least one photo element to a milestone birthday party. Ideas include a photo cake or photo flags stuck into cupcakes. Having photo albums on display or creating fun collage frames with themes like “In the Life Of,” “Decades,” or “This is Your Life” are fun ways to get guests involved in the mood of the party. You can also use the windows around the party area as built-in photo frames to showcase the birthday boy or girl. If nothing else, consider photo thank you notes.
  5. Create a special keepsake for the birthday boy or girl to document the event and everyone who was there, be it a platter, book, frame or other creative gift. Whatever gift you choose, be sure it is one they will treasure for a lifetime.

This month on “Shelby’s Secrets to a Great Party!” I’ve designed a party plan for a 1st birthday and it’s filled with many of the ideas above. Tune in to see how it all comes together. The great thing about this party plan is that it can truly be adapted for any age and gender.

You know, if I’ve learned anything over the last few years of working with clients and sharing my love of connection, it’s that everyday is cause for celebration. This year, even though my birthday wasn’t a milestone, the evening spent with friends and family, laughing, connecting, and enjoying the moments, was celebration enough.

July 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

Red, White & Blue Party Decorations

http://www.zazzle.com/utl/getpanel?zp=117444113096700092

It’s never too early to start shopping for your red, white and blue party props, especially when they are made from unique “never-been-seen-at-a-party-before” designs. Click the link above to check out our assortment of patriotic items that can be customized to your liking or simply ordered as is. You’ll discover unusual items such as cook’s aprons, iPod speakers, invitations, postage stamps, even high-top tennis shoes!

Like what you see? There’s plenty more at PartyMerchMart.com.

June 24, 2011 at 1:39 am Leave a comment

Celebrate Anywhere With These Menu Photo Place Cards

Making a Menu Photo Place Card that you can use at any home gathering or restaurant, helps to make your guests, or guest of honor, feel special. They are unique place cards because they are personalized with a pop up photo, event name and date, and planned menu.

If you aren’t computer savvy, or your home color printer can’t handle heavy card stock, you can opt to have your local print shop, Kinko’s or other speedy printer, set them up for you. Be sure to specify that the paper has to be heavy for these place cards to work.

These instructions will demonstrate how to create Menu Photo Place Cards for each guest using a photo of the guest of honor. Begin by clicking this link to retrieve a Word template from the How-To section on the YouCanPlanAParty.com website, or make your own by following the simple directions below. Remember to use paper and ink colors that are complimentary to your chosen theme.

You’ll need a photo of the guest of honor, or one that is fitting for the occasion, that is approximately 3×5 inches for best results. Using your word processing program, center the photo at the top of the page then drop it down about two to three inches. Centered just below the photo, type in the event name. Under the event name, type in the date. For an added touch, skip a line and then list the menu, centering one item per line. Skip another line and type in a guest’s name. Print the card out on glossy card stock for a high-end look. Remember to make one for each guest by name.

The important thing to note here is that the trimmer (or thinner) the place cards are, the more professional they will look. Carefully trim each side of the paper however much you feel is best. Now for the fun part – on a cutting mat, cut around the photo using a metal ruler and an Exacto knife, a little more than half way down on each side and across the top. When you’re finished, fold the card in half to see the photo pop up from the top.

Some variations to consider: (1) Do this all by hand. Write the information on a fold-over card and glue a photo on each so it extends above the fold. (2) Use different photos of your guest of honor or of each guest for fun and variety. (3) Depending on the occasion, use vintage photos. For example, for an Easter table, choose a photo from a Victorian postcard, or use a lovely photo of the Sader plate for Passover. (4) Experiment with colored card stock and ink colors that coordinate with your event theme, and the colors in the photo(s). (5) If hosting a large party at a restaurant, take your place cards with you for an added special touch.

April 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm 2 comments

Event Planning Using a Party Design Board


To help visualize how all the elements for a party will come together, create a “Party Design Board.” Much like an interior designer’s sample board, you’ll need a 2 x 3 foot corkboard, two pieces of ribbon the length of the board diagonally, and push pins.

The first layer on the Party Design Board includes samples of things having to do with your Theme, Mood, and Colors, and Decorations and Ambiance. These elements of a successful party from the heart set the background—the tone, foundation, and backdrop—for your celebration. Using my Mad Hatter’s Tea Party as an example, I placed the special party napkin I’ve chosen in the middle of the board because it provides my color scheme quite nicely. Adding a photo of the scene-setter backdrop I’ll be using, a sample of the Astroturf, and maybe an artificial flower or two illustrates how I plan to transform my party room into an indoor garden.

The second layer divides your board into four triangular sections. These four sections represent the four remaining elements of a successful party: Invitations, Food and Beverage, Activities, and Special Touches. Make a giant “x” with the two pieces of ribbon by pinning one end of the ribbon in the upper left corner and bring it down to the lower right corner, and pin it. Repeat the process on the other side, bringing the second piece of ribbon from the upper right corner down to the lower left corner and secure with push pins.

The top quarter is for invitation items, such as paper materials, ribbon, stickers, and any other embellishments you plan to use, or simply attach a completed invitation.

The bottom quarter is for food and beverage items, such as a recipe card, photo of a special dish or serving piece, and/or a menu for the party.

The left quarter is the activities section. This is where you work out how to get your guests engaged in something, be it entertainment, games, or good conversation. I attached my music playlist, a list of skits for guests to perform for prizes, a sample riddle card to help them find their hidden prizes, and the teacup-shaped gift box I plan to wrap their prizes in.

Finally, the right quarter is the special touches section. Here, you place samples of items that add heart and meaning to your celebration; making it a gathering people will remember for a lifetime. For example, I added a photo of my whimsical party favor, a sample of the favor packaging, and a clever thank you note.

The Party Design Board is a valuable tool or exercise that allows you to “test” the materials you’re thinking of using to see if you’ve created a cohesive party plan. Once your board looks like fun, it’s time to get to work!

This is Shelby Phillips reminding you…when you think party, think easy…think fun!

March 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm Leave a comment

The ABC’s of Planning a Party Inspired by Curious George

I was watching Curious George the other day with my daughters. On the episode, The Man with The Big Yellow Hat was having a birthday and George, being the generous, fun-loving monkey that he is, wanted to throw him a party to celebrate. The Doorman taught George that to throw a party he just needed to remember “ABCD.” With my ears perked, I listened closely.

“A is for Apartment,” The Doorman said.
“B is for Buddies,
C is for Cake, and
D is for Decorations.”

Brilliant, I thought. The Doorman distilled it down so that even a monkey can throw a party!

Because the parties I design, using my six-element approach, are theme parties from the heart, I’d like to offer letters E, F, and G to the mix.

E is for Environment. Pick a fun theme for your buddies to play in.
F is for Favors. Give everyone a token from your heart.
G is for Games. Get your friends engaged in an activity.

The alphabet of party planning inspired by a monkey…who would have thought!

March 2, 2011 at 7:01 am Leave a comment

The Holiday Connection

I love the holidays. Apart from the insanity of staying up past midnight for nights on end, secretly wrapping presents and shopping for last-minute “Santa gifts,” I love the holidays for the warmth and love the season brings.

The holidays are for thinking of others and for me, bringing joy to friends and family. It’s a time of year when we gather to celebrate one another. It’s also a time of year when we express our love for each other and our humanity perhaps a little more than usual. Add automobiles with antlers and wreaths, houses lit up like they’re on parade, decadent meals, sweet treats, and beautifully wrapped presents that sparkle under the tree lights, and this party designer is in heaven!

With the start of the new year, I realized, once all the decorations had been packed away and life returned to it’s daily routine, that all the reasons I love the holidays are also why I love my work. They are all parts of my message that I’m committed to sharing.

In fact, a cornerstone of my party planning philosophy, is to design gatherings around your guests’ likes, wants and favorite things. Fill the party with details that are sure to delight them.

I also believe that connection and sense of community are two of the human souls greatest joys and that they occur naturally whenever people gather together, especially in the spirit of celebration.

That said, there’s nothing quite like a party being thrown in one’s honor to convey to them, “You’re special and important to me.” It is a great way to express your love.

My resolution for 2011 is that this is the year for getting the word out about how important it is to bring the special people in our lives together and celebrating them as often as we can; inviting people to think about parties a little differently so that they can create memorable, heartfelt experiences at their gatherings; and teaching as many people as I can my six-element approach to making it all happen a bit easier.

To this end, I invite you to check out my newest article published at SelfGrowth.com called “Introducing the Six Elements of Party Planning from the Heart.” It’s a great primer of my party design philosophy and six-step formula that can transform the way you think about parties forever.

Here’s to happy beginnings — new years, new messages, new gatherings!

Currently the host of “Shelby’s Secrets to a Great Party!” airing on YouCanPlanAParty.com, Shelby Phillips is an award-winning party design expert with over 20 years experience. Shelby has co-written a book series titled “The Enlightened Party Planner: Guides to Creating Parties from the Heart” and developed a 6-step formula for bring people together to celebrate. She has also been a host and designer on the Style Network’s “Big Party Plan Off,” and owner of a successful event planning and promotions company.

January 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment

Can You Plan An Open House Potluck Party?

I’m often asked the difference between a “potluck” and an “open house,” and receive comments like, “I just got invited to an open house and I don’t know what dish I should bring.”

So, first, let’s clear up a few party terms and then chat about the benefits to each of these party types so that you can decide what kind of shindig you’re up for creating.

When you throw a POTLUCK you are inviting your guests to share in the task of providing something for the party, traditionally the meal, but this can also include paper goods, drinks, music, or any other “gifts” or talents your friends and family may want to share.

When throwing an OPEN HOUSE, you, the host, are in essence opening up your home and asking your guests to drop by any time that is convenient for them during a specified timeframe. Thus, as the host, you are responsible for providing all the goodies at your party and your guests get to show up, relax and enjoy the mood you’ve created for them.

The great thing about POTLUCKS is that your guests can take an active part in creating the party. Generally they create a more casual type of gathering, and this can be perfect for impromptu celebrations or when budget is a strong consideration.

OPEN HOUSES provide you and your guests an opportunity to mix and mingle and share some time…to just go with the flow. This type of gathering can be anywhere from casual to black tie. In fact, black tie is often a very fun option.

So, what is the difference than between a normal party vs. an open house? Basic party etiquette says that a PARTY starts at a certain time and you should arrive near that starting time, especially if food is being served. Showing up “whenever” would be considered rude, even disrespectful, unless prior arrangements have been made.

At an OPEN HOUSE, however, your guests are free to come whenever they’d like. These types of parties are particularly helpful for example, on busy holidays like Halloween, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. Also, food menus will be a bit different as you’ll want to serve foods that can sit out on ice or on heat for the duration of the party, and even activities will change from arranged group recreation to more do-it-yourself type entertainment.

There you have it, the basics. This month on Shelby’s Secrets to a Great Party! I’ve put together an Open House Party Plan. Surprise. Surprise! As always, if you have any questions, you can email me at askshelby@youcanplanaparty.com.

Be sure to check out the How-To Video under the RSVP Club member’s section too, as I’m showing you some inventive ways to wrap a bottle (wine, champagne, or sparkling juice) with meaning, the heartfelt way. These ideas make lovely hostess gifts for all those parties you’ll be going to this holiday season, because it is always thoughtful to arrive with a little something for your host.

Wishing you a lovely and safe holiday season, full of warmth and affection.

Currently the host of “Shelby’s Secrets to a Great Party!” airing on YouCanPlanAParty.com, Shelby Phillips is an award-winning party design expert with over 20 years experience. Shelby has co-written a book series titled “The Enlightened Party Planner: Guides to Creating Parties from the Heart” and developed a 6-step formula for bring people together to celebrate. She has also been a host and designer on the Style Network’s “Big Party Plan Off,” and owner of a successful event planning and promotions company.

December 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm 2 comments

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Shelby L. Phillips

As an intuitive transformational messenger of hope, a communicative wife of 23 years, and an open-hearted mother of two, I take pleasure in telling good news stories, connecting people to the seven dimensions of well-being, and inspiring us to love ourselves and each other because life really is worth celebrating! Find out more about me at ShelbyPhillipsConnects.com.

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