Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sweet 16

As mentioned in my previous post, Al's 16th birthday was in November. Based on her wishes, we threw a little party for her and her friends that included worship music, sweet treats, and some outdoor fun. I wanted to share my experience hosting this because, #1: I want to document it for future reference and #2: I want to encourage you all to throw some parties! :)

For me, the biggest tip I can possibly give is plan, plan, plan! I made a project spreadsheet so I could keep up with what needed to be done and the schedule to get it all done. I also kept a separate spreadsheet for expenses so I could budget accordingly. Both of these things proved to be of paramount importance.

Throwing a party at home has many benefits. The obvious being it is FREE haha, but really, being able to work on the set up over a few days is so helpful vs having to throw everything up in just an hr or two before the event at a rented space.

I designed and produced a handful of elements including:

-the invite
- an outdoor party sign for the front door
- all additional party signage including food labels, directions for writing in Allie's dictionary, etc.

As mentioned in my previous post we did a little makeover of the lower patio. It's amazing what a little paint and some textiles can do to a space! (For before and afters, see my previous post!)

Last Christmas my MIL gave me this old faux mantle and really, I had not decided what to do with it yet. Using it to create a little outdoor living space seemed like a great fit so I painted it white - leaving some of the distressed character exposed and voila! Easy outdoor focal point.

We added some pom pom fringe in with the string bulb lights to add a little pizazz to the ceiling (got this idea from Jeni's Splendid IceCreams in Nashville)
We also added a fire pit with benches so everyone could enjoy the warmth of the fire and roast some marshmallows!
It was pretty cold that night so we also snagged a patio heater off Craigslist just to make sure everyone could stay warm enough to enjoy the night.

Another get party idea (thanks Pinterest) is Al's dictionary. We started this tradition at Allie's Welcome Party back in August of 2015 and I wish I had started it sooner!
At special gatherings where she is the guest of honor (such as a birthday party) we ask guests to choose a word from this vintage dictionary that they feel describes Allie and then write her a word of encouragement on that page. I love that by the time she is off at college this sweet book will be filled with kind words from many people who love her and believe in her. 

As for the floral elements, a colleague of mine gave me access to a wholesale flower shop and it did not disappoint. In fact, there were so many different types I found it nearly impossible to choose!
I ended up going with just some simple peonies (which finding peonies in November is a miracle in it of itself!). These mason jar arrangements were sprinkled along the mantle, coffee table, and food table and added such a lovely, feminine touch.
We also had a last minute change to using fresh magnolia leaves atop the backdrop behind the food table. My MIL just randomly stopped and cut some before coming over and it just looked amazing! Even better than what I had initially planned.

The food for the party was assorted sweets served alongside warm beverages like hot cocoa and apple cider.
I bought Krispy Kreme doughnut holes, mini cupcakes from Gigi's, and apple cider. Everything else I made myself including the richest, most delicious hot chocolate. :)

I got it in my head that I was going to display the donut holes in individual cone holders, like something I had seen on Pinterest. Little did I know how complicated this would turn out to be. Darn you Pinterest! Ha! I spent what felt like MONTHS trying to find the perfect wire rack to fit the cones upright and trying to make the perfect sized cone to fit in the perfect (but impossible to find) wire rack. I lucked out and finally found one on Etsy that was going to work. With a minor modification it turned out to be the perfect size and I was so happy with the final product! I'm not sure anyone even noticed the donut holder, but the donuts themselves were a huge hit. LOL
I made brownie pie, one of Al's favorites...
Trying to find the right cupcake stand (right size, right finish, right style) was also a labor of love, but I finally decided on this wooden one. Cupcake flavors included Midnight Magic, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Strawberry Shortcake, and Wedding Cake.
I also made "Jam-up cookies" which are oatmeal pecan cookies filled with apple cinnamon jam. Another family favorite. :)
Using a new cookie mold, I made perfectly shaped chocolate covered "Oreos" using Glutino's gluten free chocolate creme cookies and semi-sweet chocolate.
I whipped up two versions of a mini parfait - a rich chocolate mousse layered with cookie crumbles and fresh berries with homemade whipped cream. This Martha Stewart mousse recipe was divine!
And last but not least... the smores bar, offering up a variety of chocolates including mint chocolate, standard Hersheys, and Reeces cups.
The drink station :) Something for everyone! haha
Yes, I even made a branded cover for the whipped cream. Ha!
Always gotta have paper straws.
 I also bottled up some 2 % and almond milk because few things are better than a chocolate dessert with a cold glass of milk! I used little dairy bottles and made a disposable lid out of parchment paper, baker's twine, and a little label I designed/printed out.
Ok so now that the details are covered, here are some party pics! (Some are mine and some were taken by a few of Allie's friends so thanks girls for sharing!)
Corn hole competition

Worship music time.
Zach, our friend Hayden, and Allie's friend Spencer played the music.
My right hand. I could not have pulled any of this off without the constant help of my MIL. She goes along with all my crazy ideas and never grows impatient or frustrated with me. I am forever in her debt!

The party people :)
School friends!
Church friends!
Time for sparklers! 

My and my girl. Can't believe she is 16!!!
It really all turned out so wonderfully- better than any of us imagined, and I am just so so happy Allie had such a marvelous time. Zach and I both are so grateful she has such wonderful friends surrounding her at church and at school. It is such a blessing to see her encouraged and supported by peers and finding her way in this world. 

We love you Al and are SO proud of you! Happy birthday my darling! I can't wait to see what the future holds for you. :)

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