Bloom and Grow-A Graduation Celebration


Several years ago, I met Lauran Irion; a wide-eyed, super talented young girl, wise beyond her years. I had the privilege of coaching her for a huge vocal audition for Cirque du Soleil. They were only seeing 3 girls in the whole country and Lauran was one of them. Fast forward a few years and Lauran moved out to LA to pursue a career in music and television. She has earned roles on numerous TV shows, most notably as the daughter on ABC’s ‘GCB’. She has also released a great album. I truly believe she is on her way to becoming a household name. Watching Lauran bloom and grow both professionally and personally has been such a joy!


She had been studying hard, maintaining Principal’s List, all while pursuing her career so her family wanted her to have the same kind of party she would have had if she had graduated from a conventional school. So, when I got the opportunity to design and style a ‘graduation celebration’ for Lauran, I was honored.  Along with everyone else who knows and loves her, I have watched her ‘bloom and grow’ over the years so I presented this theme to Lauran and her mom and they loved it! She is very earth conscious, a vegetarian and loves simple beautiful things in her own boho chic way. They wanted something very small, intimate and fairly simple. And the whole family participated in making the day special for Lauran by cooking, crafting and helping with the party. This made the party so much more personal.



We had live wreaths at the front entrance, which were made with moss and succulents. The big wow factor was the paper flower design on the dessert table. The flowers were lovingly made by Lauran’s brother and his girlfriend. Some of these were made with paper bags and moss, some with tissue paper and some with cupcake liners, all inspired by DIY tutorials online. The dessert table had organic and vegan desserts, the appetizers were all vegetarian and made by Lauran and her mom. The favors were orchids and herbs that doubled as part of the tablescapes for the party. Guests wrote ‘words of wisdom’ on a green leaf tag and hung it on the avocado tree that will soon be planted in Lauran’s parents’ backyard to remember this special occasion.

Special thanks to Kevin Garrison for capturing the details so beautifully!














We also served refreshing Cucumber Mint water in mason jars, adorned with birch straws with  ‘bloom and grow’ straw flags. Market lights and floating candles in the pool added to the ambience as the evening grew dark. It was a beautiful and memorable evening!






To see more details from this party, click here.

To learn more about Lauran and hear her great music, go to imdb and iTunes


Design/Styling: One Stone Events
Photography: Kevin Garrison Photography
Graphic Designs: Renee Nicole {Design + Photography}
Cake: Dream Cakes
Cake Pops: earth and sugar
Chocolate Covered Oreos: Sweeties By Kim
Macarons: Le Macaron
Food: Lauran and Davonne Irion
DIY Paper Flowers: Jacqueline Amick and Jonathan Irion
flowers inspired by these tutorials:
vintage floral tablecloth: etsy
kraft food boats and bamboo cutlery: Garnish
birch straws: Anthropologie







Feathers and Arrows 3rd Birthday Party



To celebrate our one and only special little guy, we had a fun, relaxed backyard party with a new twist on an old theme.

This is an example of how to have a themed party without being so literal. I wanted to style a party that was in line with current trends but with a kid twist, so I chose a boy fairytale mashup, including Peter Pan, Robin Hood and The Big Bad Wolf  (represented both by Little Red Riding Hood and The ‘3’ Little Pigs.) It definitely has kid elements, but with a sophisticated style to please all ages. Since my son LOVES movies so much, I decided to add a backyard movie element to the mix. We showed Peter Pan. Since blankets were part of that spin, a picnic was the perfect way to go for the meal.


Some favorite details include:

  • Nail/string art letter ‘B’
  • 4 signs along walkway saying ‘second star’, ‘to the right’, ‘to grandmother’s house’ and ‘to Sherwood forest’
  • custom picnic baskets for each family
  • 3 Little Pigs in a Blanket mini bar
  • buffet cards and fun signage
  • beautiful custom desserts
  • leather tied drink bottles with birch straws
  • cheese box ‘drums’
  • robin hood hats
  • peter pan skirt bunting
  • tents with blankets and crates for picnic-ing
  • market lights
  • ‘popcorn on the plank’
  • painted wood target for guests to sign
  • message in a bottle invites (not shown)


The experience began for guests when they received a message in a bottle invite.  All the printed materials, by Paula at Frog Prince Paperie, had a cool modern vibe. The design was the perfect inspiration for many of the party details. It was exactly the style I was going for and Paula nailed it! My guests said it was the best invite they’d ever received. The color palette was black, white, gray, emerald green and gold with design elements focusing on feathers, arrows and targets.


ENTRANCE: Guests were greeted by a giant green balloon and rickety signs up the walkway, made by LGTPS (Let’s Get This Party Started). There were 4 signs, reading ‘second star’, ‘to the right’, ‘to grandmother’s house’, and ‘to Sherwood forest’, representing all 3 of the characters in the mashup. The wreath had a fun sign saying ‘once upon a time’ to lend to the fairytale feel. benjamins-bday-6 benjamins-bday-10 benjamins-bday-7 benjamins-bday-8 benjamins-bday-9 benjamins-bday-12 benjamins-bday-13 benjamins-bday-14

DESSERT TABLE: While I had the vision for this party and executed and styled it, it was the team of vendors who made all the items I dreamed of come to life. The backdrop for the dessert table was a gold fringe arrow by The Flair Exchange. I wanted something very fresh, modern, bold and simple. The ‘drums’ on the table were cheese boxes, rented from Wish Vintage Rentals. I wrapped them with leather twine and added some beads, ribbon and feathers to make them look like a drum. The drink bottles filled with lemonade were made to look like the front of Robin Hood or Peter Pan’s shirt with the criss-cross leather ties. The birch straws were an exciting new twist on the stripey straws! I told Nikki at Tikkido that I wanted a bunting that looked like Pan’s skirt and sent her a photo of something I cut out as an example. When hers arrived in the mail I was blown away. She took my vision to the next level and created something more beautiful than I ever could have. It was perfect!   The food at my parties is always a challenge because the birthday boy has a severe peanut allergy, so it’s imperative that the food is as safe as can be for him. Most everything was safe for him to eat. The crocodile and clock cookies were made by Nut Free Sweets and it was my first time working with them. Great experience! The chocolate covered Oreos by Love & Sugar Kisses were the biggest hit and Maria went above and beyond to make sure these were safe for my son.  The faux bois detail on those was amazing! The beautiful fondant toppers were by Edible Details and the gorgeous cake was by Dream Cakes. And that chocolate cake with Oreo buttercream was probably the best I’ve ever had. My mom and I made the cupcakes and ‘birch logs’ (using peanut safe chocolate) and the chocolate coins were from Vermont Nut Free.

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3 LITTLE PIGS IN A BLANKET MINI BAR: This was the last idea (and one of my favorite details) I had, just a few days before the party. I put a bunch of different dipping sauces out and the platters of pigs in a blanket sat on ‘wood’, ‘straw’ and ‘bricks’ (each representing a little pigs house). I also spray painted 3 pigs gold to add a little more sophistication and keep them in the color palette. benjamins-bday-36 benjamins-bday-32 benjamins-bday-3 benjamins-bday-23 benjamins-bday-24

PICNIC: A friend of mine recently had a party with picnic baskets and I loved the idea, so I decided to do something similar. Each family had their own basket with a custom tag by Frog Prince Paperie. All the food items had beautiful printables to identify and coordinate each item. There were French baguettes with jam, hummus, brie (wrapped in parchment with a gold sprayed sword), pasta salad, pirates booty, water, bags with cutlery, plates and cloth napkins in each basket. The best part was, each family got to take their basket (and leftovers) home with them, eliminating a lot of party cleanup! There were tents (by LGTPS), blankets, pillows and crates (for tables) for the guests to dine on. It created just the casual, relaxed atmosphere and environment I was going for. Guests ‘camped out’, sharing blankets and watched the movie later in the evening from their own little spot. There was also a concession area with popcorn and movie candy. benjamins-bday-20 CRAFTS: There were 2 craft areas: One table had all the supplies needed for the kids to make arrows…sticks, dowels, feathers, felt triangles, washi tape, glue and scissors. The other craft (not shown) was giant black paper for each child to trace their ‘shadow’ and cut out.

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FAVORS: The ‘bags of gold’ hung from a birch log with a sign at the exit which read ‘THE END”. They were filled with a pirate eye patch, pirate tattoos, fairy stickers, chocolate gold coins, crocodile soap, rice krispy treats and fairy fruit snacks.

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PARTY HATS: Another great detail, made by Nikki at Tikkido, were the adorable Robin Hood hats. The kids loved them.

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GUEST BOOK(S): There was a wood painted target on the tree for guests to sign, made by LGTPS and ‘happy thoughts’ for guests to write and put in a jar for the birthday boy.

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Happy Birthday, sweet Benjamin. You are SO loved!

To see the full gallery, click here.
2nd birthday party:  Guess How Much I Love Two
1st birthday party: Vintage Red Wagon


Event Design and Styling: One Stone Events
Photography: Emma Grace Pet Photography
Printables: Frog Prince Paperie
Robin Hood hats and Peter Pan bunting: Tikkido
Tents, wooden target, ‘plank’ bench, arrow signs: Let’s Get This Party Started
Fringe arrow backdrop: The Flair Exchange
Quilts, crates, pillows, cheese boxes: Wish Vintage Rentals
Movie screen/projector: J Thor Productions
Cake: Dream Cakes
Crocodile and clock cookies: Nut Free Sweets
Fondant cupcake toppers: Edible Details
Chocolate covered Oreos: Love & Sugar Kisses
Nut safe chocolate: Vermont Nut Free
‘Bag ‘o gold’ muslin favor bags: Crafty Clementines
Crocodile soap favors: Meela Soap
Felt fire: Not Just a Hat Rack
Kids arrow t-shirt: Feather4Arrow
Ladies feather t-shirt: Marty May
Birch straws: Anthropologie
Green balloon, pint containers, chevron bags, plastic drink bottles: The TomKat Studio Shop

The ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Party…and yes, there was a real goat!

What do you get when you mix a Canadian with a New Yorker, both with mad love for the show ‘How I Met Your Mother’? A no-brainer of a theme for a big birthday bash! Challenge accepted!

I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun this party was to plan for my husband Kevin’s 35th birthday. ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is our favorite show and if you’re a fan, you’ll get it. It’s smart and funny and everything you want a sitcom to be. Just brilliant! One of the best parts of planning was that another party guru friend, Jenny of Craft That Party is also a huge fan and contributed some of the greatest details you’ll see. It was great to bounce ideas off her and she put up with all my crazy requests, so…thanks so much Jenny! We’re like ‘bros’ now…

If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll appreciate the innate detail and obsessive thought that went into everything, from the specific placement of the Ted peg doll, standing atop a pile of Architectural Digests, separate from his coupled friends, to the iconic New York coffee cups (bet they’ve never been used this way before!) and chinese takeout boxes, the use of little red hearts (on the paper and ribbon) to portray a big part of what this show is about and the symbolism of the one yellow plate on the photo wall backdrop  Speaking of which, that wall is made of paper plates. The iconic paper plate backdrop was originated by Piggy Bank Parties and I’m so glad I finally got to use it for one of my parties. It made for a great photo wall.

The main design element was the black and white checkered pattern, just like the NYC taxicabs. It started on the invites and carried through to all the printed items, awesomely designed by Renee Nicole Designs, and was also used on the fabric runner, favor tablecloth and yes, that’s checkered duck tape wrapped around the wreath and centerpiece cans.  True story. I also used yellow, red and blue as accent colors for the yellow umbrella, blue french horn and red intervention sign and tied it into all the other party details.

Every food item and detail is a reference from the show and there are so many details that I’d probably have to split this post up quite a bit to explain, so I’ll just let the photos do the talking. I love that through my Instagram sneaks, I got a few followers to become fans of the show. New fans, I hope you’re loving it as much as we do!

Some of the details include:

*the infamous yellow umbrella as part of the dessert table backdrop
*amazing sketch of NYC skyline by Craft That Party as part of the dessert table backdrop
*realistic peg dolls of the 5 main characters (Craft That Party)
*yellow drink umbrellas (Craft That Party)
*the Playbook and a stack of Architectural Digests held desserts on the dessert table
*iconic NY coffee cups
*chinese takeout containers
*pineapple guest favors
*pie chart about ‘Why we love Kevin’
*the Intervention sign
*and oh yeah, a real goat. that kind of made the party legen…well, you know the rest.


‘Best Burger in New York cupcakes’:…seriously cute

“Pineapple cake pops”: by Dream Cakes (so delicious!)

‘HIMYM cookies’: by The Cookie Jar (red cowboy boots, blue french horns, yellow umbrellas and suit jackets with ducky ties)

‘Marshmallows and Lily Pads’: (i had to…for those who don’t know the show, this is what two of the characters call each other. These were homemade rum vanilla marshmallows sitting on top of green apple fruit leather by LGTPS.)



‘Ted’s Superbowl Wings’

‘Eating a Sandwich’: a giant 6′ hero (or sub, depending on where you’re from) for the times in college they were ‘eating a sandwich’)

”Goat’ cheese salad’: served in chinese takeout containers



Since my husband is Canadian, I had to go with Canadian beer, but we also had wine and scotch (both relevant to the show) and the beer sat on a cigar box. Water bottles were wrapped with labels saying ‘haaaaave…you met Kevin’?

We had guests fill out cards that said:
How I met Kevin:
Things I learned from my mother:
Why Kevin is awesome:

The GOAT was definitely a highlight! His name was Cupcake and he was so sweet. I’m not sure who enjoyed him more, the kids or the adults! Disclaimer: No animals were harmed in the having of this party!

Everyone took photos by the checkered wall with little bubble quote signs with sayings from the show. One detail that might not come across in photos is: on the wall when you enter the house, there were 2 little signs ‘Legen’ and ‘wait for it’….and on the back patio door was ‘dary’. You’ll only get that if you watch the show.

As a parting favor, each family took home, what else? A pineapple…

For more pics, see the gallery on my website or LOTS more photos on my One Stone Events facebook page.

It was so much fun not only incorporating details from our favorite show into the party, but being able to pay homage to where my husband and I both come from (hence, the giant Canadian flag backdrop on the food table). A good time was had by all and I’m pretty sure the birthday boy felt loved. He was SO deserving of this great celebration. We were especially thankful for the Canadians who flew in just for this special occasion!

So, if I haven’t convinced you to be a fan by now, what are you waiting for? It’s the best show ever! Start watching…now. You have time to catch up before the final season starts in the fall.

And for all you other superfans out there, if you plan to throw a HIMYM bash, I hope to be a source of fun inspiration for you!

So tell me, are you a HIMYM fan? Have you ever had a party based on a show?


Event Design/Styling: One Stone Events

Photography and Graphic Design: Renee Nicole Design + Photography

Custom NYC Skyline backdrop, character peg dolls, yellow drink umbrellas, blue french horn ornaments: Craft That Party

Goat: Noah’s Ark Farm

Cookies: The Cookie Jar

Pineapple Cake Pops: Dream Cakes

Marshmallows/Lily Pads: LGTPS

Cupcakes: Target (local)

Wings and 6′ Hero: Felice Deli

Yellow umbrella: Amazon

iconic NY coffee cups: eBay

Slap Bet Commissioner t-shirt: The Shirt Factory

Photo wall inspiration: Piggy Bank Parties

everything else: made or bought locally by me









(Rustic) Easter Inspiration


Last year, my son’s 2nd birthday party had a lot of carrot, bunny and spring details that would work really well for an Easter party or brunch. Here are a few fun details for a little inspiration for your Easter celebration this year. Original party link and details below…







To see more images from this event, click here.

Here’s my write up about the party last year…


This party is very near and dear to my heart, as it is inspired by the book I read to my son every night, just before bed (since he was born),‘Guess How Much I Love You’. I wanted a very organic, natural feel that was relaxed, fun and informal, using an earthy color palette.  Many of the items used were recycled, upcycled and reused. While this party was created for a birthday, it would also work for a Spring or Easter party as well. The primary design elements were ferns and carrots, with bunnies and woodsy elements secondary. The paper designs, including the gorgeous invite, were hand illustrated by the uber talented Kori of Paper & Pigtails. Her designs sent my inspiration over the top and were a huge component to the design of the party.

DESSERT TABLE: I found a vintage sheet with ferns on it from etsy, and that was the base for the dessert table. I just love it! I (with the help of my hubby), created a fence, similar to the one in the book, out of pallet wood and floral wire as the backdrop. Since the story is about BIG Nutbrown Hare and LITTLE Nutbrown Hare, two rabbits, I had BIG and LITTLE versions of each dessert. We served ‘dirt dessert’ in clay pots with adorable fondant carrots by Edible Details, BIG and LITTLE chocolate cake, veggie straw cones that looked like carrots, a cookie garden of carrot and lettuce sugar cookies and carrot cake push up pops, made to look like bunnies (fondant ears also by Edible Details). I purposely left the dessert table ‘loose’ and not so structured, sort of like a botanical garden. I didn’t adhere to my normal ‘perfectly lined up’ regimen of desserts. The raffia bunnies were perfect to play the part of the bunnies in the book. The yarn ball garland was strung across the back fence. However, that was actually created to go someplace else and when my carrot chandelier couldn’t be hung over the dessert table (so sad), I needed that pop of color up there more than where it was originally intended to go. See, we all have glitches.

FOOD TABLE: I wanted the food table to feel more like a farmer’s market, with fruits in strawberry baskets and vegetables spilling from a bushel basket. We served individual cups of mac n cheese (bunnies, of course!) and bunny shaped cucumber & cream cheese sandwiches for the little ones. For the adults, we had 2 types of sandwiches, pasta salad, fruit and veggies with spinach dip, served in a cabbage head-idea from Petite Social here.  Everything was very ‘clean and fresh’. The sandwiches were each wrapped with a fern leaf that was clipped from my yard. I also hand painted bamboo cutlery in brown, orange and green. It was a nice touch!

DRINKS: the drink table was one of my favorite details with the carrots wrapped around the drink dispenser (sewn together first), sitting on a stump on the grass tabletop. We served carrot lemonade (recipe here) and in the wheelbarrow, cucumber water in mason jars. Very refreshing…and a huge hit!


*The entrance had a sign that I made out of pallet wood (Guess how much I love two), painted and nailed to a post, a grapevine wreath that was SO easy to make with real ferns and carrots, a small bunting and some paper mache mushrooms, a doormat that was too perfect to pass up (welcome to the garden w/bunny image) and the planters filled with carrots.

*The year in pictures was so simple, but so effective. Mason jars with a photo inside lined up all in a row.

*The guest book was a carrot that Kori of Paper & Pigtails hand illustrated with a place for the guests to put their thumbprint and sign as the greenery. So cute! We’ll frame this and put it in our son’s room. What a nice keepsake. This is a popular idea currently at weddings.

*I decorated the big oak tree with a carrot bunting and pages from the book.

*There was an activity table for the kids to plant seeds and paint little pots as well as a table with coloring pages and crayons.

*Favors consisted of GHMILY stickers and a bookmark, seeds, bunny graham crackers, a bouncy ball and a hand sewn bunny finger puppet. The adults were given a brown lunch bag to fill up with fruit and veggies from the décor so nothing would go to waste.

*I set up the tables as one long feasting table with a fabulous bunting that was strung across the two trees. I used fence pieces as the runners and green and brown glass bottles that I had been saving up as well as mason jar terrariums for the centerpieces.

Every party I do is my favorite one yet, but I really loved doing this party. It was so much work and definitely a challenge decorating with fresh produce for a morning party, but so special and so worth it!


Event design/styling: Elissa, One Stone Events

Hand Illustrated Stationery Suite: Kori, Paper & Pigtails Studio Line

Photography: Darci Woodiwiss Photography

Fondant carrots and bunny ears: Edible Details

Cookies: Bees Knees Creative

‘BIG’ cake: A Better Cheesecake

Sandwiches: Einstein’s Bagels

Fabric bunting: cucuco

Bunny/moon shirt: mypipsqueak

vintage fern sheet: GoodBonesVintageCo

Tables/chairs/props/assistance: Special thanks to Kevin Stone, Jeanne Berhalter, Eileen Stone, Lisa and Aaron Votaw, Chris Raineri, Erik and Darci Woodiwiss and Brooke Elvington.


Stay tuned for this year’s birthday party! It’s going to be a fun boy fairytale mashup with lots of feathers, arrows and targets!

How is everyone decorating for Easter this year? What kind of celebration will you have? Do you like to have a lots of friends and family around or a small, quiet holiday?



Dutch Love

 Here’s a little offbeat inspiration for your Valentine’s Day…The heart elements could work for a simple Valentine celebration, or if you are of Dutch descent or enjoy Dutch culture, go all out with this theme for the holiday of love.

This Dutch Folk Art styled shoot was created for an issue of Bird’s Party Magazine. It’s sort of a blend between Pennsylvania Dutch artwork and traditional Dutch desserts. To read about the desserts and details of the table, see below.


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The goal for this shoot was to do something different that’s never been seen before. Inspiration can be found anywhere, including the ‘It’s a Small World’ ride at Disneyworld. The cultures and colors are so beautiful and I’ve recently found myself drawn to folk art so much, that I decided I’d make a dessert table using Dutch folk art as the theme.

I was going more for simple beauty and authenticity than the trends of dessert tables currently popular in the party scene. The color palette is very typical of this style with the red, navy, yellow and white. I also wanted to use the doves, tulips and hearts, most commonly seen in Dutch folk art. Bird of Bird’s Party made beautiful printables for me to work with, which were the foundation for every single element that went into the design of the table. Every vendor used that design as inspiration or copied it to match perfectly. The table was captured flawlessly by Darci Woodiwiss Photography.

My fabulous baker from Cakes by Costa flew to Florida from Massachusetts to do this shoot with me and the desserts did not disappoint. We had Slagroomtaart, a Dutch cream cake, which is very light and airy in taste. The Dutch apple cakes were dense and the spices made this one delicious treat. There was also a Dutch cocoa dip for the fresh fruit which was much richer than a chocolate syrup, but oh so yummy!

I ordered the Stroopwafels from I Love Stroopwafels. These tasty Dutch treats are basically 2 waffle cookies with caramel sandwiched between them. Traditionally eaten with coffee or tea, if you set the Stroopwafel atop the hot coffee cup and wait a few minutes, the consistency is just right with slightly oozing caramel and the temperature is perfect. These were so much fun to try!

The only dessert on the table that was not traditional Dutch, were the absolutely gorgeous and ornate sugar cookies, made by Bees Knees Creative. The artistry on these cookies was fantastic and they looked so beautiful on the table. They were a perfect addition to tie all the elements together.

The flowers, by Dana Dineen Floral were a must on this table. The red Tulips, yellow Asiatic lilies, blue Gentiana and yellow Craspedia with ivy looked ‘perfectly Dutch’. They set the tone for the whole table and it just wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without them.

ReDefine Design Studio provided some of the awesome serveware on the table: The cookie platters, the quirky coffee cups with saucers, the heart shaped cake pans, and the most perfect little white and blue bowl with a blue handle.

One of my absolute favorite details on the table were the adorable little peg dolls, custom made by the oh-so-talented Jenny of Craft That Party. Honestly, they are the cutest things I’ve seen in a very long time. They took center stage on my table and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I made the backdrop with party supplies, using most of the design on Bird’s Dutch Folk Art printables. It was just foam core, wrapped in a yard of navy fabric, paper pinwheel fans, felt, paper punched circles, Martha Stewart stickers and Bird’s printables. Other décor included a little pair of Dutch clogs with a windmill on them as a cake topper, toothpick flags to emulate the Dutch flag and dessert stands for both the cookies and fruit: I put heart ribbon around each heart cake pan and used glue dots to attach them to the candlesticks, which I had spray painted yellow. The saucers that matched the coffee cups just sat on top of clear glass candlesticks. Perfect little dessert stands!

As I always use something of my late grandmother’s in every shoot, the little casserole dishes and the yellow ‘Dutch oven’ that the cake sat in belonged to her, as well as the Dutch cocoa dip bowls on both sides.

The whitewashed wood planks belong to Dana Dineen Florals and I love the different levels and the added element of vintage they added.  They were a great addition to the table.
I absolutely adored working with this wonderful collaboration of vendors. What a great team!


Design/Styling: Elissa at One Stone Events

Printables: Bird’s Party

Photography: Darci Woodiwiss Photography

Desserts: Cakes by Costa

Flowers/wood planks: Dana Dineen Florals

Sugar Cookies: Bee’s Knees Creative

Peg Dolls: Jenny at Craft That Party 

Vintage Boutique Rentals: ReDefine Design Studio

Stroopwafels: I Love Stroopwafels


Occasions Magazine Feature (Press)

Occasions Magazine has launched their Premiere Florida issue and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it! What I love about this magazine is that it not only showcases beautiful weddings, but other important milestone celebrations as well. There aren’t any other magazines that I know of that have all that eye candy and inspiration in one place. It’s a great resource for ANYONE planning a party, and since I design and style many of those other types of ‘Occasions’, it’s important for vendors like me to have an outlet like this. I want to thank Heather Vreeland, Occasions’ Group Publisher and Editorial Director, for including me as a part of this beautiful magazine. And a big thank you to all the vendors who helped to make the featured celebration such a success. (Another post devoted to the party and vendors to come, soon!)

French Bohemian Quinceanera
photo by Kathy Porupski

So, sit back, relax and pour through the pages of this great glossy or click the image above to see the online version...You'll find the French Cabaret Quinceanera I designed and planned on pages 126-127.
To see more images of this party, click here.

3 Ways To Engage Your Guests At Every Party



Worried your guests won’t enjoy themselves? Feeling pressured to entertain those first few early birds even though you still have 17 things to do before everyone else arrives? Incorporating these 3 ‘to do’s’ into every party will give your guests something to do, help break the ice for guests who are not yet acquainted and give you the time you need to tend to other hosting needs.


Let’s start with a craft. Even the most craft-challenged guest can use a scissor or a glue gun, right? The moment your guests arrive, after they settle in and get a drink, they can either relax or get moving. This one is especially good for guests who come to a party by themselves. Those who craft together…well….it’s a good ice breaker. The craft can be anything from making baby headbands or painting onesies at a baby shower to planting seeds in a pot for a garden party. Now, isn’t that craftastic?



Another great thing to have your guests do is to leave you with a piece of their mind . This is especially nice for the host because after the party when all the guests have gone, you can sit down with a nice glass of wine and read all the notes. These can be ‘words of marriage wisdom’ for a bridal shower or ‘favorite memory / things they love most about (guest of honor)’. It might even be fun to have them written in ‘roast’ style, if the GOH is a good sport. For a bonus, you could even have guests read them aloud later in the party. Sometimes you will find guests comparing notes and that’s another good way to get your guests interacting with each other.



Ok, so I’m not a fan of the typical games you might find at some parties, particularly showers. Please, for the love of all that is still good, don’t make your guests play the ‘smell the poop’ game at a baby shower. No one likes it and it’s just awkward. I’m not sure why people think this is funny, but if you have any idea, please enlighten me (just my personal opinion here!). Instead, there are tons of other game options for a baby shower: bingo, trivia about the couple/baby, measure the mom’s belly with string, you get the idea…For kid’s birthday parties, there are a plethora of options from good old fashioned pin the something on the something to water balloon games, potato sack races, etc. Coloring pages are also a nice option for the little ones because it gives them something else to do (also a good way to get them to sit down when you need them to). Some examples of the ‘do’ part of this would be a bounce house, enjoy hired entertainment, dress up in costumes that go with the theme and put on a play. For teens, you could do mani’s/pedi’s, scavenger hunt, movie in the yard, musical chairs. Adults can play cards, board games, etc. Something that is fun for all ages and very popular right now is an interactive photo booth. Guests can hold up prop glasses, mustaches, hats, boas and large frames and take fun pictures with their friends.

What fun things do you do to keep your guests entertained besides great conversation, music and food? What’s your favorite party activity? Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear!

Photos by Darci Woodiwiss Photography

Why the fuss? Party biz moms say why they go all out…

I’ve seen it many times in the vast cyber-universe…why do some moms go so overboard with their kid’s birthday parties? I’ve heard people say that it’s ‘more for the mom than the kid’ or ‘to show off’ or ‘to out-do their friends’. Well, maybe there’s a miniscule percentage who do it for those reasons, but I’m here to tell you, along with several of my party peers, that for the other 99.937% of us, that is simply just not true.

When I was growing up, birthdays and holidays in general were shining moments in our lives. My mom always made us feel so special and those celebrations were magical. Now, I know back then candy buffets were not trending and party printables didn’t exist yet, but there were still decorations, party hats, party games and lots of homemade food. The nature of staying up into the wee hours of the night working on details has evolved over time, but love is always the reason.

As a parent, you want to give your child everything. And when your children are so young, you fear they won’t remember the special moments you shared together. The benefit we have today with technology is that we can capture these precious times and share them over and over again so that they never forget (translation: so that they always know how much love went into celebrating them). I’m not saying that going all out = how much you love your child, I’m just saying there’s nothing wrong with wanting to express it in that way. Some of my favorite moments are the quiet celebrations with just dinner and cake on the actual birthday with only immediate family. But the parties are great fun and create wonderful memories as well!

For me, creativity is how I express myself and as a mom, I always want my son to know that he was worth the time, energy, effort and details I put into his parties. Celebrating him doesn’t have to involve all those things some see as frivolous, but for one special day that is all about him, aside from friends and family, I want him to be surrounded by an environment filled with wonder and delight, fantasy and imagination; An environment that was created especially for him and no one else. As an event designer, why would I do this for my clients and not for my own child? That is ‘why the fuss’. -elissa, One Stone Events

Here’s why some of my other ‘Party Pro’ mom friends do it. Thanks to Dina, Michele, Jenny and Kori for weighing in!

Crafting, designing & parties are my creative outlet. When I design for others, it is an amazing experience bringing their vision to life. When the “client” is my own child, I go above and beyond – why? Because seeing my child’s eye twinkle and having him run up to me and tell me it’s the best day of his life is what drives me. When it’s an event for my family or my child, I can be as creative as I want to be – to truly create something beautiful, imaginative and simultaneously meet that need to create that I have inside me. It’s such a win / win. Mama gets to craft, which is mama’s outlet and my little man gets a magical day. Do I have to go all out? No, but I do because creating this is my passion.  -Dina, Deliciously Darling Events


Why do I put so much effort into a celebration? For the guest of honor. I love the expressions of awe and amazement, and while the compliments are encouraging, knowing they felt special, loved and worth-the-fuss means so much more. Something out-of-the-ordinary is not soon to be forgotten. In particular, I love it when my son see’s the decorations for his party and knows that I created it just for him. He still talks about his Firetruck party and it’s been two years! Not to mention the photos of these celebrations that he’ll have to remind him how special he is both to me and those who joined the celebration. The point for me is that it creates such fun and fond memories both for the kids and the adults. -Michele, Intrigue Design Studio/Crazy For Design


In our family, we love to celebrate both the big milestones and the small. I enjoy crafting, painting, and styling so of course my boys see the creative process happening around them and want to join in. They love to craft, bake, and decorate with me.  It is quality time we can spend together. We DIY almost everything from the desserts to activities and decorations. I find that the meaningful little details are what truly matter. There is something so simple, yet special about a birthday party at home with close friends. Those are the memories that I hope my children will cherish forever. Each party is made with love… the same way the blanket my Grandmother crocheted me was, or the cross-stitch my Mother made me. I guess it runs in the family to express love to each other through our own special creative outlets.  Jenny, Craft that Party


To me, hosting a party for someone is like giving them a gift. I want to put thought, time, and love into it…and I want them to feel that! Whether it’s a baby shower for a friend, or a birthday for one of my little ones…it’s a way for me to express how much they mean to me. I celebrate my kids, friends, and family being a part of our lives everyday, but a party is a way to find something that makes the guest of honor happy and then take it to the max! At the end of the day, my greatest joy in hosting a party is seeing the guest of honor smiling from ear to ear with memories to carry a lifetime. Kori, Paper & Pigtails


What do you do to make your child feel special on their birthday? What makes you feel special on your birthday? Did your parents do anything to go all out on your special day when you were growing up? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear about it!

(To see more photos from these awesome parties, simply click on the picture.)


Vintage Rustic Christmas Candy Buffet

My mother always says ‘it’s not a party unless you have M&M’s’. Well, with candy buffets and dessert tables currently trending, it’s not a party without LOTS of different candy.

One of the sweetest (pun intended) parts of my job is that sometimes I get to indulge in the very goodness I get to create. Next Friday I will be setting up a Vintage Rustic Christmas wedding. And if you know anything about me, those three words together make for one of my absolute favorite themes. This weekend, as part of quality control, I have to go ‘taste test’ some of the chocolates and candies I will be displaying in the candy buffet for this event (poor me, right?)

Berries & Birch Christmas Bark

Christmas Bark from Berries & Birch shoot
photo by Darci Woodiwiss Photography

I like to keep the colors in the palette of the event and always include different textures, tastes and chocolates. Some of these candies have white sugar coating and are just gorgeous. They are perfectly vintage, rustic and Christmas and will be a great addition to this wedding. My candy vendor is fabulous and always gives me a great selection of beautiful (and delicious) candy. If you’re ever in Dunedin, Florida, be sure to stop by The Candy Bar.

So, just for fun, I thought I’d share the list of candy going on the buffet. You may have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head after this, but please don’t blame me for any midnight sugar cravings!

*Dark Chocolate Cranberries

*Candy Cane Caramels

*Christmas Select Mix (licorice pastels, cream candy trees, mint balls, jordan almonds, gumdrops, milk chocolate foiled balls)

*Egg Nog and Gingerbread Taffy

*Peppermint Puffs

*Dark and White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

*”M&M’s” (their names are Meredith and Matt, how could we not? Plus, refer to the opening line.)

*Dark Chocolate Nonpareils

*Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

*Milk Chocolate Toffee Almonds

*Sugar Plums

Are you drooling yet?
Hopefully this inspires some ideas for your holiday get togethers.
And don’t worry, there will be lots of photos to share from the wedding in a few weeks.
What’s your favorite holiday candy? Do you have any traditional candy that you only eat on certain holidays? Please share!

I Heart NY

The show must go on. Except when it can’t. You know if Broadway shuts down, things are very bad.

As I’ve sat glued to news coverage of Hurricane Sandy and it’s aftermath, I’ve been trying to think for the past few days about what I could say that would not seem self serving. I truly love New York. It’s where I grew up, it’s where the majority of my family and friends live and it’s still the place I consider ‘home’. Whenever disaster strikes, I feel an overwhelming sadness for what the victims are experiencing. This time, it was a little different. Because I have so many connections to every place that was affected, it really hit home for me. My loved ones are going through something I can’t even imagine. For some, it’s their worst nightmare. I have family and friends on Long Island, in Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Hoboken, Long Beach Island, other parts of New Jersey and other states and areas that were affected. Everyone I had the opportunity to connect with has either lost power or has trees down. One friend lost her home (along with everything she owns) in the fires. As the Facebook updates decrease daily, I know their cell phones have died and now they can’t communicate. As long as I was hearing from them, there was a sense of comfort that they are ok, but now, I don’t know and it’s unnerving. I’m sad that they must feel so isolated. And I’m sad that instead of getting to celebrate Halloween with their kids, they were just trying to get through another day. I’m having a hard time focusing on anything else and it was hard to celebrate Halloween, but I did it to protect the innocence of my own child, as I’m sure most of you did as well.

I had just decided last week to take a trip to NY this winter. I need to walk down the bustling streets, see the lights of Broadway and have a decent slice of pizza and a great bagel. But, more than that, I need to see my friends and my family who I haven’t seen in so long. I want to get out to Long Island to show my husband and son where I grew up and to visit friends who live there. I went to college on Staten Island, vacationed on Long Beach Island with my grandmother every summer and I lived in Queens with my grandmother and great grandparents. Then I moved to New York City, where I gained my independence and became an adult. Every part of my childhood and young adult life has been flooded with this storm. But, through those places, I have amazing memories and experiences which have made me the person I am today.

I’ve said ‘how much more can New York take?’, but New York is resilient. I know it’s been said, but people who live there are made of something special. There is a quiet strength that runs through that city and it’s like no place else on earth.

So, to my friends and family who can read this, know that there is so much concern and caring for what you are going through right now. It’s a helpless feeling being here and not there; an eerily similar one to post 9-11. It is difficult to witness, so I can’t even imagine what it feels like to be living it. I am thinking about each and every one of you, sending love and light and wishing you strength to get through this very difficult time. My heart truly goes out to you all.

I see things are slowly starting to open back up and Broadway shows will reopen tonight. That gives me hope, but we can’t forget the physical and emotional damage that will linger on. Life goes on as normal for a lot of us, but for many, it is still dark and cold and gas is sparse. Business owners need to rebuild, and for those who have lost everything, they need to restore their life.

If you want to help, you can volunteer your time, give blood or donate to Red Cross.

Please feel free to share your experience with the storm here.