We are pleased to introduce Chris Nease of Celebrations at Home as our guest blog feature today. Chris began entertaining and planning parties 14 years ago and fell in love with the idea of making it a career. She later launched her blog and website, Celebrations at Home, and hopes to inspire others with her creative and unique party styles and designs. Her specialty is designing beautiful showers, birthdays, and other celebrations, with unique style and unforgettable details. Her newest endeavor is Petite Celebrations, an upscale children's birthday party package with predesigned themes, decor, and activities for small intimate parties. Now, here's a little more about Chris...
Chris: That's tough! Because, as a party designer, you try to make every party as creative and unique as possible. However, I am working on a "Moroccan-style baby shower, with a monkey infusion" right now, which is interesting.
TCC: If you could plan any type of party, what type/theme would you choose?
C: I am really loving the vintage vibe right now. It's such a trend in weddings. I would love to create a bridal shower with the theme "The Key to My Heart" based on vintage keys and details, or "We're Making Beautiful Music Together" with the use of vintage instruments and sheet music.
TCC: What is your number one tip for hostesses to ease the stress of party planning and entertaining?
C: Hire me, of course! Seriously, organizing lists and planning ahead is the key to success. Aside from that, do what you can and hire out the rest.
TCC: What is your most budget friendly decor idea to make your party stunning on a tight budget?
C: Invest in basic pieces, from white dishes, to pillar candle sticks, to bud vases. You can get white stoneware plates from The Dollar Store and use them for outdoor cookouts, or Christmas dinner! Pillar candle sticks can hold candles, of course, but they can also act as risers for serving platters. Add a couple of glue dots to hold the plate secure and you have instant height and interest to your buffet. Finally, a collection of bud vases is a great budget-wise investment (about $1 per vase). Never underestimate the power of flowers to add elegance and a 'complete' look to an event. Bud vases are small so you only need 1 or 2 stems in each one (as opposed to a full floral arrangement that can be quite costly). But, when you line several of them down the center of the table, it looks like a million bucks!
TCC: What do you think is the most important aspect of a party or event (i.e. the food, the decor, the entertainment, etc.)?
C: The MOST important component of an event is the people! Other than milestone events, like weddings or birthdays, where you will invite people from many corners of your life, smaller events such as dinner parties, luncheons, or cocktail parties can be made or broken by the guest list. These are usually intimate affairs where conversation really needs to flow. Be mindful of the people you bring together, and make sure you have "talkers" as well as "listeners" to create a balance. If things go silent, it's nice to have one of those Conversation Party Boxes to help get things rolling again.
TCC: Tell us something about you that we would find surprising!
C: I'm pretty quiet until you get to know me. I'm not very good at small talk or telling stories, but I've always got a funny one-liner to throw into a conversation!
TCC: What are some of your favorite party and event planning design inspirations (blogs, sites, magazines, people, etc.)?
C: I am extremely influenced by colors and textiles, as well as home decorating items. I think it goes back to my fashion background, and love for interior design. I love to incorporate home decor items or decorative vignettes into a party space. I also love to keep up with wedding trends. My favorite designers to follow are those that incorporate their clients' personality, while adding in unexpected touches. Jesi Haack, the ladies at Lollipop Events & Design, and Gloria Wong are wonderfully creative. As far as party bloggers, not only am I inspired, but truly amazed at some of the creations they come up with! Some very clever designing women are Jenn of HWTM, Amy of Stem Parties, and Marie of Sweets Indeed, just to name a few.
TCC: Tell us about a unique budget friendly favor for guests to take away from a party that you have used successfully with your clients.
C: My favorite go-to favor item is food! It is consumable so your guests don't have to worry about what to do with it, or find a place for it at home; You can make it yourself to ease the budget; It can be sweet or savory; It can reflect your personality (favorite childhood treat, family recipe, etc.); It appeals to everyone!