It’s all in the Detail…
When the lovely Mandy of The Tinkergirl asked me to write a guest post for her, my first thought was, “what on earth will I write about that will live up to Mandy’s creative standards?!”. By this I mean that although I love a bit of crafting, I am generally a bit rubbish at it, and never have the fantastically creative results that Mandy has. Case in point were the Christmas stockings I made for Baby Lighty and Niece Browny, and on the rare occasions that Mr Lighty will watch The Great British Sewing Bee with me (you know, those extremely rare times when we’ve exhausted all the boxsets we’ve recorded on our TiVo box and there’s no football on), he will often joke that should I ever manage to get on the show myself, the creations that I’d present for judging would be missing a sleeve, have holes where there shouldn’t be holes and be too tight to fit the mannequin. And who is Mrs Lighty to argue with him?! For unfortunately, Mr Lightyis, on this occasion, right.
So what to write about for a dear friend that simply oozes craftiness (of the arty variety!) and often visits bearing creations born of her own fair hands?! Well, I thought about it and thought about it, retreated to my creative space (aka, the shower!) and decided that one thing I do know about is attention to detail. More specifically, attention to detail when it comes to party planning.
I do love a party or celebration of any kind, and tend to get a bit carried away. But over the years I have also come to the conclusion that there are three important points to all party planning:
So how have I come to these conclusions? A small matter of a wedding, a 30th birthday party, a baby shower and a Naming Day, that’s how!
And where do I always begin? With the invites of course! These are always a prime example of ‘less is more’. When Mr and Mrs Lighty got married, I deliberately kept the invites fairly simple, partly because I knew that the minute I started adding glitz here and ribbon there, I’d go over the top and spoil them, and partly because I had some ridiculous amount to make. The 3 or 4 days – yes days – spent making the pocketfold design and then the 50 or so hours we spent on the computer trying to print the inserts for the pockets was enough to put me off making invites for life. Although I loved how they looked in the end, I’m not exaggerating with the amount of time that went into them.
That said, I do think an invite is an important part of any event, as they set the theme up nicely and I believe that guests are more likely to RSVP to a formal invite. For our wedding, the invites set the feel for the day: pretty, floral, blues and pinks and plenty of rustic, vintage luggage labels. Any invites that I’ve created since, however, have been simple sheets of A5 card, printed double sided, and finished with my trusty X-cut corner rounder! For our 30th birthdays we had a travel theme. As the party was also a joint housewarming, I wanted them to be a bit quirky and tell of bit of our journey to this point in our lives. They weren’t overly colourful, but I used different font combinations to give a bit of a background story to Mr and Mrs Lighty’s lives – or our journey - up until that point. With my baby shower invites I tried to convey the theme of April Showers, and showering Baby Lighty with love, and for Baby Lighty’s first birthday party we went with the Disney Up! Theme that we’d chosen for the day. And actually, I’ve loved the invites I’ve done for subsequent events just as much as our wedding invites!
From here, I find it’s all about thinking outside of the box. Continuing with my less is more mantra, I don’t think you need to be really ‘in your face’ with the theme; little touches here and there are often enough. I always seem to sway towards the vintage feel for any of my soirées, which for me means scouring the likes of car boot sales and charity shops (both of which are fine with me!). So for our travel-themed 30ths, I sourced Cold War era globes, and also purchased an old road atlas for 50p which was in such as scruffy state I didn’t feel too bad about cutting it up to map bunting and to decorate jam jars to use as candle lanterns and flower vases! I’m also all about recycling party props; the globes and map bunting also made a reappearance at Baby Lighty’s first birthday party, as I felt that they tied in with the theme of adventure that runs through the movie Up!, although the rain did mean that the bunting ended up completely soggy and unusable for any future events, unfortunately!
For my baby shower, I poured over charity shop windows until I had enough vintage tea cups and saucers to host an afternoon tea. I also used an old biscuit tin as a vase for flowers because it had a shabby-chic feel to it, together with one of the jam jars wrapped in floral paper and ribbon, made by our very own Tinkergirl for our wedding day flowers!
I also love a bit of quirky at my parties; a little something which will make my guests remember the event fondly. For our wedding, I therefore bought a small chalkboard and chalk for each table and asked people to write a message and take photos of them holding the message using disposable cameras that we’d provided. This worked really well and our guests really had fun with it – one table even used their chalkboard to take bets on how long the speeches would be!!
Perhaps because this worked so well, I really wanted something that would produce good photos at our 30th birthday party, too. We couldn’t afford a proper photobooth, but instead I gathered together all sorts of props – poundshop beauties in the shape of coloured wigs, hats, massive glasses, feather boas, masquerade masks, you name it – and made speech bubbles with the likes of “I came for the cake!” written on them. I housed them in a retro suitcase to match the travel theme and basically let our guests loose to have fun! I know I’m biased, but some of my favourite photos ever come from that night!
Guestbooks are always a great way of adding to the theme of your party. As such, our guestbook for our 30th was made up of vintage postcards sourced from Ebay which I housed in a retro suitcase and asked people to hang onto ribbon. At my baby shower I asked guests to sign a Jenga block each, and for Baby Lighty’s first birthday, I did something a little bit different and asked friends and family to complete a card in advance with a poem, recipe, photo, a special memory – basically anything that took their fancy – and then these were entered into his Up! Adventure book, made by the fabulous Retro from Scratch.
Over the past five years of party throwing, however, I have learnt not to give away your plans and ideas too much to other people. Not only are you potentially ruining the magic of the day by giving away all of the surprises, but you’ll also get people commenting on what you’re doing in the sense of “Oh that’ll never work”. For example, we were told that disposable cameras at our wedding were useless because of the picture quality, and laughed at for the chalkboard idea. And yes, the photos definitely aren’t high res, but they are fab in their own grainy right and it’s something that people remember from the day. Also, it’s sometimes best not to be too literal with your guests on the day. If you haven’t got an actual photobooth, for example, just call it a dressing up suitcase (something which Mrs Lighty should have done!). People will love it just as much and will be encouraged to take photos left, right and centre that you’ll be able to treasure forever!
So there we have it, Mrs Lighty’s top party planning secrets. Oh and one last thing: cake and bubbly! Plenty of cake and bubbly will always set the event off nicely!
More of the Lighty’s adventures can be found at: www.allthingsspliced.wordpress.com, on Twitter at @MrsLighty, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AllThingsSpliced, and Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/mrslighty1504 .