Yes, it was one month ago that I posted about planning my 30th birthday bash. Oops.
Why don’t we just get down to business?

First off – the invitation unveiling. I had a lot of fun “designing” these. Please note that for me – designing means slapping together some fonts and images in Photoshop. Illustrator and creating my own images scares me.


I wanted something that combined some glam, fun but still had a trashy side and with my limited skills – this is what was created. I was more than happy with my creation and it really held the inspiration for the rest of the event. (Sidenote – To bad I didn’t have the skills of the designer behind this years Big Hair Ball put on by the Des Moines Art Center’s Art Noir group. The Glitter & Grease theme is captured perfectly in their poster. If you’re in the DM area on April 23rd – this is a MUST attend event!)

So a little printing and some DIYing later and this is (kind of) how the Dirty 30 Debutante Ball looked. You’ll have to excuse the quality of my camera and photography skills. I realized a little too late that I didn’t have a picture of the whole scene or good shots of the tables. Live and learn.


Dirty 30

Dirty 30

Dirty 30

I admittedly have an obsession with photos booths and couldn’t let this party go without one, with plenty of fun props!

Dirty 30

As in the invitations, disco balls made up a central part of the decorations. You can’t tell from the yes-I-really-need-a-new-camera-photos but there were LED lights in the vases that held the disco balls. One last bit of inspiration was to have “classy” quotes on the tables.

Dirty 30

The ceilings in the venue were very high with exposed duct work so I wanted some elements to help tie that in. Some tall vases and DIY metallic fringe chandeliers helped to accomplish that.

Dirty 30

To top it all off, my sister and one of my best friends surprised me with a lovely creation from Della Dulce Bakery.

Dirty 30

Um, wow. The inspiration came from one of my very own posts!  One where I actually had the nerve to ask for this cake. My friends know how to deliver.

Dirty 30

With all the fun I had planning the party, the actual night was a great celebration with my friends and family. I am truly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. Thank you to all who came and to those who were there in spirit!

Since a good part of the country is buried under snow today, how about a reminder that summer will (eventually) be back? Or will that just be rubbing it in?
This cheery event made the rounds on wedding blogs last summer and I think now is just about the perfect time to bring it back…

All images via my bride story wedding & events

Don’t you feel warmer already?

If you really look at the materials that were used, you’ll see that things were created fairly inexpensively for the event but still created a creative and cohesive theme. Of course, the flowers weren’t cheap, but notice how large blooms were used in concentrated groupings – that will give you a lot of impact for your money. For more information from the wedding designer and planner who put this together, grab another cup of hot cocoa, curl up and click here.

With all the holiday madness, who has time to plan a New Year’s Eve bash? More importantly, who is hosting a NYE party but hasn’t had the time to plan it?
Not to worry, we’ve compiled some last-minute inspiration (and some FREE printables) for you. So put the champagne on ice, pick up some supplies and get ready for 2011!

Of course one of the best sources of inspiration is always Pizzazzerie and you couldn’t expect anything but fabulousness from Courtney. Her “Midnight” themed party has a perfect mix of fun and elegance.

via Pizzazerie

Black, white and bling seem to be making the most appearances this time around. And why not? It’s classic, gorgeous and versatile. Chris from Celebrations at Home not only put together a fab holiday table that easily transitions to NYE

via Celebrations at Home

but then she creates a gorgeous bar to match.  (Check out the coordinating dessert table too!)

via Celebrations at Home

You can also take basic black and white and add a pop of color (again, use those Christmas decorations!) like The Couture Cakery did for The Hostess with the Mostess.

via Hostess with the Mostess

Check out Catch My Party for a little something from Paper Dolls you can use to pull any of the black and white looks together.

via Catch My Party

For the trend-lovers, why not close out 2010 with Pantone’s color of the year? Two great sets of printables are available in turquoise!

via Catch My Party

via Love The Day

These Love the Day printable were actually created to support Operation Shower, in hopes that you will spread the word about their Operation Give Thanks fundraising campaign. Read the post to learn more.

Some subdued but still lovely ideas from {every}nothing wonderful via The Sweetest Occassion (post includes the printable suite).

Have the kids joining you for the festivities? Check out this party for ideas on how to make it fun for them and still glam enough for you. (Once again with the black and white)

via Pizzazerie

Finally, if you still have to work on NYE and you’re not sure how you’ll get the time to get everything ready, once again, Chris from Celebrations at Home has you covered with a classic silver and gold setting:

via Celebrations at Home

She didn’t buy anything for this table except the grocery items! You could easily do the same using your own holiday decoration colors.

Had enough? No? OK – we’ve rounded up few more free printables. Don’t say Socialize never did anything for you! Here’s to you and a wonderful 2011!!

Free printables from anna and blue paperie

Subway art from Custom Printable

Printables from Anders Ruff (OK, not free but only $18 and adorable!)

Yesterday I shared the table photos from the Thanksfeast celebration that was held at my house. I have to admit, the table was my favorite part but there were a few more spots that the color schemed was worked into as well. The fireplace mantel served as a nice backdrop for the appetizers (VERY light appetizers since we are pretty serious about the FEAST in Thanksfeast) and another table was set up as the bar. Because these were key areas, it made sense to make sure they followed the theme of the evening.


The bar table filled out a little more after the wine was added and the punchbowl was filled. For the signature drink this year, I used a recipe for Holiday Punch. When I made the ice ring, I included some orange slices in the ice as well. The punch is citrusy with a little bit of grapefruit taste, sweet and refreshing. It was definitely a hit but probably best used as a pre-dinner drink. It is probably a little too sweet and tart to really enhance a meal. I did cut the recipe below in half because most of our guests prefer beer and wine. There was just a little leftover – always know your audience!

• 5 cups orange juice
• 4 lemon slices
• 4 orange slices
• 4 cups gin
• 2 oz grenadine
• 1/2 cup curaçao
• 1-1/2 cups lemon juice
• 1 litre of lemon-lime soda
Mixing instructions:
Pour chilled gin, curaçao, fruit juices, and grenadine into a punch bowl with a cake of ice. Stir well, add soda, and stir again gently. Garnish with fruit slices.

While I had entirely too much fun putting everything together, the best part was having wonderful friends come to our home and share some time with us. The next time you’re thinking about a party or event, contact Socialize to help put everything together and help during the event so you have more time to share with your friends and family and enjoy the festivities!

My husband, friends and I wrapped up another Thanksfeast a couple weeks ago.  Although there’s always a little chaos when we’re trying to get all the hot food on the buffet, it was great fun. I think all 20 people could say they had a great time!

I mentioned here that my tablescape inspiration was based on the Thanksgiving table that Eddie Ross created for Lonny.

The inspiration from Eddie Ross

Just gorgeous, right? With 20 people coming I knew I wouldn’t have the budget for the kind of china and stemware used as place settings. I also wasn’t about to change my light fixture out for the party. (I would have liked to but I didn’t have a magazine fund to work with!) Admittedly, I am not an event designer I am much better at making sure everything goes off without a hitch and guests go home thrilled by their experience. But designing is something I enjoy and like to try my hand at for my own parties. So after a lot of fabric store hunting, Goodwill scouring and a little spray painting, here is what I came up with:


Thanksfeast table2

I love our dining room table so I didn’t want to cover it up so I created a runner instead. I don’t even want to tell you how much time I spent searching for fabric that I thought would work well! There was also a hunt for cobalt blue vases and gold candlesticks. Most of the rest of the supplies were already stored on my party shelves but I did happen upon the peacocks by accident – I think they’re a nice addition.

This table was actually done before the party. Because there were 20 people attending, a few tables had to be added on so I made a duplicate tablescape for the second half of the group. There were a couple more places that the color scheme was used. Tomorrow I’ll show you those and share the recipe for the signature cocktail that was served!

Help! I’ve been trapped between Thanksgiving, Thanksfeast and creating (and re-creating) content for the Socialize website. I’m a mindnumbingly painfully very slow writer and being a perfectionist doesn’t help either when it comes to launching a website.

So today’s post will be a quick one about a quick project you can do for some holiday decorating. I caught these lovelies on Twitter (<—follow Socialize!) and now need to make Hobby Lobby run soon so I can get them out of my system.

Tinsel wreath from Creature Comforts

These are easy and inexpensive enough that they would make for great additions to your home or office holiday decor if you need to fancy things up a little for a party. Maybe even as pew decorations for a winter wedding; yea or nay? What do you think – would all that tinsel get too…tinsel-ly?

Check out the tutorial from Creature Comforts and just try not to get sucked into all the other fabulous projects they have on there.

Special thanks to Domestica, a great shop in Des Moines, for tweeting about it and giving me some inspiration (find them @shopdomestica).

In between my part-time work at DMARC, getting all things Socialize lined up and ready to bring to the public; I try to find a few minutes each day to dream about Thanksfeast. I’ll be honest, the next couple weeks will be a mad dash to pull it all together. Fortunately, I have a couple things going for me. 1) My husband is in charge of the turkey. 2) I did find my tablescape inspiriation a while ago. Actually, on October 11th to be exact – when I saw the Thanksgiving table that Eddie Ross created for Lonny.  This. Is what I want.

via Eddie Ross

I love the colors and the mix of patterns. But I especially love how the table manages to be glamorous and warm at the same time.  On my budget,  an exact copy isn’t happening (I won’t be buying a new chandelier or buying new china and GORGEOUS cobalt blue glasses) but hopefully I can come close to achieving a similar look and feel.

Blue taper candles and a mix of gold candleholders can easily be tracked down. And some of the rest of it may just come down to some gold spray paint!

Using ribbon, material or scrabook paper with a great graphic pattern is how I hope to incorporate that element without expensive linens. Pizzazzerie did a great job of this with their Ellen Allen inspired tablescape (which will serve as a secondary source of inspiration for me!).

via Pizzazzerie

Of course, I have been struggling to find that perfect patterned paper, ribbon or material to bring everything all together but I’m still on the hunt!


Does anyone else crave Thanksgiving dishes before Turkey Day actually rolls around? Several years ago some friends (including my husband to be) and I decided that we just couldn’t wait for the holiday and we better just hold a pre-Thanksgiving training meal. With that, our what-would-become annual “Thanksfeast” was born.
Our Thanksfeast event is essentially an orphan Thanksgiving. However, since all of our friends travel home for the holiday it’s never held on Thanksgiving. Instead, we gather before the holiday to kick off the holiday season together. Here are some shots of last year’s event:

Creating the tablescape is by far my favorite part of the planning!
I am a firm believer in party favors and also in saving money. Last year, I bought mini-jar candles ($2/each) and personalized them with ribbon and scrapbook stickers. Bonus! They acted as my placecards as well.

My husband and I handle most of the food; including freezing sweet corn from the summer and saving it for the occasion. Our dear friends that we started the annual event with (our guest list has grown since then) always contribute a dish or two. Typically it’s a traditional Thanksgiving menu- turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, etc. But this year; I would like to throw in some of Real Simple magazines Scene-Stealing Thanksgiving Side Dishes for a little twist. Yum! Which ones would you choose?

Due to some scheduling conflicts; Thanksfeast will actually be POST-holiday this year – which gives me a couple extra (much needed!!) weeks to prepare! Keep watching for posts on this year’s decor inspiration, invitations and menu planning.

For whatever reason, I struggle with transitioning my home decorations to Halloween before October. September just doesn’t feel right to me – not quite summer but not ready to be fall. It’s kind of a month of limbo in our house. But this weekend I’ll make the switch. Fortunately there are a lot of great Halloween party and home decor ideas out there already! Enough that the main challenge may be just to pick a color scheme.

You can go with the traditional black and orange:


Throw in some silver to glam it up a bit:

Or you could go the way of Wicked and use the purple and green inspiration from The TomKat Studio for your festivities:

And now, Pizzazzerie and Anders Ruff created a whole new option with their recent Pink-O-Ween collaboration:


So what’s your plan for Halloween party decorations?


Considering some of the stats from Germany’s Oktoberfest, it may not be something you can replicate exactly in your own backyard. But here are a few ideas on how you could do it on a *slightly* smaller scale.

  • If you don’t want to rent and set-up a tent; take a cue from some of the building/tent roofs at Oktoberfest. This look can be replicated fairly easily with a little rope or wire and streamers a la the blogosphere darling Max & Margaux wedding.
  • Finding some authentic Oktoberfest tables like these might be a little tough unless you have someone who wants to build them (or drop some cash on one here). But to get that bier hall feeling, a wooden picnic table will do the trick. For centerpieces, fill a few beer steins with flowers or wheat/hops and line them down the center of the table. 

Empty Oktoberfest

And although I couldn’t find a photo from Oktoberfest that actually shows this runner on a table; it does add to the Bavarian theme and can be ordered from quite a few websites including

  • Even if you don’t have an Oom Pah Band, you’ll still need Polka music. My personal favorites are The Beer Barrel Polka and In Heaven There is No Beer. 

  • To add just a little more fun, give everyone a Tyrolean hat and set up a photo booth. Beer steins, aprons, talk bubbles with German phrases (Wilkommen! Prost! Danke Schon) and lederhosen could make for some great props. You could also go the route of the Hessen Haus in Des Moines which hosts the local Oktoberfest that I’ll be joining:
Owly Images

  • It should go without saying that you’ll also want to have some German beer on hand. Add custom labels with names like Smithsteiner. And to drink it, you’ll need
Or at the very least, some large steins for all.