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!

It seems like just yesterday I was posting about the invitations I created for my thirtieth birthday party. And now, The Dirty Thirty Debutante Ball is on Saturday!

There’s plenty to do between now and then – including cleaning my house for our overnight guests! So I’ll leave you with an inspiration board to give you an idea of what I think a Dirty Thirty Debutante Ball looks like. Keep in mind that some of these photos come from fabulous parties  that I don’t have the budget or set-up time to re-create. So while  I won’t be able to accomplish things to their scale, it’s the feel I want to create. Should be fun for all!

Sources (left to right): Top row Lady Gaga, Cyndi Lauper for MAC – Photo By Courtesy Photo; table via Simply Stunning Ideas; tinsel chandelier via Couture Parties/Hostess with the Mostess;
disco balls
; purses, mirror/table via Couture Parties/Hostess with the Mostess, model, black chandelier

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!

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.

This event is so…so…Fiestalicious!
OK – not really what I’m looking for but I don’t think one word can describe it. When looking at the pictures from Mindy Weiss‘s Guac-off event all I could think about was how much I would like to be there. In fact, all I could think about all day was how much I wanted to be there!
Take a look. Can’t you feel the sun on your face; hear the mariachi band in the background and taste the delicious guacamole?

 There are few tables I have seen that are casual and amazing at the same time. These strike the perfect balance.
Anyone hungry yet?
 Love how this display uses wood containers of all types!
 There were 75!! guacamole entries.
All photos via Mindy Weiss
For more photos of all the fun check out the Mindy Weiss blog.
What a perfect event for summer or the transition of seasons – when you can’t really do beachy/tropical anymore and autumn/harvest-y just isn’t quite right yet. Don’t forget about it as a potential Cinco de Mayo party either!

A couple weeks ago I helped out with the planning for a bachelorette party for one of my very good friends. The party was held in Okoboji, a lake town in northwest Iowa. It’s a fabulous summer getaway and the perfect atmosphere for a laid-back girls’ weekend.
The bride-to-be’s love of margaritas plus our destination easily led to our theme – Okobojiville!

My favorite part of the planning were making the invitations. I had far too much fun putting them together!
 Pocketfolds from
Gratuitious work station/Cricut shot.

The lake house we stayed at already had an interior that lent itself to the atmosphere we needed so the decor was limited; but here are a few shots anyway!

Customized margarita glasses for everyone!

And of course, we had fabulous margaritas! Warm weather may be coming to an end, but you should definitely find a reason to try these:
1 part tequila
1 part triple sec
1 part Grand Marnier 
3 parts non-alcoholic margarita mix

Splash of orange juice

The bachelorette enjoyed her weekend and all the guests had a blast!