Sunday, August 30, 2009

Alice in Wonderland Part 3: 21st Birthday Party Ideas

I have a cool widget on this blog that not only tells me the location of readers, but what they might have searched for to land on my little blurbs. Earlier this month, I posted a couple of Alice in Wonderland party ideas (see August 09 posts). Some hip cat from Australia recently searched for "Alice in Wonderland 21st Birthday Tea Party Ideas." Anonymous kitten, I thank you. Now I get to dream up an Alice party with a mischievous, cheeky edge. Me-ow!

These red and white fabric rose light strings bring the Red Queen's garden into your Alice party. Whether your event takes place outside or indoors, interesting lighting will set the mood. I wouldn't go too crazy with these, though. Just a few strings in a strategic place such as a banister. This isn't going to be your grandmother's kind of Alice party!

I hate balloons. I think they're totally played, allergenic for some people, a problem in the landfill and a general party nuisance. They invariably fall down, then some fool starts popping them. But I love the idea of things hanging from the ceiling. The problem is solved: an array of paper and/or silk Chinese lanterns! Grouped en masse in your color scheme, these will be Mad indeed!

Prosperity Lantern - Red

This lantern reminds me of Alice's blue dress!

If you can pull this off (costume below), you definitely should! Love her flamingo croquet mallet! I would love to have cocktails served by cheeky versions of the story's characters! I've seen these get-ups representing the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and Alice herself. You could position the characters strategically at check-in, guest book, and coat stations.
If there are doors leading into your event space, you could decorate them to look larger and smaller, and include large and small doors alongside the real entrance. Let Mad Hatters lead them into the party, pressing small bottles (you know, like airplane sized) into their hands. Label them "Drink Me."

I think this breathalyzer is a good thing for a host to have at a 21st birthday bash. You might need to prove to someone just how much fun he or she had, and prevent them from driving anywhere. Especially with young, inexperienced drinkers who may not be aware of their own limits!

Peace Cookies

Fancy cookies are a must at all Alice parties. These are my choice -- "Where my hippies at?!" Am I wrong to assume those who choose a Mad Tea Party for a 21st birthday may be amused by psychedelia and other 60's iconography? Anyway, these are from one of my favorite vendors, Organic Bouquet.
You should have some cookies or petit fours proclaiming "Eat Me." Recently, I saw chronicles of a fantastic Alice Party on Lark and Lola. At her party, she expressed this idea in take away boxes with tiny cakes and Chessmen cookies available at practically any store.

Two Dozen Classic Red Roses

What is a Kitty style event without flowers? No Alice in Wonderland party is complete without roses - red and white. Roses are one of my favorite flowers to work with at events because of their staying power. They're easy to work with and can be revived by recutting the stems and soaking them in water. Cut the stems off and float them in water, group them in tiny vases, and use petals wherever you like.
Only music trumps my love of fresh flowers at parties. At my own wedding 100 years ago, I gave the DJ a specific playlist and instructed him to take no requests because I am so serious about music that I would have ditched my own reception if I had to listen to the Macarena or some similar such foolishness. Maybe you're not such a stickler, but an Alice party has to have some staple songs.
iTunes (the greatest invention on the planet, in my opinion second only to the wheel, without which we would have to click slowly through our playlists) has the soundtrack to Disney's Alice in Wonderland. If you have a great mixmaster (DJ AM, rest in peace), you can work these soundbytes into your party playlist to lend authenticity to the evening's long strange trip. Another song you must have include: Jefferson Airplane's classic, "Go Ask Alice." If you're a Jazz person, there are tons of options on iTunes; just type "Alice in Wonderland" into the search box and you'll get some great songs.
I've mentioned my loathing for party games, but Dizzy Bats is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. For an Alice party, adapt the game to croquet. For those who didn't have quite as much of a ball in college as Hubbs and I, Dizzy Bats is a game in which a baseball bat (croquet mallet) is held upright on the ground. Players touch their foreheads to the top of the bat, then turn themselves in circles (usually wearing large floppy shoes or flippers or bear slippers- whathaveyou) then try to race down to the end of the playing field, chug a drink, then race back. Dizzy and falling down. The running part can be omitted; instead, try to guide the players through a croquet course. It's hilarious and apropos for a 21st birthday, but by no means does your Kitty condone binge drinking. Please drink responsibly and have plenty of sober drivers/taxi cabs available for your guests.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Great Halloween Invitations

I think this year, I'll use the "Houses" invitation with the "Elegant labels." With Halloween being on a Saturday, we'll have trick-or-treaters and lots of neighbors around. With owls being so trendy lately, there are plenty of options below for Chi-Os and other fans!

PopShops™ affiliate stores

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Halloween Party Ideas 2

Halloween parties are not for stuffiness. Children and Hubbs could care less whether your party is Stewartized. If your guests are particularly young, standing cut-outs are easy, recyclable/reusable decor options. For children, Halloween is a character party, and as such, they love to see their favorite Jedi, princess, robot guys. Stand-ups are always a hit, providing decoration and props for photos. My favorite shots of my friends always are taken on Halloween (or in Vegas), and stand-up characters help to bring otherwise shy people into action. It's hilarious.
Herewith, some good ones I have found.

Lock, Shock, & Barrel Cutout

Great for the really little kids

There's nothing 6-10 year old boys like better than a Jedi

Disney's Cars - Fillmore Cutout

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mad Men Themed Event

Mad Men is AMC's runaway hit now in its 3rd season. The undertone is 60's swank. As Style Redux suggested (BIG thank you for the suggestion, Air kiss, Air kiss!) a Mad Men party would be awesome as a fund raiser or a screening marathon at your home. For the hipster who wants an old school cocktail party, just watch even one episode and you'll know what to do!
You'll want to concentrate on your cocktails and canapes. Long before the chips and salsa appetizer, housewives toiled on their hors d'oeuvres. A great source for recipes might be your mother/grandmothers' cookbooks. I'll post more Mad Men specifics later regarding food and drinks.
Meanwhile, find those spiral-bound ladies auxiliary compilations to get authentic period choices. No "ants on a log" here. Mad Men cuisine connotes dishes a woman has toiled over all afternoon, or entrees from a Manhattan restaurant with crisp white tablecloths. Think shrimp cocktails and little beef wellingtons. A cheese ball is mandatory. Don't you dare plop it on a plate. Garnish with grapes.
Get out the good silver; beg, borrow or buy vintage serving pieces that haven't seen the light of day since '71, when glamour went to hell in a macrame handbag. You know, totally superfluous cheese domes and pastry forks and small tiered platters. My mother's are still stored in their original boxes, circa '70.
As for your drinks, visit the official Mad Men website to check out 1960s cocktails. Even if your party is small, consider hiring a professional bartender so the drinks look fantastic while they do the job! Of course, said bartender should be in proper attire (Aside: have you seen the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry destroys yet another lovely evening at Ted Danson's house by demanding to know why Ted made the bartender wear a tux - hilarious!)

Some Visual Cues Evocative of the Mad Men World:

You're going to need plenty of proper barware, so if you don't have full sets of the glasses needed for a Mad Men cocktail party you might want to consider renting. I love a proper cocktail party because plastic cups and (kack!) acrylic champagne glasses (kack! pardon me - hairball)... give way to old fashioned glass or crystal, which gets washed and put back into the cupboard (ostensibly). Less post-party garbage goes to the landfill! Hooray!

I might leave out the little boxes, but these mini martini candles (below) are cute! A caveat about candles on tables, learned the hard way: people will light them and try to burn down the centerpiece. I've seen it done scores of times, in groups who are old enough to know better (like 40). If your Mad Men event is large scale, you might position these stacked attractively by the coat check or near exits.

All of my shin-digs, large and small, include plenty of chocolate for my guests. I leave elegant chocolates in the guest room, pile shallow dishes full of mini candy bars, and scatter them on tables at seated events. Nothing connotes Mad Men elegance like some vintage monograms. I channel my grandmother, and her raspy, waspy voice tells me to make sure things are gleaming silver in unexpected places like fancy chocolate labels:

Perfect for your arty couple or 21st birthday celebrant! Perhaps your Mad Men themed party celebrates an engagement or an anniversary. If so, consider this chic cake topper (below). Again, think monograms.

The bottle stopper above makes a perfect little gift for your hipster host or hostess!

I think the locket below is a sleek accessory that would fit the theme and make your bridesmaids/groomsmen/posse/peeps very happy.

A Mad Men party invitation possibility

How cool: a Mad Men New Year's Eve Party!

That's all for now. Watch this space for Pauline and Gloria's best cocktail and dinner party fare from the 60s. Thanks, Grammies! Update: 1-17-11 please click here to see the newest post in the Mad Men-theme series!

Please Visit Kitty's "Zen of Homekeeping"

I just can't control myself from branching out to spread the word about greenwashing and natural home products! At kitty's "Zen of Homekeeping" I'll be telling you everything I have learned and experienced in the world of green cleaning! You know how I do it! Brutal honesty about what we're inhaling, bioaccumulating and washing down the drain. Goodbye migraines and allergies, hello healthy cleaning! Peace and Love, Your kitty.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Have You Thought About Halloween Yet?!?

Finally: something to wear with last season's gladiator shoes:

Just kidding!

Of course, this is my kitten outfit that I wear whilst writing up these posts:

Our Halloween parties are family friendly, but I might be able to get away with this without fishnets plus tights and a black wig ... maybe.

Alright, enough with the costumes. Now, I have mentioned my loathing for party games; I absolutely abhor them. Children, however, aren't too keen on conversation so they have to be kept busy at a party. You'll want to give them plenty of active choices unless you want them running amok. Bobbing for apples? Are you kidding me? Hellz no. That's just an invitation for all kinds of germy grossness! Not interested in Swine Flu or Meningitis or cold sores.
Instead, how about a treasure hunt? Little pumpkin containers can be stuffed with pennies, stickers, spider rings and fangs. Hide them like you would Easter Eggs, or perhaps allow all of the children to hunt for their own labelled favor bags. This will kill plenty of time. Then you can have a little costume parade.
Although I have my niece and nephews over to carve pumpkins, it's a hot mess (see our creations at the top). Instead of carving when we have a Halloween party, we paint and glitter small pumpkins and gourds at the beginning of the event, and they are dry by the end of the party.
Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I will be posting little bits for the next 6 weeks or so to get you ready. Meanwhile, I have to find matching Star Trek costumes for myself and my son; we've been everything from ninjas, to Star Wars characters to Peter Pan & Tinkerbell. What are you going to be this year?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How to Host a Fashion Swap Party

This week, football practice began in earnest and Momma Kitty is roasting on the field like a hot dog in a solar cooker at the 4H Fair! All of our summer house guests have gone on to their next destinations and school began last week. I still haven't settled into a routine, so I have decided to recycle this Feb 09 post from kitty:magazine for you to enjoy! Maybe you can bring it up at your next club or PTO meeting. I'm actually going to do it at home this fall with formal dresses so I can get my paws on something for a special Bar Mitzvah and a black tie coming up this winter! Meow!

Whether you’re working on reigning in your clothing budget, finally organizing your closet, or trying to save the environment by consuming less (or maybe you just have damn stylish friends and you’ve been oogling their cashmere for years), a fashion swap party is a perfect opportunity to get together to beat winter blahs and procure new cruise wear for Spring Break and summer vacations!

Why buy a new Bebe dress for your cousin’s wedding this spring when you can wear the one your BFF wore to her cousin’s reception last year? A fashion swap party is also a great way to trade maternity clothes and kids’ stuff that only gets worn once (like piano recital suits and pinchy shoes)!

  1. Organize: You’ll need everything you’d want for a little afternoon shin-dig food & drink-wise. You’ll also need a garment rack or two, hangers, table space and some full-length mirrors. You might want to get some changing screens as well. Ask guests to bring shopping bags, but be prepared to provide a few. Group guests’ items by type, rather than size.
  2. Decorate: This could really run the gamut from a full-on fashion show to no decorations at all. You'll see some ideas below this post.
  3. Invite: Of course you’ll invite your BFFs, but cast a wider net to include lots of people. Get some coworkers, neighbors and friends of friends. You’ll need to consider different body types. Try to provide enough guests for each size category equally, and suggest accessories and shoes as well. In other words, make sure each guest has something to trade for/someone to trade with. The larger the group, the better the swap.
  4. Recycle: All articles leftover at the end of the swap go to Goodwill. Driver gets the tax receipt. If you have leftover piles of textiles no one is going to ever wear (holes and baby spew stains) and you’re local to Indy, there are fabric recycling containers outside some Marsh supermarkets by the large recycling dumpsters. You can mail old athletic shoes to Nike (or drop them off at their retail stores, including outlets) and they will recycle them for you. Another great cause that will take your business suits is Dress for Success.
  5. Mandate: All clothing must be clean, without damages and truly up for grabs. No take-backs once an item has gone onto the rack. Settle disputes with rock-paper-scissors, or begin a bidding war with proceeds going to a predetermined charity.
Provide tickets for each guest. If a friend puts 5 things on the rack, give her 5 tickets. She can make 5 swaps. You might even consider allowing guests to purchase extra tickets or making some items worth more than others. For example, a guest shouldn't bring a pair of shorts and expect to swap for a Chanel bag evenly. I might even make a Golden Ticket for one lucky swapper to get a bonus swap or the power of taking a coveted item!
Host the swap as a fundraiser by charging admission, selling snacks & party favors, and allowing vendor booths for those who make or sell goods. Many people with home-based businesses like to set up at events. Swaps are a great idea for schools, girls’ teams & clubs, or for sorority community benefit projects!
Below, I have gathered some products you might be able to use, and captioned them accordingly. I would love to get feedback on the logistics of this event so I can make mine even more fabulous. Natch, my party will include a catwalk!

UPDATE: Elizabeth at Peacock feathers recently held a fashion party that necessitated changing rooms. Click here for photos from her fete!

PopShops™ affiliate stores

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pink Ribbon Parties for Breast Cancer Awareness and Survivor Celebrations

In Indiana, our Race for the Cure is held in the spring. The Indianapolis event is huge and growing. October is the month for Breast Cancer Awareness, but regardless of the season we can always take the time to honor the survivors in our lives (who among us has not been touched in some way by this disease?). Perhaps you'll consider putting together your own event this fall to honor a sister, friend, or mother. Last spring during the race, I ate at a restaurant owned by a breast cancer survivor. The entire pub was bedecked in pink to honor her fight. It was amazing!

These nesting bowls (above) help raise funds for breast cancer, and would make a fabulous door prize at your event, and the pink ribbon fondue pot will be a welcome sight in any crowd of ladies -- bring on the chocolate!

Above, how about customized pink bowling shirts?!? If you and your girls are on a Race for the Cure team, these would be a fantastic show of support!

If your pink party involves pampering, this invitation (below) from tiny*prints can be reworded to be appropriate for your event:

If your pink party is in honor of a woman you and your guests love, what better way to express well-wishes than with this platter! Usually used at weddings, this would be an awesome way to show support while doubling as a guest book/keepsake!

These glass vases can be personalized with a message (other than "Daddy's Little Girl") and would make beautiful centerpieces if you have more than one table for your Pink Ribbon party. You can raffle them off to raise funds, and fill them with your favorite pink flowers!

I use these individual tea sachets all the time. They're really cool, and the tea is nice. They'll look super cute at your place-settings! A luxe touch for your luncheon.