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Best Practices for Planning a Kids Birthday Party

Planning the party can be an exciting time. Your child is getting older but you can make their day amazing. It does not need to be elaborate, your child will be happy as long as they feel special on that day.

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Getting Started

Start with creating your guest List and selecting a party date. These two are very important because activities, location of the party, food all come back to the guest list and date.
When creating your guest list, ask your child whom they want to come to the party. Children typically want to invite everyone they know but you can always narrow down after you ask them who each person is. It is best to consider age when creating your guest list. The older the child gets, the less family members and more friends are typically invited.
As for the date, if there is someone that is important to be there, you can ask them what works for them. If that person is open or if there is no one that you need to ask, schedule the party for what works for you. If it is going to be at a birthday facility, you may have to consider changing the date based on availability.

Birthday Theme

Involve your child. Ask them what they want for their party. Kids know what they like and they are not scared to let you know. Once you decide on a theme, research it. Whether it is a TV show, movie, comic book, game, etc. – learn about it. The more you know about it, the better the party will be.

Invitations

Once the theme is picked out, it’s time to finalize the details. Design or pick out invitations that match the theme of the party. Be sure to put start and end times, date, address and if there is anything the child should bring (swimsuit, etc.).
Always find mailing addresses for the kids and do not hand out invitations at school. Kids who are not invited with have hurt feelings. It is also best to ask your child to minimize any in-school discussion about the upcoming party so as not to make anyone feel left out for not being invited.

Décor

Decide which route you want to go with décor. Do you want elaborate or to keep it simple. Are you renting, purchasing or making items?
You can always purchase items at your local party store retailer, but you can find much of what you need online these days. There are many DIY tips, themed websites and don’t forget about using Etsy.com and Pinterest.com for inspiration. If you are crafty you can replicate much of what you see by either purchasing directly from the site or trying to recreate it locally by a professional or on your own.

Activities

Kids must be kept entertained. They is the key to the success of a child’s party. Setting and keeping a steady pace at a party is also important. Whether you hire an entertainer, organize games, have food, or open gifts it should all be planned out as to what will happen in order from beginning to end. Keeping the flow going and keeping the kids entertained will make for a great party.

Do not be afraid to go “super” theme-oriented. If you’re having a Super Hero party, have the kids spray the bad guy with silly string. Rather than hitting the piñata with a bat, have them “Hulk Smash” it.
If there is no particular activity you can relate to the theme, then keep it simple. Play kick ball or relay races. As long as the kids are engaged and having fun, whatever the activity is will be a hit.
For older children, there will be less structure to the party. Older children know what they want and typically it is not Mom and Dad planning activities for them and their friends. If they express this, don’t worry. They will make their own fun and you can sit back and relax. Just be prepared to offer suggestions in an unstructured environment so kids don’t become bored or destructive.

Party Food

When it comes to the food, the one thing is very important and timeless- birthday cake. You have to decide will you bake one or buy one? How will you decorate it? What flavor should you get? There are so many choices when it comes to the cake, plan early so you can make sure the cake is done on time.
Offer more than just cake to avoid sugar rush. Provide snacks or a meal. Popular selections for kids include sandwiches, chicken tenders, pizza, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, burgers, veggies and dip, and fruit. Make food fun by putting it on a stick. Kids love corn dogs and fruit kabobs.

Don’t forget the drinks

Soda, lemonade, juice and water are all pretty standard selections. If the party is outside, a cooler filled with these drinks would be greatly appreciated as well as easy to get to. Make sure to keep the kids hydrated, especially if they are doing something highly active like playing a sport.

Have the cups (generally plastic cups) displayed where the kids can see them and easily get to. Be prepared for lost cups – have the kids write their names on their drinks. Also, have back up cups just in case. A favor cup or drinking bottle can be a great way of providing something to use as well as something for the kids to take home as a keepsake from the party.

Party favors

Often once a child leaves a party, the favor gets played with for a few minutes then quickly discarded. Be creative with your favor. Whether you make the favors yourself or have the kids make the favors at the party, make it something the kids look forward to and perhaps is reusable long after the party is over.

If the children are making the favor, you could have this as your first activity – typically when they start to arrive to the party. Keep the favor related to the party. For example, if the theme is a Super Hero party, have the kids create capes with each of the children’s name on the back for personalization.

Plan the goodbye

If you are hosting a drop off party, make sure that the host parents have parent phone numbers. There might be a chance they’re running late or need to send someone else to pick up their child. Establish a plan so that every child stays safe in your care.

Make note of each child that leaves. Make sure that the birthday child says their goodbye and that the child departing gathers their belongings as well as their party favor. Make sure that the child is with an adult that you recognize.

Toby’s Bat Mitzvah

Toby’s Bat Mitzvah

On April 13, 2013, Toby, together with friends and family celebrated this milestone with a fun filled bash at J. Verno Studios on Pittsburgh’s Southside.  The night was filled with great food, dancing and even beautiful candy and dessert displays. The mood was as bright and lively as Toby’s color palate of fuchsia, purple, lime green and blue.

While entering J. Verno Studios, adult guests were welcomed into a lounge and bar area while the kids played trivia games in the ballroom, provided by Wenning Entertainment, winning prizes and kicking off the party.  Guests were also treated to a photo booth filled with a variety of costumes and hats to take pictures for the guest of honor. The photos from the photo booth were simulcast on large screens throughout the venue all night long. Kids (and even some adults) visited the airbrush tattoo artist throughout the evening to receive temporary airbrush tattoos.

The ballroom was divided into two areas, one area for the kids and the other side of the room for adult seating.

The kids’ tables were lined with pink and purple luminaria and provided open seating at long tables.  The kids had their own appetizer station of multi flavored popcorn and soft pretzel bites which later turned over to their own dinner station. The adult side of the room were seated at round tables and adults dined at a variety of dinner stations featuring a slider bar, Asian Station and more all provided by JPC Catering.  While the guests were all seated at their tables, they enjoyed a lovely slideshow of pictures of Toby through the years of growing up with her family and friends.

After dinner the fun really began with Soundtastic Enterprises getting everyone at the party up and dancing.  There was even a dance off between the boys and girls!  After dinner, guests were treated to a cookie table of homemade cookies donated by friends and relatives of Toby. This had special meaning to Toby as her mitzvah project was a bake sale held earlier in the year with all proceeds going to children’s cancer research.

As if that weren’t enough for any sweet tooth, mini milkshake shooters were passed and a candy buffet filled with goodies such as Reese’s cups, gummy worms, m & m’s  and so much more was available with personalized take out containers to fill and enjoy at the party and to take home.

This sweet night was a treat for both adults and kids. Mazel Tov Toby!

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Ways to Use Ombre in your Wedding

The idea behind ombre is the graduated variation in saturation of one color.  The trend has since made it’s way into other aspects of life including events.  There are different ways you can incorporate the ombre trend into your wedding.  Whether you envision a fade in color when picking out bridesmaid dresses or your flower bouquets, there are several ways you can use ombre.

 

Wedding Cakes

The wedding cake will always be a signature part of a wedding.  However, couples are becoming more creative in their choice of cakes.  Rather than choosing the traditional white wedding cake, which will always remain elegant and beautiful, people are going down an alternative path with ombre themed cakes.  You could make the gradient very light creating a subtle effect or go from extremely dark colors to white making a bold statement.  Either choice is going to make for a creative yet elegant wedding cake display

 

Bridesmaid Dresses

Whether your bridesmaid dresses are all of the same or vary in style, ombre can be used depending on what colors were chosen for your event.  These pink dresses vary from light pink to a very saturated hot pink.  The wider range of color variation the more dramatic the ombre effect will be.

 

Flower Arrangements

Ombre flower arrangements can be used in bridesmaid bouquets, centerpieces, or placed in spots around your venue.  Where you place the flowers is a decision all your own, however it is best visually that the flowers are placed closely together.

 

Ombre can be easily accustomed to any wedding depending on how little or how much ombre is desired.  Whether you want centerpieces that go from the darkest shade of red to pure white flowers or perhaps you only go a few shades lighter, the effect will still be visibly beautiful and interesting.  Share with us how you would incorporate ombre in your bid day!

 

Event Trend- Gatsby and 1920’s Inspiration

The 1920’s and Great Gatsby era theme is becoming very popular among event trends today. Check out some of the ways Perfectly Planned would incorporate the era’s dress style, venue décor, music, and food to recreate the Roaring Twenties in a modern day setting.

The flapper dress, cut at the knee, flowy, and both beaded and fringed, emerged during this time yet the same style concept can be used for wedding dresses today. We would chose a gown in the colors gold, black, or champagne covered in a great deal of embellishment. Top it off with a beaded hairpiece or a string of pearls and you’re 1920’s style ready.

 

The Roaring Twenties embodied both elegance and luxury, things to remember when choosing a venue. Perfectly Planned would keep an eye out for high ceilings, magnificent sculptures, stunning architecture, and fine gold details when choosing a venue.  The space is going to be the backdrop for the event, therefore it should possess all things classy, posh, and lush.

Our Perfectly Planned 20’s event would use era specific décor, food, and drink in order to appropriately portray the decade.  This would include incorporating themed drinks such as Highball, Ward 8, and Southside cocktails. Our idea? An ice sculpture of a lion clawed bathtub serving guests Prohibition style gin, yet still keeping it lush with Gatsby inspired main dishes like a Aiguillette of Striped Bass or a Medallion of Spring Lamb.

 

The 1920’s were sound tracked by big brass instruments, violin and fast piano, as well as dreamy vocals. This can be easily integrated into our Roaring Twenties style event. A pianist can greet guests as they enter the reception area, while a small brass band can entertain dancers during the evening hours.

 

The 1920’s was such an interesting time where big parties and social gatherings were common among a luxurious setting.  Our Perfectly Planned event would be no different! Let us know what 20’s inspired décor, food, or music you would use for your big Roaring Twenties event.

“Forces of Nature” Fundraiser Event

“Forces of Nature” Fundraiser Event

Perfectly Planned by Shari was excited to have the opportunity to participate in the first “Forces Of Nature” Fundraiser Event in Pittsburgh on Friday, April 5th at Bakery Square! This fundraiser was to benefit Event Pros Take Action (EPTA) and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Special Event Society (ISES).

A talented group of Pittsburgh area event professionals created the “Forces Of Nature” Fundraiser Event and transformed a raw space, not meant for holding special events, into a remarkable representation of 4 elements of nature- Water, Fire, Earth, and Ice.

Shari and her team, participated in a tabletop gallery competition using an 8′ x 8′ area choosing to represent her own interpretation of ice in a show piece called “Frozen Fantasy”.

The construction of the backdrop started with close to 100 feet of sheer white fabric on a pipe and base frame. Overlapping the hanging fabric were approximately 150 feet of sparkling crystal strands in varying lengths and nearly 350 yards of satin ribbon collectively, in alternating colors of white, icy blue and silver. Additionally, there were vertical strips of Murano glass wallpaper that were each uplit from below to reflect in the light.

The table itself was entirely acrylic with a blue LED light illuminating from the center of the base.
The stools were hand constructed with bases made of stacked glass block and constructed chair pads upholdstered in white sherpa fabric.

The table centerpiece container was at an elevation of about 3 feet. The opening of the centerpiece was a crystal sphere vase. Snowy white branches were constructed to overflow the crystal vase and create a tree-like structure with acrylic icicles hanging from the branches. The glamorous centerpiece was nearly 8 feet wide! Around the base of the centerpiece were broken pieces of Carerra white marble with sparkling candles to represent a shattered iceberg effect.

Setting a table is all in the details. The dinner dishes were double layers of clear glass plated with crystal pieces in between the two layers. The top plate had the name “Frozen Fantasy” in vinyl lettering applied from underneath. Each setting had custom made napkins with the Frozen Fantazy logo applied and detailed with some “bling”. Sitting on the plate was a representation of the dessert course, frozen Coconut Snowballs, displayed in sugar frosted martini glasses. The full dinner menu was displayed on coordinating custom table menus.

Many thanks to our vendor partners! Festivities, Keystone Ribbon and Supply, ADS Lighting, All Occasions Party Rental

Check out our photos for all of the details.

Creating Your Own Glamorous Oscar Party

Didn’t get an invite to the Oscar’s this year?

Bring the Oscar’s to your home by following some of these tips that will help keep your red carpet event chic and glamorous.

Pamper your guests by keeping an unlimited supply of Moet & Chandon (known champagne supplier of the Oscar’s) waiting for them at your champagne fountain.  Don’t forget to serve your guests two of Moet & Chandon’s signature Oscar cocktails: Starlet and Silver Screen Punch!

                                                                                                                                                                                        Starlet:

          Ingredients- 4 mint leaves, 3/4 oz silver tequila, 1/2 oz elderflower liqueur, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 1/2 oz lime Juice, 3 oz Moet & Chandon

Instructions- In a cocktail shaker combine simple syrup, lime juice, and mint leaves. Use a muddle or a wooden spoon to muddle the mint leaves. Add tequila and elderflower liqueur and fill shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a glass and top with Moet & Chandon. Garnish with starfruit.

                                                                                                                     Silver Screen Punch:

  Ingredients- 1 (6 oz) can of pink lemonade concentrate (partially thawed), 8 oz pineapple juice, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 tsp of grated ginger, 1 cup vodka, 1 bottle of Moet & Chandon, 1 pineapple (if preferred for a garnish, cut into rings and freeze).

  Instructions- In a blender, combine pink lemonade concentrate, pineapple juice, strawberries, and ginger. Blend until smooth. Pour into a punch bowl. Add vodka and stir to combine. Just before serving, pour in Moet & Chandon. Add frozen pineapple rings.

 

Keep it elegant!

Break away from the expected Oscar Party decor.  Make sure to keep the décor simple, yet chic by adding black and gold accents to your centerpieces, table settings, and floral arrangements.  If you choose to display Oscar statuettes at your party, purchase them with a gold plated finish and keep them minimal throughout your home. Elegant touches to your event will make guests feel like they are at an “A List” celebrity affair.

Everyone knows that in order to make an unforgettable entrance at the Oscar’s you have to make a fashion statement.  Encourage your guests to wear their most formal attire and favorite designer pieces and make it a black tie event!  Lay a red carpet down, hire a professional photographer as “paparazzi”, and have your guests walk the red carpet! Pick a great backdrop for guests to stop and take their red carpet photo. Send guests home with a printed copy of their photo. Some vendors can even turn your photo into a magazine cover image on the spot. That is a great take home party favor.

 

If you’ve ever thrown a glamorous Oscar party please share your details with us!

We Won WeddingWire’s Bride Choice Award 2013!

{Pittsburgh, PA} – January 10, 2013 – WeddingWire, the nation’s leading online wedding marketplace, is thrilled to announce that Perfectly Planned by Shari has been selected as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ 2013 for Wedding Planning in Pittsburgh!

The esteemed annual awards program recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Perfectly Planned by Shari’s selection as a Bride’s Choice Award 2013 winner was selected based on the positive experiences expressed by past clients on WeddingWire, the world’s largest wedding review site with over one million reviews. While many industry awards are given by the host organization, the WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ winners are determined solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with Perfectly Planned by Shari .

The WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ 2013 are given to the top local wedding vendors in more than 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on professional achievements from the previous year. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients. As a Bride’s Choice Awards winner, Perfectly Planned by Shari is highlighted within the WeddingWire Network, which is comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the United States, Canada and abroad.

“Each year, WeddingWire looks forward to celebrating the success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Now in its fifth year, the Bride’s Choice Awards™ program continues to recognize the elite wedding professionals who exemplify a commitment to quality, service and professionalism. These businesses were chosen by our bridal community for their responsiveness and dedication to their clients over the past year. We are honored to recognize Perfectly Planned by Shari for their impressive achievements within the wedding industry.”

Perfectly Planned by Shari is thrilled to be one of the top Perfectly Planned by Shari in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the WeddingWire Network of sites, which include leading wedding sites such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding, Brides.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee. We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. We value all of our clients and truly appreciate the positive feedback that helped us earn the WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ for 2013.

For more information about Perfectly Planned by Shari, please visit our website at www.perfectlyplannedbyshari.com

To learn more about the Bride’s Choice Awards™, please visit www.WeddingWire.com/brides-choice-awards.

About WeddingWire, Inc.
WeddingWire™, the nation’s leading marketplace serving the $70 billion wedding industry, is the only online wedding planning resource designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. For engaged couples, WeddingWire offers the ability to search, compare and book over 200,000 reviewed wedding vendors, from wedding venues to wedding photographers. WeddingWire also offers a comprehensive suite of online planning tools for weddings, including wedding websites and wedding checklists, all at no charge. For wedding professionals, WeddingWire is the only all-in-one marketing platform for businesses online and on-the-go. WeddingWire offers one simple solution to build a professional network, improve search visibility, manage social media and reach mobile consumers. Businesses that advertise with WeddingWire appear on WeddingWire.com, ProjectWedding.com and other leading sites, including MarthaStewartWeddings.com (NYSE: MSO), Brides.com and Weddingbee.com.

Weddings, Wedding VenuesPerfectly Planned by Shari, Best Wedding Planners in Pittsburgh - 2013 Bride's Choice Award Winner
 

Holiday Office Party Etiquette, As seen on WTAE News

Shari was featured yesterday on the 5:30 broadcast on WTAE news talking about holiday office party etiquette.

http://www.wtae.com/page/view/htv-pit/news/local/allegheny/Etiquette-tips-for-holiday-office-parties/-/10927008/17737428/-/qohtg9/-/index.html?showAds=0

Here are five additional tips that didn’t end up making it on air:

1. Use this time to socialize and talk to co-workers you may not interact with on a daily basis. It is a good time to get to know someone new.

2. If you aren’t sure about the dress code, opt for being more conservative. Ladies, this is not the time to show too much skin.

3. Check whether you were invited with a spouse or guest in advance before arriving with one.

4. Make sure it is all inclusive and refer to it as a “Holiday Party” or a “Celebration of the Season” and not a “Christmas Party”.

5. Tips for the planner- Be certain to keep your guests in mind when selecting the venue, food and entertainment. Know that it is appropriate for those who will be attending and that they will feel comfortable and have a good time.

One extra piece of advice, if the month of December is just too busy for the company or everyone is already so busy with all of the other holiday parties they have to attend, it may be a better idea to postpone the celebration until January and make it a new year celebration.

 

 

Creative Christmas Party Ideas

It’s the holiday season and everyone is excited to have their holiday parties! If you are looking to impress your guests, we have plenty of simple ideas that will put the finishing touches on your Christmas event.

We all know how to decorate a Christmas tree with ornaments – but why not use ornaments in other decorative aspects of your party?  Hang ornaments with ribbon inside open windows, it’s a fun way to remind passersby of the holiday cheer!  Grab some large clear ornaments, pop the tops off and fill it with chocolate milk, eggnog or whatever beverage you would like (don’t forget a festive colored straw!).  Fill all your usual decorative vases and bowls with ornaments. We have been seeing this used a lot with tall clear glass vases with candles on top – what a great use of decorative lighting!

Those lights on your tree can also be used elsewhere around the house, even on the dinner table!  However, the wires are not the most attractive sight.  Tie small ribbons on the strand and add some jingle bells for a fun lighting display on the table!  If you prefer to use candles and want to keep it low-cost, turn some of your wine glasses upside down on some holly and place your tea lights on top! Above the table, hang some 3D paper stars and snowflakes for a fun arrangement!

If you are looking forward to having hot cocoa at your party, think about getting really creative with it.  The latest trend for this warm drink is hot cocoa is making ‘Hot Cocoa Pops”, much like a lollipop.  Find a recipe online and find some festive mugs so guests can make their own hot cocoa!

As for snacks, you may already be familiar with the cheese and cracker display that is layed out in the shape of a christmas tree.  Go above and beyond to make a snowman out of cheeseballs!  For some easy sweet treats, grab the holiday (tree-shaped) pretzels, dip them in white chocolate, and add some red and green sprinkles!

There are plenty of ways to get creative with Christmas parties, share with us some of the ideas you have for this year, or have used in the past!

Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Getting the family together is always a celebration, especially around the holiday season.  Thanksgiving kicks off our holiday festivities and it’s nice to have everyone over for a big meal.  What is the main attraction for your Thanksgiving – is it your mouthwatering recipes, your fun and unique traditions, or is it your Thanksgiving décor and centerpieces? 

You will certainly have a feast for you meal; we would like to suggest a feast for your eyes. You can really impress the family with a creative statement centerpiece for the table!

You could do something very traditional by stuffing a cornucopia with seasonal fruits and veggies, or use flowers.  If you want more of a modern setting, filling tall glass vases with decorative items is popular.  Take the tall vase and fill it with autumn items such as acorns, leaves, pine cones, or cranberries. 

Adding a candlelight will set a relaxed mood too!  Just don’t use scented candles, it conflicts with all of the aromas in the foods on the table and in the kitchen.

If you are using pumpkins as a focal point, think about adorning it with lace, or by painting it with unusual colors you can really embellish it to make it more atypical!  Branches have become very popular in décor, even replacing the use of flowers!  Go outside and find several branches to spray paint and display in the center of your table or use them as-is!

There are plenty of fun ways to create an incredible centerpiece year after year that will ‘wow’ your family!  Please share with us some of your ideas!