Event Planning 101 - 'Tis the Season

The holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving and Christmas are literally around the corner and the party rsvp’s are rolling in. Between Friendsgiving, office parties, family dinners, and preparing for everything Christmas, this time of year can get busy- especially if you’re the host.  

Event planning, large or small, may seem overwhelming, but don’t throw a holiday party “cold” turkey. Prepare, execute, and enjoy. Here are a few simple tips and some questions you’ll be asking yourself along the way.

Creating a guest list and selecting the date of the event is a great place to start. A lot of what is planned will be centered around your guests and how many you’re expecting. Who is invited? Family, friends, or both? Work Christmas party? Regardless of the size of your party, I suggest keeping a list and requesting a rsvp. While I love a formal, snail-mail invite, times are a changing and technology has made it so easy to send an E-vite and have the website do most of the work for you. The receiving party can easily respond by clicking “yes or no” in response to their attendance and the website keeps everything organized for you. Easy as pie. I was always taught to expect, at least, half of your guest list to respond yes. Once you have a rough draft of your guest list, an estimated head count, and a few dates in mind you can start searching for the perfect location. 

The location of choice should align with the amount of people you plan to host. If your home is capable of hosting your entire family comfortably, then save the money and capitalize on that. If you need to opt for a much larger space, consider the vibe of the event when looking for the right layout. Dinner and drinks? Dinner and dancing? Appetizers and cocktails? Check out several locations before committing to see who works best with your budget and the date you are wanting to host your event.

Once you have those three major to-dos checked off your list, all the little details can start to come together. 

The event menu for food and drinks can be reviewed and finalized. If pot luck is your style, I suggest using Sign Up Genius. It’s a great way to keep the menu organized and it keeps track of who has signed up to bring which dishes to share. It will also send your guests reminders as to what they signed up for -Another GENIUS techy tool that is super helpful. 

 

Make a list and check it twice. Cheers!

 

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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Mega Happy List

Sam here! October is here, too!! My favorite month of the year. Seriously, ask me when the best time to visit Austin, Texas is and I’ll tell you October. Basking in the newness of the season change and the first of my favorite month, I am really trying to reset my mind and focus on the positives. Brainstorming ways to boost my mood and remind myself to embrace the calm. Too often I find myself caught up in my day to day schedule. As busy mom of two, my schedule is hectic. Between my three-year old’s twice a week therapy session, school drop offs and pickups, errands, housework, and working several odd jobs- life is BUSY. It becomes so easy to get stressed out and caught up with ALL THE THINGS, I forget to slow down and appreciate all that there is. I forget to live in the now, which is so important.  

Here are 50 things that bring me joy and bring me back to my center. Big and small and in no particular order:

1.    70-degree weather in Texas. Something about steeping outside in the morning to cool crisp air just makes my heart sing. It’s a nice reset from the scorching temps.

2.    My son has an aversion to food. This is a huge stressor to me. Today at school, I was talking to his teacher about this and the assistant teacher join the conversation letting me know her son was the same way and also went to therapy for it. I just about cried know that out of all the classes, there was someone with my son who understood. Who would know how to guide him through his meal time at school.

3.    HAIR BOWS. I have a legit obsession with finding small shop, unique hair bows for my daughter. 

4.    SPARK from Advocare. I can’t drink coffee, and most other caffeine drinks really don’t settle well either. SPARK gives me life in the mornings and my tummy tolerates it just fine. 

5.    My family (insert all the heart emoji’s here).

6.    My mom and mother in law. The past few years I’ve really established an adult relationship with both of them and they have been so amazing guiding my husband and I through parenthood. I am extremely blessed.

7.    White Noise. This keeps my daughter napping for SO LONG. Which gives me time to do things. Like write my list of happy.

8.    October. My favorite month of the year.

9.    Warm towels after a really long shower. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is such a treat.

10.  Finding money in your pocket. Who doesn’t love that. 

11.  Blow drying my hair and it actually looking good after. Not frizzy, just smooth.

12.  Making a new friend

13.  Movie theater popcorn

14.  Snap Kitchen delivery

15.  Toothless baby, gummy smiles

16.  Leopard print anything

17.  Clean house

18.  One pan dinner

19.  Crockpots

20.  Staying in a hotel. I don’t know why but I love to stay in hotels. 

21.  Classic cars. To be honest, I don’t know anything about classic cars, but I love the way they look and love the vintage vibe.

22.  Greys Anatomy. My favorite show of all time. Season 15 returns tonight and I’ve got my DVR set to record, so I can watch after both babies are asleep.

23.  Exercise. Something I don’t do enough of, but MAN. Endorphins really do make you happy.

24.  Legally Blonde. I’ll watch it a million times and it will still never get old. 

25.  Seeing my friends succeed. I LOVE hearing that my peers are doing well and making moves.

26.  Buying fall scented hand soap. Method brand, in particular. I just bought the pomegranate scent. *Washes hands 100 times a day*

27.  While we’re on the topic of Fall, Fall Brew. This is something I’ve been doing for years and is a great way to fill your home with the smells of the season without heavily scented candles or spray. Put all the ingredients in a pot on your stove, stir, and let it simmer. 

a.    Cinnamon sticks

b.    Orange slices

c.     Whole Cloves

d.    Nutmeg

e.    Water

28.  When my favorite jeans are on sale. 

29.  I started watching another kid the same age as Zander when they were both 16 months old. After I had my daughter, I took a little break from nannying, but recently have been watching her again a day or two a week. It makes my heart so happy to have her around again. She is the funniest and sweetest little girl. They play so well together. 

30.  Planning our next vacation.  My husband and I are terrible at taking time for each other, so we’re planning an amazing California road trip.

31.  When all our laundry is clean, folded and put away. For the 5 minutes it lasts, I am so happy about it. 

32.  Candid pictures of my loved ones

33.  Sushi

34.  A good burger

35.  When a “healthy” treat is actually healthy and tastes good. 

36.  When I’m getting gas, I have a weird OCD tendency. I have to get to a whole number. If I even go one cent over, I have to get to the next whole number. When I hit a whole number right on the first try, I do a happy dance in my head.

37.  Reconnecting with old friends

38.  A fresh mani/pedi with my usual tech

39.  Rainy days

40.  Hot showers in the morning

41.  Homemade pizza

42.  Indulging in dessert 

43.  Having a really productive day

44.  Bubble bath and face mask

45.  Fresh sheets 

46.  Getting my car professionally detailed

47.  Playing peek-a-boo with my baby

48.  Freshly vacuumed rug

49.  Grilled cheese and tomato soup

50.  Naptime

What makes you happy? Have you ever sat down to list at least 10 things in your life that generate happiness for you? It’s something that we don’t do enough but a wonderful reminder on how lucky we are, even when we have our own trials and tribulations going on. 

Xo - Sam

Vitamin F...Floral Arrangements for Fall

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I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, Flower Power, but did you know there really is power within the flower? The people of the sixties knew what they were talking about. I recently read that having fresh flowers in your home can drastically improve your mood. What we’ve been doing for years, such as bringing flowers to the ones we love and wishing them well, is actually supported by scientific evidence to increase your well-being. There has also been a study in myhousehold that has shown I am 100% less likely to stay upset if I receive flowers (I’m kind ofkidding), but seriously it DOES help. The colors and fragrant petals really do brighten up any room and any mood. 

With that being said, don’t wait around for someone to bring you a fresh bouquet of Vitamin F(lowers). In fact, I regularly buy myself flowers.  I typically buy a bouquet that’s already arranged, but I thought it would be fun to try my hand at flower arranging and create my own. 

Here are a few tips that I find helpful:

-       Prepare everything before getting started. Measure and trim your flowers according to the height of your vase. Fill your vase with water and flower food. Trim the leaves from your flowers.  Clean up all your trimmings, so when your arrangement is finished, all of the “work” is taken care of and you can enjoy your masterpiece.

-       Use tepid water. This is supposed to help closed blooms open up, especially with roses.

-       Start with a base flower, larger flowers, i.e: sunflowers or hydrangeas and work your way up. Sunflowers are a favorite right now and stay within the fall palette.

-       Add in three’s. When you begin adding flowers to your vase, add three at a time. I didn’t think this was a super important rule. To be honest I didn’t even plan to follow it, but low and behold, I found that three really is the magic number.

I also came across some tips that didn’twork for me, but that’s not to say they couldn’t work for you:

-       Trim with a knife as opposed to kitchen shears. Too hard and I’m all about sticking to what’s easy. 

-       Use scotch tape to create a grid to keep flowers in place. I didn’t have scotch tape, so I can’t speak truthfully to this exact tip, but I did try to use a plastic wrap…anyways, it didn’t work. I did read that using floral foam is a great way to keep flowers in place and keep them hydrated. Maybe next time but again, I’m always for an easy tip. I think if I were using a very large open vase, the scotch tape trick would work, but the vase I was using had a small opening. Once I got going and added the base flowers, I found they helped keep each other in line. Team work.

Along with these tips and some trial and error, I managed to create a really pretty arrangement. However, I don’t think I’ll be making a living off of it anytime soon. Major props to those who have to ability (and patience) to produce beautiful, unique arrangements. Throughout my veryshort-lived floral career, I took note of some tips of my own creation:

Arrange your flowers, take a break, and then come back. I found several things I wanted to change to achieve the final look. I did this several times and each time gained a new perspective.

Here is a good guideline of what to buy and what I bought. You probably don’t need as many flowers as you think. I purchased enough flowers to make two arrangements, a large and a small: 

o  A good base flower: Sunflower. I purchased an entire bouquet of sunflowers but really only needed 3-4.

o  A bouquet of filler flowers: I went with two different “fillers,” mums and daisies. While they were different colors, their petals are very similar and one or the other would have sufficed.

o  A WOW flower: My selection was a few peach colored roses. I actually bought the perfect number of roses, three. Again, three is the magic number! 

o  Some fun accent flowers: Golden Buttons. Accent flowers can be used to add a different pop of color or texture.

o  Lastly, add the greenery: A sprig of eucalyptus and some safari sunsets. To be honest, I had no idea safari sunsets were even a thing, but they have a lovely green and red color that really added so much to my arrangement.

In conclusion, go grab some flowers and get busy. Call up your girlfriends, stock up on wine and plan a fun and unique girls night in or just plan some ‘me’ time and treat yourself. You deserve it.

 

Summer to Fall. Wardrobe Transition Edition.

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Summer is coming to an end and we believe this is reason to celebrate, especially living in Texas. Goodbye triple digits! I am seriously ready for fall. The season change is also a great opportunity to refresh your wardrobe and transition your style to prepare for the cooler months ahead. 

Since I tend to get overwhelmed when it comes to fashion and styling outfits, I’ve put a lot of thought into how I’m going to revamp my attire this fall. I’ve adopted a semi-minimalist approach to reviving my wardrobe lately. Shopping quality basics to allow myself an easy way to look and feel good, but not have to spend hours searching through my closet and steer clear of clutter. 

Before I began my wardrobe haul, I invested some time to do a major summer clean out. If I hadn’t worn an item in 1-2 years or it was something that was constantly in my “just thrown on the floor” laundry rotation, it had to go. I try to do this twice a year.

Next, I scoured fashion bloggers for upcoming trends and focused on what they re-wore in the majority of their posts. These are the quality pieces I’m talking about and looking for. Timeless pieces, like a good pair of denim jeans, that will last for years to come and can be worn through all seasons. I’ve linked a couple of my favorites below:

-       J.Crew  - Classic Dark Denim

-       Express - Trendy Raw Hem

-       Madewell - High Rise Skinny  

The real fun comes, however, when you find those PERFECTon trend, seasonal pieces. The standout earrings, sunglasses or cardigan. Those fun items that really bring the entire outfit full circle. 

I have had my eye on some great items perfect for a seamless transition into fall and are sure to carry me through the chilly weather:

Leopard print, cheetah print, and snake skin.

-       It’s coming back and while animal print tends to be outside of my comfort zone, I have fallen completely in love with these leopard print mules at Nordstrom. Whether they are dressed down with leggings and a slouchy tee, or dressed up with jeans and a cute blazer, these shoes are sure to jazz up any outfit. 

In Texas, the days that you need an actual heavy coat are slim. While I believe you always need a good, winter coat (just in case), the truth is I don’t wear one often and can typically get away with a long sleeve shirt with a light jacket or cardigan to stay warm.

-       I have found a handful of jackets that I’m loving. It’s going to be difficult to narrow down, because it’s Texas and having six jackets doesn’t fall in line with my new minimalist approach. This distressed denim jacket from Nasty Gal is on my wish list. Zara also has several jackets I can’t wait to try on, including this hooded number and this millennial pink, belted denim jacket.

I’m also in the market for a “leather” or biker style jacket.

-        A faux leather jacket can be styled so many ways and is a fun way to add some edge to your outfit. Most retailers I’ve come across only offer a red, black, or brown biker style jacket, so it was refreshing to see this gorgeous gray color at Goodnight Macaroon. I came across Goodnight Macaroon via Instagram and I’m so glad I did.

Athleisure. 

-       While I have a collection of yoga pants, I really need to incorporate some leisure onlyathletic gear this fall. My saving grace on the days when I want to look cute but need the comfort of sweat pants. These leggings from Nordstrom are on the top of my list. Athleisure is so versatile, works well through all seasons, and is comfortable. The most important reason of all.

Last but not least, no fall wardrobe is complete without a pair of booties. 

-       I’m seeing so many statement booties and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t praying for cooler weather to give this trend a try. These Vince Camuto’s offers some simple detailing and it’s that moto-inspired lacing that makes the entire shoe. Here is a similar style I found at DSW that is a more affordable option. Both retailers offer several color choices. 

What fall trends are you most excited for? 

PR Fun Facts

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When people think “public relations,” there are very few times they are actually thinking about what PR is. We get a lot of “oh that’s pretty much advertising, right?” or “so you plan events?” – no and no we do not just plan events. Public Relations is a dynamic role that helps build and maintain a presence for a company/brand. We are the liaison between you and a brand to conquer any question or crisis that may arise. Remember the Blue Bell listeria crisis? That was us – not the listeria, but the reason you’re out there eating it again despite the health risk. 

Here some fun PR facts to help you get a little more familiar with what we do… 

1.    Contrary to popular belief, Public Relations rarely works around a budget. Our goal isn’t to buy exposure, it’s to create it through relationships with the media and the community. We create strategies that cater to every client that help them gain the publicity they need without dropping 2K on a magazine ad. What does this require? Emails – So. Many. Emails. It requires creating a scenario in which our influencers want to talk about our brand – free of charge! 

2.    We are the city that never sleeps (please ignore my sad attempt at grabbing your attention). What do we mean by that? Public Relations isn’t just getting the local radio show to talk about our exciting new local gluten free bread, it’s being prepared for any crisis that might come from it. Remember what I said about Blue Bell? That’s what we mean. It’s creating an “on-the-fly” strategy to keep a brand from going down in flames. Que the pressure

3.    We write A LOT. When we aren’t talking with our clients, odds are we are buried behind the tabs open on our computer researching, writing and planning our next move. We run the before, during and after of each event. We get the word out then follow up about how awesome it was. This requires us to have to adapt to a lot of different voices. Every client is different and the demographic associated with them is different plus requires a new angle every time. How we approach a pitch and a crisis is completely different (as you can imagine). 

We love our jobs. We get the opportunity to know different brands and the exciting communities that come along with it. We get to exercise a new creative strategy with each new project that constantly keeps us on our toes! And, we get to share our passion and collaborate with people like you. What can we help you with? Do you have a brand that needs to be polished, pushed and talked about?

All You Need is Love…And a Whole Lot of Adventure

With our moods changing everyday, it took a while to narrow down a theme for our summer "mood board". After diving in to different possible elements, it became more of a quest to determine the outcome of our summer. To no surprise, it was clear every thought ended in adventure - but what does that really mean? Are we propelling down a waterfall in Costa Rica? Riding elephants in Bali? Exploring the coast of Italy? I know what you're thinking - slow down ya'll, summer is only one season. We get it, trust us. When you have kids running around, it's hard to plan your next excursion across the world. However, that doesn’t mean we abandon our sense of adventure, we just get more creative with it. 

Our mood this summer is finding adventure in the ones we love. Sometimes we get so caught up in where we want to be instead of where we are. We forget to look around and notice the wonderful life happening all around us. But a trip to daycare is not going to fulfill your desires versus a trip to Africa. True, but what good comes out of constantly wishing you were somewhere else?

We challenge you to embrace each little moment in your life this summer as an adventure. Use every opportunity and obstacle to get to know your family (and yourself) a little better. Get to know your hair dresser, find a new trail to jog on with your stroller, attend one of Austin's (many) free summer festivals - the opportunities are endless and waiting for you! Each day is happening and it's up to us on how we let that day go. 

Here are few "at home" adventures to try this summer: 

·      Have a themed dinner once a week - can't get pasta in Italy? Bring Italy to you! 

·      Go to Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg - almost as pretty as flower farms in Norway 

·      Spend a day at the zoo - one step closer to that Africa trip you have been dreaming of 

·      Set a new workout goal for the week and find new places to fulfill it 

o   Goat yoga 

o   Hiking/cliff jumping at Pace Bend 

o   Soul Cycle 

·      Redecorate (or rearrange) your home - almost like staying in an AirBnB right?!

Your life and those you love are the greatest adventure of all, ya'll! Happy summer! 

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New Year versus This Year

Okay, ya’ll - Spring is officially in full force, Mercury is in retrograde, and our resolutions are… reso-lost? Fear not, they aren’t lost for good. When the “New Year high” as I like to call it wears off and reality sets back in, it’s easy to leave that new diet or side hustle in the dust along with 2017. It’s time to check back in to those resolutions and resurface your excitement for personal growth this year.

Why are resolutions important? Glad you asked ;) Resolutions, by definition, are a means to resolve. What you chose as your resolutions for this year are like a little love note from the “2017-you” on ways you can make this year better than the last – who can offer you better advice than YOU? Review your list and evaluate what you have been really doing (or not doing) to improve those areas of your life. For me, it’s digital organization. Did I organize the files on my computer? Nope. Should/Will I? Yup. Why? Because it’s a habit that I know will dramatically improve my life an increase productivity – who doesn’t need more of that?!

How do you reestablish resolution enthusiasm? Easy – revisit 2017. Painful, I know. What did you feel like? Look like? How was your work ethic? Home life? Social life?

*shines light in face and continues interrogation*

Kidding, but really, revisiting that time in your life is the only way to resurface the desire for change – or celebrate new changes. Take a mental note of last year compared to this one and see where you have improved and where you still need improvement. For me, I struggled with being able to create a relaxing atmosphere for myself when I desperately needed it. What did I do? Got a plant, some candles and decluttered my space so it became a place of rest not reminders of looming tasks. Improvement! Next stop, that digital organization I keep putting off.

What can you do right now? Take a you-moment and answer these questions.

1.     What resolutions have I thrown on the back-burner?

2.     What resolutions have I actively worked on?

3.     What areas of my life are causing me stress?

4.     What areas of my life offer me relief and joy?

5.     How can I incorporate my resolutions in to my daily routine?

6.     Why am I awesome? (Not related but you deserve to celebrate yourself *go you*)

Life is happening whether we like it or not folks. Why not make it as magical as possible? 

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Happy 182nd Anniversary, Texas!

Did January fly by for everyone else? AND February? We cannot believe how busy life has been. Not complaining, just pleasantly surprised. 

In other news, HAPPY TEXAS INDEPENDENCE DAY, YA'LL!

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Do you know our history? Over the last couple of years, we've come to thankfully learn more as we've celebrated this holiday with one of our own clients, ZiegenBock, a Houston-brewed and only available in Texas brew. Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. So this year is our 182nd anniversary! 

Want to know more? The Austin-American Statesman is sharing "Eight things every Texan should know on Texas Independence Day." I reckon you take a moment to read up and better understand this holiday. 

Want to celebrate somewhere? Austin Monthly has rounded up a few CELEBRATIONS around town. Be sure to check 'em out!