How did Celebrate Everything come about?
I have always liked to make special occasions even more special. Even as a kid I would make table decorations for a birthday dinner. My mom is really creative and we have always crafted and made our invitations together–and now today, we do it with my kids. Once I had kids of my own, planning parties became that much more fun. I had a daisy themed party for my oldest daughter (conveniently named Daisy!) on her first birthday, and after twelve years and two more daughters—and add anniversary parties, friends baby showers, etc.–that’s a lot of parties! I wanted to share the tips, tricks and ideas I’ve collected over the years, along with all the great sources and amazing experts I’ve worked with to provide inspiration and jumping off points for anyone who wants to create a meaningful and memorable, (not to mention, fun!), celebration.
What draws you to party planning?
It’s fun to celebrate life’s happy moments–whether it’s the big milestones or the little things in life. There’s something great about knowing you’ve made someone’s day just a little bit more special. I’ve always enjoyed finding the little details and ways to honor whatever or whomever we are celebrating–it makes everything more personal and memorable. It’s nice to make an effort to make people feel special and it really doesn’t have to be something big. Even putting a croissant with a candle stuck in it and a little confetti on your co-worker’s desk on their birthday, or just having their favorite music playing when they walk in, gives that moment a little something extra.
Tell us about the walnut garland DIY you’re sharing with us.
I love this garland because it’s festive and wintry without being so literal. Glittery silvers and golds, besides being my go-to color palette, say “holiday” when paired with twinkle lights or strung up a banister, like this garland is in my house. Sometimes we add little animal cutouts like squirrels and birds, also done in glittery paper, to add some whimsy to the garland.
Favorite and least favorite holidays or celebrations?
For me, it’s always Valentine’s Day. I don’t send out holiday cards, but Valentine’s are a big production! When the big holidays are over and everyone is in a midwinter lull, I think it’s really nice to get a sweet Valentine in the mail—and I mean “sweet,” because I always include some kind of candy! There’s so much going on at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s that I think everyone deserves a little treat once it’s all over. I couldn’t pick a least favorite since there’s not really holiday that I don’t enjoy celebrating!
You’re endlessly obsessed with…
Mixing confetti and my markers.
What you put in is what you get out–go the extra mile, it always makes the difference. And always add an element of sparkle.
Your aesthetic in three words?
Creative, personalized and whimsical.
Tell us the brief story of how you came to do what you do.
I grew up in a very creative household. From my earliest years, my sister and I were always very hands-on in planning our birthday parties with our mom. We would spend weeks working on all of the little details together and they are some of my favorite memories. My love of family and celebrating only grew as I began my own family and establishing some of our own family traditions.
You’ve been with MSLO for 20+ years! Tell us what it’s been like working there all this while.
Obviously, getting the chance to work with so many talented members of the industry is such an amazing experience. I started as an assistant and jack of all trades, doing everything from answering telephones to dying Easter eggs. We were a very small operation back at the beginning, everyone having a hand in everything, so it’s been such a formative period of growth from the start! I love being able to lend my own ideas and inspirations to pass on to so many brides over the years, whether from reading the magazine or in person.
Top three entertaining tips for an unforgettable celebration?
- Detail, detail, detail! If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love small little touches of detail that are really personal and meaningful to the person or thing you are celebrating.
- Obviously, the most important part of any celebration is the people you are celebrating with. Get your guest list down as early as possible—figure out who and how many you’re inviting and get as many RSVPs confirmed early on as you can. It never hurts to send a reminder email out so that your nearest and dearest don’t miss your event!
- Of course, favors aren’t essential to any party, but I think it’s a really nice token to offer for guests to take home and remember the night and good times. It could be as simple as a stack of cellophane bags set beside a candy bowl so guests can help themselves.
Favorite trends in entertaining?
I always say to never force yourself to follow trends—always go with your gut and do what makes you and the people you are celebrating with happy. That said, a favorite trend that I don’t get sick of are DIY photo-booths. Stick up a removable decal on a wall (they’re so easy to set up), or pick a fun backdrop (anything from a couch you love to a wall of balloons), have some props, use a Polaroid camera and guests can take the photos home as a favor. Make sure to keep some for yourself, too—as a sort of “guestbook,” your friends can tape them onto pages and write messages at the bottom. Even easier—just take photos on your phones and make a digital photo album for everyone to access. Or, there are so many great ways to get your digital photos printed in creative ways by using a company like Artifact Uprising.
What do you like most about your job?
In everything I do, from Darcy Miller Designs to my role as editor-at-large of Martha Stewart Weddings, I love working with creative people. I get to meet so many talented people across all areas of event planning and design every day who are incredibly passionate about their craft. This is always so inspiring to me.
What or who is inspiring you at the moment?
Hmm—it’s always so hard to pick just a few! Over the years, I’ve worked with (and featured as experts in the book) many wonderful people from the industry like event designer David Stark, stationer Cheree Berry, photographer Donna Newman, and caterer Peter Callahan, so I always love to see what they are up to. Of course, Instagram is a source of endless inspiration and I always l love see what Putnam & Putnam, Ladurée, Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery, Lewis Miller Design, Frances Valentine, Vanessa Holden’s Soul Safari and of course, Donald Robertson are posting—they’re always inspiring!
Most treasured possessions?
My most treasured possessions are my kids’ artwork and our scrapbooks. Luckily, the two can often be combined! My mom taught us how to make travel journals and scrapbooks when we were kids and so we always made sure to make time to document our memories with photographs, yes, but also mementos like notes and ticket stubs. You should see the scrapbook I made for my wedding—it weighs 50 pounds! Looking at a photo can bring back all the best things about any event or memory. Even though there are thousands (to give an underestimate…) of photos on my phone and computer, I still like putting the memories together in a book. I also love my charm necklace, which has been added to over the years with more and more charms, from a gold locket my husband gave me when we were first married to photo charms of the kids, and mementos of experiences like the charm I got on a summer vacation to Capri.
Your perfect Sunday is…
Hanging around at home with my family, doing some sort of project with my kids, having an early dinner and a little backgammon at night before bed.
Any exciting projects in the works?
My focus for the past couple of months has been on my book launch—and all the amazing events and signings that have cropped up around it. I’ve gotten to collaborate with so many awesome people in the industry and beyond and the support I’ve been given is amazing—I can’t say thank you enough! It’s been so fun planning these events across the country and I love seeing how everyone interprets ideas from the book, especially since that’s the whole point! I want my ideas to serve as jumping off points for other people’s ideas, so it’s been amazing seeing that happen. And now, I’m looking forward to an exciting new year and seeing what comes next!