One party which always has “wowed” me was a Mystical Mermaid party by the lovely Kate of Kate Landers Events in the USA.
It was beautiful, unique and so detailed. I am a big fan of her work and I am thrilled to share an interview with her today where she talks about some styling tips as well as party planning tips for mum’s. So much useful advice in this interview – I hope you enjoy it!
My favourite party styled by you is the Mystical mermaid party. How do you plan and dream up such a beautiful event? Do you tackle one area at a time (eg: first stationery, then decorations etc) or brainstorm all the ideas together?
Thank you so much Tanya!
Sometimes a single item serves as a source of inspiration (like a vintage tarnished candelabra), other times it is a color-scheme, flower, creature…in the event of the Mystical Mermaid Party, it was working off of a wish list from a mom who wanted a mermaid party that was non-traditional.
I knew she wanted something free-spirited, magical, soft, feminine, fanciful. I instantly thought of a shabby-chic inspired look with vintage treasures you would find at the bottom of the ocean. I loved the idea of creating a space where the guests would feel like mermaids.
Thus, a low-table and chair cushions on sand on the “sea floor” as mermaids would possibly dine. Draped tulle above to give that feeling of being under the ocean.
Lots of seashells and starfish, sea glass (but in a non-traditional white and pale pink), pearls, ruffles…things mermaids might like to collect. Mermaids were, after all, known to steal pretty things from ships lost at sea. Taking that bit of folklore gave me a springboard to jump off of.
The dessert table was also inspired by all things you would find under the sea. I named them appropriately as well. It was a dreamy party.
You recently celebrated your own son’s Noah’s 1st birthday. How did the planning differ for you in planning your own child’s celebration compared to clients events in the past?
Any tips for stylists who also plan their own children’s parties and perhaps feel more pressure to prepare a “perfect party” since they are stylists themselves?
Planning your own child’s party is completely different than planning someone else’s. It really tugged at my heartstrings planning my son’s first (and recently, second!) birthday parties.
I wanted everything perfect, yet at the same time more than anything, I wanted to be fully present for the parties.
Therefore, I made sure to hire a professional photographer to capture everything for me, so that I could be with my husband and Noah and savor the moment. I am so thrilled I did. Of course there was a bit of added pressure, I think, to make everything perfect–but more because of my own perfectionism than anything else.
I think it was very clear to me–this was my son’s party, not something to wow others. Of course I hoped that my parties for my son would inspire others when planning their own child’s birthday parties, but the focus was on him.
You have mentioned the importance of creating an ‘experience’ for the children at a birthday party. As mum’s in the midst of party planning do you have tips on what we should keep in mind when planning to ensure the party is an “experience” for the guests?
I believe the key is trying to look at the party through the eyes of a child.
For example, if it is a woodland fairy party, imagine what you can do to create an environment to inspire the child’s own imagination, to give them props to feel like a fairy!
Whether that be wings and a wand, a little toadstool to sit on or jar of fairy dust to sprinkle…it is creating an environment that nurtures their imagination, fuels them to feel transported to a land of wonder for an hour or two.
Do you have any tips for mum’s wanting to create a beautiful celebration but on a budget?
Yes! First: a smaller guest list and hosting a party mid-afternoon really keeps costs down. Have as many guests as the age the child is turning (ie if turning five, have five guests, plus/minus two). This helps keep everyone from getting overstimulated and gives you the opportunity to buy that party favor you really want to give out because you aren’t buying 30 of them!
Also, by hosting mid-afternoon, you do not need to serve a meal. Simple healthy fruit and a birthday cake with beverage is all you need. It is really that simple.
When it comes to decorations, take simple balloons and tie pretty gingham, satin or grosgrain ribbons on them to make them that much more stylish. Very easy, inexpensive and looks so much more stylish.
Using solid colored party plates and cups will look beautiful, and homemade party hats (pretty crafting paper or fabrics adorned with tissue festooning or ruffled ribbon) makes such a statement.
One party favor can be spectacular, and cost less than a bag full of many smaller trinkets. A book with a personalized bookplate, beautifully decorated cookie–great favors.
When going onsite to style a party, what are your “must-have’s” that you always carry with you?
I am sure I will forget some. Off the top of my head, scotch tape, glue dots, fishing line, scissors, mini glue gun and glue sticks, ribbon, baker’s twine, band aids, ribbon, upholstery pins and mini hammer…stuff to hang props, trim frayed edges, cover up a stain…
Have you ever had something you had planned for go wrong on the day of the event? How did you deal with it?
YES! Absolutely. Deep breath. Cupcakes get damaged in transit–get basic white frosted supermarket cupcakes as a back up. Always have extra party favors in case guests’ siblings come along. Just a couple things that help.
Expect the unexpected. And remember, no one is perfect. Focusing the joy of the birthday child’s face and all of his or her guests, reminds you what is really important.
What is the most important attitude for a mum to have on the day of their child’s celebration in the midst of all the busyness!
Stay in the moment. Imagine yourself a week from now, looking back. How do you want to remember the party? Do you want to see your child blow out the candles? Do you want to help your child hand out the party favors? Make sure you have a family member or babysitter to help with the duties you want done, and celebrate the life of your precious child!
Thank you so much Kate for sharing your thoughts, advice and inspirations with us all!
See more of Kate Lander’s work on her site here.