Six years ago today – October 31, 2013 – I put on a Halloween costume for the first time in several years. I was inspired by my then four-year-old nephew Gabriel and two-year-old niece Lucy to find a fun costume and trick or treat with them. In 2012 I had trick or treated with them and decided then that the next year I was finally going to get into this costume thing.
I was never the kid who really got into costumes. Finding a costume was a task I had to do in order to get to the fun of parties and trick or treating. I had a couple of moments of costume brilliance in my 20s, such as when I dressed up as a devil:
I tried Wilma Flintstone once, but that doesn’t count because I botched that costume by not having the right dress with the right neckline due to very last minute shopping in between a Hawkeye football game and the Halloween party for which I was purchasing said costume:
So when I decided to go all in during 2013, I wanted to get it right. Gabriel was dressing up as Iron Man, and Lucy was going as Belle. I wanted to tie into one of those. As a real life godmother, I thought being a fairy godmother would be fun. However, I did not want to be the elderly godmother from Cinderella. I wanted to put a Lucy spin on it. I came up with what I thought Lucy would love her fairy godmother to look like:
Yes – lots of pink! 🙂 We had a blast on Halloween night, and now I was hooked.
By the time Halloween 2014 rolled around, I had adopted Percy the puggle. Since Percy was a part of the family and went everywhere with me, I knew he and I had to be a duo on Halloween night. I cut it close with the online shopping, but our costumes managed to arrive just in time:
Catwoman and Batman!
In 2015, I had to engage my artistic side and free hand a Starbucks logo:
Starbucks Barista and Pugkin Latte!
I was tempted to go with food costumes in 2016 but then found a classic costume that also seemed to be a fun tribute to my brother Mitch who was serving in the Navy at the time:
Sailor Girl and Sailor Dog!
By the time the fall of 2017 rolled around, I was wondering how on earth I could top the last few years. It always came together at the last minute, and this year was no exception:
Princess Leia and Chewbacca!
Last year I had a new challenge: One more dog to coordinate!
Now I was REALLY getting into this Halloween thing. We participated in our first Spooky Paws Parade, in addition to going on our annual trick or treating night with our favorite little people.
So that brings me to this year. I had it down to two themes well over a month out from Halloween – planning ahead for the first time ever! – and ended up choosing the Peanuts theme. I bought a human 3T t-shirt for Percy and managed to find a dress for Gemma. And my costume is proving to be perfect for the especially cold weather:
Charlie Brown, Sally Brown, and Snoopy!
We participated in our second Spooky Paws Parade last Sunday and will be dressing up to go trick or treating in Bennett tonight. Stay tuned for more photos!
We also entered our very first online costume contest this year. Percy and Gemma’s doggy daycare, The Barking Lot, is announcing the winner later today. Thank you to everyone who liked, loved, shared, and commented on our photo! We had a blast during the process, so win or lose, we will definitely compete again next year.
G and L officially have the birthday thing figured out. First was my stepdad’s birthday on February 21st, then mine on February 27th, and my brother Mitch’s on March 12th.
When we celebrated Papa’s birthday on February 24th, G and L gave their best birthday singing performance to date:
During my birthday celebration on March 3rd, it was all about “cake time!” and dancing to Aerosmith, of course.
And poor Mitch didn’t get enough recognition during his “happy birthday party” on March 17th. G decided it was Toby the Tank’s birthday instead.
Now G and L are looking forward to their birthdays. L is first up on April 26th, with G next on June 18th. G has already told me numerous times about everything he wants for his “happy birthday.” Yes, he adds the “happy” in front of “birthday” every time. I suppose it makes sense since birthdays should be happy, right?
Yes, May recap. I’m only one month behind with these.
Could be worse. You will understand when you read the June recap. 🙂
Rainbow International of the Quad Cities 20 Year Anniversary Open House
Scott County Republican Women Spring Luncheon
Jen’s Iowa Bridal Shower
Out of college for 11 years on May 19th
Where on earth did the time go?!
Shelly’s Bachelorette Party
Clinton Chamber 140th Annual Awards Dinner
Dead Car Battery
On my way to BNI, last Wednesday of the month. “Click, click, click, click”. Thanks to Matt at work for the jump start and the guys at Batteries+ for the $5 labor fee to change it. Smurfette is still going strong!
“Ultimate Bridesmaid 48 Day Workout Program” is definitely not the best title I’ve come up with to date. Must have been the bottle of wine I drank during Mad Men a few Mondays ago that blocked my ability to come up with neat – and short – titles/names. I decided to shorten it to an acronym: UBWP. I googled it to make sure I was in the clear, and the only thing it can really be confused with is Upward Bound Wichita Prep at Wichita State University or this rural development organization. Different enough to not be infringing on any brands, I’d say.
The UBWP was a great concept. And I have a feeling it will finally be put into action when I run the Bix @ 6 tomorrow. I have proceeded pretty well with the baby steps. However, going to Chicago, Waco, and then Kansas City – all in a ten day jaunt – was too much for even baby steps to deal with. And then I get run down, and when I am run down and super tired, I just don’t care about something as lame as the UBWP.
I made an awesome discovery during this past weekend though. That size 6 bridesmaid dress I wore in my sister’s wedding six years ago? STILL FITS! Woot! Tried on the dress for Jen’s wedding and other than some adjusting to take it in up top (story of my life), it fits beautifully.
So UBWP continues, or maybe starts soon, however you want to look at it. I’ll be the first to proclaim I am a work in progress. If you want true workout motivation and inspiration, check out my sister’s new blog. She is the workout rock star.
G turned two years old on Saturday, June 18. Since this coincided with the annual Costello Family Camp Out, we celebrated the following weekend. We had a blast at Weed Park and the Muscatine Aquatic Center on Sunday. The weather was great, picnic food was yummy, and G was his usual fun self.
G could barely contain his excitement when it was finally time to eat his birthday cake. He stuck his finger in the frosting at least 10 times between the time Sarah took the cover off and then cut and served it.
But before that, he freaked out a bit when everyone was singing “Happy Birthday” to him.
All was well once again when G dug into his cake.
Yes, that is Jeff’s Market cake – so good!
After opening some fabulous presents – Under Armour kicks, a semi, clothes, Starbucks cup (guess who gave him that?!), and lots of other stuff – we ventured off to the aquatic center.
Do you think G likes water slides? 🙂 And now, for my two favorites:
Sister Lucy slept during the water slide fun. I’m sure she will be chasing after G next summer.
We finished up the day at Culver’s, but G fell asleep in his carseat before we even exited Weed Park.
Where did the past two years go? Before I know it, G will be having his high school graduation party. That’s why I also took some quality video footage on Sunday. Aunt Mel wants lots of good material to show off in a few years.
Deep breaths, Melissa. This has been my mantra for the past week. Everything is due at once. I love all of my jobs and business ventures, as well as my volunteer activities. I can usually juggle it all seamlessly…..until it pours.
A lot of my stress is self imposed. I strive for a level of perfection that is often not realistic. But I don’t do anything less than 100%. If that means I get a few hours less sleep, so be it. I can sleep when I am dead, right?
And then when I talked to my friend Jen on the phone this morning, I realized I have it a lot more together than I think. It will all be OK. Just a few more days, and these big projects will be completed. My progress is steady and deadlines will be met.
I must squeeze in five minutes to purchase a bottle of wine – to be opened when all of these items are checked off the to do list.
Tis the season for fall and winter parties! I enjoy throwing parties and totally immerse myself in planning them. My favorite parties planned have been a baby shower for my sister and brother-in-law, bachelorette party for my friend Lexi, Silpada jewelry party, and a card party to introduce others to my new business
Steps for a Successful Soiree
1. Set a realistic event date and time.
Check in with your key players before setting a date. You need the guests of honor to be present. Also, check local event schedules for football games or festivals that could potentially deplete your turnout. Finally, be honest with yourself about how much time you need to effectively execute your plan. Don’t be afraid to push the date back a week or two if it will ensure everything goes off smoothly.
2. Visualize and select a theme.
Visualizing is key when choosing a theme. Think about how your theme will play out on paper, invitations, online, with decorations, and food. An idea is worthless without being executed, so choose one that you can knock out of the park. The baby shower theme I chose was an Anne Geddes / nature theme. My friend Beth is a graphic designer and took my vague ideas and made them into neat Anne Geddes graphics with quotes. The bachelorette party was titled “Sexy Lexi & Her Ladies” and had a simple hot pink and black color scheme pulled out of a graphic I found on iStock. If you are stuck on coming up with a theme, think about what the guest of honor likes. Search online for inspiration. Have a big brainstorming session and then whittle it down. The brainstorming may take a few days. Keep a notebook nearby so you don’t forget a random great idea!
3. Develop your full plan and timeline.
This item is number three on the list because you must know your party date and time, as well as your theme, before you have enough information for a plan and timeline.
The plan needs to be detailed. Don’t just list “make decorations”. Plan the steps for making decorations: finalize what they will be, buy the materials, assemble (if required), and budget decorating time the day before the event. If you are renting a space and do not have access the day before, then decorate as early as possible on the day of the event. Remember, be realistic and give yourself enough time to complete tasks. If you run ahead of schedule, great. That is much better than being pressed for time and having to do things halfway.
Build your timeline beginning with the event date and work backwards. Some people can merely list dates, but I prefer to use a blank calendar format so I can visualize the time involved.
Even if you like to be in control of the details like me, you can find a way to delegate. The key is to delegate the right things to the right people, and then follow up.
Keep each person’s task simple. With my sister’s baby shower, I knew her mother-in-law was super creative with decorations. I bought a couple of basic items that caught my eye, showed her my theme, and asked her to take it from there. She made the cutest table centerpieces, everyone loved them, and she could take some of the credit for the event. Meanwhile, I didn’t spend hours on decorations and could move on down the list.
Lexi’s friend found a van for her bachelorette party, and she also picked up a few random last minute items. My sister cooked the food, because besides Lexi herself, she is the best cook I know. I even bought her a shirt with the title “Mama Sarah”. 🙂
Be clear and concise with what you need people to do for you, and follow up with them regularly to see how things are going and if they need your help. You should tailor the amount of follow up to the specific person, as some people will take it all and run with it, while others may get stuck but won’t tell you they need help until you ask them if they need it.
5. Invite lots of people.
If you are lucky, about 1/3 of the people you invite will show up to your event. So, invite with the motto of “the more, the merrier”. Develop a strong mailing list, complete with phone numbers and emails you are able to collect. Double check name spellings and update addresses ahead of time. Assemble one master list. Do not use random scrap pieces of paper! I have an awesome online contact manager with SendOutCards, and it can be converted to or from an Excel spreadsheet. Excel is your friend.
If you schedule the event far enough ahead, send simple Save the Date cards three to four weeks out from the event date. The best format is a postcard with the essential details.
Send your official invitations 7 – 10 days prior to the event. Have fun with these! Use your iStock images, neat quotes, and personal graphics/photos with your theme. I prefer hand addressed invitations, and I cheat by “hand addressing” online. If you opt for labels, they must look good. No letters should be semi cut off, they must be affixed straight, and the label color should not clash with the style of the invite.
Utilize other methods of inviting people, such as Facebook, Twitter, email, phone, and face to face. If you used all of these with every single person, it may be overkill, so during your planning, decide how you will invite each person.
Everyone should receive the snail mail invites. When inviting people in person, have a flyer handy to give them. The name of the game is turnout.
6. Be the hostess with the mostest and execute the party day plan.
One of the most common mistakes I see with parties is the lack of attention paid to hosting the party. If you are the planner and the host, ensure that you have other people taking care of tasks once the party begins.
During the baby shower, my sister and brother-in-law, along with their parents, greeted people as they came. Thus, I was able to check on the food and drinks, sign in table, and gifts. However, during Lexi’s bachelorette party, I was hosting at my place. That (and the fact that she is a great cook) is why I recruited my sister to cook. The Silpada and card parties required little attention to food or products from me, so I was able to host and handle everything without help.
Someone needs to play photographer! This is another problem I have witnessed. The party is a hit, everyone is talking about it afterward, and then they realize that no one was taking pictures. Or, with larger events, the photographer was hired and present, but he/she did not take enough pictures or was not present for some of the best photo opportunities.
7. Send thank you cards.
Thank people for coming to your party. A simple thank you card is very thoughtful and will give you an opportunity to keep in touch with those you invited after the party is over. If you can afford it, send a small gift to those who helped you with the party planning and execution. A $5 Starbucks gift card or a nice photo from the event are inexpensive but show appreciation.
Hope you find these 7 tips helpful as you plan your fall and winter get-togethers. If you need more specific planning services, I am willing to help for a small fee. 😉