A few weeks ago I held our 2nd Annual Let's Party Like Girls night.
I had begun this fun evening last year with the sole intent of getting to know the ladies who live within my community.
I think it's so easy to get comfortable in life and the little bubble in which we live.
Most of us have a small group of close friends, some live nearby...some we are easily able to stay connected with because of the blessing of social media and cell phones.
We've been in Denver just over four years and last fall I realized I had friends, sure.
But I didn't feel like I was investing into the lives of other women as much as I wanted.
Soccer practice and school pickup is full of small talk and hurry.
Having six kids, several of which are quite young (and therefore more high maintenance) means I'm typically running after someone or caring for them in a way that makes it difficult to have a real-feeling conversation when out and about.
In addition to that though...
I believe so fully that it's important to remember that we're more than "just a Mom".
There's so much more to me and I know there's so much more to you and the women we all know and come into contact with each and every day.
We need to celebrate each other, don't you think?!
Our invitations for both last year and this, said something like:
Don your favorite cocktail dress or that outfit you never get to wear (but love!) and head over for a night of sparkly drinks, lovely eats, twinkly lights, and lots of prettiness everywhere you turn.
Think birthday party...without the birthday!
I wanted the evening to be a celebration of friendship. Gosh that sounds cliché, doesn't it?
But truly, when was the last time you had a houseful of friends over...just because?
My girlfriends and I did this sort of thing all the time in college and when we'd moved into our first apartments.
Now that I'm a mom and the busyness of life wraps around me tightly, I often forget to take time to celebrate the blessing of friendship.
To laugh with my friends.
To take time for all the pretty little details only fellow ladies would appreciate and notice.
To get dressed up in favorite clothes that may be a bit too fancy for anything I do day-to-day.
Think you don't have the time or budget to plan something??
So how do you swing a party like this when you barely have time to shower?
Or what if you're budget doesn't allow for a big blow-out party?
Let me help you!
Because it really doesn't take as much time and money as you may think.
Whom To Invite:
I invited close friends, ladies in the neighborhood I'd only met a time or two, and those from book club.
I invited moms from our kids classes and some from Bible study, and church, and the various sports our kids are involved in.
Really, anyone I could think of whose information I had!
Ladies I knew well and wanted to know well.
What's the Best Way to Invite:
Evite definitely had a more successful "open" rate (meaning my friends opened the email), but apparently my girls are as bad about rsvp'ing through this site as I am!
I also tried creating a Facebook event, which had very little success and views.
You know what did it?
All I did was send a pretty picture or two along with the info for the party and over 40 ladies arrived at my front door, ready to celebrate.
Don't forget to tell them they can bring friends with them!!
If they're fun girls, it's highly likely their friends will be lovely, too!
Stretch yourself! Expand your friend-base!!
The day before the event, I also sent out this photo of a portion of my set-up so friends could get a feel of the ambiance and prettiness factor.
I wanted them to get excited about coming and feel like they would miss out if they didn't attend!
Which of course, they totally would have. haha.
The day of the event, I laid out some outfit options and posted it via social media.
I didn't want my friends to feel they had to dress up (not all my dear friends are as girlie as I)...but I wanted to open the door for those who wanted an excuse to dust off their cocktail dresses!
Admittedly, I have a problem. I am secretly a hoarder so I have bins full of party supplies just waiting to be used.
I typically shop endcaps at Target for clearanced items (the day after a holiday is the perfect time to stock up). But I also just think outside the box. I'll pull out garage sale linens or use pretty wrapping paper as a table runner.
Tissue paper poufs from a baby shower five years ago are still in good enough shape to toss atop the fireplace and clipping several faux flower buds from Hobby Lobby or Joann's adds an inexpensive touch of femininity.
A small disco ball from Walmart is also a fun, sparkly edition.
Our party was held early in December so my Christmas decorations were already up, which was an easy bonus. But even if your party is during other times of the year, lug out your bins of Christmas lights and drape them around your tabletops and bookcases. String them across your ceiling and you have instant ambiance!
I strung these streamers to add a little more fun.
And here's a secret little tip:
Light only candles and Christmas lights throughout the rooms your guests will be and the dim light will hide any dust on surfaces or dirt on the floors.
Not that I've ever done that to cover up my mess. Ok maybe I have.
I went through the house picking up things from my daughters room and my office.
Any pillows or artwork or little nicknacks that were on the girlie side came downstairs to the main living area.
The grocery store and Costco are great places to find inexpensive flowers.
I mixed real-looking faux flowers with my fresh blooms and slid them into pretty drinking glasses and silver pitchers I'd found at Goodwill and garage sales.
I found these crazy cute lip napkins on Amazon and paired them with my collection of mismatched vintage plates and silverware (also garage sale or clearanced finds).
I set the plates and such atop our dining table which was covered with two white bedsheets (I used two because our table is too long for just one).
I love using white sheets on our table because they drape so beautifully, they're easier to wash, and are less expensive if stained or destroyed!
Along with the sheets though, I found a rose-champagne colored sequin table runner also on Amazon (No, this post totally isn't associated with them...I'm just obsessed with Prime!).
3. Food + Drink
I didn't have a big budget for this party so decor, food, and beverages needed to be done creatively.
One thing I've found through years of throwing parties is people actually WANT to bring something!
I had written on our invitation for everyone to please bring a bottle of wine or their favorite party beverage. Purchasing wine, prosecco, and ingredients for cocktails uses up a huge portion of budget so by asking friends to bring a bottle with them, your beverage station is filled with everyone's favorites and your budget can be used elsewhere!
Tip: instead of a beverage, you could also ask your friends to bring an appetizer or dessert...don't be afraid to even specify if you'd like them to bring it on a white plate or platter.
Not everyone has silver, but nearly everyone has a white surface if you're wanting your table to look coordinated!
I always set out a pitcher of ice water and open a bottle of both red and white wine as the party begins so ladies will know where to place their additions.
I also typically have a "signature cocktail" but other than that, beverages come from friends.
I'm not attaching the mojito recipe because sadly, I didn't love it.
But last year's Winter Sangria was amazing.
Click here for the recipe!
I found white cotton candy at Target and thought it would be fun to shape it into snowballs and place them into a crystal bowl, which is actually trophy/award Ben received at work a few years ago.
The other side has his name on it and what the award was for...but I set the table so it was one-sided, therefore no one even noticed the back of it!
A sweet friend made most of our desserts. Since I'm gluten free, I wanted both regular and GF options.
It was such a breath of fresh air not having to worry about the food portion, other than sliding some appetizers from Costco into the oven.
If you don't have a friend who has a passion for baking, I encourage you to just look around for ready-made items at stores in your area.
Don't feel you need to spend all week in the kitchen.
Don't let any food + decor prep stress take away your joy for the party.
Remember, this is to celebrate your friends. The whole point is to take time enjoying one another and getting to know each other better.
Your friends are there for a fun evening...not for the food!
So invite girls over...celebrate friendship.
If you're new to an area or want to expand your friend-base, invite random ladies you'd like to get to know better!
I'd love to see your photos and hear about your parties!
Use the hashtag #letspartylikegirls so we can follow along together!! xo