It’s Derby Week!!  Last spring I shared with you some great derby ideas to help celebrate the Virginia Derby but of course that cannot compare to the pomp and circumstance of the Kentucky Derby. No matter if you are celebrating in Louisville or hosting a derby watching party at your home these derby essentials will have you ready. From the clothes to the drinks I will have you ready to celebrate the running of the 139th Kentucky Derby in true derby style!
1. Derby Hat. Bigger really is better when it comes to derby hats. Decorate yours with a monogram for the perfect preppy touch.
2. Bow Ties. Just like no girl should be without a hat during derby weekend no guy should be without a tie.
3. Preppy Patterns. Vineyard Vines is the official style of the Kentucky Derby. You really can’t be too preppy for this weekend’s events.
4. Julep Cup. This classic julep cup is the standard drinking cup on derby weekend. No exceptions.
5. Bourbon. From the drinks to the desserts you can find bourbon mixed into everything when celebrating derby style. You can even get your very own bottle of the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby.
6. Sweet Tea. When you need a little break from the bourbon you can still sip in style with a southern glass of sweet tea (which may or may not be a sweet tea vodka).
7. Louisville Hot Brown Sandwich. This is a classic that is a local favorite created at The Brown Hotel in Louisville. Click here to learn how to make this classic sandwich.
8. Derby Pie. The original recipe of this Derby Pie is heavily guarded by Kern’s Kitchen but you can still try your hand at making your own version of the classic Derby Pie.
9. Race Decorations. When it comes to decorating, get a little crafty by making your own derby themed decor. Anything  horse related is perfect!
10. Roses. And what would the running of the roses be without any roses?!?! Showcase a beautiful bunch in julep cups, in a vintage silver trophy or by making a derby rose wreath.

Of course the horse is just a nice added touch for this derby get together, but isn’t always needed. You don’t have to limit these derby ideas to this weekend either. Find a local race track in your area, grab some friends and celebrate your own local derby! What is on your list of derby party essentials?

xoxo
Megan

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It’s finally Friday!! Along with it being my Friday Foodies Post it is also my brother’s 18th Birthday so a big shout out to him (if he even reads this – haha)! This week’s post will take a little more time and dedication to make, but the fact that they are so cute overrides any additional needed time in my book! How could anyone resist making these piñata cookies for a Cinco de Mayo celebration?

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
a bag of mini M&Ms
frosting

Instructions
1. Cream the sugars with butter, beat in the eggs and add the oil. Next combine the dry ingredients together, and then gradually add them to the wet mixture. Finally, mix in vanilla and almond extract.

2. Once mixed together split dough into five even-sized balls and one smaller ball (this will be the black one). Add food coloring to each of the dough balls, blending until the desired color is achieved. 
**Coloring tip: Gel food coloring will give you more intense colors than liquid.
3. Use a container the same approximate width of your piñata cookie cutter, and line it with plastic wrap. Split all of your colored dough balls in half (except the black) and begin layering the dough in the container, starting with the black dough on the bottom. Alternate the colors so that you end up with two layers of each color by the time you're done. Then cover the layered dough and freeze for a minimum of four hours.

4. After the dough has hardened remove from the container and unwrap. Cut slices, approximately 1/4-inch wide, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake them at 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes.

5. Immediately after you take them out of the oven, use your piñata cookie cutter to cut the cookie shapes. Working in sets of three, be sure to cut two piñata cookies in one direction and one piñata cookie in the opposite direction. (Just flip your cookie cutter over.) That way, when you go to assemble them, the finished cookie will look "pretty" on both sides -- because the baked, bottom sides will be hidden. 
**I found this exact cookie cutter on amazon but you can find cheaper ones like this one on ebay as well.
6. For the middle cookie in each set, cut off the ears, legs, and the center where the M&Ms will go. You can use a small square cutter to make the candy pocket. Try to work quickly, because as the cookies cool, they are more likely to crumble or break. Let them cool completely on the baking sheet before you move them.

7. To assemble, take the first piñata cookie and lay it upside down so that the baked bottom is facing up. Next pipe an outline onto the center of the piñata body with frosting.  You can use store bought or homemade icing for this. (Homemade frosting: 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and two teaspoons of milk) Put the middle cookie on top of the frosting and add the M&Ms to the open center. Put another outline of frosting on the middle cookie and place the opposite-cut piñata cookie on top (so that the pretty side is facing out). Let these sit and harden for at least 30 minutes before you stand them upright. 
This recipe will make anywhere from six to eight piñata cookies that your Cinco de Mayo party guest are sure to love. Are you going to try making these Cinco de Mayo Pinata Cookies? What other Cino de Mayo party treats do you enjoy making? Have a wonderful weekend!

xoxo
Megan

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Anytime there is a holiday I am all about going above and beyond with the theme! After putting together Tuesday’s post I could not wait to share more ideas with you for today’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta post. (I always find too many great ideas when I start event browsing!) Anyways, get ready to be inspired by this Cinco de Mayo Fiesta celebration. So get out your sombrero and get ready to shout “ole!” in celebration of Cinco de Mayo!  

After you tackle those Cinco de Mayo Favorites you will already be on your way for setting up an amazing Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. The one thing that truly stands out with this party are the colors. When it comes to this Mexican-American celebrations there are no limits to the colors you can include. From the decorations, food, drinks, and more you should combine a wide variety of brightly colored hues. Here are some of my Cinco de Mayo brightly colored favorites.

Create floral bouquets in either monochromatic shades or combine all your colors into one bouquet. Either way these colors will brighten up any party!
These bright colored cookies, from Lily’s Cookies, will not be turned down by any guest. She has multiple fiesta themed designs to choose from too!
An inexpensive way to decorate your Cinco de Mayo party is with crepe paper. You can purchase just about any color and create piñatas, streamers, DIY floral table displays or even a crepe paper wall like the one pictured here.
And of course you can’t forget about all the colorful drinks to enjoy! From the margaritas, daiquiris, sangria and beer you are sure to have a colorful bar that will have guests unable to decide what they want. Just don’t forget the lime wedge!
With so many bright colors (which is undeniably in style right now) these ideas can be used for just about any party you plan to throw this summer. What other Cinco de Mayo Fiesta ideas do you have?

xoxo
Megan

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With spring is in full swing and summer not too far off more and more weddings and events will be hosted outside. As an event planner or an event host it is always best to prepare for the worst case scenario. Even if the weather channel says it will be 80 degrees and sunny out it is always best to just to plan for any “what if” that may come your way on your wedding day. So with the help of Event Solutions I have compiled some great tips that will help prepare you for anything that may come your way on your wedding day!

1. Be prepared for bad weather. Even if your event is going to be hosted indoors it is important to start looking at the projected forecast about 2 weeks out. Start collecting umbrellas (for wind, rain or sun) to have on hand for the wedding party, get extra mats to lay out on potentially slippery floors, wood chips to cover muddy spots, check to make sure all décor can hold up in the potential weather conditions (don’t want the centerpieces to blow away!) and in cases of extreme heat it’s always a good idea to know where you can rent AC units and fans at the last minute. And always make sure you let your guests know that you will be outside when you send the invitations out.
2. Plan for bugs. One thing that you will not be able to get rid of are bugs, but you can prepare to help decrease their potential. When scouting out an outdoor area look to see if there is anything that could draw bugs. Ask the venue’s groundskeepers to spray for any type of potential pests a few days before your event and always keep food and drinks covered. It can also be helpful to provide sunscreen, bug spray and hand sanitizer for your guests just in case.

3. Know your location. Having an outdoor event means that you will encounter sun rises, sun sets, wind and potential traffic noises. Don’t let anything surprise you on your event day by visiting your venue site at the time of your potential event. This should limit any surprises and will allow you to change the schedule of events if needed based on your surrounds.  
4. Don’t forget about lighting and bathrooms. Yes most events have lighting and bathrooms, but what many tend to forget is that for an event there will be an increased number of people at the venue and what is provided may not be enough. Additional pathway lights and in open areas need additional lighting so all your guests and vendors can see what they are doing. And you can never have too many restroom facilities. Look into those that are provided to see if they need additional “sprucing” before the event or even look into getting a restroom attendant to make sure everything is continually stocked. Your guests will love you for this!

5. Always have a Plan B, and C and maybe even D! You can never have too many backup options when it comes to planning for an event that will happen on a certain day no matter what. See if the venue you are using has an indoor facility that you could move everything into in the case of extreme weather or look into other locations nearby. Sometimes a tent just won’t be able to cut it if there is a lot of wind or rain. Also, create a phone tree or an emergency email list so that you are able to inform all your guests where the event has been relocated. You don’t want grandma showing up to the wrong location!

You want your guests (and you!) to have an amazing time at your event and no matter what happens be it rain, wind or snow (yes this can happen in the spring!). Having some form of contingency plan in place can help solve any problem that may come your way. If you are calm when handling a situation people may not even notice that something went wrong. What other tips do you have to help those planning an outdoor event?

xoxo
Megan

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May is just around the corner and before you know it it will be time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. For some this means a great happy hour celebration at your local Mexican restaurant while those of American-Mexican descent celebrate their Mexican heritage and pride. During this day of celebration you can find events across the country highlighting the Mexican culture, especially through its food, music and dancing. This week I will cover everything from the food and drinks to the party piñata. You won’t want to miss out! So without further ado, here are my ten favorite Cinco de Mayo celebration ideas.
1. The Sombrero. You can’t have a Cinco de Mayo celebration without someone wearing this classic symbol. You can find these in just about any color combination you can imagine. Even in your favorite school colors!
2. Party Garland. I love all the bright colors or this festive holiday so creating your own party garland is the perfect way to accessorize. Martha Stewart has a great tutorial on making your own tissue paper garland.
3. Drink Cupcakes. Since the increased trend of the cupcake you can find all sorts of flavors including ones inspired by different drinks like the Corona Cupcakes and the Margarita Cupcakes. You really can have your cake and drink it too!
4. Mariachi Music. What would a Cinco de Mayo party celebration be without traditional mariachi music?!? You can find a great mix to play or hire a traditional mariachi band.
5. Mustache Straws. For a funny addition to your drinks attach mustaches to all your drinking straws. All your guests will be thoroughly entertained the rest of the evening with these! If you are not up for making them LittleRetreats on etsy has some great ones you can order.
6. Nacho Bar. Just like the popcorn bar ideas I shared with you a few weeks back, Cinco de Mayo is the perfect opportunity to setup a nacho bar. Like this one from Piggy Bank Parties, you can include all types of different toppings, spices and chips for your guests to create their own party dip.
7. Bright Florals. The use of bright florals of any kind can transport you south in no time. Whether you have real or fake flowers at your fiesta the brighter the better! Need a way to display your florals? Try empty salsa cans, corona bottles or oversized margarita glasses. 
8. Party Piñata. Everyone young and old loves a piñata. Get a little creative this year and make your own by following this pinata tutorial by Studio DIY.
9. Lime & Pepper Decorations. In line with trying to go green at events using peppers and limes in your design creation for a Cinco de Mayo party is the perfect solution. These can be used post-party in recipes and other event decoration ideas.
10. Woven Serapes. Along with the sombrero I would consider this a requirement for any Cinco de Mayo Fiesta. You can use them as bench covers, wall hangings, or table runners.

Check back the rest of the week for more Cinco de Mayo party ideas and a fun recipe that will turn your party into a fiesta! How are you going to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year?

xoxo
Megan

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Happy Earth Day to you all! Today is all about being green and showing your love to the planet. You might be thinking yes I already recycle, have changed all the light bulbs to the little swirly ones and go to the farmer’s market to pick up local goodies. Now how do I go green for events?!? Well I have some perfect solutions for you! Here are 3 of my favorite ways to turn you events into Earth friendly ones.

1. Go Vintage. When planning your decoration and event design create something focused around items you already have. You can also reach out to friends and others in the event planning business to see what items they have as well that you could rent or borrow. If you don’t have to purchase new items you are saving money while also decreasing the need to make more of the item.

2. Go Local. There is no need to import items in for your event when you can go local. Use local vendors, ingredients from local farms, and host your event locally. You are able to support the local economy, cut down on transportation costs of all your event needs and will get to sample some amazing food that is all grown right where you live. What could be better than that!

3. Go Paperless. We are in the age where you don’t have to mail out an event invitation the traditional way anymore. You can turn your event into a paperless one by sending out electronic invitations from sites such as Paperless Post or Punch Bowl and track all your RSVPs right online. One event day use linen napkins and china for all your catering needs instead of paper napkins and plates.

Of course there are so many more ways that you can turn your event into a “green” one besides the ones I shared with you today. Green Gatherings is a great resource on how you can turn any type of event into a green one. How are you going green today?

xoxo
Megan

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If I had to pick any cake in the world as the only cake I would ever be able to eat ever again it would be confetti cake (also known as funfetti cake). I don’t know how it tastes better than normal cake, but I can guarantee you it does. I guess it is the magic of the sprinkles. Either way, as soon as I was inspired by all the confetti party decorating ideas I knew for a fact that my Friday Food post was going to be my favorite “confetti” cake. So without further ado here is how you can savor in this delicious sweet treat.

You will need:
Your Favorite Cake Recipe (or box mix)
Sprinkles
Cake Pan
Icing

Step1: Mix together the ingredients from your favorite cake recipe in a bowl until smooth.

Step 2:  Pour in the sprinkles and mix until they’re evenly distributed. At this stage you can decide how many sprinkles to include depending on what result suits you best.

Step 3: Bake your cake mix on the same heat you usually would, however, it may need a little longer in the oven as the sprinkles can change the consistency and even add moisture.

Step 4: Once your cake is ready you should be able to see the bursts of color from the sprinkles which will have exploded with the heat. If this has happened your cake is ready to cool.

Step 5: Once cooled you can decorate to your heart’s content! Maybe even add some more sprinkles or “confetti” to the outside of the cake too. Enjoy!

What is your favorite type of cake?

xoxo
Megan

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When it comes to party decorations I always like to try and find new ways to incorporate the decorations into the event. One thing I love buying (even though it can sometimes be a pain to clean up) is confetti. Now when you think confetti you probably think of the traditional sparkly confetti that you will find scattered on tables and usually sticks to everything, but let me just stop you there. There are so many more ways to use confetti, especially when it comes to parties and events. I have put together some of my favorite ways that you can reinvent the use of party confetti. Have fun decorating!!

Confetti Table Runner
This might be one of the easiest decorating tricks ever and it also combines the trending ombre style. All you need is a stack of paper in the colors you want and a circle punch. Punch out as many confetti circles as you need and then arrange in a fun design on your table. Post event you can stash these cutouts in a ziplock baggie for another time.
Confetti Glasses
I found two great ways to incorporate the confetti decoration into your glassware and both are pretty easy to do. To create the gold confetti mugs all you need is a sharpie (the example below was created using a metallic gold one) and potentially a stencil. Draw your confetti dots onto the glassware, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then let cool in the oven. I have also seen this done on plates and other ceramics. It is such a simple way to dress up your china for an event.

The second confetti cup idea, from My Two Butterflies, was inspired by Anthropologie’s Settled Confetti glassware and is a much more affordable price. To make the multi-colored confetti cups you will need glasses (you can pick up some cheap ones at a local thrift store), acrylic paint and a paint brush. Using your paint brush create your confetti pattern on the outside of the glass. Once done put your glasses in a cold oven, turn to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Instead of using a sealant this will create the seal you need and prevent the paint from chipping off. Additional tip: If the glasses are a little dusty it is best to clean them with rubbing alcohol on the outside before painting.
Confetti Balloons
This is one party idea that I have had pinned for quite a while and inspired this post. These confetti balloons were created for a sprinkles themed birthday party by Kojo Designs. You can find the complete tutorial with step-by-step picture instructions on how to make these balloons here. Basically you take confetti, put it into the balloon, inflate with helium and then you have a creative confetti party decoration!
Confetti Napkins
And the last confetti party decoration idea I have to share with you are these adorable confetti napkins from blogger, Design Mom. The linen napkins were handmade by the blogger for this confetti craft, but you could also buy plain napkins for those that may be sewing challenged (like myself). Once you have your napkins adding the confetti is pretty easy. Using the same method as the gold confetti glasses you just need paint, a dot stencil and a paint brush to create your confetti design. Let the napkins dry overnight and then you have festive confetti napkins to use at all your events!
I think all this confetti means it is party time!! Which new use of confetti do you like the most? Do you have another great idea on how to incorporate confetti into an event? Let me know in the comments section below! 

xoxo
Megan

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Happy Wednesday! For those with a normal work week (probably everyone not in the events industry) your weekend is almost half way here!! For everyone else (myself included) maybe today is your day off and you should enjoy that too! To help get this week’s post back on track I decided to combine my Tuesday Ten list with some wedding (or any event) planning rules that I came across from Preston Bailey. He has designed events for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump and Jennifer Hudson as well as published a number of books about the events he has put together. (In other words I think he knows quite a few things that could be helpful for anyone in the events industry or planning their own event, including me!) So for any DIY event planners, or for those looking to hire someone else, here are 10 tips that will be sure to make your event an experience everyone will enjoy!

1. Remember that an event is an experience for your guests. Try to have some kind of surprise for them every 30 minutes. 

2. I believe music is the soul of an event. It’s essential to choose the right playlist and monitor the volume. Music should be loud enough to enjoy, yet low enough for guests to carry on conversations comfortably. Don’t know where to start? Check out these songs that are sure to get your guests out on the dance floor!

3. Carefully placed scented candles are a must for all events. Preferable at the entrance, always in bathrooms. 

4. Be sure to have enough servers—at least two per every 10 guests—when hosting a seated dinner. Make sure you have the correct table setup too!

5. Carefully time the service of your courses. You never want some guests finishing their appetizer while others have moved on to the main course.

6. Assign one person to remain close to the client. As the host of the event, it is essential they have quick access to someone who can attend to any last-minute needs or suggestions.

7. An event is an escape. Always make sure the decor creates lots of “OMG!” moments.
 
8. Maintain good communication with clients, and make sure they know what to expect. “Preston, that is not what I had in mind” is a phrase I have heard too often.

9. No one talks about guests who smoke. You’ll likely have a few attendees who would like to do so—without guilt. Be sure to create an area with them in mind, even if the event is outside. Check out these other great venue tips to consider when planning your event.

10. You know you have had a successful event when guests do not want to leave. Be sure to have additional food and entertainment available, should you find yourself hosting guests who don’t want to go home.

I know I will be keeping this list handy when planning all my events from now on! Do you have a great tip to add to this list?

xoxo
Megan

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On a day like today, the day after the Boston Marathon Bombings and the Anniversary of the VT Shootings, it can be a time of confusion and sadness for many. I personally knew people involved in the VT incident and having just recently run a half marathon could not imagine if something like that had happened during race day. I know these are horrific events, and that there probably will be others, but I know that something good always comes from a tragedy. There were so many great heroes yesterday and six years ago at Tech who helped those in need, including those runners who even gave blood after running 26.2 miles. I just wanted to say thank you to all those amazing volunteers who always step up in a time of need and also to say that my thoughts and prayers are with all those who are being remembered today and those who have been impacted by these two tragic events.

xoxo
Megan