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Archive for the ‘Parties’ Category

As Mike mentioned, our Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower was this past Saturday. I think it went really well. We had about 30 people there, and we heard a lot of compliments by the end. “This was a great idea.” “We had a good time, great job!”

Mike’s mom, aunt and dad helped us set up, and everyone was there by 2ish. We had tons of food (wish I took a picture to show you), and the room was perfect. My huge family was a little overwhelming to Mike’s much smaller family, I’m sure, but many thanks to everyone, especially my dad, for making an effort to get to know them.

The introduction game was a success. Everyone went along with it, and it seemed to be a good way to make sure everyone knew everyone else. The game also provided our only decorations (besides table clothes that we borrowed for free).

After everyone ate and we played our game, someone suggested we do gifts. As Mike mentioned, this was awkward for us. I was almost hoping to avoid opening gifts at the party, but a few people insisted. I know, we throw our own shower then get embarrassed about opening gifts. But whatever, it was uncomfortable ok? We did it anyway.

And boy were we spoiled.

It’s strange to ask for gifts and then sit there and open them all at once. But our families were unbelievably kind, and we can’t thank them enough. This is exactly why we’re choosing to honor our friends and family with the Unity Quilt – they give us so much love and support, and we never want to forget that.

I was nervous about this party, but I felt really good afterward. It was a really good idea and I recommend it to anyone.

I’ll leave you with this because aren’t my sisters gorgeous?

(Please note Kelli’s pregnant belly. She’s so adorable!)

PS – Total, this shower cost us $90.52. The room was free (thanks to Mike’s mom), food was $36.35 (our families really helped us out here), decorations were $20.85 (that was mostly for the candy), invitations plus postage were $25.84, and thank you card postage was $7.48 (we sent 17 from my stash of blank cards – they were all different!).

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“If I’m not mistaken, we gave you your wedding shower here. We all came into this room and gave you a golden shower.”

Michael Scott–regional manager, Dunder Mifflin.

Yesterday was our family meet-n-greet and wedding shower. Being a man, I have very little experience in the proceedings of a wedding shower. Men don’t go to wedding showers. We go to bachelor parties, and we go to weddings. So I had little to go on before the event. My expectations were that we would all hang out, eat food, Shannon and I would introduce our respective families, and then we’d go on our merry ways. As it turned out, I was pretty close. The one thing I missed was that people would bring us presents.

I’m a little uncomfortable receiving presents. Shannon confessed to me on the way home that she is too. I think it’s easy when you’re opening things in front of a couple of your family members, or when everyone is exchanging gifts. But to sit in front of a crowd of people (literally, there were 30 people watching us) and open presents, knowing that you didn’t get them anything, can be seriously awkward. Especially when you were only vaguely aware that people gave presents at a wedding shower in the first place. Obviously the “shower” in wedding shower should have been a give-away, since I’m pretty sure it doesn’t refer to some sort of cleansing ritual. But somehow I wasn’t prepared for the actual process of opening gifts from my entire extended family and Shannon’s much larger entire extended family.

After my initial discomfort, we got down to present opening. Our families were amazingly generous, and we got all kinds of cool stuff. Kitchen Aid cookware, a really cool hanging pan rack, bathroom coordinates (complete with toilet paper), sheets, some really cool dishes, fun games, a toaster, and lots of extremely nice cards and sentiments. I feel so truly blessed right now that Shannon and I both have such wonderful families.

One interesting gift-related tidbit. I’ll pick on my dad for a minute, because he’s a good sport. He’s single. He and my mom were amicably divorced about 5 years ago. He, along with my 21-year-old brother who is a broke college student, were the only ones in attendance that didn’t get us a gift. It doesn’t bother me at all. Hopefully it doesn’t bother him, because it’s totally fine. But I wondered why. I believe that, like me, he probably didn’t realize that a wedding shower was a gift-giving occasion. I bet my mom was invited to wedding showers all those years, and he wasn’t. She bought the gifts, went to the parties, helped plan the parties, and Dad stayed home to read the paper and watch the Tigers. He probably had no idea what the protocol was for the event. Isn’t it weird that there’s a whole subculture of wedding preparation that men are basically ignorant of?

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I’m glad I was able to take part in it. I feel so lucky to be marrying a woman who wants to share with me the procession of life. And the presents.

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Saturday is our self-hosted Family Meet and Greet Slash Shower. I’m a little bit nervous because not only are we the hosts, but we’re the guests of honor, too. That’s a lot of pressure! Make sure all the little details are taken care of AND be social the whole time. What if people are bored? It’s 100% our responsibility to remedy that. Our plan for the party is to encourage everyone to eat and mingle for awhile, then we’re going to say some thank yous and introduce everyone.

We came up with a sort of “game” I guess to introduce everyone. We bought 7 small glass vases at Goodwill that we’ll fill with miniature candy bars and place at the center of the tables. We’ll ask each person to pick their favorite candy from the bowl. Then we’re going to go around and introduce everyone (“This is my baby sister, Kelli”) and ask them a question based on the candy they chose. We figure that way everyone will know their name, their relationship to Mike or me, and a little something extra about them.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup – Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible and why?
Butterfinger – How would you spend a million dollars?
Snickers – What is one of your favorite hobbies?
Three Musketeers – What is your dream vacation?
Nestle Crunch – What was your favorite subject in school?

I hope it’s not lame…

The decorations for this shower cost us $20.85. $16.65 for the candy and $4.20 for decorative pieces of paper to place the vases on. The vases ($10) will be used at the wedding, too, so we’re counting those in that budget.

Fortunately our families are generously providing much of the food for the affair. They’re bringing: meatballs, potato salad, pasta salad, veggie pizza, cheese & crackers, punch, black bean salad, chips/salsa/guacamole, coffee and cake, plus all the plates, napkins, cups and cutlery. All Mike and I are bringing is some sort of dip, some fruit and water. We expect between 35 and 40 people, but I think we’ll have PLENTY of food!

No matter what, it’ll be fun to have both of our families together for a day.

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I’m kind of nervous. I don’t usually think about these kinds of things, but being in the food service industry has me wondering about the reactions people have to food in different situations.

We’re buying a sheet cake for our joint shower/family meet and greet. We figured since we’re not having cake at our wedding, we could do a simple sheet cake for the shower without playing out cake. But how do you order cake for a whole family and please everyone? People are picky about their cake. And a lot of places make pretty terrible cakes. I thought about making one, but I don’t really have time. Also, cake is not my strong suit. I’m not much of a baker anyway, but cake, especially when it needs to be decorated and look nice, is one of those things that i just don’t have the patience for. Decorating a cake is the only thing in my culinary education that I came close to failing, and the thought of all those frosting-covered spatulas and piping bags haunts me to this day. And I’m not even a huge cake fan to begin with. Just give me the ice cream.

Anyway, back to the point. We ordered a sheet cake from Costco yesterday. Since then we’ve been told that different Costcos have different systems, but at our Costco the cake ordering process is completely automated. There’s a kiosk with all the basic formats and options, and you just have to take a sheet, fill it out, and put it in a drop-box. It’s kind of weird to order a personalized item and not actually talk to the person making it. I knew that Costco wasn’t going to be catering to us on an extensive level. I didn’t imagine an “Ace of Cakes” type experience, where we end up with an incredible, one of a kind piece with moving parts and high explosives. But I thought maybe we’d at least be able to talk to a pastry chef and pick out our design. I suppose I trust Costco to get it right, but we don’t have anything to go by.

The whole process goes like this:

Step one: choose cake flavor (white)

Step two: choose cake filling (strawberry cream)

Step three: choose frosting (vanilla cream cheese)

Step four: choose design (rainbow with sunshine, since it was the cutest and least sappy)

Step four: choose writing (“Shannon and Mike”)

Step five: choose pick up date and time

Step six: drop paper order form into the slot

Step seven: show up at designated date and time to pick up cake

That’s it. No handshake, no pre-paying, no nothing. I don’t see why we wouldn’t get our cake in two weeks, but for some reason I can’t rest easy about it. I’m envisioning showing up and picking up a cake addressed to Sharron and Mike, or Shannon and Mark. Or having a chocolate cake instead of white. Or showing up and hearing “cake? What cake?” Who knows what could happen? I realize that all those things could just as easily happen after ordering from the chef personally, but something about shaking hands with a man or woman in a white coat and toque would have made me feel better.

On the upside, our whole cake, with designing and decorating, is coming in under $20. For that price, I guess they have to keep the chefs baking and not talking to customers.

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I had yesterday off, so in a fit of inspiration, I decided to try to make paper pinwheels, thinking if it was fun and easy, I could make a bunch to decorate our FMGSS. We aren’t doing much in the way of decor because it feels like a waste of resources, but these pinwheels would essentially cost us nothing since I had all the supplies on hand. I used a tutorial that made it look so easy. Hers turned out so pretty!

I had some red and blue polka dot gift wrap from christmas that I thought would translate well into funky decorative pinwheels. So I whipped out my cutting mat, my fabric cutter, the paper and some glue, and went to work. One pinwheel later and I gave up. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong, but this is how my pinwheel turned out:

I’m sure I could have worked out the kinks, but it’s just not how I want to spend my day off – making pinwheels for a party that doesn’t really need decorations to begin with! Call me lazy, but… well let’s just call me lazy.

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FMGSS invitations

The FMGSS invitations are out! We used Snapfish to make postcard invitations, and I think they turned out quite well. We opted to have Snapfish send all the postcards directly to the recipients, so we didn’t see what they looked like in real life until we got our own copy in the mail. For 17 personalized postcards plus shipping it cost $25. We used a photo from our “engagement” shoot, the same one you see in the sidebar over there (only flipped), for the front.

Cute right? Oh, wait, what is that thing on my mouth you ask? Yeah…

I was at my sister’s when she got hers, and I noticed this little smudge on my mouth. That’s odd, and unfortunate. Oh well. My mom was there, too, so when she got home and received her copy, she let me know that it was smudged in the same place. Then I got home and found our copy in the mail. Same thing. Our conclusion is that it was the machine the Post Office runs them through.

But how unfortunate! Right on my mouth! I bet every single one we sent out is like this. Now if people hang them on their fridge, I’m going to be staring back at them mouthless. Very nice.

Anyway, the back of the postcards said:

Please join us for a Family Meet & Greet and Wedding Shower.

Saturday, March 27, 2:00 pm

Address

Love, Shannon & Mike

We are registered at Target and JCPenney.

(Mark your calendar for our June 12 wedding!)

No RSVP. We figure it’s all family, and we’ll be talking to them before the end of March, so we’ll know if they’re coming or not. Also, I kind of didn’t mean for these to go out so early. Snapfish said it would take 3-5 business days to produce and 3-5 business days to ship. I figured that would bring us close to the end of January. But it literally took about 3 days total between the time I ordered the postcards until the time they showed up in the mail.

Hopefully people won’t forget about us by March 27!

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I already mentioned that Mike and I are planning a Family Meet & Greet Slash Shower, and plans are now fully underway. We decided to only invite family since that alone creates a pretty unwieldy number for those on a budget. Like us. Our guest list is about 40 and includes grandparents, parents, aunts/uncles, siblings/significant others, and nieces/nephews. Forty people won’t comfortably fit in any home that we know, so we started looking for an alternate space. We asked both our moms and my step-mom to help us hunt for an affordable room to rent, and in the end, we found one for free. Mike’s mom did actually, at her workplace. The availability of the room helped narrow down our date, and in the end, the FMGSS is going to be in late March, about two and a half months before the wedding.

With that done, we moved to planning food, and decided on hors d’oeuvres, snacks, salads, etc. We’ll provide many of the edibles, but we are planning to take up those relatives who have offered to provide a dish. The menu is still in progress.

Next, we thought about decorations. Essentially, we decided we didn’t really need decorations since they don’t actually add any real value to a party other than aesthetic, and we’re too cheap for aesthetics. But we’ve been trying to think of a way to make any decorations purposeful. Mike wondered if we could somehow incorporate centerpieces into an interactive activity that would get people talking, which, after all, is the point of a meet and greet. Please, if you have any ideas, shout ’em out.

We also have been working on invitations. Our original thought was e-vites with handwritten thank you notes to follow, but when the room ended up being free, we decided we could spend a little money on invitations. Because we didn’t want to use just a generic box of invites from the drug store, but we also didn’t want to put a lot of effort into hand-making anything, we turned to Snapfish. We’re going to do postcards with our photo on the front and all the details on the back. I love the idea that, if they want to, the guests can hang our invitations on the fridge like you might do with a real travel postcard. We’ll share the final product when it’s finished.

And that’s what we’ve got so far for the FMGSS.

(My stepmom and I were talking the other day about other showers we need to plan in the next few months, and we got overwhelmed with the details and logistics of it all. She’s a rock star, and I know with her on board we’ll pull it all off, but I have to admit that it feels really good to be able to put on our own shindig without laying the burden on her or anyone else.)

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