Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Planning for a Successful Party

December through February are Party Months. You will get invited to or decide to host a party more during these months than any other season, except Summer. Having a party helps most of us keep our spirits up during the long cold winter, especially after Christmas. ( Even those of you who live in Florida! ) Why do you think they have the Super Bowl when they do?! Think about it and you know I'm right! LOL. So, Let's think about putting one together...
First things first, for a Successful Party, you have to come up with a good plan and make a list. That's essential for not only keeping you organized, but also on budget and for time management. Trust me, I've learned most things the hard way.

       List for a Successful Party
  • MENU

First: Come up with a Theme. Usually it is the reason you are having the party. Then get creative. Here's an example:  It's Chris' Birthday and since it's January I'm going to make Snowflakes the theme- (I usually like to embrace the negative and turn it into a positive!)

Second: Make an invitation list and make or buy the actual invites. Remember to invite those people who would enjoy each other's company. They don't have to know each other but they do need to be able to find some common ground with others, so make sure you have at least 2 other invitees that your guest can feel comfortable with, because the host will have time to mingle, but not always have time to hang around and have in depth conversations with all of the guests. This is a section that I could post a whole weeks worth of ideas for this on Create and Decorate, so that being said, this is a whole other topic to write about in the near future.

Third: Know your budget. You may not know exactly how much money you have to spend, but you probably know how much you cannot go over budget with. This is another great idea to blog about, getting creative with little money. You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a successful and fun party. But remember, you can't serve shrimp when you can only afford cheese! So keep this in mind when you are planning the next item of business.

Fourth: Make a menu. Remember, not every party needs to have an extensive list of food, but taking the time to put a little bit of thought into your menu will go a long way toward making it a memorable party. Good food = Good party. Try to look at the theme, budget and the people you invited and it will make it easier when making food selections.

Last, but not least: Come up with a date and time. This is the last thing to do on your list  and it will be a whole lot easier to decide when you look at all of the variables above. When you think of who you invited, you know if it's better to make it a week-day, week -night or week-end. For example, if it's a Birthday party, the time length would be different for other children to come, than say for family and adult guests. If it's a football party, you obviously would have it during the game. 

You also want to give your guests some time to put the event on their calendars. If you wait and only give them a few days notice, your turnout will not be a good as if you gave them 10- 14 days notice. Just a helpful hint too, not only send them something in the mail or e-mail, but follow it up with a phone call to make sure they received it. Don't leave a message as you cannot guarantee they will listen in a timely manner, connect with them in person.

My Final Tip for the Day is to make a reminder call the day before. Life gets busy and your friends will appreciate the call.
Blessings, Pam

The Beauty of Designing for the Internet

The best thing about putting your ideas up on a blog, or web site, is that it is organic. What I mean by that can be better explained by the definition of the word organic: developing in a manner analogous to the natural growth and evolution characteristic of living organisms; arising as natural outgrowth. In everyday language- it means that like a living organism, things on your site can always changing and evolving. Think of a small baby and then think of that same person 2 years later. Way bigger and more knowledgeable and their ability to communicate with people and the amount of people they communicate with greatly expands, if you know what I mean...

So, if you want to share your ideas, a blog is a great way to be able to do that, even if it is just a form of self-help therapy for you to start off with. Every one including the kids are starting them. My 16 year old Alyssa has to make a blog and post in it at least 3 times a month for her Journalism class in high school. A Blog can also serve a purpose too, especially for a entrepreneur or small business owner. You can share your expertise and let it help you expand your connections or network!

Now when I started this back in August, I honestly wasn't really sure how I what I was going to use this for. But being first and foremost graphic designer/art director, I felt it would be a great way to do some graphic design experimentation. You see, more and more, all kinds of advertising design is being used on the internet so for my Ashford Design business, it is imperative that I keep up and be knowledgeable on what the latest trends are. Blogging is Big Business... Yes, Big Business... that made me think about how I could really be able to share my wealth of knowledge about all kinds of design and use it to not only share with others who might be interested, but use it to grow my different businesses.

Now in another post, I will give you some more specific's about what I found out in my "independent study" about blogging, but for now the idea that I really wanted to share this: Design and advertising on a blog is unlike something that you design and print. You can get stuck with a bunch of business cards, flyers, brochures or catalogs that can become outdated very fast. And usually you need to print a minimum amount, or if you print just a few, it is very costly. 

On a blog or web site, you can constantly be changing what information you are sharing, even after you first share it, revisions and updates are a snap to do. You can also change the theme, style, look, sound and intentions of it pretty easily too. And this is a good thing! 

If you have been following me since I first started Create and Decorate, you will know that I have had at least 4 different formats and designs. I now have another name, Design Spark. Part of the reason that I felt the need to change the name is that too many people were messing up typing in the name and not finding my blog. So I worked on more names and felt that Design Spark would be a good replacement. 

I have finally expanded my ideas on what I will share in this blog. In a nutshell, it has evolved into a much better and more rounded space and I hope that you will continue on this journey about design with me and that I will be able to inspire you about all kinds of design.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Time to Dress Up... the Mantle

It's a New Year... Change up the Mantle!
Part One: Nothing is better than sitting by the fire keeping warm and toasty to kill of the wicked winter chill that seeps into your bones. With that statement, I guess it's no secret that I live in the North! While you are sitting by the cosy fire, it is even better if you can have a lovely looking mantle to make everything look so picturesque.
There are a couple of things that you need to consider when deciding what you want to put up there:
  • What is your Theme.
  • Have a Color Scheme.
  • Highlight some of your "Treasures".
  • Pick a Style.
Our Mantle at Christmas, complete with Stockings!
(Click on any of the pictures to view them larger.
THEME: A mantle is the perfect gathering place for setting up a theme. For instance, I bet you all had your mantles decorated to the max for Christmas. I know I do. Every year. Love it. Here's a Picture of it done up for the holidays. But now, the holidays are over and hopefully you are now faced with a clean slate. Using the holidays as your theme again, it's time to get ready for Valentines Day. OR you can use the Seasons as your theme. Right now would be Winter. If you have a special collection, like my mom does of Milk glass, Fenton glass and Lenox Birds, she could use her collection as her theme. 
COLOR SCHEME: Once you've picked your theme, it is time to move on to color. YOu need to have a palette in mind. It can match what furniture you have in the room or coordinate. You definitely do not want to pick something that clashes- everything should compliment the other colors. The only time that that would not matter is if you are going with a color to match you theme. It's ok that you use orange and black when it's Halloween. Just make sure that you use enough of the color together, that it's obvious that it is meant to stand out from other parts of the room. 
This mantle design color theme is picking up on the red colors that took us through Christmas and now through Valentine's Day. I'll give you some close up pictures this weekend of the individual pieces that I'm using. Here are three different versions :
Version One Mantle: Basic with a RED color theme.
Version Two Mantle: Red with a Winter theme.
Version Three Mantle: Sea Blues and Butter Yellow Spring theme.
TREASURES: Treasures are things that you collect because they mean something special to you. Why not show them off on your Mantle? Enough said.
STYLE: Everyone is drawn to a specific type of design style. Whether you love Shabby Chic, French Country, Modern or Eclectic; (to just name a few) each of these different styles also looks better with the way you lay them out. Symmetrical or Asymmetrical. Minimal or Complicated Layers. 
Now there a couple of considerations that could pose a dilemma. One is how high off the ground your mantle sits and how much room you have above the Mantel until you hit the ceiling. Also how wide your mantle is from the wall? Both of these were two huge issues for me as the space between the shelf and the ceiling is not very wide. I chose a large narrow rectangular Watercolor painting to hang above it. Then, because my shelf area is not very wide, it limits how much layering I can do. It's not possible to put many of my lovely treasures up on the mantle as it won't hold them, it's too narrow.
Just make a choice and start to play around with different items that you want to use until you get it to look right. You'll know when you are done. It will just feel right to you.
My last piece of advice to you is that rules are nice, to help you to follow, but they are also made to be broken. Don't be afraid to try something totally different!

My next post will detail some of the different treasures I used in the pieces above.
Until next time- Pam

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Welcome to my Blog- Design Spark!

Hi and Welcome to my new blog called Design Spark! I look forward to sharing my thoughts about Design. It may take a little while to get this blog up and running so in the meantime, you can follow me over at www.createandecorate.blogspot.com and www.ashforddesignstudio.com