Making Life a Party!
Welcome welcome welcome to my new weekly series here on The Alison Show: Making Life a Party! You know how much I LOVE and adore parties, but more than that, I hope you know how much I love and adore trying to make LIFE a party. In fact I thought of a new mission statement the other day for The Alison Show and it’s this:
Make your life the party you don’t want to miss!
(I lay awake at night rewording crap like this in my head hahah!) But I feel like it really combines everything I’m trying to do here. I love to throw events, and make things, so I share that with you. And I love how parties bring people together, make them feel loved, and help us all unwind.
But what I care about more, is creating a life that I’m proud of, a life I’m STOKED to be living, and being a person who is happy with who she is. And that’s what I hope this brand does. Yes, my brand I gave myself. Even if YOU don’t like throwing parties, I hope it gives you permission (not that you need it) to be exactly who you want to be. To make your life the party you just don’t want to miss.
One person who I feel does that whole-heartedly is Melanie Burk. She honestly has so many companies and job titles I can’t even start to name them, but she is a designer and one of the fabulous women behind Caravan Shoppe. Melanie designed my first site for me, lettered most of the How to Be Awesome series, and has collaborated with me on these valentine’s tattoos and kid’s party table.
She’s a BOSS LADY and a business genius. One bad mama jama, and yet at the same time she is, as the bible would say, without guile. Her only agenda is love, her positive attitude through thick and thin is truly unshakeable, and she’s such a good example to me of the type of person and mother I want to be! She is making life a party!
Recently Melanie thew a 5th Birthday Party- A Woodland Fairy Tea Party for her daughter that blew me away! What I love most about this party is that it takes place in her home, in one room mostly. She focused on one main table, and made it DYNAMITE. You probably wouldn’t have even noticed this without me pointing it out. This is one of my TOP hosting tips. Don’t spread yourself too thin! I love the focus of her party and Melanie was sweet enough to share some of her experience throwing it!
I hope these interviews and pictures inspire you and give you ideas, but more so I hope the interviews help break down the facade of the parties we all see online that can give us stress and anxiety. A party is just a way to celebrate. This is a beautiful party, but it has heart, and that’s really why I love it and think you will to!
Now let’s all appreciate that glory that is Maggie:
1. Tell us about yourself!
Hello! I am Melanie Burk, and I am a designer, teacher, and entrepreneur. I love collecting and doing happy things–whether that be playing with my three darling little girls (ages 5, 3, and 1) or hiking, camping, and paddleboarding with my sweet husband. We currently live in Henderson, Nevada–where we have lived the last few years.
2. Tell us about this party! What prompted you to throw it?
This birthday party was for my daughter, Maggie, who was turning 5. In our family, we throw friend birthday parties every other year. It’s the way I was raised–and I think it’s a perfect balance for me and our family. I like that every other year we can do something really fun– because it’s the friend party year, but that the next year the focus will be more on family and a smaller, intimate day. This year we are on our friend party year–so I find myself being more excited and willing to do fun, crazy things, and spend a little bit more money, because I am not doing this every year for every child.
When I sat down to plan out the party–I tried to think of what my daughter really, really liked. She is ALL girl, and we regularly have tea parties about once a week–so I thought it would be fun to incorporate all of her current, girly interests into one party for her– and voila! the theme was born: A woodland fairy tea party. (Ok, the fairy tea party was all her, the woodland party was what I added- because it was things I had on hand!) It was a fun theme–and gave me a lot of ideas of things to do for the party. The girls all got fairy wings and wands when they arrived, then painted little fairy houses, had tea time and cake, and then story time. It was so much fun!
3. How comfortable are you throwing parties? Is this something you love to do or kind of fear?
To be honest, I am not super confident or comfortable throwing parties. I use to throw parties all of the time in college–it was kind of my jam throwing random, themed parties. (Murder mysteries, wild west, olympic parties, etc) But after having kids–I am going to be totally honest, I have really crashed and burned in the last few years at my parties. I threw two parties in the last 3 years that were EPIC failures. And when I say epic failures, let’s just say that there were tears shed publicly, not enough craft supplies (for a work-related craft party), not enough food (for a birthday party), and a slew of other unfortunate events that have combined to give me slight anxiety about throwing parties. However, I will say that I have learned A TON from my mistakes–mostly that I am NOT a party planner, and the lessons I learned have made me WAY better at throwing parties. (But honestly, it’s still my personal nightmare thinking of planning a party for more than 15 people…but more on what I have learned later.)
4. What was your main goal for the event?
My main goal for the event was that my daughter would have fun, and that I would enjoy the party too. I wanted to be sure that there were plenty of activities to keep the little girls busy. I vividly remember my fifth birthday, and so I really just wanted to create a special day that my daughter could remember and feel like it was magical.
5. Share your favorite part of hosting a party, and your least favorite part.
My favorite part about throwing a party- is seeing everyone enjoy it. I love being able to be in the moment, and be a part of it all, especially if it’s a party for one of my daughters. My least favorite part is planning ahead– and unfortunately, when I don’t plan ahead, and organize myself, then it’s impossible to really enjoy the party. So I have learned that I have to ask for help–I have a two really good friends (ahem, spoiler alert, one is Alison) who are amazing party planners–and really good at throwing parties. I like to see what they have done that works, and I like to bounce ideas off of them, which really helps me organize myself.
6. Were there any catastrophes or obstacles you had to overcome?
Due to my catastrophic party failures recently, I have some major anxiety about throwing parties, and some things I knew I needed to be better at–here is some of what I knew I had to do:
A. Pick a theme. This is not to be obnoxious- it’s not for pinterest, its not to be all matchy- but for me it was HUGELY necessary in helping me plan out activities, snacks, games, and decor. Having a theme like- the woodland fairy tea party gave me TONS of ideas right away. In the past when I had failed, I didn’t have a theme, and I struggled in finding ideas for activities.
B. Think about the numbers. One thing that contributed to both of my EPIC failures, is that I had way more people come than I planned on. I have learned that you have to be really clear at parties, if you want to control the numbers. This seems kind of mean, but you just have to think about it beforehand. I REALLY want to focus on my kids when I am having a kid party, but I find that if you aren’t clear about who you want to come to the party, people will bring siblings, more kids, and the parents will come too. ( So suddenly, instead of it being a party for 6 kids, it can easily become a party for a couple families. If you like this sort of thing- then PERFECT, but for me, I feel like when lots of other adults are there, and lots of other families, then the focus becomes less on the birthday child, and more on the party- which is what I wanted to avoid.) Here is a HUGE tip one of my dear friends gave me–if possible- have the party during the week–and be clear on the invitation. My invitation specified the party was for a certain child, and it had the words: “fairy drop off and pick up.” Having a specific number of kids made it So much easier to plan and be successful.
C. Figure out what stresses me out, and avoid it. For me, I get SUPER stressed out spending tons of money on a party that is one day. So I did everything I could to be creative and spend less. I really tried to re-use and use what I already had on hand, and just got creative. I was able to find fairy wings at the dollar store, make the wands, and buy little bird houses for just $1 a piece. I already had the paint, brushes, and chinese latterns, and I made bunting from ribbon and scrap paper I already. I would rather spend time crafting and save money (which I realize is SUPER different for everyone) but for me that made me way less stressed out.
7. What will you remember most about this day? And what do you think your guests or guest of honor will remember most about this day?
I will remember that I was able enjoy the day with Maggie. I will remember how excited she got about the tea sets- and how all the little girls squealed over the fairy wings, and the tea party “I get to use real tea sets!!” I will remember how happy she was, and her big smile as she blew out the candles. (And I will also probably remember that I couldn’t get the darn sprinkles to stick on the side of the cake. blerg)
8. What’s something that made your party awesome, that someone else could do for their own party?
Plan out activities! I feel like I did this a lot better this party, and it made the party so much about my daughter. I picked out things she loved to do- having tea parties, and painting (so we painted the fairy houses) and story time. I think having continuous activities that are simple can keep those little fingers and minds busy, and make it really fun and memorable!
9. You are an extremely talented graphic designer! How did you utilize your strengths for the party? Can you share a little bit about Caravan Shoppe and how other’s can also utilize your strengths for a celebration?!
I love being able to have statement art behind that is cheap and easy to use–that’s the whole premise behind my store- Caravan Shoppe, and so I love being able to create art for holidays and birthdays that make it look amazing, without being hard to do. So it was fun to use some of that art for the party- and the large wall art really does make such a big difference. (And it prints out so cheap for just $7 for a 36×48”)
10. If your party had a theme song, what would it be?
Age of Consent by New Order
11. What’s one way you try to make your life a party?
I try to make my life a party by making time for special moments with my family. We are big on making holidays fun and exciting with wall art & simple decor–and it makes things fun and exciting for my girls. We also love doing fun things together–we love going on trips, and doing extra special things together each week- whether that be a fun little tea party, dance party, or making happy fun messes together. Life should be messy and happy and joyful!
Thank you SOOOO much Melanie for sharing that with us! Don’t you just want to cry looking at beautiful picture of Melanie and her THREE little girls? It’s so sincere, so sweet! I feel like there are so so so many good ideas you can use from this for your next party! Melanie said she got the wings from the dollar store, and the wands and wood houses were $1 each. The poster with the tree with the heart in it is from the Caravan Shoppe Draw Together Valentine’s Day Set.
I love her finger food and abundance of garlands! But most of all I love how you can tell that this party was for 5-year-olds and that they enjoyed it so much.
FYI Melanie also teaches amazing online classes about Photoshop, Branding, and Photography! Check them out here.
And thank you again Meg Ruth for the gorgeous images!
I have more amazing people and parties lined up for this month! So I hope you guys like this series and enjoyed getting to know this mega babe!