If you have been reading along here since the very beginning, you’ll know that today I’m taking it back to my roots with a little hosting and toasting…literally.
Since 2013, this blog and my Instagram content has evolved from entertaining and how-to’s posts to include more travel, skincare and fashion. Ironically, these are all interests that were influenced in my life by my Aunt too (to whom this blog was originally inspired by and dedicated to after she died). So it’s only fitting that as I become an Aunt myself, I am now sharing this journey.
However, when I first started this, I don’t think I could have imagined sharing a
“how-to” for a virtual shower but alas, during a world pandemic, here we are.
To give you some background, my sister is due this summer with a little girl. We have a very big family and with my sister having so many friends, the original plan was to have 2 baby showers this summer to split up the guest lists. With a pandemic upon us, my co-hostess and I decided to make one of the showers we planned with her girlfriends and some family still happen this summer. My sister is having her second shower post-baby with the rest of the family and guests.
For this post, I’ve gathered up some details and tips that helped me along the way as I learned to navigate and plan my first VIRTUAL shower. I know that many of you may be planning or celebrating with a virtual shower for yourself or a loved one soon, so I hope this helps to inspire you for both baby and bridal showers alike!
1. PICK AND USE THE ORIGINAL THEME.
We had planned to use an “Amalfi Coast” Italian baby shower theme. A little ode to my sister and niece’s Italian roots and perfect for a summertime shower too. I think it’s important to keep an overall theme weaved through the details – just as you would a regular shower. For this particular theme, there was plenty of lemons, flowers and pinks.
2. IF THERE IS TIME, MAIL PRINTED INVITATIONS.
I’m old fashioned here and don’t think there is anything quite like invitations via snail mail. If you have time to switch plans around, send the invitations! I worked on my sister’s with Palm Paperie in California and Chelsea was amazing! We had a short turnaround time and she printed everything for us too for a fee. She worked on her invitations, cocktail recipe inserts, favor tags and even a custom Zoom background to match.
(You can shop some of her designs below.)
For the invitation, don’t forget to include the time zone (if you have guests potentially joining from all over the country), porch drop off or mailing date deadline for gifts (I suggest by the day before the shower) and of course, the baby registry information. I would suggest having everyone RSVP via email so you have their email addresses for the Zoom link later on.
Also important to keep in mind is the time of day. At most showers, food and drinks are served and we wanted to be sure not to cut into anyone’s meal times since we weren’t able to feed everyone virtually – 3PM ET/2PM CT worked perfectly for our planning.
3. SIGN UP FOR A PAID ZOOM ACCOUNT.
I recommend using Zoom for a virtual shower. It’s easy and most people are familiar with it. You can easily sign up and pay for the upgraded version for 1 month (cancel anytime) and this way you will not have to worry about going over the 40 minute time limit or guest size limit. You can also record, have host controls, a waiting room and it just makes the entire experience a lot easier. Best ~$15 you’ll spend!
4. INCORPORATE A SIGNATURE COCKTAIL OR MOCKTAIL.
My sister loved the idea of Aperol Spritz served at her shower and so we still made it happen! Clearly this was part of the theme too but we included an insert card with everyone’s invitation with a suggested at-home recipe to surprise her and raise a glass at the beginning of the shower.
I had some time during recent quarantine life to perfect my Aperol Spritz after I mailed the recipe out so here is what I now suggest: 3 oz Prosecco + 2 oz Aperol + 1 oz Club Soda + 3 Orange Slices & toss in 5 Ice Cubes at the end & stir!
Now I realize that in the middle of a pandemic it may not be reasonable for everyone to find Aperol or specific cocktail ingredients but you can also suggest in an email later on that everyone “arrive” with their cocktail or mocktail of choice to toast. For the mom-to-be, we had a little help from the dad-to-be to make sure she had her mocktail in hand!
5. SEND THE MOM-TO-BE A DECOR BASKET AHEAD OF TIME.
Keeping the theme in mind, we surprised my sister with a basket full of shower decor and other items to help her set up her Zoom spot and tablescape.
6. BRING ALL OF THE SHOWER VENDORS TO THE MOM-TO-BE.
We decided to bring a mini shower TO my sister and worked with a few local vendors to do so. First and foremost, her only baby shower request months ago was a giant “cheese board” and we worked with Marissa of Salumi Tampa to put together the most amazing board full of cheeses (pasteurized!), charcuterie, chocolates and more surprises to deliver to her the day of. If you’re local to Tampa, I cannot recommend working with Marissa enough. Be sure to follow her to see her other gorgeous and delicious creations.
In addition to the board for her to snack on, we had a special Nutella cake delivered to her and I ordered this custom cake topper to put on top. We also had custom cookies with lemons and the baby’s name + a flower arrangement delivered to her.
7. SCHEDULE A FAVOR PORCH PICK UP OR MAIL.
If you have a smaller guest list, consider mailing everyone their favor. If not and someone lives local, arrange for a “favor porch pickup” one day beforehand or after. With the majority of the guests living in Florida, we were able to give out favor bags the day before and shipped out favors to all the other guests that lived far away.
For this shower, we chose a rose and lemon coco scent for guests. Don’t forget the mom-to-be! We included larger size of the Voluspa candles for her to enjoy too.
8. BE SURE TO HAVE A HOST AGENDA AND REMINDERS TO FOLLOW.
We wanted this virtual shower to feel as natural and fun as possible even with almost 40 of us on video so I wrote out a little agenda for the hosts to follow ahead of the shower and some reminders so we didn’t forget anything. The total shower was about 1 hour and 20 minutes or so.
Below is a sample agenda x schedule you could use:
Hosts hop on early and play a little music as guests arrive, guests arrive and say hello to mom-to-be as they pop on, mom-to-be gives a little video tour of her set up and surprises, housekeeping items/Zoom reminders, hosts thank guests and toasts to mom-to-be and baby (don’t forget to press record!), virtual game time, open presents (don’t forget to take photos!), dad-to-be makes an appearance for cake at the end and more thank you’s + goodbye’s.
9. PLAY GAMES BUT KEEP IT SIMPLE & SEND VIRTUAL PRIZES!
I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan normally of baby shower games, I find most of them to be cheesy but I loved what we chose for this! To keep it simple on Zoom, we sent out everyone this game virtually via email ahead of the time to select their guesses. I sent a copy to my sister and brother-in-law before to give their answers. We played virtually by reading each statement and then my sister would give the correct answer and her explanations. It was really funny and there was even a moment where I shared my screen and incorporated baby photos of mom and dad too. There was an honor system and we had 2 people that were sent virtual Sephora gift cards the next day for winning! Sephora also allows you to customize the e-giftcards so we used some of the invite there too (see below).
10. OPEN PRESENTS!
This was the most fun part! But because this shower was larger, my sister opened all her shipped gifts and boxes ahead of time and then shared and thanked everyone. For the presents that were dropped off and wrapped, she opened in the traditional format. Also, don’t forget to assign someone to write down all the mom-to-be’s gifts as she opens them.
Last but not least, don’t forget about the little touches and details!
These are ones that can go a long way virtually. A few other items to note: for planning purposes, we set up a shared note on our Iphones to create checklists and share inspiration photos. We emailed out a custom Zoom background for everyone to use (seebelow) and also sent emails to the guests with dates reminders and the Zoom link.
Don’t forget to take photos and videos. Use “speaker view” on Zoom for opening presents so you can see the mom-to-be well. We also dressed up and made sure to remind my sister to have a little at-home photoshoot ahead of time too.
And of course, sit back, sip and enjoy! It will be a shower to remember for sure.
A virtual shower is A LOT of moving parts and coordination but I promise it can be just as special and make your mom-to-be feel so loved. We can’t wait to show my niece someday.
All of these suggestions and tips could also be easily translated to a bridal shower too so I hope you find them helpful or share with someone you know and send along any other questions.
P.S. This was the most dressed up I’ve been in months and I linked everything below.
Skincare has quickly become one of my most requested and popular topics on H&T and with the Spring Sephora SALE amongst us, I thought my picks deserved a dedicated post and a bit more of an explanation.
As most of you probably know, beauty items rarely go on sale and outside of the holidays, this sale is one of Sephora’s biggest and best. Sephora’s Spring sale is based around Beauty Insider Status – so ROUGE members get 20% OFF from now – 5/1,VIB members get 15% OFF from today – 4/29 and Insider members get 10% OFF from 4/23 – 4/27. According to the Instagram story polls I did, the majority of you are VIB so the sale is just starting for you!
Sephora’s program is completely free to join and tracks all your purchases every year plus provides some truly amazing samples to redeem with your points. I try a lot of new products this way and if you aren’t currently signed up, but want a discount – this is the perfect time to get at least 10% OFF and build your status for future sales. You can sign up here now.
Alas, here are my picks this year. I’ve broken them down into different categories including items I already own and love and my wish list/what’s in my cart so far this year. Be sure to use the code SPRINGSAVE to apply your discount. You can use the code on as many orders as you’d like.
TOP SEPHORA PICKS & STAPLES
(items I love and use already)
Drunk Elephant Babyfacial Mask – This one has been in my cabinet for a few years now and it’s because it works! If you’re not used to the product, it will sting some at first but the results leave your skin glowing and baby soft (hence the name). I use weekly on Sunday evenings and follow with the below F-Balm or an oil overnight. If you want a spa-like facial at home, this should be your go-to and dare I say, only item you buy if you just buy one thing this sale!
Drunk Elephant F-Balm – If you buy 2 things, here is one more. This product is one of DE’s newer ones and I’m also a fan. I’ve recently added it to my Babyfacial routine above but it can be used anytime on its own for some quick overnight hydration. It can also just be used as part of your skincare routine if you don’t want to go the mask route but it’s lightweight, either way.
Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask – You’ve probably heard of the this cult favorite but that’s because it also works. It immediately makes me feel more awake and I’ve started using it in the morning while my eye patches are on too. It also always comes with me on trips for long plane rides (and post) and can be worn overnight.
Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops – If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m not a huge fan of at-home self-tanners. I don’t like the smell and I hate to look orange or streaky. But that’s why I LOVE these subtle drops. You mix them in with a daily moisturizer or primer and you become more sunkissed as the day goes on and your tan starts to develop. A rep at Sephora actually helped me pick out the right “shade” for me and said that most people pick it wrong. Pick what shade you naturally are (for example, I’m pretty fair naturally so I go with “light”). Most people make the mistake of picking what they want to be and it doesn’t look as natural. These are also affordable and last forever so take advantage of the sale now as we head into summer months…because no one wants sun wrinkles from the real thing.
Sephora Collection Cleansing Gel – I’m convinced that this is one of the best kept secrets because it’s the most affordable item on my list (even without a great sale) and it works so well! I use a few daily cleansers but keep this one in the shower and love what it does for my skin, keeping it hydrated. It’s only $10 and makes a great travel choice too.
Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm – When I was looking for a new cleansing balm, this one came highly recommended by many of you. I love how it smells (sort of lime in nature) and I use it as a part of my double cleanse routine in the evenings before I wash my face with a gel cleanser. It gets all my make up and mascara off and leaves my skin feeling refreshed. They also make this in an affordable travel size that I originally bought to try it so that’s also an option.
Drunk Elephant Vitamin C Serum – Another DE favorite! I compare this to the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic that I love but for half the price! Vitamin C is something I never skip and use this in the mornings primarily. Pro tip: do not stock up too much on this – this product is really “fresh” and it becomes active right away when you open so it’s better to buy it as needed.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation – Another pricer make up item that is great to buy right now is this foundation. I don’t typically wear a lot of foundation but when I do, it’s this one and it’s because of how light and “silk”-like it truly is. Fun fact: it was originally made for Armani runway shows and it will last you a long time too. You only need about a pump.
IT Cosmetics Last Blowout Mascara – By now, you’ve probably hear of IT Cosmetics Superhero mascara, which I have loved forever and also use but OMG, this new mascara in partnership with Drybar is pretty much my dream come true. I ran to Sephora as soon as it came out last year to pick it up and try. It’s biotin-infused and gives your lashes a voluminous blowout immediately.
Drybar Money Maker Hairspray – Speaking of Drybar, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out some of my all time favorite products of theirs during this sale including the only hair spray I use – Money Maker! I love how lightweight it is and I smell like a Drybar visit each time I use it.
NuFace Facial Toning Device – if you’re wanting to splurge a bit on this sale and save big – I recommend this NuFace device more than any other tool! It comes with a gel primer and helps to lift, tighten and smooth out wrinkles and fine lines with micro current technology. I use around 5x a week on my face and you can see results immediately and more over time if you use consistently. My routine only takes about 5 minutes and I use at night or in the morning depending on how much time I have.
Drybar Double-Shot Blowdryer Brush – Another tool to splurge on during this sale is from Drybar. The blowdryer brush helps you achieve that volume you get from a salon blowout and is easy to use. I have tried less expensive versions of products like this and was disappointed -they were too big or got too hot and made my hair frizz and so on. This one does the exact opposite – it’s the perfect size, has special ionic technology to combat frizz and provide shine and does not get too hot while using. I’ll often let my hair air dry a bit then use this to style and finish drying and styling. If you’re looking for other hot tools from Drybar, I also have and can recommend the curling wand, classic blowdryer and travel sized blowdryer too.
Jo Malone Wild Bluebell Travel Perfume – Last but certainly not least are two of my favorite Jo Malone fragrance products. I have worn Wild Bluebell for years but I also have a few others scents I love that I mix with it too. What I love most though about this product is the size options. And no matter what your preferred Jo Malone scent, you can pick up your favorite in this “purse” size for a much more affordable price that is easy to travel with too.
Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Candle – If you’re looking to splurge a bit on home fragrance during this sale, this candle is in my bathroom as we speak. I love this scent and it will brighten up any room – especially now while we’re all at home.
If you want more recommendations for this sale, here are some other staples I use and love too!
OTHER STAPLES AND FAVORITES
I’ve also included a few items below that are in my cart and on my wishlist.
IN MY CART NOW x WISHLIST ITEMS
(note: a lot of these wishlists items are “sold out” but I recommend signing up for the alerts when they’re back in stock – I have purchased several items like that when I receive the email alert and you can use your discount code as many times as you’d like!)
Again, be sure to use the code SPRINGSAVE to apply your discounts.
My sister and I had a wonderful girls weekend getaway thanks to The Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande, Florida. Boca Grande is just a short drive south of Tampa (under 2 hours) and the National Historic Landmark resort sits right on the heart of the beautiful and quaint Gasparilla Island along the Gulf Coast. The Inn is easily accessible by air, car or boat (you could fly into Ft. Myers, Sarasota or Tampa too).
The Gasparilla Inn takes on the motto of “Florida as it was meant to be” and I don’t think another statement could more accurately describe this little slice of heaven in the sunshine state. If you are not familiar with this area, it is unlike any other in Florida and it is no wonder that it has been named the #1 resort in Florida.
From the welcoming staff to the charming appearance, “Old Florida” traditions and historic buildings (open since 1913), there are not many places like this in the state or country for that matter. The beauty of Boca Grande and its beloved banyan trees, relaxing and laid back nature make it perfect for a family friendly vacation, romantic trip for two or for a girls weekend (like my sister and I enjoyed sans the boys).
What is also so special is that the Gasparilla Inn stays true to its seasonal traditions, dress codes and southern comforts by following a seasonal opening. Typically this runs October through the 4th of July so now is the time to go! Since it is the largest surviving wooden hotel in Florida and one of the state’s first resorts, (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and even Hollywood beauties like Katherine Hepburn have also stayed here), the Inn closes for the rest of the Summer through early Fall in order to help preserve the building.
While I had been to Boca Grande growing up and even got to see a close friend get married there, this was the first long weekend I had spent at the Inn in recent years and let me tell you, it did not disappoint one bit.
We were greeted and spoiled upon arrival with a knock at our suite’s door and a tray full of roséand sparkling waters (my favorites!). The suite was absolutely beautiful and felt just like a home. Each room also comes with tempur-pedic beds and bath amenities by L’Occitane. The day before we arrived, the Inn had just wrapped up a beautiful event with Garden and Gun (also one of my favorites!).
Where To Eat
Miller’s Marina: After we dropped our bags and picked up our light blue golf cart, we headed on over to Miller’s for a delicious casual lunch full of fresh seafood (think: peel n’ eat shrimp) on the dock.
The Main Dining Room: Our first night, we were spoiled at the Inn in the Main Dining Room for dinner. We enjoyed more rosé, shrimp cocktails, Key West shrimp bisque, tomato salad, beet salad, salmon, grouper, espresso chip, strawberry & vanilla ice cream, espresso, among cappuccinos and yes, champagne. How did two girls eat all this? I’m still not sure but everything was absolutely delicious and the service was beyond hospitable too.
The Outlet: Just down the road from the Inn, we enjoyed a comfort heavy breakfast (think scrambled eggs, toast, diner coffee, your grandma’s type of cooking) at The Outlet. It was little too hot that day to sit out on the dock but that option is always there too.
South Beach Bar & Grille: We headed to the end of the Island to enjoy drinks at South Beach one afternoon (and also found ourselves conveniently stranded due to a Florida afternoon thunderstorm).
The Pink Elephant: On our last night, we enjoyed another delicious meal at a Boca Grande and Gasparilla Inn staple – The Pink Elephant. Truth be told, the time before I spent there was at the bar after my friend’s wedding events each evening but the food is delicious too! We started with cucumber crushes, tuna tartare and pimento and finished with mahi mahi and swordfish for our main dishes. Again, how did the two of us eat all this? I think the sun must work up your appetite.
The Loose Caboose: Before we left on our last day, we had a casual lunch at the Loose Caboose (also known for its ice cream) in town with salads and grilled shrimp and diet coke to go (for yours truly, of course).
Hudson’s Grocery: This little gem with its pink old gas pump out front is also a staple store for groceries and other necessities if you’re staying longer or book one of the Inn’s cottages.
What To Do
The Beach Club: Head to the Beach Club to soak up some sun on a private beach (complete with yellow umbrellas) or lounge by the pool. There are also dining options available here.
Explore the Island: There are a handful of local shops and better known ones in the small town of Boca Grande. I made my sister drive our blue golf cart all weekend long and the easiest + most popular way to get around is by golf cart. There is also a historical light house that is worth checking out too. Head to Banyan Street for some of the prettiest trees in the South.
Outdoor Activities: For those that want more outdoor activities there is golf, bicycle rentals, kayaks, croquet and inshore/offshore guided fishing expeditions (if you didn’t BYOB – boat, that is).
The Spa at Gasparilla Inn: Last but certainly not least, I would recommend checking yourself into the Spa for a few hours. We were also spoiled here with “Taste of Gasparilla” massages plus a few add-ons that included guava anti aging butter for me and extra aromatherapy for my sister. The massage also includes reflexology, stones and I opted for a ginger lily scalp massage. Both Melissa and Erika come highly recommended by my sister and I for services.
If you have been following along on Instagram and Snapchat, you know that I recently celebrated a big birthday and to do so, went on a trip with my sister to the gorgeous islands of Bimini. I am so excited to share with you all about our trip!
Where is Bimini?
First up! Where in the world is Bimini?
Thanks to The Bachelor this past season, many of you might be familiar with this little place of paradise but for those who are not, Bimini is part of The Bahamas and it is the western most chain of islands. This means that it is technically the closest to the United States and only about 50 miles off the coast of Miami – making it super easy to get to for all you Sunshine State-ers like myself. I must add that even though it’s just 50 miles from Miami, it truly feels like a world away.
Bimini is best known for its fishing, rumrunners back in the day and beautiful turquoise clear waters. Legend has it that Ponce de León found the Fountain of Youth here. Other greats like Hemingway (Islands in the Steam was set in Bimini), Martin Luther King, Jr. (wrote part of his “I Have a Dream” speech here) and my favorite parrothead, Jimmy Buffett, also enjoyed Bimini and its beauty.
How To Get There
Many people get to Bimini by boat (or yacht, ha!). There is also a ferry service now from South Florida and of course, there is the option to fly! We boarded a pink plane a la Silver Airways out of Miami since we spent the day before down there. It is about 15-20 minutes once in the air and there is also the option to take Tropic Air and land right on the water in a seaplane.
Once we arrived in South Bimini (where the bright colored airport below is located), we took a quick taxi to the resort ferry and headed across to the island of North Bimini.
What To Expect
If you’ve been to more touristy parts of the Bahamas, Bimini is quite the opposite. It’s made up two small islands. North Bimini is only 7 miles long and most people travel by golf cart around the island (I recommend renting one during your stay) and you might miss the town square if you blink. With that being said, it’s absolutely beautiful, Biminites are quite friendly people and the local spots and beautiful waters were our absolute favorite part of the trip.
What To Bring
Sandals, bathing suits, hats and plenty of sunscreen! I brought along a beach tote full of my favorite Hampton Sun products too.
Bimini is very casual and truth be told, I didn’t wash my hair once on this trip (thank you, Drybar). It smelled like sunscreen and salt water by the end and I did not mind one bit.
I’ve included some more of my looks below and links to other ones as well throughout the post. Oh yes and don’t forget your passport.
Resorts World Bimini offers an array of world class amenities, as well as homes, condos and of course, the Hilton property (where we stayed for the week). Not only is there breathtaking views of Bimini Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, but the resort also has several pools including a rooftop and an infinity one, a serenity spa, private beaches and numerous dining options and offshore excursions.
Our room at the Hilton was beautiful with two comfortable beds, an amazing bathroom and shower and while we spent most of our time by the pool or on Paradise Beach, it was a lovely place to come home to each evening.
What To Do
Head into Town!
If there is one thing you absolutely must do on your Bimini trip, it’s stop by for an afternoon at Stuart’s Conch Stand in Alice Town. The stand/bar is family owned and operated, and we had such a great time with the locals and visitors alike, that we went two days in a row. I recommend the conch salad, conch and lobster salad and the homemade rum knockout punch – it’s absolutely delicious, made each day and comes in convenient to-go bottle. We tried another local conch stand too and having been to both, Stuart’s wins hands down! Truly, the conch and all the seafood in Bimini is brought right in off the boats, and would only be fresher if you ate it underwater.
Heading to CJ’s for a fresh coconut drink on the local Radio Beach is also highly recommended by yours truly. A lot of the other friends we made along the way enjoyed Edith’s Pizza in town (for those that can eat gluten, Bahamian bread and crust, I’m told, is some of the best around).
For those that love fishing, diving and snorkeling – Bimini will be your paradise. You can snorkel out to a shipwreck in the middle of the ocean and explore at Resorts World Bimini. And for those of you that do not enjoy sharks (like myself), you can still take in Bimini’s beautiful waters and a shipwreck up close at the Gallant Lady. It’s breathtaking at sunset and there are resort trams that can also take you there.
After long days on Paradise Beach, under yellow umbrellas on blue and white striped chairs (rum drinks in hand), my sister and I enjoyed several of the restaurants at the resort. We had room service delivered in the mornings and enjoyed jerk chicken fries and fresh shrimp by the pool at Oasis. We also ate dinner at the Tides and the hotel has a lovely Raw Bar in the lobby with a happy hour. Leroy was our favorite bartender there! However, by far, our best meal on property was the sushi at The Sushi Bar where we ate the last night. It goes without saying that all of the seafood in Bimini (on property or off) did not disappoint.
This trip was the perfect way to bring in a new decade and it’s easy to see why Hemingway, MLK Jr., Ponce de León and Jimmy Buffett loved it so much too.
I am counting down the days until I’m back! If you go, you have to let me know!
Every day, as women, we use a countless number of beauty products and look to friends and our favorite bloggers for recommendations. Well today, I wanted to share with you one beauty product that we all use every single day but rarely talk about – deodorant!
Beyond odor and wetness protection, you may not give it much thought but this one item is so essential to your daily routine, activities and clothing that you should certainly expect more. I have personally been wearing the Dove brand for years and I’m so excited to partner with them to try their Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant line.
It provides 48-hour odor and wetness protection and it is formulated with Dove 1/4 moisturizers and NutriumMoisture for softer, smoother skin. Additionally, it is also available in a variety of signature fragrances (18!!) and benefits so that everyone’s needs can be met. For example, they have a Sensitive variant for those of us with super sensitive skin and three ClearTone variants that help with uneven skin tone and dark marks.