Category Archives: Hosting
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.
We ordered the plates from this collection, these pink napkins and lemon napkin ring holders. We also included balloons, a lemon garland, cocktail napkins, candles and other small surprises. I mailed everything to my co-hostess, who dropped it off to her the day before in a little basket so she had some time to set up. If all the hosts live far away, consider mailing her a box ahead of time full of decor items.
(You can shop some of these items below too.)
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.
I would suggest these macaron candles for any type of shower! They are available in so many scents and the perfect favor that guests will actually use. You can order yours here – and Hadley offers local delivery in Tampa or shipping anywhere.
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 (see below) 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.
Happy New Year! In case you missed my tips for New Year’s Eve – be sure to check out the entire TV segments below for tips and tricks. These party tips can also be applied throughout all of 2017 too.
If you are not following along on Snapchat (bannc) – I share behind the scenes during the filming of these so be sure to add me there for a sneak peek.
When I moved down to Florida earlier this year, I was so excited to start from scratch in designing my new space. It was the first time that my entire home would also be a complete reflection of “me” and, with the exception of a few items, I got rid of everything from DC.
That is also why I was so excited when Havenly reached out and asked how they could help me #GetDecorated down here in the Sunshine State.
Havenly allows you to design your own dream space with professional interior designers in just 4 easy steps and it’s all online (more info on pricing plus a special H&T promo code at end of post!).
When you first sign up, you answer a few questions and create a “Style Profile” which allows them to match you with a designer that fits your style. I was lucky enough to get the lovely Julianne!
I wanted a space that was feminine, grown up but still fun, pretty on the eyes and of course, suitable for “hosting” and “toasting”. I have cathedral ceilings in my living room and two large windows that bring in lots of light so a “bright” design was also important to me.
You then share details about your project with your designer – things like your budget, photos, rooms size and measurements, existing items you’d like to incorporate and most importantly (for me!), your vision (you can even share Pinterest boards). It is all so easy to upload to the site for review, make comments and I even provided Julianne with a list of random things I did and did NOT want.
I also had a few items I had picked up but had no idea what I wanted to do with that she was able to incorporate as well as a few items that I wanted to “repurpose” so she helped give me direction there too (paint colors etc).
This step was so important to me and by giving guidelines and sharing my own vision for my new living room, I felt so comfortable trusting Havenly to work their magic and boy, did they!
In the next step, your designer works to revise your design concepts and you have a chance to comment and provide feedback. Below are my TWO concept boards that Havenly put together for me. It was so fun to take what I liked from both of them to get my final room design.
When I received my concept boards, I was amazed at how Julianne had put together EXACTLY what I wanted but was certainly not talented enough to do on my own – all my random ideas, likes and “needs” into one.
After feedback, my room layout and initial/final designs were then put together (see below for the final product!).
Finally, once my space was completely assembled – they put together a shopping list that allowed me to shop directly from the Havenly site. SO easy! No searching 100s of sites for the products, they literally put them all into your account and you pick and choose what you like best. That’s what I really enjoyed – how she gave me choices and narrowed it down.
I also wanted furniture that I could use in other rooms in the future. For example, I wanted a smaller couch (sette, if you will) so it could be used in a bedroom, large closet or office should I move. I also wanted a multi-purpose type of living room (almost like a studio to some degree) that I could entertain somewhat in so we worked on various seating options and layouts.
Alas, my new items arrived at my door and I began to put everything in its place with the help of my designs.
Welcome to my new HOME! Cheers!
(all details are linked at the end of this post)
Today I’m back with another TV segment I filmed recently.
For those of you that missed my first one on high-low parties, you can see it here.
I am often asked what items you should have on hand for last minute or any time “hosting” needs that you can use over and over again – well, this segment answers those questions and provides some tips too!
Thank you to everyone for your sweet comments & encouraging response to H&T on air! I am so glad you are enjoying them and there will be more to come.
I’ve also included some of the items mentioned in the segment or similar ones below so you could add to your own hosting collection!
You can also shop my dress (c/o*) and rest of my look below!
I am super excited to share with y’all that H&T is now on TV! This first segment was syndicated across the country and am working on many more so stay tuned to find out when I’ll air next. This has always been a huge goal of mine before I turned 30 (still in my 20s, woo!) and I could not be more happy to begin this journey.
For those of you that did not get to see this air last week, I’ve included the clip below and hope you enjoy and are inspired to host your own.
Thank you all for all your sweet comments as I’ve shared this on social media and for those that have been following along awhile, you know this segment was inspired by this post so many years ago. As always, I appreciate each and every one of you for following along and allowing many of my dreams to come true.
Be sure to follow along on Snapchat if you aren’t (bannc) as I took y’all behind the scenes at the studio and will keep you posted on the next segment too.