5 Tips for Creating an Amazing Wedding Welcome Bag


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We are so excited to have a guest blogger today! Our friend Kristen Wandell Frederick writes about wedding planning tips, and we hope to feature her in a series of posts on how to plan and organize for your wedding. Today she is sharing ideas on how to make a memorable welcome bag for your out-of-town wedding guests. (As a recipient of one of these bags, I can attest to just how thoughtful and awesome these touches were.)

When planning for a wedding, there are many things that people will tell you are a necessity. (“How can we have a wedding without a mashed potato martini bar? What WILL people think?”)
In a word, these people are wrong. Your wedding should be a reflection of you and your future spouse, meaning your preferences and tastes are the ones that ultimately matter. If you want to have a mashed potato bar, have a mashed potato bar because you think it’s something you’d like to provide to your guests, not because someone told you it’s a “must-have.”
In that same vein, providing welcome bags for the guests who check into your chosen hotel are not a necessity. On the range of priorities, this one falls under the “nice-to-haves” list. A lot of things are going to be competing for your attention in the weeks leading up to your wedding. It’s a good idea to think ahead of time about what you want to focus on during those crunch-time weeks.
For me and my now-husband, it was important to us that our guests feel welcomed and appreciated. Most were traveling the kind of distances that necessitated a plane ticket and we wanted to thank them immediately upon arrival at the hotel for making the trip to help us
celebrate our wedding in Washington, DC.
That’s where the welcome bags came into play. The following are my tips for creating a fun and functional welcome bag for your guests…but remember—there’s not a wrong way to do this (despite what others may say)!

Tip #1: Keep it Simple…

Remember, you will be assembling these bags a couple of weeks before your wedding. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself! By keeping the “ingredients” simple, you can accomplish your goal of welcoming everyone AND not tearing your hair out in frustration.
Start by creating a list of items you’d like to include (you don’t have to specify brand names).
For example:
2 salty snacks
2 sweet treats
1 gum or mint pack
2 bottles of water
1 map of area
Now when you hit up the store, you know exactly where to focus your energies.
A few other things to keep in mind: try to include items that can be taken back on a plane and make sure nothing will spoil if it has to sit there for longer than a week. I once went to a wedding where the welcome bags included cans of the popular local soup. While this was very exciting, I realized I couldn’t take it back on the plane in my carry-on—sadly I had to leave that amazing soup with one of my local friends to prevent it from getting confiscated by the TSA. (If most of your guests are driving, this will not be a problem, so know your “audience”!)
I have another friend who recently got married and decided to bake hundreds of cookies for the welcome bags with her mom the day before the wedding. I was literally sweating just thinking about that kind of pressure! But for my friend, it was the perfect way to relax before her big
day. I guess I could have made cookies and stuck them in the freezer ahead of time, but for me, homemade cookies weren’t a priority.
Make it easy on yourself—know your capabilities and time constraints before you decide what goes in the welcome bags.

Tip #2: …But Personalize!

Personalizing your bags can be as simple as adding a note thanking your guests for making the trip to your wedding. It doesn’t have to be long, just heartfelt.
For my wedding, many of our guests were traveling to Washington, DC for the first time—or the first time as an adult. Since the hotel was only two blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, it was important that we add information about how to take a tour of the Capitol.
Additionally, with so many guests from out of town, I wanted to cut down on the number of calls and texts we would receive from guests wanting to know where they could find a good place to eat. So I created a Google Map that showed our 20 favorite places to get a bite to eat within walking distance of the hotel, and then broke it down into three lists: Fast-Casual Fare, Sit-Down Dining and Local Watering Holes. With each option, I included the restaurant’s address, hours of operation, and a one-sentence description. At the end, my future husband and I added our favorite dishes to give our guests an idea of what kind of food the place served. This went over like gangbusters! I later heard how some of our guests even went into the restaurants and ordered the Kristen or Bobby special (to the utter confusion of the wait-staff!). This was a way for us to connect with our guests without being physically there with them.
Other ways you can personalize include decorating the bag itself. We had a wedding logo (yes, that’s a “thing”) that I had made into stamps and I personally stamped the front and back of all 85 welcome bags. The downside to my method: the stamps were expensive ($15-20 each), left me with ink-stained hands and took time to dry.
Can I suggest something much simpler and less expensive? Download these free and gorgeous Party Chic Printables, cut them out and use double-sided tape to stick them to the front of the bag. It’ll be a nice (and classy) touch!  Welcome_Tags
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Tip #3: Incorporate your Wedding Colors

Adding your colors can be simply achieved by using a ribbon—in one of your wedding colors—to tie the welcome bag handles together. And if you punch a hole in the top of your thank you note, you can thread the note through the ribbon and thereby attach it to your bag! (Savings Tip: A great resource is to download the Michaels store app to your smartphone, which allows you to open and use coupons directly from your phone. I used many of these coupons when buying the ribbon and welcome bags!)
If you can print the thank you notes on colored paper or the text in color, certainly do so in your specific wedding colors (or add colored artwork or your logo at the top).
Again, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, but a pop of color that connects to your wedding is always a nice touch.

Tip #4: Buy in Bulk

First, figure out approximately how many bags you will need (one per hotel room is the standard number, plus a few extra in case there are any last-minute reservations). Second, crunch the numbers and determine the ballpark figure of how many of each item you’ll need from your list of welcome bag “ingredients.”
With 130-ish guests staying at the hotel, my future husband and I knew we had to budget and plan for the welcome bags. Thankfully my maid of honor had a Costco membership and is one of the most organized people I know! She was also really good at forcing me to make quick
decisions. You have limited time, so don’t blow it agonizing over including Milky Way or Snickers bars.
Find the best value for your money, choose a brand you think most people will enjoy, and move on. No one is going to judge you on your selection—and if they do, it doesn’t matter because you’ll be too busy walking down the aisle on your way to marrying the love of your life to care!
And make sure to bring a friend (or two) to help you carry everything and load the car. Palettes of bottled water are really heavy!

Tip #5: Think Through the Logistics

Questions to ponder before beginning:
–When and where will I purchase the welcome bag “ingredients”?
–Where will I assemble the bags?
–How will I transport them to the hotel?
–Does the hotel charge a fee to hand the bags out to guests?
–Will the hotel allow them to be handed out to guests when they check in, or do they require them to be delivered by a bellman?
Asking and answering these logistical questions before starting the welcome bag process will help you figure out the best way to organize and execute this endeavor.
As I found out, creating amazing welcome bags can require a lot more planning and sweat equity than you might think. The more you know up front, the better (and less stressed!) you’ll be.
Kristen is a recent bride living in Washington, DC with her new husband Bobby.
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Why you need a Pineapple Corer

So, I’ve been meaning to write about this for a  few months now, but with all the festivities of Halloween, now Thanksgiving, and upcoming Christmas, I’ve been preoccupied with more seasonal blog posts. But then I realized, duh, holidays and parties are when this gadget is going to shine.

Ready? It’s a pineapple corer. Yep. If you are like me and love fresh pineapple then consider this gadget your life saver. I have no idea how many times I have almost lost fingers slicing a pineapple, so when I was on vacation and found this in a fancy kitchen store, I knew I had to have it. The only downside is that you technically don’t get as much pineapple–but what you do get is beautiful and delicious–no  core. You get perfectly sliced pineapple rings, so you can keep them as rings or cut them into chunks. I was so impressed with how easy it was.  And it is much less expensive than buying pre-cut pineapple–especially for a party. Also, it leaves the shell of the pineapple in tact, so you could definitely decorate with it. Especially if you were having a luau themed party!

If you want to buy this exact pineapple corer, you can do it here. They don’t pay me to say these things, but I didn’t want to write a post telling you how awesome this thing is without telling you where you could get it. :)

 

Okay, these sharp teeth just rip through that pineapple with ease.

Cut off the top first, then just twist the handle down…

 

And lift it out. Super easy. The black portion of the handle pops off and you can just slide the pineapple right off.

Now you have the whole pineapple in tact to decorate with it.

Pineapple upside down cake anyone? Yeah, that would be good.  If you love pineapple as much as I do, check out my two ingredient Pina Coloda party punch.

Any kitchen gadgets you can’t live without?

 

Piña Colada Punch with V8 Splash and Coconut Rum

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Every year in February I start itching to take a vacation. I used to think that it was due to cold temperatures, but lately I’ve realized it is due to the lack of sunshine. Getting out and taking a walk in the brisk air definitely helps, but when the sky is gray here in Kentucky, it starts to wear on you. But today it is sunny, so for that reason alone, we will celebrate… and dream of warmer (and sunnier) places. After all, spring is right around the corner!
So when you can’t take a vacation right away, you can make a mock vacation. Or at least have a frilly drink and turn on some good tunes.
This is a great concoction that is easy and doesn’t require a blender. It’s like a piña colada on the rocks. This would be perfect in a pitcher at a luau or pool party, or even at a bridal shower or bachelorette party. And if you haven’t noticed a theme on this blog, it is only two ingredients, so it is really easy to put together. No noise from the blender and quick refills for your guests (and yourself!).
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Piña Colada Party Punch 

Ingredients:
1 46 oz bottle of V8 Splash Smoothie Tropical Colada
1 750ML bottle of coconut rum
Directions:
Combine 5 cups V8 Splash Smoothie Tropical Colada and 2 1/4 cups coconut rum (if you don’t want to be able to taste the rum, use 1 2/3 cups instead) into a pitcher and stir. Served chilled or over ice. (Serves about 10)

Piña Colada Punch (Individual)

4 1/2 oz. V8 Splash Smoothie Tropical Colada juice
2 oz. coconut rum (if you don’t want to taste the rum use 1 1/2 oz.)
Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice and pour into a short glass, or simply mix together in a glass and serve chilled. (Serves 1)
Enjoy responsibly!
Disclaimer: Just FYI, we were not paid for this post!

Time-Saving Shower Menu Tips

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One of the most challenging things about party planning is getting the food just right…and maintaining your sanity. Here in the south (Louisville, KY) the food is second only to the guest-of-honor. As hostesses, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves for everything to be perfect. It’s time to ease up, ladies! If you are pressed for time, consider these strategies when planning your next baby or bridal shower:

1. Deli and Grocery stores

One of our favorite party tips is to rely on your grocery store deli and bakery for your party needs. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out they do much more than sliced ham and cheese. You’ll find an amazing array of party trays, dips, desserts, and seasonal goodies. A fantastic bonus is that these professionals know all about allergies, wine pairings, serving sizes, and seasonal menus. Delis often use fresh, local ingredients as well. This will save you tons of time in grocery shopping, food prep and cleanup.

2. Restaurants

Many restaurants, from fast food to sit-down offer some form of catering or large party to-go options. If the guest of honor loves BBQ from the local place down the street, why not pick up a pan of pulled pork and offer mini sammies at the party? This person will be touched that not only are you hosting a lovely party for them, but that you went above and beyond to include something that they love on the menu.

3. Cohosts

Divide and conquer! Many times with a bridal or baby shower, there are several people close to the bride-to-be or mom-to-be that would love to be involved. Let them! By delegating that someone handle the cake, or by requesting they bring a few dishes, it will lighten your load and allow others to feel they have contributed. These people can arrive early the day of and offer an extra set of hands if needed. Just be sure to involve them early in the process. It will also be nice for the guest of honor to see how much everyone wanted to help.

And these are just a few tips to help the food preperation go faster. It’s your choice whether to make it all yourself, or get some of the items from a store, restaurant or rely on cohosting. Catering is also an option too, but requires a little more research and can sometimes have a larger price tag. (Not always though!)

For the other areas of hosting a shower, if you need ideas about what types of prizes to give away at a shower, check out our post on: shower prizes.

For shower games, we’ve recently created these printable baby shower games in hopes of making your party planning process easier!

For more party planning tips and to be the first to know about our promos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter! (For party inspiration, you can follow us on Pinterest too!)

Beautiful Boy Baby Shower

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an absolutely stunning baby shower. My mother-in-law and her sister put on such a delicious and beautiful spread–I just had to share it!  Be warned–you might feel inferior about your own party planning skills after seeing this!! :) But don’t worry, you can get started creating a beautiful baby shower  by picking out a great invitation here.


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I love the simple elegance of the blue edible beads and the festiveness of the cupcake toppers.

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I LOVE this idea! My mother-in-law typed up well wishes and nursery rhymes for the new mom and framed them. They really dressed up her dessert and food tables and got lots of “oohs and ahhhs.”

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Red velvet cake pops!

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White chocolate-dipped pretzels!

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Oreo mint truffles! (Yes, between she and her sister ALL of the food was homemade!)

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To customize a clear vase, she decorated it with scrapbook paper.

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I also love how she paired these zebra plates with the brown polka dots. I think pale yellow and gray would be great color combos too, if you are looking for ideas.

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My mother-in-law’s sister did an amazing job with the food! What a spread! Chicken salad on croissants, spinach dip, pasta salad, a cheese torte and veggies. I particularly liked the toothpick skewers of meat and cheese–very easy to eat.

Tissue paper poofs are so fun! Very classy for a baby or bridal shower.

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Sample of the invitation they purchased from PartyChic.

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We also played the baby shower word scramble game, in addition to a nursery rhyme game. (I need to brush up on my nursery rhymes!!) Overall, it was a beautiful shower and the expecting mom got tons of useful items. It was fun to see all the cute boy clothes, too–so sweet. All in all, a lovely afternoon.

Are you planning a shower? What do you like to do to make it unique? Games, food, decor?

If you are planning a shower, check out my store for printable games and invites.

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8 Adorable Baby Shower Cakes

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I love how a cake dresses up a party! Because it is so often the focal point, we wanted to compile some of the cutest cakes for a baby shower that we could find. I love these cakes for various reasons: the textures, colors, and overall designs–they just plain make me happy! Enjoy!

 

BOY BABY SHOWER CAKES

 
Lettherebecake
Source: Let There Be Cake via Flickr

I love the “Welcome Baby” banner, textured polka dots, stripes and the frilly carriage. Sarah of Let There Be Cake balances all these elements wonderfully to create a simply adorable baby shower cake. (Plus, aren’t the animals cute?!) You can check out her gallery here.

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Source:  Little Sugar Bake Shop via Fickr 

Isn’t this cake just darling? It’s sort of what I imagine for the quintessential boy baby shower cake. And how can you go wrong with elephants? You can’t. Clarissa from Little Sugar Bake Shop has lots of darling creations on her Flickr site. Check out her gallery here. If you like elephants, check out this baby shower invitation.

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Source: Sweet and Saucy Shop

Aren’t these bow ties just adorable? They make a great theme for a boy’s shower but I especially love the texture of the cake and the color palette. While I love the standard blue for boy and pink for a girl, sometimes it is nice to mix in some other equally as wonderful colors. The talented Melody Brandon, co-owner of the Sweet and Saucy Shop makes ridiculously gorgeous cakes. You can follow her Sweet and Saucy Blog for beautiful inspiration and shop at her Sweet and Saucy Supply shop to help make those inspirations a reality!

 

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Source: The Danhill Family Blog

I am currently obsessed with ruffles and this color is absolutely awesome. Can you believe this cake is homemade? Blogger Jamie created this cake for a friend’s shower and promises that it doesn’t require too much effort (for the ruffles anyway). Jamie, I am in awe! I love cakes with texture–especially for a little boy’s shower–it just feels beautiful. Head over to her blog to check it out! The Danhill Family Blog

 

GIRL BABY SHOWER CAKES

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Source:  A Piece O’ Cake

Doesn’t this cake just seem like a burst of happiness? Bows, ribbon, flowers, pearls and pink! It just makes me giddy! It could also work for a first birthday too. Owner and designer Kelly from A Piece O’ Cake has lots of beautiful creations. Check them out here. There is just something about a beautiful cake that elevates the “specialness” of an event. Am I right?

 

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Source: Little Sugar Bake Shop via Flickr

Another adorable cake from Clarissa at Little Sugar Bake Shop! Hot pink, black and white are always in for any girly event. And a baby shower is no exception! I also love how bold and sassy the zebra print with polka dots motif is–it’s just so fun… and it would go well with this hot pink and black baby shower invitation.

 

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Source: Sweet and Saucy Shop

Here is another cake from Melody’s Sweet and Saucy ShopThe texture on this cake is ridiculously awesome. I had never seen anything like it before. I just want to reach through the screen and touch it! Plus, who doesn’t love pink bows for a little girl’s shower?

 

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Source: countrycleaver.com

I absolutely love the delicateness of this cake. The shades of pink and the texture of the roses are simply picture perfect. You can check out how blogger Megan from Wanna Be A Country Cleaver actually made this cake–with a delicious recipe too! Megan, you give me hope that one day I can make something this pretty!

 

We hope you enjoyed our roundup of awesome baby shower cakes! If you are hosting a baby shower soon, feel free to check out our invitations and printable games on our Etsy shop.

 

Hosting a baby shower?

If so check out our printable baby shower games.

 

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5 great prize ideas for showers

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You really don’t have to go over-the-top on baby or bridal shower prizes. If you are playing games, remember, they are meant as an icebreaker and to get people comfortable around one another. The prize is really an added bonus. Here are some ideas for crowd-pleasing gifts. Try to gauge what your guests will like in addition to what’s in your budget and go from there!

1. Gift cards

Who doesn’t love a free meal or special item? A gift card to Target, Panera, or (if guests are all local) even a mani/pedi will be the hit of the party. If you are on a budget, a few $5 gift cards to Starbucks will help spread out the winning.

2. Scarves

I attended a shower once where a prize was a beautiful silk scarf and all the ladies “oohed” and “ahhed” over it. With a scarf being so versatile, is it any wonder? They can be worn traditionally around the neck, used as a stylish head cover, tied to a purse for some flair, or even used as a belt.

3. Candles

Finding a candle in a welcoming scent adds warmth to any home. But some people just don’t feel comfortable burning candles, so finding one with a welcoming scent and in a beautiful container is a home run. Even if the person doesn’t care for candles, adding a lovely accent to their home will surely be a win.

4. Lotion

Although a more personal option since some have particular scents, lotion is always handy. You could do a variety pack of travel sizes so if one of the scents is not the person’s taste, they can have multiple options, or use it up quickly.

5. Artisan products

Unique, hand crafted items like coasters, picture frames, a small pottery vase, or jewelry from a local artist or charity are sure to engage conversation. And, the recipient will be happy to have something that is unique and supports a local business or a good cause. If you don’t have access to those types of products, or are looking for something specific, try Etsy.com

 

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