In my opinion, one of the most delightful aspects of planning a party is choosing a theme and picking the details. There are several ways to approach this process, and I encourage you to do what works for you. Today I am sharing my method and how I am putting this into practice as I plan and prepare for my daughter’s upcoming graduation reception.
My creative process always begins with a moment of inspiration. I can’t always tell what will spark my interest, but I have learned to find one thing that speaks to me, and then carry it forward in all the ways I can imagine.
Several months ago, while shopping for something unrelated to the party, I saw the cutest package of cocktail napkins. They had clementines on them, bright orange with a pop of bright green leaves. They caught my eye, and my immediate thought was, “Oranges would be a cute theme for Annie’s party.”
I let the idea simmer for a few days, making sure I still liked it. I mentioned it to Annie, and with her approval, I decided to move forward.
Once I have an idea, or a theme, I want to see what is possible. This is where Pinterest can be a valuable tool. I take Pinterest in small doses, and do so very carefully, as Pinterest can quickly go from a place of inspiration to a cave of comparison and despair. If I go to Pinterest without a direction (“graduation party”), I get overwhelmed. But when I go to Pinterest with a focus (“orange themed parties”), it can play a very helpful role.
When I began to scroll through the orange-related posts on Pinterest, I quickly found many ideas that would not be a good fit (first birthday parties, kid parties), but a lot of beautiful images that spoke to me (wedding receptions, showers).
I created a new board and pinned with abandon. I like to collect lots of ideas and edit them later. Once I have pinned 50 to 100 images, I go back and scroll through, trying to discover common themes. What do all of these images have in common? What are the elements that draw my eye? What are the parts of these photos that matter the most to me?
The answers to these questions reveal what I am drawn to. They help me know what is worth pursuing. In my pins, I discovered common colors and elements that drew me in over and over. All of my favorite pins included mandarin oranges, greenery, white, a pop of coral pink, and an accent of pastel blue.
Once I knew what I liked and why, I started to plan. Instead of taking each pin literally, I saw them as a guiding palette that would help me make beautiful choices.
I began with the tablecloths. As much as I loved the orange theme, what I really drew my eye was how beautiful the oranges looked when offset by blue and white tablecloths. The pop of pink was also a key aesthetic element, and I was able to find the exact beverage napkins from my board.
To set the tone for the party, I communicated with my favorite custom invitation company, and they designed a beautiful announcement and invitation that perfectly sets the tone for the event.
The florals I pinned were gorgeous, but not something I have every created on my own. It is not in my budget to hire a florist, so I decided to see if I could use some containers I already own, along with some grocery store blooms, to put together a few large arrangements like the ones on my board. I did a practice run and was delighted with the results. They aren’t professional, but I think I can make them work beautifully.
At this point, with the party two weeks away, I have my invitations, I have my ideas, and I have a basic understanding of all the decorations I will put to use for the event. All that remains is choosing a menu, and executing my plan!
I love planning a party, particularly when the aim is to celebrate someone I love. Planning Annie’s graduation reception has been the most fun, and I cannot wait to execute all of these ideas soon!