If you’re going to do…Hosting a Co-ed Event Edition

Beyond the Essentials Blog - Hosting a Coed Shower

Bun in the Oven Baby Party
This theme creates the menu for you! Sandwiches and Burgers in Buns!

More and more you’re finding co-ed baby showers and wedding showers being hosted for expecting and engaged couples. Typically, baby showers and bridal showers are geared towards women guests of honor but every now and then you come across the couple that wants to celebrate together, which a great thing! Beginning parenthood or a marriage together with friends is certainly a great way to share your life milestone.

Whether your hosting a co-ed event for yourself or for friends here are a few tips on making sure everyone has a good time. Continue reading


If you’re going to do…A ” Dry ” Reception

You don’t always need a cocktail or beer to have a good time. Many people opt to have dry receptions for their weddings, corporate events, and especially at baby showers (we don’t want the mom-to-be to feel left out). If you’re going to do a dry reception there are some creative and easy ways to bring some wow to an otherwise dry reception.

Make it fun. A dry reception is the perfect opportunity to think outside the wine glass! Go nostalgic with root beer or coke floats. Go young and fun with milkshakes. Go seasonal with lemonade and iced tea. As long as it fits with the theme or has an element of wow, got for it! (Photo: iloveswmag.com)

Make it sparkle. Who doesn’t love a sparkling, bubbly drink? Sparkling cider and sparkling water are great to add to a nice fruit juice and gives the same effect of a sparkling cocktail. Make sure to serve them in a wine or champagne glass and top it off with a slice of lemon. Perfection!

Have a ” mocktail ” instead. A mocktail is a cocktail that doesn’t contain alcohol, but is just as delicious and fancy as a cocktail. Mocktails are perfect for ladies events, such as a girls night in  or evening baby shower. They let us enjoy the cute and girly drink we all love to enjoy on those nights out.  Check this out for 10 delicious mocktail recipes.

Please join me in raising your sparkling mocktails! Cheers!

If you’re going to do…Creative Guest Books Edition

For those of you who are thinking you can skip this post because “guest books are just for weddings “. I say to you, No Way! Remember, guest books are for your special occasion of choice. Birthday parties, baby showers, housewarming parties and even sip and sees. Any event you want to remember and remember who you shared it with, guest books are for you.

The purpose of a guest book originated as the idea to gather the information of guests attending a special event to be remembered and used as a souvenir of sorts.  They were actual books available for guests to sign and provide their contact information; this allowed the event host to have on hand information for thank you notes. Now you find that event hosts aren’t just collecting names and contact information, they are looking for sincere reminders of the special occasions. We’re not collecting information; we’re gathering best wishes, remarks and pictures from guests to hold on the memory of our special occasion. There has been a great deal of creativity brought to the idea of guest books that we see today. From fingerprint Family Trees to puzzle pieces, the creative possibilities for guest books are endless.

So if you’re going to take the non-traditional route and try something innovative for your guest book, let’s remember a few things.

If you’re going to do creative guest booksMake it easy for your guests. The number one thing to remember about guest books is to make it easy for your guests. Guests come to celebrate and have fun with you, so you don’t want them spending too much time on their guest book activity. Make sure your idea and directions are easily understood and implemented.  Take for example the idea of having guests leave their fingerprint on a family tree. A very sentimental and meaningful guest book idea. If you want to use this idea, but you’re not having a small gathering (which this is much better suited for) consider having guests sign leaf cut outs, for you to place on a family tree design.

If you’re going to do creative guest booksDecide how you’ll want it to be displayed. Deciding how your guest book will be displayed, is key in deciding how creative you want to go. Will your guest book be a conversation piece? Will you keep it in safe keeping only to open when you want to relive the memories?  If you want your guest book to be on display consider having guest sign a picture of the guest(s) of honor, have them sign a piece of furniture or serving ware (serving platter, bench) or have them sign puzzle pieces that come together for a beautiful and meaningful piece of art. {You can use the puzzle pieces filled with messages, or create a photo puzzle and have guests sign the back. Either way it’s a piece of art you’ll cherish.}

If you’re going to do creative guest booksMultipurpose to save the budget. Guest books can easily be paired with place cards and table numbers. Your place cards can double as guest books by simply adding space for guests to write their message for you. You can also combine them with your table number. The time capsule/prediction idea is being used a lot lately. Have your guests leave a message for you to open on your Table 12th anniversary. Or have them leave Table 5 birthday wishes for the guest of honor. Bonus: If you are doing a guest book to gather information for thank you notes, remember to leave space for name and contact information.

If you’re going to do creative guest books…Allow the book to be the creativity. Save yourself the time spent on a DIY guest book project and let the book bring the creativity. For a child’s birthday party, buy a copy of their favorite book and have the guest sign the pages. If you’re looking for guest book ideas for a milestone birthday party (21, 30, 40, 50…), look to the classic motivational book, Dr. Suess’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go and have your guests leave motivational birthday wishes throughout the pages. You can also bring the ease of this idea to your wedding. Not sure what to do with all those engagement photos you took? Create a photo book and have your guests enjoy your photos and leave their best wishes at the same time.

What’s the most creative guest book you’ve seen? Leave a comment and share!

(Photos: etsy.com, jesihaackweddingblog.com, casasugar.com, theknot.com)

If you’re going to do…Food on a Stick Edition

Everyone loves the idea of Food on a Stick! It’s new, its creative and it’s fun. But, I must tell you, everything does not belong on a stick. The purpose of putting food items on a stick, is to make it easier for your guests to enjoy while experiencing your event. The challenge though, is that not everything is easier to enjoy on a stick.

Here are a few simple Do’s and Don’ts to identify when you should have food on a stick:

Do have one bite food on a stick. Cake pops and smore’s on a stick, great ideas to enjoy a one bite snack on a stick. Food on a stick should be simple, make sure that is your guiding principle when serving with sticks.

Do have food than can be eaten on the stick without a mess. Remember when you got down to the last part of a popsicle and it was never strong enough to stay on the stick? We don’t want our friends and guests to experience that sudden fear that the final piece of their treat is going to fall. Make sure the foods will remain on the stick until it’s done. Watermelon for example, having it on a stick makes it much easier and less messier to eat. More importantly, the rind allows everything to stay in tact until it’s done.

Do have foods that are typically sticky. Food on a stick service is a great idea for foods that are typically sticky, such as cinnamon buns. It allows the guest to enjoy the treat, without having to deal with sticky hands for the rest of the evening.





Don’t add other servingware. Take this picture for an example: It looks like a terrific idea, until you take the first bite. Leaving the chicken too high up to reach the sauce. It’s the Oreo won’t reach the milk dilemma. Instead, coat the chicken strips in the sauce, just enough that it isn’t dripping and serve it on a stick. It will be way less challenging for your guests to eat.

Don’t combine foods that would normally be served on a plate. If you’re thinking about how you can combine steak, potatoes and carrots on a stick, please stop! If you’re going to serve your guests a delectable meal such as steak and potatoes, serve it the way it deserves, on a plate. Food on a stick is not meant to replace a plate. Your guests will have to pick each part off, and won’t be able to savor the meal, as you expected them to.


Don’t serve foods that are saucy. Food served on a stick, was created to keep everything on the stick. Serving items have sauces and syrups that accompany them aren’t the easiest thing to eat on a stick. Serving food items with sauces and syrups usually require plates or bowls, which takes away the point of serving on a stick. Make sure everything can stay on the stick.

What’s the best food you’ve been served, or served on a stick? Leave a comment and let me know!

If you’re going to do…Questions for Guests

A new trend for weddings and a new twist on your traditional shower and party games are questions for guests. If you aren’t familiar with the questions for guests, it’s when you provide quests the opportunity to answer a variety of questions about the guest(s) of honor. They are a great way to have fun with your guests and come away with some great laughs and terrific advice. (Photo: lovestruck.com)

If you’re going to do table activities…

Make sure it’s the right crowd. The questions for guests are perfect for fun and celebratory events such as a baby shower or birthday party. They might not be so well suited for an elegant bridal tea or wild bachelor/ette party. Guests might find it to be ” silly ” or not worth their time.  Know your event and your guests to bring out the questions at the right time.

Don’t make it part of the agenda. Guests tend to enjoy this activity because they can complete them on their own time and answer whichever questions they’d like. Limiting the time allotted to answer the questions, will make your guests feel forced and cramp their creativity. Just have them on the table, encourage guests to have fun with their answers and collect them at the end of the event.

Have a variety of questions. At any event, guests are going to have different relationships with the host or guest(s) of honor. At a typical wedding you could have coworkers and distant relatives mixed in with close friends and family. One of the best parts of this activity will be seeing the different answers guests come up with. You just have to make sure there are questions everyone can answer, such as:

Wedding Questions

What’s your number one piece of marriage advice?
What should the couple name their first child?
What’s the most romantic place the couple should visit?
When did you know the couple was meant to be together?
Where do you see the couple in 25 years?
What should the couple continue to do for a successful marriage?

Baby Shower Questions

What’s your number one piece of parenting advice?
Help the couple decide how many children to have. I am the [ Insert Birth Order ] and the best thing about it is…
One thing I learned from {Insert Guest of Honor Name} that I hope they teach their child is…
What personality trait of {Insert Guest of Honor Name}, do you hope their child inherits?

Bridal/Couple Shower Questions                             

Bonus: This is the perfect time to get your soon to be wedding guests thoughts on some ideas you may have been considering.

If the couple was to perform a choreographed first dance, what song should they dance to?
What should the couple do for “ date nights “?
What’s the number one rule to being a great wife/husband?
{Insert Guest of Honor Name} will make the perfect wife/husband because…

Milestone Birthday Questions

21st What lesson can you save me from learning in my 20’s?
30th What’s one experience {Insert Guest of Honor Name} must have in his/her “ 30’s “?
40th Now that {Insert Guest of Honor Name} is “ over the hill “, what view must he/she see?
50th With 50 years under his/her belt, tell him/her something he/she doesn’t know.

Decide how you want to present it. Since you’re already sold on the idea of the questions, let’s decide how to present it.

1. Have it as part of your place cards. Make your place card’s big enough for your guests to write their answers on, and include a pen at each place setting.
2. Use it as a guest book alternative. Set up a station with the variety of questions, each on their own individual note cards. Include a section for guests to add their names and addresses and make sure you have a plethora of pens.
3. Use it as a group table activity. Each table would get a question and a stack of note cards and everyone at the table can answer the same question. This would be a great social activity for guests to share or deliberate over their answers together. (Photo: stylemepretty.com)
4. Use it as a fun activity for anyone who wants to participate. Set up a similar station as you would for a guest book, but no need to include name and address placements.

Have you tried this at your event? What’s the most memorable answer you received? Leave a comment and let me know!

“If you’re going to do”…Cocktail Reception Edition

The ” If you’re going to do ” post series provides a few tips on how to enhance a particular event theme or event piece. Whether it’s a corporate event, wedding, birthday party or shower, Cocktail Receptions are the ideal layouts for gathering, chatting and networking. Here are a few tips and ideas to have the perfect cocktail reception:

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionmake sure the venue has ample space.

Everyone loves to see a packed house, but keep in mind your guest count when choosing a venue. Guests should have enough room to roam about and mingle. A small venue will have the illusion of a lot of people, but an appropriate venue will make your guests comfortable and sure to return to another of your hosted events.

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionmake the layout comfortable for guests.

Cocktail tables are perfect for, well, cocktail receptions! They are just tall enough for guests to set down their drink and plate and converse but also don’t take up a lot of floor space. (Photo: www.thebridesofoklahoma.com)

The lounge style is also a great option for providing comfy seating and conversation areas. Lounge areas are perfect for the creative planner because it opens up the opportunity for high style, VIP looks to down home, living room looks. The possibilities are numerous. (Photo: lovewedd.com)

I suggest a combination of both. Cocktail tables for those looking to mingle about and a lounge area for those who want to have a seat, people watch and enjoy great conversation.

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionyour food and beverage should be accommodating for your guests.

There are so many creative ways to set plate and serve food. Shot glasses are a trend that has stuck around for awhile. Perfect for soups, dips and desserts, shot glasses are easy to hold and enjoy.

Skewers are a great serving option as well. They are easy to pick up and stay on the plate easily. If using skewers, remember to provide forks as well, most people like to slide the food off onto the plate for classier eating. (Photo:notesfromdionne.blogspot.com)

If you’re going to do a cocktail receptionfood and beverage should be easily served.

Self -served or served by a catering staff, cocktail receptions food and beverage should be quick and easy to serve. Allow your guests the time to mingle, instead of standing in line. (Photo: tasteofhome.com)

– Have well placed and easy to read signage. Let your guests clearly understand the delicious treats they’re welcome to.
For the bar: Have a limited selection. Try having a signature drink and a selection fo wine and beer. This will cut down time spent at the bar. Not to mention your budget.
– Choose a menu with foods that are easy to eat with a small fork such as meatballs.  If the menu includes finger foods, try to keep to dry, not so saucy items such as mini egg rolls and quiche. There’s usually a lot of hugging and hand shaking.

Cheers to your next cocktail reception!