Le Poppy Design is now Party On Purpose

This is the post where I get real up in here.

Find out who you are and do it on purpose. - Dolly Parton

   I’ve got the first part down - I know who I am. I’m confident in what I know, and probably more importantly what I don’t yet know (like how to give up carbs). I have strong beliefs and opinions and anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m not afraid to ram them down your throat voice them. I hold my convictions near and dear and strive to let them lead me in what I believe to be the right direction. I’m actively working on the purpose part. So many things go into living intentionally and on purpose - some things, like time management and staying on task, I’m terrible at (I blame a creative brain). Other things, like being honest about what I want out of this life, even when getting there might require traveling an unconventional route - I’m great at. When designing birthday parties became my way of paying the bills - you can imagine the doubtful comments and weird empathetic facial expressions that came my way (like the sad-but-cute way you look at a 2 legged puppy with one of those doggie wheelchairs attached to its hind-quarters). I could not have cared less. I knew what I wanted, I knew what I was capable of and I made it my reality. Fan-freaking-tastic right?! Dream achieved, hoist the banner on the ship - Mission Accomplished! Well, not exactly - something is missing. In the spirit of living on purpose, I realized that I wanted my work - my everyday 9-5 (who am I kidding here, my 9-9) - to mean more. I believe the gifts we are given, our talents and strong suits are given with the expectation that we use them to make the world a better place. I may not cure cancer anytime soon, but I can surely brighten your day with a damn fine birthday banner. I want to use my creative talents for my true purpose.

   I don’t love birthday parties. THERE. I said it. Well, let me put that in perspective before I put myself out of a job - I don’t love what birthday parties are becoming and there are certain things about this industry that make me less-than-proud to be a part of it. Yikes right?! That certainly does not fall in line with living on purpose. When I see pictures of some of these celebrations (please understand that I’m not putting all parties in the history of the world under this umbrella) my first thought is not of joyful celebration but of self-doubt. How are the celebrations I help to make (personally and/or professionally) EVER going to amount to that?! How am I going to afford sending all 10 girls home with their very own $100 tutu outfit and keys to a monogramed Ferrari? I’m not, most of you aren’t, and that’s ok. I’m (and I’m speaking for a team whom you’ll soon have the pleasure of meeting) attempting to take the self-doubt OUT of birthday parties and put the real meaning back IN.

   Birthdays are so special. It’s the one day of the year that we take the time out to celebrate each other. “Happy Birthday” really means “You were born and I for one, am so happy about that. I want to celebrate your existence”. Think about what being reminded of that year after year really does for a person. To know that you’re loved, that your life matters and that every single year you deserve to be celebrated - just because you’re you - is incredible. Once I stopped seeing the negative and looking at birthday parties as status symbols and started seeing them for what they really are, I found the purpose in my work I’d been searching for. And lucky for me, I also found the two people I needed to pull this off. Great dreams need great teams.

   I’d like to introduce two people whose paths in life were also leading them to a place where they wanted more. They are two people I knew who could handle the pressure and stress of a growing business.They are the two people whose individual talents and personalities fit perfectly in the scope of what I imagined this company becoming. They are the two people I knew I could trust with my company and my vision. They are the two people I knew would bring fresh eyes and new ideas to the table that would take this to the next level. They are two of my best friends, going on something like 18 years, their names are Amy and Julie and together, we call our new company Party On Purpose. Same great parties, new heartfelt mission.

   We believe that every child deserves to be celebrated. We also know that life happens and that sometimes situations present themselves that financially prevent those celebrations from taking place. That’s why a portion of every single party we sell goes toward the Party On Purpose Project - or POP Project. Along with donating POP Party Packs to our local food bank (more on that soon!) we are committing to providing at least one party for a family who otherwise can’t afford it, each month. Anyone can nominate a birthday kid, we even have a form to make it easy on you.This is our way of paying it forward - or as I like to say partying it forward.

   Is this a charity? Are we a non-profit? No. This is a business that continues to support us and our families in a very real, bring-home-some- bacon kind of way. Was there a fear that we could be seen as doing this for all the wrong reasons? Sure. Is there a fear that nobody will come? Yes. But we know our hearts are in a good place, and we also know that our time and talents will be used in whatever way they are meant to be used. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. (That quote is for Amy, she’s really sporty like that)

   I can say now with certainty that my career, this little job I’ve carved out for myself in the birthday party world has purpose and it feels great. I’m so excited to share my new journey with all of you and to take this new and improved company to the next level. I’m so excited for you to get to know Amy and Julie. I am so very thankful to everyone who entrusted me with a little part of their celebrations over the years. Your confidence in my ability to provide you with a high quality and beautiful product has literally turned my dream into reality. I would encourage everyone to think big and go after what they really want in life. Don’t just make a living, make a life. Live with purpose, live on purpose and of course - Party On Purpose.


ROARING Good Time; A Dinosaur Birthday

At least once a week I'm cursing our Seattle weather for being the reason I can't photograph yet another awesome party before shipping it off. I'm not sure if you've heard - but it rains a lot here in Seattle. This month we've set some really exciting records - all having to do with wetness and low temperatures - but I figure it's just God's little gift, giving us more time to get ready for summer clothes.
I take all of my pictures outside for a multitude of reasons, the biggest one being that I only know how to point...and shoot. Natural light is the KEY for pointers and shooters like myself. My dream is to one day own a camera that was built in the last 5 years and is not currently available in the "Free Stuff" section of Craigslist....and then of course my next dreams are to;
a) not break it
b) not lose it on vacation
c)learn how to use it (white balance, aperture - say what?!)

But in the mean time, my trusty little piece of crap camera gets the job done... as long as we're outside with natural lighting. But when our weather isn't cooperating there just isn't much that can be done about it. So with a little tear, and with no photos - off the party goes to the post.

So as you can imagine it to get photos of your parties! Most importantly I love seeing happy kiddos, proud parents and lots of frosting. But coming in at a close second - I love to share photos of those parties that "got away". The parties I wanted so desperately to photograph prior to shipping but couldn't. Because about 10 times a week I'm asked if I have a dinosaur party and NOW I can finally send everyone here! 
We do! We do have a dinosaur party and it is dang cute! Not quite as cute as an entire family in party-coordinating-outfits....but still cute.

and even better when the pictures come from an excellent professional photographer, Jenny Ann Photography.


Morsel's Cookies & Milk Party

With a nickname like Morsel - was there really any way around a cookies and milk 1st birthday?! I didn't think so. I know what you're thinking, "what kind of nickname is Morsel and where did that come from?!" Maybe this will help... (also printed on her invitations)
All of these describe sweet Brie, I just love special nicknames. Especially when they inspire great parties!

This party took place a really long time ago and I realized I hadn't shared it on the blog while looking through pictures for my recent series of "sunny" parties. This party was *very* sunny... that glistening, melty and leaning chocolate cake up there? Let's just say it slumped over in a major way about 15 seconds after that photo was taken.

This was the first time I had worked with Kristen at Just Iced Cookies and she did not disappoint. Kristen's cookies are gorgeous and delicious - I have said it before and I'll say it again - check the girl OUT!

I had the idea of having milk bottle shaped cookies and even though she didn't have one on hand, Kristen went out and found one just for me! She is that good. 

I used frappacino bottles for the milk bottles which works well for two reasons. They are much easier to find than "real" vintage-inspired milk bottles (especially in bulk!) and because they are so inexpensive, it's not the end of the world if one is trashed on accident or broken.  I came across the idea a loooong time ago while searching for milk bottles and came across Mama Urchin's blog and flickr stream. One of my recent clients who hosted a cookies and milk party for her son found the "Frappe" version at Costco/Sams and said they were even cheaper. Score!

The bottles had a cookie wedge (also incredibly melty, did not want to stay put at all) and the cupcakes, topped with a mini cookie from those 100 calorie snack pack things sat on a bed of...morsels!

I found the most awesome chocolate milk straws. Those little chocolate beads turn regular milk into chocolate milk as you suck the milk up the straw! Mom said they were a hit with the kids and I'd be lying if I said I didn't try one the night before the party... so cool! In addition to the milk in (actual) vintage milk bottles we had individual serving milk cartons - because really, unless you have like 4 people sharing each bottle, there aren't enough there to go around.

Which leads me to my next point. Let's get real about kid parties people. While everyone loves a beautifully styled party, they also like to not be constantly reminding their children "you break it, you buy it". It's important to me that the focus of any party I help with be L.O.V.E and the celebration of another great year of life. This is hard to do if everyone is walking on eggshells and doesn't feel comfortable grabbing a cookie off of you perfectly styled dessert buffet (especially if it looks like there may not be enough to go around!).

I use plastic. There I said it. I also use wood. You see those pretty ruffled boxes up there? Cardboard. Children are children and hyped on sugar children are nightmares. You're crazy if you think a kid is going to have fun looking at dessert. They are going to eat it, things are going to hit the ground and if your party is outside like this one was - you want those things to bounce. Not shatter into a million pieces, embed themselves in the bottom of tiny feet and warrant a trip to the ER for shard removal. As event planners, let's know our audience, shall we? Let's stop pretending that we throw parties for 4 perfectly behaved blue-eyed robots.  I'll take looking at pictures of real parties for real children over a "styled" photo-shoot any day of the week.

end of rant.


More Fun In The Sun

I promised more sunny parties... is a sweet summertime birthday at a water park in Puerto Rico sunny enough for you?

This mama went all out! 

A candy shop...

An ice-cream sundae bar...

A personalized piƱata...

and most importantly lots and LOTS of loved ones!

Mom sent me links to her photo albums posted on Facebook and I had a hard time picking and choosing which pictures to use. SO many friends and family, SO much fun had by all makes for SO many awesome pictures! It brings me so much joy to know that our little ol' party goodies are present at so many special events...even at water parks in Puerto Rico! 

One more of the sweet birthday girl... just because.

(On another totally unrelated note, I've designed a party around those bloomers! I'm not sure who makes them but I'm assuming it's someone on Etsy. If you're interested I can find out because boy oh boy they are CUTE!)


A Little Sunshine In January

It's cold. Colder here (in Seattle) than in other places, and yes I know -  not near as cold as others. But still cold. I have the heat bill to prove it. There is the slightest dusting of snow that refuses to melt and in the shade, parts of the road are icy. I tend to wear flip flops almost year round and even I retired my trusty flips for the time being - now that's saying something!

All this to say that I could use some warming up, I'm sure you could too. So today I'm sharing some photos from a party held a few months ago during much warmer California (sounds dreamy right about now!). Although it looked like a gorgeous day for an outdoor party- nothing compares to the sunny disposition of little Jaslyn!

Mom Carolyn did a fantastic job putting this party together and really left no detail unattended to. She also takes incredible photographs - the 12-month photo banner for this little beauty was amazing thanks to her great talent.

I think people love watching 1 year olds eat their first cake more than the babies do eating it...

Thanks again for sharing your gorgeous photos, Carolyn! I think I'll post some more "sunny" parties. Maybe the threat of summer will get my buns to the gym to burn off this Christmas pudge fudge.

One more example of mama's mad photography skills... and a really cute invite. 

Fancy Nancy Shmancy

Forget's allll about Presley!

I mean, come on! Is she just the cutest little thang or what?!

Mom came to me looking for "Fancy Nancy-ish" party gear. Pink, purple, zebra stripes and a crown to add a little somthin'. While we couldn't use the actual, trademarked, copyrighted images, we could certainly design party-ware to coordinate with store-purchased, legal Fancy Nancy items to tie it altogether.

 Whether it's Nancy, Mickey or the Gabba crew - there are always ways to work with commercial party themes to really make them your own...without breaking the law.

Mom did such a great job incorporating a character that her daughter loves with her own stylish touches to really take this party and make it her own. Most importantly, it looks to me that Presley really loved everything about her special day!

On "Commercial" Party Gear...

I get a lot of requests for "commercial" stuff. A lot of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, a lot of Hello Kitty, a lot of Toy Story...the list goes on and on and on. I tend to stay away from these sorts of themes because I don't want to get a slap on the hand from Eric Carle's (Hungry Caterpillar) lawyer again. Or anyone else's lawyer for that matter. To be quite honest I am shocked at how many Etsy shops are getting away with using all of these trademarked images for profit.

That said, I too am guilty of using commercial images every now and again - sometimes, when a kid just LOOOVES a certain something, you can't avoid using it. Afterall, this is about the children, right? Here are some pictures of some parties with a few familiar faces...Keep in mind that I'm only doing these kinds of parties for friends (not for profit) at this point... but don't worry - I have a back-up plan!

Now before you go tying up your kid and beating her with a wet noodle until she changes her mind from something commercial to something out of my shop... hear me out. Although I'm not willing to use these trademarked images as is - I am very willing to use my own images and graphics that will compliment your commercial theme. Up next I'll show you how we turned "Fancy Nancy" into "Fancy Presley". Mom was able to use store bought "legal" commercial products and pair them with my designs to throw a gorgeous party that the birthday girl loved and I didn't get sued over!


Kerby's Dance Party

Best thing about cleaning out my inbox? Coming across pictures sent by customers that I somehow forgot I had! I actually squealed in delight when opening mom Allison's email that contained these - because as you can see from the date on the invite - it was a little while ago.

I loved everything about this party. I loved the birthday girl's name, Kerby. How cute is that? And when mom sent Kerby's photo for the invite, I loved Kerby! How stinkin' cute is she? And that tutu-pettiskirt number? Love. I loved the bright colors. I loved that all the little girls came dressed in their ballerina best. I loved those leg warmers best of all. I loved that it was a party theme I hadn't done yet. I loved that she was having her party at a dance studio - my best friend owned a dance studio so I know how fun those places can be for little girls.

Although hosting a party at a venue other than your  home can be a challenge, mom Allison did a fabulous job. By bringing your own party gear, table covers, banners etc you can transform any space into a party space. Make a quick visit ahead of time, see what they have to offer in terms of tables, chairs etc - use what they have and bring the rest! It's not as difficult as it may seem, especially when your Le Poppy stuff comes assembled and ready to party - straight out of the box!

Just add tutus.


I fell off the blog horse.

I probably owe my mother an apology at this point seeing as she really hates - wait, no - "hate's a strong word" - she really dislikes the word "suck" when used in reference to anything other than lollipops. But really - in this case, lollipops be damned (sorry again mom!) I just plain suck at blogging and there's no sugar coatin' that one.

Since I had a few extra minutes today I thought I'd check out my blog stats to see if anyone still comes by and was shocked out of my yoga pants (being your own boss rules) to see that YOU DO. Some of you come here every day and every single day leave instantly after seeing that yet again, for like the 40th day in a row, I have nothing new to share.  I lure you over here for a month or two, give you all sorts of fun things to see and then when things start getting serious - I disappear on you.

Perhaps I have blog commitment issues - or perhaps I ran out of crack cocaine and finally after going without for three months, decided that I do in fact need sleep. The UPS woman keeps dropping off boxes of paper and ribbon but she has yet to deliver me all those extra hours in the day I keep requesting.

So, I'm here to say that extra hours or not, I'm going to get back on the bloggy horse and make time to share all of the awesome things going on over here. Thanks to those of you who continue to stop by - I promise there are great things coming so stick around!


Just-Iced Cookies

I stumbled upon Kristen of Just-Iced Cookies, cookie maker extraordinaire, in one of my late-night hunts for any and everything awesome on Etsy. She is everything and anything awesome. As are her fabulous cookies.

At the time I was planning a "milk & cookies" party (more on that Monday) and was looking for some cookies that would stand out and be different than
a) anything I could find at the grocery store
b)my fancy Seattle bakeries where each cookie costs $5.00
c) my last batch of sugar cookies where I substituted sugar with salt

I got in touch, she happened to have a son having a birthday coming up, I happened to need her cookies - we traded and I couldn't be happier with the outcome! I had a crazy idea about wanting cookies in the shape of old fashioned milk bottles. She didn't have that cookie cutter so she went out and bought one!
She is that good.

I've already passed on her info to a few of my existing customers who I think could benefit from her services. As I started looking through all of the pictures of her cookies, I realized that A LOT OF YOU could benefit from her services! We have never worked together in the past, yet by the looks of this little ditty - you'd think we've been working together for months! On the left are pictures from Kristen's collection, on the right are images I grabbed straight from my customers' files! I didn't change a thing!

Crazy right?! I've never "officially" endorsed anyone before. I'm a perfectionist who takes a lot (probably too much) pride in her work. I've been approached to "team up" with Etsy shops before but have never felt comfortable having my name associated with anyone elses work. This right here is my endorsement! I love Kristen, I love her cookies - I encourage all of you to check her out!
Did I mention yet that the cookies are delicious?
Because they are.

So in return for the cookies for the "Milk & Cookies" party, I helped with her little boys' second birthday.

Stay tuned to see more of Kristen's cookies featured on the "Milk & Cookies" table I did for
"Morsel's" first birthday!


Whale of a birthday!

I'm begging here. Somebody puh-lease go with the whale theme! This banner and hat turned out so cute - it's probably good that the order wasn't any bigger because I may have died from the cuteness and not lived to tell about it. I'm now  left with visions of whales swimming through my head - I MUST do this one again!  Is anyone with me? Do you see the potential? Could quite possibly end up being a top five fave (don't ask what the top five faves are because I'm pretty sure they change daily.)

I snapped a few pictures before shipping this one off, not knowing whether or not I'd see any pictures from the party. Little did I know that mom (with great party throwing taste, may I add) Lindsay would send me some of the cutest pictures I could have imagined! Will you look at those cupcakes? And the cake!? Come on - it doesn't get any cuter! This one really was a whale of a birthday party!

...and the best one

I'll be waiting (not so) patiently for someone to start banging down the doors demanding a whale party.