We are turning 7 years old and we want to celebrate by giving you the chance to win FREE photo holiday greeting cards!!

Send out this year’s holiday greeting cards with style, and sure to fit every style and budget. From modern to traditional we have cards to suit all styles. Grace Announcements also offers our holiday cards in many different formats that are sure to be noticed. From flat single sided photo cards and double sided card stock cards to folded card stock cards all available in many different sizes, there is a style that is sure to express your personality. You will also find holiday card designs that include anywhere from one to six photos allowing you to show off your family. So when Christmas rolls around this year, make sure you leave a lasting impression with your Christmas Cards.

ONE lucky reader will win 50 – 4″ x 6″ Photo Holiday Greeting Cards valued at $80.

To enter, simply fill the form with your qualifying entries and tell us what is your favourite thing about the holidays below. Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Traditionally, bridal showers have been put together by the maid-of-honor, but times they are a-changing! These days, the entire bridal party typically pitches in, and oftentimes other close friends and family members become involved as well. This is great because it divides the responsibilities and costs among many people, and makes for a better bridal shower experience! The most important part of putting together a successful bridal shower is planning ahead and operating on a timeline…here is a loose schedule to follow to ensure a stress-free party planning experience!


Eight Weeks Before the Shower

Bridal showers typically take place four to six weeks before the wedding. About eight weeks before the anticipated shower date, start putting together a checklist of what needs to be done for the party. This will help you keep track of budget, who’s taking care of what, and miscellaneous tasks that will need to get done. At this time, you should also set an exact time and date for the shower. Consult with the bride about who she would like to invite, and try to get some insight into where she would like the shower to take place.

Six Weeks Before the Shower

Contact a caterer (this site is a good resource to check out) and plan the menu…showers typically include an informal brunch or lunch buffet of small finger foods that allow your guests to eat easily while mingling. A fun, budget-friendly idea is to ask guests to make their favorite dishes for the buffet and bring the recipe along for the bride’s recipe box! At this time, invitations should be sent out, and the location should also be booked.

Two to Three Weeks Before the Shower

Call your vendors to confirm the party reservations…this includes the venue, caterer, and musicians. If your guests are bringing food, confirm what they are bringing to make sure that there will be an even spread of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Pick up any beverages that you anticipate having at the party, and don’t forget champagne for the toasts! If the shower will be taking place in someone’s home, ensure that there are enough dishes and utensils available, or pick up paper plates and disposable utensils. This is also the time to purchase decorations, bridal shower games, and bridal shower favors…all of these things are available from online retailers like American Bridal. One fun idea is to buy a disposable camera for each table at the shower, and allow the guests to take pictures at the party. Have all of the photos developed and put them together in an album for the bride, as a supplement to her wedding album.

The Day Before the Shower

Get to the venue EARLY. You’ll need at least two hours to decorate, set up tables and chairs, and set out the food and favors. Remember to bring a pen and notepad for documenting who brought which shower gift, and don’t forget your camera. Also, keep in mind that showers are supposed to be casual and fun! If something doesn’t go as planned, remember that this day is about celebrating the bride, and no one will notice if the spinach and artichoke dip gets lost along the way!

This guest post was written by Leslie. She likes to explore popular trends and creative ideas for every stage of planning a wedding. Along the way, she has picked up many tricks of the trade, and enjoys sharing them in freelance articles that she writes for various wedding blogs.

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Photo source www.pleasantdale.com

Making the decision to get married sets you on the path to arranging one of the most logistically complicated events of your life. In order to enjoy the process and celebrate the experience, you should take things slowly and carefully weigh up each decision along the way.

First Decisions

Before you can make any decisions regarding the type of wedding venue you’d like, you need to ask a few fundamental questions. Firstly, consider the budget you have for the wedding and the type of wedding you’d like. For instance, do you want to get married locally or would you prefer a destination wedding? Would you like a formal occasion or do you prefer something more casual?

You also need to think about how many guests you will have and if you prefer to hold the ceremony and reception at the same place or whether both parts of your big day will take place in separate locations.

Research

Having answered those first questions you’ll have a better idea of the kind of venue you’re looking for. The next stage is to do some research.

If you’re planning a local location you may already have somewhere in mind that would provide you with the perfect wedding venue. If you’re planning to get married in a location that is more distant from your home, you may need to do some additional research to find the perfect venue.

Search online or browse through bride and wedding magazines. Ask among your friends for possible suggestions or search through directories for possible venues.

Another important part in this stage of wedding planning is to formulate a list of questions to ask the venue manager.

The questions on your list should include such things as pricing and payment arrangements, the catering services and choices of menu offered. For evening events, you may also want to know what kind of lighting is used and if you’re planning a dance or disco, what the sound quality is like and how large a dancing space they have.

Visit Venues

Armed with your shortlist of possible venues and your list of questions, the next step is to arrange to visit each venue so you can see first-hand the type of space available and determine whether or not it suits your needs.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify any points you’re not sure about and ask if it’s possible to adapt or rearrange any spaces that are almost suitable but not quite perfect.

Be prepared to negotiate. For example, if the venue offers something in a package that you don’t require, it may be possible to get that item taken out for a reduction in the cost.

Take a camera along with you to photograph the interior and exterior spaces you will use for your wedding. You may think you will remember the small details, but when you are visiting several venues it’s easy to mix up what is available at each individual place.

Give yourself plenty of time to arrange a wedding. Wedding venues tend to get booked up well in advance, so you may find that you need to be flexible on the date of your wedding if you want to hold the ceremony and reception at a particular venue.

Although it can be a stressful time, try to enjoy the planning. Organizing and arranging is part of the experience. It is a process that will lead to one of the most memorable days in your life.

This guest post was written by Francesca, a freelance writer and blogger who lives in the UK. She currently writes on behalf of the University of Liverpool, who can provide the perfect Liverpool wedding venues.

 

Children and birthday parties. It’s as natural a pairing as icewine and foie gras or cookies and milk or peanut butter and jam. Or headaches and ibuprofen (and NOT because of the icewine).

Yes, from the time our sweet babies turn one, we obsess over these milestone celebrations. Why? Because we want every detail to be ‘just so’. Planning a birthday party these days is akin to planning a wedding. (Party Mommas, anyone?) It is an exercise in frustration over balancing budget with guest list, finding the right venue, food and decorations. Whoa! News Flash: Your child just wants to play with her friends, blow out some candles and tear open some gifts! Really!

Okay, so as not to sound hypocritical, I love to throw a party with a theme. It’s fun to tie in colors and decorative touches. From the invitations to the games to the cake I go all out. But, I am also on a pretty tight budget and big on the DIY concept. So how DO you throw a fabulously fun theme party for your child without maxing out the budget and stress levels?

Here are 10 Tips for a Great Party on a Budget:

Here’s how I pulled off my son’s 6th birthday Pirate Parrrty without having to walk the plank for over-spending (you can adapt these tips to any theme):

  1. Theme:  Pick one fairly far in advance to ease the planning process. Not everybody likes a theme. I do. This year was Pirates.  Aye!
  2. Timing:  Establish the date and time—beginning and end—(two hours is plenty long). Be considerate of nap times or other scheduling conflicts that may result in meltdowns later. Also, this year I followed up with an email reminder the day before the party (in full-on pirate jargon). The moms thought that was a great idea.
  3. Location:  Plan to host the party at your home instead of renting out a facility. No minimums to respect. No worries. This has always been my preference.
  4. Guests:  Keep the number manageable; for instance, forgo inviting the entire classroom and instead ask your child to invite a handful of his best pals. (Perhaps feel out the parents for workable dates to ensure everyone can make it.)
  5. Invitations:  Channel your inner Martha. So you don’t fancy yourself crafty? What? You don’t have a color printer? Start Google-ing or Pinterest-ing for simple ideas. I printed off the party details on one sixth of a pirate treasure map for each child and rolled them up scroll-like with a sticker ‘seal’, all made from home. If your budget allows, order custom invitations on-line and have them delivered to your door. Grace Announcements does just that! Or if you want an eco-friendly and inexpensive alternative, send out e-vites.
  6. Decorations:  Plan ahead, shop early, get crafty, beg, borrow and sift through your junk.
    • Depending on the theme, there is a chance some decorations might be seasonal so you may want to shop early for some items. I totally lucked out and found Halloween pirate bandanas & eye patches in January.
    • You also never know what you’ll find in your own backyard! Until my friend mentioned bringing one, I hadn’t even thought of using an old brass candelabra I had sitting in the garage!
    • In lieu of a big gift, my girlfriend volunteered to make the party decorations, lent me some pirate gear and helped get the house ready the night before, which was a HUGE help! Do you have talented friends and family? Barter for their expertise!
    • Make it a family affair. Enlist the creative genius of older kids for making, coloring and putting up decorations.
    • Troll the ‘dollar’ stores for paper streamers, plates, napkins and tablecloths in bright, complementary colors.
    • I also tend to splurge on a fun balloon bouquet so if this is up your alley, make sure to order ahead and book a pick-up time the day before the party to avoid last-minute running around.
  7. Loot bags:  Not sure where the idea of giving loot at the end of a party originated. Regardless, there are few things that annoy me more than cheap-o loot bags. You know: the ones you toss in the trash the minute you get home. It’s not hard to find inexpensive quality items or one main loot item. I estimate each pirate loot bag (painting and baking aside) cost between $7-$8.
    • ‘Dollar’ stores carry great licensed products (pencils, erasers, notepads, books, stickers) if your little Bobby or Suzie are into superheroes or princesses.
    • You can also find great craft items there. My girlfriend scoped out fantastic little treasure boxes for the treasure hunt that she then painted so we could fill them with chocolate coins, candy necklaces (both bought in bulk), Ring Pops and pirate tattoos.
    • Though originally the pirate booty at our party was to be the treasure chest & candy plus a cake pop, a last-minute trip to the ‘dollar’ store yielded Pirate activity books and Peter-Pan and Tinkerbell books that I couldn’t resist.
    • Make an edible treat! I made pirate and jeweled crown cream cheese sugar cookies in addition to the pirate cake pops I make as my alter ego EG Cakes. The cookies were originally intended to nibble on during the party but since the kids didn’t touch them, I sent them home with their other treasures.
    • With enough advance notice you can also order the fabulous Loot Bag Combo from Mabel’s Labels in fabulously fun colors and designs.
  8. Games and activities:  Structured activities should be kept to a minimum and a free-play area should be designated. You may also wish to have a craft or activity for younger or older siblings to keep them occupied. Six-year-olds are able to handle a couple of party games. When our swashbucklers arrived they each received a bandana and eye patch before setting out on a Treasure Hunt. Rhyming pirate clues were left at each location to spur them on their adventure! Afterwards they had fun with a home-made pirate “I Spy”-like game. Then they tore up the basement till it was time to eat.
  9. Menu:  Keep it simple and make your own food. In my experience kids generally don’t eat much at birthday parties. Something about all the excitement, I guess. Prepare your own veggie and fruit trays, put out pretzels or Goldfish crackers. Make-ahead sandwiches free up kitchen duty and easy cheesy pizzas are a breeze on ready-made, individual pita crusts. Juice boxes or bottled water are easy drink fixes avoiding the easy spillage action of paper cups. Consider coffee for parents who may be sticking around.
  10. Cake:  If you are buying it, make sure you have ordered it and are able to pick it up or have it delivered before the party. If you are making it, you will need to consider the timing so you are not rushing to finish it the day of the party. This is my strength, fortunately, because I would not be able to afford to buy the ‘fancy’ cakes I undertake for my kiddos. The commitment is one of time rather than money. If you have a friend that’s particularly savvy in this area, consider bartering or asking them to ‘gift’ the cake in lieu of a gift.

Above all, have FUN, me hearties!

Bonus tip:  Avast! Don’t forget thank-you notes to your guests! I prefer the old-fashioned hand-written note, but consider some other ideas: Order custom thank-yous at the same time you order your invites. An email to the parents is more acceptable these days, perhaps with a photo or two of the party attached. Or, time- and technology-permitting you could burn a CD or DVD of the birthday festivities with a video thank-you at the end.

Have you got any budget-friendly party-planning tips you would like to share? We would love to hear from you!

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Who doesn’t love a party where everyone gathers for fun and food? The annual Super Bowl is the time to have fun, for us it is a time for everyone to party, not just the men! The kids and I are big fans, just like my husband, so it is a family and friends affair. I just got some menu hints from the friends we are celebrating with this year and let me say I am counting down the days!

Here is a little inspiration for your Super Bowl party.

If you want to make your mouth water pop on over to my Super Bowl Inspired Pinterest Board. Warning: Do not attempt this on an empty stomach!

Photo Source: Bakerella, Catch My Party

 

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