The Holidays: 10 Tips from Around Tampa Bay

The holidays are a time to be with the ones you love.  It's an opportunity to make memories and start traditions. My husband always says, "the right music can make your dinner party memorable and fun", so one of the things we emphasize during the holidays at our home is listening to lots of Christmas music. 

Here at Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor, we LOVE the holidays!  Although we decorate all year long for our clients, the holidays are a time for us to share what we do with our family.  Beautiful decor and tantalizing tablescapes definitely enhances the festivities, but its really about being "present" with the ones you love!  The holidays should not be stressful!  It should be more about the meaningful interactions and conversations and less about perfection.  Your family will always remember how they 'felt', but not necessarily how detailed you decorated the house.

As a former New Yorker, I've always enjoyed different cultures.  New York is such a melting pot of people from all different places.  Living here in the Tampa Bay Area, I find it to be much of the same.  Overtime, I've enjoyed meeting new people, building relationships and embracing new experiences.  It's always a joy to experience something new or a different way to do it. The friends that I've made here in Florida all have their own unique way of celebrating or entertaining for the holidays.  I figured why not ask a few friends for a few tips and share them with you!  One of the things I always teach in my "Tablescape Workshops", is to "Invest wisely and buy locally" as it relates to tablescapes, but the same can apply here.  My friends featured here, offer great services and products. Check them out and use them!  I hope you enjoy reading their tips as much as I did.

Photo by Madison Harrison, Photos With Madison

Photo by Madison Harrison, Photos With Madison

1. Karen Gillman, Vice President, On Point Executive Center: "Our Christmas traditions encompass the many personalities of our family. One of our favorite traditions is taking a trip down memory lane while unpacking our Christmas decorations. Every year we love reminiscing over the days of our daughters first year and the many shoes she sported with her adorable outfits. In fact, they were all so cute we couldn’t part with them! So, we strung them on a variety of ribbons and hung them on a tree."

2. Yjean Ligon, Owner, Amazingly Creative Events.  "When entertaining for the holidays consider your guests at every area of planning; location, venue, food, decor, and entertainment. You should make your guests feel valued and special, after all they are taking time out of their schedules to celebrate with you. That is accomplished by being prepared when they arrive."

3. Christina Campbell, CEO, The Mommy Spot Tampa Bay. "Avoid the overwhelm! Entertaining during the holidays can be very overwhelming especially with small children. As a mom it's a great time of year to treat yourself with some extra help whether it is hiring a sitter or asking family for help while you run errands, having a cleaning service come before you have family over, or ordering a grocery delivery service. This way you can spend more time with the family and enjoy the holiday season".

4. Becca Genna, Team Leader, Independent Beauty Consultant, Mary Kay. "Perfect is over rated. Don't obsess about doing everything and don't obsess about it being perfect. If something is out of place or you forgot the dinner rolls in the oven, it's OK. Focus more on the quality of time you have with one another. Learn to be flexible and enjoy your day - come what may."

5. Jessica Rivelli, Founder and President, Working Women of Tampa Bay. "It's easy to get caught up in your hostess duties and forget to have fun. The biggest joy of entertaining is celebrating with friends and family. Don't allow perfection to get in the way of you enjoying your loved ones.  P.S. You can always do the dishes later"

6. Jodi Avery, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty. "Expect the unexpected. I always make sure I have some small gifts ready just in case any unexpected guests pop by. I like to buy little Christmas treats. Candles, specialty chocolates, and shortbread cookies, make the perfect last-minute gift!  Homegoods, TJ Maxx, Fresh Market and Target are the perfect places to shop".

7. Ayasha Teague, Travel Consultant/Owner of Blueprint Travel.  "My best tip for entertaining: keep it simple!  Simple certainly doesn't mean plain, just not fussy. When planning for my holiday party at home, I like to stick with the five senses: smell, sight, taste, sound, touch.  For example, candles or aromatic food, decorative theme pleasing to the eyes, appetizers or desserts, low background mood music (encourages conversation), and soft throws and pillows.  These are all simple touches that guarantee your guests will have a good time."

8. Tracy Croushorn, Executive Consultant, Rodan + Fields. "Don't stress about capturing every moment of the holidays, whether you are having a party or the family over for dinner make it fun for everyone. Leave disposable cameras all over the house and make sure everyone knows to take some candid shots. The best part is seeing the holidays through everyone else's eyes!!"

9. Cheryl Pullins, Business & Brand Strategist for Women Coachpreneurs,  Cheryl Pullins International.  Entertaining guests at your home takes planning and organization. Do as much as you can well in advance of your gathering.   Plan, shop, prepare and organize in advance so you get to enjoy your guests and they get to enjoy you. Free yourself from having to be the "hostess with the mostest!"

10. Madison Harrison, Child Photographer, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Photos With Madison.  "Make memories with your children.  I like that my mommy allows me to create the "tablescape" for the kids table.  It allows me to be creative and make memories with my mommy at the same time." 

Learn Tablescape Decor From Andrea Harrison

What is it about a room that transforms it from mundane into fabulous and boring into a place you'd really like to spend more time in? What gives a space that extra wow factor? It's décor! Décor can do wonders for any room and thanks to Andrea Harrison you can schedule a class to learn how to create tantalizing tablescapes from the expert on the subject, right here in Tampa Bay! Andrea is currently scheduling classes to teach individuals how to liven up their spaces for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but she can also be hired to teach custom classes for any theme your heart desires all year long.

Here's what each class entails:

-2 hours of time with Andrea

-Step-by-step instructions on how to decorate your space including: what elements make for great tablescapes, what a tablescape even is, and ideas for the best colors and pieces to use for your décor

- Finally, each class ends with a question and answer session guaranteed to delight and inspire you

Would you like to hire Andrea to teach classes for you and a group of your friends? If so, class scheduling begins at just $35 per person (minimum of 10 people required).

Classes are also available for corporations and small businesses. Inspire your team members with the gift of design. Andrea can even incorporate themes that are in line with your mission and message into her class to encourage your company's morale!

Andrea is a tablescape designer that has been featured on WTSP Studio 10, PositivelyTampa Bay, Planning it All, Reverie Gallery and more! Hire Andrea to teach your group how to have an award-winning tablescape today! For more information, call Tantalizing Tablescapes & Décor at 813-625-5502. You can also visit Andrea's website at http://www.tantalizingtablescapes.com/.

Would you rather attend one of Andrea's class instead of hosting your own? Keep up with all of her upcoming classes on her facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tantalizingtablescapes.

A little more about Andrea and her company

Andrea Harrison is the owner and founder of Tantalizing Tablescapes & Décor, a custom event design company serving the Tampa Bay Area. Born and raised in New York City, Andrea's found overwhelming joy in creating event decor for intimate events. This past March, she won the "5th Annual Powerstories Gift of Story Gala Tablescape Design Competition" with her stunning design inspired by the "Phantom of the Opera" and she now serves as the chair for their Design Committee.

Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor offers upscale and unique event decor design. Their services are carefully crafted for the individual who values personal attention, distinctive decor and memorable occasions. They use the highest level of innovative creativity to transform your table into a luxurious experience. As a premier event designer, they provide their clients with unparalleled personalized service, elegantly designed centerpieces, uniquely appointed tablescapes, an alluring ambiance and an atmosphere where your guests feel special.

Classes to Create a Tantalizing Thanksgiving Tablescape

My favorite time of year is here.  As a former New Yorker, its what I call, "blazer & boot" weather. Although its not quite time for a blazer here in Florida,  I do like that it's no longer 100 degrees HOT!  Two of the elements that I miss about living up North are the falling leaves and the fall colors. The reds, the golds, the browns.....such warmth to embrace the winter months ahead!  

Inspired by my favorite time of year, I decided to offer a few "workshops", where I can share my knowledge, my passion and my "award-winning" design experience with you!  I will teach you how to create a "Tantalizing Thanksgiving Tablescape" that you can put into good use for the holidays and impress your family and friends.  The first of several scheduled classes throughout the Tampa Bay area will kick off on Saturday, October 24th at Silverthorn Country Club in Brooksville from 12:00pm - 3:00pm.  The cost is $35 per person (which includes lunch).  If you are interested in attending, please contact us by clicking here: ATTEND WORKSHOP

I am very excited to offer this workshop and to have this experience with you!  Click here to see what our friends at On Point Executive Center have to say about our upcoming workshop: http://www.onpointexecutivecenter.com/tantalizing-thanksgiving-tablescape-design-workshop-102415/

If you want to find out more about our  'award winning" design inspired by the Broadway show, Phantom of the Opera, here's a really nice write up from our friends at Planning It All: http://planningitall.com/2015/08/10/phantom-of-the-opera-themed-table/

Wanna see us in action?  Watch us take a table from "Drab to Fab"  live on TV with our friends at  Studio 10 Live:  http://www.wtsp.com/…/televis…/studio10/2015/07/29/30836415/

See you on the 24th! Oh and please share this with a friend!  Thanks!

Two Year Anniversary!

I can't believe that it's been 2 years!  After about 12 years of decorating for family and friends, on August 28, 2013, I decided to make my passion become a reality and that's when Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor was born.   It hasn't always been a bed of roses but joy always comes in the morning and I've learned to never give up!  

There's no better way to have celebrated this milestone than the way today turned out.  I couldn't have planned this if I tried.  As a result of winning the Powerstories Tablescape Design Competition earlier this year, I was promised to be featured on ABC Positively Tampa Bay with Lissette Campos.  Initially I thought it would only be an interview, but what a pleasant surprise when Lissette asked me to decorate two tables with two different themes in mind.  

Lissettes' vision for the first table was a "girlie tea party with a modern twist".  Her vision for the second table was outdoor elegance that a man could also appreciate.  It was music to my ears when I heard her say, "you nailed it".  

Creating beautiful tablescapes is something that I enjoy immensely.  I love it when a client gives me a theme and allows me to run with it.  There are many times that I provide or create my own centerpieces, but then there are times when I can incorporate the beautiful designs of a florist.  Today, was one of those days!  Working with Gayle Zerr of Florist Fire was not only exhilarating, but it was also comforting to know that I could trust in her expertise and talent to deliver.  It's nice when you meet someone in the industry that's easy to work with and can "make your vision come to life" too!   Thank you Gayle for "saying yes"! 

Speaking of saying, "yes", I said yes 14 years ago to an amazing man who certainly completes me!  When celebrating life, you are blessed if you have someone not only to celebrate with, but someone who loves you deeply, encourages you to keep growing and supports your dreams by taking each step with you.  I could not have gotten through today without my very supportive husband.  I appreciate him for all the hard work that he does to make sure each event is a success.  From allowing me to bounce "design ideas" off him to packing, unpacking, packing and unpacking again!  After my television appearance today, he took me out to lunch at The Cheescake Factory and then to see the movie, WAR ROOM.  I was FULL on so many different levels.  Seeing that movie today was exactly what I needed!  Thank you my love!

Mmmmmm.....doesn't that look delicious?  Ok, so I am distracted now!  I have to say that "glam burger" was AH-MAZING!!!   The bacon was delightful....almost as awesome as this beautiful crochet that my mother-in-love made!  I was so excited to be able to incorporate  it into my design!  After all, it's because of her that I have such a wonderful husband!

When you make the CHOICE to push past the rough times, that's when persistence shows up! Persistence BUILDS character!   Winston Churchill stated it so eloquently, "Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential."  I am so thankful for my family and close friends who cared enough to encourage me to stay on  the journey.  I dedicate today, my 2 year anniversary to each of them!

Tablescapes is what we do.  It's what makes us happy!  It would be our pleasure to help you celebrate life and the people you share it with!  Our specialty is our attention to detail. Whether it's a birthday, engagement or anniversary, we would love to create a tablescape just for you!  Please click HERE to for more information.  

If you are a designer and would love to design a table for the Powerstories Gala on March 5, 2016, please click here HERE.  We would love to hear from you!

Watch today's Positively Tampa Bay segment HERE

Five Tips on Building Relationships

Building relationships is the cornerstone of my business.   It's how I measure success.  Yes, I am in business to create custom decor; however, building lifelong relationships with my clients, will allow my business to grow.  When I meet a client, I am looking to create a relationship that will go from wedding to baby shower to first birthday to 25th anniversary!  I want to be the first person you think about when you decide to celebrate a special event in your life!  How do I do that?  Here are five tips that serve me well:

Photo courtesy of Sarha Rush Photography

Photo courtesy of Sarha Rush Photography

  • Become a resource.  I know that I will not be able to serve every client.  I know that I will not provide decor for every person who calls; however, if I can put you in touch with someone who can meet your needs, whether it be a caterer, a photographer or a venue, I've done my job.  I've made myself a resource for you and you are likely to call me in the future.
  • Stress the small stuff.  I listen and take notes when I am talking to a client.  When they mention randomly that they have a 12 year old named Sally who adores Cinderella, I make a note of it and put it in their file.  Perhaps I'll hear that Cinderella the musical is in town, (which it is - next week in Tampa - My daughter and I saw it on Broadway last July and absolutely loved it); therefore I may email my client and say, "Hey!  Just wanted to shoot you a quick email to say hi and let you know that Cinderella, the musical is playing at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa; I'm sure Sally would be thrilled to see it!" This would create excitement for the child. It would also send a message to the client that I care and I listen.  That's a small example of making a big impact!
  • Go above and beyond.  Always do more than the client ever expects.  Go above and beyond the call of duty when you can.  You won't be able to do this all the time, in fact, if you do it too often it may not be as special; but if you choose the right time to go big, your will your client will be appreciative and you bet your bottom dollar, they will tell their friends!  
  • Bring back the honeymoon phase. Many times, after the event is over, you stop communicating with your client.  In the beginning, during the consultation phase, you were the best of friends, you talked all the time and shared ideas constantly. Then you got comfortable and it was business as usual.  After the main event, you may never talk again. Why is that?  Why not reach out after the event and say, " Hi!".  Why not send them a picture from Pinterest and say, "planning an event, saw this and thought of you, I hope all is well."  That would spark communication and keep you front and center in their mind.
  • Handwritten notes. I love to send handwritten notes to a client.  Handwritten letters and cards are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but I refuse to let the art die!  One of the things I enjoyed when I first got married 13 years ago (on 10/21) that I still enjoy to this day; are the love notes and cards that my husband gives me on occasion. A few months ago I attended a Working Women of Tampa Bay event and met a lady named Christine for the first time.  A few days later, I received a card in the mail.  The front of the card said, "It was very nice to meet you!"  I was so impressed.  I was so happy.  It made me feel special and it's still sitting on my desk months later!

Building relationships is more important sometimes than making money.  A close friend once said, "Better to establish a strong relationship than to charge someone for what would probably be a minimal amount of time.  We live in a small town, people remember things. Our business has been built on relationships and I think that is how businesses succeed."  

I hope you found this information to be valuable.  If you have a few tips of your own, comment below or post your tips on our Facebook page.  The more we share, the more we grow.  The more we grow, the more successful we become!  

I wish you the best!  Now go and build relationships!  

Working Women of Tampa Bay - State Conference 2014

If you were in attendance, then you will agree that we were truly among greatness!  From the speakers to the panelists to each and every woman who filled the room at Ruth Eckerd Hall, the positive energy was off of the charts!  Jessica Rivelli, Founder and President of  Working Women of Tampa Bay pulled off an amazing conference with the help of various sponsors, vendors and members.  Thursday night, the conference started with over 150 women networking and visiting the many vendor tables.  Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor was thrilled to provide the sexy pink & black zebra striped linens for the VIP section where women were treated to a relaxing hand massage!  

On Friday, the conference kicked off at 7:30am with a delicious breakfast provided by Ruth Eckerd Hall (anytime there's bacon in the building, I'm a happy girl).  Wendy McGinnis of Elegant Exposures Photography, Inc., the official event photographer, was clicking away documenting each moment of the conference!  

Photograph courtesy of Elegant Exposures, Inc.

Photograph courtesy of Elegant Exposures, Inc.

Three hundred beautiful business women and entrepreneurs filled the room with expectations of 'redefining their success'.  They mingled among each other sharing business cards, stories and smiles!  The room was decked out in white table linens & chair covers, hot pink napkins & sashes and a glass trio centerpiece.   The base of each glass cylinder vase was filled with iridescent glass gems. We submerged a rose in each vase and placed them atop a round table mirror to create a simple but elegant centerpiece.  The scent of over 100 fuchsia roses provided a sweet fragrance for a spectacular day! 

Photograph courtesy of Elegant Exposures, Inc.

Photograph courtesy of Elegant Exposures, Inc.

I must say that I felt so blessed to have shared the last two days with these amazing 'movers & shakers'. To sit in a room with so many confident woman, serious about growing their own businesses, pursuing their dreams and redefining their success was inspiring to say the least. I truly appreciate each and every speaker for sharing their real life experiences. The nuggets shared can be easily implemented to make a difference in our everyday lives as business women. I am proud to be a member of this organization and hope to inspire other women to not only join but get involved in the fastest growing networking group in the State of Florida!

Photograph courtesy of Elegant Exposures, Inc.

Photograph courtesy of Elegant Exposures, Inc.


Working Women of Tampa Bay is Growing in Hernando County

Welcome Summer!  It's been a while since I've had a minute to formulate thoughts to share.  I guess busy is a good thing in this industry.  If you are a  Facebook Fan you've seen all of the exciting events we've been privileged to put our special touch on.  Keep following, there's a lot more to come.  

We are excited about a few new relationships, one of which is Working Women of Tampa Bay. We decided to become a member in January and we are so happy that we did.  We've really enjoyed the networking, connections, friendships, leads and the opportunity to show off our talent.  

Just recently, I had the opportunity to become a WWOTB Ambassador to Hernando County.  In this capacity, along with two other women, Wendy McGinnis, owner of  Elegant Exposures Photography and Denielle Lue of Stitch to My Lue Promotions we have been working with Jessica Rivelli, Founder and President of Working Women of Tampa Bay to grow the brand in Hernando County.  Our kick off Power Lunch was held this past Thursday at the beautiful Silverthorn Country Club in Brooksville, Florida.  We hosted 42 female entrepreneurs!  Jessica spoke to the women and shared her story of success.  It was well received.  Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor provided the hot pink and black decor & linens, while Elegant Exposures offered the ladies a little fun taking photos with their new 'open air' photo booth.  

Denielle, Wendy and I shared how WWOTB has benefited us personally and professionally.  If you are looking for an organization to get involved in where you can mix and mingle with like minded professional women, build relationships, learn and have some fun, Working Women of Tampa Bay is definitely the place for you!  You don't have to be a member to attend the events, but membership does have its perks!  

Next month's Hernando County Power Lunch will be held on Thursday, July 17th at Silverthorn Country Club at 11:30am - 1:30pm.  Rena Romano, owner of "Speak Lead and Achieve", will be next months "powerful speaker" and we are so happy to have her come to Hernando County! Rena is a certified speaking and leadership coach.  This is a POWER LUNCH that you won't want to miss!  Click here to REGISTER.  


New Year...New Season!

Wow!  It's just amazing to me to see all the doors that have opened and the connections that I've made in the past couple of months.  I prayed for opportunities to bless people through Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor and it excites me when I get a chance to do so.   I am so grateful to Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis for referring me to the Dawn Center.  The Dawn Center is Hernando County's only domestic violence shelter.   I am honored to provide decor for their upcoming, "A Chocolate Affair", Wine Tasting at the Saxon Manor on Thursday, February 6th at 7:00pm.  Working with the Executive Director of the Dawn Center and select members of their event committee has been a lot of fun!  I can't wait to have the tables dripping in chocolate (Hint...Hint...)!!!  

It was through the planning of that very event that I met the owner of Saxon Manor.  We hit it off during a two hour telephone conversation and then followed that up with a four hour dinner at GrillSmith, one of my favorite restaurants.  During dinner we came up with the idea over dinner of having a "Bridal Tasting".  We called it, "A Taste for Brides...Cakes and Catering".  Please note that this is NOT A BRIDAL SHOW!  (LOL - Inside joke!)  This will be an amazing event where brides and their guests can tantalize their taste buds as well as try a few other vendors (ie. DJ, Photographer, Photo Booth, etc.) on for size.  It takes place on Sunday, February 16th from 1:00 - 4:00pm.  

On January 23rd, I will provide vibrant decor for a networking meeting at the beautiful, Southern Hills Clubhouse. I have to thank Jessica Rivelli, CEO and Founder of Working Women of Tampa Bay for liking my Facebook page.  Since then I introduced to an amazing group of women.  This organization "motivates, educates and inspires" women.  In the short time that I've been a member, I've experienced all three!   The January 23rd meeting is one of many held all around the Tampa Bay Area.  Through this organization, I've already been introduced to a marketing consultant and a graphic designer - two people that I needed but did not know how to best make a connection!

This blog entry would not be complete without me making mention of my sidekick - my photographer, Sarha Rush of Sarha Michelle Photography.  Sarha is uber talented and she makes my designs come to life. Sahra took the candid picture of me below - she's super sneaky too because she knows if I was aware of her snapping that shot, I'd give her grief. Ha! Ha!  However, I really am pleased  how it came out; so much so that I am using it for this blog post!   Wherever I go, Sarha goes and documents my work.  As you can see, she is amazing!  If you need a photographer to capture life's special events, she is definitely the one!   Sarha is a soft spoken young lady who is humble and hard working - and she's not afraid to 'dress a table' either!

This New Year marks a new season for me!  I am thankful for all of the connections and open doors!  I am so excited about all of YOU...new friends and old (we are at 630 Facebook friends as of this blog posting - did I tell you that we were at 284 at the end of last year?)!  I am so excited about the future and what it holds!  I am blessed to do what I love and love what I do.

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Lots to be thankful for...

We at Tantalizing Tablescapes & Decor have a lot to be thankful for.  This month alone, has been an extremely busy one especially because this was our first month doing business as a corporate entity!  Woo Hoo!  On Saturday, November 1st we had a wedding rehearsal dinner that we added some 'red, black & white' decor to; just three days later on Monday, November 4th, we created, delivered and set up 25 centerpieces for the 4th Annual Melting Pot Golf Tournament to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. On Sunday, November 17th we had fun displaying our re-purposed 'baby items' for a 'very pink baby shower'.  By the end of that week, on Saturday, November 23rd, we rocked it out at a "Rock Star" Birthday Party for a very special 7 year old girl who also loves pink!

When we thought we were done for the month, we got a call from a local radio station, The Joy FM who asked us to help them 'spread some joy' across a few tables for their staff of 50!  We worked together to create a beautiful backdrop for this event: white table clothes, gold chiavari chairs, gold charger plates with a splash of orange and a splash of brown.  We agreed that the addition of a few eight foot pre-lit ficus trees along with a few floor lamps softened the HUGE freshly painted white room. Beautiful off white & brown ceramic lanterns with an orange candle on the inside adorned with fall foliage at the base, atop a 14 inch round mirror truly set the stage for an amazing Thanksgiving celebration.  What a honor it was to serve an awesome group of people that inspire us every day!  

On Thanksgiving Day, we joined nearby cousins for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. My husband was signed up to cook his amazing smoked pork.  I was supposed to cook the Macaroni and Cheese and bring the 'decor'; my mother was supposed to cook the Jamaican Rice & Peas, Bread Pudding and make the Rum Punch.  As it stands, hubby made the pork, the mac & cheese, rice & peas, bread pudding and rum punch - the latter three with Mom's strict instruction & guidance!  HE TOTALLY ROCKS!!!!

Speaking of our Thanksgiving Dinner, pictured below is our 'non-traditional' Thanksgiving Tablescape!  I just love this tree, in fact, I just ordered 9 more!  So if you know anyone having a wedding and would love to add some silver bling to their reception tables, please send them our way!  This Manzanita Tree is a definite favorite, it really brings a splash of elegance to your tablescape.  However, it also reminds me of growth and we are definitely feeling a lot of that around here. Speaking of growth and trees, yes, please 'ask me about the other trees - the 6 eight foot ficus trees'.  Oh those trees!!!  Gosh, I am thankful for good friends that will get you out of a pickle without question, in the rain at 8 pm at night with six 8 foot ficus trees and a U-Haul truck to return!  

In all seriousness, I am truly blessed to be able to do what I absolutely love to do but I certainly could not do it alone.  I am so thankful for the wonderful friends and family that support me, encourage me, pray for me, inspire me and save me from the 'trees'!  LOL!!! Special thanks to my friends who get their hands dirty with me, making things happen around here and doing it out of the goodness of their heart because they love me and they believe in me and believe in what I am doing!  Gosh, I really have lots to be thankful for...

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Choosing a Theme & Staying Focused

I asked my Facebook friends to suggest a topic for the blog since it's "Write it Wednesday" and childhood friend Aiesha Simpkins suggested, "How to Choose a Theme and Follow Through, Without Going Overboard."  Thank you for your suggestions Aiesha!  Great topic!  My initial thought was, "Ha!  I have no idea how NOT to go overboard!"  However, as I got to thinking, I must give props to my hubby for always keeping me on track.   Staying Focused is VERY difficult when planning my own events; I am much more careful when spending a clients' money.  However, birthday parties have gone from just cake and ice cream to special themes with coordinating gift bags, favors, place cards and customized cakes.  If you are not careful, you will definitely go overboard.  Here are a few tips to help you stay on task:

1.  Choose your theme - Sounds easy, huh?  Well, unless someone has hired you to create decor for a 'themed' event', you're gonna have to come up with one on your own.  I guess it all depends on the type of occasion.  If you're planning your child's birthday party, an easy way to agree on a theme is to simply include the child and take his/her ideas into consideration and allow them to help you execute it!  You'd be surprised what they'd come up with.  A holiday theme can be quite easy.  You can go the traditional 'red & green' route or you can choose to color outside the lines [much like I do] and create a holiday theme that is unique and a reflection of who you are.  Last Thanksgiving I decided to ditch the orange and brown for something more lively and more inviting of what was to come, "Christmas", so I went with the teal and red. I thought the colors were vibrant and different - not what you would expect for a Thanksgiving table and that is always my goal - the unexpected. If you are still stuck, Pinterest is a GREAT tool for inspiration.  Your search can be very specific and yet yield a wide array of results.  For instance, type in "Kids Themed Birthday Party Ideas" and you'll get hundreds of great pictures to inspire you and keep you up until 4am.  If you are planning your own celebration, perhaps choosing a theme based on your favorite things would work.  My advice would be, don't be afraid to think outside of the box and take some risks.  Do what you love so that you can love what you did!

2.  Once you've chosen your theme, create a budget....oh and stick to it!  What's the use of creating one if you don't adhere to it?  Defeats the whole purpose!  If you commit to sticking to your budget you will stay focused and not go overboard.  Your budget is the key to staying on task.  When I create customized decor for clients, the types of budgets vary.  I've had clients who say, "sky's the limit" and others who say, "this is all I've got, work with it!"  I love working with both clients and both types of budgets can be challenging, believe it or not.  

3.  When you've chosen your theme and know what you can spend, stay in your lane and build from there. I like to make lists and write down my ideas, I even have a dedicated book for all of my ideas.  As I write down the ideas, other ideas come to me, so I write those down too.  I also enjoy 'pinning' inspirational photos from others on Pinterest to my own personal boards.  It's great to have everything in one place, categorized and easily accessible for future use.  As I mentioned before, try to think outside the box, for example, instead of a boring, "everybody does it" guest book, why not spice things up a little and create a coordinating photo book on Shutterfly with a little extra space for guest signatures and best wishes?   You're guests will really dig that!

Well, I really enjoyed writing this blog entry.  I hope that you find it not only interesting, but helpful.  We'd love to hear from you.  Please feel free to share your own tips and post your event photos on our FACEBOOK page.  Thanks again, Aiesha for the great topic suggestion!  :-)

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A Simple Twist

When I received a call from a prospective client who wanted to celebrate his son, the joy in his voice, inspired me!  As I listened to him talk about how much his son loved basketball and the Chicago Bulls my head started spinning with ideas.  Red and Black. Check!  Simple and Elegant. Check.  The direction was clear and the event was less than 2 weeks away!  It was time to get busy.  As I started to gather party items and layout my decor, my mission was to give the client exactly what they wanted and at the same time think of ways to WOW their guests and respect the established budget! When I think of party decor staples, I think of guest sign in books and favors.  Of course, when I incorporate either one, I never settle on anything until I am completely satisfied that it is a unique idea, it fits the theme and that the client will be blown away.  Since this was a wedding rehearsal dinner and the father was surprising his son with the element of decor at this dinner party, that just added another level of excitement for me.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love surprises; I live to give them and I love to get them!  Well this party was no different and the father was such a dream to work with. He gave me the theme and then gave me the opportunity to bring his vision to life.  I kept my design simple, but elegant.  I incorporated red and black as well as the grooms favorite players' numbers, "23" and "1".  We even threw the groom's former basketball number in there as well, as he was an avid player in college.  However, my favorite aspect of this "Black & Red Affair" was the "simple twist" on the guest book.  If there is anything that irritates me more, its the common and expected element.  So when it came to mind to use the Chicago Bulls basketball as a guest sign in, I was just beside myself! After the event, I got a text message from the father advising me that, "the basketball was a hit" and that "it went over so well, the groom took the basketball to the wedding the next day to get more signatures!"  Now that's why I do what I do. 

Welcome To The Party!

An empty table to me is like a blank canvas to an artist.  There are so many possibilities; so many endless ways to add your own personal touch to your event and to WOW your guests.  This empty table is synonymous with where I am today with my business. Although I've been customizing designs for parties & events for many years, this is a new venture for me and I am so thrilled to share my inspired talent with you! “Tantalizing Tablescapes & Décor” is a blank canvas and I am blessed with the opportunity to be able to turn it into something beautiful, something that brings me great joy as well as something that can make your life easier as you celebrate the special moments and milestones in life.  Someone once asked me, "if you could do anything for the rest of your life, what would you do?  I knew immediately that it would be designing customized decor for parties and events.  Being creative is my passion. When I followed my passion, I found my purpose!  I am so happy that I now have a way to share my passion with you!  I am excited about what the future holds for TT&D.  I 'm excited that I get to do what I love every day!  Life should be celebrated. Welcome to the party!

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