Photobooths have become almost standard entertainment at today’s events in Austin. They can be found at school parties, fundraisers, weddings and many corporate events. Want to be sure that your photobooth is a hit with your guests and that they leave with something they will keep? Here are 3 steps to creating the best photobooth experience.
Start with the background of your photo. This really sets the stage and should match or at least coordinate with the theme of your event. Is it a school circus-themed carnival? Then a red and white striped backdrop would set the scene perfectly. Here is a fun option on Etsy or make your own with red and white streamers or plastic tables clothes! Is it a princess, fairytale wedding? Perhaps a sparkly tulle or gold sequins would be more appropriate. Most photobooth operators have a backdrop they will bring, and they may even have multiple choices so ask about these options before booking. If your chosen provider doesn’t have something perfect, think outside the box and rent something totally unique like these castle doors we found to use as the backdrop at the Mass Challenge Showcase.
Next, be sure you will have the appropriate props to inspire your guests and amp up the theme. This may not seem that important to think about because again, most photobooth providers have many choices they will bring with them. However, if you are having a specific themed event, like a roaring 20s party, you may want to have swanky boas, black top hats and fun oversized rings or necklaces to add flair. If you’re having a Mardi Gras event, beads and masks in purple, green and gold will be a much better finishing touch than the typical props.
Keep in mind that too many choices can be overwhelming, so culling down the options provided by your photobooth operator can also be helpful to your guests. Display all of the items that match the color story of your event and then throw in just a few unusual pieces that are sure to get a laugh. This taco hat was a hit at our event!
Additional décor should also be considered. Having a fantastic piece to sit on or stand next to can make the photo completely unique and give guests a story to tell after the event. What about an antique soda machine or a royal throne that has been used in a well-known TV show or movie? Tell your guests the background of the piece and then they will have a story to tell when they share the image on social media or with friends.
Finally, be sure to plan the photo layout to include your event logo, text and colors on the printed and digital image. Work with your photobooth operator to prepare this in advance so that your guests leave with something to remember your event, company or message. While it is perfectly fine to just use the event title and date, you could also include a call to action or message of gratitude.
Now that you’re all set on how to prepare for your photo booth, why don’t you enter to win a 2-hour photo booth rental for FREE?! Austintatious Photo Booth is a great affordable photo booth for your wedding, party or corporate event. They come with multiple backdrops, props and will help you prepare your printout to capture the memories for your guests to take home. Last day to enter is 5/26/18 so enter now!
The Ballet Austin 2017-18 season concludes on Mother’s Day weekend with the final performance of Peter Pan. Just two weeks before, Ballet Austin Guild will celebrate with “An Afternoon in Neverland” Sunday Tea at the Driskill Hotel. This annual event sold out last year so don’t delay– gather your mothers, daughters and girlfriends to take part. We spoke with Ballet Austin Guild President, Suzanne Mackowiak to learn more about this year’s event and her passion for supporting Ballet Austin through the Guild.
Suzanne grew up in a small town in East Texas and given the size and location, there was not consistent access to formal training. Ballet, tap and jazz instructors would move in and out of town leaving gaps for the group of girls who practiced there. Her mother knew that having physical, regimented activity could have huge impact on physical development through experience with Suzanne’s older sister. After carrying her for 10 full months, she was born with a crooked foot. Her mother noticed quickly that regular ballet instruction and practice was working to straighten her foot. Fast forward to Suzanne’s childhood, when instructors were not available in their small East Texas town, the group of mothers would take turns piling all the girls into their cars and carpooling to the nearest large city to keep the ballerinas progressing in their skills.
Suzanne learned grace, discipline and teamwork through her ballet training and credits her mother’s commitment for the adventure they took together, leading to lifelong friendships. One of those friends and her mother attended last year’s Ballet Austin Guild Afternoon Tea and will be attending again this year.
In her day job, Suzanne works at the Capitol focusing on Veterans, military and border security policy. She is busy in and out of session but still maintains time for Ballet Austin Guild as well as participating as an active member of Junior League of Austin. Her husband, Matt, is a political pundit, Chairman of Travis County GOP and founder of Potomac Strategy Group.
Ballet Austin Guild is an all-volunteer organization whose purpose is to support Ballet Austin in a variety of ways. They provide educational programming for elementary-aged children through school shows during the Holiday season performances of The Nutcracker, as well as docent services in which Guild members go out to area schools and teach about classical ballet. The Guild is also the largest annual non-governmental donor to Ballet Austin, providing funds for youth scholarships for those who would not otherwise be able to afford classical dance instruction. Read the fascinating story of Orlando Canova, a current Ballet Austin Company Dancer who received a similar scholarship at the School of American Ballet. Without these funds, Ballet Austin would miss out on the opportunity to work with some very talented dancers.
Ballet Austin Guild has an open membership, so you can join and get started anytime by attending a general meeting. They will happily introduce you to the group and find how you want to serve with them. Meetings happen all over town as the membership is spread out. Suzanne has been part of the Guild for about five years, serving as President this year and VP of Fundraising Events in 2016-17. This year’s event, has about 15 members actively involved with a mix of fundraising and planning depending on each member’s interest and talents. Suzanne explained that often people surprise themselves when they get involved, as in the case of one member who said she didn’t want to be responsible for soliciting donations. One day, spur of the moment she asked a business owner if they would donate a pearl necklace and after that one success, knocked down businesses left and right ultimately bringing in thousands of dollars worth of donations for the event.
Suzanne emphasized that we don’t realize how special it is to have ballet, symphony and opera (the big three) in a city like Austin. It takes funds to keep Ballet Austin among the top companies in the country, so the Guild seeks to raise about $60,000 through the annual event and raises additional funds through managing the Gift Barre at Nutcracker Holiday shows. But the volunteer hours are just as important. Last season, Ballet Austin Guild totaled 5,427 volunteer hours which is the equivalent of 2 full time employees and 1 part time employee.
The annual tea follows the theme of the final performance of Ballet Austin’s 2017-18 season, an is appropriately named An Afternoon in Neverland. The event will have an open format, providing time to visit with girlfriends or family, to enjoy a traditional tea menu while sipping on tea, juice and champagne. There will also be live music, a photo booth and costumes to entertain guests. This event is appropriate for all ages and families are encouraged to bring multiple generations to enjoy the afternoon together. Goody bags will be available to entertain younger guests and word on the street is there may be some stiff competition to beat out Ann Downing’s family hats from last year! So don’t be shy, go all out and make special memories with those you love. You never know, you just might find this to be your perfect Mother’s Day tradition!
The last thing Nicole LeFave needed to do upon her return from maternity leave was to add more responsibility to her plate. She already had a full time job as a civil litigation attorney and now had a newborn baby boy to add to the mix. But she heard through the Austin Bar Association that Austin Diaper Bank was specifically looking for attorneys to join the board of directors, and Nicole was drawn to the opportunity to use her legal skills to give back to the Austin community. As a new mom, she was surprised to learn that diapers are often seen as a luxury for many in the Austin area. How could it be that something so basic and necessary for an infant and young child could also be such a struggle to access? As she learned more, she knew she wanted to get involved to help further the mission of Austin Diaper Bank. When we asked her how she does it all she explained that her type A personality means that she is actually more productive when she has more to do. If there is only a limited time, you just have put your head down and get to work!
One of the needs that became apparent after she joined the board was spearheading the planning of Austin Diaper Bank’s first annual Bash. This event will raise critical funds for continuing the mission of ADB and provide a benchmark for the event’s fundraising goals in future years. Ironically, Nicole had helped planned a special fundraising event at her firm before the courthouse bond election and found it to be both fun and rewarding. So when ADB endeavored to create a first annual fundraising event, Nicole was up for the challenge!
This year’s event will take place at the iconic South Congress Hotel on Friday, April 13th. Guests will celebrate with drinks and bites (from the same kitchen that services the hotel’s popular Café No Sé.) The hip and chic vibe of South Congress will be the perfect setting for board members to mingle with guests so they can learn more about the needs in Austin. There will be a great silent auction including unique experiences like a week-long vacation at a home in Idaho and 4 tickets to see Diana Krall at ACL Live. A photobooth and DJ will keep the evening fun and exciting. Grab your tickets here!
There are many donor & volunteer opportunities with Austin Diaper Bank. Nicole shared that donating diapers is one of the easiest and most needed contributions. Even opened packages are accepted so if your little one has just graduated to the next size, or you didn’t use all of the swim diapers last summer, please send those along. Drop-off locations are all over the city including central places like the Whole Foods parking lot downtown on 6th & Lamar. To maximize your contribution, consider hosting a diaper drive. Nicole asked for diapers in lieu of gifts for her son’s 1st birthday. What a great way to give in an easy way and not acquire extra, unnecessary things for a child who isn’t old enough to appreciate them!
If you want a hands on experience, volunteer to wrap, package and distribute diapers at the warehouse. Nicole’s son, Nathan, had his first volunteer experience in the family-friendly space after Hurricane Harvey hit the gulf coast. With age-appropriate tasks, ADB makes it easy for even the youngest volunteer to make an impact in Austin. Think about the groups you know that look for different opportunities like this. It would be perfect for girl scout troops, a church small group, or a family service project.
And finally, Austin Diaper Bank maintains an Amazon wishlist of specific items of the highest need. Fill up your cart and have them delivered directly to ADB. It doesn’t get any more hassle-free than that.
Grab your tickets for Austin Diaper Bank Bash by clicking the button above! And let us know about the event you are planning so we can feature your organization next.
Fancy Fluff has reinvented that timeless treat we all remember from days at the county fair, school carnival or friend’s birthday party: cotton candy. While classic sugar spinning techniques may not have changed much, the ingredients that comprise the perfect swirl of cotton certainly have. No longer must we accept the refined sugars and artificial flavors from the past, because Jessica Halich has created the same nostalgic feeling with modern ingredients like organic sugar and natural flavors.
And the flavors have certainly received an upgrade. Options like bourbon maple and jalapeno provide a unique tasting opportunity for adults, while classic flavors like strawberry, butterscotch and creamsicle please party-goers of all ages!
Jessica began honing her sugar spinning skills back in high school. It didn’t take long for her become lead spinner, running the cotton candy machine at every school event. But she didn’t take note of the business potential until years later, when she attended a birthday party with her own children. She saw that cotton candy had remained virtually unchanged all those years later, and knew she had an opportunity to modernize the classic treat. Using her business skills and creativity previously directed toward event production, Jessica created Fancy Fluff and now pleases Austin palettes at Mitzavahs, galas and corporate events all year long.
Fancy Fluff has always offered live sugar spinners for your event, creating not just classic cones, but also themed-inspired shapes like Troll hair for birthday parties and bunny shapes for Easter! And now, they’ve added a new way for adults to enjoy this fancy treat. Fancy Fluff now delivers the perfect Friday treat, dropping off 50 tubs of their delectable flavors to enjoy at your office! The total package is $175 and includes delivery in the Austin area. Celebrate the end of the week with some sweet fluffiness!
Want to win a cotton candy office party for yourself? Enter to win here. Your coworkers will thank you!
If there are two meals you don’t want to miss, it’s these two: Swift’s Attic Wild Hog Dinner benefitting Operation Turkey and Lost Pines Nursery Benefit Dinner. Here are the details you need to know!
Let’s start with a sustainably-sourced Wild Hog Dinner featuring skilled chefs from WuChow, Eberly and Swift’s Attic. This no rules dinner allows the chefs to make whatever they fancy utilizing wild hog from a sustainable hunt with Michael Moore of River Bottom Trackers. Produce is also sourced from local farms for a true farm-to-table experience.
Who Brian Tolbert, Executive Director of Operation Turkey, began this dinner series about 5 years ago. His original dinner featured seafood, wild-caught by hand (his hands!) during a fishing trip to Alaska and has continued to feature sustainably sourced proteins.
What 5-course, family-style dinner along with donated wines, tequila and live music performed by Big Britches.
Where Swift’s Attic, 3rd & Congress
When Sunday, March 4, 5-9pm, dinner served at 6pm
Why All proceeds benefit Operation Turkey through which every dollar is used for food or food preparation as the organization is 100% volunteer-operated. Last year, 5,000 volunteers worked from 8am until noon on Thanksgiving Day to provide 8,000 Thanksgiving meals in Austin alone. Countless more were fed through Operation Turkey’s volunteer groups in surrounding Austin areas as well as Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, and outside of Texas in Colorado, Georgia, New Mexico and North Carolina. To learn more about how you can volunteer, sign up for informational emails here.
Pro-tip (from the Hunter) You get the best meat by sourcing animals from a place where they have the highest quality diet. For example, many hogs can be found feeding on acorns all day long, but the hogs used for this dinner live in wheat fields, producing a much higher quality protein.
Next, brought to you by a team of acclaimed culinary and botany masters, The Lost Pines Nursery Benefit Dinner at Barr Mansion is an unparalleled opportunity to experience farm-to-table fare with the Farmer-in-Residence, Christian Drake, walking guests through the courses from his unique botanical perspective.
Who Botanists Christian Drake & Ben McMurray have taken on the task of revitalizing Bastrop’s historic nursery. Chefs Jessica Ximenes of Barr Mansion & Bethany DiBaggio of La Pera have curated and designed the evening’s meal.
What The Lost Pines Nursery Dinner at Barr Mansion & Artisan Ballroom will feature a prix fixe menu focused on items grown in the nursery. Don’t miss out on the plant auction!
Where Barr Mansion & Artisan Ballroom 10463 Sprinkle Rd. Austin, TX 78754
When Wednesday, March 7, 6:30-9:30pm
Why Be part of revitalizing Lost Pines Nursery while treating yourself to a special evening. The goal of the evening is to raise capital to begin operations and spread awareness of the nursery’s re-opening to serve the Austin area and beyond in Central Texas. Drake & McMurray have a culinary farming focus and are utilizing unique agricultural solutions like special watering techniques and soil-nutrient mixtures that work together to create the highest quality plant. While they are starting with tomatoes, they will broaden the scope to include both exotic and native plants.
Pro-tip (from the Farmer) Have you ever noticed how some of those tomatoes from the grocery store don’t seem to have much tomato flavor at all? That’s because farms that supply grocery stores over water the plants in order to create the highest yield or poundage. Well, if you stop watering tomatoes as soon as they turn red, you may see a lower yield, but you will have the tastiest tomatoes ever!
SXSW dominates the scene in Austin during the month of March, but there are many other local events to get excited about as well! Let’s start it off with something fun for the whole family…
This is one of Austin’s incredible FREE events. Did you know it is the nation’s oldest kite festival? Brought to you by ABC Home and Commercial Services, the day is filled with kite making, kite flying & kite contests! But wait, there’s more! MossFest, a children’s music concert, a fun run and, of course, great food are all staples at this long-standing event. Proceeds from the day are gifted to Communities in Schools of Central Texas and the Moss Pieratt Foundation. What a great reason to get out and enjoy the day at Zilker Park!
There is so much to do at this year’s SXSW event. From music to emerging tech talks to film and fashion, it is hard to decide what to attend. Here are just a couple of events we are excited about:
BBQ Crash Course: sampling some of Texas’ best barbecue with a chance to meet the pitmasters, at Southbites Trailer Park
AI: Transforming Luxury, Fashion and Beauty: a panel discussion about the future of fashion with AI, at the Four Seasons
Think VC: The Value of Women Investing in Women: a panel discussion about increasing the number of female early stage investors, at the Hilton
Cindy Y. Log (Red Velvet Events): mentor session by one of Austin’s best event planners, at the JW Marriott
Just Press Go: Waymo’s Self-Driving Cars Are Here: CEO John Krafcik shares about the 9 years and 4 million miles that brought the reality of self-driving cars to Arizona and soon to a city near you, at the Austin Convention Center
The Travis County Expo Center is home to Rodeo Austin. Two solid weeks are packed with live music, fair games & food and, of course, the rodeo and stock show. Our favorite rodeo pastime is watching Mutton Bustin’ in which aspiring cowboys and cowgirls (ages 6-8) get 6 seconds to hang on to a sheep for dear life! Signups for your son or daughter to participate are already full but you can still enjoy the show and get them mentally prepared for next year.
This acrobatic comedy has all the components of the perfect western- a lover’s tale, folk music from the likes of Johnny Cash & Patsy Cline and a motley crew with great stories of fortune and folly. See this original western musical on stage at The Long Center. Tickets start at just $29 and the show is appropriate for all ages. Watch a clip of the show here.
Austin lifestyle expert and designer Katie Kime will be designing the runway for the 10th anniversary of Austin Fashion Week. Catch the main live show on March 29th along with soirees at local stores March 31-April 4. The week long event concludes April 5-7 with nightly runways from designers across the country.
Did we miss your favorite March event? Let us know so we can spotlight it!
When you want the inside scoop on an upcoming event, it is best to start with the source. We reached out to Kelly Hyde, chair of this year’s Unmasked Gala, and she took a few moments to share her story and the passion behind her involvement with Wonders & Worries.
In college, both Kelly & her husband pursued studies to prepare themselves for careers in medicine. They took the required classes at the University of Texas, studied and passed the MCAT, and began looking into medical schools. Along the way, they decided to prioritize family over having both of them pursue this career, so Kelly made what she now knows was the best decision for balance and happiness through the tough medical training years and decided to focus on raising their children. As it turned out, this decision also allowed her to develop another passion, culinary arts. Kelly was able to hone her skills and make some extra money while her husband went through medical school and residency by catering lunches at physicians’ offices in Galveston and Clear Lake, and when her husband’s fellowship moved them to Lexington, Kentucky, she went on to work as the head cook and baker at the Gift Box Tea Room. Ultimately, they returned to Austin, where Kelly graduated from the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and provided personal chef services for several families in Westlake. All while raising her four children– talk about a strong, smart and powerful woman!
Kelly first heard about Wonders & Worries through her involvement with the Travis County Medical Alliance (TCMA), a group that helps foster social networks for the families of medical professionals, among other goals. In Kelly’s case, the organization accomplished just that when she found a kindred spirit in Meredith Cooper, co-founder of Wonders & Worries. She has now been involved on the board for two years and has taken on more responsibility by chairing the committee for the 2018 annual event, Unmasked. The gala committee is comprised of both past participants in the organization as well as those who learned about the organization through friends, like Kelly. They meet regularly with the goal of spreading the word, making the plans, divvying up the work and raising funds to support Wonders & Worries.
Kelly shared that Wonders & Worries helps children with parents suffering from any life-threatening illness, not just cancer. One story at this year’s event will feature a mother of four who is a heart transplant patient. This type of situation is of particular interest to Kelly, as her husband is now a practicing heart surgeon. Wonders & Worries provides support and services to these families as a way to help them navigate the unknown journey of a parent facing a life-threatening illness. It offers services free of charge regardless of financial need so that families going through these difficult situations are not given one more decision to weigh based on finances. Kelly explained that parents are often dealing with their own roller coaster of a changing diagnosis and Wonders & Worries equips them with how to explain things to their children, like what it will be like in the hospital. Wonders & Worries provides individual and group sessions, along with family fun events and parent resources.
This year’s gala will help spread awareness to friends, family and physicians but the extra-special surprise of the soiree is being kept tightly under wraps– perhaps you could say, behind the mask. 😉 We do know there will be a fabulous meal complimented by signature cocktails and wine service, an entertaining live auction led by Cowboy Auctioneers, and after-party entertainment including the spinning styles of DJ Gatsby. You’ll have to attend to experience the full unveiling of Unmasked!
Get tickets for the February 23rd event here.
We all love the truly Austin tradition of the festive trees decorated along Highway 360, but those decorations need to be cleaned up now that the holidays are over. 70+ volunteers are needed to join Keep Austin Beautiful from 9-11am on Jan. 6th to restore the natural beauty of this iconic highway. Meet at 7700 N Capital of TX Highway to pick up supplies and meet back at the same location for an appreciation party complete with treats at the end! Volunteers are asked to wear brightly colored clothing and bring a reusable water bottle. Learn more and register on their website.
Each year, Ballet Austin offers a free day of fitness and pilates to celebrate health & wellbeing. Kick start your 2018 goals and try something new like Bollywood Fitness, Pilates Reformer or CardioFUNK. Tons of trial classes and free healthy living presentations will take place between 1-4:30pm on Jan. 14th at their downtown location. Registration is not required but is encouraged to stay informed about event information.
Don’t miss the award winning Broadway musical, Finding Neverland, when it comes to Bass Concert Hall this month! It tells the story behind the beloved character of Peter Pan. For an unique meet & greet experience, join the company members for a free Brown Bag Lunch on Wednesday, Jan. 17th from 11am-noon at the Austin Parks & Recreation Senior Activity Center- Lamar location.
Austin Smiles has been working to create smiles and improve lives for over 30 years in Latin America and the Central Texas region. This year’s annual gala invites you to don your traditional cowboy hat & boots to advance the cause at the UT Alumni Center. Don’t miss the live auction, raffle, live music & more!
Join Stacie & Craig Falls at this year’s Imagine Gala. This annual event benefits the area of greatest need at Dell Children’s Medical Center and includes a cocktail reception, dinner and program. There will be a spectacular live auction and special patient story shared followed by dancing and casino fun!
This month, we’ve teamed up with local, Austin company Hop N Party for a giveaway of a bounce house rental for a full day of fun. We rent a lot of bounce houses through Loanables so we knew our community would love it. What’s not to love? Air it up, add a cake and you’ve got a party!
Last Friday, we met the owners of Hop N Party, David Hieronymus and his dog, Levi, to announce the giveaway on Facebook live. When you get the chance to meet David, you will immediately love him. His military background has clearly impacted the way he runs his business. He and his staff are reliable and responsible. He has a commitment to safety, ensuring that his business is properly insured to serve & protect you and your family on party day. I have rented from him several times – the service is always professional and the bounce house looks brand new (he says he replaces them every 3 years). He has a 5 star rating on yelp after 64 reviews! In this video clip we asked him about that:
During the interview, we fell in love with cute, little Levi. You can hear more about his role at the company here:
Since we love entrepreneurs, we had to ask about how he got started:
And finally here are some quotes from his customers:
All of these reasons are why we chose Hop N Party for our December giveaway. Win a free, full day bounce house rental and your kids will hop through the holidays and into the new year with extra spring in their step! Throw a last-minute holiday office party or add a little bubbly for the adults and celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Or, just make it through the school break by entertaining the kids in the neighborhood for the day. You’ll be the coolest house on the block for sure!
If you haven’t entered our monthly giveaway, of 50,000 hour LED, programmable Holiday lights from a local Austin startup, Brightly, don’t miss out! One lucky winner in Austin will win lights + installation for FREE when we draw TOMORROW! Enter here for your chance to never put up or take down Holiday lights again!
Today, we want to introduce you to Brightly’s founder, Jake & Ryan. Two software geeks who have always wanted to be in business together, and finally found their bright idea. Listen in to how they got started:
What Jake & Ryan are bringing to Austin is truly tech genius meets eco-conscious and budget-friendly! We did the math for you: at a cost of $1199 for a typical one-story roofline with one peak, these 50,000 hour programmable, LED lights used 24/7 for 6 months of the year, these Brightly lights should last over 11 years, bringing the annual cost down to $102.56! How much are your holiday lights costing you to put up and take down? Get Brightly professionally installed and NEVER take them down!