As much as I love Austin, I hate the summer heat. My dream is to leave for the 3 hottest months every year (July, August and September). I’m a little worried this year because we don’t usually get over 100 degrees until July, but this year we got there in May. Since I’m here, I like to make the best of it by attending events or small get togethers.
Summer events are always fun because people don’t have as hectic of schedules and normally aren’t over-booked so they can linger and really enjoy themselves. If you are planning an event outside, you have to think about how to keep your guests cool. If it’s not a pool party, you MUST have three things: water, shade, and fans.
Of course you need plenty of water for people to drink so no one gets dehydrated, especially if everyone is drinking alcohol. Use a dispenser and flavor the water with fruit. It’s more eye-catching and so much better for the environment than bottled waters. (80% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills. Read more about that here.)
And don’t forget the ice…
Check out these Pinterest ideas for freezing fruit.
You can get a tent in pretty much any size. The clear top tents look amazing, but do NOT get one of these in the summer – it gets way too hot.
Misting fans can cool external air temperatures up to 30 degrees (I find that hard to believe, but that is what the manufacturers say and surely they have to prove that, right?!?). The misting fans cost around $80 to rent. Note: these sell out very fast during the summer months so if you are having an event, email firstname.lastname@example.org to make your reservation. You will need to have a hose nearby to refill it about every 2 hours.
If you don’t want the misting fan, you could use regular fans to circulate the air. You can get simple box fans for as low as $4. This larger “Heat Buster” fan cost $45 to rent:
Stay cool, and if you have any topics you want me to cover in future blogs, leave a comment.
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!
Every year, my kids’ preschool hosts a Family Day where families are invited to come and view their children’s artwork, enjoy time with other families, meet new families to the school community, have lunch, and enjoy some sort of entertainment. The event is always centered around a theme and is one of the favorite days of the year.
This year, I was asked to chair the event and when asked what the theme should be, I answered, “Camping”. I hadn’t actually given it much thought and I think the theme took everyone by surprise. Themes in the past have been Fiesta; Peace, Love, and Happiness; Circus; … things that had been tested and proven to be really cute and really fun. Camping was clearly a new one. And, I am so glad we chose it.
Honestly, we probably could have just set up some tents and let the kids play in them, because what kid doesn’t like to play in a tent? Instead, the Family Day Committee came up with some great ideas. If I ever decide to hold another camping theme party, I am simply going to repeat what we did for Family Day and it will be a blast.
When I think of camping, I think of grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and marshmallows for s’mores. With that in mind, we went to work looking for cute ways to make that happen using food trucks (our Family Day staple as we also use these to block off the preschool parking lot where we hold the party). After looking near and far for the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile (which is only available for tours, not hot dog sales), we settled on the next best thing – Hot Dog and Sausage King. With a hot dog on the top, this was a really cute option and the owners promised to have the hot dogs precooked and ready so we wouldn’t have long lines. We also hired an ice cream truck to serve ice cream and shaved ice. Not exactly a camping staple but it is Austin in April so ice cream really helps keep things cool.
To the food trucks, we added lemonade, water, and chips which we purchased at Costco and had sitting out on a table for people to grab. In addition, we put together some really cute s’mores party favors to eat or take home.
Besides the children’s amazing artwork, we had to have a way to entertain 150 kids and parents for 2 hours so we planned a variety of activities for them to choose from. We had karaoke which we labeled “Campfire Songs”. We used outside blocks to build a stage and set up a microphone, some music, and gave the kids some blow up instruments to use. We also had a fishing booth where the kids could fish for prizes. We had a corn hole set and giant jenga for those who wanted to play games. And, we hired 2 face painters and 2 balloon tiers from Epic Entertainment. The kids and parents were thrilled and thanks to the creative decorations committee, we were able to tie all of these together with really cute signs, balloons, and other decor.
There are so many great camping ideas out there on Pinterest and other sites and our decorations committee absolutely outdid themselves creating an adorable setting for very little money. They bought a few teepees and blankets/tablecloths which the kids loved playing with. They also bought some campfire signs, created fishing poles and other signage out of things from their own homes and backyards, added some woodland animal balloons, and brought a few extra props from home to create a camping experience not to be forgotten.
This theme turned out so well, it begs to be repeated. While we did have to spend some money buying props, decorations, etc. I am sure similar items could have been rented from a local rental company. In our situation, the items will be used for a Camping Day Camp this summer at the preschool so it made more sense to buy them but if you want to hold a camping party and are looking to rent, loanables is there to help find all of your rental needs at the best price.
So wait no longer, plan your Kids’ Camping Party today and send us pictures from your event. We would love to see them.
Like most moms, I’m the last one to get ready to go somewhere because I have to get everyone else ready first. This often results in me showing up to school events with a ponytail, blue jeans and flip flops. I’m always in awe of the moms that are beautifully put together: hair, makeup and gorgeous clothes. Carolyn Skyles is one of these moms. To top it off she had an amazing career as a real estate agent in Austin for over 15 years.
I’ve gotten to know her because she is one of the leaders of my daughter’s Daisy Scout troop. Now until this year, that title would not have meant all that much to me. But, oh my gosh – I thank myself every time we have a meeting that I didn’t volunteer for this position. It requires a TON of prep work plus it’s like herding 25 kittens and getting them to do crafts during the meetings.
You’ve got the picture now – put together, successful, great mom and giving of her time. You would probably look at her and think: “she has nothing to worry about.” Well, what I didn’t know until fairly recently was that a few years ago Carolyn’s life was far from “perfect” when she was going through a divorce at the same time as she was dealing with breast cancer.
While she had an incredible support system of loving friends and family, she still felt extremely overwhelmed especially right after her diagnosis because she really didn’t know any other women in her age group who had been treated for breast cancer. One day she received a call from a patient navigator at BCRC (Breast Cancer Resource Center). This woman (who is also a breast cancer survivor) was reaching out to offer support, guidance, answer questions, and introduce her to the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, an amazing support group of other breast cancer patients and survivors in Austin. Carolyn said finding out about this group did so much for her because she was then able to connect with and learn about the experiences of other women to whom she could actually relate.
Because of her gratitude and appreciation for the BCRC, Carolyn is inspired to give back to this organization that does so much for women battling breast cancer. She is one of the 40 models at Art Bra Austin 2018. “Art Bra Austin is a fully costumed, professionally produced runway show and auction to raise funds to support local women affected by breast cancer.” Additionally, she has a fundraising page where anyone can donate money to help support the BCRC.
The event is June 2, 2018 at the JW Marriott. I haven’t been to the event yet, but I’ve talked to several that have, and the consensus is that it is amazing to see all of the art and also very fun. I’m a multitasker so I love when I can have a great night out with my husband and also give to a great cause.
I was wrapping up this blog when I found this video, which captures another client’s story. I had to share it (get your tissue out!)
Is it truly a “party” without a dance floor?!? I don’t think so. The most fun I’ve had at events (some embarrassing) have be on the dance floor – either dancing or just watching. It’s great entertainment, but you can’t just call a rental company and say “I want a dance floor.” You have to know what you want to get the best quote.
On the chart below, I’m giving you an estimate. For the average party, you can expect that the most amount of people on the dance floor at a given time is around 30 – 40%. Now, there are exceptions to every rule. When I was 23, my life long friend, Claire, got married. She had 10 attendants and most of the guests were in their 20s. For that party, a lot more than 40% were dancing (some even on stage with the band – I won’t name names ;-). Contrast that to my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary: I bet less than 10% were dancing. (I got the honor of dancing with my grandfather so I was glad they had it there: dance floors make the best memories).
For each person, you need approximately 4 square feet. The chart below is an oversimplification for 2 reasons:
(Pro Tip: just email email@example.com, and we’ll figure it out for you for free).
at one time
|100||30 – 40||144||12 x 12||$216|
|150||50 – 60||225||15 x 15||$340|
|200||70 – 80||324||18 x 18||$485|
|300||110 – 120||441||21 x 21||$670|
|400||140 -160||576||24 x 24||$870|
|500||180 – 200||729||27 x 27||$1100|
Note: these are prices without delivery fees, and most of the rental companies will require that they deliver and professionally install for liability purposes. Standard delivery fees will vary dramatically based on location, but you can expect them to be around $75 each way or $150 total. You can easily double that amount if the pick up has to happen after hours (for example after the event ends at night or on Sunday).
In my chart above, I used an average square foot price of $1.50 per square foot (this is for the commonly used, light wood floor). There are many different types of dance floors with a wide range of prices. This chart will give you the average prices of popular types of floors:
|Type||Avg. Cost Per Sq. Ft.|
|Light Wood Dance Floor||$1.50|
|Vintage Wood Dance Floor||$1.75|
|Solid White, Solid Black or Checkered
|Halographic Dance Floor||$2.75|
|LED Dance Floor||$14|
I hope this helps you with your party planning. Here are a couple of other relevant blogs I’ve written:
Let me know what you think or what other topics you’d like me to cover.
Mobile bars are all the rage. From airstreams to horse trailers, party throwers and goers across the US are choosing bars on wheels for their next big event. Here in central Texas, Tassie Grantham is making a big splash with her mobile horse trailer bars.
The idea for horse trailer bars came to Tassie in October 2016. She woke up one morning and was determined to buy a horse trailer. Why? Because she lived in Texas and in Texas people want horse trailers! She bought her first horse trailer that very day and began to customize it to be her first mobile bar. Today, Tassie is owner of SassTass & the Pour Horse, Mobile Bars, LLC and has a couple of horse trailer bars as well as other portable bar options and her business is booming!
SassTass Mobile Bars and Bartending Services
If you are looking for a unique bar option, fantastic bartending service, or food service staff for your wedding, charity event, or other big party, look no further. SassTass & The Pour Horse has a variety of mobile bars, portable bars, and bartending and food service for hire and even create signature cocktails and offer to personalize the service to make your event extra special.
When it comes to mobile bars, SassTass has a few options:
The Pour Horse – this charming converted 1975 King horse trailer has vintage charm and becomes a talking point at any event. The Pour Horse rental includes 1 bartender to service your guests.
Whinny, The Mini Bar – a 1938 one horse horse trailer renovated and converted into a bar with wood panels on the side, wood bar tops, a canvas roof and really cool lighting. Whinny can also be a coffee or dessert bar
Beelavish “The Laurel Traveler” – the Laurel Trailer is a Glamping Style Vintage Camper Bar owned by Bee Lavish in Spring Branch, TX. SassTass & The Pour Horse has partnered with Bee Lavish to offer your favorite cocktails and bar tending service in this really great camper. It is a slightly different look and feel than a horse trailer bar giving you yet another option for your event than the other mobile bars.
In addition, SassTass has portable bar options, a vintage tea cart, and just standard bartending service. So, no matter what your needs, SassTass is a great option to provide cocktails and food service for your next event.
What should I serve?
If you need some cocktail ideas for your event, how about a Skinny version of a Texas classic to go with the Texas trailers? My favorites are these Easy Skinny Mojitos with all the flavor and none of the sugar found in most mojitos. Serving them in mason jars makes them even more fun.
Easy Skinny Mojito Recipe
For a light and delicious appetizer, you might try sliced garlic toast with a smear of cream cheese, roasted red pepper, and a slice of cucumber. These go great with the mojitos and are easy finger foods for guests.
No matter what you serve, Tassie Grantham and her team of TABC certified bartenders and insured food handlers and service staff are there to make your event go off without a hitch with a ton of Texas charm.
So, what are you waiting for? Book SassTass & the Pour Horse for your next event today!
Ronda Rutledge has something everyone wants: a job she she is truly passionate about. She is the Executive Director at the Sustainable Food Center (SFC). I sat down and had coffee with her at Bennu Coffee (they only serve fair-trade coffee and locally sourced food). She’s one of those people that you just immediately love – she’s warm and friendly with a very relaxed manner. She’s the kind of person you just want to hug (even if you aren’t a hugger).
Ronda’s passion for farming is in her DNA. She comes from a long line of farmers dating back to the Cherokees in the Carolinas. Her grandfather 5 generations back was part of the Cherokee Nation that signed the treaty with the federal government that led to the removal of the Trail of Tears (the forced relocation of Native Americans out of their ancestral homelands). When her family was forced to move west, they relocated to Oklahoma, now the seat of the Cherokee Nation. The chief was very angry that the treaty was signed; so, all involved were put on a hit list. To protect his family, her grandfather (5 generations ago) moved to Texas.
They settled in east Texas, but farming in Texas is very different than farming in the Carolinas. Her family had to learn new ways to grow their food. The idea of food sovereignty has been passed down through the generations and is engrained in the way Ronda thinks. “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” A major component of that is sustainability and making sure future generations have this same right.
Check out this video from National Geographic about why sustainable food systems matter:
SFC serves the Austin community in 4 ways:
I highly encourage you to take a tour of their 4-star rated green energy office and community space. They even serve you lunch, but be sure to RSVP.
I love non-profits that couple fundraising with amazing events, and the annual Farm to Plate event is definitely at the top of this list. “This sip-and-stroll event features bites from the best Austin chefs who are dedicated to sourcing local and sustainable food from our area farmers. Farm to Plate also features local artisan cocktails, local wines and beers, live music, and a silent auction on the beautiful indoor/outdoor grounds of Barr Mansion.” You must check out the list of amazing chefs that will be serving during the event (Sway, Fixe, Uchi, Wu Chow and many other amazing chefs will be there). It’s a great place to check out all of the hot spots in town!
The event is Wednesday, May 9 at Barr Mansion. General admission tickets are $300 and VIP tickets are $500.
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.
If you are like me, it is almost impossible to figure out how many people can actually sit at a table comfortably without bringing in the guests and trying it out. Below is a chart to help you with your planning.
|Table Size||Number of People||Layout||Average Price|
|6 Foot Rectangle Table (72″x30″)||6-8||$7.50|
|8 Foot Rectangle Table (96″x30″)||8-10||$8.00|
|36 Inch (3 foot) Round Table||4||$8.00|
|48 Inch (4 foot) Round Table||6-8||$8.00|
|60 Inch (5 foot) Round Table||8-10||$8.00|
|72″ (6 foot) Round Table||10-12||$12.00|
When you are looking at this and other charts online, you will see a range for the number of people that will fit. It irritates me when I’m looking for an answer and find a range; I just want someone to give me the exact answer. Even though I know it’s annoying, I had to do it because it really depends on your preference. There is no right answer.
There are all sorts of tables available for your event (farm tables, picnic tables, etc.). Get the dimensions of the table you are considering and compare it to the chart to figure out how many people will fit. Or, if you want to make it really easy, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will talk it through with you.
I hope this helps you with your party planning. Here are a couple of other relevant blogs I’ve written:
Let me know what you think or what other topics you’d like me to cover.