Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Going Bananas

When you are an event planner, going to a big party that you didn't plan can be an experience. It's not that you mean to be critical - you just can't help it. You notice all kinds of things that ordinary party-goers don't. Does the venue decor clash with the event decor? Is station placement logical, with a steady flow? Is someone there to assist guests with anything that isn't automatically apparent?

Last Sunday, I left Elvis Weekend in Wildwood, NJ to make the trip to Washington Crossing, PA for JQ's baby shower. I had done nothing for the party, and was feeling kind of bad about it. Especially since I had done so much for JQ's sister, LittleT, when she was expecting her first child just a few years earlier.

But LittleT and her mom had given me a heads up in advance and knew about the weekend conflict. Getting to the shower wasn't an issue, but being available in the days beforehand to prepare, collect, deliver, etc. wasn't going to be possible. So there I was, an ordinary guest at a party with no insight into what could be expected.

Kudos to LittleT - you have a career in event planning if you ever get sick of teaching music! (As if that would ever happen!)

The venue, the Martha's Vineyard room at the Washington Crossing Inn, was pretty great overall. Onsite catering created a Sunday Brunch menu that was varied and interesting, with several lower-calorie options available to prevent the buffet from becoming a dieter's dilemma. Everything tasted fresh and bright and even the baked goods (which I'm pretty sure were prepared by a local bakery, not onsite) still had the day-of aroma and texture. The room itself was a little tight for the 40-person party it claims to service and was heavily decorated - plants, clocks, fireplace, fans, pictures, candles. This can be a problem, but LittleT and my aunt set it to their advantage, enlisting just a touch of fun, simple party decorations that gave the whole space a cozy, party-in-someone's-living-room feel.

Monkeys were key. JQ and hubby had chosen monkeys as a theme for the nursery, so monkeys combined with various shades of green in the linens and balloons to make a sweet little jungle.

The cake, which was made by a friend, was absolutely adorable and used fondant appropriately. (It's decoration, people. Just because it's edible doesn't mean it's tasty!) Hand-cut fondant monkeys peeked out around the cake and bounced around the topper, which read "Let's Go Bananas... (JQ)'s Having a Baby Boy!" I wasn't supposed to eat any cake, but I had a few bites of Mom's and it was a delicious, moist, devil's food. (Layer 2 was orange pound cake. Party-goers gave it great reviews, but I didn't get the chance to taste it.)

Games were all written and served as excellent icebreakers. My favorite was coming up with a boy's name for each letter of the alphabet, which resulted in awesomely rediculous suggestions like Nostradamus and Renquist. This is especially funny since the couple have not yet come up with a name (they swear they aren't just withholding), so even the most absurd suggestions seem somehow possible...

A traditional ladies-only shower allowed for a huge cross-section of JQ's life to be present with her despite the 40 max guest list, and it was wonderful to see so many friends show up to share the day with her.

And of course, family! All of the aunts, cousins, and mothers were there - even our cousin Funnyman's fiancee, whose wedding we'll all be attending this summer. (This girl is awesome and I need to come up with a nickname for her pronto, because I have a feeling she's going to factor in our lives in a big way from now on. You can sort of see her in the top picture of the collage, helping JQ and hubby hold up her gift - a clothesline filled with beautiful new baby clothes.)

All in all, a huge success, a ton of fun, and the little snugamuffin made out like a bandit!

Congrats, cousin!

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