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Marshmallow Mingle (Hosting a mini party at Alt)

It’s hard to believe I’ve been home from Alt for a month.  I came home full of confidence and ideas and then the wave of real life washed over me and things have been pretty quiet on the blog.  I’ve been really excited to do a full recap of the mini party I threw with Sarah of Frankly Entertaining and Handmade Mood, and Erica of Let Why Lead and today is finally the day!

As soon as our pitch was accepted, Sarah and I started fleshing out the details of our party.  Maurices sponsored our event, which gave us the ability to make our big ideas a reality!   We knew we were going to do a ‘Marshmallow Mingle,’ and we’d pinned some inspirational photos, like one of marshmallows hanging over a dessert table.  We decided on a huge marshmallow installation (a la Anthropologie’s many incredible installations using ordinary objects) and then one day while watching my son’s soccer practice, it hit me that one of my favorite vintage songs could guide our theme: “It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter!”  The song is so classic.  We made a playlist with a couple versions of it (one by Deborah Lee, the other Dean Martin), plus several other vintage winter songs like “Snow” from White Christmas, “Stormy Weather” (one version by Billie Holiday, another by Etta James–could you just die?! Two of my favorite singers ever), plus a couple versions of “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”  The music was perfect and helped create a classic, vintage vibe.  We also used the lyrics from “It’s a Marshmallow World” for all of our prints, which I’ll show you as we go along…

It was pretty fun to see my logo on an Alt party poster.  (Thanks to Ashleigh of Red Aspen Designs for designing my logo and the nine zillion business cards I handed out throughout the week.)  There were eight mini-parties that night, so all of the conference attendees moved from room to room.  We took a few minutes to peek at the other parties and they were incredible!  I was blown away by the variety and creativity.

Here’s a good view of what you saw as you walked into our party.  In the front of the room were a hot chocolate and dessert station and three bistro tables.  We used My Mind’s Eye paper plus some simple marshmallow and faux candle centerpieces for the tables.

We were pretty thrilled that the Grand America hooked our party up with white hot chocolate and cake with marshmallows!

The other thing you saw right when you walked in was a snow flurry!  This was Taylor’s genius.  Basically my husband takes all of my feeble ideas and turns them into something amaaaazing.  He sourced a snow machine rental from Blank Extreme Entertainment and it was awesome.  It makes snow that literally just disappears, so NO MESS!  It made the room so  wintery and magical.

Like I mentioned, all of our large posters and small prints were based on lyrics from “It’s a Marshmallow world,” and they were all HAND LETTERED (!!!) by Lisa of Handlettered Design.  Her talents are just beyond and we were so thrilled to have her work be such a large part of our aesthetic.



My favorite lyric from the song is “The world is your snowball, see how it grows, get out and roll it along,” and we thought that was such a perfect inspirational quote for bloggers and creatives, so we had 5×7 prints made of that one to hand out to our guests.  On this table we also had a bunch of soft, luxe scarves and hats from Maurice’s for people to use in their photos.

On the left side of the room we had a large table with favors.  We put together gourmet s’mores kits with marshmallows, nice chocolates (from Lindt and Ghiradelli), and milano cookies.  A huge thank you to Pepperidge Farm for sending the cookies.  They were an absolute hit!  We had ribbons and tags available, too, so people could turn their boxes into gifts.

The tent was Taylor’s brain child, as well.  It did an amazing job of breaking up the room, and creating a really cozy environment.   I love the way the string lights warmed the space up.

Inside the tent was a little sitting area.  The giant marshmallow poufs are Land of Nod, the rugs and frames are IKEA, and the campfire logs are from!  The darling ladies from Hayneedle gave us some lanterns and that gorgeous embroidered pillow, which was such a perfect addition!  The marshmallow chandelier turned out great, and boy, howdy was it a labor of love.  Taylor designed the whole thing, which was hung from a structure made of embroidery hoops and dowels, and he and I made a prototype the week before I went to Salt Lake, so I would be able to recreate it.  We quickly learned that stringing the marshmallows with a needle was a sticky disaster, so we decided to cut through the mallows halfway, and stick them back together.  It worked perfectly, except that when I began building it when I arrived in Utah on Wednesday, I didn’t lay the mallow garlands out flat for long enough.  At home they had overnight to stick together and harden before I hung them up, but I didn’t really think about how important that step was, so in Utah I began hanging them up right away and it was a HUGE FAIL.  Two thirds of the marshmallows succumbed to gravity within hours, and we mainly had a huge pile of marshmallows on the floor.  I was so frustrated!  Hours of work wasted!  I spent every spare second the next two days up in our party room reconstructing the whole thing, even using super glue to hold marshmallows on.  In the end it was all worth it, because it turned out the way I wanted , but I was really sad to miss a couple of classes to finish it and I wish I hadn’t been such a stress case about it!  Live and learn.  (But hey, listen, I don’t recommend this project!)

Several groups of people spent long periods of time sitting in the tent chatting, which made us so happy!  That was our vision and we were thrilled people felt comfy and stayed a while.

By Friday night things really came together quickly.  I love getting to enjoy a party you worked so hard to create.  We had such a great time talking to the crowds of people coming through.  Getting to know people at Alt really is inspiring.  It is incredible to meet so many people who are creating and writing and influencing.  Even more remarkable is that people are so genuine and kind.  Not one person made me feel small just because they’d never heard of me.  Every single person that came through was gracious and sweet and complimentary of our work.  People are so good.  (A huge thank you to My Mind’s Eye for these gorgeous fans that made our photo wall spectacular.  The tassels and paper chains in the tent were theirs, as well.)

Now here’s where I say a billion thank you’s to all of the people who made this happen.  (It takes a village, you know.)  First of all, Taylor not only improved all of my ideas and built prototypes with me, he also rearranged his life for a week so I could leave.  My darling parents hosted Taylor and the five kids the whole time I was gone, and they took care of the three little ones during the days.  My sister-in-law, Rebecca, swooped in and took Georgie several times, and had all of the kids at one point.  My other sister-in-law, Jill, helped with kids, and my mother-in-law took big kids after school every day, as well.  Seriously, when you have five kids, you have to call in a lot of favors to do something like this!  Also a huge shout out to my SIL, Melissa, without whom I would have had nothing to wear to all of my fancy parties!  We literally could not have done this party without my sister, Liz.  She lives in Salt Lake, so Sarah and I shipped party things to her for weeks, plus she made a huge IKEA run for us.  She showed up the first day with her fan completely full of everything you see above, not to mention she came back the next day to help set up some more, and again the night of the party to help clean up.  Danielle Wilson made an IKEA run for us, too, and was also there for set up and take down.  She and Liz were the architects of the tent, for which my no-spacial-reasoning brain was most grateful!  Jessie came all the way down from Logan to help us set up, as well, and Amanda, Candace, and Misha were an amazing help, as well–not just because they put in time, but because they added more creative, editing eyes, and improved the space.  Thanks, also, to all of the lovely people who helped us clean up so quickly, and to Melissa, Melissa, and Sara for thinking of me and bringing me a club sandwich at midnight, in the middle of clean up!  We were so grateful, too, for Kelly Smith, who answered a million questions and made everything possible.  She was so fabulous to work with.  And from me, thank you so much to Erica and Sarah.  We worked together so well, and it was such a delight.  (Plus, they were really calm influences when I was in high stress, my-chandelier-is-breaking mode!)  Thanks so much, Alt Summit, for believing is us and giving us the opportunity to throw a mini party!  It was a lot of fun and linked me forever to so many women I love and admire!



***All photos by Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit.***

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