How to plan the perfect party

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I spent my summer planning my 21st birthday party and I LOVED it. I love putting together every little detail. Luckily all of the stress was totally worth it because it was definitely one of the best nights I’ve had – so I figured I’d share some tips and ideas that helped me plan! No matter what your budget is or what your party is for you can still throw an awesome party.

 1. Determine your budget 

This is the first thing you should always do when planning an event/party. You’ll need to know how much you can spend so that you can then determine your theme, what food and drinks you can provide, and how much decorating you can do. What I did for my 21st was make an excel sheet that calculated all of my totals for me, and included every  thing I needed. This makes it super easy to not only keep track of everything, but to add things along the way and having it calculated for you.

2. Who and how many people are you inviting?

Once your budget is determined, you’ll kind of have a feel for how much food/drinks you’re able to get. You never want to run out of food or drinks – so it’s good to determine how much you can afford before forming your guest list. Once you form a guest list, you’ll know the kind of people that’ll be coming – which means you should cater any activities to your guest list. What will the people you’re inviting enjoy? For example – if it’s your 21st , have some space for drinking games for people to play.

3. Determine a theme & decor

Now that you have determined how much money you can spend and how many people are coming, you can estimate the amount of decorations you can buy and how much you want to execute a theme. For my 21st I just chose the color scheme of white, gold and pink. Depending on your budget, you can go from there on how much to execute it.

Tables – You can easily find a company that rents out tables and chairs, I rented from Celebrations Party Rental in Highwood, IL – I purchased four tall boy cocktail tables for people to mingle and eat. I didn’t rent chairs, because if you have a lot of seating, that tends to bring the party down, instead I decided on less seating so that there would be more energy!

Linens – I also rented white linens from  Carousel Linens in Highland Park, IL for the tables and I tied them off with gold tool from Michael’s to add some elegance and sparkle.

Florals – I chose floral arrangements as the centerpieces. Obviously there are various options for centerpieces, but because it was an “end of the summer” party I decided on florals. Because my theme was pink, white and gold with white linens, I wanted my floral arrangements to pop against the white. I ordered the arrangements through Swansons Blossom Shop in Deerfield, IL.

Dressing up the space – Another tip to “dress up” the space of your party is to add a lot of candles if you don’t have a lot of other decor. Candles help create a really elegant mood especially if the event is at night. A little goes a long way with candles!

Something little I did to add some color is a mini candy bar. At Party City they have candy organized by any possible color you could ever need (at reasonable prices too!)

I also really like having chalkboards at parties or events because you can label various things and personalize it. Hobby Lobby or Michaels is a good place to go for things like that!

4. Food / Drinks

Sometimes it’s nice to coordinate your food and drinks to the theme of your party. For mine, it didn’t really matter – so I just had heavy appetizers and a dessert bar. If you are really planning to execute a specific theme though, its good to have the food coordinate with it. We hired a catering service that walked around passing out various appetizers as well as a bartender for the drinks!

 

 

 

 

 

How to style your dorm room without breaking the bank

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I’ve done a post on my dorm decor before, but I wanted to write a more general post about styling your dorm in the most affordable way, especially because school is coming up and people are prepping for college. Although you may be googling “dorm room ideas” some of them just are not realistic – whether it’s all ridiculously expensive things, or just a huge dorm that you know yours won’t look like. After 3 years of living in a dorm room I have learned that there are ways to design your dorm room in a unique, cute, affordable way, here is how I style my dorm room without spending a TON of money! You’ll come to realize (if you haven’t already) that Target will literally be your BFF.

Wall Decor

For the past few years I’ve used the same wall decor and just styled it differently so that I could re use them each year. I definitely recommend this, wall decor can get pricey so if you get things you can re use each year, that saves you a lot of money. I still will probably use these wall butterflies (only $10 on amazon right now) for my upcoming senior year. These ones (that are only $7) come in different colors too! Wall stickers I also really like are these gold wall polka dots, but you wouldn’t be able to reuse them the following year. For decorative string lights, I wanted them to match my theme so I have used these globe string lights from target that are only $15 – and I’ll use these again this year! I also really like white basic Christmas lights, you can do so much with those in a dorm.

For frames and prints – I order from Etsy and buy cheap frames from target (which I also reuse). For example, I have one similar to this one and you can even download it yourself and just print it out. I really like how they placed these prints in their dorm (source unknown):

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Right now is the perfect time to shop Target’s dorm selections – they are having some sales and there are some super cute finds. Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 10.43.36 PM

Right now on their website, they have a tutorial on how to create a gallery wall. There are some great tips on how to style your room to match the perfect theme you want it to be, even if you’re working with a small space in a dorm! Target is seriously the BEST when it comes to getting great deals for your dorm.

Organization / Storage

The key to keeping your dorm room organized in the cutest way possible is to purchase stylish organizers and containers. I have a few of these and I love them, they’re only $6 and I use them for toiletries as well as miscellaneous items. I also really like this – its only $15 and you can definitely keep that to store under your bed or wherever you want it each year! Setting your bed on the highest notch is always a good idea so you can store your dresser (if it’s that short), fridge, and organization underneath so there is less clutter in your space! I took this off of google but I thought it was a pretty good representation of what I’m talking about (source unknown):

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Lighting

Let’s face it – some dorm rooms just do not have good lighting, and for the girls that do their make up each morning before classes like I do, you may want a desk lamp of some sort by your make up mirror. I chose to get a decorative table lamp versus a basic college lamp – I chose the lamp shade and chose the blue lamp because it went with the theme of my room perfectly. I definitely recommend shopping Targets lamp selections.

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I’m also obsessed with little decorations and trinkets that all contribute to the theme of your dorm room. Target also has a lot of cute decorations like this that aren’t too expensive!

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Other dorm room necessities

Something I also recommend you get is a rug – especially if the floors are tile. Definitely not a white rug (even though those are super pretty), that will show a lot of dirt and you may not be able to reuse it or wash it out, and a black rug may show the dirt as well. A happy medium that my roommates and I decided on a few years in a row is this gray rug.

Another necessity is a door mirror that you can hang onto the back of your door or command strip it to the back of your door.

Currently Target has some great sales on a lot of home/dorm items, including bedding. I mostly just have my comforter for looks, and I use throw blankets to put on my chair and my bed and just use those! I also recommend if you have extra space that you want to fill – extra seating is always a good idea for when friends are in your dorm! I bought this chair from Target and am planning on styling it just like I did last year (pictured below)

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I hope this helps show you a lot of cheaper options for your dorm that are still super cute and stylish! You can never go wrong with Target deals, and if things are cheaper on Amazon, definitely order them there as well!

When I’m all moved in to my dorm and all set up I’ll be posting the finished product as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite photo editing apps

unnamedPicMonkey Image-4The Airbrush app is by far my favorite – I think I literally use it for every single one of my pictures whether it’s a filter or brightening/smoothing. This one is especially best for selfies or close ups. I use the “Brighten” effect (which is technically for eye brightening) for brightening the background or brightening anything I really want to stand out. This app has a lot of features, their filters are some of my favorites. I like that you can edit to whatever extreme you prefer for a more natural looking photo!

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The Darkroom app  is my favorite app specifically for filtering, sharpening and coloring. I’ve definitely caved and bought some of their filter packs (oops!) The app has a lot of tools (some of which I don’t understand, but I love to play around!) In my opinion, the sharpness and clarity of a photo is extremely important. I like that you can select a filter, but alter it if you aren’t loving it!

 

vsco

 

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As basic as VSCO may be, it’s definitely a favorite! In my opinion the filters work for really any type of photo – a selfie, group photo or landscape like the one I edited! It also has tools similar to other apps such as sharpening & etc. I like that VSCO is a more relaxed version of Instagram – people post more consistently mainly to edit their photos. I also like that you can see what other people are using for filters!

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PicMonkey Collage-2I use Rookie Cam mainly for the technical aspects of photo editing – saturation/contrast/sharpening and all of the boring stuff, some of their filters are good too! They have a bunch. I really like when the colors in my photos are bright and enhanced – this app is definitely perfect for adjusting color!

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I use MuseCam mainly for photos just like this one, their filters are perfect for landscape/nature photos, with selfies their filters can be a bit much. Even though it may not change the photo a bunch, it adds just enough of a warm filter for summertime. This one has a lot of technical tools as well. I recommend this one if you find yourself editing landscape/nature photographs a lot!

Dorm Decor

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Wall Butterflies / Picture / Blue Floral Bulb Lights / Anthology Pillows

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  Throw Pillows / Chair / Blanket

 

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Lamp / Lamp Shade / Hourglass / Jewelry Dish

 

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Etsy Prints / Make Up Brush Holder / Lauren Conrad “Style” / Emily Post’s Etiquette / Weddings in Color

 

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Etsy Prints / Shelves

I’m just a few days away from being finished with my Junior year of college! Everyone is starting to move out of their dorms and finals are coming to an end. I was planning on taking down some things in my room when I realized how much I loved how it was decorated! Sometimes it can be difficult to make your dorm feel “homey” and comfortable, but throughout the years I have definitely learned how to do that. This is by far my favorite layout I’ve had compared to previous set ups in other dorms. You learn to take advantage of the space you have – even if it’s not a lot 🙂 Especially if you are an incoming Freshman, it’s good to learn that you can still make your room super cute without spending a lot! My favorite go-to place for just about everything is Target – And I didn’t realize this until I came to college. Target is literally a god sent. Almost everything in my dorm is from Target. I’m really big on the little details. I love stacking books to make a cute arrangement along with picture frames and cute little trinkets – every detail counts!

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I flew home to Maine for the 4th of July, and although it was a short 5 day trip, sometimes that is all the time you need. It was great spending the day on the lake with the family, eating delicious Maine lobster and jamming to country music at the lake house. When I think of a perfect day – this is exactly what I envision. For that 5 days I didn’t have to worry about being on time to work, or waking up at a specific time, it was awesome. One of these days I spent the entire day at the beach in Bar Harbor, Maine with my best friend – We then grabbed lunch and did some shopping at the cutest shops, I always feel like a tourist going there because I don’t get down there enough and I’m always so excited. I don’t mind that feeling at all.

Some days I fail to realize how blessed I am – but a weekend at home never fails to make me realize how amazing the people in my life are!

Also – This white sweater I wore on the beach was $10 at H&M, perfect and light weight for a beach day over a bikini! On the 4th I wore my favorite Lilly dress that I always love to throw on.