Saturday, March 10, 2012

retirement celebration

As with every university, there comes a point when a faculty member decides to retire, and so as a special events coordinator, retirement parties fall under my job description.  I had the opportunity to put together a small, intimate retirement party for one of our dear faculty members to thank and celebrate his 14 years at USC Thornton.  Because it was a small gathering, I took on the challenge of doing the floral arrangements on my own as I had a lot of vases left over from past events.

With every DIY project I take on, I gain a new found appreciation for all the vendors I work with to help me put together a great event.  And florals are no exception.  I would like to say I have a pretty good eye for color combinations and textures (a lot of that creativity and design manifests itself in my personal style) but it's different when those colors and textures are in the form of flowers.  My office turned into a temporary garden before the event, displaying my different options in various vases across my desk.

I've been truly enjoying the opportunity to explore different areas of events, and not simply the coordination and organization aspect.  I hope to continue to improve my own personal skills in these arenas such as floral and invitation design in order to better serve my clients and create something new and exciting with every event I plan.  Thanks for looking!

Vendor Credits
Venue: Town & Gown
Catering: USC Hospitality
Flowers: Trader Joe's
Awards: SoCal Trophy

Thursday, March 1, 2012

the great train race

I had the wonderful opportunity to produce my boss's reception following his DMA flute recital on February 24, 2012.  Instantly, I knew I wanted to try my hand at designing a themed dessert bar, similar to many of the ones I've seen done by Sweet and Saucy Shop or Amy Atlas Events. I was most excited for the chance to be creative, down to the small details like signage and table design.  My inspiration drew from a vintage train look, incorporating dark brown, tan, with accent colors of red and sky blue. 

This event was a labor of love for me -- a complete do-it-yourself endeavor, and I loved the experience.  I came away with a greater appreciation for caterers, bakers, designers, and every hand that is involved in producing an event. 

Having never produced a reception of this size (about 70 people) on my own without the help of a catering company and on a very limited budget (I produced this "in-house" for about $120), I took on the challenge of baking many of the sweets for this reception including sugar cookies, cupcakes, and cake pops.  A lot of time was spent planning the menu and testing my baking capabilities to ensure that the desserts I presented had a professional look to them.  Hence, round one consisted of me "test-baking" cake pops and mini cupcakes to see if I could really pull this off. (Note: cake pops are a LOT harder than they look!)  My department got to enjoy the spoils of my first attempt, and because of the great response, I went ahead as planned.  Round two was finding the perfect consistency of icing for the train sugar cookies -- too thin and it'll drip off the sides; too thick and it won't dry smooth.
The next challenge was finding the appropriate serving ware to display everything with a variation of levels.  Because I wanted to create a vintage look, not everything had to match.  A lot of the serveware was borrowed from friends (you may recognize some of the same ones from the Valentine's tea party).  I also really liked the idea of using frames as serving platter like at Ziza and Seth's wedding, so out came the glass in a few of the picture frames I had in my office.  In order to create more levels with plates I had, I used a couple of the floating flower vases and placed them below the plates.

I put my arts and crafts skills to work with the final touches which included small signs propped up by clothespins describing the different food items, and a large sign made of handcut matted letters that spelled "The Great Train Race" to tie the whole display together. It's amazing what you can do with a cutting board, cardstock, and a glue stick! 

I could not have put this event on without the help of my sister, boyfriend, and friends, who dedicated their time and energy in the preparation and setup of this event, so a HUGE thank you to the both of them!  Thanks for looking!

"Vendor" Credits
Styling, Printables & Decoration: Beloved Events & Weddings, Tiffany Yu
Rentals & Serveware: Anna Rogers, Vanessa Rhue
Cookies, Brownies & Fruit: Costco
Cake pops & Baking: Karissa Yu
Event set-up & tear down: Delano Meriwether