True Blood Party Recap & Halloween Party Ideas!

Halloween party ideas style trials blood splatter cake

Yesterday was the season finale of True Blood (maybe you followed along at #RIPTrueBlood and #TrueToTheEnd ). After watching the series since the beginning, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to throw a themed watch party and say farewell in style! These ideas would work for any Halloween party too and were super easy to pull together. Whether you’re wanting to throw a spooky party or specifically vampire or blood theme, these ideas would work great!

food and drink party ideas halloween

style trials halloween food ideas true blood finale watch party #riptrueblood I obviously stuck with a red theme for food. Red Terra Chips and Coke cans were as easy as just buying and putting them out, and I also made up an easy and tasty treat of Ritz crackers, cream cheese, and pomegranate seeds. Sweet peppers laid around ranch dressing also added visual and yumminess appeal. Sticking with the Cajun theme of the show, Hubby made a delicious Bon Temps, Louisiana style gumbo and cornbread! And of course any red juice would do for the True Blood, but we used V8 fruit juice and put it in a carafe. The color was perfect. If I had more time I would have printed off a True Blood label to add to it. If that’s something you’d like to do, you can get a free printable True Blood label here, courtesy of PixelWorlds. And of course there was…dun, dun dunnnn….the cake….

diy splatter cake halloween party

diy blood splatter red velvet cake halloween party

I’m not really a baker, so I was quite proud of my blood splatter cake! It had to be red velvet of course, and I used traditional cream cheese frosting. To make the blood splatters I simply mixed the below as a starting point and adjusted for color and consistency as needed:


Blood Splatter Recipe

(courtesy of Yum and Yummer’s Slaughter Cake)

  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp red food coloring
  • 1 or 2 drops of green food coloring (this will darken the red and make it look more realistic)
  • 1 tsp chocolate sauce
  • 1 tbsp water (or add more if too thick, it will splatter better)

 Before splattering, take the cake to a location that will not be a problem to get messy because you will end up getting food coloring everywhere which is difficult to remove and stains. Possibly outside on top of a protective covering somewhere.  I found this looks best when you have the cake on the platter it will be served on, so you can add drips to the platter too. You can use something like a basting brush to dip into the “blood,” and let it drip/splatter across the white frosting. I also added faux flowers (pre-washed) and splattered blood on those too.

Look how cool it looks when you cut into it!

red velvet splatter cake slaughter cake

diy splatter tablecloth and halloween decor

A lot of the decorations were bought at a local Dollar Store, and I was pleasantly surprised that they had Halloween decorations out already! I picked up some rubber spiders, rat, mouse, bat and utensils, and also bought a plain white plastic table cloth for $1. I used this tablecloth to create a bloody backdrop with watered down acrylic red paint. For an added effect, I mixed a tad of green to give it a more realistic deep blood red color (similar to the cake splatters), and also added a few bloody hand prints. I set the tablecloth outside when splattering so I wouldn’t get paint all over the house, although I somehow still managed to get red paint on my curtains. UGH! I tried a few methods but found the best blood splatter effect I got was by whipping the watery paint at the canvas and also simply holding the paint brush up high and letting it drip.

diy bloody table cloth halloween party

true blood vampire party decorationsI am sooo reusing that rat for Halloween time….or a practical joke. Lol.

dress the part

 Last, I’m a sucker for playing dress up. I actually had this Merlotte’s Sookie True Blood costume from a previous Halloween costume, so I had no excuse not to dress the part as hostess! If you want to really go all out, let guests know to dress up too!

true blood sookie costume party style trials

 Have you ever thrown a watch party for a popular TV show? What idea would you reuse for a Halloween party? Leave me a comment below!

 

 


How to Make a Brooch Bouquet

Recently, I stood by their side as one of my besties and one of my husband’s besties tied the knot. There’s nothing sweeter than having two of your best friends get married to each other! The bride had a vision of a rustic wedding themed with burlap, gold, lace and TOMS, and asked me to make her brooch bouquet. It went perfect with her theme, and would be a keepsake from the wedding – plus something the bride could pass down to other brides she loved, or maybe a future daughter! Of course I was honored to help her and wanted to share how I made this easy DIY bridal brooch bouquet!

how to make a brooch bouquetHere’s the main materials you need:

  • 1 bushel of faux hydrangeas (this can be found really inexpensive at your local craft store)
  • Approximately 40-60 brooches/pieces of jewelry/faux or real flowers to add-in (i.e. burlap flowers like this one). The more you put, the less of the faux hydrangea you will see. I used about 40 pieces.
  • 22-gauge florist wire (I used about 2 rolls and chose silver because it would blend in when looping through my brooches)
  • Green Corsage Tape (I used 1 1/2 rolls)
  • Scissors/Wire Cutters
  • Whatever you want to wrap around the handle – In this case, burlap, twine, and lace ribbon
  • Pearlized Ball Head Straight Pins
  • Hot glue gun

DIY Brooch Bouquet tutorial

The brooches are really the expensive part of the bouquet, but you can typically find sparkly items like jewelry on clearance to help fill in the space. And if you want to take a sentimental approach, I really loved how my friend Katie collected her brooches and would recommend it to anyone.

Katie asked the special women in her life to bring one brooch to her bridal shower to add to the bouquet, that way she would have a memory of each person as she walked down the aisle.

brooches at a bridal shower style trials

She received brooches with history such as her Grandmother’s brooch, and others that people thought reminded them of her or vice-versa. She put a piece of tape with that person’s name under each brooch so she would always remember who gave her what. Katie’s bouquet ended up being an eclectic mix of jewels, which I think turned out beautiful – I personally love mixing metals. However, if you’re wanting to stick to one color or metal, you could plan that out to best fit your style and theme.

Step 1: Creating Stems for Each Brooch

You’ll need to cut the wire into 24″ long pieces, which you’ll loop in half through the brooch (giving you about a 12″ stem). For each brooch, I used at least 2 wires, then you twist them all together. Don’t worry if the stems end up being slightly different lengths after this is done, you’ll fix that later.

How to make a brooch bouquet for a wedding

Next, you’ll wrap the green corsage tape around the metal stem, which helps hold all of the pieces together and camouflages the wire. It’s a little tricky to work with, but I found that the tighter I wound it while making sure to overlap the tape, the better it stuck. I kept it on the spool and simply twisted the stem around to quickly get this done.

DIY Brooch Bouquet tutorial 1

Step 2: Making the Stems a Bouquet

This next part was actually not as easy as I had imagined. You’ll now want to take the hydrangea to use as your base, then place each stem strategically  in the hydrangea making sure to keep it’s round shape. You’ll want to be extra careful as to where you place the brooches, because once they’re in the bushel it’s hard to rearrange because the wires may get tangled….especially towards the end when you have already placed a bunch of wire stems.

DIY Brooch Bouquet tutorial 2

It’s up to you whether you want to show any part of the hydrangea, because if you have enough brooches you can literally cover the entire thing. You’ll see we added burlap flowers to the bouquet as well to tie into Katie’s theme, so you really can customize it. It’s also up to you whether you want to remove the green leaves from the faux hydrangea all together, but I left a few to tie into our green bridesmaid dresses.

Next, cut the stems at the bottom to your desired length, which also makes sure the bouquet is one length.

Step 3: Wrapping the handle

This next part was pretty easy, and I just followed what a real florist typically does to wrap the handle. Here you can take ribbon, or burlap from a spool as I did here, and tightly wind it around the handle.

DIY Brooch Bouquet tutorial 3 burlap

With a brooch bouquet, it looks best if you wrap the entire handle rather than leaving exposed “stems” since they are really a bunch of wires. You could use a hot glue gun to hold together, but I used decorative push pins to lock everything into place. That way I could easily adjust things if needed, it added an extra design touch, and again this mimicked what florists do with real bouquets.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

I wanted to add a little something to finish the top of the handle, and the bride also had a personal touch to add as well. For the top handle part, I took a piece of lace ribbon, sewed across the top to create a stitch line, then cut a stitch at the end to pull. When the thread was “pulled,” it created a natural ruffle to the ribbon. This step isn’t necessary though, and I think the results would have looked just as good if I didn’t “ruffle” the ribbon. I just pay way too much attention to detail!

DIY Brooch Bouquet tutorial 4 lace

Next, I personalized the handle by taking a spool of twine, winding the twine around itself and hot-gluing into place. I glued a “W” charm on top of the twine background because this would be the bride’s new last initial.

Brooch Bouquet with family member picturesThe bride added these adorable picture charms to the handle, and printed pictures of family members who were no longer with us as a type of memorial. These were simply pinned in place as well. Doesn’t she and the bouquet look gorgeous?!

Bride with Brooch Bouquet

What do you think of the results? Will you be making a brooch bouquet?

Please let me know what you think of this tutorial in the blog comments! 🙂


Friday Freebie! Free Wedding Guest Book from Shutterfly ($29.99 Value)

Okay, you don’t have to use it as a wedding guest book, but what a great idea, huh?! I’ve seen photo books used in a variety of ways around weddings. From being part of the creative way a groom pops the question, to showcasing a couple’s engagement pictures with spaces for people to write their well wishes, it’s definitely a great way to personalize the “story of us.” This Friday Freebie is for a free 8X11 hardback 20-page custom photo book from Shutterfly. Hurry and claim promo code now as these things go quick…and the best part is you don’t have to actually make it until 3/16!Style Trials Free Wedding Guest Book Shutterfly Custom Photo Book

Simply click here, “like” Shutterfly on Facebook if you haven’t already, then click to claim your code. Once you get your code, go ahead and add it to your account by clicking “make guest book.” It will take you to the Shutterfly page, where you can either create a new account or log into your existing one. You must enter your promo code when you log in so your free book is stored until you make it. This freebie expires March 16th, so you’ll have to make it by then. This is a $29.99 freebie value, and shipping is $8.99 and not included in the deal.

What will you create with your book?


How to Write A Wedding Speech

When I was asked to be my big sister’s Matron of Honor (Maid of Honor), I was ecstatic! Of course, yes! However, I had a looming twinge of “OMG, I have to write a speech” lurking within. The thought of summarizing what Danielle meant to me seemed impossible, plus she wrote a beautiful speech for my wedding. I wanted to do a good job for her.

I tried searching a few things on the internet for ideas/tips, and didn’t really come up with too much. So I sat down and thought about it more, then came up with a “Ultimate Wedding Speech Formula” that I think really helped. I wanted to share these 10 wedding speech tips in case it helps a fellow MOH, plus list out my speech so I’ll have it stored to remember.

  1. MOH Wedding Speech TipsKeep it around 3-5 minutes. People tend to get distracted after that.
  2. For me, it was easiest to write the middle of the speech first, then add the intro and conclusion after.
  3. Beginning – Introduce yourself. How are you related to the Bride?
  4. Personalize it – Tell at least one detailed funny or heartwarming story that is personalized about the Bride, such as what it was like growing up with her. Make sure it’s not all inside jokes that nobody in the audience will understand!
  5. What about the Bride makes you love her? What are some of her personality traits? How has she helped you, and what does she mean to you?
  6. Don’t forget the groom! How long have you known him? How did things change after the Bride met her future husband? Tell a personalized story about the groom or details about why they’re perfect together.
  7. Add something interactive if it makes sense. Include a relevant prop, or ask the audience or Bride & Groom to do something. This makes things more memorable and engaging.
  8. Look towards the future – Now that they’re married, what do you wish for the happy couple? End with a toast, quote, or piece of advice for the couple.
  9. Don’t forget to end the speech with raising your glass and asking everyone to toast to the Newlyweds!
  10. Practice! I practiced wearing heels (I know it sounds silly, but helped!), practiced in the mirror, practiced in front of my friends and hubby, and of course didn’t forget the hairbrush microphone. 🙂

I didn’t want to blank out, so I brought up a piece of paper with the speech written on it. Note cards wouldn’t really work because you’ll be holding a microphone and maybe drink, so I made sure my speech was condensed to one sheet of paper. Because I practiced, I didn’t really need to look at it that much. I tried to remember key points, and tell the stories in my own voice rather than reading word-for-word, so they were more authentic. Here I am giving my speech:

Maid of Honor giving wedding speechObviously I’m looking out at the guests in this shot, but another important step is to really look at everybody you’re addressing. Pay attention to your body language, and make sure to look at the Bride and Groom.

So here it is, the speech I gave at my sister’s wedding:

Hi Everyone, my name is Kristen. Many of you know that I’m Danielle’s sister and the middle of the three Barnhart daughters. I’m thrilled to be Danielle’s Matron of Honor on this special day. Many of you know Danielle as a friend, family member, or co-worker, so I wanted to let you in on what it was like actually growing up with Danielle from my perspective.

Growing up, I was an awkward little girl with glasses and braces. You know, the “creative” type. Luckily, I had an older, beautiful and talented sister to look up to. Danielle was smart, popular, and gifted in piano, tennis, and dance. Although I’m sure there were times where the 5 year age gap deemed me her “annoying little sister,” she was always looking out for Lauren and I. I eagerly accepted her hand-me down clothes even if they had holes or stains, and loved when she took the lead at teaching us stuff such as how to do a cartwheel, or putting on a fashion show starring us and all the neighborhood kids.

As we got older, I probably drove her a little crazy with stealing her clothes. I remember this one time specifically when I stole her new shirt to wear to school. She went to school earlier than me, so getting it on was pretty easy. But because I came home after her, I had to bring one of my shirt’s to throw on over hers before I got home so she wouldn’t notice. I thought it was genius, but somehow she figured it out and a big fight broke out. Okay, I know I was in the wrong, but because of Danielle’s generous nature, she only locked her closet for ONE day after that. Again, always watching out for her sisters.

Looking back now, it’s apparent that she really paved the way for Lauren and I because she was so successful in her milestones and wanted us to be as well. We followed in her footsteps with piano, tennis, dance, and becoming sorority sisters. I even went to the same college as her, and she opened our eyes to the world of designer fashions. GOOD LUCK, Chris. 🙂

I’m sure many here know that Danielle’s been a great role model to not only us, but many others ranging from the “cool babysitter” to the caring dance coach. After Danielle’s years on the Orlando Magic dance team, she actually coached a professional dance team I was on. It was there that she later introduced me to my husband, Gary, who also worked for the team. My future would not have been the same without the help of Danielle.

Over the years, our relationship has grown to more than just sisters. I turn to her as my mentor, the one I can lean on for advice and support, or simply if I’m looking for a shopping buddy. We understand each other, and truly are best friends. Danielle, I am SO incredibly lucky to have a sister like you. Thank you for always listening, being a great example, and just being there.

I didn’t know Chris until they started dating, but I’ve come to find that he is the perfect match for my sister. Chris and Danielle both have that kind, thoughtful, generous nature about them, and are very family-oriented. And come on, he can play the piano better than us! Chris’ methodical thinking balances out Danielle’s impulsiveness, bringing out the best in each other. It’s incredible to see a girl from the midwest find her sole-mate from Virginia in Florida, and their wedding story proves of fate as well. She always had a crush on Chris in college, and says she wouldn’t have passed her business class without his help. Years later after graduation and random occasions of bumping into each other, the stars aligned and they finally had the opportunity to try things out. Obviously it worked, and although he’s been a part of the family for awhile, I’m happy to officially call him my brother!

Danielle and Chris, please hold each other’s hand. [hold hands]. I’m so excited to see what this next chapter in life brings you, and I’ll leave you with this one piece of wisdom. One of the best things in the world is when someone you love holds your hand. I wish you a lifetime of happiness, love, and hand holding through thickness and thin. Congratulations, I love you both. Let’s raise our glasses to the bride and groom!


6 Steps to the Perfect Bridal Shower

Special thanks to Gigis Cupcakes who provided the cupcakes for this event. All opinions are 100% mine.

This past weekend I helped throw a bridal shower for my beautiful older sister, Danielle. While going through this process of co-hosting as sister and Matron of Honor, I narrowed down 6 steps to share that helped make this the perfect bridal shower.

1.) THEME

Picking a theme sets the tone for the shower, and will keep it a memorable experience for all. Try to pick something relevant to the bride, whether it’s based on a favorite motif, location, the Bride’s heritage, or simply color scheme.

For Danielle, we went with a girly Paris themed bridal shower (based on a  sister trip we took to Paris) which was complimented with black, pale pinks, and white details. Choosing a color scheme and sticking to it also helps tie together the theme.

style trials paris themed bridal shower details and banner

Zazzle paris fleur de lis bridal shower invites

 

2.) INVITES

The invites should also go with the theme.

For types of invites, you can go eco-friendly with an evite, or find good options online at places like MagnetStreet, Wedding Paper Divas, or Zazzle.

*Bonus Tip*

Many times you can find a Groupon or similar daily deal for places like Zazzle or Vistaprint. Also, if you’ve narrowed down the style and aren’t crunched for time, make sure to signup for emails from that site so you can purchase when a promo is running. If it’s around the holidays, there will be really discounted promotions for Holiday Cards, which you can really use for any cards, such as shower invites (I’ve seen up to 75% off!).

 We went with this fleur de lis invite from Zazzle, which matched the banner you saw in the picture above.

3.) THEMED FOOD

We hired a local caterer, and selected menu items to go with a Parisian theme. The menu included a variety of mini croissant sandwiches, cheese and fruit, baked brie, stuffed mushrooms, and mini quiches.

4.) SHOWSTOPPING DESSERT!

Let’s be honest. Women LOVE dessert…so make it memorable! I dedicated an entire table to really highlight the dessert, and put it in the location where we planned to open presents – right next to the Bride’s chair. My friends at Gigi’s Cupcakes in Orlando provided an awesome mix of full-size and mini cupcakes, creating a fun “Eiffel” cupcake tower! Guests were literally salivating over these gorgeous cupcakes.

Gigi's cupcakes logoGigi's Cupcakes orlando bridal showerblush and ivory gigis cupcakes orlando weddingGigi’s has a ton of flavor options that change weekly to suite anyone’s taste (gluten free included), ranging from Strawberry Shortcake to Pumpkin White Chocolate! We kept the flavors classic: White cake and pink butter cream frosting, and chocolate cake with cream cheese icing. Delish! I especially loved the candy pearls and crystal sugar on top.

style trials cupcake attack

Cupcake ATTACK!!!!

Beautiful cupcakes  can really help make any event memorable, and are a fun alternative to cake. Gigi’s Cupcakes has multiple locations in more than 22 states, and you can easily place an order online! Find your nearest Gigi’s location here.

paris theme bridal shower guest book activity game

5.) GAMES AND ACTIVITES

The wonderful bridesmaids focused on a series of games/activities, giving away Paris themed prizes. We spread out them out throughout the event, so people were entertained from start to finish.

  • Unique Guest Book: In lieu of a traditional guest book, we did something a little more creative. As guests entered, we took their photo and they were directed to write a note to the bride. Afterwards, we’ll mount the photo of each guest along with their note in the custom Paris notebook.
  • Newlywed Trivia Game: This is a funny activity for the group to watch and learn a little more about the bride and groom. Before the shower, we asked the groom a series of questions about their relationship and had his answers prepared. At the shower, Danielle was surprised with the series of questions, and had to answer them out loud to the group. For ever question she got wrong, we made her chew bubble gum until she had a whole cheek full!
  • Love Song Game: Guests were tasked with writing down as many songs they could think of that had the word “love” in the title. The one with the most answers won. The hitch? The winner had to sing a line or two from each song to prove they knew it!
  • Purse Game: This is a classically fun game. A list of random items were put on a sheet with a point value association. The more unique the item, the more points. Guests rummaged through their purses and marked off what was in it. The one with the most points won!
  • Slideshow: The groom actually surprised my sister with a beautiful slideshow for all to watch at the shower! It definitely made her shed a few tears. 🙂

6.) DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS!

It’s the little details that will help keep your theme together and make this something guests will remember. Since we were going with a Parisian theme, we used Eiffel Towers, fleur de lis, “ooh la las,” and “amour” motifs. The banner in the first picture (from Vistaprint) helped personalize the party to Danielle, and became a great photo spot. Checkout a few other details:

Paris bridal shower details style trials

Paris box to hold the utensils.

paris theme bridal shower candy details

“Amour” matching stickers put on lollipops or peppermint patties (inset in moss covered Styrofoam) add a pop of color to the favor table.

Macaroon Jewelry Boxes Style Trials

Macaroon jewelry boxes for favors!

I ordered these adorable macaroon jewelry boxes from PricewiseFavors. They came already packaged in a cute box with a french saying “Pour Vous Avec L’Amour,” (For You with Love).

paris theme bridal shower details punch fountain

We setup a drink station with a silver punch fountain, champagne, wine, sodas and lemonade.

To tie together the theme, we printed pictures from our sister trip to Paris and put in frames all over the party.

style trials parisian themed bridal shower

Style Trials Paris theme style and pretty bride

The bride paid attention to details as well, looking beautiful with an etsy flower hair accessory, neutral and blush outfit, pearl accents, and a flawless hairdo.

What steps would you add to throw the ultimate bridal shower? What bridal shower themes and games/activities do you love?

Also, make sure to follow Gigi’s on Facebook and Twitter for all your cupcake dreams! 🙂


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