Rustic + Luxurious Christmas Party

My tree is still up, my lights are still hung; I'm one of those people and I'm not ashamed. For me, it's Christmas season until we ring in the New Year and the leftovers are gone. So since I still have another day, I thought I'd squeeze in a post about a beautiful and festive corporate event that I designed and planned just before Christmas. 

Corporate events aren't always the most exciting from a design perspective, but I knew that with the gorgeous private estate setting and the great vendors involved, it would still be swoon-worthy. I am SO glad that Sasha Saldana Photography was there to capture all the gorgeous decor and fun festivities!

 The party was broken up into sections: the patio areas for activities, cocktails, and appetizers, and the main tent for dinner. When I say "activities" I don't mean ice breakers... this was the coolest company party complete with a slow motion booth, black jack and craps tables, a mechanical bull, corn hole, high-stakes pool tournament, and an intricately designed drawing game to giveaway some incredible prizes, including a weekend trip to New York and a Louis Vuitton purse! Over 60 presents were wrapped and on display to represent all the amazing prizes up for grabs as a thank you to the employees. 

The goal was to create a great flow for activities and mingling, then a beautiful and intimate dining space that was both rustic and luxurious. I worked together with House of Flowers to use birch wood boxes on custom white faux fur runners and gold dusted pine cones on the tables and then added hanging centerpieces for even more drama and Christmas cheer. Wood farm tables and vineyard chairs from Walker Lewis Rents created the perfect "dinner party" ambience and kept the space from feeling stuffy. 

homemade stick tree }{ foraged decor

Remember the tall branch tucked in the corner at the end of this post? Well, I promised I'd be back to share what I had in store for the beauty!

I wanted a special place to display our travel themed ornaments that I've collected over the past couple of years from Cost Plus World Market. They're adorable glass ornaments and come in sets of 3 in fun country themes. They're colorful and quaint and don't really go with our neutral Christmas tree. So I decided to make a tree just for them. 

We started with a branch that we found on a walk near the riverbed. Its 10 foot length was a little much so we used a chainsaw to take off about 2 feet. We went on another walk to find sticks to be the tree's branches. Daniel had the great idea to take our largest drill bit with us to ensure that we didn't get any sticks that were too large. 

With "branches" in hand, we came back to drill the holes. Keep in mind that angle is important so try to drill at an angle that will allow your branches to point upward. We used several different drill bit sizes depending on the width of the sticks.

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After Daniel drilled the holes, I placed the branches and decorated the new tree. Not only is it the perfect place for our international ornaments, but it's a great spot to display our Christmas cards from friends and family! It doesn't get any cheaper, easier, or more festive!

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wreath repurpose }{ foraged decor

Christmas is only 22 days away... yikes! As I gaze around our apartment, I'm still seeing pumpkins and leaves. Today is the day to get busy on the Christmas cheer and turn fall into winter (even if it's been about 65 degrees lately). 

On Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and, as usual, was inspired by the changing colors and foliage. As I made my way back down my street, I noticed that some magnolia trees had been trimmed, but that many of the branches hadn't been picked up. So, like a nut job, I began to forage... naturally. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with all those leaves, but I knew it was going to be good. 

When I got home, I looked at the fall wreath hanging on the front door.


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The wreath was a gift from my mother-in-law and I wanted to keep it around, but in our very small apartment, I was worried about how to store it. I decided instead to give it new life for the current season. Enter those foraged magnolia leaves, a little spray adhesive and gold glitter I had in my craft box. Boom, Christmas just arrived! 

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Stay tuned for more easy and resourceful Christmas and holiday crafts that don't require a craft store credit card. 

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Happy Monday! I had a pretty big weekend with the last Vanessa Noel Events wedding of 2013. It was a pretty special one for several reasons. I grew up with the groom and his family in our tight-knit community... so tight-knit, in fact, my parents and in-laws were guests and my niece was the flower girl! The wedding was at Calamigos Ranch (hello gorgeous!) and the evening could not have been more beautiful or celebrated a better couple! More details on that fall beauty to come. 

I love love love fall. I love fall weddings, decor, food... everything about the season. Yes, I realize that today marks one month before Christmas and at this point, most people have (sadly) moved on to more "winter wonderland" themed discussion. But seeing as how locally, the highs for the day have just recently dipped below the high 70's, I'm finally feeling fully fall-y. (I love a good alliteration) 

One thing that I really love about decorating for fall is the accessibility of pretty decorations. Obviously, Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and every other craft store has leave garlands, plastic pumpkins, and turkey figurines galore, but really, there is no better place to look for festive decorations than your grocery store or, better yet, outside your front door.

Last week, my husband and I went on a walk specifically to gather pretty elements of fall to bring inside. I took an umbrella as the forecast said rain, but used it more as a carrying case for my treasures. 

I sprinkled the leaves that I gathered throughout our apartment to add warm color here and there. I put the berries in apothecary jars along with some pears and persimmons from our fruit bowl for an easy and pretty accent in our dining room. 

(Please excuse the mediocre cell phone photos)

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As you prepare to host family and/or friends for Thanksgiving, don't be too quick to run to the store for decor. Take a quick walk in your neighborhood and don't underestimate the possibilities that abound at the grocery store. 

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I realize that the shoot I'm sharing today is represented on my homepage, but how could I NOT feature those images by Anna Delores Photography front and center?? Too pretty to pass up. 

Many of you have seen some of these images because, well, you're here and you probably past by the homepage before you took a slight right to arrive at the blog, but I think a collaboration filled with this much pretty deserves it's own post. So let's dive right in, shall we?

When Emily and I discussed this shoot, I decided that I wanted to do something that was filled with the happiness, whimsy and relaxed joy that comes with the lingering days of late summer. My sweet cousin who has a passion for lovely vintage goodies (if you're in town, check out her antique space in downtown Bakersfield!), had given me a set of 2 glasses and a juice carafe with the most adorable orange pattern around the center. I was immediately inspired and began to build the vision in my head around that little orange carafe. 


In addition to citrus and summer, I was inspired by watercolors and wanted to incorporate their soft romantic fluidity in some way. I did several watercolor paintings and then turned those paintings into the paper flowers that we placed on the bar cart. 

We enlisted the help of Alissa Bell Press to create the MOST beautiful letterpress invitations. I knew I wanted to add another watercolor element by way of the invitations, so I asked Alissa to leave a good amount of white space on the invitations. Alissa obliged and I had so much fun adding to her already incredible work. I enjoyed myself so much that I created two versions. 

And speaking of stationary to swoon over, Joelle from A Charming Occasion Calligraphy hand lettered the beautiful calligraphy for the place cards at the table. Love. 

The graphic pattern of the first invitation suite was taken from the pattern that I painted on the table runner... yes, I'm that crazy; I actually painted my own textile for this shoot. More on that DIY later ; )

The gorgeous flowers were so colorful and bright--they just made me happy and so in love with summer. They didn't stop at the reception table; Kissing Bees floral magic extended to the bouquets and the cutest little boutonniere. 

Between the hand painted runner, the watercolored paper flowers, watercolored invitations, custom ribbon backdrop, and the painted orange bentwood chairs, this shoot was certainly a labor of love. But, then again, I'm proud to say that I don't ever take on projects that don't turn out that way. I will sand, paint, stain, sew, build...whatever it takes to get the look just right. 

And just because my dear friend of 10 years is that pretty in a BHLDN dress and my grandparents property where I spent my childhood is that enchanting (need a rustic wedding venue in the central valley?? Let's talk) here are a few more of Emily Reiter's images to swoon over. 

a country girl and a barn dance }{ event

I'm a small town country girl at heart. No, I'm not from the south, but I was born and raised in California's Central Valley. People here often talk with a bit of a drawl, we love biscuits and gravy at tiny diners, know the sweet and earthy smell of alfalfa, and know what it's like to be farmer's daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and sisters.

Yep, right here in California. 

I've lived in and loved several other cities in the world and I go crazy for a buzzing, walkable metropolis, but I'll always have a kind of country-song nostalgia for my home town. So when I was asked to help plan and design a barn dance as part of my hometown's centennial celebration, I got a little (or a lot) giddy.

barn dance?? Yes, please. 

The dance took place in a huge cotton gin surrounded by almond orchards (much like most of the town where I grew up). The perimeter of the gin was lined with garlic boxes that were filled with delicious, mouth-watering, just-harvested garlic. The place smelled amazing! 

Photos by Sasha Saldana Photography

No barn dance would be complete without hay bales, so we created an entire lounge area out of hay and sprinkled perfect pumpkins (from my bother's pumpkin patch!) throughout the space for an extra dose of fall festivity.  

Twinkle lights, a s'mores bar, lovely sunflowers from Sun Country Flowers, live band, and delicious libations made for the most down-home and beautifully fun event. Sasha Saldana, a fellow Shafter-ite, took such lovely photos of all the pretty and rustic details and treated guests to a photobooth filled with props, of course!


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