Friday, March 23, 2012

The Little Hootenanny!

In honor of my sister's pregnancy, we had a Little Hootenanny!

I am really glad I hosted Maggie's baby shower.  Otherwise I don't think I'd be expecting a real baby to pop out of her at the end of May.  Not entirely sure what I've been thinking has taken up residence under her clothes lately, but prior to the baby shower I was admittedly in denial that my first niece/nephew was coming to play.  Something about pulling all the details of the hootenanny together made her pregnancy so REAL, and now I can't help but be excited for him to arrive.

Knowing that planning and hosting would be too much for one person, I enlisted my cousin Karen to be my cohort.  Karen has many talents, but in this case she did what she does best: the food.  It was the most imaginative and tasty menu I've ever seen at any shower, baby or bridal!  That left me in charge of the invitation, decorations, and general organizing.  With the nursery colors and theme (woodland animals mostly, but owls primarily) in hand, I plunged into planning.

(Get ready for a long, detailed post -- with LOTS of pictures....)

I started, naturally, with the invitation.  This was by far the most time-consuming task related to the shower.  There is so much OWL paraphernalia these days, it was hard to find the right style that suited Maggie's nursery: nothing too realistic or too Disney.  After looking at many different design options and agonizing over what to do, I ended up drawing and water-coloring the whole thing so that it would be unique and (hopefully) appropriate to the event.  I had the graphic designer at my store format it and add the text, and voila!  I used a white wood grain textured paper, you can actually see and feel the wood grain, to add that extra rustic charm, and a brown paper envelope for a touch of "vintage."  I'm convinced the paper was the best thing about the invitation!

We decided on a three hour Come & Go format, which we thought would make people feel less obligated to stay the whole time, but most everybody did stay anyway.  We also didn't want Maggie to feel like she had to open up all her gifts in front of everyone, because that can be uncomfortable for some mommies-to-be, but she ended up opening them anyway!  One thing I've learned about event planning: you can have the best intentions, but you must always GO WITH THE FLOW.  Rarely, if ever, will everything go exactly the way you plan.

I didn't intend to have a strong theme, but in this case it happened organically while creating the invitation.  I've already mentioned that the general theme of the nursery is animals, specifically woodland creatures, and even more specifically: OWLS.  Maggie and her husband haven't decided on a baby name, yet, but we needed some way of referencing the unborn baby on the invitation.  I was inspired by an adorable book titled "Little Hoot."  We used this as the baby's "name" and inadvertently, ended up branding the shower with the "Little Hoot" title!  Even the guests were referring to the baby as "Little Hoot."  It was too cute!

We used the inspirational Little Hoot book as the baby's Guest Book.  Everyone signed inside the cover.

I wanted personal touches and playful elements to be apparent in the decorations.  I tried to keep it cohesive, but not too matchy-matchy.  Showers can be soooo stuffy and predictable some times, and we wanted this one to feel relaxed and fun!

I created a branch mobile to hang above the main table.  It was super cheap and pretty easy to put together.  The wooden letters I purchased at Hobby Lobby, spray painted, and attached with blue and green baker's twine.  The little cloth birdies were sewn by my sister Susanna, and attached with wire.  The branch was found on my parent's property.  I think this mobile was my favorite part of all the decorations, and since it was right in front of the door, had the biggest impact on people as they walked in.

Me and cousin Karen right before the shower begins!

The sign in table with sonogram pictures, animal note cards, and guest book.

Also on the sign in table, we had little animal shaped cards for people to write notes to the baby.  We pinned them up on a pin board for everyone to read.  I liked the idea of all these people who love Maggie writing love notes to her unborn baby.  He can read them years from now and know that so many people loved him and were excited to meet him before he was even born!

We used mason jars (I know....Mason Jars!  But we had a lot of them already...) for drinking glasses and, using a stencil, I cut out mustaches for each straw in honor of the Little Man.  It was really funny to look around the room and see everyone drinking with a mustache on!  Some of us had more fun with them than others....

TL: My mom (aka GiGi), TR: Maggie & Karen, Bottom: GiGi with all her daughters and first grandchild.
Think I gave Maggie the "photo ops" the photographer-in-her really wanted?

I liked the tradition of having baby pictures of the parents-to-be out for people to look at, and they were so cute, how could we not?  We also put out Maggie's baby book for guests to look through, and it was enjoyed by many.

We had our old crib assembled and made up, not only for when Little Hoot comes to stay, but also as a gift drop.  Some of Maggie's well-loved stuffed animals were on display, too.  I bought two dowel rods, strung twine between them to make a mini-clothesline, and hung up some adorable onesies up for a little extra cute factor.

I am still dreaming about the deliciousness of Karen's menu!  I contributed only TWO items to her line up, and they weren't even original ideas -- I have to credit Pinterest for the cheesecake-stuffed strawberries and the chocolate kiwi lollipops.  In addition to conceptualizing the menu, Karen prepped and executed about 95% of all the food, with help from my Aunt Deni and Grandma O.  My mother, savior that she is, did all our grocery shopping ahead of time and saved us a whole day in doing so.  We were really, really lucky to have some helping hands around!  I helped mostly by eating....

Karen and me tasting the cake.

Cheesecake Strawberries
Fresh Fruit with Creamy Dip
Open-Faced Cucumber Fennel Sandwiches
Bacon & Cheddar Deviled Eggs
Veggies & Dip
Spinach Artichoke Pinwheels
Cheeses (cut in the shapes of forest animals!) & Crackers
Creme Puffs
Deconstructed Caprese Salad 
Sweet BBQ Meatballs
& Green Tea Lemonade

There wasn't a whole lot left over... and I'm not a bit surprised.  After all that, there was still cake!  Maggie's close friend, Roxy, made her a white cake with buttercream frosting & pineapple whip cream filling ....

 ... complete with a little owl on top!

Little Hoot, we know you're warm and cozy in there, but we're eager to meet you!  
The Hootenanny was a lot of fun... thanks to everyone who came.
Hoot Hoot!

Thanks also to the Grandmothers for financing, Aunt Deni for creating the flower arrangements, 
Roxy Cakes for baking a tasty and beautiful cake, my parents for allowing us to use their home, 
and Susanna for taking all these amazing pictures! 

Congrats, Margaret!
Hi5 Karen!


  1. Laurel. You are amazing! What a lovely event! :)

    1. I'm blushing. thank you. it was fuuuuun.

  2. HOly wow! The invite is so legit. You should sell it on etsy and be a millionaire. The whole shower looks darling. Also I haven't been to your actual blog in forever I'm liking the side bar did Tim do that? All awesome.

    1. D - that invitation was so ridiculously involved I wouldn't do it again for less than a million bucks. Have you seen/heard of that paper before? It's wooooonderful. I love it. I did the sidebar. It's just changing the background. This one is a Jonathan Adler pattern. I know... soooo trendy.

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  4. Once again, you've out done yourself. It's absolutely perfect! What a labor of love :)