Signing Up and Signing In

So it’s been an exciting week or so at the Jessen Hiser House.  It started off with some of our favorite house guests – Darrin’s younger brother Derek and his children – and ended with our engagement party/housewarming open-house!  It was so fun to finally get a chance to entertain and welcome people into our home.

In the midst of all the excitement, my home-style-guru over at Young House Love (is anyone keeping count of how many times I mention these people…it might be borderline stalker) Sherry announced a summer Pinterest Challenge.  Sherry and some of her friends are challenging themselves and their readers to actually attempt to make something inspired by a pin on their personal Pinterest page.  If you’ve been following my blog at all, by now you know I’m mad about Pinterest and have been soaking-up all kinds of ideas for our wedding and the house.  This challenge could not have been more timely.  I had already planned to try out a couple of things at our party this past weekend.  What I wasn’t necessarily planning on doing was sharing the progress of the projects.  But, thanks to the challenge I’ve been inspired…so here we go!

It all started with the following photo I found on Pinterest.  It’s a twist on the traditional guest book.  Guests leave their fingerprint behind, as opposed to signing their names.

A twist on the traditional "guestbook" has guests making fingerprint balloons.

There were three things that I instantly loved about this project.  The first was how unique and interactive it is – allowing guests to engage in a mini-art project.  The second is that it creates a piece of artwork that can hang in the house for years.  The third is that it reminds me of the Pixar film, “Up.”

When Darrin proposed, he asked me two questions.  The first was, “Are you ready for an adventure?”  The second was, “Will you marry me?”  When we talked about it later he explained that he was inspired by Up.  For those of you who saw the movie, do you remember this part?

I thought the sentiment was so sweet and it melted my heart.  So, of course I’m now trying to tie in subtle references to the film in our wedding.  However, one thing I don’t like about the “guestbook” above is that the fingerprints are only distinguishable to a trained CSI professional.  How am I supposed to tell the difference between my dad’s fingerprint and sister’s fingerprint?

So, I decided to try something a little different and work in my other current obsession.  I thought, what if the fingerprints weren’t fingerprints but letters?  Still with me?  Then guests could stamp their initials and we could (theoretically) deduce that RJ is my dad and TB is my sister.  So, I set-up a table at our party with a water color board, a selection of ink pads, letter stamps, and instructions.  Here are some photos of the set-up.

A cheery hydrangea and a photo of us, taken right after we got engaged, helped set the scene.

The instructions let guests know what to do without requiring someone to staff the table.

I bought a pack of letter stamps with two different fonts at Michael's using their 40% off coupon from the Sunday paper.

All in all, I was really pleased with the set-up.  I used a compass to draw circles on the board and asked guests to stamp inside the circles.  I imagined that I would eventually draw a dark line around the circles to turn those into large balloons (keeping with the Up theme) that would connect to a monogram at the bottom of the board, representing Darrin and me.  When the party was all said and done, this was the final product:

Our guests in letters.

When I first saw it, I felt a little deflated.  I think I even heard that “wop-wop” sound somewhere in the distance.  Looking back, I think I should have done some more prep work to my canvas.  I also should have bought a smaller canvas as I feel like there is too much white space.

But, all is not lost.  I’m simply going to consider this a work in progress.  I’ve got some ideas about what I can do to finish this piece and bring it to life.  I really want to keep to my original intention, which is to have a piece of art featuring the contributions of our friends and family – our loved ones.  What a great way to start turning our house into our home!

So, what about you?  Have you had any big ideas that didn’t exactly turn out the way you hoped?  How did you end up making it work?

Update: To see some real pros at work, checkout the Pinterest Challenge pages of Sherry at Young House Love, Katie at Bower Power, Emily Henderson, and Lana at Making a House a Home.

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Countdown to Party Town

Okay, so maybe the title of this post is a little lame.  Okay, maybe more than a little.  I can’t help it.  I love hosting parties and it’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to play hostess.  I used to hate the role of hostess, but something changed somewhere in my early twenties.  I was living with a great roommate (shout out to Jen B.) and our place became a regular gathering spot for our friends.  It wasn’t too long after being thrust into the role of hostesses for small impromptu gatherings that we started having official parties with themes.  One of the parties that still gets talked about in hushed, reverent tones was Jen’s Real World Birthday Bash (remember, we were in our early twenties).  We had fake cameras posted around the room, a faux aquarium (remember how the Real World house’s always had those kick ass aquariums?), and the piece de resistance – a functioning confessional room.  Watching the video from the confessional the next morning was eye opening.

The Real World Brooklyn's aquarium.

But, I digress.  You may recall me mentioning in a previous post that Darrin and I were planning an engagement party.  In addition to celebrating the engagement, we thought we would use the party as motivation to get work done on the house.  I explained to a friend recently that Darrin and I are both creative types and we simply can’t get things done without looming deadlines.  Her response – “I must be a creative type, too.”  Okay, so maybe it’s less creative type and more human type.

While we do have a number of things to get done on the house prior to the party, I certainly don’t want to take away from the excitement of getting to host my family and a few friends for a celebration.  So, to take you on the ride with us in this process, I’ve got to take you back to step 1 – the invitations.

Custom invitations to our party.

You’ll have to excuse the photography – it doesn’t quite do the work justice.  Darrin designed our invitations.  But, it was a true joint effort.  I wrote the copy, he designed the artwork.  The green in the invitation was selected to match the color we painted our kitchen cabinets.  I bought black card-stock and used it as a backing to the main portion of the invitation.  We bought some basic envelopes, but I felt like they were missing something.  While I was standing in line at Michael’s to buy the card-stock, I noticed letter stamps in the dollar bins by the checkout stand.  I found a ‘j’ for my last name and an ‘h’ for Darrin’s last name.  It was perfect!  I then stamped a monogram on to each of the envelopes.

I really love how the envelopes turned out and I’m pleased that we now have stamps for our last name.  I think we’ll be finding more ways to incorporate our monogram into the party decor.

What about you?  What have been some fun party ideas you’ve incorporated into your events?