Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's with a Pre-Birthday Shoot?

I haven't had my wedding in a church just yet (formulating plans for that though, maybe in 2 years, IF the budget permits), but I am fully aware that before the wedding, couples go on a pre-nuptial photoshoot. Romantic, dramatic, nostalgic...all those stuff make up the overall impact of the pre-nup pics. The couples use those pics for their wedding's printables like invites, souvenirs ,etc.

And one of the many discoveries that I had when I started my party planning frenzy was that kiddie events also have their own version of a 'pre-nup shoot'!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mexican Fiesta: SUCCESS! the CAKE and (DIY Stuff) Part 2

This is the last installment of my very 'comprehensive' (in short: long. hehe) supplier rating series. :-)

The Cake

Rating: ❤❤ out of 5

I originally wanted a Dora character cake. But then due to the restrictions at Jollibee, I had to opt for a generic-themed cake if I wanted to be able to display it during the party proper (normally it's just brought in for candle-blowing).  My search for a cake supplier began with this thought in mind: I wanted something simple, but with good detailing, and done with great execution. Oh and yes, I wanted it made with fondant icing. Since we won't be able to eat the cake at the venue anyways, and we already have adult and kiddie giveaways, I decided to just opt for an 8" round cake without cupcakes. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mexican Fiesta: Success! (DIY STUFF) Part 1

A mother is she who can take the place of all others. - Cardinal Mermillod

I don't know who Cardinal Mermillod is, but well, he pretty much hit the spot. My own mother has been my tutor, my principal, my financier, my worst enemy (when I was a teen), my lunch buddy (when I was still single and working), and my best friend, now that I'm a mom too.

For my little girl, I'm pretty much just her playmate, her other aliping saguiguilid, her personal cook, and yes her very own party planner. :-)

Last year, I pretty much depended on my balloon decorator for most of the party decor. Partyboosters' package was pretty comprehensive, and the end result was really nice. It was, however, quite expensive this time for my small budgeted party. :-)

DIY projects can be quite tasking, but in the end, they figure less when it comes to expense. And since I wanted a more personal touch for my daughter's 2nd birthday party, I opted to take on more DIY stuff. This is also ideal if you want to reinforce a not-so-traditional theme.

I am so NOT an arts and crafts kind of person, but since I really wanted to be more hands-on with personalizing her 2nd birthday, I dived in and took the 'risk'. Hehe.

These are our DIY projects for my daughter's 2nd birthday:

1. Message book
2. Mexican hats and Mexican-themed styro letters
3. Labels and wrapping for game prizes
4. Colorful paper streamers and Balloon Decor

The Message Book
Rating: ❤ out of 5
I've always been a fan of photobooks. The first ones that I fell in love with were the magnetic ones that I saw at a wedding. Those looked like they will last forever because of the materials used. I actually wanted one like that for my daughter's first birthday party, but they proved to be waaaaaay too expensive for me.

Last year, I made guest sheets for her first birthday messages. I did the layout through scrapblog.com, an online scrapbooking site, and just downloaded the files as jpeg. Since I only got the free version, I had to make do with the resolution which was only good for up to a 5R size print. All in all, I spent about 325 pesos on it for 50 pcs. I just compiled them in a huge photo album which was a gift from my daughter's baptism. :-) Moms really have to make do with what's available. Hehe.

Anyway, this year, I wanted something different. I have been an artscow user since last year, and my first project was a 6x6 photobook of my daughter's first birthday pictures. It was more of a 'trial effort', just so I can check the printing and color quality of artscow's products. And since I was pretty impressed with the output, I opted to have my daughter's 2nd birthday message book done through them.

Front cover of the message book

Inside layout of the message book (with messages in picture)
This 6X6 message book was ordered last March 2011 (my baby's party was May 14 2011). I just did some tweaking on Artscow's template and added baby's pictures to make the layout appropriate for a message book. I made sure to order it way in advance since regular shipping time for artscow if done through  airmail is about a month. Since the photobook itself was free as there was an ongoing promo at that time, I only paid $3.99 (about 167.58 PHP) for shipping fees. :-)

I loooooved how it turned out, the colors were exactly as I saw them online, the paper was of great quality, and the cover had this slight gloss.

A few tips:
  • Artscow products are made and shipped from Hongkong. Make sure to order about 2 months in advance if you intend to use your end-product for a party. 
  • Since there are available templates on the website, you don't really need to be an expert at it, but still, a little knowledge on tweaking it would be of great help. So take time to play around the photobook builder first. :-)
  • If you intend to use their photobook as a message book like I did, you'd have to get rid of some of the cute elements on some of the templates. Make sure to leave ample space in the middle of a page for the messages. :-)
  • One 6x6 message book is good enough for about 50-60 guests since it already has 20 pages (additional pages would incur an additional charge.). If you are expecting more guests, you might want to get a bigger-sized one or order of the 6x6's. 
  • If you want to put in some of your kid's photos, make sure to check the resolution, especially if you plan to make them bigger. Photos from camera phones can work, but only if the photo would be used on a small scale, otherwise, they tend to pixelize.
  • Use raw files from your digital camera, and NOT those you have uploaded from Facebook. If you did not save/upload your photos in high-resolution on FB, then you'd get a low-res file when you download it. 
  • Have your guests use a waterproof, no-smear, permanent fine-point marker (not the broad ones or the whiteboard markers) when writing on the message book.
  • You can either have the guests sign upon registration (so they don't forget to do it. Hehe.) or you can have someone pass it around during the party. If you're going to do the latter, then make sure that somebody's monitoring it's whereabouts. :-)

Mexican Hats and Styro Letters

When I decided to go for the Mexican Fiesta theme, I got really excited with planning on how to go about working on the party decor. I did some research and found some really great ideas on the Smartparenting forum with the help of the moms there. :-)

A couple of party elements I really liked that I found online were paper flowers and pompoms that can be hung from the ceiling. Unfortunately though, hubby didn't like the idea. :(

I thought of Mexican hats as a great addition to the decor as it instantly suggests the idea of a Mexican Fiesta when you see it. They are also very colorful and can definitely add some fun factor to the decor.

My first thought though was: Where can I find these hats?

I had hoped and crossed my fingers that I will find or at least something that looks like them in Divilandia....and I DID! Yey!

I spotted plain and colored Mexican hats (pointed buri hats) on Tabora St. and they were a definite steal at 25 pesos each for the small ones (for the plain ones. 35 for the colored ones). I wanted to hoard 'em hats, but since I was on a super tipid mode I only bought four plain small ones. My mom went to Lucban Quezon, her hometown, for their HS reunion, and she bought me two big pointed hats there. :-)

I decorated them with art paper in different alternating colors and just established the patterns I saw on Mexican hats online.

Since I'm not good at all with anything that involves using scissors and glue, the output wasn't exactly perfect, but they were cute. :-) Here's how they turned out:

I was informed by an SP mom that the letters used for the celebrant's name in Jollibee parties were rather... let's just say, looked like they have gone through a lot of parties. :-) And I do remember attending some Jollibee parties, and had also seen some pics online where the letters were either lost in the tarp (because of the color) or were tearing apart in some areas. Since I wanted everything (as much as possibe) to be great, I took it upon myself to make my own letters. I also thought it would be nice if I can align it to my theme as well.

I first printed the letters on short bonded paper, one letter for each page, and then glued it on the styro. That served as my pattern for cutting the styro. I then wrapped the letters in orange and violet crepe paper (super effort because the crepe paper was so flimsy), and decorated it with art paper to adhere to the Mexican Fiesta theme. The output looked like a gradeschool project, hehe. But I'm proud of it, and it looked ok in pictures, so all's well that ends well. :-)

A few tips

  • Use the half-inch thick square or rectangular styro. They're easier to cut. 
  • Crepe paper - not good for wrapping stryo letters. :-)
  • Make sure that the colors you'll be using will not blend in with the color of the tarp. 
  • Make the letters as big as you can. They'd look better when photographed. 

Thanks again for reading! Please look out for the Part 2 of my DIY Stuff post. :-)

(Check out Part 2 on this page.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mexican Fiesta: Success! (BIRTHDAY OUTFIT)

One of the things that amazed me with kiddie parties of this generation are the pre-birthday activities. All I remember about my childhood pre-birthday events is well composed of one most-anticipated moment - buying a new dress. And by dress, I mean nothing grand, just a prettier dress than the usual stuff in my wardrobe.

But nowadays, kids go through a slew of pre-birthday activities and preps. There are pre-birthday photoshoots, pre-birthday shopping for party stuff, pre-birthday dress fittings and dress rehearsals, and lots more. I bet those who have a bigger budget for their kiddie parties have even more pre-birthday stuff going on. Hehe.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mexican Fiesta: Success! (PHOTO COVERAGE)

Rating: ❤ out of 5

I am a self-confessed camwhore. I love taking pictures of myself, and I love taking pictures of my kid, and just about anything and everything that I do with her, and with our family.

And being a lover of great photos, I wanted to make sure that we get quality photo coverage for Keisha's 2nd birthday party. Since we were not keen on getting video coverage (we're not comfortable with video cams. hehe), I decided to scout for the best person who's talent I can afford. :-)

One of my dream photogs for a kiddie party is Ging Lorenzo (http://photosbyging.blogspot.com/).I love her simple yet elegant style, and how her output don't look too post-processed. Maybe they are post-processed to make them look flawless, but hey, they don't look it. :-) I actually stumbled upon a blog post of hers where she covered a Jollibee party in Bluewave Macapagal Ave, and it looked a-mazing!

I personally think Jollibee parties are harder to cover than the clubhouse kiddie parties that run for about four hours. First off, because Jollibee parties are just two-hour events, they are usually fast-paced. Set-up's only for 30 minutes, and the program itself runs for only two hours. Aside from that, Jollibee parties aren't usually as detail-rich, as one is not given free rein with decors and themes due to company/brand restrictions.

Photogs who cover Jollibee parties must be used to fast-paced shoots, and already know what details to catch. They must also be pretty creative, so as to get a unique perspective on what moments to capture. :-)

In my search for great kiddie party photographers, I chanced upon a couple which really caught my interest, one of which is Sophiaphotography. I love the way they capture quirky, fun moments at parties, and make them even more interesting through post-processing. They also offer a really good deal at 4,000 (or is it 5k? I'm not 100% sure anymore. Hehe) for two photographers to cover the event.

The other one is Warren Camitan. I believe he was (not sure if he still is) the other half of Image Warehouse Photography, a photo coverage supplier that offers affordable yet quality services. Upon checking their body of work, I was immediately convinced that they have enough experience to handle a fast-paced Jollibee party. It was Warren's shots that I first found with a Google search, so I contacted him. His style was a lot like Ging's (point number 1! :-)), communication with him was quick and easy (point number 2!), and most importantly, his rate was very affordable (three points!).

I actually thought he'd charge somewhere from 5,000 to 6,000 pesos, but no, his rate was at 4,000, and only requires a 25% deposit.

I was a wee bit OC with email and text responses, and in all fairness, he always gave a timely response (with a couple of hours from the time you texted or emailed at the most). Never did I feel that scary 'oh no, hindi pa sya nagrereply' that you get when a supplier has not responded after a couple of text messages, and within 24-48 hours.

There were specific that I wanted, so I made sure to email him about those details. He quickly acknowledged those requests via email, and gave clear answers. From there, I knew, this was one supplier I'm never going to have a problem with. :-)

On the party date, he was there at 9am, just as I had asked him to. :-) I originally planned to have a mini-shoot before the party starts for our family and Keisha. Unfortunately though, since most of our decor is DIY, hubby and I were quite busy most of the one-hour allowance we had.

Since we couldn't make use of the time for a pre-shoot, Warren made himself busy by shooting some of the colorful party details. One of my favorites was this photo of Keisha's party dress:

Here are other photos that I suuuuper love out of the 800+ shots by Warren Camitan. Oh and yeah, I was pleasantly surprised that he had that many. Hehe. The party went on for just a little under two hours, and I was expecting that he wouldn't be able to get a lot. :-)

I'm still in the process of uploading the rest of the pics on my multiply page, but if you want a sneak peek of more photos, you can go here.

Many thanks for the visit! :-) Look out for my next post. It's going to be about the cake and the sweet treats! :-)

(UPDATE: As of this date, 8/9/2011, I found out that Warren (as well as a lot of other photogs) have increased their rates. Please get in touch with Warren for the updated price. :) I still highly recommend him though, increased rate and all. :) ) 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mexican Fiesta: Success! (CANDY BAGS and SOUVENIRS)

I originally wanted Dora Fun Fiesta to be my daughter's theme for her 2nd Birthday party. The picture on the right is my 'inspiration' for the theme. However, due to restrictions at the venue (Jollibee Bluewave Macapagal Ave.), I had to work around the theme and make it generic.

Here's what I did:

For the color scheme, I chose violet and orange, which are the colors on Dora's dress here. I also designed my little girl's dress based on Dora's dress on this picture. I then revised the theme to Mexican Fiesta which turned out to be a fun and colorful choice, and it didn't clash with any of the Jollibee branch's restrictions.

 out of 5

You might be wondering, what are candy bags? Is it the same as lootbags?

Hmmmm, it's basically very simple, candy bags are party give-aways which only holds sweet treats! :-) Lootbags on the other hand can contain any kind of party favor like notepads, stickers, pens, small toys, etc.

For my daughter's 2nd birthday, I actually wanted customized Dora and Boots lootbags, and had originally planned to get canvas bags customized for the event. Unfortunately though, those turned out to be expensive. So I had to find a way to find something that works with my 20-25 PHP/piece budget.

Luckily, I stumbled upon this picture from Ma Arte Aims site. And I immediately fell in love with it.

Transacting with sis Aimee was a breeze. She gave timely responses to my questions, and was always willing to make adjustments to the design. She was also very punctual in sending back proofs for me to check on before they were printed.

Since one of the restrictions of Jollibee included 'no character lootbags', I had to find a way to be able to still display my lootbags and not have problems with their restrictions as well. Since I was having these customized, adjusting the design was pretty easy. If you would notice on the picture above, the back part of the candy bag shows the pic of the baby and the name/message. Since I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't be hassled with it on the party date, I asked sis Aimee to make sure that the design on the back would show no indication that it was a Dora character candy bag. Here's what she made:

back of Dora candy bag

back of Boots candy bag

I was so happy with how it turned out! :-) Since sis Aimee is also from Bacoor Cavite, we just met up, and I was so glad to be able to save on shipping fees! Hehe. And to add to that, they were only 25 pesos each! :-)

When I got the products, I was initially a tad disappointed, mainly because they weren't the size I was expecting them to be. I thought they will be big, perhaps the size of a short bond paper when folded in half, but no, they were more like 1/4 the size of a bond paper in height.

BUT, nonetheless, I was happy with the output. The colors on the bag were bright, the layout was beautiful, the materials/paper was of good quality, and the make was sturdy. These candy bags can hold a lot of sweet treats! :-) BTW, I won Milkita Lollipops' Kiddie Birthday Treats FB promo, and I got two heaping bags of candies and lollipops! :-)

Here are pics of the final output from sis Ma Arte Aims:

Sweet contents - Lollipops, candies, gummy worms
Treats from Milkita

 out of 5
I actually had second thoughts of getting a souvenir for adults. I wanted something that's personalized, can be used as decor, and would have some substantial use. Mugs and tumblers were actually my first choice, but were a bit expensive.

Thankfully, I stumbled upon ref magnets on Ma Arte Aims site, and I really liked how it was packaged. I inquired from sis Aimee about costing, and they were just for 28 pesos! Yey! Pasok sa budget. :-) And it had everything I was looking for.

I really liked the acetate packaging with matching ribbon and wooden flower accent, it made the ref magnet look sosyal. The colors on the magnet itself were bright and printing was of good quality. All in all, it was a great deal. :-)

Here's a photo of the layout and the ref magnet output:

Final output