party time!

My mom called from the Philippines last week to make sure everything was alright since there hadn't been a blog post in three weeks.  Thanks Mom, this one's for you!

I have been involved in a couple incredible women's events lately, and I was asked to head up the decorating for a big one.  They asked me to set up the area for dinner where they would be serving  food in three different shifts to 150 women each time.  I came up with some economical ideas that I thought I would share in case any of you are throwing a party for a big crowd.

When I was asked to take this project on and given the budget, I knew I would have to think creatively and stretch every dollar.  Coming up with an idea for centerpieces was going to take some real imagination! I stumbled upon this image from Country Living via Pinterest and my dilemma was solved.

 Fluffy pom poms atop sticks from the backyard = thrifty perfection.

A few days before the big night, I bribed a handful of girls from church with good treats if they would  help with various projects in preparation for the event.  12 of them showed up and we got so much done!  We had several "teams" that night, and I appreciated their help so much.

One team was putting washi tape flags on yellow forks.

A couple girls took on the task of dying 750 coffee filters for some garland in varying shades of pink.

 I sugared the tops of 500 clear tumblers.

And a whole table full of women sat and made over 80 yarn pom poms in different colors and sizes.  I decided to go with bright colors because our event was a celebration, and I wanted it to look cheerful and happy.  After all the pom poms were made, my ridiculously sweet friend Dara came over to help me attach all of them to sticks. We used a hot glue gun which worked perfectly.   I wish we would have taken a picture together, but we stopped at 2:00 a.m. and we weren't feeling photogenic at all. Thanks be to that darling Dara.  She was my right hand girl through it all!

The set-up day was long, but it all came together perfectly and turned out great.  We put five rows of four banquet tables together end to end, and covered them with brown contractors paper from The Home Depot, found in the paint department.  The roll is 140 feet long and costs $10.  My biggest tip with using this paper on tables is that you MUST get a very heavy duty and strong duct tape to attach  it to the underside of the tables.  Trust me (from previous experience) that it won't hold unless you use the good stuff.  Because brown paper tends to be a little bit boring, I decided to trace a place mat design on with chalk.  I just made a stencil out of stiff cardboard which made it super easy to trace around.  A box of Crayola chalk was just $1.29, and we didn't even use the whole thing!  Even though it was time consuming, it added so much flair for so little money, I just couldn't help myself.

The striped napkins came from IKEA, and the polka dot straws from {Petite Party Studio} right here in Gilbert, AZ about a mile away from my house.  Love those girls, and their store is beyond adorable!  They even got a shout out in the Winter 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, so they are kind of famous.  My Jaci works there when they are desperate for an extra set of hands and she really enjoys doing whatever it is they need her to do.  They are just F-U-N!  Check them out for all your party needs.

Have you ever sugared the tops of  tumblers?  For very little money and a bit more effort, you can really wow your party guests.  Just barely dip the rim in Karo syrup, then immediately into crystal sugar.  If you're local, (Phoenix area) ABC Cake Decorating is the place to pick up every color of the rainbow.  It cost under $20 to do 500 cups.  I call that a big bang for the buck!  You can do this a few days in advance and just stack the cups.  The sugar dries really hard in a few hours, so they are easy to handle and transport.

They also wanted me to do a little something in each foyer, so we used two of the big rolling chalkboards that were already in the building as our starting point.  One of the dearest girls on the planet, sweet Katie of {The Vintage Mother} came over and whipped up some magical chalkboard art on each of them.  We strung the dyed coffee filters together with clear fishing line and draped them a bit haphazardly over the chalkboards.  I'm going to highlight Katie's blog in another post, but as a teaser you might want to check it out.  Let's just say she is fabulous in every. single. way.  We spent the day of the event together attending classes, laughing, crying, listening, and feeling with our hearts.  It was so fulfilling and I loved being with her.  She always lifts me and loves me.

The whole conference was about feeling God's love in our lives, and reciprocating that love to Him through our actions to all that we have influence over.  Everyone involved did such an amazing job and I was so inspired to be a better person.  The culmination of the evening was a musical concert with eight different performances.  My husband was asked to sing something that represented the Arts and he chose Stars from Les Miserables.  I'd be lying if I didn't say it was my very favorite part of the whole day.  That man has got a voice!

I hope I gave you some economical ideas to use for your next party or event.  If you have any questions, give me a holler at meandjilly@gmail.com.  I think every party I throw for the next ten years will somehow incorporate a pom pom on a stick.



  1. Great ideas, as always! Everything was so fitting and so fun - loved the chalkboard, too.

  2. Well Mrs. Jill......I will be your right hand girl anytime!! Why didn't we take a picture to capture our craziness that night? Lol! You are amazingly talented and I'm more then willing to jump at the chance to work along side you. Love you!

  3. JiLlY GiRl~ you did wondersssssssss with a limited budget-very, very creative. Having to redo this 3 times for 3 different groups was challenging too I'll bet!
    I will try to message you but I'd love to know how you dyed the coffee filters (what kind of dye and how do you dry them?)

    As always- you girls amaze me---kudos! xo

  4. Even on a limited budget, you think to include the small and simple details. Your creativity truly sets you in a class all your own. Beautiful!

  5. I'm smitten with it all. Deep, deep smit. However, those chalkboard placemats pushed me over the top into...something more than smit (obsession?) I dunno. What I'm trying to say is that it's brilliant and I will be 1) pinning it for future reference when I 2) shamelessly copy this plethora of greatness for YW.

    {also, why are there only 4 comments? Seriously people??}

  6. Did you serve food? What was it? I am always interested on what to serve big groups with small budgets!

  7. oh my dear friend! I can't even take your luciousness!!! haha! This is out of control crazy good! I am dying over ever detail, but it doesn't surprise me because this screams YoU!!! I LOVE IT!!!! I wish i had one tenth of your creativeness in my brain-- I know that doesn't make sense, but you know what I mean! I want to be like you when I grow up Jilly Gal! Hugs my long lost friend!!!

  8. Like Beth, I would like to know a little more about the coffee filter garland.....can you let us know the dye and how did you attach them to the fishing line...in the center? or at the top of the triangle?? Was it hot glue? I love it and want to do it for my daughter's birthday party. Thanks!

  9. Love all your decorating ideas and I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan so I love that you did it on a budget. Way to go!!

  10. Oh Jilly, that was a work of love. What great decorations and ideas you came up with, love them all. How funny how our world has changed is it?...to think that if you would of said 5 years ago your mom would be keeping track of you via words you post on your computer for everyone to read would sound CRAZY!


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Mia & Jilly

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