Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pantone Colors for Spring 2013

Last year I shared Pantone's spring palette and matched their colors to our tulle palette. If you're planning to refer to this spring's swatches in your party or event planning, here are our matches for Spring 2013.

The color of the year is Emerald, described as: "Lively. Radiant. Lush… A color of elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony." The portfolio examples look more like teal green to me than emerald, which means the closest match in our palette is Lagoon. If you're looking for a darker version, the Emerald in our palette is a very dark, forest green.

The additional nine hues are: Dusk Blue (think denim), Tender Shoots (an apple green), Lemon Zest ( bright goldenrod yellow), Linen ("nude"), Poppy Red (persimmon-like orange-red), Nectarine (orange leaning toward coral), Monaco Blue (an anchoring blue a bit brighter than navy), African Violet (a medium lavender), and Grayed Jade (green with a gray undertone).

What strikes me about this palette is the neutrals, referred to by Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, as "novel neutrals." You may remember that last year's palette included Driftwood and Starfish, a gray and beige that would fit anyone's description of neutral. This year's neutrals are the Dusk Blue and Grayed Jade, while the sheer, "nude" Linen also acts as a neutral to the palette's brights. I'm also impressed by the presence of three greens. It will be interesting to see if green is as popular this spring and summer as they are predicting!

So out of our dozens of tulle colors, which of the colors match the 2013 palette? Here are our choices:

Dusk blue = Williamsburg blue (or French Blue for a less gray version)
Tender Shoots = Citrus
Lemon Zest = Butter
Linen = Peach
Poppy Red = Red
Nectarine = Orange (or coral)
Monaco Blue = Navy
African Violet = Lavender
Grayed Jade = Sage (or Tiffany for a bluer, less gray version)
Emerald = Lagoon (or Emerald for a darker version)

Please contact me if you have any questions about making a color match to your event!

Which of these do you think will become the most popular? Do you follow the color trends for fashion or for your home?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Be Grateful Today

In January I participated in the Indie Business Book Club and read Darren Hardy's "The Compound Effect." It's a small book that offers a lot to think about. Hardy writes that even small choices, when made consistently, become habits that have a huge impact on your life. Making smart choices one after another compounds and leads you toward success—in business as well as other aspects of your life.

Hardy shares lots of examples from his own life, and one that I loved described the "Thanks Giving" journal he created for his wife. For a whole year he wrote daily entries about her, sharing things that he appreciated about her.

Of course she was over the moon when he presented this gift to her a year later, but he says, "The funny thing was that the person most affected by this gift was me. All that journaling forced me to focus on my wife's positive aspects. I was consciously looking for all the things she was doing 'right.'"

Even before I read this part of Darren Hardy's book, I'd decided to start a gratitude journal, so I've been writing things down every day this year. At first I thought it would be hard to find enough good things. Wouldn't I run out after week three or four? How could I keep it up day after day?

What's interesting is that getting in the habit of writing down good things actually has made me see more of them. Maybe it's the pressure of knowing I have to write something down...or maybe it's just that I'm looking for good instead of looking for what is wrong. All I know is that being grateful for what I have right now brings more good stuff tomorrow.

What about you? Have you ever kept a gratitude journal? Did it have any effect on your life?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Featured IBN Member at Indie Business Blog

I was delighted to be featured on the Indie Business Blog last week for the custom favors I created for this year's Indie Cruise!

Donna Maria Coles Johnson shared the photo below (thank you for allowing me to share too, dM!) and said, "Our #IndieCruise logo looks fantastic, and so does the coordinating tulle bow. Emily even included our theme for this year’s cruise: Conceive! Believe! Achieve! The assorted flavors are delicious, and perfect for a cruise around the Caribbean: Margarita, Mojito, Coconut Twist and Pina Colada. Yum!"

I've been a member of the Indie Beauty Network since 2006 and have enjoyed taking advantage of the organization's benefits, including the affordable insurance, industry updates and education, new ways to share (like #HandmadeChat) and networking opportunities with other small business owners. However, I have yet to attend Indie Cruise. Maybe 2014 will be my year?

Thank you, IBN and Donna Maria, for all that you do. I'm glad that you enjoyed the favors! I know that I enjoyed making them for you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

10 Things To Ask When Shopping for Party Favors

After seven (!) years of making personalized favors, I've answered lots of questions. Whether you're already one of my fabulous customers or you're just doing research, here are ten questions to ask a potential designer or vendor when you're shopping for party favors. (Many of these can be answered simply by browsing at the vendor's website.)

 1. Do you offer personalization?
You probably want favors that match the colors, theme, and style of your event. Do you want to add names or other custom text to your favors? What if you're planning around an unusual theme—will the designer create a custom favor just for you? Make sure that your vendor offers the personalization options you are looking for.

2. What is the minimum order?
Companies that offer personalized party favors almost always require a minimum purchase. There's a wide range of minimums, usually starting at 12 or 24 pieces. They sometimes require you to purchase favors in sets of 10 or 12, which means that you may have to buy more favors than you need. Read the fine print...those unit prices may be low because you have to order 50 pieces, and you could end up spending much more than you need to.

3. Can I see examples of your favors?
Check websites, online portfolios, or Facebook pages for examples of favors to see if the vendor offers the styles and quality you're looking for. If the designer or vendor is local, make arrangements to view those examples up close and personal.

4. What do your past customers think of your favors and service?
In addition to the online portfolio, customer testimonials are a great way to check that the vendor is consistently offering quality products and that other customers like you are happy with their service. Social media can also tell you if the company provides good customer service, so visit their Twitter or Facebook page to see how they handle questions or problems.

5. How can I reach you if I have additional questions?
Contact information should be easy to find on their website, blog, Facebook or other social media pages. Whether by email, phone, or messaging, make sure that the vendor is available to provide the information you need to make your purchase.

It's also worth taking a closer look at social media to see how quickly the company addresses product questions or issues. Are they responsive? How long does it take to get information? This can often alert you to problems before you've committed to their products or services.

6. Will I get a proof or example of my artwork or design before my favors are made?
Once you place your order and provide all of your favor details, the vendor will (ideally) provide a proof or other way for you to verify that names, dates, and other personalization details are correct. This step is especially crucial for rush jobs which leave no time to correct or re-do your favors if there is a typo or other error.

7. Can I get a sample of a favor?
If you're not local to the vendor and can't see, touch, taste, or smell the favors—or if you're ordering for a large event and you're concerned about matching colors or themes—it can be difficult to make a final decision. Find out if the vendor can make samples available to you to make sure the favors are exactly what you're looking for. Even if product samples are not available, they may be able to provide swatches (fabric, ribbons, or other packaging elements) to help you make your selections with confidence.

8. How quickly will you prepare the favors?
Especially if you are in a rush, it's important to get a clear idea of the turnaround time. How much lead time do they like to have when preparing personalized favors? How long does it take to complete and ship your order once it's placed? Do they offer a rush service, and if so, is there a rush fee? How about expedited shipping—what are those costs?

9. Do you assemble the favors before shipping or will I need to put them together?
Some of the very least expensive favors available are not pre-assembled. Read the fine print when purchasing inexpensive favors in bulk; you may be required to put them together from several shipments of product, labels, and packaging. When you're pressed for time, it's sometimes worth the extra expense to find a vendor who will assemble your favors for you.

10. Will you accept returns?
Most companies do not accept returns on custom or personalized products unless they make an error during processing. Make sure you understand the vendor's return policy before ordering.

BONUS QUESTION: Are there perks for ordering a large number of favors?
Sometimes you can get lower unit pricing or free shipping if you order favors in bulk. For example, some companies offer free shipping for purchases that reach a minimum total (such as $75). Check the site's policies to see whether they have price breaks or shipping promotions.

If you aren't able to find this information with a simple browse through a vendor's site, just ask! (I know that I'm always happy to share that we offer personalization on minimum orders of 10 favors, which are completely assembled and shipped within an average of 2-3 days. I'm available to answer questions by phone or email as well as Twitter and Facebook, where you can also see examples of our work. More examples and testimonials are also at our site, We always provide emailed proofs, can arrange for samples or swatches upon request, offer rush service for a small fee, and accept returns when we're in error. Oh...and we offer free Priority shipping for orders over $75.)

What have I missed? Are there other questions you'd like answered? Please let me know what's important to you when you order party favors!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Valentine Recipes and Projects

Just a few short days until Valentine's Day! I've been baking and crafting and thought I'd put all previous posts of our Valentine projects and recipes in one place.

If you need to take a treat to school or to the office, you can wrap candies in these printables!

Free Valentine Printable Wrappers

And then tuck the candies into these quick Valentine cards (with little pockets on the front).

Last-Minute Valentines
Or maybe you need a Valentine party snack to share. We have Valentine whoopies...

Valentine Mini Whoopie Pies
...or sugar cookie hearts. 

Sugar Cookies
Once your treats are made, you might want to package them with gift tags. Here are some printables that you can cut into circles or square tags.

Printable Valentine Circles
The best way to say "I love you" on Valentine's Day is to start them off with chocolate. And hearts! Chocolate raspberry waffles, mmm...

Chocolate Raspberry Waffles

What special Valentine treats or projects are you working on this year? I'd love to hear about them!

Want to see our new recipes and projects as soon as we post them? Why not subscribe to our blog by email or reader? Thanks so much for your interest!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Valentine Mini Whoopie Pies

If you're from Maine (or Pennsylvania), you've probably tried whoopie pies. Maine has had a long-standing disagreement with Pennsylvania about which state "invented" this dessert. Wherever it came from, I think we can all agree that it's yummy.

A few years ago I posted a recipe for Mimosa Whoopie Pies, which married the flavors of orange and champagne (perfect for a bridal shower, don't you think?). Today I'm sharing the standard chocolate version for Valentine's Day. What could be better than chocolate for Valentine's Day?

Whoopie Pie Cakes

2/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat and 1 cup white)
1/2 cup cocoa (plus a few extra tablespoons...never can have too much chocolate!)
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 375 °. Cream the butter and beat in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Sift flour, cocoa, and other dry ingredients into a separate bowl, then beat half of dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Follow with the milk, then remaining dry ingredients.

Using ungreased nonstick pans (or pans lined with parchment), drop the batter by the teaspoonful, leaving a few inches between each one. The batter will spread to create cookies about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the top of the cookie bounces back when touched. Move to cooling racks and once cookies are completely cooled, assemble them into sets of two, pairing them with other cookies that are the same size. (I was able to make about 45 pairs of cookies with this recipe.)

Whoopie Pie Filling

This is the part of the recipe that varies greatly, with one big difference: to fluff or not to fluff? (Marshmallow fluff, that is.) If you're outside New England, you probably call this marshmallow cream, and it seems to be the biggest difference between the filling recipes I considered. We've always been in the non-fluff camp, but our recipe (though delicious) includes shortening. Since I try to avoid hydrogenated oils, I decided to play with a frosting recipe and include some marshmallow fluff. This recipe is kid-approved (and kid-friendly if they're helping you, since it also requires no cooking).

1 stick butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
a pinch of salt
3-4 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup marshmallow cream

Beat ingredients until fluffy. Then work through your cookie pairs, spreading a generous layer of filling on one and topping with the other. Dip the edge in a dish of Valentine sprinkles to add a bit of color to each pie, if desired. Then wrap individually and share!

Have you ever had a whoopie pie?

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Gender Reveal Baby Shower Favors

Is it pink or blue? Let the lip balm color reveal the baby's gender at your gender reveal baby shower! Specify flavor and color when ordering. 


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