This past weekend I got the chance to host my first in-real-life Chrystina Noel blog event. Nineteen of my closest friends and I took over Williams-Sonoma in Philadelphia on Sunday evening. We decorated Christmas cookies, made handmade greeting cards, and drank some pretty delicious hot chocolate. Thank you times a million to everyone who came out, it really means a lot to me.
So here’s how it went down. Months ago Williams-Sonoma hooked me up with some pretty delicious hot fudge for my Hot Fudge Party. That’s when the discussions started about me hosting an event at Williams-Sonoma. They told me I could use the cooktop and everything. That’s approximately when I freaked. I can’t cook. I mean, I get by. And if I try really hard and plan in advance I can make something happen, but goodness gracious does it stress me out. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I realized even though I can’t cook, I can definitely bake. Baking turned into cookies, cookies turned into Christmas cookies, and all of a sudden I had the vision of having a Christmas party at Williams-Sonoma for my friends & blog readers. And that’s how it happened.
The Friday before the event I stopped by Williams-Sonoma to pick up all of my supplies and I spent a good chunk of Saturday and Sunday baking cookies at home and making dough to take to Williams-Sonoma to cook in-store on Sunday evening. (Both the sugar cookie and gingerbread cookie mixes from Williams-Sonoma are delicious in case you were wondering.) I also made two batches of buttercream frosting – one white and one green. I also went through all of my craft supplies to pull out all of the holiday supplies that I had for people to make cards with. I realized on Sunday morning that I would probably need to provide some guidance on how to make a greeting card, so I made little signs to help guide people along. I also made party favors for everybody who attended the event. Because party favors.
I also made party favors for everybody who attended the event. Because party favors.
I showed up about an hour-and-a-half before the party to get things ready, figure out how to use the stove, and start cooking some gingerbread men. The staff was incredibly helpful (one person even helped me make my frosting more spreadable). I never quite did learn how to use a convection oven. And I was mind-blown how weird it felt to be on the other side of the counter.
— Her Philly (@HerPhilly) December 14, 2015
In true Chrystina Noel fashion, it’s now time to do a recap of what I learned from hosting my first blog event. For you guys – and for me the next time I go to host my second event. I was excited to find out that my party planning skills translated to blog event planning skills. It’s all about planning ahead, making people feel comfortable, and capturing the memories. The third of which I moderately failed at.
How to Host an In-Person Blog Event
Promote your event
I used Eventbrite to “sell” tickets for my event. I created the event (which was super easy) and then sent it out to my mailing list, added it to the end of a few blog posts, and personally emailed a bunch of my friends in the city. The key part of this was emailing my friends in the city. Of the 19 people, I knew 19 of them before they showed up to this event. In the future, admittedly, I’m going to consider charging $5 per ticket instead of having them be free because it will deter people from just signing up for tickets for fun. One lady signed up for 12 tickets and I emailed her ahead of time to find out if she was part of a group and I never got a response. I guess that should have been my first sign that she wasn’t actually going to show up. In total 46 people “bought” tickets, and 19 of my favorite people showed up. For my first event I would call that pretty good.
Create a hashtag
It occurred to me the morning of the event that I should have a hashtag. My goal was to come up with one that could be used for this event, as well as future Chrystina Noel events, so I came up with #chrystinanoelparty. Then I made signs and put them out so that people would know what to hashtag. Look at some of the fun pictures people posted!
Thanks, Aquiera, Melissa, & Tara!
Give people guidance
Have you ever walked into a party and felt uncomfortable because you realized you didn’t know where you were supposed to be, what you were supposed to be doing, or who anybody else was? We’ve all be there and it’s not super fun. I (hopefully) avoided this feeling by giving everybody a spiel on what was what and what was where. When people walked in I said, “This is hot chocolate world over here. This is cookie-making world over here. And this is card-decorating world over there. And everything in the store is 10% off right now.” (Yes, I decided that there were different worlds at my party, that’s a thing. I was essesntially inventing my own video game or children’s cartoon. It’s a thing.) Most people headed for the hot chocolate first, added some Baileys and then had some time to think about where they wanted to head next.
Show up early
I planned my entire day around this event. When I went to church I took two bags of stuff to drop off at the store. I went home and made 6 dozen cookies. I showered and then went back to the store an hour-and-a-half before the event started and I’m seriously so glad I did. It gave me time to feel things out, figure out what was going to be where, find somebody to show me how to use a convection oven, and just in general feel more comfortable.
This one I failed miserably at. I think if I have another event I’m going to try to find somebody to hand a camera off to. I only took four pictures at the whole event, and I didn’t get any of the greeting card station set up, which is a bummer because it turned out pretty cool, if I do say so myself. So, note for next time. Take some pictures.
Thank you again to everybody who showed up. I cannot thank you enough. I hope all of your handmade cards are well-received, that your cookies were just the sugar rush you needed, and that you buy yourself a bottle of Baileys to use in your own hot chocolate in the future. A special thanks to everybody who helped me cleaned up – and then even helped me carry things home. Seriously, I have the best friends ever. The end.