Simple Tips for Planning a Movie Night

Simple tips for planning a chick flick and hot beverages movie night. Once you do the first step the rest is easy!

This party was sponsored by Uncommon Goods. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Over a month ago I emailed a few friends to see if anybody wanted to come over for a movie night of chick flicks and hot beverages. There’s a few reasons I chose hot beverages instead of wine: (1) the day I was available to have this party was a Sunday, and who wants to start their week already feeling behind, (2) I’ve been trying to be a little bit healthier recently and to avoid unnecessary extra calories, and (3) it gave me a chance to use my fancy new cuddle mugs given to me by Uncommon Goods.

My favorite parts about Uncommon Goods are that you’re getting something unique, supporting artists and designers (and handmade goodness), supporting upcycling and recycling, and giving back to non-profits. Uncommon Goods also gives back to charities around the world with their Better to Give program. In the past 12 years they have donated over $1 million to charities including RAINN (anti sexual violence), American Forests, Women for Women International (support for women survivors of war), and City Harvest (ending hunger in NYC). And did I mention these cuddle mugs made by Steven R. Nezda are just beautiful? (If you’re feeling really ambitious and want to start shopping for Mother’s Day gifts early, props to you.)

Cuddle Mugs from Uncommon Goods

As for why I chose chick flicks, I don’t think that needs any explanation.

My favorite part about planning a low-key girls’ movie night in is that it’s a simple way to see your friends and relax. All you need is a date on the calendar, an assortment of beverages, an array of snacks, a good selection of movies, and a television. There’s definitely a way to do a not low-key movie night, but that goes against the post I wrote about why I will never have a party blog.

Here are my tips and tricks for planning a movie night with chick flicks and cozy hot beverages:

Get the date on the calendar

This might be the hardest part of this whole process, getting the date on the calendar. I started planning this part in February and the first date available for me was in April. Doesn’t matter how far out it is; email your friends and get the date on the calendar. Then as it gets closer you’ll have something to look forward to that’s relaxing already built-in to your to-do list. Also, I totally gave people an “out” on the invitation that said “if chick flicks aren’t your jam, don’t worry about coming, there will absolutely be other parties.” Because contrary to popular belief, not all girls like chick flicks.

Only buy what you need to buy, only make what you need to make

I was really proud of myself, guys. I spent $16 on this party by just taking a good look in my pantry before going shopping. And no, it’s not cheap, it’s resourceful. I realized I had all the ingredients for rice krispie treats already in the pantry – not only that, but rice krispie treats are also scalable so you don’t need to end up with a million extras. I also had Easter basket goodies available, which there’s pretty much no way I can eat through alone, so that was a good chance to put out some Hershey kisses and open a box of Girl Scout cookies. (Let’s be honest, I could have eaten through all of that, but I’m trying this new “healthy” thing.) I also always already keep popcorn on hand, so I just supplemented what I already had with guacamole, hummus dip, carrots, and a small bouquet of flowers (for ambiance).

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Choose all your favorite things

This is one of the best parts about hosting a party – sharing all your favorite things with your guests – your favorite teas, your favorite movies, your favorite mugs, etc. Have fun with it and choose to share things that your guests might love as much as you do. I pulled out my favorite teas (although everyone ended up wanting hot chocolate) and my favorite movies and even just physically pulling all of those things out relaxed me and made me very happy. (Aside: Did anybody else know Aveda sells tea? It’s flipping amazing.)

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Check the technology ahead of time

There had to be something that went wrong, right? I pulled out (and guests brought) their favorite DVDs and then I found out that my DVD player didn’t work. You’ve Got Mail got stuck in the DVD player and it took me 10 minutes to get out. Then When Harry Met Sally Got Stuck in the DVD player. So then we hooked my computer up to the television to try to choose a Netflix movie, but I couldn’t get the sound to come out of the television speakers. So then I ran upstairs to get my speakers to hook up. This all took far longer than it should have, but everyone was a good sport about it. We ended up watching Notting Hill, which I’d somehow never seen and all we loved it.

Set the mood to cozy

There are three things we did to set the mood:

  1. We deemed it a no-real-pants-necessary zone. Stretchy pants and sweat pants are more than acceptable. I was wearing slippers. That’s how we roll. Next time I would definitely put “no real pants needed” on the invitation.
  2. We pulled out blankets and turned up the heat a bit to make everything feel cozier.
  3. We used cuddle mugs from Uncommon Goods. I had been looking for mugs like this for a long time, the ones that have indents for you to wrap your fingers all the way around and feel like you’re part of the mug (the prime cozy position). While I was fixing my technology setup the other girls started pulling out their phone and looking through other items on Uncommon Goods, which was a lot of fun as well. (You can get lost in that site for hours, man. This cutting board is pretty much ideal for any newly weds – and I can’t wait to check out their host & hostess gift section.) So we each made our hot chocolate and tea and cuddled up with our mugs on the couch to get started with the feature presentation.

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Thanks again to Uncommon Goods for sharing these mugs with us, it definitely added to the experience and provided just the right level of cozy on an overwhelmingly cold Sunday evening in Philadelphia.

I hope I’ve made a party like this sound easy enough that you could throw one together. Remember, the hardest part is getting a date on the calendar. Once you do that it’s all a breeze.

Anybody have any movie suggestions for next time? All chick flick suggestions welcome.

The Chrystina Noel Christmas Party

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.

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I also made party favors for everybody who attended the event. Because party favors.

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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.

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!

Chrystina Noel Christmas Party Instagram

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.

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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.

Take pictures

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.

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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.

What I Learned from Hosting a Surprise Party

what I learned from surprise party bowling by Chrystina Noel

The Sunday after Thanksgiving my sister and I hosted a surprise birthday party for my dad. It’s the third surprise party I’ve ever been a part of planning. The first one was for my two best friends in middle school, the second one was a birthday brunch for a friend in Louisiana, and now this one. Three completely different experiences and I learn something new every time.

My sister and I decided to host the party at a bowling alley. We invited bunches of family members and a few of my dad’s friends and told them that we wanted them to celebrate by bowling with us! This was probably the most diverse crowd I’ve ever hosted a party for – mixing family and friends can be a challenge (it turned out fine though) and the age range was 23 to 90. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time that “the kids” generation has hosted a party for the family. No pressure.

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Remember to plan a party your guest of honor will have fun at

We planned a party that we thought my dad would have fun at. We have a lot of family parties throughout the year and at each one my dad usually finds a place in front of the television when we’re not eating. It’s not that he’s not social, it’s just that he doesn’t really have a place in the ‘lets’ eat all day’ world that we usually throw family parties in. So we wanted him to be in his element. My dad’s been bowling since he was a kid, his uncle owned a bowling alley, and it’s something he really enjoys doing. We even videoed him bowling a strike a year ago thinking we could send it out with an electronic invitation (which we unfortunately failed at executing). We also got cupcakes from his favorite cupcake shop – and his favorite flavor, coconut. While my mother thought we were crazy for choosing a bowling alley, in the end everybody ended up having a great time. Even my mom! We found her a 6 pound bowling ball and she took a turn for one of us. Her first shot was a gutter ball, but her second was a strike!

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But don’t forget to remember who the guests are

My mom started on me at the beginning about how I needed to make sure that all of the people older than me were comfortable at this party. They needed a comfortable place to sit. What if they didn’t want to bowl? They needed something to do? What were they going to eat? Was there going to be coffee? There were a million questions. After a few weeks of rolling my eyes and getting frustrated that she was complicating our plans I realized there might be some merit to what she was saying. After all, I’d only ever really hosted parties for 15 to 35 year olds, what did I know? (I also didn’t realize that if you have back problems you can’t bowl, who knew?) We ordered a little bit of extra food, we ordered some coffee, and we booked an extra party room in case somebody wanted a different place to sit. While all of these precautions probably weren’t necessarily (especially the extra party room, which the alley was nice enough to take off the final bill because we didn’t use it), it was nice to have them in place from the beginning.

what I learned from surprise party bowling by Chrystina Noell

I absolutely hate lying (even for surprise parties)

Goodness gracious I suck at lying. Actually, that’s not true, I’m actually pretty good at lying. It’s because 99.9% of the time I tell the truth, so that 0.1% of the time I decide to lie people think it’s true. Also, I’m very good at thinking logistical details out ahead of time. That said, when my dad called me up to see if he and mom could take me, my boyfriend, my sister, and her boyfriend out to brunch “because we’re all not home at the same time very often anymore” and I had to tell him no (because the time conflicted with the party) that was hard. We decided to say that my sister had plans so she couldn’t go that day so we should just go bowling instead. However, I would prefer never to be in that situation again, although it probably could have been avoided by asking him to go bowling earlier. Seriously not my favorite though. Also, I remember my two best friends telling me that before we threw them their sweet 16 surprise party they talked with each other a few times about how everybody must hate them and it didn’t make sense why nobody wanted to spend their birthdays with them. Super, super sad. It always makes me not 100% sure that the surprise party was worth it.

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All in all the party turned out really well. Unfortunately only 12 people bowled, but I think we gave the crowd something fun to watch. My dad ended up bowling a 221 one round, which was really awesome and I actually managed my high score of all-time of 154. The family all had fun, the boyfriends managed to make small talk the entire time, I don’t think anybody was too disappointed by the fact that we didn’t serve a full meal, the coconut cupcakes were a hit, and even Pop seemed to have a good time sitting there watching everyone bowl! I’d call that a success.

Do you have any surprise birthday party success (or failure) stories? Were you the one surprised or the one hosting the party?

Friendsgiving & Thankfulness

If you happen to find yourself in the United States today – or identify with being American, Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a celebration of being thankful for all your blessings and delicious food, two of my favorite things. There are so many things I have in my life to be thankful for: a family that loves me, friends who are always there to listen no matter how ridiculous I sound, a wonderful boyfriend, and always having food on the table and a little extra cash in my pocket.

I had the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving, well, Friendsgiving, twice last weekend. The first time with a group of old friends and the second time with a group of new friends. I was very grateful for the time I got to spend with both of these groups – and for all the delicious food that made its way onto the table. Oh. And I also decided that if you’re ever listening to somebody carve a turkey you can add “that’s what she said” to the end of anything they say and it makes it highly hilarious. (Couldn’t stay serious the whole time, now could I?)

Here’s a peek at the first Friendsgiving. Our excellent chef cooked the whole dinner (the man with the knife below) and the attendees brought dessert. I used Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe for peanut butter chocolate rice krispie treats. HIGHLY recommend. Those croissant looking things that you see in the first picture were some of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. Croissants stuffed with mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, blue cheese – and a few other ingredients I can’t remember. He made the recipe up. I don’t even understand. That is a talent right there, man.

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Here’s a little peak at Friendsgiving number 2. Everybody brought a dish with them. For this one I made corn chowder, really easy corn chowder. Although I didn’t realize how heavy the crock pot was going to be to carry. That said, there was super delicious cider, two different types of baked macaroni and cheese (buffalo chicken and pumpkin), and the most perfectly put together decorations. Because that’s what Sarah from Smoorelovin’ does.

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Also. Thank you to you, all of my blog readers, for being such an awesome part of my life. Seriously, I am so thankful every time I come across someone who tells me they really love what I write. While I blog mostly for myself, it’s so good (and makes me feel less crazy) to know that there are other people who can relate to some of the ridiculous. And that there are other people who like throwing parties just as much as I do. So thank you to you.

Today I will spend the day at Aunt Lisa’s, and it will look a lot like this. And I can’t wait. What are your plans for the day?