Creator: Vania Asenova
Where did the inspiration for Canadian Hostess begin? Was it an interest in your personal life or your professional life, or both?
I worked in a PR agency for many years where I planned events for corporate clients. I found myself so invested in the details and enjoying every step of the process – from creating the event concept to implementing the creative vision and everything in between. My passion for events naturally translated at home when planning my kids’ birthday parties. I found that planning themed parties for my children was a wonderful opportunity to create fond memories and have some fun. I’m so passionate about what I do and I love nothing more than making people happy. I created the Canadian Hostess blog as a journal of the parties I design for friends and family. The blog is a place where I share unique party ideas and all things that inspire, entertain and intrigue.
When did you first find your passion for designing beautiful events?
I always look for excuses to host fun themed parties for family and friends. I love all the little details that go into making a celebration something personal and whimsical – from the cute themed outfit to the creative favors and fun activities. Anyone who has ever planned an event knows the amount of time, effort and creativity that goes into making all the right choices about theme, décor, entertainment, and food. I wanted to make this process easy for moms out there by sharing party ideas and great finds that will inspire the creative hostess in them.
You’re not originally from Canada, but from Bulgaria. Did your love of event planning and hostessing start at home, or here in Canada?
A little bit of both. Party planning is definitely in my DNA. Creativity is the cornerstone of event planning and styling and thankfully it runs in my family. I think my mom’s creativity and craftiness had a huge influence. I have fond memories of her crafting pencil holders out of water bottles and wrapping them with artificial fur and transforming them into different animals. When I moved to Canada, I’ve noticed that a lot of Canadian women are skilled bakers and good hostesses. I also learned a lot about baking and entertaining from my Canadian family and friends.
Your blog attracts attention from all over the world, is beautiful event design universal?
To be honest with you I really don’t know how that happened. I created the blog as my personal virtual diary that documents creative party ideas, but it grew and now it drives traffic from all over the world. It is really flattering and rewarding to see that people find the blog useful and valuable.
What have been some of your favorite designs in the past year?
In October of 2011, I was invited to represent Canada on the judging panel of the International Sweet Table Contest. This allowed me to see so many creative and unique designs from all over the world. One of the tables that had a special place in my heart was the vintage circus table from South Africa. The sweet table was suspended by ropes on each side. I just loved the overall look and feel of the design; it was memorable and very inspiring.
As kids get older, sleepover parties become a popular choice. I remember seeing this really cool owl-inspired bed-shaped table. The dad built the headboard and the footboard and attached them to a regular dining table. The mom sewed the tablecloth, which was made by sewing two twin comforters together. The event design and the styling were very creative and impressive.
You have two beautiful children, for whom you plan beautiful parties. Does your family often inspire you to come up with great ideas? And what are your favorite (easy-to-pull-off!) themes for kids parties?
Absolutely. My children are my muse and my main source of inspiration. Before I come up with a theme, I look at things they are attracted to or things they love doing. For example, my son loves boats, so I did a nautical theme for his birthday.
My daughter is in French immersion school and loves puppies, so we did a Parisian theme for her 8th birthday party. Some of the easy to pull off themes are circus/carnival, spa and fiesta theme.
What are currently the biggest trends in event design, and how can we translate those things to entertaining at home?
The use of sweet and sour stations seems very popular these days for both kids and adults parties. What I like about these tables is that they make a statement, they tell a story about an event. When budget is a challenge, a sweet or sour table could be the “wow factor” in the room. Styled themed stations are a popular trend because they offer guests a variety of delicious small bites of heaven. The key to success is to display the food beautifully and tastefully. You can also incorporate themed props into your station design. For example, for my daughter’s spa themed party, I designed a beauty bar and I displayed beauty items from their favor bags on cake stands and plates – shower gels, bedazzled soaps, towels, nail polishes, etc.
Bright and vibrant colors seem to be very popular for children’s parties. I see the revival of neon colors in the party world. For baby showers I see many- bird/nest inspired parties.
Many people invest efforts in creating wonderful backdrops that they use behind the tables. From handmade ruffles out of crepe paper to painted wooden letters or hanging frames, they certainly add a personal touch and complete the overall look and feel of any event.
What are you top tips for finding the right theme, and making it all come together on a budget?
*Be creative and think outside the box! Creativity is the icing on the cake when it comes to party planning. Adding creative touches to an event can keep event guests excited, engaged and inspired. I am absolutely amazed by the creativity in the blogging world. There are so many wonderful sources of inspiration that can nurture your creativity and give you new ideas and ways of doing things you have never imagined before.
*Always use the five senses when creating your event theme. I always think about my guests’ experiences and walk in their shoes. What will they hear, see, taste, touch and smell at my events- are questions that I take into consideration every time I plan an event.
*Start with a themed stationery. I often purchase themed and pre-designed printable packages from etsy to ensure that all event elements are consistent and color coordinated. These packages cost between $25-$40 and include everything from invitations to place cards and banners. Most vendors will even change colors to match your theme or personalize the packages for you for a few extra dollars.
*Don’t let the budget overwhelm you. When budget is a factor, I always shop items from the dollar store or a thrift store. Look around the house and see what you can use before hand. For example, flowers are expensive, but there are things you could do with craft paper, buttons and yarn that can create the same visual impact.
You clearly love all things beautiful; can you share with us the things in your life that inspire your beautiful designs?
Pinterest is great source of inspiration for me. It offers so many wonderful tutorials and craft ideas on a budget. I also follow popular party blogs that feature lovely party designs and styling. I love to connect and engage with other businesses and bloggers around the world and keep up with their latest creations. I am so inspired by bakers, photographers, and party planners out there. Through blogging and social media, I had an opportunity to network and build relationships with bloggers and entrepreneurs who share the same passion for events and party styling. I also joined Martha Stewart and Amy Atlas’s communities, where I find so many inspiring women entrepreneurs with great stories.
What’s your favorite party you ever worked on and why?
Probably my most recent collaboration with Spaceships and Laser Beams – an online store for printables, based in Toronto. I participated in their “Boy Bash on a Budget Challenge” along with 20 more bloggers and creative moms around the world where I had to design a vintage circus themed tablescape for $20. I have to say that this ridiculously tight budget really pushed my creative boundaries, but I wanted to prove myself and all moms out there that budget should not put limits on your imagination.
The photo shoot took place in a historic building from the 1900 in downtown Edmonton. The old exposed brick walls and the aged oak parquet floors created the perfect setting for this vintage inspired circus collection. I designed the tablescape in rich and vibrant colors – mustard yellow, turquoise, reds and oranges. The set up looked wacky, funky and crazy with the ticketed cake, the yarn centerpieces and the craft paper pinwheels. It was definitely a lot of fun to put together.
Check it out: Canadian Hostess
Kate Lister is a mother of two, who works in corporate communications. The rest of her time she spends marveling at her growing family, enjoying quality time with friends, entertaining in her home, and traveling to visit family. If she’s lucky, she squeezes in hobby time experimenting in the kitchen, doing paper crafts, and desperately trying to finish her latest book.