Decorations

Winter Event Decorating Ideas

The craft stores have had Christmas decor up since about June. Really. We won't talk about how way-too-early, or not, that is. Either way, there are LOTS of green and red when you see decorations for Christmas, but isn't there more?

I'm so glad you asked! I'd love to show you lots of different ways to stylize all of your winter events. I hope these ideas spark some of your own!

white
white Collage

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sparkle
sparkle Collage

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rustic
rustic Collage

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red
red Collage

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blue
blue Collage

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Be sure to check out our Winter Events Pinterest board for lots more looks, recipes, and drink ideas for your winter-time events!


Are you part of a current or former CARES Team who knows of someone who would make a wonderful CARES Team member? If so, you can REFER A FRIEND.

Would you like more information on what it means to be a CARES Team? Visit our website today. You can fill out a quick application and someone will contact you with more information. And, don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter (@aptlife), and Instagram (@aptlife).

5 Ways to Enhance Your Party With Butcher Paper

Things I love about butcher paper: It's cheap (a roll of 700+ feet will cost you about $35 and last you FOREVER), it's versatile, it's neutral, and it's trendy. It can allow you to add the kind of details that your guests will remember without hurting your budget OR taking a lot of time, and like my favorite pair of neutral heels, it can go from casual to fancy without any effort. Here's a quick list of the 5 Ways to Enhance Your Party With Butcher Paper:

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Butcher paper creates neutral runners that will make your tables look fuller while putting the spotlight on your place settings and centerpieces. Even something as simple as butcher paper + colorful disposable plates can make your guests feel spoiled. For centerpieces, look for items you already have lying around your apartment and just group them together down the middle.

place settings

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Instead of a traditional table runner, use butcher paper as a table cloth and then draw on your place settings. Black paper with white chalk mimics the look of a chalkboard (at a fraction of the price). You don't have to be a great artist to hand-draw your placemats - the trick is to place your dishes/glassware/silverware out so that your drawing adds a quirky "frame" to each place setting.

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We know you're always looking for creative gifts for your new neighbors or favorite manager - don't forget to wrap it well. You can repurpose that extra paper into gift wrap and pair with simple embellishments such as twine or leaves (don't let anybody see you snap off a few leaves from the landscape around you... shhh). Need more ideas for welcome gifts and manager gifts? Don't forget to subscribe to our Pinterest boards.

food table

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This is a trend we see all the time in our CARES Teams' instagram photos (check out #CARESteam for hundreds of event photos on Instagram, and don't forget to follow us @aptlife). Write your food labels directly on the table to take your event to the next level. We also love the idea of draping the paper over the side of the table and stenciling the menu (see Trail Mix Bar). With something as eye-catching as that, you don't have to invest in any more decorations!

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Your butcher paper can become the focus of your event. Whether you use it as an interactive feature by asking your guests to write their New Year's Resolutions, predict the winning team of a football game, or even leave an inspirational quote, your guests will love becoming part of the decoration. Butcher paper can also make for an easy photobooth background. If you're not an artist, find a volunteer to turn that backdrop into a unique work of art, and of course, post all of the photobooth pictures on your community's Facebook page. Or, create a fun activity for kids by using butcher paper as the canvas for their works of art. PS - adults like to make things too!

CARES Teams - what other ways have you used butcher paper to enhance an event? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!


Are you part of a current or former CARES Team who knows of someone who would make a wonderful CARES Team member? If so, you can REFER A FRIEND.

Would you like more information on what it means to be a CARES Team? Visit our website today. You can fill out a quick application and someone will contact you with more information. And, don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter (@aptlife), and Instagram (@aptlife).

Bunting 101: 10 Ways to Dazzle Your Guests

Bunting is an easy way to add color to your food table and make your party festive. Here are 10 ways to make your own bunting, whether you're a seasoned sewer or a paper-and-glue kind of party planner:

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Whether you already have fabric scraps lying around, or if you snag a coupon and run to your local fabric store, this bunting requires no sewing and leaves a big impression. This is a great project for kids to help with - just pop in a movie and start cutting scraps and tying them onto a piece of twine. Here's a great tutorial to walk you through the steps (Note - this can be time consuming if you're doing it by yourself. Also - be sure to tie your knots properly so they scraps lie flat).

This bunting was made for... wait for it... LESS THAN $4! That's music to these budget-conscious ears! If you don't sew, this paper bunting tutorial will have you creating decorations in less than an hour.

For a new spin on a traditional decoration, instead of using ribbon or twine, use washi tape to connect your bunting. This tutorial combines two of our favorite things - washi tape and burlap (swoon) - and is another fast, budget-friendly project for you busy party planners.

Tassel garlands: they're just so chic, aren't they? Here's a great tutorial that will show you how to turn a stack of tissue paper into a tassel masterpiece. You can experiment with different types of tissue paper, adding sparkles, shine, and fun colors to take that high-end event to the next level.

If you're not afraid to do a little simple sewing, these mini garlands are easy to make and can be stacked and combined to create some fun combinations. You can cut your shapes out of scrapbook paper, construction paper, or felt, and combining different textures will add a new visual dimension for your guests.

This may be the simplest way to tackle bunting - simply cut out your triangles, punch two holes at the top, and string some twine through. Add more interest by using unique papers (hit up the scrapbooking section of your local craft store, and don't forget to use a coupon), a book of maps... even wrapping paper works great.

Another no-sew option for your bunting - you can use the mini clothespins or the full-size variety, and this option works with felt, fabric, or paper. We love these little hearts by this blogger.

Raise your hand if you made chain bunting out of red and green construction paper for Christmas as a kid. Well, turns out you can do it as an adult, too! It becomes more sophisticated when you use pretty fabrics or scrapbook paper. Here's a tutorial.

Make your traditional bunting nontraditional by using it in an unexpected way... like on a tablecloth! This one is for a beginner sewer, and can be re-used over and over and over (pick fabrics that could work with several different party themes to get a bigger bang for your buck, and time investment). Here's everything you need to get started.

Thanks Pinterest for the cutest idea ever. The coffee filters add so much pretty texture, and it's perfect for our Princess Party or something else with a feminine theme.


Are you part of a current or former CARES Team who knows of someone who would make a wonderful CARES Team member? If so, you can REFER A FRIEND.

Would you like more information on what it means to be a CARES Team? Visit our website today. You can fill out a quick application and someone will contact you with more information. And, don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter (@aptlife), and Instagram (@aptlife).

The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You

Animals - Category winner (iPhone Photography Awards):Michael O'Neal, US© MICHAEL O'NEAL

It seems like most of my friends have a DSLR Camera these days and I just about drool over idea of owning one! But here's the thing - I'm not a professional photographer. I want a souped up camera to take great pictures of my family but I don't want to lug all of the gear around to every outing. I want something small and compact that goes with me everywhere. This is probably why the cell phone inventors started putting cameras on these handy little do-dads we can't live without called "smart phones".

Brilliant.

Now, the downside to taking photos with your smart phone is that they don't always turn out the best. Fret no more! We've done some research on how to take the best possible pics with your smart phones. Here are the top five tips we found from the experts:

  • Lighting is everything. Take well lit pictures outside (cloudy days make for great lighting) and learn how to use your flash inside when you must.
  • Scoot closer. Try, at all costs, to avoid the zoom feature. When possible, just simply move closer to whatever/whomever you're trying to photograph.
  • Get familiar with your camera settings...and use them.
  • Get an app to help with focus, stabilization, and exposure.
  • Slow down. It may take a few tries to get a great shot and that's okay.

You can find all of the articles we read through and more on our Pinterest board, so be sure to check that out. And once you start playing around with your new-found-professional-smart-phone-picture-taker career (say, at some of your events!) put them on Instagram and tag us @aptlife!

Happy shooting!


Are you part of a current or former CARES Team who knows of someone who would make a wonderful CARES Team member? If so, you can REFER A FRIEND.

Would you like more information on what it means to be a CARES Team? Visit our website today. You can fill out a quick application and someone will contact you with more information. And, don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter (@aptlife), and Instagram (@aptlife).

Duct Tape Creations

Little known fact: Duck Tape makes over 100 different colors/prints of duct tape. Now, your life is complete...we know...ours too! When I was in middle school (no, I'm not going to tell you what year...) it was totally cool to make duct tape wallets. Is that still a thing? Probably not for today's tweens but for us older folks, it probably brings back some fond memories. Either way, crafting things out of duct tape is creative, fun, innovative, cheap... so let's have an evening dedicated to making duct tape creations!

You could supply the tape or have people BYO. You can have ideas on hand for people to make (a couple of things you made before hand or an ipad out for people to browse our pinterest board for ideas) and/or allow people to bring things they want to make-over: chairs, switch plates, etc. You could throw in a contest and have people vote on who made the best duct tape creation. You could make duct tape flowers for manager gifts! You can decorate your plastic cups/plates/serving dishes in fun tape if you want to go all out or make other decor out of tape itself!

Browse our Pinterest board for oodles of ideas, crafts, instructions, inspiration, etc! We beg you to tag us on Instagram (@aptlife) to see what you all come up with!

Happy Creating!


Are you part of a current or former CARES Team who knows of someone who would make a wonderful CARES Team member? If so, you can REFER A FRIEND.

Would you like more information on what it means to be a CARES Team? Visit our website today. You can fill out a quick application and someone will contact you with more information. And, don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter (@aptlife), and Instagram (@aptlife).

Party Basics: Food Labels

Food labels are one of those little touches that can leave a big impression on your guests. It's like a topper on the cake - the cake is going to taste amazing, regardless of the decoration, but adding something really awesome to the top adds an element of "wow." Besides, in this age of food allergies and picky eaters, your guests want to know what it is they're eating. So let's kill two birds with one stone (note: We do not advocate killing birds... but we do advocate awesome parties.) and come up with some fun food labels.

 1. Butcher paper: We love butcher paper. Our CARES Teams love butcher paper. And every teacher in the history of the universe has loved butcher paper. You can order it by the roll on Amazon and use it again and again for your events. It fits just about every theme, and creates a fun, trendy feel to give that monthly pancake breakfast some extra sparkle.

2. Reusable picture frames: Frames are so versatile: You can paint the glass with chalkboard paint, or insert pretty scrapbook paper behind the glass and use a dry erase marker on the glass to label your food. Or, you can design and print your own labels on your home computer and simply slip them behind the frame. Purchase neutral frames that can fit with your many themes, or snag some from around the house and mix-and-match for an eclectic feel.

3. Clothes pins: They're inexpensive (my love language) and can add height and interest to your printed cards. And, the best part - you can use them over and over and OVER. You can spray paint them, bedazzle them, cover them in washi tape... there are so many great ways to dress them up, but even plain, your guests will love them.

Now... for the free stuff. I like free, don't you? Here are some free printable food labels from around the web!

And, as a special gift to our beloved CARES Teams, we have created some free printable food labels in two different sizes:

Food Labels - Fits 4x6 frame   |   Fits 5x7 frame

The bottom line: keep it simple, inexpensive, and re-usable. Happy labeling!


Are you part of a current or former CARES Team who knows of someone who would make a wonderful CARES Team member? If so, you can REFER A FRIEND.

Would you like more information on what it means to be a CARES Team? Visit our website today. You can fill out a quick application and someone will contact you with more information. And, don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter (@aptlife), and Instagram (@aptlife).

Spice up your events with decorative vases

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Flowers add so much color and personality to your events, but nobody has the budget for professional arrangements, and tackling them yourself can be intimidating. You don't have to spend a fortune to create a centerpiece that will wow your guests, if you follow a few tricks of the trade:

 

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1. Use an interesting vase. Whether it's a pair of rain boots, a painted bottle, or a mason jar, choosing a vase that's out of the ordinary will automatically make your flowers look prettier. Look for household items you already have sitting around that you can repurpose for a party.

 

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2. Instead of one large vase, use several small bud vases or bottles.  This allows you to take one large floral arrangement and spread it out among several tables, and makes even the most florally-challenged host able to knock out gorgeous centerpieces by simply adding one or two flowers per vase.

 

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3. Wrap your vase in something that matches your theme. Washi tape is an expensive way to add color, or use twine and hot glue to create a neutral vase that you can use over and over. 

For more ideas on using decorative vases to spice up your parties, visit our Decorating Ideas page on Pinterest.

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Are you part of a current or former CARES Team who knows of someone who would make a wonderful CARES Team member? If so, you can REFER A FRIEND.

Would you like more information on what it means to be a CARES Team? Visit our website today. You can fill out a quick application and someone will contact you with more information.