I have been planning small scale, handcrafted parties for over 10 years. Each one is a labor of love and brings the best elements together to create a personalized, memorable event. I love the whole process of party planning, from the generation of ideas to the implementation of those ideas. I enjoy graphic design, creating custom invitations, banners, food labels, and party signs. There is something inherently satisfying in the creation of themed elements that introduce guests to a party and then follow them through to its conclusion and beyond, (if you happen to be the type to send thank you cards, that is).
Bringing creative vision to life is one of the most challenging, yet enjoyable aspects to event planning. Inspiration surrounds us, it literally bombards us on a daily basis. There is no shortage of it, provided that we refuse to allow our inner critics to block it before it can even take root in our imaginations. Those critics will take inspiration and convert it into competition, fuel for our doubts and fears. So what if our version of that beautiful whale cake looks more like a dilapidated blue triangle lunging out of the water? Seriously, nobody cares, certainly not as much as we do.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret, the greatest measure of joy from making doesn’t come from the final product, it comes from the process. Creative vision is not solely about the end result, it’s about the path we travel to get there. It’s the journey that feeds our soul. It’s the journey that gives us skills and confidence and the desire to make more, create more. And this applies to so much more than crafting. It encompasses photography, writing, music, art, drama, the list could go on and on. We only progress in skill or creativity or confidence through doing. And in order to do, we must silence that inner critic and embrace the inspiration we find.
If I had let my disastrous first cake deter me, I would have denied myself a decade worth of joy (ok, probably some stress, too, but mostly joy), and the opportunity to develop a set of talents that I was definitely not born with. A few years back, I planned an epic Harry Potter party for my 11-year-old son. And when I say epic, I mean epic. I found inspiration everywhere, and probably incorporated a bit too much of it into my plans since I ended up staying up until 2 am for nearly a week straight. But I do seriously love the Harry Potter world, which possibly became a weakness when I just couldn’t rule out all the amazingly good ideas that exist regarding Harry Potter parties. So I spent lots and lots of hours bringing it all together, and one afternoon I had an epiphany. I was sitting at my kitchen table, using hot glue to embellish chopsticks which would transform into wands. The sunlight was streaming through the window and John Williams’ brilliant film score played in the background and I realized that I was in my happy place.
Even with my three page list of things to still get done before the party. Even though my wands were not going to look as good as the photo that inspired me. Even though my house was a disaster and I’d likely get little help cleaning it. I felt more joy in that moment than I did when the party was complete and guests were about to arrive, which actually was super exciting, so that’s saying something. But I realized that, for me, the most undiluted joy of designing parties comes during the creation process. The process of bringing creative vision, no matter its source, to life.
And that is why I do what I do. That is why I push through the doubt and feelings of inferiority. It’s not accolades I’m after, it’s those quiet moments of joy, it’s the skills and creativity and confidence that I’ve developed on the journey.
Because that is where the party starts.