a casual "just because" party

This post was sponsored by Aladdin. All thoughts on hospitality and hosting friends are my own. 

We moved into our house in December, and one of my New Year’s resolutions was to show hospitality. After a year of not having any company, we wanted to open the doors to our home and invite friends and kids over for dinner, inviting them to put their feet up and relax. Help themselves in the kitchen and let their kids run wild if they want to.

When Aladdin approached me about sending me some new mason jar products to use to throw a party, I was so excited. So I recently invited 20 of some of my closest friends over for a “Just Because” party and casual girls night. Most of them knew each other in some way, but I wanted to create an opportunity for everyone to get together, meet some new people, and to help warm the new house.


I sent out an email invitation and just asked them to come on a Sunday night. When all but two people said they could attend, I was so excited! I’m an introvert, but I love community and conversation.

I decided that I was going to make it pretty, but incredibly low key. I knew that I didn’t really need to decorate because it was a  casual party for friends. And I knew that we’d mostly be standing around chatting and eating, so I didn’t need to serve a feast.


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The day before the party, I made a grocery list and errand list and got it done! I fixed a 7-layer salad, but everything else was picked up at the store. I got my favorite chicken salad and croissants from a local restaurant, miniature pies and tarts from a local grocery store, pasta salad from a local deli, and fresh fruit. I fixed up some delicious, fresh fruit water in the 2-gallon Aladdin beverage server, and had water in the Aladdin pitcher.


My favorite quick party tip is to pick up fresh flowers from the grocery store, put them in a simple vase and put a bow around the vase to bring in more color. I have a huge stash of different ribbons, so this was the perfect way to use it.


I used simple plastic plates, but loved having the drinks in the Aladdin mason jars.

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This party was so quick to pull together and stress-free. I picked up almost everything, set it out on the porch, and opened the doors for fun fellowship. And the conversation and friendships were the theme of the night. Connections were made, the home was filled with laughter and sweet friends and I was able to sit back and enjoy the moment without fussing over being a hostess.

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The evening was simple and incredibly fun. The food was delicious, the flowers were beautiful, the Aladdin mason jars were a fun pop of color and a festive, casual way to serve drinks, and, most importantly, I was able to focus on the conversation and having a great time with friends.

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And we had way too much fun to stop to take a full group picture of everyone, which is always a bummer. But I did get a photo with three of my dear friends who stayed just a little bit longer for girl talk and crazy laughter!

Party Printable Essentials {and free back to school party printables!}

Today’s post was written by my college friend, Lauren. Lauren was my little sis in our sorority at Louisiana Tech before she transferred to LSU. She is so full of life and personality and is such a sweet friend. And she is incredibly talented! She started designing parties a few years ago, and her business has taken off.  Wait until you see her parties! I recently saw one of her parties show up on Hostess With The Mostess and was so excited for her! (You can see a few more of her parties on HWTM here and here.) Lauren is the mom to two adorable little boys, and we’ve exchanged a few emails about the fun that comes with being a boy mom. Today, Lauren is sharing some of her very simple tips to help you feel more comfortable with throwing a party. She has an Etsy shop where she creates invitations and party supplies that you can print yourself.  Visit Lauren’s Etsy shop, Lauren Haddox Design, to see more of her adorable ideas! 

lauren haddox

Hi! I’m Lauren… art teacher turned stay-at-home mom turned nap-time party designer. I started my little business in the midst of planning my first child’s first birthday party and I haven’t looked back.

party printable essentials

Planning a birthday party can be a little overwhelming and with the added pressure of Pinterest, downright daunting! I get emails everyday from people saying they have never done anything like this and don’t even know where to start. And every time, I email right back… it’s so easy!! Here are my party essentials when it comes to printables…

snow cone party

Two inch punch. For real, the best $10 bucks you will ever spend. Now you can add cute little tags to all those holiday gift bags, cut out cupcake toppers and favor tags in all of 1 minute. Huge time saver and they will all be perfectly round circles.

donut party

Lollipop sticks. An absolute must for cupcake toppers and they hold up better than toothpicks. Speaking of cupcake toppers, you don’t have to have cupcakes to use those cute little circles. I tie them on mason jars, stick them in sandwiches, lay them out on the cake table, they’re versatile friends! :)

donut party

Flash Drive. I always get lots of questions about printing. You don’t need a fancy print shop to get quality color copies. I get everything printed at Office Depot on 110 pound card stock. I save all the files to a flash drive and bring to the copy and print center for the copies. It really is so easy! :) And I’ll use the paper cutter in the store to cut all the straight lines.

snow cone party
I also LOVE and can’t have a party without… tissue fringe (found here… http://www.shopsweetlulu.com/category/Tissue-Fringe/c81) and striped straws.
duck dynasty party

Everything in the pictures above can be found in my Etsy shop.

And as a special treat for all of you, I’ve included my Back to School printables!

back to school party printables

I seriously can’t believe it’s time for Back to School. Our MDO program doesn’t start til September but everyone in Louisiana is starting next week!?!?! You can download my Back to School collection here! :) If you don’t see just what you’re looking for in my shop, I love working with clients on custom orders.

back to school party printables

Just click the links below for all the different Back to School Party Printables!

Peter Pan Party: Celebrating Hudson and Hayes!


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Party Details:


Hudson and Hayes first watched Peter Pan last year when I rented in on Netflix. When it came out of the Disney Vault a few months ago, I grabbed it for them immediately. And we watched it about 100 times in a month. I’m not kidding. They wanted to watch it constantly.

When I asked Hudson what kind of party he and Hayes should have, he immediately knew he wanted a Peter Pan party. And this totally thrilled me! Peter Pan is one of my most favorite stories. I love the magic and the fairy tale and how it’s not super duper sweet, but it is so much fun! There’s adventure and I just love the overall lesson to never grow up! And think happy thoughts!

It was a little harder to plan this party than parties in the past because all of my party supplies are in storage. We’re still living at Todd’s grandmother’s house.

Todd’s parents graciously offered to let us host the party in their backyard, and I am so thankful. Their backyard is absolutely beautiful!

We used their back porch as the staging area for all the food and drinks. And the place where the fans could live. It was a hot day!

We did a joint party because my boys’ birthdays are exactly a month apart, and it’s just easier on families to do it one time. And my boys have so many friends that are siblings. It ended up being great to just invite entire families to come play for the afternoon.

I ordered all of the baked goods (resources are listed below) and then we picked up a Chick-fil-A nugget tray. I made pinwheels and we also had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, “Lost Boys Trail Mix” and “Tick Tock’s Goldfish.”

I wanted a tall cake with both of their names on it, and a “Neverland” type of background. So Ally & Eloise created a blue cake with stars on it. My mom brought the adorable wooden pirate ship and she painted it for the boys. And I had gotten a lot of small Peter Pan figurines to add to the top of the cake. The boys went ba-nan-as over that cake!

My boys love Tick Tock the Crocodile and Nana the Nurse Maid. Seriously, the Peter Pan characters are the best!

We turned the playset in the backyard into a pirate ship by hanging a Jolly Roger flag. My boys got a tee pee from their KK for Easter, so we set that up in the backyard to be like the Indian Brave village.

We used a large inflatable baby pool and filled it up with multi-colored balls (no water) to be the “Mermaid Lagoon.” It ended up being the most fun little place for the little kids to play!

I also rented a bounce house because, let’s face it, 4 year old little boys love a bounce house and need a place to release their energy!

For party favors, we gave each family a Little Golden Book of Peter Pan, and all the little boys got felt Peter Pan hats and the little girls received a set of fairy wings. And all the favors were super inexpensive and a big hit!

It was a super fun party to plan. I lost a little bit of my planning mojo about a week before the party and considered not doing it at all, but I’m so glad we did. Hudson was just beside himself with excitement over the party, and has been on a Peter Pan high since that day!

Party Resources:


Cake, Cupcakes, and Petit Fours: Ally & Eloise in Columbia, South Carolina

Cupcake Toppers, Invitations, Food Labels and other paper goodies: Sweet Birdie’s Nest  (and their shop)

Iced Cookies: The Doughmestic Housewife

Peter Pan Favor Hats: A Rainy Day Play on Etsy

Tree Trunk Cupcake Stand: Your Divine Affair on Etsy

Fairy Wings, Peter Pan Golden Books, Peter Pan Plush Characters, Disney Figurine Set: Amazon.com (all over the course of a year)

Straws, Balloons, Paper Cups: Shop Sweet Lulu

Bounce House Rental: Jumperee in Columbia, South Carolina

Peter Pan Birthday Inspiration

I can hardly believe that Hayes’s second birthday is coming up. He will be two years old on May 5! How is that even possible?

Last year, we planned a big First Fiesta for him and had such a wonderful time embracing the fact that he was born on Cinco de Mayo.

Hudson will be four years old on June 5. Now that is a tough one to take. Ouch.

We threw a Green Eggs and Ham first birthday party and Sesame Street second birthday party for him, but we went to the beach as a family for his third birthday and enjoyed a quiet, low-fuss day as a family.

This year, because Hudson has such good buddies and because so many of them have siblings that are also Hayes’s buddies, we decided to go ahead and do another birthday party.

The boys have birthdays that are exactly one month apart, so we decided to do a joint birthday party for them right in the middle. So many of the same families will be there for Hudson and for Hayes, so it just made sense.

Hudson and Hayes are plain old obsessed with Peter Pan these days. They love everything about it. Tick Tock the crocodile, the pirates, the Indian braves, Peter Pan, the lost boys, John and Michael, even the mermaids and fairies. It stood out as the perfect party theme for them.

Todd’s parents graciously agreed to let us host it at their home since we don’t have our own home right now. They have a play set in their backyard and a great set up for a party.

I’ve been pinning away and I’m so excited to see it all come together!

I’ll be focusing on green, yellow, and red. We plan to have a mermaid lagoon, a secret plan to make the kids “fly,” a pirate ship, and a tee pee– all from things we already have!

The fabulous Heidi and Beverly from Sweet Birdie’s Nest have been working hard on creating adorable items for the party! They are the absolute best.

I thought I’d show some of my inspiration…

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Have you ever planned a joint birthday party? I’m planning to have each boy blow out candles separately, and have their own “happy birthday” song.

We’ll also be taking each boy out for a special family celebration on his actual birthday.

Any other tips to make it special?

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