DIY weddings are all the rage these days, but planning and preparing every aspect of your wedding yourself can be both daunting and time consuming. After all, it’s not easy to create individual handcrafted party favors for a hundred guests. The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can add meaningful, personal touches to your wedding without going to extreme lengths or spending a small fortune.
Here are ten things you can do to make your day extra special, even if you aren’t particularly ‘crafty’!
1. Create a canvas print to welcome guests to your wedding.
Thanks to a rise in low cost digital printing options, ordering a personalized canvas to display by the entrance to your wedding venue couldn’t be easier, or better value- even when you factor in the cost of sourcing a wooden easel to place the canvas on. Many couples decide to use a favourite photo of themselves, but there are other options too such as this lovely tree carving image. You can then keep the personalized image as a permanent reminder of your day.
2. Create a collage of photos showing you and your fiancé/fiancée growing up.
It’s always fun to look at baby pictures, and even more fun to see people grow and change. By printing out and framing a series of baby, child (and awkward teenage!) pictures of you and your other half, you’ll amuse your guests and give your wedding a truly personal touch.
3. Make personalized centerpieces.
Table centerpieces don’t have to be floral. If you have a specific hobby or interest, use things you love instead. If you’re both bookworms, why not tie ribbons around stacks of old novels? If you’re a gardener you could create centerpieces out of home grown fruits and vegetables.
4. Ditch the bridesmaid bouquets.
Similarly, who says that your bridesmaids have to carry flowers? Why not dispense with the floral tradition altogether and have them carry a personalized satin cosmetic bag, clutch purse – or even a funky water bottle? Unlike flowers, a bag or purse will last forever and they can keep it as a permanent reminder of their day.
5. Create personalized photo frames for your bridesmaids.
Your bridesmaids will inevitably look fantastic on your wedding day (without overshadowing the bride, of course), so why not treat them to a photo of them looking wonderful as a thank you gift…and commemorate your friendship at the same time?
6. Ask your friend to officiate.
Not having a religious ceremony? Ask a friend to officiate. (It’s free to get ordained online through the Universal Life Church.) Fun fact: If you live in Colorado or some parts of Pennsylvania, you can even marry yourselves!
7. Use ribbon wands instead of rice.
Throwing rice at weddings can be messy and you may end up with most of it caught in your hair! Instead, why not source some ribbon wands like the ones used in gymnastics competitions. An added bonus is that you can often match the color of the ribbons to your wedding color scheme.
8. Swap your guest book for a photo mount.
Instead of having guests write in a book that will end up being tucked away in a drawer, why not get them to write on a photo mount, then insert a wedding photo after the event and frame the comments and photo together? You’ll then be able to read the comments and loving messages from friends and family every day.
9. End the ceremony with your favorite cocktail.
Why not end your ceremony in style by having ushers hand out your favorite cocktail after you kiss the bride/groom, and encouraging your guests to raise a glass to your new status as husband and wife? It’s certainly a fun way to kick off the evening’s festivities.
10. Dance down the aisle to your favorite song.
Who said that processional music has to be traditional? If you and your partner have a favorite song that makes you think of a particularly happy time you shared, you should use it in the ceremony. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with bopping down the aisle to a hit by Lady Gaga, or rocking out to Bruce Springsteen’s back catalogue.
Monogramming if a great way to personalize a gift. Monogram dates back to 350 BC, so you can rest assured that it isn’t going anywhere. There are several production methods of placing a monogram on an item and a few different accepted ways of ordering the monogram. Below if our guide to monogramming so you can give the perfect personalized gift to someone special or yourself…we won’t tell.
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Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s day. Festivities can be found in all the corners of the globe: each year, all over the world, dozens of famous landmarks “go green” to celebrate the indomitable spirit and joy of the Irish people. No matter where you are, you’re sure to find a special spot to celebrate St. Patrick’s day, but we’ve rounded up ten of the most wonderful places to raise a pint glass on March 17th.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s day with a Caribbean flavor. This tiny island is called “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”, and it’s one of the few places in the world where St. Patrick’s day is an official public holiday. In the 17th century, many desperate Irish refugees fled hardship at home and found a strange refuge in Montserrat. A census carried out in 1678 showed that the Irish made up 70% of the island population. But in Montserrat, the date has a double meaning, also commemorating a slave uprising in 1768. To this day, residents make a big deal out of honoring their unique Afro-Irish heritage, and it’s an amazing opportunity to enjoy the holiday with a unique twist. A ten day festival boasts a full calendar of concerts, events, lectures, and celebrations, culminating in a parade through the city. Try a bowl of Montserrat’s national dish: Goat Water. (It’s not so different from an Irish stew.) Garry Moore’s Wide Awake Bar in Salem is often the first stop on an island-wide pub crawl.
9. Montreal, Canada
Surprised? Don’t be. The beautiful city of Montreal is host to the oldest St. Patrick’s day parade in Canada. It has been running every year since 1824, come rain, shine, wind, snow, or hail. While specific attendance records are hard to come by, hundreds of thousands of spectators gather each year to watch the parade make its way through the historic streets of the city. Hurley’s Irish pub is a wonderful way to unwind after the day’s festivities, with a great whiskey selection, a real fireplace, and live music.
8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Home to the 5th largest Irish expat population in the world, Buenos Aires is an unlikely but deserving candidate for this list. During the great Irish exodus of centuries past, many Irish people turned away from the more usual choices of North America to choose a life of freedom and adventure in this wild and beautiful South American country. (Fact: The famous revolutionary Che Guevara was of Irish descent!) Today that heritage is celebrated in true Irish-Argentinian style, with street parties and a fabulous parade which doesn’t get started until the evening is well under way. Drop into the Kilkenny Pub in the city centre for a true taste of Ireland right in the middle of Buenos Aires, and expect to stay until the wee small hours.
7. Sydney, Australia
Australia is home to many thousands of Irish and Irish Australians. To this day it remains a popular destination for young Irish immigrants in search of work. The annual St. Patrick’s day parade in Sydney is the largest festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 80,000 people gathering to celebrate every March 17th. Even the Irish government gets in on the party, supporting the parade and sending official delegates to preside. PJ O’Brien’s is one pub you might want to hit up before the parade. They host a huge Irish breakfast first thing in the morning, so get in early.
6. Birmingham, England
Ireland’s nearest neighbour is home to a massive Irish population, and St. Patrick’s day celebrations are observed with passion in all of England’s major cities. However, Birmingham boast the largest and oldest parade in England. It got its start in 1952, and began as a way for the immigrant Irish community to come together and celebrate their roots, which is something every Irish American can understand. Birmingham also hosts a St. Patricks day festival beginning on the first day of March, with warm-up events each weekend before the big day. More than 85,000 people line the streets for the parade each year, before heading off in search of the traditional Paddy’s day pint. O’Neill’s Irish Pub is the place to be, with live music and a friendly holiday crowd.
5. Chicago, IL
Every year, Chicago is home to a St. Patrick’s day “miracle”: the great river is dyed a radiant green. The secret of how it’s done is closely guarded. (Don’t worry, it’s been independently tested to make sure it’s safe for the environment. It’s doubly green!) Their first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1843, and the river tradition began in 1962. The city actually hosts two famous parades, one downtown and one in the historically Irish “South Side” of the city. If you’re looking for a drink downtown, Celtic Crossings has USA Today’s endorsement at the most authentic Irish pub in the city. On the South Side, Jeremy Lanigan’s Irish Pub hosts traditional Irish music sessions and is highly regarded by its locals. It doesn’t have a website, but it does have a Facebook page.
4. Philadelphia, PA
About half a million people show up each year to enjoy the spectacular Philly St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which 20,000 marchers and performers representing more than 150 groups. According to the Philadelphia parade’s website, the celebration pre-dates the signing of the Declaration of Independence by seven years! Philly, New York, and Boston all claim that their parade was the first, and the argument will likely rage on for another two hundred years. For a real taste of history, visit McGillin’s Olde Alehouse, a 154 year old institution with a surprisingly sophisticated beer list which features homebrews, local microbrews, and genuine Irish stout
3. New York, NY
We’ll put aside the question of whether NYC’s parade is the oldest, but it is certainly the largest in terms of attendance, with more than two million spectators lining up to watch the 6 hour Irish extravaganza. It seems as if the entire Big Apple goes green for a day: you can even start your Paddy’s day adventure with a toasted green bagel. There must be hundreds of Irish pubs scattered throughout the city, and they will all be heaving after the parade. Slip away from the crowds to the East Village and pay a visit to the almost-secret speakeasy William Barnacle’s Tavern. Absinthe may not be a traditional St. Patrick’s day drink, but it is green, and if that’s not your style you have your choice of Irish beer on tap or several excellent whiskeys.
2. Boston, MA
Boston has the honor of being the nearest port to Ireland, and it retains strong cultural, historical, and genetic ties to St. Patrick’s adopted island. Almost a quarter of Boston’s population can lay claim to Irish ancestry, something you could guess by the scale of their St. Patrick’s day celebrations. The spectacular South Boston St. Patrick’s day parade is the third to claim the title the of “oldest” . Advocates say it was first hosted in 1737 by the Irish Society of Boston. More than 850,000 are expected to attend the parade each and every year, so you’ll want to stake out a viewing spot early in the day. Boston being Boston, there’s an Irish pub on every corner, and they’ll all be mobbed on the 17th. The Black Rose on State Street is a stand out for many reasons. It’s right in the thick of things, and it’s beloved for its pints of the black stuff, authentic corned beef, and Irish-passport-holding bar staff. If you want to cross the river for a (relatively) quieter drink, The Druid in Somerville is a tiny pub that’s Irish all the way down to its floorboards.
1. Dublin, Ireland
Of course, the very best place to experience the magic of St. Patrick’s day is in the home of the saint himself. One day won’t do to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland: the capital city puts on a week-long festival in his honor, with cultural and family events running in historic sites all around town. You might say they are making up for lost time, as Dublin was actually a couple of centuries behind the USA in terms of St. Patrick’s day parades. The first parade wasn’t held until 1931. It’s grown in size and popularity every year since. Not even the worst of the wet Irish weather will keep partiers inside on St. Patrick’s day, and more than half a million people attend the Dublin parade each year, rain or shine. With the city bursting at the seams, and over 1000 pubs to choose from, you might do best by letting serendipity decide where to get your post-parade pint. To prepare yourself, head out on the official Dublin City Pub Crawl a day or two ahead of the parade. They’ll show you all the most historic places to wet your whistle and give you an intimate introduction to the fascinating world of Irish pub life.
The shamrock is likely one of the most common symbols we associate with St. Patrick’s Day. But just what makes the little green plant so special? It turns out, there are several reasons. The shamrock began as a simple symbol of good luck (an association it still holds today). Over time, it became more and more popular until it reached the point of representing an entire nation.
According to popular legend, the shamrock was a sacred plant in Ireland, especially to the Druids. The plant was so special because because it has three leaves, and three is a magical or mystical number in the Celtic religion. Celts also used the shamrock to supposedly help with their crops. The belief was that burning shamrock leaves and spreading the ashes over their fields would ensure a good growing season. The shamrock also served as a sign of the coming spring, as it was one of the first plants to sprout after winter. When farmers saw the shamrocks start poking out of the ground, they knew growing season wasn’t far behind.
The shamrock became even more popular in the fifth century when St. Patrick used it to illustrate the principle of the Holy Trinity as he introduced Ireland to Christianity. It has three leaves, but it is still one plant – much like the Christian concept of one god in three parts. Stories surrounding St. Patrick say that he would often pluck a shamrock from the ground as he was speaking, and relate to his listeners in a “common” way.
By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had transitioned from being associated with St. Patrick to becoming synonymous with the entire Irish nation. During this time, the English were seizing Irish land and forbidding the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism. As a result, many Irish began to wear a shamrock as a symbol of ride in their heritage – an action that was actually punishable by hanging.
Through the nineteenth century, the shamrock was depicted in virtually every aspect of culture – from illustrations in books and postcards to popular songs and ballads of the time. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the shamrock became a popular architectural feature in Ireland, featured on the facade of many buildings, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It also became a popular decoration on light fixtures and monuments. From there, it made its way into numerous items in Irish homes, like glass, china, jewelry and fabrics. Today, you’ll still see the shamrock used in the logos of many national organizations, especially those dedicated to heritage and history.
Valentine’s Day is only two days away but there is still time to create some amazing decorations for you and the kids.
Valentine’s Day Tissue Paper Heart from @artsy_mama
Simple and quick way to bring some Valentine’s Day feel to your home, office or classroom.
Valentine’s Day Mailbox from CampClem
The kids will love having this mailbox to hold all of their Valentine’s Day cards.
Heart Shaped Glass Clings from @modpodgerocks
Great for the home and perfect for the kids.
Heart Candy Jar from @the36thavenue
Still looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your co-workers or friends. You can make these jars in just a few minutes and look great.
Hobbies and vacations are the cherries on the top of the sundae of life. Both provide welcome breaks to the everyday routine of living and both can re-energize you to face the more mundane tasks in your life. So it’s probably not surprising that there is a growing trend today toward combining life’s passions with vacations.
Hobby retreats, which are sometimes referred to as educational or inspirational vacations, are an excellent way to learn new craft techniques or perfect the ones you already know. They are also a way to connect and spend time with others who share the same passion as you do.
If you’ve never heard of these types of vacations, you might be stunned at the surprising variety being offered today. Following are just a few of the types as well as examples of craft or hobby vacations that are available around the world.
Few things can inspire a painter more than spending time in a beautiful new destination. That is probably one of the reasons why there is a plethora of painting retreats in stunning settings available for artists to enjoy. These retreats typically include lessons on techniques from various instructors and excursions to inspiring sites. For example, Holidayartists.com offers painting vacations to a number of different countries, including Italy, Portugal and Crete as well as to more unusual destinations such as to Angkor Wat, the famed World Heritage site in Cambodia.
There is probably no better way to learn a specific type of regional cooking than to spend time in the country of its origin while whipping up meals using locally grown ingredients. Popular destinations for cooking vacations include, of course, France, Italy, Thailand and Spain. Epitourean.com, for instance, offers a large variety of tours both in the United States as well as all over the globe. Cooking vacations typically include shopping trips to local markets, classes and lots of opportunities to dine like the locals.
Get a long little doggies. Is your passion quilting? Then you’ll be pleased to know that there are retreats for you, as well. In Montana, for example, you can enjoy the Montana Cowgirl Quilt Retreat, which has been held on the Nine Quarter Circle Ranch for over two decades. Quilters during this week-long vacation get to enjoy lessons from renowned quilters as well as typical dude ranch activities
Have you always wanted to try your hand at creating beautiful pottery but just have never had the opportunity? Or are you just looking for a place to indulge your passion for creative clay manipulation? Either way, a pottery vacation could be the perfect getaway for you. To get truly inspired, choose a vacation in an area that is known for unique pottery, such as Morocco. For example, Holiscape offers a Berber pottery-making tour through Sheherazad Ventures.
Knitting, Sewing and Crocheting
If you have a love for creating beautiful works of art out of yarn or fabrics, then consider taking a vacation centered on your favorite needlecraft. CraftCruises offers a number of vacation options for needlecraft lovers like you that will not only inspire you with a change of scenery and special demonstrations but also possibly give you access to unique materials. Its 2014 Burgundy and Provence Knitting Cruise, for example, includes yarn crawls in Paris and Lyon and knitting sessions. CraftCruises, which has been in the specialty tour business for 15 years, will also be offering needlepoint, beading, mixed media and crocheting cruises in 2014.
Have you ever been interested in learning the crafts of a particular region — for example, the truly unique works of the Smoky Mountains? Then you’re in luck. Some regions offer special classes in the arts found in their communities. For example, the John C. Campbell Folk School located in Brasstown, North Carolina, offers weekend and weeklong classes where you can learn how to create local folk arts and crafts, such as basketry, quilting as well as the making of glass beads. Or you could head to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and attend workshops put on by local artists. A list of these artist workshops can be found on the DIY Santa Fe Creative Tourism website.
Getting your man cave ready for the spring or ready to give dad a great Father’s Day gift? A personalized man cave sign is a great finishing touch to any manly space. If you are looking for a little inspiration take a look through our Ultimate Man Cave Pinterest Board for great ideas.
This year, Valentine’s day falls on a Friday, which makes it especially perfect for a romantic weekend getaway. There’s nothing like a few days of uninterrupted quality time together to remind you both just why you fell in love in the first place. Here are a few tips for planning an enchanted weekend away together this holiday.
Embrace the element of surprise
The grand romantic fantasy is to spirit your loved one away to a weekend of delights, without them ever knowing what’s up. Okay, it’s easier said than done, but there’s nothing like watching their eyes light up when you unveil the plan. The logistics are up to you. We all lead busy lives, and it might not be possible to put together a totally secret trip. If not, there are still plenty of tricks to keep up your sleeve. Tell them you’re going away, but don’t tell them where. Play travel agent, arrange everything, and tell them to relax and trust you. Knowing that your partner took the time to organize a whole trip just for you is deeply heart-warming.
Destination, destination, destination
The best part about escaping daily life with your beloved (aside from unlimited time alone together) is sharing a new experience. Scientists have found that novelty is one of the strongest drivers in lasting romantic happiness: it’s tied to all kinds of feel-good hormones and chemicals which light up brains in love. So choose your destination with freshness in mind. You don’t necessarily have to go far. Large cities are a great choice: even if you’ve been there a hundred times before, there’s always a new side to explore. Research is key here. If you’re more of a sweet B&B type of couple, seek out accommodation with especially beautiful surroundings and, even more importantly, privacy! You’ve only got the weekend, so you don’t want to spend too much time in transit. Pick somewhere within a few hours’ journey. Spending too much time in airports can be a mood killer, (definitely avoid connecting flights) but if you’re both avid travelers, the thrill of jetting off together is hard to beat. Check out cheap last-minute flights on Hipmunk. For something completely different, don’t forget the train! Traveling by rail has its own special kind of romance, with lots of time to relax and watch the world go by.
Pick one or two unforgettable experiences
Don’t overplan your weekend. Lingering over one more glass of wine before you chase each other upstairs, lolling about in bed together enjoying room service, and being free to follow a whim at a moment’s notice are all priceless parts of a weekend away. Still, to make it a getaway you’ll never forget, choose one or two “anchor” experiences to lift you both out of the ordinary. Book dinner at a Michelin Star restaurant, a sunset cruise, or a snorkeling expedition: you know your partner best, so choose a surprise they’ll love, and organize your itinerary around it. It’s that novelty magic at work again. Couples who share adventures see each other in a new light, which perks up the excitement and strengthens their bond, with long-lasting effects. You’ll make life-long memories and have lots to talk and laugh about as you unwind after your day.
Don’t fear the cheese
This is not the time for sophisticated cynicism. Embrace the silliness inherent in Valentine’s day and plan ahead for a little mushy romance. If you’re taking a roadtrip, make a swoony mix to play on the way. Call the hotel and arrange for champagne, chocolates, and strawberries to greet you in your room. Hold hands, whisper sweet nothings, write something saucy on the mirror with lipstick. Seek out photobooths, paddleboats, hot air balloons, heart-shaped jacuzzis, over-the-top lingerie, and rose petals on the bed. You can get away with it because it’s just the two of you. We might sneer at these tropes in public, but they bring up strong sweet associations for just about everyone. At the very least, they’ll bring out the giggles. Call us crazy, but laughter lies at the heart of most great love stories. And a little bit of sentimental nonsense goes a long way.
Above all, relax and remember to enjoy each other. Valentine’s Day only comes once a year, but the time you spend together this weekend will keep the spark burning bright far into the future.
While the rest of the world goes nuts over “football,” known in America as “soccer,” we all know what football really means just before winter comes to an end: Super Bowl Sunday. In the United States, the Super Bowl is its own special holiday, a time when family and friends come together to celebrate, eat hearty food and, of course, cheer our favorite team to victory.
If you plan to host a Super Bowl celebration, make it one to remember. While tasty food and a big-screen T.V. will play vital roles in the festivities, there are other steps you can take that will have your guests chatting about the party for years to come. Here are three tips for planning your celebration:
1. Make It a Tailgate Party
If you’ve ever tailgated at a football game, you understand that it’s not an atmosphere that’s easy to replicate inside your house: the scent of grilled hot dogs and burgers, the cheers of a massive crowd, tossing a football before the big game. But you don’t need a stadium to tailgate.
Your driveway or backyard could be the perfect setting for your tailgate party. Set up the grill, unfold some lawn chairs and break out the football and cornhole set. If you can set up your television outside, that’s another bonus; in good weather, your guests would love to get out of the cramped living room and enjoy some fresh air while watching the game.
Ask your neighbors if they’d like to participate. The more room, the better. With enough community support and a little planning, you might be able to move the festivities to a neighborhood center or community clubhouse.
2. Promote the Rivalry
Team rivalries are perhaps the most attractive aspects of sports. People love dishing out some friendly criticism and taking a personal interest in their team’s success. It helps build excitement, which can take your Super Bowl party to the next level.
Tell your guests to dress for the occasion. We’re not talking about collared shirts and dress pants; we’re talking jerseys, team flair and even some under-eye makeup. If they don’t have a jersey, tell them to wear team colors or paint their faces.
Consider setting up seating on opposite sides of the room, depending on which team the guests support. Decorate these areas with posters and memorabilia. Make sure you leave out blank posters and markers so visitors can make signs, too.
A healthy dose of competition at your party can mean more engaged guests, which translates into a memorable Super Bowl experience.
3. Host a Potluck Party
Other than Thanksgiving, there might be no holiday in which food matters more than Super Bowl Sunday. Time to break out the grills and coolers, the chips and dip. The food that you serve at your party can make or break the spirit of the event. With a potluck party, you get guests involved by bringing dishes to share. Not only does this make visitors more engaged and excited about the event, but it also saves you some money in food cost.
Make sure your guests know what to bring. There’ll be no macaroni salads or casseroles at your Super Bowl feast; no, your guests will dig into hearty foods like wings, ribs, chili and hoagies. Ask your visitors to sign up for a particular food about a week beforehand. After all, you don’t want 12 guests to bring paper plates and napkins. Remember to warm up the food in time for the big game.
Party Favors at Super Bowl Sunday
There are a ton of ways to make your Super Bowl celebration special, from themed decorations to outdoor activities. One strategy to make sure your guests remember your party is to offer party favors.
These can be any gift that captures the spirit of the event: shot glasses, mugs, tumblers and dog tags are all popular ideas. To add a bit of competition to the day, offer the best gifts as prizes for cornhole contests or game predictions.
The best place to find reasonably priced football merchandise is online. Whether for party favors or just a friendly thank-you, check out our extensive inventory of NFL gifts.