(After talking to my best friend, I decided to let her tell you about this year’s Annual Christmas Eve Eve from her perspective. I didn’t want to gush too much about my favorite childhood movie or my favorite local location to work with!)
I didn’t know what to expect from Kayla this year for her Annual Christmas Eve Eve Party. This intimate gathering of friends has grown more extravagant and at times larger over the years. When she hand delivered this metal tin I was intrigued! The Troop Beverly Hills tin held a sparkly circular compass invitation and a troop hat to be worn at the party. It stated we would be earning badges for cooking, spa activities, friendship, and talent at the party/sleepover at The Four Seasons Houston – how fun! I even watched her favorite childhood movie so I could get my look together!
We arrived at the Four Seasons Houston Hotel and knew the evening would be amazing. We were greeted with a glass of champagne at Valet and a beautiful Christmas Tree in their luxurious and chic lobby before being escorted to the restaurant, Quattro, for dinner. It spoke to the Troop Beverly Hills theme. The chef’s table in a private dining room looking into the kitchen was set. There were so many beautiful, small and personal details that I couldn’t keep my eyes in one location. The Ornamentini signature cocktail was adorable and Kayla used her grandmother’s china for the place settings who had passed this summer. Candles provided the perfect ambiance, and she had fun aprons waiting for us to wear before beginning the cooking class. These are just a few of the details. Pictures say more than words.
All of the ladies enjoyed an intensive and thorough cooking class where we made ravioli with a shrimp, spinach, and ricotta filling. And after much anticipation, we were eventually able to enjoy our dinner. It was scrumptious!
After dinner we ventured up to the Troop Beverly Hills suite for talent show shenanigans – and it had been completely transformed. The walls were covered in a palm leaf print, and the room was decorated with Troop Beverly Hills memorabilia. The homemade (and semi-homemade) cookies we brought in our tins were displayed so we can fill them again in the cookie exchange. There was more than enough to enjoy with a mug from the hot chocolate bar which had a variety of accompaniments to make each cup of cocoa unique – Amarreto, vanilla marshmallows was my combination of choice.
The talent show commenced next, and I was certainly surprised by some of the selections by the group. We had a magic show, singing, dancing, and Quick Changing! We will leave it at that. Similar to Las Vegas, what happens at the CEE talent show, stays at the CEE talent show!
The rest of the evening was spent in our customized Burt’s Bees onsies and fur lined knit socks attaching our badges to our troop collars, and just enjoying each other’s company. It was a fabulous and much-needed adult slumber party. The event ended with breakfast the following morning in the suite. All of the guests were able to enjoy some down time in the midst of the hectic holiday season. And this will certainly be the most beloved CEE gathering – especially since it is the last.
Thanks for a great set of memories over the years, Kayla! The holidays wouldn’t be the same without you.
Happy 2 day birthday, Ryen Wolf! As a fellow 2nd child, your Auntie Niecy wanted to throw a small, casual baby sprinkle all your own since you’ll have a lifetime of hand-me-downs starting with your crib and hospital bag, lol. Being the planner that I am, I already had a great gender versatile idea in mind if someone asked (wink wink) - Teeny Wolf! After your Auntie Niecy searched and re-watched Teen Wolf to freshen her memory, she discovered and shared with me that the movie was released on your mother’s birthday. It was meant to be!
I mean, really, for how many other occasions would this theme be as fitting?! Your last name is Wolf without the “e”, your dad played basketball in high school, and your mom LUVS an old school moment! Your due date was NYE, and I like baby showers to be 2 months prior to the due date. With that in mind, I thought a Halloween baby sprinkle would be super cute and work well with the theme. Once your gender was revealed we chose to focus more on the team spirit aspect and less on the sport itself. That was accomplished by having a Teeny Wolf Prep Rally!
We spread the word by scribbling all the details in a teeny composition notebook and delivering them to the guests. They raved about them so much we could only wait a week later to hand deliver your mommy’s invite to her (fearful that someone else would reveal the surprise theme to her accidently). She was an emotional wreck! (I have the video to prove it.)
Guests arrived and signed your Teeny Wolf stuffed animal’s tshirt before rocking a pair of Teeny Wolf spirit glasses and sporting blingy paw drink holders. They were seated at tables adorned with Teeny Wolf mega phone vases filled with lush hydrangea and teeny foam fingers, pom poms, and Stiles tshirt inspired table signs.
We all stuffed ourselves with a variety of gourmet pizzas and adult cookie ice cream sandwiches. My favorites were the prosciutto, Italian sausage, and arugula pizza and the M&M cookie with chocolate stout ice cream, the chocolate chip cookie with strawberry gin ice cream and snickerdoodle with bourbon vanilla ice cream (don’t judge, I split it).
Mommy, Auntie Niecy and I wore Teeny Wolf tshirts with our 80’s game day looks. Custom Stiles’ “What are you looking at Snottynose” tshirts were given to the prep rally cheer winners. (Ms. Monique will share how her squad was robbed of the win.) It was so much fun celebrating your upcoming arrival and getting mommy prepared with NEW stuff just for you. At almost 6 pounds, you truly are a Teeny Wolf. See you when you get home!
After a day of drinking and a night of dancing 'til the wee hours of the morning, what we all need most is a Recovery Brunch - which only requires that you roll out of bed and take a few steps to the table...LOL! That is exactly what the Millers offered their overnight guests at Millerfest 2017…. The Return. All of the Four Seasons Hotel Houston Pool Suites along with additional hotel rooms were reserved for guests to stay overnight. This allowed easy access to the Let’s Flamingle Recovery Brunch at The Pool Deck Café the following morning.
The tone for the Recovery Brunch spoke to Mrs. Miller's aesthetic and her love for pink and flash, but we didn't want it to be too feminine. The slogan for Mr. Miller's celebratory festivities was “Be a Flamingo in a Flock of Pigeons.” And we wanted all of the guests to be reminded of this the following day. I wanted to create a light, fresh, and casually chic atmosphere. Touches of gold and rose gold were used to punch it up a bit while keeping the design fun. The white iron, frosted glass tables with matching chairs were set by layering flamingo patterned small plates (from my personal collection) with the hotel's existing white plates and napkins. Matching flamingo mugs, glass pineapple tumblers, and rose gold flatware completed the design. The tables were dressed with palms, pineapple flower arrangements, gold painted pineapples, and flower crowns for the ladies to wear. A rose gold balloon garland hung from the pergola as a backdrop to the space and delectable buffet that included a mimosa and juice bar, mini shrimp and grits, mini chicken and waffles, a donut croquembouche, and so much more.
After the guests got their fill of food and beverage, they were able to lounge in and around the pool with rose gold flamingo floats flossing gold chains. Customized pool towels and outdoor games were available for guests while enjoying frosés and other beverages in the pineapple tumblers. It was so fun and inviting that it was less of a recovery and more of a remix.
Boy was I ecstatic to learn that the Millerfest hiatus was ending after 7 WHOLE YEARS!! But there was a caveat…….. I had to plan the event! I’ve always been down for a GOOD party and THIS was one that I had previously looked forward to attending every year. Now it was back after a long-awaited return, and Exquisitely Dunn by Kayla Marie had the privilege of serving as the event planner, and making the return of this event well worth the wait (though it meant retiring my ‘guest’ hat)!
First things first, we needed an invitation that adequately conveyed this auspicious occasion for The Millers. I had the perfect invite in mind! I’m a fan of video invitations for parties and I’d been waiting to use this USB card invite for quite some time - this was the perfect event for it. The black card design evoked an exclusive vibe coupled with the video saved on it that hyped up the guests as well as providing them with all the details (and it didn't hurt that they could use this to save files in the future). It worked because guests were referring to Millerfest 2017… The Return as their Adult Homecoming/Prom, lol.
Now, I just needed the actual event to exceed those expectations set by the invitation. Originally, this was going to be a Summer Solstice Pool Party. When visiting venues, however, Mrs. Miller wasn’t aware that the Four Seasons Hotel Houston had completed an extensive remodel of the hotel lobby. She immediately fell in love with the new lobby bar, Bayou & Bottle. When I took her to the Top Golf Swing Suite space, the original plan was squashed on the spot, and Mrs. Miller committed to this chic, masculine lounge. Her husband is an advent golfer, and this was a celebration for his promotion. Who am I to deny her of this change?! We viewed the pool space and the adjoining suites. By the end of the tour, the event scene was set.
The Millerfest 2017 vision culminated in a modern country club party. Once guests checked in at the door, they hit the boxwood step and repeat and photobooth before being welcomed by the food display and butler-passed hors d’oeuvres. As guests proceeded around the corner a golf pro was in the Top Golf Swing Suite along with a satellite bar to assist guests as needed. When they came around the second corner a steward was in the Bourbon Locker conducting Scotch, Whiskey, and Bourbon tastings. Football fanatic guests were glued to the Texas A&M Aggies vs the University of Florida Gators game in the fireplace lounge rooting for a win similar to the Houston Astros in Game 2 against the New York Yankees earlier that evening. A cigar station was set with custom labeled cigars, roller, and more to enjoy in a private outdoor smoking lounge paired with each guest's drink of choice. Guests could visit the Millerfest Pop-up Shop to get all of their Millerfest swag which included golf ball packs, sunglasses, caps, and t-shirts. Each guest was allowed to bag check and claim their items at the end of the evening so they could party freely to the sounds of DJ Def Jam Blaster. And partied they did! With the Astros and Aggies wins, the atmosphere was beyond electric throughout the hotel - all wanting to be a part of the LIT party in the privatized Swing Suite. Mrs. Miller danced right out of her red bottoms! Good thing there was a Recovery Brunch planned for those guests that stayed overnight …… Stay Tuned!
This time of year, I am always reminded of an event I had the pleasure of planning a couple of years ago. Amber wanted to host a surprise birthday party for her husband, but she wanted it to be different from any party they had ever attended. She wanted the party to incorporate his love for music, fine food, and spirits. I immediately thought a yacht party with a cigar lounge vibe and cognac tasting would be perfect! Once guests received the digital cinematic invitation, the anticipation began to build...
Beauty and the Beast hit theatres this past weekend with record-breaking openings. For me, the movie called to mind the ever popular 1991 song, “Be Our Guest!” Composed and produced by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, it has proven to be one of the greatest salutations to dinner. That being said, let’s talk invitations!
Because we’re still in the month of LOVE, I’ve been reading a plethora of posts about relationships and couples. I kicked off the month with the 30 Day Relationship Challenge. I thought I’d share with you some of what else I’ve been reading since then.
So I’m still on a Beyoncé high from my Christmas Eve Eve party which prompted me to design this versatile and unique idea for a Valentine's celebration. This theme will work in both a playful environment and a sexy, romantic one. I also like that it can be enjoyed in an intimate couple setting or with a group of friends. You can start the day by leaving a card stating why your special someone is the Bee’s Knees. Then, throughout the day send cute messages or sexy questions like these. For those of you that want to celebrate all month long, try this 30 Day Relationship Challenge. It's a sure way to spark some fireworks and have the romance dialed up in time for Valentine’s Day!
Reflecting on 2016, I found that I failed to accomplish a lot of my goals for the year. So, for 2017 I wanted to implement a new practice to increase my likelihood of success. How I intended to do that was still not clear, though. While out gathering supplies and seeking inspiration for my Annual Christmas Eve Eve Lemonade Party, I came across some really cute items for my guests to take home as a parting gift. The glass bottle, metallic woven basket, and journal pictured above all worked perfectly with the theme for the night. And I knew then, that the journal would be a tool in achieving my goals...
Exquisitely Dunn was officially established in 2007, but its story begins many years prior. Our founder and creative director, Kayla Marie Dunn, has been crafting memorable events since childhood. She quickly realized her knack for dreaming big and transforming vision into reality. This, coupled with her impeccable style, allows us to create classic, elegant events to suit any client’s taste. The hummingbird embodies our philosophy at Exquisitely Dunn. It is delicate, yet surprisingly strong; it is versatile, efficient, swift, and graceful. Understated yet bold, the hummingbird provides joy, brightness, and love. This is the unique spirit Exquisitely Dunn brings to every event.