Party Planning Guidelines

Planning parties is fun for some and overwhelming for others. While I happen to be one that loves it, I've had plenty of experiences where I've felt more overwhelm than enjoyment.

The truth is, there are so many ways to host a meaningful event. As an enthusiast for thoughtful celebrations, I've compiled a list of guidelines that I hope will help free us and keep our hearts in the right place when it comes to parties.

This list is far from exhaustive, so feel free to comment with anything you think should be added!

1. Know what's important to you.

Focusing on what matters to you is the surest way to decrease overwhelm and increase enjoyment in party planning. I love thoughtful details like paper invitations that arrive in the mail, themes that run through the decor and food, and creative party favors. You may enjoy serving the best food, having fun activities, playing great music, having a huge crowd, or keeping it small and intimate.

Doing what is natural and important to you will energize you. Trying to be someone else and plan the party you think you "should" plan will exhaust you. Don't do this to yourself. Embrace what is authentic to you, and people will feel the care you've invested and love it.

Something as simple as tying a ribbon on a specialty food item or dropping a piece of fresh fruit in a glass can take something from ordinary to special. These images are from my bridal shower in 2012, and I still love these details as much as I did then!

Something as simple as tying a ribbon on a specialty food item or dropping a piece of fresh fruit in a glass can take something from ordinary to special. These images are from my bridal shower in 2012, and I still love these details as much as I did then!

2. Know what's important to those you're celebrating.

If you're hosting a shower or party in honor of someone else, ask them what is most important to them. This will help you put your energy into the areas that really matter to the guest of honor.

Remember, just because something doesn't matter to you, doesn't mean it's not important to someone else. For instance, I have friends who don't have a preference on invitations, but they know I love paper invitations, so for my baby shower, they made sure there was a lovely invitation in the mail. Similarly, I had one friend who had no interest in opening gifts at her shower and another who did, so we planned each event accordingly.

As much as we may want to do everything, budgets and time often limit how much we can put into a party we're hosting, which is another reason knowing the specific things that matter most to your guest of honor will ensure they feel loved in all the right ways and that your time and budget are put to best use.

Rachel had a very specific aesthetic for her December baby shower, and it was so fun to run with it! She was expecting a girl, but didn't want anything overly girly, so we embraced the rustic, outdoorsy vibe that felt more her. Her cake is still one of my favorite party elements! To create the teepee, we just got sticks and greens from our yard, used floral tape and twine to keep it together, and it made a gorgeous statement piece.

Rachel had a very specific aesthetic for her December baby shower, and it was so fun to run with it! She was expecting a girl, but didn't want anything overly girly, so we embraced the rustic, outdoorsy vibe that felt more her. Her cake is still one of my favorite party elements! To create the teepee, we just got sticks and greens from our yard, used floral tape and twine to keep it together, and it made a gorgeous statement piece.

3. Remember you can't do it all and do it well.

At work, we have this saying, "We're a Ruth's Chris, not a Golden Corral." This simply means we focus on doing a few things well instead of doing everything subpar (if you're a Golden Corral fan, forgive the analogy). 

The same goes for party planning. If you'll focus on doing a few things with excellence, you'll really be able to make an impact instead of spreading your efforts so thin that nothing is quite how you like it.

This is why its helpful to determine what matters most to you or to your guest of honor, list the priorities, and plan accordingly. If you have time for some extras, great, but if not, you'll ensure the most important things are covered and you won't feel like you're leaving something on the table. 

My Birmingham baby shower for Fox was so sweet. With lots of touches of soft blue and plenty of fresh flowers (my fave), it was the perfect blend for this Boy Momma to be!

My Birmingham baby shower for Fox was so sweet. With lots of touches of soft blue and plenty of fresh flowers (my fave), it was the perfect blend for this Boy Momma to be!

4. Ask for help.

You don't have to impress anyone by doing everything by yourself. I have a friend who loves having people in her home and can make a dessert that will keep you coming back for more, but party details just aren't her thing. She knows I love them, so she invited me to help with her daughter's first birthday. She created a budget and let me give her some ideas and help execute them, and it turned out so sweet. I got to do something I love, and she was able to focus on the parts of the party that were natural and easy for her. 

If you need help with food or cutting a cake or selecting decor, don't be afraid to ask people for help. Chances are, you'll give someone an opportunity they'll love or get to support a local business, and make it easier on yourself to boot!

baby shower
baby shower
baby shower
baby shower
baby shower
Amy's shower was planned with thoughtful, handmade details and paid tribute to her animal themed nursery. One of the hostesses spray painted inexpensive animal toys for decor, and we gave Amy a few unpainted ones for her baby to play with when he was old enough. We also used her son's name and monogram to add a personal touch.

Amy's shower was planned with thoughtful, handmade details and paid tribute to her animal themed nursery. One of the hostesses spray painted inexpensive animal toys for decor, and we gave Amy a few unpainted ones for her baby to play with when he was old enough. We also used her son's name and monogram to add a personal touch.

5. Focus on the people.

It's so easy for me to get lost in themes, colors, details and all sorts of party planning fun, but at the end of the day, it's the people that matter. There is no greater compliment to me than for people to come into my home and feel warmth, enjoyment, and ease. Connecting people and creating an environment where they can enjoy themselves is the most rewarding feeling.

The details are simply a way to show people you care, and if you can keep this in mind, it will help your heart stay in the right place. There's nothing wrong with receiving a compliment on your perfectly crafted floral centerpiece, but remembering that the joy it brings your guests is the point (not the pat on your back) will make your celebration more meaningful and rich. 

Whenever I find myself starting to get in a tizzy over little details, I try to pause, reflect on my guests, and think about what they will enjoy experiencing most. Almost every time that helps me slow down, refocus, and find joy again in planning. 

I hope this list helps free you to more fully enjoy planning your next celebration. Also, if you have more tips to share, I'd love to hear them!

I'm back!

Wow, it feels good to be back in this space. You'll notice a fresh look to the site as well as a fresh address (mattyewoodcock.com) thanks to the help of my talented friend Emily of Emily Wells Design. Yay! That's fun!

Photo by  Rachel Coffey

Photo by Rachel Coffey

Since the last time I wrote in this space, I feel like I have become a new person in so many good ways.

When I stopped writing here, it was because I felt the need to retreat a little. Not out of any negative feeling, but more out of solitude. After walking through a miscarriage in March 2016, and then getting pregnant again later that spring, my heart was experiencing so many different things. Sharing publicly didn't feel right, or even possible. It's not that I didn't want to share, I just felt the need to spend time focusing inward and being with my people as we walked through that season. Essentially, it just wasn't the right time, and I listened to that.

I knew the time would come where I would be ready to write and share again, and even now, I don't know exactly what it will look like, but I'm so happy to be back. I've missed writing and connecting here.


Catching Up...

 

Since I've been on my spontaneous "sabbatical," so much has happened!

2016

We found out in June 2016 that God had given us another baby. We were pregnant! What a joy-filled day that was. 

We got to see our baby for the first time in July 2016.

Babywoodcock
MattyeandWoodyWoodcock

And we found out he was a boy in October!

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2017

Our son surprised us with an early arrival on February 2, 2017 (his due date was February 21!), and we named him Fox David Woodcock.

Fox David Woodcock, February 2, 2017

Fox David Woodcock, February 2, 2017

I could spend a lifetime blogging cute photos of him and waxing poetic about our love for him, but I'll spare you...for now. ;) 

Well, ok, here's just one...

Fox's first birthday

Fox's first birthday

We know he is the perfect boy for us. God gave us absolutely who we needed in a child, and he lights up our lives.

After having Fox, I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety. It was the hardest, darkest season of my life, which is something that is still hard and sad to say because it was simultaneous to one of the most wonderful seasons of my life, the first year with our son. 

I have walked a road of healing, and I am doing so much better now, praise God. I had the honor of sharing my story on my friend, Katie's new podcast, Untethered. If you're interested in what that season looked like and how God sustained us through it, I'd love for you to listen. And, if you or someone you know has walked through anxiety or depression, I hope it will be a source of light and hope.

I tell the fuller version of this story in the podcast, but after going back to work for several months after Fox was born, Woody and I prayerfully made the decision for me to move part-time starting in 2018. My leaders and coworkers were all so supportive of this decision, and it has been a great transition for our family. Not always easy, but it has been the right thing for us. 

So, here we are. 2018 has brought a new season of refreshment for our family, and we are so deeply grateful.


As for what's next? There is lots on my mind, and what you can expect to see here in the coming months is, well, who knows! ha! I do have some fun posts planned with party planning ideas, and I'll talk about goals, too.

If there is anything specific you'd like to hear about, let me know! 

Thanks for being here, friends. It's good to be back. 

xo. Mattye

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

This is one of my favorite weekends of the summer. I enjoy the casual, festive celebrations all around me, and I'm humbled and deeply grateful for the freedom we have in America and the sacrifices that have made it possible.

Woody and I had a June for the books! It was full of work + fun travel among hosting Supper Club and celebrating Father's Day. We knew it would be a lot going into it, but we also knew we had made intentional choices based on our values and goals so we approached it with enthusiasm and took naps whenever possible. We can only do a couple of months a year at that pace, but when it's full of what matters most, it's worth it!

Now we are taking a much anticipated week off! Hooray! I'm looking forward to decompressing and rejuvenating and spending time with people I love. I also plan to share my refreshed goals for July later this month.

I'm committed to making what matters happen, and sometimes that means giving myself some grace. I've got some goals in my mind to guide my July, and I'll be putting them to paper before long. I knew going into this year that I can't do it all perfectly, but I can do it, and I will!

I hope you'll find a way to spend time focused on what matters most to you this month, too. I look forward to being back with you soon, and in the meantime, check out some goals inspiration over at Making Things Happen!

And, Happy 4th of July, my friends!

May 2016 Goals

April was one for the books, y'all. We had our first all-day workshop for The Orchard Birmingham: A Creative Community for Women, Woody and I hosted friends in town for two weekends in a row, we had a big conference at work, and we finished the month with a few days away for a relaxing staff retreat in Florence, Alabama!

Not to mention, in the midst of it all, Woody and I pulled off getting our guest room set up with the help of our neighbor and my dad (and answered prayers for a mattress!), and I must say, it looks pretty good!

We want our guests to feel so loved when they stay in our home. One of the ways we accomplish this in our guest room is by putting fresh flowers from our garden and positive words to encourage them! (Print by  N  aptime Diaries )

We want our guests to feel so loved when they stay in our home. One of the ways we accomplish this in our guest room is by putting fresh flowers from our garden and positive words to encourage them! (Print by Naptime Diaries)

While April was full, there was something about it that felt light and refreshing. After walking through the grief of our miscarriage in March, in April I was walking in hope and healing and it was good.

I'm excited for May, but found myself putting off my goal setting for the month. Being intentional takes energy. Yes, it's some of the most worthwhile energy you'll ever spend, but it's energy nonetheless. Sometimes that energy is harder to give than others, and that's exactly what I was feeling as May got closer and closer.

I willed myself to push through and sat down on my bed last night to work through my PowerSheets because I know how much it matters. I have purposed in my heart to complete my PowerSheets at the beginning of each month because they do so much good in directing my month and my heart toward what matters. And sure enough, I'm so glad I did it.

So if you're feeling challenged to keep up a good habit or a practice you know makes your life better, stick with it, friends! Even when you don't feel like it, commit to the process and do the good work and you will reap great rewards that have lasting impact!

What are you committing to make happen this month?

April Goals Progress

  • Three date nights with Woody
  • Calendar planning with Woody
  • Speak at The Orchard Workshop
  • Research Southern Makers Event
  • Apply to be a PowerSheets Community Contributor (Exciting news! I'll be sharing more of my goals and PowerSheets journey over at the Make It Happen blog soon!)
  • Prepare guest room (SO happy to have this done and ready for guests!!!)
  • Work on writing projects
  • Host DeShaws in Birmingham
  • Write blog posts: monthly goals + two others
  • Spring Cleaning- organize office and clean off porch (Woody and I are still planning to make this happen!)
  • Supper Club
  • Staff retreat with Woody
  • Revisit 2016 travel

May 2016 Goals

Three Dates with Woody
Charleston trip with Woody to attend a friend's wedding
Tennessee trip to visit family
Mattye Woodcock Writing Co. Photo Shoot (more to come on this exciting project!)
Supper Club
Two morning coffee dates with a friend
Write PowerSheets Community Blog Post
Bake cookies
Three blog posts: monthly goals + two
Get help for my back (been having back pain and need some relief! Looking at massage and physical therapy. Any recommendations welcome!)
Intentionally give from our blessing fund

Do you have any questions about goal setting or why I set certain goals? I would love to answer and help you in your own goal-setting journey!

The Story of Old

I love old things for the stories they tell and the way they tie people together--those who have never met, but somehow love each other.

We have a family quilt that I just love. As Woody and I talked about putting together the guest room in our new home, we shared ideas and vision for what it would look like, and through conversation, this family quilt became a centerpiece for me.

Guest Room-Family Quilt_The LovingKind

My mom told me she would like for me to have it, but I wasn't going to be able to get it from her in time for our first guests. But, like the sweet mama that she is, she surprised me and mailed it to me, and it arrived the day before our guests did! It was just the finishing touch the room needed and it makes me happy every time I see it. 

I asked my mom who made this family quilt, and she answered with the most simple and beautiful story of its place in our family story:

Family Heirloom Quilt_The LovingKind

"I believe my grandmother Ada pieced it and probably a woman named Mrs. Raby helped hand quilt it. Because I recognize some of the fabric from dresses I've seen pictures of my grandmother in. I just remember it always on my grandparents bed when I was growing up." 

I absolutely love knowing that this quilt kept my great grandparents warm and made their room pretty.

I love thinking about what my great grandmother, Ada, did when wearing the dresses some of these tiny squares were cut from.

I love the resourcefulness of that generation--making a quilt from items already owned--and I like to think I'm keeping a bit of that spirit by using the same quilt in my home instead buying one new. 

In our world of instant-gratification, quick-fixes, and easy access to most anything, it feels good to pause and let the past teach us.

Teach us to appreciate what we have and to savor the gift of something made by loving hands.

Hands that rocked my grandmother, who rocked my mother, who rocked me.

Hands that helped build my family.

Hands that I wish I could hold, caress, or high five.

But for today, I will proudly lay this quilt in my home, and welcome the heart of family, love, and resourcefulness it brings.

And finally I'll say, "If this was good enough for you, Great Grandmother, it's good enough for me."