If you don't already follow us on Pinterest, we'd love it if you check out our boards! They are full of great ideas and resources, like our "Soiree" board that has wonderful ideas for parties and gatherings!
By the time Perry was about 6 months old, I already knew what his First Birthday Party theme would be. Little Blue Truck is absolutely his favorite book, and he has shown a preference for it long before I thought he should be able to. As we read the book to him, he would lean around the page to see what was coming next as he turned the page. And, when we finished, he would cry for us to read it again, even pushing other books out of the way!
I had never even heard of Little Blue Truck before one of my teacher friends gave it to us at Perry's baby shower (side note, the other book she gave me, Pete the Cat's Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is also among his favorites!). It's a sweet story of Little Blue Truck who makes friends with lots of farm animals as he rides down the road. When a rude dump truck gets stuck in the mud, no one comes to help until Little Blue Truck shows up and get stuck himself. When all his friends hear his "Beep! Beep! Beep!" they show up and do what it takes to get both trucks out.
Since it's not a very well-known book, there aren't a lot of party decorations readily available, so I had to get creative. In the back of the book, there is a link to download a party kit that includes party hats, cupcake toppers, coloring sheets, and a "Pin the hat on Blue" game (which was a lot of fun for the older kids). That gave me a good start, but I knew I needed more, beginning with an invitation. So, I got to work using some of my favorite online tools!
I got on Pinterest and created a board for Perry's birthday party to get some ideas. I was surprised and very pleased when I searched Etsy and found several invitation options! I finally settled on a digital version I could send electronically and print myself. Of course, once I started looking, I discovered lots of Little Blue Truck items made by people who are more creative than I am. I found decorations for centerpieces I could also download and print myself. I ordered a onesie embroidered with Little Blue Truck and his friends (which I managed not to get a good picture of him wearing). I even found fondant characters to put on the cake, which is one thing I could do myself. I'm pretty proud of how the ombre icing turned out, thanks to tutorials I found and Tara's help! If you like the idea of ombre, but aren't sure about tackling the icing, check out Tara's tutorial for ombre cake layers.
I also saw several high chair banners people had made, and I realized that I could do that myself, too, and I did for half the price I would have paid. After Perry's party, I used it as a backdrop for some of his 1-year pictures. Didn't it turn out cute?
While looking at all the things I could order from Etsy, I saw the cutest decorated sugar cookies that reminded me of cookies I had seen from a bakery in our neighboring town. I sent the picture to the bakery and asked if they could make some similar? Not only could they, their cookies were actually less expensive! I love Etsy because you're purchasing from a small business, but I love supporting a small business in my local community even more!
Amazon and Oriental Trading were my sources for paper goods (plates, napkins, tablecloths, etc.) in blue and white gingham, which matched the invitations and color scheme for the party.
If you're planning a party and want the look of being crafty without too much work, my recommendations are to check out Pinterest for ideas, then look for what you need locally when it's possible or Etsy when it's not. Fill in whatever can't be made (by yourself or someone else!) from your local dollar stores, Oriental Trading, or Amazon.
If you don't already follow us on Pinterest, we'd love it if you check out our boards! They are full of great ideas and resources, like our "Soiree" board that has wonderful ideas for parties and gatherings!
In case you hadn't heard, our Tara is expecting a baby! A sweet baby girl that is due to arrive in July. Y'all know we couldn't wait to host a baby shower and start spoiling that baby (and her Mama)!
I would like to point out that to we Southerners, a shower, whether it be for a baby, wedding, house warming, etc., is not just about the spoiling. Showers and parties are the perfect way to make someone feel loved and supported by the community they live in, or by the church family they have chose to be a part of. You've never felt so special until you sit and look around a room filled with the people you loved most, who have all gathered to take time out and celebrate you! The gifts are just an expression of love and support, as we honor the special times and the new chapters in life. (And... the gifts at Southern showers can be abundant and overwhelming!)
At The Southern Merc, we love a theme! The chalkboard in our Cafe dining room was already decorated with our favorite Oscar Wilde quote and we thought this was the perfect starting point for the party. Tara loves old books and the vintage feel so we kept things simple by using simple flower arrangements, stacked old books, and this fresh greenery garland.
All of the fresh greenery was cut from Mr. Crain's yard. The purple butterfly bush blooms were cut from Jorjanne's yard and the pink and white tulips were purchased from the grocery store. Mixing store bought flowers with things you grew yourself is a great way to keep the cost down and still have beautiful arrangements. For some tips on making your own arrangements with grocery store flowers, you can check out Roxie's tutorial! We tried hard to pick all of Tara's favorite foods and made sure that every detail would be a reflection of her sweet personality.
It is always a sweet and special idea to forgo the traditional "guest book" and choose something that will be special to the guest of honor. Perhaps a keepsake picture or special book that can be saved and cherished. For baby showers, you can make a sweet memory book like this one, or think about using a special children's book for guests to sign that can be added to the child's library. You may remember from Perry's baby shower, we used a precious book called "The Wonderful Things You Will Be".
For weddings or wedding showers, think about using a vintage poetry book, or something that would be special to the couple. For Roxie's wedding, she used a book of Van Gogh's artwork that had been a gift from one of Matt's trips to Italy. Tara and Phillip used a book of paintings of old churches in Georgia, and the church they were married in just happened to be included! The sky is the limit when being thoughtful and creative with the details.
We keep things pretty simple at our showers so after a time of eating and visiting, Tara started digging in to her presents! She was so blessed to receive so many beautiful and useful things.
Friends came from near and far, including two of Tara's college friends, which made the day extra special!
The Southern Merc and Fourth and Cherry crew had a blast celebrating our special girl and we can't wait to add baby Lila to our family of littles! Because of her mothers sweet spirit and ability to love others so deeply, Lila has already won our hearts!
The Southern Merc is full of helpful tips for parties and showers! Check out our archive to finds great ideas for your next wedding or baby shower!
Our shop is stocked with cute gift ideas for wedding and baby. Look around while you are here, we'll be glad to send a little something your way!
This past weekend we had the privilege of hosting a couples shower for Phillip's sister, Mary Beth, and her fiancé, J.D.! We love them so much and we were so happy to be able to honor them in such a fun way.
When we started the planning process, we knew that on any given Saturday, there would be a UGA game that our guests would hate to miss. We decided to incorporate the love for the game into our party. Mary Beth and J.D. loved this idea, considering they are huge fans--and so are their friends! We had a blast and everyone enjoyed the laid back environment of a football party. Today, I will share with you a few fun tips for making your next Football celebration a hit!
Keep team colors in mind when choosing your decor for the party. Don't go overboard, but your team of choice should be obvious by your selection. Stick with prints and patterns that could be used every day to show sophistication.
Little touches go a long way. Chalkboard art is always a fun idea to spice things up and customize the party! If you don't feel confident taking this on, recruit a friend with perfect penmanship to help you with this project.
Have a little fun and keep the theme going throughout the party. An easy way to do this is to make banners and food tags that coordinate with the invitation. I printed off letters to spell "Go Dawgs" in the same font that I used on the invitation. Cut them in the shape of a triangle and wallah! I did the same thing for the food tags to tie it all together. The ribbon I chose for the banner matched my fabric choices on the food table. You're sure to make an impression by carrying out your theme!
Have a little fun when it comes to the menu! Stick with fan-favorites, like Chips and Dip, Cheese Burger Sliders, and Lemonade.
All of the bridesmaids brought a finger food for guests to enjoy. This worked out great and we had plenty to choose from!
When it comes to dessert, you can get a little creative! I chose to make Red Velvet cupcakes to go along with my color scheme, but the possibilities are endless! Cupcakes are fun since they are easy to grab and totally customizable.
*Use baskets lined with napkins, for items like chips, to add an extra layer of look and create interest on the food table!
Keep it Simple
Remember, this is a football party! Relax and have a little fun. Don't stress about the details, just focus on creating a comfortable environment where people feel at home and are able to enjoy the game.
We put a TV outside on the porch so people could enjoy the game wherever they were. Although it was hot, we had a great time celebrating Mary Beth and J.D. Though I didn't have time to capture many pictures before the party started, here are a few pictures I snapped during the festivities!
If you're looking for a few great appetizer ideas for your next party, add "Southern Appetizers" to your cart! It is full of delicious menu ideas your guests will love!
This past Sunday we had the honor of celebrating Jorjanne and baby Perry! We thought this would be a fun way to spend the afternoon on Mother's Day. When coming up with a theme for the shower, we were inspired by Perry's nursery. Jorjanne chose to decorate his room with maps. We decided that a "Welcome to the World" theme was appropriate!
Vintage globes and maps were used to pull the theme throughout the room. We even made little map flags to top the cupcakes with! We had a delicious spread of southern favorites; a cheese ball, chicken salad sandwiches, pasta salad, wedding cookies and lemon cupcakes.
Roxie found the sweetest children's book to use as the guest book. It's called "The Wonderful Things You Will Be." Its pages are filled with beautiful illustrations and encouraging words. It was so fun to read and imagine what baby Perry will become!
Jorjanne had a wonderful crowd at the shower, most of which were family! Chris even stopped by to say hello.
Jorjanne's sisters, aunt, niece and mom were there to celebrate with us.
Chris' side of the family was there too!
When it came time to open gifts, we had a ball! We laughed at the tiny clothing that we knew Chris would love and were in awe of the handmade gifts they will cherish for years.
Jorjanne received tons of practical items, as well as a few fun things too! Baby Perry, we are now ready for you!
If you are new to The Southern Mercantile, you may not know that we have a brick and mortar store called The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry. The Shoppes is where The Southern Mercantile was born. Inside The Shoppes, we have a Cafe. Running the Shoppes and Cafe is our "day job", I guess you could say. We have a wonderful work family that we are blessed to share life with. The Lord has always provided the right people at the right time. And right now, we are prepared and ready for baby Perry's arrival!
The Southern Merc girls (and The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry family) recently had the opportunity to shower our dear Katelyn as we prepare to welcome little Lainey Kate into the world! As you know, Katelyn loves all things artsy and beautiful, just like us! We knew this shower needed to be filled with soft pastels, florals, good friends and delicious food. Like any good event, we created a pinterest board and began the planning process!
Check out our Pinterest board here!
We were inspired by our Pinterest board to incorporate balloons in some way to make a statement. And a statement we made! We decided to create this beautiful balloon arch and add in flowers and greenery. We'll let you in on a little secret--we did not come up with this balloon arch idea by ourselves! Thanks to a fellow blogger, we learned all that we needed to know from The House that Lars Built! If you have a minute, take a look at her fun video tutorial!
We adorned her initials with flowers to use as decorations as well as a gift Katelyn could take home!
We had a few party favorites on the food table: Spinach Dip, Mini Cheese Balls (pimiento cheese, bacon and pecans...yum!) and Iced Sugar Cookies!
We decided to experiment in the cookie painting business--and we didn't think they turned out too shabby for our first try! You can never go wrong with a fun shaped cookie decorated with floral patterns!
We were so glad that Katelyn's mom was able to make the trip down to join us for the shower. We had a wonderful time sharing sweet memories and dreaming about the day when little Lainey Kate will be here with us!
Roxie had an extra special gift for Katelyn--a hand quilted blanket she made for Lainey Kate's crib! This little one will sure be stylish!
Katelyn had a wonderful idea to use a journal as her guest book for her showers! She encouraged guests to write a little note to Lainey for her to cherish through the years.
We had a wonderful Sunday afternoon filled with lots of love and laughter. It's always a good time when us girls get together, and we love having the opportunity to share it with you!
A wine and cheese party may seem a little too snooty to some, but by adding some Southern flavor, you can create a relaxed environment to make anyone feel comfortable! Here are our essentials and resources for making your next get-together a Southern Wine and Cheese Party!
Choose wines that have been made in the South, or better yet, wines that have been made from Southern fruits. For example, muscadine, peach, and strawberry wines are all deliciously sweet and Southern! Of course, you’ll want wines that aren’t sweet as well, so be sure to include traditional reds and whites. Check out these Southern wineries: Duplin Winery, Lake Ridge Winery, San Sebastian Winery, Georgia Winery, Tiger Mountain Vineyards, or Three Sisters Vineyards Winery.
2. Wine alternative
Of course, not everyone will be imbibing at your party, so provide an alternative for those who are underage, designated drivers, or just don’t care for wine. Sweet tea is many times referred to as the "House Wine of the South" anyway, but may I recommend a slightly fancier option? Muscadine Grape Juice is about as Southern as it gets, and I happen to know where to find the most delicious Purple and White Muscadine Juice. Yes, this is a shameless self-promotion for my husband and our family’s operation: Paulk’s Pride! Check us out at www.paulkspride.com
You can’t have a wine and cheese party without cheese! I do suggest having a variety of textures and flavors for everyone to enjoy: soft, creamy, mild, sharp, aged, blue, etc. Our rural local grocery store doesn’t have many choices, but you can find more options at larger grocery store chains. Or, support a family-owned business such as Sweetgrass Dairy. For a uniquely Southern touch, how about some pimiento cheese? Proper Pepper Small Batch Pimento Cheese is a delicious alternative if you don’t make your own. Of course, if you’re near our small town of Ocilla, Georgia, feel free to stop by The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry to order some of The Cafe’s Pimiento Cheese!
A variety of cured meats to go with the cheeses ensures that no one goes hungry at your party! Salami, pepperoni, and sliced deli meats are typical choices, but a summer sausage from Carroll’s Sausage and Country Store makes a delightfully Southern option.
I know, it may seem like a crazy combination, but honey and cheese are delicious together! Try Savannah Bee Company’s Honey for Cheese or any of their honeys for that matter! Or, find a local beekeeper for the freshest honey in your area.
Start with what’s in season at the time near you. Fresh peaches, pears, berries, muscadine grapes, and apples all go well with your wines and cheeses and look beautiful on your table. Find a pick-your-own or farmers’ market for the freshest produce. Add in some jellies and preserves along with dried fruits and nuts for a little variety. Great resources include:
7. Serving pieces
You probably already have most of what you’ll need to serve (glasses, plates, trays, utensils, napkins, cutting boards, etc.), but if you’re missing anything, you can find it here at The Southern Mercantile!
Don’t worry about incorporating all of these ideas- even just one or two will give your soiree a Southern touch. Remember, the point is to keep it relaxed, so we don’t want you stressing out! This is Simple Living, Southern Charm at its finest!
This weekend, I, along with some other pretty special girls, had the opportunity to celebrate our good friend, Mary Claire. (You should know about her by now :) We spent a weekend on the lake laughing, encouraging, and loving on Mary Claire. What better way to start out in marriage than by knowing you have the love and support of your closest friends. This was a sweet time that we wanted her to remember forever.
When Lindsay (who happened to be the invitation designer and photographer of my wedding--you should know her by now too :) and I were thinking of what we could do to make Saturday night unforgettable--we had the best idea! A beautiful dock was located on the property, so we wanted to use it! We decided to have dinner on the dock, dressed in our prettiest things.
Since recently being married, my house is full of crystal and china just begging to be used. I picked out the most perfect pieces and packed them up for the lake. I know this may seem like a hassle to most (considering the lake was 3 hours away), but why have nice things if you're not going to use them? It makes occasions like this even more special when you use your special things.
The table was set with Vera Wang fine china, Lenox crystal glasses, vintage silver plate flatware, a vintage linen floral table cloth, vintage linen mixed pink napkins, and don't forget the votives, candlesticks and fresh flowers! The bulb lights were the perfect touch to make this dinner a dream. Although the nice things were beautiful and helped to set the mood, the most special thing of all was who filled each chair. Mary Claire felt so loved and cared for--so our mission was accomplished.
Take the time to pull out your fancy and special pieces to make your next occasion all the more exciting. A few extra minutes for clean up is well worth the result. Being expensive isn't what makes a piece special, it's all the memories shared over those pieces that will one day tell a story. I can't wait to add more memories to my things and have a home filled with all that love.
As a special treat, Lindsay has allowed me to share a few of her pictures from our dinner with you.
The dinner was a surprise, so this picture was captured when Mary Claire opened her eyes.
I have had the privilege of sharing my college years with two wonderful people I now call my best friends.
I met Russell the summer after my freshman year. Because of his brutal honesty, snarky sarcasm and general friendliness we quickly became buds. Our relationship usually revolved around food--seeing as we both loved to cook and entertain. (And did I mention, eat?) Russell has and always will be someone I can count on. After Phillip and I began dating, I couldn't wait for he and Russell to meet each other. They hit it off , like I knew they would, and now call each other friends.
Mary Claire began as a mystery college roommate, which I was hesitant about. (Those situations usually don't end up well.) She moved in, and we instantly became friends. Through much time spent at the pool, painting our nails, baking, and watching chick flicks, we soon became inseparable. She is a talented, sweet-spirited, spontaneous girl who stole my heart and encouraged me more than she will ever know.
It was inevitable that at some point these two would meet. They became friends at first, and I never imagined anything else...until April 1, 2014 (a.k.a April Fools Day). Russell and Mary Claire agreed that it would be fun to fool me by telling me that they were going on a date. You can imagine my excitement when they told me, as well as my disappointment when they unveiled the truth. The only bright side in this cruel trick was that Russell was just trying to find out Mary Claire's real feelings about the possibility of them dating. What started as a "funny" joke that I didn't think was so funny turned into a fairy tale. Russell made known his interest in Mary Claire as more than a friend and the rest is history.
Now, Russell and Mary Claire are getting married, and we wanted to do something special.
Since we are in the middle of summer, I thought what could be more fun than a BBQ? I decided to play up the red and white checkered tablecloths for a festive look--using that same look in the invitations as well.
Russell's favorite foods just happen to fall into that category--I mean who doesn't love pulled pork, mac and cheese, deviled eggs...you get the idea!
To dress up the tables a bit while still keeping it casual, I decided to use sunflowers. A friend of mine has an entire field of sunflowers, so I knew just where to go!
We used my collection of milk glass and gold-rimmed plates along with my silver to set the tables. I decided at the last minute to use twine as "napkin rings" to tie the invitations back into the theme.
Although the party was casual, the food was delicious, and the guests were a delight. We had the best time visiting with one another and celebrating our wonderful friends. This party was just one of many celebrations to come--we are so thankful to have friends like Mary Claire and Russell to enjoy life with.
I love hosting parties. Birthday parties, Christmas parties, wedding and baby showers … I do not discriminate! If it is worth celebrating then I am ready to party! I thought I would share with you one of the parties that I hosted recently and let you in on a few of my tips for throwing a successful gathering. This past October, Jorjanne and I hosted a wedding shower for our gal Tara. Tara and Phillip are getting married in March and we couldn’t wait to celebrate this precious couple! An evening in October was chosen as the date and invitations were ordered!
The Importance of Nice Invitations
I cannot stress enough the importance of a beautiful invitation. This sets the tone for your entire event.
I found these particular invites on Minted, and knew the minute that I saw them that they had Tara’s name written all over them! They perfectly summed up the feel of the evening I was planning and were also a nod to Tara’s personal taste and style. When your guests receive a beautiful invitation in the mail, it immediately makes them want to be a part of the event. I know that costs are sometimes an issue when deciding whether or not to send invitations. There are many creative things you can print on your own computer if ordering custom invitations are just not in your party budget.
I know it has become trendy to send evites or Facebook invites. I also know that some of you will disagree with me on this point but let me make it very clear how I feel about this issue. I do not think eviting or any other kind of impersonal electronic invitation is appropriate for showers, weddings, and other formal events. I know these mediums of social interaction have their place in the world, such as kids’ birthday parties, community events and casual get-togethers, but using them as an invitation to a meaningful event in one’s life is just tacky.
The Guest List
Your party budget will usually dictate what size party you plan. I tend to like smaller get-togethers but as our little circle grows the list keeps getting bigger! When planning your guest list, keep in mind the comfort of your party-goers. You want folks to feel comfortable with each other. If you invite a hodge-podge of people with no connection, you are setting yourself up for an uncomfortable evening. Jorj and I decided to invite our Fourth and Cherry family as well as Tara’s and Phillip’s immediate families. You can see from the pictures that we had a great turn-out! (Our Fourth and Cherry family is always growing!)
I live in a tiny 980-square-foot house, but I am blessed to own a beautiful building with a nice big Café dining room! When I entertain, I usually do it at The Café! If you are planning a large party, consider renting a venue. If this is in the budget, it will make things a lot easier on you (the hostess). You will not have to worry about set-up and clean-up, and you will have help! If it is a smaller party or if you have a large home, then by all means have your get-together at your house! I think inviting people into your home is such a gracious way to make folks feel loved and included. It is so personal! People don’t open their homes up to guests much these days and if you do, you will see, it goes a long way to make your guests feel important. It is also so much fun to get to use all your pretty things!
Choosing the Menu
Whether you are planning heavy hors d’oeuvres or a meal, you want to make sure that it is something that the guests of honor like! In this case, after much discussion with Tara and Phillip, we decided on traditional southern fare of pot roast cooked with carrots, potatoes, green beans and Vidalia onions. We served this up with warm yeast rolls and sweet tea, of course! I have found that simple meals like this are always a crowd pleaser and you (the hostess) don’t have to spend hours and hours in the kitchen preparing high maintenance, frou-frou food that no one wants to eat.
For Dessert we served my dad’s famous bread pudding along with red velvet cupcakes and amaretto sour cupcakes. All three were a big hit! Click this link to find the recipe we used for the amaretto sour cupcakes. http://buicupcakes.com/2014/02/16/amaretto-sour-cupcakes/
We also decided to serve beer and wine and one signature cocktail. Tara’s drink of choice is the amaretto sour, and we thought it appropriate to welcome our guests for the evening with a specialty cocktail. I would like to add that every good, southern hostess knows that providing a little cocktail goes a long way in helping your guests relax and enjoy each other’s company!
The Decorations (My Favorite Part!)
Decorating for an event is just one of my favorite things to do! For this party, I drew inspiration from the color palette that Tara has chosen for her wedding. Blush, Ivory and Navy set the tone for the evening! I also wanted the party to have a vintage feel as Tara, Jorjanne and I are all lovers of all things vintage! I spent a month scouring EBay for vintage pink damask napkins.
It took me no time to order enough for the party. This might seem costly but it really wasn’t. If you keep your eyes open and are a savvy shopper there are deals to be had! I ordered ivory polka dot lace to cover the tables, which was completely beautiful with just a touch of whimsy! A very sweet friend let me borrow miss-matched tea glasses and mixed flatware for the occasion. Since the napkins, glasses and silverware were all an eclectic mix, I opted for plain white plates. Didn’t want to go too overboard with the mixing and matching! If mixing patterned china is more your style, then think about using the same napkin and tea glass on all tables. Having a little continuity helps ground your tablescape and helps make sure the guests see what you want them to see.
I ordered white and green hydrangeas from my local flower provider and cut all other greenery and florals from my dad’s and my yards. Using what you find right in your own back yard will not only stretch your budget, but I think it just looks prettier and more genuine. What better way to make things feel personal than to collect your floral embellishments from your own back yard! The arrangements for this party were displayed in clear hobnail jars. Perfection!
I wanted the hydrangeas to have a pink tint. Floral spray paint can be purchased from your local floral provider or craft store. If you don’t use too heavy a hand, your tinted flowers may be prettier than the real thing! Helpful Hint: I didn’t have any floral paint so I used regular, pale pink spray paint. Worked like a charm, just be careful not to over-do it!
I am not one to like to play games or to feel the need to provide entertainment. If you get the right folks together, they provide their own entertainment! For this party, we had a short cocktail time while folks arrived and got comfortable. This was followed by a buffet dinner and dessert. When the bride and groom had finished eating we moved right along to opening presents! Your guests really appreciate it if you keep the evening moving!
You can see from the pictures that we had a great time celebrating the upcoming marriage of Tara and Phillip! I hope my little tips were helpful. I am sure we will be talking more about entertaining in the future!
Some of my favorite entertaining items are available for purchase at The Southern Mercantile! Click HERE to head to the store!
If you are always looking for good party ideas and menu ideas, follow The Southern Mercantile on Pinterest. We are sharing new ideas every day!
Thanks for reading; we hope you will continue to share The Southern Mercantile with your friends. We just love to see our little online community growing!