Hosting A Girl’s Weekend

I hosted a girls weekend at my house last week and it was pure, unadulterated, 100% enjoyment–even the getting ready for six girls to be at my house all weekend.  I love hosting LOVE LOVE LOVE it.  I try to focus on doing things I like and I try to avoid doing things I hate–even when it comes to hosting.  I’ve learned that I enjoy decorating for a party with easy creative designs and I enjoy being able to cook for everyone but not to the point where it keeps me in the kitchen.

So the best way for me and my personality to host a party is::

  • enjoy looking forward and anticipating the weekend (I start setting up a week before no one cares if pink decorations are out for a week at my house)
  • start a pinboard FSP stands for Fun Sleepover Party I thought we’d do a craft but ended up we just wanted to hang out
  • decide on a theme based on something general or an overall feeling
  • buy fresh flowers because I LOVE them and they make me feel good (do something for yourself!)
  • decorate with inexpensive yet WOW factor ideas
  • cook something I’ve made before and only cook for the first meal and also make a few things ahead of time
  • buy some food premade (grilled chicken from Earth Fare and the sauces from Cheesecake Factory for the lettuce wraps) semi-homemade works great for a fun people filled weekend
  • say yes when someone offers help (Ellen lives close enough to come early, she helped prep dinner, bought my wine glasses last-minute and brought breakfast for the next morning!)
  • enjoy the people when they are here and don’t worry about cleaning every part of the kitchen to perfection–I can do that when they leave

how to make pinwheels

First the back story.

Last October I attended the Relevant Conference (this year they changed the name to Allume) and you know how when you go to conferences you end up hanging out in a hotel room talking with a small group of people?  Well the little group of us who connected there (some knew each other before, some didn’t) had a great time.  And back in January I heard my phone start beeping crazily with tweets from them including all our names from the room time hang out talking about getting together.  It didn’t take me long to figure out these girls were seriously serious and since they live in all parts of the country, meeting up would require flying.  I’m no dummy so I immediately offered up my house for a meeting place.  I’d much rather host than fly.

So as hard as it was not to invite everyone who reads this blog or every blogger I’m friends with, or all of my dear real life friends, this group just kind of choose itself and although I ended up hosting, the people included weren’t a result of me sending out invites to some private group–this was a meeting of girls who spent some great time together last year and took the risk and initiative to say “hey, that was great, let’s do it again”.

Back to the house stuff…

I LOVE for my home to look festive, pulled together and extra special when I have a get together but, I learned long ago not to try to come up with some elaborate theme, although having a general theme or purpose can be helpful. When I hosted my sister’s book signing party the theme was simply book pages.  This time I wanted the theme or feel of the weekend to be girly, fun, and relaxing.    That doesn’t mean we all have to bring our ball gowns and bring in a manicurist and masseuse to come for the weekend.  Oh no.  When you choose a theme you want it to be something that will be a workhorse for you, not something you have to be a slave for.  I used a few five-minute ideas that quickly added some whimsical girliness into my house.

simply cut rectangles, fold in half, snip a “V” shape out and secure on a string with a bit o’ hot glue {read in an Irish accent}

shop the house for anything that can go with the theme and or come in handy pile it all up someplace to be at the ready in case you need it (I piled mine on my tertiary table)

how to make a tiny paper banner

place cards from Lisa Leonard Designs

just hot glue a pair of paper dots together on a string

hmmmmm, I love experimenting in my laboratory, I mean in my home

yep. just tie a bunch of balloons together and drape on your chandelier. and then don’t forget to NOT turn the light on

major wow factor for about $4 worth of balloons

$2 for 6 pink thrifted candles completed the girly feel

ellen, tracey, hayley, gussy (my fellow Tanaznia traveler), emily (my sister!) and my dog who believes the entire weekend centered around himself,  caroline‘s plane got in after dinner

lettuce wraps (with Earth Fare grilled chicken and Cheesecake Factory bought sauces) PW’s olive cheese bread and lemon pasta for dinner and of course these for desert

loot from our favorite things (we each brought 6 of something we love–one for everyone)

chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool

Of course, I didn’t think about taking a group picture until after Emily and Hayley left, at the very last-minute my son snapped this.  What does it say about me that I have more photos of balloons than people?  Never mind, I don’t want to know.  And of course it’s impossible to capture the very best part of the entire weekend.  The real connections, risky sharing, tears, laughter, vulnerability, and true friendship that continues to grow.  I am so grateful this group of girls rose up and said “Hey, let’s get together”.   And it was such an unexpected gift to sit in my family room with Caroline, my in town friend who moved away in December–we didn’t think she was going to be able to come but, her husband surprised her last-minute with the trip here.

What part of your personality comes out when you are hosting?  What’s your favorite and least favorite part?

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  1. My least favorite part is the stressed harpy that can appear if I have failed to plan ahead and don’t feel ready. Ouch. My favorite part is having time with friends and/or family to really catch up and get beyond “how are you” and “fine”

  2. Beautiful decor! Love the pinks!

  3. Looks like so much fun! And I am loving all the pink. Makes me hope this baby in my belly is a girl. I need some pink in my life!

  4. I love to quietly look around while everyone’s having a good time, and savor people settled into the chairs, milling around the table, helping themselves to food around the kitchen island. The laughter, the conversation, the little ones zipping in and out … all music to my ears … probably because a full house is a rare event!

  5. It looks fabulous and I’m sure there was fabulous fellowship! I love that you got together again.

  6. Um. This is fabulous. And if you don’t mind, I might steal/borrow all these ideas for the (in)RL unconference I’m hosting :D

  7. *LOVE* this post. My bookclub girlfriends are about to go off for our annual retreat and I am pretty much giddy as it approaches. Getting together with girlfriends can be one of the best times ever. Loved your decorating ideas and I agree with a lot of your tips. It is important to remember that having a good time is the most important part!

    Thanks for sharing your occasion. Enjoyed reading about it and seeing the pictures tremendously. :D

    Eldarose from

  8. I love it. I love entertaining and I agree with not stressing yourself out. I also pace myself in the food prep and decorating. I decorate at least a week in advance :) After all, you want to be a guest at your own party too :)

    Love the balloon idea!

  9. I love get togethers like this with girlfriends – they are so rare anymore with my dearest friends spread across the country, so I really relish them when we are all able to get together. It’s such a great thing to really recharge your batteries and talk about life in ways that only women do. You did a fantastic job, and I love all of the elements you incorporated. GREAT idea having everyone bring several of their favorite things to share with the group! (And the balloons were multi-photo-worthy). ;-)

    • yes, the favorite things was a HUGE hit!

      • Love this inspiration! I just moved to Knoxville from Chicago, and my 8 fabulous college girlfriends are all flying down in October for a “Celebrating Friendship” weekend. I too love to party plan…couple questions if you see this…
        – did you set price limit on favorite things (love that idea!)
        – did your family stay elsewhere overnight
        – did you eat dinners in both nights
        Thank you Nester!

  10. oh friend. i should probably write this to you in an email but i’d rather have everyone read it here online :D

    knowing WHEN it’s time to do whatever you need do to be with friends is critical. just because my friends live across the country doesn’t mean they aren’t real, deep, soul-filled friendships. sometimes i get so hung up that, “i don’t have any close friends” when really, my close friends just don’t live close :) see how that works?!

    my favorite part of us getting together is how the weekend was perfectly orchestrated. a single thought and WHOOOSH! it all came together beautifully. you are a lovely host and an even lovelier friend ♥.

    lover you nester ;)

    thank you for hosting our girls weekend and thank you for being my friend.

  11. WOW, thanks for shareN and it’s all so spring festive!

  12. How fun! I have 2 girlfriends I get together w/ for girls’ weekends at least twice a year. Sometimes all we do is hangout and visit…sometimes we put a little more planning into it. We took a cruise for our 40th bdays last week and joked that we let our hubbys come along on that one ;) Friendships are wonderful!

  13. What a wonderful time! It’s been a long time since I’ve done this! Time to plan a new adventure! Great decorations, too!

  14. …kickin’ some b-ball outside of the school…

  15. Kim Porter says:

    Looks like fun, I love how you decorated! I wish I was better about relaxing when we have parties.
    Kim @

  16. This is beautiful. It looks like you had a wonderful weekend – so relaxed and fun! I love the chalkboard accents you have in your home.

  17. It all looks great and so much fun! This is how I do my parties too. Fun decor low stress and make as much ahead as I can. And I always take my BFF up on her offer to help! I do have one question : where did you find that great candleholder? I have been looking for one like it.

  18. Please tell us what the favorite things are…

  19. I noticed two things from this post: 1. How wonderful is it that you have a group of gals who got together for a weekend of fun-I must find my own group and do this too! 2. Your house looks amazing. So bright, happy and pretty. I’ve followed your blog for a loooong while, and although your home decor has changed quite a bit, I have loved it’s evolution, and loved each ‘season’ that your home has lived through.

  20. ok now THAT was just awesome
    pink balloons in all their majesty
    & pink straws & pink candles.
    oh my goodness. i love that ya’;ll formed a little group & then rekindled again!
    im thinking every last blog reader is wishing they were there! ha!

  21. Your girls weekend looked fabulous! Did you send your family away for the weekend so your guests would have somewhere to sleep?

  22. I can’t wait to use some of those ideas. You know how to make such a design impact with simple prep!
    I had a craft party last weekend too! We made Beadboard Bunny wall art. Just knowing the girls love the chatting and laughing and making blesses me.
    I already can’t wait to have my next craft day!

  23. I’m lovin that new pretty pink pillow!! Everything else looks absolutely adorable as well!

  24. Anonymous says:

    You are definitely the “hostess with the mostess!” Love all of your decor ideas…so fun and festive and simple to do! I I agree with you about not stressing about the dishes, and cleaning, and making everything “perfect”. Who cares…its about spending time with people you enjoy. Like my mom always told me about looking back on years past and raising 5 kids… I will never say, “Gee, I wish I did laundry more often!”
    Thanks for sharing your special weekend.

  25. You are definitely the “hostess with the mostess!” Love all of your decor ideas…so fun and festive and simple to do! I I agree with you about not stressing about the dishes, and cleaning, and making everything “perfect”. Who cares…its about spending time with people you enjoy. Like my mom always told me about looking back on years past and raising 5 kids… I will never say, “Gee, I wish I did laundry more often!”
    Thanks for sharing your special weekend.

  26. I’m hosting a sleepover on the 30th. I haven’t even planned much yet. Thanks so much for the suggestions. I always seem to go overboard. I’ll try to keep it simple.

  27. Everything looked just perfect! The food, the decorations…so cozy and warm! The connections we have with the women in our lives are so important!

  28. I love it!! A group of my friends from college get together and do the same thing (although not often enough). No matter what we plan, we always end up just sitting around laughing (and chatting) for the whole weekend. We are lucky if we take a shower! :) Everyone needs some time like that. I’m glad you were all able to enjoy each other.

  29. This is so fabulous! I’m going to time travel back and pretend I was under the balloondalier instead of sick in bed. LOVE that you girls were intentional about connecting. So good for the soul! And whoever took the Burt’s Bees lip tint is my favorite. My apologies to the other 7 of you.

    ps – That little pink flag in the spiky plant cracked me up for some reason. (Being sick for 5 days straight distills one’s humor down to a syrupy weird.)

  30. Looks so lovely, and the little ticker-tape and garland ideas are so great. But my favorite? How when you’re all sitting around chatting, all of you have your legs tucked under you in the same direction! How adorable are you?!

  31. Worst part of me hosting? Stress. It’s horrible. I can stress out everyone – even my guests. I try to make everything perfect. And, it can’ be. Ever. There is no perfect.

    So, each time I try to remember flexibility, patience and grace. Can I add flexibility to the fruits? I know that whatever goes unexpectedly is fine – and that unless I tell them, my guests don’t even know that difference. (Usually.)

    Why is it we (or at least “I”) can be 10 times harder on myself than I would ever think to be to someone else – even a stranger?

    The best part? Seeing people relaxing. Just watching them, relaxes me. :)
    Nester, thanks for sharing your great girl time!
    ~ Dana

    • so true, we ARE harder on ourselves–love what you said about our guests not even noticing when something doesn’t go the way we think ( I was making ganache and chatting and whoops put in twice as much cream so while laughing at Tracey’s jokes I had to scramble and find some extra chocolate to add in to make it set) (first world problems) anyhow we ended up with LOTS of ganache. there are worst things.

  32. looks so lovely! it is sooooo hard for me to plan something like this (even though i would love to) because i dreeeeeaaaaaddddd the cleaning to make it “almost perfect”…and i’m sorta embarrassed to say that i always have that gnawing feeling that no one will want to come. any one else ever feel that way? i’m almost fifty now, my kiddos are grown and still have these feelings at times. ugh!!

    • I think everyone struggles with those feelings, I was afraid that no one would actually purchase a ticket to actually come (and still I’m kind of surprised they did!!!)

  33. What a fun weekend! Girl time is the best. I can’t wait to try some of your easy decorating ideas :)

  34. That looks amazing! What a fabulous hostess you are, so chic and relaxed! Your ideas are so inspiring. I love entertaining, but I too hate the stressed snipey person that I become beforehand during the organising bit. I’m fine once the guests have arrived and I know that everything is going to be fine – perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that that’s usually when the drinks starts to flow!

  35. Everything is perfect. I must confess…I AM envious. How great is it to be a part of such a special group of friends wanting to stay connected.?! I too, am looking forward to seeing who selected which gift. That too is a great idea!! And you’re always full of them. Thanks for sharing your special weekend.

  36. I think as I’ve aged (to the ripe old age of 42) I’ve mellowed into a better hostess. Wanna know why? I finally learned this really cool thing….IDHTBPTBB. :) I am thankful that I feel so much more free to enjoy the people I host rather than flip out over the imperfections in my home/hosting skills/appearance/life/younameit. Thanks for the help in that department, Nester. :)

  37. What a fun, fun, fun idea!!! I love the decorations, and your menu sounds like it was delish. :)

  38. Please tell me where you found the pink throw pillow!? I am in l-o-v-e with pink!!! The party looked fabulous..loved the 6 things concept

    • I saw it on an ad here at Nesting Place for West Elm! I RARELY buy anything like that online but I could just tell the color was perfect–and it was::

      ok so for the life of me I cannot find it on their site, but I looked up the info from my order from just three weeks ago:: Diamond Links Pc 20 Crrs/Stnwh
      Item # 74- 4323382
      it’s a pillow cover, hope that helps!

  39. How FUN!!!! I just enjoyed a three day Scrapbooking get away with 5 girl friends. I wish I had seen this before! I would have for sure copied you! So beautiful and such an inspiring atmosphere!

  40. It’s all in the details and you did it perfectly. I have to say you make it look easy, although i know it’s not. Looks like eveyone had a fab time!!

    • for the record, I did have help getting ready, a friend of mine helped bake cupcakes and helped me with the garlands and even paint my son’s room a few weeks before hand!

  41. Beautiful! How special all the girls must have felt. You did a great job but your house is so lovely I bet you wouldn’t have needed to do anything to achieve the same result.

  42. We’re coming back. We’ll do it again. We have to.

  43. I am in love with this post.
    your home looks amazing with some pink in it.
    i know you probably won’t keep it long term, but what a wow factor for a girl’s weekend. :)

    i think this was a magnificent weekend and kudos to all of you for making it happen.
    i’m real bad about talking about something til i turn blew in the face but never actually just doing it.
    me and hosting? learning not to kill myself over the details…struggle with that.
    also learning not to be hyper sensitive to cleaning up the kitchen while company is here…struggle with that too.

    people matter more…that’s what i desire to focus on when i’m hosting but it doesn’t always happen…i’ve had to learn it the hard way.

  44. Fun, fun, fun. I think it’s wonderful that y’all actually went to the time and trouble and expense to get together–it’s so easy to talk about doing that, but hard to actually make it happen! But obviously so worth it.

    I tend to spend so much energy cleaning my house before a party that I’m too pooped both to enjoy the party and to enjoy my family when the party’s over. I’m bad about using up all my energy and having nothing left to give. I need to realize that Gladys Kravitz is not actually coming. Even if she’s next door peeping through the blinds, she won’t be able to see the dust bunnies and cobwebs from there.

  45. hi girlllllls!!!! hugs to all you darlin things! {p.s. stealing your easy-peasy party ideas. yes, ma’am}

  46. CUTE ideas, love your style as well! I’m OBSESSED with the boot vase you have on your mantle…where did you get it?? :)

  47. Oh my Gosh! This is fabulous!!! What an amazing idea. . . With a one year old, intense job, art making, house work and going to grad school I realize, I HAVE NO GIRLFRIENDS. Every time I have a free minute I just want to connect with myself. You made me realize I need to make time for people!

  48. Melissa says:

    Thank you for sharing your ideas. I am so inspired! My 12-year-old daughter made the dot banner and had a blast. Where did you find your pretty pink vases?

  49. Please tell me where you got those balloons from! They are the perfect color for a birthday party I’m about to throw! Thank you!

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