10 Gifts Under $20

As I get closer to Christmas and start putting people’s gifts together in person, I start to see where gifts may be lacking. Do you ever look at a gift and think “Hmm it would be great if there was one more small thing to go with that”. For just such an occasion, I love having a few gifts on standby that could fit into anyone’s present as that little something extra. Today I am sharing a few of my favorite go-to gifts this year, all under $20.00!

Cabin Socks – $12.99 from Dicks

Field & Stream Men's Cozy Cabin Moose Block Socks product image

Scrubee – $10.25 from Lush

Scrubee | Body Butter | Lush Cosmetics

Yeti Rambler Lowball – $19.99 from Yeti

Rambler 10 oz Lowball with Magslider Lid, White

I should have known that card game – $20.00 from Amazon

I Should Have Known That! Party Game | Trivia Game | Uncommon Goods

Richmond Map glasses – $18.95 from Sassy Bee

Richmond Map Rocks Glass | City Map Whiskey Glass - Well Told

Plush throw – 10.00 from Target

Plush Throw Blanket With Faux Fur Pom-poms Blush - Opalhouse™ : Target

Agate Coaster – $16.00 Anthropology

Anthropologie Agate Coaster By In Pink Size Coasters | ModeSens

The Office Desk Calendar – $15.99 Calendar.com

The Office 2022 Desk Calendar - Calendars.com

Capri Blue Candles – $18.00 Capri Blue

C.C. Beanie– $13.99 Amazon

C.C Hat-43 Thick Warm Cap Hat Skully Faux Fur Pom Pom Cable Knit Beanie 2  Pack Lt Melange/Navy - Walmart.com

I hope these gifts ideas help you through the holiday season. From stocking stuffers, white elephant, and add-on gifts, show you care with a little something this Christmas. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

-MB

Baby Shower Host 101

Baby’s have certainly been on the brain this year. I am so lucky to have a bestie who is also pregnant this year! We have been comparing notes and getting excited for our kids to be fast friends being only 4 months apart in age. As someone who loves to celebrate, I was all too excited to help plan a beautiful shower for her with the help of her mother-in-law. Today I am sharing a few of my favorite touches from her shower and how you create your own beautiful shower.

More than finger food

We started the event with lunch. An Italian catered lunch served buffet style. Ashley loves breadsticks, mozzarella sticks and pasta, and who doesn’t? By hosting the event in a space that had seating for all, we were able to serve a full lunch that took the first hour of the shower. No standing around awkwardly wondering when the games would begin or making another trip to the snack bar waiting for something to happen.

Games Games Games

Some people hate baby shower games, we are not those people. Games keep guests engaged, give them something to do and give them something to compete for. For Ashley’s Shower, we selected the following games. Some are more like stations and don’t require prizes or a lot of effort, like late-night diapers.

  • Find the pacificer
  • The Price is Right
  • Late night diapers
  • Baby Bingo
  • My water broke

A Subtle Theme

When planning this shower, from the beginning, we didn’t want an obnoxious theme. We wanted more of a feeling and anesthetic. Her little girl deserved a girly, sweet, feathering her nest-style party. Ashley loves birds, so what a great opportunity to incorporate something she loves in such a delicate way. When planning a shower for your besties, include things she loves. Personal touches make the shower beautiful in a sentimental way. We incorporated birds onto the centerpieces, the dessert table, and small decor pieces around the shower.

Speaking of decor! A few things to consider. Where are the photos going to be taken? Make sure the mom-to-be has a beautiful place to sit for opening gifts. We used a vintage wicker white chair covered in a sheer drape, battery-powered lights wrapped around the arms and fresh flowers tucked in here and there. The chair was placed in front of a balloon arch and baby blocks so every photo looked on theme. Fresh flowers always add an elegant touch in my opinion. For this shower, we had a table arrangement for each table, pieces for the mantels, small arrangements to place on random tables, and the welcome sign too. I used white hydrangeas, purple and light pink roses, light pink carnations, and light purple wildflowers sprigs to complete the arrangements. Protip, I use dollar tree vases and flowers from Trader Joes for almost all of my DIY arrangments. Flowers don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to add a beautiful touch.

Gifts and prizes

Having favors for your guests and prizes for the winners of the games gives back to those who attended. For favors, we provided to-go bags and prewrapped sugar cookies on the dessert table. We encouraged guests to bag up candy, brownie bites, petit fours and sugar cookies. We aren’t left with 100 desserts at the end of the day and guests can bring a sweet home for later or to their family at the end of the day. For the prizes, I created gifts that made me think of the mom-to-be. Fuzzy socks, pink nail polish, makeup sponges, candles, bath bombs, nail files, and mini champagnes. I used a few of these in each little goodie bag. Just enough to make the winner feel special. As an extra touch, I made custom tags for each mini champagne that read: “Ready to pop”.

In short, planning a shower is no small feat to take on. It is so worth it to celebrate such a special woman in your life. I hope that these details will help you throw a shower worthy of your special mom to be’s shower.

-MB

Chris & Meg

My journey with Chris and Meg started in February of 2020. Their original plan of getting married in Williamsburg in June of that year would be interrupted by the pandemic. Little did any of us know that their wedding would end up in Tennessee the following September. They waited so long to get married and their wedding was worth the wait. Chris and Megan got married at Waterstone in Johnson City Tennessee. Surrounded by family and friends, they married in front of a beautiful waterfall. Such a unique venue was noticed by all. The magical escape was complete with a treehouse and Hobbit Hole that was used as the bridal suite.

The reception followed in a beautiful tent next to the waterfall. Followed by dancing out on the patio under the stars. Their wedding was such a reflection of them as a couple, which is always so fun to see as a planner and guest.

I loved working with Meg and Chris, I have never met such a sweet and laid-back couple. There were so many unique touches to their big day from the airstream camper bar to the romantic escape of their venue. One of the biggest show stoppers was their first dance, a choreographed dance that was so love-filled and fun to watch. It was such a pleasure to be a part of their special day that they waited so long for. I wish them all the best in their marriage and lives moving forward.

Vendors:

The Potters Shed – Florist @twproductionsfilms – videography
@waterstone_venue – Venue
@jaredjarvisphoto – Photography
@shamailmckenzie – Bridal Hair and Makeup
@bangsandblush_ – Wedding party hair and makeup
@menuvenueevents.tn – Catering and decor rental
@ginsengmobilebar – Mobile Bar
@kc_entertainment_wedding_dj – DJ
@opiespizzawagon – Catering
@the_dirtyblonde_stylist – Three Month Coordination

If you are looking for your wedding coordinator or planner, fill out the form below so we can get started planning your dream day.

-MB

Pregnancy Style: Zero to four months

When you search “pregnancy style” online the results are so unfair. All of these women with huge baby bumps dressed in fabulous outfits. The truth is that large baby bump doesn’t come until about five or six months into your pregnancy for most women so what is a girl to do as her body continues to change during those first zero to four months?

Ever since I found out I was pregnant I have been beyond excited to dress up. Pregnancy style is portrayed so cute on Pinterest and Instagram. I was so anxious to get in on the fun. What I didn’t expect is that for the first few months, there isn’t a whole lot different. Today I wanted to share a few style tips for dressing your newly pregnant body in those first few months.

In the first few months you won’t necessarily have that beautiful bump to accessorize with what you actually have is a lot of bloating, giving the look that you gained a few extra pounds as opposed to carrying new life. For me, I entered into pregnancy as a size 10. Any extra bloating our chubby feelings were not welcomed. I like to feel confident in my clothes as if they are my armor. To combat this feeling I looked in my existing wardrobe for things I could style differently and make work for my new figure.

A few go to pieces

The first few months is not the time to be buying new clothes. This is temporary, don’t think you need a whole new wardrobe. Some of my favorite looks include tent style Or T-shirt dresses. High waisted leggings with a variety of sweater tops are an easy look on any given day.

I won’t lie for me this was a hard time when it came to getting dressed. Most of my clothes gathered in around my natural waist or a high waist. As your stomach continues to grow that is not going to be an easy place for elastic or tight bands of clothing to lay. Instead I’ve chosen an empire style waste, allowing for lines to fall right below your bust or bra line.

Use belts to pull in items to whatever section of the body you want. I love belting a large long open front cardigan over leggings and a tank top. Instantly I feel more polished as opposed to frumpy.

Your entire pregnancy will be a time to play around with styles that may not have been your friend in the past. I enjoy every outfit as my body is constantly changing and that look may not work week from now. Like my jeans and T-shirt look for example…

Looking for more style tips? Follow along on Instagram at the_dirty blonde_stylist to see more of my pregnant looks!

– MB

27 things I learned before 28

My 28th birthday is coming up quickly. A true Leo from birth, I have also enjoyed dreaming, celebrating and not being shy about being the center of attention every now and then. I love my life. I know that nothing I have now came to me randomly. It is all in God’s plan. I learn more every year and everyday. In honor of this knowledge, I am sharing 27 life skills and mottos that I have learned over the last 27 years.

  1. Cleaning the house before vacation is not a waste of time
  2. Planning is caring
  3. It is easy to not compare yourself to strangers, It is hard to not compare yourself to your friends
  4. Having back stock of every day items like toilet paper, your favorite salad dressing and birthday cards will always come in handy.
  5. You will continue to learn and for years to come. You will never know it all.
  6. It is the little things in life that make you feel like you have your life together.
  7. Make time for friends who matter.
  8. Designer bags hold their value.
  9. Singing Disney songs will always improve your mood. It is difficult not to smile while singing Part of Your World.
  10. Don’t mistake kindness for weakness
  11. Keep deodorant and other essentials in your car
  12. There should be no timeline for your life achievements
  13. Knowing your weaknesses is just as import as knowing your strengths
  14. In such a fast pace world, people still enjoy getting letters and packages in the mail
  15. Never take health for granted
  16. Buying clothes out of season is one of my favorite bargain hacks for shopping
  17. I love Audio books because I hate to read but I still want the story
  18. Over the top expectations can ruin anything
  19. Wash your bed and towels regularly
  20. Don’t worry about the size, worry about how it fits. There is no shame in going up a size for better fit
  21. You can only plan so far, then comes God
  22. I highly recommend at least one solo travel trip by yourself
  23. Be bold enough and brave enough to wear whatever makes you feel your best
  24. It is important to vote
  25. Don’t let our passport expire, it is just a pain.
  26. Never stop appreciating your spouse
  27. Never stop dreaming.

A few things that I am planning to work on during my 28th year:

  1. Quality is better than quantity
  2. Not feeling the need to be in control
  3. Take better care of myself so that I can be around for a long long time.

I hope that for all you 20 somethings out there you find this list helpful. I would love for just one thing that I have learned to help someone else who may not have realized that thing yet in their lives. Happy Birthday Leos! Let’s make this next year an even better one!

-MB

Who is the Dirty Blonde Stylist?

Recently I was thinking about my brand vs. my own personality. Branding is such a huge piece of your business. While your brand does not have to replicate your personality, it should definitely compliment it. Every few months, I “check in with my brand”. I look at my content and vibe that I am putting out in the world and say “Does that make sense?” “Does that represent The Dirty Blonde Stylist?” Sometimes I feel like I am right on and other times, it looks like I missed the mark. Today I want to verbalize my brand. I want to tell you a few things that make up The Dirty Blonde Stylist to me.

She is a daisy to the peony. While I love peonies, The Dirty Blonde Stylist is more like a daisy. A simple mission for timeless confidence and beauty. She is not about trying to hard, but will definitely put forth the effort. That is the end goal with all my clients, classic, confidence, and effortless style.

Her personality is filled with champagne bubbles! She is bubbly, excited and most of all eager to celebrate. This brand came from my pure enjoyment and excitement for the people, I care about, celebrating big moments in their lives. I love that my skills are ones that can help make people happy and bring their celebrations to life.

Her style changes. Clothes allow you to be anyone you want to be. Barbie showed me the way there. If you want to be a rock-star one day and a princess the next day, your wardrobe should be able to support that desire. She will always dress up for herself and for her life.

She likes and appreciates the nice things in life. She also appreciates the simple things.

Black, white and soft pink. Bold, classic, modern and stylish.

She is not about being up to the minute fashionable. There have been many times, including now, when I don’t love any of the trends happening. I will never talk a client into buying only trendy things. There is a delicate balance between stylish and fashionable. She believes that stylish beats fashionable any day.

I hope this helps you understand more what me and my brand are about. The Dirty Blonde Stylist was not meant to be like the ones on Instagram that we all follow who are perfect. She was meant to be a reflection of certain parts of me. Excited and extra, yet down to earth and caring. If you want to know more about me or the The Dirty Blonde Stylist, shoot me an email below.

-MB

Questions to ask during your venue tour

During those first few weeks of planning, the venue is such a key piece in your planning. After your budget and the rough guest count is set, your venue should be your next step. While venue shopping, it is easy to get caught up in what you love or hate physically about the venue. But there are other important questions that you need to ask while on your tour. Today I am sharing some of my favorite questions that apply to just about any venue.

Sabrina Boykin Photography
  1. Availability – if you don’t have a specific date or month in mind, at least go into your appointment with season and year in mind. Venues are booking earlier due to covid and the many couples who postponed during 2020 and 2021.
  2. Number of guests that can be accommodated? Seated vs. cocktail style. It is important to know the capacities of each possible space so you have options for cocktail hour, rehearsal dinner and ceremony.
  3. How many weddings and events do you book per day or per weekend? Some spaces can accommodate multiple parties in the same weekend or even the same day. It is good to know what options you may have and how another event could affect yours.
  4. Specific rooms and layout. What spaces are suitable for your ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, getting ready and storage space.
  5. Back up plans, what does your rain plan look like? This can be very important to consider. Some of the most beautiful weddings can be ruined by rain. It is important to know if you can bring a tent last minute or move inside if needed.
  6. Can I bring in my own food or an outside catering team? Some venues are very strict and only allow you to use their preferred catering teams or in-house team.
  7. Along the same lines, can we bring our own alcohol?
  8. What is your policy on candles, confetti, and other specific decor?
  9. Are we allowed to leave things overnight? It is great to know beforehand if guests can leave their car at the venue overnight if they drink too much at the reception. This also is great to know if you can leave your car there packed with decor. Also, be sure that family and guests will be able to get into the venue the next day to get their cars.
  10. Does the venue provide any on site staff to help with clean up, set up or other forms of coordination?
  11. Are Ubers, Lyfts, or ride shares available here?
  12. What is the closest hotel or accommodations if none are located on site?
  13. What power sources are available? This is a huge consideration if you are outside, in a historic building or far away from a building. You have to think about the DJ, catering team and any lights you may have and make sure there is enough power to support your event.
  14. Do you have any rentals on site? Linens, tables, chairs, center pieces or bars? You would be surprised what some venues have available and can be included in your rental.
  15. How many hours are included in the rental? Think day of, engagement pictures, and rehearsal dinner? Don’t run into any unexpected time restrictions that may ruin your plans.

I hope these questions will help you find the perfect venue for your big day! Now if you are looking for the perfect planner or coordinator, I would love to help! Send me your wedding details today to learn how we can get started.

-MB

Unique wedding centerpieces that are not flowers

It is no secret, I love flowers! In a year that has been nothing short of creative new centerpieces are emerging. flowers can be one of the most expensive elements in a wedding depending on your style. Greenery may save you money initially but depending how you want it installed could rack up your price quickly. Today I am going to share five unique centerpiece ideas for your wedding or event that do not include flowers.

Books

Books make a great centerpiece for any event with a vintage or whimsical theme. Old leather bound books can be antiques, found at a yard sales, or thrift shops! Stack them in the middle and maybe put T lights around them or on top. You can also incorporate pearls or loose China to add to the whimsical look.

Fruit

Fruit can be a refreshing and Easy way to bring color and freshness to your centerpieces. Select a unique vase or bowl like a blue etched pattern then add lemons. Or choose a tall glass vase and fill with peaches. You can always add table numbers to the tops of these displays by adding a small piece of foam in the center under the fruit.

Paper

In an effort to stay environmentally friendly, some brides are turning to paper. Paper can be folded into flowers, fans, and other shapes to provide a unique centerpiece for your wedding. These sustainable options are not only beautiful but can also be resold to the next Bride continuing with the sustainable theme.

Feathers and pampas grass

There are many beautiful feathers that can serve as glamorous or BoHo style options for your centerpieces. These centerpieces are typically taller by nature and can give the room a grand affect depending how you style them. There are so many amazing options to choose from online these days. It’s not all peacock feathers anymore. If you’re really looking for a BoHo look, pampas grass might be your best option. A feather like quality with a very earthy like feeling.

Candles

One of my favorite trends are long stem candles in gold bases cascading down along family style table. Incorporating different sizes, heights, and even colors of candles can bring in instant romance to your space. Be sure and check with your venue to make sure if you can have a live flame in your space.

With weddings slowly coming back, I cannot wait to see all of the creativity that brides and vendors are bringing to the table! If you need help with your wedding in the form of a planner or coordinator, I would love to help! Fill out the form below so we can get started!

Questions to ask your vendors before you hire them

When you are newly engaged entering into the wedding world can be a whole new experience for most brides. The first steps of planning usually involves booking your vendors and securing your date. But when it comes to interviewing, and researching different vendors a lot of brides struggle with what is important to ask up front. Today I am breaking down a few basic questions that you should ask your vendors before booking them. The more you know if Brent can help you in the long run while planning such an important day

Venue

  • Do you require an additional insurance policy? If so for what amount?
  • Do you require a day of coordinator?
  • Do you have required vendors or just preferred options?
  • What is the timing and accessibility to the venue before and after the wedding?
  • Rain plan?
  • Be sure to discuss location options for ceremony and reception. This will help you mentally plan how many people you can accommodate.
  • What is included in our rental agreement? Chairs? Tables? Linens? Generators? Any staff?
  • Additional fees or add-ons?

Florist

What flowers are in season during my wedding time frame?

  • What flowers are in season during my wedding time frame?
  • Make sure to ask about installation charges if you were planning any elaborate greenery or floral placement.
  • What is the cost for vases included in my arrangements?
  • If you want fresh flowers for your cake, be sure to add them from the beginning
  • Is there any charge to store arrangements overnight and refrigerators?
  • Delivery charges?
  • Will you be returning at the end of the night to collect any arrangements, vases or decor?

Wedding planner or coordinator

  • Do you charge any travel fees for meetings or the wedding?
  • If there is a venue coordinator on site how will you coordinate those responsibilities?
  • What are your priorities day of?
  • When does our communication start? (This will apply to month of or day of coordination)
  • How much of the set up and clean up are you able to assist with?
  • How many people will be on your team?
  • Will you be present at the rehearsal dinner?
  • How many hours are you avaible day of?

DJ

  • Will you provide your own generators or power source if needed?
  • What kind of microphones do you have?
  • Will you provide your own table and linen for reception and ceremony set up?
  • Do you have any travel fees?
  • How do you handle guest requested songs?
  • Will you be present at the rehearsal dinner if needed?

Catering

  • How many staff members will you have present day of?
  • When are final guest counts do to you?
  • what happens to all the leftover food?
  • Will you provide takeout boxes?
  • Will your set up require any power sources?(this is great to keep in mind if you are having a tented reception and require generators)
  • Will your team provide the ABC license if needed?
  • Be sure to discuss how the meal will be served, Buffet, family style, or served by staff members.
  • Layout details of what the catering staff will be expected to do. Will they be assisting with cleanup and set up? Will some of the staff be released after dinner?

Photographer

  • What is included in your wedding packages? Engagement shoot? Bridal portrait? Boudoir photo shoot?
  • What are your hours for the day off?
  • Will you have a second shooter with you?
  • Can we see some of your previous wedding work?
  • What is the turnaround time on our images?
  • Will we have access to download the images and the rights to the images?
  • Is it possible to customize a package to fit my needs?
  • Do you have any travel fees?
  • Will you be submitting our wedding to any publications or blogs?

These are some great jumping off points for any vendor meeting. Nowadays, be sure to address any cancellation, rescheduling, or reduced attendee scenario with your vendor before booking them. Even non-Covid related changes can cost you a bundle if they are not addressed in the contract before hand. If you have more questions or are interested in planning assistance, send me an email below! I can’t wait to hear from you!

National Sibling Day

April 10th is national sibling day! A day devoted to showing appreciation for your brothers and sisters. After all, there are no other people in the world who understand your childhood, and are connected to you in such a way. I am lucky enough to have two siblings, a younger sister, 26 and a younger brother, 12. Today I am sharing a few of my favorite things about my siblings.

Robert

Robert was born when I was 15. Right off the bat, I was a “built in baby sitter” for my parents. My sister and I got a crash course in taking care of a baby and helping out my mom and dad. I love playing with him. He is so fun to talk to about silly things, things that adults don’t want to talk about. Like why clue has two different characters named after food?

Today, I see my family every Wednesday at family dinner at my parents house. I love hearing about Robert’s day at school, what games he is playing and all about his friends. Every week Robert loves to play board games with all of us. I have to remember that when I was his age, the ideas of just sitting around talking was so boring. So playing games, being silly and talking about things that he cares about is the best way I can connect with him every week.

Similarities:

  • We are both picky eaters, he definitely out does me here but I hope he learns to eat more than just noodles with butter one day.
  • We are both creative people who enjoy drawing, movies and a good story.
  • We both love a good board game. The boy will destroy you at Checkers, Uno or Chess.

Emily

Emily and I have been so close ever since we were kids. We played together, made up stories together, and watched all the Land Before Time movies together. Growing up we were often time mistaken for twins, no thanks to the matching pink and blue Mary Kate and Ashley outfits we wore. As we grew up we both went through different phases. I sometimes I look at our lives from the outside in and think “wow if we weren’t sisters would we be friends?” While the answer may be no, depending on the season of our life, I know that we will always be close. I love my sister for all the ways that she is different than me. She is more social than I am, she is smarter than I am for sure and she has a confidence that I used to envy so much. There will never be anyone who will know what movie I am talking about instantly when I quote the line from some childhood no name movie we watched. No one will understand all of the stories we played and made up as kids. No one will know our parents like we do.

Fun facts:

  • We could never fall asleep on Sundays. we would stay up late talking, playing or crafting in our room until all hours. Still to this day when I can’t sleep on a Sunday night I think back to these memories.
  • Emily was scared of Maleficent as a child, I used to use this to scare her whenever I could.
  • Emily and I used to drive to school in my Papa’s 90’s pick up truck. There was a tape player and a hardly working radio. I don’t know why, but every song that was popular during that time became known as a “truck song”. This includes almost every pop song from 2011.

I love my family and never forget to hold them close. So on a day all about sibling love, I want my lil bro and lil sis to know how awesome they are. After all, without them I wouldn’t be a big sister. Celebrate your siblings today with a quick shout out on social media, send them a card or even better give them a call and just chat. It is all about the little things.

-MB

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