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Autumn Dinner Party Favors That Grow

Fall is a sensational time for hosting a gathering for friends and family. The changing leaves and crisp weather can inspire fantastic menus like butternut squash ravioli, roasted sweet potatoes, cranberry spinach walnut salad, and pumpkin pie. All that time cleaning house and planning the menu, it’s important not to forget your table-scape. Creating a warm and welcoming dinner table for your fall parties is simple. Choose linens in autumnal colors, think rust, goldenrod, browns and greens. For a rustic seasonal feel, fill a bowl with apples, mini pumpkins, and gourds in all shapes and sizes. Lighting is important and when chosen properly, will really make your dinner shine. For an outdoor dinner, try draping cafe string lights over branches in a tree or on a pergola. Inside, candles will add warmth to your table. White candles are a classic choice, while colored candles can coordinate with your decorating efforts. As delicious as some candle fragrances smell, stick to unscented. The added fragrance of the scented kind can interfere with your own delicious smells coming from the kitchen. Not to mention that some guests may have sensitive allergies.

Autumn Dinner Party Favor Idea: Flower Bulbs

Flower Bulb Party Favor

Dinner party favors also serve as place cards to let your guests know where to sit, as well as creating a festive table setting!

Create a simple yet special party favor for your dinner guests to take home at your next fall get together. Since now is the time to plant bulbs in the ground for spring blooming, a goodie bag of flower bulbs is an excellent choice for an autumn dinner party favor.

This works especially well for outdoor or garden-themed parties, but is a fresh choice for any fall gathering. Dinner party favors do not have to be fussy or costly. The best favors are ones that are simple and thoughtful. Wrap a handful of flower bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and allium are popular choices) in a clear cello bag, swatch of fabric or burlap. Tie off with raffia, twine or pretty fall-colored ribbon.

To further personalize each favor, write each guests’ name on a tag. A simple colorful piece of scrapbook paper with a handwritten name or message works great and makes the gift personalized. You may also consider writing planting instructions on the back of the tag. Be sure to include the type of flower and it’s color, planting depth & spacing, as well as what month to plant.

Red Fosteriana Tulips in Spring

Fosteriana Tulips, commonly known as Emperor’s Tulips, blooming during the month of April in Northern Illinois.

Spring Blooming Bulb Planting Chart

  • Zones 2-3 – Plant in September
  • Zones 4-5 – Plant in October
  • Zones 6-7 – Plant in November
  • Zone 8 – Plant in December
Flower Bulb Party Favors

For larger dinner party gifts, nestle the bulbs in a tissue lined paper tray.

Presenting your guests with a dinner party favor is a kind gesture and will sure to provide a fond memory next spring when the flowers bloom!

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Halloween Photo Cards

Take a picture of your little pumpkin for a spooktacular Halloween photo greeting card or invite that will put the TREAT into trick or treat!

Parents know that autumn is a great time for picture taking. The annual trip to the pumpkin patch (and the subsequent carving party), a weekend of raking leaves and of course dressing up in costume for Halloween all make for memorable photo opportunities.
While traditionally people send photo cards out at Christmas or to announce the birth of graduation of a child, Halloween is an unexpected and fun time of year to send out a special fall-theme greeting to friends and family. Create Halloween invites for your party, or make one just to show off your child’s costume!
Fun Fall Photo Ideas:
  • Halloween Party
  • Costume Contest
  • Apple Orchard
  • Pumpkin Patch
  • Pumpkin Carving
  • Halloween Wedding
  • Halloween Parade
  • Haunted House
  • Hay Ride
  • Raking Leaves
  • Halloween Birth Announcement
Tips For Creating A Halloween Photo Card:
  • Use a plain black photo holder card to make your picture stand out!
  • Gelly Pens (especially metallic) work great on darker colored cardstock. Use a pumpkin orange pen to stay with the Halloween theme!
  • Rubber stamps are an easy way to accent your card with spooky imagery. Choose a lighter color cardstock for most stamp inks, or use a highly pigmented metallic ink to stamp on darker papers.

Do you have a Halloween photo idea? If so, share it with us in the comments.

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Fujifilm Instax Instant Film Camera

Hey Polaroid fans! Fuji has an instant camera and you won’t have to go on a treasure hunt to find film

In 2008 Polaroid announced that it’s iconic Polaroid instant camera and film—the one that made them famous—was being discontinued. Polaroid fans across the globe balked at this news and quickly formed groups like Save Polaroid in a grassroots effort to try to save their beloved camera. Born out of this movement was The Impossible Project which did, you guessed it, the impossible by creating a film compatible most of the old Polaroids out there. If you were lucky enough to find it in-stock, the high cost was prohibitive to all but the most die-hard fans. Equally pricey Polaroid film was (and still is) being auctioned on eBay if one is willing to pay.

But then Fuji came into the US spotlight with it’s Instax camera. With it’s rounded toy-like body, point and click ease and instantaneous photos, it quickly became an acceptable replacement for most Polaroid users.

Fujifilm Instax 200 Instant Film Camera

The Fuji Instax is popular choice for parties and events, where relatively inexpensive and easy event photography is desired.

Tips

  • Bring extra batteries. In a Fujifilm test, the battery life of 4 AA-size (LR6) batteries in an Instax 200 lasted approximately 10 packs of film.
  • Get up close and personal with your subject. Due to the small size of an Instax print, and the inability to zoom and crop later, it is best to frame your image properly when shooting.
  • Take some practice shots. Before your guests arrive, ask an assistant or a volunteer to pose for you in the location where you’ll be taking the pictures. This will give you a sense of what to expect from your photos, and you’ll be able to make lighting adjustments as necessary.
Fuji Instax Picture Frame

Instant pictures, from a camera like the Fuji Instax, are a great choice for event photos. Instant printing = instant photo souvenirs!

Five reasons people love the Fuji Instax Instant Film Camera.

  1. Nostalgia – Ever since American inventor Edwin Land invented the instant camera in 1947, people have been using instant photography to capture the memories in their lives.
  2. Conversation Starter – With everyone owning digital cameras these days, the sight of a Instax will more than likely draw some attention.
  3. Instant Gratification – Sure digital cameras can show you what your photos look like, but can they also print them instantly, too?
  4. Fun Factor – Who doesn’t love a toy-like camera?
  5. Event Friendly – Instant cameras are a popular choice for parties and events.

Own both? What do you think of the Fuji Instax camera? Tell us in the comments below.

Where to buy: Fuji Instax 210 at B&H Photo, Fuji Instax Film at Adorama & Fuji Instax Photo Frames at Studio Style. Plus a Fuji Instax Wide Photo Gallery on Flickr for your photo-viewing pleasure.

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Family Reunion Photo Souvenirs

A photo memory keepsake makes one of the best family reunion souvenirs.

When else do you have the whole extended family together in one spot? Seize the opportunity and take a group photo. Future generations will thank you when they come across these photo memories that capture their family history.

Family Reunion Sign

This way to great family reunion photo gift ideas!

The easiest way to set up the shot is to use a tripod with a self-timer. Make sure the camera is turned horizontally to get everyone in the picture. Take several test shots, and if using a digital camera, take advantage of the LCD display screen to preview the image. Since this opportunity comes along only once a year, once a decade, or in many cases once in a lifetime, make sure to take several (or more) shots to ensure that you have the perfect photo!

In addition to a large group shot, it is a great idea to take photos of individual couples & their children. With all these photos, you can create a visual family tree!

If you are looking for a more unique option, consider hiring a photographer to take journalistic style photos during your family reunion. These are candid shots that offer a more natural approach than posed photographs. With this style of photography, you can capture some great photos of people laughing, hugging, socializing & enjoying themselves. For some great group photography tips, check out Tips For Posing Family Portraits from Spectrum Photography Tips.

Photo Orientation

Left: Vertical or Portrait (best for individual or couple shots) Right: Horizontal or Landscape (best for group shots)

Checklist 1 Month Before The Reunion:

  1. Go over your guest list and see how many photos you will be giving away as souvenirs. Will you give a photo to each guest, or one per family unit?
  2. Decide if you will be taking horizontal (group) or vertical (couple) photos, or if you will be taking some of each. Also decide which size prints you will be printing – 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″ or larger.
  3. Choose a mailable photo holder. You can choose a folder style print holder (where the photo is inside) or an easel photo frame. To make your photo gifts extra special, imprint your family name, reunion date & location in foil. Some families even have a family logo! This would be great to print or imprint on your photo holders. Don’t forget the mailing envelopes!
  4. Purchase a guest book. Even if you have many of the addresses or your family, having a guest book is a nice touch for any large event. Guests will write their names, addresses & personal message. You can later use this “address book” for sending out all of your photos! Since most guest books are designed with a wedding theme, think outside of the box and make your own with a blank bookstore journal or a family tree guest book.
  5. Buy film or clear out your memory card. Make sure that your camera works (having  back-up camera is always a good idea). Charge your batteries, get your tri-pod and make sure that you have everything you need to take great photos. If hiring a professional, now is the time to reserve a photographer.

In the days after the reunion, process and print your film and insert into your folders or frames. Address your envelopes using your guest book information and mail out your family reunion photo keepsakes!

Having a personalized photo of your reunion is more memorable than a cheap reunion t-shirt or key chain, and will provide lasting memories for your family for generations to come.

For product information on mailable paper photo frames for the family reunion photo souvenirs mentioned in this article, please view our website.

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Fishing Derby Tournament

Ideas and tips for planning a successful fishing derby this summer season.

A fishing derby is a fun event for kids & families to get out and enjoy the weather during the lazy summer months. With a little research and planning, you can create an event that reels them in year after year.

  • Location
    Choose a waterfront that has plenty of open space for participants, spectators, and volunteers. A small stocked pond or lake is best for fishing derbies geared for kids-only events, while rivers and larger lakes may be a better option for adult amateur fishermen. Get permission from parks and recreation or the owner of the land to have the event there. In most cases you will need to apply for a special permit or insurance. Do your research on the rules and regulations and contact your state’s department of natural resources for info on fishing licenses, tags, and permits prior to arranging your event.
  • Timing
    Before choosing your date, make sure that there are no other conflicting events going on in the area the same weekend. If there happens to be a county fair or town festival, see if you can make your fishing derby part of that larger event. The beginning of June is National Fishing Week and a great time to host a fishing-related event!
  • Promotion
    Create a website to promote your event. If you are not able to create a site, submit your event to other websites as well as the local chamber of commerce and park districts, asking them to add it to their community calendars. Add your event to sports registration sites like Active.com or SignMeUp.com. Create an ad in the local paper, hang signs, banners, etc. If you have sponsors, ask for them to promote your event on their website and communications. Create a Facebook group or event page. Include photos of last year’s fishing derby, start/end date, award categories, location, cost, registration details and all other details (what to wear, bring, expectations). Be as detailed as possible in your promotional materials and get the word out!
  • Rentals
    Chairs and tables will need to be rented or borrowed. A tent is also a good idea to provide shade for volunteer workers or participants. If you choose a location that does not have rest rooms, you may need to rent portable toilets.
  • Food
    Arrange for plenty of water, or other beverages, and snacks. Find a sponsor to donate these items. You can either do a buffet style food table, or pre-pack individual lunch bags.
  • Awards & Raffles
    Offering awards is a terrific way to reward participants. Try to offer awards in different age groups or categories. Awards for heaviest fish or smallest fish add an element of fun and competition. Order trophies, ribbons or plaques with the event name, date, and location. You may also want to give away a participant ribbon for everyone who signs up, especially for kid’s fishing derbies. In addition, raffle and door prizes are a fun addition to any event, and anyone can win!
  • Photography
    Don’t forget the photos! Hiring a professional photographer is a great way to get quality photographs of your fishing derby. If you cannot afford to hire a professional, find a volunteer or hobbyist photographer.

    Fishing Derby Photo Frame

    Event photography can make your fishing derby memorable.

    Photo souvenirs are great keepsake items for participants. Customize an inexpensive paper photo folder or cardboard frame to giveaway. In addition, these photos are also great marketing tools to promote your event next year! Take candid shots of the fishermen in action, as well as posed shots with their catch. For kid’s events, have a volunteer dress up in costume as a fish or other fun character.

  • Extras
    Make sure to supply live bait or fishing lures. You may also want to have back-up poles and other essentials just in case. Music can add to a fun atmosphere, as well as balloons and decorations. Goodie bags and additional giveaway promos are added extras that can make your event stand apart. The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation offers a free Take Me Fishing™ Event Planning Kit.

The key to a successful fishing derby is generating repeat participants and growth. If you plan it right, families will want to come back year after year and make it an annual event that they look forward to participating in. You may want to take it a step further and use your event’s popularity and exposure to raise money for a local charity. Each fishing derby is as unique as it’s director and volunteers. With a strong team and creative vision, your fishing derby can be a memorable community event.