In the world of Jillie Willie, the mood is bright, colorful, funky and fun.
It’s a style Jill Grover infuses in her aprons, her books…and her parties!
From the people to the chatter – there is nothing about a good party Jill Grover doesn’t enjoy.
“I love the invitations, I love the party favors,” Jill lists. “I love it all! Everybody is happy when they are at a party.”
Jill believes the perfect party is a personal party – right down to the last details.
“When I throw a party, I try to think of who the party is for and why they are so important to me,” Jill shares. “What they love, the experiences I’ve shared with them – it makes it easier to visualize.”
And according to her, the overall success of a party is in the planning.
“If I’m organized and I have it done ahead of time – it’s just exciting,” she said. “Then when the guests come, I’m having fun. If I’m behind and I just throw it together and I can’t enjoy myself—than it’s not a fun party.”
A “Jillie Willie” party begins with a theme.
“A theme makes the entire planning process easier,” Jill said. “If you have a theme, everything just snowballs.”
CHOOSING A THEME
Jill recommends basing your theme around a color, letter or phrase.
A fun theme idea she suggests for a wedding shower could be “A Great Pear” That one phrase can impact everything from the food (pear salad), to the color (chartreuse green), the gifts (assign guests to bring a “pair” gift) and even the party activity!
“You can purchase drinking glasses from the dollar store and have each guest decorate two dishes each. Using glass pens you can find at the craft store, each guest can leave a personalized message or mark for the happy couple,” Jill explains. “The couple takes home a nice glass set to help start their life together. I find I can’t stop thinking about it – I will go to bed thinking ‘Pears, pears, pears,'” she laughs.
If all else fails, flip through the dictionary. Jill’s favorite themed party was created around the letter ‘P.’
“It was a baby shower, ‘P’ for pink because the baby was a girl,” Jill remembers. “All of the guests came dressed in their ‘P’ clothing – polka dot, pink, purple, paisley, plaid…even prom dresses!”
The food continued the pattern. Pink polka dot cookies, pretzels, mini-pizzas, popcorn, pistachios – the list goes on! Décor consisted of an upside down pink parasol full of pink socks (that doubled as party favors!), pink pigs and picture frames.
Jill said her favorite party element is – by far – the invitations.
“I like to do something different,” she describes. “An invitation is your first impression – your first glimpse of ‘Do I want to go to this party?’ It will set the excitement.”
When planning a neighborhood party, Jill skipped the envelope and delivered the card in a gift bag with fun, eye-catching ribbon.
“I put it on the doorknob and that’s how they found their invitation,” Jill said. “I really like to hand write the invitations because that is really a lost art and it means it’s coming from the heart and that you really wish they will come.”
When it comes to décor – hit the holiday clearance isle, Jill advises.
“I love the Eater sales because the pastel colors are great for baby showers – the little eggs make great party favors and Easter grass is great for wrapping. I don’t think it matters what time of year it is,” she shrugs. “What matters to me is I get the bargain!”
Another great bargain buy? Christmas wrapping paper!
“If you have a normal, round card table – wrap the legs with wrapping paper and use the after-Christmas tinsel to hang from the edge of a tablecloth – it is an instant way to add some fun and festivity,” Jill reveals.
You can also look to the refrigerator door for inspiration.
“Children’s art work is a great way to decorate for a party,” Jill said. “Let your children do the work for you – hang up their drawings and it will set your party apart immediately with all that clever art. It has to be the best!”
“I think the party favors are huge,” Jill emphasizes, “Because that is a memory of the party you attended..”
At one of her daughter’s High School parties, Jill left candy bags in all of the guest’s shoes.
“We used cellophane bags, of course, because you never know about teenager’s shoes!” Jill laughs. “But when they went to leave and put their shoes on they had all of this fun candy to take home. Try something unexpected like that.”
Something as simple as a Q-Tip can transform into a meaningful new baby party favor or announcement.
“I put cotton candy in a bag, with a tag that said that said the baby’s name, birth weight and the phrase “A Star is Born,” Jill explains. “I glued the corners of Q-tips together to form the shape of a star. It was simple, but memorable.”
For bridal showers, Jill aims for something practical and personal.
“You could have the guests leave little sentiments on a plan white apron (can be purchased at www.jilliewillie.com) using fabric markers,” Jill said. “You can make it personalized just for them – a keepsake that will really mean something to the bride.”
When choosing a game or activity, Jill recommends something clever, but also something comfortable.
“You want the guests to feel at ease and to give them an opportunity to really get to know each other. One of my favorite games is to have each guest bring their pajamas in an unmarked sack,” Jill explains. “Number the sacks and pull out the pajamas one by one, guessing who they belong to as you go along. It’s a lot of fun and is an instant ice breaker.”
Jill points out–it’s important to keep in mind parties are all about people – and memories.
“A party should make you more excited about living.”
Jill Williams Grover is the founder of “Jillie Willie,” an online company that sells aprons, housedresses, accessories and more! She is the author of nine books, including “Throwing the Perfect Party: Fun Games and Activities for Wedding & Bridal Showers” and “Dime Store Decorating.”
To purchase her books, aprons or other “Jillie Willie” products, visit: www.jilliewillie.com.