A few weeks ago, I convocated from a PhD program in Clinical Psychology. I have been working hard on this degree since 2012, and I felt celebrations were in order! I am not one to throw myself a party – but hot dang, I deserve a wedding-esque party this time because getting a PhD is a much more longer process than having even a baby!
So I started to plan a party, and quickly realized that I needed to figure out how to make this a SWEAT FREE business for me. My ideal party would be all taken care of for me in a world where money is infinite and there are no financial restrictions. But the reality is that I have a limited amount of $$, and only close family to help with anything I wanted. Keeping this in mind, I set out on an outsourcing mission and put together this party with the help of some awesome local businesses, who you can also contact to help with you party planning needs!
VENUE + FOOD
The first step in hosting an awesome party is to figure out your guest list and search for a venue accordingly. Our guest list had about 45 adults and 10-12 children of varying ages. This meant that we needed enough seating for 50-60 folks, along with some “flex space” for the kids to not feel trapped.
I had two options at this point:
1. Book a community facility available either through Brampton or Mississauga or
2. Book a large enough restaurant to accommodate everyone
We decided to go with Option 2 because we found the perfect restaurant that needed minimal decor and zero clean-up + catering (as it is a restaurant). In terms of cost, it actually ended up costing us the same amount of money a rental hall + food would have been!
The perfect restaurant was BALENA RESTAURANT. It is a newly opened afghani restaurant with stunning modern interiors with vintage touches, feature walls, and gorgeous natural lighting. When i went to visit the restaurant the first time, It felt like an extension of my own home with the tones of blues and natural wood tones, and vintage touches. More importantly, the food was impeccable and the owners were willing to accommodate us for a 3 hour time slot on a WEEKEND.
DONE and DONE. If you are ever in search of a venue to host a party, do check out Balena Restaurant in Misssissauga! It will exceed all your expectations in terms of food, ambience, and service.
PARTY THEME + DECOR
Since this was a more sophisticated “grown-up” party, I chose to have a colour scheme as the “theme” more than a theme per se. I went for a colour scheme that complimented the stunning decor of the restaurant – the colours were mustard, blush, and burgundy with touches of green. This is the perfect fall palette and goes well with the royal blue and natural wood tones of the restaurant.
I chose a template on Canva to create a digital invite and sent it to the guests. I also used the invite as a template for any other digital prints/typography I created, or in working with other vendors etc. I created games for guests to play and used the invite as the background in powerpoint to type over and create game templates.
Since I was going for a more wedding-esque party, I wanted a backdrop and dessert table. But here is the tricky party. I told you about the limited man power I have. Given this, I needed help with the actual backdrop of the dessert table. I reached out to Scrumpty’s which is a locally run business by a husband-wife duo. Their portfolio on Instagram is stunning, and they have been following me on Instagram for years I later realized.
They came an hour before the party started and set up the whole backdrop with custom flowers to match my colour scheme, and provided me with these stunning acrylic tables and dessert stands! They even made the custom acrylic lettering on the back of the hoop – which was such a thoughtful touch in the decor. I was in total awe of how stunning the backdrop looked and their professionalism and quality of work. I would highly recommend hiring Scrumpty’s for your next party!
Next were the desserts! I opted to do some DIY’ing for this part with the help of my talented sister! We ordered a strawberry shortcake for the main dessert table from our local Longo’s but asked them to make it “naked” i.e without much of the icing and strawberries they put on their cake regularly! I ordered two of these cakes from them for $24.99 each! And then, I put my sister to work. She purchased grocery store flowers in the the colour palette of the party, and transformed the cakes and cupcakes into works of art!
I also wanted to have custom cookies, and since my PhD was in neuropsychology I knew I wanted to incorporate the brain into these cookies somehow. For these I reached out to Karen, an old friend of mine on Instagram, who runs a bakery called Stoney Brook Bakery. I sent Karen the party invite and asked her to incorporate the colours into the cookies along with a brain. Thats all I said to her, and she created these master pieces! She hand painted watercolour flowers onto short bread cookies, and then hand piped each brain onto a cookie. THAT IS TALENT YOU GUYS! And the cookies tasted incredible!! They were moist shortbread cookies that were so yummy with my cup of tea the next day 😉
Because I’m super extra, and like wanted a full wedding I also made individual centre pieces for the tables (reused flowers I had received earlier that week for my graduation and upcycled starbucks frappucino bottle vases I made 5 years ago), had a card station (reused a card box from my sisters wedding!), a photo booth, a dissertation signing station where guests actually signed my dissertation, a photo booth and some other fun details like activity-bags for the kids.
OUTFIT, MAKEUP AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Okay… you get the point that I wanted to go all out for this party. A fancy outfit, hair/makeup, and photographer were obviously going to happen too.
My outfit was gifted to me by a friend who also runs the boutique Pehrwaas. Do check them out on Instagram for all your Pakistani Outfit needs and they also take orders and ship to Canada/overseas!
The talented Gina of Touch n Glow Studio arrived at my house bright and early at 9 am to do my makeup! I wanted a neutral glow-y look, since the event was during the day. She did such an incredible job!! My mom even commented saying she liked my makeup more than the makeup on any of my previous makeup looks including my OWN WEDDING. If you are in the market for a hair and makeup artist, definitely check out Gina at Touch n Glow Studio on her website and Instagram.
All event photos were taken by Aqsa of Sparks Studios by Aqsa. She is a pleasure to work with, and took amazing photos and delivered them within 2 weeks of the event! The editing and the quality of photos was amazing, and I am definitely hiring her for every family event we have from here on!
Overall, the party was so much fun! We had games, opportunities to take photos in the photo booth, and my dad even gave a super emotional speech! Below are some more photos, but thats about it on my end for party details! I hope you found this post useful in helping you plan your next big event and feel free to leave a comment with any questions that you may have!
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[…] also in school for most of the decade. I share about that on my blog in my career journey and i recently finished my PhD and convocated. In all of this, I have received huge support from YOU. I started this blog to find some sense of […]