The inspiration of Autumn’s leaves

The autumn season brings about many changes:  Crisp air, gradual shortening of days, and (my favorite) the leaves changing colors.  A great way to liven up this season’s events is to bring the outdoors inside!  Incorporate the natural beauty and texture of autumn’s leaves into your event’s décor.  Here are some easy and budget friendly tips for decorating with autumn’s leaves.

Image from Sunset – Decorating with fall leaves

1.  Nature’s Stained Glass (from Sunset – Decorating with fall leaves)

Chinese pistache leaves are translucent enough to glow like stained glass when lit from behind. To celebrate their vivid fall beauty indoors, display them on simple glass hurricane candle holders.

Gather leaf cuttings from your garden (ginkgo and Japanese maple are other good choices).  Press them in a book overnight to keep them from crinkling, then use one or two Glue Dots on the back of each stem, affixing each leaflet to the outside surface of the glass.

image from Ideal Home Garden – Beautiful Fall Leaf crafts to decorate your home

2.  Leaf Centerpiece  (from Ideal Home Garden – Beautiful Fall Leaf crafts to decorate your home)

One of the easiest fall leaf crafts you can make, this leaf vase is a beautiful and cheap way to decorate your living room, bedroom or entry, and can also be used as a dining table centerpiece.

What You’ll Need:

  • About 20 to 50 leaves, depending on the size of your vase
  • One clear glass vase or hurricane candle holder


  1. Fill the vase or hurricane candle holder with your colorful autumn leaves.
  2. Be careful not to crush or break the leaves as your place them inside.
  3. Arrange some leaves around the outer edges so that they lay flat against the glass for a better view.

Set your leaf vase anywhere you’d like bright autumn décor.

image from Leanneja – 6 Fast and Easy Ways to Decorate with Leaves

3.  Leaf Garland (from Leanneja – 6 Fast and Easy Ways to Decorate with Leaves)

Clip leaves to twine/string using little clothes pins.

What are your favorite ways to decorate with leaves?

4.  Candle and Leaves Centerpiece (from 9 ways to decorate with Autumn leaves

Put an autumn-themed plate or bowl on top of a candlestick or cake stand. Fill it with leaves, acorns and candles for a simple and casual look.  SAFETY NOTE:  Use battery operated, flame-less candles in this centerpiece.  There’re much safer around dry leaves than regular candles.

What are your favorite ways to decorate with leaves?


A Week-long Celebration!

I celebrated a birthday in July.  My next milestone birthday is a few years away, but I still wanted to do something special.  I had lots of theme, venue, and activity ideas, but couldn’t settle on one idea for one night (or weekend for that matter).  Instead, I decided to compile my ideas into a week-long birthday celebration!  The idea was brilliant (if I do say so myself!).  This allowed me to 1) visit some of my favorite locations, 2) visit new locations, 3) spend different nights with different friends (never a dull moment), and 4) select activities of varied price points in consideration of my guests pockets.  My guests and I had a fabulous time, and look forward to next year’s week-long birthday celebration!

Week-long birthday celebration agenda

Day 1 –  Dinner at Lalo’s

Activity:  Secret Message:  Take a stack of note cards and write an odd statement, Place one note card under each of the guests’ plates. As they are seated, ask each guest to read their own note card silently. Explain that throughout the meal, they must at some point say their secret message. To win, a guest must make it through the meal, say their message once, and not get caught.

Day 2 – Chocolate tasting at Chocolat du Bouchard

Activity:  None needed.  There’s chocolate!

Day 3 – Wine tasting & dinner at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

Activity:  None needed.  There’s wine!

Day 4 – Activity:  Thursday Night Out Downtown Oak Park

Day 5 – Dinner at Maya Del Sol

Activity – Live music (Found out the live music segment is on siesta the rest of the summer.  But that’s okay.  Had a great time anyway!)

Day 6 (day) – Activity:  Drink while you paint a picture at Arts N Spirits

Day 6 (evening) – Activity:  Glow in the dark Miniature golf at Putting Edge

Day 7 – Brunch at Chicago Chicken & Waffles

Activity:  None.  It’s brunch – just relax and enjoy great food and great company!

How did you celebrate your birthday this year?

Make It Memorable — How to avoid event déjà vu

I have had the cookie cutter event experience more times than I want to remember.  You know the event where the decorations, food, activities are just EXACTLY the same.  Let’s end these event déjà vu experiences with these thought provoking event planning tips:

Combine themes.  Put your creativity to the test, and combine two ideas, two themes, or whatever you like for your next event!  Combining two party themes is a great way to stand out from other events!  Try not to confuse your guests.  Ensure the themes are related in some way.  With Valentine’s Day a few weeks away, a “Valentine’s Day in Paris” themed event can bring together the best of Paris and Valentine’s Day together beautifully!

Twizzler Lemonaid Cocktail

Twizzler Lemonaid Cocktail image from

Make it personal.  There is nothing worse than going to a birthday party where the theme or party elements don’t speak to the unique likes or personality of the person of honor.  For example, I have a friend whose favorite candy is Twizzlers.  So, creating a signature drink showcasing Twizzlers, such as the Twizzler Lemondade Cocktail, would be PERFECT for a party or event honoring my friend.

What event planning tips do you have to avoid the event deja vu expereince?

Make It Memorable — Following “The Little Drummer Boy” Approach

My favorite Christmas song is “The Little Drummer Boy”.  The song reminds us: the best gift we can give comes from utilizing our natural talents. No matter what you celebrate during the holidays, this is a great message to help make your holidays unique, special, and memorable.

This year AKB Events hosted a family Christmas event for a longtime family friend.  I really wanted this event to stand out from any other family gathering.  I knew to accomplish this, I would have to use the “Little Drummer Boy” approach, and utilize my natural talents.  True, I was hired to plan their family Christmas event, but I really wanted to create an event they would remember forever.  Knowing the family is very competitive and loves games, I  decided to create a family feud board to play holiday family feud!  The family absolutely LOVED this idea.  Not only did they enjoy playing the game, many mentioned they could tell I put a lot of time and effort into creating the game board and the event overall!

AKB Events also participated in the Local-Motions Toy Giveaway.  This event was particularly hear-warming because it was all about the kids having a great time singing Christmas songs, playing with their toys , playing games, and getting their faces painted.   The gift of donating toys was crucial to this event.  However, the utilizing my talent of interacting and making connections with people, was the most unique, special, and memorable  gift I could give. So many of the kids were eager to show what Santa brought them for Christmas!  For some of these kids, this is the only Christmas gift they will receive.  Hopefully my gift of interaction will soften the impact that a harsh economic environment has created.

So, let’s continue to utilize our natural talents to make every day, not only the holidays, unique, special and memorable!

Share your story of how you utilized your natural talents to make the holidays special!

Happy Holidays,


AKB Events
Owner/Event Consultant

6 tips for hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner

Is this your first year hosting Thanksgiving dinner?  Then you know you don’t have time to read long blog posts on the matter!  So, this short post is for you. . .

TIP 1:

Don’t try out a new recipe

Do prepare the crowd’s favorite dish

TIP 2:

Don’t wait until the last minute to buy a turkey

Do buy your turkey a week in advance.  Be sure to check how long it will take for the turkey to properly thaw in the refrigerator.

TIP 3:

Don’t wear yourself out cooking everything from scratch

Do use store bought items to save yourself time

TIP 4:

Don’t wait to the last minute to find serving dishes

Do pull out the flatware, glassware, serving dishes, etc. you plan to use a two weeks in advance.  Write the name of each dish on a piece of paper.  Place the paper into each serving dish, to indicate which dish goes in each serving dish.

TIP 5:

Don’t try to be the “super” host, and do everything yourself

Do say yes when others ask “can I help” , or “can I bring anything”

TIP 6:

Don’t stress over every detail being perfect

Do enjoy your friends, family, and give thanks for our many blessings!  Cheers!

What tips would you share with someone hosting their first Thanksgiving dinner?

Make It Memorable Segment – “What’s the best FREE advice for planning a cocktail party?”

I recently had lunch with a good friend and her co-worker.  The co-worker is hosting her first cocktail party, and is nervous about, well, everything going wrong.  Her question to me was: “What’s the best FREE advice for planning a cocktail party?”  The best free advice is simple:  It’s your party, so do what you want to.

Your type of party. Plan the type of cocktail party you and your guests like to attend.  If you and your guests are the non-fancy, laid back types, the cocktails and food choices should reflect this demeanor.  If you and your friends have a more sophisticated palate, and are wine, vodka, or gin aficionados, then that’s the cocktail party you plan.  Planning a cocktail party with drinks and food you are not comfortable with, is a likely setup for the “worst cocktail party ever” story.  Additionally, planning the type of cocktail party you are comfortable with helps you, the host, set the tone for the evening.  If you are comfortable, relaxed, and having a great time, your guests will also be comfortable, relaxed, and having a great time!

What are some other simple cocktail party planning tips?

Make It Memorable Segment – Bringing Sunday Dinners

I miss Sunday Dinners. I miss the entire family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents- getting together for a meal on a regular basis. Initially, the idea of Sunday dinner may sound antiquated and boring. Explore ways to revamp this old school tradition, and you will find Sunday dinners can be as fun and exciting as you make them!

Set the mood.  The guest list includes family (of course), but feel free to invite others you are close to. Sometimes friends, neighbors, and co-workers can be so close to you, it’s like they are family.

There is no need for formalities for a Sunday dinner. Keep the atmosphere casual. Fostering a “come as you are” atmosphere ensures your guests feel welcome and relaxed – like they are with family.

Entertainment.  Sunday dinners can be kept lively with activities where everyone can participate. Board games and activities are a great way to get everyone involved. Not only will you have a great time, you may learn something new about your family members!

Traditional dishes.  Want to learn how to make Grandma’s peach cobbler, or Paw-Paw’s tomato jelly? Turn to your family members to learn (and possibly write down for the first time) those old traditional recipes. Learn the stories behind the recipes, and pass them onto the younger generations. Sunday dinners are the perfect time to showcase your family’s history through a meal.

Variations on traditional dishes.  Let’s face it, most traditional dishes aren’t the healthiest. Knowing traditional recipes is just as important as knowing healthier versions. Yes, let’s keep our traditional family dishes alive by showcasing these dishes. However, let’s not showcase these traditional dishes so regularly it ends up killing our family.

Non-traditional meals. Who says Sunday dinner has to include your family’s traditional dishes? Why not visit different cuisines for Sunday dinner! This is a great way for a family to broaden their palate, while creating new memories. For less adventurous family members, they can prepare traditional family dishes in new ways.

Sunday dinners are about enjoying each other, and of course the food! With a little planning, extra hands, and these tips, we can create new Sunday dinner traditions and memories! I’ll see you Sunday!

How has your family kept Sunday dinner alive? What are your favorite Sunday dinner memories?