Monday, May 20, 2013

Have Shower Will Travel

For the last month, I've been preoccupied with throwing a bridal shower for my cousin Jennifer. With A LOT of help from my wonderful cousin, Lisa, we were able to pull off the shower I always travel-themed shower. See, our cousin Jennifer's love of traveling and seeing other countries is something she passed onto me. I don't think I would have given much thought to the idea of how other people see the U.S. if I hadn't seen how much she traveled. In college, she went away for a year to Spain. I was in high school and hadn't traveled beyond Canada. I thought it was really gutsy to spend a year in another country. I still couldn't get up the nerve to do something like that by the time I got to college. I'd been to a few other countries but with my family. Hence we were on tour buses and I learned quickly that that was no way to experience a country. So, like Jennifer, I took my own trip in 2003 through several European countries and did the hostelling thing. Boy, am I glad. I met people from all over the world who became great friends--at least for that trip. Anyway, I knew this was the theme I wanted to do. After careful and thorough research on various blogs, Lisa and I borrowed a few ideas. I think they all worked out great. And for the first time, we had people eat outside in my parents' backyard.

The most cost-cutting thing we did was incorporate old maps into our decor. Lisa was going to go down to the local AAA office but she found tons of maps in her mom's garage. This is the great thing about most Asian parents: They always have old luggage that they used to visit relatives in China or Hong Kong and they save every map they ever bought or received.

Lisa cut letters out of some map and then glued them to the doilies. She also outlined the letters with a black marker so they would stand out more. She and my mom tied string around each doily and then tied them to a string draped across the window. We also added a bunch of tchotchkes that Lisa and I had that represented other countries i.e. a ukele and a mini Eiffel Tower.

We made paper airplanes out of the maps (or rather our guy cousins did) and clipped them to the laundry line.

Lisa found her old world map (Remember the USSR and when Germany had that whole East side/West side thing?) and pinned that to the fence along with more paper airplanes. We also put out luggage. They functioned as props along with a container for a shower game.

Our deck "decked" out with a world map, luggage. A borrowed patio table is decorated with flowers and framed photo of the bride.
Another budget-saving idea for favors: I hate to say this but airline barf bags. On other blogs, I saw people had ordered little plastic suitcases, which cost like $3 each, or made suitcases out of cardboard and decorated them with stickers. Um...yeah, not gonna happen. Either too much money or too much work. So, on the flight home, I went into the lavatory and took the entire stack of barf bags to my seat. But I still didn't have enough. So I asked the flight attendant after we landed if I could have some. They ran out of a fresh stack so he actually spent a few minutes helping me pluck bags from the seat pockets. We decorated the bags with stickers and rubber stamps with a travel theme. The only drawback was that when I opened one of the bags to stuff it, I couldn't get it open. It might be because of the wad of minty gum stuck inside. YUCK!
          Lisa really enjoyed telling people to go to "baggage claim" to get their favors.

For the table, we had foods that represented different countries Jennifer visited _ sushi for Japan, chicken satay for Thailand, a pavlova for New Zealand and some tropical fruit for Hawaii for example. Major kudos to my brother Gary for cooking almost all the food and my cousin Suzie for making the pavlova.

And of all the weird coincidences, the day before I went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo. There's a section called the Bizarre Bazaar where local DIY artists sell stuff _ everything from jewelry to soap to silkscreen T-shirts. Well, a woman who runs her own design business on Etsy, ( where she upcycles maps of all things into gift tags, flower bulbs, etc. She actually sold garlands of mini paper airplanes for $15. Since we already went to the trouble of making our own paper airplanes, I couldn't justify buying anything. But I found it impossible to resist these cupcake toppers.
Lemon-vanilla cupcakes with Earl Grey tea frosting _ one of the few things I made on this table.

Sorry, but those paper airplanes are effing cute.

We also adapted a game of "How well do you know each other" by making the bride to be wear ugly clothes that were packed in the luggage every time she got an answer that didn't match with her fiance's. Overall, I think everything looked pretty close to how I pictured. I liked putting little touches too like the globe and the travel books on the tables. We also labeled the beverage area as "in-flight beverages" and the gifts table "gift shop." Except for wondering how my life came down to rummaging in seat pockets with a Southwest flight attendant, I had fun doing it. That's partly because I had the BEST party-planning partner in the world in my cousin Lisa. She wasn't too anal, she wasn't lazy. She was just right. She did all the signage, put up most of the decorations and oversaw the games and ice breaker activities. And her husband, Nelson, a longtime family friend, was a gift from party-planning heaven _ patiently helping and not complaining once. I'm lucky a lot of my family also makes for the best team.