Event Planning Tip: Hamster Toys Make Great Table Centerpieces

Let’s be honest — I never imagined that I would use a hamster toy as a centerpiece at plated dinner. But at the Chamber’s annual banquet & meeting in January, that’s exactly what I did.

Our theme was the 50th anniversary of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. This bridge crosses the Columbia River and connects Washington to Oregon. It’s a pretty important feature in our community, and our staff thought it deserved a little extra recognition at our banquet.

Our marketing manager, Regina Willkie, used photos of the bridge and road sign motifs on all our promotional materials. She and I also dreamed up creative ways to incorporate the theme into the event itself, such as making all necessary signage look like road signs and putting strips of yellow duct tape on the floor in the hallway like the dotted line between lanes on the highway. But my weirdest idea was part of the table decor.

Some of the banquet tables were decorated by generous Chamber member businesses, but the remaining 10+ tables were decorated by Becky Kraft, owner and operator of Party Jesters in Astoria. Becky pulled together some great decor featuring photos of the bridge and the most adorable little favor boxes — with highway sign tags! — but then I approached her with an insane centerpiece idea: What if we used plastic hamster bridges I found online?

Thank goodness that Becky is a professional and totally capable of taking the crazy ideas of her clients and making them work! She ordered the plastic hamster bridges (thoroughly confusing her husband when they arrived at their house) and spray painted them green to match the Astoria-Megler Bridge. She seamlessly worked them into her existing ideas to create an overall design scheme that was more beautiful than I could have imagined. The hamster bridge idea was mine, but the perfect implementation was all her!

Click on the photos in the slideshow below to see Becky’s decor for yourself.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a ridiculous idea, extensive Google searching and fantastic collaboration can produce a stunning end result: hamster toy centerpieces that rock.

VENDORS: Decor: Becky Kraft with Party Jesters; Venue & Food: the Astoria Golf & Country Club

Porcelain, Purses and Poppin!

Products I Love – May 2015

1) Daisy Place Desktop Business Card Holder – $30 – Kate Spade

56996343880065pThis was my first Kate Spade purchase ever, as I’m not one of those people obsessed with certain brands. I do, however, appreciate bright, fun products, so I can see the appeal of their stores.

I bought this business card holder to match a black-and-white polkadot mug I decided to use as a pencil holder at my new office. My previous business card holder was a plastic monstrosity from a construction company I’d never heard of — and it didn’t even fit normal size business cards. I had to stand them vertically, which would have been fine if my cards were designed vertically. They aren’t. My previous pencil holder was, well… the top of my desk. Let’s just say I was “roughing it” when it comes to normal office supplies.

This little porcelain beauty is exactly what I wanted. Lightweight, but well-made. The gold stripe along the edge is eye-catching and the whimsical type conveys exactly the sort of message I want to get across: let’s talk shop. Let’s figure out a way to work together so everyone involved profits and the event is a huge success.

Shop this item here. And, if you feel like splurging, shop the matching “pencil” cup.

2) Women’s Mini Satchel Handbag – $29.99 – Merona/Target

2bccf659228ae463efdf658bebb8dfdeBeing a Minnesota girl at heart, one of the hardest parts of living on the Oregon Coast is being so dang far away from a Target! I miss their wide, welcoming aisles overflowing with perfect items you didn’t know you needed. (Seriously — has anyone ever escaped Target with their wallet intact?)

This is a great bag for spring and summer. Small, but still large enough to hold the essentials, with a magnetic outside pocket that’s great for those items you need to grab quickly (keys, phone, pens). I bought it in mint, but the lime and blue are beautiful as well. Adds a punch of color to any outfit!

Shop the purse in numerous hues here.

3) various products – $$ – Poppin


I stumbled across Poppin at Staples during a work supply shopping trip, and I was immediately smitten. Oh my goodness, the COLORS. Pool blue, yellow, lime green, cobalt, coral, purple, aqua… any color you could possibly imagine.

And as striking as a store display of Poppin products is, their website is even more amazing. You can shop by item type OR color, with products from desk chairs and filing cabinets to pens and notebooks. Everything is designed to mix and match and stack. The brand really lives up to its mantra, #workhappy. You can’t help but smile when your desk is decked out in bright colors!

Personally, I went with the sunny yellow for my purchases, as I hoped it would mesh with the few office supplies I already had. But the gorgeous aqua was a close second. You can’t go wrong with whatever color you choose!

Shop the bright collections here.