Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Meet Christen Anderson of Christen Joy: Inspired Interiors & Events. Each month, she will answer a home design question posed by one of our readers. Anderson is a Minnesota native with an eye for decor and design. Christen Joy specializes in new-construction commercial projects, exceptional remodels, furnishing high-end living spaces and creating memorable special events. Anderson is also a passionate art collector, world traveler and home cook who frequently entertains for friends.
Question: Would Christen Joy ever consider taking on clients for special events?
Well, life’s busy at Christen Joy — as you’ve read! Last month, we flipped homes, redesigned a condo and designed an entire new apartment complex. But they say if you want something done right, ask a busy person! That’s why we’re thrilled to extend the trusted Christen Joy brand to special events. What’s a special event? Think entertaining at home, holidays, girl’s nights in, baby’s first birthday or something we did recently…a puppy shower!
London, our fawn Bullmastiff at Christen Joy enjoyed a proper puppy shower this month. We thought it’d be fun to share how you can pamper the amazing pet parents in your life using our example and easy tips.
Envision the Theme
Whether you’re designing a home, room or an event, take time to picture or envision what you want. Search online, save magazine photos or keep an idea file. Use these to set your theme.
For London, the theme was preppy, fresh, fun and fabulous. I gathered ideas from Pinterest and blogs and compiled a list of colors, flowers, food and parting gifts.
The color palette was pinks, white and an irreverent splash of tennis ball yellow. To enhance the preppy vibe, I chose a gingham pattern. The theme and initial details were enough to select partners who could help turn my vision into reality — the ‘magic makers’!
Communicate the Tone
Just like an entryway sets the tone for your home, an invite sets the tone for your event. I knew the invitations to London’s puppy shower had to communicate that the event was no ordinary puppy shower!
In interior design, I study art and the methods or processes artists use to evoke feelings through their work. Why? Because I evoke feelings and moods through the spaces or events I design.
Personally, I‘m drawn to a coastal mood – it’s relaxing, airy and sophisticated. For the puppy shower, I studied the work of Maine-based artist, Sara Fitz on Instagram and her website. Her watercolors were soothing, modern and preppy. I reached out to Sara, we connected and I asked if she’d do a commissioned watercolor of London and invites for her upcoming shower. As a fellow dog lover, she was eager to paint anything puppy related. We discussed the style of the shower and I shared details from my list. I communicated a hydrangea sprig, the pink and white gingham collar and a cursive “L” for femininity. Once the portrait of London was painted, which is now a keepsake, we moved forward with the details of the invite. Sara provided ideas on everything from fonts to color selections and helped me create the perfect invite – down to suggesting a tennis ball on the back flap of the envelope! With invites in hand, I addressed them, found a pretty stamp and headed to the mailbox. Next up: décor!
Set the Stage
Now that people were saving the date, I planned details to make the day extra special.
Online, I bought gingham ribbon, plates, napkins, table clothes and, of course, a puppy collar. Next, I found bulk tennis balls and dog treats — perfect to add throughout the home, for both décor and in floral arrangements. It’s also nice to plan something as a “wow” factor when guests arrived, so I selected a balloon garland in pinks, corals and creamy whites to display above cursive “London” balloons I found online. It was the perfect touch to create that preppy and fun mood.
Last, for freshness throughout: Love Always Floral. Christy Tehven and her team do an amazing job putting the finishing touches on any party. By simply communicating what I was aiming for, they provided recommendations. We locked in on white hydrangeas with tennis balls inside the vases — echoing the invite and look we were going for. Plus, one larger arrangement for that “wow” factor at the moment guests walked in, next to the balloons and “London” sign. There would be no doubt they had arrived at the right location.
London’s framed photos from a recent puppy shoot with Tara Photography were placed throughout the room along with puppy snack “bones” and tennis balls for décor detail.
Plan the Menu
Food and drink are a top priority. The selections must fit the party, be delicious and plentiful. Every host loves to hear how wonderful the food was and know that there was plenty for guests to enjoy. By providing a caterer print outs of your look and feel, and sharing what you are aiming for, such as colors, patterns, invitations and artwork, they can take your ideas to a wonderfully tasteful place.
For London’s shower, I knew the event matched a favorite local place for coffee and a treat — Nichole’s Fine Pastry & Café. Online, I filled out a form and quickly heard back from Nichole. We scheduled a time to discuss my concept and plan the menu. I must admit, I had to dab a sweat bead when I met Nichole – she’s a bit of a celebrity and I was thrilled to work personally with her.
Placed on appropriate dishware, each food had its moment and had cohesion with accompaniments when displayed.
The food was impeccable. All items were made fresh that morning, down to the chive knots on the egg salad sandwiches.
Save Room for Cake
It’s not a proper shower without a cake. If you’re working with a baker, share as many details as possible – from colors, patterns, invitations, images, etc.
I handed over the reins to Nichole to design London’s cake. I wanted it aligned with the theme…but a bit over the top. I knew she could deliver.
The result? A two-tier, chocolate caramel sea salt and coconut cake, adorned with puppy paws, a collar and charm matching London’s portrait and two stacked doggie bones. The cakes were wrapped in white fondant and created the most polished and delicious puppy cake ever.
For parting gifts, guests enjoyed individually wrapped custom sugar cookies with a gingham ribbon. Nichole created a tennis ball design, and the cursive “L” found on the charm, cake and invite. It was a perfect way to send off our guests as a “thank you” for joining the celebration. Thankfully, there were two left for me to enjoy!
When you’re hosting, remember, food ends up being a large part of the décor. At some parties, it’s the main focal point. When this happens to you, it’s important to choose a caterer or baker with the design expertise and experience to create a memorable impression. In my example, I partnered with Nichole because I knew she’d make the perfect foods and hosting area centerpiece of amazing baked goods to leave guests raving about the decadent food for days.
Celebrate Every Day
London was freshly-bathed and wearing a new jeweled collar to greet family and friends. Guests enjoyed delicious food, refreshments and toasted to a precious new life in our Christen Joy family.
We all have endless reasons to bring others closer to us. To show care and compassion. To throw a party. To eat cake and celebrate life. Plan an event today so you create a memory for tomorrow.
London’s Puppy Shower Menu
- Farro salad with broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, radish, green onion with a basil vinaigrette
- Heaping veggie tray with lemon basil dip
- Open-faced cucumber rye sandwich with fresh salmon
- Closed egg salad sandwich with chive tie
- Chicken puff pastry
Join me on my Instagram & Facebook to see my latest projects and email me your design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org to have the opportunity to have your question answered next month.