It’s possible you haven’t heard of Galentine’s Day…but not if you’re a Parks and Rec fan, have an Instagram account or have been invited to the growing trend of Galentine’s gatherings. Ever since Amy Poehler’s character invented it in 2010, women all over have adopted the day to celebrate friendship and this is a trend I’m (*ahem*) whole heartedly behind! And why not?!?
“It’s only the best day of the year!”~ Amy Poehler
Now let’s turn our attention to a different Amy: Amy Vallejo (above). Vallejo is the master events planner behind Anticipate Wedding & Events and Social Creative and I’m super excited to share her Galentine’s Soiree event plus Amy’s tips on how to host a fabulous Galentines Event.
2019 was the second year that Social Creative held their Galentines Soiree and you lucky ducks get to feast your eyes on all the special touches and fun right now! And the BEST NEWS is…as of today, there’s still a tiny bit of space left in this year’s Galentines Soiree! I’m so in! Want to join me?!?
If you’re not in the Seattle area, I highly recommend taking the plunge and holding your own Galentines party using the Social Creative model and following Vallejo’s tips below. Your friends will love you for it!
But before we begin, I just want to say that this is not a Sponsored Post and I’m not getting compensated by Amy, her awesome collaborators Ellen Sontra and Sarah Simon (both shown above with Amy), or her talented photographer Julia Kinnunen. I just love the concept of Social Creative and think these ladies are rockin’ it!
Tip #1: Elevate a simple friend gathering to something special by teaching a creative activity.
Social Creative’s Galentines attendees got to sip, eat, mingle, learn, chat then eat and sip some more! Starting off with delish food and drink sets a fun mood, helping friends and strangers alike get comfortable and ready to have their creative juices flowing (note: I’ll dive into in Vallejo’s food, drink and mingling tips in a moment so hold tight).
Once everyone has nibbled to their hearts content, the learning part of the night starts. One thing that sets Social Creative instructors apart in this learning session is that they range their instruction for beginners to experienced artists. It’s so awesome (and unusual) that guests gain knowledge regardless of skill level, and I love this because I’m a newbie but my BFF has done a lot of watercolor painting!
Last year’s learning portion started off with Watercolorist Sarah Simon (The Mint Gardner/IG: @themintgardener) coaching guests on watercolor brush strokes and painting techniques. Guests then created their own painting on a beautiful Mint Gardner line drawing.
Next, Calligrapher Ellen Sontra, of letters by ellen/IG: @lettersbyellen, taught hand lettering and adding panache to it with a technique called flecking. Both experts send guests home with a review packet and ways to further their techniques too.
One of the main reasons that Vallejo started Social Creative is because of the notion of joining community and fun with creativity. She gets great joy seeing women chat, laugh, inquire, listen and learn all while their hands are busy making special things to take home.
Don’t know about you, but really I love the idea of learning something with friends (see the No Qualms Mom recent post 6 Ways to Spend Time with Friends)! It’s super appealing to me partly because of trying something creative, but also because guests make their own party favor (yay for 1 less thing for me to do!) and they leave the fun gathering with something to remember it.
This year’s Social Creative Galentines group will be taught again by the veteran collaborators Sontra and Simon, yet of course there’ll be new fun as well! One big new thing is this year’s vendor line up for the pre-Soiree Valentines Pop-Up Shop. It’s open to public from 12:30-2:30 and is more than enough to get me out of the house!
Sidenote: for those of you that can’t attend the Social Creative event, but want to treat your friends to a special creative experience too, see the source listing at the end of this post for ideas to do in your community or at your house. And if it’s not your cup of tea to incorporate something creative, I also have quite a few ideas for fun, yet easy themes that would make a Galentines special in the sourcing as well.
Tip #2: Choose the right location and date.
Let’s face it, some spaces are way more condusive than others to creativity. And while it’s nice to hold your Galentines event on Leslie Knopp’s traditional day of February 13th, it might be easier for guests to make it on a weekend after Valentines Day than a Thursday night. Last year’s Galentines Soiree was held in an event space at Seattle’s glassybaby workshop. It was originally scheduled for the weekend before Valentines, but a major snow storm delayed it until March and not a soul there cared that it happened a bit later on. So choose what ever Galentines Day works best for your tribe.
This year’s Social Creative Galentines is set for February 9th at a beautiful, about to open event space in North Seattle called Ebb & Co (sneak a peek below).
Both of the spaces chosen by Vallejo offer key things that you’d need at your own Galentines creative event:
- room for separate mingling and learning/craft areas; these don’t have to be huge but they both need to be large enough for set up of supplies or food, comfortable seating and ease of movement. Tip: if your home isn’t ideal, check local restaurants or clubs because February isn’t super busy (other than the 14th of course!) so costs for a meeting room may be waived or super low.
- good lighting.
- a layout condusive for an instructor to teach and space around the table to individually check in with guests.
- (ideally) enough beauty or interesting ambiance so that you can keep party decor to a minimum.
Tip #3: Send a pretty invite out ASAP so friends hold the date.
There are many options out there that won’t break the bank: Etsy, Minted and Paperless Post all offer fantastic designs for instance. My two fav’s (both instantly editable and downloadable) are this watercolor option for those of you that like the idea of a painting/craft option at the party and this fun modern take on a homemade Valentines card. I also like the free pink striped printable invite offered by HGTV a lot.
Consider printing and mailing as well. These days it’s so special to receive an invitation in the mail and open up something as lovely as the samples below! So if your timeline allows for it, go the extra mile and send something that reflects your chosen activity and theme. Tip: some companies like Minted and Shutterfly will mail them directly to your guests to save time.
Tip #4: Don’t worry about inviting women that don’t know each other well.
There are some dinner parties and events that are better if everyone knows each other ahead of time, yet a creative Galentines is one of those times that you can invite all kinds of friends and feel safe with any mix.
My teenage daughter calls it ‘mixing worlds’ and at some gathering it can result in moments of awkwardness. You’ve seen it right?!? When mom friends struggle to find common ground with work buddies or college friends.
But the good news is that there’s something fun and unique about creative learning – it brings out shared experiences (or lack there of) so you can feel secure that a variety of women, not connected beforehand, will have a great time! Vallejo has been through a lot of creative learning events and swears that mixing folks up is part of the fun.
Seeing women come as individuals and quickly turn into a family of women at a table enjoying good food, company and beauty are a huge reason that Social Creative exists.
This kind of connection and growth fill up Vallejo beyond other types of events.
Commonalities surface and invariably swapping stories and connections quickly happens once people settle at the table. And before they know it, they’re revling in the art they just created.Amy Vallejo
Tip #5: Have fun decorating but know that you don’t have to go over the top to make an impact.
The creative learning project is the real star of the show so keep your decorating chill. Opt for simple, easy to execute decor:
- Ready made garlands like the one below or Galentines banners are easy, moderate to low cost additons that Vallejo recommends.
- Balloons are another super easy addition for wall decor, and skipping helium like Vallejo did with the ‘love’ balloon below makes it even easier (and cheaper!). Just use sturdy double stick tape and mount them to a wall for big impact.
- Another good addition is a small display of finished examples of the creative work that guests are going to work on.
- Rather than spending big bucks on table centerpieces, Vallejo opts for one arrangment of in season flowers on the buffet table. Inexpensive additions to the buffet like wooden boxes and acrylic stands similar to those shown create a prettier food display are much more bang for your buck than multiple $ 50-100 table centerpieces. Same goes for framed menus and dish placecards – big impact, low expense.
- Add simple touches to the work tables like the colored glassybaby votives shown below and use snacks like heart shaped candy to give the table additional dimension.
- For other ideas, check out the two NQM posts on Easy Valentines Table DIYs and Darling Yet Easy Valentines Buffet Options. Just keep things simple since the real focus is on the creative learning part of the night as well as connection time with guests.
Tip #6: Serve food and drink that’s a special treat.
Setting aside time to be creative and spend time with friends is likely to be a rare event, so make the experience even more rich with elevated food and drink offerings. Splurge a bit and treat yourself and your friends to small bites of both sweet and savory as well as a special signature cocktail.
Vallejo did just that at last year’s Galentines Soiree:
- To start, she served a strawberry rhubarb champagne cocktail last year in gorgeous glassybaby drinkers. But if you’d like something super simple, opt for a sparkling rose and add a bit of fun to it by popping in a berry and adding a Valentines themed drink stir. Or give each guest a demi bottle of champagne with a cute straw for easy sipping – just be sure to get XL straws or use the NQM fixer trick on regular length paper straws.
- The sweet side of the menu included Pear & Hazelnut Tart, a Sweet and Salty Treat Board, Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta with Strawberry Rubarb Topping, macarons, white chocolate dipped spiced shortbread cookies and delicious fruit like raspberries and blood oranges.
- And the savory side of the menu offered multiple decadent cheeses accompanied by Bow Hill pickled blueberries, candied rosemary, black cherry preserves and roasted ginger rhubarb. Two different gourmet tapenades plus rosemary spiced nuts rounded out the savory options.
I can’t wait to see (and taste!) what this years Galentines menu will offer! And remember that no matter what your cuilinary tastes guide you to serve, try to vary the look, texture and flavor of your dishes. Your buffet will look better and your guests will have fun trying a variety of offerings.
Tip #7: Set out everything the guests will need ahead of time.
Don’t waste precious party time with handing things out or having guests get up and down for supplies.
- Literally think through each step the guests will do to create the project that you’ve chosen.
- Then use bags like the ones below or baskets to give each person their own set of materials.
- Certainly some supplies like the paint trays below can be shared between a few people to save on space, but other items like specialty pens and brushes should be given to each individual.
- Do a trial run to test things like how much paint people will need and how often your brush will need to be cleaned. Without testing, you’ll have no clue about the quanities needed of key supplies.
- Be sure to think through mess containment too. Have paper towels at the ready in case of spills and for messy tasks like the flecking step, set up a special work area (below) that women can take turns using. Aprons and well stocked clean up stations are always appreciated.
- And finally, be sure to label each person’s goodie bag so that they can leave with the correct creative project!
Social Creative’s guests left happy, full and with their own creations and a display clip thanks to placecards on each goodie bag. Plus they took home lots of fun things to keep creating with! Each received a bag of supplies for at home use, an instructional packet and 2 watercolor design note cards with envelopes.
Tip #8: Seriously consider hiring an instructor to teach everyone at your event and/or getting an art student helper. Or seek out an event like Social Creative’s Soiree and go with friends.
There’s a fair amount to juggle when hosting a creative event! It will depend on your entertaining and crafting experience level, but it might be any where from a bit challenging to down right impossible for you to handle party logistics, enjoy the event and also teach the creative project.
Or if you’re a great crafter or artist by nature, outsource other parts of the party. Catering, decor and a simple set of extra hands can make a huge difference in your event.
It’s your Galentines too! So set things up well in order to enjoy your sweet event as much as your friends do!
Sourcing and Creative Project Concepts:
- This DIY Marbled Bowl Video from HGTV offers up a super chic craft option that can be done in lovely Valentines colors.
- Heart Shaped Pom Pom Wreaths like this DIY by Fynes Designs are trending big at the moment.
- Group cooking classes always a good option too – most areas have many options to choose from.
- Chunky Throw Blanket Knitting DIY by Mama in a Stitch.
- Old Fashioned Silhouette Making DIY by We Are That Family.
- Succulent Wreath Making DIY by House of Hoff.
- Photography workshops geared towards moms or some other niche like iPhone how to’s can be great. I can personally recommend Seattle’s Mamas With Cameras and they do frequent workshops.
Other Galentine Party Ideas and Tips:
- If you opt for a more simple creative project, consider having a Galentine’s card exchange portion of the party. If you want to make it super easy on your guest, put together a bunch of options for them, and write each woman’s name on a bag just like you did in grade school. Etsy has a bunch of Galentines cards but blank white or pink cards, red or fushia fine tip pens, a few stickers or stamps & stamp-pads let people create something quick that means just as much.
- Another option is to do a Secret Cupid gift exchange. You could orchestrate giving pairs ahead of time or just have them draw a name when they arrive. It could be like many Secret Santa/White Elephant exhanges with guests stealing gifts during each turn or just a simple gift giving opportunity.
- Coordinate favors with your party’s theme: slippers for the beauty spa party for example or use general Valentines as a theme and give red ring pops, heart shaped glasses or red and pink frosting covered sugar cookies.
- Photo booths are good to bring out people’s goofy side. Etsy’s got a bunch of prop options as does most party and costume stores. If you’ve never set one up, head to Pinterest or check out this HGTV how to. Polaroid pic corners (especially with Flamingo Pink cameras!) are another fantastic option.
If creative learning just isn’t your thing, you could try a Galentines idea like these:
- a Pajama Party (with or without a sleep over) a la Parks & Rec’s Leslie Knopp
- a beauty night featuring Masks you put on at the front door and other DIY treatments
- movie night or binge watching sessions of Sex in the City episodes
- a Game Night (check out For the Girls, What Do You Meme? or go old school with Bunco)
- Really what ever floats your boat that goes beyond your basic wine and cheese party.
All photos by Julia Kinnunen Photography.