Ben’s MasterChef Junior Bar Mitzvah

We get so much enjoyment when we get the opportunity to design the décor for a Bar Mitzvah around our client’s passion or hobby. This was the case with Ben, a talented chef, who aspires to be the next MasterChef Junior champion!

Ben shared his ideas for the centerpieces, so we ran with the concept of filling glass columns with beans, rice and pasta and then topping with an assortment of cooking utensils. His logo, created by Geri Denyer with DenyerDezignz, added the perfect touch to the centerpieces and table signs.

One of our favorite décor elements was the place card display. We picked up several old cookbooks from the local Goodwill Store and folded the pages to create a fun entrance presentation. The oversized fork votive holders and the chalkboard signs (created by our own Kate Ranaldi), helped to enhance the bar, food stations and gift table.

As a wonderful take-away and a testament to Ben’s flair for cooking, all the guests were given a personalized cookbook, filled with some of his favorite recipes. The selections ranged from Chocolate Almond Torte and Chinese Scallion Pancakes to Churros and Key Lime Pie. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Chef Ben!!


Ben’s Bar Mitzvah

Theme: MasterChef Junior

Date: May 20, 2017


Event Design and Décor: Amazing Celebrations & Events

Venue: The Riverview, Simsbury, CT

Graphic Design – Logo, recipe books and Place Cards: Denyer Dezignz, Cromwell, CT

Chalkboard Signs: Amazing Celebrations & Events

Place card and recipe book printing: Minuteman Press, Glastonbury

Entertainment: Powerstation Events, Cheshire, CT

Favors: Victor Advertising, Middletown, CT

Sign In Board: David James Gallery, Glastonbury

CT Bar Mitzvah Planner and Event Decor Riverview Simsbury Master Chef Junior cooking theme chalk signs CT Bar Mitzvah Planner and Event Decor Riverview Simsbury Master Chef Junior cooking theme chalk signs CT Bar Mitzvah Planner and Event Decor Riverview Simsbury Master Chef Junior cooking theme chalk signs CT Bar Mitzvah Planner and Event Decor Riverview Simsbury Master Chef Junior cooking theme chalk signs CT Bar Mitzvah Planner and Event Decor Riverview Simsbury Master Chef Junior cooking theme chalk signs CT Bar Mitzvah Planner and Event Decor Riverview Simsbury Master Chef Junior cooking theme chalk signs CT Bar Mitzvah Planner and Event Decor Riverview Simsbury Master Chef Junior cooking theme chalk signs

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The Party Queen Says…It IS Easy Being Green!

Even though we’ve all heard the Muppets song, “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” pulling off a green, eco-friendly wedding can be easier than you think! In many ways, most couples are not aware that they have already included ‘green’ components into their wedding plans.

green wedding ideas chalkboard sign seating chart calligraphy Love the idea of a chalkboard seating chart or menu sign? That’s a great way to save on paper and printing and the boards can often be wiped clean and repurposed as a message board for years to come. Wedding programs can be a lovely memento, so think about printing on recycled paper and perhaps ask guests to share copies to cut down on the quantity. Better yet, display the information on a large chalkboard at the beginning of the aisle so your guests can have something to read before you walk down the aisle. Relocating it to the reception venue can be a great conversation piece as your guests mingle and enjoy the celebration. Engaging the services of a local artist or art student to create these pieces can be a wonderful way to support the local economy.

If your budget allows, provide shuttle transportation for your guests staying at hotels. This will cut down on excess emissions from multiple cars traveling to the same location for the ceremony and reception. In line with this, use as many local vendors as possible to cut down on the distance that they are traveling to your wedding.

Use ‘home grown’ as much as possible for your floral bouquets and centerpieces. Ask your florist to partner with a local flower farm to create seasonal floral décor. Succulents and plants used in your event design can be given to your guests so they can enjoy memories of your wedding long after the last dance. There are several flower-repurposing companies, such as Random Acts of Flowers ( and Rebloom (, who will pick up floral arrangements and redistribute them to hospitals and hospice care centers or resell them with proceeds benefiting various charities. If you are not able to locate such a service in your area, select a local nursing home and ask a family member or friend to handle the delivery after the wedding.

Bottles and cans from the bar often end up in the dumpster during off-site and backyard weddings. Set up a recycle area near the caterer’s cook tent or behind the bar so bottles and cans don’t end up in the landfill. If the caterer is not able to handle the returns, contact a local community organization to pick up the bins or bags following the reception – they would certainly benefit from the return deposit.

Let’s be serious, no one really needs a personalized Koozie imprinted with your face and wedding date. If you feel that favors are a must, think ‘GO LOCAL’ and find a state-made product such as honey, chocolates, candles or soap, as a way to support a local small business. Better yet, choose a charity close to your heart and let your guests know that, in lieu of favors and in honor of your wedding, you have made a donation in their donation at wedding green wedding ideas

You may be planning on preserving your wedding gown for all eternity, but if you’re like me, your wedding gown will end up in the back of your closet for the next three plus decades! A far better fate would be to donate your gown to an organization like Brides Against Breast Cancer (, who has helped thousands of women buy affordable pre-owned wedding dresses and has donated millions to cancer-related charities. If vintage or second-hand is more your style, there are an abundance of shops around who carry an assortment of gowns and often provide tailoring services on-site. Want to make your mother cry? You may be able to wear your mother’s wedding gown by simply updating those poufy sleeves with just a few alterations.

Looking for wedding rings? Engage the services of a jewelry designer to create rings from recycled gold or with fair labor gems. Does your photographer offer an actual printed proof album? Ask for an online version so you don’t have to be wasteful and throw out the prints of your Aunt Shirley doing the Cha Cha Slide. Have an abundance of information to pass along to your guests? Forego the printed invitation inserts and set up a wedding website to tell your guests about accommodations, transportation and local spots of interest. See? It IS easy being green!  

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The Party Queen Says…Ban The Tip Jar

Those who know me know that I have a top 10 list of pet peeves.  It has also been referred to as the ‘never ever’ list.  Hovering around the number one position is the practice of placing tip jars on bars at events.

Some may argue that if the event has a cash bar (don’t get me started with that one) then it follows that bartenders should be allowed to accept tips from the guests.  However, if a client is paying for an open bar for their guests, the bartender should ‘never ever’ place a tip jar on the bar.

is a tip jar required at my event wedding planner tips gratuity

Venue contracts most often will include a line item indicating a specific service charge to be added to the final totals.  This can also be referred to as a house fee, administration fee or service fee and often ranges from 18% – 24%.  This percent is added to the food, beverage, room rentals or audio visual services secured for the event.  More and more venues are adding details regarding how they designate this charge.  For example, with a 23% service charge, they may delegate 8% to administrative costs and 15% for gratuities for the staff.

The policy of gratuities should always be discussed prior to signing any venue’s contract.  An important question would be to inquire about how the staff gratuities are handled.  Some venues will pool the amount and then distribute evenly among the event staff while others will give a larger percent to the wait staff and a smaller percent to the bartenders.  It is also a common practice to tack on an ‘attendant fee’ for the bartenders and coat room attendants at larger events.

Nothing irks me more than to see a tip jar on a bar when we have discussed this at length with a venue’s event team.  I can’t tell you how many times that I am told that it is the company’s policy to not allow tip jars yet the bartenders always seem to go rogue and place a dollar-filled jar smack in the middle of the bar.    During the final walk-around prior to an event, we find ourselves in a ‘battle of the bills’ with bartenders who insist on having a tip jar.

During one social event at a hotel, I walked by the coat room to find a tip jar out, overflowing with pre-placed dollar bills.  After tactfully asking the attendant to remove the jar, I continued to check the two bars positioned in the pre-function space.  As expected, tip jars were on both bars so I reminded the bartenders of the contract agreement as well as the hotel’s written policy.  No sooner had I walked into the ballroom to double check the tables, the bartenders defiantly replaced the tip jars onto the bars.  One of our alert event assistants, witnessing this transgression, informed the banquet manager to deal with the issue.

Certainly, should a guest kindly decide to offer a tip to a bartender, we always ask that the bartenders discretely slip the bills behind the bar so the other guests don’t feel obligated to follow suit.  We have also placed small framed signs on bars stating, “You’re hosts have kindly taken care of all gratuities this evening.”

During a recent wedding (with an open bar), we had a long discussion with the event manager regarding bartenders blatantly soliciting tips.  She adamantly stated that it is not allowed in the venue and that bartenders benefit from the shared gratuity pool after each event.  I mentioned that one of the bartenders had seen me prior to the event and he said, “Oh I remember you, you’re very particular.”

Several years prior, this same bartender had placed a tip jar on the bar and had fanned out numerous dollar bills across the top of the bar, as if to say, “keep it coming folks!” Tacky to the nth degree!  He was quickly admonished by myself as well as the event manager and I even recalled this incident during my pre-event discussion.  Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as the bars were rolled into the ballroom, both bartenders immediately placed tip jars (stuffed with dollar bills no less) out in plain sight.  With my blood boiling, I swiftly removed the tip jars and went to find the event manager.  As I walked away, one of the bartenders (guess who?), took out a wad of cash and fanned it out on the bar.  Really??!!

We often must walk a fine line when managing an event for a client.  We need to be respectful of the venue’s event manager and understand that the bartenders are their employees.  However, signed contracts are legal documents that should be respectfully followed by all the venue’s employees.  Despite our best efforts, it is exceedingly annoying to deal with this time and time again.  I often wonder if the event managers look the other way to compensate for the low hourly wages paid to their employees?  Even if this is the case, that’s not our client’s issue and signed contracts should be followed to the letter.

Historically, people are under the impression that if they generously tip a bartender, their drinks will be more potent and the service more attentive.  This may be the case in restaurant bars, but at events, all guests should be treated equally and the service should always be top-notched.  You certainly don’t see servers walking around with money bags strapped to their waists, clanging coins while balancing their food trays!

Tip jars are an issue that won’t be going away any time soon.  This has become an item that is front and center during every event meeting and one of the tasks that is on our check list for every event.  It would certainly be helpful to have venue managers reiterate this policy during ‘recon’ meetings prior to events.  In addition, they should be mindful of ‘repeat offenders’ and deal with this accordingly.

In the meantime, whether you have an event planner or not, make sure to scrutinize contracts and add addendums if you don’t see your specific desires listed clearly – OPEN BAR, BAN THE JAR!!

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Wouldn’t You Rather Have It Your Way?

Blog Whopper

Burger King recently retired their long-standing slogan, “Have It Your Way,” following a 40-year run. During that time, customers knew that they could order their Whopper with extra pickles, no cheese, half the onions, or mustard instead of ketchup. Of course there was a standard Whopper recipe, but accommodating the specific tastes of their customers was paramount to the success of the burger giant.

Amazing Celebrations, LLC thrives on unique, one of a kind events, and always encourages clients to think out of the box when planning their special occasions.

Recognizing that not everyone has the same budget, tastes, personalities and expectations allows us to make appropriate vendor recommendations and suitable design proposals. We have done a fabulous number of basketball themed events but would like to think that each Bar Mitzvah client was satisfied that their particular celebration was distinctive and memorable.

Partnering with venues and vendors with similar event philosophies is always a win-win situation. Good for us but even more so for the client. Nothing is more exciting than finding a chef who is willing to go the extra mile to match the menu to the theme or a DJ who will take the time to create a playlist that spans multiple genres for both the bride and groom.

One major roadblock to this ideal scenario is the phrase, “We’ve always done it this way.” Imagine walking into a salon hoping to get blond highlights and a quick trim only to walk out with a total buzz cut. The stylist claims that she only cuts hair one-way and chooses to ignore all special requests because “I’ve always done it this way.” A bit of a stretch, but something that we hear all too often.

The least successful site visit is with event managers who ‘talk at’ clients. They’re so concerned with getting through their pitch that they don’t take a breath to ask even one question. “This is where the band will be, this is how you will walk in, the tables are always set in this configuration, our package includes…” and on and on. If we cut in to express a different flow or format, we are often told, “this is what works best for us” with no consideration for the client’s needs or wishes.

Realizing that many venues and vendors have certain policies and restrictions that must be taken into consideration, we still will always stress creativity and personalization as the key to every successful event. Venues and vendors should periodically ask someone to critique their sales calls and presentations. Take some time to get to know the client even before launching into the sales schpiel. Picking up on just one of their special requests will go a long way in helping the client to move the venue to the top of their list.

“Be Your Way” is Burger King’s new motto because “self-expression is most important and it’s our differences that make us individuals instead of robots.” We would all do well to chew on this adage for a bit…

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Top Three Reasons To Hold A Corporate Event

Three Reasons Blog  

If you’re looking for a reason to hold a corporate event, look no further. Amazing Celebrations has compiled a list of the top three reasons why every company, even yours, should throw at least one major event per year.

Whether it be for your company holiday party or your annual awards dinner, a corporate event is more than just a reason to let loose. It’s also a reason to validate your employees, raise morale around the office, and create a stronger, more productive team.

Keep reading to find out how a corporate event produced by Amazing Celebrations could take your company to the next level!


Show Your Appreciation

Corporate events can be designed to show appreciation to your employees, your business partners, your clients, or all three! For instance, you can throw an awards dinner where you spend the night recognizing top achievers, hard workers, and valuable assets to the company.

Some of the most successful events we’ve put on at Amazing Celebrations have centered around the idea of rewarding employees and/or clients with awards, prizes, and public acknowledgment. It makes for a great party where everyone can get involved and have a little fun.

Furthermore, not only will every guest go home feeling special, but they’ll come into work feeling reenergized, appreciated, and ready to work hard for your company! A holiday party, an awards dinner, or even a quarterly luncheon can be exactly what your employees need to move their productivity into high gear.


Build A Team

In this modern day and age, when most employees sit in front of a computer, often isolated from their co-workers, it can be difficult to establish a feeling of community and teamwork amongst your employees. Since they’re cut off from each other during the day, you might find that it’s difficult to get your employees to bond with one another.

Corporate team building events are an excellent way to combat the lack of camaraderie around the office, and a pretty fun one at that. As event managers, team-building activities are one of our favorite events to organize because we get to see the fruits of our labor bringing employees closer together.

We’ve also noticed that off-site events where your employees can play various games to learn important company values boosts morale and results in a fun, productive time for all! You might be surprised at how much more efficient and dynamic your company can be when everyone is working together.


Raise Awareness

Whether you’re trying to get the word out about a new product or service, or simply wanting to raise awareness for a charity or your company’s reputation, a corporate event is the perfect way to go about it. Nothing tells people to pay attention more than a soiree full of fun activities and tasty treats. It’s true, your guests might only come for the free food and drink (and we’ll make sure it’s absolutely impressive!), but believe us when we say that they’ll stay for the message behind the party.

Over the years, we’ve noticed that the parties we’ve planned for companies looking to raise awareness is much more effective than a simple announcement. We have seen first hand that people don’t just want to be told about a new product, but they want to demo it, discuss it, and perhaps be wined and dined while they’re at it. A corporate event could be just the ticket to raise awareness for your product or cause. Pair it with a theme, some fabulous centerpieces, and a keynote speaker to boot, and you’ll have one successful party on your hands!


Start planning your next corporate event with Amazing Celebrations! Contact us today for more information.

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Suite 16
Glastonbury, CT 06033

(860) 659-2927


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Boston, MA 02129

(617) 913-6522

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