Minneapolis Illustrator, Invitation Designer, + DIYer Blog


Art, Inspiration, and Life. Sharing all the inspires me to create.

Halloween Entertaining: The Devil is in the Details

This past weekend we hosted our 5th Annual Halloween Party and it was a huge success! I’ve learned a lot hosting these every year and am here to help you pull off a flawless party that your guests will LOVE.

It all starts with a plan. I can’t stress this enough. You don’t need to be as aggressive as I am with the timing (I start planning in August!), but a successful party is not pulled together in a day or two. You need to dedicate time to all the details. Giorgio Armani once said “To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail”.

The first thing I always begin with is a theme. Choosing a theme for your party provides your guests with direction. It sets expectations if you will. Costumes are always a requirement at my party (it is Halloween!), and by sharing a theme, it helps my guests narrow in on a costume and allows for them to still be as creative as they want. This years theme was TV Characters. To set the tone of the party, I created this invite:

TV Guide Invitation
TV Guide Invitation Cover
TV Guide Invitation Contents

Since the theme was TV Characters, I made the invite to look like a TV Guide. I scoured eBay for TV guides and then adhered my hand drawn invitations to them. The illustrations I chose to draw reflected the various directions my guests could go in terms of TV. I also included those details in the Contents page, where I highlighted the details of the party. It’s details like this that help guide your guests to what the party will entail.

Once invitations have been sent out, I start planning the food. Again, having a theme helps so much with this part. Continuing with the TV theme, I researched shows with food having strong presence or silent character if you will. For example, when you think of House of Cards, BBQ plays a big role in the show. Or Big Bang Theory. Food is a key component for the group - Mondays is Thai, Tuesday Cheesecake Factory, Friday Chinese Take out, etc. I like to have a balance of savory and sweet. After narrowing down my options, this is what I created for the menu and then correlated it back to the show it’s know for:

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Logistics is also key! When setting up the food and drink stations, think about how your guests will mingle, move and interact. We’ve done a lot of trial and error with this one and I think we finally found a set up that works for us. This year we put all the food in the kitchen on our island that you can walk all the way around and then had the drink station in the living room. In years past we’ve had both in the kitchen (which caused a TON of congestion) or food on the dining room table and drinks at our bar (also causing congestion and didn’t give people a lot of seating room). With the food on the island, it freed up our other island (attached to a wall so you can’t walk around it) as well as the dining room table for seating. This allowed people to easily move between rooms for food and drink. I was having such a good time at the party, I didn’t capture photos of either of the set ups! #fail But, my friend Ted snapped this one so you can get an idea of how I set up my food table.


Lastly, I always do a photo booth of some sort. It doesn’t need to be fancy. In years past, I’ve simply hung a sheet up in front of a wall and set my camera up on a tripod for everyone to snap a photo of themselves. This year I used a photo backdrop stand and set my tripod up so everyone could mount their phones and get photos on their own devices. I still took a bunch with my phone, edited them, and then shared them with all the guests. It’s a great way to have a collective set of photos from the party for all to have.


It’s that easy to pull of a fabulous party. Just remember the details and plan, plan, plan. Clearly I didn’t plan well for the photos part for this post. If I’d been smart, I would have allocated time before the party began to snap all the photos I’d need to show off each step, something for next year I guess. It’s always a learning process with ways to improve. We’re so geeky about this party, we actually have a discussion the day after on the wins and opportunities of the party and what we would make better next year! HA! Just remember to plan and everything will turn out great.

Designer Crush: Monse

If I had to chose a favorite designer at the moment, I think it would be Monse. I don’t think there is a piece from their Fall ‘18 collection (seen here) that I am not lusting after. Love. Love. Love.

Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia incorporate unexpected elements that make all their collection stand out and in a great way. This off the shoulder blazer is a classic, but they’ve turned it into a showstopper that can be dressed up or down. It’s stunning. I’m also drooling over this Book Pattern tunic. We all know how much I love a tunic shirt over jeans. Gah! And don’t get me started on their pants. Heaven!

Atlantic-Pacific x Nordstrom

I haven’t been this excited about a fashion collaboration in a LONG time. When Blair of Atlantic-Pacific announced this week that she had developed a collection with Nordstrom, I couldn’t wait to see what it. I’ve been a follower/fan of Blair since she started blogging way back in 2010 (when she lived in San Francisco). I’ve watched her effortlessly mix styles to create what is uniquely her her own. And while her style has evolved through the years, the one thing that’s been a constant is her love of color and patterns. Blair doesn’t shy away from color and definitely isn’t afraid to mix prints. Which is what I love so much about her collection. It is a true reflection of her style, but she’s made it approachable for everyone. It launches on October 22, and is a one and done release. You can catch sneak peeks of the collection over on Blair’s blog all week. I know I’ll be setting my alarm for 10/22 hoping to snag a piece or two (especially the shoes and this look right here)

Taj Halloween 2018: TV Characters

This will the be the 5th Annual Taj Halloween Party and the theme this year is TV Characters. As I’ve stated before, I LOVE Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday and I’m super excited for this year’s theme. I started planning in August. Seriously. Save the dates went out and then I got to work on the invitations. With this year’s theme being TV Characters, I wanted to do something tv related (obviously!). After a few brainstorming sessions, I landed on designing a mock up of a TV Guide cover. I wanted to highlight the array of characters one could chose from. And while I couldn’t fit everything I wanted onto the cover, I did enjoy drawing all the images.

As usual, once I started creating, the ideas kept coming. I didn’t want to clutter the cover with all the details of the party, so I created a table of contents. This allowed me to convey the theme in more detail and provide specifics on time, etc.

While trying to figure out how to put it all together in a fun way, I had the idea to use actual TV Guides. I took to Instagram to crowd source after a few unsuccessful searches on Ebay. IG didn’t pan out either, but after a few rabbit hole trips on the internet, I found a site that then linked me back to a bunch of ebay sellers who weren’t selling collector issues. Side note: why couldn’t I find them as easily just searching on ebay the first time???? Anywho, I ended up getting the 22 copies I needed. All various years dating back the 80’s. They’re pretty great! I attached my cover over the cover of the old TV Guide, and then attached the contents page inside over the original contents. I will share photos of the actual invitation and details of the party later this month. Stay tuned.

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Tell me about it, Stud. A Grease Costume.

Olivia Newton-John. John Travolta. The Pink Ladies. Did you know The Movie Grease was the biggest Movie Musical of the 20th century? It’s become so popular over the years that high schools across the country often have it as one of their productions and a few years back it was a live Television event for one night only, with a star studded cast that included Vanessa Hudgens, Julian Hough, and Jordan Fisher.

The shows costuming provides ample inspiration for a variety of Halloween costumes, but the most iconic choice would be the closing scene of the movie when Sandy reveals her “new” look. This costume is quite easy to pull together as I’m sure you have some, if not all, of the components in your closet. Here’s what you need to pull it off.

  1. Black Leather jacket. Doesn’t everyone have some kind of black leather, fitted jacket these days?

  2. Leather Leggings. If you don’t have these, you can find faux ones just about anywhere these days for under $30 or go with my favorites (and a bit pricier) by Spanx that will get more wear than you expected!.

  3. Fitted black top. It doesn’t need to be cropped. Just make sure it’s fitted and low cut if it’s not.

  4. Heels. Any color will do and they don’t need to be sky high.

  5. Big, Curly hair. If you don’t have blonde hair, wigs are easy to come by. Otherwise put those hot rollers in and then tease the crap out of it.

    Just like that, you’re Sandy from Grease.

As If! A Clueless Costume

I still remember the first time I saw the movie Clueless. It had just been released and I had tickets to the opening show. IT.WAS.EVERYTHING. The style. The humor. Paul Rudd. Need I say more? If I spot the movie while channel surfing on TV, I will always watch it. I even watched it flying home from Paris last year. Never gets old. It’s a classic and hard to believe it’s over 20 years old.

Any outfit from the movie would make a great costume for Halloween. Get a few guys to dress up too and create the whole gang. Dress as Tai before the makeover. Dionne with one of her fabulous hats. Or choose from many of the amazing outfits Cher wore. One of my favorite outfits is the iconic yellow plaid blazer/skirt. I may have had the same outfit at one time! And I definitely rocked the over the knee socks with heels more than I would like to admit. YIKES. But I loved it and firmly believe Fashion should be fun. You shouldn’t look back on something and question why you did it. It was what you were feeling at the time.

Halloween - Sex & the City Style

Continuing with costume ideas, grab your girlfriends and go as the ladies from Sex & the City. Channel your fashionista and dress over the top like Carrie. Or find that perfect power suit to go as Miranda. Feeling more preppy and conservative? Channel your inner Charlotte. Really want to spice things up? Samantha’s your gal. I think it’s safe to say we all relate to each of the characters at some point in our lives and feel a certain kinship with them. That’s what made the show a can’t miss each Sunday night (and gave us something to look forward to). We could see ourselves in the same situations. We’ve all been there, done that before.

One of my favorite episodes is when they go to the Yankees game. They’re clearly not dressed for for, but that's what makes it so great. A few of my favorite bloggers recreated some looks from SATC a few weeks back that are also some great inspiration. You can see Krystal, Helena, Karen, and Sai rock some fabulous Carolina Herrera dresses on the streets of NYC. They also recreated the baseball scene here.

Playing Dress Up - Costume Style

October is here and with that comes cool, crisp nights, leaves in stunning reds, oranges, and yellows that only nature can produce, candy corn and harvest mix in abundance, and halloween party planning in full swing. This will by my 5th Annual Halloween Party (#TajHalloween on Instagram to see more). I love a good theme party. Add costumes and fun food and I’m in. Past themes have included Masks, Death, and Fairy Tales. This years theme is TV Characters. It’s a wide category and open to interpretation. Do movies count? if they’ve been shown on TV, yes! What about News and Talk shows? Yes ( grab your gang and come as the Today Show cast). I like to keep it broad to see how creative my friends can get. And let me tell, there have been some STELLAR costumes.

I’m going to post a costume idea each day - no particular theme, just fun ideas that you can create at home. Join me as we play dress up this month! Let’s start with Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s . This isn’t the typical little black dress or sleep shirt and sleep mask costume. This one is from the scene in the five and dime store where Holly and Paul steal masks.