Inspiring Celebrations Since 2006

The New Direction of Featured Parties at HWTM

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I’m excited to share a new direction with you guys today! And on that’s been LONG time coming. I’m finally bringing featured parties back to HWTM – but in a new way, with a different layout, and – most importantly – with INTENTION.

I know this post is a little long, but felt like it was important to explain the background behind this change… especially for my longtime readers and those of you in the creative space that I’ve known (at least virtually!) for several years. You are more important to me than you probably realize.

The topic of featuring parties has been a legit and consistent internal struggle for me over the past few years. I never lost my love for sharing beautiful parties and clever creative ideas, but I definitely lost the feeling of satisfaction and relevancy/purpose behind it. I wrote a very honest and open post about this feeling a while back, when I first decided to stop featuring parties towards the end of 2014.

When Something Felt Off…

At that time, I realized that something felt “off” when it came to featuring parties (and had felt that way for quite a while), so I thought the solution, although difficult, was to let go of this element of my business completely and focus my efforts on other things… things where the time I was spending actually felt impactful in ways that I could see.

And despite being quieter online for the past few years – especially compared to when we used to post 3-4 new parties a day on HWTM – I have remained busy in the world of party design… with things like content creation for brands, graphic design, and corporate/charity event design.

The problem, though, is that I often felt my thoughts drifting back to featured parties during this time – and to how obviously I missed them… or at least missed that incredible time when sharing them ALSO felt infused with a distinct sense of purpose and relevancy.

The truth is that I loved sharing ideas and beautiful celebrations with other people on a daily basis. And I still love seeing peoples’ faces light up (or hearing the excitement in the tone of their comments) when they see something we’ve shared online that strikes a cord with them. I love the feeling that the content on HWTM is actually helping someone when that person finds the idea/product/tutorial/vendor that makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in their party planning experience.

But every time my thoughts wandered down that path of what I was missing, they also drifted to the reasons I left featured parties behind – and I could never quite shake that feeling of irrelevancy that had motivated me to let them go. I REALLY disliked that feeling. So I continued throwing myself into other things.

Cut to today, and something has changed. I’ve realized that busying myself with other things isn’t working. This topic is obviously something that won’t let me go – even when I tried to “set it free” myself. Sometimes change can be inspired by simply realizing that you’ve spent quite enough time avoiding a certain thing, and that it’s time to look into alternative solutions instead.

A New Direction for Featured Parties

As a graphic designer and an event designer, my job is to constantly find solutions. This is really at the heart of the work. For example, if all of the centerpieces for an event I was styling got ruined in a freak accident the day before the party, we wouldn’t cancel the entire event… we’d find another way to still have (beautiful!) centerpieces at that event, period. It would probably definitely entail frantic phone calls, zero sleep, calling in some favors, and lots of racing around like a crazy person – but we would FIND A WAY. That’s just what you do.

So, I decided to finally apply that same sense of thinking to THIS situation. If the main problem has been that a sense of helpfulness (and, in turn, relevancy) in the features was missing, how could I remedy this?

There are ALWAYS wonderful ideas and incredible products/vendors within each submission that we share – so I KNOW they can be helpful resources to others – but the beauty of the individual ideas has been getting swallowed up by the sheer volume of content in each post.

I’m a details girl and always hated leaving any little thing out when it came to our featured parties, but I’ve realized that showing everything at once was also (unfortunately) resulting in nothing standing out. Sometimes even my own eyes would glaze over after endless scrolling through all the beautiful pictures. :0

I also needed to find a way to make these posts manageable. For one thing, we were putting significant time and effort into writing thoughtful post intros… which hardly anyone was actually reading. (People like to jump right through to images – it’s just the reality of the situation.) This led to more frustrated feelings of overwhelm and wasted efforts, and is something that needed to be addressed in the solution as well.

Finding a Solution:

After barely moving from my computer for a total of 28 hours in 2 days, I finally have something that feels right and manageable. Of course things grow and change, and this may too – but there’s gotta be a starting point. One of the main reasons this feels right for now is that I actually feel EXCITED and inspired to feature parties again! And when something that’s felt cloudy and bogged down in your soul for a long time suddenly feels light and new again… well, that’s something that speaks volumes.

So… my solution is to share creative events with you in a DIFFERENT way:

1) First, we’ll open with just the facts.
This means the who, what, where, and why of the submission, bullet-point style. I think it’s helpful for people to have an idea of what area an event is held in, in case they want to hire local vendors. It’s also helpful to know if the event is a Real Party or a Styled Shoot.

2) Next, we’ll highlight 5 of the best and most helpful ideas (and/or products) from the event – in a simple, easy-to-digest format.
This section is the new “king” of the post and is intended to make sure that anyone who visits the post is greeted with at least 5 very specific ideas from it, even just by quickly scanning it. Links to relevant vendors, tutorials and shopping resources will be included with each idea, right next to the image.

3) Following that, we’ll share additional images from the party (just a handful), along with a brief event description (from the submitter) and vendor credits.

The simplified structure looks like this:

  • Submission Facts – who, what, why, where
  • Our 5 Favorite Creative Details from This Party
  • More Photos from This Party (a limited #)
  • Additional Party Details
  • Vendor Credits

How to Submit a Party:

Ready to have your event featured in a fresh new way? Great! You can submit your party here.

As a side note – the navigation bar link to our Submissions Form has been “hidden” for several months. I didn’t realize until today – when I went to reactivate it – that some people were still finding the submission page URL directly somehow. Apologies to those of you that sent submissions in during the time it was closed! The good news is that we’re still able to see them now. :)

P.S. If you’ve made it this far in the post – THANK YOU for letting me spill my heart to you today! I hope you can feel that I want this new direction to be something that’s beneficial – and RELEVANT ;) – all around. ❤️

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POSTED BY:jenn s.JENNIFER SBRANTI is the Founder and Creative Director of Hostess with the Mostess®, a hip and modern party planning resource.

13 responses to “The New Direction of Featured Parties at HWTM”

  1. Caley says:

    I am so excited for you Jen – it is inspiring when a girl boss adjusts something that doesn’t feel right or isn’t working and makes it work… Looking forward to the new features x

  2. Happy for you Jenn! Sincerely yours as a party compadre online, on TV, and on-site (Operation Shower) ~ Jeanne Benedict

  3. Donna Martin says:

    I’m happy to hear that you are back! Change is never easy but I’m looking forward to the streamlined approach! (I too gloss over too many party photos and words and like to get right to the meat of the party! Can’t wait to see the new parties!

  4. Way to go Jenn!! Still thinking outside the box and reaching new heights! I’m a forever fan and I’ll be cheering you on along the way! :) XOXO

  5. Tina Dahl says:

    So so proud of you Jenn for working through all this!!! It obviously weighed heavily on your mind and heart and kudos for you for just taking some time to work it all through!!! I’m kind of doing the same thing right now for a few businesses opportunities that I can’t seem to move forward with, and I can’t figure out why….so frustrating! But I will take a cue from you and just let my thoughts marinate for awhile till I get some clarity. I think your new format is brilliant by the way! And, I think you are amazing!!!

    • jenn s. says:

      Thank you so much, Tina! And yes – I totally understand those frustrated feelings when things don’t feel like they’re falling into place yet… I just read a book called The Big Leap that actually did help me figure a few things out… probably because the approach it takes is different from how I usually think. Some of the things in it might feel a bit “out there” at times ;) – but there were definitely elements of it that helped me figure out what it is I really want to be doing and why. Whatever it is that helps you, I hope you find some clarity soon! And don’t lose heart if it takes some time. That’s totally normal. :)

  6. Toni says:

    I am so happy you are back at it!! I love the inspiration that is shared on your site! Looking forward to seeing more.

  7. The New Direction of Featured Parties at HWTM https://t.co/kfoKvn2G86

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