Holiday Parties: Tips & Trends for 2015

Whether you’re throwing a holiday party for 30 or 300, planning and preparing in advance is a sure-fire way to ensure all your guests have a wonderful time. When you think of successful holiday parties, it’s often the simple things that make everyone feel welcome and part of the holiday cheer. Allowing the time the plan in advance will give you the opportunity to adjust to the needs of your guests.

Here are 3 steps to ensure you have a memorable holiday party:

#1: Get your invites out early and ask for guests’ food restrictions. You may not have known some of your staff are gluten-free or vegetarian, but knowing in advance will give you time to offer more options and pick the right venue/ caterer.

#2: If you’re having a bar at your party, try to provide options for your guests to find a safe way home so no one gets behind the wheel after a few libations. Arrange designated drivers in advance, or utilize services like Operation Red Nose. You can also host your party at one of the many great hotels here in Winnipeg and suggest renting a room as a safe and feasible option. You can even speak with the hotel in advance to arrange a group rate. Have a signature drink? Offer a virgin version of the cocktail so no one will feel singled out for not drinking. When guests aren’t worrying about their plans after the party, they will be much more relaxed and have a better time!

#3: Brainstorm! What will make your party memorable? Selecting a unique theme can blow your guests away, and be a lot of fun! Forget all about red and green and Santa hats, turn the holiday season on its head and transform your space in a way no one will have expected by committing whole-heartedly to a trend or theme.

Below, we break down 5 hot holiday party trends that will impress, be inviting and are simple to achieve.

5 Hot Holiday Party Themes

The Manitoba Lodge

One of the best things to do on a freezing winter night is to stay warm and cozy indoors and marvel at the beautiful winter scene painted outside; and one of the best places to do just that is at the perfect little cabin in the woods or nearby lodge.

You can replicate that cozy feeling on a large scale for an intimate and memorable gathering.

  • Nature plays an immense role in this theme. Go overboard with snippets of evergreen tree branches, which will also add that fantastic evergreen scent. Use logs to set centrepieces on, or small pieces for name cards. Use deeply coloured fruit like pomegranates, red apples and cranberries to brighten things up.
  • holidayparties1Key word: rustic. You can use vintage glassware, textured papers, burlap and lace.
  • Use deep, rich colours such as maroon, emerald green and even unexpected navy blue. Cozy blankets and tartan fit in perfectly and can pull multiple col
    ours together from different elements in the space.
  • In the movies, the ski lodge often seems untouched by the modern world. Kitschy touches like grandma’s ceramic loon don’t seem out of place, but rather welcoming. Have some fun by incorporating animals like moose, reindeer, birds, owls, squirrels, and rabbits – very Canadiana!
  • Comfort food will bring this theme to life. A popular trend this sason is gourmet s’mores. You can have your guests try unique flavours like salted caramel, peanut butter, and coconut. Or drop a toasted marshmallow in a glass of Bailey’s liquor.

Gold + Metallic

Gold has become synonymous with the holiday season; the glimmer of the lights on a tree, the golden tips of the flames in the fireplace, and flowing bottles of bubbly. On a stark, cold winter evening, gold will evoke a warm glow like drinking a mug of hot chocolate.

  • To make gold look elegant, set it against black or white. Whether you use just a smattering of gold, a simple colour palette will look effortlessly stylish.
  • Think of décor elements that you don’t typically see in gold. Use gold painted branches and pinecones, or wrap a thick golden foil around a small log for a gilded forest vibe.
  • Maximize the golden glow from candles by incorporating mirrors and reflective vases. It will cut down on the cost of using all gold pieces and will illuminate the décor elements you are using.
  • Balloons are a classic and cost-effective way to cover a lot of ground in a space. Take your balloons from birthday party to chic, couture and grown up by painting half of a white balloon with gold paint. Use a textured brush and paint the balloon unevenly to achieve a glitzy look. Check party stores for new and improved metallic and oversized balloons; these are very impactful in a space.
  • Create groupings of gold-painted wine bottles, mason jars, or vases for a beautifully and functional centerpiece where you can showcase flowers, winter greenery,
    candles, or even Christmas tree bulbs.


Modern + Geometric

One of the perks of this theme is that it doesn’t feel so “Christmasy,” and is sophisticated, fun, and totally unexpected. It’s the holidays done classy, hip and cool.

  • Clean lines and simple colours in geometric patterns with lots of black, white, grey and gold will make the holidays feel completely fresh and updated. Bold stripes, triangular shapes and polka dots can all mix together as long as they are varied in size. (Thick black and white stripes with a chunky, simple font in gold are a popular combination).
  • If you want to use lots of colour, stay away from what is thought of as traditional holiday colour themes. Choose pinks, sugary greens, yellows and turquoise blues, which is fun and festive.
  • Think big. A few simple and large décor pieces can make a grand statement. Create a word or phrase with large wall-mounted letters, or take it to the next level with a light up marquee, which is very popular right now. You can also create a simple pattern out of geometric shapes.
  • When incorporating holiday greenery such as garlands and tree boughs, keep it as simple as possible. Leave a wreath completely plain, or add just few black bulbs to make a powerful statement. Using small amounts of winter greenery will make it feel more like the holidays, but not distract from the theme.
  • Feel free to break a lot of the “rules.” Want the look of a tree? Hanging or mounted triangular shapes can represent a tree. Silhouettes and 2-D shapes make a fun and powerful impact.


Holiday Masquerade

Nothing will make guests come out of their shells like giving them the opportunity to be someone else for the night and have fun with masks! It’s a unique theme for the holidays, and your guests will be snapping pictures all night and talking about it long after the party is over.

  • Invite guests to decorate their own masks. Use a monocratic colour palette so non-craft-experienced guests will feel good to wear their mask. It will also act as a great way to get people mingling.
  • When costumes are a large part of the theme, have staff and volunteers dress up in to bring life into your event. They will become leaders and make guests feel more welcome to take part in the festivities.
  • The look of a masquerade ball is often very lush and decorative. Incorporate colours like purple and gold, add lace and intricate candlesticks to take guests completely out of this era.
  • Hiring a couple dancers to teach guests a Viennese waltz will be a completely memorable moment, and surely bucket list items for many guests. When everyone is learning something new together, it can definitely break the ice. Plus, the photos from your event will be very impressive with a sea of similarly posed guests in their masks.
  • This theme is not tied to a particular colour palette, so feel free to choose colours that are not associated with the holidays. Sometimes, if a colour is not in high-demand, you can receive a lower rate. So ask your vendors what colours are offered at a lower price point around this time of year (you might even help them out by not asking for the last of their red tablecloths.) You’ll get a bigger bang for your buck and surprise your guests with an unexpected colour.

White Winter Forest

holidayparties2There is something so stunningly beautiful about a fresh sheet of snow, especially in a picturesque forest. When the green boughs of the trees are dusted in a white covering and the lights make the landscape sparkle, the season comes truly alive. This theme is all about capturing magical winter white and bringing it indoors.

  • Use an abundance of frosted garlands and pinecones, and even mini Christmas trees. Birch bark is perfect for writing messages to your guests from the menu to the name cards.
  • Silver glitter looks great with white! It can take white from stark and cold to glittery and joyful. Dip the bottom of a white or clear vase in sparkly glitter, or mix in a few glittered bulbs with white or clear bulbs. The glitter options are endless.
  • If you’re using warm accent colours, try using beiges and chocolate browns, or even soft greens to replicate the colours of the trees. If you’re going more for the icy cool winter look, incorporate a few pops of cool blue, or having your lighting company use blue lights to create a frozen forest.
  • White feathers are a great way to add texture and whimsy to the décor. Take it one step further with snowy white owls and turtledoves nestled into a tree branch or on a wreath.
  • Even your beverages can be white with seasonal ingredients like peppermint, white hot chocolate and, of course, eggnog.

Events by Emma can assist you in achieving these themes and many more, or plan your whole event. Book your free consultation with Emma today by emailing .

Photo credit: D. Singh Photography

Autumn Engagements: Falling In Love

fallengagement1Although there is no particular etiquette that dictates when a couple should get engaged, there are many deciding factors that can help you decide on the timing. Are you both fully committed to the idea of marriage? Do you already live together, or do you see that in your future? Are you both at a good place financially?

According to Weddingbells, there will be en estimated 160,324 weddings in 2015 in Canada, and of that, 67% of weddings will occur between the months of June to September. But when is the best time to get engaged? According to the same survey, December has the most engagements with 20% of men popping the question during that month.

But, all that aside, we think that you’ll know in your heart of hearts when the time is right to get engaged.

The fall is a perfectly wonderful option! You’ve likely wrapped up all your summer vacation, and with the upcoming holidays, you can enjoy the magic of the season and attend all the holiday parties as a newly engaged couple. You’ll get to share in the moment with your friends and family, without having that question in the back of your mind “is now the best time?”

Plus, there’s something inherently romantic about autumn and winter. Once you see the leaves start to turn, feel the wind change and find there’s a bite in the air, it’s hard to deny the carefree feeling of summer is over. It’s the time of harvest; to reap all the seeds we’ve sown over the spring and summer, and to spend time with our family. Parks and backyards lend themselves to be the perfect backdrop, and the air is just cool enough to snuggle up together with sweaters and thick scarves on (fall engagements ma
ke for incredible photos with the lush colours of autumn.)

We find that we are talking to newly engaged couples every fall who want to start thinking about their wedding day, and it’s so thrilling to begin taking those first steps with them.

We encourage newly engaged couples to book their consultation with Events by Emma today to start planning their wedding day by emailing !

Three things to consider while planning your engagement:

  • How can you add a personal touch that means something to your relationship? Is there a song that reminds you of when you met? Is there a special location that will remind you both of a special memory? Are you a pair of foodies that have a deep appreciation for baked goods? Whatever it may be, it will show how you hold these unique things about you both as a couple near to your heart.
  • fallengagement2Whether or not you are asking the parents for their blessing, take the time to tell your close family and friends about your engagement personally before you post your new status online. It may seem like the quickest and sensible thing to do, but telling your loved ones in person, or on the phone, will make those close in your life feel part of your new adventure.
  • Don’t over think it! Don’t over analyze every detail. Often times, the more imperfect the proposal, the more you will remember it years from now. Relax and enjoy the moment because that’s what it’s all about.

Now that it’s 2015 and we are in the age of technology, we see so many couples posting their unique engagement stories online, and there’s a wealth of examples to pull from.

We’ve broken down what we think are the three main categories of proposals. Think about the style of proposal you want to do and infuse what makes you as a couple unique!

The Old Switcheroo

This is when you craft a perfectly reasonable plan to get your partner in a romantic situation, then ambush them! For example, get dressed up for a (fall!) photo shoot, and then suddenly pop the question all while capturing the moment. Or, plan a weekend trip that all leads up to the proposal on a sandy beach or romantic dinner. Or even, go the totally casual route like when Aidan purposed to Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City on a completely non-glamorous dog walk, but it was spontaneous and special.

The Big Reveal

This is all about planting the question for her to discover, much like a mini treasure hunt. It can be small, like writing “Will You Marry Me?” on a cake. Or big, like spelling it out with a skywriter. Involve friends and family in the surprise by asking them to wear t-shirts that spell out the question. Is she always on the computer working on something? Sneak onto her laptop and change the wallpaper to a picture of you on one knee. Or, be old fashion and purchase an ad in the paper – especially if you know she’s going to read it Saturday morning.

Your creativity knows no bounds! We adore this unique little flipbook proposal from The Flippest.

The Declaration

This one’s all about making an attention grabbing statement that’s full of surprise. It can be as small as a family dinner, or as large as arranging to get on stage with her favourite local band. We’ve seen plenty of videos go viral with flash mobs, including elaborate dance numbers, live bands and choirs. Just check out this guy. This is a great one for sports fans. Try calling your local team to arrange for your big question to appear on the big screen, then get on one knee in front of the whole stadium. These grand gestures are sure to be stories you will tell for years to come.

Sources: 2015 Weddingbells’ Annual Reader Survey

Photo credit: Pure Light Studio

Vendor Spotlight: Academy Florist

While scrolling through Academy Florist’s Instagram account, it’s easy to be in awe of their
breathtaking arrangements that are overflowing with beautiful flowers and luscious greens.

Academy Florist has been a popular choice in Winnipeg for over 30 years. They manage to stay on top by their innovative ideas when creating their stunning arrangements.

“I believe that usually whatever everyone else is doing, I do the opposite,” says Irene Seaman, owner of Academy Florist. “When everyone else catches on, I try to go onto something else. That’s been my motto all these years.”

Irene Seaman is the owner of Academy Florists and has been surrounded by flowers her entire life. Growing up, her great grandfather and father both had their very own greenhouses.

“We used to do floral arrangements and weddings out of our greenhouse and I said, ‘okay dad, if I’m going to be working and doing flowers we need to open a shop,’” says Seaman.

Because flowers surround her all day, Seaman says it is easy to be happy and says it’s one of the perks of her job.

“It’s a proven fact that flowers do affect a person’s mood, so most of my girls are always happy,” says Seaman. “If they aren’t doing well, we put their face in front of the flowers and say here make this arrangement colourful and beautiful.”

Without a doubt Irene and the girls at Academy Florist work hard and put countless hours in to make every event a success, which is why the EBE team loves working with them. We can count on them to fulfill our expectations and even go above and beyond.

We asked Irene some questions and we are sharing her answers and tips with you!

What are some of the current trends? 

Right now the garden style is in and the more natural look is in. Whereas five years ago it was hardly any greenery and now there’s lots of greenery. Garlands are in right now, which weren’t in for the longest time. In the 70s every head table had a garland.

How many flowers do you usually go through per day?

We go through thousands of flowers. Just roses alone I think we go through at least 3,000.

What is something people may not know that goes into the process of arranging flowers?

People think it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot more work than anyone would ever think. First of all it’s a lot of work trying to get in the right amount of flowers, in the right condition. There are not a lot of flowers that are grown in Manitoba, so once they’re here, you have to process them, cut them, trim the leaves, you have to make sure the flowers are nice, and you have to treat them so they’ll open up well.

What are some tips you would give someone choosing flowers for an event? (Irene recommends knowing the answers to these questions to help make the most of your first meeting)

  1. Where’s the event and what kind of event is it. (Casual event, fancy affair, country and is it a wedding, anniversary, birthday).
  2. How large is it? Is it going to be a lot of people or intimate?
  3. What is your colour scheme or what would you like it to be? (What colour are your table clothes/what colour do you lean towards/what is your favorite colour)
  4. Do you have a favourite flower?
  5. What is your budget?

What is it like working with Events by Emma?
What I like about working with Emma is that  we can put our ideas together and our talents together and we can come up with something pretty fantastic. Emma often allows us to give our suggestions about the flowers we should use, and that makes a huge difference. We know what’s available and what we can do for that price, so we try our best to make it look very good.


Photos by Jeremy Hiebert Photography


Halloween | Spooky Tricks and Treats!

Halloween season is fast approaching and we couldn’t be more excited. We were invited to show off our Halloween Party Planning tips on CTV Morning Live on Tuesday October 20, 2015.

Check out this link

During our two segments we are sharing ideas on how to: Host your own Halloween Bash – Featuring Spooky Tricks and Treats!

Check out some cool and creepy Food Ideas to create the scariest

Sweet and Savory Food Station“.

Ghost Meat Loaf Muffins

What you’ll need:
• 2 eggs , lightly beaten
• 1/2 cup seasoned fine dry bread crumbs
• 1 package of onion soup mix
• 2 lb. lean ground beef
• 1 24-oz. pkg. refrigerated mashed potatoes
• 24 capers, drained, for decorating

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin pan with a non-stick cooking spray
• In a large bowl combine ground beef with two eggs, bread crumbs and onion soup mix
• Lightly press about 1/3 cup of the meat mixture into each muffin cup
• Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until cooked
• Meanwhile, heat potatoes according to package. Using a pastry bag, pipe potatoes onto each muffin. Garnish with capers for ghosts’ eyes.

Pumpkin Guacamole Dip

What you’ll need:
• Mini Pumpkin
• 3 Avocados
• 2 Roma Tomatoes
• 1/3 cup red onion
• Bag of dark chips

• In a large bowl combine avocados, tomatoes and onion and mix together
• Carve pumpkin with an open shaped mouth
• On a plate place the pumpkin at one end with the guacamole coming out of the mouth
• Place chips around the guacamole dip

What you’ll need:
• Batch of your favourite chocolate cupcakes
• White buttercream frosting
• Toothpicks
• Tube of black decorator’s icing or Halloween Chocolates

• Frost the cupcakes using the white buttercream icing
• For each cupcake, use the tip of a toothpick to lightly etch the outline of two large eyes in the frosting
• Slowly pipe black decorator’s icing onto the etched lines and then fill in the inner circles. Use another toothpick to spread and smooth the icing.
• Pipe on two short lines for a nose. Next, pipe a long line across the bottom of the cupcake for the mouth. For the finishing touch, randomly top the mouth with a bunch of short icing barbs.

Creepy Caramel Popcorn Balls
What you’ll need:
• 1 bag of microwave popcorn
• 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
• 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1/3 cup light corn syrup
• 1 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces
• Non-stick cooking spray
• Microwave popcorn according to package directions. Line a rimmed baking pan with non-stick foil. Spread popcorn onto foil-lined pan.
• Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and corn syrup. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Cool 4 minutes.
• Pour sugar mixture over popcorn on baking pan. Coat a spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Push hot mixture into centre of baking pan, folding over to combine. Coat your hands with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle popcorn mixture with candies or seeds. Using your hands quickly combine ingredients and shape into firmly packed 2-inch balls. Cool completely. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap, or keep covered until ready to serve.
We choose to showcase two alcoholic beverages and one non-alcoholic kid friendly drink choice.

Below are our specialty cocktails:
Orange Ginger “Rum” Martini

What you’ll need:
Orange Ginger Soda
• Rum
• Ice
• Martini Glasses rimmed with orange tang

• Rim Martini Glasses with Orange Sugar or Tang, then add ice to glass
• Pour Orange Ginger Soda over ice in glass, wait until it stops fizzing, then add rum

Test-Tube Cesar Shots

What you’ll need:
• Clamato Juice
• Vodka
• Plastic tes-tubes rimmed with Cesar Rimmer
• Rim Test-tubes with rimmer
• In pitcher, mix clamato and vodka
• Pour into test-tubes and Enjoy!

Halloween “Orange” Punch

What you’ll need:
• frozen orange sherbet
• orange juice
• pineapple juice
• ginger-ale

• Place sherbet and orange juice and pineapple juice in a punch bowl. Allow to thaw for 10 to 15 minutes
• Stir in ginger ale

Check out some classy “Day of the Dead” Tablescape ideas to create just the right atmosphere for your ghoulish friends and family:

(Please note: photos will be uploaded after the Live segment!)

Grey Cup | Official Announcement


Emma and the entire EBE team are thrilled to announce some very exciting news. We are the Official Festival Décor Design Supplier for the 103rd Grey Cup Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We are not only fortunate to be the host city of the 103rd Grey Cup Festival, but we are now able to be apart of the festivities.

We will be designing many of the large-scale events that will take place all week long and we have been working hard with all of our dedicated partners and supplies to create some amazing and signature designs, showing the very best our city has to offer!

We cannot wait for you to see what we have been working on behind the scenes. The first event to kick-off the week will be the Bomber Breakfast at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre on Thursday, November 26th.

To make sure you don’t miss any of the events during the week, visit the official 103rd Grey Cup Festival website.

You’ll be able to find out everything you need to know about each event.

Be sure to follow the EBE Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram page to see what event we are working on and where we will be during the 103rd Grey Cup Festival.