Last summer I was asked to host a craft night for a bunch of great moms here in Los Angeles. It was my first craft night and I was really excited to hit it out of the park. I wanted it to be the best craft night ever. I wanted fireworks to go off and everyone to yell from the rooftops yay for Meri Cherry Craft Nights! Ha. What an egotistical way to host a craft night right? Yup, guilty as charged. I created my own take on paper tassels and paper fans (see below) and was ready to go. The night wasn’t a total bust thank goodness, but it definitely wasn’t my best work. Let’s just say the crafts were meh and nobody was yelling from the rooftops, least of all me. Fortunately, I’ve hosted several very successful ladies craft nights since (phew) but this one got away from me. So here are some tips for hosting your own craft night, a fabulous evening getting crafty with friends.
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1. Keep things simple and open ended
No need to reinvent the wheel. Unless your guests are coming to you for a specific unique project or technique, set up tried and true process based techniques with a little spin, like watercolor gift tags, dream catchers, and pom pom tassel key chains. There are a bazillion ideas on pinterest. Art Bar and I have a whole board dedicated to craft night ideas. Prepare activities that are limitless in their outcome so no one has to compare themselves to a finished product of an expert. For example, if you’re doing dream catchers, show a few simple examples and let the guests figure out their own style and choices. You can show a few possibilities and offer guidance but chances are the moms will come up with their own fantastic ideas.
2. Give options
Not everyone likes any one particular project. It’s great to set up 2-3 stations so guests can decide what interests them and where they want to start. Often adults feel inhibited when it comes to crafts. You want to set them up for success. Give a few options and make sure at least one of the stations is super super easy. I like to make all three stations pretty easy. Frustration is not invited to craft night.
3. Bring quality supplies
I use this same rule of thumb with kids. Bring quality art and craft supplies, like wood beads over plastic, or lace over polyester. The finished products will look that much better and the invitation to create will be enticing and engaging.
4. Spend time creating a great presentation
Set up is important so start early. You want the guests to see the tables set up beautifully just like any dinner party. Oohs and ahhs is the goal. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make the environment look beautiful. Table clothes, pretty baskets, and glass jars are always a nice touch.
It’s a great thing when a guest has an idea to include a pom pom from one table with a vase from another table. Relaxing enough to think outside the box and experience the freedom to be creative is the goal. Go with it!
ps I learned the term cross crafting from the uber talented Karen Kimmel at Crafting Community, an amazing weekend in Palm Springs where you can craft with your family till your heart’s content. Check it out and hope to see you there!
Like I mentioned earlier, crafting can be really intimidating for some, especially in a world of pinterest images that we can’t possibly live up to. Whenever I start a craft night now I say something about our night being about women getting a break from the daily grind, being away from our kids (no offense kiddies) and having fun together. It’s a judgement free zone. No judgement equals creative freedom.
Ok, so those are some craft night do’s that I’ve found to really work. Now for the don’ts, based on my personal experience : )
1. Pick crafts that are too hard
Start with simple crafts and leave it up to the guests to come up with ways to make it more complicated. You’ll have moms leaving happy and energized rather than disappointed and defeated.
2. If someone isn’t feeling successful, take the time to give them a little love
Take the time to make sure everyone is engaged and having fun. There is something about crafting that brings out the kid in all of us. Sometimes that’s a happy excited child, and other times it’s a anxious child that might be afraid of doing something “wrong.” Take a minute as the host to spend a little extra time with anyone who needs it.
It’s a good idea to run your crafting ideas by your guests ahead of time with a flyer or some images so they know what’s in store. This way if it’s not up their alley they can let you know and you can revamp. Trust me on this one. I speak from experience. No surprises necessary.
4. “Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail” -Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden
Be as prepared as you can be. Know your crafts inside and out so you can anticipate questions and road blocks. You need to be the expert, especially if you’re being paid, so make sure you know your $#@!
These were the party decorations we made at my first craft night. They were cool but limiting and some were a little hard to do right off the bat which wasn’t ideal. If I had to do it over I would make this craft one table and add two other stations that were totally different and super simple so everyone left cheering like my little one below.