14 Dec Holiday Party Inspiration with Rene
On the second Thursday of December, long time Plano customer Rene Neely, has a tradition of inviting all her gal pals to a special event held at her home. And each year she comes to Paper Affair Dallas to snag all her party essentials. We had a chance to speak with her after she completed her 11th Girly Holiday Party to get her take on what it means to have a successful celebration.
When it comes to the holidays, Rene does everything. She worries about the Christmas shopping, wraps all the presents, delves over selecting the right Christmas card, and putting up all the decorations in the house. It’s no easy task and we all know it. She thought it would be nice to take a break and she realized that her friends were feeling that same way. “They have to do the same thing so I wanted them to come where they didn’t have to entertain their husbands, they knew people here – unlike their husbands’ corporate parties…and to be pampered…[just] let them have a girl night.”, she reminisces. The rest is history. Her party started off with a few handful of her closest friends and then it somehow “exploded” because she would then get strangers come up to her and express interest wanting to attend the next year.
The Arkansas native pulls out all the stops for her guests. She hires catering, bartenders, wait staff, and even a photographer to help all the women feel right at home, relaxed, and just ready to mingle and have a good time. But the whole thing starts with the invitation. At market, our Paper Affair Employee Ashley D., will keep an eye out for the newest invite designs and styles. She knows Rene really well having worked with her for many years so she’s learned to scout out the right invitation for her. “Ashley is great – she will send me a picture and we just take it and run with it.”, Neely admits. Each October during Partner’s Card week, Rene comes ready with her special file tote case in hand with a list of things she needs to order for the party. That file folder holds all of her previous invitations, sweet thank you notes from her guests, and other memorabilia from her past girly holiday parties. She likes to be different each year so she always makes sure she can compare and review her old invitations so that not even the wording is redundant.
For 2016, Rene wanted to show her love for her friends by using the phrase, “XOXO”. She ordered bright red cocktail napkins that made the theme loud and clear while adding gold lips to make it more festive. Her guest towels also in red used the gold foil text to say, “Kisses get you on the nice list!” Stressing that details are very important, Rene believes the smallest nuances can really transcend a party. To tie the theme throughout her home, she even placed “XOXO” vinyl stickers on bathroom mirrors and doors in a subtle way. She always makes sure to get a stamp for the envelopes of her invitations to match! “No matter what you’re doing – whether it be a wedding, a party, a baby shower…anything that’s little you think people might not notice…[those] things let people [know] that you care that they’re here.”
And Rene truly cares. You’ll find her right up at the front door. She’s there when the first guest arrives until the last guest leaves. She always eats before the party because she aims to make sure that every single person, all 70 of them or more, who walks through her front door is welcomed. “I like to be able to say hello to people if they’ve taken the time out – especially this time of year when it’s really busy and they’ve taken time to get dressed up…, I just would like to welcome them into my home. And when they leave I want to thank them for coming. It’s something my mom taught me.” Raised by a minister and a teacher, Rene’s family did not have a lot of money growing up so parties were very rare in the home. But every Christmas on a Sunday afternoon, they would have an open house at their home for the church congregation. From that experience, Rene recalls that she “realized that it’s important to bring people into your home and share your home with them.”
Within the tradition of hosting a party, Rene humbly admits that the reason behind her parties’ success is because of the circle of people that have helped her. From the girls at Paper Affair, the wait staff, the people making the food, and even the guys who valet the cars outside – each one Rene has become good friends with. She shares that she puts her trust in all of them knowing they’ll do their best. Without fail those circle of people have returned to help again and again. “It’s already on their calendar for next year!”, she laughs.
Holding back tears, Rene says her favorite part about the celebration is being able to watch everyone have a good time. She proudly mentions that she knows every single one of her guests. Whether it be her closest friends she’s known for years or even the moms of her sons’ friends that’s she bonded with, Rene has a personal and unique bond to everyone at the party. “I am blessed with great friends… I want people to feel like when they walk in the front door they’re special. I want you to know that I want you here. You’re part of my life. You’ve touched my life somehow. I may not see you until the second Thursday of December next year, but I want you to know that I want you to come back and I enjoy seeing you walk in and seeing you smile just makes me happy.”
Photographs by Esther Huynh. A big thanks to Rene Neely for her time sharing her story!