Welcome to Camp MATTitou, A Summer Camp Bar Mitzvah!

January 4, 2016

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WELCOME to Camp MATTitou at The Ritttenhouse! A summer camp-themed bar mitzvah we designed last April for Matthew, a young adventurer who loves his summers at Camp Manitou in Oakland, Maine. Morphing the party into Camp MATTitou, we integrated special elements of his beloved camp experiences into the event décor and food styling of his milestone celebration while still maintaining a sophisticated tone.

{Photos courtesy of Susan Beard Design}

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SIGN UP FOR CAMP came in the way of warm, rustic, camp-inspired party invitations. The feeling and tone of the event was communicated to each guest, young and old, through whimsical motifs, logos, and typefaces that we carried throughout the entire event. In fact, just as campers would see as they arrived at the real Camp Manitou in Maine, the first decorative piece party guests saw upon arrival was our tall directional sign post. Emblazoned with the camp logo and positive, inspiring words representing party activities, the sign post was placed at just the right spot to help encourage guests to venture further into the party.

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INTO THE WOODS WE GO! The entrance to the event space included a weathered-wooden fence, a Camp Mattitou sign, low shrubs, tall birch trees, and dramatic lighting to set the “outdoor” tone.

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BUNK ASSIGNMENTS were given to the kids on a giant bulletin board covered with posters, camp announcements, photos of Matt with his friends, and clipboards.  Traveling trunks labeled with Matt’s name and his camp friends were stacked next to the bulletin board along with sports equipment and typical camp gear.

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PERSONALIZED LOCKERS were designed for the kids to stash their shoes, phones, and fun favors in as they collected them through the night. Old logs were placed around a faux bonfire in the center of the lockers to help kids get their shoes off and party socks ON!

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BUNK BEDS were placed near the lockers and were piled with camp gear, blankets, snacks, sports gear, towels, stickers, and personalized pillows.  At the end of the evening, the bunk beds became a part of our Candy Canteen.

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PHOTO FUNTASTIC! We provided the façade of a summer camp cabin to be used as a photo wall, complete with window frames for the kids to duck behind, hang out of, cramp into, etcetera as take home photo favors. Rustic benches, old guitars and fiddles, and other fun country props were placed on the cabin porch.

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FUNTOWN! Of course, you can’t have a successful summer camp experience without other games and activities for the kids, which is why we provided and managed MANY throughout the night branded Funtown “Splashtown” USA, a local water/amusement park near Camp Mattitou. Banners marked the entrance to Funtown “Splashtown” and we created a fun ‘park directory’ map/sign for the activities area that included summer favorites like Double Pop-a-Shot, Jet Ski Simulators,, White Water Rafting, and Skee Ball, to name a few.

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WELCOME TO VISITING DAY signage was placed at the entrance to the adult cocktail area.

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PEG BOARD SEATING. Our weathered white wooden peg board was used to display camp-themed “activity card” seating assignments for the adults.  Later in the evening we turned this same peg board into a fun, grab what you want, Doughnut Board!

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FOOD CABINS for the adults made sure all the kids at every age got to enjoy the playful theme. Starting with the Hot Dog & Artisan Beer Cabin, a rustic wood cabin façade with a selection of hot dogs with various rolls and toppings.

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LOBSTAH! Then, a huge favorite, the Mac & Cheese Cabin with adult-style interpretations of the Americana-favorite comfort food. Come on now, Lobster Mac & Cheese? Get in line, people. Get. In. Line.

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ALL LOGO’D UP! Of course, we had to use all Camp Mattitou’s fun summer camp logos and signs on the cocktail napkins! The matted natural colors and Native American/Western influences were PERFECT!

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ON TO THE BIG PARTY in the Grand Ballroom which we transformed into a magical, high-energy, outdoor celebration under the stars! Long wooden tables, gingham fabric tablecloths, raw wood cross back chairs, wildflowers, wheat grass, and lanterns of every kind were placed in a room dripping with stars and subtle details.

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THE MESS HALL aka “the kids tables” were a bit more stylish than what Matt usually experiences at summer camp. Long wooden tables with matching bar stools were placed together in the room. Keeping things simple and safe, we placed low arrangements of wheat grass, wildflowers and faux candles on each table.

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ADULT DINNER TABLES were designed with fabulous arrangements of natural elements such as moss, fern, succulents, flowering branches, wood, and other earthy things you would find on the forest floor. Combined with beautiful imported flowers of the season such as Narcissus, Lady Slipper Orchids, Ranunculus, Protea, Hellebores, Fritillaries, Amaryllis, Ornithogalum, Viburnum, Gloriosa, Peonies, and others. On the two longest wooden tables, we suspended wooden and wire mesh lanterns from stained wooden frame structures. Water gardens with moss, rocks, and flowers were placed beneath the lanterns for table top admiration. Flanking these were tall birch trees in leaf with under-plantings of natural designs of flowers and candles. Vintage lanterns were tucked everywhere into the designs. 

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LETTERS FROM CAMP with sweet, sentimental notes from Matt were created as memorable menu cards that blew the guests away! Quite possibly, our favorite detail of the event.

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RUSTIC BARS were custom-designed in our wood shop using re-purposed wood planks, moss and birch branches. Placed at the back of the ballroom for the adults to enjoy, our back bars with rustic wooden shelves and country lanterns added a soft glow.

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SHINING STARS in the form of fiber optic curtains were on every perimeter wall but that only drew the guests eyes to the dance floor! We installed dramatic lighting for Matt’s event, breathing life and excitement into the design of the room. Soft lighting was directed onto the tables in candlelit washes and pin-spots highlighted the floral centerpieces. And, of course, dynamic lighting was installed to move with the groove of LA Stars on stage!

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DRESSING UP the hotel’s parquet dance floor with a large Camp Mattitou logo just made sense. Up above the dance floor, to simulate dancing under the trees, we hung branches and lanterns.

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MULTI MEDIA may not be welcome at every summer camp in favor of activities out of doors, but it was at Camp Mattitou! Two 80” plasma screens were framed in faux timber and were used all night! Most importantly, the screens were used to share Matt’s photo montage. Then, the screens projected the Camp Mattitou logos as well as fun “camp announcements” inviting campers to join their bunkmates for hot waffles, or at the Candy Canteen, or to say it was time to pack up and head home, etc.

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THE CANDY CANTEEN was more than just obscene amounts of nostalgic old time and modern day candies displayed in metal baskets and wooden boxes. Oh no, it was so much more than that! It was a Waffle Station, Doughnut Board and S’mores Extravaganza! Branded burlap bags could be filled up with candy store favorites for the bus ride home while kids munched on freshly made waffles and adults devoured brightly-frosted doughnuts. Passed mini ice cream cones made sure even those guests unwilling to leave the dance floor could enjoy a sweet bite!

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WE’D LIKE S’MORES PLEASE! Can’t fight it, a campy reference was inevitable! But everyone loved the S’mores extravaganza we set up with table top camp ‘fires’, along with other vessels to contain the sticks, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers.  The benches previously used during the cocktail reception were placed around the s’mores fire for a cozy fireside feel.

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PARTY ON CAMPERS! While guests danced the night away, our team of event managers were hard at work supervising the kids, collecting gifts and cards, changing over food stations, moving set displays, organizing the kids’ sweatshirt favors into their lockers, loading kids on and off buses, and packing up care packages of goodies for hotel guests to enjoy the next day. WHEW! Party on campers, party on.

Mazel tov Matt!

{Credits: Event Design, Lighting, Flowers, Furniture, Party Games, Artwork & Party Planning: Evantine Design; Venue and Catering: The Rittenhouse; Band/Entertainment: LA Stars; Photography: Susan Beard Design}

REAL STORIES: A Steakhouse Bar Mitzvah Celebration

April 16, 2013

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When a client walks in the door with a cool party idea already in mind, it’s our absolute pleasure to make that concept come to life!

Such was the case with a recent Bar Mitzvah in South Jersey. Our clients are devoted steakhouse lovers and challenged Event Designer extraordinaire, Arlene Bluestein, to create that same sense of warmth and sophistication for their son’s Bar Mitzvah celebration. Working with a rich palette of reds, browns, taupes and metals, Arlene transformed the halls of Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, New Jersey into Jared K’s Steakhouse.  {Photos courtesy of Philip Gabriel Photography}

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Guests were entertained on every level, from the delicious foodie-approved menu to the fire-branded chalkboard seating boards and rustic wooden tables, to the engaging soccer ball performer, energetic entertainment and dramatic red lighting. But that’s not all. Waiters from Barclay Caterers took table-side dinner orders from leather bound menus. Custom-made mahogany bars were placed in the main “dining room” complete with  leather bar stools and drink menus featured classic American cocktails.

When it came to designing the main dining room, Arlene lined the room with curved leather banquettes with round tables as well as rectangular family-sized tables. But the upscale steakhouse feel didn’t end there, red silk lamps, modern distressed wooden candle holders, contemporary glass hurricanes, lush low floral centerpieces and tall palm trees were layered into the scheme for dramatic effect.

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Jared and his friends were seated at high community tables centered in the main dining room, allowing them the best (and fastest) access to the dance floor. The always rockin’ band LA Stars kept the crowd dancing all night long!  The adults’ dined on intimate tables holding low centerpieces filled with flowers in deep red tones, such as amaryllis, tulips, roses, hydrangea, orchids and hypericum berry. Even the party favors were branded right on theme, and included short sleeved t-shirts for the boys and burnout hoodies for the girls, all rolled into “fire branded” tubes that also included tins of  mints.

No detail was left to the imagination and the collaboration between Arlene and her client couldn’t have been better! … and then there was the fabulous sports-themed cake from Classic Cake Co. to bring it all home. Mazel Tov Jared!

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{Photographs courtesy of the ever-talented Gabe Fredericks of Philip Gabriel Photography}

TASTE: Sushi Bars, Always a Popular Food Station at Parties

July 27, 2011

When it comes to planning your special event, wedding or bar/bat mitzvah menu, invariably the question “what are the most popular food stations at parties?” gets asked.  The answer, at least on the East Coast, is an enthusiastic “SUSHI!!!!”  In one form or another, sushi stations or sushi bars, are a guaranteed win-win choice for cocktail receptions for discerning palates.  Sushi and sashimi are even served at children’s parties for the kids to enjoy!  Over the years we’ve designed and styled many a sushi presentation using carved ice, glass vessels, running water, river rock, custom-made wooden planks, light up tables, lucite shelves, red lacquered boxes, gold vessels, Asian statuary, and on and on.  Below are just some of the sushi stations we’ve created for weddings, parties and social gatherings.  [Above, Catering:  Leslie Rosen Catering; Photo:  Philip Gabriel]

For a modern white and purple 25th wedding anniversary we worked with Leslie Rosen Catering to create a stylish Seafood Crudite with colorful mixed sushi, salty steamed edamame and a large ice bowl filled with cocktail shrimp.  [Above, Photo: Paul Loftland]

Multiple light up tables were placed in a row to create a large sushi display that would allow a large group of guests to graze all at one time.  Each table was composed of multiple mirrors in silver metallic frames that held monochromatic displays of sushi, sashimi and seaweed salad. [Above, Caterer:  Wolfgang Puck Catering; Photo: Susan Beard Design]

For a tented cocktail reception for a bar mitzvah at a private home, this floating ice sushi station presented multiple sushi rolls on glass and metal platters.  [Above, Catering:  Leslie Rosen Catering; Photo:  Phil Kramer]

Sushi isn’t just for cocktail receptions. Why not serve it as a surprise second course during a sit-down dinner?  That’s exactly what we did for a bar mitzvah at Peche at Sherman Mills.  Just as the first course was ending, a wall of drape opened on one side of the ballroom to reveal a forty foot sushi station laden with gold vases filled with purple orchids and plate-after-plate of sushi! [Above, Catering: Leslie Rosen Catering; Photo: Susan Beard Design]

Sushi Cabanas built with tents inside a building gave the adult guests at this bat mitzah a fun activity to enjoy while they watched the kids dance below.  [Above, Catering:  Peachtree & Ward; Photo:  Phil Kramer]

Bamboo, black beans, sushi mats and vintage Asian elements combine to make this sushi stationa hit at a boy’s bar mitzvah celebration at Peche at Sherman Mills.  [Above, Catering:  Leslie Rosen Catering; Photo:  Philip Gabriel]