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Happy 2013 from All of Us at Design*Sponge

by Maxwell Tielman

Every winter it feels bittersweet to sign off for the end of the year. While a huge part of me enjoys giving my eyes a break from the laptop and getting some extra snuggle time with my cat, an even bigger part of me truly misses getting to be right here, writing.

As much as I’ve come to enjoy this blog as a job, this year Design*Sponge became something bigger and even more important to me. I realized, during a year of deep personal work and introspection, that this site has allowed me to discover who I am and share myself and my deepest passions with a community of people without whom I wouldn’t be the same.

Because of this site, I have discovered the best friends I’ve ever known, formed partnerships that have excited and inspired me, tested myself and learned new skills and built the type of inner confidence that I feel lucky to have even been allowed to feel. D*S started as such a solitary pursuit, but it’s become a real family to me. From the people working across the desk from me (that hot pink one above) to the people leaving comments and Tweets and Facebook notes, to the people who sometimes take a moment out of their lives to say hello in real life, I wouldn’t be the same without all of these people. I wouldn’t get to know the type of love, support and happiness that I feel privileged to know. So thank you, all of you, for supporting not just me but everyone here over the past nine years. As I round the corner toward a full decade of running this site, I feel more than ever like the luckiest person in the world.

I plan to come back in 2013 with the determination, excitement and enthusiasm of my younger self. I’ve gone through a lot in the past two years that has tested me and made me feel weary, but knowing that I get to come back here — to my online home and family — for another year makes me feel as energized and honored as ever. I am so excited to spend another year here with all of you, sharing ideas and inspiring each other to live fuller, happier lives. From the bottom of my heart, happy holidays and all of my best wishes for a wonderful 2013. I’ll see you again on January 2nd. Love, Grace

To celebrate 2013, we decided to throw a New Year’s party with a 13th Birthday Party theme. It was Max’s incredibly fun idea, and he really outdid himself, helping us pull together an evening complete with a cotton candy machine, heartthrob confetti, vintage board games, pink popcorn balls and a glittery photo booth. We’ve shared photos and all the decorating details after the jump, so I hope you’ll read on for the full story and some of our favorite people who shared the night with us.

Above image: Sparkling rosé makes a pink party-appropriate alternative to the typical champagne.

Above image: To tie-in with our “13” theme, we created round confetti with images of teen heartthrobs. Check out the directions for the project here.

Above image: Rice Krispies treats and popcorn balls are delicious snacks that capture the lighthearted and jubilant tone of New Year’s. We found the popcorn ball recipe here.

Above image: Mason jars filled with paper straws and bunches of pink carnations added a festive touch to the dessert table. We added some glitter-covered glass candleholders for when the sun went down.

Above image: Cake stands are a great way to mix up a buffet table. Even if you don’t have cakes or pies, they’re excellent for holding small dishes filled with cookies, candies and other treats! Also, if baking isn’t your forte, dress up decadent treats like donuts on beautiful platters!

Above image: Similarly colored Christmas ornaments were given an alternate use as shiny decorations hanging above the dessert table. They’re lightweight enough to string up and attach to the ceiling with a little bit of masking tape.

Above image: Our party’s conversation pit! We covered the coffee table with bowls of snacks, confetti and the classic board game “Mystery Date.”

Above image: To add a bit of warmth to our game area, we tacked up some theme-appropriate wrapping papers to make a quick makeshift wallpaper. Most of the papers used are from Paper Source and Kate’s Paperie.

Above image: We dressed up a few hanging lanterns by spraying them with spray adhesive and covering them in pink glitter. Pink mini disco balls add an extra festive touch.

Above image: In addition to pink carnations, pink poppies helped to create a bubbly atmosphere.

Above image: Our retro-styled cotton candy machine was the surprise hit of the evening!

Above image: Party guests enjoyed posing in our photo booth and playing classic board games! Check out the directions for creating your own New Year’s photo booth here!

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  • Any time I read Design*Sponge I get an incredible feeling of hope, THANK YOU, your website and theme for giving me the resources to feel hopeful about my craft, business and community.
    Happy New Year and congratulations on such a wonderful space for artists, designers and crafters to feel at home and hopeful!

  • A lot of pink up in here! I loved it, we don’t see much pink from you, it was something different. I’ve learned so much from you Grace even though we’ve never met. Through Design*Sponge and your podcasts you’ve introduced to me new places, things and people I may not have stumbled upon on my own. Long before I had my own blog I was a regular Design*Sponge reader, you gave me a much needed creative respite from a very analytical business day job. Mahalo Nui Loa for that.

    I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Btw, some of what you have gone through is also part of growing and getting older (but you are not old! I’ve got at least ten years on you). You’ll find the need to refocus and look inward will continue to occur and the best thing is to listen to the messages your body and soul send to you, which is something I see you doing.

  • Indeed its been a tough year, Grace. But looking forward to 2013 to be the best that was ever.
    Wishing you good luck and get back on your two feet :-)

  • Grace, you are a marvel how you keep going and an inspiration to us all.The party looks just fabulous- so many great ideas on a small budget- just what I love.
    Hope 2013 will be a fantastic year for you all, and have a wonderful christmas.XOXO.Bea

  • Now I’m thinking I should head out to those deeply-discounted ornament sales tomorrow. They really look fantastic hanging from the ceiling. Love all the great ideas here.
    Design*Sponge is such a happy part of my day! Thank you for all the work you put into it; I really look forward to reading and learning here. Over the years you’ve introduced to many things I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Happy New Year and all the best to you and your staff.

  • Do I really have to be the curmudgeon here? All I see is SUGAR . . . pretty sugar, retro sugar, but R E A L L Y when everyone in the world is fighting the bulge? I enjoy this site so much, but frankly, I was surprised . . . how about interesting drinks in addition to wine and champagne like mango, beet and orange juice mixed with seltzer? Or, delicious canapes with smoked salmon , cheeses, or colorful vegies . . . I could go on and on.
    An interesting story I once read about Cuba was the fact that when the Russians pulled out and the Cubans couldn’t get fertilizer or parts for their machinery, they became VERY inventive and eventually VERY successful growing their own food . . . they even went back to plowing their fields with burros and donkeys. They were known for being the largest ORGANIC FARM in the world. Their population became so much healthier . . . forced to walk and forced to eat what they could grow. Something to remember and aspire to

    • Savanna

      No, you don’t “have” to be a curmudgeon.

      We post non sugary, healthy, vegan and vegetarian recipes all the time- but this was a teenage themed party for a big holiday- we thought it would be a fun excuse to embrace sweets. You can always change things to suit your dietary needs if you prefer, but if you eat in a balanced way most of the year I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying a glass or rose or a popcorn ball for the holiday.


  • Merry Christmas to you and your team! I’m so excited to see what you have in store for 2013 and even more inspired by your party since I’m hosting our own for NYE!

  • You go, Grace and D*S. Looks like it was a fun party. Wonder if there’s any donuts left….

    Enjoying D*S more all the time, best of luck in 2013.

    “Go raibh maith agat! (Thank You very much!)

  • The decorations for this party are awesome – I plan on incorporating some of these ideas into my new years party. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I also need to check out that board game!

  • Happy New Year, Design*Sponge! I gave my mother one of your books for Christmas, and it inspired me just by flipping through it & seeing her excitement. Thanks for everything!

  • Happy New Year to all of you – looking forward to another year of inspiration and fun and ideas popping up in my emailbox from the fabulously talented team and community.

  • I love the ideas and your personality that comes through the emails. Thanks for continuing to put your “all” into presenting the best design conepts and creativity.
    Merry Christmas to the team

  • Hi Grace,
    Wishing you and the whole designsponge team a lovely New Year and all the very best in 2013! Thank you for what you are putting out there–I love checking in with you every day.

  • Wow Grace, that looks so festive and happy!
    Thank you very much for all your hard work, I so enjoy your blog, it is such an inspiration.
    Thanks also for all the wonderful people you have surrounded yourself with. I love Amy’s, Maxwell’s, Ashleys, Kristina’s and all the others posts too! :-)

  • Love this post, love the healthy ones too, but also good to be “outside the box sometimes,” no one is perfect right? Have to go buy my lanterns to spray paint for my New year’s party. GO GRACE, you are part of all of your readers families. Happy New Year to you and your gang too!

  • You’re a great inspiration Grace – really looking forward to my daily reads and weekly podcasts next year. Please remember to rest and reinvigorate yourself before you dive back in. We can wait!

  • What a fun party idea. Congratulations on another great year, Grace and company. You provide so much inspiration to so many. True leadership means creating more value than you capture, and you demonstrate that every day.

  • Happy New Year to Grace and the whole D*S team! Visiting this site is a highlight to my day, and seeing the book on my credenza when I come always makes me smile. Thank you for your hard work and endless inspiration. Looking forward to see what guys will have for us in 2013.

  • This is wonderful! I’m all in with sugar for arts sake – you don’t have to eat all of it, seriously! It’s enough to see a beautiful spread and know you have options to try, and it adds to the festivities when so beautifully presented. And I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for such unabashed pinky purple peachyness.

    I love your blog, been checking in since 2005 blogger days. Thanks for the daily inspiration and this great year end send off!

  • What a visual treat! Never been a big fan of pink, but this simple yet elegant use of pink in your decorations is simply awesome!! I adore your work and am a regular at your website…Please keep up the good work and a very Happy New Year in advance to your team!

  • Dear Grace and the D*S staff,
    Thank you for this visual rainbow of color, texture, energy, fun times, glitter, and so much more. This post has given me inspiration for my new apt especially the paper lanterns and mini disco balls hanging from the ceiling! Your daily posts are an inspiration to all. Happy New Year!

  • Congratulations on a fantastic blog and for reaching out, inspiring people, following your dream, being ‘real’ about it and for having gratitude. Small business is a tough road that is challenging and rewarding in equal measure… you walk that road with great style.

    thanks for doing what you do.

  • Great party theme! So pretty and easy to achive. Thank you for all your inspirational work… I can’t wait to see what you’ll be doing in 2013.
    Happy New Year to you all!!

    Emily @ UpstateCountryHouse.com

  • Thanks for this heartfelt post. I’ve started following D*S more steadily this year, and am better off for it. You guys have a lot of heart and give this whole endeavor a lot of love, thought and sweat which comes through in the content. Looking forward to more good stuff in 2013!

    Looks like a fun party, too!

  • I’m pretty new to DS, but wanted to say that I LOVE it! Thank you for sharing such wonderful things!

  • Mystery Date, ftw! And those mini pink disco balls . . . sorry to gush, but I love everything about D*S. Have a lovely break, guys!

  • This is so touching it brought a tear to my eye! I really appreciate you being a REAL person behind your blog! That’s what makes it so special! This pink party is so cute! I wish I would be on the guest list ;) Hope your 2013 is full of confetti! xx

  • Here’s to a fabulous 2013! I think you’ve been an inspiration to all for years and knowing you’re human too makes things even more impressive :) Lots of love and good wishes!

  • what a wonderful looking party! i would honestly love to have this as my next birthday party…and i’m turning 23! hahaha! happy new year to you all, thanks for sharing!

  • Happy New Year to you Grace! Here’s hoping for a wonderful and rewarding 2013. 2012 was an enormous year of change, reflection, re-balancing, and growth for many of us, but life is indeed what we make it and I’m sure you will make the most of it…as always! You are a trooper and an inspiration.

  • Great looking party and bring on the sugar, I say. You only live once. I think of D*S as the mother (the cool, super-stylish one, of course) of all the design blogs out there that have proliferated through the years. You and your team are a great inspiration! Now, can we get a source for that AMAZING rug (vintage score, I’m guessing)?

  • Just came across this post…what a lovely letter of reflection and a beautiful party, Grace and D*S team! Thank you for sharing your inspirations and insight with us – allows us to dream our dreams and fill up on inspiration!:)