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30 Nov 2012
Throw a hat-decorating party!
Hat Decorating Party|sophie-world.com

I love hats! I look silly in them, because I have a tiny little head on which very few hats can sit respectfully, but I still love them. I envy those men and women who can wear a hat well, whether it’s a baseball cap, ski hat, or designer chapeau. Unfortunately, I am not one of them...

 

A fabulous plunger hat from sophie's world
Me in one of my "better" hats...

However, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them or from using them in craft projects. The inspiring thing about a hat is that it already has a form; that is what makes it the perfect base for embellishment. A very plain and ordinary cowboy hat or fedora can become an awe-inspiring vision when adorned with a bit of ribbon, some sparkly trim, and a few well-placed feathers.

Recently, we held a hat-decorating party for a lovely group of women in Half Moon Bay. Their husbands were attending a conference there, and this was meant to be a little “time filler” for the ladies. What ensued was a morning of ingenuity, design, and delight. The ladies took hat decorating to the extreme, and created masterpieces of fluff, wire, and frill that reflected not only their individual personalities, but that of their local region. While working diligently on a giant ruff of ruby and gold, I was informed by one guest that it’s a time-honored tradition in Texas for the mothers of high school students to create these giant, out-of-control “mums” for their son’s dates to wear to dances. The moms make the mums (say that 7 times fast!) which are basically ribbon rosettes and flowers meant to be worn like a corsage. But to hear this woman describe it, many of the girls need a shoulder strap and harness to keep the enormous things in place!

The party was a huge success, as the ladies sat around sharing stories and swapping adornments... which led me to think about how much fun it would be for a holiday party or fundraiser! There are several ways to throw this sort of party:

1. Have the host supply the hats. These can be bought in bulk from online sites such as Oriental Trading, Rhode Island Novelty (I like their fedora hats and their top hats), and U.S. Toys. All of these places sell hats by the dozen.

2. Have each guest bring their own hat to the party. Just make sure they understand that the hat they bring will be decorated.

3. Check thrift stores, yard sales, and White Elephants for any hats you might find. Often you can actually find really good hats inexpensively.

Once you have your hats, you’ll want to set out a bunch of supplies -- here’s where you can get super creative, because you can use everything from lace and trim, to bottle caps and buttons. Gather as much stuff as you can, and ask your guests to bring stuff as well... the more decorating items you have, the better! Suggested items are lace, ribbon, pipe cleaners, feathers, puff balls, buttons, bottle caps, duct tape, jewels, old jewelry, fabric, tulle, tin foil, coffee filters, tissue paper, you name it!

 

A table full of hat decorating supplies from sophie's world

Set up a glue station, be it glue dots, thick white crafting glue, tape, or our favorite: hot glue. One thing to remember about hot glue: you never want to use it on a plastic hat; it will just melt the hat! Straw hats are great, but remember, they are woven, so if you are using hot glue with those, be cautious of glue seeping through the weave. If you are holding this party for children, remember, adult supervision is essential with a hot glue gun. You’ll want to make sure to have a gluer on hand for every 4 or 5 kids present (to keep kids from waiting in line too long).

Set out all the supplies and let your guests go to town. It’s nice to have places for people to sit down and work; this encourages folks to share materials and inspiration, and allows guests to get to know one another.

When everyone has finished have a fashion show, and let your guests share their creations. You may even want to award prizes for Most Fashionable, Craziest, or Most Inspired. Come up with an award for each hat, if you like. Awards don’t need to be anything special: a simple certificate, ribbon, or mini trophy (all these can be found at Oriental Trading Company), or you can make your own. It’s really not that important what the award is, so much as you have fun coming up with the category, and announcing it to the crowd.

Have a great time, and “hats off” to ya!