Friends, after much ado and about two years later than anticipated, I am so excited today to finally be announcing the all new The Sweetest Occasion! A couple of years ago I knew it was time to freshen things up with new branding and a new look, but I also knew the site needed a fair amount of restructuring to make it more organized and user-friendly. Along with my incredible friend Erika Firm of Analog Creative Co. we tackled the new branding and logo. Wildly, that was over two years ago. Soon after I found out I was expecting and because of that we had to move and then I had a newborn and then we bought a house and then we started renovating, and on and on and on. Until finally, I got together with the dream duo of gents at Roundhouse Designs, and from there Ryan and Nick set to work bringing the design I’d blocked out to life. I’m so grateful to them for putting up with me these last few months.
For those of you checking things out via reader, here’s a glimpse at the new logo design by Erika Firm! I hope you’ll pop over and check out the new site in all her splendor.
When designing the new site, I had two priorities in mind. One, to strip everything down and keep it clean and light while putting all the focus on the photography. One thing that comes up over and over again in annual reader surveys is how much you guys love the photography on the site, and it’s definitely something that has always been a primary focus and concern of mine when creating content. I’ve been known to reshoot posts when I feel I’ve missed the mark in some way, so the new site is really designed to let the photos do the talking without a lot of cutesy fanfare. I think it succeeds in that and I hope you love it! Two, I wanted to vastly improve the user experience and make it easier to find the posts you’re most interested in reading. So, let’s jump into that for a moment, shall we?
If you look at the top navigation menu on the site, there’s now a dropdown menu that allows you to do things like sort all the recipes by type (such as appetizers or desserts) or to browse cocktails by spirit or season. Have a fancy bottle of vodka hanging around need a great cocktail to go with it? You can now easily get right to the vodka cocktails in no time flat. There’s also a handy holidays menu, too, so if you want to pull up just Christmas ideas (which would include everything from recipes to crafts to gift guides) you can now do that easily. Behind the scenes this took me several hours of sifting through thousands of old posts. For you, it hopefully equals a better reader experience right away. Keep in mind that some of the categories don’t have a ton of posts yet, but I wanted to build in the organization so it’s there as I continue creating new content in the months and years ahead.
When looking at recipes, you’ll now find that every new recipe will have a printable recipe card! (I am also working on updating old recipe posts to have the same so keep an eye open for your favorite posts to be updated soon.) You can also rate recipes when you’re leaving a comment so that other readers can get your feedback on what you loved about a recipe or how you switched it up to make it even better. This is something one of my good friends and neighbors (hey, Nik!) mentioned to me and I thought it was such a good idea. Hopefully you’ll find this a great asset in sharing with other readers and with me since I always love hearing your tips and suggestions.
Over the years The Sweetest Occasion has evolved a great deal. I started back in 2008 with sharing loads of wedding ideas and really intricately styled parties. (Both things I still love, by the way.) Over time I worked in more original DIY projects, recipes and food content, and shifted away from some of the more time consuming themed party DIYs and elaborate party setups. Quite frankly, I went from being one of the very first blogs in the “entertaining” niche to having loads of competition and I was sort of bored with seeing and doing the same old thing. I thought hard about how I truly love to entertain, which is generally over a delicious meal with a great bottle of wine and some pretty flowers, and I allowed that to inform the kinds of posts I create and share. I also truly believe that when we create a home for ourselves that fills us with joy, that it inspires us to open our homes and our lives up to the ones we love. Because of this, I started sharing more about our old house and how we’re slowly making it into the home of our dreams, one that is functional and comfortable and a haven for our family and our loved ones. As as result, the content I’ve shared in the last year or two is some of my very favorite. Also, just for fun, here’s a look at all the old versions of the site – some of which were considered seriously trendsetting back in the day if you can believe it!
The Sweetest Occasion 2009 when I first moved over from Blogger to WordPress and launched at www.thesweetestoccasion.com
The Sweetest Occasion in 2010 and the shortest lived version of the site, here and gone in just seven months!
The Sweetest Occasion in 2011 – 2012 and the debut of a new logo, which I used for the next six years. I still kind of love those pretty flowers illustrated by my amazing friend Carolynn of Two Brunettes.
The Sweetest Occasion in 2013, the longest lived site design until today’s relaunch!
With this latest relaunch of The Sweetest Occasion, here is what you can expect and count on. Fun party appetizers, great holiday recipes, delicious cocktails, easy DIY projects centered on making your home and your parties more beautiful, with tips and tricks along the way for making your house or apartment or condo the home you’ve always wanted. All of that comes packaged with a focus on family and friends, a focus that reflects my own personal values and the way Bob and I strive to lead our lives. There is no greater way to show your love for someone than to invite them into your home for a meal, and I truly believe that when we invest in our personal relationships, the rewards are meaningful and plentiful. I hope I can help empower you in little ways day by day to do just that. Maybe that seems a little heavy for a blog with a whole lot of pretty photos of food and flowers, but that’s where my passion to blog comes from every single day and I hope to continue sharing that passion with you for many years to come.
[Lead photo by by Alice G. Patterson for The Sweetest Occasion.]