Jordan Ferney turned her love of celebration into a career and a happy home for her family. As a successful event planner and self-described “creative entrepreneur,” she transformed DIY blogging into the businesses Oh Happy Day and Color Factory, an online party resource and interactive art experience, respectively. Her colorful craft spreads joy whether she’s writing for Domino or planning an ice cream adventure for her three kids: Moses, 16; Roman, 14; and Simone, 7.

She applies her arts and crafts approach to their life too. She restored a greenhouse in the backyard of their weekend home in upstate New York, which she calls “a kind of alter ego.” While there, she likes to cook, garden, and slow down, creating meaningful experiences for her family and friends. “It’s more about enjoying nature up there,” she says. “There are no TVs around; everyone unplugs. We open all the doors and have access to all this pretty wildness.”

Ferney makes moments special — magical, actually — without spending a ton of time or money. “Think about the end feeling and work backward,” she says. For this businesswoman, wife, and mother, it works. Try it.

Where does your creativity come from?

I come from a family of eight kids; my parents are schoolteachers. We didn’t have a lot of money, but both my parents just knew how to create drama and experiences. That’s the environment I was brought up in — it has to be magical and perfect. I want to give that to my children.

Is there an experience you remember as a kid where your parents made something special?

One Christmas morning, my parents gave us a box filled with letters, and we had to figure out what they spelled. Finally, we put it together: “Disneyland!” They were like, “Go pack, we’re leaving in three hours.” It was mayhem! We all went crazy, crying and packing. That’s what I remember. It didn’t cost more to present it like that.

I always love thinking about that. We packed in three hours and went to Disneyland, but it’s the visceral, dramatic moment I remember most.

jordan ferney chick race
jordan ferney birthday cake

Can people still do that now, make magic for their kids?

Absolutely. Make it magical. Our kids’ birthdays is their “yes day.” They look forward to it all year. They get to pick what they want, and we try to say “yes” to everything, whether it’s ice cream or a Broadway show. If they want ice cream, we build a giant ice cream sundae.

The book “The Power of Moments” talks all about creating the dramatic moment. People will spend money on an expensive trip, but that memory blends in. Instead, it’s the dramatic things that sear into your brain. Create a ceremony to make it memorable.

How does creating magic every day change life?

It’s being thoughtful about the meaning and being deliberate. It’s really about them, thinking about what you want them to feel, thinking of the end result and working backward. My son’s birthday is in two days, so I’m thinking, “What’s going to make him feel loved? What can I do to remind the people in his life to reach out?” I might collect a quick video from everyone for his phone. I want to make him feel seen and appreciated.

So, is the reveal more important than the gift?

Yeah, FOR SURE. The thing that gets seared in the brain is the drama, the presentation. Like, we make our kids wait till they’re 13 to get phones. So, for my oldest son, we got him an iPhone, but we made a printout on a box that said “Mom Caller” with a picture of Elmo on the front. He was like, “OK,” then he opened it, and it was an iPhone. He still talks about that moment. It’s usually not about the gift — it’s about being playful.

It’s not about money spent — it’s about making the person feel loved and appreciated and seen.

Jordan Ferney

What’s your feeling about birthday gifts?

I really like thoughtful presents. The great thing about having a big family is I have all these nephews and nieces in their early 20s who are so cool, and my kids look up to them like gods. So, I got my 16-year-old a record player and asked all my nieces and nephews to choose records, like their perfect album, and add a Post-It note for when to listen to it. Like for The Smiths, the note says, “Listen when you get broken up with.” It’s soooo cute. That’s an example of something that doesn’t cost more than the actual present but has meaning.

What about reciprocation? Do your kids do anything for you?

It’s SO important to me to make sure I’m raising partners and community members who don’t just rely on me to do it all. Look, I happily do all this work; I want to make it magical. You don’t have to spend a ton of money or all day, but you do have to do something and make sure it’s thoughtful.

jordan ferney mothers day cards

Do your kids do something for you on Mother’s Day?

Last year my husband, Paul, was out of town for a conference, so they totally did it by themselves. They made “toy soldiers” with a soft (boiled) egg; it’s a common staple at our house. They did a really good job. I try to emphasize that it’s not about money spent — it’s about making the person feel loved and appreciated and seen.

How do your kids feel about the way you celebrate them and everything else?

It’s our family culture, so they’re into it. I would never force them to do anything — other than their homework, eat a vegetable once a while, and clean their rooms. I’ve realized if you create a really exciting, fun family culture, everyone is first in line — they’re in.

What’s the value in life of making something special?

It’s just more fun. You could do it the boring way or the fun way. It has meaning, and people remember it.

Author

Martha McCully is a writer and brand consultant who’s into wellness, design, health, wine, and science. She was formerly Executive Editor of In Style, founding Beauty Director of Allure, and judge on HGTV Design Star.

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