June 25th, 2012 |

Country Chic Holiday: 4th of July

The Fourth of July always conjures up images of a homespun holiday to me.  I like to throw my typical modern prep style aside and focus on creating a tablescape or party centered around true Americana style.  This year, I am going to combine gingham check, a classic red, white and blue color palette and a mix of country chic accessories.

I turned to Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel to dress my table for the recent summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine. Mixing in a few items I already had, the table was set with a blue and white gingham table runner, and an eclectic centerpiece made from weathered red candlesticks, bud vases wrapped in white rope (a nod to my love for nautical accents) with full white peonies, and a few votive candles scattered about.

To create my placesetting, I layered my navy charger plates with my white basic plates.  A canvas napkin with twisted rope fringe laid atop and held a red salad plate, and a striped bowl full of cherries.  Casual, red silverware and acrylic hobnail glassware completed the look.

It wouldn’t be a summer party without pies!  Stay tuned this afternoon for an heirloom pie crust recipe from our contributor, Charynn’s family!  For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

June 20th, 2012 |

Summer Picnic with Style

Once school is out, I become obsessed with finding ideas to keep my kids busy and entertained.  A summer picnic is just the ticket!  And I’m not one for a simple blanket and bag of food……

Using picnic themed printables from WHHostess, we created an adorable yet quick and easy picnic using plain packaging materials. Glass water bottles (reused from coffee bottles) turn into colorful and updated water when filed with fruit and herbs. Check back later today for the detailed how-to instructions! Plain deli containers purchased at the grocery store are filled with homemade potato salad (traditional and an flavorful german potato salad with bacon and blue cheese).

A cylindrical potato chip canister is covered with patterned paper to make a gorgeous and perfect whoopie pie container, and simple glassine bags when labeled with a sticker are an easy way to hold portions of potato chips for the kids.

Kelly was kind enough to create some labels to coordinate with this picnic, and they are available for free download here.Photography by Kathy Wolfe

For more creative summer entertaining ideas, view the summer 2012 issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

June 14th, 2012 |

2 Parties | 2 Tables | 2 Nights in a Row!

It’s been a very busy start to June around here.  The launch of the summer magazine, a frenzy of party orders, custom party plans, lots of work on a new {top-secret} product for WH Hostess, even more work on a {very exciting, also top-secret} project for The Party Dress and photo shoots this week to bring you even more exclusive, original content this summer.

Now that the weather is nice, I’m in the mood to entertain…..always!  So leave it to me to book two dinner parties….two nights in a row this week. Yikes!  {Am I crazy?!  We’ve pretty much already established that….}

We hosted friends {who also happen to be family} Sunday night for a very casual bbq and then my family Monday night for a very early Father’s Day Dinner.  Since I knew I was up to my eyeballs in work, I had to be crafty about my tablesettings.  Use basic items that could be a canvas for both tables, but switch out some accessories to give each night a unique look.  Hopefully these pictures inspire you to do the same for your summer gatherings.

I wanted our casual, Sunday night bbq to be colorful and scream summer.  The kids practically out-numbered the adults, so I knew I wanted to use melamine plates and glasses {just in case!}.  I set the table out in our sunroom, which is why the lighting is so much better on these pictures.  I layered the table with a yellow and white large-scale plaid tablecloth, my woven charger plates, basic white plates and patterned melamine salad plates.  The centerpiece was a gorgeous bunch of peonies that I picked up from Whole Foods, but instead of using a typical, glass vase, I arranged them in a wood crate for that more casual, homespun look.

For Monday night’s Father’s Day Dinner, I moved the party into our dining room {we needed the bigger table!} and used many of the same components.

To create this look, I simply switched out the napkins, the salad plates and the glasses.  I was SO excited to use the new green ikat salad plates that I picked up at C. Wonder during my NYC trip a couple of weeks ago.  They are so fun, and I loved the juxtaposition between the ikat and the bold check pattern on the table.  I added some wood block hurricane candles and that was it!  Very simple swaps, for two different looks!

Which table is your favorite?  What are your tips for switching up your table designs between parties?



June 13th, 2012 |

Father’s Day BBQ

Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so I am here today to inspire you with this fabulous {yet masculine} bbq from Honeycomb Events, as seen in the summer 2012 issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  Read on for all of the details from Jeff and Jennifer:

We’re so used to designing baby showers, bridal showers, and young children’s birthday parties, that when the opportunity arose to create a barbecue table centered around Father’s Day, we were happy to depart from our usual pink, glitter, and lace. We started with the color palette, navy blue and orange. They pop against each other so well and still read very masculine, youthful and energetic. We love to mix the modern and the natural, so our neutrals were stainless steel and blonde wood grain.

We had the opportunity to paint a seven foot long picnic table and benches navy blue, so we took it. This amazing modern plus sign fabric was too good to pass up as a table runner, and the plus sign quickly became the symbol of the bbq. The slimness of the table presented an interesting challenge. In order to prevent crowding, we had to think up. We placed our condiments on stilts with custom made labels. The menu and our touch of grass were lofted up to eye level as well. Wood and metal met at the base of our pedestals with our pine crates wrapped in stainless steel and filled with hickory wood chips. Place cards doubled as utensil holders which were customized with our irregular line pattern that matched the napkins. We finished off the meal with a bottle of Orangina. Besides the color, we love the shape of the bottle. We couldn’t resist making our own label for it, and you’ve got to love a navy striped straw.

The food table featured that wonderful navy blue irregular stripe again as well as orange and stainless steel crates. For lunch, guests chose from grilled chicken sausages or pork and pepper kabobs with barbecue dipping sauce at the bottom of the glass, straight off the grill. The peanut slaw featured a few more of our great printables with wood grain or steel backing. Everyone’s favorite was the homemade orange creamsicles. After a great day of bbq and celebrating dad, we made the most of the expansive yard with a fun game of croquet.

Photography by Sarah Anderson


June 11th, 2012 |

Cocktails & Croquet

Summertime is the perfect opportunity to get creative when it comes to entertaining. Whether you are gathering adults for a cocktail party or having familes over for a bbq, spin your party in a different direction by adding a theme. One of my favorites is “Cocktails & Croquet.” A favorite summer past-time, croquet is a simple game that can be played with a few or many guests (of all ages, too!). Mix that with a few fabulous cocktails, delicious food and colorful decorations, this party will quickly become one of your best ever.

When it came time to deciding on decor, I took my cue from the colorful balls and stripes from the croquet set. A crisp, blue and green stripe was used on the invitations and paper goods, and red accents were used throughout the party.

After the games are played and it’s time for dinner, escort your guests to a colorful dinner table. A playful, paisley patterned tablecloth is the ideal backdrop to our gorgeous, white centerpiece. White peonies, and hydrangeas accented with yellow billy balls looked fresh and playful with our coordinating stripe pattern wrapped around the vase. Each placesetting held a personalized croquet ball sitting atop a crisp green napkin. It added a playful touch, and extra croquet balls can be easily purchased at sports stores or from online retailers.

Guests were greeted with a simple self-serve bar, set-up on the patio so refills could be attained easily while playing the game. Wine was chilled in a fruit-filled ice bucket that I made using limes, lemons and raspberries (check back later this week for the “how-to” instructions). Lemonade was served in a drink dispenser, with an assortment of ice cubes infused with fruit flavors. These are so simple to make and add a refreshing flavor twist to any basic, summer drink.

We all have our favorite go-to appetizer recipes, especially during the summer. I tend to gravitate towards veggies & dip, a layered taco dip, bruschetta, or fruit of some sort. The fun part comes in the the presentation. Get creative! Make individual servings of your beloved taco dip in mini mason jars, or shrimp shooters in shot glasses with some cocktail sauce at the bottom. Carve out a head of lettuce to hold your veggie dip, instead of placing it in a regular bowl.

I hope my Cocktails & Croquet party has inspired you to put a twist on your typical patio cocktail party!


June 8th, 2012 |

Tori’s Tips for Summer Entertaining


I was thrilled to catch up with celebrity, Tori Spelling, to chat about the launch of her latest book, celebraTORI and get some tips for summer entertaining.  Read on below for Tori’s tips and check back later today as we share a simple ice cream cone cupcake recipe from her book.

A big thanks to Tori for her contribution, and also for featuring The Party Dress Magazine and her article on her blog, ediTORIal yesterday!

Bring the Indoors Out

During the summer, it’s so nice to entertain outdoors. But having to rent or purchase furniture for your outdoor event can get pricey. So I love bringing my indoors outside for events! From my living room or den I’ll bring out loung-y sofas and armchairs, but even formal, traditional chairs are pleasingly ironic in an outdoor setting. Also bring out coffee tables, ottomans, lamps & books for decor, and area rugs. One day out in the sun won’t destroy your pieces and furniture al fresco is spectacular!

Set the Party Zone

When having a Summer backyard (or even indoor) bash you want guests to utilize the whole space you’ve worked so hard to create for them. Think of your party space as a triangle! When they enter the party they are at the center of the base of the triangle. To the left you should have your main food table or bar and the opposite on the right side. At the far end of your party (the triangle top point) I like to put the focal point of any gathering: the dessert table! To me that’s your star player. Whether its a 6ft table with cake plates stacked with cakes, cupcakes, and cookies or a simple DIY sundae bar guests will love it. With food, cocktails, and dessert all spread out at your party, guests will all use the space and not congregate in one area.

Do a D-I-Y Bar

Presenting a do-it-yourself bar will not only save you money, but also adds a great presentation and conversation piece to the party. I usually like to pick 1 or 2 alcohols to be the base of your DIY bar, such as champagne, vodka, or tequila. I hate the look of a bottle of liquor sitting out so it’s nice to pour it into a carafe. You’ll probably want a sparkling water option for those that don’t drink. I use pitchers, carafes, and bottles to fill with various juices, mixers, and syrups. The last key element is putting out decorative bowls of fresh fruit and herbs.

I always make personalized tags (even if hand-written) to adorn carafes, bottles, and bowls so guests know what everything is. Guests will LOVE creating their own cocktails and comparing notes with each other. I usually set out a cheat sheet to get them started by suggesting fabulous combinations or recommending signature cocktails for the party. Guest’s love awakening their inner mixologist!

Mini’s Rule

I always serve mini foods at all my parties. I believe if it’s more than 2 bites it shouldn’t be served! And, I also believe ANYTHING can be made into a mini size. It’s easier for your guests, less mess, and less wasteful leftovers. Minis also always get that “ahh ha!” reaction from guests and can create a great presentation, and definitely a conversation piece! Now, obviously I’m not opposed to dips and such put out, especially while entertaining outdoors. But when it comes to the main dishes, no one wants a big pile of food on their plate while enjoying the warm weather!

Activity Bound

I’m a DIY gal at heart so I’m always crafting. At any event, I love to give my guests the opportunity to engage in an activity, unleash their creativity, and then have a take home gift from the party. A simple crafting table with benches, bean bags, or beach chairs can be set out to create the activity space. Lay out tools, material, and embellishments and let them go to town! Summer is such a great season and theme to think of DIY crafts to do.

If crafts aren’t your thing, set up a fun, interactive DIY photo booth! Make a backdrop, chalkboard signs they can write on, even some fun accessory pieces and a Polaroid camera and let them create their own memories!

Head back this afternoon for my DIY recipe for creating ice cream cone cupcakes!


May 30th, 2012 |

Monogram Your Event

You all know my life-long obsession with a good monogram.  I love a clean, crisp initial or 3-letter monogram on just about anything!  Do you remember the bridal shower I styled recently where we focused on updating the classic monogram for a bright party full of graphic, preppy patterns?

Today, I am sharing a few ideas of how to incorporate this classic look into your modern lifestyle and events.  First up is this carved out wood plaque from Southern Proper Monograms (image via Holly Mathis Interiors).  I have ordered a couple of these now for events, and whether used to welcome guests from the front door, or hanging in a window like this bridal shower, it adds a lovely, personal touch.  I just ordered one for myself to hang in my family room.  The good news?  It comes natural wood, as shown above, and is incredibly easy to paint!

Incorporating initials or a monogram into your table linens and sweets for a classic look.  These images above (via) are a great example of a clean look that looks updated for a wedding, bridal shower, etc. Another way to update your table or home is to stencil a monogram onto a vase.  Using craft paint, you can apply it to glass, melamine or a birch vase (as shown below from etsy.com).

May 18th, 2012 |

Peonies + Chevron Dinner Party

Last weekend, I hosted a peonies + chevron dinner party to celebrate Mother’s Day.  Do you remember seeing my inspiration board?  I am happy to share a few pictures with you today.  The table was covered with a crisp, white tablecloth and my bold, grey and white chevron table runner.

To create an interesting centerpiece, I clustered together different vessels each holding pink peonies.  My large, white happiness jar stood center stage full of pink cherry blossom branches from Pottery Barn (this arrangement sits on the table in my sunroom during the spring season).  I used bud vases of all different heights and shapes, and wrapped a few of them with white rope to add some texture to the arrangement.

Pink napkins and my pink and white floral salad plates from Kate Spade polished off the look.  It was pretty, sweet and modern all rolled up in one tablesetting.  Although I created this for Mother’s Day, I think it would be beautiful for a bridal shower or special birthday luncheon.

May 15th, 2012 |

Baby Shower BRIGHTS!

With Spring comes baby shower season and well, I am all about color. These are my favorite months because you can get outside and bring out some serious color. When it comes to baby showers, I love seeing the pink + orange combo or the coral + teal trend. They make for great color palettes for any party – especially baby showers.
I am absolutely in love with the oh-so-chic bridal shower full of brights that Kelly styled. Just perfection! It could easily transform into a baby shower. The coral + teal baby shower featured on The Party Dress blog was one of my favorites too!
Currently though, I am really in love with yellow. Yellow with pink, yellow with aqua, yellow with white…..I just love a bright ray of sunshine. And, it works for girls, boys or even gender neutral.
Not into going bright + bold? Pick a stand out color and match it with something subdued.

Oh, and if you haven’t heard the news, I am now a daily writer for Babble.com.  I recently rounded up 15 Pinterest Inspired Baby Showers, WH Hostess included! Make sure you head over and browse the slideshow.

Stay tuned for my favorite Neutral Baby Showers next week!
May 14th, 2012 |

Bocce Birthday Dinner

Phew.  What a BUSY weekend!  A 40th birthday dinner Saturday, and Mother’s Day dinner Sunday….I’m pooped!  I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend. Today, I am sharing a quick picture of the 40th birthday party we styled on Saturday.  A surprise party (and it was TRULY a surprise!) held at Pinstripes (great place for bowling and bocce ball!), we took the “pinstripes” and “bocce balls” theme and ran with it!

One long table, three striped centerpieces of big white blooms mixed with yellow billy balls, and a singular BIG, red balloon. Bocce ball placecards, striped menu cards and paper straws finished off the look.  Perfectly festive, while still being masculine…..the table set the tone for a VERY fun evening.

Stay tuned for a few pics from my Mother’s Day dinner party…..


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