July 8th, 2010 |

Cocktails by the Pool

 

Obviously I have a theme going this week: Great ideas for entertaining outside!  First I showed an amazing anniversary party I recently styled, yesterday it was a patio party, and today…..you guessed it!  It’s a pool party!

Pool parties can be great fun for guests young and old alike.  They make for a festive setting, whether it’s daytime and crowded with people swimming in it, or if it’s nighttime and you have floating candles in it creating a soft glow.

Do you have a pool?  What are some of your entertaining tips for pool parties?!

Images: invitation (whhostess.com), pool (zoomphotography.com), drink bar (goodhousekeeping.com), shrimp cocktails and key lime juice party favor (brides.com), centerpiece (weddingbeepro.com), key lime shooters (projectwedding.com)

 

July 7th, 2010 |

Patio Party

The long days of summer lend themselves to impromtu bbq’s and gatherings around the fire pit.  So it’s best to have a few go-to tricks for quick decor and easy-to-make appetizers – so that you can be the hostess with the mostess, no matter how last minute your party may be!

Entertaining on the patio is one of the joys of summer and lends itself to a natural palette; you can see green touches throughout this inspiration board, which is a lovely way of tying in the natural feel.  Here are a few ideas for creating a party-ready patio:

  • Create a “bar” or food buffet on a narrow console table.  I love this one from Pottery Barn because it has the lower shelf….great for a nice display, but also perfect for holding beverage tins.
  • Lanterns.  Lanterns.  Lanterns.  Whether they are paper, glass, hanging or standing, lanterns can dress up your space and cast a fabulous glow.
  • Bring the comforts of your home outdoors.  Items such as throw pillows, decorative accents, an indoor/outdoor rug can help make your space look cozy.

A happy hostess is a prepared hostess!  So always have a few key ingredients on hand to whip up some delicious appetizers and cocktails.  Here are a few of my new favorite recipes for summer entertaining:

What are some of your favorite tips for entertaining on the patio?

Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), outdoor bar (potterybarn.com), candle centerpiece (theknot.com)

 

July 6th, 2010 |

Real Parties: Southern BBQ Anniversary Party

Party planning is one of my favorite things to do….obviously!  It’s gets my creative juices flowing and I get the joys of working with all different types of personalities.  Well, I recently had the pleasure of planning a party with one of my favorite personalities….my best friend!

With their 10th anniversary looming, my best friend and her husband (who also happens to be my husband’s cousin!) decided to renew their vows and throw an anniversary party, and they asked me to help them do it!  We decided upon a southern bbq theme, with a fresh color palette of yellow, blue and green.

A large, white canopy was erected in the backyard, and we created one long table for dinner.  The tables were covered in a beautiful, summer paisley (tablecloths that we found at Home Goods!), glass candlesticks, and white pots full of yellow flowers.  Crisp, white napkins were folded in a pocket fold at each place, holding the silverware and a seersucker stripe placecard (all of the paper goods were custom designed by WH Hostess).  Chandeliers made of green ivy wreaths and hanging votive candles hung above the table, casting a soft glow at dusk.

Guests were welcomed with delicious appetizers: mini crab cakes, shrimp shooters and paper cones full of popcorn for the kiddies.  A southern bbq buffet was served for dinner, and included fried chicken, italian beef, baked beans, potato salad, tomato and corn salad, spinach salad, slices of watermelon and cornbread.

The kids table held junebug jars (mini mason jars complete with a sticker with each kid’s name, and holes punched in the top for the bugs to breathe!), which not only looked cute but also provided a great source of entertainment for the evening!

Speaking of entertainment…..the dessert table!  It took 5 of us to hold the crowds back for me to be able to snap just a few pictures of it!  Guests young and old couldn’t wait to dive into all of these delicious treats!

Using our signature paisley tablecloth as the backdrop, we used all white serving pieces (most of which were inexpensive finds at Home Goods!), and glass apothecary jars full of green candy (margarita jelly beans, apple sours, rock candy, gumballs and gummie circles).  The desserts included cupcakes (with custom cupcake toppers by WH Hostess), key lime and lemon tart shooters, brownie pops, meringue sandwiches, sugar cookies, and sour apple popcorn.  Guests were given a white take-out box (embellished with a sticker stating “celebrating 10 SWEET years of marriage”) to fill up with candy, to bring home as their party favor.

As the sun went down in the backyard, my favorite part of our decorations lit up and created the perfect party glow…..framework around the patio, adorned with white twinkle lights, and gauzy white drapes ($4 a pack at IKEA) created an “outdoor room”, perfect for after dinner cocktails and dessert.

A fabulous night was had by all!  I hope you enjoyed a peek into this beautiful party, and can take away inspiration for your next birthday party, bridal shower or summer bbq.  Happy 10th Anniversary, Teresa & Will!  Here’s to 50 more…..

June 28th, 2010 |

Fourth of July: Decoration Ideas

Looking for some last minute decoration ideas for your fourth of July bbq?  I fell in love with all three of these ideas……

First, turn your 3-tier serving piece into a 3-tier centerpiece!  Perfect for either your dinner table or a buffet table!  I love how they stacked the three different color flowers, it creates a sophisticated “patriotic” look!

Second, fill cylinder vases with red, white and blue gumballs and insert a collection of American flags.  This is a great idea for the kids table and would also be darling on a dessert table!

And lastly, the floral pomander balls…..this is one look that I just can’t get enough of lately!  Insert white and red carnations (a great use for these inexpensive flowers!) into a styrofoam ball, and then place on top of a vase, large candlestick or even on a cake plate!  They look darling clustered together, too.

Images: 3-tier arrangement (myhomeideas.com), candy centerpiece (sorry – I can’t find the source!), carnation pomander balls (countryliving.com)

June 25th, 2010 |

Real Parties: Cupcakes & Cartwheels

Sharnel of Sharnel Dollar Designs sent me this darling birthday party she did recently for an 11 year-old named, Camilla.

A beautiful color palette of turquoise and chocolate brown, a decedent chocolate dessert table styled to perfection, and a lot of happy 11 year olds decorating cupcakes!  The perfect party for older children, and great ideas to inspire you for birthday parties and baby showers!

Head on over to Sharnel’s blog, My Life My Loves for more of the party details!

June 24th, 2010 |

Fourth of July: Free Printables!

July is one of my favorite months of the year!  It is {normally} perfect, summer weather in Chicago, the fourth of July, and my birthday!  So in celebration of this fabulous month, I decided a free printable was in order!  Here are two free printables for your fourth of July celebration: cupcake toppers and food tent cards.  *See below for instructions*

.

Instructions: click on the images above to download.  For the cupcake toppers, you will need to cut them into strips, and then use a 2″ circle hole punch to cut them out, and attach them to white lollipop sticks with hot glue or tape.  Simply cut out the food tent cards and write your food name (or you could use them as placecards on your table!) in the star with white or silver pen, and fold in half.

Enjoy!  I hope everyone has a festive fourth of July!

June 17th, 2010 |

A Burger Bash

When I think of summer, I think of two words: burgers and BBQ’s!  It’s time to up the ante a bit from the traditional bbq fare and wow your friends and family with a “burger bash!”

Invite your guests with this darling BBQ invitation from Minted.  It sets a color palette of chocolate brown, melon orange, and sage green.  Lovely – and definitely a fresh take on your traditional BBQ colors.  Obviously the food (namely the burgers) is the main attraction at this event, so keep your decorations simple and understated.  A casual picnic setting using lanterns and wild flowers as your centerpiece.

Here’s a tip for summer entertaining: it can be tough to keep your beverages cold while entertaining outdoors.  If you pile ice into your pitchers, it tends to water down your drinks.  What’s a hostess to do?!  Take this cue from Southern Living and fill a huge punch bowl with ice, and insert carafes of lemonade, iced tea or juices.  That way your drinks stay fresh and cool!

Let’s talk burgers!  Everyone has their standby recipe, but here are a few new ones that are on my “must-try” list this summer:

Bobby Flay’s cheyenne turkey burger with chedder and bacon, and Arthur Avenue burger with a parmesan crisp and fra divolo ketchup, and a grilled turkey burger with chedder and a smoky aioli.

Images: invitation (minted.com), mini burger sliders (redbookmag.com), paper silverware bags (southernweddingsmag.com), table setting and drinks (southernliving.com), lantern centerpiece (stylemepretty.com), picnic tables (traditionalhome.com), jam party favors (oncewed.com)

Chic Wedding Stationery from Minted.com

Amazon and Minted are preferred sponsors of The Party Dress.  For information regarding advertising, please click here.

June 15th, 2010 |

Giveaway: The Celebration Shoppe

WooHoo!  It’s time for another fabulous giveaway!  One of our lovely sponsors, The Celebration Shoppe, is hosting a giveaway this week!  Known for their darling party invitations and printables, The Celebration Shoppe has all of those perfect little details you need to plan a stylish party.  One lucky winner is going to receive a $75 gift certificate towards these darling products!

Here’s how to enter: simply head over to the Shoppe, take a quick stroll around and come back here to comment on what your favorite item or collection is.  Contest starts NOW….and you have until Friday, June 18th at midnight to enter.  GOOD LUCK!

P.S. Check out The Celebration Shoppe blog for some great party ideas, and become a fan of their facebook page for some exciting updates and contests exclusive to fans.

June 14th, 2010 |

Father’s Day Dinner

father's day dinner game night themeFather’s Day is upon us!  I always have to put a little extra thought into my Father’s Day celebrations – they can’t be as feminine or even as stylized as I would typically do for a party, because the men in my life would tell me “it’s overdone!”  So a casual family dinner is the perfect concept for us.

I love the idea of incorporating a game night into a Father’s Day celebrations.  A table setting including games such as a crossword puzzle, a rubix cube, and bingo – you can also use scrabble letters to create your placecards at each place.  Between the festive games and casual foods, you will create a playful atmosphere for your dads and family!

Images: tablesetting (theknot.com), centerpiece (bhg.com), mini hot dogs (foodnetwork.com), chicken panini (williams-sonoma.com), almond-fruit tart (williams-sonoma.com), lemonade (southernliving.com)

June 11th, 2010 |

4th of July Centerpiece

Fourth of July is just around the corner – anyone planning a big party or BBQ?  I loved this centerpiece idea from Good Housekeeping.  Simple, with a preppy nod.  Simply attach grosgrain ribbon to any vase with double-sided tape.  You could take this idea and adapt it to any party theme – it would be darling for a birthday party, baby shower, bridal shower, or wedding.

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