November 25th, 2009 |

Holiday Table by Amber Karson Event Planning

I have a great feature for you today….Amber from Amber Karson Event Planning is back to share ideas with us for creating a preppy holiday table.  Here are some images of a holiday table Amber is working on for a client……make sure to check out her tips below:

Preppy Plates (large)

“With instructions from the client to keep it festive and fun, I decided to layer textures and patterns to create a one-of-a-kind look.  Although there are so many fabulous color combinations out there this season, I decided to feature the classic red and green duo but unexpected ways.  Green satin tablecloths were layered with custom table runners made from Michael Miller’s adorable Funky Christmas fabric line, while monochromatic centerpieces sit atop red felt laser-cut mats.  Jonathan Adler’s bird salt and pepper shakers are a modern play to the classic “a partridge in a pear tree”.  Each place setting is adorned with a monogrammed plate with the dinner guest’s initials.  The plate will play double duty as a place card (to communicate seating assignments) and also a party favor.  The caterer will wash them after the entree is served, load them up with Christmas cookies and wrap them for the guests to take them home at the end of the evening.”

Amber sells the adorable Preppy Plates collection of monogrammed melamine plates, lucite serving trays (with removable inserts that you can customize for all of your future parties), and coordinating coasters.  This collection is a fabulous way to personalize a party, or give someone an extra special gift this holiday season.  Check out Amber’s website for a complete catalog and pricing.

Thanks for stopping by today, Amber!  LOVE the preppy holiday table….and the preppy plates!  I think my Christmas wish list just got a little bit bigger!  ;)

November 23rd, 2009 |

Sunny Yellow + Bold Pattern: A Cheerful Dinner Party

Every year, my husband and I host a “thanksgiving” dinner party with friends.  This is our 4th year doing this – and we absolutely love it!  We all have our own traditional family Thanksgiving dinners…..so this is our opportunity to have a little fun with the dinner (and the table setting)!yellow and black dinner party

It’s been so dreary and grey here in Chicago lately, that when it came time for me to set the table, I decided we needed some color!  A bold black and white damask tablecloth, sunny yellow napkins, and darling stripe placecards did the trick.  It had a cheery, festive vibe…..and although we loved it for our “Thanksgiving” dinner, I think this table setting would be PERFECT for a bridal shower or birthday party.

We kept the food simple, since we had quite a few little ones with us, but we did try a couple new recipes that I thought I would share with you.  In addition to turkey and mashed potatoes, we served a sourdough stuffing with sausage, apples and grapes, and a broccoli-pecorino gratinata.  Both turned out yummy, so if you are still looking for sides for this Thursday….give these a try!

All in all a very fun evening….Thanksgiving #1 down….looking forward to Thanksgiving #2 on Thursday!

November 20th, 2009 |

An Engagement Party with Holiday Cheer

There is something about the Holidays that brings forth a lot of engagements!  If a loved one gets engaged over the Holidays, host an engagement party that is full of Holiday cheer!

This invitation from Tiny Prints is perfect for the occasion…..I love that you could go two different ways with it.  1) A partridge in a pear tree…..very Christmas!  2) The perfect pear (pair)….the perfect theme for an engagement party.  The invitation sets a beautiful color palette of chartreuse green and brown, which just happens to be one of my favorite Holiday combinations.

Keep your table simple and sophisticated with white dishes and brown napkins (dressed up with a little chartreuse ribbon).  For a centerpiece idea, I love the idea of a low white vase full of green moss.  Scatter in a few bud vases of white orchids, some brown and white stripe placecards, and some beautiful stemware….and you have yourself a gorgeous table!

Since it is the Holidays…and this is an engagement party celebrating love….mistletoe is an absolute must!  Instead of hanging a traditional ball, try dressing up your display by tying some mistletoe to a beautiful ornament and hanging it from some ribbon.

Images: pear invitation (tinyprints.com), table setting (bhg.com), wine (potterybarn.com), centerpiece (theknot.com), mistletoe ball (parents.com)

November 19th, 2009 |

Details for your Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving DetailsImages: napkin (bhg.com), wine glass placecards (potterybarn.com)

November 16th, 2009 |

Centerpiece DIY from Amber Karson Event Planning

The very talented Amber from Amber Karson Event Planning sent us a fabulous do-it-yourself centerpiece idea today.  This concept could easily be translated for so many different themes – great for a bridal shower, baby shower, or a wedding.  See below for Amber’s inspiration and how-to instructions for this adorable centerpiece:

amber butterfly

“Re-create this lovely little centerpiece by re-purposing items you might already have around your house.  I found these candlestick hurricane holders at Pottery Barn in the clearance section.  They weren’t the color I wanted, but had the right silhouette.  I swear high-gloss white can transform ANYTHING with good bones and a $6 can of Krylon’s Fusion (the no-prep miracle worker in the world of spray paint) did the trick.  I tossed different ideas around in my head on what to “fill” the hurricane with — the possibilities are endless.  In the end, I decided on a few silk butterflies.  These ones were actually refrigerator magnets I had around and I tied them to tree sticks with floral wire (another event planner’s must-have-in-the-supply-box staple!)

Add a little moss to the bottom of your hurricane and set a floral pomander on top (click here for a pomander tutorial) to finish it off.  The great advantage to a centerpiece like this is that you can re-use the base for future events long after the flowers have wilted!”

Make sure to stop by Amber’s website for more floral inspiration!

November 12th, 2009 |

Cocktails & Cookies

grown-up christmas cookie exchange party

Okay…I have been holding back Holiday ideas for weeks now!  But, what can I say?!  I’m a planner, and if you are anything like me, you are already plotting out your Christmas decorations and party plans…..so better to see these ideas sooner rather than later, right?

This is one of my favorite ideas for the season.  It combines two great party ideas – the cocktail party and the cookie exchange – into one fabulous evening.  Cookie exchanges are typically done either as a “ladies” party or with children.  Not that they aren’t fun (and don’t think you won’t see a cookie exchange post for kids coming up soon!)….but this concept has the makings to be super fun!

Invite your guests with this colorful invitation from Tiny Prints.  Add in an extra card that asks people to bring a cookie to share, and have them tell you what type they will be bringing when they RSVP so you don’t have 15 different chocolate chip cookies out on your buffet!

The decor for this party should be focused around the cookies.  Set up a buffet table with different serving pieces to house the cookies – cake plates, platters, tiered serving dishes.  You should have a stack of small plates, either china or paper, and napkins for people to use while mingling.  Knowing that you will have a TON of cookies on hand – have small paper boxes and ribbon set up at the end of the table, so people can bring some home with them.  I think it would be darling if you did a personalized label to put on the boxes too – saying something like “Cocktails & Cookies at The Smiths 2009″.

There are so many fabulous cookie recipes out there…..and I am sure I will be sharing some with you in the near future.  I love decorating sugar cookies each year, and although I try, my cookies just don’t turn out as beautiful as the ones above!  You can find them at Eleni’s, and they do ship – perfect for a cookie party or a hostess gift this season!

Images: decorations (bhg.com), drinks (brides.com), invitation (tinyprints.com), cookie buffet (elenis.com)

November 5th, 2009 |

Fall Birthday Dinner

fall birthday dinner party

Fall is the perfect time to host a cozy dinner party at home.  Whether you are celebrating someone’s birthday or  just looking for an excuse to gather good friends….a dinner party at home is the perfect way to celebrate the weekend.

Fall food lends itself to comfort foods, almost Thanksgiving-like food.  For this birthday dinner party, I have planned a menu that includes baked-stuffed chicken breasts with arugula and fontina cheese, acorn squash rings, and crisp potatoes with aioli sauce.  For dessert, instead of serving a birthday cake – go for something decedent like a triple-chocolate mousse (looking oh, so elegant in champagne flutes!)

Images: girl (jcrew.com), placecard (myhomeideas.com), invitation (minted.com), candle centerpiece (bhg.com), table setting (dwellstudio.com)

Minted.com wedding invitations

October 30th, 2009 |

Real Party: A Glittery-Glam Halloween Soiree

glam halloween soiree

I pretty much had closed the book on Halloween this year….the time had come, I had shared all of my favorite orange and black finds for the season…..in some ways, I was over it (even before it happened!).  But then, this amazing party showed up in my inbox from photographer Meg Baisden.  It stopped me dead in my tracks!  So fun, so different from everything else I have seen…..I just had to share it with you!  So, I apologize for the late post today….but I tried to get this up as fast as I could.

For all of you last-minute hostesses….Meg has some great ideas that are easy to do (and she did them all by buying Halloween decorations off the sale rack!).  Here are a few details about the party from Meg:

“This party was all about glittery-glam decor, Halloween themed appetizers and a friendly game of Texas Hold ‘Em – and it was done on a BUDGET! I bought most everything after Halloween last year and sat down with my good friend and employee Jamie and we glittered everything for DAYS.  Skulls, 10 cent Walmart plastic mini pumpkins (on sale last year in December at 90% off the original $1 tag!), dollar store plastic spiders and webbing …  oh, and IKEA for the fabulous black frame!”

I love the use of spiders (especially the ones hanging from crystals), and absolutely adore these glittered gourds!  Such a fun, yet somewhat sophisticated way to do Halloween for adults!  Great inspiration – thanks to Meg for sharing her party with us!    Oh, and if you are looking for a Halloween playlist for your party tomorrow night – Meg has a full playlist waiting for you on her blog!

October 27th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Menu Cards

menu card

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, I thought this was a fitting napkin/table setting to feature this week.  The added touch of a menu card and a sprig of rosemary elevates the classic pocket fold of the napkin.  A menu card is simple to produce and for large meals, such as Thanksgiving, it’s a great way to inform your guests what they will be eating.

What type of table setting will you be using for your Thanksgiving table?!

Image via Salt Harbor

October 22nd, 2009 |

Rustic Thanksgiving Dinner

rustic thanksgiving dinner party

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a month away?!  I know, I know….we are not even thru Halloween yet….but I figured it was time to start rolling out the Thanksgiving ideas….I need to leave you all time to plan!

There are so many different types of Thanksgiving celebrations.  You can go elegant, you can go casual and eat turkey while watching the football game, or you can do the rustic look – I guess we’ll call it a mix between the two!  Today’s inspiration is for just that….a rustic Thanksgiving dinner party.

If you don’t host your family Thanksgiving dinner, use the holiday as an opportunity this month to host a Thanksgiving-themed dinner party with friends.  We do this every year – and we have so much fun doing  it!  It’s a great time to test out some new recipes (without having to discard everyone’s favorites on the day-of!).  The menu I have planned here is literally making my mouth water, and I can’t wait to test out some of these recipes!

Invite your guests with a fall-like invitation and set your table using earth tones, textured linens, and ceramic pots full of berries.  If kids are in the mix, set them their very own table using brown kraft paper.  You can put cups full of crayons on the table, and they can draw away on the tablecloth.  I love the idea of drawing on “placemats” with the kid’s individual names…..creative and rustic-looking at the same time!

Thanksgiving dinner is all about the food, so let’s get to it….this year, I am going to make a roasted turkey with a port gravy, twice-baked potatoes with goat cheese and chives, green beans and walnuts with a lemon vinaigrette, savory bread pudding with mushrooms and parmesan, olive and asiago rolls, and a bourbon-pecan tart with chocolate drizzle.  So….is your mouth watering yet?!

Seeing as though there are ALWAYS leftovers (which is half the fun of Thanksgiving!) – be prepared to send your guests home with some goodies.  Continue our rustic theme by packaging the food in brown paper boxes, tie it with striped ribbon, and attach a personalized label.

Images: craft table, tied napkins, and take out boxes (countryliving.com), wine and green ceramic centerpiece (potterybarn.com), invitation (tinyprints.com)

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