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)

October 20th, 2009 |

Think Pink: A Jewelry Party

think pink dinner party

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I am seeing pink-themed parties popping up everywhere!  For today’s inspiration, I have combined two party ideas that have been floating around in my head lately….  First, a pink-theme dinner party in honor of a dear friend I lost almost 4 years ago to breast cancer, and two, a jewelry party showcasing (and selling!) the designs of a local jewelry designer.  Good ideas separately…..one great party when combined!

Partner up with a local jewelry designer….offer to host the party, but ask her to donate a percent of her sales from the evening to breast cancer research.  Create a glamorous event with this chandelier invitation from Minted and a sparkling pink table settings.

To create a jewelry-themed centerpiece, stagger different type of glasses atop a mirror.  (I would use wine, champagne and martini glasses to get height variety)  Fill the glasses with different baubles and pink “ice” vase filler.  Add pink wine glasses to your table setting for an additional touch of our signature color!

Send your guests home with monogrammed jewelry pouch….perfect for holding their new purchase!

Images: invitation (minted.com), jewelry centerpiece (rachaelraymag.com), pink table setting (instyleweddings.com), jewelry pouches (beau-coup.com), breast cancer chocolate-dipped strawberries (redenvelope.com), pink vase gems (save-on-crafts.com)

October 12th, 2009 |

Black & White Halloween Bash

black and white halloween bash

Halloween isn’t just for kids!  It’s a great opportunity to gather all of your adult friends for a festive cocktail party.  To keep the event looking more mature than child-like, set the tone with a black and white theme, add in a little sparkle, a special cocktail….and you have a party that will have your friends talking for weeks!

Invite your guests for a cocktail and dessert party after the kids go to bed.  That way you limit the amount of food and drinks you need to provide.  Since the party will take place after dark, it will be easier to create a dark, spooky ambiance!

Use one main table for your food and drinks.  Set the stage with a black tablecloth covered with some torn, white tulle (made to look like spider webs).  Add some sophisticated sparkle to your table with these candelabra silhouettes, and bat-covered votive candles.

halloween bash party supplies

Serve up some yummy desserts, including black and white decorated sugar cookies, spider web cupcakes, brownies, and bowls of black licorice.  In addition to your typical cocktail party fare, serve a signature cocktail.  Perfect for this occasion?!  A candy corn cordial.  Yummy, festive and oh, so pretty when served in a martini glass.  Throw in some “bone chillers” ice cubes into all of your guest’s drinks for a little extra Halloween flair!

halloween cocktail

Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), cookies (goodhousekeeping.com), rose centerpiece (bhg.com), table setting (goodhousekeeping.com), spiderweb cupcakes (countryliving.com)

October 6th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Stylish Gourds

Gourds

Gourds are popping up everywhere this Fall when it comes to decor for your home and table.  Add a touch of style to your party this season by carving out small gourds and using them as napkin rings.  It’s a quick, inexpensive, stylish addition to your dinner table.

Image via inmagine.com

October 5th, 2009 |

Apple Picking + Fireside Dinner

apple picking and fireside dinner

With Fall officially here, it’s time to partake in one of the season’s best activities – apple picking!  Most fun when done in a large group, organize a day of autumn fun that starts with apple picking and ends with a backyard fireside dinner party.

Invite your guests with an invitation from Tiny Prints, and use the autumn color palette to design the rest of your party.  Set up your party outside by concentrating on a few key areas – one long dinner table, a food buffet area, and a sitting area surrounding a fire pit.

The whole feel of the day should read rustic, country chic – like you are hosting your party in the middle of the woods!  Line your dinner table with lanterns, vases of sunflowers, and bowls of the apples you picked that day.   If you are entertaining a crowd, make it easy on yourself and use disposable silverware and paper goods.  I would use the bambu veneerware plates and silverware to work with our “rustic” theme.

Set up your food buffet under a large tree so you can hang some lanterns above it.  Serve up some traditional Fall comfort food….chicken with apples, onion and cider sauce, green bean casserole, baked mac & cheese, fresh bread, and a bunch of apple-themed desserts such as mini apple pies, apple and pear crisps and caramel apples.

Your fire pit area will be the gathering spot for after dinner fun and conversation.  Make sure to outfit it with chairs, barrels of hay for people to sit on, throw blankets in case people get cold, and a basket of supplies so the kids can make s’mores.

A fun-filled day for the whole family….I hope you have a little apple-picking fun in your future!

Images: dinner table and buffet table (countryliving.com), invitation (tinyprints.com), barrel of apples (stylemepretty.com), girl (inmagine.com), candles (realsimple.com), mini apple pies (williams-sonoma.com)

September 30th, 2009 |

Witches Dinner Party

witches dinner party

If you are looking for a special way to celebrate Halloween with your favorite ladies, or are hosting a bridal shower in the month of October….try hosting a Witches Dinner Party.

Set a table with beautiful, autumn-inspired decorations using a color palette of rusty orange, chocolate brown and mustard yellow.  Mix and match patterns to achieve a “shabby chic” look….try using paisley, pumpkin toile and striped napkins.  Place a mini witches broom on each guest’s plate as a place card.  Try looking at your local craft store for these, or you could try to make them yourselves (click here for instructions).

To create an interesting centerpiece, carve out a large pumpkin and cut off the top to create a large bowl.  Fill the bowl with a variety of fall gourds, and surround it with mini pumpkin votive candles.

I found a great recipe that is perfect for this party!  It’s a stuffed brie called a ‘Witches Purse‘.  Very simple to do, and it’s sure to get rave reviews!  This party is festive and a great reason to gather your friends during October.

Images: place setting (countryliving.com), witches purse appetizer (allyou.com), white pumpkin votive candles (bhg.com), pumpkin bowl (bhg.com), invitation (tinyprints.com), candles (inmagine.com)

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