January 25th, 2010 |
This very well may be my “dream” party! With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I decided it was time to start throwing some ideas out at you! A couple of things come to mind when I think of this fuzzy, feel-good holiday….flowers, hearts and CHOCOLATE! As you all know by now, my name is Kelly Lyden and I AM a chocoholic! So in trying to come up with a unique party idea for Valentine’s Day, I decided instead of a traditional cocktail party or sit-down dinner, wouldn’t it be more fun to host a chocolate-tasting party?! Um, that’s a big, fat Y-E-S in my book!
In theory, this is actually a very simple party to organize (especially if you are a baker!). Compile a collection of chocolate treats to assemble an outstanding buffet. I picture bowls of truffles, plates of chocolate-covered toffee, and a few other decadent treats. In my search for new and delicious chocolate recipes, I came across these: triple-chocolate mousse (these look oh, so elegant in champagne flutes), chocolate-raspberry tarts, brownie-ice cream mini sandwiches, heart-shaped macaroons, and sugared chocolate beignets. What I love about this selection of desserts is that there is a pop of color. The raspberries on the tarts, the red macaroons…it helps to break up the brown color of chocolate!
Throw in a red, signature cocktail, some cute plates and napkins…..and you have one tasty party on your hands!
Images: centerpiece (styleathome.com), cocktail (traditionalhome.com)
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January 19th, 2010 |
These cold, winter months have me craving some heat! Add a little spice to your next dinner party by using an Asian theme. Better Homes and Gardens has some great, simple recipes that can help you create a family-style dinner in no-time. The top recipes on my list are cashew chicken, shredded beef lo mein, and sesame chicken and noodles. For starters, I would serve sweet and spicy spring rolls, and spicy tofu triangles. YUM!
For decor, you can add a couple simple touches to your home to give it a festive vibe….
Bamboo placemats, chopsticks, fortune cookie placecard holders, and a centerpiece full of orchids. Send you guests home with a carton full of fortune cookies as a party favor. You can package them in white chinese food take-out containers, and adhere a personalized label. Stick a pair of chopsticks on the top for a little added detail!
Themes have a way of adding a new level of excitement to a dinner party….especially if you entertain the same crowd frequently! What’s your favorite theme for a dinner party?
Images: table setting (sheknows.com), invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), party favors (theknot.com)
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January 14th, 2010 |
Super Bowl Sunday is quickly approaching! You know what that means…..the perfect opportunity to gather friends and family to share some tasty treats and root for their favorite team. Tiny Prints has the cutest invitation in town, and with their quick shipping, you can still get them in time! Keep your decorations simple! I love this idea from Real Simple – cut coasters out of AstroTurf for a simple pop of creativity.
Super Bowl parties conjure up up images of simple food for me….chips and dips, chicken wings, etc. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you reading this blog like to kick things up a notch. I don’t see any of you throwing a bag of chips and a bowl of ranch dip out on the table…..
My vote is to serve some favorite staples, but to put a new twist on the presentation! Here are a few ideas:
- Instead of a traditional veggie platter, try placing different types of veggies and a couple of dips in individual bowls, and then place all of it in a basket to serve.
- Up the presentation level of your traditional pigs in a blanket by wrapping the hot dogs in a spiral, and inserting a stick. (almost like chicken satay!)
- Serve a couple of different types of meatballs. Separate the flavors into small bowls (insert toothpicks for easy handling) and arrange all together on a tray.
- Serve an updated slider. Instead of a bun, use a large cottage fry to hold your burger. Stylish and yummy! (and gluten-free for those of you like me!)
Yum. Festive. And a great reason to throw a party!
Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), decorations (realsimple.com), dips (inmagine.com), mini hot dogs (foodnetwork.com), meatballs (williams-sonoma.com), potato sliders (bhg.com)
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January 11th, 2010 |
When it comes to entertaining a crowd during the winter months, potlucks are an easy fix….everyone brings something, so it helps take some of the stress off the hosts. Put a new spin on a potluck dinner party, and host a chili cook-off!
This invitation from Tiny Prints is perfect for our theme! First things first, find out how many couples/families wish to bring a chili. Once you have a few chili’s scheduled, ask the rest of your guests to bring some accompaniments, such as cornbread, a salad, and some desserts. (don’t forget to have toppings for the chili’s too….bowls of shredded cheese, sour cream, oyster crackers will be a welcome addition to the main course)
I went in search of some new chili recipes and found more than I can possibly try making this season. But for those of you that are looking for some delicious recipes…..try a beef and butternut squash chili, black bean chili, chunky two-bean and beef chili, chili en croute, white turkey chili, and my personal favorite, Barefoot Contessa’s chicken chili.
Keep your decorations simple….set up a large buffet table with lots of small bowls and spoons (so people can sample all of the different chili’s). Instead of a big centerpiece, float a bunch of votive candles down the table in between the pots of chili. Carve out peppers (red, yellow, orange and green would be very festive!) and use them to hold your votive candles. To make this cook-off a bit competitive, assign each chili a letter or number. Create a score card for your guests to rank each chili based on their color, texture, aroma, flavor and heat. Rachael Ray Magazine has made that part simple for you, and created a darling scorecard template for you to use. Click here for the download-able template.
A chili cook-off is the perfect activity to do with friends on a cold, Sunday afternoon…. Now, I have told you my favorite recipe, what’s yours?!
Images: party scene, score cards, and pepper votive candles (rachaelraymag.com), invitation (tinyprints.com)
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January 7th, 2010 |
I was over on Make Merry! Event Design’s website today drooling over some images in their portfolio, and came across this darling idea. What a unique way to show pictures of family weddings…..but can’t you picture this idea tweaked for a child’s birthday party? Or a bridal shower, showing pictures of the happy couple?! Or a graduation party, showing pictures of milestone events in your child’s life?!
I could go on and on….needless to say, I love this idea and can’t wait to incorporate it into a party! Head on over to Make Merry! Event Design for even more eye candy…
January 6th, 2010 |
With a few more long, winter months ahead of us, coming up with indoor activities can become a challenge! Especially if you are trying to entertain families in your home….
Movie Night is an excellent way to entertain both the young and old. Invite your guests with this cute invitation from Tiny Prints. Make sure to include what your feature film will be for the night. (hint: if you want to entertain the kids and adults separately, set up two TV’s with different movies) Pottery Barn has a great party planning feature you should check out for ideas, too….
We all know the best part of going to a movie are the treats you get at the concession stand! Set up a spread that will have everyone talking…instead of putting out a bowl of popcorn, take pages from the newspaper (even better if they are the movie time listings!) and wrap into a cone shape to fill with popcorn. Perfect for kids and for individual servings for adults so that you aren’t dealing a lot of hands going into one bowl. Wrap hot dogs with tissue paper so they are easy for people to grab. If you want to “dress them up”, add a ribbon around them or a paper bow tie.
Ice cream. It’s a party favorite, yet so difficult to serve! If it sits out on a table, it melts. If you keep it in the freezer, people forget about it. Pottery Barn is the genius behind this idea….fill a large bowl with ice and the tub of ice cream. It will keep it cool and look pretty on your table, too.
We will certainly be having a few movie nights at my house in the next few months. What about you? What indoor activities/parties do you have in mind?
Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), popcorn and ice cream (potterybarn.com), hot dogs (bhg.com), cupcakes (elenis.com)
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December 29th, 2009 |
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! It’s been a whirlwind weekend in our family….and the celebrating is continuing into this week! My husband and I hosted our very first holiday dinner for my extended family on Christmas Eve….here is a little peak into our celebration!
Images property of The Party Dress
December 22nd, 2009 |
I love this idea from Better Homes and Gardens….this is a simple, yet sophisticated way to dress up your Christmas dinner table. Fill a small bowl, an egg cup, or a champagne saucer with fresh cranberries. Stick in a small placecard and you have a charming addition to your table!
December 21st, 2009 |
A traditional red and white, candy cane-inspired party for you today! The countdown is on….only a couple days left! What are you doing to get ready for Christmas?
Images: candy cane candle (bhg.com), mantel display (parents.com), invitation (WH Hostess via etsy.com), mini martini glasses (beau-coup.com), silverware (australiaentertains.com), cake plate (crateandbarrel.com), room (hgtv.com)
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December 16th, 2009 |
New Year’s Eve is quickly approaching…..are you hosting a party?! New Year’s Eve is all about glitz and glam….time to pull out the good stuff and really make your home sparkle! Today, I thought I would share a few of my favorite entertaining items with you….
No party is complete without an ice bucket! I love this one from Williams-Sonoma Home – clean lines, a classic monogram, but there is something about the shape that gives it an updated look. Champagne glasses are a must for any New Year’s Eve party, these tubular glasses from Crate & Barrel are so inexpensive, you can afford to buy one for each one of your guests to use! I love, love, love hammered silver! This new platter from Michael Aram for Williams-Sonoma would be lovely for the party….but also perfect to use on a daily basis throughout the year!
Cocktail napkins are one of those items you should just have sitting around….so pick them up whenever you see cute ones! I love the leaf pattern on these from Etsy.com….it picks up the olive branch pattern on the Michael Aram platter. Finding a good drink bucket is tough – they are either way too casual, or way too expensive. This one from Crate & Barrel is the perfect combination, and a great price. I pull this one out for all of my parties!
If you plan on serving a buffet, whether it be appetizers or desserts, small plates are a must. These leaf-print plates from West Elm have a silver background and add just a touch of glam to our party! If you know me well, you know that I love myself a champagne cocktail! Make yours a little sweeter with rimming sugars. This set of three from Crate & Barrel is not only tasty, but dresses up your champagne glasses too. This glass cloche-covered cake plate is one of my all time favorite products sold in The Party Dress’s shop on Open Sky. I think it would make a lovely addition to any table!
So, now that I have shared my favorites with you…..what are your favorite entertaining items?
Images: champagne bar (southernliving.com), invitation (minted.com), centerpiece (theknot.com)
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