January 11th, 2010 |

Chili Cook-Off!

chili cook off party

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 |

DIY: Party Photo Display

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 |

Movie Night



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)

Tiny Prints is a preferred sponsor of The Party Dress.  For information regarding advertising, please click here.

December 29th, 2009 |

‘Twas the night before Christmas


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 |

Cranberry Christmas

Cranberry Christmas

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 Peppermint Party

peppermint themed christmas party

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)

etsy banner

Beau-Coup and WH Hostess are preferred sponsors of The Party Dress.  For information regarding advertising, please click here.

December 16th, 2009 |

New Year’s Eve: Entertaining Essentials!

new years eve party ideas

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?

new years eve entertaining essentials

Images: champagne bar (southernliving.com), invitation (minted.com), centerpiece (theknot.com)

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December 10th, 2009 |

Martinis and Mistletoe

martinis and mistletoe cocktail party

This festive invitation from Minted set the theme for this party…..martinis and mistletoe….it’s the perfect theme for a holiday cocktail party!  A sophisticated color palette of olive green, pale pink, and muted metallic gold and silver created a lovely, yet festive evening for friends.

Filter a touch of the olive green into your floral centerpieces by combining sprigs of magnolia leaves with full, fluffy white hydrangeas.  You can use magnolia as the common theme by hang a few magnolia wreaths around the house, as well.

Create a buffet of appetizers and bite-size desserts for your guests to nibble on throughout the party.  If you don’t consider yourself a good cook, check out Williams Sonoma’s fabulous selection of pre-made appetizers and desserts.  I bet they are as yummy as they are pretty!  If you are looking for some new appetizer recipes, check out The Party Dress’s Holiday Appetizer Guide.  This is the time to pull out your favorite serving pieces.  If you are in need of some new ones, check out my store thru OpenSky….great entertaining pieces at such good prices!

Entertaining must-have

A cocktail party wouldn’t be complete without a few special cocktails…..so check out our post below for The Party Dress’s Holiday 2009 Cocktail Guide!

Images: invitation (minted.com), dress (boss via bloomingdales.com), buffet (parents.com), champagne glasses (wedluxe.com), appetizers (williams-sonoma.com), bubbles (flickr.com), floral centerpiece (makemerryevents.com), 6-plate buffet stand (the party dress via theopenskyproject.com)

Minted Holiday Cards

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December 9th, 2009 |

A Teal & Lime Green Christmas

teal and lime green christmasChristmas doesn’t have to mean red and green….try choosing a modern color palette of teal and lime green for your holiday party.  (hint: these colors look particularly fabulous in metallic items!)

Images: ornament wreath (hgtv.com), napkin (bhg.com), invitation (tinyprints.com), ornaments (projectwedding.com), ornament and candle centerpiece, presents (bhg.com)

Tiny Prints is a preferred sponsor of The Party Dress.  To learn about our advertising opportunities, please click here.

December 3rd, 2009 |

Winter Wonderland Open House

winter wonderland open house

An open house can be a great opportunity to visit with friends and family during the Holidays.  Because your guests can come and go as they please, it becomes a very approachable party…..they can stop by for an hour and move on to another party, or stay and enjoy the evening…..it seems like everyone can fit it into their busy Holiday schedule in one way or another!

Instead of sticking with the traditional red and green color palette, try straying a bit…..use white as your main color, and throw in some chocolate brown, icy blue and maybe a touch of red.  The effect will be sophisticated and whimsical all rolled into one party!  Invite your guests with this sophisticated invitation from Tiny Prints.  Take your decorating cues from the invitation and use white feathers to enhance your home.  White  feather wreaths hanging in windows, feather trees sitting atop your buffet table….these whimsical touches will help you to create a beautiful winter wonderland, and put a different spin on Holiday decorating!

Speaking of your buffet table…. hors d’oeuvres and desserts work best for an open house party (things that are easy to eat, and can sit out for a couple hours).  I challenge you to get creative with your food presentation!  Serve your treats in covered cake plates and glass cloches, line your white trays with coordinating scrapbook paper, and make sure to organize your table with thought.

If you are looking for a cute, little party favor to send your guests home with,  a snowflake wine stopper would fit our theme perfectly!  You could get really cute with your presentation too…..set up a small Christmas tree with white lights by your front door, and hang the snowflake wine stoppers on it like ornaments.  Instead of placing a star or angel at the top of the tree, place a sign that says “thanks for coming to our party!”

Stay tuned for some yummy recipes for hors d’oeuvres and desserts for all of your holiday parties!

Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), table (parents.com), white feather wreath (inmagine.com), white marshmallow pops (amyatlas.com), snowflake wine stopper (beau-coup.com), nickel cake plate with glass cloche (The Party Dress via theopenskyproject.com)

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