June 22nd, 2009 |

Cocktails & Croquet

Croquet Party

Looking for a new idea for your next cocktail party?  Embrace the outdoors and invite your neighbors over for a Cocktails & Croquet party.  Full of festive drinks, appetizers and lawn games – this party is sure to create a little  friendly competition!

Set up activities in your lawn such as croquet, bocce ball and badminton.  Separate the areas with decorations, such as different colored paper lanterns hanging above in the trees,  or decorative signs announcing the game.  Set up two separate bars – one of festive drinks, one of delicious summer appetizers.

For the drinks, offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.  I recommend a pitcher of margaritas and some white wine.  For the non-alcoholic bunch, offer iced tea and a frozen lemonade with blackberry puree served in glass drink dispensers.  These are perfect for encouraging your guests to self-serve – and are sure to become a staple at all of your summer parties.   Don’t forget the acrylic glassware (made to resist breaking, chipping and cracking)!

Since your guests will be occupied with competition, set up a buffet of summer appetizers that are easy to grab in between plays.  Some of my new favorites – caprese bites, brochettes of melon, prosciutto and mozzarella, crab cakes with a garlic-chive dipping sauce, and feta cheese truffles.  Is your mouth watering yet?!

For the hostess who is always looking for a new take on an old classic – this party is for you!  Let the games begin!

Croquet Party FoodImages: croquet clubs and action shot (inmagine.com), red drinks (styleathome.com), colorful lanterns (mintsdesign.com), yellow centerpiece (theknot.com)

June 19th, 2009 |

Dinner at the Beach

Dinner at the Beach

Dinner at the beach….isn’t that what summer is all about?!

If you have a beach house, the “dinner at the beach” is easy enough!  If you don’t live near water, invite some friends over for a casual summer dinner alfresco this weekend (with a beach theme, of course!).  Create a casual, yet put-together outdoor space that will have your friends toasting your inner “Martha Stewart!”  Set up a sitting area complete with the typical comforts of an indoor living room – pillows, lanterns with candles to create some mood lighting, a bowl of flowers or fruit on a table – make it an extension of your home.

Serve dinner on your patio table – no linens necessary, just a centerpiece of fresh flowers or pots of grass to give it that casual, beach feel.  Add a special touch to your place setting by tying a personalized tag to a starfish, and slip it into your napkin.  Make sure to add  some votive candles or small lanterns to your centerpiece to give an additional glow.

I’m always looking for new dishes to try…..top of my list for this weekend?!  Coconut shrimp with lime, served with Mojitos!

Images: starfish napkin (theknot.com), outdoor living room (potterybarn.com), table (coastalliving.com)

June 18th, 2009 |

Decorate with Lemons

Decorate with Lemons (small)

Give your party a fresh look this summer by using lemons in your decorations and centerpieces.  Bright, colorful, affordable, and easy to find – lemons are the perfect addition to any party.  Beautiful when paired with flowers, festive when combined with other citrus fruits, or boldly stunning when used by themselves – see what you can create!

Images: lemon and orchid arrangement, lemon placecard (theknot.com), candlesticks (themomsbuzz.com), chandelier, table settings (stylemepretty.com), lemon archway (tapestry.com), bowl of lemons (inmagine.com)

June 16th, 2009 |

Golf Outing with Flair

Golf Outing with Flair (small)

It’s rare that I feature a party geared towards men.  Nothing against them – but I think it’s safe to say that most of them don’t appreciate the type of attention to detail women put into party planning!  However, all men deserve a special party now and then…..so whether you are planning a fabulous Father’s Day, a pre-wedding gathering, or a 40th birthday party, here are a few ideas to plan a summer golf outing:

  1. Course Selection – Budget limits, tee time availability, location, club amenities, and players’ ability should drive your decision on course selection. Considerations should include: course difficulty, carts, caddies, and bag carry options, course/clubhouse capacity, availability of locker room with showers, club and shoe rental options.
  2. Spread the word – Before you send out your actual invitation (I absolutely love this invitation from Tiny Prints – it’s the perfect balance of fun and masculinity!), you may want to send out a save the date card or an informational e-mail to get an idea of how many people are considering attending.
  3. Registration – The registration area is one of the most critical components of any golf outing. It sets the tone for the entire day. The registration table should be set up in a highly visible location and should have some sort of festive decor.  Depending on the size of your event, the table should be manned up to two hours prior to the scheduled arrival time of your guests. Ensure that adequate personnel will be available to maintain a smooth flow of traffic, keeping the registration area moving effectively.
  4. Speed of Play – Maintaining an adequate speed of play is an important aspect in ensuring a successful golf outing. Slow play is annoying to other golfers and can disrupt the timetable for other planned activities. This can be managed by correctly pairing the members of your group by playing ability, or by choosing a format of play that produces timely rounds.
  5. Shot Gun vs. Tee Times – Listed below are the advantages and disadvantages of the two standard formats for golf outings.
    1. Shot Gun Starts
      • Shot gun starts permit all group participants to start and finish at the same time. This allows the group to remain together for other events.
      • The entire group arrives at the banquet facility at one time.
      • Can be scheduled for the early afternoon, allowing participants to get in a full morning of work.
      • Speeds up play.
    2. Tee Time Starts
        Advantages

      • Allows for a variety of starting times to suit golfers needs.
      • Can maximize outing capacity (up to 220 players between 8 am and 1 pm)
      • Flexibility allowed for guarantees on group size.
  6. Contests – Contests can be an enjoyable source of entertainment for your players.  However, don’t overload your event with too many contests….they can slow down play.  Here are some suggested contests:
    1. Longest Drive
    2. Skins Game
    3. Closest to Pin
    4. Putting Contest
    5. Nearest to the Line
    6. Mulligan Sales
    7. Pot-of-Gold
    8. Flying Lady
    9. Beat the Pro
    10. Blind Partner
  7. The 19th Hole – After 18 holes of golf, your men will be ready for a relaxing break!  Plan a lunch (you could even invite spouses that didn’t play to join in) at the course’s clubhouse that includes a buffet of sandwiches, salads and buckets of cold beer!  Create simple, yet festive centerpieces for the lunch tables by using glass cylinder vases in different sizes.  Fill them up with golf balls, limes, candles, sand….get creative!  Dress up dessert by serving golf-inspired cupcakes!

Images: golf ball centerpiece (theknot.com), golfer and bucket of golf balls (inmagine.com), , golf accessories cupcakes (cleavercupcakes.com)

June 15th, 2009 |

Father’s Day Centerpiece Idea

dad-centerpieceImage via Better Homes and Gardens

June 11th, 2009 |

Summer Centerpiece

centerpiece-plus-placecardTry this idea for your next outdoor party….

Plant  each guest a small pot of flowers and add in a chalkboard stake.  Write your guest’s name on it….you have a placecard, a party favor and if you group them all together in the center of the table….a centerpiece too!

Image via Lollipop Events

June 5th, 2009 |

Family Dinner on the Patio

Family Dinner on the Patio

Now that the summer months are upon us, we will take to the patio for all of our family dinners.  There is just something about being outside that makes everyone relax and enjoy themselves.  This weekend, gather your family or friends for a simple dinner on the patio.

Add instant ambiance by hanging mason jar lanterns from your umbrella to add a little twinkle.  Dress up your table by adding a touch of nature to your placesetting.  I love the idea of tying a leaf or flower from your garden onto everyone’s napkin…it’s the perfect touch of color!

I’m on a bit of a fruit kick lately, so for dinner serve a peach, arugula and goat cheese salad, mango and chicken skewers, with brown sugar peaches with ice cream for dessert.  Yum!

What will you be serving at your next family dinner?!

June 4th, 2009 |

Sunflower Soiree

Sunflower Soiree

Sunflowers and black and white patterns – two of my favorites combine here to make one striking party!  The inspiration for this party came from Carolyne Roehm’s new book, A Passion for Parties.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s an absolute must-read!  Fabulous ideas and tons of eye candy.

Sunflowers are abundant during the summer months – so take advantage of these “happy” flowers and use them for your next birthday or dinner party.  Mixed with the bold stripes, the sunflowers create a graphic, modern look.

Images: table setting and cabana ( via A Passion for Parties by Carolyne Roehm)

June 3rd, 2009 |

Backyard Movie Party

backyard-movie-partyToday, we are going to forget the fancy invitations, the big, bold centerpieces and the creative placecards….today, we are throwing a different type of party.

Take advantage of the good weather while you have it and host a backyard movie party.  Create a makeshift movie screen and invite friends to stop over for a picnic and movie.

If you are lucky enough to own a projector – you are in good shape!  If not, don’t frete – you can rent one from a local audio-visual store for the night.  Although there are plenty of screens available these days, you can just hang a sheet on a wall or attached to a clothesline.

Set up different tiers of seating – blankets and pillows down front, then a tier of low-to-the-ground folding chairs, and then a row of taller director chairs in back.  If you have them available, you may want to add in a couple of small tables among the chairs so people can put their food and drinks  on them.

Looking to add a touch of ambiance to your “theater”?  Put up some Christmas lights in the trees – it will add a little twinkle!

backyard-movie-party-popcorn-lampServe up movie popcorn and candy to your guests.  Set up a consession stand with different glass jars of candy and big bowls of popcorn.  Place small glasses on the table so people can fill them up with treats to eat while watching the movie.  Plum Party Supplies has popcorn containers that are adorable….they would be perfect!

Now, I know I made a fuss about keeping this simple and not doing any sort of extravegant centerpieces……but, come on?!  Did you really think I could do a party without a centerpiece?!  We need just a little something on our food table and I love, love, love this idea from Rachael Ray….and it’s so simple to do!  All you need are two different glass cylinder vases (the smaller one could even be a tall glass), a candle and popcorn!

It is simple as this: place a candle into the small vase (or glass) and then place that into the larger vase.  Pour the popcorn into the vase to fill up the space in between.  Once you light that candle – your popcorn will glow!

Now, the only decision left is what movie to show!

Images via Rachael Ray Magazine

June 2nd, 2009 |

Lobster Boil

Lobster Boil

I don’t know about you, but nothing screams summer to me like a lobster boil!  Whether you host one on the beach or in your backyard, make sure to create your own little seafood soire this summer.

lobster-boil-platesSet your table using acrylic or melamine dishes – perfect for the patio or the beach!  I love these lobster appetizer plates from Plum Party Supplies – they would be great for either appetizers or dessert.  To add a creative, yet useful touch to your place setting – place a mini colander on each guest’s plate.  Fill the colander with a lemon (to squeeze over their lobster or crab), and a small bottle of wine.  Take it a step further by writing your guest’s name on a sand dollar and tying around the neck of the bottle – what a charming placecard, right?!

Use a galvanized bucket to house your party favors – lobster shaped suckers!  Tie a cute tag on them that says “thanks for coming to our lobster boil!”

Make the food simple and yummy – let the flavors of the spectacular seafood really shine.  Whether you decide to serve steamed lobster, or crab legs (or both!) – make sure you have a couple of easy, complementary side dishes.  My choices would include a shrimp cocktail to start,  fire-roasted corn salad, cheddar biscuits, and slices of fresh fruit.  Oh, and don’t forget the bucket of Corona’s!

Images: table setting (potterybarn.com), raniculus centerpiece (bhg.com), shrimp cocktail (brides.com), lobster sucker favors (theknot.com), crab legs (williams-sonoma.com), beach chairs (wshome.com)

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