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)

May 29th, 2009 |

10 Money-Saving Tips for Flowers

Brides.com has a great article this week – celebrity event planner, Colin Cowie, offers up his top 10 tips to save money on flowers for any event.  For all of you out there planning a wedding, a charity event, or looking for creative centerpiece ideas for your next bridal or baby shower, birthday party, or dinner party….I hope these come in handy!

centerpieces-small

1. Rather than using expensive cut flowers, use candles and intersperse a few fully blown blooms in between.

2. Consider incorporating fresh fruit and vegetables into your arrangements.

3. Use smaller tables to seat your guests. I like to have 8-10 guests at a 54″ round, and 10-12 guests at a 60″ round. Avoid tables larger than 60″ rounds; it’s difficult to make conversation and you’ll spend a fortune on your centerpieces just to fill the empty space in the middle of your table.

4. Serve dinner family style so food becomes the centerpiece. A platter of grilled chicken, a plate of crispy potatoes and small bowls of fresh green beans placed on the center of your table will look visually appealing and inviting.

5. Select inexpensive materials and use them en mass. Bunches of carnations, Baby’s Breath, Gerber Daisies or even Spider Mums will look rich and lush. The key is to keep them on their own and not mix them with other materials. No filler and no greens.

6. For a country look, instead of buying vases or renting them from your florist, use coffee pot creamers and sugar holders found at your local flea market. When stuffed with herbs and a few blooms, you’ll achieve a stunning country look without spending a fortune.

7. Use pots of planted flowers and herbs instead of costly arranged flowers.

8. Stay away from vases with large openings. Instead, select small vases that can be packed tightly with a few blossoms. Have a few on each table interspersed with candles to provide a rich look without the cost.

9. Instead of renting containers from your florist, use fabric remnants to cover inexpensive cardboard boxes.

10. Use floating candles in vases that have been filled with colored water. Select vases of different heights and size to achieve a dramatic look.

Images: orange and pink table (brides.com), green vases (coutureweddingdecor.com)

May 28th, 2009 |

Retro Citrus Party

I fell in love with this party by Lollipop Events and Designs featured on  Project Wedding!  Love, love, love the citrus colors and bold patterns!  Check out Project Wedding for simple, do-it-yourself ideas to create your own Retro Citrus party.

retro-citrus-party

May 26th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Summer Bandanna

bandanna-napkins

For a quick and vibrant table – turn to a summer staple for inspiration – the bandanna.  Sold at most craft stores in a large array of colors (and incredibly inexpensive, I might add) – these colorful squares can brighten up any table in no time!  Check out these great ideas from Country Living:

To make the bandanna napkin rings:

Cut a bandanna into 6- by 9-inch strips. Fold each strip in thirds lengthwise, then fold in thirds widthwise. Sew a button on one end, about 1 inch from the edge. (Choose any colorful loose buttons you may have on hand; they don’t need to match.) Then cut a corresponding buttonhole on the opposite end of the strip.

To make the bandanna placesetting:

This quick-and-easy place setting also makes a sweet party favor for guests. Cut a bandanna into fourths. Fill squares with candy, gather edges, and tie with ribbon. For the name tag, make color photocopies of bandannas. Cut into rectangles, punch a hole at one end, and string on ribbon.

May 22nd, 2009 |

Friday Night: The New Fish Fry

Friday Fish Fry

Remember that old Friday night fish fry?!  Update that concept by inviting friends over for a healthy dinner of cedar-planked salmon with seasoned lemon butter.  Serve up a green salad with serrano ham and a tomato vinagrette, iced tea, and chocolate orange cookie stacks for dessert.

To set the mood for this relaxed, modern patio, set your table using shades of brown.  Fill a long tray with natural rocks. Place small vases with single stems of yellow orchids and small votive candles in the tray.  Light a few torches around the patio for a little extra light.  Another option?  Fill that same long, low tray with lemons and add in a few votive candles.

Images: brown dishes (horchow.com), tablesetting (sheknows.com)

May 21st, 2009 |

Tips for a Modern Picnic

Modern Picnic

The official start of summer is upon us this weekend – and that means it’s time to embrace outdoor entertaining!  BBQ’s, pool parties, dining alfresco in the garden – they are all fun!  But don’t forget the picnic – whether it is the end-of-the-year school picnic, dinner at  a music festival, a picnic on the beach or in your favorite park, or even under the stars in your backyard – picnics are a great way to casually entertain this summer.

So, what’s to set your picnic apart from any old picnic?  It’s all in the set-up!

Take time to plan out your picnic the way you would any party – choose a color scheme, define the space with decorations, and choose a fabulous menu.  Choose a bold blanket to be the backdrop of your party, and surround the area with stakes draped with either lanterns or ribbon, or tiki torches.  Add some bright throw pillows, and a low table to use as your buffet.  (the one pictured above from Crate & Barrel is fabulous – it rolls up, which makes for easy transportation!)

Acrylic or melamine plates and glasses are key to outdoor entertaining!  We all want to be environmentally-friendly – if you can invest in a set of plates this summer, you will definitely use them time and time again.  You can really have fun with these – try to find a bright color, or festive pattern that matches your party’s theme.

When it comes to food, remember that it needs to be transported to your picnic spot in a cooler.  Try to pack a separate one for food, and one for drinks (since that one will probably be opening more frequently).  Pack your serving dishes separately, and arrange your food on them once you arrive at your location.  Don’t forget to pack a sharp knife, a corkscrew and bottle opener, salt & pepper shakers, and garbage bags for easy clean-up.  If your picnic will continue into the night, don’t forget your candles!

The food you serve should be fairly easy to eat – traditionally, sandwiches, fruit salad, even burgers or hot dogs are served.  Looking for a few new ideas?  Try lobster sliders, watermelon salad, and carrot cake cupcakes.

Modern Picnic Food

Picnic image via Lollipop Events

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