June 19th, 2012 |

Fun in the Sun: Everyday Party Ideas

Summer is the perfect time to get outside with your Littles and celebrate! Make everyday a party with items you have at home. Forget the party store when you have DIY projects that are easy as 1, 2, 3!  Here are a few ideas I put together for the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Idea #1: Spruce up your table by planting flowers in a watermelon

Idea #2: Make flower straws with candy and flattened cupcake wrappers

Idea #3: Make your own mini-candy bar with colorful candy cups

Idea #4: Serve seasonal flavored cupcakes on colorful mini pedestals, Georgetown Cupcake recommends Berry Lemon and Banana Split

Idea #5: Decorate your tables with paper lanterns

Photography by Kim Flores of Whimsy Baby Photography

Resources:

Martha Stewart Crafts, Mini Cupcake Wrappers and Regular Cupcake Wrappers | JoAnn Fabrics

Polka Dot + Stripe Candy Cups, Striped Paper Straws, Paper Lanterns | The TomKat Studio Shop

Pink Cupcake Stand | The Papered Nest

Cupcakes | Georgetown Cupcakes


 

June 15th, 2012 |

Cool Wine Display

Have you ever seen one of those gorgeous wine bottle chillers made as a crafty DIY project using either an old 2-liter bottle or tupperware?  You know the kind, gorgeous lemon slices, color coordinated to the event.  I have ALWAYS loved this idea…. however, the idea of cutting up a plastic bottle to make it “just perfect” seemed a bit daunting.  In steps Williams Sonoma to my rescue!

When planning my Cocktails & Croquet party, I decided I wanted to attempt making one of these to dress up my casual bar.  The new wine bottle chiller from Williams Sonoma is simple to use and creates a perfect mold each and every time.  And it comes with the silver coaster, so as your mold starts to drip on that hot summer day….it won’t make a mess or ruin your tablecloth!

I used lemon and lime slices, and raspberries to fill mine.  {Tip: the raspberries very quickly turned the ice pink, so next time I may opt for strawberry slices or blueberries!)  It’s a great conversation piece and is a very cost effective decoration: just add water!

June 14th, 2012 |

2 Parties | 2 Tables | 2 Nights in a Row!

It’s been a very busy start to June around here.  The launch of the summer magazine, a frenzy of party orders, custom party plans, lots of work on a new {top-secret} product for WH Hostess, even more work on a {very exciting, also top-secret} project for The Party Dress and photo shoots this week to bring you even more exclusive, original content this summer.

Now that the weather is nice, I’m in the mood to entertain…..always!  So leave it to me to book two dinner parties….two nights in a row this week. Yikes!  {Am I crazy?!  We’ve pretty much already established that….}

We hosted friends {who also happen to be family} Sunday night for a very casual bbq and then my family Monday night for a very early Father’s Day Dinner.  Since I knew I was up to my eyeballs in work, I had to be crafty about my tablesettings.  Use basic items that could be a canvas for both tables, but switch out some accessories to give each night a unique look.  Hopefully these pictures inspire you to do the same for your summer gatherings.

I wanted our casual, Sunday night bbq to be colorful and scream summer.  The kids practically out-numbered the adults, so I knew I wanted to use melamine plates and glasses {just in case!}.  I set the table out in our sunroom, which is why the lighting is so much better on these pictures.  I layered the table with a yellow and white large-scale plaid tablecloth, my woven charger plates, basic white plates and patterned melamine salad plates.  The centerpiece was a gorgeous bunch of peonies that I picked up from Whole Foods, but instead of using a typical, glass vase, I arranged them in a wood crate for that more casual, homespun look.

For Monday night’s Father’s Day Dinner, I moved the party into our dining room {we needed the bigger table!} and used many of the same components.

To create this look, I simply switched out the napkins, the salad plates and the glasses.  I was SO excited to use the new green ikat salad plates that I picked up at C. Wonder during my NYC trip a couple of weeks ago.  They are so fun, and I loved the juxtaposition between the ikat and the bold check pattern on the table.  I added some wood block hurricane candles and that was it!  Very simple swaps, for two different looks!

Which table is your favorite?  What are your tips for switching up your table designs between parties?

 

 

June 13th, 2012 |

Father’s Day BBQ

Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so I am here today to inspire you with this fabulous {yet masculine} bbq from Honeycomb Events, as seen in the summer 2012 issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  Read on for all of the details from Jeff and Jennifer:

We’re so used to designing baby showers, bridal showers, and young children’s birthday parties, that when the opportunity arose to create a barbecue table centered around Father’s Day, we were happy to depart from our usual pink, glitter, and lace. We started with the color palette, navy blue and orange. They pop against each other so well and still read very masculine, youthful and energetic. We love to mix the modern and the natural, so our neutrals were stainless steel and blonde wood grain.

We had the opportunity to paint a seven foot long picnic table and benches navy blue, so we took it. This amazing modern plus sign fabric was too good to pass up as a table runner, and the plus sign quickly became the symbol of the bbq. The slimness of the table presented an interesting challenge. In order to prevent crowding, we had to think up. We placed our condiments on stilts with custom made labels. The menu and our touch of grass were lofted up to eye level as well. Wood and metal met at the base of our pedestals with our pine crates wrapped in stainless steel and filled with hickory wood chips. Place cards doubled as utensil holders which were customized with our irregular line pattern that matched the napkins. We finished off the meal with a bottle of Orangina. Besides the color, we love the shape of the bottle. We couldn’t resist making our own label for it, and you’ve got to love a navy striped straw.

The food table featured that wonderful navy blue irregular stripe again as well as orange and stainless steel crates. For lunch, guests chose from grilled chicken sausages or pork and pepper kabobs with barbecue dipping sauce at the bottom of the glass, straight off the grill. The peanut slaw featured a few more of our great printables with wood grain or steel backing. Everyone’s favorite was the homemade orange creamsicles. After a great day of bbq and celebrating dad, we made the most of the expansive yard with a fun game of croquet.

Photography by Sarah Anderson

 

June 12th, 2012 |

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

When it comes to selecting a gift for the Dads in your life, where do you start?  The typical necktie?  Bacon and eggs in bed?  Most of the men I know are looking for a simple, thoughtful gift when it comes to Father’s Day….so I put together 4 ideas that you can re-create this week to gift all of your important guys.

For the golfer…..

Put together a “golf-game-in-a-box” with a gift certificate to his favorite course, some fresh balls and tees, a scorecard, bottle of water and a candy bar (in case he needs a little pick-me-up around the 9th hole)….extra brownie points if you dress up the items with coordinating labels!

For the griller…..

For the dad that LOVES to man the grill, whip up a batch of fresh bbq sauce. Bottle it up in a mason jar and put a cute tag on it.

For the cookie monster…..

Does your dad/husband LOVE cookies?  Jazz up his favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe by adding in chopped bacon.  Trust me, they are DELICIOUS and he will love them!

For the “best dad in town”……

Assist your kids in making a hand-painted “DAD” card….perfect for bragging rights at the office!

June 12th, 2012 |

Corn & Tomato Summer Salad

Do you have a favorite recipe?!  You know, the kind that probably started out from a recipe either from a cookbook or handed down from a friend, and over the years has morphed into one of your stand-by, go-to recipes for any occasion?!  This corn and tomato salad is definitely one of mine!  It’s appeared at BBQs, at bridal showers, at birthday dinners and even picnics under the stars (served in darling, individual-sized mason jars, of course!).  It’s simple, tasty and everyone always LOVES it.

Over the years, I have simplified it and it’s as basic as this:

Brush your corn on the cob with some olive oil mixed with cayenne pepper (just a bit) and cook it on the grill until it gets some nice grill marks on it.  Cut it off the cob, and mix it with equal parts halved cherry tomatoes.  Add in feta cheese, chopped basil and a healthy sprinkling of salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of olive oil, and squeeze in the juice of one lime. Whisk together to combine and then pour over the salad.  Let it marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, and then you are table-ready!

 

June 11th, 2012 |

Watermelon & Feta Appetizer

Most people consider fruit a “dessert”…..I like to serve it as an appetizer!  One of my go-to appetizer ideas for summer is this simple watermelon and feta cheese recipe that I shared in the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  It’s quick and easy to put together, and you can really adapt the look (or shape of it) to any celebration with the simple exchange of a cookie cutter.

Here are my tips: slice watermelon and feta cheese into large slices of even thickness, use a cookie cutter to cut out the desired shape (I used a 2″ round cutter for these), use a wood skewer or toothpick to attach a piece of basil to the top, and then drizzle with your favorite balsamic vineager on top.  Yes!  It’s as simple as that!

June 11th, 2012 |

Cocktails & Croquet

Summertime is the perfect opportunity to get creative when it comes to entertaining. Whether you are gathering adults for a cocktail party or having familes over for a bbq, spin your party in a different direction by adding a theme. One of my favorites is “Cocktails & Croquet.” A favorite summer past-time, croquet is a simple game that can be played with a few or many guests (of all ages, too!). Mix that with a few fabulous cocktails, delicious food and colorful decorations, this party will quickly become one of your best ever.

When it came time to deciding on decor, I took my cue from the colorful balls and stripes from the croquet set. A crisp, blue and green stripe was used on the invitations and paper goods, and red accents were used throughout the party.

After the games are played and it’s time for dinner, escort your guests to a colorful dinner table. A playful, paisley patterned tablecloth is the ideal backdrop to our gorgeous, white centerpiece. White peonies, and hydrangeas accented with yellow billy balls looked fresh and playful with our coordinating stripe pattern wrapped around the vase. Each placesetting held a personalized croquet ball sitting atop a crisp green napkin. It added a playful touch, and extra croquet balls can be easily purchased at sports stores or from online retailers.

Guests were greeted with a simple self-serve bar, set-up on the patio so refills could be attained easily while playing the game. Wine was chilled in a fruit-filled ice bucket that I made using limes, lemons and raspberries (check back later this week for the “how-to” instructions). Lemonade was served in a drink dispenser, with an assortment of ice cubes infused with fruit flavors. These are so simple to make and add a refreshing flavor twist to any basic, summer drink.

We all have our favorite go-to appetizer recipes, especially during the summer. I tend to gravitate towards veggies & dip, a layered taco dip, bruschetta, or fruit of some sort. The fun part comes in the the presentation. Get creative! Make individual servings of your beloved taco dip in mini mason jars, or shrimp shooters in shot glasses with some cocktail sauce at the bottom. Carve out a head of lettuce to hold your veggie dip, instead of placing it in a regular bowl.

I hope my Cocktails & Croquet party has inspired you to put a twist on your typical patio cocktail party!

 

June 8th, 2012 |

Tori’s Tips for Summer Entertaining

 

I was thrilled to catch up with celebrity, Tori Spelling, to chat about the launch of her latest book, celebraTORI and get some tips for summer entertaining.  Read on below for Tori’s tips and check back later today as we share a simple ice cream cone cupcake recipe from her book.

A big thanks to Tori for her contribution, and also for featuring The Party Dress Magazine and her article on her blog, ediTORIal yesterday!

Bring the Indoors Out

During the summer, it’s so nice to entertain outdoors. But having to rent or purchase furniture for your outdoor event can get pricey. So I love bringing my indoors outside for events! From my living room or den I’ll bring out loung-y sofas and armchairs, but even formal, traditional chairs are pleasingly ironic in an outdoor setting. Also bring out coffee tables, ottomans, lamps & books for decor, and area rugs. One day out in the sun won’t destroy your pieces and furniture al fresco is spectacular!

Set the Party Zone

When having a Summer backyard (or even indoor) bash you want guests to utilize the whole space you’ve worked so hard to create for them. Think of your party space as a triangle! When they enter the party they are at the center of the base of the triangle. To the left you should have your main food table or bar and the opposite on the right side. At the far end of your party (the triangle top point) I like to put the focal point of any gathering: the dessert table! To me that’s your star player. Whether its a 6ft table with cake plates stacked with cakes, cupcakes, and cookies or a simple DIY sundae bar guests will love it. With food, cocktails, and dessert all spread out at your party, guests will all use the space and not congregate in one area.

Do a D-I-Y Bar

Presenting a do-it-yourself bar will not only save you money, but also adds a great presentation and conversation piece to the party. I usually like to pick 1 or 2 alcohols to be the base of your DIY bar, such as champagne, vodka, or tequila. I hate the look of a bottle of liquor sitting out so it’s nice to pour it into a carafe. You’ll probably want a sparkling water option for those that don’t drink. I use pitchers, carafes, and bottles to fill with various juices, mixers, and syrups. The last key element is putting out decorative bowls of fresh fruit and herbs.

I always make personalized tags (even if hand-written) to adorn carafes, bottles, and bowls so guests know what everything is. Guests will LOVE creating their own cocktails and comparing notes with each other. I usually set out a cheat sheet to get them started by suggesting fabulous combinations or recommending signature cocktails for the party. Guest’s love awakening their inner mixologist!

Mini’s Rule

I always serve mini foods at all my parties. I believe if it’s more than 2 bites it shouldn’t be served! And, I also believe ANYTHING can be made into a mini size. It’s easier for your guests, less mess, and less wasteful leftovers. Minis also always get that “ahh ha!” reaction from guests and can create a great presentation, and definitely a conversation piece! Now, obviously I’m not opposed to dips and such put out, especially while entertaining outdoors. But when it comes to the main dishes, no one wants a big pile of food on their plate while enjoying the warm weather!

Activity Bound

I’m a DIY gal at heart so I’m always crafting. At any event, I love to give my guests the opportunity to engage in an activity, unleash their creativity, and then have a take home gift from the party. A simple crafting table with benches, bean bags, or beach chairs can be set out to create the activity space. Lay out tools, material, and embellishments and let them go to town! Summer is such a great season and theme to think of DIY crafts to do.

If crafts aren’t your thing, set up a fun, interactive DIY photo booth! Make a backdrop, chalkboard signs they can write on, even some fun accessory pieces and a Polaroid camera and let them create their own memories!

Head back this afternoon for my DIY recipe for creating ice cream cone cupcakes!

 

June 7th, 2012 |

Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook

I have a lot of books.  Cookbooks, party books, fashion books…..cocktail books.  But none of them are quite as cute (or colorful, I might add) as my new Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook.  Useful and charming in that preppy yet mod style that I adore so much, and the perfect size to keep handy in the bar for summer soirees.  Her updated twist on classic cocktails make me excited for my next bash.  Some of my favorites?  Watermelon Swash, Pink Lady, and Mrs. Salty Dog.

PS – At only $10 on Amazon, it would make a darling hostess gift!  You can purchase it here.

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