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.


May 26th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Summer Bandanna


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 (, tablesetting (

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

May 19th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Sail Away


Sail into Memorial Day weekend with this napkin that just SCREAMS summer!  This festive boat would be great for any summer party or children’s birthday party.

Step 1: Fold the napkin. Lay the cloth napkin flat on the surface you are using and fold the napkin in half horizontally. Fold it again vertically so that you have a square that is the fourth of the size of your original napkin.

Step 2: Rotate the napkin. Turn the napkin so that it is in the shape of a diamond with the open edges of the napkin on the bottom.

Step 3: Crease the bottom of the napkin upwards so that you have a triangle. Fold both the left and the right points of the triangle until they touch in the middle of the napkin.

Step 4: Turn down the flaps. There will be two small flaps on your napkin. Fold them under so that the front looks like a triangle again. This time fold them with a line down the middle.

Step 5: Take the left and right points and fold them towards the back until they meet. As this is happening, crease the fold.

Step 6: Pull the flaps. There will be four flaps inside of the triangle you have formed. Pull these flaps out until they look like the sails of boats.

Image via Napkins with a Twist, instructions via

May 18th, 2009 |

Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day weekend is the kick-off to summer.  With temperatures finally rising here in the midwest – this weekend is the perfect time to host a Memorial Day BBQ!

Food for BBQ’s has to be one of the easiest – and everyone has their favorite summer dishes – so throw some burgers on the grill, toss up a fresh salad and shuck some fresh corn on the cob.  Today, let’s focus on how to set a festive table for your weekend of patriotic parties!

It looks like the weather is going to hold up – so plan to host your party outside on the patio.  Dust off that patio furniture, and freshen up the space with some new chair cushions and throw pillows.  These red, white and blue stripe cushions from Pottery Barn are perfect for our Memorial Day BBQ!

Hang paper lanterns from under your umbrella – it will add some color by day, and a nice glow at night to any table!  Flowers would be lovely on the adults table – but if you are hosting a party with some tiny guests, give them their own festive centerpiece – fill Chinese take out containers with tons of red, white and blue candy!

Combine patriotic colors and patterns for your placesetting – I love this idea of tying a tin star around your napkin – so festive!  If you are looking for some disposible party supplies, go check out my favorite resource, Plum Party Supplies.  The patriotic supplies below –  grosgrain ribbon paper goods, flag party crackers, and red acyrlic tumblers – would be great for any summer party!


Images: placesetting, lanterns and candy centerpiece (, patriotic beverage tub (, patio table (, party supplies (

May 16th, 2009 |

A Birthday Celebration with an Asian Flair

Asian Flair Birthday Party

Looking to throw a birthday party with a festive theme?

Try using an Asian theme…complete with paper lanterns, chopsticks and fortune cookies!

Set the stage for your celebration by setting up one long table and hanging paper lanterns above it to define the space.  Use shades of red, orange and pink, with accents of gold to set your table.  Try tying wooden chopsticks to your napkins with a simple ribbon.  There are two options for placecards – and I can’t decide which is my favorite!  You could do a classic paper card with Asian script on it – or you could use these darling silver fortune cookies from Beau-Coup.

asian-flair-fortune-cookiesAn Asian dinner would not be complete without noodles!  Set up a noodle bar complete with sliced veggies, crushed peanuts and different sauces.  As a compliment, serve lemongrass shrimp skewers, Asian braised short ribs, and for dessert – create custom fortune cookies!

Make sure to create an inviting seating area for your guests to relax after dinner,  sip on Sake and at night you can light fireworks (if the season’s right and you have someone willing to control the activity). Decorate the area with bamboo mats, and vases full of bamboo shoots, and more paper lanterns.

As a favor for your guests, package items in a Chinese food take-out boxes instead of traditional gift bags. Stuff them with  fortune cookies, inexpensive paper fans, Chinese yo-yos and pocket-size Chinese checkers.

Images: table setting (, chopstick napkins (, Chinese take-out box favors (, placecards (, noodle buffet (

May 15th, 2009 |

Domestic Diva Bridal Shower

Hosting a bridal shower for a bride-to-be that considers herself the next “Martha Stewart”!?  Host a Domestic Diva shower!

Invite your guests to an afternoon of culinary activities!  Send a festive invitation, like this one from Wedding Paper Divas, and include a recipe card and instructions for every guest to bring their favorite recipe to share with the bride.

Focus your decorations around kitchen untensils – I absolutely love this silverware chandelier, and how easy to add some spoons, spatulas and whisks into your flower arrangements?!

Instead of your typical bridal shower games, challenge your guests to a cookie bake off.  Have sugar cookies already baked (you could do basic circles, but it would be really cute if you did bride and grooms!), and have bowls of colored royal icing and tons of sprinkles ready before your guests arrive.  Have your guest of honor judge the final submissions – and don’t forget to provide some celephane bags for your guests to bring the cookies home with them.

I have the perfect party favor for this shower!  This adorable set of four measuring cups has clever and romantic phrases (A heap of love, A spoonful of affection, A dash of tenderness, A pinch of joy) are engraved on the handle of each measuring spoon. The traditional measurements (1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon) are engraved on the back side of the handle.  Perfect for the happy couple and for guests to remember their special day!


Images: centerpiece, baking supplies (, invitations (, measuring cup favor (, blueberry tarts (

May 13th, 2009 |

Two Little Fish: A Baby Shower for Twins!

Fish Baby Shower


A new baby joining the family is a great reason to have a party – but two babies?!  That’s cause for a huge celebration!

Our Mom-to-be is having the dream duo – a little boy and a little girl!  Since we have to go with a fairly gender neutral theme and the party is going to take place this summer, I though goldfish were the perfect theme!  This invitation from Tiny Prints is perfect – it creates a great color palette and has 2 little fish on it!

With a color palette of bold brights – orange, blue, yellow and green – and an accent of fish here and there – this party is sure to please our guest of honor.  Start by decorating your space with colorful lanterns – I love the square shape of these from  If you are looking to carry your goldfish theme through even further, check out these goldfish lanterns (they would be super cute for a child’s birthday party, too).

For our tables, choose “happy flowers” such as dalias, gerber daisies, or sunflowers to create your centerpieces.  Use a round, clear vase and fill with 3 goldfish – your guests will love it!  Set your table with blue, orange and white dishes.  I love the ones pictured above, but if you are looking to re-create this look with some disposable paper goods – check out Plum Party Supplies for the great products below (blue scallop placemats, orange ruffle edge plates, and orange and blue vase gems).  I absolutely love the goldfish glasses pictured above from Crate & Barrel – perfect for the baby shower – but also great to use all summer long!Fish Baby Shower Party Supplies

Serve a colorful meal of healthy food – try stuffed peppers and a cherry tomato fava bean salad.  Serving wine or a champagne punch is always fun, but remember to include a non-alcoholic drink for your guest of honor!  I love these orange Izze sparkling juice bottles.  They are available in all different flavors (and colors to match your party theme) at Whole Foods Market and Target.

Looking for a creative party favor?  I love these golfish in a bag soaps!  Perfect for our theme!

Images: goldfish centerpiece (, orange Izze drinks and placesetting (

May 12th, 2009 |

Sips & Dips: A Cocktail Party

sips-dipsI fell in love with this invitation from Tiny Prints – Sips & Dips – what a perfect theme for my next cocktail party!

I’m having some old friends over to catch up, and I want to put together a party that is casual but chic.  A few great cocktails, some tasty appetizers and maybe a few delicious desserts – add in some creative presentation and I’ve got myself a party!

There are a few key components for creating a visually appealing appetizer spread.  Let’s take a look at a few ideas:
Sips & Dips

To give it a modern look, I’m going to use all-white serving dishes. The food really stands out, and it will give my table a uniformed look.

Instead of just throwing the food on a plate, I’m going to neatly place the individual pieces of food in tidy rows on their trays maintaining an equal distance between them. This works especially for things like mini pizzas, tiny quiches, small crab cakes, and individual desserts.

A couple of more ideas I like to remember: you can also add some some interest to your plates by adding another element or pop of color under your food.  For example, arrange pot stickers on a bed of green beans (see photo above).  Try thinking outside the box when it comes to the serving pieces you use – instead of arranging a veggie platter the traditional way with the dip in the middle of a pile of vegetables, try using small esspresso cups to serve your dips, and place the veggies standing up in glasses – place all on a tray for a colorful presentation.

Hmmm….now all I need to do is figure out what I’m serving!?!

Images: sips & dips invitation (, martini’s (, outdoor patio (, orange tulips (, appetizers (

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