April 21st, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Roll it up!

roll-it-up

Simple and sophisticated, this rolled napkin will make a stunning companion to any placesetting.

You can accessorize your napkin roll with a ribbon tie, a napkin ring, or even a piece of twine with a placecard attached to it.

Perfect for a luncheon, bridal shower, or special dinner party….I hope you will try this napkin roll at your next party!

Image via The Knot

April 20th, 2009 |

Celebrate: Earth Day 2009

April 22, 2009 marks the 39th Earth Day celebration.  Celebrate by planning a day of activities that will encourage your children to learn about planting and recycling, followed by an alfresco dinner with friends.

Earth Day Planting (small)

If it’s true that you are what you eat, then you might want to take a look at the food you are picking up at the grocery store.  The average meal travels roughly 1500 miles before it’s consumed – why not try to plant and eat organic food from your very own garden?!  It’s not only better for you, but it’s better for the earth.

Invite the neighborhood kids over to help you plant a vegetable garden.  It’s a great way to get everyone together and to teach kids how they can make a difference.  Have your garden mapped out before the kids get there – separate the kids into groups, and assign them a vegetable to plant.  Check out these great chalkboard stakes at Crate & Barrel – they are perfect for identifying what’s what!

Send the kids home with a plant of their own to nurture – you can plant them in small terracotta pots or a wooden box.

Earth Day Recycle (small)

Earth Day is a great time to teach kids about the importance of recycling.  Reuse.  Reduce.  Recycle.  Talk to your kids about why it’s important to recycle – that making new things from recycled ones takes less money, less energy and less of the Earth’s resources.  Talk to them about how they can make a difference, and help you to recycle at home.

After a day of activities with your kids, invite your friends over for a nature-inspired dinner alfresco.

Earth Day Dinner (small)

Set your table using eco-friendly linens (which you can find plenty of these days!) and use bamboo or cork serving dishes.  Use natural elements such as birch candle holders, twigs and plants as your centerpiece.  Try bringing in some other garden elements to your table – such as attaching a butterfly on to your placecard or favor box.

Menu ideas for Earth Day may include creating only foods you do not need to use energy for. This is a great way to remember the importance of the day. You can barbeque, create pasta salads, and make vegetable platters with home made dips….ranch dip with sour cream, french onion dip, bean dip are all popular.

Have all of your guests, young and old, leave their mark in your newly planted vegetable garden.  Have each one write their name on a rock and place it into your new garden.  It will be a wonderful reminder of good friends and a great day!

Images:

Recycle Images (via inmagine.com)

Dinner Images: girl (inmagine.com), table setting (rebeccathuss.com), butterfly napkin (estiloweddings.com)

April 17th, 2009 |

Couples Shower with a Texas BBQ Theme

Yee Haw Couples Shower (small)

Start off BBQ season with a couples shower full of cowboy boots, rustic centerpieces, and plenty of good old-fashioned BBQ food!  This adorable invitation from Wedding Paper Divas says it perfectly – “Yee Haw!”

Send your guests home with the perfect BBQ favor – s’mores in a bag!  Little effort to assemble….big impact for creativity!

smores-goodie-bag-swsmag

Images: invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), candles, cowgirl and cowboy boots (flickr.com), woven vases (theknot.com), food and daisy bouquet (marthastewart.com), chow down bags and s’mores goodie bags (swsmag.com)

April 17th, 2009 |

Spring Flowers with an Edible Twist

Incorporate Spring’s fresh vegetables into your next centerpiece….here are easy-to-follow instructions from Epicurious on how to create a spectacular floral arrangement:
Veggie Centerpiece 1 (small)

Step 1: Gather your materials

Materials needed:2 cube glass vases, one large (6″) and one small (4″); 1 small square  of floral clay; 4″-square flower frog; 5 floral stakes; 2 bunches peonies (approximately 10 stems) in two shades of pink; 1 bunch of lilacs; 1 bunch of miniature kale; 2 bunches of thin asparagus; 5 baby artichokes; 2′ pink and green ribbon

Equipment needed: cutting board; pruning shears; scissors; ruler; awl; chef’s knife; double-sided tape

Step 2: Place the floral clay in the center of the larger vase and the smaller vase on top of the clay. Asparagus stalks should be cut to approximately 5″ before being placed in between the two vases. Use a pick or skewer to scoot them closer together. Add water to the outer vase so all stalks are covered by at least 1″.
Veggie Centerpiece 2 (small)

Step 3: The flower frog—a heavy piece of lead with small spikes that sits at the bottom of the vase and holds the flowers in place—should be placed inside the smaller vase.

Step 4: Cut off the stems of the artichokes. Push floral stakes deep into artichoke centers so their weight will be fully supported. If the artichokes are very hard, make an initial hole using the awl.

Step 5: Fill the smaller vase halfway with water (2″). Cut peonies, lilacs, and kale to 8″ to 10″ and slot them randomly into the flower frog so they stay in place—longer stems should be in the middle so they stick up, shorter stems on the sides so they curl under.
Veggie Centerpiece 3 (small)

Step 6: Artichoke stakes should be cut to 9″ or 10½” and inserted so they sit higher than the flowers. The arrangement should look very full.

Step 7: Choose a ribbon that pulls together the colors used. Attach double-sided tape to the back on both sides and wrap around the square vase, ensuring it is centered before affixing.

April 16th, 2009 |

Candy Buffet Table 101

Candy buffets have been popping up at weddings for a while now – but why not take the concept and present a candy buffet at your next birthday party, shower or dinner party?  Not only is it a fun, colorful display of sugar….but it’s an activity for your guests….and a great favor for them to bring home!

Amy Atlas is the guru of candy buffets – if you haven’t done so already, you should check out her website – it’s amazing eye candy!

Candy Buffet (small)

Presentation

Use a color scheme that matches your party theme:  Taking advantage of the colors you’ve already established can enhance your candy table’s presence, and bring cohesion to your entire party.

Create depth and height in your display:  with simple boxes or even phone books, you can sculpt a beautiful landscape on your table.  You can wrap the boxes in patterned paper, or even leave them bare and covered with matching linens for a refined, free-flowing cascade.  Use cake plates and candy dishes of varying height (you could even spray paint them a pop color to match your party theme).

Take advantage of your centerpieces: whether they be flowers or candles, using an extra centerpiece or two will not only tie into the rest of your party theme, but it can also add life and freshness to your candy table.

Don’t be afraid to use trimmings: details like colored linens, ribbons, tassels, and paper can add nice touches to your overall presentation.

Candy

Color is key:  using a specific color scheme can really make your table pop.  Monochromatic palettes can also be striking and elegant.  Make sure to consider different hues and shades – for example, if your colors are green and blue, don’t be afraid of using different shades of greens and yellows.  If using primarily dark colors, try to choose a lighter shade to bring energy to your table.

Don’t buy too much! It’s easy to worry about not having enough for everyone, but if you’re serving a meal, guests probably won’t be stuffing themselves with a ton of  sugar.  A small portion of ½ cup (4 oz) or less is a good estimate per person.  If you want to buy in bulk for a visual effect, save large containers for popular candies so you won’t have too many leftovers.

Containers and Supplies

More than jars:  apothecary jars and glass vases tend to be the easiest to find, but don’t miss out on other shapes and sizes you can find anywhere.  Vases are inexpensive  easy to find.  If you’re going for opaque containers, small baskets can give a rustic vibe, and candy dishes can be very graceful.   Definitely use cake stands, flat platters, and other serving ware to give your guests a variety of ways to choose their sweets!

Scoops and things:  when choosing containers, make sure you keep in mind how your guests are going to get the candy out!  Scoops, tongs, and other serving ware should be small enough to get the goods!

Individual containers:  if your table is set up as a DIY favor station, little bags or mini boxes can be great take-homes.  Dress them up with a personalized label and ribbon and your guests have a tasty treat to take home.

Resources

Candy

Containers and things

Images via Amy Atlas, information via Project Wedding

April 15th, 2009 |

Scrumptious Spring Cocktails

Spring Drinks 1 (small)

Spring Drinks 2 (small)

Spring Drinks 3 (small)
Spring Drinks 4 (small)
No party is complete without a signature cocktail.  Instead of having a full bar set up at your next event, try choosing one or two cocktails to serve. Not only is it more cost effective, but with the right styling, it will appear far more creative!

Everyone needs a few new recipes to spice up their repertoire this season….here are a few new ones that are sure to become instant favorites at your Spring events!

Cheers!

Images and Recipes via Williams Sonoma and Epicurious

April 15th, 2009 |

Lunch Meeting at Home

Lunch Meeting (small)

Every now and then, you may have to host a meeting in your home….PTA board, a charity organization, a meeting with a client.  Obviously creating a welcoming space with plenty of seating room is most important – but having a light lunch and a couple pitchers of lemonade readily available will be much appreciated by your guests.

I love this idea for setting up a salad bar…..it’s a modern take on an old idea.  Find glass containers of different size and height, and fill them with your salad ingredients….lettuce, carrots, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, fruit and either chicken or grilled shrimp (yum!).  Your guests will not only love their lunch, but will love how colorful and fresh your table looks.  This concept would also be great for a bridal or baby shower – perfect for a group of ladies!

Take your hospitality to the next level – provide a container of pens, and a stack of journals for your guests to take notes with during the meeting.

Images: salad bar (bhg.com), journals (paper-source.com), pencil cup (seejanework.com),

living room (calicocorners.com)

April 14th, 2009 |

Dinner Party with Friends

Looking for a quick, but delicious dinner to serve at your next dinner party?!

Dinner Party with Friends (small)

As the days get longer this Spring, you will find that your life gets busier!  More activities, the kid’s sports start up….your evenings may be getting longer, but you feel like there is less time to entertain.  With a little prep work, and a simple menu and table setting….you can still play the part of soccer mom and hostess with the mostess!

Here is a great menu (perfect for Spring!) to try at your next party:

Images: recipes via Williams Sonoma, dining room (potterybarn.com)

April 14th, 2009 |

Napkin of the Week: Tied with a Flower

zinnia-napkin-nwat

I love, love, love this week’s Napkin of the Week.  Found in one of my favorite party planning books, Napkins with a Twist, this napkin would bring springtime cheer to any table.  You could really adapt this idea to any color palette or use different types of flowers.  I think this particular combination is so striking because of the use of one color, just different hues.

Solid color napkins are readily available – I found a few at Pottery Barn and Amazon.com.  The construction of this is simple – simply lay the napkin out in a flat square, pinch the center of the napkin and pull up.  Gather together about 3 inches down from the top of the point, and tie with a ribbon.  After you tie your bow, insert a flower.  Voila!

April 10th, 2009 |

COLOR: Ocean Blues & Green

color-intro3Today’s COLOR inspiration comes from the ocean blues and green that I pulled out of a selection of fabrics from Calico Corners.  This modern combination will have sun seekers dreaming of the ocean!

Not only do I love the combination of colors – but also the playfulness of these patterns together.  It’s great inspiration not only for a party, but also for your home.  This would be a beautiful palette for a porch, patio or bathroom.

Seascape Intro (small)

I recently had a reader write in looking for inspiration for a bridal shower for a bride that is getting married in the Caribbean this year.

Your guest of honor has made this easy for you…

Beach wedding, beach-theme shower!

I always focus on the table setting – creating something that will leave your guests saying “ooh” and “ahh”.  But, I think with showers it’s important to remember to make sure you have two different areas for your guests to socialize.  Your tables (where you will be seating them for the meal), but also a comfortable area with multiple seating options for your guests to relax during the rest of the party (especially as the bride opens her gifts).

For your table, start by pulling in shades of blue in your linens.  Use different shells to create a centerpiece – and this is my favorite part – hang starfish and sand dollars at different heights from your light fixture (or ceiling) to create a seascape chandelier.  Use a gauzy, white tulle ribbon to hang them – it will create a nice light and airy effect.  If your shower is at night, go ahead and hang some votive candles too – the effect will be dream-like!  Tie placecards onto star fish – it will add a decorative element to your table, and make a great favor for your guests to bring home.

To create a relaxing, beach-like environment for your guests to relax and mingle in when they aren’t sitting at your beautiful table – set up a white tent outside.  Fill the tent with patterned floor pillows, beach chairs, and small tables for people to put their drinks on.  Hang some blue and green lanterns from the top of the tent to get a few more “ooh’s” and “ahh’s”.  Seascape Party (small)

Just one more accessory to complete your beach-theme bridal shower: seashell picks for appetizers or desserts!  You could make these yourself if you got crafty with some small shells, toothpicks and a glue gun.  BUT – to save on time, you can order these and other shell accessories from Wedding Things.

seashell-picks1

Images:  fabrics (calicocorners.com), drinks, seashell table setting and tent(brides.com), starfish placecards (theknot.com), starfish (potterybarn.com), green hydregnas (stylemepretty.com)

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