Browsing Category

PARTY ideas + decor


How to Host an Olive Oil Tasting Party

olive oil tasting party planner

olive oil tasting party planner

Hosting a tasting party adds a fun element to a dinner party. But the key is to know how to dose everything, especially when it comes to food. Tasting between 3 or 4 olive oils is plenty for one night, especially if you are newbies.

Try to mix oils from different countries. You do not need to be an expert to host your own tasting party.  Simply stop by a fine speciality shop with a wide selection and ask them to compose an assortment of olive oils that will allow you to taste the differences. I often ask if I can record their advices with my Flip video camera. Otherwise, write down notes. Then, design cute note cards with the characteristics of each olive oil. Each guest should receive their own set of cards. Leave some room for them to write down their impressions.

Preparing the Tasting

You start the night with the tasting. They replace the appetizers of a typical dinner party. Then, move to a dinner with Mediterranean cuisine recipes to stay in the theme.

Do a test run of the olive oil tasting to practice the technique and see that everything will be properly in place. As a bonus, you will know how filling is the tasting part and know how much food you need to prepare for the dinner part.

Prepare plenty of small glasses since the best way to taste an olive oil. You will see that the technique resembles wine tasting.

  • Pour about 1 tablespoon into a small glass
  • Like with wine, you swirl your glass to release the flavor
  • Then, you inhale and pay attention to the smell
  • Next, you slurp the oil until you capture a small amount
  • Finish by swallowing the oil. Try to notice if it leaves a stinging sensation in your throat. That last part is to determine the intensity of the oil’s pungency.
  • For more information, read the easy to follow advices of U.S. tasting expert Nancy Ash.

If you feel less adventurous, set up a dipping bowl for every olive oil. Then, the guest can taste the oil with piece of white Ficelle (thinner baguette) bread.

Whatever method you use, make sure to cut slices of Granny Smith apples and serve glasses of water. You eat an apple slice and drink some water between each sample to clean your palate.

Rhodes olive oil cruet

Tabletop Design

A Provencal or Mediterranean table theme creates the right ambiance. Think about the south of France, Italy, Greece, Spain or Portugal for inspirations. Pottery Barn released an olive oil tasting party planner that includes a cute invitation that you can print.

How to Store Olive Oil?

stainless steel olive oil drizzler

You must keep your olive in a cool, dry, dark spot. I cook most of my dish with olive oil. So, I pour a small quantity in a porcelain bottle with a tiny pouring cap to be easily accessible when I’m cooking. Select an opaque container. The best choices are a porcelain, a stainless steel or a dark tinted glass jar or bottle.

+ How to taste an olive oil by Nancy Ash
+ Rhodes Olive Oil Cruet small $8, large $10 USD
+ Olive Appetizer Plates & Dipping Bowls – Set of 4 plates $32, Set of 4 dipping bowls $25
+ Stainless Steel Olive Oil Drizzler $10.50


Amazing Wine Labels for a Chicago Wedding

customized wine labels for a chicago wedding

customized wine labels for a chicago wedding

I spotted those thanks to @weddingchicks. I am impressed with the illustrations of the wine labels for a Chicago wedding. They are the best I have seen so far. And you would not regret to have a peak at the rest of the wedding pictures.

Update: As Jennifer commented below, the wine labels were designed by Alicia Potter with b.loved designs. Check out the Save the Date Character magnet she did for Jessica and John.

+ photos by Jennifer Eileen Photography


Floral Arrangements for a Sweet Bicycle Theme

centerpieces my bride story

centerpieces my bride story

The peonies and craspedia steal the show here. I like the burst of color and the sculptural simplicity of the floral arrangements. The designer creatively put emphasis on two blooms. The bouquet on the right is ideal for a chic picnic.  Below is a more rustic version.

picnic centerpieces for a vintage bicycle party theme

More Party Decor Ideas

Both events were designed around the same theme. In fact, an Anthropologie inspired outdoor picnic inspired the decor of the summer wedding. Let’s have a look at details that you could steal for your next event.

ice cream station with spoons on a bicycle basket

The bright yellow spoons look great next to the soft pink spoons. Do not hesitate to bring unexpected or vintage pieces into your party decor. Take for example, the bicycle basket that was used for the plastic spoons. Or the vintage bicycle and vintage tub. Galvanized metal items fit well with this theme. Usually, Pottery Barn and Ikea always carry a few galvanized metal items.

lemonade station with galvanized jar

+ Summer Bicycle Inspired Wedding on My Bride Story – photos: Don David Style Photography
+ Anthropologie inspired rehearsal dinner on Green Wedding Shoes – photos: Schnack Studios


4 Simple Centerpiece Ideas for Mother’s Day

kitty grass centerpieces anne sage

kitty grass centerpieces anne sage

The first idea is inexpensive and clever. You dress up a kitty grass by adding one or two blooms in each pot. Switch the kitty grass into a container that fits your tabletop theme. Plan one arrangement per place setting.

simple mother\'s day centerpieces seen on better homes and gardens

You can also be creative in selecting the container towards your mom’s pastimes. Better Homes and Gardens had a few good ideas to propose. Here, orange-yellow ranunculus are gathered in a mortar. Or wrap a pair of garden gloves around the stems, and tie everything with twine. Then, add a gardening tool to dress it up.

flowers in medical bottles designed by Rountree

Finally, the vintage medical bottles refer, in a cute way, to the caretaker role of mother. These lovely arrangements were designed by Rountree for the Spring brunch of Sunday Suppers.

+ photo kitty grass bouquet: The City Sage
+ photos unusual containers: see more ideas at Better Homes and Gardens
+ photo flowers in medical bottles: Sunday Suppers


Use Flower Installations to Decorate your Party

flourish art installation designed by the Canadian visual artist kristi malakoff

flourish art installation designed by the Canadian visual artist kristi malakoff

Art pieces can be a great source of inspirations for decorating a party. Take the flower installation that the Canadian visual artist Kristi Malakoff created in 2005. She did not use actual flowers to create her flower installations. Instead, she used 2000 photographed of flowers to write the word Flourish.

party decor inspirations :: flourish wall art designed by kristi malakoff

Her idea could be recycled for a little girl’s birthday party or a wedding. I would keep the word short to reduce the amount of work. It reminds me of Umbra’s Wallflower word graffiti I shown you last November.

+ Flower Installations by Kristi Malakoff


Mistystix for a Fog-like Effect

mistystix for a fog effect in your drinks

mistystix for a fog effect in your drinks

Although they are targeting bars, hotels and caterers, many will care to know about Mistystix. You could buy a pack if you are planning a milestone birthday party or a wedding. You will be able to reuse them for all your Halloween parties.

Mistystix are dryice swizzle sticks that safely create a misty fog effect in beverages. You insert the dry ice inside a capsule, which means that people will not be able to touch the dry ice. In theory, you only have to worry about who do the service; make sure that the servers know how to handle dry ice.

They also thought about functionality. The sticks have a small hook to sit neatly of the glass rim. It seems like a great idea. Watch this video to see a demonstration. Mistystix is sold in a pack of black and white sticks or in an assorted color kit.

+ Mistystix $200 CAD for pack of 250
+ via Marianik


More Spring Centerpiece Ideas

simple chic spring centerpieces

simple chic spring centerpieces

I want to share the beautiful Spring floral arrangements that my friend Jasmine Nadeau made for a party she hosted last night. Feel free to steal her ideas; I think they are awesome.

What I like is that they are make with easy to find flowers and accessories. By color blocking the blooms, her tulip bouquet looks modern and elegant. Take note on how Jasmine designed her bed of lilac daisies with leaves and votive candles. Her centerpieces are the proof that you do not have to spend a fortune on flowers to make a statement.


Keep it Simple Centerpieces for Spring

spring luncheon daffofils centerpiece

spring luncheon daffodils centerpiece

No need to buy fancy flowers to create an eye-catching centerpiece. Look how a collection of vintage bottles in old crate adds character to everyday daffodils.

flowers and moss installation by poppies and posies

I admire the creative use of moss to create what could become a table runner for your table. The execution is not that simple but the look is. You can use pin frogs to hold the flowers in place. Ask your florist to pair the flowers with the pin frogs.

single blooms bouquets :: yellow centerpieces

An easy to make arrangement simply requires that you cut yellow tulips all the same length and fill your clear vase with lime slices. Other options is a structured single blossom bouquet. The half sphere is pretty. Look no further that your kitchen cabinets to find your vases.

+ daffodils on old crate: Beauty Everyday
+ Garden moss installation: Poppies and Posies
+ tulips and limes: Southern Living – photography by Tina Cornett / Styling Cindy Manning Barr
+ Once Wed for Wedding Style Guide Issue 12


Lava Lamps

lava lamps at jello bar in Montreal

lava lamps at jello bar in Montreal

I like this picture taken by my husband last night at YULBiz, the monthly meetup of Montreal’s bloggers and social media crowd. It looks so festive. I prefer the 52 oz Lava Lamp, also called the Royal, to the original model. These are the 52 oz Lava Lamps.

If you buy lava lamps, turn on the lamps in the afternoon for an evening party. It takes 4 to 6 hours until you get the best effect.

+ Lava Lite 52 oz Lava Lamp – Yellow/Purple/Silver $28.99 USD at


Inspired by Ink & Peat

ink and peat :: store view

ink and peat\'s floral arrangements for a modern garden

It has been a while since I visited Housemartin, the blog of the owner of Ink & Peat. I admire Pam’s floral arrangements since her beginning. She caught my heart again with her modern garden arrangement that cleverly mixes a variety of orange and green flowers.

ink & peat :: store view

Not every party requires a theme. But it helps to get plan a fabulous event. When you are not inspired, visit design stores that you love for clues to stimulate my creativity. Take the visual merchandising at Ink & Peat. I love their merchandise and how they display everything in the store. It provides all the clues that you need to create a fabulous table. You get the mood and what style to look for.

When you walk to a store and their displays astonished you, take notes on how the colors are distributed. Building a color scheme is not just about putting the right colors together. It is mostly about how much of each and how do you spread the colors. Then, you can adapt the key elements to get a look that you will be proud to share with your guests.

+ Interior views of Ink & Peat
+ Modern garden on Housemartin


DIY Etched Glass Water Bottles

diy glass etched water bottles

diy etched glass water bottles

This is an idea that my foodie friend Alexa Clark‘s did for her birthday party. It is easy to do, it repurposes something that we do not use anymore and it is affordable. Alexa decorated used wine bottles by etching H20 on each bottle.

As you can see, she even recycled her cut stencils and the cut letters which produced two patterns. I am not sure if it is due to the color of the glass but the green wine bottles are prettier. You could also try it on a clear glass bottle.

Many Purposes

etched glass storage jars on martha stewart

You could do your own glass etching projects to write the table numbers on bottles or votive holders. Or you can create your own etched glass storage jars, like those on Martha Stewart.

March 16th, 2010 Update: A fun idea that @jennifersquires shared with me on Twitter is to etch drink glasses with your kid name and day of the week. Then you can drink out of the same glass all day.

Glass Etching Tips

A few things to know if you are new to glass etching:

  • Make sure to clean very well the surface.
  • You may want to put painter tapes (they are easily to get off than the regular tapes) on close-by areas to make sure no etching cream touched them.
  • Remove all the bubbles from your vinyl stencil and that the edges are stuck tight to the glass before applying an even thick coat of etching cream.
  • Wear rubber gloves and uses a brush or a popsicle stick to apply the cream. Make sure to cover completely the area that you want to etch.
  • Work in a well ventilated area.

+ photos: Etched glass storage jars on Martha Stewart