My son turned 5 last week. After considering different options, we opted for a home party with only 7 of his friends. I never shy away from hosting a party at home. A few parents told me I was courageous to receive 7 kids ages 4 to 7 – some who never have been at our house before – without parents. But, it went very well! Like my husband said, the mess in the playroom is the same whether you have two kids or 8 in it. Continue Reading
I just want to share an interview that I did for the magazine Coup de Pouce. I was happy to share my entertaining tips with the journalist Annie Richer for an article about the top 10 rules to be the perfect hostess or guest this holiday season.
You can read it all in the December 2012 issue of Coup de Pouce from page 107 to 111. Etiquette expert Cendrine Chénel also shares her tips. We talk about it from different angles.
This is a challenge for many people. The first question is how you decorate your small apartment or condo for the Holiday season. The key is less is more. Stick to one color palette that you will reuse everywhere. Add a few touches across your home starting with the entry hallway. Reinvent the decor of a console table. Look at where you can hang or display tree ornaments using elements from your existing decor.
When it comes to planning your holiday party, opt for a cocktail party where you serve tapas and canapes. Keep the number of appetizers within the limits that your space can accommodate. Spread the food between the kitchen breakfast bar and living room tables. Test before your party how many serving plates you can put on your flat surfaces. You can still serve a mix of cold and hot hors d’oeuvre. One way to minimize the space is to put certain food in a tall bowl and place stacked takeout boxes for a self-serve delivery.
Visit Style at Home if you wish to look at an awesome small space nicely decorated for a holiday cocktail party. They did a fabulous job using a blue and white theme. They thought of every detail to style the place. The finest touch is incorporating the Bombay Sapphire into their bar station.
+ Small Space Cocktail party on Style at Home – photos by Michael Graydon
Many readers got in touch lately about the party they did. You can feel Amy Atlas inspirations in every one of their dessert table. I decided to illustrate event design tips that are worth stealing from their party photos. I selected two kids birthdays and one bridal shower.
Pool Party for a 5 years old
Maureen of Anders Ruff Custom Designs did a pool party for the 5th birthday of her son. Make it easy to coordinate everything by selecting a palette widely available in store. Green and blue are hot this summer. And both represent the hues of ocean water. This was a great choice. Maureen uses the blue for boys and the green for girls.
She used toys as lunch containers. She put the lunch bag into a sand pail personalized with the name of each kid. This is a good idea also if some of your lunch bags are for kids with dietary constraints. A pail made it easy for the kids to carry their lunch and after they have a toy to play with.
She designed the banner, the party circles and all the labels. She sells those on Etsy. One thing that elevates her dessert table is the fact that she wrapped the boxes / stands. A mix of gift wrapping papers and ribbons is all you need to make an impact. You can read of the details and see more photos on her blog.
Be original with how you serve the food. For a green and white bridal shower, Mandy of Everyday Obsession tied the spoon to the tumbler glass. It feels special and it is practical.
Add variety with your labels. Kristina at Modern Frills has one favor tag design done for each flavor of her popcorn take-home bags. It’s Kim from TomKat Studio who designed the party invitations, cupcake toppers, and labels.
+ Custom Matching Party Logos for cupcake toppers, address labels, favor tags, stickers by Anders Ruff $7.50 USD
+ Custom Happy Birthday Banner Design by Anders Ruff $15
One booth that I noticed at the SIDIM was the kitchen by Fellini Designs in collaboration with Thermador home appliances. Interior architect Rosanna Cotunni selected all the surfaces and came out with the kitchen layout. The main reason that Italian kitchen caught my attention was how they staged their booth. It illustrated a few techniques that you can use to prepare an open-plan kitchen when you have guests over for dinner.
Three Simple Entertaining Tips
Look at how inviting their pasta tower is. Think about how you can use food to decorate your space.
Write down the menu on the wall. Textured slate tiles replace the traditional chalkboard wall in Chef Normand Laprise’s dream kitchen.
A raised bar coupled with a spacious deep sink hide the cooking mess. Think about that feature when you renovate your kitchen.
Weddings become more and more amazing every year. That formal event seems more fun than in the past. Couples these days want a memorable wedding that fits within their personality. For these reasons, they are always an incredible source of inspirations for any big party.
You probably have seen the wedding of the creative director of Hello!Lucky, Eunice with Daniel. It is featured on The Spring 2010 edition of Martha Stewart weddings and many on the blogosphere have praised it this month. This remarkable wedding illustrates so well key components that can make any party one that your guests will remember for many years.
1. Set the Tone with Stages, Props and Custom Signage
If you wish to make a statement, you need to invest in out of the ordinary party decor elements. They use the service of Because We Can to build a portable flat-pack grand stage, various signs, and fun props. Look for local people with a background in theater set, or even an excellent store window designer. They know how to create make believe props and stages.
And do not underestimate the power of custom signage. It does not give directions to your guests. It look should reinforce your party theme.
2. Parades and Costumes
The idea of a parade to bring the guests from point A to point B is a great and fun idea. It sends the message that it is time to celebrate. People of all ages love parades. Anyone with an artistic flair coupled with some building experience can made their own version of hand-painted silhouettes, if you have time on your hand. At a kid party, the kid can decorate their own silhouettes. When selecting the materials, make sure the silhouettes once attached to the stick will still be lightweight.
3. Attention to the Comfort of Your Guests
Assuring the well-being of your guests is the number #1 rule of entertaining. Every party has their high and low moments. Make sure that your guests always find something to do. It is not just about paying attention to food and drinks. It is also making sure that nobody is too hot, or too cold. It is about self-servicing snacks all day long, just in case someone is really hungry. All these little details translate into fun and happiness for your guests.
The last point applies to everyday entertaining. If those are planned ahead, the host and hostess will be free to enjoy the company of their guests. It does not always work that way in real life. But as long as you aim for more work before and less work during the party, you should be OK.
+ Eunice and Daniel feature on Martha Stewart Weddings
+ Portable stands, props and signage by Because We Can
+ Behind the scenes coverage on the blog of Hello!Lucky
+ Get the vendor list on Hello!Lucky
+ via 100 Layer Cake
We are not always able to be with our love one for a birthday or the holiday. But with video on the Web, it is easy to send them very personal wishes. Look at this couple did for the birthday of one of their friend. They recreate a birthday at their home. Imagine receiving a video where your friends took the time to decorate their apartment and bake a birthday cake for you. It is adorable! Watch it!
+ via Party Perfect
I saw that trick yesterday at the Fairmont San Francisco. I had to share it with you. It looks great on the cucumber water and the lemon water as shown here. But it would be even better for sangria, punch and any other summery cocktails.
The idea is that instead of putting the ice cubes directly in the drink, which will water down your drink on a hot day, you insert a tall square vase into a jar to separate the ice cubes from your beverage. A tall square vase is easy to find at your local florist shops.
Depending on the beverage, it may be appropriate to place an ice bucket with tongs next to the jar to fill the glasses with ice cubes before serving.
If you wish to make your own flavored water, check out my recipes:
Take a tasty cucumber, the fresher the better. Cucumber with smaller seeds delivers a more refined look.
September 26th, 2009 Update: Since this post, I learned that the manufacturer of these square canisters is Cal-Mil. Click here for more details.
I participated in my first #eventprofs chat on Twitter yesterday. Ready 2 Spark launched her weekly Twitter chats to keep in touch with event professionals a few weeks ago. Last night, they were discussing: Is green more or less relevant in today’s economy? This gave me the idea for today’s green living post.
For everyday entertaining, we may use these actions for convenience or for cost savings, but the important thing is to the reduce our footprints.
- Use online invitations instead of printed invitations, unless it is a milestone event. With Facebook and plenty of free event invitation management services available online it is easy to do and look stylish.
- Add a link to Google maps for people to find the directions to your home. With iPhone and BlackBerry, people often will not print the instructions.
- Let go of the imported bottled water. Instead recycle glass and cute plastic bottles to serve tap water. Look at the modern bottle they used at La Fabrique.
- Avoid as much as possible disposable tableware when you host a party.
- Tea towels make wonderful napkins. You can buy them in bulk or sew your own. In the long run, it is cheaper than using patterned paper napkins.
- Try to promote carpooling
- In summer time, use local flowers that you get at the farmer’s market or in your own garden
If you are curious to know how its work, Lara of Ready 2 Spark produced a video tutorial that explains everything. I could be fun to host Twitter chats from time to time about everyday entertaining topics. Would you be interested to participate in something like that?
+ Eventprofs chat by Ready 2 Spark
+ What a clever concept! Nicola from Bern imagined a coat hook that transforms as a coat hanger. The multi-hook design solves the problem of not have enough space to properly hang the coats of your guests when you are having a big party. Via MoCo Loco
+ I applaud when people come up with clever (the word of the day) business card idea. Why not recycle this idea for the table numbers or the menu of a garden party? With some embellishments, the concept will transfer well for an English tea party. See more DIY table number ideas. Via Design Crush.
+ Read the Top Ten Kitchen Layout Mistakes on HGTV.ca. One that I wish to discuss further is the Don’t install a sink in a breakfast bar. Family members often sit at the breakfast bar with their laptops to talk to you. Water and computers do not form a good mix.
+ I do not talk about fashion on AHWKV but I felt under the spells. I spotted the fall/winter 2009 collection of Eley Kishimoto on Wee Bird, a UK blog that I adore. This is the work of a team of designer Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto. I enjoy their playful yet stylish style. Their Spring 2009 is also gorgeously creative.
This is the title of a little quiz I took this morning on Martha Stewart’s Web site. I did it even if I am fully aware of my entertaining philosophy.
I bring style, creativity and comfort to my parties. I believe in time saving solutions. This includes buying fine products from local shops instead of doing everything myself. I am not ashamed to say that I am not crafty. But once in a while, I will engage in handmade projects for my parties.
According to Martha’s quiz, I am a Thoughtful Hostess. I lose points for not do everything hand-made and not wrapping the left-over meals. I am too busy for that and I do not eat left-over. I like that we can compare our quiz answers with how other participants answered.
Interesting Patterns in Answers
To the question How long before a dinner party do you invite guests?, I answered 1 month. In fact, for a casual dinner (no special occasions) I typically invite people 2 weeks in advance. For birthdays or a special theme party, I will invite people at least one month in advance. The overall results show that
- 65% invite guests 1 week in advance
- 32% invite guests 1 month in advance
When a guest offers to bring something to your home, most people (58%) declined the offer since they plan for everything while more than a third (40%) welcome that the guests bring their favorite treats to share.
One question that was awkwardly asked was about the guest room. This question illustrated the disconnection in Martha Stewart’s ideal living and reality. Many urban people live in a small house or a condo unit where clearly there is no space for a guess room. This is my case. For that reason, I did not know if we should answer how we wish our guest room to be instead of how we do it right now, out of necessity. The answers were:
- 58% answered: Simple wall art and bedding in calming colors, a bedside water pitcher, reading materials, an extra toothbrush, and a single flower in a bud vase.
- 34% answered: What guest bedroom? Guests are always invited to stay, and can grab a spot on the couch or air mattress; there are plenty of extra pillows and blankets.
This weekend Lianne of Babyburrito described me in her blog as “Martha Stewart with an edge and way more appeal.” It is SO nice of her to say that! I will stick to my style.