HOST AN OSCAR PARTY

I love this party idea for a girls’ night out.  A friend of mine hosted an Oscar party for just the girls a few years ago and it was a winner!  Because the Academy Awards are always held on a Sunday evening (technically a school night), I like a more casual approach and wouldn’t require guests to be red carpet ready in terms of attire.  But if your crew loves to be dressed to the nines, by all means, go for it!  

A red carpet to greet your guests is still a must whether you’re going casual or formal.  Party City has 15ft and 40ft options here

red carpet

Once your guests arrive, have each of them fill out their own Oscar ballot.  Click here for the printable version of the one below.

ballot

You can’t celebrate the movies without popcorn!  Offer several different flavors like cheese, caramel and cinnamon and set it up buffet style like the one below.  You can actually download this printable party kit here.  My favorite item is the popcorn cones with bow ties!

popcorn barimage credit: Bird’s Party Shop

A candy buffet is a brilliant idea for an Oscar theme because it requires no time in the kitchen.  The presentation possibilities are endless but I like the simple one below for this adult party.  Don’t forget the Junior Mints!

candyimage credit: life in yellow

Keep the beverage choices simple with a signature drink.  It wouldn’t be the Oscars without champagne and when I found this recipe called ‘Red Carpet-tini’, I knew I’d found the one.

red carpet tiniimage credit: Taste of Home

If you have any movie memorabilia around the house like film reels or prints, add it to your party decor.

movieimage credit: Shindig Events

At the end of the evening, tally up who had the most accurate predictions from their Oscar ballot and award that person the grand prize. You can include movie passes, theater candy or a DVD of last year’s Best Picture winner.

prizesimage credit:  Linen, Lace & Love

You can also put together “swag” bags of goodies for the rest of your party guests.  Make the one below by following the DIY steps here.

goodies bagimage credit: Studio DIY

More “nominated” ideas:

If you want to make your own popcorn, I found some unique recipes here.

To give your party a different twist, check out this Oscar PJS & Pearls theme – love!

Bingo is always a fun game to keep people engaged in the show.  Print these 2014 Oscar Bingo cards and you’re good to go.

Be sure to visit my Oscar Pinterest board for more inspiration.

Celebrate Ice Cream

Did you know that July is National Ice Cream Month?  Yes, you read it right.  The entire month is dedicated to this fabulous frozen dessert.  Like I needed a reason besides the fact that it’s summer to eat more ice cream.  To celebrate this quirky recognition of July, I thought I’d share some of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy this summer treat.

Have a sundae on Saturday!  We like to break out our traditional sundae glasses, fill them with a couple of scoops and customize it with our favorite toppings.

ice crm sundaeimage: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Speaking of toppings, how about this unique way to serve them?  Put your favorites in champagne glasses and tuck them into a rustic crate.

dessert-toppings-barimage: Blowout Party

Ice cream sandwiches…need I say more?

ice crm sandimage: Tartelette

A good friend of mine combines waffles and ice cream for breakfast on her kids’ birthdays.  But I think National Ice Cream Month also qualifies!

ice crm wafflesimage: Pass The Sushi

Sometimes simple is best and it’s pretty tough to beat the traditional waffle cone.

ice crm waffleimage: Copenhagen Cooking

Check out these 8 fun facts about America’s favorite treat.

Scandinavian Inspired Summer Party

asummerimage: Robert Wojtowicz photography

Today marks the longest day of the year. To celebrate the summer solstice, I’m sharing the ‘Scandinavian Summer Party’ I styled last year for a Pinterest contest sponsored by La Crema Winery. Like most people, I love using the virtual pinboard but I had never heard of a Pinterest contest. When I found out I could dream up my ideal summer party and possibly win prizes or the chance to bring my party to life, I couldn’t resist! I ended up being one of their top 10 finalists which was a huge honor.

I decided on a Scandinavian inspired party because their lifestyle tends to be relaxed, peaceful and yet very sophisticated (all the things a summer party should be!). As I was daydreaming and looking at pins that would represent these attributes, I came across one that I knew captured the Scandinavian spirit perfectly.

hygge

All the pins for my board followed this “key ingredient”. I chose the gorgeous, rustic tablescape below because the neutral colors on the tables let Mother Nature be the star of the show.

tablescapeimage: at first blush and co

A hand written menu on brown paper bags filled with a baguette continues the clean, natural theme but is still beautiful and effortless.

amenuimage: Sacramento Street

Flowers from your own garden fit the elegant simplicity of the Scandinavian lifestyle.

flowersimage: Style Me Pretty

Forget Swedish meatballs, salmon is the taste of Sweden. I would serve tapas style appetizers like the ones below.

asalmonimage: IKEA Magazine

My dessert of choice was this Brita cake which is popular in Sweden and Finland.  It has a meringue like crust and is filled with layers of whipped cream and berries. Delicious and light, this is an amazing summertime dessert.  Find the recipe here.

britta cake
When the sun goes down, lights strung through the trees add to the intimate ambiance.

alightsimage: Martha Stewart Weddings

As I entertain this summer, I’ll be focusing on creating the intimacy, comradeship and contentment that is Hygge.  May the spirit of Hygge fill you in every season!

To see my entire Scandinavian summer party Pinterest board click here.  Thank you to La Crema Winery for sponsoring such a fun and creative contest. Cheers!

wine

Summer Sangria

Nothing says summer like hanging out on the deck or at the pool sipping sangria with friends.  My favorite recipe is a lighter version of the traditional ruby sangria because it’s made with white wine rather than red.  I serve it in a clear beverage jar so I can load it up with lots of colorful fruit like lemons, limes and oranges.  It looks as good as it tastes.

Cheers to summer!sangria 1

Summer Sangria

1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. triple sec (or other orange liqueur)
1/2 c. brandy
2 (750 ml) bottles dry white wine
1 (750 ml) bottle club soda, chilled
1 c. lemon, thinly sliced
1 c. lime, thinly sliced
1 c. orange, thinly sliced
*you can also add kiwi, strawberries and grapes – almost any fruit works!

In a large chilled pitcher, combine sugar, orange liqueur, brandy and white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 1/2 hours. When ready to serve, slowly stir in club soda to taste. Add all fruit and some ice.  Pour a glass and ENJOY!

 

 

 

 

Kentucky Derby Party

The “most exciting two minutes in sports” makes for a colorful and festive party theme.  Equestrian style is huge right now which makes finding fun decorations easy.  I co-hosted a Kentucky Derby luncheon last year with friends and our biggest challenge was deciding what decor ideas not to use.

The Kentucky Derby is known as ‘The Run for the Roses’ because of the blanket of red roses draped over the winning horse.  Incorporating roses into your decor for this party is simple and makes an elegant statement.  We picked up several bouquets at a warehouse club (Costco or Sam’s) and used them as the main centerpieces like the picture below.  We borrowed horse show ribbons from a couple of friends whose kids compete.  You can also buy show ribbons on ebay from sellers like this one.

kd tableimage: Sandra Clark

If you can borrow a vintage trophy cup or find one at a flea market, it’s a perfect prop for this party.  Or if you are willing to splurge a little, you can buy an authentic looking option here. For the 2nd look below, go to your closet and pull out a pair of tall black boots.  Fill them with roses and you’ve got instant “wow” factor.

kd rosesimages: (l) CelebrationsAtHomeBlog.com (r) Spoonful.com

Traditional Kentucky Derby fare includes southern flavors and plenty of bourbon. There are lots of fabulous options to choose from, but below are my top 4 “must serve” items for your Derby menu.

kd menu1 Mint Julep // 2 Hot Brown // 3 Benedictine Spread Tea Sandwiches // 4  Kentucky Derby Pie (image: acozinhacoletiva.blogspot)

I tend to get caught up in the food and decor but there is actually a race going on!  Set up fun wagers by printing this list of the contenders for each guest.  You can make this complex by taking win, place and show wagers but we took the easy route and had each person choose the winner only.

Because the race is short, you’ll want to have a few activities planned like a game of backyard horse shoes or a best hat contest (as you likely already know, big hats are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby).  Or do what we did and make hats as one of your activities.  We bought basic straw hats from a hobby store along with supplies like feathers, ribbons and faux flowers and had plenty of glue guns on hand. This also eliminated guests feeling stressed that they needed to go out and buy a hat before the party.hat

For a party favor, fill a mint julep cup with Junior Mints and tie it off with a rose.  You can buy mint julep cups here.

mj cupimage: Fashion Meets Food 

 Now you’re off to the races . . .

 

Easter Brunch

Is there anything better than brunch?  It gives you the freedom to put together a menu that’s a mash up of your favorite foods and alcohol is usually involved (Bloody Marys and Mimosas – need I say more?).  To me, Easter and brunch go together like bunnies and eggs (oh, wait a minute…). Regardless, you’re going to need sustenance for those egg hunts and there are endless options when you decide to host a brunch.  Below are a few recipes that I’m chomping at the bit to try.  Enjoy!

Easter Brunch1  Asparagus, Spinach & Feta Quiche // 2  Potato Salad with Dill Aioli // 3  Fruit-Granola Parfaits // 4  Absurdly Addictive Asparagus // 5  Perfect Deviled Eggs // 6  French Toast Roll Ups // 7  Strawberry Crush Mimosas // 8  Lemon Cream Cheese Monkey Bread

CELEBRATE MARDI GRAS AT HOME

IMG_0173Is it possible to make the holiday known for alcohol fueled bead bargaining by half-naked people family friendly?  The answer is ‘yes’.  Mardi Gras has become synonymous with New Orleans so here are 5 suggestions that focus on the food and culture and not Bourbon Street so much.

I think we can all agree that fried dough is fabulous.  Start the morning of Fat Tuesday off with beignets.  You can find the recipe for the gorgeous ones below here.  Or you can order a mix from the famous Cafe Du Monde here.

beignetimage: Baker Bettie

You can’t celebrate Mardi Gras without a mask. Let the kids pick their own at your local party store or they can make one.  Find supplies and directions here.IMG_0182

Put together a simple centerpiece for the table.  Start with a vase and then add beads and masks for a festive look.IMG_0195

Cook up a Cajun inspired dinner with this jambalaya recipe.  Don’t forget the jalapeno cornbread.

jambalayaimage: my recipes

No Mardi Gras meal would be complete without a King cake.  Whoever finds the baby boy hidden in the cake gets a year of good luck.

cakeimage: Taste of Home

HOST AN OSCAR PARTY

I love this party idea for a girls’ night out.  A friend of mine hosted an Oscar party for just the girls a few years ago and it was a winner!  Because the Academy Awards are always held on a Sunday evening (technically a school night), I like a more casual approach and wouldn’t require guests to be red carpet ready in terms of attire.  But if your crew loves to be dressed to the nines, by all means, go for it!  

A red carpet to greet your guests is still a must whether you’re going casual or formal.  Party City has 15ft and 40ft options here

red carpet

Once your guests arrive, have each of them fill out their own Oscar ballot.  Click here for the printable version of the one below.

ballot

You can’t celebrate the movies without popcorn!  Offer several different flavors like cheese, caramel and cinnamon and set it up buffet style like the one below.  You can actually download this printable party kit here.  My favorite item is the popcorn cones with bow ties!

popcorn barimage credit: Bird’s Party Shop

A candy buffet is a brilliant idea for an Oscar theme because it requires no time in the kitchen.  The presentation possibilities are endless but I like the simple one below for this adult party.  Don’t forget the Junior Mints!

candyimage credit: life in yellow

Keep the beverage choices simple with a signature drink.  It wouldn’t be the Oscars without champagne and when I found this recipe called ‘Red Carpet-tini’, I knew I’d found the one.

red carpet tiniimage credit: Taste of Home

If you have any movie memorabilia around the house like film reels or prints, add it to your party decor.

movieimage credit: Shindig Events

At the end of the evening, tally up who had the most accurate predictions from their Oscar ballot and award that person the grand prize. You can include movie passes, theater candy or a DVD of last year’s Best Picture winner.

prizesimage credit:  Linen, Lace & Love

You can also put together “swag” bags of goodies for the rest of your party guests.  Make the one below by following the DIY steps here.

goodies bagimage credit: Studio DIY

More “nominated” ideas:

If you want to make your own popcorn, I found some unique recipes here.

To give your party a different twist, check out this Oscar PJS & Pearls theme – love!

Bingo is always a fun game to keep people engaged in the show.  Print these 2014 Oscar Bingo cards and you’re good to go.

Be sure to visit my Oscar Pinterest board for more inspiration.

SUPER BOWL PARTY

Chips, dips, wings and beer…what more do you need for a Super Bowl party?  My husband would say “not a darn thing!”.  But if you do want to kick it up a notch, here are some suggestions:

Games:  Let’s face it, Super Bowl commercials are almost as big a part of the show as the actual football game.  Embrace it by playing ‘Commercial Bingo’.  Click here for a downloadable file of the game below.

sb gameimage credit: stylemepretty.com

Another activity that my entire family enjoys is “Prop Betting”.  Prop bets are fun little wagers to get people involved in the game when they could really care less about the two teams playing.  Have everyone kick in a dollar when they arrive and the person with the most correct predictions wins the pot.  An alternative to this is to buy a prize ahead of time vs. collecting money.  Print the sheet below here and you’re all set!

prop betimage credit: allthosethingsIlove.com

Food:  I’m convinced that the Super Bowl party is one of the main reasons so many diet related New Year’s resolutions fail.  But how can you not partake in the delicious junk food that makes it a Super Bowl party?  It would be un-American!

I think buffet style is the only way to go when it comes to Super Bowl party food.  My top two favorites are below:

1.  Taco Bar – most of it is make ahead and almost everyone loves tacos.

tacoimage credit: Pinterest pin

2.  Chili and hot dog bar – another good make ahead option and a favorite with adults and kids alike.

chili barimage credit:  sheknows.com

For dessert, decorate your chocolate covered strawberries to look like mini footballs.  It’s easier than it looks and now you can say you’ve had your fruit serving. 🙂

sb dessertimage credit:  dessertdarling.com (click for recipe)

Decor:  While it’s definitely optional, I think scattering a few football props on your serving table or a side table can add to the festive feel.  I love the idea (below) of using inexpensive green felt from the craft store to cover your table.  Add white duct tape for your yard lines.  Party City carries scads of stuff that can amp up your football theme. I also found this referee shirt bottle koozie that would help recreate the look below.

fb tableimage credit:  bitememore.com

Where there’s a party post, there’s almost always a Pinterest board.  Click here for my favorite Super Bowl party pins.

Wish List Wednesday

Holiday parties are right around the corner.  While it’s not mandatory to bring a gift for the host, it is a nice way to thank them for inviting you.  I have a friend that has a knack for picking the perfect hostess gift.  We’ve attended many parties together and I’ve never seen her give the same gift twice. She makes it a priority to put time and thought into selecting something unique that fits the personality of the host.  My goal this holiday season is to ditch the tried and true bottle of wine (not that there is anything wrong with that!) and come bearing a gift that is a little more original.  Below are some gifts I “wish” to give and they’re all $30 and under.

bev tagsThe holiday beverage tags above from Ballard Designs are a fun way to label your libations.  I also love the non-holiday version that can be used all year round.ks notebookGive your hostess a Kate Spade spiral notebook that adds a touch of glam to her to do lists.

henhouselinenes

This beautiful set of 6 cloth cocktail napkins from Hen House Linens gives the host a formal option for serving beverages and they’re environmentally friendly.beauty lotionThe Philosophy Holiday Handbook set of hand creams from Beauty Brands allows the hostess to pamper herself after the partygoers clear out.wine charmNo more mixing up wine glasses with these chalkboard wine charms from Mark and Graham.

cheers coastersRegardless of the celebration or time of year, the bubbly “Cheers” coasters from Nieman Marcus add some sparkle to the party.

Sales scoop on some of the items above:

Ballard Designs – 10% off entire site and free shipping (ends 12/3)

Nordstrom – free shipping, free returns (all the time)

Hen House Linens – 15% off with code 15OFF (starts midnight on 11/29 and ends at midnight 12/2)

Beauty Brands – $10 cash card with every order, free shipping on orders over $50

Neiman Marcus – free shipping, free returns, free gift packaging

Follow my hostess gift Pinterest board for more ideas.