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Posts Tagged ‘Entertaining at Home’

Red Envelope  posted a beautiful, fabulous blog with ideas for entertaining in 2014.

With their permission, I’m sharing it with you today!

how to entertain in 2014

The New Year has arrived, and with it comes a bevy of predictions about what to expect in 2014. Our favorites come from experts in exciting industries like interior design, fashion, art and technology.

While the future is anyone’s guess, cultural trends are a wealth of inspiration for the modern hostess. We’ve culled the predictions from experts across the web to find the trends most likely to influence your entertaining decisions in 2014. If you want to host trendsetting events this year, then these are things you need to know when planning your parties.

Party Planning Gets Personal

According to craft retailer Michaels, the art of handwriting will be making a reappearance in 2014. This is a continuation of popular trends like hand-sketched illustrations and chalkboard art, but expect it to take on new forms this year.

handwritten invitation

Incorporate this trend into your party by eschewing evites in favor of mailed invitations addressed in your own handwriting or, for more formal occasions, calligraphy. While sending a handwritten invitation for an intimate dinner party is feasible, writing out custom invites for a large retirement party is beyond the scope for most of us.

Instead, party planner David Stark recommends combining the convenience of technology with the warmth of a personal message, “Sometimes we’ll send a digital invitation, but then we’ll send a hand-written note as a reminder, letting guests know we can’t wait to see them there.”

Color Trends

According to the color experts at Pantone, the Color of the Year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid. “It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple … a captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.” The designers at Sherwin-Williams are in agreement, naming their favorite color for 2014 Exclusive Plum, “a sophisticated violet” that balances “cool blue and feisty red with a splash of gray.” Both pair well with the many shades of green, blue and turquoise currently trending among designers and highlighted as top accent colors for the coming year.

When choosing party decorations, incorporate hues like lavender, orchid, indigo and turquoise into your color palette to take advantage of this burgeoning entertaining trend.

lavender and gray dessert table

This lavender and grey dessert table from Amy Atlas, photographed by Johnny Miller, combines several shades of purple with a cool, neutral gray for a color palette that is nearly monochromatic. The soft tones are sophisticated enough to work for many different occasions, like a birthday party or bridal brunch.

purple and fuschia tablescape

You can set a table with bright colors like fuchsia, orange and orchid to infuse any event with a festive party spirit. Amy from Living Locurto decorated her birthday with pops of energetic color that made turning 40 fun.

red orchid tablescape

Modern Wedding celebrated Pantone’s color of the year in a special photo spread filled with Radiant Orchid inspiration. This table combines lush purple hues with bright red and pink, creating a romantic tablescape that exudes love.

Egyptian-inspired table

Paired with a vibrant shade of turquoise, hues like orchid and plum take on a more jewel-like appearance that is rich and bold as seen in this Egyptian-inspired table by Petalicious Flowers.

Décor Trends

Decorating is an intensely personal subject filled with varied opinions, yet still there is consensus among the experts on several trends. Look for light woods with natural grain, oversize floral prints, large-scale geometric wall paper, Asian-inspired accessories and new animal accents in 2014.

Test out this year’s hottest looks by letting the top 2014 interior design trends inspire your party decorations.

botanical dinner party

Yeti and the Beast set out reclaimed wood serving trays with bamboo plates and utensils to bring the fresh feel of natural wood to this botanical-themed party table photographed by Meghan Sadler. Light wood looks lovely paired with this season’s beautiful floral prints, or even real flowers.

floral paper lanterns

Update your paper lanterns from last summer with this year’s prettiest trend. Christy of One Handspun Day offers instructions for beautifying outdoor lights by adding floral fabric and a touch of pastel paint.

cherry blossom tablescape

Kate Webber photography captured this cherry blossom tablescape which mixes elements from 2014’s top trends: Asian-inspired cherry blossoms and rustic wood.

On a side note, several lifestyle experts have also written treatise on trends that need to go in 2014. Several, including blogger Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary’s Club, put chevrons on that list. The next time you’re choosing patterns for your party—whether it’s a table runner, napkins or a pennant banner—think beyond the chevron and try herringbone or flame stitching as suggested by Tastemaker.

Food & Drink Trends

Many upcoming food trends take their cue from recent years. Health foods are expected to make a strong showing on most menus, influenced by increasing interest in foraged foods.

Another idea we’re loving is the introduction of more all-natural convenience foods, a category termed speed scratch. Thanks to movements like this, a busy hostess can prepare a delicious, healthy menu without spending all day in the kitchen.

In addition, here are some other delicious ideas for better menu planning in 2014.

exotic meat charcuterie

A charcuterie of exotic meats will tempt guests to experiment with never-before-tried flavors. Many fine grocery stores are starting to stock unusual meats, or check out Honest Food for a wonderful primer to help you learn how to cure your own meat. Photo by Holly A. Heyser.

wild garlic biscuits

Farm to table is so 2013. This year’s eyebrow-raising edible is foraged, a style of cooking which takes native or invasive plants and stirs them up into something unexpectedly delicious, like these Wild Foraged Garlic Biscuits by pastry chef Sarah Villamere. Photo by Yossie Arefi.

Beeroness pulled chicken sliders

Booze you can bite into will delight foodies this year. Trends that started with desserts like adults-only milkshakes and boozy marshmallows, will continue to grow with more food-drink combinations on the horizon. The Beeroness has this recipe for Pulled Chicken Sliders with a tantalizing beer and brown sugar sauce that can be made in a slow cooker—a big time-saver for busy party planners.

basil gin smash

Now that the craft beer movement is firmly established, craft spirits are the new rising star. Artisanal spirit makers are making quite a splash with the cocktail crowd, so much so that even major manufacturers are launching new lines of small batch booze.

In addition, bartending legend Dale DeGroff expects more artisanal gin to join the shelves of handcrafted rum, vodka and tequila this year. Try a Basil Gin Smash from Food Fanatic with your favorite specialty gin to get an early start on 2014.

chamomile whiskey cocktail

Teetotaler takes on new meaning this year. Even when it’s green, tea is the new black, and it’s popular in everything from food to cocktails. This Chamomile Whiskey Cocktail is one example that is easy to make in advance so you can spend more time mingling with guests.

lemon blueberry ice cream sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches are predicted to be the top dessert for 2014. Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based hospitality firm Andrew Freeman & Co., even predicts they will replace cupcakes as the “in” dessert this year. Try a homemade version to capitalize on the gourmet trend, like these Lemon and Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches from Shutterbean.

The hottest trends from every genre will always tend to cross-over. The season’s best parties will inevitably reflect what’s walking down the runway, playing on the radio and being served in the top restaurants. We expect 2014 will bring plenty of new inspiration from these sources for another great year of party enjoyment.

***

Aren’t these great ideas? I personally am completely in love with the rose paper lanterns. And ice cream sandwiches. Who doesn’t love ice cream?

Check out Red Envelope for some amazing ideas!

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As I bustled through the grocery store today, I noticed they had all sorts of pumpkin this and caramel apple that on display.

It made me really want a piece of pumpkin pie. Or pumpkin cake. Or pumpkin bread with chocolate chips. Or…

Oh, you get the idea.

Anyway, if you are looking for some fun fall recipes, entertaining tips and party ideas, I invite you to download Savvy Autumn Entertaining.

Autumn Cover

It’s free!

You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or you can download a PDF version from my writing website.

She Who Loves Fall

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If you keep putting off entertaining because you feel like you can’t afford either the investment of money or time, or maybe both, stop putting it off!

Entertaining doesn’t have to drain your bank account or your energy. It is meant to be fun! Honest and true!

Savvy entertaining is all about making guests feel welcome in your home and building relationships, not about expensive spreads or time consuming decorations.

One obvious and simple way to entertain is with a backyard barbecue. It doesn’t get much less expensive than hot dogs and chips. It is such an informal way of entertaining, people don’t have high expectations for fancy meals or intense decorations.

If you want to go a step or two beyond that, think about making pulled pork sandwiches instead of hot dogs or hamburgers. Here is a basic recipe for making the pork on a slow-cooker. Once the pork is cooked, take it out of the slow cooker and shred it between two forks. Remove the liquid from the slow cooker then return meat along with about a cup of barbecue sauce. Mix it all together and leave in the slow cooker to keep warm while serving. Just turn it to the low setting. You can offer hot dog buns or hoagie rolls to make the sandwiches. Serve alongside potato or pasta salad, a fresh summer salad and some fresh fruit and you’ve got a nice, inexpensive meal.

Decorations can be kept to a minimum. Cut a few flowers from whatever is blooming in your yard. If you don’t have a yard or anything in bloom, just stack fruit or vegetables in a bowl or on an elevated tray for your centerpiece.

Use a flat sheet for your table covering. You can purchase these in a multitude of colors and sizes for less than $5 at most discount stores.

Your dinnerware could be an eclectic mix of whatever pieces you have on hand. Or invest in a few melamine plates that can be reused all summer long. I found some at Wal-Mart last summer that were great. They had several colors to choose from and at a price of four for $1, how could you beat that?

If you want to create a warm atmosphere, gather up an assortment of candles and candleholders and place around  strategically. The nice thing about entertaining outside is that it won’t matter if all your candle scents match or not because they won’t be blending in an indoor space. You are going more for the warm candle glow than the scent at this point.

Do a quick clean of your high traffic areas like the front door, back door, kitchen and bathroom. If you only have time to really clean one room, make sure it is the bathroom guests will use. There is nothing that crashes a party faster than a less than clean bathroom.

Use E-vites for free invitations and you are set to entertain!

Don’t keep putting off spending time with family and friends because you want to wait until you have the time or the money to do something grand and flamboyant. Get out there and entertain this week!

She Who Needs to Follow Her Own Advice!

 

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The other day I hosted a party which gave me the opportunity to put together a buffet table. Using a fall theme, I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but still have fun with it.

The three elements to setting a successful buffet table are height, color and texture. Remember those three things and you can’t go wrong.

When you are setting a buffet, start with a table covering. It can be anything you want to use. Feel free to get creative and think outside the box. I like to use flat sheets because they are inexpensive, drape well, are easy-care and come in a variety of color and sizes. Go with a neutral base. For this buffet I chose black as my neutral. Add some height elements, remembering to keep your centerpiece on one end of the table to create visual interest. I just used some cardboard boxes to create height then covered them with another black cloth. Over the top of that I layered a fun pumpkin print fabric to add more color and texture.

The centerpiece was the next item to go on the table. Using fall florals from my yard, it came together nicely. Except for the lack of something green and fern-like. (Side note: carrot tops look green and fern-like if you don’t have anything else handy and they stand up much better than I thought they would!).

Plan where each dish will sit on the table. I like to make little party cards that say what  is in each dish and then place them on the table beforehand. That way once it is time to put out the food, I know exactly where it goes. I have also been known to set out the serving pieces before I put the food in them so I can see how the table will look.

Once you dish up the food and put it on the table, it will really start to pull the look together. The combination of height, color and texture found in your table coverings, serving pieces and food will impress your guests and look fantastic!

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Happy Entertaining!

Shanna

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Word of the Week: Entertain

en·ter·tain

[en-ter-teyn]

to have as a guest; provide food, lodging for; show hospitality to.
 
I’d like you all to think about the last time you entertained someone at your home. Or, if you have never tried yet, what are you waiting for?
 
Entertaining is opening your home to someone and making them feel welcome. That is the simplest and easiest definition. It is making memories with your friends and family. I can guarantee they won’t remember what your house looked like, probably not what they ate. What they will remember is how you made them feel.
 
So the next time you entertain, think about that definition of simply making people feel welcome in your home. Then go out there and make a great memory!
Happy Entertaining!
Shanna

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linda-mccormickI just returned from the Entertaining at Home National Sales Conference in Milwaukee. It was a trip with several firsts for me – first major league baseball game, first taste of deep fried cheese curds (did not expect to become completely addicted to them!), first GermanFest, first spy-themed costume party, and my first sales-achievement award.

All those firsts were fun and exciting but not what I’ll remember most when I look back on the trip. What gave me the best memories were not the things, but the people.

I know I’ve said it before, but it truly is all about the relationships. Here were hundreds of independent consultants who have nothing to gain in their personal sales from helping each other out, but they were sharing all their best tips and ideas with others. They open their arms and make newcomers feel welcome while reaching out in warmth to old friends.

The warmth and generosity went well beyond the consultants right up to the corporate staff and encompassed the company founders, who are most definitely “the real deal.” (Thanks again, Bill and Robin, for sharing the taxi!).

When you entertain – even if it is just your immediate family, keep the relationships at the forefront. There are dozens of things you can do to enhance the entertaining experience but at the heart of it all is the relationships.

That warmth of heart and kindness of spirit are what people will remember. Focus on that and you will undoubtedly be the host others love to be around!

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You’ve taken the plunge, set a date for a party, invited guests and are getting ready for the event. Take a few minutes to create a timeline. It will save you a lot of time and frustration and help you from looking frazzled in front of your guests.
Start by writing down your menu. In detail. What foods can be purchased and made ahead of time? What needs to be purchased and made the day before? The day of the party? What decorations will be needed? Will you be making any decorations or will you be shopping for them? When will you do this? Where will the centerpieces come from? What cleaning tasks need to be accomplished?
Get it all down on paper and then divide the menu, cleaning and decorating tasks into specific steps for at least the seven days leading up to your party. When you break it into set tasks, entertaining can be very simple.
You absolutely do not need to do everything yourself. Children are great helpers. They can certainly roll silverware in napkins, create welcome signs, tie ribbons, make place cards. They can serve as door greeters, coat takers and a very enthusiastic welcome committee to guests.
Find the barbecue king and ask him to man the grill. Aunt Bev would be thrilled to bring her favorite salad – so let her. Look for ways to involve others while lightening your load. If friends volunteer to help, let them! And should anyone volunteer to stay and help clean up, accept their generous offer and send them home with a doggie bag as thanks for their efforts.
I’d love to hear any ideas you have for getting family members involved in the party prep process. Share your comments here!

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