Posts Tagged ‘Entertaining’

Despite the fact that we can see snow in the foothills from our house and the weather is less than springlike, it is a great time to think about hosting a spring-themed parties. Invite some friends over for a casual dinner, brunch or lunch and create your own spring nirvana.

Here are some ideas for easy spring entertaining. Enjoy!

• Tulips – bring in a few bouquets, spread them around the house and, ahhh, feel that warm glow of spring already throughout your home.

• Lilacs – also another harbinger of spring. A few bouquets will make your house smell like mother nature herself waved her magic wand and welcomed spring inside. I absolutely love lilacs and their gorgeous scent.

• Wild pops of color – bright, cheerful colors like hot pink, salmon, bright purple, sunshine yellow, grass green and robin’s egg blue all shout  “Spring is here. Celebrate!” Drape one of two colors on your buffet and choose flowers and serving pieces in coordinating or contrasting colors. Start with a basic black table covering to get the most “Wow” factor from your buffet. Black squeezes every drop of excitement out those bright colors.

• Pussy willows or blossoming branches – fill a tall vase with a few branches and you not only have a striking centerpiece, but you’ve also created a little corner of outdoorsy bliss in your home.

• Pull back the drapes – or take them down entirely – and let the light in. Even on these cloudy days, create the sense of light with strategically placed lighting or candles. Remember, candle light is flattering to everyone!

Happy Entertaining!

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As we celebrate and enjoy the Winter Olympics, why not invite a few friends over and make it a party?

Encourage everyone to come dressed in their athletic wear. Hang streamers, put out balloons and prepare for an evening of fun and games.

Create a few games for guests to participate in on commercials breaks, like cookie stacking, hula-hooping or even something as simple as sit-ups. Have gold, bronze and silver awards for each contest (candy wrapped in foil or wrapping paper works well… or have the youngsters create medals out of card stock, markers, crayons and ribbon). You may even want to create three blocks of varying heights for the winners to stand on to accept their “medals.”

Serve food and beverages that have an international flair, like pot stickers, empanadas, tapas or barbecued pork sliders.

Be sure you have a cd of patriotic music handy, including the national anthem, to play during the award ceremony.

Have fun with this gathering and remember the only limit is your imagination!

Happy Entertaining!

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The other day I was having the most fascinating conversation with a 5-year-old.  After sharing cooking tips, we moved right into fashion.

Me: “I really like your shirt.”

Her: “My friend gave it to me.”

Me: “It is fun having a friend like that, isn’t it?”

Her: “Yes! And she knows my name!”

She was most excited not about the clothes that her little friend shares, but about the fact that her friend knows her name. That really got me thinking about the people I know and if I truly know their name.

I know their names in the literal sense, but what do I know about the person attached to that name? When a certain name comes to mind, does it conjure up just a face in my mind of that person, or is there a  treasure trove of data that comes along with that name? Even better, does that name stir up any emotion?

If I make an honest assessment, there are many names I am familiar with in that I recognize them and know what person they belong to, but I don’t truly know them. I don’t know them in the sense of what is important to them, what makes them smile, what makes them cry, what drives them to get out of bed each day, what stirs their creativity and sparks their passion?

When you peel away all the layers of social dictates, political correctness, ingrained behaviors and quirks, most of us find at the core a being who wants to be known by others for who they are and the unique gifts they bring to the table.

Think about your friends, family and acquaintances. When you gather with them, who brings you the most joy? The ones you don’t know very well or those you truly know?  I’ve said it before, and will most likely say it again, but relationships are everything.

As you set about entertaining this year, make your guest list a challenge of sorts by mixing together those you know with those you have yet to know. You’ll find in getting to know them, you’ll be richly blessed.

Happy Entertaining!

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If you are the lucky one hosting Thanksgiving Dinner this year, there are some simple things you can do to make your guests feel even more welcome in your home.

Start the welcome at your front door. Hang a seasonal wreath or swag. If you don’t have one, have your youngsters gather big leaves, tie the stems with a ribbon and hang on the door. You can also have your budding artists draw or paint a welcome sign that can be hung outside.

Let a welcoming scent greet your guests as they step inside. Have a candle burning in the entry, or at the least, have a scented wall plug-in. Think about scents that go with the season such as pumpkin, cinnamon or apple.

Clean out your coat closet or, if you don’t have one, make sure there is a designated area for coats. Enlist some youngsters to be the official door greeters and coat takers. It makes them feel important, keeps them occupied and frees up your time for more important tasks.

If you are serving food buffet style, make sure you add in plenty of height, color and texture to your table. Put down a base cloth, strategically place boxes, books or other sturdy items to provide height, then artistically drape another cloth on top. Make sure your centerpiece is the highest point on the table and place it off center. Your centerpiece can be something as simple as a hurricane with a candle and pinecones, a basket of leaves or nuts or a bouquet of seasonal flowers. If you have hot dishes that need to stay warm, heat bricks in the oven. Make sure you put a pot holder under the bricks so you don’t damage your table surface. You can drape a second cloth over the bricks to hide them. Aluminum or plastic pans filled with ice, and draped with a cloth, work well to keep cold foods cold. Use the colors of the season in your serving pieces or mix and match pieces in all one color – such as white or cream.

If you are serving a plated meal or everyone will be seated at the table, have children create fun place cards for each guest. When you are selecting a centerpiece, make sure it is low enough that everyone can see over the top of it. For a casual country look, use a piece of barn wood (that has been cleaned) down the length of the table and put a mixture of candles, nuts and pears or apples on it. For a more formal atmosphere, think about taper candles combined with seasonal flowers or even stalks of wheat tied in bundles with satin ribbon.

Make sure the guest bathroom is shiny-clean. This is one area guests will notice if everything isn’t in top shape. Spend a few minutes the night before scrubbing, polishing and putting out fresh towels. A candle or small floral arrangement is a great finishing touch for the guest bath.

Have plenty of garbage bags on hand as well as plastic wrap and foil. If you are going to be sending home doggie bags, make sure you have resealable bags or even some take out boxes to use.

If you are going to use scented candles, make sure the scents are all of the same family – spicy, floral, or fruity. Don’t mix the scents!

Have an activity for the children. It could be something as simple as Thanksgiving themed pages to color, board games or find the thimble. Put an older child in charge of these activities. I read something the other day about a game that would have been played around the time of the first Thanksgiving celebration called “Kick the Shins” … now there is a game I could have fun with!

Most of all, remember it isn’t about the house, the food or the atmosphere – it is about the people. Be gracious, be welcoming and create some warm memories that will last long after the turkey is finally gone!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Entertaining!

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