November 25, 2012

Holiday Entertaining: My evenings are booked!

Are your nights busy during the holidays? Have friends over for coffee in the morning. This is a great way to not only see friends but start off your day.  I offer my friends coffee, tea, juices, and sometimes options such as mimosas or Bloody Marys. Pre-order muffins, croissants or bagels from your local bakery or pastry shop. Pick up a fruit tray or fresh foot from the market.  Remember: Keep it simple! 

November 17, 2012

Party Central!

Getting ready to throw a party?  Who should you invite? What should you prepare? Should it be a sit-down or a buffet meal or should it just be snacks? How much room do you have? What can you do to have people talking about your party for days to come?  Planning the party can be just as much fun as the party itself! To make it easier, we have assembled tips and tricks to planning a successful party that will make yours memorable for some time to come.

No matter what type of party you are having organization is the key; be organized from start to finish. Having a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish, organization and a set time-table to help you get everything done so that you can enjoy your own party as much as your guests will.  Know your time limits and be realistic about how much time you really have to plan for your party. Do not try to do the shopping, food prep, clean the house and have everyone over the same day. You will be too tired to enjoy your party and run the risk of being behind schedule. Instead do your shopping one to two days before the party.  Choose recipes that you can make in advance. Prepare as much of the food the day before or morning of your party as possible. Save additional time by filling in your menu with premade food and desserts from grocery stores like Rainbow Foods. Another option it to have your event catered by restaurants such as Crave.

When you invite guests into your home the environment should be welcoming. You do not need to hire a professional to create the perfect party mood; you can find great accent touches by visiting Parmida and Anthropologie at the Shops at West End.

Get help! The best party planners know they cannot do it all. Enlist the help of friends or family.  Give them specific tasks and responsibilities for pre-party, during the party, and to help clean up after the party.  Don't be afraid to give suggestions if someone offers to bring something.  To raise the bar on your next party consider hiring a bartender.  Hiring a private bartender can really take a lot of pressure off of you and make your party something that will be talked about for days to come. A good bartender can help you determine how much alcoholic and non alcoholic beverage to buy, will set up before the party and clean up at the end of the party.  If you are having cocktails, ask your bartender to create a signature cocktail for your party based on a theme, if chosen, or to compliment the food being served.

Your party will be memorable with personal touches-cater to your guests. Be mindful of dietary restrictions when planning you menu.  It is not always possible to make an entire meal with restrictions, however having options to suit dietary needs makes guests feel special and welcomed. Know what beverages your guests like to drink and have them on hand for your party. Do not forget to have non-alcoholic and caffeine free options.

Weather you are the host or the guest there are some basic party etiquette to keep in mind
The host should always welcome each guest upon arrival by greeting them at the door.  It is important to have a space for guest to put personal belongings.  If you have a number of guests arriving at the same time enlist a volunteer that can help show guest where to put their belongings. If a guest does not know other guests, make introductions immediately and share something the guests may have in common with each other; once the guest start talking you are able to politely excuse yourself to greet other guests.  Once your party is underway you should take time to be with each guest, but do not allow one guest to monopolize your time.  At the end of the party the host duties increase.  It is important to know if you served alcohol you take responsibility for the safety of your guests. If a guest has had too much to drink a ride should be arranged for the guest.  As each guest leaves a good host will help guest gather their personal belongings and thank them for attending.

Weather the invitation is verbal, mailed or electronic the party host often asks for the guest to RSVP.  The term RSVP comes from the French expression "répondez s'il vous plaît", meaning "please respond".  This response tells the host whether or not the guests plan to attend the party and can then determine quantities for food and beverages.  If you know the host well and feel comfortable call and offer to help the host with preparations or ask if there is anything you can bring, if appropriate. If the host does ask you to bring something it is important you follow through on the request.

Guests should arrive right on time for a dinner party and no more than 30 minutes late for a cocktail party. Never accept an invitation and then not show up just because you don't feel like going out. If you need to cancel inform your host as soon as possible via the telephone.

When the evening ends, guest should not linger as the host will still have final clean up to do.  If a guest offers to help clean up it is up to the host if he or she wants the extra help. If the host accepts the help the guest should leave once the work is complete.

You may not have the budget to hire a professional party planner, but with good organization you can be your own party planner and have a memorable party that your friends will talk about for weeks to come. 

To see the entire story: Shops at West End Compass Winter 2012

Open House Seminar: Holiday Entertaining 101

Today at Parmida Home - I am part of their Open House Seminar: Holiday Entertaining 101 from 10 am to 11:20 am. It is a free event for attendees to learn tips and tricks for holiday entertaining and decorating.  Discover how to mix-and-match colors and textures to create a unified seasonal masterpiece. Attendees receive 15% off their entire purchase (not valid with other offers, some restrictions apply), free snacks and drawings.