{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Leftovers!

It's the day before Thanksgiving and my husband and I have already enjoyed three (3!) Thanksgiving classroom luncheons with our daughters' so we're really not interested in more turkey and my fear is that we'll have tons of leftovers. Then I received the best email this morning. From Real Simple, the subject was '10 Clever Uses for Leftover Turkey.' Yeah! They suggest recipes for Turkey Samosas (pictured above) or Spicy Rice and Turkey with Chorizo. And they have a few ideas for leftover wine because we don't want to waste important antioxidants! Click here for the web article - and enjoy!
Wishing you a 'posh' family gathering and dinner! Happy Thanksgiving!


{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Are you Mentally and Physically Ready for Company?

Hosting a dinner party takes some effort; it requires stamina to set up, enjoy the party and then clean up, not to mention shop, cook, clean and make yourself presentable. My best tip for a 'posh' party, especially a Thanksgiving gathering, is to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Get sleep the night before. Take a brisk walk in between large tasks. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. And lastly, before the party begins, take 5 minutes to sit down, close your eyes and envision your party - such as welcoming guests at the door, chatting with a neighbor, laughing with a co-worker and sipping wine (and swapping secrets) with your best friend. This mental preparation will allow you to enjoy the moment!

{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Is your Powder Room ready?

Company's coming. Your menu is finalized, your table is ready, the silver is polished. How does your powder room look? It may seem silly to remind hostesses to clean their powder room but honestly, the potential chaos of preparing dinner may leave one to forget the minor details. So ... freshen the guest towels, refill the soap dispenser, add Kleenex and put out an extra roll of toilet paper. Make your powder room 'posh' with fragrance such as candles from Anthropologie. I have the Voluspa Scented Candle Tin in my office but I also like the Voluspa Diffuser for powder rooms.

{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Traditions

As a mom of three little girls, I have given holiday traditions a lot of thought. What memories do I remember most of family holidays? What memories do I want my girls to cherish when they are older? What traditions will be unique to our family?
As a child, my family ate Thanksgiving dinner at home; my mother cooked a feast. What I remember best is eating her pumpkin pies fresh from the oven (with a big dollop of Cool Whip) during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. That was yummy! Now that I'm older and married, my husband and I invite our collective families to Thanksgiving dinner at our house. That seems to be tradition and I like it! My food strategy is still in limbo but another emerging tradition seems to be my mom making dessert with my girls and they love it! The girls and I also make some table decoration together. One year, it was glitter squash; last year, turkey placecards. This year, we're making owl placecards to complement our 'Whoooo's coming to Thanksgiving dinner' owl theme. Lastly, instead of Black Friday shopping, we go to the Holiday Parade at the Reston Town Center; it's a great family-fun activity to kick-off the winter holidays. So it seems that our Thanksgiving traditions are emerging on their own.
What are your traditions? Turkey Trot (5k) in the morning? Flag football before dinner? Board games? Home movies? Sing-a-longs?


{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} What's on your iPod?

Hosting a party is a matter of engaging all of the senses. Thanksgiving is a visual display of yumminess and the delicious smells from the kitchen hit you at the door. Other senses are engaged by touch - touch of the cloth napkin or fine silver - and of course, taste. So that leaves sound. Generally, chatter and laughter are often heard at parties - but until these pleasant noises kick in, you may want to engage your iPod and let music fill the room. But note, music impacts the pace of the party. I recommend lively music when guests arrive and then scale back the beat a bit for dinner so that guests won't race through their meal.
So, what's on your play list? My fallbacks are the Greatest Hits from James Taylor, Seal and Sting. Diana Krall is a universal favorite, as is Norah Jones. Both have sultry voices that can be heard without drowning out conversations. I can hear a fun party already ...


Paper. Scissors. Party!


I produced a very special invitation ... for my daughter's upcoming 7th birthday party! It's a scrapbooking party. She and her friends will rubber stamp, punch and embellish their own scrapbooks. So, with this theme, her invitation was easy to design. Using paper, envelopes, mailing labels and Jolee's cupcake stickers from Paper Source, I created a simple 'paper' invitation that looks pretty 'posh' (though the puffy cupcake sticker is casting a shadow)!


{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Napkin Folds

Sometimes, a 'posh' party detail is as simple as a napkin fold. I found a neat web site devoted to this subject - www.napkinfoldingguide.com; 27 napkin fold designs with step-by-step instructions and photos. I'm a minimalist and prefer the Basic Silverware Pouch but I briefly considered the Rose Napkin fold to accent the first course (soup) or perhaps as a clever pouch for a dinner roll. And then, I came across another web site with a posting that included the photo above. I love it! I'm definitely saving the Rose napkin fold for Christmas Dinner.


Personalized Soda for your Holiday Party

How cool is that? The soda is a little expenisve and takes time to produce but for an annual Holiday Open House or [older] Children's Holiday Party, I really think it's a clever drink option! Four flavors to choose from: Holiday Cheer, Reindeer Root Beer, Snowdrift Soda and Evergreen Apple. MyPunchbowl is offering a 20% discount; promo code is PB20JONES. Click here to visit web site.

{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} What's on your dessert buffet?

Pumpkin, apple or sweet potato pie? Chocolate? Cookies for the kids? What about sugar-free, low-fat and gluten-free options? Homemade or store-bought?
These are the questions I asked myself as I prepared my Thanksgiving menu. I really don't cook, especially not for a large dinner party, but I'm fortunate that my mom makes the best pumpkin pie. Remaining desserts are either store-bought or brought by a guest; yes, I've learned to say 'yes' to guests' offer to bring something.
My solution for store-bought desserts with universal appeal - Cupcakes Actually in Fairfax, VA! Everyone loves cupcakes and they have seasonal flavors (pumpkin, walnut, caramel) as well as decadent chocolate, sugar-free and gluten-free cupcakes. My daughters and I enjoy their cupcakes after Little Gym classes. The cupcakes are a little pricey but worth it considering it's one-stop shopping that everyone will enjoy!


Holiday Party Aboard the Odyssey


This year, I had the pleasure to design a holiday party invitation for Fentress Architects (DC location). I proposed a fresh and modern design to include red and green embossed details, which enhanced to the look of their new logo. The 3.75" x 9" invitation slips into a #10 open end envelope with an oval shape mailing label.

Interested in custom handmade invitations for your holiday party? Visit my shop on Etsy or contact me directly. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration!

{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Wine and other Hostess Gifts

Yesterday, I read a thought-provoking article in the December issue of Food and Wine about a guest's strategies for bringing wine to a party. She suggested ideas like giving the best wine in hopes of drinking it or bringing an opened bottle and telling the host that you enjoyed an earlier glass so much that you wanted to share. I found these strategies interesting because I've never thought about a guest's intention when they give me a bottle of wine. Quite honestly, as a party planner, my menu, including the bar, is selected and prepared for in advance. I usually don't open a guest's bottle of wine unless asked to or we run out. Same thing with flowers and food. Unless these items arrive in a vase or plated on a tray, I usually set them on a counter until after the party because I find it challenging to search for an appropriate vase or serving dish while greeting guests.
So my questions for you - how do you handle these types of hostess gifts - wine, flowers, food? Do you make every effort to integrate the items into the party or do you enjoy them afterwards? And do you like receiving these gifts? If not, what items would you rather receive, if anything at all?

Birthday Broadcast Bash

Recently, I had the pleasure of producing a milestone birthday party for a man who is also launching a business venture in the US Virgin Islands. My proposed event design was 'tastefully tropical'. To that extent, he held the party at The Comus Inn at Sugarloaf Mountain, a charming restaurant with delicious food and excellent staff. To bring this isalnd party to life, we hired Sin Miedo, an awesome Latin Jazz band (local, too) and requested tropical floral arrangements for the hors d'oeuvres display and dinner tables. The floral arrangements were artfully created by Kirsten Luise of Blooming Arts; see her photos above. What was most impressive about Kirsten's interpretation of tastefully topical was that the arrangements included exotic flowers and greenery yet they complemented the venue to create a real WOW look!


{12 Posts Before Thanksgiving} Wow! What a Stunning Table!

Ok, so I've been busy working, producing 'posh' parties and designing invitations, but I haven't forgotten my commitment to share 12 Thanksgiving blogs before Nov. 26. In previous blogs, I've covered the invitation, appetizers and seating strategies. Today, we're decorating the dinner table. And since my blog focuses on 'posh in a pinch' tips, I have two quick and affordable ideas to share.

Start by dressing your table with a tablecloth or runner and adding china, silver and stemware. Embellish with colorful cloth napkins and candles (several votive or long tapers depending on your style and space). Distinguish your Thanksgiving dinner (from all other family dinners) by accenting with seasonal ornaments - gourds, pinecones, colorful leaves, fruits and nuts. You can lay these items in clusters down the center of the table or around the candles or in a pretty bowl. I found this wonderfully simple display on the Hostess with the Mostesss blog. Isn't it gorgeous yet practical enough to do yourself?

Another one of my favorite table display ideas is actually very kid-friendly - glittered pumpkins and gourds. I got the idea from Paper Source two years ago and I still think it's a great display idea (and kid's activity).


{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Let's talk seating!

You have invited guests and have probably thought about a menu. Now, where are your guests going to sit? Before you panic, I have three ideas.

1. Dinner Party Seating Strategies, a Real Simple magazine article, offers great guidance on seating guests based on their personalities. Plus the article includes a printable worksheet.

2. Placecards - now that you know where you want guests to sit, tell them with a placecard! For my "owl" Thanksgiving theme (see 2 blogs down), I'm making complementary Owl placecards (see above; click here to buy) - well, who am I kidding; this is a great project to keep my school-age girls busy until dinner. There is also a turkey placecard kit (see photo below; click here to buy). Alternately, Meri Meri has the cutest "turkey" placecards (click here to buy) to dress up any Thanksgiving table. If you're in a pinch, make placecards by cutting pieces of paper and handwriting your guests' name on it; place it between the fork tines or integrate it into the napkin ring.

3. The biggest Thanksgiving seating dilemma may be a shortage of dining chairs. To compensate, hosts usually pull an assortment of chairs from the kitchen and office. This is an ideal strategy; however, the key to keeping it posh is to randomly insert these stray chairs among the dining chairs rather than grouping them together. If the stray chairs still stand out, one tip is to use pillow cases (in a complementary color) on the back of the chair and embellish with ribbon. if you don't have extra pillow cases, don't sweat it; once your guests are seated, no one can see the chair!


{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Let's Talk Food

Appetizers, that is ... or hors d'oeuvres or snacks depending on the formality of your holiday dinner. Serving appetizers before a big dinner is tricky; you don't want to fill your guests up before turkey yet you want to have something to nibble on in case your cooking timetable is slightly off. I recommend something light like marinated olives with a mixed nut, dried fruit and artisan cheese display offered away from the kitchen and dining room, perhaps closer to the bar.

I received my Wegmans Menu magazine yesterday and found a great article, "Secrets to Soft-Ripened Cheese" (click here for article). It decodes soft cheese (like Brie) - suggesting what kind to buy and how to serve (set out an hour before and serve with seasonal preserves). And the photo gives you good guidance to create your own display.

For the more adventurous host, I found these small glasses (approximately 2 oz) and amuse-bouche spoons in the current Sur La Table catalog; they are ideal for serving appetizers. No doubt, these clever serving dishes will get the conversation started!


{12 Posts before Thanksgiving} Whooo's Coming to Dinner?

I know ... wrong holiday ... but by the time December rolls around (in a blink of an eye), I won't be able to blog as much so I'm committing to 12 posts before November 26 - all featuring ideas for hosting a posh Thanksgiving Dinner.
So with Halloween in the rear view mirror (and candy wrappers scattered through the house), my first Thanksgiving idea is homemade invitations designed with the cutest "owl" collection from the Paper Source.

Using Word, I designed the invitation on my computer and printed it on a khaki 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" flat card and embellished with an owl sticker. The envelope is chocolate brown and I will repeat the sticker on the mailing address. So simple, so cute - truly posh in a pinch!