Guest Book Alternatives

This week, I researched simple, affordable and eco-chic wedding ideas for an outdoor ceremony at Woodend Sanctuary & Mansion in Chevy Chase, MD.  Below, and photos above, are concepts that I found to share with you.

• Well wishes wrapped around a tree in the grove

• Hurricane glasses for guests to share advice, memories and good wishes

• A keepsake treasure box of notes

• A wish tree. I like this idea best because it looks like a family tree, is inspired by nature, is simple to make and will look beautiful in the reception hall.

The underlying component of all these ideas is that guests write down their wishes for you to treasure forever.


Favorite Things Tea Party

I'm really excited about this invitation!  It's for my daughter's 5th birthday party but it was quite a design journey.  Perhaps you've been in this situation.  You ask your child what they want for their birthday party and they respond with a bunch of ideas and or themes.  You scratch your head and say 'huh! what does that look like?' or 'hmm. how do I pull that off?  Well, that's what happened to me.  I asked Amanda what she wanted and she responded 'I want a Strawberry Shortcake - My Little Pony - and Hello Kitty party!'  Fortunately, all of these characters are girly and pink but I was stuck on how to design the party in a cohesive manner without relying on character paper goods and balloons.  So, below are photos of the final invitation design - the third attempt to create a fun birthday party inspired by the new fuschia dazzlers (pre-glittered flower accents) at Paper Source.

To create, I printed my invitation text on 5.5" white circle flat cards and adhered the flower dazzlers with Zots glue dots.

To assemble, I stacked the cards, the first and third cards right-side up and the second card upside-down.  I hole punched the first and the second cards on the right side and inserted a brad.  Then, I hole punched the second and third cards on the left side and inserted a brad.  Viola!  When you open the cards out they should look like the second photo - 3 cirlces in a row.

I mailed the invitations in a 5.75" fuschia envelope with a 4" circle mailing label and $.64 first class stamp (square envelopes require more postage).

I just dropped the invitations off at the post office.  I can't wait for my daughter's friends to receive their mail and RSVP for a fun party!  I'll share the details - activities, food and drinks, decor and more - next month!


Love Bug Bash Valentines Day Party

Each year, my family hosts a Valentine's Day party for my girls' cousins, best friends and their siblings - about a dozen kids.  Each year, there is a different theme.  One year, it was a silly Knock-Knock party; another year, a Royal Celebration (for my little princesses) complete with a chocolate fountain.  And last year, we had an Out-of-this-World party and made paper airplanes to fly through the house; that was a blast!

This year, I decided on a Love Bug theme - inspired by Sizzix rubber stamps (on sale!); they are so cute.  From there, I had many ideas to bring the love bug theme to life - most shown below.

The invitation; bug juice (strawberry milk) served in bottles, which were later decorated into bug jars; a love bug'banner' on the front door; and adult refreshments.

Food for this afternoon party featured a dessert buffet - cake pops, heart shaped brownies, sweet strawberries, and antique dishes of Sweethearts and M&Ms (or talkin' love bugs and cupids mix as I called them)

Decor was minimal but colorful and fun for maximum impact.  I focused on the dining room table where the activities would be conducted and the dessert table (above).  I wrapped the table in pink wrapping paper (Paper Source), set out a red table runner (from Christmas).  Then, I put faux grass mats on top and decorated with bugs - yellow bumble bees (both from Heart to Heart) and lady bug candles (from my home).

To keep the kids busy, we made love bugs - decorated (bug juice) bottles with heart-shaped stickers, pom-poms and pipe cleaners.  See photos above.  This became a take-home gift that the kids could use in the spring to catch bugs.

After a quick snack, we made cootie catchers - also known as fortune tellers.  I showed the older kids how to fold a square piece of (Valentine's Day print) paper, how to decorate with colors, numbers and fortunes and finally, how to play.  This was a really fun activity and game!

Lastly, we played Love Bug Bingo - hand-stamped custom cards with a lot of images for the younger kids and letters arranged for special sayings (B-E-E H-A-P-P-Y, for example).  We used M&Ms for markers - but could only play 3 games because we ate most of the markers! 

Later in the evening, as I cleaned up, my 3 year old told me that she had the best Valentine's Day party ever - and I think she did, we all did!


Thanks a latte!

Thanks to the Hip Hostess, I've discovered a new, ultra creative resource for serving latte (or cappicino) at your next event - the coffee stencil.  For $10, you can make quite impression on your coffee station and start a whole new conversation.  I love the stencil pictured above but there are over 100 stencils to choose from - text and images - or make your own.  Now, that's posh in a pinch!  Enjoy!


Eye of the Tiger

Chinese New Year is on Sunday, February 14.  While researching Valentines Day craft ideas I stumbled upon the cutest fortune cookies; they are made of felt!  Inspired, I found more great ideas to celebrate the 'Year of the Tiger' including delicious recipes.  Kung hei fat choy! Happy New Year!

An Asian table setting from brides.com
Felt Fortune Cookies from marthastewart.com
Pork Lettuce Wraps with Grapefruit from foodnetwork.com
Steamed Dumplings recipe and how-to video on epicurious.com

More ideas?
Clean the house to "sweep away bad luck"
Decorate with red for good luck
Bunch bamboo stalks together and wrap in red ribbon for a simple centerpiece
Serve your entree in take-out containers with chopsticks
Offer guests oranges, which symbolize wealth and good luck
Distribute red envelopes of money to children (that's sure to be a crowd-pleaser)


Berkshires Bound Destination Birthday Celebration

Save the Date for birthday fun in the Berkshires this fall!  Sounds like fun, right?  I think so!  

I started the year off designing a girls' getaway in Western Massachusetts for the first weekend of October to celebrate my client's 40th birthday.  I researched charming B & B's, zipline canopy tours, day spas, shopping adventures and local restaurants in and around Lenox, MA.  It couldn't be described as work because I was having so much fun exploring and chatting with local innkeepers!

Plans are still being finalized but in the interim, I designed the Save the Date invitation - truly a teaser of what's come.  The primary color is shimmer copper, which subtly complements the fall foliage and the invitation is printed on off-white cardstock.  The calendar design adds a touch of whimsy and is inspired by the Paper Source save the date.  Teal is a prominant color this year.  Combined with copper, the teal ribbon really softens the invitation and conveys the look of a present, the gift of friendship.

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts and opinions with me!

Like the calendar design?  Email me and I'll share with you how I created it.  It was so simple!


Wine Tasting Encourages Shopping and Inspires Mardi Gras Fun

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the Wine Cheese and Chocolate Tasting to benefit 100 Women Strong.  The event was held at Fortessa, manufacturers of fine tableware ... and the best kept secret in Loudoun County!  Marianne Frantz, sommelier and owner of the American Wine School, gave an enjoyable [read 'hilarious'] presentation on wine.  Some of her tips are shared below.  Later, as we tasted wine from Sunset Hills and Corcoran Vineyards and nibbled on cheese, crackers and chocolate, we were encouraged to SHOP!  Fortessa has an Outlet Center (with a separate clearance room) which is open to the public.  They offer fine china, colorful base plates, whimsical serving dishes, lots of stemware and even nice flatware - and the prices are amazing!  I encourage you to visit, especially if you are shopping for new wine glasses for an upcoming cocktail party ... or something like that.

 I shopped.  I quickly found cute fruity cocktail glasses.  At the time, I was envisioning cool refreshing cocktails on the deck this summer but today, I thought these glasses - with their chubby bubble - could easily be used for a Mardi Gras party. Laissez les bon temps rouler!!

Food and Wine Pairing [Basic] Tips from the American Wine School
This is excellent and practical guidance for your next dinner or cocktail party!

Rich fatty foods pair with full-bodied Charadonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel or Syrah.

Sweet foods need sweeter wine.  Keep the apparent sweetness of the dish less than the apparent sweetness of the wine.

Spicy, salty, smoked foods require fruity, low alcohol wines that have no tannins and no oak like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir.

High-acid foods require high-acid wines.  Foods like goat cheese, tomatoes, citrus need wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Zinfandel or Pinot Noir.

Finding similarities and contrasts of flavor is subjective.  So taste the food, sample the wine and trust your palate!