{Party Trends} Food Pairings

The concept of pairing foods with beverages is not new; sommeliers suggest wines for menus all the time.  But what about pairing a 5 course dinner with a selection of beers or any cocktail of choice for that matter?  It's happening and more often ... because it's fun and entertaining, and let's face it, when you party you have to eat and drink, correct?  Absolutely!

Recently, my good friends at Fusions Cuisine told me (enthusiastically!) about a beer pairing event they produced for a client.  Sounded like fun.  Then, another friend told me about a whiskey pairing event -with cheese and chocolate.  That, too, sounded really good!  Food pairing events seemed like a trend that I needed to investigate!  Below is some of my research in case you want to create your own pairings event:

Dare to Pair Cocktails and Food (good overview on pairings)
CheeseCupid.com - a drink and cheese pairings web site (you're going to love this one!)
FoodPairing.be -easy to use tool for determining 'what goes well with..' 

Supposedly, tequila is a highly versatile spirit, ideal for pairing with food.  Cinco de Mayo is next week.  Why not start with blancos (aged less than 60 days) and work you way up to anejos (aged 1 to 10 years)?  Pair the tequila with fish (chips and guacamole, too!) and enjoy!


{Party Trends} DIY Photo Booth

Want to entertain your guests while digitally capturing a lot of fun at your party?  Then, consider a Photo Booth!  With a creative backdrop and a few props (feather boas, hats, moustaches and comment cards), guests will enjoy making fools of themselves - and their photo becomes a great souvenir of your celebration.

Quick Links for Creating your DIY Photo Booth:
Tutorial (and inspiration)
Lace Photo Booth Backdrop (but any fabric or shower curtain will do)
IKEA frame (but any consignment frame will do)

Photo credits: SignsbyDiane and Zany Photo Booth


{Party Trends} Hanging Decor

In the last year, event decor has taken on a new dimension ... filling spaces overhead and lending charm (or playfulness depending the decoration) to the party atmosphere.

Need a punch of color?  Hang paper lanterns or poms!  Want to camouflage a chandelier?  Drape it with fabric and embellish with crystals!  No room on the table for floral arrangements?  No worries.  Suspend flowers from the ceiling (or from tree branches if outdoors)!

Photo courtesy of The Party Dress; thanks, Kelly!  Click here for more of her 'hanging decor' insight.


{Party Trends} Universal Charging Stations

This week, I'm exploring party trends to keep you up-to-date on what's new and cool!  Today, it's technology ... but don't tune me out yet; this one is easy to understand.  Universal Charging Stations.

Parties are face-to-face gatherings; however, with the popularity of social media, people connect, text, tweet and blog on the go more than ever, not to mention phone calls and googling.  Keep your guests happy by offering a universal charging station (or two) at your next party.  These stations neatly allow multiple guests to re-charge their mobile devices ... so they can keep talking about your great party!

 Not convinced?  The traditional world of wine tastings are being revolutionized by Sip and Twit TM events.  Today, twits from educational conferences and networking receptions; tomorrow, tweets from your wedding or backyard BBQ.  It's happening ... be ready!

Thoughts?  Do you offer guests a charging station at your events?  Tell us what else do you do to incorporate technology into your events.


{Party Trends} Dessert Buffets

With a whirlwind of party activity behind me (for now, that is!), I'd like to share with you what's hot ... and posh ... in parties! 

Party Trend #1 - Candy and Dessert Buffets

Make any occasion *sweet* with a candy or dessert buffet!
  • Platters of fancy cookies
  • Tiers of cupcakes
  • Trays of "lolliop" macaroons or cake pops (more trends!)
  • Bowls of colorful candy
posh in a pinch tips:
  • Integrate color and style for consistency
  • Create interest with height, color and shape
  • Complete the look with table linens, ribbons, paper and other embellishments 
 photo credits: Amy Atlas Events via Hostess with the Mostess


{Earth Day} 5 Tips for Greening Your Parties

I'm not a green expert but I do try to live responsibly, to reduce, reuse and recycle when possible.  In celebration of Earth Day, I have 5 simple ideas for greening your parties so that whatever your shade of green, you can try to live responsibly too!

1. Serve filtered or tap water in a recycled wine bottle or vintage water pitcher.

2. Limit meat and prepare more seasonal, local and organic plant-based recipes.

3. Use your own plates, flatware and stemware or alternately, borrow from a friend/neighbor, recycle thrift store items or rent from your local rental company.

4.  Decorate the dinner table or food buffet with a bowl of fresh fruit, an arrangement of fresh herbs or bell pepper votives.

5.  Clean Green!  After the party, clean up with non-toxic, biodegradable, environmentally safer household cleaning products.

Need more inspiration or suggestions for creating a green party?
Green Entertaining from Epicurious (includes great recipes)
Top Ways to Green Your Next Dinner Party or Event
Photo credit and bell pepper votive instructions from here


4 Across: My Favorite Custom Puzzle Designer on Etsy

Most everyone has their favorite etsy shop; mine is LoveSmartDesign!  Owner, puzzler & designer, Ursula Mead, creates custom puzzles and games that are ideal gifts for weddings, anniversaries, [milestone] birthday and other special occasions.  She also offers Bingo (icebreaker) cards which would be fun entertainment for any party where guests don't know each other well!

I discovered LoveSmartDesign when looking for a unique gift for my older sister's birthday a few months ago.  Armed with about 20 "anecdotal bits of growing-up trivia", Ursula whipped up a personalized crossword puzzle.  I was so impressed by the clues, professional look and quick turn-around that I had another puzzle made for my mother-in-law's milestone birthday last month.  No surprise, everyone in my family might be getting a custom puzzle for their birthday this year - it's that much fun to create and give this unique gift!

So, I told you about my favorite etsy shop (and I encourage you to visit LoveSmartDesign- often); which etsy shop do you heart?


Kentucky Derby Milestone Birthday Party

Recently, I stumbled upon clever text for a Kentucky Derby milestone birthday party.  With a little more research, I assembled a few ideas to bring this celebration to life; see my event design with lots of links below.  

These plans may be modified for any milestone birthday, man or woman, or remove 'birthday' from the equation and you have a fun Kentucky Derby (or closer to home, Virginia Gold Cup) gathering.  So, let the races begin ...


Jane’s out of the gates and into her 30’s!

We cordially request the pleasure of your company for the
30th Birthday of Jane and the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby
Saturday, the first of May, two thousand and ten at four o’clock in the afternoon
She’s leaving her 20’s behind and rounding the corner to her 30’s
Let’s send her down the stretch in Derby fashion for her photo finish!

The Kentucky Derby is both dressy and casual but for women, it's all about the hat!  The bigger the better!  Color, shape, and embellishments make each hat a standout.  Visit these hat shoppes for inspiration - Maggie Mae Designs (I think the official hat sponsor of the Kentucky Derby) or Hat-a-tude, recently recommended on Facebook by my friend Carolyn!

You don't have to be on Millionaire's Row to celebrate like one!
Create a festive atmosphere with a few special touches:
China, silver and crystal
Crisp table linens (select a spring color or complementary 'silk' color)
Equestrian home decor
Roses - lots of them!

Burgoo, Hot Brown Sandwiches, Benedictine Spread, Cheesy Grits, Pecan Pie, Bourbon Balls and of course, Mint Julips, are the official fare of the Kentucky Derby.

Recipes are available at KentuckyDerby.com and KentuckyDerby.info

A Large TV with ample seating (and room to jump and down) is a must,
as are Racing Forms and a Betting Board.

For guidance on how to set up in-home betting, click here
For derby trivia and handicapping advice, click here

Photo credits: invite, pecan pies and mint julip from http://www.kentuckyderby.com/; hat from http://www.maggiemaedesigns.com/; race, horse sniffing flowers and Members Hills gathering from http://www.vagoldcup.com/.


Hokie Luau Graduation Party

Some kids know years ahead of time which university they will eventually attend.  That was the case of my client's son, Billy!  He knew as a young boy that he would go to Virginia Tech.  For years, he has cheered on the football team, dressed in maroon and orange, and danced the Hokie Pokie.  Fast forward to 2010, he received his acceptance letter; he's officially a Hokie! 

His mom called immediately to start planning his high school graduation party.  It will be a tropical luau (leveraging a lot of existing decor) but with a Hokie influence.  Above is a photo of the custom invitation I produced for this special occasion.  I'm very excited by how it turned out but what do you think?  Cool Hokie or too hokey?  Please leave me a comment ...


Celebrate in Pink ... Unique Pink Ribbon Partyware

If you think pink 365, I have a great product to share with you - Celebrate in Pink partyware!  Stylish plates and napkins with the signature pink ribbon design are ideal for breast cancer fundraising events and walk day celebrations, as well as other special occasions like birthdays, bridal and baby showers and Valentines Day parties.  And the best news is that a portion of the proceeds financially benefit women who can't afford treatment.  Celebrate in Pink founder and breast cancer survivor, Kathy McEvoy, calls it "socially responsible partying that leads to a greater good."  Now that's pretty posh!

More good news!  Celebrate in Pink will double the donations on all Tuesday purchases PLUS they are offering a 10% discount (promo code SAVEME10) - and that's exceptionally posh!  Thanks, Kathy!


Please, help yourself ... Stylish Cold Beverage Dispensers

I love spring! The days are getting longer, the temparatures are getting warmer and our [home] party space extends from the kitchen and dining room to the deck or patio.  Ahh, time for outdoor entertaining!

I saw this yummy pink lemonade cocktail on the Social Couture blog last week; it looked so refreshing (especially, on a 90 degree day)!  Their cocktail was served in a mason jar (quite clever, if not inexpensive) and it made me wonder about stylish beverage dispensers - yes, my mind jumped beyond the glass to pretty yet practical beverage containers because outdoor entertaining should be effortless for the hostess and her guests.  A little research revealed a lot of options - traditional, modern, stand, no stand, etc.; see some of the options in the photo above.  From left to right: Crate and Barrel, Classic Hostess, Pottery Barn, Horchow, Classic Hostess and Home Wet Bar.  So, please, help yourself ...


Recipes for Leftover Easter Eggs

Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!  Above is a flower arrangement that I made for my mom!  She and I took my girls to the PEEPS store at the National Harbor last week so I thought she would get a kick out of this centerpiece!

This is the Easter Bunny Bread that I made for my friends' Potluck Egg Hunt yesterday.  Despite his crooked nose and cheeks (oops!), this recipe was so easy to make and everyone really enjoyed it!  Click here for the previous blog entry with recipe.

If your family is like mine, your children decorated a lot of eggs and now you're pondering what to do with them.  You can slice them for a sandwich, chop them over a spinach salad or try a variation on a classic deviled egg recipe.  Click here to read the Deviled Egg Recipe Collection by the Food Network including traditional deviled eggs (L), BLT Deviled Eggs (C) and Fried Deviled Egg (R) - sounds interesting.  Enjoy!