{New Year's Eve} Champagne Popsicles

New Year's Eve celebrations will be hosted around the world this Saturday night; are you ready?!  Whether you are hosting the party or offered to bring something to the party, I have a midnight treat that's truly posh in a pinch!  Champagne popsicles!

I spotted this clever idea on Pinterest this summer.  Originally featured on Southern Living for an outdoor pizza party, I think these fruit popsicles dipped in prosecco would be absolutely festive for a New Year's Eve dessert. 

Need a kid-friendly option?  Serve the fruit popsicle in a clear tumblier with sparkling apple cider!

Has this festive holiday treat inspired you?  If so, please leave me a comment and let me know!


DIY Ice Cooler

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful holiday season!  I feel like it's just starting for me.  Last week, I was involved in producing an international government conference for the new Republic of South Sudan; hence, the lack of posts.  But this week I'm back in action to share a fun and festive idea for your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day brunch, dinner or open house - a do-it-yourself ice cooler that will look fabulous on your bar.

I made the ice cooler above for my first photo shoot at the beginning of October!  It was a gift-wrapping party and the article was just published in the holiday issue of I Am Modern magazine (yes, I'm so excited!).

Here are the instructions for making the ice cooler.

Cut off the tops of two plastic soda bottles (1L and 2L)
Place the smaller bottle inside the larger bottle
Pour water between the two bottles, and add colorful garnish like cranberries and rosemary
Freeze overnight
Carefully remove the bottles and place the ice cooler in a bowl; I used a trufle bowl filled with more cranberries

For more 'posh in a pinch' holiday party inspiration from this photo shoot, please read my December issue of party possibilities; I've included a lot more photos, courtesy of my friend, Audrey!

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday celebration!


{in season) Cranberries

I have a fabulous client, who is more like a friend.  When I visit her home to discuss upcoming parties, she offers coffee, smoothies or a glass of wine ... it hardly feels like work!  This holiday season, I'm helping her with her decorations, including new greenery for the staircases.  I found this inspiring photo on pinterest; isn't it fabulous?!

The little pop of red reminded me of cranberries ... and how much fun you could have creating the look and feel of a holiday party based on cranberries.

Red ornaments atop candlesticks?  Stunning and simple decor!

Rosy Cranberry Cider ... perfect beverage to warm up a crowd on a cold winter's night!

Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites!  Yummy appetizer!

Other creative ideas for cranberries:
spear a few onto a drink stirrer

add cranberries to a clear vase for a festive touch

Candle Holder
embellish a tray of votive candles with cranberries

Ice Bucket
DIY ice bucket decorated with cranberries
Tutorial forthcoming soon!

What are your clever uses for cranberries this holiday season?  Please leave me a comment and let me know!

All images found on pinterest.  Credits include BHG, Martha Stewart and Yummy Mummy.


Leftover Turkey and Brie Quesadillas

At my family's Thanksgiving dinner there's always leftover turkey!  That wouldn't be a problem except I don't like turkey and I don't like leftovers ... that was until I discovered this really yummy quesadilla recipe with gooey brie, cranberry sauce and turkey.  Now, it's one of my favorite recipes and go-to party recipes.  [Quesadillas are great crowd-pleasing appetizers] So, on the day after Thanksgiving, if you want a delicious meal after some serious Black Friday shopping, try this recipe!

Flour tortillas
Dijon mustard
Turkey slices
Cranberry sauce
Thick slices of brie cheese

Brush mustard on tortilla.  Layer turkey and 2 slices of brie on one half of the tortilla.  Add a dallop of cranberry sauce (try to avoid any juice).  Fold the tortilla in half.  Heat in a skillet with a little olive oil, or bake at 450 for 10 minutes.  Did I mention the gooey brie?! It's so yummy!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and if you try this recipe, please let me know!

Photo credit and recipe inspiration from Martha Stewart


Thanksgiving Treats that Kids will Gobble Up!

If you are hosting children for dinner this Thanksgiving, consider one of these super adorable - and easy to make - treats.  I guarantee that everyone, not just the kids, will gobble them up!

Rice Krispie Turkey Pops

Little Gobblers

Oreo Turkeys (with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!)

Do you have a favorite turkey treat?  If so, please leave a comment to share it with me!


Wine Bottle Disguise

Whether you are a novice purchaser, recycler or matching-maven, you can always be a savvy hostess by dressing up your wine bottle!  See how pretty the bottle sits on the dinner table?!

To dress up the wine bottle above, I used a cloth napkin folded into thirds, wrapped it around the bottle and secured it with a complementary ribbon.

Other materials to dress up your bottle include:
fabric remnants
gift wrap
tissue paper
raffia ribbon
wasabi tape
custom or pre-made labels
... and what about acorns, leaves and felt rosettes to embellish??

Has this article inspired you to dress up your wine bottle?  Please leave me a comment to let me know.


{in season} Gourd-geous Tablescape

Last weekend, during the east coast snow storm, my family visited our local pumpkin patch; it was two days before Halloween and we were without pumpkins!  We found little ones for the girls and perfectly round pumpkins for my husband and I.  I turned my pumpkin into a vase, filled it with seasonal flowers and placed it our dining room table.  I'm not one to brag but I really think it's gourd-geous! What do you think?

To make your own pumpkin vase, select a medium-size, not-too-tall pumpkin.  Cut the top and gut it.  Place flowers inside a glass container and then, insert this container into the pumpkin.  Voila!  In 10 minutes or less you have a gourd-geous floral arrangement, too!

More photos and posh in a pinch tips of my Gourd-geous Gatherings tablescape may be found in this month's party possibilities newsletter.  I invite you to read it and let me know if you like the butternut squash vases, mink brown satin table linens, place setting embellishments and leaf-shaped butter!


{event showcase} Let the Ghoul Times Roll Halloween Party

Halloween came early for the Dorfman ghouls ... err, girls and their friends!  Last Saturday afternoon, which was a great day to play outside, 35 kids and half as many adults joined us for our annual Boo Bash.  This year's theme was Let the Ghoul Times Roll, a Mardi-Gras inspired Halloween party for little ghouls (princesses, zombies, wizards, witches and superheros, too) complete with beads, masks, donuts (in lieu of beignets) and live jazz music.  It was like a spooktacular New Orleans festival!

Below are the details. You may want to bookmark this party for next year!

I don't like to brag ... but isn't this the cutest party invitation?!!!  I love the ghouls!  Once again, the talented ladies of Frog Prince Paperie designed the invitation and adorable coordinating printables.

While the party was held outdoors, I did decorate the front door with this fantastic fabric from Joanns.  It is decorated with little ghosts wearing masks, including some Mardi Gras masks.  The hanging plastic ghost is a perrenial favorite decoration; I just added beads from my girls dress-up box.

No surprise, the snack table was a big hit with these hungry ghouls!  Ghoulishly Good Treats included:

Assorted donut holes
Cheese-flavored popcorn
Red Delicious apples
Candy corn
Half Pint Bottled Water
Assorted Little Hugs Juice
Starbucks Coffee
Hot Apple Cider

In addition to the colorful food, I used existing Halloween decorations, including old fabric remnents, to create my display.  I hand-stamped lime green paper sacks for popcorn bags.  Served drinks in a witches cauldron.  Used glitter cardstock to create a simple "banner" backdrop.

Guests' favorite decoration - the Boo Cups!  They are easy to make.  Just attach googly eyes to the white cups and serve! 

There were two craft stations to keep children busy and creative.  They could decorate a mask with feathers and glitter glue and string candy necklaces. 

Both activities were well received.
I also had plenty of orange, green and purple beaded necklaces for the children (and adults) to wear!

The highlight of our Mardi Gras-inspired Boo Bash was the musical entertainment!  Pablo Grabiel and his friends from DC Music Entertainment filled the air with lively jazz music ... and some familiar Halloween songs, too.  In particular, they encouraged the children to sing Ghostbusters and dance the Monster Mash.  Other Halloween hits included:

Adams Family
People are Strange
You Put a Spell on Me
Let the Goul Times Roll
Purple People Eater

Additionally, they showed the kids how to make spooky sounds on the instruments!

The music definitely appealed to kids and adults of all ages!  I received many positive compliments.

Each year, we conclude the Boo Bash with tractor rides!  It is the most antcipated portion of the party; guests line up to take a ride ... over and over!  This year, my husband got a new ... and bigger ... cart and faster tractor ... so the rides were more thrilling for the kids.  He zips them around the property and when the ride is over, they hop back in line for another turn.  It's like being at Kings Dominion (or other amusement park with rides)!!

So that's the scoop on this year's Boo Bash!  The Ghoul Times definitely Rolled; we had a great time and I hope that I inspired you to shake up your traditional holidays with a few creative twists!!  If so, please leave me a comment.  I'd love to hear from you!


{event showcase} Bucket List 60th Birthday

I produce a lot of milestone birthday celebrations and love the challenge of coming up with just the right theme to fit the guest of honor ... but on this occasion, I produced a 60th birthday party based on my client's idea; she wanted a Bucket List themed party for her husband.  At first I was hesitant because there seemed to be a disconnect between celebrating life and preparing for death but I think, together, we pulled the Bucket List theme off in a humorous, light-hearted manner!  Below are the details.  I'd love to read your opinions on this theme - is it a yah or nay?

Bucket List invitation was custom designed by the talented ladies at Frog Prince Paperie.  The design incorporates the brown and blue furnishings at the party venue with a pop of orange for a touch of whimsy.

To keep guests busy until the guest of honor arrived (to be surprised), they were encouraged to fill Mike's bucket ... a shiny silver champagne bucket from Pottery Barn that was engraved locally.  This display was set up near the entrance.  Guests submitted humorous suggestions like 'sail around the world' and 'buy your baby brother a boat'.  Poster and suggestion sheets of paper were also designed by Frog Prince Paperie.

A milestone party isn't complete without a baby photo! 

Every party has delicious food, correct?!  This party was no exception ... the food was exceptional (I had to do quality control so I know)! Fusions Cuisine prepared this ourstanding menu:

Passed Hors d'oeuvres
Vietnamese Vegetable Rolls with Hoisin Lime Sauce
Miniature Crabcakes with Smoked Onion Remoulade and Celery Apple Relish
Lemoncello Shrimp Cocktail (YUM!)

Dinner Buffet
Tarragon Chicken served on a bed of Rattatouille
Lobster Mac and Cheese
Early Fall Vegetable Salad
Baby Arugula Salad
Assorted Breads and Butter

To round out this culinary experience, I ordered homemade pies - apple, chocolate and the birthday boy's favorite, coconut cream - in lieu of a traditional birthday cake.  It was the perfect fall treat!

It turned out to be a gorgeous fall evening, just the right temperature to extend the party (and the bar) outside, which gave guests more room to dance!  For music, I secured custom playlists for their iPod and a sound system.  As the evening progressed, the music evolved from Southern Rock to Popular Top 40 Dance music.  According to my client, the party wrapped up an hour later so everyone could keep dancing.  I think that's a good sign of party success!

So, what do you think?  Is a Bucket List party on your List?!  Please leave me a comment to let me know.


{in season} Pumpkins!

Like many of you, I've discovered Pinterest (and spend way too much time exploring sooo many creative and inspiring ideas)!  For instance, a quick search on "pumpkin decor" revealed thousands of fabulous ideas for embellishing a gorgeous gourd or making your own, not to mention a ton of yummy recipes.  Below are two ideas for posh pumpkin decor in a pinch ... plus an easy cheese pumpkin recipe from Betty Crocker!  Let's begin ...

Thank you Martha Stewart for inspiring another use for my orange paper lanterns!  Just add a stem and green paper leaves for 'lil pumpkin cuteness.

I can't wait to make this paper pumpkin centerpiece with my girls!  Creative and crafty blogger, Aly Dosdall, made these pumpkins from circles of scrapbooking paper!

This photo just looks too festive ... and according to the Betty Crocker recipe, these Cheese Pumpkins are really easy to make - rolled cheddar cheese, chopped peanuts, pretzel stick and parsley! 

Do you have a favorite pumpkin idea?  If so, please leave a comment to let us know!


{event showcase} Pixies & Pirates 5th Birthday

Does your little girl love wings, wands and tutus ... and perhaps a certain water fairy?  Mine, too!  Like a butterfly, she seems to flit from place to place and like Tinkerbell's friend, Silvermist, she has a talent for water ... the amazing talent for jumping in puddles, splashing in the bathtub and more!  She also loves watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates on Disney.  So when she insisted on a Silvermist birthday party, I knew just what to plan ... a Pixies and Pirates theme!

Below is my interpretation of this theme.  I hope you are inspired to create your own [Water] Pixies and Pirates birthday party!

The invitation designed by Little Pig Press
The birthday girl in her Silvermist blue tutu and not-so-matching pink/purple wings, headband and wand!  Each girl received a fairy costume (from Once Upon a Tutu)... and they thought it was great fun to mix and match the colors!

A splash of elegance for the adults table!

Saphhire blue and turquoise linens on a white tablecloth (from BBJ Linens) quickly created the water element for this party.  I embellished the table with seashells, fish netting, coastal driftwood ... and Pixie Hollow dolls!  I completed the look with my personal collection of fish silverware and glasses !

Ahoy Matey!  This pirate's ship table was set for kids!

I purchased a pirate's ship kit online (from Wants and Wishes) and added a black linen.  It was the masterpiece of the party; the kids loved their ship!  To complete the look, I added red napkins, a treasure chest of Pirate's Booty snacks (bottom left photo), a bottle of seashells and scattered plastic gold coins.

Other pirate elements included cookies for dessert (from my local bakery, Patisserie Lille) and a repurposed treasure chest to hold the scavenger hunt loot bags.

After lunch, the kids were invited outside for a scavenger hunt to find the treasure chest of loot.  Each child was given a map (seen in the photo above, from Your Little Cupcake) with these instructions on the back (inspired by this fairy party):

Pixies and Pirate put on your boots;
You’ll be traveling far for some old pirate’s loot.
Follow these clues to an old wooden chest,
Full of the things that you all like the best.
The first clue, if the chest is to be found, is waiting on the playground.

[Encouraged by a sign that read 'Faith and trust, and a little bit of pixie dust ... that is all you need to fly' and some Pixie Stixs, the children flew around the trampoline]

If you want the next clue, you must do as I say;
Gather round in a circle and sing “Happy Birthday!”
Now look for a stump, where a tree used to be,
You’ll find some tattoos waiting from me.

[The children applied an assortment of fairy and pirate tattoos to their arms]

Next, look for some water, to cool off from the heat;
You’re getting closer to finding a wonderful treat.

[It turned out to be a chilly afternoon so the children pretended to launch water balloons at the opposing ship of pirates ... instead of each other.  Plan B was perfect!]

When you find my sweet treasure, you will have me to thank,
But before you can find it, you must each walk the plank!

[The children walked the plank - a piece of wood on two stacks of bricks - with a plastic alligator below]

Then onto the ship deck, near the grill, you will find a small box that will give you a thrill.

Inside the treasure chest were pirate loot bags (goodie bags) filled with Hershey's Nuggets (chocolates wrapped in gold foil), Gold Mine bubble gum, ring pops and rock candy.

A (homemade) sandcastle cake embellished with seaglass, brown sugar for beach sand and Silvermist!

The birthday girl with some of her 'loot'! 

Did this article inspire you to create your own water fairy (and pirates) birthday party?  If so, please leave me a comment to let me know!


Welcome Guests with Inviting Front Door Decor

Photo credit Pottery Barn via Pinterest
One of the basic tenets of successful event management is to create an environment ... to offer guests a positive impression and, depending on the event, to establish the theme of your party.  The environment might be your living room, private dining room or ballroom.  Regardless of venue, the room should incorporate the look and feel of the party.  One tactic, especially, if you have to stretch your budget, is to focus on the entrance or reception area.  For example, front door decorations like the photo above would be so inviting for a fall gathering!

 I'd love to hear from you about your front door/party entrance decorations.  If you have an idea to share or opinion on the topic, please leave me a comment.


'Ritas and Ribs

Have you ever been stuck, creatively challenged to come up with a birthday party theme?  Sometimes, I am, too.  My go-to strategy is to evaluate the guest of honor's interests and hobbies but another option is to consider their favorite food and drinks!  That's what my client did when she hosted a birthday party for her husband.  She invited guests to a BBQ and Margaritas party, which I finessed into a 'Ritas and Ribs party!

Other festive food and drink pairings include:
Wine and Cheese ...classic!
Beer and Brats ...Oktoberfest?
Mimosas & Muffins ...Sunday Brunch?
Scotch & Chocolate ...fit for a man!
Champagne & Cupcakes ...sophisticated celebration!
Mistletoe & Martinis ...office holiday party!

When in doubt, how about Sips and Dips?!!

So back to 'Ritas and Ribs ... if you want to host your own, then please read my September newsletter, party possibilities!  I've included all the details plus lots of photos.

Was this article helpful to you?  If so, please leave me a comment and let me know.


{sneak peek} Let the Ghoul Times Roll!

I'm so excited!!  Tomorrow is the first day of Autumn, which means I can comfortably talk about holiday parties ... including the cutest little Boo Bash I'm hosting next month!!!

Every year since my oldest daughter could barely walk, I've hosted a Boo Bash!  Held outdoors with fun activities, delicious treats and fantastic entertainment, it's our family's annual celebration.  This year's theme is Let the Ghoul Times Roll, a Halloween party with a twist of Mardi Gras.  Children will enjoy beading Halloween necklaces and decorating frightful masks, as well as eating mini beignets with apple cider.  The highlight of the party will be an Jazz Trio, who will interact with the children, play our favorite Halloween songs and make spooky sounds on the instruments.  Interesting idea?  I think so, too!

To make this theme really work, I needed a strong graphic image for my invitation and eventually, party decorations.  With a little bit of guidance, the talented ladies of Frog Prince Paperie, Paula and her colleague Renee, designed the invitation pictured above.  Isn't it fabulous?!!! 

Have I inspired you to host a Let the Ghoul Times Roll Halloween party?  If yes, you'll want to order these invitations, now available on the Frog Prince Paperie etsy store ... and leave a comment to share your party ideas!


{in season} Pumpkin Spice Yumminess!

Love Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Me, too!  After a quick coffee fix last week, on a rather chilly Friday afternoon, I started thinking about fall, pumpkins and parties (not necessarily in that order!).  I envisioned sipping hot lattes with friends around an outdoor fire pit or perhaps sharing them with out-of-town guests at a post-wedding Sunday Brunch. 

Whatever you envision, if you want Pumpking Spice Lattes at your next fall party, below is a yummy beverage recipe, plus a few dessert recipes, to inspire a tasteful celebration!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup for Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Recipe from Cook Like a Champion

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons pumpkin purée

Combine water and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook until sugar has completely dissolved. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow mixture to come to a boil. Strain syrup through cheesecloth into a large glass measuring cup. Transfer to bottle of your choice and store in the refrigerator.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, simply add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of syrup for each shot of espresso. For an iced latte, stir together syrup and espresso before adding desired amount of cold milk. For a hot latte, add frothed milk and stir to combine. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Pumpkin Spice Truffles
Recipe on Annie's Eats

Pumpkin Spice Whoopies

Pumpkin Granola


{event showcase} Party Animals! Birthday at the Zoo

Last month, I produced a party for a sweet little boy's 2nd birthday at the Reston Zoo!  The result was colorful and playful and so much fun.  Here are the details in case you need a little birthday inspiration:

The Reston Zoo is an attractive park with clean pavilions, super staff and great entertainment like wagon rides and animal shows, as well as petting and visiting the animals ... but my client wanted a little more - like festive decorations, catered picnic lunch and nicer goodie bags.  So this is what I created ...

We leveraged the colors and animals from the invitation (top collage, middle photo) and incorporated them into decorations, birthday cake, even the disposables.

To bring the Zoo-fari experience to life, I covered the picnic tables in natural burlap and placed plush animals in red square boxes embellished with fresh tropical greens on top.  I added pops of color with clusters of paper lanterns and a large welcome sign.

As children arrived, they received a safari hat, toy binoculars and animal crackers, as well as feed for the animals which I placed in a colorful striped handle bag from Target and embellished with a "Don't Feed the Animals" tag.

Children were invited to visit and feed the animals before a private wagon ride through the park and then, an animal show at the pavilion.  The Zookeepers brought a baby lama, an iguana and little chick for the children to explore.

After the animal show and much hand sanitizer, guests were invited to a picnic lunch that included assorted sandwiches, sliced fruit and bags of kettle chips. 
My camera died before lunch so I didn't get photos of the picnic buffet or desserts but these adorable fondant animals topped the 8" smash cake and cupcakes; you should have seen the piggy's squiggly tail!  Assorted cookies and bars were also offered.

As children were leaving the party, they received a goodie bag filled with an animal coloring book with animal shaped recycled crayons, an animal paperback book and trinkets from the Zoo.  The goodie bag is a gift tote (again, from Target) embellished with a strip of burlap, red curly ribbon and a  yellow notecard.  Super easy!

Contributing vendors included:
Reston Zoo
Windows Catering
Two Sugar Babies

So what did you think of my client's enhanced Zoo party?  Did it inspire you to celebrate at the Zoo?  Please leave me a comment to let me know!


{fall cocktail parties} Verrines

Have you ever heard of a verrine?  I discovered verrines last night when I was flipping through my new Viva Terra catalog and was intrigued by the photo above.  Nice presentation, yes?  A quick Internet search revealed that verrines - not be confused with terrines - are sweet or savory dishes made by artfully layering the ingredients in a clear glass container.  Kind of like a parfait but the ingredient combinations, not to mention color, texture and flavors possibilities are endless!

According to my research, verrines are very popular in France; in fact, most of the recipes I found were in French.  I guess this trend has been slow to reach the United States (or maybe we're calling it something else?), but I think the presentation would be great for a fall dinner party - a layered colorful salad for the first course or a deconstructed apple pie for dessert, either served in a stemless wine or martini glass.  Other serving containers might include shot glasses or cylinder votive holders. 

For more information about verrines and inspiring ideas for your fall party, please read this NPR article, Verrines: A Glass Act.

So what do you think about verrines - fun presentation or too much effort?  Please leave me a comment to let me know!


Real Simple Ideas for Labor Day Celebrations

I came across this online article by Real Simple magazine titled "Summertime New Uses for Old Things".  So many of their ideas are genius, especially for hosting parties and celebrations.  Here are a few of my favorites, perfect for a work-free Labor Day get-together!


Everyday drinking glasses make great candle holders!

Who doesn't need an extra side table when entertaining?!

Clever way to organize your condiments and disposables!

As a mom to three messy little girls, I love this idea - and I've seen it with watermelon slices, too (just add a popsicle stick through the rind)!

Paper plates + frisbee = happy (mess-free) guests!

Neat trick for preparing ice cream in advance.  Perfect for children's birthday parties, too!

Hot temps, melting ice?  No worries with a rubber band grip!

Perhaps my favorite idea of all.  I love the practical application ... and bright pop of color.

Protect your wine bottle with your child's floatie!  Great for picnics, too - like my picnic dinner at Wolf Trap on Sunday evening!  My family is going to see Peter Pan on our work-free holiday.

So, what summertime new uses for old things idea do you like best?  Please leave a comment!