Mar

19

2013


Speakeasy Engagement Party

Geoffrey, a dapper father of two amazing kids, and Katherine, a brilliant and beautiful triathlete, found each other at just the right time in their lives, and I’ve loved watching their romance grow. G popped the question in the fall, setting their wedding-planning year into motion.

I was honored when Katherine asked me to be in her bridal party and was eager to start planning the first celebration alongside her local bridesmaids, Brandi, Brittany and Mandy. We enjoyed brainstorming, crafting and creating an engagement party for the adorable couple, and I was excited to host the evening at our place. We decided on a speakeasy theme with mood lighting, gilded boozy-bottle décor and 20s attire.



Our unique version of this Wedding Paper Divas invite helped set the theme into motion for a roaring engagement party. Guests RSVPed to our party-specific gmail address and google phone number (Great idea, Mandy!), where they could receive the speakeasy password, “manatee.” The password was selected for no reason other than the bride-to-be’s irrational fear of the gentle sea cow.


Liquid Leaf-painted jars and clear mason jars were sprinkled around the party and illuminated with a mixture of real and battery-operated tea light candles.

Beer and wine bottles from the hostesses’ homes, plus some collected from a local watering hole, were spray painted in silver and gold and placed in clusters with candles. Getting the labels off the bottles required a long soak in a soapy cooler + a Brillo pad.

Brittany’s pretty damask ribbon added a nice touch around a grouping of bottles and to a gorgeous feather arrangement (which I neglected to capture).



Guests could take their pick of flapper flair. We created complimentary hair do-dads using assorted feathers and hair clips from the craft store. A basket filled with 20s-era props was also nearby for those looking to ham it up. Chalkboard clips made easy labels and complimented the speakeasy theme. We relocated our kitchen chalkboard to the fireplace and added the couple’s names using chalk pens, mimicking the invitation font.

At the bar, a 20s drink was in order, so we did a little research and selected “the Bee’s Knees,” a gin-based drink. I’d say it was definitely more gin-based than juice-based. Lemons and fresh local honey made it a sweet signature beverage in addition to beer and wine options. The Pandora station played Jazz Age tunes until we got a little crazy with the iPods later in the evening.


At the appetizer table, we included a few of the bride’s favorites, such as bruschetta and of course the Junior League Feta Black Bean dip. The delicious strawberry cupcakes were homemade by bridesmaid Brittany – her striped cupcake liners and turquoise dessert stands were a pretty addition to the color palette.

On the patio, an overturned Jack Daniels half barrel (Home Depot) with a glass top (Bed, Bath & Beyond) created a rustic, speakeasy place to rest a beverage. The little chalkboard buckets were a Target dollar-bin find, and they looked super cute with the couple’s initials. Thankfully, the yard was in bloom, so bunches of camellias in buckets helped dress up the patio.


Guests kicked it up celebrating Katherine & Geoffrey. And most importantly, K & G looked like they had a blast. Happy engagement, you two! We look forward to your big day and every celebration along the way! We love you!

Dec

17

2012


How to: Serve Wine at Parties

When preparing for get-togethers this holiday season, or any time of year, wine is a safe and expected element for the cocktail list. Refer to these tips in your party-planning process to avoid overlooking bar elements, and set up a smooth vino spread.

Purchase Prep
As a general rule, it’s better to have a little more on-hand than what you need for a party. Take a look at your guest list, and estimate the number of wine drinkers – your guess doesn’t have to be perfect! One bottle of wine fills about four to five glasses, and you can expect an average of three glasses per wine-drinker. After a little math, you’ll be in grape shape!

A Vino Variety
Offer guests options, including both red and white wine. I like to offer at least two whites (a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc) and one red (a Pinot Noir), and more varieties depending on the size of the party. Other popular reds include Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet.

Brands: When in doubt, ask your local wine retailer for recommendations based on the number of guests and your budget. Price doesn’t necessarily dictate best taste.

Cater to Guests
If you know a particular guest will expect her favorite Pinot Grigio, make it happen. If someone loves Prosseco and it’s her birthday, break out a bottle for the special lady!

Chill Out
Be sure white wines begin to chill at least 1-2 hours before guests arrive – make use of any room in the fridge for pre-chilling, rather than wasting ice early. Before guests arrive, place white wines in buckets or tubs piled high with ice.

For Openers
Open a red and white (or two) before guests arrive, so no one has to fuss too much with the opening process. Tools to have nearby: a foil cutter (to eliminate unsightly edges that cause dribbling) and a trusted, easy-to-use wine opener.

Free the Reds!
Once you uncork a red, let it breathe. Set the cork aside in case you need it later on for storage.

At Your Service
For those tending the bar, the general rule is to fill glasses halfway, since it allows guests to swirl and appreciate aromas. Personally, I like to pour a little more than halfway!

Proper Supplies
For a more formal event, have enough red and white wine glasses available for guests. Otherwise, be sure to have wine size-appropriate plastic cups. Cocktail napkins are also a must!

Wishing you safe and successful celebrations throughout this merry season!

Oct

25

2012


Free-wheeling

I’m convinced the open space along one of our living room walls can only be filled by a bar cart. In fact, I believe the original owners of our 50s pad likely enjoyed their own bar cart regularly in just the space I have in mind. Whether vintage treasures or new beauties like those below, bar carts are such happy, welcoming and versatile little pieces of furniture.

My well-appointed beverage station will one day include glasses, cocktail napkins, garnish of sorts, a killer ice bucket, a smattering of liquors and maybe a bowl of lemons. I’ve also seen bar carts styled with accessories like books, plants and lamps – the possibilities are endless! Dear Santa, these are the bar carts on my radar:

  1. Mrs. Lilien Bar Cart by Society Social, $550
  2. Sedgewick Bar Cart by Society Social, $515
  3. Becket Bar Cart by Williams-Sonoma, $999
  4. Emory Bar Cart by Arteriors, $1,399
  5. Libations Bar Cart by Crate and Barrel,$599

Oct

08

2012


Ice Ice Baby

There are a couple of party supply essentials that have pretty low price tags but leave a major impact when you run out. The first is bathroom tissue – I will leave it at that. The second is ice.

It is always better to have more ice than you need. The reason is simple. Ice melts. When ice melts, drinks don’t taste as great, buckets don’t look as fresh and parties get soggy.

My husband is usually in charge of purchasing ice before gatherings. Every time, I tell Josh, “Lots and lots and lots of ice please! Like, too much ice. If you think it’s too much ice, still get more.” He never lets me down.

Entertaining tips:

  • Pile drink bins high with ice. By the time guests arrive, it will have melted a little – the extra ice will help maintain the fresh factor.
  • Be sure drinks are chilled in advance. When beverages will be served in bottles or cans, remember to ice drinks down before guests arrive, or refrigerate them until they’re ready to be popped into iced drink bins. Plopping drinks on ice just before guests arrive makes for lackluster beverages.

Relative to its price, extra ice is worth the investment, so much so that we’re hunting for the perfect ice maker for our home. A Scotsman machine, the kind that makes Sonic ice or “nugget ice,” would be amazing. (Sonic ice is so popular it has its own facebook following.) Ice Ice Baby!

Sep

11

2012


No Celebration Penalties Here!

Tailgate season is in full swing, and inspiration to spruce up your spread can be found just about anywhere…no matter what your team colors.


During a recent tailgate, a few yards of burlap plus some orange and blue bandanas made for a casual-yet-colorful table dressing. The bandanas ended up being quite versatile, and at just 99 cents each at Hobby Lobby, quite a deal. A couple of clothespins, and presto!

I had to improvise on the location of my flamingo friends. They wouldn’t stand in the gravel but showed perfect posture perched inside the drink bucket.



Daytime cocktails included Bloody Marys, sweet tea vodka with lemonade, and gin and tonic. To hold a smattering of garnish options, including pom-pom drink stirrers, I used some sturdy orange and blue hand-blown glasses.

Customized cups – No celebration penalties here! – were a hit with our tailgate visitors. Visit the Oh My Goodness Goodies section for a coupon code on your own cup orders, plus some fun tailgate tagline ideas!



Extra bandanas helped decorate the food spread, which included the winning pepper jelly-cream cheese-and-cracker combo, sugar cookies, and salmon and herbed cheese pinwheels made from a Williams-Sonoma recipe.


Tailgate tips: A pop-up cooler lined with a trash bag makes a great collapsible, easy-store trash bin for tailgates. Add a paper towel holder to your tabletop for when a cocktail napkin will not do.

Aug

24

2012


Tailgate Tune-up

We are merely days away from tailgate…excuse me…football season, and as anyone training for a team sport would do, I’m warming up.

I am sure many of you can relate to the excitement felt this time of year, whether you are thousands of miles away or just minutes from your home team’s turf. For my husband and me, our pilgrimage is to Gainesville, Florida, where every home-game Saturday is a little slice of Heaven: old friends, bourbon, Chick-fil-A nuggets, the roar from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and the Florida Gators…

Where was I? So, it’s time for a little tailgate tune-up. Dusting off some old favorites, I’ve also added some new equipment this year, including this orange and blue Flamingo couple (yet-to-be named). You can find these little guys in a variety of team colors at www.flamingofans.com.

Embracing the whole “Gators wear jean shorts” notion, I played around with denim fabric atop burlap. No sew – just a little folding here and there, since the frayed edges kind of add to the ‘Merica-chic look.

Another important addition to the tailgate toolbox this year: a food screen (World Market or Bed, Bath & Beyond), since bugs love pepper jelly almost as much as I do. This little contraption takes up relatively no space when folded, and I am sure it will come in handy when needed.

For this next tablescape trial, I was a little open-minded, going for the glitter-gator-hide denim (thank you, mom, for insisting it would be cute), and was pleasantly surprised by how well the fabric transformed into a table runner – also no sew. Finally, I added some “shinier” serving pieces to bring out the silver in the fabric.

More tips and ideas to come. Good luck to everyone this tailgate season!