Your First Time… Hosting a Dinner Party

(Image Credit: Monkey Business)

(Image Credit: Monkey Business)

So you want to throw a dinner party? You have come to the right place. Any time is a good time to gather friends and eat. The great thing about throwing your own party is that it can be as fancy or down to earth as you wish. The hardest part is getting started. There are three big things that have to be decided. After that, the rest will flow with ease!

Decision one: Who to Invite

The guest list in essential to any get together. It is absolutely of the utmost importance that you think about who will be in attendance if you are not drawing from a set group of friends. If the group is pre-established easily, then skip this and move on to food! If you’re trying to create a group out of friends in your life that come from different circles, think for a minute. Do not invite the friend with the big mouth and no boundaries if the rest of the group leans towards introversion. Do not invite someone who will not know anyone else unless you are open to a plus-one or they make friends easily. Basically you want conversationalists. When I think of a dinner party I think of easy conversation and good food.

Decision two: Food

Check to make sure no one has any food allergies or special diets. Anaphylactic shock is not what you want everyone to be talking about when they leave the party. Once the medical stuff is cleared, think about how much prep work you want to deal with. Will the food be made at home with loving hands or will it be purchased with the guests none the wiser? Either one is perfectly acceptable!

If the home-assembled route is where the desire is, may I direct you to my friend Martha. Martha Stewart’s website has a whole section for dinner party meals.  Main dishes are broken down by season on the website. Appetizers can be sorted by seasons, classic, quick or elegant. Martha has your back.

Personally, I make a dessert by hand and pick up the rest from the local grocer. I like my meat precooked by someone with their own oven so that my home is not hot.

Decision three: Decorations

Pinterest is a genius tool. Simply typing in “dinner party ideas” will bring an overwhelming amount of help. Overwhelming is the key word. Pick a theme or idea before venturing to the internet. I personally think Pinterest is best for decorations. Cool napkin folds, cheap and classy centerpieces, homemade streamer instructions; that kind of thing is what Pinterest is for best. Decide in the beginning how fancy you want the party to be.  Nice place settings and some candles class things up fast; I speak from experience.

Another recommendation I have for dinner parties with a sizable guest list is a photo area. Drape a solid-colored sheet in a corner, throw down some props from Party City and voila! People can take selfies with cell phones easily. At a party I hosted last year, I bought cheap disposable cameras from a convenience store. This way people can take pictures and it’s a surprise what they’ll look like. After you get the photos developed, mail copies to your guests with a thank-you card. Everyone will think you are the hostest with the mostest fun ideas.

That is it! Everything else will come naturally. When sending out invitations (or emails or texts) make sure to convey to the guests what level of fancy is pre-planned. It is okay to have expectations as long as they are conveyed. No jeans? No children? Bring your own beverage? All is good, just be up front. Most importantly have fun! No one likes a stressed out host that runs around all evening getting sweaty and not enjoying their own party.

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(Image Credit: Yanlev)

Throwing a Party? Pick a Theme!

(Image Credit: Yanlev)

(Image Credit: Yanlev)

Every year, my birthday finds me just like clockwork, no matter how hard I try to hide from it. I dread birthdays, but not because I’m getting old. On the contrary, I’m young and full of life and spunk, and plan to be that way at any age. I dread my birthday because parties are such a pain to plan. Continue reading

Office Holiday Party (Image Credit: Tal Revivo)

5 Things you shouldn’t do at your office holiday party

Office Holiday Party (Image Credit: Tal Revivo)

Office Holiday Party (Image Credit: Tal Revivo)

The holiday season has officially arrived and for those with jobs, a relaxing break is definitely due. As the days off from work are fast approaching, so is the annual company holiday party! In the same way that family and friends recognize the holidays with a celebration, the workplace does too.

Office parties can certainly serve as a good time what with all the opportunities to bond with your boss and socialize with your fellow employees. However, the company holiday party is the last social event before everyone in the office departs and you definitely don’t want to start off a new year by having made a bad last impression in the previous one.

Start off the season by giving a gift to yourself, the gift of knowing the top 5 things you should never do at your company holiday party: Continue reading

Halloween (Image Credit: Mike Spasoff)

Your First Time… Throwing a Halloween Party

Halloween (Image Credit: Mike Spasoff)

Halloween (Image Credit: Mike Spasoff)

My Halloween-o-meter kicks into full gear right about the end of September when all the stores are putting out the costumes and candy. And it just makes me want to celebrate. Once you get too old for trick or treating, it may seem like Halloween loses a lot of its verve, but trust me, it doesn’t.

Halloween just so happens to be the perfect holiday to throw a party! It doesn’t have the familial obligations that come with Christmas and Thanksgiving, it’s important enough to celebrate and it isn’t a depressing holiday like Valentine’s Day can be.

But throwing parties can also be stressful. I know, I’ve thrown several Halloween parties, and they weren’t all me watching scary movies and eating candy by myself in my dorm room. Below, you’ll find tips on throwing your first Halloween party and making it one to remember. Continue reading

They say it’s your birthday! Tips for planning a child’s party!

Image Credit: Lisa Sexton

Our daughter is turning 2 on the 15th, so we’ve been trying to figure out all the makings of a great party for her, and us, that isn’t too overwhelming. At 2, what will she really remember long term? Probably not too much. I come from a large family, so while we don’t invite everyone (2nd and 3rd cousins) we include who we are close with and some extras. My husbands family, aside from his immediate siblings, do not live local. So while we don’t see them too often, any of the kids birthdays or other big events like christenings, etc, are reasons to try to get together to catch up. Once we know exactly who’s coming, we can narrow down how to keep the kiddos and adults happy during the party. We are scaling back this year though to just family. Continue reading