Monday, December 20, 2010

Creative Gift Wrapping Idea

Do you wind up throwing out a lot of extra pieces of unused wrapping paper after each wrapping session?  So do I.  Here's a GREAT idea from One Charming Party.  Simply use 2 different coordinating papers and cover the seam with a ribbon.  GENIUS!!  This works for birthdays and other occasions too - not just for the holidays.

I can't wait to do this with my next few packages I have to wrap!

Photo from

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Big Thanks to The Busy Budgeting Mama

A big thanks to The Busy Budgeting Mama for featuring my pink zebra christening dessert table on her blog yesterday!  What an honor!!

If you've never visited The Busy Budgeting Mama, I highly recommend heading over there right now!  Natalie is definitely a Super Mom!  Her blog has great ideas and inspiration.  She also has great Tutorials - check them out!

In addition to her blog, Natalie is also the Creative Director of Pretty Paperie.  Paper Paperie is a great Etsy shop full of beautiful party printables to fit all of your party needs.  You can save 20% on all prinatbles through tomorrow using code JOY14.
Here's a sampling if items from her shop:

Thanks again Natalie!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ever Wonder About How Much Alcohol to Buy for a Party?

Worry no more, with's Booze-O-Meter.  Just use their simple calculator and voila!!  It will even calculate how much ice you'll need! 

Image from

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to Host a Holiday Gift Exchange

Gift exchange parties are a fun way to enjoy one aspect of the holidays (gift giving) without the pressure of buying gifts for everyone at the party. If you want to plan a gift exchange party, there are three popular, but different options. Here are tips for each one, as well as some of the pluses and minuses.

Photo From Two Yorks and a Bean

Secret Santa — Everyone draws one name and does NOT REVEAL IT. This is an extremely crucial step. Once everyone has picked, the name they chose is the person they will buy a gift for. It is also good idea to set a price cap to make gift buying easier and fair for everyone participating. On the day of your gift exchange party, have everyone put the gifts into a pile with the designated names on each of the gifts. Then, let each person open their gifts and find out who their secret Santa is!

Things to consider:
- The gift giver knows who they're buying for. This can either be good or bad, depending on the people involved.
- This type of gift exchange requires some coordination in advance of the event to notify guests about the person they need to shop for.

Photo from

Yankee Swap — With a Yankee Swap, guests bring wrapped, unmarked presents to your party. Again, it's helpful to set a price cap. During the party, each guest chooses a number. When it's time to open the gifts, the person with #1 chooses the first gift from the pile, opens it, and shows everyone else. Then, #2 selects a gift from the pile, opens it, and has the option to either keep it or trade with gift #1. This continues until everyone has opened presents. The person opening the present has the option to either keep the gift they selected OR trade with anyone who has already opened a present. At the end, the person with #1 has the option to choose from any of the gifts. This is what makes the Yankee Swap fun and entertaining.

Things to consider:
- Anyone can potentially end up with anything so gifts need to be gender neutral and relevant to any guests in attendance.
- Depending on how many people are participating, a Yankee Swap can take longer than a Secret Santa where everyone can open presents at once.

Photo from

White Elephant — A White Elephant gift exchange is similar to a Yankee Swap in how it works, however the gifts are typically "gag" gifts or items of little to no value to the gift giver. They are often items that the gift giver has around their home that they no longer use or items that they have received as gifts and don't want. On the day of the exchange, have everyone draw a number. Beginning with 1, everyone will choose and open a gift. The person to go will make a choice of whether to open a gift or to "steal" an already opened gift. If they steal a gift, the person with the stolen gift has an option of stealing from someone else, or opening a new gift. This continues until somebody decides to stick with their gift. NOTE: You cannot steal the gift that was just stolen from you. This process repeats until all the gifts have been opened and claimed.

Things to consider:
- The gifts are not typically items that people would actually want or need, however this type of gift exchange is often the funniest.
- Guests don't need to buy items to participate in a White Elephant–they can bring something from home.

Have fun!

Monday, December 6, 2010

7 Tips for Planning a Christmas Dinner

I've been married for 5 years and this is the first year I haven't been stressed out about entertaining for the holidays. We usually have about 15-18 people over on Christmas Day. Here are some tips for planning a stress-free Christmas Dinner.

Photo from Southern Living

1. Figure out how many guests will be attending at least two weeks ahead of time, and decide how you arrange the table and make room for additional tables if necessary.

2. Plan your menu at least two weeks ahead. A good rule of thumb is to plan for each person to eat between one and two pounds of food.

3. Organize shopping lists and try to list the items the way you usually navigate your grocery store. This will save you time in the store while shopping.

4. Empty out as much of the refrigerator as possible one week ahead. Get rid of everything that you won't need. The more space in the fridge, the better.

5. If you're baking cookies for the party, prepare the cookie dough in advance and freeze it. If you're serving a decorated cake, make and bake the cake parts a week or more ahead of time, wrap them well in plastic wrap and freeze them until the day before. Frozen cakes are easier to decorate anyway.

Photo From Lovin from the Oven

6. Set the table one or 2 days in advance.

Photo from Best Ribbon & Trim

7. Peel and cut all vegetables two days before. Carrots and potatoes can be stored in ice water in the fridge; onions, celery and other vegetables must be kept dry and wrapped well.

Photo from Inmagine

Happy Planning!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

DIY Candy Cane Topiary Trees

Need a quick and in expensive holiday centerpiece?  This Candy Cane Tree may be just what you are looking for!

Head on over to Pizzazarie for  for more photos and directions.

Photo from Pizzazzerie

Happy Decorating!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fresh Cedar Alphabet Wreath from Ballard Designs

I've been admiring the Fresh Cedar Alphabet Wreath from Ballard Designs for many years and this year I am finally ordering one!  Makes a perfect holiday gift too!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sweet Skewers - Holiday Treats!

Looking for a special treat to add to your holiday meal? How about a gift for Aunt Molly? Party Favor? Gift for a co-worker? Sweets Indeed has the perfect holiday treat - Sweet Skewers!

Sweet Skewers from Sweets Indeed are the perfect dessert, gift, favor and even stocking stuffer! Custom Sweet Skewers are handmade to order with the freshest ingredients. They are served on a 9 inch stick and topped with a gourmet lollipop and weigh over half a pound. Each one comes individually wrapped and tied with a festive ribbon.

Reserve your Sweet Skewers today!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Free Thanksgiving Printables from Posh Pixels Design Studio

Looking for gorgeous Thanksgiving printables? Head on over to Posh Pixels Design Studio. Kristy of Posh Pixels is generously offering her So Thankful Collection for FREE!!  I think Kristy is a creative genius and she's done it again with this collection.  Beautiful fall colors - purple (so hot right now), orange and green.  This collection ALMOST makes me want to host Thanksgiving!  :)  I'm definitely going to use a few things on whatever I bring to my Aunt's house that day! Enjoy and Thank YOU Kristy! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Something Different! A Fruit & Veggie Table

If you are looking for a different way to entertain, try a fruits & veggie table!  This great concept is the brainchild of Esther Kim of My Bride Story.  This is a great concept for adult and children's parties a like!

Thanks for the great inspiration, Esther!  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Tutorial - How to Make Cookie Lollipops

My youngest daughter is almost 7 months old and I have already started planning her First Birthday Party. I just decided on a theme the other day (it's a secret for now) but one of the things that I NEED to have at the party is cookie lollipops.

I found a great tutorial from the Cake Journal.

 Please click here for the full tutorial from Cake Journal. I can't wait to try them!!

PART 2: Do You Know How to Carve a Turkey?

Here's Part 2 of  Do You Know How to Carve a Turkey Part 2, courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Step 6: Slice Thigh Meat

Slice the thigh meat from the bone (the dark meat should be tender from resting in the juices).

Step 7: Slice Breast

Place the knife horizontally at the bottom curve of the bird's breast, and slice in toward the rib cage to create a "guide cut." Then make a slice from the top down alongside the rib cage. Be sure to cut carefully.

Almost done....

Step 8: Create Slices

Cut vertically through the breast meat to create medallion slices, being careful to preserve some of the skin on each slice. Repeat steps 6 and 7 on the other side of the breast.

Place the knife at the first wing joint; insert the knifepoint, and twist it to sever the wing. Repeat with the other wing.

Here's some deliciousness for you to look forward to:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

PART 1: Do You Know How to Carve a Turkey? Here's How....

I'll admit it, I have no idea how to carve a turkey. When I have hosted Thanksgiving in the past, my Dad usually takes over and won't even let me take it out of the oven when it's ready.

If I did have to carve it on my own, I just know it wouldn't come out looking like this:

Doesn't it look like pure perfection? Of course, it's from the folks at Martha Stewart.  They even have a great How to Carve a Turkey Guide (of course they do!).  Next time I host Thanksgiving, I will definitely be referencing this. 

Here are the step's from Martha's website:

Step 1: Preparation

Before carving the turkey, let it stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the juices to saturate the meat; then transfer the turkey from the roasting pan or presentation platter to a carving board (use layers of paper towels or two clean kitchen towels to protect your hands from the heat). The best way to hold the turkey steady is to use your hand -- a carving fork doesn't provide the same grip and will pierce and tear the flesh.

Next, cut through the trussing with scissors, taking care to remove all of the string.

Step 2: Remove Drumsticks

Remove the drumsticks first. Place the knife against the thigh, and cut down to expose the leg's second joint.

Step 3: Sever Drumsticks

Apply pressure at the joint with the knifepoint; twist the knife, and cut through to sever the drumstick. Repeat with the other drumstick.

Step 4: Slice Neck Cavity

This part kinda freaks me out! This is where Dad would come in handy!!

Slice open the neck cavity with an oval incision that allows you to remove the stuffing while leaving the skin intact.

Step 5: Scoop Stuffing

Use a long-handled spoon to scoop out the stuffing from the body cavity; transfer it to a serving bowl.

Final steps coming tomorrow! Stay Tuned. Thanks Martha Stewart!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Printables from The TomKat Studio are 50% OFF!

Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time or the 10th time, you'll knock the socks off your your guests with this great Thanksgiving printable collection from the TomKat Studio. It's 50% off making it $9.50 which is a total steal!

This printable collection includes:

1. Fill-in Invitation
2. Blank Invitation
3. Blank Menu
4. 2" Party Circles (4 designs)
5. 2" Favor Tags (4 designs)
6. 4" x 6" Blank Recipe Cards
7. 4.25" x 3.25" Blank Fancy Labels
8. Fancy Labels customized with 12 Thanksgiving Food/Dessert Items compiled by our fabulous readers including:
- Tantalizing Tasty Turkey
- Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes
- Savory Cornbread Stuffing
- Fluffy Buttery Mashed Potatoes
- Creamy French Green Beans
- Marvelous Macaroni & Cheese
- Carmamelized Candy Yams
- Maple Glazed Carrots
- Festive Cranberry Salad
- Perfect Pumpkin Pie
- Grandma's Pecan Pie
- Tempting Apple Tarts

Head over to Etsy and buy it today!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alphabet Themed Baby Shower

Looking for a cute theme for a baby shower that is gender neutral? An Alphabet themed shower is the perfect solution.

Here are some photos to get your ideas flowing!

Perfect Alphabet Baby Block Cake  from Martha Stewart.

Homemade Baby Shower Invitation from Pregnancy & Baby.

Another adorable invite option from Paper Culture.

A collection of pastel Tissue Poms from various sellers on Etsy.  You can do so many things with Tissue Poms - back drops for dessert bars, hang from the ceiling for added interest and even top candle holders with small poms.  The options are endless. 

Baby Block Centerpieces from Baby Favors & Things.  Only $6.99 each!!

And best of all,  a perfectly coordinated gift!  You'll have to wait until the baby is born, but it's one of my favorite gifts to give. 

Personalized Baby Blocks from Memories & Milestones, Inc.

This is a really fun theme.  If you need any help planning, please contact me