Inspiration Thursdays…Creative Ways to Label Food at a Party

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog - Creative Ways to Label Food at a PartyAs the host of a party, we deserve to have a good time too! But as someone commented on my recent post regarding hiring a bartender, sometimes our enjoyment is boggled down with serving our guests and answering a slew of questions, including, ” what is this? ” and ” what does this have in it?”.

When hosting an event in your home, usually you are familiar with the likes, dislikes and allergies of your guest list. If I have a guest who is allergic to a particular food item, when greeting them I tell them what on the menu was created with them in mind, and what items they should stay away from. There are usually only one or two guests with severe allergies, so it isn’t a major inconvenience on your part.

On the other hand, ” what is this?” will be asked by everyone. Here are a few creative (and fun) ways to label food for your guests. Continue reading

Splurge…Hire a Bartender

Beyond the Essentials Event Blog - Hire a BartenderA few years ago, I hosted a Signature Cocktail Party at my home. I invited all of my friends to bring their favorite cocktail recipe and serve it up over food and conversation. It was a great time, and I want to host it again, but I think next time, we’ll have someone else do all the work. While I am typically all about saving the budget, sometimes you need to splurge a little. The next time you are hosting an upscale event in your home, treat your guests and yourself by hiring a bartender.

Hiring a bartender will allow you to enjoy your party guests and take a break from tending the bar. Bartenders can also serve as great entertainment. An experienced and passionate mixologist will be shaking and pouring up delicious drinks for everyone. Work with them to create an exciting, colorful and tasty cocktail menu for everyone to enjoy.

Think about having your guests create the menu themselves as well. Create an extravagant bar full of fruit and herbs for your guests to mix and match and create their own signature cocktail.

You don’t have to break the bank on a bartender, recently licensed bartenders are eager to get real experience and will be willing to do so for a low cost.

The next time you’re hosting an upscale bridal shower, housewarming or even a holiday party in your home, consider hiring a bartender to serve you at your own party!

Entertaining at Home: How to Maximize Comfort and Conversation

Third Stop: Maximizing Comfort and Conversation
On our journey to planning a Cookie Exchange Party

The invitations can be great, the food can be delicious, but you must make your guests feel comfortable. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your guests are comfortable, everyone is having good conversation  and your party is a success!

– Never place the food or bar near an entrance or exit. Guests always congregate near the food and/or drinks causing a block from the other guests trying to move about. Focus the food and drink in a central area such as the kitchen or dining room.

– You don’t need seating for everyone. If there’s nowhere to sit, it encourages your guest to walk around and mingle with everyone in attendance. The industry standard would tell you to have seating for a third of your guest list, but in the home, I would say half is safe. The key is to not aim to have a seat for everyone.

– Spread out the food and drink. When entertaining at home you don’t need to fill the kitchen counter or have one long buffet table. Spread everything around your home, one corner for drinks, another for food and another for dessert. This eliminates everyone crowding around the food and drinks, and gets everyone moving around and mingling.

– Section it off. Chances are your guest list is a combination of different people. Some people will like to sit and engage in conversation, others will like to walk around and meet new people. Try arranging different sections for your guest. A nice sitting area of a couch and chairs on one side, a clear area near the food and drinks for those who want to mingle and don’t forget the children, a nice clear floor area near a tv may be best for them.

– Help them help you. Even though you’re the host, you want to enjoy yourself too. Which for me means, eliminating the constant questions of, where do I throw this away?, Do you recycle? and the I can’t finds…. Have ample amounts of plates and napkins out and do a quick eye check every so often to see if anything needs to be replenished. Make sure you have everything in plain sight for guests. Your trash can should be in a central location, if you recycle place a nice bin near the trash. A tip for the recycling bin: put an empty can or bottle in there already, so your guests can catch the clue.

I’ll definitely be using these tips for my annual ” cookie party “, make sure you do too!

Cookie Party Planning Posts Here and Here.

Look out for photos of how I maximize comfort and conversation in my open concept home.

Next Stop: The Fun Stuff! Decor, Props and more…

Bathrooms…The Forgotten Space

Bathrooms always seem to be left off the list of spaces to decorate when planning events. Whether at home or in a venue, the bathroom is an important place to pay attention to. Think about the relaxing feeling you get when you step into a four star hotel restroom. Soft music playing, pleasant scent, luxurious soaps. That’s the feeling you should aim to give your guests.

Make sure it smells good. To keep a very consistent pleasant scent in the restroom, place a lit fragrant candle in a corner. Make sure to keep the candle away from any corners or spaces that might accidentally cause a fire. If you’re hosting in a venue, make sure to see if it is against their policies.

Bring in some life. Everyone loves a fresh bouquet of flowers. Place a nice fresh bouquet on the vanity for a pleasant surprise to guests. If you’re hosting in a venue, be sure to put them in the men and women’s bathroom. Men are special guests too.

Light the way. When entertaining at home, it’s always a good idea to keep your bathroom identifiable. If you don’t have multiple forms of lighting in your bathroom, consider getting a few of the battery operated tea lights to provide a soft light in the bathroom. Having the bathroom lit up with the door open will avoid lost guests wandering into random closets and private bedrooms.

White. The color of hospitality. People tend to associate the color white with hospitality. This is why you always find white fluffy robes and towels in hotels. Bring the feeling of hospitality to your guests with nice white towels in the bathroom. They don’t necessarily have to use them, but a nice basket of white hand towels along with nice paper napkins to dry their hands off will make a great difference. Again, this is a nice addition to venue restrooms, if they don’t already provide additional décor.

Go the extra mile. If you have a small iPod deck or radio, have some light music playing. It’s easy to hide it behind a basket or stick in the corner. This is sure to add a wow factor for your guests.

The Essentials. Everyone needs a little refresher. Create a basket with a few essentials they may need throughout your event. Include items such as, Shout Wipes, mints, feminine hygiene products, bobby pins, body spray, first aid kits, lint roller and anything else you can think of.

Also, when entertaining at home, keep additional supplies out in the open. Have a small basket with additional rolls of toilet paper, napkins and even soap and lotion, so that you aren’t stuck refilling them in the middle of your event.

The moral of the story? When planning an event remember to think about your guests entire experience. From the moment they, to the moment they leave and all the wonderful moments in between.

If you’re going to do…Creative Guest Books Edition

For those of you who are thinking you can skip this post because “guest books are just for weddings “. I say to you, No Way! Remember, guest books are for your special occasion of choice. Birthday parties, baby showers, housewarming parties and even sip and sees. Any event you want to remember and remember who you shared it with, guest books are for you.

The purpose of a guest book originated as the idea to gather the information of guests attending a special event to be remembered and used as a souvenir of sorts.  They were actual books available for guests to sign and provide their contact information; this allowed the event host to have on hand information for thank you notes. Now you find that event hosts aren’t just collecting names and contact information, they are looking for sincere reminders of the special occasions. We’re not collecting information; we’re gathering best wishes, remarks and pictures from guests to hold on the memory of our special occasion. There has been a great deal of creativity brought to the idea of guest books that we see today. From fingerprint Family Trees to puzzle pieces, the creative possibilities for guest books are endless.

So if you’re going to take the non-traditional route and try something innovative for your guest book, let’s remember a few things.

If you’re going to do creative guest booksMake it easy for your guests. The number one thing to remember about guest books is to make it easy for your guests. Guests come to celebrate and have fun with you, so you don’t want them spending too much time on their guest book activity. Make sure your idea and directions are easily understood and implemented.  Take for example the idea of having guests leave their fingerprint on a family tree. A very sentimental and meaningful guest book idea. If you want to use this idea, but you’re not having a small gathering (which this is much better suited for) consider having guests sign leaf cut outs, for you to place on a family tree design.

If you’re going to do creative guest booksDecide how you’ll want it to be displayed. Deciding how your guest book will be displayed, is key in deciding how creative you want to go. Will your guest book be a conversation piece? Will you keep it in safe keeping only to open when you want to relive the memories?  If you want your guest book to be on display consider having guest sign a picture of the guest(s) of honor, have them sign a piece of furniture or serving ware (serving platter, bench) or have them sign puzzle pieces that come together for a beautiful and meaningful piece of art. {You can use the puzzle pieces filled with messages, or create a photo puzzle and have guests sign the back. Either way it’s a piece of art you’ll cherish.}

If you’re going to do creative guest booksMultipurpose to save the budget. Guest books can easily be paired with place cards and table numbers. Your place cards can double as guest books by simply adding space for guests to write their message for you. You can also combine them with your table number. The time capsule/prediction idea is being used a lot lately. Have your guests leave a message for you to open on your Table 12th anniversary. Or have them leave Table 5 birthday wishes for the guest of honor. Bonus: If you are doing a guest book to gather information for thank you notes, remember to leave space for name and contact information.

If you’re going to do creative guest books…Allow the book to be the creativity. Save yourself the time spent on a DIY guest book project and let the book bring the creativity. For a child’s birthday party, buy a copy of their favorite book and have the guest sign the pages. If you’re looking for guest book ideas for a milestone birthday party (21, 30, 40, 50…), look to the classic motivational book, Dr. Suess’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go and have your guests leave motivational birthday wishes throughout the pages. You can also bring the ease of this idea to your wedding. Not sure what to do with all those engagement photos you took? Create a photo book and have your guests enjoy your photos and leave their best wishes at the same time.

What’s the most creative guest book you’ve seen? Leave a comment and share!

(Photos: etsy.com, jesihaackweddingblog.com, casasugar.com, theknot.com)

Entertaining at Home…Preparing for Attending Kids

It’ll happen at least once, you have your adult get-together planned out. Wine glasses, cocktail menu and your best plate set all ready to go. A few days before, you get a call from your best friend asking if it’s okay for her to bring her daughter. Oh No, You weren’t really planning on entertaining children. Don’t panic, just take action with the below tips and you will still have the great get-together just as you planned!

Have kid friendly foods and drinks. Even if there is only one child attending your event, a good host(ess) always has accommodating food and drink for the little ones present. It can be as simple as chicken fingers and tater tots with some apple juice.

Bonus: Make sure you have plastic/paper utensils for the children, to avoid any accidents.

Have the appropriate space for “ baby tending “. Depending on the age of the child, it’s important to have some space in a private area for any baby tending that may need to be done. It can be your bedroom or a spare bedroom, but it should be clean and have a comfortable flat space for any diaper changes, or naps.

Prepare activities. Most parents will bring toys for their child to play with, but in case they don’t purchase some for them. If you’re expecting a group of kids you can gather some coloring books and crayons or an friendly board game. If you’re a host who doesn’t have kids, it would be worth it to just invest in a few small child friendly toys for when the babysitter cancels on your guest at the last-minute.

Relax. We all know with children comes surprises and accidents. If you’re worried about any breakable items, store them away and relax. If some of your guests have to leave early due to children bed times, it’s okay, relax. Enjoy the entertainment that children always bring to a party.

Do you have any tips for entertaining with children? Leave a comment and share.