Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Bright New Year

A Simple New Year's Party

   Instead of the traditional silver and gold for your New Year's party, why not ring in the new year with hopeful bright oranges and enthusiastic reds.  Combine these bright colors with clean simple lines of modern-inspired decor, and add a little bit of whimsy to make your party a hit.  

Decor:  Orange and reds.  Floral arrangements include marigolds and hot pink chrysanthemums. Hang red paper lanterns from the ceiling (see for supplies) interspersed with bright orange metallic balloons in crescent shapes.  Luminarias also can make a beautiful warm statement at centerpeices nestled in betweeen floral arrangements.  Alongside the buffet table, place homemade orange peel candles.  For table linens, use Indian prints in gold, red and orange.  You can find affordable yardage at your local fabric store.  Merely hem the edges and you have an instant table runner. 

Favors:  I found these great party masks by Maro Designs on  Not only do they make unique favors, they provide a creative opportunity for photos of your guests!  

Cute party hats can be decorated with pink and orange feathers (see pattern and instructions at  

Another wonderful idea for a take-home reminder of your party is a small calendar for the new year.  I found these clean, simple calendars on by Jumping Jack Designs.  Use the brown box they come in, and wrap your own red and orange ribbons around the outside. 

Activities:  No New Year's party is complete without the iconic count-down to midnight.  Toast the new year with pink champagne with a sugared tangerine slice on the edge of the glass.  Purchase small individual confetti shooters (  for guests to be let off at midnight.
  Another fun item is a "cootie-catcher".  You can hand these out to your guests and then have them ask the question, "Will I keep my New Year's resolution?" and see what their fortune holds.  (See for instructions and a downloadable pattern.)  

Food:  Think simple and healthy.  After the over-indulgences of the holidays, most guests are looking forward to flat tummies once again. Help them with their new year's resolutions by providing salads, healthy finger food, fresh fruits, and light desserts.  Check out Cooking Light magazine for some great ideas to slim down your favorites.

Drinks:  Cognac Sparklers and Mandarin Cocktails from  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Now, What To Give!

1. Soup mix.  Some people may think this is a cop-out, but for a busy woman with a family, I love the mixes!  Anything to save me time is a great gift!

2. A trip!  (Just so long as it's not a cruise to Alaska.  I've lived there - yes, you can see whales, but it's too damn cold!)

3. Baby sitting services.

4. A foot rub - especially if you are my husband!  (I tell him every year, this is what I want - and a real one - not the 5 minute "I'm busy watching football" one.)  AND I want to watch HGTV during the foot rub, with a glass of wine in one hand.
5. A night out to dinner and cocktails, sans children.  (I do really love my kids, I swear!  Just need a little adult time every now and then!!)

6. A new computer!!  Preferable a very light portable type that doesn't crash every five minutes, take 20  minutes to load a web site, and have one million cords sticking out of it!!  

7. The Family Guy boxed set volume seven.  I know....don't tell anyone.  I'll just buy it for myself.
8. A custom paint job for my mini-van.  I like pink - maybe like the Charlie's Angels van!  Sweeeeeet!

9. Anything handmade from my children.  Love, love, love.

10. Wine - always the perfect gift.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Twenty Gifts Not to Give this Christmas

1. A Christmas mug - come to think of it - any mug.  

2. Footed one-piece jammies for adults.  It's a "no-do".

3. Any type of "all in one" tool that is $9.99 at this low discount price for one hour only.  Don't dial that number!!

4. A Snuggie or slankit, or whatever you want to call it.

5. Erotic apparel.  "Nipple-less" bras are called "nursing bras", and we would buy one if we needed one.   And your husband is not going to wear the satin boxer shorts, however cute you think he would be in them.

6. Anything personalized, to the point that it is kitchy.  Really, do you ever see anything like this in someone's office?  Do you really thing they are going to display it?

7. Re-gifted items. The recipient can tell that you didn't like it the first time, and now they are the proud owner.  If you want to be "eco-friendly" give a back-rub.

8. Christmas ornaments. OK, I'm guilty of this one as well.  I do like some ornament gifts, especially if they have my kids' name on it. 
9. The "cheese product" "meat log" assortment.  They neither taste like meat nor cheese, and you end up guiltily serving them to last minute guests because you can't find anything else in the fridge.


10. And yes, we all know your lovin' should be enough, but come on, go out and spend a little, ya cheapskate!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Holidays with Humor - Party Products Featurette

Naughty Betty is a retailer on-line that has some great products that will keep your holidays happy!

She has cocktail nakins, cards, magnets, paper plates, you name it.  I think a variety of the napkins would be great at a cocktail party.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Party Chitchat and the Art of Smalltalk

  The holidays are now officially upon us, and doubtless you will be attending at least one party where you need to make "small-talk" with people you don't know, or don't know well.  We've all had those moments when you're at a work party or a neighborhood gathering, and you are all of sudden facing the task of starting a conversation.  Fear of party chitchat can wreck your enjoyment of the party (it IS a party, after all!), and lead to future avoidance of social situations that can benefit you socially, and career-wise.  I have a few simple tricks that can help make these holiday gatherings easier:

1. When talking to others, don't think of yourself.  Focus on the other person.  Think of yourself as Merv Griffin (now I'm really aging myself!).  Merv was a true conversational connoisseur.  He made others open up to him and feel at ease because he was genuinely interested in them.  This is very flattering to most people when another person shows an true interest in what they have to say.

2. Find commonalities.  You can find something you have in common with almost anyone.  It's true.  And when in doubt, discuss the weather, the local highway construction, how they know the host of the party, when did they move to the area, .....   Stay away from obvious topics of possible contention.  Example - politics!

3. If the other person seems uneasy - don't take it personally.  It almost always has nothing to do with you.  Maybe they are shy.  Maybe they are uneasy starting a conversation.  Perceive of yourself as someone who is helping them feel more at ease.

4. Smile.  Smile.  And smile.  People automatically react more positively to individuals who smile.

5. Be helpful.  Offer to get the other person another glass of wine when you get yours.  Tell them what hors d'oeuvres are especially good.

6. Talk about yourself, but not too much.  Be open, yet be aware of the other person and keep tip #1 in  mind.

7. Remember, starting conversations is like riding a bicycle - the more you do it, the easier and more natural it becomes!

8. ENJOY YOURSELF!  Life is for living and for joy.  Don't waste your precious time with unnecessary worries!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Part 2 - Cocktails - The Flying Pilgrim

   This year I've decided to fore go the traditional wine prior to the Thanksgiving meal, and serve a signature cocktail instead.  Signature cocktails are beverages that you specifically concoct for the express point of commemorating a certain event.  I've named my signature cocktail, The Flying Pilgrim.  The recipe is as follows:

one part beer (I used a Belgium Ale, but you could use anything)
one part hard apple cider
one ounce Applejack (an old recipe for a liquor that is part whisky part cider)

   Before pouring the liquids in the glass, dip the rim of a heavy mug or beer glass in some Applejack. Then dip in a saucer of raw sugar.  This makes a pretty presentation and adds a little more sweet flavor to the drink to combat the bitterness of the beer. 
   Pour the beer, then the cider, then the shot of Applejack, and serve. 


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Part 1 - The Kids' Table

  Although I should start with hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, I think I shall start my Thanksgiving series on the kids' table.  Sometimes this is at the back of your mind, but the addition of a "kids' table" makes all the difference in the world, in my humble opinion.  When the kids are entertained and happy, parents are happy, and can thus enjoy their Thanksgiving meal (with a glass of wine.)
   First things first - don't even try to use your fine linen.  Make things simple and fun by using plain brown wrapping paper for a tablecloth.  You could also use a more colorful paper tablecloth with Thanksgiving decorations (I found a very cute one at Target..)  For place mats, find large sheets of coordinating construction paper.  Tuck a set of crayons inside each folded napkin, or provide a metal tub full of crayons for everyone.
  As soon as you sit down, while the little ones are having their plates filled with food, it's a good idea to have something they can nibble on in the meantime.  I found this cute idea to make edible turkey decorations.  Depending on the ages of the children, you could even have all the supplies out ready to go, and they can make their own turkeys.  I like this idea versus many on the web because you can use all healthy non-candy items.  If you give kids chocolate peanut butter cups prior to dinner, you will never get them to eat their peas!!

   For an extra treat, grace each place setting with a paper pilgrim hat from  You can turn it upside down and place the crayons inside, or place the utensils and napkin inside.  

   Books make great favors. Here are a couple of my favorites.  Even for toddlers and babies, they make great gifts that their parents can read to them and save over the years.

teachablemoment on
    There is a great book called, "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie"  On I found a felt board set that goes along with the story.  (Felt boards are easy to make.  Just cover a individual chalk or wipe-off board with felt.  Felt pictures can then be attached easily to the board.)  Felt boards are a great Thanksgiving activity for little ones, even babies, as well. 

  You might want to include some special drinks and desserts for the kids' table. has some simple non-alcoholic apple flavored drinks that you can dress up.  Around the rim of each glass, dip in lime juice then brown sugar (or even Pop-Rocks, if you dare!).  For dessert, kids will delight in their own caramel apple versus the grown-up slice of pumpkin pie.  See Our Best Bites for an easy recipe for gourmet style caramel apples.  Attached to each stick, stick with a glue dot a Thanksgiving die cut from your local craft or scrapbook store.  

  For after (or before) dinner fun, check out Family Fun's website (here) for some printable parade and football bingo games.