Thursday, June 16, 2011
For starters, setting the table according to the diagram below. (Just click the image to see the full-size diagram.) Then, remember to "work your way in" with the utensils. Start with the outermost forks and spoons for the first courses and work your way in to the utensils closest to your dinner plate as the meal progresses.
Make your guests feel comfortable. This is obvious, of course, but how do you do it? By anticipating guests' needs. In addition to the date, time, and location of your party, make note of the dress code so that guests know the expectations up front. And while you don't have to create individual dishes for each guest,consider asking if anyone has any dietary restrictions or allergies; then, make sure you serve something everyone can eat.
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Saturday, June 4, 2011
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
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Thursday, May 26, 2011
Scrapbook of memories
Scrapbooks are a wonderful way to preserve memories. To create a going away scrapbook, first, purchase a decorative binder that will hold 8.5 x 11 paper. (Choosing a traditional paper size, rather than a scrapbook paper size will make it easier for guests to contribute to the scrapbook.) Then, ask guests to prepare their scrapbook pages before the party. Encourage the craft-impaired to write letters if they don't feel comfortable decorating a page.
In addition, you may want to provide paper, stickers, photos, etc. at the party so that people can continue to add to the scrapbook throughout the evening. Once people finish their pages, slip them into plastic sleeve protectors and clip the whole lot in the binder. Instant scrapbook!
Ideas for pocket photo albums
If you want to make it easy for your soon-to-be-leaving friend to keep in touch, create a practical keepsake. Ask each guest to bring a 4x6 photograph of himself or a picture that shows both the guest and the guest of honor. On the back of the photo, each person should print his or her contact information. Include everything from snail mail addresses to Skype user names. Then, stick the photos in a pocket-sized photo album. The album will serve as both souvenir and address book.
Need another photo album idea? To remind your guest of honor that she is well-loved, collect cards that let her know why she'll be missed. Give each party guest an index card, and instruct her to write "[Name], I’ll miss you because…" on them, followed by the reasons the guest of honor will be missed. Once completed, put the cards in a small photo album.
Collecting messages and signatures
Once a favorite of elementary school children with tee shirts and sharpies, the idea of personalized gear has crossed over into the realm of weddings and other celebrations. Instead of a tee shirt, consider having guests sign a photo mat (then frame the mat with a photograph from the party), write their contact information in an address book, or compose messages inside a gift book or greeting card.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
How do you play? As the party's host, create a list of famous people with the same first name as the baby. Then, describe those people and let people guess who you're describing. If you'd like, you can give a prize to the person who gets the most right, or give prizes to the first person to answer each question.
most popular baby names of 2010, we'll use some popular names for our examples.
Sample Famous Name Game clues:
- Business partner of Ebenezer Scrooge. (Jacob Marley)
- Popular werewolf of the Twilight series. (Jacob Black)
- Actor of October Sky and Brokeback Mountain fame. (Jacob "Jake" Gyllenhaal)
- Woman who established a Boston art museum from which 13 works were infamously stolen in the 1990s (Isabella Stewart Gardener)
- Protagonist of the Twilight series (Isabella "Bella" Swan)
- Third wife of Juan Perón, whose second wife was immortalized in the musical Evita (Isabella Perón)
- Title of a famous Edith Wharton novel (Ethan Frome)
- American actor of Dead Poet's Society and Training Day fame (Ethan Hawke)
- North American furniture chain (Ethan Allen)
- American actress staring in pop television drama One Tree Hill (Sophia Bush)
- Prolific Italian actress with more than 50 years worth of films (Sophia Loren)
- Police officer character on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Sofia Curtis)
For more unique baby shower games, read 3 easy baby shower games that require little or no prep work.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
- Make sure you’re getting what you expect by asking questions. If you’re requesting a punch bowl, for instance, ask if a serving ladle is included or whether you’ll have to add one to your order.
- Be clear about company policy up front. Get the terms of your rental in writing and include things like whether or not you will save money by picking up and returning the items yourself, (rather than having them delivered) and whether or not dishes and glassware need to be washed before returning them.
- Get creative! Party rental stores offer more than just glassware. Rent a popcorn machine, chocolate fountain, or cotton candy maker for more fun!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Chocolate birds' nests
Ingredients and directions to make these "birds' nests" are easy. First, melt chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Put the melted chocolate in a bowl and mix in dry chow mein noodles until the noodles are coated with the chocolate. Then, create nest-shaped mounds of the chocolate-covered noodles on wax paper. Add shredded coconut (dyed green) "grass" to the top of your nests and finish off with Cadbury Mini Eggs. Pop the treats into the fridge to cool for about an hour before serving.
For a simple twist on chocolate birds nests, try making nest cupcakes. Prepare your favorite boxed cake mix and bake the mix in cupcake tins. Frost the cupcakes with green frosting and top each cupcake with a trio of jelly beans. Not a fan of jelly beans? Top each cupcake with a marshmallow Peeps chick instead.
How do you turn a simple seasonal candy into a full dessert? Dip marshmallow Peeps in chocolate!
Line a tray with wax paper. Melt chocolate in the microwave. Dip Peeps in the chocolate (about halfway). To add a little pizazz to your Peeps, dip the chocolate end in crushed nuts, candy sprinkles, or shredded coconut. To make Peeps-pops, insert a popsicle stick or skewer to the bottom of each chocolate-dipped treat. Then, chill the finished product in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
It should start and end with a smile.”
If possible, ask your friends to e-mail you before your party with the names of the wines they'll bringing. Then, simply copy and paste the names into one central document. If you're feeling fancy, split the document into two columns—one for whites and one for reds. By providing your guests with a list of the wines they're sampling, your friends will have a chance to take notes about why they liked or disliked certain wines. (Bonus: Even if your friends get tipsy and forget what they're drinking, they'll have the notes to refer back to the next time they're out wine shopping.)
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Head to your local dollar store or simply root through your cupboards to find some candles. Then, try one of these simple centerpiece ideas.
- Three is a magic number; anything in a set of three is easily arranged and easy to make look good. Set three identical pillar candles on a tray or piece of wood for a simple centerpiece. You can decorate the tray (if you wish) with items that coordinate with your theme, such as polished rocks, seashells, buttons... even walnuts (in their shells) or fresh cranberries.
- Arrange a dozen or so candles of varying heights (in a single color scheme) on a round platter or tray for a cozy centerpiece.
- Set tea lights afloat in a glass bowl for a shimmery centerpiece. (Be sure to use tea lights that are meant for water; regular tea lights won't work.)
Whether you're using fresh flowers or good-quality faux flowers, decorating with blooms brightens up any table.
- One simple standby? A dozen or more flowers artfully arranged in a beautiful vase. (If you don't feel like you can arrange them yourself, simply order a bouquet from a local florist — problem solved!)
- Mimic the floating tea light centerpiece (above) with the heads of flowers floating in shallow bowls and vessels. Wide, sturdy flowers work best in this case.
- Buy large-blossom, long-stem flowers (like gerbera daisies) and set a single stem in each of several long-necked vases; then, place the vases in a line down the center of your table.
Mother nature is a whiz in the color department; fruit and vegetables showcase vibrant colors to make a table pop.
- Fill a large glass bowl with bright citrus fruits (lemons, limes, or oranges) or colorful peppers (the shinier the better).
- Candy adds a beautiful pop of color to any table. Use jellybeans in place of pebbles on a tray of candles or fill glass containers with bright gumballs, candy sticks, or gumdrops for a sweet dash of color.
- Make dessert do double-duty. Arrange cupcakes, pastries, or other treats on a multi-tiered dessert stand for a centerpiece good enough to eat.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
- Add a box of dry instant pudding mix to your cake batter. Try adding pistachio pudding mix to chocolate cake batter or instant lemon pudding to a white cake mix.
- Chop up candy bars or add chocolate chips for a more interesting cake.
- Blend fresh fruit like strawberries or applesauce into your cake batter in place of one of the liquid elements.
- Squeeze caramel or chocolate ice cream syrup into batter or frosting for an interesting twist.
- When pouring chocolate cake batter into a pan, use half the batter to cover the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of Peppermint Patties or Andes Mints. Cover the mints with the remaining cake batter.
- Add a dollop of peanut butter to a chocolate or vanilla cake mix for a nutty taste.
- Consider baking two small cakes. When you're ready to frost the cakes, spread a layer of jam or marmalade on top of the first cake, put the second cake on top and then frost both cakes as one.
- Top a frosted cake with sprinkles, chopped nuts, or M&Ms for easy decorating.
- Dust frosting with cocoa powder or confectioners sugar.
- Top a frosted cake with sliced fruit for a fresher take on boxed cake.
- Cupcakes are instantly-cute desserts and don't require much more time than making one large cake. Buy cute liners and add from-a-box cake batter to make instantly-adorable desserts.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
What it looks like: Rooms set up banquet-style typically use round tables that seat 8 people (60” rounds) or 10 people (72” rounds). (Occasionally, you will find banquet-style seating that uses square or rectangular tables instead.) The tables are then spaced evenly throughout the room.
When to use it: Banquet style seating is best for wedding receptions, award banquets, and other large events.
What it looks like: Chairs are set up in straight lines and all face the front of the room. There are no tables or desks.
When to use it: Theatre-style seating is best for presentations or lectures that do not require participants to take notes. Theatre-style seating is also often used for graduations. The style is less for special events and more for meetings and conferences.
What it looks like: Schoolroom straight seating uses tables and chairs set up in straight rows facing the front of the room.
When to use it: Schoolroom straight seating is best for presentations where participants will be taking notes. It’s also a good set up if your guests will be using a lot of table space; use this set up if you're coordinating a scrapbooking or bingo party.
What it looks like: People milling around with drinks and/or food. A few long tables are used to display food and there can be a bar present. Some smaller tables are provided for guests, and are usually of the high-top variety so that people can stand and chat. Chairs are placed along the edges of the room. An alternative to this setup is to use limited seating at standard-height tables.
When to use it: Reception-style rooms are set up to encourage the flow of traffic in a room so that guests can mingle. This is a great set up for networking events, cocktail parties, and other events where the focus of the party is on talking to other guests. It is also a good choice when hosting an outdoor party, since not much seating is required. Additionally, if you're hosting a wedding reception or networking event, reception-style setups are often less expensive than a full sit-down meal.
Other things to consider
When planning the seating for your party, keep in mind all the factors that will affect your room layout, such as the age of your guest (high-top tables may be hard for the very young or the very old, who are in greater need of seating), the actual shape of the room (Are there columns in the way? Are your seats facing a row of windows letting in blinding light?), and safety regulations (Can all guests access an exit? Are you complying with local fire codes?). In the end, choose the layout that will work best for you and your guests, and enjoy the festivities!
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Baby Shower Bingo
To keep guests from getting antsy while the mom-to-be is opening gifts, try playing Baby Shower Bingo. Unlike a traditional bingo game where someone calls out numbers or words that are then marked off the bingo cards, Baby Shower Bingo includes items that a new mom is likely to receive at the shower such as diapers, bibs, and teddy bears. You can find easy-to-use templates online, or create bingo cards of your own. The first person/people to get bingo win a prize!
- You can personalize your Baby Shower Bingo cards by looking at the mom-to-be's gift registry. In addition to general baby supplies like bottles and booties, use spaces on the bingo cards to add some specific items that have been purchased from the registry like a Diaper Genie, a certain storybook, or bedding that matches the nursery theme.
- Make sure you have a few variations of the bingo cards, or all of your guests will win at the same time!
Baby showers are often ladies-only events; if the shower you're planning will be made up of women, try playing Peruse Your Purse. This is a simple but energetic game that requires no prep work.
To start, make sure everyone has her purse. Then, call out an item; the first woman to retrieve the item from her bag wins a raffle ticket. You can play this game as long as you like and can make the items as generic or specific as you'd like. Most women, for instance, are likely to carry a pen, but only a few women are likely to have a red pen or one from a hotel. If the game is going too quickly, simply make the items more specific -- ask for cinnamon gum, Cover Girl makeup, or a license proving an August birthday, rather than the generic alternatives.
Helpful hints: It's easy to generate ideas for this game on the spot, but if you'd rather have some items prepared, you can write yourself a quick list before the party begins.
Additionally, at the end of the game you have two options to declare a winner:
- Whoever has collected the most raffle tickets wins a prize.
- You can call out raffle ticket numbers throughout the party and give away small gifts to whomever has the matching tickets.
To play What's Missing you'll need a decent-sized tray (or a small toy box) and a variety of baby items. Try for about 12 or 15 items, and make some of them nearly identical (e.g. use two pacifiers – one blue and one green – and two different jars of baby food). Place the items on the tray and give everyone 15 or 30 seconds to study them. Then, walk into another room, rearrange the items and remove an item or two. When you get back into the room, give everyone another minute to figure out what is missing. Make sure your guests are specific! Then you'll know who noticed the different-colored pacifiers or the two flavors of baby food.
You can play this game just for fun or can give prizes to either the person who is most often correct, or the woman that notices what’s missing the fastest.
Helpful hints: If you're the tricky sort, show your guests the tray of items without telling them that the tray will be part of a game. Instead, just casually talk about the cute things the mom-to-be has been gathering for the baby's arrival. After everyone has seen the tray, leave the room to remove an object or two, then return and announce the purpose of the game. It'll be fun to see who can figure out what's missing!