Not just the Toto song, but a wonderful local fashion tableware designer here in Seattle, that I have recently discovered. I'm going to have to make my way up to her store. Without the kids, because there are lots of pretty breakables.

Here's a peek into some of her fabulousness!

Tuesday Tip - It's The Final Countdown!

Wow, wasn't it like Christmas was just yesterday, and now we are celebrating the New Year?

I know, you've had your tablescape planned for months, right? But if not, don't fret. Here are a few ideas for a dazzling tabletop for not a lot of ka-ching! Plus, you can still rock all those ornaments from Christmas.

Easy to duplicate with items from your craft closet (cardstock and chipboard numbers!), I love these candles on risers for a countdown candle centerpiece from HWTM.

Glitter pinecones, ornaments and starfish look pretty on these blue place settings.

The black and white setting is classic New Year's colors, but the mod pattern napkin and fish plate give it a fresh feel. Dig out those leftover materials from previous sewing projects.

Even without the candleabra, these disco balls and candles create a beautiful runner from Social Couture.

Tuesday Tip - Good Garnishes

Continuing on with my previous post on setting up your own bar, we'll focus now on garnishes for those fab drinks you'll be preparing. Don't underestimate the power of garnishing. A smart accent, no matter how simple or elaborate is a special, unexpected touch. The possibilities are endless, especially for seasonal drinks.garnish collageSwizzle sticks - Sexy and practical, they keep the drink uniformly cool and blended. Candy canes, rock candy and cinnamon sticks maker perfect wintertime swizzles.

Rimmers - Coat the rim of your glass with a wedge of lemon before dipping into a saucer of granulated garnish, from tinted sugars to ground pepper. Use corn syrup for heavier shavings of crushed candy, or ground coffee.

Fancy Ice Cubes - Add cranberries, maraschino cherries, or a sprig of mint to make pretty cubes. Freeze fruit like raspberries, grapes and melon balls in place of ice cubes. Or try a few lighted ice-cubes in festive colors.

Fruit Skewers - A full strand of cranberries or green olives would look great in a holiday drink.

Zest - Create a fine confetti of thin threads shaved from the skin of a citrus fruit or a block of chocolate.

Drink(s) of the Week - Champagne Cocktails

Just in time to toast the New Year; a few easy and simple signature cocktails that you could set up as a self-serve cocktail bar.

Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail - recipe courtesy of Southern
1 turbinado sugar cube*
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice**
1/2 cup Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

Place sugar cube in a Champagne flute; add 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice and 1/2 cup Champagne. Serve immediately.

*1 rock candy stirrer or granulated sugar cube may be substituted.
**2 tablespoons cranberry juice cocktail may be substituted. Omit sugar cube.

Classic Champagne Cocktail - Recipe courtesy of
1 sugar cube
2 or 3 dashes of bitters (Angostura or Peychaud's)
lemon twist for garnish

Place a sugar cube in a chilled champagne flute, cover it with 2 or 3 dashes of bitters, fill glass with Champagne and garnish with lemon twist.

Kir Royales - recipe courtesy of Real Simple: Celebrations
6-8 tablespoons crème de cassis (black currant liqueur)
1 bottle Champagne, prossecco, or some other sparkling wine, chilled
6-8 raspberries (fresh or frozen and thawed)

Pour 1 tablespoon of crème de cassis into each champagne flute. Add enough sparkling wine to fill the glass 3/4 to the top. Drop 1 raspberry into each flute.

Champagne Essentials

I don't really know about champagne, except if it's not from Champagne, France, it ain't champagne, and if I drink it too fast, it gives me a headache. Thankfully, In Style Parties has handy tips to keep the bubbly flowing.

"If you want to splurge, buy French champagne such as Dom Perignon, Krug Grande Cuvée or Taittinger Comtes de Champagne (all at $100, but truly great). For moderately priced bottles try a sparkling wine such as Franciacorta from Italy or, from California, Schramsberg, Roederer Estate or Domaine Carneros. For a bargin, go with a sparkling crémant d'Alsace from Lucien Albrecht (France), Domaine Chandon Napa Valley or Mumm Napa blanc de blancs.

If you're mixing champagne into cocktails or punch, use sparkling wines under $15. Dry sparklers (bruts like Korbel) work best with sweet liqueurs.

To chill a bottle, place it in a ice bucket filled with equal parts ice and water for 25 min., or in the refridgerator for three to four hours. To open a bottle, remove the foil, place a napkin or dish towel on top and grip the cork. Ease it out while holding the bottom of the bottle with one hand. When pouring, hold the glass upright, pour a bit in and wait until the foam subsides, then top it off.

Count on guests drinking two to four glasses of champagne in an hour (a bottle yields six glasses)."

Check out tomorrow's D.O.W. for a few fun recipes to try on New Year's.

Real Shower/Fiesta Friday 2 - Around the Clock Baby Shower

around the clock baby shower tablesFinally, I'm able to do the full post on this awesome shower held way back in October. I had the pictures, but my program made them look very weird, but now we are all on track.

So, to catch everyone up to speed, I was helping my friend plan her twin sister's baby shower and we decided on Around the Clock as a theme. Guests were assigned a time of day and they bring a gift that applies to their time. For example, 12:00 p.m. Lunchtime - bibs, feeding supplies, etc.

around the shower diaper-cake centerpieceThe centerpieces were these cute diaper-cake centerpieces, with painted skewers and die-cut shapes and little clocks on the ribbon (night-time theme). The placemats are 12 X 12 scrapbook papers.

around the clock shower food tableThe food tables were just the coolest, set up as different stations: "Tea Time" had several varities of yummy sandwiches and other finger foods; there was a banana-split station for "Midnight Snack". She made the cutest labels for everything. Go Cricut!around the clock shower food labelsaround the clock shower favorsI must admit, my shower favors turned out fab-u. They are just acrylic favor boxes filled with candy watches and a cute tag.
around the clock shower room viewThe queen and her court, with pacifer necklaces made out of candy.

Fiesta Friday - Into the Wild Blue Yonder

What child hasn't stood mesmerized watching at planes land and take off? That's exactly what one reader, Celia, is inspired by for her soon to be 4 year old.

They've gone through all the major modes of transportation for past birthdays, and she emailed me looking for unique ideas. They wanted to do the Boeing Tour, but with recent strikes and the weather taking such an ugly turn, she's looking to do something at home.

So, I put together an inspiration board, and I hope it helps!

Welcome AboardCheck out these cool boarding pass invitations from Everyday Celebrating.
Something Different's airplane tag invites.
Although it's a birth announcement, doesn't this pop-up plane make a cute invitation?

Departure Lounge
Once Upon a Box's Wings Around the World party kit includes everything you need from invites and tableware to an airplane cookie cutter, sprinkles, even a photo album.

Make fun signs saying "Welcome Aboard", "Pilots and Passengers Only", "Boarding Area", etc. Hang them on your front door and on the walls of your party space.

Make extra-large paper airplanes from large sheets of construction paper and hang them from the ceiling.

Create clouds by tying together eight white balloons, and hanging them from the ceiling among the paper airplanes.

A lovely airfield table top, complete with plane and runway.

Give each child their own wooden plane to paint at the beginning of the party, so they'll have a chance to dry before you send them home. We did the same activity at our train party, with $1 wooden trains I found at Michael's.

Play airplane search - fill a large container with packing peanuts or white shredded paper for the clouds. Place enough die-cast airplanes in the container for each guest and let everyone take a turn finding an airplane.

Have them decorate cardboard suitcases with travel stickers.

In-flight MealCreate small boxed lunches that include a sandwich, a piece of fruit, a small bag of carrots and a small candy bar; your guests feel like they are on a real airplane.

A fun airplane cake would make any birthday child feel special.

If the cardboard suitcases and the airplanes from the search isn't enough, this clever candy airplane from FamilyFun or personalized dipped pretzels should send them home with a smile.

Merry Christmas Y'all!

From my gang to yours!

Setting the Bar

Why get dressed up and drag yourself out for an $8 cocktail, when you can create the same scene at home? Invite friends over for a girls'/guys' night out with no cover or drink minimum.

The Essentials - There are a bountiful array of accoutrements you could purchase, but here are a few key elements to meet all of your bartending needs.

Corkscrew - Mechanical rabbit ears do double-duty as a wine and beer opener.

Cocktail shaker -Especially one of stainless steel and double-insulated to keep cocktails cold, like this one from Target's, with a slotted top to strain ice cubes from the cocktail when pouring into a drinking glass.

Jigger or Shot glass - Either a double-sized stainless steel jigger or measuring shot glass are needed for drink recipes that call for an ounce of ingredients.

The Glassware - If you have the space for a full-fledged bar, by all means, fill it up. If not martini, wine and all-purpose glasses are a must.

The Moroccan tile pattern on cb2's wine glasses scale up to mix and match, plus make great glasses for other cocktails. These chalkboard stemless wine glasses can hold more than just wine. Martini glasses hold a variety of cocktails and these etched ones from Pier 1 are perfect. (BTW, check out the glassware section of your local dollar store, you'll never know what you'll find. I've found really nice and thick martini and champagne glasses at ours.)

A wide pitcher is perfect for water, lemonade, iced tea, fruit drinks or margaritas, and this wine carafe decants a full bottle of wine, leaving plenty of room to breathe.

Other Accessories
If you haven't heard about Felix Populi, they have unique and quirky items. How cool are these felt coasters in blazing hot hues?

Stay tuned later for a later post on ways to make a good cocktail amazing.

Shameless Promotion

2modern pillowsOver at Create My Event, I'm a guest blogger, where each blog post you make is an entry into a random prize drawings, and I won! Which is sweet, because this is the second contest I've won, lately. I'm getting one of these awesome pillows from their sister site, 2modern. Woo-hoo! Thank you very much.

Tuesday Trend - 2009 Tabletop Forecast

Looking forward to spring? Slogging through the cold, you bet I am, and so are tabletop designers. Every fall, the New York Tabletop Market previews the most prestigious designers’ and manufacturers’ patterns for spring. sent Christina Norsig, of, on the prowl for the prettiest patterns and the freshest trends. Her findings.....

fuschia plates
This season’s “it” color was clearly a bold fuchsia with hints of pinkish red.
Splurge - Osaka accent plates with Macao dinner plate; Poc a Poc for Julia Watts,
Save - Perfect for everyday entertaining; Zak Pazio Dinnerware Collection

leaf motif
Leaf motif elements found in nature were prominent with a particular focus on ivy vines and leafy green patterns
Splurge - These statuesque candlesticks were inspired by the endangered green pitcher plant.
Save - Birds-On-A-Branch recycled metal tealight or taper holder with leaves and stems that delicately skim your table's surface.

gold plate collageMetallics are stronger than ever with updates in more glamorous golds and super shiny accents.
Splurge - The talk of the show, the Classic Royal Crown Derby Black and Gold Aves pattern is even more luxurious when shown with gold flatware and 24kt dessert plates.
Save - White porcelain dinnerware with a pretty golden floral rim design from Pier 1.

nature plateTraditional flowers took a backseat to sprouting seeds, tree fungi, and wild mushrooms
Splurge - Hand-painted mushroom plates by Anna Weatherly.
Save - Spring herb Italian ceramics for Sur La Table

soft geometryGeometry takes a turn and a rounded edge this season.
Splurge - A painted scalloped edge gives visual texture to a perfectly round plate. Lotus, Vera Wang for Wedgwood, available February 2009.
Save - Crate and Barrel's illusion plates have an optic "quilted" texture and wavy rim.

Tuesday Tip - Self-Serve Cocktail Bars

So, I'm up late wrapping presents, watching The Food Network for a little inspiration, and had the pleasure of catching Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Holiday. Now, some people are a little bitter with her 70/30 concept, 70% store-bought, 30% fresh ingredients. That's my kind of cooking. Hey, I know, Martha grows her own corn and grinds it into cornmeal for real cornbread, etc. etc. but who has that kind of time? I mean if I had a team, I would probably do that too.

As a lover of signature cocktails at parties, I wanted to mention how she starts her party with a clever self-serve cocktail bar that will get everyone in the holiday spirit. In the spotlight were three signature cocktails: a Mistletoe Mojito, Sugarplum Fairy Cocktail, and Polar Espresso. I've had a cocktail bar before, so I'm always excited to get new ideas. It's a great way to save yourself the work, and have the guests choose their favorite drinks. Perfect for any type of event, just print up a drink menu, make sure you've plenty of supplies, and you're set!

Christmas Place Cards

Still looking for fun ways to set your Christmas table? Here are some great ideas from Martha, and I bet you have most the materials stashed in your craft room....

- An easy and fun tree place card.
- Can you believe this angel is made from paper plates?
- A piece of the tree creates these Christmas-tree and evergreen place cards.
- How simple and elegant is this paper scroll place card placed on a holly leaf?
- This candy-cane place card is made with ovals and ribbon.

Drink of the Week - Snugglers

Snuggler for kidsThe name alone is too cute, and it's a great jazzed up drink for the kids, and perfect for Christmas morning!

Apparently, the adult version replaces peppermint extract with peppermint Schnapps. In fact, I'll add it below.

Recipe and picture courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Kid's Parties
2 qts. whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons peppermint extract(essence)

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or cup, stir together the cocoa powder and the sugar, breaking up any lumps, then stir in the peppermint extract. Add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the cocoa powder mixture and stir until blended.

Just before serving, stir the chocolate mixture into the hot milk, and divide the cocoa evenly among 8 mugs. Serve hot.

Topping Suggestions - Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of mini marshmallows and a peppermint-stick straw, or with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of crushed peppermint candies. To coat the rim of each mug with crushed peppermint candies before filling, brush the rim with simple syrup ( 1 part sugar dissolved in 1 part boiling water) then dip the rim into a saucer of crushed candies.

Recipe courtesy of - serves 1
3/4 oz peppermint Schnapps
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon whipping cream
5 oz hot cocoa

Pour peppermint schnapps and cocoa into an Irish coffee cup, and sweeten to taste. Gently float cream on top, sprinkle with grated chocolate, and serve.

Fun With Peppermints

Martha Stewart peppermint houseThis is why I love Martha so, her cleverness is timeless. In the Winter 2005 edition of her now defunct Kids magazine, they did an entire article "Playing With Peppermint". If you are still looking for great holiday activities to do with the kids, here's a great play-date inspiration, a peppermint candy workshop! (All photos from Martha Stewart Kids, unless noted)

Load up on all kinds of peppermints, including candy canes, candy pillows, sticks and balls, in all sizes, and whip up a batch of royal icing, which will be the glue to holding your creations together.

Yes, these peppermint topiaries are quite easy to create, though a little time consuming, but are totally worth it! Use them as a decor element, and have your kids help you make a few.

This adorable cottage is a cinch to make; the base is a small milk carton (put masking tape over the indentation at the top) that is covered in royal icing. They used peppermint squares for the door panels and licorice laces for the window frame. Although they made a whole scene on top of sturdy cardboard and royal icing, a paper plate covered in frosting will do just nicely, especially if they are going to other homes. Add a few friends to the scene.
peppermint creature how to
1. Snowman how-to
Join small and large peppermint balls and a broken-off piece of peppermint stick with icing. Pipe hat trim and scarf. Use a toothpick to dot icing onto nonpareils. Let dry two hours. (My two cents - use small decorator tubes of icing for the same effect.)

2. Mouse how-to
Join small and large peppermint balls with icing. For ears, trim two cinnamon candies; attach with icing. Use a smaller cinnamon candy for the nose. For tail, hold a mini candy cane under warm running water to remove the stripes; attach with more icing. Let dry two hours.

Create edible hanging ornaments with peppermint candies. Add more types of candies if you choose.

3. Ornament how-to
Lay 5 or so candies in a circle to form a wreath; bond sides together with icing. Adorn the front with cinnamon candies or mints. Let dry two hours before hanging. Loop baker's twine around the ornament and knot.

peppermint collageMelt mints to create fun lollipops for your guests. Arrange unwrapped mints two inches apart on a baking sheet (use a nonstick baking mat) then heat at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Press lollipop sticks into base, then return to oven for one minute.

Transform store-bought (GASP!) vanilla ice-cream by stirring in peppermint extract and crushed candy, then layer it between sugar cookies to create your own ice-cream sandwiches.

Serve a peppermint yule log, made with red-velvet cake and fluffy peppermint frosting.

Dazzle them with peppermint eggnog, and if you are so inclined not to make your own eggnog, I can't imagine why you can't add a dash (and I do mean dash, it's highly concentrated) of peppermint extract to the store-bought version?

Fiesta Friday Pt. 2 - Festive Wrappings

I had to sneak in another FF, since it's about these fabulous gift wrapping techniques from'm in love with the paint can idea, the whole monochromatic look! You can find clear ones at a scrapbooking store, and fill it with shredded tissue for a similar wrapping collage
Speaking of festive wrappings, check out the paper loaf pans I ordered from Garnish, for our teacher gifts. You can bake them then wrap them up, how ingenious!! I put a loaf and a box of Aspen Mulling Spices in a pretty bag. They sure looked cute! Alas, due to weather, Mrs. C will not be getting the chocolate-chip-banana loaf, since school is now officially out for Christmas, but it sure was yummy! Garnish loaf pans

Fiesta Friday/Color Wedding - Winter White

We married on Christmas Eve, 1999, (except we were aiming for New Years 2000, but the chaplain was going to be away) and it wasn't traditional by any means, but if I were to having a winter wedding, I would look at some of these (and a friend's winter wedding) ideas for inspiration.

Winter wedding save the date/invitePaper McLovin'
I'm in love with this sweater Save the Date from Marty's Creative Design.

Monique Lhuillier's bridal wizardry translates into her line of invitations. Timeless Filigree is beautifully embossed with your monograms. Yes, they are ridiculously extravagant, but every girl can dream...

winter wedding ensemblesThe Bride Wore....
Our friends R and D married in December in Whistler, BC a few years ago; she wore a slinky sheath dress with a fur shrug.

A white satin cape trimmed in faux fur.

Dancing the night away in Giuseppe Zanotti Design's glorious satin sandals.

Tejani's bangles, necklace and earrings are a dazzling way to bling out a simple dress.

Winter wedding tablesThe Table Is The Thing
Silvery garlands of satin ribbon festoon walls and the reception table. The large footed vase is filled with river rocks holding bejeweled branches.

This table's centerpiece is made up of several sizes of clear glass cylinders, white lace, and white candles.

This snowball table centerpiece is a lush arrangement of white peonies and garden roses surrounded by white frosted votive candles, in perfect white.

Winter wedding cocktailsThe Cocktail Hour
A winter cocktail hour calls for warm, comforting drinks. I'm loving the idea of serving mulled cranberry cocktails. Another great signature cocktail, would be Stirrings' Chocolatini recipe that I've served in the past, with crushed candy rimmers and a candy cane stirrer.

A sophisticated yet unique drink, pear champagne cocktails garnished with frozen pear wedges or mint sprigs.

Or maybe a Berry Little Cocktail garnished with frozen candied cranberries.

Winter wedding cakes
A Christmas present cake, how ingenious!

A snowflake-inspired cake from Pink CakeBox.

Of course there will be cupcakes....snowflake cupcakes.

winter wedding favorsSend Them Home With a Smile
D's wedding favors were silver star ornaments, tied with a ribbon with the couple's names and wedding date printed on it.

How could I not share this fabulous cake and candy buffet? Let guests fill white takeout boxes or cello bags personalized with a label of your wedding info.

These mini holiday brownie pops arrive individually wrapped in cellophane and tied with an organza bow.

Dazzle your guests with these snowflake wine stopper favors .

Assembled in the shape of a three-tier layer cake, these boxes hold individual slices of the groom's cake; tucked between the white boxes are ranunculuses, sweet peas, hyacinths, and lilies of the valley. Check out your local scrapbooking store, they may have the die-cut template for the boxes.

It Won't Stop Snowing/Vote for Inspire Me! Finalists

snow day Day 2, trapped in the house with the kids and the husband. Too much snow, no school, no work, no shopping. Running low on supplies, sale papers keep coming, email inbox full of crazy Christmas discounts, can't take it anymore, must break free....

Oh, sorry, had a moment. We don't snow out here in the Seattle area, much less snow that sticks, and won't stop falling. We (and I mean everyone) aren't prepared. We don't even have a snow shovel. Literally bought snow tires, gloves and snow boots the Sunday before.

snow daySo, if you are like me and can't go buy more stuff, help someone else to, and head on over to HWTM and vote for the 10 finalists of the Inspire Me! Holiday Entertaining Contest. I decided not to enter to give everyone a fair chance. Ha, just kidding, my Christmas party last year didn't have alot of decor photos, it was all about the sweaters and the drinking. My personal favorites are the Chanukah table, the Naughty/Nice table, and the Swanky Snowflake Soiree.

The Vest is Best

Kids' vest collageNot having sleeves never looked so good....
Lucky Brand's 1.Katsu puffer and 2.faux fur vests.
3. A chic reversible argyle vest from Target.
4. Layer this puffy vest over sweaters, hoodies and Ts.
5. It's a's a's both. J Crew's convertible puffer jacket keeps kids perfectly warm when the weather is not.
6. Another reversible miracle, camo on the outside that reverses to safety orange.
7. Bold stripes on a vest that wipes clean with a damp sponge.

Tuesday Tip/Real Party - The House Always Wins

Every year, our family becomes confectionery architects, creating memorable temples to tooth decay. This year is no exception, as we had a playdate glorifying this wonderful tradition. Alas, I neither have the skills to bake the real thing or the dollars to purchase kits for everyone, So today's tip, decorating graham-cracker gingerbread houses. It's so much fun to make, and as my kids attested to after dinner, more fun to eat.

I pre-assembled the houses, using white candy melts as the "glue", which is so much easier, and sets faster than frosting. As you can see, the roofs are chocolate graham crackers, because most of the regular ones were casualties, and luckily I had a package in my pantry. The little ones spread frosting on their houses, while the older ones used Wilton's Decorating Icing Tubes and Betty Crocker's Cookie Icing tubes.

Thanks to Garnish's party idea, I purchased the large gable houses and labeled with each child's name to take home their creations. I didn't get the white cups from them though, I swiped them from a local fast-food joint.

Although I didn't get a picture of the gingerbread men cookies (the cake platter was covered in them, I think they all ran off while I was fixing the cocoa), they were too cute, just regular cookies, sandwiching a layer of frosting.

Drink of the Week - Mocha Liqueur Cups

chocolate liqueur cups

Tiny chocolate cups made especially for liqueurs are perfect holiday drinks; there's no messy cleanup! Recipe and photo courtesy of Simple Stunning Wedding Showers

12 dashes brandy
12 chocolate liqueur cups
12 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua or Tia Maria

Pour a dash of brandy into each chocolate cup. Add the coffee liqueur. Serve on a festive tray.

A New Year's Eve Soirée for the Children

Cookie Magazine New Year's EveOk, so maybe you can't afford a bash for your adult friends, or the sitter's double-during-the-holidays rate. How about ringing in the New Year with friends and their children, early enough for the kids to be tuckered out, and freeing the adults for parties of their own.

Cookie Magazine has a kick-ass party outlined in the Dec '08/Jan '09 issue. They recommend starting the party early and celebrate activities from around the world. Our children's museum does the same, celebrating the different time zones as they come into the New Year.

Activity ideas included making party hats, building clocks, smashing a pinata, and at "midnight" (8:00 p.m.), donning their party hats and confetti galore.

New Year's Eve Soirées

Mad Lib inviteFor those of you who like to focus your entertaining energies on New Year's, I've have a few ideas for you. There are so many fun themes and ways to celebrate and decorate. A setting of silver with red is classic and versatile.

Get The Party Started
Use a party blower to announce your shindig. Just unroll the curls and paste on your party message. Hand-deliver or mail in a padded envelope. Invite the ladies to dress in red.

Real has a double-duty Mad Lib invite that let's guest RSVP and make a song request so you can put together a party list. It is perfect for a New Year's buffet potluck.

Invite Holiday BoxIt's a party in a box! Plum Party's Holiday Candy Yum Box is ready-to-mail. Who wouldn't come to your party after receiving a box of candy?

Martha's flute invitations are sure to put guests in a bubbly mood.

Setting the Scene
Fill clear vases or bowls with silver- or gold-wrapped candy like Hershey's Kisses, party blowers and noisemakers.

Hang onto those pieces of ribbon from holiday gift wrapping to tie around the stems of your glasses. Not only is it festive, it will help guests keep track of their glasses.

A beautiful white arrangement - Remove the tops of various sizes of silver ornaments so that the ornament will fill with water. Fill a vase about halfway full with the ornaments, then slowly pour water into each vase, allowing the ornaments to fill and sink to the bottom. Trim and arrange the stems by sticking the stems of your favorite white flowers between the ornaments for support.

mirror runnerGive your dining table a whole new look by creating a runner from large mirror squares. It will reflect everything that rests on it. Photo courtesy of Real Simple: Celebrations

Set the table with a white tablecloth and tie red ribbon around silver napkins. Or tie a bundle of silverware with metallic pipe cleaners. Tie the ends in a starburst.

Ball-shaped ornaments displayed in glass flutes mimic the rising bubbles in a glass of Champagne.

The Munchies
Celebrate with a culinary journey around the world. Each hour, set out bite-size snacks from a city in the order in which each is welcoming in 2009.

Ring in the New Year Beijing-style with spring rolls and dumplings. Little quiches are perfect for Paris, and try your hand at empanadas, a favorite in Rio de Janiero. When the ball drops in your time zone, cap the evening off with distinctive sweets from your area. My choice would be Trophy Cupcakes...mmm.

What to Do
As if drinking all night isn't enough, before your guests get "festive", create some memorable moments. Fill a colorful gift bag with novelty items and have guests reach in and grab an object to predict what kind of New Year they'll have. For example, a ring means love, and a chocolate gold coin fortells money.ornament displayAt her party last year, a friend had each guest fill out a postcard with a New Year's resolution, collected them, then mailed them out to us a month later as reminders of promises to keep.

Set up a photo area with Mardi Gras beads, masks, and top hats, and capture your guests in full regalia. Send it out as a postcard thank you. You can get photo-mat postcards at your local drugstore.

Send Them Home With a Smile
Ah, that Eleni's Cookies, true baked confectionery genius! I love all their designs, they are a bit of a splurge, but can you pass up their New Year cookies?

Fiesta Friday - ParTea Hardy!

Tea Party by Tracy SternLast week, a friend and I had lunch at a local tea room, an indulgence everyone should do once in awhile. There is real china, and you get a small teapot all to yourself, with real tea, where you have a little strainer for the leaves. And real scones. And tablecloths, and manners. All the things I don't get at my usual haunts, since they tend to be loud and have fast service, or everyone starts sizing up who will get eaten first at our table.

I've had a secret love for the tea party, ever since I got my hands on The Gospel According to Tea Party: 20 Themed Tea Parties with Recipes for Every Occasion, from Fabulous Showers to Intimate Gatherings by Tracy Stern of Salontea.The pictures are amazing, and the party ideas so fun and easy to do. It's a secret love, because I couldn't drag my boys there (I'm still working on it) and very few of my friends share my love of going places, just because.

So today's post is all about the tea party, and it's not just for little girls and their's a wonderful theme for a bridal shower, birthday and engagement parties.

tea party collageGet The Party Started
Have a Mad Hatter's Tea Party! Use an old set of playing cards or purchase oversized playing cards, and write party info on the back of them and invite guests to come in foolish attire for all to admire.

Cut circles from bright cardstock (or buy circle-shaped cards from your favorite craft store) and glue on clock hands pointing to the party time. Write or print party details on the back.

Check out this plethora of tea party invites from NoteworthyNotes, and if that isn't enough, those clever people at Plum Party have teapot magnetic invitations.

The Table's The Thing
Bright colors are the way to go, have things topsy-turvy, and don't be afraid to mix and match plastic and china. This table setting has glued on plastic jewels to the plates and used mini English teacups and china dishes.

Consider one of these sets for an adult party - Marla Dawn Tea for Two set features a unique double spouted 64 oz. teapot, and the Alice Tea cup set has a stunning mirror surface.

Dress up chairs by wrapping each in tulle and tie a ribbon around it.

An easy yet effective centerpiece idea - mini teacups glued onto painted wooden dowels and stuck into planters. Or have a long flat of wheatgrass (from your local florist or garden store) and set teapots, and small kooky garden accessories like gnomes and rabbit statues on it.

Group a couple of wire tea pots as is or filled with fresh-cut blooms.

How fun is the Queen of Hearts buffet?

The Tunes (courtesy of Evite)
When I Take My Sugar to Tea – Nat King Cole
I’m a Little Teapot – Jim Gibson
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Henry Mancini
Tea for Two – Ella Fitzgerald
Be Our Guest – Angela Lansbury
Polly, Put the Kettle On – James Cotton
Tea Dance, the Nutcracker Suite – Tchaikovsky
Getting to Know You – Bing Crosby
Do Re Mi – Julie Andrews
Afternoon Delight - Starland Vocal Band

What to Do
A tea party is a great time to try reading tea leaves. You can either hire a professional tea-leaf reader or get a book on how to read tea leaves and do it yourself.

The Munchies
A tea party is just not a tea party without finger foods. Afternoon teas are usually served in stages, going from savory to sweet. So start your tea with traditional tea sandwiches, and if you like, cut out in hearts, spades, clubs, and diamonds. Provide a variety of small desserts or scones and jam.

Spice things up with tea toddies, made with Irish Cream and whiskey

A heavenly cupcake setting from Not Quite Nigella's tea party. Over at FamilyFun, this teapot set is made from cupcakes. A stunning fondant cake from Flickr's Food Pornographer.

Send Them Home With a Smile
How about a few sugar cookies in a cello bag, a high tea column infuser, or a copy of Alice in Wonderland?

Judy Garlands

Snort, I totally took the title from the too-cute felt garland at Land of Nod. Garlands are so versatile, so here are some clever decorating ideas, if you are still decorating (which I always am, I see new stuff, then must have it).

Christmas garland collage
-Pottery Barn's silver ball garland strings together several traditionally sized ornaments.
-Their bay leaf garland is adorned with glass dewdrops, green eucalyptus leaves and juniper twigs.
-This gold glitter willow garland can be hung from your chandelier and also used to transform your holiday table.
-Try a garland with brilliant golden orbs, guaranteed to add a light, airy and oh-so-sparkly touch to your Christmas tree.
-More sparkle for just about any spot in your home, this lead crystal garland makes a dramatic, light-catching centerpiece.
-This garland features butterflies, dragonflies, birds and flowers in gold and copper cutouts.

Hot Holiday Entertainment

No, not that kind...the top 10 family holiday movies to check out, according to iVillage.

1. Marley & Me
2. Madagascar 2
3. Bolt (in digital 3-D)
4. The Tale of Despereaux
5. Bedtime Stories
6. Delgo
7. High School Musical 3: Senior Year
8. Beverly Hills Chihuahua
9. Twilight
10. Australia

Having a date night instead? Here are some ideas from
1. Quantum of Solace
2. Four Christmases
3. Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. Valkyrie
5. The Day The Earth Stood Still
6. Seven Pounds
7. Yes Man
8. The Brothers Bloom
9. The Spirit
10. Revolutionary Road

Festival of Lights

Hanukkah Decor IdeasIn last December's Martha Stewart Living, Jodi Levine did a wonderful article on creating gifts and decor for Hanukkah. I most certainly have it in my ideas' binder, but you skedaddle over to Martha's and view it in all it's glory. My favorite ideas are the sparkly store-bought (GASP!) letter banner with decked-out dreidels (you can never go wrong with glitter, unless it's eyeshadow), and the "glittered" sufganiyot, how cute are they in cello bags?

Elsewhere in the Marthaverse, a clever menorah of sherry glasses and beads would look beautiful on any table.

Hanukkah cookies

Fabulousness reigns over at Crate & Barrel, from beautiful silver table cloths to hand-dipped menorah candles. Classic OREO cookies are drenched in creamy chocolate, then artfully screenprinted with blue and white Hanukkah designs. And an added bonus, all the items in the Hanukkah section are eligible for free shipping!

Hanukkah Box of Questions

Social Couture's Hanukkah Box of Questions is designed to help you connect with your loved ones in a more meaningful way.
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