Thanks For Your Time

Needing some last minute (pun intended) favor ideas for your New Year's Eve bash? Here are some fab ideas made with a quick trip to your craft store or pantry closet...acrylic box favorMy Around The Clock favors . Fill with your own treats if candy watches aren't readily available.

NYE bagsDon't you love these Countdown Goody Bags from Hoosier Homemade? If you like, you can jazz up your bags with themed scrapbook paper and set your bags to midnight.

clock cookieThe Decorated Cookie's cute New Year's clock cookies for you talented bakers out there.

champagne favorYes, you've seen the mini champagne favors at every wedding you've been to. Yes, they can be a little cheesy. But freshen them up by using cellophane instead of tulle and jelly beans in your decor colors.

We Go Wednesday - Warm Beach

Warm Beach 1So this weekend marked our return to Warm Beach, a wonderful holiday spot for those of you who live in our area, and if you haven't been, it's a treat! This annual holiday event is 15 acres of spectacular light displays.

There is just so much to see and do, plus there are lodges with shows going on, hot cocoa breaks, carolers, and a train that circles the area.
Warm Beach 2Warm Beach 3Warm Beach 4Warm Beach 5Warm Beach 6Warm Beach 7

Tuesday Tutorial - New Year's Party Hat

NYE party hatThese hats are fabulous for celebrating the New Year; if you are ambitious you could have guests making their own, but I see them more as cute decor items than actual hats to wear. I tweaked the Michael's guide because I couldn't find the silver flower embellishment they used.

Word to the wise, the hat template used isn't to scale; I had to make it larger in my photo editor. Most online templates are kid-sized which won't work for this hat. Once I figured that out, the rest was cake.NYE party hatHere's the loot all scored at Michael's - in addition to a stapler, hot glue gun, double-sided tape and adhesive dots. The boa is a 6-footer, so it will make about 3-4 hats, maybe more depending on how tightly you can trim it around the hat.NYE hat paperThe fan-fold flower is black cardstock, two pieces 2" by 8 1/2", accordion-folded a 1/2 inch or so wide. They don't have to be perfect.NYE hat accordianTape the ends together with double-sided tape. Now bend the ends together and staple together to make a loop. Now, then push the center folds together to make the flower, you'll have to hold it together near the center because it will want to keep popping back out as the loop. That's where a nice dollop of hot-glue will work to hold it together. Do it on the backside of the flower.NYE hat accordian and featherHot-glue the feather collar to the backside of the flower. Now, back to the hat. Since my hats are not for wearing, I just used cardstock without the suggested posterboard reinforcement. It's still pretty sturdy as it. Trace your template onto your paper, cut out and assemble your hat.

Hot-glue, I repeat, hot-glue the boa on to trim the hat. Do not use glue, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Glue will not work. You must hot-glue.NYE hat boa borderNow, hot-glue the flower combo to the front of the hat.NYE hat with ribbon Add your word sticker to the ribbon, trim down and attach to the hat with a couple of your adhesive dots. Voila!

Tuesday Tutorial - Cookie Candle

FamilyFun cookie candleHow in love am I with this this cookie candle from FamilyFun? A group of them would make a perfect menorah for Hanukkah, fun place settings for the kids' Christmas table, or a fun "sparkler" for New Year's. Actually, they are perfect year round! Can you see them on a birthday cake? Oh yes, I will be making these....

Confectioners' sugar
Flower cookie with a center hole (They used Murray shortbread cookies)
Larger cookie (They used Anna's Ginger Thins)
Rolled wafer cookie (They used Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes)
Mini marshmallow
Orange decorating sugar
Red decorating gel

1. Make a simple icing by stirring together 1 teaspoon water and 5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar.

2. Use dots of icing to attach a small flower cookie with a center hole to a larger cookie.

3. Dab icing on one end of a rolled wafer cookie and press it into the center of the flower cookie.

4. For the flame, halve a mini marshmallow diagonally, dip the sticky side of one half in orange decorating sugar, and attach the half with icing. If you have any leftover gumdrops, an orange one would make a perfect substitute instead.

5. Spoon a few wax drips of icing down the candle's sides and use red decorating gel to embellish the base.

Drink Of The Week - Cognac Sparklers

Cognac sparklerThink outside the box for toasting in the New Year's...recipe serves 2 and courtesy of Martha Stewart.

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cognac
1 cup chilled sparkling apple cider (hard cider may be substituted)
A few dashes of bitters

1. Pour 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) Cognac into each of 2 Champagne flutes.
2. Top each with 1/2 cup cider and finish with a few dashes of bitters.

Fiesta Friday (On A Saturday) - New Year's Disco Ball Bash

New Year's Eve disco tableEveryone loves a bit of glamour and decadence on New Year's. Celebrate the famed Ball Drop with your own Disco Ball Bash! Silver, white and red are all perfect as your jump-off point.

Set your table with a silver tablecloth and white china, and accent napkins with red ribbon. Collect various sizes of pillar candles and mimic this fabulous tabletop from The Gospel According To In Style Parties. Don't you heart the giant disco ball over the table?

Another option, add lots of sparkle with reflective surfaces, silver candlesticks, votive holders and vases. Fill oversized glasses with decor items a la Setting The Mood With Jamee's bash, and check out all her silver pieces.

In addition to disco ball ornaments, add to the bling with flat marbles, acrylic diamonds and sprinkles like this table setting from HWTM.NYE table setting

Social Couture's Hollywood Bash is complete with beautiful feather accents and I just love the mirrored napkin rings.

Dig out all of your candleholders and use them as support stands to create smaller-scaled accent pieces like these from Admar Decor .Disco ball vase

NYE favor collageOf course there will be these cupcakes from Paula Deen.

Have guests create their own blinged-out party hat, set up a photo area with a few more fun props like oversized sequined glasses and let the fun begin. Send the photos home as a thank-you card.

End the party and begin the new year right with these cute cookie favors from No Fuss Fabulous! I love how a simple cookie becomes a thoughtful treat and even better, she has provided the tag download for free!

Merry Christmas 2009

Invitation Consultants Little Artist's CardsHappy Holidays! This year's card showcases my boys' joint effort in artwork; we won them courtesy of the fabulous giveaway from Invitation Consultants. They carry so many fun products for just about any social event and I can't wait for the opportunity to use them again.

We Go Wednesday - Fairmont Olympic/Teddy Bear Suite

This past weekend the hubby and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary living it up in the historic Fairmont Olympic hotel. It's all gussied up for the holidays...Fairmont Olympic Christmas TreeI didn't want the weekend to end; 4-Star service, steps from Westlake Center and Pike Street Market and lots of window shopping at Gucci and Louis Vuitton right across the street. The Terrace served the most AMAZING martinis, and the mojitos??? I could have fallen into a tub of it and never left.

One night we had dinner across the street at Sazerac. They serve spicy, Cajun-inspired New American cuisine, and it was divine. You must try the Crispy Idaho Catfish, it was out of control. Go check out the website, those light fixtures are even more spectacular in real life.

The natives know the Christmas season heralds the arrival of the Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont. I just had to bring the boys back to experience it. It's a beautifully decorated suite featuring more than 130 stuffed bears, themed books and lots of photo ops.Fairmont Olympic Teddy Bear Suite fireplaceFairmont Olympic Teddy Bear big bearFairmont Olympic Teddy Bear Suite bedFairmont Olympic Teddy Bear Suite bathroomDownstairs they have a perfect Santa set-up, and of course the boys had to see if they were on his list.Fairmont Olympic Christmas SantaFairmont Olympic Lobby with Santa

Tuesday Tip/Tutorial - No-Bake Plates/DIY Bows/Picture Magnets

It's a Christmas Tips Bonanza today! Are you still (STILL??) looking for something special and personal for family and friends? I love the paint-it-yourself pottery place, and I know some of you had your pieces made and sent out a month ago. Good for you.

It gets pretty pricey though, so those of you who want the uniqueness of bisque and the speed of now, I would suggest getting yourself a nice piece of oven-safe crockery like a platter or mug and a handful of Sharpie markers and settle in for a night of creativity. Remember my tip from Everyday Celebrating? Told you I had to use it, 'cuz it's awesome!
Sharpie plate beforeSharpie plate afterCheck out your local home decor place like Marshall's for better quality plates with raised designs; I lucked out and found Lenox dessert plates for cheap and let the boys personalize them.

And speaking of gifts, I'm all about presentation, and go through great lengths to make a gift pretty. I most particularly hate those 50-count bag of bows ubiquitous this time of year, they are Martha does have a solution, however she is using beautiful, fluffy ones, not the sad ones made up of 5 know which ones...which begs the question, why cut up the beautiful, fluffy ones anyways, they are beautiful and fluffy?
DIY gift bowNever fear, because over at How About Orange... you will be saved from the despair of store-bought bows that NEVER match the gift wrap. What is up with that weird green, and really, who has that purple in their Christmas wrap arsenal? Think of the can customize the bow for the recipient...mix and match colors, use newspapers and comics for the males in your life, crossword puzzle paper for the gamer, notebook paper for the teacher, actually match your wrapping paper and the bow!

Because I have the attention span of a mouse, I've also involved myself in yet one more project amidst the 15 I have going on right now. I'm so tired of the kids taking the pictures off the fridge to stare at a particular friend, and not get it under the magnet right, so the picture falls off the fridge. With the holidays come more pictures to put up and the fridge is already at capacity. picture magnetsMy friend R did this forever ago with her Xyron machine, making them stickers and putting them on magnet sheets. I don't have the machine, but that's what double-sided tape is for. I got my hands on the Avery Inkjet Magnet Sheets and finally started turning them into magnets. I know, right? Why didn't you think of that sooner?

Busy Bee Lifestyle Giveaway Winner And More Nutcracker Inspiration

Yup, that would be me and I'm super, super excited, not only because I'm so thankful that I won, but that I can't wait to get my hands on all the goodies. I think I'm having a paper-gasm because of the choices I'm going to have to make for the personalized stamps and stampable notecards, and sticky notes, and organizer, just to name a few. Thanks again to HWTM and Busy Bee Lifestyle for hosting, and all the amazing companies that make up the package.

Check out the post and take a gander at some of the companies, there is so much fun stuff! You betcha there will be a post as things come in. And to those people lucky enough to receive any of this stationery, count your lucky stars because I must really love you to part with any of it.

And speaking of more shameless promotion, remember the Nutcracker party post I did? Well, color me slow that I didn't come across the genius that is Seattle's own Kelley Moore and her Sugar Plum Party to include. Yeah, you've seen her on HGTV. I haunt half the places mentioned in the article. Trophy Cupcakes, check. Display and Costume (Seattle and Everett, thank you!), check. Hancock Fabrics, check. Target and Cost Plus? Don't get me started. This means I'm half way down the road to super-star-party-planning greatness, right?

Drink Of The Week - Mini-Mochaccino Pudding

mini mochaccino puddingOK, so they aren't drinks, but they are served in small cups, so close enough. They are perfect for ending your fabulous Christmas or New Year's feast...recipe courtesy of The Gospel According To Budget Celebrations and serves 12.

4 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cornstarch
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1/8 tsp salt
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken up
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
garnish: ground cinnamon

1. Whisk milk, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, espresso powder and salt in a large saucepan until blended. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often with a whisk and making sure to reach into corners of the saucepan.

2. Boil 1 minute, whisking, until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in chocolate and vanilla until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Pour into twelve 3- to 4-oz espresso or other small cups or glasses. Cover with wax paper; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm.

4. To serve: beat cream and confectioners' sugar until very soft beaks form. Spread over tops of pudding and stir ground cinnamon through a strainer to garnish.

Fiesta Friday - He Had It Coming

Sunday I posted about divorce/break-up themed cocktails and today I'm sharing some new ways to help out that gal pal who really needs some support. First, and and most important is the theme; it should be more about her starting a new chapter and less about dwelling on the chapter that is closing. Here are three great themes that can be fun and expand as much as your budget allows.

As I mentioned before, Chicago is a great movie to consider; the story is circa 1927 so how about a 'Roaring 20's' theme if you are looking for a more elegant feel?

Try low lighting, and set tables black and white tablecloths; accessorize with costume pieces like feather boas and plumes, brooches and long pearls as centerpieces. Set out bowls of goldfish, which were swimming in popularity in the ’20, or small round bowls with red roses floating in water. Decorate with old wood crates filled with shredded paper and bottles of liquor peeking out from the paper for a speakeasy feel. Of course, you must have the movie playing in the background.

Your party menu can consist of literal Chicago favorites like Chicago-style deep dish pizza and hot dogs, or take it there with food inspired by the movie. For example, serve up chicken skewers a la the murderess who is carving up a chicken when her jealous husband comes after her.

Send them home with copies of the movie's soundtrack, mini bottles of gin (drink of choice during this time) or mini gumball machines with tags that read "Thank you for coming, but 'if you pop that gum one more time'...". Hey, you gotta watch the movie to know what I'm talking about (and to get the title of today's post).

Outwit, outplay, outlast; a Survivor Party is perfect for the active gal pal; after all, she survived the sinking ship of marriage. Fun invitations like a message in a bottle perfectly set the tone. Invite guests to arrive in tattered clothing for a castaway look. Decorate your space with an island feel; if you are hosting this party at an outdoor location, decorate with sand, large potted palms, tribal masks, hammocks and lit tiki torches. Skip the torches and hammocks for the indoors, instead cover furniture with fishing nets. Pass out multicolored leis to divide guests into teams or tribes.

Serve tropical foods like seafood dishes and set up a frozen daiquiri bar. Don't be tied up as bartender all night, get yourself a daiquiri machine and offer a few selections. Set up an area to do mud masks in your kitchen, to recreate scenes where the show's survivors frolic in the mud.

More fun can be had with a gummy insect-eating contest or the Ice Toes Challenge. Fill tubs (one for each team or tribe) with lots of ice, 100 marbles, and water. Contestants line up behind their team tub and each team member is given 30 seconds to remove as many marbles as possible from the tub, using only their toes, before they switch with the next person. The first team to get all their marbles out of the tub wins.

Tropical music serves as a nice background, or modern music like "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor or "I'm A Survivor" by Destiny's Child works just as well.

When life gives you lemons, ask for tequila and salt; set the scene for a Lemon Party complete with margaritas, tortilla chips and lots of mango salsa. My Expression's fun margarita invites or these lemon party invites from Taylor Card Co. are a great way to get your ladies motivated.

Yellow decor is a must..check out this pretty yellow party from Lorajean's Magazine; don't you just love her big jar of lemonade? Fill your version with spiked lemonade. Oversized glasses make perfect centerpieces when paired with lemons and yellow roses. Accent with colorful decorations and drinking glasses - drink umbrellas, swizzle sticks, paper flowers, drink coasters, straws and even sparklers!

Of course you can take it further and go with Mexican decor like this Senoritas and Margaritas Party. Get more exotic and have a tequila-tasting party; an online search can reveal lots of tips on how to host one. Serve margarita cupcakes and favors like shot glasses and little bottles of tequila help guests continue the party at home.

No matter which party you choose, a great way to extend a supportive hand is to have guests bring gifts that replace the items her ex took, or pool money together for a splurge gift like a trip. And remember, it's not a man-bashing party (although watching Chicago may put you in that mood) but a reaffirmation of your friendships, love and support!

Ornament Guest Book

ornament guest bookYeah, ok, it's been a know how the season gets. I have guests coming in tomorrow, school parties today and tomorrow, work functions, making teacher gifts, wrapping presents, sending out Christmas cards, etc. ad nauseum. I know I promised on Sunday about more bitter break-up parties, I'll have that tomorrow for sure, because the ideas keep flowing into the old noggin.

We'll get back on track today for Christmas because I was slogging through my emails and came across this fab idea from Twist Entertaining that I'm SO doing for our next party. It's perfect for any holiday soiree, from the office party to the winter wedding ornament guest book!

Purchase inexpensive glass ornaments in your selected color palette, provide metallic pens in silver or gold and let your guests show their wit and charm by writing messages to the hosts or about their Christmas wishes on the ornaments. Not only is it a great icebreaker, the ornaments become part of your tree decor, and you can enjoy reading the sentiments every year!

Drink Of The Week - Bitter Break-Up Beverages

One of my most favoritest movies is Chicago, not because it's a feminist anthem of getting back at men for screwing us over, but I love the music and dance numbers, and the over-the-top acting. It won a lot of Oscars, so I'm not the only crazy one.

I got to thinking about it lately since apparently all the men in the world must have gotten the memo that 'Infidelity Is The New Black'...Jenny Sanford announced this week she is divorcing her husband, you know the governor who went to Argentina to visit his soul mate? She should call up Dina McGreevey on tips on how not to cut him in his sleep. Now Elin Woods gets to join the club. Maybe they should all call up Vanessa Bryant, Elizabeth Edwards, Ivana Trump, Mia Farrow, Jennifer Aniston, Christie Brinkley and Hilary Clinton, and get buttons made that say "My Husband Couldn't Keep It In His Pants, Ask Me How!"

OK, I'm rambling, there is a point somewhere...oh yeah. I've done several posts on divorce and break-up parties, so I thought I would take a pause for the cause. Some hard working women out there are going to have a shitty (pardon my French) Christmas, especially if they have children. So today's post is dedicated to some cocktails that would be fabulous for a get-together, or just an evening to yourself while you eat through a box of truffles. No, don't do that. Don't give him your figure too! And come back tomorrow, for some more bitter breakup ideas that include the movie Chicago. See, came back to that!

Ol' Dirty Bastard (courtesy of and serves 1)
2 oz Southern Comfort
1 oz vodka
2 oz spiced rum
1/2 oz Coca-Cola

1. Add Southern Comfort, spiced rum, and Coca-Cola to an ice-filled old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.

Dirty Laundry (courtesy of and serves 1)
1/4 part Stirrings authentic grenadine
1/4 part Stirrings blood orange bitters
1/4 part Stirrings clarified key lime juice
1/2 part triple sec
1 part Stirrings Lemon Drop
2 1/2 parts bourbon
splash of champagne/prosecco
splash of sweet vermouth
garnish: cherry

1. Fill cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and add everything except the champagne and vermouth.
2. Shake and pour into a champagne flute, then top with champagne, vermouth and garnish with a cherry.

Bite Me (courtesy of and serves 1)
1 oz rum
1 oz root beer
1 oz orange soda
garnish: orange peel

1. Add rum, root beer and soda into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes.
2. Shake well, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel.

Eight Crazy Nights

(The title is a little shout-out to Adam Sandler's The Hanukkah Song, not the movie). Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish friends and readers. Celebrate with excellent food, an exchange of gifts, and the lighting of beautiful menorahs filled with brightly colored candles.Hanukkah menorah collageSet your table with new takes on the traditional menorah;a manzanita-branch menorah, one composed of mini bottles clad in ribbon, even tealights, are all ways to utilize items you have at home. My all-time favorite idea are these menorah cupcakes from Bright Ideas.

Hanukkah tabletop collageDon't want to make the menorah your centerpiece but still want a fabulous tabletop? How about grouping paper hurricanes or setting a Hanukkah tree? These paper dreidels do double-duty as decor elements and take-home favors. Scatter them on your tabletop, set them at place settings, or group them in a pretty bowl. Head to your local craft store and score on small plastic boxes to wrap pieces of decorative ribbon and fill them with foil-wrapped chocolate coins. Set dreidel-shaped place-cards on white china with a blue table runner to complete the look.

Hanukkah favor collageSend them home with pretty favor boxes filled with lovely treats, or what better gift is there for the Festival of Lights than pairing a bundle of candles with silver and blue-wrapped matchboxes.

Not enough inspiration? Check out last year's post....

Fiesta Friday/Real Party - Ugly Sweater Christmas Party 2009

They came, they wore sweaters, we laughed at them. My second-annual party was a hit (check out last year's...), and I'm so glad I have friends willing to put their shame aside and come in full gear. There were pom-poms, sequins, singing sweaters and jingly earrings galore. Sorry K that I didn't get a full shot of your glorious sweater, next time...

Ugly Sweater Christmas party sweaters
To offset those beautiful sweaters, I thought a neutral palette of Winter Wonderland would be perfect. Here is a preview shot...

Ugly Sweater Christmas Party before shot
I hung lots of snowflakes, crystal drop ornaments and mirror strands, it was hard to get one big shot, so lots of little shots, but believe me it came out really pretty.

Giveaway Winner and Real Party Sneak Peek

And the winner of The Kitchen Fork Giveaway...comment #2, Gigi email is already winging its way to you. And yes, I finally figured out how to use the random generator too! Thanks to all those who commented, and keep an eye out, more giveaways are always popping up here.
gingerbread bird housegingerbread bird house 2I'm working on my second party (another reason for the lack of blogging) for Friday, this time for the kids. Once again, I'm not able to provide gingerbread for everyone, we have quite a group coming. Last year we did graham cracker houses, this year I wanted something a little more permanent.

I've been eyeballing the $1 wooden birdhouses all summer at Michael's and then they popped up at our Dollar Tree, and they just kept talking to me. So, I'm turning them into gingerbread house ornaments. I'm prepainting them and then our guests can decorate them and mom can have a nice keepsake and a few less cavities. I just love my demo condo...since they will be inedible, we can use sequins, foamies and beads along with candy and marshmallows. You can do a larger version with regular birdhouses for a fun centerpiece.
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