3 Tips for Writing Thank You Cards

After the cake has been eaten, the champagne has been toasted and the guests have gone home, there’s still one significant task left to do and it’s arguably the most difficult.  I’m talking about sending the ‘Thank You’ cards.  It’s non-optional and it’s not a sexy job – just ask any bride or hostess who has endured it.  Hopefully the following tips (and a bottle of wine) will help simplify the process a little.

  • BLANK IS BEST.  Customized messages are the best messages.  Make the most of a ‘beautifully monogrammed on the outside but blank on the inside’ card to create a meaningful and heartfelt message of thanks.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. Remember, this task involves writing, and addressing, dozens upon dozens of personalized messages.  If ever there was a word of advice I could give, it would be to “K.I.S.S”  – Keep It Simple Sweetheart.  You don’t have to write a book to get your point across so keep your thank you cards sweet and to the point. If you’re writing a short novel for each one you’ll have carpal tunnel syndrome before you finish the first fifteen.
  • SIGN WITH THE TIMES.  There’s a good chance that you’ll receive gifts from the moment you announce your engagement until well after you’ve said your “I Do’s” – a note of ‘thanks’ should be sent for every single one.  Wedding gifts that arrive before your wedding date should be acknowledged immediately while thank you’s for any gifts received during or after the wedding should be sent within two weeks after returning from the honeymoon.  When signing off on your cards keep in mind that notes sent prior to the wedding date should be worded to include both the first and last names of the couple (ex. Mr. Christopher Michael Jones and Ms. Anne Davis). Thank you cards sent after the wedding can use the couple’s married (ex. Mr. & Mrs. Christopher Michael Jones).

If you’re finding yourself with a case of writer’s block, try to apply this method to the process:

  • Mention your spouse’s name
  • Mention the gift
  • Tell them what you enjoy about their gift or briefly say how you will use the gift

We want to hear from our readers:  Do you have more tips and tricks for sending thank you cards or getting over writer’s block? Leave a comment below.

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Easy Party Appetizers: Goat Cheese Bruschetta

Photo credit: fakeginger.com

I love hosting a dinner party! Many people look at me with the side eye when I say it but I get a total kick out of setting up my home for an evening of good company, laughter and vino.  Dinner parties also afford me the opportunity to play around with food and drink recipes that I usually wouldn’t consider.  I recently hosted a girls night in and included on the menu were these tasty goat cheese bruschetta.  I found the recipe online (sorry, can’t recall the site) and after a trial and error batch I was well on my way to making what ended up as the most popular option on the menu.  Ahhh, success!!  Needless to say, it will now be a staple on the dinner party menu and if simple and easy recipes make you happy, I’m recommending this one for you!

Bruschetta with Goat Cheese, Figs and Honey

The Ingredients:

  • Half loaf (5 oz.) baguette, cut into ½ inch slices
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 2 ripe figs, diced
  • Clover honey to drizzle

The Raw Materials:

  • 1 Baking Sheet

The Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Place baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet.
  • Bake 8–10 minutes, turning each slice until both sides are crisp and golden around edges
  • Let cool
  • Spread cheese on toasted baguette slices.
  • Top with figs and lightly drizzle with honey.

You can substitute Crostini’s for the baguette.  Either way, this recipe is worry-free and easy enough to make for your next bridal or baby shower.  This recipe makes 13–15 slices.  Bon apetit!

Complimentary Party Printables from HGTV

I stumbled across these pretty party printables while seaching the HGTV site. This particular suite includes 17 printables that are fun, colorful, and rather stylish.  They offer an array of options for various party types, including weddings, baby showers, and summer gatherings.  Best part…THEY’RE FREE!!  They’re also very easy to use – each download is an edittable PDF so all you’ll need is ADOBE to edit.

Download Easton Place Designs’ Pink and Yellow Floral Invitation

Download Jayme Marie Gonzalez’s Floral Party Invitation

Download Paper & Pigtails’ Table Setting Party Invitation

Choosing to use printables as your invitation template is a budget saving idea that doesn’t have to look cheesy – the  magic is in the paper.  By using quality stock paper and pairing your invites with matching envelopes, you end up with an invitation that looks like it just stepped out of a printing press.  Your guests will never know the difference.

Don’t forget you can see the entire suite of printables at HGtv and if, by chance, you use one for your next event, let us know which one!

Happy Planning!

Guestiquette: Dress Codes Decoded

For many socialistas (and socialistos), the time between Thanksgiving and New Years means a social calendar on steroids.  As flurry after flurry of invitations to company holiday parties, winter wonderland galas, and cocktail socials arrive, you may be combing through your closet to find the perfect outfit.   But if, by chance, any of those invitations arrive with the fine print request for dress code adherence,  you may find yourself THAT much more confused and unsure of what to wear.

We recently took a random poll to find out which of the dress codes are the most confusing and shockingly it’s the most common. So if you’ve ever asked yourself, “What is the difference between white tie and black tie?” you’ll want to read this before you set out in search of the perfect holiday outfit.

In the world of dress up, Black Tie is probably the most common dress code requirement you’ll receive.  Ladies, this means long gowns or knee-length dresses.  Of course, an elegant black dress in either length is always a safe bet or maybe a crimson red gown will help make your holiday statement.  Then feel free to dress it up with a strand of pearls or a diamond tennis bracelet, shimmery satin clutch, an elegant updo and a pair of mouthwatering stilettos.

It’s black tuxedos for the gentlemen.  A formal white shirt, and bow tie, cummerbund, socks and patent shoes – all in black – completes the uniform.  Subtle accessories like an expensive watch or sterling silver cufflinks and personalized studs, to replace buttons, helps set you apart from the crowd.

Maybe your invitation reads: Black Tie Optional which only means that the gentlemen have the option of wearing a suit.  However keep in mind that it should still be navy or black and be accompanied by a white shirt and understated tie – I, however would beg to differ with wearing understated anything.  Ladies, no such luck.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a White Tie event, baby…you’ve made it!!  This event classification is usually only reserved for the most posh, sophisticated and expensive of events…think, Presidential Inauguration Ball – so your attire should directly reflect that.  What does THAT look like?

Well, regardless of your budget, it should look like A MILLION BUCKS!!  Ladies, you should immediately start to envision formal gowns, decorative beading, or exceptionally chic faux fur.  Gloves aren’t mandatory but are always a good idea in cold weather climates.  Complete the look with spicy red lipstick and elegant upsweep but keeps details like nail polish and makeup  simple.  Less will always be more at a white tie affair.

Gentlemen, your attire looks a little something like this – a black tailcoat, matching pants with two satin stripes running down the sides, a white tie, white vest and white wing-collar shirt, white gloves, black socks that are long enough to cover your shins and black patent dress shoes.  You may want to also consider wearing a overcoat if it’s cold outside but again, gloves are not a mandatory accessory.

Business Formal is probably most often reserved for events that occur during the week and in the early evening hours and all it means is nice office attire.  So ladies you’ll want to save sexy for the cocktail party and instead reach for a dressy suit or conservative dress.  Meanwhile men your suit options can range the entire color spectrum, regardless of whether or not it is light or dark.  I can’t say to the men enough how important socks and shoes are.  NOTHING is sexy about seeing you all prettied up and then look down and see sweat socks hiding inside of severely scoffed shoes.

Things tend to get tricky when Business Casual is the dress code, after all the type of venue and company can mean all of the difference between wearing a suit jacket versus a pair of jeans.  Regardless, your outfit should always say “I am a professional.  I am here”.  And whether female or male that statement should only be a dressier version of your casual clothes – so envision, a pretty sweater or blouse with khakis, slacks or a pencil skit for the ladies and a collared shirt with slack or khakis and a pair of loafers for the gentlemen.  I would encourage you to stay away from jeans but if you must, only wear the darkest pair you own and make sure they aren’t frayed, faded or ripped.

As I mentioned earlier you’ll want to bring sexy back if the invitation requests Cocktail Attire / Cocktail Attire Festive.  Chicas, have fun with it and pair a sexy pair of sandals with a flowy knee-length dress or tailored trouser pants, work your hair into a playful high ponytail or flirty curls, add some shimmer and lip gloss and strut your stuff!! 

Gentlemen, you may not have to wear a tie but you might want to consider concealing one inside of your jacket pocket until you can be sure.  Don a colorful button down shirt with a pair of dark tailored dress pants and nice soft or hard-bottom shoes.

Still in Doubt?  You have options.  You can always call the host to ask what is appropriate for the event or you can take my advice and overdress.  Who doesn’t want to look better than everyone else in the room and if asked, you can always fib and say you’re on your way to another party.

Happy Partying!!

Anatomy of a Party: Mili Mouse’s 5th Birthday – The Venue

World, I would like to proudly introduce you to my amazingly witty god daughter, Princess Amiliya. She’s a Jackie-of-all-trades, balancing a rigorous educational schedule with the exploration of some of her favorite pastimes, such as singing and dancing.  She keeps the other kids in the neighborhood in line, gives better relationship advice than most adults I know, and her fashion sense is impeccable.  Amiliya is, by all accounts, amazing!  And on September 24th, this little ball of energy will be turning 5.  Yep, you guess it…we’re having a party!!

After much deliberation, we decided that for her 5th birthday, Mili will be trading in her crown and wand for a shiny pink sheriff’s badge and boots as the theme for this party is ‘The Wild, Wild, West’.  Now, I’m not going to unveil all of the party details right now but I did want to give you a sneak peek into the venue.

Linvilla Orchards (Media, PA) quickly emerged as the fan favorite for the party location.   It is a 300-acre farm dedicated to agriculture, entertainment and education. They are open year-round and grow various crops of fresh fruits and vegetables for picking and purchase, including apples, nectarines, apricots,  peaches, pears, plums, grapes, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, straw and Christmas trees.

The farm also features white tailed deer, sheep, goats, emus and rabbits plus a large collection of chickens, geese, pheasants, quail, doves, ducks, peacocks and guineas.

They have several affordable birthday packages but every party is 2.5 hours and starts with a hayride through the fields and orchards.  The following is also included in the standard price of each package:

  • Entrance into Playland
  • Coloring books
  • Corn to feed the animals
  • Tables in the picnic grove and
  • A party balloon
  • A complimentary hayride ticket for a future visit for the birthday child
  • Freshly baked pizza
  • Lemonade or apple cider
  • A specially decorated sheet cake (your choice of vanilla or chocolate) with a farm theme
  • Birthday farm theme paper goods (party hats, cups, plates, forks, napkins, tablecloths and candles)
Stay tuned as I will continue to unveil the details of the most anticipated 1st grade party of the year.  Until then, enjoy browsing our Inspiration Board for Amiliya’s 5th Birthday on pinterest.

Place Cards vs. Escort Cards

Place cards and escort cards are probably two of the most important directional signs your wedding (or formal event) should have and while both feature the name of the guests and each have a logistical benefit their purpose is slightly different .

Escort Cards, when used alone, are a little more informal but still identify each guest, by name, and the table at which they can be seated.  Set them atop a beautifully decorated table located directly outside of your event entrance and once the card is retrieved and the guest finds his or her table, they may seat themselves wherever they like. If you’re considering a larger number of guests or are hosting a more formal event, such as a wedding, you may also want to strongly consider using a place card.

Remember to ALPHABETIZE YOUR ESCORT CARDS!  I cannot stress enough how important it is that your escort cards be pre-sorted by last name of the guest and NOT sorted by table.  And if your escort cards are something completely untraditional such as sea shells, picture frames, biodegradable seed packets,  (I think you get where I’m going with this), sort them (by LAST NAME) into small, manageable groupings and clearly label them as such, “A – F, G – M, N – T, U – Z”.  Your catering manager or event coordinator will love you for it!

Place Cards also identify each guest by name but are generally located at the table setting at the guests table. It’s looked upon as the more formal of the seating considerations – a personal Welcome to the event.  I like to think of it as carefully assigned seating.

Hostess Hints: Fleur-de-lis Table Linen Fold

The Fleur-de-lis linen napkin fold is an elegant and easy napkin folding technique that works well with formal and casual table setting.  It’s simple to do.  Don’t believe us?  Check out the step-by-step instructions found on makemytable.com.

Fleur Step 1

Begin by folding the edges of the linen napkin diagonally, so that the result is a triangle.

Fleur Step 2

Fold the right edge to the top.

Fleur Step 3

Same with the left edge, resulting in a square.

Fleur Step 4

Now fold about two thirds of the lower edge upwards.

Fleur Step 5

Fold the top edge back.

Fleur Step 6

Turn the napkin over and insert the edge into the other end.

Fleur Step 7

Open the table linen napkin forming an “O” at the bottom and stand it up. Pull each edge of the table napkin to form the petals on both sides.

Voilà! You have just folded your Fleur-de-lis fine table linen napkin!

A Greener Way to Illuminate…

Event lighting is a relatively small investment that yields a significant impact on the overall décor and ambience captured by your event.  Perhaps the least expensive and most common lighting option is candles.  But have you ever given thought to the amount of energy that is consumed making tea light candles only for them to burn for 2 hours and be discarded?  What about the amount of wax and wicker that goes into large votive candles? Depending on the number of candles you burn annually, you may be leaving behind a rather impressive carbon footprint.

A greener and safer option, which has been growing in popularity over the years, is the flameless and rechargeable candle. Until recently though, I’ve thought that what flameless candles made up for in cost effectiveness and environmental friendliness, they’ve lacked in design…that is, until I came across these ideas.

While all of these are touted as the perfect decorative light addition to your home, office or child’s room consider them for use the next time your event calls for the soothing benefits of a soft candle.

Milk Glass Cup Shaped LED Night Light Lamp

This energy saving LED Light is designed to look like a glass of milk and even comes in a fun cow-inspired package.  Standing at 5.43 inches high and weighing only 4.6 ounces, this fun lighting alternative is powered by 3 AAA batteries and an ON/OFF setting that is concealed on the bottom of the glass.  When set to ON, the light inside of the glass will turn off automatically whenever it is tilted sideways or placed upside down. Unlike the Sun Moon Jar (shown below), the Milk Glass Cup Shaped LED Night Light Lamp is not water repellent and will need to be kept dry if used outdoors. You can buy them on Ebay for about $4.97 each (includes shipping).

Sun Moon Jar LED Solar Mood Lamp Light

Aren’t these adorable?  The Sun Moon Jar LED Solar Mood Lamp Light is a completely waterproof and weatherproof lighting option – making it the perfect outdoor solar light solution that comes in blue, amber or pink.  Like the Milk Glass Cup Shaped LED Night Light Lamp, the Sun Moor Jar also contains an ON/OFF setting but the batteries are replaced with 2 solar panels which automatically charge by day and give off a welcoming glow at night. The Sun Moon Jar LED Solar Mood Lamp Light also doubles as a storage solution, and is large enough to house candy, coins or collectibles. The least expensive unit price located online for the Sun Moon Jar is $13..24 at CZRH but keep in mind you’ll be paying for international shipping and will require additional time for delivery.

Soji Modern Rechargeable Solar Lanterns

The Soji Modern Rechargeable Solar Lantern is where design meets sustainability, making these the perfectly elegant lighting solution for an elegantly posh event.  Created in a layered wave-like form on hand formed weather resistant plastic, these green lighting alternatives are unique, portable, and efficient and will never require stringing of unsightly electrical wires. Creating the effect of a solar powered chandelier the Soji Modern lantern will turn itself on at dusk to cast a stunning golden glow that can last up to 6 hours.  They are available in 3 beautiful patterns: Pure White, Pearl Motif (white with white floral pattern) and Mineral Motif (white with grey floral pattern). If you order them from LampLust, you’ll pay about $36.99 a piece but will enjoy the discounted rate of $34.99 if you purchase 4 or more and the benefits of free shipping for all orders of $99 or more.

Targetti Art Light

Created by Australian born designer, Simon Crilley, this Targetti Art Light is actually a ceramic plate that contains living, breathing, and growing turf.  Yep, you read that right…it’s alive and as it grows it changes the nature of the light cast by the lamp.  Sadly, this item isn’t for sale.