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!

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Etsy Find: Personalized Bridal Hanger

I haven’t shared any Etsy goodies lately but in a recent Pinterest sweep, I discovered this little treat.  It’s a personalized wedding dress hanger by Etsy artisan, DelfinasCreations.

At only $15.00, it makes for a perfect bridal shower gift and is the perfect wedding day accessory on which the bride can elegantly drape her wedding gown. This particular design would make the perfect “something blue”.

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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!!

Wording Your Wedding Invitations

Following the post, A Guide to Your Wedding Stationery, I received quite a few emails asking for additional assistance on how to word wedding programs.  Sounded simple, but what I quickly realized is that with the ever evolving definition of family, invitations can become very challenging for the DIY bride. So we’ve sought out the most tricky of situations and provided the appropriate wording for each.

IF YOUR WEDDING IS BEING GIVEN BY YOUR MOTHER & FATHER:

Mr. and Mrs. Patrick A. Jones
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Veronica Jones
to
Bradley Ian Joseph
at the Venetian Club
Saturday, the Fourth of October
Six o’clock in the evening

IF YOUR WEDDING IS BEING GIVEN BY YOU & THE GROOM:

Veronica Jones
and Bradley Ian Joseph
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
(etc.)

IF YOUR WEDDING IS BEING GIVEN BY YOUR MOTHER & YOUR FATHER IS DECEASED: 

Mrs. Patrick A. Jones
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter
Veronica Jones
(etc.)

>>>If your mother has remarried, use her present husband’s name:

Mr and Mrs. Franklin C. Jamison
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter
Veronica Jones
(etc.)

IF YOUR WEDDING IS BEING GIVEN BY YOUR MOTHER & YOUR PARENTS ARE DIVORCED:

use your mother’s maiden name plus your fathers last name

Mrs. Rose Nelson Jones
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of her daughter
Veronica Jones
(etc.)

IF YOUR WEDDING IS BEING GIVEN BY YOUR FATHER & EITHER OF YOUR PARENTS ARE DIVORCED OR YOUR MOTHER IS DECEASED:

Mr. Patrick A. Jones
requests the honor of your presence
at the marriage of his daughter
Veronica Jones
(etc.)

>>>If your father has remarried:

Mr. and Mrs. Patrick A. Jones
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of his daughter
Veronica Jones
(etc.)

IF YOUR WEDDING IS BEING GIVEN BY YOUR DIVORCED PARENTS & EACH HAS REMARRIED:

Mr. and Mrs. Patrick A. Jones
and
Mr. and Mrs. Kevin L. Morrison
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Veronica Jones
(etc.)

When finalizing the wording of your wedding invitations, keep in mind that the examples above follow the formal traditional invitation wording used most often with religious or interfaith ceremonies.  If you’re not the traditional kind or planning a secular ceremony, consider including opening statements such as “With Joy in Their Hearts” or “Celebrate the Love of…”.  You might also want to consider changing traditional statements such as “request the honor of your presence at the marriage of…” to something more playful like “laugh, dance, dine, and celebrate the wedding of…”

Be as casual or formal as your wedding vision requires but remember not to get so caught up in the details that you forget that your wedding planning process is supposed to be fun. If you need assistance penning the text of your invitations or can’t think of suitable wording to fit your particular situation email us or leave a comment below.

Inside My [Emergency] Wedding Kit: Invisible Ink Pen

What is It? Invisible ink pen

Headache: You’ve received a reply card for your reception or formal event but they forgot to fill in their name leaving you with the added planning pressure of trying to figure out which person that particular card belongs to.

Quick Fix: Don’t get left trying to figure out which person an anonymous reply card belongs to.  Instead, create a spreadsheet where each guest is assigned a number and write that number in the lower back corner of the corresponding reply card prior to mailing out your invitations.  Use an invisible ink pen in lieu of printing the numbers in ink pen or pencil so you don’t diminish the aesthetic of your invitation suite.  t

Buy it For: Approximately $9. AC Moore.

Hostess How-To: Setting The Perfect Table for A Dinner Party

November marks the unofficial beginning of the holiday season and that can only mean colder weather, overcrowded malls,  and parties.  Lots and lots of parties! For me, I prefer the intimacy and warmth of private dinner parties to celebrate the chilly winter season with family and friends.  And the only thing better than being a guest at one is being the apron-donned hostess – experimenting with my version of gourmet dishes and whimsical holiday decor.

As the hostess, it’s important to remember that All Postswhile the lit tree, mistletoe, and pine cone ornaments are important in providing a festive feel, the focus of the celebration will reside mostly in the dinner so you’ll want to ensure this, too, is decorative and appealing to the eye. Starting with the foundation – a properly set table and there are 4 basic elements you’ll want to apply in order to achieve a fabulous dinner party:

  • PLATEWARE
    • Start by setting out the dinner plates.  You’ll want to make sure they are evenly spaced and far enough apart that guests have ample elbowroom on either side – that usually measures 2 feet from plate center to plate center. Once you’ve set your plates, use them to balance the rest of your settings.
    • When serving bread, place a butter plate above the forks to the left of the plate and include a butter knife or spreader.
  • SILVERWARE
    • Silverware is typically placed in the order of its use – from the outside in, first course to main course.
    • Forks should be placed to the left of the plate while knives and spoons are placed to the right.  The only exception to this rule is if you are using a cocktail fork, in which case it would be placed at the outermost right side of the plate.
    • Knives should be placed with the cutting edge facing the plate and all of the handles of the forks, spoons, and knives should be in alignment.
    • For super formal dinner parties, such as for a wedding reception, remove the used utensils after each course is completed
    • When it comes to dessert, you can be fancy and place the silverware above the plate with the fork handle to the left and the spoon or knife handle to the right (the cutting edge should face down) or you can also just bring out dessert silverware with the dessert.
  • NAPKINS
  • GLASSWARE
    • Glasses should be placed above the knives in a straight row, slanting downward from the upper left, going from biggest to smallest. Make sure smaller glasses aren’t hidden behind larger ones. An example of a proper arrangement would be a water goblet in back, wine glass, then a dessert glass closest to your guest.
    • When it comes to serving coffee with the meal, you can place the cup and saucer to the right of the setting, with the coffee spoon on the right side of the saucer or just bring the coffee out with dessert.

Use the diagram below as your visual guide when arranging the place settings for your next dinner party:

DON’T FORGET TO:
  • Get a final headcount. Knowing how many guests to expect is essential to knowing the amount of food you’ll want to prepare as well as the number of settings that will need to be placed.  When inviting guests, set a date for them to RSVP by so you are not scrambling to finalize a guest list at the last minute.
  • Add the accent! Figure out if you want to use a cranberry tablecloth or wintergreen place mats, or both.  What about place cards?  Sparkly napkin rings? Tealight candles? Shiny charger plates? Stores like HomeGoods (my personal favorite) are perfect for finding simple enhancement options that can add a little pop to your party decor.
  • Give yourself time. While it may look easy, preparing for a dinner party takes time – even for the more advanced of party hosts. Prep food ahead of time and survey your kitchen to make sure you have amble bowls, warming trays, and serving utensils.  Your goal should be to have the food and yourself guest ready no less than 90 minutes in advance of the start time.
One more thing you must include at the table of your dinner party is laughter.  After all, it’s the holiday season and family and close friends are the best gifts any season can offer. Happy holidays!