Tuesday, March 31, 2009

finding inspiration: drink dispensers

I am 100% in love with drink dispensers and I have been for a few months [ever since I saw it in martha stewart weddings]. i was on the pottery barn website today and came across another gorgeous one and that of course sent me on a hunt for more! read on to see what i found.

above is the original cuteness i saw in martha's magazine. how amazing would this be at a childrens party or backyard bbq or wedding! they are made by roost.

here is the one from pottery barn. it's on sale! i love how it looks with lemonade in it with pieces of lemon floating around.

this is from vivaterra. i like the country feel of it. they don't seem to have any available, but a quick search led me to some similar ones.

have you used a drink dispenser at a party before? what kind did you use?


celebrate this: beer tasting party -- eats

Photo Credit: Ernesto Andrade

the beer tasting party is really about the beer. the food will be minimal, just simple snacks that compliment the taste excursion you are taking your guests on with the beer. read on for some suggestions.


many people don't think of beer and cheese as complementary when in fact they go very well together. depending on the beer you are serving at your party [something we will get to in a later post] you can choose a variety of cheeses to match.
  • Wheat beers, American Lagers: fresh, soft cheeses such as cream cheese, cottage cheese
  • Pilsners, American fruit beers: Camembert or Brie
  • English brown ales, amber ales, golden ales: semi-soft, Trappist cheeses such as Gouda, Havarti, port. salut, Monterey Jack
  • Pilsners, IPAs, strong ales: semi-hard sliceable cheese such as cheddar, Swiss, Jarlsberg
  • Porters, stouts, dark beers: Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and other blues
Of course this is just an introductory list. to read more about beer and cheese pairings, click here.

heartier fare
try something a little heartier if you suspect your crowd will be hungry. a nice stew or chili, smoked sausages, meatballs or shepard's pie.

Photo Credit: Food Network

the usual suspects +
some people just aren't into having anything but wings or pretzels with their beer... which is fine! some great salty snacks that you can serve at your party include pork skins, cashews, pickled eggs, nachos, ham & cheese empanadas, hard pretzel sticks, chips, popcorn. set them in bowls around your tasting/party area and just let your guests go at them.

you could also try making a few easy flatbread pizzas to have set around. this recipe from Bobby Flay might do the trick for your guests.

something else you might want to prepare for your guests is Cucumber kimchi (oisobagi kimchi). check out this video to see how to prepare it.

no matter what you select as your food for your party [traditional snacks, cheeses or full entrées] remember that the focus of your party is on the beer! your food should naturally guide your guests from sample to sample and not overtake the flavours of the beer you are serving.


Friday, March 27, 2009

springtime flowers

Photo Credit: The Nest

buying flowers in season is nothing new. it's the best way to ensure the most bang for your buck and the freshest blooms. here are a bunch [no pun intended!] of vibrant springtime beauties to use in your décor, some standard and some quite unique. read on for a few more flower ideas from the nest and some suggestions on how to incorporate them into your spring table design.

the grape hyacinth pictured above is a fun, sweet-smelling flower. this bulb would look gorgeous as a single stem or two in a tall clear vase. place the vases down the centre of your table [about 3-4 of them]. they can also be used as a fresh party favour for your guests. set each favour on their plate.

Photo Credit: The Nest

Tweedia [above] is a little star-shaped blossom often used as a delicate accent flower in bouquets and boutonnieres. it would be a beautiful accent to your spring table as a scattering of pretty blue down the centre and around your place settings. pull the blossom off the stem and sprinkle over your table as desired; generously or sparingly scattered both look wonderful.

Photo Credit: The Nest

the Anemone is a flower of many vibrant and uplifting colours, red, pink, purple, magenta. anemones would look beautiful as a bunch of 6-8 stuck into a medium height clear vase, perhaps with some smooth dark pebbles in the bottom with water. fill the gap between the heads of the flowers and the rim of the vase with some lush green hydrangea.

what are some of your favourite spring flowers? how do you incorporate them into your springtime table settings?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

celebrate this: beer tasting party -- invitations

sure, everyone's had beer before. but have you every really tasted it? beer tasting is a rewarding, fun and educational experience. so why not host a beer tasting party for a few of your friends? the invitations are the first step in this party planning series. read on to see how i created the invites.

first, pick a date and time and create your guest list. about 6-10 people is a good number for an intimate beer tasting.
then, choose a picture for your invitation. i found this one on flickr's creative commons here. i placed this image inside a text box in microsoft word. i changed the background of the text box to orange, you can use any colour that goes well with your chosen picture.
next, i left-aligned my text and, using the font 'Cooper', i typed out my invitation. for the headings i used 'Cooper' and for the information i used 'Calibri'. choose a font that reflects your picture and colour, these are fairly standard.
for my party, i decided my offering of beer would be a local bunch. you can create any theme such as beers from around the world or beers you have never tasted before.
don't forget the RSVP line!
stay tuned for more info on the beer tasting party!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

finding inspiration

Photo Credit: Sara Tams

Searching on etsy.com has become a hopeless pastime of mine. I love looking through the paper goods category, gathering inspiration for parties and themes as I go. Today I stumbled upon Sarah & Abraham, a cute little stationary and card shop. Read on to see what I found.

When I found her shop, I was instantly drawn in by these Partridge Family-esque bird drawings. After a little more snooping around I came across Sara's blog and found some awesome party ideas from satisfied customers that used Sara's personalised products and sent her pictures of the event they hosted (such as a cute bug themed party, a horton hears a who party and a pink poodle party). Adorable.

Sara's paper products are definitely inspiring, and the psychedelic bird design from her etsy shop just might inspire me to create a new party theme of my own.

Where do you find your inspirations?

To visit Sarah & Abraham click here.
To visit the Etsy shop, click here.


party pick: Earth Hour 2009

Photo Credit: Earth Hour Canada

At 8:30 p.m. on Saturday March 28, the world will turn off its lights for just one hour – Earth HourTM – to show it is possible to take action on climate change. Switching off your lights is just one simple action that you can take to help make a difference and it sends a powerful message that we care about our planet. There may be events already happening in your area to celebrate this wonderful cause, or you may opt to host your own! Read on for event listings for our party pick of the week and some tips to create your own Earth Hour soirée.

There are Earth Hour events happening all over the world, many taking place right here in Canada. In Toronto, there is a huge free concert. The second annual family-oriented event is being held at Nathan Phillips Square from 7-10pm. Similar events are being held in major cities across Canada. To find an event near you, use the event finder tool on the WWF Earth Hour website. You can search for private events and sponsored events.

hosting your own party

-create some simple eco-friendly invitations on recycled greeting cards. cut the front of the card off and use it like a postcard, writing the party info on the back. think of a fun tagline for your party such as 'lights out- time to party!'. ask your guests to dress in black.

-to decorate, purchase some soy-based candles to place around the room you are hosting your party in. use a black table cloth for your table and if you have a globe [or multiple globes], set that on your appetizer table or use as your centrepiece at the dinner table.

-consider the prep and cook time of the food you are serving. aim for dishes that require no/low-heat cooking temperature or no/low-energy to prepare/store. try these suggestions

-what to do when Earth Hour arrives and you must turn off the lights [and use as little power as possible]? play board games [try Apples to Apples, Eat my Trivia, or Cranium]! Not into games? How about a sing-along [if you have a fire pit, even better!]! anything you can think of that involves little to no power is fair game. take pictures, give makeovers, do a craft, stargaze!

-send your guests home with a gift bag [just a simple paper bag will do]. inside it, put an eco-friendly CFL lightbulb and a list of activities to do when the power is off.

For more information on Earth Hour and to sign yourself up to participate, visit wwf.ca/earthhour.

What are your plans for Earth Hour?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

party phD: St Patrick's Day

Photo Credit: Paweł Bąk

why do we celebrate st. patrick's day? what does a saint have to do with green beer and shamrocks? and what does a man born in 5th century britain have to do with ireland in the first place? read on to learn more.

st patrick
st. patrick was born in [roman] britain near the end of the 4th century and is said to have died on march 17th 460. when he was sixteen years old, patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who transported him to ireland. he spent six years in captivity working in solitude as a shephard. patrick turned to religion to guide him and it is believed that this is the time when he began to dream of converting the irish people to christianity.
when he escaped from capitivity, patrick returned to britain. he wrote that he experienced a revelation wherein an angel told him to return to ireland as a missionary. patrick subsequently began a long religious training and was ordained as a priest. he was sent to ireland to minister to christians living in ireland and to begin to convert the irish.
familiar with the irish culture, st patrick used this knowledge to incorporate traditional irish ritual and imagery into his teachings to make it more natural for the irish (who were mostly involved with nature-based pagan ritual at the time). by the 8th century, he became widely known as the patron saint of ireland.

the religious holiday
march 17th is st. patrick's religious feast day. it was placed on the universal liturgical calendar in the catholic church in the early part of the 17th century, although it was widely celebrated in the local irish church from a much earlier date. it is a holy day of obligation for roman catholics in ireland, meaning they are obligated to attend mass on this day. the holiday almost always falls in the season of lent. often bishops may grant an indult from the Friday 'no meat' observance if st. patrick's day falls on a friday. when March 17th falls on a Sunday, church calendars move the holiday to the following monday.

the secular holiday
non-religious st. patrick's ["st. patty's"] day celebrations are generally themed around everything 'irish' and the colour green. both christians and non-christians around the world celebrate the secular version of this holiday by wearing green, eating irish food or green food and drink and attending parades and parties. in ireland, st. patrick's day has traditionally been a religious occasion without any secular observance. up until the 1970s, irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17th! in 1995, the irish government began a national campaign to use the holiday as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase ireland to the rest of the world.

wearing green
traditionally, st. patrick is associated with the colour blue, specifically 'st. patrick's blue'. the change to ireland's association with green rather than blue probably began around the late 18th century and may have gained its prominence through the phrase 'the wearing of the green' which means to wear a shamrock on your clothing. it is said that st. patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity to the pre-christian irish, referencing its 3 leaves. wearing a shamrock on your clothing has long been viewed as a symbol of proud irish nationalism. americans celebrate the holiday by wearing green clothing. traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched.

do you celebrate st. patrick's day? how do you mark this festive occasion?


Monday, March 16, 2009

recessionista party tips

Photo Credit: Dominic Hallau

planning a party on a tight budget? take heart, everyone feels the pinch in some way or another and what better time to host a celebration than at a time when we all could use a boost?

Read on for some money saving party planning tips.


Friday, March 13, 2009

great party essentials

Photo Credit: Allen Armstrong

what makes a party really great? well, it definitely depends on the type of party it is, but there are definitely a few things that make the truly awesome parties stand out from the pack, regardless of what kind of party you are hosting.

read on for what i think are party essentials...

1. great location- i'm not talking about renting out a trendy or pricey venue. by location i mean choose the spot in your party place [be it your house, backyard, wherever] that is the most user-friendly. make sure it is easy to navigate and well laid out. are the washrooms close by? do you have to go up and down stairs [a no-no if your guests will be drinking!]? if you are outside, will you be able to plug things in if necessary? did you stuff your food and beverage area in the corner? think about your party place from the guests' point-of-view.

2. great music - try not to fill your party playlist with songs that only you know or songs that detract from the mood of the party. make sure your iPod or CD shuffler has some music for everybody and then just let it play. if you are hiring a DJ or band, look for one that will play a little of everything, or a style that you know everyone at the party will enjoy. try not to obsess over the music!

3. great food - obvious! a big party is not the time to try out a complicated recipe you've never made before, especially if the dish is meant to feed everyone there or is integral to your theme. make sure you know how to prepare the food you are making; do a trial-run if necessary. make sure you have back-up eats if the food situation goes awry. fresh vegetables and dip, cheese and crackers, chips, frozen sausage rolls, jalepeno poppers, chicken wings, bacon wrapped scallops, shrimp rings, frozen meatballs, spring rolls and frozen french fries are all wonderful things to have on hand anytime you are entertaining just in case!

4. great host - relax! your guests definitely do not want to be ushered from planned activity to planned activity on a rigid timeline. let your party ebb and flow around loosely structured events such as games, dining, gift exchange, whatever the case may be for your party. have back-up plans for games in case they don't go over well. don't fret about minute details once your celebration is in swing. keep an eye on the door to watch for guests as they arrive. mingle and introduce friends that don't know one another. do make sure you are monitoring important things like alcohol consumption for both you and your guests. take note of the designated drivers. you are responsible for your guests when they leave your home. if they have had too much to drink, ensure that you have arranged alternate transportation [have cash for taxis] orsomewhere for guests to stay [either in your home or elsewhere]. oh- and leave the cleanup until after the party!

what would you add to my list? what are some essentials to a great party?


time to celebrate it!

hello everyone! i'd like to welcome you all to my new blog celebrate it, a blog dedicated completely to parties, events, holidays and everything else that falls under the wonderful umbrella of celebrating. come to celebrate it for party planning tips and ideas, recipes, events around your area, information on holidays and much more!



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