Dinner Party Do List

Oh my gosh, I haven’t posted in so long! I blame wedding season!

I recently had someone ask me whether or not they should bring anything to a dinner party at a friend’s place. I told them yes. Then they said the friend told them they really didn’t need to bring anything and I told them, “It doesn’t matter! Bring something!” It’s always easier to ask forgiveness rather than permission and you shouldn’t be bothering the party planner with such an awkward question anyway.

If someone is inviting you to a dinner party, then they are assuming they will be doing all the work. No one out there is mad if people didn’t go potluck-style on their dinner. Unless otherwise specified, you’re free and clear.

However, who likes to show up empty handed? (I know a few guys who would unashamedly shout, “I DO!” at this question, but we’re talking about us here and we’re trying to be polite!) Bringing a small gift or item to share is more than just having good table manners, it’s thoughtful and classy. I have put together a list so next time you aren’t standing at your barren cupboard and wondering if it’s more appropriate to bring a can of Spaghettios or a half-empty bottle of Bailey’s.

Next time you’re heading over to enjoy a lovely home-cooked meal with friends or family, try picking up one of the following:

Bread or Rolls:

breadbasket

Pick up some good bread or rolls at your local bakery. Or, if you have enough time, bake some yourself. If at all possible, please try to pre-plate or basket the rolls in some kind of way that makes sense. Showing up with a paper bag full of bread is reminiscent of showing up at a buddy’s house with a bag of  greasy doughnuts after a night of heavy drinking.

Alcohol:

Is there a theme to the party? Try to feel it out and make your decision based on that. Champagne is always fun, especially if the dinner is a celebration. Bringing a bottle of tequila to a fancy dinner party probably isn’t appropriate. Unless you’re also bringing greasy doughnuts for the morning after.

Dessert:

pie

Your host or hostess may have this covered. However, a lot of people get a little lazy about dessert since they’re so focused on serving a delicious meal. Try to make the dessert easy to store. If the party-thrower has a plan for dessert, maybe they can save the dessert you brought as a gift for themselves later in the week.

A Small Gift:

Locally roasted coffee to share. You can't go wrong!

Locally roasted coffee to share. You can’t go wrong!

 

Any small “thank you” item is great! Something enjoyed by the entire party is always nice: a candle, flowers or plant for the centerpiece, some small decoration if it’s a holiday party, good gourmet coffee or tea to brew after the meal is through.

The goal here is to not over do it but show that you appreciate that this person that cares enough to put in the time, cost and effort into organizing a get together.  They also cared enough to invite you. Small gestures go a long way!

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Unusual Wedding Bouquets

One of the most common feelings I come across in the brides I work with is their desire to do something special or unique in order to put a personalized touch on their wedding. They want their guests to remember something specific to their wedding that they haven’t seen before. (Although, it’s becoming more difficult to set yourself apart with all the wedding ideas tornado-ing around Pinterest!)

One way of doing this is through your bridal bouquet. When you think about it, the bouquet is essentially an accessory not much different than a bracelet or shoes. Try looking at it more like a statement necklace or a sash with a flash of color – something to create a pop and visually stimulate your guests.

Succulent Bouquets

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I cannot stop freaking out every time I see a bouquet with succulents in it. They’re so fresh and elegant at the same time.

Featuring Fruit

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The Vegan in me is in love with the idea of including fruits and veggies in a bouquet. One time, I saw one with succulents and mandarin oranges. I can’t really talk about it, though, or I might fall out of my seat.

Winter Bouquet

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is nothing more glamorous than a winter wedding. The colors! Crimson, sapphire, jade, berries, gold!! So much gold! This pine cone bouquet is perfect for any winter wedding featuring snow, a fireplace or any of the above.

Let your imagination run wild! Keep in mind, you can make a bouquet out of pretty much anything: fabric butterflies, seashells, crystals, stuffed animals, or anything else you can possibly think of.

The New Bachelorette Party

With an increasing amount of women now getting married in their 30s, it makes me wonder something. Do we still want to do the same old, face-down drunk, stripper-filled, sloppy Vegas weekend getaway? Isn’t this what we’ve spent our late 20s trying to get away from? If you prefer the “last chance” craziness of a traditional Bachelorette Party, I say go for it. As a single woman, I love being invited to these wild public displays of drunken girl time. It just never seems like that much fun for the bride.

Frankly, I think the Bachelorette Party deserves better. So I came up with a few ideas that can be boozy and fun without being regretful. Look at these as great options for a sophisticated “later in life” (or even second!) wedding pre-funk.

1. Vacation Rental/Cabin at any nearby beautiful nature get away in your area:

cannon beach

 

A beautiful retreat in nature may be just what you and your girls are craving in the stressful days before your wedding. Cannon Beach has beautiful sunsets and recreational activities with the added bonus of being close enough to town to enjoy the shops and restaurants. Pile everyone into a vacation home or two and entertain yourselves with long dinners, late night beach walks and lots of bottles of wine.

2. Spa Day:

spa

 

This is another activity aimed at getting everyone to relax, relax, relax. Some spas have communal hot tubs where you can all hang out together before enjoying your individual treatments. It’s also doing a little bit of multi-tasking since everyone probably needs their nails done anyway! Perfect for the bride-to-be who wants a total pampering experience – hangover free.

3. Dinner Celebration:

dinnerparty

 

This idea is perfect for the bride who doesn’t mind having another party to plan. This is definitely not for the faint of heart! While your maid of honor should be responsible for most (if not all) of the Bachelorette Party festivities, a lot of this could end up falling into your lap. Especially if the dinner is held in your home. So proceed with caution!

When done right, the dinner celebration can be a fun and intimate gathering complete with personalized touches. This is also good if you love your girls but you don’t necessarily want to spend an entire weekend with them.

Whatever you decide, the most important elements are relaxation and fun. Which you’re sure to get a both of if you’re surrounded by good friends.

Flowers!

One of the greatest perks of being an event planner is getting to take home colorful bouquet of flowers to spruce up my apartment. I keep a pretty minimalist look to my place (white, mainly) so that burst of color does a lot to cheer me up and just brighten up the place.

Flowers are one of the most versatile things you can add to your event. There are a million different kinds, colors, scents, and fillers. Weddings are known for decadent (and costly) floral arrangements. However, even a small lunch can be instantly brightened with a bunch of sunflowers placed in the center.

I have compiled a few resources for your flower needs:

1. This handy chart from Bayside Bride is an amazing place to check if the flowers you want are even available when your event is happening.

seasonal

 

2. Your local farmers market is hands down one of the best ways to get your flowers and support your community at the same time!  Not only is it relaxing to walk around and browse, you can really be inspired by flowers/designs you maybe had never previously considered.

3. Growersbox.com sells high-quality wholesale flowers online. This is perfect for the DIY bride who is looking to save money and add a personal touch to a wedding or anyone who is just looking to make their own unique creation.

orange-pink-yellow-flower-arrangement

Teacup Lights

I live on marthastewart.com because she is the man, basically, and she knows how to do pretty much everything. She has all the recipes I want and a million craft ideas I didn’t know I wanted.

I am particularly fond of her idea for making your own Teacup Lights.

teacup lights

Previously, I mentioned the abundance of teacups at thrift and antique stores. This is another example of how to turn your mix and match glassware into something gorgeous and useful.

I love this idea for decor at a baby or wedding shower. What an impressive way to put that little extra something on your event! I’m actually so into this idea that I’m trying to figure out a way to procure these supplies soon so I can make these for my own apartment.

Healthy Cooking Party

I’m going to be honest, I’m a food judger. It’s not that I  care if people are over weight or not. Everyone is going at their own pace. I’m more for concerned for their taste buds and energy levels. Think of all the variety people are missing out on… there is literally a rainbow of fresh fruit and produce to be enjoying!

When lined up at Safeway with my cart full of veggies, whole grains and a little junk food (Cheez-Its are my weakness!), I’m always checking out what other people are going to eat. Last week, a woman in front of me was buying 30+ Banquet TV dinners. While fighting the urge to gag, I thought, “Does she just not know how many delicious healthy foods there are?” and, “Am I the one who’s crazy?” The verdict is still out on my sanity. In the meantime, let’s throw a Healthy Cooking Party!

food

Most people I know either don’t know there are yummy healthy choices or don’t know how to cook. Either way, this is the best opportunity to show them. Focus on your closest family and friends. This should be an intimate gathering of 5-6. Don’t forget cocktails. Cocktails are not technically a “super food” but, in moderation, they can make you feel super.

The party’s main focus should be on choosing healthy foods for a feel-good lifestyle and never on weight in pounds. It’s all about bringing people together to do something interactive that makes you feel great too.

I’ve compiled a sample menu of things pretty much anyone can make:

Course 1 – Appetizer

Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs & Cheese: Delicious, low-cal, fun, and hands on! Perfect for your guests to help assemble while catching up. These are also great for kids.

zuch

Course 2 – Entree

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti: Practically everyone loves spaghetti so you can’t really go wrong here. Trade in pasta carbs for tasty and nutritious Spaghetti Squash!

spagsquash

 

Course 3 – Dessert

STRAWMBLE! Oh strawmble! My personal favorite dessert is fruit salad. However, you don’t want your people to roll their eyes in disappointment when you don’t provide a “real” dessert. Strawmble is the answer! This is a delicious comfort food type dessert that everyone is sure to love.

strawmble

 

Cooking together creates lasting memories. Healthy habits increase length of life. Combining the two can make for an intimate gathering everyone will love.

Super food photo via fashionspassion.com

Color Inspiration

One very important aspect of any gathering is the color palette. The color of an event holds a great deal of the mood and conveys so much visual emotion. Sometimes, we envision the colors from the start. Other times, it’s a bit more difficult to decide which colors to use.

Design Seeds is one of my absolute favorite website for creativity and color choice. It takes every day photo inspiration and creates a color palette based on each one.

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What a fantastic resource! I highly recommend scrolling through if you are event planning, creating, painting your home or just want to look at beautiful, vibrant photos! To make it even more magical, they even have a tool for searchable themes like different colors, seasons and there’s one called “creatures” that brings animals to life through hues not even the rainbow knew existed!

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Check it out!