|A lovely Layered Carrot Cake from The Dessert Tray|
I know, I know… the holidays are coming and there are a ton of inspiring holiday centered posts coming along soon. But, I’m a December baby which means I’ve had years of people smashing Christmas and my birthday into one lump sum of an event. So, as soon as Thanksgiving is over all I can do is think about my birthday! (I get really cranking out Christmas the day after my birthday.)
It sounds completely selfish of me to be so obsessed with my birthday. And, really it is… but, all I can say in my defense is I get the same way about the birthdays of the people in my life as well. I just really like birthdays. I love taking the time to celebrate my friends, family and *myself* on a special day of the year.
This year my husband has planned an evening out with friends at one of my favorite restaurants. It got me to thinking about how many people celebrate special events at restaurants.
|yummy cocktail from a great restaurant where I spent my birthday a few years ago|
First off— Pick the restaurant! Pick a place that has special meaning or is a place that the guest of honor has been wanting to visit. Things to think about (or check into) when looking for a restaurant.
- Do they take reservations? If not you may need to arrive early to put your name on the list so that your guests are not waiting to be seated. Some restaurants take reservations, others have a call ahead seating system so that you can call and put your name on the waiting list, and the rest have really great bars you can usually get a drink at while waiting.
- Take price and gratuity into account when looking at a restaurant.
- Also, if everyone is paying separately check to see if the restaurant can split tabs or if each person needs to bring cash to pay the tab as a single check. (My friends and I all have Paypal so that we can just transfer money to one another and have one person pay the tab if need be.)
- Some restaurants have restricted menus that you can choose from for a party. Or, there may also be a single priced option that comes with a pre-fix menu. Also note that most restaurants add a gratuity to parties of a certain number of guests. Typically this gratuity is between 16-18% of the tab–but, if the service is exceptional you are more than welcome to add to this gratuity. Let guests know what they are responsible for during this time.
|Urban Fondue in Portland has a pre-fix menu that includes three courses (including DESSERT!)|
- If you are hosting and can’t afford to pick up the entire tab let guests know in advance what they will be expected to contribute. If you can’t pick up the entire tab it might be a good idea to take care of the costs for a couple of bottles of wine for the table, some appetizers or desserts. If you can pick up the entire tab then GO YOU!
- Do they do anything special for birthdays? OR are you able to bring your own dessert or wine?
- A lot of restaurants provide a free birthday dessert or will sing to the guest of honor. But, many restaurants have stopped the practice of singing so not to offend other guests or disturb their meals. Also, a lot of guests of honor don’t enjoy being sang to and having the attention of the entire restaurant on them. No one wants to be embarrassed on their day!
- Many restaurants allow you to bring your own wine and only charge for the corking fee. This might be a great way to defer some of the costs. Be aware that corkage fees can range from $7 to $15 per bottle.
- Also, many restaurants will allow you to bring your own dessert. (So if the birthday guest of honor really likes a certain type of cake you can usually bring it.) But, you should check to see if there is a slicing fee. This could cause the dessert to be quite expensive.
Second— Ways to make a restaurant dinner party EXTRA special! All the things that make home dinner parties fantastic for a birthday dinner can still be used for a restaurant party while leaving things like cooking and cleaning behind for someone else. I love the idea of making the event extra special with things like favors and decorations. Here are some easy ideas on how to step up a Restaurant celebration:
- Invitations—(If you’ve followed the blog at all you know that I love invitations.) You can do paper or on-line invitations, but pick something FESTIVE! You want everyone to know that this isn’t just any other visit to your favorite restaurant it is a CELEBRATIONS!
|Cloth covered invitation from my birthday two years ago|
- Festive Decor— Now, most of the time the restaurant is enough decor (come on… they have candles and flowers and already have a theme!) Some extra items could include balloons on the back of each chair, some baubles for the center of the table or even festive items for guests to wear. Keep this small… no need to have the restaurant clean up a ton of stuff after you are done. (Well, unless you rent the entire restaurant out or an entire room… then do it up!)
|We gave everyone pins to wear throughout the party— one said “You’re a Gem!” and the other said “Jenni is 25!”|
- Festive wear— Dress up! I happen to love dressing up on my birthday… this doesn’t necessarily mean cocktail wear, but it could also be a sort of theme wear. Wear all white or red or black… or wear Hawaiian shirts! This is something you’d want to spread by word of mouth… don’t expect everyone to dress up, but give them the opportunity to participate. (Also, try to stay away from themes that REQUIRE people to go out and buy something new.)
- Dessert— If you can bring your own dessert make it extra special. Try cake bunting or some beautiful candles.
Third— Keep in mind restaurant etiquette. This will make the entire experience so much better!
- You’ve already checked into items like reservations, extra costs and the tab so you are way ahead of the game.
- Expect good service, but be aware that larger parties might receive slower service just due to the size of the party. Take it in stride and have a good time. If you are receiving terrible service don’t spend the evening complaining about it at the table (it will make the event much less memorable)… but, certainly talk to management if there is a problem.
- Remember there are other guests in the restaurant. Have a fantastic evening and definitely enjoy yourself but remember that there are other guests that may not appreciate a ruckus from the corner table.
I hope that this helps make for a truly special occasion. (If I sounded a little preachy about restaurants it is because I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for 10 plus years.)
|Oh! And, bring a camera to record the event! (But, don’t stay behind the screen all night.)|
I’m back! Sorry for the delay in posting… I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend. I know I did! Anyways… I’m back to having a ton of fun stuff to share with you in many posts to come. And, what a better way to start back full force posting than to see that my party is being featured at one of my favorite sites?
I love shopping. I love the opportunity to get a fun new outfit so much that I create opportunities. When dating my husband I somehow managed to wear a new outfit (or piece of an outfit) to every date.
I’ve never had a lot of money to spend on clothing; so often, if I wanted to get something new it had to be on sale or seriously affordable. I have been known to also shop in my friend’s closets and sometimes even create a new piece from bits of material.
Of course, I am thinking about what to wear as I am thinking about Thanksgiving. To help me figure out an outfit I sat and played on Polyvore.com. (If you like clothing as much as I do visit Polyvore for lots of fun with clothing and accessories).
Click on the set to find out more information about pictured pieces.
|Image Via At Second Street Blog|
|Image via Hostess with the Mostess|
|Image Via Catch My Party|
|Image Via Smitten Blog|
|Image via Hostess with the Mostess|
|Image via Entertain Exchange|
|Playing “Makin’ A Baby” Game|
Sorry that I’ve been gone so long! I have a ton of new stuff coming for future posts just have to find the time to get it all in. Before rushing off to work this morning I wanted to give you a sneak peek into the newest Real Party feature that will be up later this week. The circus themed baby shower was a sweet little shower with fun printable details and a TON of streamers.
|Sugar rimmed glasses with paper straws|
|It isn’t a circus without POPCORN!|
|Image via Martha Stewart|
I’ve had meaningful vacation in Oklahoma seeing my family and getting to spend some much needed time with my grandmother who is recovering from a stroke. This visit has really got me thinking about my life as I was growing up and, of course, of the upcoming holiday season.
My family life, growing up, was strange, yet wonderful. My sisters and brothers and I grew up in hard times with many different influences in our lives. I won’t play my little violin of woes though, because while we could have possibly had easier childhoods, we certainly had a childhood in which we were very much loved.
My relationship with my grandmother is one of the many blessed things that came from a childhood of struggle. She is my person… my person that I go to, my person that I look to and my person I’d happily emulate. (I am tearing up while typing this in a Starbucks in the middle of nowhere OKC). But, she seriously is one of the greatest people I’ve known in my life so far. She is a strong woman, fantastic mother, amazing friend and one talented lady. Everyone who has ever met her has loved her instantly. She has created such a wonderful family environment for us and for my extended family. Even after my mother and father divorced my grandmother (my father’s mother) always cared for my mother and invited her along to family events.
My grandmother always made the holidays for me growing up. Every year she would work on a ham to bring to Thanksgiving dinner and spent countless weeks working on stockings for each and everyone attending her yearly Christmas Eve Party. And after each of the holiday events we always got together casually just to eat left overs and bask in the love of the family.
Being home reminded me of how much I enjoyed the start of the holidays. It wasn’t about gifts (though, those are always nice) it wasn’t about the food (again, quite nice) but, it was always about enjoying our time with family and friends.
The holidays for me now, as I live states away from family, are about the family I’m creating. My friends, my husband and members of his family come together throughout the holidays. We are creating our own traditions—Brandon’s stuffed squash in our friend’s potluck Thanksgiving; Christmas morning brunch followed with a full kitchen of cooks working on an Asian-style feast for Christmas evening; and having traditional holiday meals from different areas of the world with Nick and Natalie.
I’m very thankful for the beginning of yet another season of enjoying old traditions and the creation of new ones. I’m thankful for the many people that make up my family.
Yesterday I traveled from my current home in Portland, OR to the home I grew up in Shawnee, OK. What that means for me is hours of traveling via Train, Plane and Automobile. What it also means for me is the purchasing of traveling reads!
I love magazines. I mean, like, LOVE. I got my degree in print journalism and worked for newspapers for a bit… but, my heart has always been in the magazine area of the art. I would buy magazines everyday if I could possibly afford it… and subscriptions would be in my mailbox every time I open it! Well, my bank account and my apartment space does not allow me to purchase magazines nearly as often as I like. As a matter of fact, I really don’t buy them at all day to day. (Although, Martha’s Living Magazine and Wedding Magazine both get an exception to this rule.) When I travel, on the other hand, I get to purchase magazines… both on the trip there and the trip back!
On my trip yesterday there was a buy three get one free deal that I just couldn’t pass up. So, my FOUR new magazines and the beautiful little November issue of Martha Stewart Living that arrived in my mailbox the day before my trip went home with me. Today’s “Friday Finds” are dedicated to these print beauties. (All of the magazines I’m featuring are the November 2010 issues of the respective publication.) Enjoy what I found fun about each of these magazines and go out and buy an issue!
|Photo Source via What Were the Skies Like|
|image via MarthaStewart.Com|
|image via countryliving.com|
|image via bhg.com|
|Image via bhg.com|
|Couldn’t find a cover shot!|
|Image Via Food&Wine|
|Image Via Sally Benedict Blog|
Okay, I know I’m skipping right from Halloween to Christmas here but I had to share this holiday planner with you! I promise I’ll get back to the holiday at hand as soon as possible (along with some other fun inspiration boards and a circus themed baby shower). But, for now… get inspired for the winter holidays!
When I saw Courtney from Pizzazzerie.com’s post about her Holiday Party Planner for SheKnows.Com I had to go immediately to check it out. If this beautiful 26-page digital wonder packed full of amazing photos and fabulous ideas doesn’t inspire you… well, I don’t know what will!
|image via sheknows.com/holiday-entertaining-planner|
The photos were taken by Kristin Steele Photography. The shots are inspiring alone but then add on all the ideas and you have yourself some winning work. (I obviously liked this thing!)
I really enjoyed that the party ideas were all new takes on the holiday. While I enjoy some tradition I do tire of party after holiday party of mistletoe, candy canes and hot chocolate.
The party that I can’t wait to throw (other than ALL of them!) is the Coffee and Dessert Party. I love all the browns and tasty looking desserts. I can’t wait to try the Gingerbread Latte!
|Image Via sheknows.com/holiday-entertaining-planner|
A Mad Tea Party Pt. 2: Costumes
March Hare and Alice
The White Rabbit costume was a lot of fun. She sewed fake flowers all over a beautiful jacket and skirt and then created bunny ears out of felt and attached to a small top hat. The final touches included face make up and an adorable little cotton tail!
Cheshire Cat and Lewis Carroll
I loved these costumes. It is hard to see how awesome they are right now… but, the couple wore tights with boxers and white shirts on top of them. The tights were in the colors of their suit and then they had playing cards strung around their necks and attached to gloves. Lastly, they attached the foam board playing cards with Velcro so that they were easily detached and reattached.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
This is actually just one guy who posed all night in two different ways so that we could Photoshop his twin in… loved it! He went shopping for EXTRA Large clothing that would work for his tweedle dee costume and wrapped his middle with foam before dressing for the day.
He wore knickers and knee socks.
Can you say FABULOUS!?! He went all out for this costume. A red velvet top hat, bright blue hair and he even took part of the hair to make those amazing eyebrows.
He made his makeup look very Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonerland-esque.
He even took an old pair of glasses and colored them with an orange marker!
The Knave and The Dodo
These costumes were both made by Natalie (the dodo).
She told me how she made them so that I could pass the information on to you!
The Knave— All of the main Knave costume parts were made with paper. She used posterboard for the front of the card. Notice that she drew the “bottom” part of the Jack of Hearts and made the top of the costume look like the other side of the card! (Brilliant, right!) She cut the middle of the card and wrapped them around his arms and attached them back to the front of the card with tape. They made sleeves for him to put the card on easily. The hat she made of paper, drawing it to match the hat on the Jack. She cut the pieces of hair and curled them around a pencil to make curly hair. She added a feather and a paper axe to it to make it match the bottom of the card.
The Dodo— A hoody, petticoat, yellow tights, several feather boas and a papier-mache mask created this amazing costume. She bought a grey hoody at goodwill and found a short petticoat that she purchased for the base of the costume. She then stitched the boas onto the pieces while leaving some of the back of the petticoat showing to serve as the little white tail end of a dodo bird.
She found long nose mask that she built up with papier-mache and painted yellow. Lastly, she paired the outfit with yellow tights for the dodo’s legs and feet.
(She is entering these costumes in the Entertain Exchange’s Handmade Halloween Contest)
The Red Queen—”Off with her head!”
We’re All Mad Here!
Natalie is entering her costumes in the:
The Queen of Heart’s Bar
|Our Front Door|
|The bar backdrop was a wave of cards|
|Pink flamingo pics for the martinis|
|It’s Tea Time!|
|The Tea took place in the middle of Wonderland|
|Moss runners, stacked pedestals, tea pots and cups created the tablescapes|
|We served traditional tea sandwiches and tea party food during cocktail hour|
thank you so much for stopping by!
I hope you enjoyed part one of our Halloween party!
Keep your fingers crossed for me… I’m entering this party in:
|My husband… The March Hare|
|Me, as Alice, and my March Hare|