10 Tips for Hosting Any Party

Hope you are all recovering from a weekend full of holidays! This weekend we hosted a party to celebrate Easter and Passover with 25 of our family and friends. The party was a success but the planning is always a process, so I wanted to share with you my TOP TEN TIPS for hosting any party. These tips will help you to plan for a gathering of 5 to 50 people!

P.S. Also find a fund outfit  like this jumpsuit  - I’m wearing an XS for reference

P.S. Also find a fund outfit like this jumpsuit - I’m wearing an XS for reference

TIP #1 - Make a Guest List and Send Invites

This first tip may sound obvious, but it is important! Making a numbered list of guests, and separating adults from kids, will help you get an idea of how many people you need to plan for with food, drinks, etc., and it will also help you set budget (see TIP #2). Once you have your list figured out, take the time to send out formal invitations. I typically opt for e-invites using platforms like Paperless Post because you can send it directly to an email address, see if your guests have received and opened the invite, track RSVPs and send reminders if anyone forgets to RSVP. E-invites are also nice because if you remember a guest you forgot to invite later on, you can send an invitation without worrying about whether or not it will get there in the mail. Paper invites are fine too and for really formal occasions I use them, but with busy lives, e-invites are typically my go-to!

TIP #2 - Set a Budget

Once you have an idea of how many guests you’d like to invite, try to set a budget and stick to it! With party planning it is really easy to get carried away and keep adding expenses here and there (I am my own worst enemy with this) but if you have a set amount you’d like to spend, it will help to keep stress to a minimum. When setting the budget, think about the type of party you want to have - are you looking to do a formal, sit-down dinner? Or a backyard barbecue? Do you want cocktails and crudités? Or a multi-course meal? You can set the budget per person for food or allocate a general amount for food and decor. See TIP # 4 for more on this!

TIP #3 - Choose a “Theme”

Theme may not be the right word but choosing a aesthetic for your party and deciding how you want everything to look is another important tip for making it appear that you have everything together (even if you don’t) and your guests will appreciate cohesiveness. Trust me, you don’t need to be creative to do this! If you want a rustic or boho theme, opt for things like burlap, white, and muted greens. Looking for formal? Stick to colors like gold, silver, black, royal or navy blues, and classic white. For summer parties or barbecues I like to use brighter, tropical colors like pinks, yellows, greens, and decorate with inexpensive pieces like palm leaves. If you are trying to decide on a theme, feel free to shoot me an email or comment below, I would love to help!

TIP #4 - Go Shopping (and How to Plan for Food)

My rule for shopping is two-fold. First, purchase decor two weeks ahead of time (especially if ordering online) because it gives you time to add pieces later if needed and also exchange products if they aren’t what you expected. Second, purchase food the weekend before, if possible, or the week of, but not later than 2 days before. Buying the food can be a challenge because things don’t last forever. I like to buy things like proteins ahead of time and freeze them if needed. For our party we had a ham and turkey that were frozen and we thawed them out a starting on Tuesday for a Saturday party. For things like vegetables, fruit, cheeses, and any cooking ingredients, most can be purchased 5 days before and will keep. Use your best judgment here and pay attention to how the food looks before you buy it. If the strawberries look super ripe, maybe hold off for a few days. When figuring out how much food to buy, I like to follow the rules of one protein for every ten people or 1/2-1 lb of meat per person. Obviously this can vary greatly but we come from families who LOVE leftovers so having extras is never really an issue. I also like to have variety so I want to give people the option of two different meats. And for things like a barbecue this can mean chicken and burgers, you don’t need a fancy carving protein! For sides I like to have two sides for every 10 people and 1 vegetable. You can be creative here depending on dietary restrictions, etc., but I think the more variety, the better. For desserts, always have at least 2 options, no matter how many people! If you are doing more of an appetizer type party, I like to have 5 different items for 25 people and estimate 3-4 of each per person. Oh and speaking of appetizers, I always like to have something for people to nosh on even if there is a dinner to follow so stick with inexpensive things like deviled eggs, a veggie tray, or frozen items like spanakopita that you can throw in the oven quickly! Obviously, you can always cater too, but my family and I love to cook!

TIP #5 - Allocate Tasks and Accept Help

If you are having a larger party, this is important! Do NOT try to do everything on your own if you have people offering to help. If you are worried about things not looking how you want them to, allocate tasks that can’t really be messed up. Have someone help count seating and set the table, run to the store, etc. And if you have anyone really creative helping you, use them to your advantage! I wouldn’t be able to plan such great parties without the help of my sisters! Also, if you are making food on your own and someone offers to bring something, don’t be afraid to take them up on the offer! Things like fruit, veggie trays, even a salad, are all great options.

TIP #6 - Tablescapes

This tip can apply whether or not you are having a formal sit down party or not. Tablescapes are super easy to throw together and they give your party that extra touch of wow! Once you’ve chosen your theme, measure your tables and create something that flows with the rest of your decor. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. For our Easter/Passover party we opted for white table cloths, some fake garland, wide burlap ribbon and gold speckled eggs - all of which were found at the local craft store. If you want to add an extra touch, you can always opt for chargers underneath your plates and fun napkin folds - we made really easy bunnies for our table. Fresh flowers also go a LONG way on any table. If you do nothing else, run and grab some fresh florals and place them on your tables! I like to get bigger blooms like hydrangeas that take up a lot of space so you don’t need to spend as much! Trader Joes or a local farm market are the best places for fresh flowers in my opinion. You should aim to set your tables and tablescapes 1-2 days before your actual party.

TIP #7 - Label Your Serving Dishes Ahead

It’s never fun scrambling last minute to make sure you have enough platters and that they are all of the right sizes, so my sister taught me a great tip - label everything ahead of time! If you know you want your salad in a pretty glass bowl, label it, and if you know you need 5 different plates for appetizers, write down what they are on a sticky note and stick it on the dish. This not only will help you keep your sanity the day of, but it also will allow others to help plate things without asking a bunch of questions because you have already told them where it’s going!

TIP #8 - Create a Signature Cocktail and/or Drink Station

Another great thing you can do to add a nice touch is create a signature cocktail or drink station for your party. This will allow people to have a choice in what they drink and they can even make a mocktail if no alcohol is added ahead of time for a signature cocktail. It’s a nice way to get your party started as well and has an air of sophistication about it. Lemonade always makes for a great base because it can be mixed well with all types of alcohol. Adding fresh fruit and herbs too allows for a truly custom crafted cocktail. I love this letter board too which could be customized for the cocktail or for the party occasion.

TIP #9 - Don’t be Afraid to Guide People

Parties need a host for a reason, if there isn’t one, everyone would sit around and not really know what to do when. So, don’t be afraid to guide people to different things. If you are serving appetizers, announce it. When it’s time for dinner, ask everyone to find their seats. Don’t be afraid to ask more than once - the more people, the harder it is to corral everyone, so make sure you let everyone know when it’s time to transition to the next thing!

TIP #10 - Work the Room and Say Thank You

As a host, you also need to remember to work the room and thank all of your guests for coming. You don’t have to get into a 1/2 hour conversation with everyone, especially if there are a ton of people, but a personal “thank you” goes a long way. You can do this while offering drinks, taking coats, showing them around, etc. Nobody is going to be mad at you for walking around to greet your guests and if they are then either put them another cocktail or don’t invite them the next time ;-)

BONUS TIP - Create Something for the Kids

Okay I know I said this would be 10 tips, but here’s a BONUS. If you plan to have kids at your parties, make sure you have something for them to do and give them their own table if possible. You can do simple things like a coloring station, or a few little prizes - we did an egg hunt! Giving the kiddos something to do will help to keep them occupied and their parents will thank you for allowing them to be adults for a minute! Also, if you give them their own table then it’s much easier to use things like paper plates, etc. and minimize a mess and broken dishes and it also is less likely to disrupt anyone eating at the “adult” table.

I hope you all loved reading these TOP 10 HOSTING TIPS! If you have any questions, want to bounce an idea, or just wonder where something is from, please shoot me an email, comment below, or DM me on Instagram! I would love to help you with planning your next party!

XoXo - Jamie

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The Perfect Holiday Centerpiece: Featuring Bedford Village Flower Shoppe

I don’t think there is anything more welcoming in a home than fresh flowers..am I right?? And honestly, during the holidays we all want to step up our flower game to impress those dinner guests and family members coming from near and far. However, I know during this time of year when we are all as busy as can be, it’s pretty easy to overlook such an important detail, but that is why the world gave us AMAZING florists like Bedford Village Flower Shoppe! If you are in the Westchester/Connecticut area, you don’t need to look any further for all of your holiday and floral needs. Whether you are in search of a gorgeous holiday arrangement or a gift for that special someone, Bedford Village Flower Shoppe has you covered!

Peonies, Brunia, Amarylis, and Evergreens - GORGEOUS!!

Peonies, Brunia, Amarylis, and Evergreens - GORGEOUS!!

I just received the MOST STUNNING holiday arrangement ever from them and it looks absolutely gorgeous on my dining table, and matches my china perfectly (#winning)! This particular arrangement is a lovely mix of Peonies, Brunia, Amarylis, and Evergreens. It also has a beautiful rustic, winter touch with the pinecones and distressed wooden holder. No matter what you are looking for by way of size, shape, color, and cost, they can accommodate your every need and truly help you create a customized arrangement! These also are TOP QUALITY flowers. No filler, no fluff, just truly beautiful and fresh flowers and products that are sure to last!

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Oh and not only are their flowers absolutely stunning, but this shop is owned by the world’s sweetest couple. They go above and beyond to make sure that you get everything that you want as a customer…a quality that is hard to come by these days if you ask me! They also have a blog which gives great tips and tricks for choosing a perfect arrangement…a must read for the holidays!

Bedford Village Flower Shoppe also does more than just arrangements for your home, they are full service for weddings and special events. All of you 2019, 2020, actually just ALL OF YOU BRIDES TO BE, go check them out!! They have a stunning online wedding gallery to give you little taste of just how beautiful they can make your special day! Also, go check out their Instagram and Facebook pages for more pictures of their stunning work!

So if you are in need of flowers and arrangements for any and everything, go check them out and tell them I sent you :)

Bedford Village Flower Shoppe

641 OLD POST RD, BEDFORD, NY 10505 

Phone: (914) 228-1587 Email: info@bedfordvillageflowershoppe.com

Instagram

Facebook

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If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Here’s to you having a GORGEOUS holiday table this year!

XoXo - Jamie

*This is an affiliate post. However, all opinions and write-ups are my own.

Lighten Up Your Bedroom With Palm Print

I've already talked about my obsession with everything palm print, so when I decided that our guest room needed a little "refresh" I knew I wanted to find a a palm print bedding set.  Now many of the sets I found online were a darker print or just didn't go with the light sage green color we painted in our guest room.  But, one day I just happened to be at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and completely lucked out! 

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I found this Coastal Living Green Palm Comforter Set and fell in love! It is bright, airy, and has pretty, non-obnoxious palm leaves that just give the room a calming, beachy feel.  Now unfortunately this isn't a beach house (MY DREAM) but it does make the room feel like a little escape from the rest of the house.  I actually find myself doing work in here a lot and just relaxing since I purchased this bedding set.  It comes in all bedding sizes and it is on sale right now too! You can get the entire set, even a King, for under $60! Did I also mention the comforter is reversible?  YEP. It's that good! 

The set comes with the comforter and two decorative shams.  Below I'm linking the bedding set and also some great accent pillow choices! I'm obsessed with the straw ones! Oh and the sheets, I have to talk about the sheets on this bed.  So they are also a Bed Bath find and they are the softest sheets ever.  They are made from eucalyptus and I will never buy any other sheets again.  Now they can be a little pricey, but they are an investment that will last you a really long time!  We have them on every bed in our house! 

Grab this great set while it is on sale still!  It's honestly one of my favorite home purchases! 

XoXo - Jamie 

Organizing A Pantry for $100 or Less!

I think I have hit full blow "nesting" mode because I suddenly have had the urge to organize everything in my house! One of the things that I desperately wanted to get organized was the pantry in our kitchen.  Now the pantry we have isn't huge, it actually started out as a broom closet but I quickly convinced my husband this wasn't the most efficient use of space and asked him to install some shelving.  After the broom closet was converted, I sort of just threw a bunch of stuff in there, but quickly found it was getting harder and harder to find things, things were expiring, we were opening multiple packages of the same thing....it was a mess! 

To give you an idea, here's what it looked like BEFORE! What an unorganized mess! 

It's pretty apparent from the picture that something needed to be done, so I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration.  There were some great general ideas, but a lot of the pictures featured these LARGE, gorgeous pantries that you could walk into or at least fit a ton of stuff in.  Unfortunately, I was still working with my broom closet so I knew I would have to measure and be a little methodical when organizing it. So, below I'm recapping the steps I took to make sure things would fit before I headed out shopping.

Step 1: Measure the height and depth of your shelving.  My shelves vary in height and they certainly are not very deep, so I needed to make sure I took proper measurements so I didn't have to make multiple trips to the store to pick up all of the organization supplies. 

Step 2: Estimate how many containers you will need and what they will be used for.  I started out with my cereal - on average, I have about 3 boxes of cereal open at any one time, so I figured I would need at least 3 containers to hold that.  Then I moved on to things like canned goods, I wanted to determine how many cans I keep in my pantry normally.  I estimated around about 15 between soups and things like tomatoes and vegetables.  If there are other things you'd like to keep in storage containers that seal, then make sure you also account for those items.  Lastly, I tried to estimate about how many open containers I would need for things like granola bars, snack items, etc.  You can do this by using a shoebox as a good estimator for how many can fit across your shelf. 

Step 3: Go shopping! I picked up the majority of my supplies at the Container Store, but if you don't have any interest in shopping there or there isn't one close to you, you can find these items online and through retailers like Amazon as well.  I will link everything I bought throughout this post!  I set a budget for myself for around $100.  I knew I wanted all BPA free plastic and also some higher quality sealing containers for the things like cereal that I wanted to keep fresh for a long time.  

OKAY - now it is time to clear out the mess and start ORGANIZING! This is the fun part! Or at least I thought so...............


STEP BY STEP GUIDE to the ORGANIZATION

STEP 1: REMOVE EVERYTHING: You'll want to start with a completely clean and open space so you can see what you are working with! 

STEP 2: PLAY AROUND WITH THE LAYOUT - In this part you'll want to lay out everything you bought in order to determine if you have enough things to store all of your items and also to figure out how you want to space the containers, what things you want on what shelves, etc.  Play around with it for a while!  You'll notice that the picture I took here with spacing everything out ended up being a little different from how I actually ended up organizing the pantry.  

STEP 3: ORGANIZE & LABEL - Now it's time to actually start making some progress.  After you've figured out where you want to place everything, you can start labeling and organizing.  I opted to use adhesive chalkboard stickers and a Chalk Ink marker for my labeling, but you can print labels or make them however you want, put your own spin on it!  The thing I like about the chalkboard labels is that you can easily wipe them clean and re-write if you make a mistake or change what is in your containers.  You can also write directly on the bins and containers if they are plastic, glass, etc. with the Chalk Ink markers!

For the containers, I chose a variety of different types of containers and bins.  With the cereal, I knew I wanted to get the sealing OXO POP containers which help to lock in freshness since cereal seems to always go stale (gross)!  If you have a lot of different foods you plan to store in your pantry like pasta, grains, etc., I recommend purchasing an OXO POP Set like this one.  I then found some smaller bins with handles (I purchased the SMALL size) for things like granola and cereal bars.  At the Container Store, there was also an awesome deal on clear shoebox size bins.  If you bought a case of 5, you saved 20%, making each container about $1.60 each..pretty good deal if you ask me! I also found open stackable bins for soup cans and they are the perfect width for large and smaller cans - I got the MEDIUM size!  All of the fancier things made specifically to store cans wouldn't fit into my narrow pantry so when I found these, I figured I'd give them a shot and they are perfect! You can easily stack cans on top of each other but also see everything that you are storing for easy access. They even came with labels already attached so all I needed to do was write on them.

When organizing, I tried to group things by category.  At the top of the pantry we have a really narrow shelf so I tried to come up with some solutions for it.  I realized that it could easily fit bottled drinks like Gatorade which take up a ton of room in a cabinet.  I also have s'mores stuff for the summer, so I figured I would group all of those items together so when we entertain, it is easy to grab the whole bin out and have everything in one place.  I placed all cereal and breakfast items together on one shelf and just below that shelf I grouped together things like granola bars, breakfast bars, and protein bars.  I figured this would make it easier to find and for my husband to find the things that he wants without rummaging through various shelves and messing up the beautiful organization! On the next shelf I grouped together snacks, chips, pretzels, and cookies. Below that shelf, I placed my canned goods like soups, veggies, and broths.  I tried to organize the canned goods by type.  For example, canned tomatoes placed together and cooking soups placed together.  The idea is that when you go to cook, you don't have to spend time sifting through various bins to find what you need.  

One big thing I figured out is it is always important to utilize floor space! Now I can see people saying ew, not going to put my food on the floor, and my response is you don't have to!  Use any space below your shelves to store miscellaneous items that you don't want taking up space elsewhere in your house, but that you use frequently and want easy access to.

As you can see in the picture above, I used my floor space to hold things like our dog's food.  By the way, don't spend tons of money on those fancy dog food bins, head over to Home Depot or any hardware store and pick up an airtight bucket!  I found this one that is food grade on Amazon! You can fit a ton of food in it and the lid seals even better than some of the specially designed dog food containers do! Now, back to the floor storage...Aside from the dog food, I decided to use a small set of storage drawers for things like paper plates, napkins, and koozies (don't ask me why we have SO MANY koozies) all things that I hate cluttering up my cabinets with! I also had an extra shoe box bin so I decided to put all of my reusable shopping bags in it!  This way, I might ACTUALLY remember to use them.

STEP 4: UTILIZE DOOR SPACE - Don't forget that your door is also useable space in your pantry! Now at some point I'll probably try to make even better utilization of it, but for now, it's the perfect place to keep a calendar, since I can't remember anything these days and also those dreaded plastic grocery bags! Does anyone else feel like they haunt you?  They are everywhere! I highly recommend getting one of these cloth bag holders because you can easily hang it on the door and it doesn't take up any space and they won't be falling out everywhere! 

You can see how I utilized the door space and finally the FINISHED PRODUCT! 

I've linked all of the products for you within the step by step guide so you can get organized too!  By no means do you need to use everything that I did, but I found that these products worked really well for me and also for spaces that are shallow and don't have a ton of room.  Let me know if you have any questions - you can always email me directly or reply in the comments below! 

HAPPY ORGANIZING! 

XoXo - Jamie 

**Post contains affiliate links for products which I personally recommend.  By clicking the links and purchasing the products, I may earn a commission. I do not include affiliate links for the purpose of solely earning product commission, I do so in order to share products I love with you! Purchases are made as-is as the consumers discretion** 

Preparing Your Fur Baby for a REAL Baby

So anyone who knows my husband and I, also knows that we are 100% obsessed with our French Bulldog, Havana.  She is honestly our world and we could not imagine life without her!  So, when we found out we were pregnant, we both had a sense of excitement but then also panic because our "baby" would no longer be the only one around.  Havana loves people and REALLY loves my husband (me she could take or leave most days, especially if a waffle or cheese is involved) but this made us really wonder, how would she be with a baby?  What do we need to do?  Do we need special training?  Should I carry around a baby doll?  Is she going to feel completely left out and replaced?  Suddenly, the thought of raising a child also meant potentially re-raising our bulldog...if you have any sort of bully breed, especially a frenchie, you know how stubborn they can be.

After much debate, we sought out a trainer to help us prepare Havana for her new brother or sister.  Below are some of the most important things we learned and are (or at least trying to) work on with her.  At the end of the day, she is basically 25 lbs of kisses and love who wouldn't hurt a fly...literally she just stares at them...so we feel pretty confident that with a few pointers and some patience, we can prepare her for a pretty big lifestyle change!

 

1. Claim Your Space - Okay this is classic dog training 101 but we are really bad with it.  Havana is with us all the time whether we are watching a movie or going to sleep, she loves being right in on the action.  But, we found out this is really just encouraging bad behavior and that in order to help keep her from thinking the baby is her personal heated stuffed animal, it is something that we needed to work on.  Our trainer told us not to be afraid to claim your space because at the end of the day, a dog wants to feel safe and wants to be lead in the pack (despite what your dog may make you think).  So, we've started small with claiming things like the couch, the doorway, etc... to try to keep her from unexpectedly jumping up when the baby is next to us.  

2. Sleeping in the Bed - Now I know some people will disagree with me here, but our trainer told us it isn't necessary to kick Havana out of the bed.  I get that some people think its disgusting to sleep with your dog in the bed and I do not judge...I also wonder if those people come home from the NYC subway and sit on their furniture!  Anyways, Havana has slept with us since she was a puppy and does still to this day.  Our trainer said if you have a dog with major anxiety that they absolutely should NOT sleep in your bed because it just encourages it.  However, a dog like Havana, who is pretty independent but just loves to snuggle, is a different story.  Dogs like this can sleep in the bed even when the baby arrives, but, you obviously need to take precautions.  For one, if you plan to co-sleep with the baby, you should make sure you have something like a Dock-a-Tot or other boundary to place around the baby.  Also, you can always kick the dog out of the bed periodically without making him/her feel bad (even though its going to make you feel awful).  For us, we plan to have a bassinet in the room when the baby is small and won't have the baby sleeping in the bed the majority of the time, but, we also have started to work on giving Havana a space of her own off of the bed where she can feel comfortable but not left out.  The trainer let us know that dogs, despite what we may think, don't really have the emotions that we as humans do in feeling "left out"...yes, they may give you those sad puppy eyes, but they aren't going to carry it with them for the next week.  

3. Introducing the Nursery - One other thing we've done is try to introduce Havana to the nursery.  Every time we work on it, we include her in the routine so she can become familiar with all of the new things in the room like the furniture, carpet, crib, etc.  Before, our nursery was an office so she didn't really find it all that exciting, but now when she goes it, she goes crazy with excitement! It's almost better than a treat to her (I said ALMOST) and I know she will always be in there with me and the baby, just watching over everyone to make sure all is okay.

4. Baby Sounds - Playing baby sounds on our phone is another tip!  Now she doesn't seem to be phased by them at all, at least right now, and this could totally be a product of growing up a "city dog" but this was one highly suggested thing from our trainer and from my research.  There are apps, videos, and tons of sources where you can find every baby sound under the sun!  Although you might not want to hear them yet, it will help your dog adjust, especially if he or she is a bit skittish. 

5. The Day of Delivery - Another thing we had to think of was, what the heck do we do with her when we have to leave to go to the hospital, especially if its in a rush or in the middle of the night?  Having a plan for this is crucial.  Don't put it off!  We've arranged for my cousin (who Havana adores) to watch her for the few days that we will be away.  But the important thing is to leave the house as if nothing too crazy is happening...I know this is easier said than done....but she is used to us leaving during the day and having someone familiar to come watch her will help to keep her calm before her brother or sister actually comes home.

6. Baby Scents - Everyone knows dogs love to smell any and everything; its how they explore and learn.  So, one of the biggest pieces of advice we've received is to bring home a baby blanket from the hospital with the baby's scent on it a day or two before you actually come home with your new bundle of joy.  I think my husband will probably come home for an hour or so to do this and leave the blanket in Havana's bed or somewhere where she lays.  That way, she can be familiar with the baby before it even comes into the house and it won't be such a shock to her.

7. Don't forget to LOVE - Now this might be obvious, but in the chaos of everything involving a new baby, it's so important to remember that you still have your fur baby and if he or she is anything like Havana or any toddler for that matter, excitement will be taking over.  I know she is going to want to be involved in everything to do with the baby, she is extremely curious, and there may be some bumps in the road, but just like your new baby, your pup will still need affection and LOVE. 

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Overall, transitioning your pup is a process that is going to take some patience.  Do I expect everything to be perfect?  No way.  But being proactive and taking some steps before your new baby arrives can make life a little bit easier for your fur baby and for your as new parents! 

XoXo - Jamie