Hosting on the Fly

Nobody enjoys being caught off guard. Whether you’re a planner or not, surprise guests or unexpected hosting can create a bit of uneasiness. But instead of panicking when out-of-town guests are suddenly in town or shying away when the original host gets sick, try keeping a few of these things on hand to make hosting on the fly that much easier.

13315640_10153768928355914_8648626608434208068_nFood: Cheese and crackers. Seems simple, doesn’t it? It’s the age-old, easy appetizer at any gathering. Kept simple, it is a crowd pleaser for a children’s party. Dressed up a little bit with salami and nuts, it can transform into a charcuterie board.

Drink: Champange
No, I am not just saying this because I am a lover of bubbly. It really is a very versatile beverage. It can be combined with juices and fruit to create a themed punch or compliment a brunch when served with orange juice. Andi f you’re opting for a more formal gathering, it can be the center of a formal toast or speech.

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Drink: Carbonated Beverage

Think lemon-lime soda, ginger ale or tonic water. This offers your guests a non-alcoholic option or can be paired with alcoholic beverages for fun creations.

15726770_10154938848902975_5060880096617101071_nDécor: Candles
I tend to keep a variety of candle options on hand. In addition to my favorite White Barn three-wick seasonal candles from Bath & Body Works, I also make sure I have a stash of tealights, pillar candles and of course, birthday candles. Tealights can be lined along a window sill close in proximity to create a romantic ambiance. Grab paper bags and sand or kitty litter and a few pillar candles to build easy DIY lanterns along your walkway. And make anyone feel extra special (even if the party isn’t exactly a birthday party) by popping birthday candles into the dessert selection and singing to them.

image2 (1)Décor: Chalkboards
My personal favorite is a sandwich board with a black board finish. You can use chalk or colored chalk markers to draw out a welcome sign or display a menu. It instantly eludes that thought and time was put into the event, even if it was completed just moments before guests arrived.

Games: A Deck of Cards
It’s a fun go-to after dinner when guests aren’t quite ready to leave yet. It can also be an activity for guests to focus on if there is a mix of people who aren’t necessarily friends or acquaintances. Games can break the ice for guests who don’t know each other well. And in the wintertime, a deck of cards can direct a game of Chinese Christmas as we call it creating a little friendly competition over gifts.

Miscellaneous Supplies: Small Gifts
When I’m out and about or have a few extra dollars, I always keep my out for small gifts. I keep them on hand for that “oh crap” moment when you realize someone is celebrating a birthday, anniversary or milestone without your knowledge. Or, they are great to have as hostess gifts when I myself attend a gathering. My stash changes throughout the course of the year but can usually be found stocked with some of these staples: cute and clever coffee mugs paired with $5 coffee house gift cards or a seasonal blend, a bottle of mid-range wine (in price and taste), stationery that can be paired with a fun pen or tied with a ribbon and a few fresh blooms, and chocolates or cheeses given with a candy dish or small cutting board.

Hopefully the next time the doorbell rings or your family stops in for an unannounced visit, you will feel much more prepared!

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

When I originally started this blog, I was inspired by how many celebrations I was getting to be involved in and celebrate this year. And from the graphic above, you can see really how much celebrating I did this year! How blessed am I that this year has been such a whirlwind of milestones that I get to share with family, friends and clients?

And when I look back at all of these events, there are a few things that stand out as my favorites:

The handmade paper flowers from the wedding of Heather Benson & Alex Horn. I mean talk about talent!

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Our vintage Mother’s Day finds for brunch. I mean, who doesn’t like getting paid to go antiquing as part of your job?

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The bride who took some golf action shots in her wedding dress.

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Photo compliments of Tyler Beck Photography.

 The police car that crashed the wedding reception.

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The ability to pull off a total surprise.

The mounds of flowers I got to enjoy far past the Elder/Smith wedding.

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Photo compliments of Silverbox Photography.

The unplugged ceremony that focused on guests taking in the real moments of the wedding.

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Photo compliments of KatFour Photo.

 The genuineness of couples.

Photo compliments of Lindsey Pantaleo
Photo compliments of Lindsey Pantaleo.

The fact that my friends are creative enough to make McDonald’s the theme for a bridal shower.

Photo compliments of B. B. Photography
Photo compliments of B. B. Photography.

The handmade cakes by Lauren.

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The endless supply of cheers & champagne!

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The “Friends” photo booth.

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Photo compliments of J. Kelley Photography & Photo Booth.

The monogrammed corn hole games.

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The gorgeous calligraphy and attention to detail from Blue Poppy Lettering.

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The presence of a lost mother.

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That magical moment of walking down the aisle.

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Photos compliments of Heather Brulez Photography.

When your heart is so happy for a couple that you feel like it could burst!

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Photo compliments of Carretto Studio.

The warm candlelight glow of this reception.

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And lastly because I am biased, the entire day on September 17, 2016.

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Photo compliments of D. Squared.

Romantic Winery Wedding

Above photograph compliments of Kristel McCoy Photography

Clearly, it’s been a while since I have written a post. I have been extremely busy with all of the celebrations happening in my family. And one of the most important events my family has recently celebrated was my sister, Alyssa’s, marriage to her long-time boyfriend, Tony.

Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about when my sister told me she would be getting married in Temecula. Of course I had heard of it since Tony had spent two of his six-month rotations for his current job in Southern California. But I had no idea where to begin with a destination. Because quite honestly, I had never attended nor been involved in planning a destination planning.

aly wedding 1But as I stood next on a step next to her during their intimate winery ceremony, it all made sense. That place was not only breathtaking but it represented such a powerful time in their relationship. It was a time that the two of them were living halfway across the country from each other and yet their dedication to each other allowed them to get past the distance and built a stronger foundation for love….and marriage on July 15, 2016.

And of course the day was as picturesque as I could have ever imagined from start to finish.

manorIt all started in the bridal suite of the Wilson Creek Manor (thanks for the pictures, Alex!)…

And let me tell you, it felt as if we were on the set of “The Bachelor,” and I was continually waiting for Chris Harrison to come around the corner clinking a champagne glass. The accommodations were incredible, and not only was it the perfect space to get dolled up for the big day, but it also served as a mingling venue for the wedding party and guests throughout the weekend.

The Dress
I had seen it before in person and in pictures, but there’s nothing quite like seeing your sister in her dress on her wedding day. Not to mention Amanda did a beautiful job of creating the perfect balance of glamour and classiness for Alyssa’s look. And ladies,  can we talk about that train? Shout out to Gina for killing it in the MOH department.

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IMG_4336The Venue
Right after seeing the winery, my initial was why this one? (Side note: I thought wine country was in Northern California, but Temecula has 45+ wineries!) Her answer was simple: Wilson Creek is based on family values. And not only do they have family values covered, but the owner even hand-delivered a wedding present to Alyssa and Tony during their reception.

The ceremony took place in front of a gazebo in the courtyard of the winery, and cocktail hour and the reception followed in the breezeway and the winery’s barrel room. The room glowed with a romantic ambiance thanks to candlelight uplighting, and the room was filled with whimsical flower arrangements from Sweet Petals Floral Design Studio.

IMG_0039My favorite part of the intimate reception was the table layout. Bride, groom, Maid of Honor and Best Man sat at the head of the table, and the rest of the guests were seated perpendicular to the honored guests. It made for easy conversation and created a family-style atmosphere even in such an elegant setting. Different shades of purple and gold accents adorned the table covered with beautiful calligraphy place cards and menus made by Blue Poppy Lettering.

The Party
The only part of the celebration Alyssa was worried about was feeling awkward during the dancing portion of the evening. But there was no need to worry! The DJ from Pacific Entertainment kept Beyonce, JT and ’90s hits bumping all night long. I did have the best dance partner if I do say so myself 🙂 The DJ basically had to stop the music from playing for guests to go and enjoy the cake. But oh, was the break necessary!

The Cake
Almond champagne cake. Enough said.

Well, Cakes To Celebrate really does deserve a little bit more attention than that. It was effing delicious for lack of a better weird. Wilson Creek Winery is known for its almond champagne, so it was only appropriate to incorporate it in the cake flavor.

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And now that I’m back home and back to my normal routines, I can’t help but be missing that gorgeous California weather, the simple celebration of life and more importantly, seeing the love that Alyssa and Tony had for each other on that day and I know they will have every day. Lucky for us, there’s a Milwaukee reception in a few weeks! Until then….