Friday, September 2, 2011

Colorful Labor Day BBQ Ideas

Hi there, Creative Entertaining readers!

Yes, I know, it has been a LONG TIME since I last posted to CE. Life has a habit of getting in the way of blogging sometimes... The past year has been one of some big changes for me: moving to a new city, getting a new job, and navigating all things new during that transition. With that being said, I'm ready to get back to posting Creative Entertaining blogs for you on a more regular basis!

To celebrate the end of summer-- wait, what's to celebrate?? Boo! To mourn the end of summer on Labor Day weekend, check out my "Color Your Summer BBQ" article that I wrote for the Mermaids of the Lake summer issue. Although I want to mourn the end of summer, it's just too hard to want to don black, so enjoy my colorful tips for creating a low-key, high-impact, color-filled summer BBQ!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just want to wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones! And remember, if you have any turkey questions, you can ask Butterball via @Butterball on Twitter or 1-800-BUTTERBALL or e-mail at You can meet the Turkey Talk Line experts here. The talk line will be open through December, so keep this information handy! :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Hostess Gifts

'Tis the season for parties! As you gather with family, friends, and co-workers to celebrate the holiday season, you no doubt have quite a few gatherings on your calendar. We all know how much work goes into hosting a get-together, and we all know just how stressful they can be on top of the holiday madness.

Quick Bread
Photo from (link below)
I believe it's important to acknowledge the host's and hostess's hospitality, so consider bringing along a hostess gift to each of your holiday soirees this season. I particularly like to share handmade gifts, so if your schedule allows, handmade gifts add a special touch to the gift.

Cocktail Mixers
Photo from (link below)
As usual, Martha Stewart and crew provide some great homemade ideas that make great hostess gifts. They also make it easy for you to make enough for multiple gifts, thus stretching your budget further (love it!). AND, you could even give these as small tokens to neighbors, co-workers, and your children's teachers.

Here are a couple of my favorite Hostess Gift Ideas from Martha Stewart:

Quick Breads - I love to bake!
Cocktail Mixers - Mmm!
Tea Sachets - Get crafty!

As you kick off this week with Thanksgiving, don't forget to share your gratitude with your dinner hosts! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

If you want more inspiration, please check out a previous Creative Entertaining blog post for Homemade Candy Gift ideas. These also work great as hostess gifts or even holiday party favors.
Do you have any great hostess gift ideas? Share them in a comment below!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Carving and Fall Decor

Halloween is only a week and a half away (yikes, why is fall moving so quickly??) so I'm here to help you with the oh-so-important task of pumpkin carving. If you're anything like me, you may have a love/hate relationship with the task of carving pumpkins. I love the experience of going to pick out my own pumpkin (or two), and I relish the end product of whatever design I chose to carve. But I get lost around the part of trying not to lose any fingers while using sharp objects on a slippery and gooey pumpkin... and then having to clean up my mess. :-)

But I digress...

Pumpkin carving is an integral part of the fall season. And while some may attribute this tradition specifically to Halloween, there's no reason to not include carved pumpkins as part of your general fall/harvest or Thanksgiving decor as well.

Witch Silhouette by

As always, the crew over at Martha Stewart has some great ideas for your carved pumpkins. They've even provided templates for you to help make the job a bit easier. And for those who are not so comfortable with carving a pumpkin (or for the little kids), browse through the templates and you'll find some that have been adapted for painting an image onto a pumpkin.

Haunted House by

Some of the templates will serve you well as a centerpiece for a dinner or dessert table. The one pictured below is the Vine and Leaf Centerpiece.

Vine and Leaf Centerpiece by

For those who are brave enough hosts, consider inviting others over to a pumpkin carving party. It doesn't have to be an affair just for the kids; it could also be a family party or an adults-only soiree.

Create My Event has a wonderful DIY project that I'm going to try myself, Haunting Halloween Hurricane Candles. I may have to adapt the project for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I do want to attempt this project soon. See the photo below...

Photo by Create My Event

Best wishes for a wonderful Halloween celebration!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Puppy Pawty

Thanks to Amy of Stem Parties for sharing this party from Dinner Bells (click on the Dinner Bells link to go to the original "pawty" post).

I thought this party was so creative that I wanted to share it with you as well. What I love most about it is that a pet's birthday is yet another great reason to throw a party! :) Like you need a reason to throw a party...

Photos by Dinner Bells; collage by Stem Parties
Pictured above is Jack, the birthday puppy, along with some features of his party. The theme was tennis balls because that is Jack's all-time favorite toy.

Photo by Dinner Bells
I really love how Jack's mom incorporated party treats for both canines and humans, making this a fun occasion for all who attended. Check out the Dinner Bells link above to read a first-hand account of Jack's party and to see more photos and details of the pawty.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Punchbowl Halloween Contest

Ok, you creative entertainers! I'm here to tell you about Punchbowl's Halloween recipe contest. It's super-easy to enter, and they are looking for FIVE winning entries to feature on Punchbowl! If you don't know what Punchbowl is, it's a party-planning website that let's you take care of all the details of your event in one place. Click the link above to head to their home page.

Here's how the contest works:
- Submit your most creative, scary, imaginative Halloween recipe.
- You have until 11:59 PM EST on October 25, 2010 to enter the contest.
- Recipes must include a list of ingredients and directions of how to make the recipe. You may also submit a link to a blog post about the dish.
- Winners will be recognized in a special pre-Halloween e-mail newsletter, and they will also win a free Platinum Punchbowl membership.

If you're interested in learning more or entering the contest, please click here. This will take you to Punchbowl's blog with the official details of the contest and how to submit your entries.

Good luck! :-) And if you are a winner, be sure to let me know!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tasting Parties

I was out of town two weeks ago and to kill some time one afternoon, I stopped by the local Pier 1 Imports store. I love this store because I always walk in and feel so inspired to entertain, and without fail, this visit created the same reaction. Or maybe it was worse this time. I. WANTED. IT. ALL. :-) In the words of Rachel Zoe, "I DIE!"

What's the big deal? See photo below. Pier 1 has a new line of tableware for tasting parties! 

What is a tasting party? This concept comes from the tapas and small plate trends in restaurants. I would personally host a tasting party and either a) have an excuse to make a bunch of different recipes that I love, or b) invite others to bring along their favorite dish to share with the rest of the party guests.

What makes this a fun concept is that a tasting party is meant to taste... so the portions are smaller, unluck a traditional potluck event. So if I love food so much, why would I want to eat less?? Hello, annual holiday season weight gain! :-) I love the tasting party concept especially for holiday celebrations for a few reasons...
  1. We all tend to groan at yet "another" holiday party.
  2. It will enable you to provide food for your guests without stressing over the party budget.
  3. It provides a variety of options for every palate.
  4. Since you will not be providing a full meal, you can host a tasting party at alternate time (like afternoon) which will help ease the stress for guests who have multiple holiday party invitations for the same evening. 
  5. You can elect to pair the food tasting with a beverage tasting as well. Try out some new concoctions or wines you've been wanting to try. Or, invite your guests to bring their favorite beverage to share since you'll be providing the food.
Photo courtesy of
What might possibly be the most fun part about a tasting party is the miniture dishware that Pier 1 Imports now offers for your convenience.... and just how CUTE are those mini spoons?? Click here to browse through Pier 1's online store to check them out for yourself.

Photo courtesy of
You don't need to limit yourself to hosting a tasting party solely during the holiday season. Use this concept for a chocolate tasting, a night with the girls (or guys), a child's birthday party, or a viewing party for the big game.