Inspiring Celebrations Since 2006

cocktails for coffee-lovers

Get your Starbucks™ fix in a whole new way for the Holidays! Here are some yummy holiday cocktail recipes – and fun signature drink ideas for your next party – using Starbucks™ Coffee and Cream Liqueurs. I have to say the Coco Café sounds particularly good now that the cold weather is here! (yes – sometimes it even gets cold in San Diego!)

starbucks holidaystarbucks holiday
1 part Starbucks Coffee Liqueur
1 part Starbucks Cream Liqueur
1/4 part DeKuyper Peppermint Schnapps
Shake and strain into martini glass.
Garnish with a sprig of mint.

The Candy Cane Martini

1 part Starbucks Cream Liqueur
1/2 part DeKuyper Peppermint Schnapps
1/2 part DeKuyper White Creme de Cacao
1/4 part Grenadine
Shake with ice, strain and serve in a martini glass rimmed with crushed peppermint

CoCo Café (Warm up!)
1 part Starbucks Coffee Liqueur
1/2 part DeKuyper Peppermint Schnapps
Hot Chocolate
Serve in an Irish coffee mug and top with whipped cream!

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hospitality under the influence

amy sedarisFunny-girl Amy Sedaris recently penned a much-publicized book on entertaining called I Like You (Hospitality Under the Influence)– which I finally got around to ordering last week and received in the mail yesterday. After less than 5 minutes of flipping through, it was obvious that Amy’s quirky (think “Strangers with Candy“) sense of humor is definitely not lost in this book :) It seems to be just as much about entertaining the reader as it is about instructing readers on how to entertain others.

With clever, tongue-in-cheek copywriting and kitschy 1970’s-looking imagery that is just about as un-Martha Stewart as you can possibly get – for example, Amy in a very yellow polyester jumpsuit and side ponytail, doing a toe-touch near a few potted plants – one of which is labeled “weed” – I Like Youdefinitely sets itself FAR apart from most entertaining books…so far apart it’s in it’s own genre – and I have to say I’m a fan :) Great holiday gift idea! For more info, check out the reader reviewson Amazon.

amy sedarisamy sedaris{images via}

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modern menorahs

Shraga Landesman’s beautiful menorahs are truly works of modern art! Each piece is handmade and signed by the artist. Prices range from $78 – $175 for Pewter menorahs and $220+ for solid brass. Click here to check out the entire collection. {via thisnext}

modern menorahmodern menorahmodern menorah

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french rabbit

Boxed wine has never looked so good! These adorably-packaged premium French wines by French Rabbit come in an eco-friendly Tetra Pak™ container – so they’re environmentally friendly too – I’ll toast to that!

french rabbitfrench rabbit{via fishtank}

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stylish stockings…

holiday stockingsBold, cheery stockings are a must-have holiday treat for design-lovers! Here are a few favorites that I stumbled upon recently…with patterns so cute & modern, not even a lump of coal could ruin them! Pictured above: Bull’s Eye Stockings and below: Hable Christmas Stockings – both available at Garnet Hill for $28/ea.

holiday stockings
Sooooo cute from Sprout home (pictured below) – Xmas Stocking Red/G/W & Xmas Stocking Brown/B/G. Don’t miss the white version either! ($40/ea)

holiday stockings
Bring in some serious holiday sparkle with Chunky Sequin Stockings from West Elm ($19/ea)…

holiday stockings
And last but not least, adorable stockings by Ahna Holder make me oh-so-happy! ($45 ea at 2modern)

holiday stockings

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HWTM Holiday #2 – Green & Serene

Green & Serene Holiday
Here’s the second official HWTM™ holiday tabletop! We just hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house and this is the theme that I used…my family seemed to love it – hope you enjoy it too! This design works well for Christmas parties or non-denominational holiday celebrations too…click here to download the detailed pdf.

Green & Serene HolidayGreen & Serene Holiday

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adorable measuring spoons

bird spoons
I just can’t get enough of all the cute bird designs out there right now – and these charming little bird measuring spoons are no exception! Everything is handmade using traditional metal smithing techniques – which makes for a beautiful gift… ($85/set – includes 4 pewter spoons and copper display rack)

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designer sandwich bags

Make lunchtime more fun with these adorable designer sandwich bags from Mobi! Ten fun patterns to choose from – including dots, pink camo, stars and more. (these would also be cute little wrappers for your party favors!) $5/pack of 20 at

designer sandwich bags

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delilah crown aprons

How cute are these aprons from Delilah Crown?! I’m absolutely loving them…and if you love them too – you can pick one (or more!) up from The Curiosity Shoppe at 25% off thanks to Daily Candy Deals. Just enter DAILYDEAL06 at checkout to get 25% off your entire order!

curiosity shop aprons

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HWTM Holiday #1 – Berries & Branches

berries & branches
Hi Everyone –
We’re still working away on the main website…It’s proving to be more of a daunting task than I anticipated as the workload seems to just grow and grow – but the progress is exciting and can’t wait to share it with you when Phase 1 is ready!

In the meantime, I wanted to give you a sneak peek of what the site is all about, so I’m planning to post a few official Hostess with the Mostess™ holiday tabletop designs this week. The first design – featured today – is called "Berries & Branches " and is more of a playful design. I’ve posted a few images here, but you can get full details of how to create this tabletop by downloading the pdf (3.1 M) – which has some tabletop tips and more extensive imagery. The pdf actually follows the website template – so it should give you an idea of what’s in the works – and even more details will be available for each party theme when the website launches – including coordinating recipes & signature drink ideas for each theme.


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simrinI got my first peek at the fabulous simrin textiles collection from Grace at design*sponge a couple months ago and was thinking about them again recently, so I thought I’d share these beautiful images from their catalog with you. How often do you see tabletop linens – including coordinating table runners! – that are this fun and modern?! Their pdf catalog lists some sales and contact reps – so that might be a good place to start, but I’m having trouble finding retail locations that sell them. I’ll do some investigating in the next few days though and let you know if anything pops up…or if anyone already has some tips on this, please do share!


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rockett st. george

Ummm…!! Many, many thanks to Holly for recently sending over info on Rockett St. George – an amazing British-based design retailer. Their selection of products are a modern-design-lover’s dream! Of course I’m especially loving the entertaining products – as you can see from the fabulous dishware pictured here! – but Rockett St. George offers everything from furniture and home accessories to clothes and gifts. Click here to visit their website and experience eye-candy overload for yourself!

rocket st. georgerocket st. georgerocket st. georgerocket st. georgerocket st. georgerocket st. george

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anthropologie aprons

It becomes increasingly more clear to me why half the world seems to be obsessed with Anthropologie…for example, these super cute, retro-modern aprons and dish towels


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cup couture!

cup couture

Give your favorite hot drink a cool shot of design with a fabulous fabric cup sleeve from Cup Couture! Not only do these insulated drink sleeves look great, the fact that they reduce paper waste makes them great for the environment too…which should warm you up even more! ($12/each at Satinbox ) **Use promo code HOSTESS for 15% off your entire order at Satinbox!**

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wine and cheese soirée

wine and cheese

Whether you’re going fancy-shmancy or hip and casual, wine & cheese parties are always a great way to entertain and sure to be a hit with your guests because of all the interactivity and excuses to mingle. Here are some fun products to liven up your next wine and cheese soirée…


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a rock scissor paper holiday

Put your guests in the party mode with these fun & festive holiday invites from rock scissor paper! Only $24 for 10 custom-printed invites & envelopes… and they’ll even custom-print your return address for only $5 more! Shown below: fireworks, holiday jewels, golden starburst (which comes with hand-applied glitter details!), and a pattern close-up from the retro-modern starfire.

rock scissors paper holiday…and a couple more fun invites: decorate and yummy:

rock scissors paper holidayrock scissors paper holidayMake sure to check out their string tie gift tags and enclosure cards too (how the cute is the holiday owl!). Actually, their entire holiday gift wrap collection is fantastic! Why not just check it all out!

rock scissors paper holidayrock scissors paper holiday

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“real simple” centerpieces…

Looking for some holiday centerpiece ideas? Here’s some inspiration from the folks at REAL SIMPLE magazine, using easy-to-find elements and just a few key pieces for each design. This goes to show how beautiful simplicity can be!

real simpleWho knew produce could make such a great centerpiece? The key is in the way you display it: For a modern feel, group the same types of edibles together in tight bunches or think geometrically and line them up in neat rows. These centerpieces would look great on your Thanksgiving table…

real simplereal simpleWith their bright colors and cool bottle designs, a group of Izze soda on display always makes for great party decór…

real simpleGroups of faux “gifts” have always been one of my favorite easy centerpieces. I like how they stacked a bunch of small boxes together to create the gifts in the photo below. You can use this idea for any of your celebrations – baby showers, engagement parties, holiday parties…the sky’s the limit – just grab some empty boxes and great designer gift wrap in a few coordinating patterns, then add a fantastic fabric ribbon or bow, and that’s it!

real simple
(All photos by Maura McEvoy for REAL SIMPLE magazine. Click here to view the full gallery on

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for very merry gifts…

…wrap them up in oh-so-cheery holiday wrap from snow & graham and hello! lucky Favorites shown here: S&G berries and cardinals gift wrap and coordinating blackberry tiny cards and cardinals tiny cards (which also work great as place cards!)…

snow&graham gift wrapsnow&graham gift wrapsnow&graham gift wrap
S&G birch, partridge, and ornaments prints…

snow&graham gift wrap
hello! lucky holiday cheer and festive deer & bird gift wrap…

hello! lucky gift wrap

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pretty plates from mayfair avenue

Bella Italia! The beautiful plates from the “Trattoria” collection – cheese plates, fruit dessert plates, juicy cherry dessert plates, and pasta plates – are elegant, simple, and design-delicious! (plates sold in sets of 4 for around $40/set)

trattoria dessert platestrattoria platesI’m also loving the zen-ish simplicity of the Antai Grass dinner and dessert plates (which, by the way, are currently on sale for 40% off)!

antai dessert plates

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whimsy holiday mats

whimsy press placemats The talented folks at Whimsy Press make me oh-so-happy! They’ve brought their hip, modern gift wrap designs to the table (literally!) with these fun & festive holiday placemats. And just like their wrap, all of the mats are reversible… (more…)

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modern harvest…

harvest table linens
Autumn entertaining gets modern with these richly-colored harvest table linens, which boast embroidered autumn silhouette graphics for a modern/minimalist appeal. I’m especially loving the dandelion pattern!

harvest table linensharvest table linensDon’t miss the coordinating harvest appetizer plates and divided dish too…more mod silhouette graphics…and this time with a glazed finish. Beautiful!

harvest platesEntertaining in your living room? Carry this look all the way to your couch with these coordinating embroidered harvest throw pillows and set your apps up on the coffee table!

harvest throw pillows

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sooo cute…

owl sake setHow cute is this owl sake ware set from Anthropologie? Even if you’re not a sake-lover, this little trio will look adorable in your hutch or on a kitchen shelf! For a super-cute gift idea, wrap this up with a bottle of chic sake like Gekkeikan’s Black & Gold.

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