Inspiring Celebrations Since 2006

Host a London Staycation Party!

London Staycation Party

Can’t get away on a fancy trip this holiday? Why not bring the destination to you?! This is the concept behind the “Staycation!” feature in People magazine’s special Holiday 2008 Extra issue, which included  3 “dream destination” vacation spots – Aspen, London, and The Caribbean – and I was super excited to be asked to create the London theme!

I think the issue only went out in the mail, but you can click here to view a jpeg of the full spread at a legible size – or check it out online at people.com (although most of the images are only in the print version).

London Staycation Party

I also designed some printable invitations to go with this party theme, which are pictured in the top image. You can download them below for free (pdf format). There are 2 versions – the first is exactly like the version pictured in the article and says “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” at the top – and the second says “YOU’RE INVITED” instead of “Happy Holidays” so that it can be used anytime of year…

Get the links to download both invites – and additional British-themed tabletop & party decor ideas – after the jump! (more…)

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Champagne Desserts for New Year’s Eve

champagne desserts for new year's eve

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I took a much-needed break from the computer for a few days, which was the best Christmas present ever – it’s amazing how different the world can look after a few good nights of sleep! Speaking of which… catch some extra zzz’s tonight and tomorrow night if you can – because we all have a good excuse to skimp on them again come Wednesday!

For the next few days we’ll be focusing on some fun ideas for ringing in the new year… starting with a few dessert recipes featuring one of the key ingredients for new year’s eve celebrations: champagne, of course!

champagne desserts for new year's eve

Champagne Dessert Recipes:

1. White Peach, Cassis, and Champagne Floatsa super-easy & refreshing dessert that’s part Kir Royale, part peach parfait, and looks absolutely gorgeous!

2. Pink Grapefruit, Strawberry, and Champagne Granita with Sugared Strawberries – This granita recipe garnered rave reviews at Epicurious!

3. Champagne, Darling? Freezesfeatures lemon sorbet, champagne, and citrus vodka or limoncello…a true dessert cocktail!

4. Jelled Champagne DessertThis glass of bubbly is served with a spoon!

(more…)

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White {Chocolate} Christmas

white chocolate recipes

There’s something so inviting and “wintery” about the look of white chocolate, which makes it perfect for holiday treats! Here are a few yummy recipes links for all my fellow sweet tooth friends out there…ENJOY!

Pictured above, clockwise from top left:
White Chocolate Truffle and Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake
White Chocolate Tiramisu Trifle with Spiced Pears
White Chocolate Cheesecake with White Chocolate Brandy Sauce
White Chocolate Amaretto Cake

white chocolate recipes

(more…)

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New Year’s Greetings + 20% Off!

hostess

If you’re like one of the gazillions of people that got swamped with all the holiday craziness this month and didn’t quite get to that “Send out Christmas Cards” line item on your to-do list, you’re definitely not alone! I was talking to some of my friends about this recently, and every single one of us had noticed a major scale-back in the holiday mailbox greetings this year, which we concluded was probably due in part to 2 things: 1) cutbacks in holiday budgets, and 2) the fact that Christmas was so close to Thanksgiving this year, which meant it crept up on us quicker than usual.

Some good news though – if you still want to send out holiday well-wishes, it’s really not too late… because you can always opt for a “Happy New Year” message, which is actually a great way to kick off the new year on a positive note!  (more…)

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Bakerella’s Snow Globe Cupcakes

bakerella coke snow globe cupcakes

There are some people that are creative with food, and then there are others that are just PURE GENIUS! Bakerella easily falls into the latter category – just take these ridiculously clever “Snow Globe Coca-Cola Cupcakes” for example, which she made from upside-down mini coke bottles, red baking cups, and lots of sweet stuff.  I bet the folks at Coca-Cola are even impressed!  Learn how to make them here.

bakerella coke snow globe cupcakes

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY: Sacred Charms

sacred charms yoga jewelry

We have another fun Surprise Giveaway for you today… the first of THREE coming this week! This giveaway comes from Sacred Charms – which is a jewelry company with twist. Their designs feature “a variety of symbols and charms combined with beautiful gemstones and pearls, all carefully designed to enhance and inspire the beauty within and around us.”

sacred charms yoga jewelry

Today, Sacred Charms is offering up $100 Shopping Sprees on their website to TWO lucky HWTM readers, so you’ve got double the chances to win!  Perfect timing for holiday gifts for your favorite jewelry lovers or yoga fanatics!

Click here to enter the giveaway – and check out a COUPON CODE for everyone!

(more…)

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Dreaming of a Pink Christmas…

pink Christmas decorations

Pink may not be one of the colors you’d usually consider for your holiday party decor, but one look at this fabulous “Pretty-in-Pink” gallery from BHG.com just might change your mind! These ideas would also be lovely for a holiday-set wedding, bridal shower, or girlie-girl birthday celebration.

pink Christmas decorations

And of course every pink party requires matching pink treats, right?! How about this Pink Martini and Pretty in Pink Pretzels recipe for starters:

(more…)

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Simple Chic Holiday Florals

hostess

I’m loving these non-traditional – and super chic – red, white, & green floral arrangements for an elegant holiday party. The white stones and monochromatic blooms create such a serene, modern minimalist vibe…

The top and lower left images are from Pottery Barn and originally intended to showcase these platinum vases (which do happen to be on sale!), but you could also achieve the look of these vases – “economy style” with standard glass cylinder vases and some metallic gift wrap.

hostess

The right side of the image above shows a cluster of ruby breadseed poppies displayed in a pewter vase…casual elegance! {via brides.com}

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All That Glitters…

glitter holiday decorations

Make your holiday decor sparkle with a healthy dose of glitter! Here are a few shimmery project ideas from Martha’s gallery of Glittered Holiday Crafts

Pictured at top: Glittered Bird Centerpiece featuring glitter-dusted birds and tinsel-wrapped branches.

glitter holiday decorations

Pictured above: Snowy Balloon Ornaments.  There are detailed instructions on how to make these here – but I’m thinking you could also achieve a similar look the “short-cut route” by spray painting and/or glittering spun rattan balls or wicker balls.

(more…)

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A Very Merry Baby Shower

holiday baby shower

Here are a few images from a “holiday” themed baby shower I hosted over the weekend, and the rest of the pics can be seen in the Holiday Baby Shower photo album over on the HWTM Facebook Page. Mom-to-be is having a girl, so I just added some pink ornaments & papers to our regular red & silver holiday decorations to turn them “baby girl appropriate” for the day…

holiday baby shower

Acrylic pacifiers, pink-labeled baby lotion & baby oil, baby socks, and “snow bunnies” were mixed into the decorations to give them a “baby shower” feel.

holiday baby shower

The tables looked full, but were decked out with mainly inexpensive details: the “table runners” were made from gift wrap, paper napkins were embellished with ribbon & gift tag “napkin rings”, and the red foil charger plates were $6.99/set of 4 at Target.

(more…)

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Simply Stated: Hot Cocktails for Winter

hot holiday cocktails

Today on Simply Stated: celebrate the season with these delicious, hot cocktails… CHEERS!

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Super-cute Snowmen Treats

snowmen treats

These fun snowmen-themed treats from BHG make me happy just looking at them…did you ever think a glass of milk could be even remotely this cute?! (top left image)

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: “Look at Frosty Go” milk glasses (yes – those are powdered donut hole heads!), “Before I Melt Away” white chocolate ice cream cups, “Frosty” eggnog, and “Snowman Face” cupcakes.

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Deck the Halls, Tree & Table… for 50% Off

silver and red holiday decorating ideas

I’ve been on the lookout for some cool new red & silver decor since we’re switching our color palette up a bit this year, so I was excited to stumble on these fabulous “Swirl Christmas Ornaments” by Martha Stewart for Macy’s (image #1, above).  Even better – they’re on sale for over 50% off!  Seeing as we use ornaments for everything from trimming the tree to filling vases to overhead ceiling displays… this is definitely, as Martha would say, “a good thing”!

Another good thing: there’s actually an entire “50% Off Holiday Decor” section full of tons of great finds for all sorts of different color palettes. Here are a few sparkly, shiny, and on-sale favorites for fans of 1) Red/Silver, 2) Gold/White, and 3) Silver/”Ice” palettes:

Collection 1: SILVER & METALLIC RED

(more…)

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY + Home Bar Tips from The Nest!

The Nest Home Design Book

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Build a Bar at Home (Warning: Hangovers Ahead!)

Hi! I’m Carley from TheNest.com, the spin-off home site from the folks at TheKnot.com (every bride’s wedding obsession). We recently came out with The Nest Home Design Handbook, a cool 101 on everything casa-related. I’m thrilled to be guest-blogging on HWTM about building a bar at home—because c’mon, how many more times can you drag yourself to a hot, crowded bar and wait twenty minutes for your gin and tonic? Consider this your very own VIP lounge.

The Nest Home Design Book

{photo by: Mark Lund}

Hook Up Your Cart

Okay, if you don’t mind plunking down a bit of cash, we love this sleek bar cart from Restoration Hardware. It keeps everything in one handy zone and can be rolled anywhere in the house.

Budget-conscious? Skip the cart and set up your bar on a side table. Another way to save is to skip a lot of pricey liquors and stick to just vodka. It’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck since it can be mixed with OJ, cranberry, Bloody Mary mix, and more. Download our Stocking the Bar checklist on TheNest.com and toss it in your purse so you don’t get amnesia at the liquor store.

***** (more…)

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Enchanted Fairy Birthday: Photo Album + “Toadstool” Bites

enchanted fairy birthday party

The rest of the pictures from the Enchanted Fairy Birthday Party (see Sneak Peek from yesterday) are now up on the HWTM Facebook Page! Complete details on how to recreate this theme will also be up in the Party Themes section before the end of the year, but in the meantime feel free to ask any questions you might have either here or over at the photo album.

Also – while browsing for some inspiration on Flickr, I came across this ridiculously clever themed appetizer idea that is definitely worth sharing:

enchanted fairy birthday party

Little “Toadstools” made out of hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, and feta sprinkles…ADORABLE!
{via _dai_}

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Simply Stated: Hot Pink & Green Holiday

pink and green holiday decor

Today over at Simply Stated – brighten things up with a festive Hot Pink & Green Color Palette for the holidays!

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Sneak Peek: Enchanted Fairy Birthday Party

enchanted fairy first birthday party

Update: All the pics for this theme are up on Facebook now! View them here.

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Remember that “Woodland Fairy Birthday Party” that I asked for some help with a couple weeks ago? Here’s a sneak peek of how it turned out – many thanks to HWTM readers and all the fantastic ideas that you posted!

More pics of this party will be available soon, but I just got them back and couldn’t resist posting a little sneak peek right away…starting off with the most ridiculously cute pic of them all – the fairy princess herself! {above}

enchanted fairy first birthday party

After really diving into the details of this party, I realized that there are tons of routes you can take with a fairy theme… and tons of ways to bring it to life! This party ended up looking more “enchanted” than “woodland” style to me, so I’ve renamed it from the original post, but I still think it would be fun to explore the woodland-style version in the future and really play up the ivy, wood/branches, old-fashioned lanterns, fireflies, and other “Peter Pan” type elements.

enchanted fairy first birthday party

Inexpensive details like sheer ribbon, metallic pipe cleaners, and paper stars added a touch of whimsy to the place settings… (more…)

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SURPRISE GIVEAWAY: LilyGirl

Update 11/26: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks so much to everyone that entered – your sweet comments really meant a lot to Lori & Denise at LilyGirl!  And the randomly drawn winners are: First Prize: Commenter #122: Molly and 2nd Prize: Commenter #79: Noel. Congrats to both of you! And for everyone else – there are 3 new giveaways coming up this week!! ;)

lilygirl jewelry - home jewelry parties

I’m super excited about today’s Surprise Giveaway, because it comes from one of my very favorite jewelry companies (trust me..the proof is hanging in my closet!!). LilyGirl is owned & operated by sisters Lori and Denise – who create gorgeous, handmade jewelry right here in San Diego County. This week, they’re offering up shopping sprees on shoplilygirl.com to TWO lucky HWTM readers! $150 to the first name drawn and $50 to the second!

lilygirl jewelry - home jewelry parties

Pictured above are a few of the many options in the LilyGirl “Jewelry Bar” – where you can mix and match your favorite elements to create your own look – pick a pendant, a silk, leather or chain, add a bauble or leave it plain…HAVE FUN!

Pictured below, a few favorites from the Holiday Jewelry collection. Oh…and all these cool wire pendants and shapes you see everywhere? Those are all twisted by hand! Pretty cool, huh?

(See more designs & details for HOW TO ENTER after the jump…) (more…)

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Simply Stated: Fabulous Reindeer Finds

reindeer holiday decorations

Today over at Simply Stated: Celebrations, check out a list of 10 Fabulous Reindeer Finds – like this adorable Red-Nosed Rudolph Pop-Up Card, reindeer-themed hostess gifts, sparkly white “snow reindeer” figures and more!

reindeer holiday decorations

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Baby Shower Theme: Big Top Baby

big top circus baby shower

This “Big Top Baby Shower” is another one of the baby shower ideas that I worked on for Parents.com – and it’s also the one that I’m dying to actually try out the most! Chicken fingers and cotton candy at a baby shower? Why not?! You can still make the shower look chic… it’s all about the presentation – and it’s always fun to throw something unexpected at your guests!

There are tons of fun ways to play up a circus theme in general, as well as ways to make it even more “baby shower specific”. For example, add some super-cute plush lions, monkeys, and elephants (which can double as gifts for baby after the party) or mix in some themed baby items like circus-print onesies or this fun Circus Pals Table Feeding Set by Skip Hop.

For more details, check out the full article on Parents.com – and feel free to add more ideas here!

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Celebrity Holiday Cards for Charity

celebrity holiday cards charity

How many people can say that the host of Dancing with the Stars or “Valerie” from (the original) 90210 designed their holiday cards? Well, now that tiny prints has teamed up with celebrities like Samantha Harris and Tiffani Thiessen to create a line of holiday cards benefitting their favorite charity, that could just be the case!

My personal favorite of the celebrity designs are Melissa Joan Hart‘s “Blossoming Cheer” (pictured below) and “Heartfelt Holiday” (pictured at top) – both of which benefit Friends of the Family.

celebrity holiday cards charity

Elisabeth Rohm‘s “Growing Green” design is super cute too… (more…)

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Holiday Cocktail: Peppermint Patty

peppermint patty holiday cocktail

This Peppermint Patty “hot toddy” from the Winter 2008 issue of The Nest looks absolutely de-lish! Perfect holiday “dessert cocktail” or signature drink idea for home parties like ornament/cookie exchanges.

Read on for the full recipe… (more…)

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Table Trends at Once Wed

once wed - orchard wedding

If you haven’t been to Once Wed yet – prepare yourself for creative overload once you get there!  One of my favorite things they produce is a bi-monthly “Table Trends” post featuring beautiful and unique wedding tablescapes – and all the details on how to recreate them – on a budget of $250 or less!

Pictured above and below are images from the very first Table Trends feature: a beautiful Orchard Wedding Tablescape designed by Chelsea Fuss.

once wed - orchard wedding

Pictured below: a fabulous Vintage/Handmade Tablescape created by Laurie Cinotto. The oodles of creative details in this tablescape are truly inspiring!

vintage wedding

vintage wedding

I’m loving this easy-to-do, yet super-creative presentation idea of punched paper silhouettes on top of wrapped chocolates… (more…)

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Luscious Chocolate Cookie Recipes

chocolate cookie recipes

Calling all Choco-holics: BHG has a mouth-watering gallery up right now called “18 Luscious Chocolate Cookie Recipes“…need I say more?!

chocolate cookie recipes

Image #1: Chocolate PB Mini Sandwiches, Peanut Butter Munchies, Minty Cocoa Fudge Sandwich Cookies, Italian Chocolate-Spice Cookies.

Image #2: *Chocolate Pillows and Chocolaty Caramel Thumbprints.

*I’m thinking that anything called “Chocolate Pillows” is a must-try… especially when followed by: “Fill wonton wrappers with a buttery mixture of red wine, melted chocolate, and tart cherries; vanilla ice cream sprinkled with chocolate shavings completes the treat.” Click here for the complete recipe!

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Holly Heights by Kate Spade

kate spade holiday dinnerware: holly heights

This fabulous Holly Heights collection from Kate Spade has a festive “modern & merry” vibe. Kate’s pieces are usually a little out of my price range, but these adorable “Tidbit Plates” are awfully tempting! ($50/set of 4 at Macy’s)

kate spade holiday dinnerware: holly heights

Pictured above: Holly Heights Ornament Set ($75), Holly Heights Mugs ($75/set of 4), and Holly Heights Cake Plate ($100) – all from katespade.com

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Spiced Pumpkin Desserts + Walnut Tartlets

spiced pumpkin layer cake

Feel a Thanksgiving-day sweet tooth coming on? These fall-friendly treats would make for a very happy ending to any turkey-day meal…

thanksgiving pumpkin desserts

Pictured above:
Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake (at top)
Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing
• Spiced Pumpkin Mousse Trifle
Walnut Tartlets (YUM!)

Enjoy!

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Thankful for: Quick & Easy Table Decor

modern Thanksgiving table

If you’re looking for an easy & affordable way to dress up the Thanksgiving table in a pinch – just head to the scrapbooking aisle of your favorite craft store! The best thing about this concept is that you can tailor the look of the table to whatever your favorite paper pattern might be…

modern Thanksgiving table

• This “Funky Thanksgiving” table features a fun retro-mod paper pattern and bright chipboard leaf silhouettes from American Crafts™. (more…)

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Bright & Contemporary Fall Centerpieces

modern thanksgiving centerpieces

I’m loving these super colorful and unique fall centerpiece ideas from BHG.com… perfect for a modern thanksgiving table.

Pictured above:

• Bountiful Basket: several colorful dried fruits and veggies displayed in a linen-lined basket

• Zen Gourds: large red mums and golden gourds displayed in modern rows on a sleek square tray

• Sunflower Runner: various sizes of red and yellow sunflower blooms really stand out on square white appetizer trays, like this set from Crate & Barrel. ($22.95/set of 12)

• Flowers & Fruit: large red mums & orange kumquats spill out from a pedestaled urn.  (For a very modern take on this concept, I like the idea of painting the urn a glossy white before creating the arrangement.)

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Real Weddings: Natural & Organic-Inspired Wedding Reception

rustic fall winter wedding

Even though weddings are usually done on a much larger scale than at-home parties, the level of creativity that goes into the receptions makes them a wonderful resource for drawing inspiration & ideas from for everyday celebrations & holiday parties as well, even if you just emulate a few of them or modify the ideas to fit your budget.

rustic fall winter wedding

For example, this gorgeous wedding reception, which was designed by event planner Beth Helmstetter (who you might remember from the fun & unique “Eclectic Baby Shower” we featured earlier) – has some great inspiration for fall or winter celebrations – from Thanksgiving to Christmas to bridal showers or engagement parties held this time of year.

rustic fall winter wedding

Read on for the details, as told by Beth, as well as lots of “Style Steal Tips” at the end of the post… (more…)

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REAL PARTIES: High School Musical 3

high school musical party

The super-creative Robyn Bomar from Mix Mingle Glow recently created a fabulous “High School Musical 3” themed party that I’m sure would make lots of girls VERY HAPPY! Robyn’s party was actually held outside of a movie theater to celebrate the release of the new movie, but you could re-use these ideas anytime for a fun HSM-themed birthday party!

INVITATIONS:

high school musical party

For the invitations, Robyn created official “VIP Passes” with all the party details written on the back, then tucked them into tins filled with red, white, and gold m&m’s, and a small card asking guests to arrive in their “East High red and white” to show some spirit! (more…)

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