Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Simplest New Years Eve Party Ever

Instead of throwing a big bash to ring in the New Year, just keep it simple, and focus on celebrating!

Invite a few friends over for a New Years Eve dessert. Each person (or family) can bring a different dessert. You can provide the coffee and eggnog, and let others know they can bring something else if they so desire.

Create a simple buffet for the desserts to go on. We had some friends and family over for a simple 'Twas the Night Before Christmas party, and this was my dessert buffet. We had appetizers and desserts, so the drinks and apps were in the kitchen, and the desserts were in the dining room. It gave us the chance to spread out a bit.

Your buffet could be on a counter, an island, a table, a side board, a mantle... whatever space you feel works best in your home. Pull out all those leftover Christmas goodies that seem to never end, and put them on a fancy tray. Suddenly, you'll see them disappear... which is always a good thing around here!

The important thing to remember when you're designing your display is to create different levels. This creates a more interesting arrangement, and also allows people a little more room when they go to reach for their goodies. If you don't have tiered serving pieces, you can always place a tray on a few books to add a little height.

Set out serving utensils to go with each platter or tray, so that when people arrive with their dessert, you won't be swamped with trying to find the right serving piece for each tray.

The nice thing about having people over on New Years, is that your house is already decorated, so why not enjoy it with your friends! Hope each of you have a great New Years, and I can't wait to celebrate 2011 with you!

Linking up with Simple Pleasures.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lingering in Holiday Joy

I have a hard time saying goodbye...even if it's just saying goodbye to a holiday. I love to squeeze as much celebrating as possible out of my days. Sometimes, it feels like the world around us is ready to just push onto something else, without really savoring what has been. So, I'm resisting the pressure to put our Christmas stuff away, and am lingering in my cozy den of holiday joy.

Speaking of my den, these are a few shots of our den...I finally am getting around to taking a few pics of the new house.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Instructions for a Successful Snow Day

We don't get snowed in here very often, so when we do, we have to make good use of our snow days. For all you mid-west and northerners, don't laugh at our little 5 in. snow day. We really were stuck! lol. Here are my instructions on a truly successful snow day.

1. Sleep in. As late as the munchkins who live in your house and come and sleep in your bed will let you.

2. Make plenty of coffee.

3. Stay in pjs as long as possible.

4. While drinking your coffee (or tea) look out at all the snow. It's a gift indeed to see it sparkling in the sun.

5. When the munchkins come running in and break your peaceful train of thought, instead of getting grumpy, suggest going out to play in the snow.

6. Put on a big pot of soup and let it cook while you go out to play.

7. MAKE the kids go to the potty before getting suited up...even if they promise they don't have to go right then.

8. Agree to building the "biggest snow man on the block!"

9. Encourage the munchkins that it's still the best snow girl on the block, even if it's only 3 feet tall.

10. Have a snowball fight...especially fun if you have one with your hubby.

11. Come in and eat some yummy hot soup and grilled cheese for lunch.

12. Do dishes later.

13. Watch a family movie by the fire.

14. Make hot chocolate and popcorn for a special movie snack.

15. Take a nap.

16. Make dinner whenever...and eat leftovers if at all possible.

17. Put the kids in bed by 8 so that you and hubby can have a stay-in date night.

18. Drink eggnog and snuggle while you watch a favorite movie.

19. Eat some more Christmas cookies. After all, they have to be eaten before they go bad.

20. Enjoy having a day of rest!

Meet Fresca, our artsy Snow Girl.

After being "forced" to take the day after Christmas off, I think it will be annual tradition. It felt so great to be able to just rest and relax after all the festivities of Christmas day.

Have you been celebrating lately? I'd love to hear about it! Linking up with others today at Multitude on Mondays.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Christmas Prose

coffee perking and fresh fruit out

fire crackling and children waking

a familiar story read

a sweet prayer said

Christmas morning is here.

excited eyes to see

stockings filled and presents wrapped

fingers open quickly

and squeals delight our ears

what a blessed day is come to us.

snow falling lightly

family time together

nibbling on snacks

love and laughter shared by all

the celebration continues.

festive outfits on

presents gathered together

through the snow we'll go

other family to see

more joy to be had.

delicious dinner given

visiting with those we love

gifts, goodies, and glee

full bellies and hugs to each

so thankful for the family we have.

slow drive home

peaceful snowy streets

aglow with lights for all to see

remind us of the true gift of Light

come down for us all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Favorite Holiday Cookie

Ok, if you're allergic to nuts, you can stop reading. If not, these little tasty morsels are so easy to make, and definitely a Christmas classic in my book. From as early as I can remember, my mom made these at Christmastime. That was the only time of year she made them, but they were cookies that I looked forward all year! Needless to say, they've become a permanent fixture around here for the holidays, even though my thighs hate me for it come New Years!

Noel Nut Balls

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cup finely chopped pecans

Sift flour, sugar, and salt together (I don't always sift mine, just mix together). Work in butter and vanilla. Add 2 cups pecans, and mix well. Shaped into 1/2 inch balls. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar while warm.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Open House

My parents love decorating for Christmas. Especially my dad. He's always loved the lights and the festivities to go along with the season. He's always the one who wanted the colored lights on our tree, and couldn't wait to set it up. After he and my stepmom decorated their house this year, they decided to host a Holiday Open House.

There were no fancy invitations or favors wrapped up to give guests. They had casual paper products in festive colors. It was simple. Appetizers on the island, Christmas music playing, and people could come and go at their leisure. Easy, enjoyable, and entertaining. A great way to open the doors of their home to the people they love.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Freedom to Celebrate

A lot of times around the holidays, we feel the pressure to entertain. Even in the music we hear, "They'll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting...", and as fun as throwing a party is, it is a lot to undertake. Yes, even for an event designer. I have found that these few perspectives give me a little more freedom to celebrate with friends and family over this most joyous season.

1. Think of ways to share the load. (if you're a LOTR fan, you'll envision Sam saying that in slow motion to Frodo for a second). Instead of having it be all up to you, ask a few friends to host an event with you. I love being able to collaborate with several people. It encourages more diversity, creativity, and plus...the workload is decreased tremendously!

2. Design your event to fit you. Your holiday event doesn't have to be a black tie affair with table settings and place cards for everyone (though i would gladly come and design that for you!) You want your event fit who you are. If you love playing games with your friends, ask everyone to bring a dish to share, and then get your game on. If you have a group with lots of kids, put on a Christmas movie and order pizza for the kids. Save the good stuff for you! ;)

3. Consider leaving the times open. I love events that are floating. You don't feel ashamed when you walk in 30 minutes late, or when you have to leave early. You can stay as long or as little as you like, without feeling like you're disappointing the host. I was at an event just yesterday where someone came in about 45 minutes after the event had begun. She was apologizing for being late, when the hostess said to her, "You're not late! This is an open house...that means you can come whenever!" The sigh of relief that came from the guest was golden.

4. Prepare in advance. One thing that I try to do with any event is to take time to get ready. I hate having too much to do in not enough time. For example, if I know I'm going to have a dessert, I'll make the dough for my cookies a couple days in advance. That way, on the day of, all I have to do is form the cookies and bake them. Or if I'm having friends over for dinner, I will set the table the day before. If I'm designing a larger event, I like to do as much the day before the event as possible. I try to do my preparation in steps, so that it's never crashing down on me all at once.

The important thing is to celebrate. Whether you sit down for an hour around a table, or not at all, what will be remembered is the time you shared laughing, maybe crying, playing, and enjoying being together. Maybe it's too late for this Christmas, but there's always New Years! And, really, it's never too late to celebrate being together.

Pictures credit to:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Give Away (at Seek)

I'm so excited to announce that Events by Design is hosting the give away over at Seek the Triad today! If you haven't been over there this month, I hate to tell you, but you're missing out. They're doing a daily give away for people in the Triad, and tons of local businesses and venues are participating. It's like Christmas...every day this month!

The girls over at Seek are so fun. They are always posting great ideas and finding out about awesome deals in the area. It's been great to get to know them. Go over and visit with me over there today!

Also, the rest of this week, I'll be posting about some creative ways to celebrate Christmas with your family, super shortcuts for holiday preparations, and simple but elegant place settings. Check back this week for ways to celebrate the season!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's in a Name?

There are so many times that a ordinary happening becomes a celebration, simply because of a title. Life doesn't give us a lot of extra time, I try to find ways to squeeze a little more celebration into the things we're doing already.

The first time it felt really cold this Fall, I made hot chocolate. But this was no ordinary hot chocolate. This was the "First Hot Chocolate of the Season!" After that it definitely felt more like an official celebration.

Or, sometimes in the afternoon, when my kids are hungry for a snack, if I title our snack as a "Tea Party" it just suddenly comes to life. It doesn't have to be big and fabulous...but then again, maybe it just is.

They especially love it when they can pick whatever they want (even if that means bologna and pretzles with sprinkles).

You can apparently never have too many toothpicks.

When we don't have time to go into eat at a fast food restaurant, I'll announce that we're going to have a "Car Picnic"! Then, suddenly, it's another fun thing to do. You'll be surprised at all that can become a celebration...simply because of a name.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Natural Beauty

We have things all around us that can be used for more than what we first think of for their purpose. Take the pine cone, for example. Something so simple, so natural, and even...FREE (if you're willing to go on a nature walk). A few years ago, I gathered several and spray painted them gold. They have held several new purposes for me since then...

A place embellishment

An easy centerpiece

On a garland

A decor accent

An ornament

Or even as a gift topper...sorry no picture of that, because I haven't wrapped any gifts yet!

These little beauties are perfect for lots of reasons, but I especially love them for decor at this time of year. It's easy to miss the things that are sometimes right under your nose. Instead of throwing out all those pine cones, reuse them, and give them a whole new life!

Linking up to Simple Pleasures.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Think I Can, I Think I Can...

Maybe getting settled isn't something that has to happen for you. I think my need to feel settled goes way back. My parents got separated when I was in third grade, and from then, until I was 18, I switched back and forth every week of my life. Different houses, different rooms, different personalities of families, but the same me. The first thing that I did upon arrival of either house, was to put my stuff away. Then, I felt settled.

I know it's only been a little over a week, but it feels like it's been some what difficult to settle. I take lots of deep breaths, and then go unpack some more. I look for what feels like hours for a pair of shoes that I know we had when we left our old house. I hang things on the walls, and think of the projects that I'll get to when I have a bit more time. I shuffle boxes around, and mess with putting things where I think they will live well. I try to find the perfect place for all my things to now belong.

We are so blessed to be settling into a more spacious and beautiful home, and yet still, I feel the struggle of getting used to the newness. The work it takes to find our place, the process that must continue, no matter how slow the pace.

It's probably because of the season, but I can't help but think of a baby who gave up the comforts of His home to come here. He laid down His right to be seen as King, and gave up a place far grander than anything I can imagine, and willingly came to this world for me. For you. He came. Even if my tree only has one half lit strand of lights on it, and my Christmas cookies don't get made this year, He came. And that is what this season is truly all about.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Winter Weddings...A Beautiful Thing

This time last year, I was reveling in the beauty of a winter wedding that had just finished up. It was in Winston Salem, and was so fun to design with it being so close to Christmas. This couple had many ties to the area, and were actually having the ceremony on the campus of Wake Forest University. It was romantic, charming and beautiful.

One tip I would give for winter weddings...still go outside for pictures. Even though my sweet little bride was freezing, these pictures were absolutely gorgeous. She was a good'd never know it was below freezing. It was only for a few minutes, and oh so worth it!

I think one of my favorite things about being a wedding planner, is seeing how the couple grows through the process of the engagement. When I first met with the bride, she assured me that there would be no dancing. You can imagine my joy when they took the floor, and dazzled everyone with what they had been practicing. They're so cute.

Megan Alexander Photography did an absolutely amazing job with this wedding. They captured so much on this day, and this was just a snippet of all the joy that was had.

There will be many new engagements over the next few weeks, and little boxes that are opened with squeals and tears on that magical day in December. It brings me so much joy to assist couples and their families in this time in their lives. They truly become part of my life, and I, in turn, become a part of theirs. I was so happy when I got my Christmas card from the mother and father of the bride of this wedding. It was a reminder of how special these times are, and how much is shared in those months leading up to a wedding. It is a glorious time... and one in which I love to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Lucky Day

I was driving home from a meeting this morning, and had just a few minutes to swing into Goodwill. You never know what you can find there. Sometimes, nothing...other times, just the thing you've been wanting!

I always justify going in, on the basis that "I'm just looking...for the kids." I lie like a dog...and trick myself into walking right in! But, today, I was so glad I did.

Since we just moved into a new house, I've got house on the brain. I was absolutely thrilled when I happened to see this lovely cake stand.

I was even more happy when I saw the price tag of $4.99. I can't wait to bake a Christmas cake. (Any great recipes that I should try?)

I also found a fun Southern Living at Home tray for only a couple bucks, and a great lamp shade for $3. I was so happy.

This was definitely a simple pleasure for my day! Have you ever found anything stunning for a steal?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Peeking Out from Under

I wish I could tell you that all of the boxes are gone, and that the house is completely set up. But, I'd be lying. However, I can tell you that we had an absolutely amazing moving day. We had wonderful friends come and help us. And some even brought delicious surprises like doughnuts and cookies. But the biggest surprise of all, was that right in the middle of moving, it decided to snow for the first time this year. And it snowed, and snowed...for the rest of the day! It was glorious. Even though the house was a mess by the end of moving, it was still the best moving day ever. The good news is that the boxes that are still out, are mostly Christmas decor, which makes me happy and giddy inside. I just wanted to peek out from under all the boxes to tell you that we are getting there. Slowly, but surely, we're getting settled into our new abode.

The Greatest Gifts

Finding the perfect gift can be difficult. Finding the time to find the perfect gift, is even more difficult. That's why I decided I would give you the gift of time, and tell you my favorite places to shop for the greatest gifts and deals.

You can shop online at all of these places, and each has price points that range from just a few dollars to lots of dollars. Sometimes, I just need to know that someone else has LOVED whatever the place is, so that I feel confident in making a decision to shop there. Well, let me just say that all of these people and places, are fabulous, and I know you will feel the same after ordering from them. But, I'll warn you, you might also want to do some Christmas shopping for you!

Adorned by Lonnie - An online jewelry boutique representing more than 60 artisians globally. Each piece is selected for its unique qualities and for how it will compliment and reflect your beauty and style. All of it is exquisite, and she has free shipping now through dec. 31st!

All Wrapped Up - Lea will customize and wrap up any gift for any person you know. All you do is tell her a little bit about the person, and she works wonders!

Arbonne - All natural skincare and make up - these are the only skin products that have ever worked on my skin. They have reduced my little crows feet and wrinkles, and have given my skin more clarity! Their tagline is " Pure. Safe. Beneficial." And let me tell you... they are!

Etsy - because everything is better handmade.

Events by Design's Online Boutique - Fun bags and gifts that can be personalized for anyone! Of course I had to throw in a shameless plug for my own shop.

IJM - Ever think about the price of freedom? Ever want to give it as a gift? You literally can. International Justice Mission goes all over the world, freeing victims of slave labor, sex trafficking, and other forms of slavery. It really happens, and we really can do something about it. It's an absolutely amazing ministry.

Loco for Coco - amazing handmade truffles that will be gone before you know it!

World Vision - When you realize that people here have so much, and people throughout the world, do not, you want to do something about it. Giving gifts like these is one way you can.

So, if you're on my shopping list, don't be surprised if you get a gift from me from one of these places. They truly are the best of the best!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Gift Guidelines

I am a total gift giver. I love, love, love gifts. However, sometimes I have the feeling that I have to spend a lot of money on a gift for it to be special. I will sometimes get a gift on a great sale, but then, because I only spent $5 on it, I feel like it can't be that person's "main present" then I end up getting something else to go with it. After all that, of course I end up going over budget. It's so silly.

The only thing that has helped me with all of this, besides my ever-gentle and money-mindful hubby, is making my own set of gift guidelines. This is the basic process:

First, we decide on the total amount that we have for gifts.

Then, we write down all the people we want to give gifts to (including our kids).

Next, we go down the list and put the amount of money in each spot, to make sure we have enough for each person's gift.

Then, we try to decide what gift we're giving to each person/family. We try to think of things that will be good for that person, and not just random stuff to give.

Finally, no matter how hard it is, I stick to it! It ends blessing my family (especially my relationship with my hubby), and my wallet.

I will say, that I use to want to give actual gifts to everyone I knew and interacted with on a regular basis. As much as I love giving gifts, I have had to pull back severely from this mindset. Instead of giving presents to people like neighbors and Sunday School teachers, we choose to bake yummy goodies...or Pioneer Woman's amazing cinnamon rolls (which bake 7 pans). Honestly, I think they appreciate these types of gifts more than things that end up adding clutter to their homes.

Do you have any gift guidelines that you use in deciding how to shop at Christmas? I look forward to seeing you in the days to come, especially with it being the "most wonderful time of the year".

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Winner(s)!

I'm up to my waist with boxes all around here, but thankfully we'll be moving tomorrow! I wanted to take a quick break to do the drawing for the winners of Monday's giveaway.

Congratulations, Ladies...

Tessa you won the mini market tote!

And, Julie, you won the mini session with Meredith Rowe!

Thanks so much for partying with me! Can't wait to show you guys the new house next week!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Problematic Bride

My favorite bride right now is a bit of a problem. She's amazingly beautiful and extremely brilliant, but she's a little bossy sometimes. And, she's always trying to convince people that she's younger than me. But the biggest reason why she's such a problem, is because she's moving 14 hours away, in just 2 days.

My big sis and I have always been close, but over these last four years, it's been wonderful to have her in the same town. I've gotten so spoiled by our frequent drop ins and weekly dinners. She's getting married in April, and I know I don't need to tell you who her wedding planner is. She and her fiance as so cute. They're very excited about their big day coming this Spring, and I'm so happy for them.

We flew down to New Orleans for a wedding planning weekend a few weeks ago.
When the stewardess asked us if we were headed down for "Work or play?", I said "Work!" while my sis simultaneously replied, "Play!" And, even though I worked them hard, with back to back appointments throughout the weekend, we had a ton of fun!

A side street in the beautiful French Quarter

Taking a break at Pat O'Brien's.

I had contacted their band to see if they'd be playing anywhere while we were in the area, and it just so happened that they were doing a second line in Jackson Square on Saturday afternoon. Of course, I fit it into the itinerary. It was so fun to get a tiny sneak peek at a traditional New Orleans wedding.

My favorite French Quarter treat at the wonderful Cafe Du Monde.

Jackson Square at sunset

I adore helping others plan their weddings. Big or small, near or far...I absolutely love it. This N'awlins wedding is going to be the perfect representation who this sweet couple is. It's going to be completely fabulous!

Now, if I could just move the state of Louisiana about 13 hours closer, we'd be good. Oh well. I'm off to get some waterproof mascara!

With Love From,

Have you heard about Shutterfly's awesome selection of hundreds of Christmas cards? I love all the different styles they have to choose from. We are trying to decide between a few, but they are a really good deal right now. They have photo cards ranging from .49 - $1.04, and are all super cute!

One thing that I like about their layout, is that you can choose several different shots to put on one card, or just a few in a series that all look great together. Also, they have spots to have your family's initial, and a place for a message to personalize whatever you want to say on your card. For a non-graphic designer, it makes designing my own card pretty easy!

With all the changes in our family over the last year, I'm looking forward to sending out Christmas cards. Besides their fun holiday selection, Shutterfly also has great photo cards for graduation announcements, birthday invitations, and even calendars that make great grandparent gifts! It's a great website to be able to use for your next special event.

Also, bloggers, you can get 50 cards for free, simply by posting about Shutterfly's site. I think I'll take that offer to the bank!