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The best parties are those that have the three G’s: good food, good music and good lighting. And of course, a good guest list. I decided to turn to my favorite DIY projects into a sensational party setting that would wow my guests. 

Invite

Skip the Evite—the best impression for an elegant party is to mail invitations.  Evites give the idea that anyone and everyone is invited and rarely get a prompt response.  A sophisticated dinner party is exclusive. A DIY invite can save you money and look far more impressive to your guests. They'll be intrigued to come see what else you'll have at the party. 

For this recent dinner party, I chose A Midsummer Night's Dream as my theme, but you can go DIY for a backyard BBQ and have just as much fun with your projects. I got crafty and became a DIY Diva with Cricut.com's new electronic cutting machine and their Make It Now projects. It cuts, paper, fabric, vinyl and even leather in minutes, flawlessly.

Music

If you aren’t musically inclined or have the time to make a varied selection then search for DJ mixes online or CD’s that fit the theme of your party from lounge music or soft R&B for dinner and switch it to disco for dessert to keep the mood and energy upbeat. Or get yourself the Camden Square from PolkAudio.com and you can connect up to four iPhones so to share playlists.

Flowers

Buy fresh from your local farmer's market or supermarket the morning of the party OR go DIY and make a stunning centerpiece like we did of paper and fabric flowers. With a few adjustments, I can mix and match different flowers, even mix with fresh for future parties.

Food and Drink

As for food, keep it simple. If you want a sit down dinner minimize the guests to 8-10 and prep the ingredients or portions of the meal ahead of time. Stick to what you know in the meal department. Stay away from complicated recipes and main courses that need constant attention. Don’t hesitate to dole out side dishes to friends and order your favorite dessert from the local bakery.

For more guests set up a buffet and hire someone to pass hot hors d’ouervres, serve dessert and clean up the kitchen. You can usually hire someone through a catering company, cooking school or college program. The point is to get out of the kitchen and enjoy the party.

Stick to wine and either beer or a signature drink for alcohol. Stick to seltzer and ice tea as your non-alcoholic choices. Nothing gets more bogged down that offering too many choices of soda and drinks.  

Seating Arrangements

Mix up where friends usually sit at your table. Create place cards and help establish some new friendships. To break the monotony that can occur with the same old crowd, come up with questions for your guests. Type or write them up ahead of time and place them under the dinner plates, dessert plates or in a bowl so guests are unaware until it’s time to share. You may suddenly learn of a hidden desire, their favorite gift given or received or even a silly fear. 

For the Guests

Don’t let guests leave empty handed.  Write or print up the recipes from that evening’s dinner, roll up and secure with ribbon and tie around a mini bottle of wine or champagne. Or just send them home with something sweet like a mini cupcake.

Photos

Don’t forget to capture the memories. Create your own photo booth. You don’t need to hire anybody. Instead create a backdrop with something as simple as a large sheet. And offer your friends props like simple DIY masks, hats and sunglasses. Take photos on each other’s cellphones and share.

     

DIY

Cricut is looking to get inspired by you!  All my DIY projects were created with the new Cricut Explore.

For 50 days, Cricut is giving away a Cricut a day to creative people who have Made It. Maybe you made a scarf, a four layer cake, paper mache from 2nd grade  - all you have to do is take a photo of the project you've made and share it by hashtagging your photo with  #cricut #imadeit  - your project could win you a Cricut worth $299.  

To win a Cricut, hashtag any project  #cricut #imadeit. Go to cricut.com/imadeit for details. 

Drinks, anyone? My guests will be vying for a seat at the bar on one of these stylish stools.

My bar needed an update so I shopped for new bar stools. I was surprised to find the perfect mid-century style bar stools on LampsPlus.com. Sure they're known for lamps, shades and accessories, but you'll be pleased like me to find home decor like pillows, throws and just right for my bar makeover--barware.

YUM!

We love an afternoon treat and when we can incorporate a breakfast ingredient, even better. These sticky ooey gooey balls with Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal! It's simple to make and within a few minutes you're biting into a mix of marshmallows, caramel and dark chocolate.

Recipe:

Sticky Ooey-Gooey Balls

6 Cups Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal

¼ cup butter

1 pkg. 10 oz. marshmallows

1 bag 7 oz. dark chocolate

20 caramels

1 Tbsp. water

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan on low heat. Add marshmallows; cook 5 minutes or until marshmallows are melted and the two are well blended, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly.

3. Microwave caramels and water in a medium microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until caramels are completely melted, stirring every 30 seconds.

4. In a large bowl, pour in the cereal. Start adding the melted marshmallows and caramels to the bowl of cereal and mix all together.

5. Shape mixture in to 24 balls with cold water moistened hands. Place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet; cool completely.

6. Heat dark chocolate in a bowl over a pot of hot water on the stove at a low heat. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted.

7. Dip top of each ball in chocolate; return, dipped side up, to baking sheet. Refrigerate 15 minutes or until chocolate is firm.

More Home Decor

We girls scour Pinterest and home decor magazines for ideas to add style to our homes and apartments. This week we wanted to share some of the latest decorative items we've bought or are considering! We've got pieces for a little light on the patio, an eye-popping room off the pool and even for when you're singing in the shower.

Alison's Pick

    

Classic Trellis Large Wallpaper in Tiffany Blue, $51 Hayneedle

We have a small second kitchen and full bath on the same level as our pool so guests can dash in and out for drinks, snacks and well, you know. The space used to be all white, but now one wall is covered with this peel-and-stick wallpaper and framed photographic artwork to give the room fully styled appeal.

Oversize Seagrass Basket, $129 West Elm

This basket is the perfect item to store all our blue patterned beach towels so guests can nab one for a day by our pool.

Christina's Pick

Antigua Tabletop Laterns, $10-$25 World Market

My hot summer nights call for unwinding after a long day on my back porch. Nothing relaxes me more than lighting a candle and burning my favorite incense. We're decking out our patio this summer in cool Mediterranean colors with a boho flair. I absolutely love these candle lanterns because they illuminate in different colors when you have the candles lit. I can't wait to set them up around our tiny porch to create the perfect at home oasis.

Street Swag

Lauren's Pick

Singin' in the Shower Curtain, $25 Modcloth

Perfect for a regular "Shower Idol!" like me. Do you like to break into your fave Adele or Justin Timberlake ballad in the shower, or are you a Gene Kelly film-buff, you're gonna want to add this to your bathroom decor. It definitely adds a glorrrrious feeling to my morning and nightly routines!

Endless Amusement

Christina Wright's Pick

Twine-Wrapped Wood Vases, $15-$30 West Elm

These mango wood vases from West Elm are the perfect combination great pops of color and organic elements. They are a definite must buy for me. I love how the lemon yellow twine would be such a perfect accent to my bright yellow walls in the living room!

Simply Modern Weddings

 

 

Lamps Plus 20" Silver Drum, $179.99

Welcome to my unfinished closet. We shot an episode of the Dukes of Melrose for Bravo TV in this closet and Christos Garkinos and I shopped it for Decades. The large size of this walk-in closet with its floor to ceiling window was one of the main draws to buying the house we now live in. The pretty comes from the clothes, shoes and accessories not the design of the space. And while the majority of rooms in our new house have not only been designed and decorated, but also featured in HGTV.com this closet, sadly, is only at the beginning stages of a transformation. So, first step, was lighting. This ceiling light from Lamps Plus is the first of many changes to come.

         

Far better to serve you with, this transformed tray is easy and cheap to create! The process includes stripping and staining the wood, cutting a piece of metallic cork wallpaper and having glass cut for the interior of the tray.

Before the transformation this tray was in a local thrift store for $7. It's design said "country kitchen."

    

First, we stripped the paint and then stained it with Cabot Custom Tint in Moonshadow. After it was stained, I cut a piece of metallic cork wallpaper left over from our guest room and had a piece of glass cut to fit the tray. Now, it not only holds art books and vintage art pieces, but can serve drinks and snacks in a pinch.

 

 

Their plan is simple - use soap to improve the world. They say that more than 3,000 children's lives can be saved everyday with something as simple as a bar of soap and clean water. For many of us, taking a shower and lathering up each morning is routine. So why not get a little energized with the AWESOME scent plus clean, of course, with one of these soaps. A soap bought means a soap donated.

“What if a company could change the world through empowering customers to change it through simple, everyday purchases?” That's what one of the co-founders of SoapBox Soaps asked his fellow co-cofounder when coming up with the idea. Okay, he admits it wasn't that articulate, but it was a start.

In just two short years, they have donated their soap internationally to a number of countries including Ecuador, Haiti, Kenya, Thailand and Uganda. 4 Continents in total. 7 Countries. They also provide soap locally to struggling families at homeless shelters, women shelters and nursing homes here in America. Good, right!? So are you clicking on SoapBox Soaps right now to to buy?  One soap, $4.99 or two for $9.99.

I say:

I admit it, I'm a body wash fan, but the scent of these soaps is so refreshing I had to give them a try. And yes, I do like the compliments when someone standing close says, "You smell good." Usually it's my husband doling out those compliments (yes, he's amazing). These will be packed on my trip to Europe, (lemongrass & lavendar are my picks) so I'll have more room for other liquids in my carry on. And you have time to order a few to give mom for Mother's Day. I know it's not a chic and sophisticated gift, but a kid could use a little allowance to buy his mom a soap with a such a do-good message, surely mom will be touched. 

Christina says:

When it comes to cleansers, my usual go to is body wash because it leaves my skin feeling soft and supple. Unlike most bar soaps, this one doesn't leave my skin dry. The scent is light and refreshing and I love that I still feel moisturized after my shower. The company also donates one bar of soap for every bar of soap you buy, so someone else will feel so fresh and clean because of you.

Lauren says:

I love the natural feel and smell of this soap. My favorites are the cinnamon and the orange blossom scents which fill my shower with a refreshing fragrance after I use them.

 

Soaps are: Made in America. Gluten-free. Vegan. Packaged with 100% recycled fibers.

What's NOT in them: Parabens, Phthalates, petrochemicals, Palm Oil

We turned an ordinary chair into more of a show piece with a custom tint stain and lace.

    

Reinvent an old chair into a show piece meant to be seen rather than stored. Sand it down to start with clean wood. We stained it with a Cabot Custom Tint in Amethyst.

    

We stained the lace with a dried lavendar tint and then applied the lace around the back and seat edge of the chair with a spray adhesive.

A Frame with Flare

We've been finding numerous ways to use paint chips in our DIY projects from Halloween costumes to Christmas ornaments. This time we created paint chip art work for a vintage frame I puchased at the Rosebowl flea market in Pasadena. I wanted to create a way to display bold colors in a frame without more brush strokes. And voila, a fun display where you can add a message with an eraseable marker (that can be changed as often as you like) for those entering or leaving the house.

Watch our DIY Diva series for the process:

         

Bought frame from flea market for $5

Sanded and then stained the frame with Cabot Pecan satin finish.

Created a color block design using paint chips (free).

Had glass cut to fit frame approx. $10.

Bought backing and easel back for frame approx. $10 from Aaron Brothers.

Added message with an erasable marker—You can change the message as often as you want.

Penny's new view point from her fabulous DIY sled to dog bed. Watch the video for more info.

    

Picked up this vintage sled from the flea market. I thought it was a long bassinet, but the owner corrected me when she showed me where the rails had been. We stripped and sanded the wood and then stained it with Cabot Polystain in Dark Oak.

Then I created a pillow for comfort with a remnant from a fabric store and foam padding from Michaels. I screwed on caster wheels from Home Depot so I could move the bed to different parts of the house easily.

 

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