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. 


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's new electronic cutting machine and their Make It Now projects. It cuts, paper, fabric, vinyl and even leather in minutes, flawlessly.


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 and you can connect up to four iPhones so to share playlists.


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.


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.



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


Our fellow DIY Diva, Lauren showed us how to make braided fabric jewelry. We got crafty and in less than 10 minutes we had new accessories from jeans and extra fabric.


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.



Our resident sticker and paint chip DIY gal, Lauren Scharf couldn't let a star candy dish go untreated. She decided it needed a bit of color.


The Process

It's so simple and so inexpensive to take bland items around your home and add your own personal touch. Here, I took a clear glass candy dish and spiced it up with some colors.


1.    Felt

2.    rubber cement

3.    A round punch out tool, and

4.     paint chips (our favorite)


The felt helps keep the design intact, and keeps the bottom of the glass from scratching any surfaces. I opted for a bigger circle and a range of cool colors, but this would also look great with confetti sized shapes and a palette with all the colors of the rainbow! The main was to make it look like the dish was always filled with candy, even when empty!

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.

Sometimes the best things arrive in a box. It's like a special holiday or birthday when a box arrives at your doorstep and you get to be surprised by the contents. I researched the best box subscriptions and other companies that specialize in sending you curated items from jewelry to dog treats to kids crafts to wine. I checked out an array of items and I shared them with Marie Osmond on Hallmark Channel.



Kiwi Crate

-Kids projects for ages 3-7 that celebrate kids’ natural creativity and curiosity.

-Each box comes with the instructions/inspiration and materials to create the project covering a number of developmental areas through art, science and imaginative play from gardens to dinosaurs to creating butterfly wings.

-$19.95 a month or $220 a year with one month free. Each box contains 2-3 projects each month.

Bark Box

-They curate a box based on the size of your dog.

-$18 a month—four or more carefully selected products and presents for your dog—anything from bones and treats to leashes and innovative gadgets.

-Monthly, 3 or 6 months plans available- free shipping

-Each month 10% of proceeds go to a different local animal shelter they sponsor


Tasting Room

-Lot 18 has rolled out a first of its kind wine club, called Tasting Room.

-Members taste and give feedback before they commit to a full case of wines.

-They receive 6 mini bottles (4 red, 2 white) for $9.99. Members are given instructions on how to taste via an online tool that asks basic questions about likes and dislikes.

-Once the tasting is complete a taste profile is created and the first shipment is created with a case of 12 full size bottles. Four annual case shipments per year. First shipment is $84.99 with free shipping ($7 a bottle) and after that it’s $149.99 for a case ($12.50 a bottle).

True & Co.

-True and Company has reinvented the way women buy intimates. By taking a fit-based approach to online bra retail by replacing the uncomfortable fitting room experience with an online two-minute fit quiz and risk-free home try-on.

-Take's 2-minute online quiz and create your own personal bra shop of best fitting styles. They use your current bra size as a starting point and then diagnose your true size taking into account your shape, pain points and common body image issues.

-Their algorithms then recommend and sell only the styles and the sizes that fit a woman’s specific body shape in a personal bra shop created just for each customer. 

-For your initial home try-on box, get your 5 favorite styles (you pick 3, their experts pick 2) sent to your home. 

-You then have 7 days to try on the bras. Pay only for what you keep, return the rest.

-This is not a subscription service, but you can try it as often as you like.

All bras start at approximately $45. Shipping and returns are always free.


Elizabeth and Clarke

-Why spend over $100 for that designer blouse when you can have designer-quality blouses and tees delivered to your doorstep each season for $30 or less.

-Get a box of one, two or three shirts delivered every 3 months at the beginning of a season. Three tops are just $20 each.

-Neutral colors so they match with items in your wardrobe. Quality fabrics. Fashion forward. Styles similar to Alexander Wang, Theory and James Perse.

Mynt Box

-Every month you receive 3-5 items of the top jewelry and accessories trends based upon the box you choose-Boho, Luxe or Mixe for $30 a month or just try it once for $40.

-Receive up to $100 worth of jewelry every month.

-You can also shop Mynt without joining.


Misto Box

-You can try Misto Box for just $5 with free shipping. Subscriptions cost between $12.50 to $15 a month depending on the length of the subscription. 

-Misto Box has a team of coffee experts who taste and evaluate more than 50 coffees every month from different artisan roasters across the country.  (Think local favorites.) 

-Each box contains four 1.7 - 2 ounce samplings of premium single origin coffee from four different artisan roasters. You’ll get to know each roaster and coffee intimately with included tasting notes and coffee info.

Love With Food

-Gourmet food delivered to your door for $10-12 a month depending on the plan you choose.

-Each box contains 8 or more gourmet foods.

-New flavors each month curated with a different theme.

- For every box sent, a meal is donated to feed 1 in 5 hungry children in America. In one year of business, Love With Food has donated more than 50,000 meals. They donate a meal to a hungry child via efforts with Feeding America and Share our Strength.

-Their motto is “Make Tummies Happy.”

- Love With Food frequently works with celebrities to curate the boxes, e.g. Thanksgiving 2012 box was curated by Amy Roloff of Little People Big World of TLC. Upcoming April 2013 box is curated by Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods on Travel channel.


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.


I turned two vintage tool boxes purchased inexpensively at the Rosebowl Flea Market in Pasadena, CA into beautiful garden boxes perfect for gift giving.


The vintage tool boxes before their transformation had been painted an ugly mustard color and were beaten and scratched up. Next steps were to strip and sand down the wood and get it ready for staining.


I chose to stain the tool boxes rather than paint them. I knew the stain would preserve the wood better and with a protective coating the newly created garden boxes could be left outside on a patio or porch to give the new blooms some sunshine. I decided to stain the boxes two colors in similar hues, the main body and handle are Horizon and the sides are Sedona Sun. Both are Cabot Custom Tints. As little decor choice I added the flat wooden birds, purchased from Save On Crafts and stained them each Cabot Ready Mix in Brown Mahogany.

Add in some gardening tools, gloves, seed packets and small pots and voila, you've got a great gift to give!


The Plan: Create two personalized mirrored frames for either side of the bed. I decided by adding wooden letters it would create a 3-D effect and have more impact.

Watch the video for more details.


I purchased two frames which are nearly identical from the Rosebowl in Pasadena for $10. Then sanded them down to create a "clean slate" for staining. Next, I ordered two wooden letters from Craft Cuts, where you can choose the height, width and font of your letters.


Ready for staining, I taped off the interior rectangle to stain the outer frame with Cabot Stain Ready Mix in Ebony. The interior rectangle was stained with Cabot Polystain in Dark Oak. I wanted a two tone stained frame. The letters were stained Ebony. I had mirrors cut and inserted into the frames. I hung the letters using leather braided cord that I purchased for $1. I attached the cord to the back, added hanging materials and hung on either side of the bed.



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