So you want to have an awesome holiday party sometime between now and New Years Eve, but you're feeling a little stuck, right? Well, sit back, get comfortable and read through my fool proof ideas for fun. Then start inviting people you know you want to eat, drink and be merry with while it's cold outside.
1. Holiday Libations & Nibbles
Have a signature drink that pairs with your party theme to keep the festivities fun & delicious. When you throw a party during the holiday season it’s likely you may still be finishing up in the kitchen when guests arrive so get the socializing started right away by serving your guests a seasonal cocktail. Every holiday party does not have to be a sit down occasion. My favorite is to have friends come over a little later than dinnertime by making it a “Drinks & Desserts” fête. It’s less fuss and muss in the kitchen. Besides the finger foods and, of course, the treats, I offer small ramekins filled with seasoned nuts whether sweet or savory. This kind of party is a chance to indulge in delicious confections and serve up two-three signature cocktails so your guests have choices. Check a few of my favorite seasonal cocktails below:
1 part Pinnacle® Pumpkin Pie Vodka
1 part DeKuyper® Crème De Cocoa Dark Liqueur
1 part Half and Half
1 part Pinnacle® Original Vodka
2 parts Champagne
2. Deck the Halls
a. Choose a color theme for your décor. Don’t feel required to go with stereotypical green and red. You can stretch through holidays if you choose two to three colors and make it look festive like white, silver and gold.
b. You can also create conversation at the table multiple ways with décor by doing a DIY message on plates or creating a placemat with silly questions for your guests to answer.
3. Holiday Party Trends
a. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Holiday parties usually mean you have to come up with several dressy outfits. Instead, get your guests to get crafty and design their own ugly holiday sweater. The party will lead to lots of laughs and DIY inquiries. Have guests vote on their favorite ugly sweater and the winner goes home with a basket of all the ingredients to make your seasonal cocktail. If this just isn’t your thing, then go with the holiday sock party and have everyone wear silly holiday socks that guests can buy or create.
Reindeer and Santa Socks, $14 Joy the Store
Multi-Pack of Christmas Socks, $4 Macy's
Hot SoX Dog and Cat Christmas Socks, $6 Bare Necessities
Elf Striped Socks, $5.70 ASOS
b. Holiday Cookie Swap: Ask friends to bake two-dozen of their favorite cookies to bring to the party. Create decorative boxes or get some holiday tins to offer your friends to store their new goodies to bring home.
c. Have a Tree-Trimming! Set up your evergreen (real or fake!) with lights and garland, and let each guest know that they can bring an ornament to hang on your tree. And don’t be greedy, send your guests home with an ornament as a gift as well.
Make these DIY ornaments (project #7243) and other projects with the Cricut Explore, Cricut.com
d. Christmas Caroling: This is awesome! Everyone knows the songs and music, now just get your friends together for the fun. Have friends come earlier for this party since you shouldn’t be knocking on neighborhood doors past 8:30 out of respect. Print out the lyrics for several classic holiday songs. And while you get ready to bundle up against the cold offer your friends some hot chocolate or carry a thermos of hot chocolate or cider while you walk the neighborhood. Now head out, ring a doorbell and step back from your neighbor’s front door and start singing. Plan on visiting several homes around your neighborhood. Or just walk as a group along the sidewalk in your neighborhood and sing. After an hour or more of singing head back to your place for food, drinks and games with the group.
4. Party Planning Tips for Seamless Entertaining
a. Theme It: Come up with theme so your party stands out among the rest and becomes the coveted invite.
b. Avoid Hours in the Kitchen: Don’t feel the pressure to make all your food from scratch. Make it a mix of homemade, semi-homemade and store bought. Better yet, make it potluck whether it’s a dessert and drink only party or a sit down meal where you make the main dish and friends bring side dishes. Pre-batch and pre-cook everything the day before so you’re spending less time in the kitchen, and more time with your loved ones.
c. Make a Holiday Playlist: Music can keep the party grooving and upbeat so curate a holiday playlist ahead of time. Mix holiday classics sung by a variety of artists such as Michael Buble, Idina Menzel, Frank Sinatra and more!
Christmas Music, Amazon.com
d. Be prepared: Some guests may over do it on the holiday “cheer” or you may just have one too many cookies. Have on hand plenty of water for guests plus some simple remedies like F.A.S.T. First Aid Shot Therapy (firstaidshottherapy.com). These small bottles the size of a shot are a liquid remedy for pain (say goodbye to your headache) and stomach aches. And offer carpooling, a taxi or Uber if guests need a safe lift home.
Available at Amazon.com, 12 bottles for $29
Turkey Day can be daunting if you’re the host. You’ve got the meal to tend to, a football game on the TV to compete with and the late day snooze that guests succumb to after eating a big meal. Here are my tips for a day that's beautiful, memorable and special to you and your guests.
Watch for our video for more ideas & DIY.
Save yourself some time and set the table before the big day. First the tablecloth; maybe even add a table runner to spruce up the table with a little color and contrast. Make sure you have a water glass and wine glass for each guest. Skip those less than desirable paper napkins; your friends are worth the cloth ones! You can even go one step further and add a beautiful napkin ring to make the place setting even more fabulous. If you don’t have napkin rings, then you can make them with the Cricut Explore® Machine among many of the DIY projects below.
Project- Fall Napkin Ring, Project - Leaf Napkin Ring
If you are serving the food buffet style, you will still want the table to look complete, so set the table with chargers or plate toppers. Go the extra step by sticking on or etching a message on these table toppers through a simple DIY project. Each charger or topper can have a different message for the season or personalized to each guest.
Made this with the Cricut Explore
Add fresh or faux flowers to create your own centerpiece, you can even add squashes and leaves for that extra autumn flair. If you have several couples attending your Thanksgiving or "Friendsgiving" meal then create place cards and mix up the seating or have guests swap seats during dessert. This creates great conversation and new friends.
For lighting, have plenty of tea lights or candles. Place them on the mantel, along windowsills, or in clusters on the dining table. Remember to have unscented candles on your dining table so the enticing smells of your food does not compete with the scent of the candles.
As for food, keep it simple. If you want a sit down dinner, minimize the guests to 10 and prep the ingredients or portions of the meal ahead of time. Remember that not everyone loves turkey and some of your friends may be vegan or vegetarian. There are a multitude of possibilities you can cook instead of turkey that are quick and easy. You can make salmon, eggplant or even a butternut squash pie. If you plan to serve the traditional turkey for the main course, but you’d rather not set a timer and spend hours near the oven, then order a turkey fully cooked ahead so you just heat it up. Remember to choose your turkey by adding 1 pound per guest, 1½ pounds if you want leftovers.
For the big meal, 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. The point is to get out of the kitchen and enjoy the party. Once the menu is planned, print up a menu to place on the table so guests can immediately start drooling.
If your dining table is on the smaller side set up the food buffet-style in the kitchen or another open surface, so guests can help themselves and your table can be dedicated to the décor and lighting.
Serving booze? Stick to wine or a signature drink specific to the season, something with apple cider or cinnamon comes to mind. Don’t get frazzled offering too many choices of soda and drinks. Remind guests they are free to bring their own drinks if they are picky.
1 – Ask it. Type or write up questions for your guests 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 what they’d do if they won the lottery.
2 – Shout it out. I’m not talking about fighting or tantrums, I’m talking about playing games and getting your guests shouting out answers. Sure board games work, but games like charades and celebrity are so simple and fun. Pick up an easel and dry erase board from your local office supply store or arts store for your own version of Pictionary or download the $.99 app of Heads Up and all you need is your phone. If your guests want to watch the football game then play these games during commercial breaks and get guests off the couch.
3 – Make a face. 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. Take photos on each other’s phones and share.
4 – Show off some talent. Before your guests arrive send them a short email asking them to come prepared to share a talent. Assure them to not overthink it. Whether they want to play a song on their guitar, tie a cherry stem with their tongue, show off a card trick or tell a knock-knock joke, it will surely add some laughter and fun to the gathering.
5 – Give a gift. Don’t let guests leave empty handed. How about a monogram pumpkin? Or send them home with a mini loaf of pumpkin or banana bread, or even just cinnamon sticks (the real deal) and a packet of hot cocoa mix. Or even a leftover piece of pie. Guests always love to feel loved.
And don't forget to just have fun! Thanksgiving is meant to be a joyful celebration and gathering with people you love.
Burgundy - red's darker sister, exudes power and understated stength.
This sultry and rich color will give you a sophisticated look all season long. If you're not ready for a full length look then invest in a pair of heels, booties or flats to give your look some warmth. And please, don't be dull and settle for sharing the spotlight with black or white. Instead wear burgundy with navy, olive, grey or camel.
Here's my latest article for Closer Weekly with more helpful style suggestions.
The Kooples Belted Silk Print Dress, $345 Nordstrom
I've always liked the look of jumpsuits. I know they're a pain when you need to use the loo, but this can be styled multiple ways. You know I love triple duty fashion so while it looks glam on it's own, get the value of this piece by additionally wearing it with a leather jacket or an oversized cashmere sweater on top or layer a print top underneath.
Rebecca Minkoff 'Brau' Crepe Jumpsuit, $239 Nordstrom
Kut From The Kloth Baby Bootcut Jeans, $69.50 Nordstrom
Since there are plenty of you who shy away from burgundy clothing, shoes are the simplest solution for adding the color to your wardrobe.
Stuart Weitzman 'Pipe Nouveau', $440 Piperlime
Sam Edelman 'Delilah' Suede D'Orsay Pumps, $110 Nordstrom
Joie 'Lina" Suede Ankle Booties, $355 Saks Fifth Avenue
10 Crosby Derek Lam 'Avery" Flats, $295 Piperlime
Throw A Ghoulishly Good Time Halloween Party
Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year! I’m one of those gals that loves a chance to dress up in a theme costume so I start prepping for Halloween early. And the big day is a guilt-free chance to get my fill of candy and sweets.
If you’re planning on throwing a party don’t just put out some bowls of candy and hope for the best. Stir up a guaranteed good time with yummy food, games and silly themes like dressing as characters from a Wes Anderson movie or your kids favorite TV show or video game. Have guests vote for best costumes from most top notch DIY to most original. Make Halloween 2014 a spectacularly spooky time.
Watch my video for more ideas for doing a DIY Halloween.
First, remember that you don't have to outdo that neighbor with the nine foot fog machine.
Choose a theme for your party whether you go macabre with vials of red liquid to represent blood, red stained tablecloths, and splatters of blood you create with decals you stick onto walls and chairs and crime scene tape or choose a witchy theme with a witches brew, hanging bats, and skeleton cut-outs. Decorations can be simple and still pack a big punch, like this Spooky Halloween Garland by Frenchie Wraps made with the Cricut Explore.
Serve your guests with these ominous beverage bottles! Peel off drink bottle labels and stick on these instead. Click here to make this Halloween Drink Set whether you choose potions or poisons.
Make these fun and spooky Halloween Candy Containers from this Make It Now project on Cricut and have guests guess how much candy is in each container. Get your containers for candy at The Container Store. The person who guesses closest wins their choice of candy to take home.
Don't be fooled. Piñatas aren't just for kids. So load up a piñata (or two) with candy and let the fun begin!
Don't forget to send guests home with some candy in fun treat bags that you can create yourself with a simple DIY project from Cricut.
Games are essential for a fun Halloween party that includes kids and adults.
Doughnut on a String. All you need are doughnuts, ribbon and rope. Tie a length of rope between two trees. Have kids stand under the rope, tie pieces of ribbon to doughnuts (one per player) and then to the rope so the treats hang slightly above mouth level. On the count of three have players start. Instruct each to eat an entire doughnut -- no hands allowed -- without letting it fall off the ribbon. The first to finish wins. There's no need for prizes; they've just had their sweet treat.
Pin The Face On the Pumpkin. This game works for kids as young as two years old. Cut out eyes, noses, and mouths from black construction paper (or use your Cricut to cut shapes for you). Stick a reusable adhesive on the back of each cutout, and give a set of cutouts to each player. Place a large pumpkin on a low table or a bench. Blindfold players and position them starting four feet away (little kids may stand closer), instruct them to walk toward the pumpkin and create a jack-o'-lantern face (without peeking). After every player takes a turn creating a pumpkin face, take a photo of the player with their finished pumpkin.
Bobbing for Apples. The classic of bobbing for apples is still fun. Splashing waters, wet faces and silliness. Fill a tub with water and apples and have each player try to get an apple with their teeth while their hands are held behind their backs.
Candy Count. Fill several jars with different Halloween candy and, as each guest arrives, have them write down a guess as to how many pieces are in each jar. Everyone only gets 1 guess and the person who is the closest gets to take home the jar.
Mummy Bandage. Create two to four teams, depending on how many guests you’re entertaining. Grab some rolls of toilet paper, set your timer, and see which team can wrap up their partner the fastest in 60 seconds or less.
Eyeball Hunt Game. Icky fun! Fill a large pot with cooked spaghetti noodles and painted ping-pong balls that resemble eyeballs then see who can find the most ping-pong balls in a set time. Want to get really competitive? Color code the balls and make each color worth a different point amount.
I love a great sale and this one from Shopbop only lasts until midnight on October 16th. Here's my top picks to help with your virtual shopping during the Shopbop Friends & Family sale. Just enter the code Family25 at checkout to receive 25% off site wide.
I use this sales event to scoop up some stylish items that most likely never go on sale. My top contenders:
Because I can never have enough Diane Von Furstenberg.
Because sometimes a girl likes it to be all about the shoes!
Because I never want to wear basic black. This skirt has the details that stand out.
Because this necklace will make anything look better. T-shirt, you'll be instantly glamorous with this piece.
Cozy up to pastel colors this fall. No need to put the pastels away when the cool weather approaches. Wearing pastels exudes a quietly confident look. Pastels in the fall can be sweet, subtle and a substitute for neutral shades.
Here's my recent article for Closer Weekly plus plenty of extra style suggestions.
4 Tips to Wear Pastels With Ease For Fall.
1-Try just a little. Skip pastels from top to bottom and temper the pale hues by wearing them with denim, camel, gray or even black.
2- Use pastel as a neutral. Pale pastels can act as a basic in your wardrobe. A lilac blouse replaces a cream one; a pink pump fills in for nude.
3- Add some edge. Matching your makeup to your clothes will give you an 80's look, but lined eyes and fall-ready berry lipslend a modern vibe.
4- Skip the frills when wearing pastels. Look for pieces that are simpler in design.
Pastel outerwear doesn't have to always be sweet. Pair with jeans and darker clothes.
JOA Blush Long Line Coat, $139 Piperlime
Rag & Bone Bowery Armey Green Pants, $140 Piperlime
Steve Madden Elusion Wine Patent Flats, $60 Zappos
Navy Owl Print Blouse, $75 J.Crew
The midi skirt is on trend. Pair it with a floral top in a darker hue.
Joie Odette B Floral Top, $258 Piperlime
L.A.M.B. Lynn II White Snake Heels, $345 Heels
Tender Love Pleated A-Line Full Skirt, $51 Chicwish
Mix lilac and wine. This skirt and sweater heads to the office in heels and gets casual with a denim jacket and flats for an evening with friends. It's a two-fer.
Vintage Denim Jacket, $148 J.Crew
Lilac Cambridge Cable V-Neck Sweater, $88 J.Crew
Old Navy Printed Gauze Pink Dot Scarf, $12 Old Navy
Piperlime Collection Neoprene Flounce Skirt, $74 Piperlime
Love a mash-up of a feminine pleated skirt with a moto jacket and animal print heels.
Pink Pleated Lattice Skirt, $75 J.Crew
Collection Elsie Calf Hair Animal Print Pumps, $358 J.Crew
Ann Taylor Crepe Moto Jacket, $179 Ann Taylor
Keep it simple and soft with pale pink relaxed pants and a navy tweed bomber jacket.
Amour Vert Blue Tweed Bomber Jacket, $198 Piperlime
Cooper & Ella Avery Blouse, $98 Piperlime
McQ by Alexander McQueen Flocked Sweater, $345 Net-a-Porter
See by Chloe Soft Tailored Blush Pants, $128 ASOS
I love game nights! I also like a little healthy competition, so instead of dinner and a movie or standing in a crowded bar invite over your gal pals for a poker night party. Here are my "5 on Friday" to stack the deck in your favor when gathering your girlfriends for a fun night of Texas Hold'Em. Sure cards and chips are essential, but so is the food, drink, ambience and even the playlist.
5 on Friday
1 - Send an Invite That Matches the Theme: Skip the email invitation and send your girlfriends an invite you make with the queen of hearts card so they get the message that this party is girls only. For poker night 6-10 friends is best. Expect the party to last about three hours.
2 - Swap Cash Winnings for Little Gifts: Don’t want friends to bet real money, why not have their “winnings” apply to little gifts they can choose at the end of the evening like a gift certificate for a mani/pedi, a gift card, a box of freshly baked goods, etc.
3 - Play Up Your Poker Face with Fun Props: Not sure you have a poker face like the pros? No problem! Put out props so your gal pals can take on a new character form – various hats and visors to sunglasses and simple masks to distract your competition. Plus, it makes for fun snapshots throughout the evening.
4 - Get Guests in a Game Night State of Mind with Your Playlist: Curate a custom playlist that sets the mood. Are you rolling the dice on Vegas-style games? Don’t forget to include Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” in your mix or the ever classic “Luck Be a Lady” made famous by Frank Sinatra.
5 - Use Light Bites and a Signature Cocktail: Stick to small bites and avoid greasy and sticky foods as they can mess up your deck of cards. For drinks, print out the recipe for a signature cocktail, set up all the ingredients and glassware on your bar or kitchen counter and let guests serve themselves. Try the Pinnacle® Vodka Watermelon Money-Maker, which is a tasty melon martini your guests are sure to love!
1 part Pinnacle® Original Vodka
1/4 part Dekuyper Watermelon Liqueur
1 part White Grape juice
Splash fresh lemon juice
Method: Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour into martini glass and garnish with a loopy straw and small cube of watermelon.
Playing cards and green poker visor from CelebrateExpress.com
Pinnacle® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission. The information, comments and ideas expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Jim Beam Brands Co., its affiliated companies or any of their directors or employees. Pinnacle® does not sponsor, authorize, or otherwise endorse this website.
On TV and in magazines I've made over many men from head-to-toe and just like women, the transformations bring about a boost of confidence. These men stand taller and their voices become stronger. While men's wardrobes aren't as trendy as women nor do they have the range of choices, I enjoy adding some color, pattern and teach guys about getting the right fit for their bodies. More men now reach out to me behind the scenes to be private clients and here's a recent upgrade I gave to a client's style. I added plenty of color, mixed gingham shirts with patterned ties and broke up the traditional suit by showing him how to wear the items as separates. AND, I got him a great pair of dark jeans which every man should have in his wardrobe.
Bonobos Gingham Shirt
Mott & Bow Dark Jeans
Nicole Miller Tie
Calvin Klein Blazer
Bonobos Gingham shirt
Tommy Hilfiger Tie
Uniqlo Navy Braided Belt
Left Shoe Company Custom Shoes (on left)
Hugo Boss Suit
G.H. Bass Shoes
Get spotted in dots! Fun, graphic dots never go out of style - especially in black and white. So get your spot on whether it be a dress, a top, bag or pair of flats. Have fun with your fashion.
Here's my latest as Contributing Editor of Closer Weekly magazine.
Blck and white dots make a lively pattern that tells people you're fun, energetic and don't take things too seriously.
Here's how to wear them:
Accessorize with color. When you're wearing black and white dots opt for solid bright accessories. They'll totally pop.
Mix and match. If you're a fashion risk taker, try mixing dots with other patterns, like black and white stripes, but go for small dots or it can look messy and confused.
Flatter with pattern. If you're self-conscious about a particular body part, avoid big dots on that area.
More Spotted Fashions
Kate Spade New York Deco Dot Crepe Top, $248 Nordstrom
Marni Polka Dots Cotton Poplin skirt, $270 Luisa Via Roma
Current/Elliott The Muscle Tee Aribrushed Polka Dot, $118 Piperlime
JOA Texture Midi Dot Skirt, $89 Piperlime
Kate Spade New York 'Julian' Dress, $398 Kate Spade
Daily Look Sultry Polka Dot Maxi Dress, $50 Daily Look
Tinley Road Dot Print Audrey A Line Mini Dress, $50 Piperlime
Blank NYC The Spray On Skinny Polka Dot Denim, $63 6PM
Three Dots Polka Dot Print Pant, $42 6PM
Manolo Blahnik 'BB' Pointy Toe Pump, $695 Nordstrom
Menbur 'Cara' Pump, $149 Nordstrom
Wrap Around Some Dots
Burberry Prorsum Polka Dot Scarf, $216 Luisa Via Roma
Jules B Polka Dot Wool Scarf, $63 Jules B USA
Polka Dots Accessories
Shop Filigree Deux-Luxone Dit-Tot Tote, $88 Anthropologie
DV by Dolce Vita Dot Print Flats, $90 Piperlime
We love a two-fer! Taking one stylish piece and wearing it two ways from items in our own closet. Even better when the "new" item comes from a swap boutique like Give + Take. I took in several items from my closet that, while still in very good condition, I was ready to retire from my wardrobe, but offer up to another gal. Then with my new riches in points at the swap boutique I shopped the racks and nabbed this striped sundress. I created two looks - weekend and work.
GAP Blue Pinstriped Sundress
Shop Similar Looks:
Dolce Vita 'Cassi' Navy/White Striped Dress, $67 6PM
Hudson Signature Jean Jacket, $158 Zappos
Kate Spade New York 'Holland Walk- Eren' Striped Tote, $248 Nordstrom
Tory Burch 'Robinson' Mini Tote, $475 Nordstrom
Gucci Red and Green Striped Belt, $270 Gucci
L.K. Bennett 'Stila' Navy Patent Pump, $325 Nordstrom