Archive for August, 2014

16 Sweet Ideas for Sweet 16 Parties

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

So you are faced with a monumental challenge: marking the “coming of age” of your precious child in a manner special enough to show them what they mean to you, WITHOUT embarrassing them! That can get tricky, right?

Start by talking to your teen about what he or she wants. And listen! Kendall Kardashian would certainly agree. Consider the personality and interests of your son or daughter. Does he or she prefer to throw a big bash or to celebrate with a more intimate circle of friends? The key is not to impress, but to honor the life, character and accomplishments of your special young adult. And of course, for him or her to have fun with friends. Discuss scale, budget, invitations, time frame and rules, including parental supervision and expected behavior. Stick to your decisions even under last minute stress.

If your son or daughter is amenable to their 16th birthday being celebrated in a big way, remember that doesn’t have to mean big budget. There are many options for creating an event they will remember the rest of their lives. Try these ideas on for size. Mix and match to create the perfect party ensemble:

  • Theme, decorate and create activities according to your child’s favorite area of interest (music, soccer, horses, swimming, shopping, etc.).
  • Teens are intrigued by wild colors and glow in the dark, so how about a black light party? Have everyone wear neon colors or white – or provide white T-shirts they can color with highlighters before donning. Provide glow sticks and bracelets as favors. Consider draping a blank sheet or banner in an area safe for guests to create a painting using glow in the dark colors. Light florescent ostrich feather centerpieces and pump out the mist with a fog machine. You’ve created a dance party environment that will keep them chatting and laughing all night and for weeks to come.
  • How about a mini-fireworks show, with sparklers for the guests?
  • Dress-up days are not so long forgotten at 16. A masquerade ball with an unveiling at a set time can provide loads of intrigue.
  • Another intriguing idea: a murder mystery party at a cool locale like an old house, hotel or club!
  • Invite girls to relax at a spa party, “DIY” (take turns doing nails and mix your own bath products as take-home favors) or high maintenance (hire a massage therapist or spa specialist) according to your choice.
  • Make sure you tempt the teen palate with food favorites like pizza, hot wings, burgers, tacos, fruit. And perhaps a sundae or candy buffet, or a chocolate fondue fountain.
  • Karaoke!
  • Video: yes, you might present one celebrating your teen’s life if such a showing won’t cause your kid to crawl under a table (get clips from friends, coaches, pastors, and favorite teachers), but you also might have the guests make one at the party and allow them to edit it music video-style.
  • Rent or set up your own photo booth.
  • Pool parties are tried and true and usually don’t sink.
  • Take a select group of buddies to do something EXTREMELY cool like bungie jumping, paint balling, or sky diving.
  • To incorporate tradition, have your teen light 17 candles and share the special meaning of each person as they go (1-2 parents, 3-6 family, 7-14 friends, 15 best friend, 16 boyfriend/girlfriend, 17 luck/hopes for future).
  • Some girls may enjoy a makeover followed by a “modeling shoot” with a hired photographer.
  • Go retro from invitations to decorations to costumes – just pick your favorite era from the past!
  • Party on the water! If you live near a lake or the ocean, consider renting a catamaran, yacht or speedboat for skiing. Get permission to dock near a private island for picnicking and games.

Do YOU have successful tales of super sweet 16s? Please post and share with our readers!

Designing Centerpieces with Foam Bouquet Holders

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

There are many ways to create a gorgeous centerpiece for weddings, parties and other events. While the methods vary greatly, not all are as simple or quick to assemble. That’s why you must find a comfortable balance between cost and effort when coming up with your own handmade centerpiece design. Don’t stress yourself out over the details. Instead, give yourself the most versatility without all the hassle by using a foam bouquet holder.

Plastic Bouquet Holder

A foam bouquet holder

How Do Foam Bouquet Holders Work?

The concept behind the foam bouquet holder is quite simple. Each consists of two main parts: the handle and the foam. The handle is a piece of plastic that is slender enough to slide into narrow vases but wide enough to hold in your hand. The top widens with openings for ribbons, cords and other hanging accents. On top of the upward cone rests a disc of floral foam.  You can assemble your bouquet just like a florist would put together an arrangement. Simply slide the stems or tips into the foam wherever you want them, working your way around the foam.

Flowers, Ostrich Feathers and More

Foam bouquet holders look stunning with blossoms, but can also be used with other popular components. If you prefer something more luxurious or exotic, try ostrich feathers. Just slide the slender ends into the foam, taking care to work your way up and around so the finished product looks full.

If you really want to simplify the process, consider going straight to an ostrich feather centerpiece kit. Each kit contains everything you need to build a stunning handmade centerpiece – including the foam bouquet holder! The holder ensures that your lovely bird feathers won’t shift, slide or fall out during the festivities. Simplify your party or wedding planning by building centerpieces with foam bouquet holders!

The Italian Wedding

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Long, long ago in Italy … a wedding scene might have looked like this: With her groom, a beautiful ebony-haired bride, her olive skin touched with the blush of romance, pledges her vows before a Roman priestess. Under a yellow cloak, the bride’s hemless tunic falls to the ground in a straight, supple line, allowing glimpses of her sandaled feet. Her hair is crowned with myrtle and orange blossoms. Supportive family gathers around, anticipating the feasting and the sacrifice of the best pig or sheep that will follow the ceremony.

Obviously a country where wedding traditions reach far back, Italy is now roughly 88% Catholic. It’s still a place where it is common for sons and daughters to live at home until they are wed, normally in Western wedding attire at a church mass. Sunday weddings are considered the luckiest. The bride will also try to avoid bad luck by not wearing gold on her wedding day (even her diamond engagement ring, which has been a commonly bestowed item in Italy since the 1400s!) until the wedding bands are exchanged. The bridal bouquet can sometimes be a gift from the groom, its colors unknown until he offers it to her, perhaps if he walks her to the church or meets her outside of it beforehand. Some couples stick to the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride until the ceremony. The bride also carries la borsa, a satin pouch meant to contain any monetary gifts from guests.

Following the ceremony, the nuptial couple is wished auguri (good luck) by the townspeople. Guests and wedding party will repair to the groom’s house, where in a lovely gesture his mother welcomes his bride with a palma. The palma consists of Jordan almonds arranged into a leaf-life formation and covered with cellophane. Guests toss confetti made up of candy, rice and grain. A wine glass may be broken with the number of its pieces symbolizing the happy years the couple will share together.

The best man begins the evening by serving drinks before dinner. Guests may toast the couple “Per cent’anni” or “for one hundred years.” The multi-course feasting can last four to six hours and be concluded with liqueur. Ceramic- or silver-plated gifts are presented to each family. And sometimes the groom’s tie is cut into sections and sold to the guests to finance the honeymoon! But, we guess that wouldn’t be too much of a problem if you’re one of the out-of-town guests whose accommodations were paid for by the bridal couple! After all, they need a little reimbursement, right?

17 Al Fresco Dining Ideas We Love

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Days are warming and nothing tastes better than meals outside! Plus, how fun is it to create your own cozy dining nook, countryside or cityscape? A rooftop, a hedged back yard, a patio or even a field of wheat can make a refreshing backdrop, just so long as it’s private and pretty.

Here’s a smorgasbord of tips for setting your outdoor eating style, so grab your design plate and create your own fare.

  1. Old oil lamps
  2. Benches with cushions or pillows complimenting your table runner
  3. Lanterns hung in the trees or arbor
  4. In the absence of an arbor or tent, banners of fabric draped overhead
  5. Wildflowers in urns
  6. Metal wire between two trees on which to hang votives, lanterns or lightweight candelabra
  7. A basket or bowl centerpiece piled with fresh fruit
  8. Tiny topiary or potted plant place favors
  9. Eclectic mix of dishes
  10. Floating fresh flowers
  11. Paper lanterns
  12. Citronella or incense sticks to keep bugs at bay
  13. Battery-operated candles for no fuss
  14. Cloth napkins and wholesale tablecloths to avoid fly-away paper goods
  15. The path to your table or the backdrop illuminated by floating candles or large pillar candles in huge hurricanes
  16. Upturned metal colanders or wire mesh baskets covering gnat-tempting platters
  17. Simple, light fare – salads, grilled meats, and fun, fruity drinks
  18. Eiffel tower vases to showcase fresh flowers on the tables.

How to do a Retirement Party Right

Friday, August 8th, 2014

For all the satisfaction of career accomplishments and the anticipation of the rewards of rest, a retirement can be a sensitive time. The retiree is experiencing a major life change, one that will alter all the familiar patterns and cause at least a partial break with people who have over the years potentially become not only co-workers but close friends. It’s a time for the company to make sure its former employee feels appreciated – to assure him or her that he or she will be missed and remembered. There’s no better way to do that than with a fabulous retirement party that captures the flavor of who the employee is and what he or she has contributed to the organization.

Allow plenty of time to prepare. Gather information about the retiree’s background, interests and accomplishments. Translate these into a memorable party setting, whether casual or elegant.

Here are some ideas for a retirement party to remember:

  • Order a cake reflective of the career – for example, a chalk board for a teacher or a football for a coach.
  • Serve the retiree’s favorite foods and play his or her favorite music.
  • Before the party, pass a book among co-workers so that they can record their favorite memories of the retiree. Some gifted writers on staff may want to wax eloquent with a poem. Another idea is to pass out tags and have each co-worker write a funny or special recollection on their tag. Then dangle tags from a crystal tree.
  • Create a scrapbook of the retiree’s years of service – a great going-away gift!
  • Compile a slideshow of video and photo clips of the retiree to show during dinner. Include brief interviews by co-workers.
  • Looking for a game? Consider dividing a page into an even number of boxes, each containing a missing piece of info about the retiree. Each guest must fill in every box, with the first one to complete the page winning. The retiree can only answer one question per employee.
  • Pair our inexpensive eiffel tower vases with flowers or feathers for elegant but affordable centerpieces.

Conclude your evening with toasts and speeches, and the presentation of a special gift. This could be an engraved plaque or tray, or perhaps something that lets your retiree know he or she may be gone but will not be forgotten … like lunch vouchers to a favorite restaurant on a date a month or two out when he or she can meet up and catch up with previous bosses or co-workers. Don’t forget to write the date on your calendar!