Hosting a Man-Party

Dirty DougMy husband turned 60 this week.  I didn’t want his milestone birthday to go without a fun celebration.  As an event planner, I have made such wonderful connections with professionals who have also become friends. I assembled this village and they helped me to knock it out of the park with a super fun man-party.

Looming over this party has been our never-ending pool project.  I won’t go into the long details, but needless to say even though this pool and patio renovation has been going on since February, our pool builder told us the pool would not be ready in time for the June 11 party.  Once I got over the fact that the pool wasn’t going to happen — we moved ahead with a pool side party, without the water.  Everyone reassured me the reason they were coming was to celebrate Doug.

My wonderful friend, Karen, with Applause Catering prepared a Nantucket-inspired menu full of all of Doug’s favorites.

applause catering sign

lobster rolls

 

quinoq jars tablescape

halloumi cheese

Next,square ice every party needs a good cocktail.  I hired Sourced Craft Cocktails to prepare a special menu of mixed drinks, wine, craft beers and Prosecco. They deliver all the bar ware, simple syrups, perfectly curated square ice, and premium liquors right to your door.  The mixologists kept everyone happy throughout the night — and named a special drink just for the guest of the honor — The Dirty Doug — featuring Tito’s Vodka.

cocktail menu

The hand-lettering was done by Cleggraphy Designs.  Megan water colored each of the menu cards and cocktail menu for the bar.  This added the perfect touch.

Bryan Long Flowers provided the elegant tablescape that reflected the perfect backdrop for a poolside gathering.   Tons of candles, seashells, lanterns, hanging lights, and a few florals mixed in kept it elegant, yet masculine, too.

Bryan Long peonies

shells on tablecandles and shellsflowers on bar evening time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hanging lightsWe finished with a sweet ending of Sweet Lucy’s Pies.  Lindsey makes the best pies!  All of Doug’s favorites — mini strawberry-rhubarb pies, and handheld Parker Peach fried pies.

strawberry pies

What pool party would be complete without a shot of everyone in the pool! Our party favors were “I made a SPLASH at Doug’s 60th!” floaties and beach balls.  God has really blessed us with amazing friends and it was the perfect night to recognize how special we think they are to us.

pool party

My friend Kathy said, “Leave it to Melissa to have an amazing pool party without a pool!” Take lemons and make lemonade.  Cheers!

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Cookie Decorating Party

As a professional event planner, I get to be apart of some very fun parties. Today, I had the chance to work with Karen Wade from the Velvet Crumb Bakery.  She baked all the cookies, using her special recipe, assembled bags of icing and shared her techniques for decorating beautiful cookies just in time for Valentine’s Day – which next to Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Our supply closet at work is full of handy props to use for many occasions.  I pulled out the 5-section acrylic tote from The Container Store.
 We put the undecorated cookies on the larger side and bags of royal icing in the smaller compartments.  We weren’t using sprinkles, but you could easily fit small jars of sprinkles in the smaller spaces as well.
When I stopped into The Container Store for inspiration for Miss Bee’s upcoming grown-up birthday lunch, I saw these adorable chalkboard placemats and knew they would be a perfect touch for the cookie party.
We used them as the base for each person’s place with their own tote and supplies.  I used a chalkboard pen, but because it’s not really chalkboard media and more like paper, I think a white paint pen would be better suited for the lettering.  It’s also permanent, and not erasable, so be sure to practice what you want to write first.
We served simple refreshments including this recipe for a Breakfast Cookie from my Pinterest cookies board.  They are perfect for a simple coffee with friends, hold up well for transport to parties, and make a great cookie to take to someone who needs funeral food.  Any good Southern gal always has an arsenal of “bereavement” recipes on hand and this is a good one. I may have to write another story on this subject…
You use 10 pieces of yummy, crispy bacon.

Chopped up like this…

They also have cornflakes, for a nice crunch, and raisins for added sweetness.  This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of raisins and I am not a raisin fan, so I substitute with either cranberries or cherries.  The contrast of salty and sweet is just right.  It has the other usual suspects in a cookie, butter, flour, sugar, etc…

One batch makes two dozen so I made two batches of these for the ladies today and there were none left, letting you know the recipe was a hit.

 Here are some fun photos of the finished cookies.  It was like looking at little jewels…no two were alike and the ladies were so proud of their work!
 
 
 The smiles and laughter today were the best Valentine’s Day gift!  I hope you share something you love to do this week.

Open Cubicle — A take on an office party

When you’re an event planner and work with other event planners, you’re always trying to come up with ways to have…an event.  So, today was our annual “open cubicle” —  our spin on an open house. 

We each prepared (or for the gals that don’t cook, bought) a fall nibble and set our dish on the credenzas outside our cubicle doors (we each have our own enclosed offices, but they don’t have doors, weird).  We started at the front of the office and had a progressive feast down the hallway.  Here’s our parade of food for the fall frolic…

 Trader Joe’s pumpkin macarons and
a cute little acorn cookies inspired from Pinterest.
 
Egg soufflé tarts from the Black Rooster Bakery

Homemade pumpkin cream cheese roll.
Cheryl rocks at this.  Notice her fall framed foliage.
She got points for her décor.


 These are the best ever.  They are breakfast cookies made with
corn flakes, chopped bacon, and raisins.  Chandra made a
batch of these when Daddy passed away.  We took them with
us for the car ride to the cemetery.  Perfect with coffee.
 Our boss is not a cook.  So she filled her vase
with faux spider web stuff and candy.
 Pumpkin dip with ginger snaps and apples.
 Trader Joe’s apple cider. Kalyn laughed
because it looked like she was serving meds in cups
at the hospital.
 My contribution…Pumpkin Greek yogurt parfaits.
I took votive cups, filled them with layers of
maple pecan granola, yogurt and whipped cream.
Garnished with a cranberry pumpkin crisp.
 
 
Here’s my set up.

 Homemade pumpkin bread…cause you can
never have enough pumpkin

Happy fall, ya’ll.  Next office party… a chili cook-off. My team’s name…”The Heat is On.”

Hold Me: This Container Store Party is Amazing!

Sister Bee scored an invitation for a private party preview of the new Fort Worth Container Store last night.  It was so much fun to rub elbows with 2,000 other people that love containers of all shapes, sizes and forms like I do!  I even got to meet and greet with a few of my readers…Anita H. and Patti M.  It was so fun to get to see them.

 
Hot guy took this pic of Cindy, me and Sister.
 
 
As we entered the store the cashier counters were transformed into a giant bar with champagne and other spirits. 
 
We snagged a Sergio acrylic tray off the display and snapped a photo of our champagne…
 
 
 
All around the store were food stations.  The coolest thing was that they featured the food in all sorts of the containers they sell in the store…
 
 
 
Crudite in spice jars.
 
Cold soup in a salt and pepper shaker
 
 
Bread sticks in a magazine holder
 
 
Appetizers tucked into little storage drawers

 
And the expandable towers are a new item. 
They come in bronze and steel, but they are plastic.
You could use them in the pantry or on your buffet.
 

Fabric storage box lids served as trays

Holding acrylic storage containers (remember we used them for paperclips)
to hold chicken satay.
 
 
These were the dessert stations.  Metal file drawers
neatly held macaroons, petite fours, mini cupcakes

 
hello dolly bars

 
Rock candy, flowers and gum balls.
 

The Asian station featured all their teak products
Drawers of Chinese food take out containers filled with noodles
 

 
Teak trays of egg rolls

And trail mix
 
 
And it just kept going…tiny Mexican pizzas

 
Mini tortilla salads

And fresh flowers everywhere
 
 
We even got a snap with the co-founder of the Container Store, Garrett Boone.
 
 
This 25,000 square foot wonderland is set to open Saturday at 10 a.m.  Am I crazy enough to be in line to be among the first to shop there?  Stay tuned….
 
 






Travel themed Bridal Shower

My co-workers and I sent off one of our own to be married to her beloved.  She spent most of this past year traveling from Texas to Florida to be with him.  So we decided a travel-themed shower would be fun.

We used a vintage suitcase and a small bouquet of flowers with a tag for the front porch decor.

In the living area, where guests gathered, we featured a map mounted on foam board.  Since her shower was on Valentine’s Day we googled cities in the US with a Valentine them in the name and made little hearts and attached them with red and white push pins — Candy Town, Ohio; Lover, Pennsylvania…

 
We filled a vintage suitcase and hat box with travel themed gifts, maps and tour guides for the table centerpiece.
 


Refreshments were Kale and Goat Cheese empanadas, melon prosciutto skewers, Havarti and apricot bruschetta and tres leches cake parfaits.  Small bottles of Perrier featured straws with “yes” flags.

 
 
What shower wouldn’t be complete without a game?  We contacted the groom-to-be to answer questions about the bride and she had to guess — Newlywed Style — the answers.  It was a lot of fun!
 


Cookie Bar — A Fantastic Party Idea

We don’t have a Whole Foods near our house, so it’s no surprise that I had my recent trip to their Austin store during my visit to the bestie’s house.

There were tons of things to feature and write about, but for me, I zeroed in on the “Artisan Cookie Bar.”

As an event planner, I am always looking for ideas for parties.  This cookie bar is an original, fresh way to not only serve guests something they love — cookies — but it’s visually appealing as well.

You can make your own mini chalk boards with wood scrap or print on place cards the names for each cookie.

If you’re the host for the next book club gathering, maybe try recipes pertinent to your book.  It goes without saying that this could be a great idea for a holiday open house.  Make a percolator of hot cocoa with “adult” splashes of Bailey’s and Kahlua for the grownups.  You could put tags on small shot glasses that say “just add milk” and have a big carafe of eggnog.

If you don’t bake, then make a trip to your favorite bakery and get a dozen of several different kinds of cookies.  The food is your centerpiece.

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world,
had cookies and milk about three o’clock in the afternoon
 then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
 
quoting Robert Fulghum in 1987 at Middlebury College
 

Party of Twelve

Miss Bee turned 12 on Sunday.  We packaged her invitations in red and pink polka dot bags with a label that said “It’s going to be swell, Phoebe is turning 12.”  Tucked inside was a strip of photos of her (like from a photo booth) and the invitation.

Miss Bee ordered Frito Pie for lunch, so the night before the wingding (as Daddy would call it) I made three big pots of chili.  Then Sunday morning we put the chili into crockpots to heat.  I set out all the toppings…cheese, sour cream, red, yellow and orange diced bell peppers, cilantro, and of course Fritos.  For those that preferred the salad route, we chopped tomotoes and romaine lettuce for taco salads.  It was fun watching everyone customize their own mug o’ chili…

That’s my niece bee, Violet, dipping her taquito into her chili.
Dinner was on your own and some decided to enjoy the photo booth we had set up in the study… I found all the artwork online and ran it off on card stock, then hot glued the props to paint sticks..



I debated about showing this next one, because it’s kind of creepy…like from “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?”

We also enjoyed a round of “Pin the Nose on Ruthie.”  I blew up a photo to poster size and guests enjoyed trying their chance at pinning a nose on the bullseye.

This is Earnie…not getting very close…
For dessert we enjoyed ice cream cake from Marble Slab and Auntie M made her famous strawberry cake.  Ruthie, the wienerful, enjoyed two giant brownies she found and promptly ate (the rest of the night’s outcome with the brownies I’ll save for another blog entry.)

We finished with opening presents (she’s wearing her jelly-bow from her Godsister Annie).  Then Miss Bee passed around her party favors — a S’more Kit with heart shaped peeps…

Happy birthday, my sweet girl.  Becoming your mother has been one of my greatest joys.

Hosting a Grandmother-to-Be Shower

Neighbor Bee, Cindy, is about 6 weeks away from being a Grandmother to little Addison Leigh – Miss Addi Bee.  So, it was only proper to have a shower for CiCi (the name Addi will call her).  We assembled the neighbors for a “Sips and Sweets” afternoon shower.

It started with the invitation.  I found artwork on the internet and printed it off on cardstock — “She’s About to Pop with Excitement!”  Miss Bee and I packaged the invitations inside cellophane with a bag of microwave popcorn, tied them up with ribbon in the same design as the bag, attached a card that said “hope you can pop in!” and Miss Bee hand-delivered each invitation one afternoon.

For the big day we had a few party activities…one included a quiz to match each guest’s name with the translation of the meaning of their name.  Then, each guest wrote their wish for Cici and Addi and added it to the “Wishes and Wisdom Tree” I had made with a few artificial forsytheia placed inside a galvanized bucket.  I made birds out of scrapbook paper and after a wish was made the bird was placed on the tree.  I made the little sign next to the tree from some artwork I found on the the internet.

I let Cindy take the tree home so when the baby comes and visitors stop by to see her, they can make wishes to add to the tree.
Next, was the table and food –the best part!  I found the tissue puffs at Hobby Lobby.  They came three to a package and were already assembled you just had to puff up the tissue sections, very easy.  Hung them from the chandelier with the same ribbon I had used on the invitation packages.

I used Earnie’s milk glass collection for all the treats.  I labeled each dish with a fun name on colored card stock.

For libation we enjoyed “She’s a Peach” Bellinis…the little guests sipped cherry limeades in their champagne glasses.
Cindy received alot of nice things for her nursery.  Now, all we have to do is wait for Addi to get here!