Friday, November 23, 2012

8 Great Christmas Party Theme Ideas

Dinner parties are okay, but why not try something a little different with your Christmas party this year? Here are great Christmas party themes you can pull of without a huge fuss.

The Cookie Swap: 
Everyone bakes their favorite Christmas goodies and brings them to the party in individual packages to share. Include a recipe with your gifts so that everyone can add their favorites to their recipe book.

The Ugly Sweater Party
This one doesn't need a lot of explaining. The goal is to wear the ugliest holiday sweater you can find. We think there should be prizes for the worst dressed -- with extra bonus points going to those who knit their own ugly sweathers!

The Karaoke Party 
What's more fun than karaoke? Christmas karaoke of course! If you have a shy bunch, a cocktail or two might be in order to kick things off.

The White Elephant Gift Exchange 
These are by far some of the funniest and most entertaining parties we've ever been to. If you need help with the rules for a white elephant exchange, check out rules and variations here.

The Holiday Costume Party 
Like the ugly sweater party, only with costumes. Award prizes to the best, worst, and most creative costumes.

Tree-Trimming Party
This is a great idea for new homeowners, set up a tree and ask everyone to bring or make an ornament to help you decorate. In return for their help, feed your guests lots of yummy treats.

The Gift Wrap Party
This is a great one for people who dread gift wrapping -- turn it into a party! Ask everyone to bring their gifts, wrapping paper and tools and make a fun day of it with holiday treats and festive music.

The Everything Party 
So not everybody celebrates Christmas? No problem. Have a holiday party where everyone pitches in a favorite dish, game or activity that represents the holiday they celebrate. Play dreidel, sing Christmas carols, bring a kinara and, most importantly, have fun!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roundup: Holiday Entertaining Tips

Vintage Christmas Paper from
If you're looking for tips and tricks to make your holiday entertaining a breeze, you're in luck. We've rounded up some of the best holiday entertaining tips the pros have to offer.

10 Holiday Entertaining Tips from Clinton Kelly

Clinton Kelly, host of the popular show "What Not to Wear" offers some great tips for planning your Christmas or New Year's celebration. He suggests that readers "think outside the dinner table" and plan for guests to be very hungry and thirsty! Also, he reminds us all that one of the biggest mistakes we can make is blocking the view (and the conversation!) with an oversized centerpiece.

Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes 

Martha Stewart offers some absolutely delicious fall appetizers to share with your guest (or take with you) this Thanksgiving. From Winter Squash Dip to Baked Brie with Pecans, there are plenty of dishes on Martha's appetizer list that might just steal the turkey's thunder this year.

12 Tips for Holiday Entertaining Success

Sandra Lee offers advice for holiday decorating that you might not have thought of before. For example, she recommends renting fancy dinnerware rather than buying. We think that's a great idea for those who want to create a super special party or get-together but don't have the money (or storage) for all that extra dinnerware.

7 Tips for Easy Holiday Entertaining

Let's face it, the holiday parties are as much about the food as they are about spending time with the people you love. Eating Well has some great tips for preparing healthy cocktails and appetizers that won't send all of your guests reeling toward a food coma before the evening has even gotten started. Don't miss the related recipes section featuring Vegetable Satay and Pomegranate Cosmos.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012: Party Ideas for Families and Friends

Stumped on what to do for your Thanksgiving party this year? Time is running out, but luckily we've found some great ideas from around the internet to help you find your party planning inspiration.

Thanksgiving Party Ideas for Kids

Kids make passing on your thanksgiving traditions a must. If you're look for some fun and entertaining party ideas for the younger crowd, you can't go wrong with these tips from Family Fun. You can find instructions for fun crafts and recipe ideas too!

Party Ideas for Thanksgiving

The Holiday Spot offers some great ideas for prepping your home for the perfect Thanksgiving party. We guarantee you'll find some new ideas on this page, from the crazy hat party to the collection party. There are also some great ideas here for showing your friends and family how thankful you are to have them in your life.

Thanksgiving Menus, Recipes and Turkey Help

Rachel Ray has pretty much everything covered on her Thanksgiving page. Whether you need help getting the turkey reader or planning your party menu, you're sure to get all of your questions answered here. This is a great site for those planning a very traditional thanksgiving celebration.

Host a Food Drive at Your Home

Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to give back to those who might need a little help this holiday season. Turn your typical Thanksgiving party or family gather into a food drive for your local food back. As everyone that's coming to bring a non-perishable food item (or two or twenty!) to take to the food bank.

Thanksgiving Games

Finally, if your looking for some ideas to keep kids and adults entertained, you'll want to check out Divine Dinner Party's "Thanksgiving Party Games: Thanksgiving Fun for Kids & Adults, Too".

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Easy Thanksgiving Entertaining

Entertaining at Thanksgiving is always special, but if you don't plan ahead it can also be a stressful time. Below are some of our favorite tips for easier Thanksgiving entertaining. If you have tips or suggestions to share, please add them in the comments!

  1. Ask for help. Just because you're the hostess doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own. Ask for friends and family to pitch in with different parts of the celebration. This can include menu planning, shopping, decorating, cooking and cleaning.

  2. Shop early. Once you've planned the meal, you should start shopping early. You can use grocery apps to prepare a list of the items you'll need and pick them up all at once or over several different trips. Shopping early also means you have time to hunt for the best deals.

  3. Cook ahead. While you might like the tradition of cooking the turkey on Thanksgiving Day, you could easily make side dishes and desserts the day before. You can also get a lot of the prep work out of the way by pre-measuring dry goods or cleaning and chopping fruits and veggies.

  4. Make plans for the kiddos. Don't have enough high chairs? Need a children's table for all of those nieces and nephews? Make sure you figure out the logistics ahead of schedule and borrow or ask guests to bring any items you don't already have in your home.

  5. Invite your guests early. If you don't invite your friends and family early you might find that someone else was planning to host the main event or that your guests made plans to celebrate Thanksgiving elsewhere. So, if you haven't done it already, send your invites or start making those phone calls.
By planning ahead and asking others to pitch in this Thanksgiving you can spend more time enjoying the company of your friends and family at the holidays!

Photo credit: alex27

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Resources for Creating the Perfect Fall Centerpiece

We've rounded up a great list of resources to help you find and create the perfect fall centerpiece for your table. Whether you're decorating for a formal Halloween gathering or a Thanksgiving meal with family and friends, we're sure you'll find the perfect centerpieces from our list of decorating resources.

Fall Centerpiece Resources

  1. Glittering Fall Table Setting and Centerpiece Ideas: HGTV's designer Erinn Valencich gives readers tips for fall entertaining. Her more formal table setting ideas are gorgeous and perfect for a formal Thanksgiving dinner or a fall dinner party.

  2. 5 Easy Fall Centerpiece Ideas: Woman's Day has some great decorating tips too. These finds are less formal, but every bit as charming. Incorporate paper pumpkins, fallen acorns, books, candles, pumpkins and more into a home-warming centerpiece for your fall table.

  3. Rustic and Contemporary Centerpiece Ideas: This how-to article from Martha Stewart shows you how to make elegant table centerpieces for a rustic or a modern look. The best part is that you can use them with everyday items from your backyard garden including, vegetables, herbs, gourds, and fruits.

  4. Fall Wedding Centerpieces: has some stunning ideas for fall centerpieces for your wedding reception that include everything from colorful dahlias and willow branches to pumpkins and hydrangeas. There's even a simple but beautiful centerpiece made of nothing but wheat stalks and hand-tied ribbon.

  5. Fall Centerpiece Idea and Centerpiece Wednesday: The Style Sisters have some truly unique ideas for decorating your fall table. They even have a new take on the pinwheels we love so much. They've used book pages to create them, and they're adorable. There are lots more fall table ideas to browse while you're visiting the blog too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Dinner Party Tips and Ideas

Fall is the perfect time to host a dinner party. As the evenings get cooler, it's nice to entertain indoors where things are warm and cozy. Here are some tips and ideas to inspire your next fall dinner party.

Bring the Outdoors In

A fall table setting can be brilliant and vivid when you incorporate pumpkins, gourds, and seasonal fruits and veggies into your arrangements. Autumn leaves are another way to bring striking colors to everything from your home decor to your centerpiece. Accents of twine or burlap work well with more rustic themes, while gold and ruby accents can dress things up a little.

Decorate or Carve Pumpkins

In lieu of those ghoulish jack-o-lanterns, go for more elegant pumpkin decorating ideas. We've seen some beautifully painted pumpkins as well as more intricate carvings that are simply stunning. You might want to browse some of Country Living's examples for out-of-the-box ideas.

Incorporate Harvest Foods in Your Menu

Pumpkin, squash, pears and apples are some obvious choices for seasonal dishes. But if you're looking for more ideas, we recommended checking out your local farmer's market for local harvest favorites. If you have your own garden, even better! For recipe ideas, click over to these great fall recipes from Taste of Home.

Don't Forget the Drinks

Mulled cider and cocoa are the perfect thing to take the chill off. Have some waiting for your guests when they arrive--perhaps with hors d'oeuvres--so that guests can mingle and snack while waiting for others to arrive to the dinner party.

Do you have fall dinner party tips to share? We want to hear them!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween Party Planning for Kids

Halloween really is a great holiday for kids. I mean, what child doesn't love dressing up as a favorite superhero, a scary monster, or a beloved story character? Even better, it's actually acceptable to go door-to-door and beg the neighbors for candy.

But did you know it's possible to have even more Halloween fun with a party? Plus, when you host a halloween party your kids can wear that awesome costume for more than just a few hours on October 31.

We've got some tips for planning a halloween party--whether you're inviting a few close friends or the entire neighborhood.

We're skipping the obvious advice to get the good candy, because that's a given.

Plan Age-Appropriate Activities

Your middle schooler and your kindergartner aren't going to want to play the same games, but there's no rule that says you can't set up separate activities for different ages. has lots of great printables and games for Halloween if you're looking for inspiration.

Hold a Costume Contest

Reward kids for their creativity and dedication to dressing up! The costume contest can be fun for everyone, and you can award as many or as few prizes as you want. To make sure more kids go home with prizes, just add additional categories. You can have winners for the scariest costume, the cutest costume, the most original costume, and on and on. Prizes don't have to be huge or break the bank. We recommend coloring or activity books for the younger children or a even king size candy bar. Yum!


Hayrides aren't feasible at every party, but if you've got the opportunity to run one? Jump on it! Safety is always the priority though, so check the local weather and make sure younger children have adult supervision during the trip. If you're really into Halloween and want your hayride to be over-the-top, invite others to set up haunted stations along the route.

What do your kids love best about Halloween parties?