Tips For Seating Dinner Guests


You’re excited to throw a dinner party!  You’ve busied yourself with the necessary tasks for a successful evening:  creating the guest list, selecting a menu with the perfect food and wine parings, and setting a tablescape to impress your guests.  One very important element of your tablescape is seating your guests.  Knowing where and how to seat your guests is just as important as the food and wine pairings.  Chow, a website on food related topics, provides a video detailing 4 easy tips for “How to Seat Your Dinner Guests“.

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The inspiration of Autumn’s leaves


The autumn season brings about many changes:  Crisp air, gradual shortening of days, and (my favorite) the leaves changing colors.  A great way to liven up this season’s events is to bring the outdoors inside!  Incorporate the natural beauty and texture of autumn’s leaves into your event’s décor.  Here are some easy and budget friendly tips for decorating with autumn’s leaves.

Image from Sunset – Decorating with fall leaves

1.  Nature’s Stained Glass (from Sunset – Decorating with fall leaves)

Chinese pistache leaves are translucent enough to glow like stained glass when lit from behind. To celebrate their vivid fall beauty indoors, display them on simple glass hurricane candle holders.

Gather leaf cuttings from your garden (ginkgo and Japanese maple are other good choices).  Press them in a book overnight to keep them from crinkling, then use one or two Glue Dots on the back of each stem, affixing each leaflet to the outside surface of the glass.

image from Ideal Home Garden – Beautiful Fall Leaf crafts to decorate your home

2.  Leaf Centerpiece  (from Ideal Home Garden – Beautiful Fall Leaf crafts to decorate your home)

One of the easiest fall leaf crafts you can make, this leaf vase is a beautiful and cheap way to decorate your living room, bedroom or entry, and can also be used as a dining table centerpiece.

What You’ll Need:

  • About 20 to 50 leaves, depending on the size of your vase
  • One clear glass vase or hurricane candle holder

Instructions:

  1. Fill the vase or hurricane candle holder with your colorful autumn leaves.
  2. Be careful not to crush or break the leaves as your place them inside.
  3. Arrange some leaves around the outer edges so that they lay flat against the glass for a better view.

Set your leaf vase anywhere you’d like bright autumn décor.

image from Leanneja – 6 Fast and Easy Ways to Decorate with Leaves

3.  Leaf Garland (from Leanneja – 6 Fast and Easy Ways to Decorate with Leaves)

Clip leaves to twine/string using little clothes pins.

What are your favorite ways to decorate with leaves?

4.  Candle and Leaves Centerpiece (from 9 ways to decorate with Autumn leaves

Put an autumn-themed plate or bowl on top of a candlestick or cake stand. Fill it with leaves, acorns and candles for a simple and casual look.  SAFETY NOTE:  Use battery operated, flame-less candles in this centerpiece.  There’re much safer around dry leaves than regular candles.

What are your favorite ways to decorate with leaves?

Everyone loves a well stocked “Bar”


One of the hottest food trends in events and entertaining are food stations. Food stations  are a fun way to add variety, while making it easy for your guests to mingle. Common food stations are: dessert stations, ice cream bars, and Asian stations. Have a  tight budget, but want to add this hot trend to your next summer party. Try a Hot Dog Bar! It’s an inexpensive way to put a fun twist on an American favorite. Here’s how to do it:

1) Setup

Keep in mind, food stations are meant to keep your guests to mingling.  Setup stations in different areas of the party/event space.

2) Food stations – Hot Dog Bars

Classic. For any food station, it’s always a good idea to have the regular, tried and true toppings available. Relish, mustard, ketchup, and onions are favorite stand-ins for a hot dog bar.

Regional. Find out which city has the best hot dog! Many U.S. cities have its own take on what should go on a hot dog i.e. The Chicago Hot Dog, the Honolulu Dog, and the Southern California Baja Dog. Gather the ingredients and follow the recipes for these great city hot dogs!

The Chicago Hot Dog

Ingredients:

Boiled Hot Dogs

Poppy Seed Buns

Yellow mustard

Sweet relish

Chopped Onions

Kosher Dill Pickle Spears

Tomato Slices

2 Sport Peppers

Dash of celery salt

Instructions:

Put the hot dog in a steamed poppy seed bun. Pile on toppings in this order: Mustard, Relish, Onions, Pickle, Tomatoes, peppers and celery salt.

The Honolulu Dog

Ingredients:

Boiled Hot Dogs

Canadian bacon

Hot Dog Buns

Diced red onions

Diced pineapple

Instructions:

Put the Canadian bacon in the bun. Place the hot dog on top. Then, pile on the remaining toppings.

Southern California Baja Dog

Ingredients:

Boiled Hot Dogs

Hot Dog Buns

Sliced radishes

Pico de gallo salsa

Chopped avocado

Instructions:

Put the hot dog in a steamed bun. Pile on the remaining toppings.

What food station(s) will be at your next party or event?

Cocktails For St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day is a day for all things green and Irish.  Try these fun, green, and (maybe not so) Irish cocktails for  your St. Patrick’s day festivities!                                         

Lucky Leprechaun Cocktail
from Entertain With Mark Addison

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Midori Melon Liqueur
  • 1 oz Mailbu Rum
  • 6 oz Pineapple Juive
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Method:

  1. Mix ingredients in a glass or shaker with ice
  2. Pour over ice in a hurricane glass
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge

Green Sangria
From Drink of the Week

If you’re looking for something a little different for St. Patrick’s Day, this green sangria is a nice change of pace.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle pinot grigio
  • 1 ½ oz Midori melon liqueur
  • ½ green apple, cored and sliced
  • ½ lime, sliced
  • ¼ English cucumber, sliced
  • 10 mint leaves
  • ½ kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
  • Club soda to taste

Instructions

Combine all ingredients except club soda in a pitcher and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours and a maximum of eight hours. For individual servings, spoon some of the fruit into a wine glass before pouring and then top off with a splash of club soda, diet lemon-lime soda or diet ginger ale to taste.

Herradura Green Agave Cocktail
From She Knows Food & Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Herradura Silver tequila
  • 3/4 oz. melon liqueur
  • lime

Directions:

  1. Add tequila, melon liqueur and a squeeze of lime into a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake for 15 seconds.
  3. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with shamrock carved lime and serve.

Make It Memorable — How to avoid event déjà vu


I have had the cookie cutter event experience more times than I want to remember.  You know the event where the decorations, food, activities are just EXACTLY the same.  Let’s end these event déjà vu experiences with these thought provoking event planning tips:

Combine themes.  Put your creativity to the test, and combine two ideas, two themes, or whatever you like for your next event!  Combining two party themes is a great way to stand out from other events!  Try not to confuse your guests.  Ensure the themes are related in some way.  With Valentine’s Day a few weeks away, a “Valentine’s Day in Paris” themed event can bring together the best of Paris and Valentine’s Day together beautifully!

Twizzler Lemonaid Cocktail

Twizzler Lemonaid Cocktail image from Celebrations.com

Make it personal.  There is nothing worse than going to a birthday party where the theme or party elements don’t speak to the unique likes or personality of the person of honor.  For example, I have a friend whose favorite candy is Twizzlers.  So, creating a signature drink showcasing Twizzlers, such as the Twizzler Lemondade Cocktail, would be PERFECT for a party or event honoring my friend.

What event planning tips do you have to avoid the event deja vu expereince?

6 tips for hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner


Is this your first year hosting Thanksgiving dinner?  Then you know you don’t have time to read long blog posts on the matter!  So, this short post is for you. . .

TIP 1:

Don’t try out a new recipe

Do prepare the crowd’s favorite dish

TIP 2:

Don’t wait until the last minute to buy a turkey

Do buy your turkey a week in advance.  Be sure to check how long it will take for the turkey to properly thaw in the refrigerator.

TIP 3:

Don’t wear yourself out cooking everything from scratch

Do use store bought items to save yourself time

TIP 4:

Don’t wait to the last minute to find serving dishes

Do pull out the flatware, glassware, serving dishes, etc. you plan to use a two weeks in advance.  Write the name of each dish on a piece of paper.  Place the paper into each serving dish, to indicate which dish goes in each serving dish.

TIP 5:

Don’t try to be the “super” host, and do everything yourself

Do say yes when others ask “can I help” , or “can I bring anything”

TIP 6:

Don’t stress over every detail being perfect

Do enjoy your friends, family, and give thanks for our many blessings!  Cheers!

What tips would you share with someone hosting their first Thanksgiving dinner?

AKB Events Top 10 Tips For Being a Good Guest


There are many articles, blog posts, and tips for being a good host/hostess.  With the holiday season upon us, here are AKB Events top 10 tips for being a good guest.

  1. RSVP as soon as you receive the invitation.
  2. A good guest mixes and mingles.  Do not only chat with the people you know.  Help the host entertain by mingling with newcomers.
  3. Bring a host gift that does not require immediate attention.  Also, if you bring wine, do not expect it to be served with the meal.  The host may have already selected a wine that compliments the meal.
  4. Don’t be controversial .  Don’t bring up conversation topics that could cause dissension among any of the guests.
  5. Show your gratitude. Whether you stayed for an hour or a weekend, send the host a thank you note.
  6. Pitch in when you notice things that need to be done, i.e. refilling the ice bucket at the self-service bar
  7. Leave uninvited guests―your kids, your well-behaved dog, your work colleague―at home.
  8. Drink responsibly. Your host may be serving alcoholic beverages to complement the meal, but know your limits.  Do not become the sloppy drunk that the host had to tend to.
  9. Be on Time.  Some hosts plan the timing of their meals very precisely, and you wouldn’t want to hold up the meal and spoil the food for everyone else.
  10. Offer to help clear the table. But if the answer is “no thanks”, then just relax and leave things alone. The host may not want guests to feel rushed as their plates are being taken away mid-bite.

Share with us your tips for being a good guest.