Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Butter Bell

If you're like me, when it comes time to serve fresh bread with.....well, anything, I like to have nice, soft, spreadable real butter on hand. Not margarine or a butter substitute. Real. Butter.




Not saying it needs to be done every day, but there are times. Considering that I usually serve homemade soup twice a week,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Open House Tips and Tricks

It's been 2 years since the last time there was a High School Open House on my agenda. Thank goodness. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of work. Well.....if you're very wealthy and can afford a party planner to do all of the planning, work, and decorating for you, not to mention the catering part of the process to boot....then it's just money. Right? Riiiiigggghhhhht. Most people don't have that kind of disposable income to hire everything out. So out of fantasy land and back to reality, you'll do most of the work yourself. Planning, making decorations, actual decorating, cleaning, and probably some of the cooking. I can't actually help you physically do any of those items (sorry), but I am here to give you a round up of a few of my favorite ideas to help get you on the fast track to your Open House Day. Simple. Easy. Affordable.

If you have the space, consider having an Open House/Graduation Party right at home. Maybe a friend has a large screen tent your could borrow, unless you have one in storage. Tents can be rented as well, but it can be costly.

Open House 2011

Use inexpensive items and customize them by adding decorative elements in the color of your theme.  The takeout box, in the photo below, was filled with gourmet jelly beans (Jelly Belly like jelly beans from GFS). To take up some of the space, I put a clean square treat box in the bottom of the container. Maybe using smaller takeout boxes would have been better, but I had these on hand from another event. Decorative elements: Chopsticks for free from a local restaurant, then I painted the ends in coordinating colors. Layers of coordinating card stock was added to the sides, and ribbon was tied to the handle.

Open House 2011

Paper lanterns make a big impact, and can be re-used. They were tied to trees using the same color ribbon as the above picture. A spool of ribbon can go a long way.

Open House 2011

Use baskets, tins, buckets, and pails that you already have on hand lying around the house to use in a decorative way. Add some color coordinating element to tie it all together.

Open House 2013

Open House 2013

Open House 2013

Open House 2013

Make your own card holders and signs to label the dishes, drinks, snacks, anything being served, etc. The little pop of colors throughout the entire party really brings your theme colors together. You can view the tutorial for the card holders here.

Open House 2013

Open House 2011

Open House 2013

Get creative and make centerpieces for the tables. Think outside of the box. Make them as simple or as elaborate as you like. That's the beauty of doing it yourself.....you can make whatever you want.

Open House 2015

Inside of the brown kraft paper bag centerpieces are glass jars with floral foam in them to hold the wooden skewers and dowels that were used to hold the balls and the year banner. Adding layers of tissue paper to the top of the bag and sticking the skewers and dowels through the paper hides the floral foam and jar.

Open House 2015

The pretty little flower holders are three mini wine bottles stuck together with hot glue and wrapped in twine. Very easy to make and are reusable. I still use these today and the pictures above are from 2 years ago. You might want to get an early start on these, as you'll need the wine bottles to be empty. Hmmmm. Invite some friends over and have a "mini" wine party. Instead of opening a regular bottle of wine, serve mini bottles.

Open House 2013

Re-use items that you already have. The above picture is a centerpiece that was made for my youngest son's Open House in 2013. The flower pot is the same as the flower pot in the picture below, which is from my eldest son's Open House in 2011. I had (still have) 4 of them. There were originally from my eldest daughter's baby shower in 2009. I painted them white for the baby shower. They were reused in 2011, and in 2013, changing the look with ribbon and then with a can of black spray paint and they were completely "new".

Open House 2011

Card boxes for the Open House are a great idea. However, you don't have to be limited by a box, you can use anything you would like. With a little imagination you can transform anything you have around the house. Like the card basket below. You can view the tutorial here.

Open House 2015

If you are going to use flowers, carnations are a greatly underrated flower. They are inexpensive, come in lots of colors, and last a long time. Since they do last, this allows you to purchase them a few days early, arrange them in containers and not think about them until it's time to put them on tables the of the event, or the evening before.

Open House 2015 

With all of the other tasks to accomplish at the last minute, don't spend time going to purchase flowers at the last minute. Get a variety that holds its blooms well and cross that off your list early(ish).

Open House 2015

A great way to save time and money.....purchase your cupcakes or cake from a large store instead of a smaller bakery, then make your own toppers. It gives you the freedom to coordinate your desserts with all of your other decorations.

Open House 2015

Design and create favors for the occasion. It's easy to coordinate the favors using your theme colors and graphics. The design that is used on the favor bags in the pictures below was also used on the cupcake toppers in the above picture, as well as on the bottoms of Hershey Kisses, and the graduation cap was also used on the invitations.

Open House 2015

Repurpose large items you have for serving. My drink dispensers and wine boxes were set on the potting bench which was moved to the garage for the day, due to the rain in the morning and possible rain all day. It's been used on the deck in the backyard for occasions when the weather was nice. It's durable, pretty, and has storage space underneath. No need to find (or rent) another table just for drinks.

Open House 2015

Save lots of money by making your own banner. It can be simple or elaborate, you could even make a  banner that is more of a picture banner. If you have the ability to make it yourself, I truly suggest that you do. It's fun and gives you the freedom to create what you envision.

Open House 2015

Open House 2015

Note the table on the left in the following photo. It was a very windy day on Open House day in 2011. It was very difficult to get the table clothes to stay down.

Open House 2011

Having remembered the effects of the wind on the table clothes, in 2013 I made tablecloth weights. Simple, easy, and effective. You can read about the tablecloth weights here.

Open House 2013

Personalize treats, candies, and favors. Small round stickers can be applied to the bottom of Hershey kisses. Large candy bars can be altered with homemade stickers. Favor bags and containers can get a face lift by using your printer or stamping and/or embossing supplies. In the photo below, Hershey nuggets got a makeover by designing a label on mailing labels using photos, school/graduation information and of course school colors. I have used this method for 2 baby showers and a banquet also. It's a wonderful way to personalize the little nuggets of yumminess.

Open House 2013

And my absolute favorite thing to do for decorating, when possible, is to add a stack of books with theme colored ribbon. The first photo below is from my youngest son's Open House in 2013. Personalize the books with classes that were taken in High School.

Open House 2013

For a baby shower in 2014 I used a few of these adorable table elements that the Mother-To-Be got to take with her, as the books were actual books to use in the nursery. Note the stamped sentiment on the side. Each stack of books had a different sentiment stamped onto the binding.

Baby Shower 2014

Again in 2015 a stack of books with ribbon was used for yet another Open House.

Open House 2015

There are so many ways to decorate on a budget and make your event absolutely beautiful. With a little time and a lot of imagination you'll have all of the decorations you need. And you'll have money left in your pocket.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

What makes planning and decorating parties easy for you?

Good Luck! Have fun! And be creative!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It's Been A Long Time...

It's been such a long time since I've been here. Sorry friends. Life took over. A couple of years of not feeling well physically really took a toll on my creative desire. The aches and pains have mostly gone, but that leaves a lot to be done to get back on track with regular household tasks, as well as all of the projects that I wanted to complete. By the way, those have gone unfinished, as of yet.

Now? It's back to the grindstone!! Yay! I'm looking forward to tackling many projects, large and small. Well, not too large. I must pace myself. And hopefully, not hurt myself again. I hope you'll join me for a new round of fun. The creativity and enthusiasm are starting to bubble up inside me. Come back soon. There's plenty to do.