Holiday Gift Guide: For the Party Host

The season of friendsgiving, holiday cookie swaps, cocktail parties and all of the ‘official’ holidays that take us through the new year is here. Today I am sharing a holiday gift guide for the party hosts you will visit during the holiday season. Hostess gifts can be tricky. Are they necessary? When are they appropriate? Do you give them around the holidays and not throughout the year? That all depends on what you are comfortable with, but I think something small is always appreciated. In this post I will share a few ideas so you can be prepared whether you’re gifting big or small.

I think it is safe to say that most people bring a bottle of wine, small dish or dessert to a holiday party. An easy and thoughtful way to give your host a gift is to incorporate it into what you are already bringing. If you bring a bottle of wine dress it up with a ribbon, festive wine topper and wine charms. These are small yet thoughtful gifts that can also be easily stored away by your host. A cheese board or knives are a great addition to an assortment of cheese and crackers. And for appetizers or dessert, you can dress them up with a gifted platter or bowl. All of these ideas are relatively inexpensive and can be found at your local Homegoods or Target. I recommend sticking with neutral colors {if possible} so your gift fits into any home or kitchen decor.

tree board | snowflake board | knives | tray | bottle topper | charms | food processor | skillet | Dutch oven

If you’re looking for larger gift ideas for the person who loves to host I have a few suggestions in mind to share with you. I love how versatile Dutch ovens are {read my top 5 reasons to buy a Le Creuset here}, so I think they are practical gifts. Macy’s Martha Stewart Dutch oven is a great dupe for the Le Creuset. I recommend saving this link to your favorites and checking it often. You can snag one of Martha’s Dutch oven at an amazing price during a sale which makes it an affordable gift.

Two kitchen staples that make great gifts for someone who loves to entertain are a small food processor and a cast iron skillet. Food processors are great time savers for party prepping. You can use it to quickly dice ingredients, shred cheese or whip together a salad dressing. I have this one and I love that it fits in my upper kitchen cabinets. Cast iron skillets can go right from the oven to the table which is perfect for appetizers like my favorite spinach and artichoke dip. They’re also perfect for searing steaks or browning chicken on the stove top. They double as cookware and servware.

A hosting must-have that I learned from my husband’s aunt is to have at least one food warming tray on hand. They’re amazing! If you are preparing a lot of hot dishes, it can be tough to shuffle them all in and out of the oven. I think sternos are a bit if a pain and also fire hazard. Instead, I use an electric warming tray similar to this one. It is great for keeping food warm before and during a party. Help make your host’s life easier by gifting him or here one of these!

How to Host a Simple Bridal Shower

Hi friends! I recently had the honor of hosting a bridal shower for my sister-in-law. Knowing that my SIL isn’t a traditional gal, I knew I wanted to keep it sweet and simple with minimal fuss. But of course, I wanted to make sure the day made her feel special! In today’s post, I will be sharing all of the details on how to host an affordable, beautiful, yet simple shower.

It’s All in the The Details

Thoughtful decor will have a huge impact on any event that you host. Keeping with a consistent, well planned theme will be eye catching and more of a reason for your party to be memorable one. After searching through Pinterest for a bit, I decided on a black, white and pink color scheme. My SIL loves bright colors, so I knew the decor needed to have a bit of pop. For the table, I ordered a black table cloth and a black and white stripe runner. To dress the table up a bit more, we ordered a large pink and white center piece from a local florist and added a few photos of the bride-to-be. If I could do it again, I would have added a little table confetti scattered down the table.

I ordered affordable printable decor from Etsy and also used a few things left over from my shower. I chose the ‘He Said, She Said’ game and the ‘Who am I” game which ended up giving us all a few laughs. I placed each game at everyone’s place setting which also dressed up the table. Anytime I order printables from Etsy, I have it printed at Staples. It’s fast and easy. You can also opt to a little extra to have all of your items cut to size, which I highly recommend for a wedding. We also played a 3rd game that did not require stationary; How Well Does the Bride know the Groom? I asked the groom about 15 questions (some made up, some found on Pinterest). For each question the bride answered different than the groom, she had to put a piece of bubble gum in her mouth. Luckily for this bride, she knew her groom and only ended up with one piece of gum.

For favors I opted for mini champagne bottles decorated in sheer pink bags and tags also from Etsy. I re-purposed the tag template by using it for welcome signs and had it printed on 8×10 card stock. The tags can also be printed on full sheet labels and applied directly to the bottle. When choosing a party favor, I suggest going with something that the majority of your guest will use. Same goes for game prizes – we use little bags of Hersey’s kisses. To add an extra touch, I played wedding themed movies on low volume in the background since the shower was hosted at my house.

Food and Drinks

To keep the afternoon as stress-free as possible I kept our food menu simple. Disclaimer – the menu was not exclusively gluten-free.

  • Scrambles Eggs
  • Croissants
  • Muffins
  • Chicken Salad
  • Cheese Board
  • Cesar Salad
  • Wraps (sliced in pin-wheels)
  • Gluten-Free Pastries
  • Cupcakes
  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Coffee, Tea and Mimosas (cranberry and orange with fresh strawberries)

Pre-Event Prep

Regardless of the event, planning ahead of time is super important. Once I had my decor, games and menu set, I planned out the afternoon. I planned out the seating, table scape and where I would place my decor throughout the house. Pinterest is a great resource for gathering ideas on how to arrange your decor. I also created a very loose timeline in my head of how the day would flow {welcome chit-chat, mimosas, brunch, games, dessert and a final game}. Then from the event start time, I planned backwards, so I knew what time I would need to start setting up and still allow myself enough time to get ready.

The morning of the shower I started by setting up the table and placing all the decor. This was an important first step that I did not want cut short on time because I knew the decor would really make the day feel special. Next, I laid out all of my platters throughout the kitchen {without food} to ensure everything would fit and flow nicely. I also created a designated area for mimosas, coffee, tea and juices. One of the guests was bringing a cheese platter, so I made sure to leave room for that as well. About 20 minutes before the guests were to arrive, I placed the food on the platters and cut up fresh strawberry slices for the mimosa glasses.

Invites

For this shower, I chose to use Evite over traditional invitations. It is a great way to save on the cost of paper goods and mailing invitations. Most invitations end up in the garbage anyway! Since I only had about 3 weeks to plan this shower, Evite made it possible for me to get the message out quickly. Evite allows you to send your invitations by email or text message to your guests individually. Personally, I love the newer text message option because I feel like guests tend to respond quickly.

Evite has a wide variety of invites to chose from, so it is a great option for showers, engagements, weddings, birthdays, retirements and celebrations of all kinds. Many of the invites are free, but you can pay for premium options as well. My friends, family and I have been fans of Evite for years. It is also the invitation I chose to use for my wedding rehearsal dinner.

I know that many people like to incorporate traditional invitations into the event decor. As you’re reading this, you many be thinking that you lose out on this detail with Evite, but you don’t have to. To get a similar affect for my SIL’s shower, I selected a template that complemented the pink, white and black theme. The template I chose also allowed me to add a photo, so I chose one of her in a pink dress. I printed and framed this photo which allowed me to incorporate her invitation into the decor.

I hope I have provided some help tips! Check back soon for my next blog!

Gluten-Free Travel Diaries: New York City!

This past weekend I attended my best friend’s bachelorette party in NYC! I can’t believe my bestie is getting married in a few short weeks. It was such a fun weekend celebrating the her! In this blog I am going to share some of the restaurants we went to. All of them had great gluten-free options and I am happy to report no tummy aches! If you are looking for my wedding blogs click HERE and follow me on my own wedding planning journey 🙂

The Frying Pan

The Frying Pan is a super cool spot in the city at Pier 66. It’s actually a boat docked in the Hudson River on the Pier. If you’re living in or visiting the city this summer you should definitely make it a point to stop here. It is really such a great place to enjoy the summer weather. We got a delicious pitcher of mango-blueberry sangria and a light dinner. The menu has “V” and “G” icons to identify vegetarian and gluten-free options. I was pleasantly surprised that the bartender/waitress was actually very knowledgeable of gluten-allergies and assured me that the choices labeled “G” were safe options. I had the fish tacos and a few fries. Yes, FRIES! They are fried separately, so they’re totally gluten-free.

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Pardon My French

For brunch we went to Pardon My French which was the perfect spot for a bachelorette party. It would also be a good option for a small bridal or baby shower. I loved the rustic, French decor. We sat upfront at the white subway tiled peninsula. They offer a classic or bottomless brunch options. Although no items are marked gluten-free the waiter was understanding of my allergy and said it would not be a problem. Their kitchen does their best to prevent contamination. I had the spinach and tomato omelet with roasted potatoes. The potatoes were actually roasted; not fried and the iced coffee was possible the best I’ve had.

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El Toro Blanco

On our second night we went to El Toro Blanco; a Mexican restaurant in Downtown. The guacamole was phenomenal! All of their guacamole is made fresh at the guac bar.  Gluten-free foodies beware – the chips are NOT gluten-free. Instead, make sure you ask for a side of raw veggies. The menu is marked with * which indicate which options contain gluten. I had the roasted chicken tacos for dinner which I enjoyed, but wasn’t blown away by. Also keep in mind the servings are small and the margaritas are very strong!

Sans Bakery

We stopped at Think Coffee for a quick pick me up and I was happy to find these Sans Bakery gluten-free doughnuts and muffins. Unlike most gluten-free desserts, this doughnut was not bland and dry. It’s nice to now where you can stop to get a coffee and a treat! I believe the Think Coffee shops are located throughout the city too.

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