It’s entertaining season which means chances are you’re likely doing a combination of hosting friends and family in your home, and being invited as a guest. That means you need a go-to appetizer recipe and a great hostess gift idea so you’re covered for playing both the role of hostess and guest. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I decided to take traditional ham appetizers up a notch and developed a new crowd-favorite.
I like to keep my recipes really simple, especially when entertaining. There’s always so much to do to prepare for guests that I never try to complicate things in the kitchen. But during the holiday season I do like to offer guests something just a little more special than normal. So when Maille asked me to partner with them, I was so excited to come up with a new simple, yet elevated, appetizer recipe.
It’s a basic ham and swiss crostini (which even the littlest guests will enjoy), but elevated with fresh herbs and Maille mustard. On top of each piece of bread, I spread on a layer of Maille Black Truffle Mustard with Chablis White Wine–SO DELICIOUS. It tastes like a familiar ham and cheese appetizer, only so much better. (The full recipe is at the bottom of the post).
Maille also makes a fabulous hostess gift or gift for any foodie in your life. I added a jar to a hostess gift basket for a holiday party I was invited to. Any host or hostess would be happy to receive this–holiday season or anytime! And if you have a foodie in your life that you’re shopping for, a gift basket like this will certainly be appreciated. (more…)
This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
Does the idea of impromptu guests make you sweat a little? Do you stress out a little bit during the holiday season when friends and family just “drop by?” I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the “drop-by” either but I have learned how to be prepared for when that happens.
It’s all about have some essentials always on hand so if you need to put together a quick cocktail hour, you can (and with ease). There are five things that I always have stocked in my kitchen which means when someone drops by, I look like the hostess with the mostest and I don’t even break a sweat! I’m always about easy entertaining so nothing too fussy here!
1. Festive Paper Napkins – I have more of these than most because I always keep the leftover from a party or holiday. So, when guests pop in I have a drawer full of festive napkins to pull out. I would say this is pretty close to decorating when we’re talking about keeping things simple. Pull out some appropriately themed napkins for a bit of instant festivity. They have cute ones here.(more…)
This post is in partnership with Bed Bath & Beyond. All opinions are my own.
I absolutely love to entertain in my backyard. We’re pretty lucky here in Southern California and have a long season where we can comfortably host a backyard dinner party without worrying about the weather. I jump at every chance to set a table outdoors and invite friends and family over for a laid-back evening of food, wine, and good company. Are you wondering how to host a backyard dinner party? I’m sharing some of my simple tips with you!
Although it just might seem easier to host your group indoors, I encourage you to consider dining alfresco next time. I’ll show you how to host a backyard dinner party that is simple but feels really thought out. Here are the main steps.
Purchase and gather a few outdoor entertaining essentials
Stage your area by setting up the table and place settings ahead of time
Here’s a glimpse at our set up from the other evening. It all really starts with getting a few essentials for entertaining outdoors. Bed Bath & Beyond is a great place to head if you’re looking for outdoor entertaining essentials like tablecloths, cups, plates, and serving pieces. I recently partnered with them to highlight some of their great finds for outdoor entertaining. Here’s a look at some of the items that set the stage for our recent dinner party.
I just fell in love with this palm leaf tablecloth. It’s stain and water resistant which means it’s perfect for dining outdoors. It just screamed “summer” to me and knew it would make a great base for our palm leaf tablescape.
I wanted to mix patterns and textures to keep it interesting but not too matchy-matchy. I grabbed some melamine serving pieces that had a wood and marble look to them. Melamine pieces are great for dining outdoors–you won’t be afraid to break them. I also layered melamine plates on square natural woven jute placemats. These brought a nice earthy feel to our outdoor table. I also love how versatile they are. We use them regularly.
Next, I layered on some place cards, glasses, stemware, and bowls. I highlight recommend setting up everything you can ahead of time. It gives you time to enjoy setting the table without feeling rushed. You can do this hours ahead of when you expect your guests to arrive.
About 30 minutes before guests arrive, I bring out an arrangement for the table. Flowers tend to wilt fast in the heat so I don’t bring them out too early. I always combine fresh blooms from my yard (in this case roses) with a few store-bought blooms (like the hydrangeas and greenery). A small arrangement just makes your table feel pulled together and adds such a thoughtful touch.
About 15 minutes before guests arrive, I bring out the chilled rosé (though, rosé spritzers would have also been a great choice). I recently got this copper plated ice bucket and am mildly obsessed with it! It’s going to match everything on my bar cart and get used so often. I just love discovering unexpected and unique items like this and Bed, Bath & Beyond never disappoints on that front. (more…)
I recently shared with you some simple (but pretty) engagement party ideas that incorporated a few thoughtful Cricut party decor elements that I made using my Cricut machine. Here’s a look closer at how I made the vinyl decals that I used to dress up our punch glasses and this acrylic sign I used to label the “Love Punch” (aka a big batched grapefruit cocktail).
My entertaining style is all about creating a beautiful and thoughtful event but all while keeping things as simple as possible. When I was in middle school, I was addicted to two day time TV shows (I used to record them on VHS every day to watch them when I got home. Sad? Maybe. But totally true). They were Martha Stewart and Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee. Martha was all about details and making things perfect and pretty, while Sandra was all about starting with store bought and elevating it a little to make it impressive and “your own.” My style is definitely a combo of these! So, if you’re looking for pretty (but simple) engagement party ideas, this post is for you! The four parts to the perfect engagement party are: Desserts, appetizers, a themed cocktail, and a couple of thoughtful details. Desserts When it comes to creating beautiful desserts for any party, my secret is to start with store bought. Yep, head to the grocery store or local bakery. You can then dress up these pre-packaged good and re-plate them and no one will know the difference. Plus, you’ll save yourself time and stress if baking isn’t your thing. I picked up this chocolate cake and these eclairs from my local grocery store. Then, I simply put them on a serving platter and added some fresh flowers (also from the grocery store). These blooms are not edible so you would just remove them before eating. If you’e worried about it, you can always pick up some edible flowers. I made this “congrats” cake topper using my new Cricut Explorer Air Machine which totally dressed up the cake. It only took a few minutes to make this vinyl decal that I added to a piece of crafting wood I had. I loved how it turned out! Don’t the desserts look pretty? And there was no baking required! Appetizers Another engagement party idea I love is to serve one appetizer that guests can eat while holding a cocktail. If you want to serve two to offer variety, go for it. But don’t do more than that. This simple appetizer took me a few minutes to put together but looked gorgeous on a plate. Just skewer: watermelon, basil, feta cheese, and a blackberry. Such a unique flavor combo! Themed Cocktail Every great party needs a themed cocktail. I created this “love punch” which would be so fun at an engagement party. The grapefruit gave it the perfect peachy-pink color which was so pretty. I think I’m in love with this grapefruit cocktail actually. (Grab the recipe, here.) Isn’t just so perfect? And it tasted delicious! Thoughtful Details Like the cake topper above, I used my Cricut machine to make a couple more thoughtful details for the party. I made these vinyl heart decals for my punch glasses, and also a decal that said “love punch” that I added to a acrylic sign holder which I placed next to the punch bowl. The glasses might be my favorite element! You can let guests take them home as a party favor. Or, if you want to keep them, remove the decal before washing. They come off very easily and leave no residue on your glass. I also love how the white heart pops from the color of the punch when the glasses are filled. If you’re looking for engagement party ideas that look great but won’t cost a fortune (or require you to turn into Martha Stewart), these ideas are perfect. Start with store bought, dress things up, and add a few details, and you’re ready to entertain! Be sure to check back next week, I’ll show you how to create these thoughtful details. I’ll show you the step-by-step one how I used my Cricut to make the vinyl decals.You can also browse the Cricut Design Space–there are so many great projects to make!
Be sure to enter to WIN your own Cricut machine here.
I was invited to participate in the Cricut Party Blogger Program Kickoff.
This experience is based strictly on my opinion. Others may have a different opinion or experience with the product listed above. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company or PR agency and I have given my honest opinion.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.
It’s almost May which means it’s almost time to fiesta! I recently got together with Sauza® Tequila to plan this simple Cinco de Mayo backyard celebration for a few of my friends. If you’ve read my past entertaining posts, you know I am a huge fan of keeping things SIMPLE–and that’s just what I did for this party. I’m sharing all the Cinco de Mayo party food, drinks, and easy fiesta-inspired decor ideas with you. You’ll want to pin these simple ideas to your “Fiesta” Pinterest board for later!
The setting was simply my back patio. How easy is that? I pulled my patio table over to a nice shady spot in the yard and it was the perfect spot to set up our fiesta dinner.
I’m a huge fan of incorporating fresh flowers into every tablescape but I never put the pressure on myself to make perfectly arranged centerpieces (simple is key, remember). I picked up some colorful flowers from my local grocery store, trimmed off the stems, and just grouped them together in the center of the table. SO EASY. I mixed in a couple fresh oranges and limes to bring in that citrusy-fiesta vibe.
An easy way to add to a basic table is to layer on textures. I used a burlap runner, wicker chargers, and linen placemats. Not everything matched either–I just used what I had already and ended up with an eclectic, yet festive look. (more…)