Archive of ‘Tips & Ideas’ category

How to Host a Backyard Dinner Party

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!

Here's a look at a recent backyard dinner party I hosted. I'm sharing 5 simple if you're wondering how to host a backyard dinner party in your space.

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.

  1. Purchase and gather a few outdoor entertaining essentials
  2. Stage your area by setting up the table and place settings ahead of time
  3. Layer on any flowers or other decorations
  4. Turn on a good dinner party playlist
  5. When guests arrive, pour drinks and set out food

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.

Here's a look at a recent backyard dinner party I hosted. I'm sharing 5 simple if you're wondering how to host a backyard dinner party in your space. 7

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.

IHere's a look at a recent backyard dinner party I hosted. I'm sharing 5 simple if you're wondering how to host a backyard dinner party in your space.

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.

Here's a look at a recent backyard dinner party I hosted. I'm sharing 5 simple if you're wondering how to host a backyard dinner party in your space.

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.

Here's a look at a recent backyard dinner party I hosted. I'm sharing 5 simple if you're wondering how to host a backyard dinner party in your space.

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.

Here's a look at a recent backyard dinner party I hosted. I'm sharing 5 simple if you're wondering how to host a backyard dinner party in your space.

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…)

6 Things your party guests want you to know

Tips for hosting a party from Tori Tait

I love to play hostess. Inviting people into my home and welcoming them with food and drink is my love language. But not everyone feels natural in that role–I totally get it. In fact, for many of you, the idea of all that planning, prepping, and entertaining might make you feel completely overwhelmed. Heck, that’s the reason I started this blog back in 2007! I want to share tips and inspiration that takes out the overwhelm and leaves you confident and excited to send out those invites or to cook up a special weeknight meal.

But, even I am guilty of the occasional overthinking, over planning, and overextending myself (just ask my husband and kids!). And I’ll admit I may have had my share of  “company is coming” freak-out moments. But despite the slip ups, overall, I like to keep things simple which translates into a less-stressed hostess and a more welcoming atmosphere for your guests.

So, as you start planning those inevitable holiday gatherings I urge you to try your best to keep things as simple as you can and take pressure off of yourself to “do it all” or make everything “prefect.”

Believe me, you’ll be a better hostess and your guests will have an even better time. In fact, here are a few things your guests wish you knew.


1. They are thankful you are hosting (and they don’t have to)

They didn’t have to make sure their toilets were clean, they had drink ice on hand, or have to be the ones cleaning up tonight’s mess, tomorrow. So basically you’re already their favorite person because you’re willing to host at your home.

2. They can’t tell if you baked the pie or if it came from the store

They won’t be able to tell one way or the other so make it easy on yourself and grab food at the market. Just take it out of the packaging and present it in a thoughtful way. (You know, like Sarah Jessica Parker did in I Don’t Know How She Does It.)


Setting the Stage for Summer Entertaining

This post is sponsored by Pier 1 Imports

The minute the weather warms up and the evenings get longer, I start dreaming up the first summer party of the year. I absolutely love to entertain in our backyard but our space really needed an update. In fact, our old outdoor dining table had all but fallen apart so we had to build our entertaining space back up, from scratch. Working with a blank slate is always exciting to me. A must-have for us was well made outdoor furniture.

summer entertaining with Pier1

Before we could set the stage for summer entertaining, we had to lay the foundation –and this dining collection was the perfect choice!

Today I’m sharing with you how we took this foundation, added a few of my go-to summer party essentials, and transformed our space to one fit for guests. These pieces will help you create an inviting (and functional) space to gather with family and friends –this summer and beyond.

summer entertaining

Outdoor furniture: Create an inviting space to dine and relax. A nice outdoor dining table can be used regularly by your family and also when entertaining. My tip is to invest in a good quality table and chairs (I am loving these outdoor stacking chairs) to be sure they stand up against the sun and weather. Be sure to grab a couple colorful pillows to add a pop of color!


Entertaining Inspiration: Casual #girlboss Session

This post is sponsored by Kellogg’s, all thoughts are my own.

I have a hunch that many people don’t entertain because it simply stresses them out. I’ve shared tips for easy entertaining with you in the past but it really is a passion of mine. My mission is to help you realize that hosting friends and family can bring joy to your life and does not require you to “go all out.” Entertaining should bring you joy –not a case of the hives!

I’m gathering inspiration today for a very casual get-together I plan to have next week. I’m hosting a few girlfriends and we’re going to have a mini business brainstorm session which will definitely include some small bites and drinks. We’re each in the midst of building businesses, pumping out creative projects, and furthering ourselves in our respective careers and having a face-to-face #girlboss type meeting of the minds will surely give us that hustle-boost we each need. Not to mention it’s a great excuse to get together :).

I started with a mood board. I knew I wanted to keep things super simple but still a little special. Cute office supplies, flavorful (but easy) appetizers, and champagne are all on the list.

casual entertaining

Desktop Downloads :: #Hustle Pencils :: Rifle Notebooks :: Simple appetizers :: Mini Champaign Bottles

Gathering inspiration from above, I’ve decided to make two really simple appetizers. I’ve picked up the few ingredients  I’ll need. I plan to create little pairings of sweet and savory on top of Town House Crackers (I grabbed Original, Pita, Pretzel Thins and Flat Bread). I think I’ll pick some fresh mint from the garden and incorporate somehow as well. Stay tuned, because I’ll be sharing pics and the recipes!

AuthorLogoKellogg’s: From presentably munch-able options, to dipping inspiration, to versatile possibilities, we have the variety that will help her stylishly host any type of gathering – from planned to impromptu.


Make It :: Gift Card Yarn Bombs

I bet you’re well into holiday shopping mode (or maybe panic because you feel behind? Yeah, I’m there too).  The truth is that gift cards often make a great gift choice because your recipient will be able to use it to buy something they truly want. People like being gifted gift cards. And yes, they make gift giving a bit easier on you too, which is a nice bonus.

I’ve shared my thoughts with you before on the importance of wrapping a gift card in a thoughtful way and today I’ve teamed up with Target to share more DIY gift card wrapping inspiration for their #GiftCardCheer campaign.

Gift Card Yarn Bombs

Gift cards make great gifts, we’ve agreed on that (right?). But what makes them even better is when you make the recipient work for it … just  little. When I was younger my aunt used to wrap the tiny box in the bigger box, inside of the bigger box. You never knew when the wrapping was going to end. I thought it was so much fun and wanted to make my own version of that.

Meet, the gift card yarn bomb.

YarnBomb2First, purchase your Target GiftCard®  and a ball of yarn. Secure the gift card by tying the yarn around it and knotting it. Then, you will begin wrapping away.


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