Archive of ‘Entertaining’ category

Simple Entertaining: Overnight Guests

During the holiday season, many of us find ourselves entertaining guests overnight. Whether it be relatives who have traveled in order to stay with you, or a friend passing through looking for a place simply to rest their head, here are a few simple tips that can help you make their stay more comfortable.

  • One easy thing you can do that will have your guests wanting to return is to make their sleep more comfortable. You may not have the same budget as a luxury hotel, but investing in a couple extra pillows and a really comfortable blanket will leave guests in a sweet slumber. By leaving an extra blanket in their room, your guests can fell just as warm and snugly as they desire.
  • If you are one of those households that have 3 remotes just to turn on the TV, Satellite, Tivo, etc. your guests will most likely be completely lost and intimated to turn anything on. If your guests’ room has a TV, confusing alarm clock, or other complicated electronics…putting together a simple electronics “manual” would be very thoughtful. You can do as little as type a few instruction up and leave it in their room or as much as putting together a small “how-to” binder (like pictured here). This tip is also good for babysitters and house sitters!
  • If your guests will be staying a long period of time, putting together a quick schedule might be helpful. Let them know when you are busy working (and/or attending other obligations) and when you will be home. This will enable them to feel comfortable making their own plans. You can even put together a little “suggestion” list of things for them to do or places to visit if they are not familiar with your area.
  • Make a guests truly feel welcomed by putting together a small care kit for them. Include some sample sized toiletries, extra tooth brush, aspirin, and anything you know they love. For example, a special tea they drink or their favorite coffee creamer for the mornings.

These are just a few simple and thoughtful ideas to help you be a fabulous hostess to your overnight guests. Making them feel comfortable is key…. and of course enjoy their company!

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Simple Holiday Decor: Winter Berry Wreath!

Guest Post

Emily from My Little Window Shoppe shares her simple and creative tips for making an impressive holiday wreath. She proves that it doesn’t take a lot to make something fabulous!

Hello Thoughtfully Simple readers! This is my favorite Winter Berry wreath! I have it at home proudly displayed and since I thought it was so pretty, I took a few pictures of it and put it up on the front page of Little Window Shoppe a week ago. Since posting it up, I have had a lot of questions about it! So, due to popular demand, I wanted to write a quick tutorial with easy steps on how to make your own gorgeous wreath this year.

  • An old or new grapevine wreath base (size = your choice). You can buy these at Michaels for about $3 – $6. Mine also has extra dried twigs included in it, in fact you could dry your own twigs and make a base out of it…just secure it together with floral wire.
  • A bunch of your favorite freshly picked Red Winter Berry Stems – (the artificial stems are also found at various craft stores).
  • Floral Wire – to secure everything in place and to make a hanger for your wreath.
  • Scissors and/or a wire cutter
  • (Extra) Ribbon – if you want to add a ribbon to your wreath.

Simple Steps

Once you have your grapevine/twig base and your Winter Berry stems, start weaving them into the base and secure them with floral wire. If you can’t keep it in place with just the wire, you can also use hot glue (I like to avoid glue if at all possible on this project, but it can definitely help hold it all together if nothing else is working).

Finally, once the stems are intertwined and secured, you can use your floral wire to make a hanger for your wreath or to attach a pretty bow. This is a fun and easy little project for the holidays and will help you to save a lot of money too! Many of pre-made berry wreaths are selling for about $20 to $40 (depending on the size). So, have fun and keep your cash this season.

Author Bio
Emily {Little Window Shoppe Founder and Editor-in-Chief}

We were so thrilled that Emily was interested in guest posting with us! She’s the kind of girl who reads every inch of the Pottery Barn magazine the day it comes in the mail just to glean ideas from each and every page {we love that}! Her site My Little Window Shoppe was created from a true passion. Emily explains:

“I especially love to window shop when it’s “shoppetique” style (”Shoppetique” ~ my own little combination of shoppes and boutiques). To me, there’s something so cheery and personal about shoppes that I find absolutely beautiful. I quite enjoy the eclectic feel and seem to find artistic creativity in every nook and cranny.”

Want to know more about Emily? Check out her daily blog and also read “20 Fun Facts” about her!

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Simple Centerpieces Make a Bold Statement!

If you are still looking for some Table Top inspiration for your Thanksgiving feast, check out how simple it can be! You can turn ordinary pumpkins into simple and modern table top decor that will surely impress.

Your table centerpieces can be as simple as gathering a few pumpkins. Group them together to make a bold statement. You can also display them on cake stands to give the arrangement height (which also gives you more table room for your food). For a modern statement, spray paint your entire pumpkin white, stem and all. The folks from Dwell Studio point out that this modern idea won’t draw away from the colors of your beautiful dinner! {We love that!} Or mix it up and create more of an interest like the above table top from domino Magazine. And if the real-deal isn’t for you, we are also loving these Pumpkin Candles from Pottery Barn.

Hostess Tip: Don’t stress, when you make things simple, you tend produce fabulous results!
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New Uses For Old Wine Corks

If you are like me, you have a few old wine corks lying around the kitchen. Don’t throw them out…use them as decor! Here are a couple “corky” ideas for the next time you entertain!

Place Cards Holders: Take cork, cut a slit along the side, and insert a name card. Tip: If the cork won’t stand on it’s own- put a square of double-sided tape underneath it.

Centerpiece: Fill up a glass vase or jar with all of your old wine corks…simple!

Other idea: Instead of using the corks as place card holders, use them to create labels to identify your dips or dishes. Think wine and cheese party! Fabulous!

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5 Simple Ways to Get Your Kids Writing Again

If OMG and BTW seem like they are referring to a person’s initials, you are not alone. The way in which our children communicate in today’s techno advanced world almost seems like another universe for most parents. And although we all find convenience in sending emails and receiving instant responses, quicker is not always better. Many moms would agree that driving through a fast food restaurant every night for dinner may be a lot easier and faster, however I bet most would agree it is not the better choice than taking the time to cook a home made meal. Although there is nothing terribly wrong with the occasional drive thru (or e-card) lets take the time to teach our kids that it is important to actually pick up a pencil once in a while!
I admit, it is not always easy to get your children to eagerly do a writing project when assigned for homework, let alone just for fun. Getting children to pick up a pencil and put down the video games and cell phones may seem like a comical idea, however, as parents we need to encourage our little ones to do just that. Unless we want our kids to be paralyzed without the crutch of the computer’s spell check and unable to communicate outside of texting lingo, we need to get them writing once in a while…the good old fashioned way! Here are some simple ideas to not only get them to practice their writing skills but also some ideas that might even get them interested in writing more (I did say might).

Here are 5 simple ideas that just might spark your child’s creative writing skills… or at least get them writing anyway!

1. Make it FUN for everyone!
Lets face it, children are not going to be eager to do a writing assignment if they see as it as a another chore or just more homework. Lets make it fun and really encourage them to be creative! Get their creative juices flowing with this fun family idea:
Make it Secret Story Sunday!
First, gather up all the members of the family (if they are too small to write independently perhaps partner them up with a parent) and have them brainstorm some really fun topics or subjects for stories. Give everyone a couple pieces of paper and have them write down whatever comes to mind like “Vampires” or “The Beach.” Then, place all the topics in a jar. Every Sunday morning (maybe at breakfast) have each family member pick a topic and keep it a secret! Have everyone write a story at some point during that day about the topic they selected. Share these stories in the evening maybe after dinner or sometime everyone is together. Not only will this get everyone in the same place at the same time- but it just might inspire your little budding author!

2. Teach them GRATITUDE and why it matters

The next time you receive a thank you card or thoughtful note in the mail share it.
Even a five year old can understand that doing nice things for others is rewarding. Express to them how good receiving that card felt to you. Encourage them to always express their gratitude towards others as well. In fact, I say it should be required for children to send thank you cards for things they receive in the mail. It may take a push or two, but eventually children will understand that it makes others feel good to know that you are thankful, plus they will feel a sense of pride in sending that card off in the mail. Don’t leave the little ones out, small children can do this too! If they are unable to write independently, have them draw a picture and then dictate to you their message you can write at the bottom.


The next time your child “wants” something (like that remote control he cannot live without), have them write a request to you. Have your kids “put it in writing” from now on. Have a designated jar or box for all written request. Have them include their name, what it is they want to have or to do and why they should be granted their request. You can make this more fun for you by also having them write what it is they are willing to contribute in order to get it. Have a day like the first of every month where you promise to review all request and pick one to fill. Not only does this get them writing, it may reduce their whining!

4. Let them COMMUNICATE with their pens!

As a child, I had a pen pal and treasure the memories. Let your children exchange letters with another child their age. The back and forth written dialogue really is exciting for children. They learn to communicate through writing and the natural question and answer format that takes place. Not only will they be anxious to write to their pen pal, they will learn valuable patience while they await a response letter. Once they exchange a couple of letters they will be hooked! You can find pen pals for your children through online services (parents make sure you do the research) or simply have them exchange letters with an out of town relative or family friend.

5. Have them HELP you
You can sneak in simple writing assignments by having your children help you with everyday tasks. For example, let your child write out your grocery list as you verbally list items you need while digging through the pantry. Not only will they be having to access a unused vocabulary (how often does a 12 year old write asparagus?) But they will be learning small life lessons about household responsibilities. Also, have them help you address out going letters or bills. This is an exercise that will come in handy for them in years to come. The point is, if they can help you, let them- it may not seem like a big deal but little life lessons add up to bigger ones.

These are five ways in which you can get your kids sharpening those pencils. My point is to get creative and get them writing. It is important that we teach our children how to communicate with the written word….after all what ever will they do when their cell phone battery goes dead or the power is out and the computer wont turn on?!

Written by Tori Tait
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Fresh Take on Formal Seating

For your next formal affair, you may want to reconsider those overdone white chair covers. You know the ones, with the giant chiffon bow? I have put together a few pictures on fresh ways you can decorate you chair backs. One simple piece of fabric can do the trick, cutting down on the “fluff” and also your expenses.

Go to your local fabric store and select a color to match your party’s theme. Buy several yards and cut them into strips using fabric scissors. Tie them in a bow or knot (my personal favorite) and you have chair decor for cents each place setting.

Hostess Tip: Matching your color perfectly outweighs finding the perfect type of fabric. Guests will notice color before texture.

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