5 Tips for a Great Holiday Party!

Yes, it’s that time of year again when many of us will be busy planning a holiday gathering with friends and family. So whether you are planning a small party of 6, or a house full of 26, here are some tips to help you make your event the best it can be!


1. YOU NEED TO NAIL DOWN A GUEST COUNT BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE.It sounds like common wisdom, right? Wrong. In an age of ignored emails, phone phobias, and forgotten texts, it can be tricky to have any certainty about one’s guest list. “It always seems like ‘its just a few people,’ but truthfully a party of 6 or a party of 20 will both require some work,” says Amy Marella, event designer and founder of Fleurish. “So it’s key to know many guests are you anticipating! This will dictate everything else you will need to make it a successful night.”

And since we’re in the age of “RSVP crickets” (why can’t you get anyone to just call you back anymore?), this means sending out invitations a bit earlier than you might have, say, a decade ago. This shows guests that you’re serious about getting on guests’s calendars, and will give you extra time to follow-up with those who miss your RSVP deadline.

You also might consider mailing invitations instead of just turning to Facebook or eVite — digital invites are easier to ignore, and guests might be wishy-washy with their replies (how “convenient” that Facebook has a “maybe” RSVP option).

2. THE AMOUNT OF FOOD IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE KIND OF FOOD.   Many of us fixate on what to serve, what pairs well with what, and that sort of thing. But to keep your group happy, what you really need to focus on is how much you’ll serve. Nothing puts a damper on a party like quickly disappearing food. It may be difficult to estimate how much will be enough, but it’s probably better to overshoot…you can always send guests home with a “doggy bag” or you can eat the leftovers the next day!


3. LEAVE THE DRINKS WITHIN EASY REACH – AND LET GUESTS SERVE THEMSELVES. “Do a self-serve bar! Then, you’re not running around trying to fill everyone’s drinks,” says Cortnie Purdy, former event designer and founder of The Venue Report. Direct your guests to the cart or table, where spirits, glasses, mixers, and ice are accessible. And don’t guilt yourself over this shortcut.

The bar cart trend is still going strong (the one below is from Target), so your gleaming wine glasses and array of bottles actually double as decor. Plus a do-it-yourself element (like a DIY sangria bar ) adds an element of fun — but sneakily takes the workload off the host!


4. YOU NEED MORE GLASSES THAN YOU THINK. A change in drink is a change of glass — you may need to round-up to 3 to 4 per guest. If that count causes panic, go for plastic. After the second drink, who is in the mood to judge? (And since your guests will likely sip 1 1/2 drinks per hour, that moment will come quickly.)


5. KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM. Getting pre-party jitters is normal, having anxiety attacks over themes is not. “Determine if it stresses you out too much to entertain,” says celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss. “If so, guests are not going to enjoy the experience and memories. In that instance, take the party to a restaurant or lovely venue where all you have to do is show up!”

5 EASY – DIY Ways to Decorate Your Home for Fall

Fall is officially here! Capture the essence of autumn with these simple and inexpensive DIY home decor projects.


1. Chalk Paint Pumpkins

It’s official: you can use chalk paint for practically anything! Be a “DIY-er” and use chalk paint and a hot glue gun to create fall-inspired pumpkins.  The possibilities are endless…so feel free to get creative and have fun!


2. Pumpkin Lights

Bypass fancy jack-o-lantern carvings by cutting a small hole in the top of a small pumpkin or gourd and place a candle inside the cavity for warm fall lighting. This project makes a great centerpiece for a fall party or even Thanksgiving. Use different sizes of pumpkins, surrounding them with other unlit pumpkins and gourds for a fast and easy arrangement.


3. Harvest-Inspired Hurricanes

Hurricane candle holders are a big 2015 trend. An inexpensive, yet chic way to transform your home for fall is to fill a hurricane candle holder with harvest materials like dried corn, beans, pumpkin seeds, pinecones, cinnamon sticks, acorns, etc. Place them on your fireplace mantle or use them as a centerpiece with candles in place.


4. Add a “Mumkin” to Your Entryway

Pumpkins and mums are autumn staples, so double them up and increase your curb appeal with a pumpkin mum planter. Simply carve out your pumpkin and place a potted mum plant inside.  Instant fall appeal!


5. Leaf Bouquet

Replace any of your floral-filled vases with small branches of autumn leaves. Think fall colors for inspiration – oranges, yellows, and browns are a good place to start! For a longer-lasting look, use faux leaves.


7 Decorating Secrets to Steal from a Home Stager

As a designer and home stager to the stars, Meridith Baer has helped A-listers like Madonna and Brooklyn Decker sell their houses. While she often has the luxury of a large budget to work with, Baer notes that it takes more than just money to sell a space.

From decluttering to rearranging, Baer shares some easy, cost-free tips for revamping your home before you list it.


“To freshen up the look of your home,” Baer says, “remove all of your accessories and books from bookshelves, consoles, and coffee tables, and give each piece a new home.” Bonus: “Moving things around a bit may even help you clear some clutter,” she says.

Add playful style to your home by color-coding your bookshelves. “Group books together by the color of their spines to create a dramatic effect on your shelves,” Baer explains. “Color-blocked books can be almost as striking and powerful as a great piece of art.”

“Sometimes a few blossoming branches in a glass vase with water can be just as striking as an expensive bouquet from the florist,” Baer says. “I often trim a branch here or there off the magnolia trees in my neighborhood when they are in bloom.”

Your bathroom should look like it’s in a hotel. As Baer puts it, “this means a counter free of products except a couple that have pretty packaging.”

“Start with something large and wonderful in the middle,” Baer says. “Try a floral in an interesting pot or a huge bowl filled with something interesting. Then build out from that – stacks of art books, candles, sculpture, or pottery. Make it interesting and change it regularly.”

Doing so will elongate your ceilings, a major selling point. “To create an illusion of a taller ceiling or larger windows,” Baer explains, “hang curtains from as high up as possible.”
Have an extra table and chair? Move it from your living room to your master bedroom. “It seems counterintuitive to pack in more furniture, but if you have the space, put an upholstered chair and a side table in a corner. It’ll give the impression that the room is larger.” And bigger is always better, right?

Home Decor – Orange Accents

Orange is a color that doesn’t get much love when it comes to home decor. Some say it’s too bright, too loud. However, orange can add a welcoming splash of color, if used in the right ways.





Smart Phone, Smart Home

Nest Learning Thermostat

Do you have Nest learning thermostat on your wall? If not, there’s a good chance you’re paying too much for heating and cooling. Not only does Nest boast an intuitive interface and elegant design, it can actually reduce your energy bill.