Hostess Gifting 101

While not “technically” spring yet, this is around the time of year where bridal showers, weddings, and Cinco de Mayo parties start filling up my calendar. I love getting adorable invites in the mail and of course, I love seeing my friends and family. While that means I am super busy, it also means I get to spend time with the ones I love.

Growing up, I was always taught that you should never show up to someone’s home or party empty handed. A hostess gift is a way to show your host that you appreciate their hospitality. As a gal who loves to have parties and host gatherings, I can say confidently that a lot of time and well, money, goes into hosting a nice event. A token of someone’s appreciation never goes unnoticed and always makes me feel like my efforts were appreciated and not futile. Your gesture does not need to be elaborate or expensive, but it should be thoughtful. Since not everyone was taught to bring a small token when going to an event, I thought we should maybe just start the with basics.

Hostess Gifts 101

 

One

Your gift for the host/hostess should match the occasion and your familiarity with the host. For example, if you’re going to a baby shower for your best friend and her Aunt, whom you have never met, is hosting, then a small gesture like flowers, chocolates, or a small votive candle would be more appropriate than say, a bottle of Dom Pérignon. If those host, however, IS your best friend, then you can feel free to pick up something a little bit more personal and/or meaningful. For example, one of my best friends is a hippie of sorts and would really appreciate an organic potted herb plant while another would love the world’s largest bottle of wine (kidding..kinda).

Two

If you are the honoree, then you should definitely bring a gift to the hostess. My mother-in-law’s friends threw me a bridal shower before I had even met them. It was incredibly kind and meant a lot to me. As a small token of my appreciation, I got each of them each a tiny votive set with a cooking theme since they all enjoy cooking, especially together.

Three

If you’re attending a birthday party, a baby shower, a bridal shower, or similar event, you’ll want to bring a tiny something for the host but also a gift for the honoree. Some etiquette books will say that bringing a gift for the honoree is enough, but I think going the extra mile is nice since someone went through a lot of trouble to host the party.

Four 

Common etiquette says that if you dine with someone frequently then you don’t need to bring a gift, however, I don’t think I agree with that. Maybe I don’t agree because I don’t have any set and routine plans which would make giving a gift monotonous, but I suppose if you did a monthly dinner with the same couple and their home, then it would become redundant to bring a gift every time you went. Use your best judgement with this one. If you think it’s appropriate to bring a gift, then it probably is.

Five 

Don’t bring food unless you’ve been asked to OR if you asked to bring something in advance. I know it seems so nice to bring something, however, it could put your host in a tough spot if what you brought does not go with the menu. I always like to ask, “What can I bring?” when I am invited somewhere and their answer to my question generally dictates what sort of gift, if any, that I will bring. I say “if any” because if they have asked me to bring a food item, then that is generally a sufficient contribution to the night. If not,  go ahead and bring a bottle of wine too. Easy.

Six

Wrapping does matter. If you are not into wrapping and making things adorable, then make sure you choose a gift that looks cute on its own. For example, if you’re bringing chocolate as your gesture, then you don’t want to grab a Hershey bar and just hand it to your host, you’ll want to grab something a little fancier looking, like a box of Godiva, and attach a little note card to the top. If you are into wrapping (I totally am!) then make sure to check out your local Paper Source store. They have adorable wrapping supplies and you can order online if you’re too lazy (like me) to go into the actual store front.

Alright, now that we have some of the etiquette out of the way, we can talk about WHAT to give someone. As I mentioned above, your gift should match the event and how well you know the host or hostess. Let’s start with the small items that are appropriate for most occasions and then we can move on to more personalized and special items next.

 

Of course, flowers, wine, hand soap, and small household items all make nice gifts. When giving flowers, I think it is nice to provide a vase with your bouquet or give them already in the vase. This way your hostess does not need to take the time to cut the stems, find a vase, etc.Hostess Gifts 101

  1. Voluspa Two-Wick Candle – $16 When bringing a candle you’re going to want to make sure it’s a bit more special than something you could find at your local grocery store. This brand has amazing smelling candles that you can find easy at Nordstrom or even Anthropologie.
    • Another option here is to give a nice votive set. Not everyone has tealight candles on hand though so be sure to include some with this gift.
  2. Bar Soap – $8 Have you ever been to Anthropologie? Know how great it smells in there? It is because of this brand. Capri Blue now has soap to accompany their delicious candles. At this price and with this wrapping, you can’t say no! Too adorable!
  3. Sea Salt Caramels – $20 or less – You can’t go wrong with gourmet candy. I personally love caramels, but of course, swap these for a more standard chocolate if you think the yumminess will be lost on your host.

If you want to go a step further, you can try bringing something a little bit more unique.

Hostess Gifts 101

  1. Lavender Plant – $13 I would recommend taking a small square of cloth and tying up the bottom to look a bit more refined and adorable. You can tie the whole thing off with a pretty white ribbon and it would look like you worked really hard on it, when it reality it took 5 seconds.
  2. Mug + Tea Sachets – ~$20  I really love mugs and while I know everyone is not as into them as I am, I think everyone can appreciate a really beautiful mug with some special tea. I like that this tea is called “Celebrations” tea. How perfect for bringing to a baby or bridal shower?!
  3. Ombre Taper Candle Set – $15 Most people can get on board with the standard scented candle (seen above), but not everyone appreciates a lovely taper since they are more formal in nature. I love that this set comes in fun colors but if you’re not sure your host will like something so bold, then go for a solid set in a color suited for the event (red for the holidays, light green for a baby shower, pink for a bridal shower, etc.)

Finally, if you know someone very well, then you can try to bring something more personal that you are sure would make the host or hostess happy.

Hostess Gifts 101

  1. Plant Misters – $20 If you know your host is into plants and gardening, then this set of misters will be perfect. Not only are they beautiful, but they are functional too! Want to go a step further? Place some small gardening tools and gloves into the gift bag and you’ve got a lovely and very special gift.
  2. BBQ Sauce Gift Set – $30 Going to a summer time event? Perhaps you know someone loves to grill on the weekends? Consider a spice set or even this adorable BBQ set. To help this gift stand out, take the jars out of the box and wrap them in some tissue and stack into a cute wine bag.
  3. Dish Towels – $16 – The one shown here is full of cats. Going to a cat lady’s house? I promise your gesture will not go unnoticed. You can find really great dish towels on the internet which makes it easy to custom pick ones that your hostess will love. Want to go a step further? Use this towel to wrap around a nice bottle of wine. Tie off the top with a bow and you’re automatically the best guest at the party!

Bigger and more special gifts might be appropriate say, for instance, if someone is hosting you for the weekend. You could consider the following ideas:

  1. Make a gift basket of some “themed” things like:
    • olive oil, balsamic vinegar, bread, a small bread plate, and a butter knife
    • tomatoes, a cook book, specialty pasta, and a serving platter
    • bath salts, bubble bath, and a hard cover book
  2. Consider a food item from your hometown. From Chicago? Bring your host a frozen deep dish pizza (this is an actual thing!) or a tin of  Garrett’s popcorn.
  3. One of the best hostess gifts I have ever received was this beautiful chrome-like ice bucket. I use it for all of my parties now. My friend Peach brought it for me when I hosted her Baby Sprinkle. It was perfect because she knows I love to host parties and what was even better was that it is a neutral bucket so I can use it for whatever party I’m having, regardless of color scheme. I’ve seen adorable ones at Target, Pottery Barn, and World Market.

If you’re forgetful (happens to the best of us), then you might want to consider having a few hostess gifts on hand for last minute invites or when you honestly just forgot to grab something. I have a little box in my hall closet that has small items like note cards, bars of soap, and candles in it for when I don’t have time to run out and grab something special for whatever party I’m headed to. We also have tons of wine on hand for times like this too.

Do you give hostess gifts regularly? Do you have a “go to” item that I should add to my list? Tell me! xo

Stitch Fix Review February 2016

I just received my February Stitch Fix and wanted to share with you what was inside. For a quick recap of what Stitch Fix is, click here. If you’re interested in signing up (you should! It’s super fun!) then click HERE.Stitch Fix February 2016

Alright, on to the fun. I’ll show you what I received in my box, the note I received from my stylist, and I will also let you know what I ended up keeping and/or returning.

When requesting this box, I noted that I have been into a “feminine with an edge” style lately. I’ve been liking jackets and faux leather details paired with florals. I also let my stylist know of some upcoming trips I had and that I really wanted some more pants to be included in my Fix. Her note, I feel, was very personalized to me and made me feel like she paid great attention to my taste and requests.

Stitch Fix February 2016

 

The first item in the box was this Violeta 3/4 Sleeve Blouse from Papermoon.  I like that this top can be casual or dressed up, but it didn’t fit me very well. The back was open across the top which I thought for someone a little smaller than me would be very flattering. Had the fit been right, I likely would have kept it. Verdict: RETURN

Stitch Fix February 2016

Next, I received the Glynn Faux Leather Detail Moto Legging by Rune. I strongly believe that leggings ARE pants as long as your tush is covered so I, obviously, loved these pants. What I love most is that these can be worn in the winter or in the spring weather. You can’t see it well here, but there is some seaming across the knee which makes these look more like “pants” and less like “leggings”. Vedict: KEEP

Stitch Fix February 2016

This Rhonda Faux Leather Jacket by RD Style was my favorite item in the box! First, it fit so well. Second, it was reallllly comfy. Finally, it is well made. I love jackets like this because they go with just about everything. Honestly, you could throw this jacket in your car and just grab it when you’re feeling chilly. You would never have to worry about it “not going” with whatever you’re wearing. I love this. Verdict: KEEP

Stitch Fix February 2016

This Free People top was confusing to me. It was a little bit open across the back and had flirtly pleating at the bottom but the sleeves were loose around the wrists which I hated. The pattern was right up my alley and I think it would have looked really cute with the faux leather jacket above, BUT, I have something similar from Free People that fits at the wrists and doesn’t make me look like I’m wearing some Shakespearean play costume. No pirate sleeves for me please! Verdict: RETURN

Stitch Fix February 2016

The last thing I received in my Fix was these Lysse Josylyn Ponte Leggings. Again, I love leggings so I loved that these were sent. While I loved that these were not standard black leggings, I thought that the color was too light to look like anything other than workout pants. They were SO comfy that I wish I could have kept them but it didn’t seem logical to keep an expensive pair of pants to wear only when I work out. Verdict: RETURN

Stitch Fix February 2016

Overall impression: While I only kept two items, I loved this box! I thought she did a great job of listening to what I wanted and sent items that fit my needs, however, I’m particular about clothing and the reasons I sent things back could not have been anticipated by my stylist. Due to a change in my monthly budget, I’ve decided to only receive my Stitch Fix boxes every other month from now on, but I think overall this will be a good thing since I will be more likely to see their newer items and I think my stylists will have an easier time sending things that will excite me. Total cost of this fix: $111. Not bad for a jacket and some super cute leggings.

Have you joined yet? Are you gonna try? Don’t forget to use my code. xo!!!

PS. If you’re afraid you won’t know how to wear the things you receive in your box, they send you a little card with outfit ideas on it for each piece received. I like that they do this because you can pull items from your own closet to try and recreate the looks. I save every single one, even if I didn’t keep the item just so that I have future outfit inspiration!

Stitch Fix February 2016

Stitch Fix Review + Tips

Hi guys! I just wanted to write a quick post to tell you a little bit about Stitch Fix and give ya some tips and tricks on how to make sure each Fix is exactly what you hope for.

If you’re not familiar, Stitch Fix is a monthly styling subscription service where you can have a box of super cute clothes and accessories sent straight to your house. You pay a $20 styling fee and that covers free shipping and free returns. Also, they deduct the $20 fee from whatever you decide to purchase. Another plus, if you buy all five of the items in your box (they always have only five items), then you get 25% off your entire purchase! To get started, you sign up on their website and then fill out a “style profile” and then determine how often you want to receive boxes. You can either have them sent automatically each month, or set your own time frame (ex. every other month, only when I choose, etc). When your box arrives, you have three days to try things on and decide what to keep. If you’re sending anything back, you just pop the clothes into their prepaid shipping envelope and drop it at a post office. Easy peasy! Worried about prices??? You tell Stitch Fix what you’re comfortable spending on certain items and they are really respectful of that! I’ve never had a box cost more than $350 total and most of the time they average around the $180 mark for five items.

I have been using Stitch Fix for probably two or three years now and over time, I’ve had more and more success getting items I really love. When I first started using the service, I did not provide much direction to my stylist and sometimes I was sent things that I really hated but, over time, I have realized that when I give them really specific on what I like and don’t like I end up receiving Fixes that I am obsessed with! For example, over the holidays I said I wanted to be sent items in jewel tones that would work for family gatherings. When my November and December boxes arrived, they included items perfect for holiday parties.

Would you be interested in seeing what I get?? Right now, I get a new box every month around the 19th/20th. This month’s box was a 50% success for me. I received two cardigans, one pair of black jeans, one peplum blouse, and one striped tee shirt. I only kept the black jeans and the red cardigan and my total was around $130. While I really loved the peplum shirt, my boobs were just too big so it didn’t look right on my frame, so back it went. The other cardigan I received was too long and boring and also, expensive! It was like $130 and I didn’t think the quality matched the price tag. That is the very first time that has ever happened to me. I find that their prices are fair and commensurate with the quality of the clothing they offer.

Why do I like Stitch Fix? I love that they send me items that I wouldn’t normally pick out for myself. It really helps me step out of my comfort zone. Additionally, your “stylist” puts together items that match your requests. For instance, a few months ago I told Stitch Fix that I was going to Disney and I needed some warm weather items and that I also really wanted a back pack purse. My next Fix showed up and it was totally perfect for my Disney vacation and also included the most adorable faux leather black backpack purse! My stylist wrote me the sweetest note all about how to wear each item while on my trip… yes, they are required to send a personalized note, but lemme tell ya, the notes really help guide me on how to include my new pieces into my wardrobe. Even better, they send two outfit idea photos PER ITEM in the box. I save the photos they send me and use them for fashion inspiration later. I may not have every item they made the outfit with, but it helps me think of similar items and utilize the stuff in my closet more effectively.

One last tip, make sure to make a fashion board on Pinterest and give them the link. I will receive boxes with items that I can tell were pulled because of certain items on my Pinterest boards. Adding those links to my style profile has made such a big difference in my satisfaction with my Fixes.

Interested???? Use my referral link and let me know how your first fix goes!! In the meantime, let me know in the comment section if you would be interested in seeing what I receive in my Fixes every month.

xo

How To Survive Disney During the Holidays

Well hello there! It’s 2016!! Holy cannoli!

I have been totally MIA and I’m not even going to apologize for it. I have spent the last month finishing up two of my doctorate classes and then relaxing. It was so amazing to just decompress and not do anything work related for a few weeks. Christmas was amazing and a few days after the holiday, MJ and I left for Disney World! We left on December 30th, spent every day, all day, at the parks and then headed home on January 3rd. I’m back at work now and not happy about it. It is so hard to leave such a magical place. Even if you aren’t a major Disney fan, you would have a tough time not feeling the positive energy there intoxicating. Anyway, if you google spending the holidays at Disney World, most blogs will tell you not to go because it is SO busy and yeah, it is, however, I wanted to let you know that it IS possible and can even be super enjoyable.

Here is how we survived (and truly enjoyed) 4 days in Disney World during the holiday season.

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Tip #1: PLAN AHEAD

Whenever I told people we were going to Disney for New Year’s Eve, I was always asked questions on how stressful it was to book things like dinner reservations and ride reservations 90 to 180 days in advance. My answer is… it wasn’t stressful at all. You can book restaurant reservations 180 days in advance of your Disney trip if you’re staying on the property. Booking in advance may seem stressful to you non planners out there, but trust me, it’s worth it! We ate at three of the best restaurants that Disney has to offer (Citricos, Narcoosee’s, and Artist Point) and had several amazing lunches too! All because we planned ahead. My suggestion is to determine what parks you want to be at on what days and then reserve your dinner stuff  based on where you’ll be. Try not to travel very far. The holiday season in Disney is EXTRA magical so it’s EXTRA busy. You’ll want to stay somewhat local. For example, if you’re spending the day at the Magic Kingdom, do dinner at Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge. You can take the ferry located outside of the MK entrance straight there (and back)! If you’re going to be at Epcot, you don’t even need to leave the park to dine in luxury. Le Cellier is so delicious and located in Canada within the World Showcase. Nom Nom Nom.

As for ride reservations, this is another great perk of staying on the Disney property. You can book Fast Pass reservations 90 days in advance. You get three fast pass reservations for one park per day. Nice! Basically, you’ll book times slots to ride three rides that you know have longer lines. For example, we had Fast Pass reservations at Big Thunder Mountain at 9:40am on January 2nd. We could jump the line at any time between 9:40 and 10:40am and get on the ride within minutes. My biggest tip here is to use up all three of your fast pass reservations early in the day, for instance, book three rides at 9:40, 10:40 and 11:40 start times. After you use all three of your Fast Pass reservations, you can book MORE (one at a time) at the Fast Pass kiosks located throughout the park. If you spread your reservations throughout the day, then you won’t be able to reserve anything new until your last Fast Pass has been used. Not a good plan of action if rides are important to you. Even the “lame” rides have a wait time during the holidays so please make sure to take advantage of booking your rides in advance. It will save you so much time and stress once you get on your vacation.

Tip #2 TAKE ADVANTAGE OF EXTRA MAGIC HOURS

If you’re staying on the Disney property (ie: at one of their hotels), you get take advantage of something called Extra Magic Hours. Essentially the parks determine some times when the park is ONLY open to people staying at Disney hotels. For example, on January 2nd, the Magic Kingdom was open from 8am-9am for only Disney resort guests. MJ and I arrived around 7:45 and the doors had already opened! We rode SO many rides before the general public were allowed in and it saved us HOURS of time. At 8:30am we went on The Haunted Mansion and the line was 5 minutes long but at 11:30am, the line was 120 minutes long! Ew! Sometimes the parks stay open late for guests too so make sure you check the interwebs to find all of that out so you can plan accordingly. One night the Magic Kingdom was open until 3am for Disney resort guests only. How awesome!?

Pssst….plan what day you will be at what parks based on these hours. We chose to do Magic Kingdom on January 2nd instead of Epcot due to their Magic Hours that day. Essentially, you’ll want to look at the Magic Hours to determine what parks you will be at AND THEN book your lunch/dinner reservations accordingly. Maybe this should have been tip one??? Whooops 🙂

OH!! ALSO — they may add Magic Hours as your trip gets closer so be sure to check frequently and adjust your plans accordingly.

How To Survive Disney

Tip #3 PLAN NEW YEAR’S EVE WISELY

On New Year’s Eve the parks tend to hit capacity really early in the day. I heard a rumor that the Magic Kingdom closed at 9:30am this year. WHAT?! Nuts! We had planned to spend New Year’s Eve at Epcot. We arrived at 9:30 and had no issues getting in and in general, I didn’t find the crowds to be horrible. Sure, ride lines were really long, but we still got to ride all the best rides because we made our Fast Pass reservations 90 days in advance. See why that is so important?! In my research I have found that the Magic Kingdom tends to hit capacity first, followed by Epcot, then Hollywood Studios. I have not heard that the Animal Kingdom generally hits capacity but it does have the fewest attractions…so yeah.

Another something to keep in mind is that Magic Kingdom is DRY…meaning NO alcohol. The one exception is that Be Our Guest serves booze during dinner only and ONLY with reservations (which are already impossible to get). If getting tipsy on New Year’s is important to you, like it was to us, then you’ll want to go to Epcot. Booze is abundant and free flowing. You can also try lots of different kinds of alcohol from around the world in the World Showcase. Obviously…..drink responsibly, but yeah, we had a drink at all 12 countries and had a blast! I was exhausted at the end of the day but the fireworks display at midnight was so worth it.

How to Survive Disney During the Holidays

Tip #4 COMFY SHOES

So. Much. Walking. I brought all sorts of adorable shoes in my suitcase and only ended up wearing tennis shoes. Not exactly super fashionable but totally worth looking dorky. My feet, even WITH tennis shoes, were DYING from all of the walking. According to MJ’s Garmin watch, we walked around 17,000 steps each day with our max being over 20k. Insane. Had I realized that I would only be able to wear tennies, I would have packed different outfits. My mistake. Lesson learned.

Side tip: Make sure you marry someone who will rub your feet without complaint. MJ saved the day with a 20 minute foot rub on Day 3 of our trip. I would have died without it.

How To Survive Disney

Tip #5 STAY CLOSE TO THE PARKS

We booked our trip relatively “last minute” so our hotel options were limited. All of our favorite hotels were crazy expensive/only had suites available, so we decided to try one of the “budget” hotels since we didn’t plan to spend any time other than bed time at our hotel anyway. We stayed at the Art of Animation since its shuttle to and from the parks is dedicated, meaning it doesn’t stop at other resorts to pick up/drop off guests, however, it was still pretty far from all of our favorite parks. Yuck. Each bus ride was about 20-30 minutes and after a long day it just felt so unbearably long. Had we booked a little earlier, I would have loved to have stayed closer to Epcot so that after NYE, we could have walked back to our hotel. Another great option would have been The Grand Floridian which is a short (2 minutes) tram ride away from the Magic Kingdom. If you need to stay further away, make sure to check if the shuttle bus is shared.

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These are just a few of the things that made my holiday Disney trip SO amazing…..or well, lessons I learned 🙂 Have you ever traveled to Disney during a busy time??? What’d you do to make it enjoyable????? I think sometimes people get really overwhelmed when it comes to planning a trip to Disney but it’s important to remember that all of your hard work BEFORE you get there makes WHEN you get there so easy and totally stress free.

Curious about my favorite restaurants??? Nom noms! For dinner my favorite was Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge (a ferry ride away from Magic Kingdom) and for lunch I loved Liberty Tree Tavern inside the Magic Kingdom. I also really loved eating at Teppan Edo in Epcot’s Japan. YUMMMMM!!! Snacks — make sure to get a caramel apple (Thanks Jenna for the tip!) and the nutella fruit sandwhich at Sleepy Hollow in the Magic Kingdom.

I am already dreaming of going back…in a few years 🙂

xo

 

Hosting Thanksgiving!

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Yay! This year there was a weird turn of events and we are unable to celebrate with our extended family, so now I am hosting my first Thanksgiving! I am excited and nervous but thankfully it will be a small gathering of just my parents, brothers, and one of their girlfriends. Well, obvi MJ will be there too. While I love to host and have people together for dinner, hosting Thanksgiving is a different ball game. People have really high expectations for the meal/day and that is a lot of pressure! I thought this might be a good time to talk about some tips for getting through hosting Thanksgiving without murdering anyone.

  1. Delegate. I am cooking/supplying the turkey, pies, gravy, rolls, and mashed potatoes. My mom is cooking corn casserole, a jello thingie, stuffing, and broccoli. Notice that I took on the responsibility of things that I can either prepare in advance or cook on the stove top. This way I can dedicate my oven to the turkey. When my mom gets here, we can pop her dishes in the oven to keep warm while the turkey “rests” before cutting it.
  2. Set your table in advance. I have already set my table. If I waited to this on the actual day, then I know I would be stressed. Inevitably I would lose a place mat or the silverware would be dirty and it just adds unnecessary anxiety. Do as much in advance as you can. Before Thursday I will also set out all of the wine glasses and drinking glasses. I like to make sure they are sparkling clean and doing that a few days in advance means I have more time to drink wine on the actual day:)
  3. The night before, pull out all of your serving dishes. Before any big event I like to pull out all of my serving dishes and serve ware just to make sure that I have everything I need. I spend no time on the day of looking for anything because I did it all the night before. Yay! For example, I will have a bowl and spoon set out for my mashed potatoes, a bread basket and towel set out for my rolls, etc etc. For my turkey, I will have the roasting pan out as well as the platter it will rest on after cooking and any important tools (meat thermometer, carving knives, baster). This is honestly probably my best tip. Doing this will save you so much time and stress — you won’t have to scream “WHERE IS THE GLASS BOWL WITH THE BLUE BIRD ON IT?!” to the entire house.
  4. Order your turkey in advance. Most turkeys at the chain grocery stores come frozen which means you need time to thaw them and that seriously takes DAYS! If you don’t want a big ol’ turkey taking up a lot of fridge space in the week before the big day, go ahead and call your local deli and see if they have whole, fresh birds for preorder. This may be my first Thanksgiving but it’s not my first turkey. This year, I decided to skip the defrosting and I ordered a brined fresh turkey from Williams Sonoma. It will hopefully be delivered on Wednesday. No need for thawing!
  5. Make your pies the day before. I am making several pies: blueberry, apple, and pumpkin. I will be making all of them on Wednesday and then will use the finished products as decoration on Thursday. I got these adorable place mats from Bed Bath and Beyond (see photo on my instagram MaryS257) and I will put my pies on top of the mats on my buffet table behind my dining table. I am also toying with the idea of making one of the above pies in “minis”. I ordered these mini pie dishes from Williams Sonoma and I am thinking it would be adorable to have a bunch of these little guys for my guests. It requires very little extra work but will make a great visual impact.
  6. Put all your ingredients together. My friend Ashley just reminded me of this and it’s too good not to share. Before you start cooking, organize all of your non-fridge ingredients into groups. Put all of your pie ingredients in one class, all of your casserole ingredients in another… yada yada, this way you don’t have to search for 2 tbsp of flour every 5 seconds. It always happens that way doesn’t it? I end up yelling, “JESUS! I was just over there!!!!!” Huge time saver to put them all together for sure.

So yeah, those are some of my major tips. Of course I always think it is nice to have a playlist prepared in advance. Something that encourages people to talk, meaning, nothing on the radio. I usually do a little work on my playlists each day for about a week before an event. That way I don’t get overwhelmed.

Lastly, remember that preparing is important but being “perfect” is not. Holiday stories are way better when you have a mishap here and there 🙂

Any tips for me?! As I’m writing this I realized that I want to put all of my recipes in one place. Right now they are all on my phone and when I’m cooking, that could get a little overwhelming. Anyway, tips for me? Go!