Love Fest :: Photo by Steve Adams
An Affair of the Heart:
Valentine's Day Party and Gift Ideas That Won't Box You In
We all have that certain someone for whom a box of chocolates doesn’t seem quite enough . . . that person who’s been there, done that, and seen it all! Am I right? . . . OK, now that we’ve settled that point, let’s get down to business. What on earth do you get that jaded someone? Is there any gift that will register as truly special?
I say: spread the love this Valentine’s Day in a uniquely sweet way (and I mean “sweet” in the most literal sense). When I’ve got the time, I like to throw a full-fledged dessert party, like the one shown here (top photo) from Cookie Swap, and to stock it generously with chocolate goodies and other aphrodisiacs. (Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day; you’ve got to have chocolate somewhere!) But, if time is scarce, even small treats can touch the heart when they’re handcrafted with passion and care.
Tabletop Twist :: Photo by Julia M. Usher
My Top 10 Holiday Table-Setting Tips
Still recovering from Christmas? Weary of party after same-old party? On the verge of drafting a New Year’s resolution vowing never to entertain again?
Hold on - don’t be rash! I know all too well the consequences of holiday party-planning burnout - and they’re not pretty! Foregoing good times with friends and family out of fear of more dishes, lack of novel decorating ideas, or even shortage of cash usually isn’t the right trade-off. Even now with a few days ‘til New Year’s, it’s not too late to give your holiday table some special design twists that won’t break the bank - or your back. With some thoughtful rearranging and re-purposing of things you already have, it’s possible to create an entirely new, and impressive, party ambience in much less time than you might think.
In this post, I share my top 10 tips for holiday tabletop design - basically those tricks I apply when I need to change things up fast, yet still make a statement. I started with a bare dining room table just a few hours before I took the following photos. While there were moments when the room looked like a tornado had ripped through it (scavenging through cabinets and drawers for the “right” accessories can get messy), I calmly welcomed guests later that night, thanks to these 10 design guideposts.
Luxe Layers :: Photo by Greg Rannells
Bling in the New Year:
And On a Budget, No Less!
Tick tock. Tick tock. Before you know it, this year will be a distant point in history. If you’re spinning your wheels on New Year’s resolutions or otherwise counting the passing of time, I urge you to stop. The few remaining hours of the year would be better spent throwing a blow-out party - one rich with friends, food, and memories that will last a lifetime! The satisfied smiles on guests’ faces will make the event planning worth it. Plus, as you’ll see in my New Year’s bash that follows, a priceless party doesn’t have to carry a huge price tag.
Having doubts? Let me assure you, it’s very possible to “bling” in the New Year with abundance and style even if you’re working with a shoestring budget and a tight schedule.
- What a nice New Year’s surprise! Read more about Julia’s Best Cookier of 2013 Award.
- Julia’s got a new channel on YouTube, where she’s proud to be a . . .
- She’s also over the moon about Cookie Connection, her new online cookie decorating community. Join here (it’s free) and grab a badge.
- And her new app! Now here!
- Browse Julia’s other sweet links:
- Ultimate Cookies DVD
- Ultimate Cookies Book
- Upcoming Events
- 2013 OSSAS Talk
- 2012 Cookie Con Talk
- Julia’s Book Marketing Tips