If you’re waiting in line at the grocery store this week and see the new issue of Family Circle magazine, pick it up and give it a flip through, you just might see a familiar face (me!!). I’m excited that for the second year in a row to be their Happy to Host blogger, sharing hostess ideas for November holidays. In the article you’ll find a bunch of my tips for making holiday hosting a little bit less stressful and a little more fun this year. You’ll also get an exclusive recipe that I created for the holiday season with help of Hidden Valley Ranch: ranch roasted root vegetables, a family-friendly spin on some classic fall flavors that just might be the perfect way to spice up your Thanksgiving table this year. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

On our holiday dinner table, space can be at a premium — and we would always prioritize food and drink over tons of decorative details, which is where the idea for this simple, multi-use DIY came from. I washed out a rich green colored wine bottle with the intention of serving water in it on the Thanksgiving table, and decided to give it one more purpose: a passable menu detailing all of the great Thanksgiving dishes we’ll be feasting on. With a thick permanent marker, I hand-lettered the main dishes down the center of the bottle and finished it off with a large script ‘menu’ title where the base and neck meet. The best part? It costs nothing to make (well, minus the cost of the wine, but let’s be honest: I was going to drink that anyway!). IMG_5082-0.JPG

I spent Saturday at the Wayfair + Boston Bloggers‘ Home for the Holidays event and it got me majorly into the holiday spirit. I’m fine waiting a little longer until we start chatting about Christmas, but Thanksgiving is just 3 weeks away so you better believe I’m starting to scheme up holiday  tablescape decorations. I started to test  a few ideas for place cards using natural elements — first, a big fresh artichoke centered on a plate with a small hand-drawn paper banner that I lettered in gold. For the next  place card I tied a silk blush ribbon around the stem of a tiny pumpkin (I love the golden and green colors in this one!). I used a deep red pomegranate and a gold permanent marker to create some faux-calligraphy for another option. And my fourth and final test was a small wreath that I made out of fresh thyme sprigs. A small piece of peach ribbon covered up where I tied off the wreath and I personalized it with a gold glitter monogram sticker. This one was my favorite because it smelled so fresh and rich! So what do you think, any favorites?
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I thought I’d share a few snaps of our New Years Eve party before heading off for the weekend. I will be honest, I was a little frazzled getting ready for our annual party this year, I was nursing a cold, my balloons were deflating from the super-cold weather, and I forgot to bake a few of my appetizers! So when I realized guests would be arriving in just a few minutes, I zoomed around and snapped a few quick phone pictures and called it a day. But I don’t think anyone seemed to notice, we popped champagne, ate lots of snacks (I made homemade soft pretzels that were a hit), and even danced to a little Ke$ha in the living room after the ball dropped — a success in my book! Hope you had a fabulous New Year, can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store! NYE 2013 bNYE 2013 aNYE 2013 dNYE 2013 eNYE 2013 c

It’s party-prep time for our annual New Year’s Eve shindig, and I was out this weekend looking for pretty favors but was disappointed in so many of the options at my local party store. So I decided to grab some plain-jane party horns from Target and give them a 5-minute upgrade. Using sparkly gold alphabet stickers from the scrapbook section of the craft store, I customized the part horns with festive messages — a super simple DIY! I’m going to put them in a vase on our bar for decoration and then pass them out at midnight.

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As promised, I’m sharing a few of my favorite shots from our Holiday Crafts and Cocktails party that’s over on Style Me Pretty Living today. The holidays can be a crazy busy time of year, so we decided to throw a little party for our best girlfriends that would allow us to celebrate together while being productive and tackling some Christmas projects. We decorated cards, wrapped presents, and ate our fair share of cheese and crackers and cookies.  It was great to take a break from the holiday madness and enjoy time with friends, all while marking items off our Christmas to-do-list! Head over to Style Me Pretty to see the full party.

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All images by Bring To Light Photography, floral design by Little Flower Cottage

If you head on over to Style Me Pretty Living today you’ll see some pictures from a Crafts and Cocktails party my girlfriends and I threw to kick off the holiday season earlier this month. But before I share a few of my favorite pictures from the day, I thought I’d focus on the signature cocktail I whipped up for the event, priorities, right? I called it the Cran-Bourbon Fizz — just a little sweet and a little strong, a perfect combination if you ask me. And the cranberry and anise garnishes look so darn festive, don’t they? Full recipe below!
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Cran-Bourbon Fizz

2 oz Bourbon
.75 oz Grenadine
Seltzer water
Star Anise

Mix bourbon and grenadine over ice and stir to combine.
Top the glass with seltzer water to taste.
Garnish with cranberries and star anise.

All images by Bring To Light Photography, floral design by Little Flower Cottage

I shared my brie and jam pinwheel bites last week from my friend Elizabeth‘s blogger holiday party, and realized I hadn’t yet shared the cocktail recipe we used for the event (brie and pastry dough are delicious, but they’re nothing without a tasty cocktail to wash them down with!). Elizabeth decorated stemless wine glasses with metallic gold dots that looked like sparkly little bubbles, so of course we had to fill them with something bubbly! We added to each glass about an ounce each of pomegranate juice and Grand Marnier signature collection liquor (it’s raspberry and peach flavored, holy yum.), and then filled the rest of the glasses with champagne — and of course, gave them a swirl with a tinsel-topped drink stirrer. I didn’t have a name picked out for this concoction just yet, and one of my fellow bloggers said, I think you should call it the Blogger Bellini! I’ll cheers to that.

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I got such great feedback a few weeks back about my 3-ingredient appetizer idea  that I decided to try another combination for a little blogger holiday party thrown by my friend Elizabeth this weekend. And for this little snack I chose one my all time favorite cheese, a creamy french brie… yum. I rolled out thawed puff pastry dough (store bought, from the frozen food section!) and spread a thin layer of strawberry jam across the surface, and spaced out the slices of cheese.  Then I rolled the dough over the ingredients and sealed off the edges before cutting it into pinwheel slices. I baked the pinwheels — on baking sheet with a light mist of cooking spray — for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Let them cool a bit before removing them from the baking sheet so all of the cheese doesn’t ooze out — you don’t want any of that going to waste! I think this is going to be a new entertaining staple, it took about 5 minutes of prep time and they flew off the plate! Brie and Jam Pinwheels 1 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 2 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 3 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 4 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 5 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 6

This year, instead of sharing a week of gift guides I decided to mix things up and think a little more local! I’m sharing interviews with local Boston business owners to get their tips for holiday gift giving, entertaining, and attire! Today we’re getting the dish on what to wear for the holidays from the stylish Jessika of Holiday Boutique:

photo 1K: The holiday season is upon us, and with party  invitations piling up, I want to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe so I have something to wear! Any advice for how bring in new pieces that can update things you might already have in your closet? 

HB: I suppose the most obvious answer is accessories!  But think beyond jewelry… I love wearing colored opaque tights this time of year.  Instead of basic black, try red or cream with a staple dress you already own.  Try a vintage fur collars or scarves; a skinny scarf looks super chic folded and pinned —  I like to wear one in place of a necklace with a cashmere sweater.  I’m also mad for shoe clips — they can transform a boring pump into magic.  Also something as simple as a fabulous manicure or professional blow-out can make you feel just as great (sometimes better) than buying a new dress.

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K: In the age of email and text invites, it can often be less than clear what the attire recommendation is at different holiday events. What is your fail-proof outfit advice for holiday party dressing?

HB: Holiday party dressing should be festive and celebratory.  I’d much rather show up to an event slightly over-dressed than under-dressed.  I avoid leggings or denim for evening events and take full advantage of dresses and skirts.  My go-to is generally black this time of year, but I also LOVE mixing in a statement color via a clutch, shoe or even a simple barrette.  Red always pops on black, as does gold and leopard.  Another go-to for me is cream —  I’m a fan of winter whites– especially in lace.  It’s classic and feminine.  If you’re the hostess you’ll have even more freedom to experiment.  Vintage pieces can make an incredible one-of-a-kind statement… try a vintage kimono and ballet flats! Soooo chic!

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K: New Years Eve is my absolute favorite holiday, but I’m a little bored with the glittery cocktail dress look — what kind of looks do you recommend for counting down to midnight?

HB: New Years Eve is a fabulous excuse to do something slightly unexpected or even a little gutsy!  Try a headpiece, hat or turban!  If you want a little sparkle, a sequin beret is a darling choice — especially if the rest of your look is simple.

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K: Any fun trends you’re excited about bringing into Holiday for, well, the holidays? 

HB:   My shop never gets too into “trend”– though this year we are embracing tartan and pom-poms!  A classic plaid cashmere scarf and a knit hat with a giant pom-pom on top is both cute and cozy.  We also love our re-worked vintage fur vests.  For accessories, we’re all about a big, bold vintage inspired pin that can instantly make almost anything feel and look special.  Our hand beaded monogram clutches are uber popular and a major (personal) statement piece.

Thanks to Jessika for all of her great advice! Don’t forget to #shoplocal on this holiday season!