easy cinco de mayo party ideas

I find the bars and restaurants way too crowded on Cinco de Mayo – I much prefer to drink margaritas in my own home  rather than pay an exorbitant fee for watered down ones with bad queso. For me, all you really need to celebrate Cinco de Mayo are margaritas, friends, and some guacamole. It’s not hard to pull together a quick party. If you want to throw together some Mexican-style decor as a bonus, here are some fun ideas:

easy cinco de mayo party ideas | paper lanterns


Paper lanterns are an easy, affordable addition to your decor. You can find them at party supply stores; Amazon has them in packs of 8 or 10 for about $1 or so a piece. Add lightbulbs and you’re done! If you can’t find fiesta style lanterns you can stick to red, white and green (the colors of the Mexican flag) or do fun bright colors. Photo via Party People Blog.

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the salamander resort and spa in middleburg, virginia

Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, VA

The first time I heard about the Salamander Resort & Spa, it was in passing during a coffee break at a conference for meeting planners. That was in June 2013, the resort was scheduled to open in August. I was incredible excited. New hotels open all the time, but here was a luxury hotel that was going to open in practically my backyard. Middleburg is about an hour or so from Washington, DC, and is about 30 minutes south of the lovely mountain town where I reside.

The Salamander Resort opened in August, but I didn’t have an opportunity to visit until last month. I was able to attend a client luncheon for the Preferred Hotel line, and while I saw a bit of the resort at that visit, I didn’t have time to take a tour. I was able to tour a few weeks later and I’m so glad I did. This is a spectacular resort.

The resort is located in Middleburg, Virginia, which calls itself the “nation’s horse and hunt capital.” Middleburg is a charming small town, with an adorable main street that is both too perfect to be real, but also incredibly posh. My colleague, Lydia, who attended an event at a different venue in the town, says, “You know you’re in Middleburg when you see a luxury car parked next to a tractor.” This describes Middleburg perfectly!

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floral designer jolie joswick shares her suggestions for brides

floral designer jolie joswick shares her suggestions for brides

Jolie Joswick, owner of Uncloudy Studio in Washington, DC, first discovered her love of flowers while working in a greenhouse in a small Michigan town. “I carried soil, took cuttings, hauled hoses and got dirty! I loved it and every chance I got I volunteered to help in the flower shop,” Jolie says. She went to college for graphic design but still sought opportunities to work with flowers. After school her travels took her across the country, but she always ended up working in floral design.


Uncloudy Design is a boutique floral design studio that specializes in intimate events (although Jolie can handle events of all sizes!). “I love small weddings, dinners, parties where the flowers really are the focal point of the event. I love unexpected projects that challenge me and stretch my creativity.”


Jolie finds inspiration in all growing things, and loves color and texture. Walks with her daughter, one of Jolie’s favorite activities, afford ample opportunity to seek out new and unusual combinations to work into a design. Jolie describes herself as “fascinated with color; how a purple can be so light it’s almost silver or so dark it’s nearly black.”

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diy easter hostess gift with strawberry “carrots”


diy Easter hostess gift idea with chocolate covered strawberries that look like carrots #diy

I’m heading to North Carolina today to spend Easter with our family, but I wanted to share the quick and easy hostess gifts I made for my cousin, aunt and mother. I wanted to bring just “a little something” but not the typical potted plant (sorry Easter lilies!) or bottle of wine. I know you’ve probably seen those orange chocolate covered strawberries that are meant to look like carrots. Well I thought I’d try my hand at making those, and put a few together in these adorable mini pails I found at Target for $1 each!

I want to start with a warning – your strawberries will NOT look as good as the Harry and David ones unless you are a candy pro. So just know that while they aren’t perfect (mine aren’t!) they are tasty and certainly much more affordable ($30 for 6 strawberries!!!!!).

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how to create a welcoming environment and why it’s important

how to make your event more welcoming and why it's important

Have you ever gone to an event – a party, a wedding, a conference – even just a meeting? – where you didn’t know anyone? Depending on your personality, you could feel anything from a slight nervousness through sheer terror.  That’s why it’s so important for event planners to make sure the event is as welcoming as possible. Good hostesses know this – part of the art of hosting a dinner party is putting guests at ease and making introductions.

While some events have strategic networking plans or buddy programs to help introduce guests to one another, that might not be an option for your event. But the good news is that there are some simple (and often inexpensive) ways that you can make your event more welcoming, especially when it comes to first impressions.

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book club sunday brunch

book club sunday brunch centerpiece how-to #diy #hydrangea

I happen to be in the world’s smallest book club. It’s just three of us – my lovely friends Julianne and Lindsey, and moi. We rotate between hosting and it’s usually a weeknight dinner, but ever since I moved “out to the country” (aka about an hour or so outside of Washington, DC) whenever it’s my turn to host, we have a lovely brunch instead of dinner. And we all know how brunch is my favorite!

A few days before brunch, I attended a floral design class with my team and I was hoping that my take-home centerpiece would last until Sunday so I could repurpose it. Well of course, the lovely blue hydrangea that made up half of the arrangement started to wilt rather quickly and was definitely gone by Sunday. But if nothing else, being a nonprofit event planner teaches you how to be resourceful! So I used some of the other flowers that were still alive and made a new arrangement for my centerpiece, as well as some easy, but lovely, placecards.

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let’s learn about flowers: easter lilies

let's learn about flowers: white easter lily

With Easter coming up next weekend, I thought I’d share the interesting story behind Easter lilies. While Easter lilies are not often used in weddings and event floral design (they seem to be overshadowed by the sexier Cala Lily, or lilies in bright colors), but you do see them everywhere at Easter. They are often available at grocery stores and flower shops as a potted plant. But you can plant the bulb and flower in your garden and with some care and attention, you can have Easter lilies growing every year. If you were to be able to cultivate a nice collection of lilies, you could make some lovely centerpieces or arrangements with your own flowers!

Easter lilies, also known as Bermuda lilies, are large, white, trumpet lilies. They are native to Japan and mostly cultivated there (although in the late 19th century they were also cultivated in Bermuda, hence the name). In 1919, a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, brought a suitcase full of hybrid lily bulbs to his home on the southern coast of Oregon where he distributed them to his friends and family to grow. They flourished, as the climate was just right, but Japan still had a corner on the “Easter Lily” market. In 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese flowers were cut off and the American-grown flowers became much more valuable and in-demand.

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friday favorites – best diy easter ideas of the week

For this week’s edition of Friday Favorites, I want to feature some of the fabulous DIY Easter ideas some of my fellow bloggers have shared. These are so creative! I’d love to incorporate them into my Elegant Easter Table Ideas post from earlier this week!

#5  Washi Tape Easter Eggs

DIY easter ideas | washi tape egg decorating


So I never quite jumped on the washi tape bandwagon, but this seems like a fun, chic way to decorate eggs – and a lot cleaner! The best part is that it’s so easy! DIY instructions over at Lovely Indeed.

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parisian chic baby shower luncheon

Parisian Chic Baby Shower Luncheon

Who says baby showers need to have a cutesy theme, with diaper cakes and stuffed animals? I’m so excited to share this baby shower, designed by Jackie of Jackie Fogartie Events. For her sister-in-law’s second baby, Jackie threw a Paris-themed baby shower. Between the miniature Eiffel towers and the delicious-looking cupcakes, this is an absolutely adorable shower!

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elegant Easter table and centerpiece ideas

easter table centerpiece ideas

I hate Easter grass. There. I said it. You know the kind – either a bright green or a pastel color in some sort of plastic that somehow manages to jump out of Easter baskets or stick to every item in the basket. I just don’t love it. In my mind, Easter tablescape ideas are closely tied to Easter grass and I’m not sure why. Surely there are other ideas out there, sans grass?

In my family, Easter is the one holiday that is always celebrated with my side of the family instead of my husband’s. I think in the almost 10 years that Joe and I have been together, we may have celebrated Easter with his family once. In college, so it doesn’t count. But every year we travel down to North Carolina to spend time with my New York family that transplanted themselves there. Somewhere along the line it became a tradition. My cousin, Janet, is an excellent hostess and incorporates plenty of traditions into her Easter table. While we may not have a fancy place cards, we often have lovingly hand drawn place cards “designed” by Janet’s daughters – which are honestly better than anything Martha Stewart could come up with because they are so meaningful.

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