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!!!!!).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’m beginning to obsess over flowers. My Monday series, “Let’s Learn About Flowers” started as a way for me to “force myself” to learn more about the flowers I come into contact with as an event planner (and up my event planner street cred, if we’re being honest). I’m still not a flower expert, but I think I’ve graduated from the “let’s look at pretty pictures” to “let’s start actually working with flowers” stage.
As part of my day job as a nonprofit event planner, I get to manage a team of fabulous planners. Last week we had the opportunity to take a floral design class as a team (read: team building!). The class, which was held at Helen Olivia Flowers in Alexandria, Virginia, was tailored to meet our needs – what are some basic floral arranging tips and techniques and what are some basic arrangements that we can make without spending an arm and a leg (remember the nonprofit part?).
Karley Kiker knows her audience but I am definitely not a member. Kiker just published Hitched in a Hurry: The Ultimate How-To for a Speedy ‘I Do,’ and she is an expert on the subject: she was engaged for less than five months before her nuptials and blogged about her experience for D Weddings, a Dallas wedding magazine. I, on the other hand, had a looooong engagement – almost two and a half years! Of course, the reason we were engaged for so long wasn’t so we would have the perfect wedding, but so that my husband could finish law school and find a job and move to Virginia where I was living and working. But I can honestly say that I never, ever felt “rushed” during my own wedding planning. But as someone who has planned numerous other events incredibly quickly, I can sympathize.
Hitched in a Hurry is geared toward brides-to-be planning a wedding in under six months. Kiker uses her own experience to outline what can best be described as a battle plan: which wedding planning decisions to tackle first while simultaneously fending off “attacks” from friends, family and even vendors who insist that planning a wedding so quickly simply cannot be done.
Last week I had the opportunity to take a short cruise on the Odyssey, which is one of several boats operated by Entertainment Cruises, based out of the Washington, DC area. There are several different companies offering tours up and down the Potomac, but Entertainment Cruises might be the most ubiquitous. And although they have several boats, the Odyssey is perhaps the most recognizable due to its sleek appearance.
The cruise itself was a networking event hosted by the HIP Network. The Odyssey was docked from 5 to 7 PM and then sailed from 7 to 8 PM, which was a shorter cruise than they usually offer, but it was perfect for a networking event if you’re noncommittal.
I’m so much more likely to attend networking events when they are in fun, new or nontraditional venues. I had actually been on the Odyssey a few years ago for a site visit, but we ended up going in a different (non-seafaring) direction for that event. So I was looking forward to seeing the boat in action.