Be Festive & Impressive: My Best Party Tips For The Holidays

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Do you want to throw one of those parties that everyone remembers in a good way? Lots of people think throwing a fabulous soiree (even if it is just in your living room) is a major ordeal. CTFD and listen to me. There is really only one thing you need to know. If you don't have a ton of time to plan, cooking skills, or a huge budget, whether you serve two people or 200 people (well, maybe not that many, but I can't think of 200 people I like), the same overall idea applies—being a good host is all about attention to detail. Here are a few of my best tips create a fun, fabulous and festive event that will keep your guests posting all weekend long.

Never Serve Your Food In The Package It Came In

Why is this my first tip? Because when people do this—It makes me insane. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been to someone’s house and they’ve served hummus or salsa in the package it came in. USE A BOWL! Any bowl. This takes seconds and classes up your event exponentially. 

Cooking Isn’t Necessary, If You Aren’t A Chef

If you want to throw a party but last time you made your mom’s Swedish meatballs, you had to call the fire department, don’t bother. Go to Trader Joe’s and buy prepackaged apps like spanakopita and pigs in a blanket. If those aren’t your thing, there are tons of options. But be sure to heat everything up in the oven, NOT the microwave.

DO NOT SERVE ON STYROFOAM

This one is obvious, but not to everyone. Several years ago, I went to a dinner at someone’s house for a religious holiday and they served on Styrofoam. I’m pretty sure even G-d was disgusted. First of all, it’s AWFUL for the environment. It also looks tacky. While serving on regular plates is ideal, there are times when it's impractical or even impossible. That being said, not all disposable plates are created equally. Keep in mind that just because something is disposable, doesn’t mean it should look like something you want to throw out. There are so many stylish paper plate options available. Here are a few of them. 

A Platter Makes A Party

If you entertain often, I think it’s important to have a section of platters. I have several I received as wedding gifts and while I don’t entertain as often I would like to, I love any opportunity to use them. My personal ones are from Kate Spade, Nambé, and Christophle, but while high-end is nice, it isn’t necessary. Target has tons of options. Another idea is to buy individual dinner plates and use them as platters, especially if you aren’t serving on a large table. 

DO NOT SERVE ON STYROFOAM

This one is obvious, but not to everyone. Several years ago, I went to a dinner at someone’s house for a religious holiday and they served on Styrofoam. I’m pretty sure even G-d was disgusted. First of all, it’s AWFUL for the environment. It also looks tacky. While serving on regular plates is ideal, there are times when serving on paper plates might make more sense. That being said, not all disposable plates are created equally. Just because something is disposable doesn’t mean it should look like something you want to throw out. There are so many stylish paper plate options available. Here are a few that I really like. 

Napkins Are Important

Cute cocktail napkins=napkins=coasters=food grease not everywhere=no coffee tables destroyed.

Make Fancy Water

It’s not just about drinking and driving or making sure you accommodate the hydrationally-challenged. But rather, it's about that one friend who gets wasted every year and acts epically annoying. Put some water in a pitcher. Throw fruit in it. Lemons, strawberries, cucumbers. It doesn’t matter. Pick one. People will drink it. 

Create A Signature Cocktail

A basic bar is so boring. Make some signature holiday cocktails and serve from a pitcher. It’s minimal work for maximum glam.

Never Forget Dessert

Everyone likes dessert (and if you don’t—who are you?). Buy something fun for dessert like mini cupcakes from a local bakery or try my semi-secret semi-homemade cookie recipe.

Step One: Buy the refrigerated cookie dough in a tube from your local supermarket. I like Pillsbury Chocolate Chip, but any will do.

Step 2: Prepare according to the package’s directions.

Step 3: Cut off enough dough for a cookie.

Step 4: Ball the dough in your hands and flatten it out.

Step 5: Put in on a cookie sheet and bake according to directions.

Step 6: Fool everyone. None of your cookies will look alike so people assume it came from a recipe and what is essentially a plastic tube. Works. Every. Time.

Don’t Forget The Bathroom

Not to sound like your mom, but if you are having people over, make sure you have enough toilet paper, hand soap and a place for your guests to dry their hands. I always feel awkward when there aren’t guest towels or any kind of towel for that matter to dry my hands. I feel uncomfortable using your personal towel, but I am not going to wipe my hands on what I am wearing, which is inevitably dry clean only. Am I supposed to use toilet paper? Is your house a gas station? And don’t get me started on people who don’t have enough soap. What’s wrong with you? Also, a scented candle makes your bathroom more festive and less stinky.

*By the way, if you really want to be nice, that enamel pin from Ban.do pictured above makes a great stocking stuffer.

 

Drinking Yourself Pretty With The Food Network's Kate Von

Beauty beverages are becoming a huge wellness trend. But is this just another craze or can you actually drink yourself pretty? The answer is yes, but it’s not a miracle cure. You can’t just drink something and suddenly look like you had a vacation, plastic surgery and a nap. (But wouldn’t that be nice?) Beauty beverages should be treated like any other supplement, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle, nourishing you from the inside out. 

I asked Tatiana Ridley, who is a New York based holistic nutritionist exactly how these drinks work and she broke it down, “While the age-old quest for the proverbial fountain of youth may not have been found in beauty beverages, there is some validity to the beautifying benefits of some of the drinks on the market. First of all, the liquid form of these elixirs makes them more bio-available - meaning the nutrients are easier for the body to absorb and use because they’re already broken down. Since the main ingredients are fruits and veggies, which are packed with antioxidants and water, they work together to benefit your skin. Imagine a microscopic army of antioxidants fighting off the little mutants that manufacture wrinkles and sagging skin, (free radicals), and a fleet of water (boats) rescue the nutrients, delivering them safely to our skin cells to hydrate and plump up.” 

If you need further proof, just look at the beautiful Kate Von of the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and Camp Cutthroat. She makes her own beauty elixir by “blending juiced turmeric, ginger root, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of cayenne.” She says her not-so-secret beauty sauce also has other benefits, “It is the ultimate metabolism booster, beauty amplifier and toning tonic. Stimulating circulation, suppressing the appetite and satisfying your cravings will all improve your glow and keep you feeling fabulous.” I’ll totally have what she’s having. 

Kate Von's big beauty secret is out!

Kate Von's big beauty secret is out!

But, if you aren’t as ambitious as Kate is in the kitchen, it’s totally okay, store bought drinks can work just as well. Whether you prefer smoothies, mixes, liquid supplements or juices, there are lots of ways to drink your way to better skin, hair and even nails. Here are some of my personal favorites:

Project Juice Turmeric Lemonade

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If you aren’t going to juice your own turmeric like Kate Von, Project Juice’s Turmeric Lemonade might be the next best thing. With just 50 calories per bottle (when was the last time lemonade was this low-cal?), it has a mild kick. You can even drink it while working out instead of water. Turmeric is kind of a wonder herb because it reduces inflammation and free radical damage to cells.

Replere Restore & Fortify Beauty Shooters by Dr. Debbie Palmer

Developed by dermatologist Dr. Debbie Palmer, Replere Beauty Shooters come individually packaged and don’t require refrigeration, so they’re perfect if you are on the go. You can drink the shooter by itself or add to water. The formula contains a variety of ingredients including coffee Arabica (coffee fruit), camu camu, goji and açai berries, chokeberry, blueberries, pomegranate, and resveratrol. The high concentration of antioxidants helps fight against the affects of free radicals. It’s a perfect afternoon pick-me-up and a more hydrating alternative to coffee.

UVO

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If skin has one enemy, it’s the sun’s UV rays. Created by Dr. Bobby Awadalla, UVO is the only drink formulated to protect and repair your skin against sun damage. It comes bottles as well as individual packets you mix with water. The orange peach flavor is like drinking a tropical vacation. Every serving gives you 3-5 hours of sun protection. FYI, drinking UVO isn’t a substitute for sunscreen, but if you are that person who always ends up getting burned (and use SPF 100, which you reapply every 15 minutes), UVO might be your favorite new beach accessory.

Greek Girl Beauty Protein

A combination of whey protein and Greek yogurt, at only 50 calories, Greek Girl Beauty Protein isn’t exactly a big fat Greek smoothie. This powerful powder contains 8 essential B vitamins, which helps prevent dry skin, wrinkles, acne, weak hair and splitting nails. Because it’s gluten-free and contains probiotics, Greek Girl also helps with your digestion. And unlike most protein powders I’ve tried, the honey vanilla flavor actually tastes good.

NeoCell Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry Liquid

Hyaluronic acid is a very popular ingredient in many moisturizers. But did you know you could drink it?  NeoCell’s Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry Liquid can be taken by the spoonful or mixed with water. The formula also contains pomegranate and green tea polyphenols, which help plump the skin and increase elasticity. Sweetened with agave, it tastes like a liquid Sour Patch Kid.

Core Hydration Water

Water is actually one of the best beauty drinks available. Staying hydrated reduces toxins and helps your whole body function in a more optimal way. Core Hydration Water is specifically formulated to help you better assimilate vitamins, minerals and other nutrients because it has the same pH as your body. So, essentially, it makes all of your other supplements work even better. 

Intelligent Nutrients Intellimune Oil

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Intelligent Nutrients Intellimune Oil is one of the more versatile drinkable products. Organic, it is designed to prevent pre-mature aging and support healthy cell growth. Two teaspoons have the same antioxidant power as ten pounds of berries. This product is great if you want the benefits of a beauty supplement in a more convenient way. You can use the oil in salads, or blend into sauces or smoothies. Or you can simply drink it on its own. It has a mild taste, like buttery oregano. 

Summer Hostess Gifts

It's August and summer is going at full-throttle right now. I was away for nearly the entire month of July and as awesome as it was, I'm so happy to be home. I have lots of parties, events and BBQs coming up. Most of the time, if I'm going to someone's home, I bring some sort of vice like alcohol or dessert (I’m truly a dessert enthusiast). But if it’s been a while, I like to bring a hostess gift. Since I'm currently looking for two hostess gifts, I thought I'd share my search with you (#mutitasking). Here are some of my favorites.

Oh, and if you're one of the people I'm bringing a hostess gift to, can you please pretend you didn't read this and act really surprised?