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.

 

A Gift Guide For All The Special Snowflakes In Your Life

They say it’s better to give than receive, but not when gift giving feels like a burden. We all want to give the people we care about (or the people we pretend to care about) meaningful presents, but it’s not always easy. Whether giving a gift is an act of love or simply an obligation, you don’t have to overthink about it any longer because I’ve already done that for you. Here are my favorite gifts for all the difficult people on your list. No matter what your budget is, any one of these gifts will guarantee a smile and potentially a thank you card. 

Your Significant Other’s Mom

You Hooked Up 5 Times and Have No Idea Why You’re Even At This Dinner ($)

Even if you are meeting the parents a little sooner than you would have liked to, you still need to bring a nice holiday gift. A personalized Go-Comb is perfect for those occasions when you need to make a statement that won’t affect your bank statement. For $21.99, this personalized comb has a mirror on the back and fits in any wallet. What says, “I actually care,” more than something you had personalized? The Go-Comb is my favorite budget gift for everyone on my list this year.

Sucking Up Chic ($$)

With notes of pomegranate, mandarin, pine, cloves and cinnamon, nothing smells like the holidays more than Nest’s Diffuser. Designed to fit with any décor, this reed diffuser will remind your SO’s mother of how wonderful you are every time she walks past it. 

Future Mother-In-Law ($$$)

Kate Spade’s Charlotte Street Platter is one of my favorite gifts of all time. I’ve purchased it twice, once for my mother-in-law and then for myself. If your future mother-in-law is into entertaining, she can never have too many platters. Remember, if you’re probably going to spend the holidays with this woman for the rest of her life, no gesture is too grand. 

The Man In Your Life

Dudes are the hardest to buy gifts for. You want them to think you care, but not too much. These ideas are also great for boyfriends, dads, brothers, etc.

Beyond FWB ($)

Treat him to a fancy but affordable grooming product bundle from Dollar Shave Club. While we know this is a gift for him, it’s also a gift for you because he will smell like a clean walk in the woods and not like the “drunk frat dude,” scent so many men’s products are unfortunately infused with.

Boyfriend ($$)

If he’s been carrying around the same old laptop bag since college and now he has a real job, it’s time to help him upgrade. MRKT’s Mateo Briefcase is made from durable felt and vegan micro suede. It fits a laptop and has tons of pockets to help organize his stuff. It’s a serious bag, while being stylish and so not stuffy.

Ring On It Zone ($$$)

If he’s put a ring on it (or is about to), you need to reciprocate. So, go big with a pair of shoes from Beckett Simonon. Featuring a variety of timeless styles, every pair is handcrafted in Europe or South America. Much like your love, these shoes are very high quality and designed to last for years to come. 

That Hippie/Vegan/Yogi Person In Your Life

OM ($)

Feel The Love Transformation Cards are like having an entire deck of mirror messages. Because who doesn’t love positive affirmations?

Heart ($$)

Designed by #GirlBoss Peri Donch, Peri’s Ombre Everything bag is made of 100% sustainable cotton canvas and hand-dyed in Los Angeles. It’s super hippie chic and machine washable, which will be helpful when her bottle of Kombucha accidently leaks inside her pretty purse.

Namaste Friends Forever ($$$)

Mindful Mosaic’s Core Chakra Gift Box was carefully curated by creator of Core Chakra, Dani Havasy. It contains everything you need to balance your chakras (even if you have no ideas what a chakra is) from essences to crystals and even yummy treats.

Your Fashionista Friend

You know that friend whose style you equally admire and are intimated by? She’s hard to buy a gift for because you know she might judge you. But that’s why you love her.

On Fleek ($)

Even if you can’t shell out for a coveted Christian Lacroix purse, you can buy an equally stylish notebook.

Influencer ($$)

Jac Vanek knows what is important. This zip pouch speaks the truth with enough room for tweezers and at least five of her favorite eyebrow products. 

Best Dressed ($$$)

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Celebrity stylist Ali Levine’s collaboration with Sterling Forever has some of the chicest accessories this side of the red carpet. No matter what your friend’s signature style is, she will love the Roman Numeral Bracelet.

That Boring Couple Whose Party You’re Obligated To Attend

We all know that even the even the strongest booze won’t help get their party started. But you know what will? Spank The Yeti! ($25) Invented by a dirty-minded lady, think of this game as F*ck, Marry, Kill on crack, where you learn a whole lot abut the people you are playing with and laugh hysterically. You’ll have so much fun, you won’t even have to fake a reason for leaving early. If Spank the Yeti is a little too naughty for this couple’s taste or they have a kid, Schmovie is a more appropriate, but equally fun choice. 

White Elephant Party  

Picking up a Starbucks gift card along with your latte the morning of the party makes you look like a jerk. This year, buy a gift that will get stolen more than once like this Black Marble Cheese Board from CB2. 

Becky With The Not-So-Good Hair

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Do you have a friend with hair issues who is always asking to borrow a rubber band? Why doesn’t she have her own? It’s because she doesn’t have the Maria Shireen Hair Tie bracelet. Sophisticated, but sneaky, these bracelets look like trendy bangles, but are designed to hold hair ties. There are several styles starting at $35.

Your Friend Who Is Almost Annoyingly Obsessed With Her Cat

She will be equally obsessed with the LoveCats ring from Cat Bird ($32). Handmade of bronze in Brooklyn, she will be the trendiest lady outside the litter box. 

Your Friend Who Loves Her Dog So Much, It Has Its Own Instagram Account

Get her a hand-printed tea towel from Best In Shore ($15). There are a variety of breeds available (only the cute ones) and a portion of sales is donated to animal rescues. Bonus karma points included.

Your Pregnant Friend

Everyone is buying her stuff for the baby, so why not be the cool person who buys her something she can use right now? Say hello to Hello Mellow’s Mommie To Be Gift Set ($68). It contains everything her changing body needs to relax including a scrub, body oil, body butter and the brilliantly named, I Can’t See My Feet Soak. Made of entirely of safe ingredients you can actually pronounce (even if you’ve had 6 champagne punches at her baby shower), Hello Mellow was created by Tracey Feldstein, a #GirlBoss, healer, and massage therapist.

Your Friend With A New Baby

People with new babies tend to get a lot of swag, but 45 books, 37 receiving blankets and 25 onesies later, what this person really wants is a night out. Get them a gift certificate to Helpr, which is a new app where they can book a pre-screened babysitter On Demand. It costs $21 per hour (3 hour minimum), so it’s reasonable and will be much appreciated.

 Your Busy Friend Who Has No Time For Herself

Get her the Iluminage Deluxe Anti-Ageing Gift Set. It has an eye mask, gloves and socks made with patented copper technology that helps fighting aging while you sleep. Help her multi-task in ways she didn’t even know she could.