Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Eve Celebration

New Year's Eve Party

Toasting Table

Toast for good cheer and resolutions for a happy New Year.
Gather flowers loosely, and drop into a cylinder vase. Surround it with wide green pillars and an array of flowered balls to bring an intoxicating display of fun. Sparkling green champagne flutes with mercury glass candlesticks set the stage for a bubbly bash.

new years eve party

Ringing In the New

The fundamentals of a formal, yet fantastically fun, dinner party setting include color, texture, and style. Take an artistic approach when planning this memorable evening. When developing your palette, do not be afraid to mix bright combinations of old treasures and new-found additions.
A stark arrangement of agapanthus flowers mixed with lush flower balls on pedestals and an assortment of candles creates a harmonious glow. Guests will enjoy the added comforts of velvet accent pillows that add a punch of elegance and bright color to seating. The soft yet spirited ambiance is sure to capture all for the long evening ahead.

New Year's Eve Party

Setting the Mood

Add dimension to your display by using old and new pieces and bright colors mixed with complementary patterns. Here, fresh galax leaf chargers anchored by simple oversized ivory plates set the foundation for the strong mixture of pistachio green and purple curvy dinnerware.
To make the chargers: Start with 12-inch round pizza cardboard trays (found at restaurant supply stores). Cut stems from galax leaves, and, using a low-temp glue gun, attach leaves to the perimeter of the cardboard, filling the entire outside edge. Repeat the process, covering the bottom portions of the first row of leaves. Continue until cardboard is covered. Chargers may be made a few days before and stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator.
new years eve party

By the Fire

Off with the garland and holly berries. Balls of moss and fresh flowers mixed with fresh green candles atop mercury glass candlesticks present a fresh visual surprise.

New Year's Eve Party

Absolutely No Regrets

Handmade invitations let guests know the evening will be special. Use assorted paper that can be found in stationary shops. There are so many options today. Let your design inspiration blend with your evening’s color theme.
Here, green and purple were used mixing a creamy cardstock with a transparent overlay. For the computer savvy, these may be printed at home. For a special touch, we threaded a small ribbon through the top of each invitation. And for a final refinement, a small silver sticker seals the envelope.

New Year's Eve Party

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Personalize the evening with glass tags and monogrammed napkins. Include a menu card to entice guests’ appetites. And as a new twist to a traditional place card, use ring tags that can be found at a crafts or office-supply store.
Script each guest's name with a colored, thin-tip marker. Holiday metallic silver napkins are monogrammed with the hosts’ last initial by a local specialty embroidery shop. And menu card material can be quickly assembled using the wide array of cardstock.

Midnight Toast

Liam's Midnight Toast

A flavorful, colorful and classy cocktail for Christmas or New Year's Eve

4 oz. champagne (reasonably priced non-vintage champagne is fine)
1/2 oz. cognac
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
dash of Campari
orange wheel (garnish)
crushed ice
  1. Fill a large chilled wineglass with crushed ice.
  2. Add the following in exactly this order:
  • Champagne
  • Cognac
  • Grand Marnier
  • Campari
   3.  Garnish with an orange wheel.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Eve Table Settings

A glamorous New Year's setup

Dinner Time

Set small clocks around the table as a festive way to celebrate on New Year's Eve. A palette of pale green is a fresh way to end the year, and the rustic shape of this china provides a welcome respite from the glitz of Christmas decor.
A seashell accented table setting

Seafood Feast

For this sea-themed table, an oyster plate layered over a shagreen charger brings the motifs and textures of the sea to the table. Flowers arranged in a conch shell serve as a beachy centerpiece.

A classic silver-and-white-themed table setting

Silver Service

A silvery theme adds elegance to the table. To keep things from becoming too staid, a platinum-striped charger and a beautifully embroidered napkin add texture and refinement.
A silver-painted branch and a centerpiece in a frosty palette introduce natural elements without disrupting the theme. Lamb's ear, a silvery-green perennial, forms the basis of the arrangement.


Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years Eve Ideas

New Year's Eve is a time to celebrate new beginnings. We've got plenty of New Year's Eve ideas to help you plan the perfect New Year's Eve party and ring in the New Year in style. Be sure to also check out our budget New Year's Eve party ideas to ensure that your celebration will be friendly on your wallet yet fun for all of your guests.

What really makes a party? The guests! Plan activities leading up to the New Years Eve countdown where guests can interact with each other by playing fun games.
"On Time" Charades
Play charades with titles, songs, and books that feature the word "time" in honor of the New Year's Eve countdown. Search the word "time" at online book and movie retailers to get some ideas or try these suggestions:
"Time" Title Ideas for Charades
  • Lost in Time (movie)
  • Time in a Bottle (song)
  • A Stitch in Time Saves Nine (rhyme)
  • Time is On My Side (song)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (book)
Guess My Resolution
When guests enter the party, ask them to write their resolution on a slip on paper.
  • Fold up the slips of paper and place all resolutions in a bowl.
  • The party host reads the resolutions aloud and the guests guess who wrote each resolution.
New Year's revelers will inevitably end up singing this classic song after the ball drops. But who really knows the lyrics, and who is mumbling along to the song?
1. Print out the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne on a full sheet of paper.
2. Use whiteout to strategically blank out one word on every second or third line of the printed out song.
3. Photocopy as many copies as you will have guests at your party. Hand out the copies and plenty of pens, and ask guests to fill in the lyrics for the song.
4. At the end of the night, award guests with a small trinket for the Most Creative Lyrics, the Most Incorrect Lyrics, and the Most Correct lyrics.

Auld Lang Syne Lyrics:

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old times since ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your pint cup !
And surely I'll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there's a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o' thine !
And we'll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays

fresh seasonal herb table centerpiece

Merry Christmas 2010

Wishing everyone a very Merry and Safe Christmas Holiday!!! I look forward to more exciting posts in 2011, which will be my 4th year of posting interior design challenges and fun decorating ideas.

Christmas Cheer

White Cranberry Spritzer

White cranberry juice is made with young cranberries before they develop their tart flavor and red color—it's milder and sweeter than regular cranberry juice. Garnish with mint sprigs and whole fresh cranberries, if you like. Prepare the rosemary-infused juice mixture up to one day ahead, and chill.
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup)


  • 2 3/4  cups  white cranberry juice drink (such as Ocean Spray)
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh rosemary
  • 12  mint leaves
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • 3  cups  club soda, chilled
  • 1 1/2  cups  white rum
  • Crushed ice


1. Combine cranberry juice, sugar, rosemary, and 12 mint leaves in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Strain juice mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Stir in lime juice; cover and refrigerate.
2. Combine juice mixture, club soda, and rum in a large pitcher; stir well to combine. Serve mixture over crushed ice. Serve immediately.
Grown-up Frappés


  • 2  cups  vanilla ice cream
  • 2/3  cup  milk
  • 1/3  cup  crème de cacao
  • 9  miniature or 3 (1.4-oz.) chocolate-covered peppermint patties, chopped


Process ice cream, milk, crème de cacao, and chopped peppermint patties, in a blender until smooth.
Note: We tested with York Peppermint Patties.

Blackberry Mojito Punch


  • 3  cups  blueberry-blackberry juice blend
  • 2  (12-oz.) cans frozen mojito mix
  • 2  (1-liter) bottles club soda, chilled
  • 1 1/2  cups  white rum
  • 3  limes, sliced
  • 1  (12-oz.) package frozen blackberries
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprigs


Stir together blueberry-blackberry juice blend, mojito mix, chilled club soda, white rum, sliced limes, and frozen blackberries. Serve over ice. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Creamy Sorghum Eggnog


  • 1  cup  bourbon
  • 1/2  cup  sorghum
  • 2  qt. refrigerated eggnog
  • 3  cups  milk
  • Crushed gingersnaps


Whisk together bourbon and sorghum. Stir in eggnog and milk. Chill until ready to serve. Sprinkle individual servings with crushed gingersnaps.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holiday's

Bavarian-style buildings decorated with lights & dusted with snow, Leavenworth, Wash. (© Leavenworth Area Promotions)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Leavenworth, Wash.

Spectacular light displays are a hallmark of the holiday season in many locations around the globe.

Millions of lights, St. Nicholas, roasting chestnuts, and nonstop caroling — what’s not to love about Christmas in this Bavarian-themed village in the North Cascades? The buildings and trees in the village are lit each Saturday and Sunday afternoon throughout December in a special lighting ceremony that draws oohs and aahs every time. Skiing, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, Nordic skiing and sledding on the hill downtown are fun ways to kill time until the sun goes down.

Oil derricks lighted up for the holidays, Kilgore, Texas (© Kilgore Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Texas & Louisiana

Nothing says “happy holidays” like an illuminated oil derrick — and in Texas, it’s a sure sign that you’re on the Trail of Lights. In an hourlong drive along interstates 20 and 49, you can visit six cities decked out in their holiday finest: Natchitoches and Shreveport-Bossier City, La.; and Marshall, Jefferson and Kilgore, Texas. Revelers will find fireworks displays, candlelight tours of antebellum homes, skating rinks, steam-train rides and Christmas in the Oil Patch — 75 derricks lit with sparkling stars.
Niagara Falls with winter holiday lights, Ontario Canada  (© Roland Tobiasz/Via

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

The Winter Festival of Lights at Niagara Falls illuminates the powerful falls in a rainbow of colors in a ceremony that begins every evening at dusk, from early November through the end of February. The tradition dates back to 1860, when the falls were first lit to celebrate a visit by the Prince of Wales. The skies above the falls also light up with a weekly fireworks show in December.

Flaming menorah at Western Wall, Old City, Jerusalem, Israel (© Gideon Mendel/Corbis)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Jerusalem

This nine-candle Hanukkah menorah (also called a hanukkiyah) stands high over the plaza at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Jewish festival of lights, held for eight days in late November or December depending on the Jewish calendar, commemorates the rededication of the Jewish Temple after it was recaptured from the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. A new candle is lit each night during the holidays.

Holiday tree constructed of LEGOs, LEGOLAND California, San Diego (© 2010 The LEGO Group)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Lego Tree, San Diego

What can you build with 245,000 green Lego Duplo bricks? A 30-foot Christmas tree, as it turns out. Decorated with 400 ornaments — also made of Legos, natch — and lots of lights, this Legoland California tree from a distance looks almost real. If only Lego would make pine-scented bricks, it’d smell like a real tree, too.

Shoppers gather to view holiday light displays in the Shiodome area of central Tokyo (© David Guttenfelder/AP)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Tokyo

Pictured above, the Blue Ocean holiday display ripples across the Shiodome area of Tokyo, near Tokyo Bay and the famed Ginza shopping district. Occupying what was once marshy tideland, Shiodome is a modern section of Tokyo that’s home to high-power office complexes (including the headquarters of behemoth Nippon Television) that showcase the city’s stunning architecture.

Christmas tree made recycled bicycles, Sydney, Australia (© Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Tree-Cycle, Sydney, Australia

Look closely and you can see this is no ordinary tree; it’s made of 100 old bicycles that were bound for the garbage heap. A little creativity, a lot of colored paint, and voilà! A festive tree standing 23 feet tall. You can see it on display this season at The Rocks shopping district in Sydney, which is famous for featuring a tree made of recycled items each year. 
Lake Taneycomo Bridge with holiday decorations, Branson, Mo. (©  2009 Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. All rights reserved.)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Branson, Mo.

The Branson Area Festival of Lights is a mile-long celebration of holiday illumination that can be viewed by visitors to Branson, Missouri. This drive-through exhibit features more than 175 lighted displays, representing well-known Christmas traditions as well as holiday celebrations of many cultures.
Holiday lights at Rockefeller Center, New York City (©

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Rockefeller Center, New York City

There may be no more iconic Christmas tree in the world than the one that graces New York City's Rockefeller Center. This year, a reported 100,000 people witnessed the lighting of a 74-foot Norway spruce in late November. The first holiday tree lighting took place here in 1933, no doubt offering Depression-era shoppers some much-needed cheer.  Now, the annual star-studded televised event kicks off the crazy holiday shopping season in New York.

Las Noches de las Luminarias, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Ariz. (© Desert Botanical Garden)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Las Noches de las Luminarias, Phoenix

During the festival Las Noches de las Luminarias, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix sparkles with the lights of thousands of luminarias, votive candles nestled in sand-filled paper bags. The meaning behind the tradition is disputed, but some say the festive lanterns light the way for the Christ child or the Three Wise Men. Others say they mimic early bonfires that led congregants to church on Christmas Eve. You can see luminarias in many Southwest towns, including Old Town Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.

'Magic of Christmas' holiday garden light display at night, The Butchart Gardens, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (© The Butchart Gardens Ltd.)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia

The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, are illuminated each year during the gardens' Magic of Christmas event. Especially popular are the Twelve Days of Christmas light displays that are scattered about the 55-acre facility, which is in a former quarry and has been open to the public for more than 100 years.

Fireworks explode over floating Christmas tree, Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (© Ricardo Morales/Reuters/Corbis)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Floating Christmas Tree, Rio de Janeiro

It takes 11 pontoons and seven biodiesel generators to keep the lights aglow on the floating Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro. The 28-story-tall tree (made of 500-plus tons of steel) is adorned with nearly 3 million miniature light bulbs, 82 miles of regular lights and 1,600 ornaments. Fireworks and parties on the beach round out the holiday festivities.

Holiday lights along the Champs-Élysées leading to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris (© HP Huber/SIME/4Corners Images)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Paris

The City of Light lives up to its name more than ever this month, when 400 trees illuminated with 1 million energy-saving lights add unparalleled sparkle to the Champs-Élysées. Paris during the holidays is especially wonderful for window shopping: spectacular designer-created displays at Printemps department store are an annual must-see for locals and visitors.
Boat decorated with holiday lights, Christmas Ship Parade, Portland, Ore. (© Maria Swearingen)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Christmas Ship Parade, Portland, Ore.

Every December for more than 50 years, boaters in Seattle and Portland have strung lights on their masts, decorated their yachts and paraded en masse around Northwest waters. In Seattle, the flotilla visits 45 waterfront communities, and onboard carolers sing to people huddled around bonfires on shore. In Portland, there are two fleets, one on the Columbia River and one on the Willamette.

Town Hall with holiday decorations, Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium (© Magic Monkey/Courtesy of

Sparkling Holiday Lights: Brussels

The magnificent Gothic Brussels Town Hall, built in the early 1400s, is aglow with lights each holiday season. The Grand Place — or town square — in front of the town hall fills with onlookers each evening for the sound-and-light show that illuminates the building.

National Christmas Tree in front of the White House, Washington, D.C. (© Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sparkling Holiday Lights: National Tree, Washington D.C.

President Calvin Coolidge presided over the first ever Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the White House in 1923, and today the President and First Family continue the honors. The Colorado blue spruce has been growing at the White House for 46 years, a donation from a family in York, Pa. It stands 42 feet tall and has become a treasured part of the nation's holiday celebration.

Budget Christmas Wrapping

newspaper and string simple options for wrapping

Newspaper and Garden String

Turn yesterday's news into graphic wrapping paper. Pair it with green garden string for an eye-catching combo. I aslo use grocery paper bags and raffia for bows for a natual look, raffia can be purchased in many colors.

dish towel wrapped package is two gifts in one

Make the Wrap Part of the Gift

Wrap a kitchen gift or present for the foodie on your list in a colorful dish towel.

maps and magazines make unique wrapping paper

Map It

For larger gifts, use a map of your hometown, favorite vacation destination or dream getaway — it's the perfect wrap for jet-setters or adventurers on your list.

use paper and corrugated cardboard for wrapping

Mix Textures

Put small pieces of interesting paper to work. Ridged cardboard adds textural interest when paired with brown Kraft paper. Pretty gingham ribbon adds color.

recycle an old shirt for wrapping gift

Recycle a Past-Its-Prime Shirt

Cut the back off an old shirt and wrap the shirt front around the gift. Simply secure the sleeves on top with string.

plain brown paper and ribbon used to wrap gift

Brown Paper and Woven String

Brown Kraft paper is a great anytime gift-wrap. Keep some on hand for wrapping gifts throughout the year. Give it holiday appeal with red twine or ribbon and fragrant cinnamon sticks.

leaves slipped between tissue paper for wrapping

Tissue Paper and Leaves

Arrange leaves between sheets of recycled tissue paper and secure the wrapping with glue and twine.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Decor

Gold and Champagne for the Holidays

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Christmas Gift Toppers

    use evergreen foliage and twine to decorate gift

    Evergreen Foliage and String

    Gather a few lengths of string, tie up the gift and tuck a couple of sprigs of foliage under the bow.

    cinnamon sticks and gingham ribbon decorate gift

    Cinnamon Sticks and Braided Raffia

    Tie the gift with braided raffia, thread ribbon under it and add a bundle of cinnamon sticks.

    use dried fruit slices and raffia to decorate gift

    Dried Fruits and Raffia

    Glue three dried orange slices together in an overlapped row, tie the gift with raffia and glue on the orange slices.

    use holly berries and vintage ribbon on gifts

    Holly Sprig and Vintage Ribbon

    Tie the gift with bright vintage ribbon and tuck a holly sprig with a few berries under the bow.

    use pine cones and raffia to decorate a gift

    Pinecones and Raffia

    Tie the gift with raffia, wrap a little thin wire around the base of each cone and tie them to the bow.

    use ribbon and buttons to decorate gift

    Ribbon and Buttons

    Wrap recycled ribbon around the gift and glue different-sized buttons onto the ribbon.

    use dried leaves and raffia to decorate gift

    Raffia and Dried Leaves

    Gather a few lengths of raffia, tie the gift and glue a few dried, flattened leaves just under the bow.
    This is one of my favorite, the leaves look like a flower!

    thread buttons on very thin ribbon to use on gift

    Threaded Buttons

    Thread odd buttons onto a very thin length of ribbon and tie the ribbon around the gift.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    Entertaining/Christmas from the Kitchen

    Packaging Food Gifts

    Packaging Food Gifts

    Make Christmas gift recipes extra-special by presenting them in unique tins, festive bags, pretty baskets, decorative tissue, or to-go cartons. Add your signature touch by adorning with a homemade gift tag, colorful ribbon, or a keepsake like a small kitchen gadget or toy.

    Holiday Bread Winners

    Holiday Bread Winners

    From rum-laced banana bread to mini cranberry panettone, sweet tea and yeast breads make perfect holiday gifts.

    Decadent Chocolate Gifts for the Holidays

    Decadent Chocolate Gifts for the Holidays

    Give the gift of homemade chocolate (and white chocolate) goodies with these favorites from Christmas with Southern Living.

    Teacher Treats

    Teacher Treats

    Show your teachers how much you and your children appreciate them with these easy and affordable gifts.

    Gifts from the Oven

    Gifts from the Oven

    Homemade treats like crisp biscotti, decorated cookies, or moist loaf cake spread holiday cheer among friends and family.

    Gift-Worthy Jams, Spreads & Sauces

    Gift-Worthy Jams, Spreads & Sauces

    Think homemade jelly or preserve recipes  for a big payoff in flavor and presentation.

    Give the Gift of Candy

    Give the Gift of Candy

    Take a little sugar and spice and create candy gifts for a hostess, a neighbor, or that special friend.

    Banana Bread Bonanza

    Banana Bread Bonanza

    A favorite holiday gift, hostess offering, or breakfast treat, banana bread is welcome at the table any time of year.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    Outdoor Rooms

    Outdoor 01 fire design

    Lean and Clean

    While enormous hearths have their charm, not everyone has the room to accommodate those structures. A contemporary, gas-fired alternative like this module unit from Spark Modern Fires is more environmentally friendly than wood burners and can be modified for custom designs. What's more, it turns on with the flick of a remote. Photo by Spark Modern Fires.

    Outdoor 03 burning bowl

    An Intimate Firebowl

    A beautifully-shaped firebowl, such as a Greek urn, is an attractive and portable alternative to traditional outdoor hearths. This bowl, designed by Ian Knepper, is a sculptural work of art that provides a safe and clean flame and is small enough to be positioned anywhere. It offers a wonderful opportunity to nestle chairs around for an intimate gathering. Photo by Ian Knepper.

    Outdoor 04 fireplace and column

    Warmth Under a Pergola

    It's nice to have a backyard entertainment space set apart from the main living area. You can gather around the blazing fire, look up at the stars and pretend you are far away from civilization.
    This standalone fireplace from Stirling StoneWorks sits under a garden pergola on a stone patio. A raised hearth adds seating for outdoor entertaining. Photo by Melody Saunders Brenna; Stirling StoneWorks.

    Outdoor 07 fire design on patio

    A Wall of Fire

    Modern, modular gas-fueled fire ribbons offer enormous design versatility. A fire wall is used as a dramatic enhancement to the outdoor architecture. This unit is constructed from stainless steel with waterproof internal components, a remote control and an electronic ignition. Photo by Spark Modern Fires.

    Outdoor 08 fire pit and seating

    The Circle of Flames

    Whether you live in the frigid North or are more accustomed to warm breezes and rustling palms, there's no better way to enjoy the company of friends than around a blazing fire as the night descends. Today's fire pits come with all the conveniences of modern life. Photo by Snassek.

    Outdoor 09 fireplace and seating

    Bringing the Indoors Out

    A classically-styled stone mantelpiece will be the center of attention, whether it is in your living room or on the patio. With the right seating arrangement, your backyard becomes a natural extension of your home. Choosing materials that complement each other and considering lighting options, materials and furniture are key components in creating a comfortable outdoor entertainment hub. Photo by Winston Furniture.