Archive for October, 2009

Disposable Dinnerware for Green Events

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

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Party planners are always looking for the next best thing for their events all the time, no matter if they are green events, weddings or corporate parties.  I recently came across great disposable dinnerware for green parties at a recent Los Angeles convention for party planners.

VerTerra plates, bowls and trays are a great disposable dinnerware product for green events.  The dinnerware is stylish, eco-friendly disposable dinnerware made from fallen palm leaves.  VerTerra is all natural, they do not use chemicals or lacquers and the company promotes fair wage labor and sustainable production methods.  They are a great choice for party planners to use at their green parties because after they are used, they can be placed in a compost heap or container and returned back to the earth.

The disposable dinnerware work with hot or cold foods, they are microwave-, oven- and refrigerator-safe, present a chic and elegant look to your table and fit into anyone’s eco-friendly lifestyle. 

More demands are made daily for party planners to create green events and VerTerra is an easy decision to make when considering disposable dinnerware for your next event.  Also, what many party planners are beginning to realize is how easy it is to incorporate the green movement within their corporate parties, weddings and private events.  In my book, Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget, I discuss how easy it is when producing events to reduce, recycle and reuse various components of a party for another one.  As I mention, dust off those candles that you used for a previous engagement.  People forget that many party items have more than one event life cycle such as changing a linen overlay over the same table linen you used at your previous celebration.  Many times you can use a basic colored linen of black, silver or gold and then change the look and tone of the event with a new table runner or contrasting colored overlay linen on top of it.

Caterers are also leaning more towards green events when working with party planners on their corporate parties, weddings and other affairs.  More and more caterers now look to local suppliers and farmers to provide the produce and equipment for their event that in turn, helps cut down on the event’s carbon footprint.  Selecting food that is seasonal is another means caterers are using to help promote green events, and they are also now looking to alternate methods of serving hors d’oeuvres instead of the usual paper napkins. 

It’s not hard to produce green parties; it just takes a bit of thought, product exploration and flexibility.  In fact, here is a fun green-themed cocktail party menu to consider for your next green party. 

Cocktail Party Menu

Green Peppers, Broccoli and Asparagus Crudités
accompanied by Spinach Dip

Artichoke Soufflé
with Sourdough Toasts, Vegetable and Whole Wheat Pita Chips

Chipotle Chili Cheese Poppers

Stuffed Grape Leaves Drizzled with Olive Oil

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Green Goddess Chicken Salad
served in Lettuce Cups

Dessert

Fresh Honeydew Melon, Kiwi, Yellow Raisins and Berries
served in a Watermelon Bowl

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Green Apple Bites Covered with Caramel

Beverages

Mojitos

Mint Iced Tea and Green Tea

Many of these menu items can be bought already prepared at your local market or deli.  The recipe for the artichoke soufflé along with other menus, recipes, party planning ideas and advice can be found in Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget.

So next time you think about green events, consider various aspects of the party – including menu, disposable dinnerware and theme to name a few and remember to have fun and be a guest at your own event! 

Event Décor and Party Design Celebration for Event Coordinators

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

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What can be more fun than to be among event coordinators for an event décor and party design celebration?  That is where I was last week in Beverly Hills at the charming Il Cielo restaurant.  A portion of the restaurant was completely transformed by event décor and party design florist, Ricardo Luna of Luna Gardens.

This party gave me some fabulous ideas for event décor and party design and I saw these new and unique chairs that will be perfect for a Winter Wonderland wedding I am coordinating next year.  The party also reinforced some of the important secrets of party planning success I discuss in my book, Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget.  One secret is that you can throw a fabulous party and simultaneously maintain your budget by serving delicious tray-passed appetizers as dinner.  But first, let me give you the rundown about the event décor and party design as well as the different event coordinators and vendors present that evening.

Luna Gardens wanted to show their appreciation towards some of the local event coordinators who have supported their business throughout the years.  There were various Los Angeles special event vendors as well as event coordinators.  Event coordinators from the local hotels such as SLS at Beverly Hills, Shutters and Casa del Mar were in attendance as well as entertainment vendor Susan Debois of Debois Entertainment and photographers David Frey and Michael Brannigan of David Michael Photography.  I enjoy working with all of these vendors because they are professional and provide excellent service and attention to all the events and event coordinators they work with.  Their support makes my company, A Wynning Event, stand out among the competition and in turn, my clients’ parties more memorable. 

Like any other good event designer, Ricardo set the tone of the evening from the beginning when I walked in the door at Il Cielo.  A server, holding a tray of glasses filled with champagne, greeted the event coordinators and a guitarist from Espimusic Entertainment also helped set the mood with wonderful ambient acoustic guitar music.

The linens Luna Gardens selected for the evening were from a fall palate of orange and rust.  Luna Gardens also created a casual atmosphere for us to sit down and relax in with their own selection of special event furniture.  Of course, event designer Ricardo Luna first started his company as a floral studio.  To say the least, the floral designs were spectacular along with the added props such as fall-colored trees which were placed on the perimeter of the room and fall colored branches with leaves hanging from the ceiling. 

All in all, I felt as if I was back East in a park on a warm fall eve.  A mixture of floral arrangements, both classic and hip, adorned the coffee tables as well as the tall center table and surrounding cocktail tables.  In the corner, to add flair to the event décor and party design, Luna Gardens brought in these new-styled chairs giving added fun and whimsy to the evening.  The chairs were oversized with padded fabric and had a concave top giving you a regal feeling when you sat down.

The food Il Cielo served that evening was great.  It was all tray-passed, either on small plates or hand-held accompanied by cocktail napkins.  Portions of delicious pasta, crostinis with smoked salmon and Italian cured meats are a few examples, and for dessert, we were treated to bite-sized tiramisu and chocolate covered strawberries. 

A tray-pass styled cocktail party is a great way to give an elegant party, provide your guests with plenty of food and maintain a budget as discussed in Budget Bash.  Needless to say, I tried all of the food selections quite a few times and didn’t walk away hungry that evening!

However, what I did walk away with that evening was a great appreciation for a twist on a typical cocktail party with a different approach to event décor and party design, a chance to visit among friends and colleagues and the opportunity to provide my Winter Wonderland bride the perfect “throne” for herself and her husband-to-be on their special day. 

Halloween Table Decorations

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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Last week I discussed an “orange” themed Halloween party and now I will share with you some Halloween party tips for Halloween table decorations. These tips are easy to do and inexpensive to produce. 

With all of my events, no matter if they are serious fundraising galas or whimsical birthday parties; I still like to keep an element of style, hip and class to the table décor.  Even when I use inexpensive props such as the Halloween items for this Halloween display, I still like to mix and match with more expensive-looking or natural Halloween items too. 

There are so many choices when looking at decorations for Halloween.  What I like to do is collect Halloween items during the season and then on November 1st, go back to the drug store or party supply store and pick-up whatever is left over and inexpensive.  Nothing makes me feel better than garnering bargains on cheap Halloween decorations.  I make sure to buy items that I will have a use for and that will store easily in my party planning design box, an item I discuss in my new book, Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget.

To create the whimsical Halloween table decorations as seen in the above pictures I used the following:

Gold organza fabric for a table runner – You can buy any type of fabric and make a table runner, scrunch up unfinished fabric down the center of the table or use pinking sheers and cut a runner for a one- or two-time use (more uses are possible if you are careful with the fabric).  For this table, I used a table runner from a previous event and scrunched it down the center of the table.

I picked up the following decorations for Halloween at the end of the season a few years ago and have kept these items in my party planning design box.  These cheap Halloween decorations are candy corn twinkle lights, decorative candy dishes, orange votive candles and glass votive candle holders, mini-plastic pumpkin buckets and a witch’s hat.  I may have spent a total of $15 for all of these Halloween items and have used them for the past three seasons.    

While I was picking up dinner at the market, I grabbed a bunch of sunflowers, rust-colored mums, Halloween candy and mini-pumpkins.  A fun idea is to carve the mini-pumpkin’s center and sides (if you have the time) to create a votive candle holder.  If not, do what I did and just add them to the table as a décor item.  

Decorating the table was fast and easy.  I just scrunched up the table runner and intertwined the candy corn twinkle lights with the fabric runner.  I placed the witch’s hat in the center of the table (I stuffed the center of the hat with a paper bag to make it stand up straight), filled the candy dishes with Halloween candy, placed the votives and pumpkins on the table and then placed the sunflowers loosely on the table.  To add a bit of color besides orange and yellow to the table, I pulled out two small blue vases and placed the mums in those. 

To create the total look of the Halloween table decorations didn’t take long at all and I coordinated my food shopping along with it.  An added bonus to this table decoration is that it will last quite a few days.  Just remember to unplug the lights when you are not around the table to prevent any type of electrical hazard from happening and if you have animals who like to leap onto your dining room table, you may want to remove the candy and loose flowers as well when you are not in the room.

I hope you found this Halloween party decoration tip useful.  To learn more about party planning on a budget, check out my new book, Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget.  Until next time remember to have fun and be a guest at your own party!

Whimsical yet Stylish “Orange” Halloween Dinner Menu

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

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Halloween is just around the corner and is not necessarily just another kid’s holiday.  In fact, you can have a sophisticated yet easy to produce Halloween dinner party for you and some of your friends.  And don’t worry you won’t have to make all of the menu items.  In fact, many of the food selections can be bought already prepared by your local market. 

Here is the menu.  I selected these items to reflect the “Orange” theme as well as to appeal to most palettes. 

Cocktails and Hors D’Oeuvres

Cucumber Cups filled with Red Pepper Humus
Shrimp Cocktail over a Bed of Shredded Lettuce
served in Martini Glasses
Cheddar Cheese & Rosemary Crisps
Vegetable Crudités with Orange Walnut Dipping Sauce

Drink for the “Hallow” Eve

Orangetini
An Orange Twist on a Vodka Martini

Dinner

Butternut Squash Soup
served with Orange Popovers

Cinnamon and Maple Smoked Cedar Salmon
over Wild Rice Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Dates

Honey-and-Soy Glazed Carrots

Dessert

Mini Pumpkin Custard
Carrot Cake Squares

Preparation for the Menu

Day before Party
Purchase ready-made red pepper humus, butternut squash soup, ready-to-serve crudités, cooked shrimp and mini carrots. 
Either bake or purchase the carrot cake squares and the mini-pumpkin custard (carrot cake and pumpkin pie can be substituted)
Prepare Orange Walnut dipping sauce.

Day Of
Use English cucumbers to make the cucumber cups
Prepare Cheddar Cheese Dough early in the day
Prepare Wild Rice salad early in the day and re-heat at time of serving

Prepare Honey Glazed Carrots prior to serving
Cook popovers just before serving
Prep and cook salmon prior to serving

Recipes for Red Pepper Humus, Pumpkin Pie Custard (Vegan) can be found in the book Budget Bash-Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget.

Recipe for Cheddar Cheese and Rosemary Crisps

½ lb sharp cheddar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 ½ cups of flour
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Rosemary

Combine all the ingredients but the rosemary in a Cuisinart.  Stir in the Rosemary.  Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Divide dough in ½ and roll out to ¼” thick.  Cut crisps and place on parchment paper on cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

Next time I will tell you how to create your Halloween table décor using items from your party planning box. 

Writing my First Book – Budget Bash

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

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I just finished writing my first book, Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget and I am very happy to say that it is available for purchase at http://www.budgetbashbook.com.  I believe everyone has a story to tell, little did I know that my story would be about event production.  After all, I wrote a series of short stories on dating and single life before Sex and the City and I really thought that would be my legacy.  Now I have Budget Bash.

I wrote the book upon the suggestion of my webmaster Jennifer at EcomBuffet, http://www.ecombuffet.com.  I created a one month deadline to write the book and a one month deadline to edit the book.  And because I am someone who does what I say, I nailed both deadlines.  However, little did I know that creating the website and the technical issues involved in that process would take a bit longer than I first thought. 

But Budget Bash made it through the trenches!  My goal with writing the book was to demystify the “Hollywood” party planning process.  I wanted to let people know that planning a dinner party, wedding or other affair is a simple straightforward process and no one should shy away from it or freak out by it.  You should have fun planning your event, not stress out and worry about the planning process. 

What I discuss first and foremost is to determine a budget and to stick to it.  From there everything else flows from theme, to invitation, design, menu, the list continues.  My purpose with this book was to provide anyone anywhere with information and the access to resources to create high-styled events easily and affordably. I also included menus that I actually used at high profile events that are easy to execute yet impressive and tasty.   

I included pictures to give the reader a good sense of what the outcome should look like such as the step-by-step instructions and corresponding photographs for floral design.  I also provide budget and timeline templates so that the reader can actually use these for his or her event and not have to generate their own.  A resource guide is included too for such items as invitations and party favors.     

All in all, my goal with Budget Bash – Simply Fabulous Events on a Budget was to provide a how-to guide for party planning and the feedback has been great.  The comments I have received from readers who are outside of the event planning business shows me I accomplished my goal which was to provide a simple easy-to-read book illustrating the steps from start to finish about the party planning process.  Parties are supposed to be fun and relaxing and a great way to socialize and unwind.  Why should the planning process be any different?