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19 Sep

11 Tips for creating your next Outdoor Patio Party

Riedel PS The Letter

Fall into Autumn with my personal favorite tips and tricks for hosting the ultimate outdoor social.

Dining al fresco surrounded by close family and friends is the optimal way to welcome the beautiful fall weather that’s right around the corner here in Fort Worth.

And boy, I am really looking forward to the change of seasons in the Lone Star State! Don’t let the door kick you on the way out, 110-degree weather!

Outdoor social events and patio parties have been a staple in my family since I was a little girl. I watched my mom throw both elaborate and opulent events, to the more simple of gatherings.

In my eyes, she was and still is the ultimate queen bee of entertaining. I enjoy following in her footsteps while putting my own personal touches and a little flair to my parties.

1. Please, Don’t Come In!

In order to avoid the doorbell ringing a hundred times, I will put a sign near the front door to direct people around to the back of the house. Not having to answer the door multiple times allows you as the host to enjoy mingling with guests.

Porch Party
Patio Sign

2. Conversation Starters

When entertaining, I always have something humorous or a good conversation starter located at the bar. Usually, the napkins or Styrofoam cups do the talking, but I’ve been known to bust out a bowl of penis mints to get the ladies laughing.

Adding your own personal and/or humorous touch to parties helps create the belly-laughing moments that you and your friends will reminisce about for years to come. BTW, I always find lots of humorous goodies for entertaining at the Ft.Worth Junior Leagues’s Christmas in Cowtown Holiday Gift Market every October.

fun styrofoam cups
fun cocktail napkins

3. Garden Clippings

You can go hog wild with garden clippings when it comes to decorating your space for a patio party. Even if you don’t have blooming flowers on your property, different types of greenery make for a lovely botanical look.

Of course, you can always run to Central Market for some colorful stems to pair with your fresh cuttings. For this event, I actually did go to Central Market and I arranged the flowers the evening before.

garden flowers
Central Market flowers

4. Food for Thought

Sky’s the limit when it comes to feeding your guests, but when entertaining outside, be mindful of items melting or spoiling in direct sun.

Claudia Sheddy, the owner My Sweet Roots, has catered several gatherings for me, and I absolutely love her presentation of food. Every time I’ve used her, I receive calls the next day asking for her contact information.

My Sweet Roots
My Sweet Roots

5. The Bar Scene

Although I always have at least one server for parties, even patio parties, there are times when I love to set the bar up for self-service. There is always at least one invitee who takes the initiative to man the bar and pour the refills. It’s also the perfect way for guest to mingle with one another- especially if they have never met.

Patio Bar
Patio Bar
Patio Champagne

6. Stemware Don’t Care

Throughout the years, I’ve lost many Baccarat crystal glasses when I hosted parties. To minimize stress and broken stemware, I decided to keep my sanity and my crystal intact and invest in Riedel stemware from PS The Letter. If one of these glasses were to break, I’m not calculating additional cost in my budget for party planning. Phew.

Plus, there’s nothing better than enjoying a drink out of a Riedel wine glass. The impact you will experience from the shape and size of their grape varietal specific glasses brings out the true flavors of your wine grape.  Ahh…

Riedel PS The Letter
Riedel Wine Glass Patio Party

7. Always Overbuy

I always overbuy for an event to ensure I never run out- especially when it comes to the limes and alcohol. It is so much easier to return unused items than send someone to make another run right in the middle of your party. I also make sure everything I use for patio entertaining is disposable except for the serving pieces and stemware. This makes for easy cleanup and just an overall less stressful event.

Patio Liquor
Topo Chico Patio Party
Patio Party Limes
Plastic Flatware

8. For the Smoking Guests

Ashtrays are imperative. Although most of my friends don’t smoke, it never fails… a few cocktails in and a some of them will bust out the cancer sticks and get their social smoking game on. I can guarantee a few of your guests will be itching to light up a fresh stogie while enjoying the crisp fall evening at your party.

Crystal Ashtray

9. Let’s Get Comfortable

For this party, I set the bar up on the center table in the loggia, where people usually sit down to eat. Although there are plenty of fun places to serve drinks, being mindful of shade is crucial to keeping your ice from melting and glasses getting warm. Small details to consider such as making sure there are enough shady spots for guests to mingle around before the sun goes down. Keeping guests feeling comfortable and happy is imperative.  It will also make you look like a seasoned hostess!

Patio Seating
Patio Seating
Patio Party by the pool

10. Big Ass Balloons

And sometimes, you just need a few Big Ass Balloons as your statement pieces to tie in the full look. This Dallas-Houston company knows how to float a party when it comes to helium. Big air, don’t care!

Big Ass Balloons patio party
Big Ass Balloon party

11. Keep Them Entertained

I usually add a bit of entertainment when I host an event. If it’s not a strolling magician, it might be a balloon artist, lip reader or DJ. But for this occasion, I turned the satellite radio on and piped in through the outdoor speakers.

Alta Drive patio Party
Alta Drive Patio Party

Photography by Maria Ciszek

SoFortWorthIt GIVEAWAY

All in all, keeping your patio party fun, lighthearted, relaxing, and simple will make for a great time! Don’t stress about the small details and don’t be afraid to hire a few extra hands so that you can enjoy your own party. So, sit back, relax, grab yourself a chilled glass of Rose, and make sure those Texas mosquitos don’t bite as you host a beautiful patio party of your own!

PS The Letter
Central Market
Big Ass Balloons
Junior League Christmas in Cowtown

Now who’s ready to kick off these gorgeous temperatures with the perfect giveaway for your next gathering? One lucky hostess will win an entertainment spread to kickstart her next outdoor social.

– A Box of 4 Riedel Wine Glasses from PS The Letter $45

– Floral Arrangement from Fort Worth Central Market $35

– Big Ass Balloon gift certificate $50

– 2 Tickets for Christmas in Cowtown $25

Please read the OFFICIAL RULES & DISCLAIMERS located in the Rafflecopter link below.

15 Feb

SoFortWorthIt Gets a Sweet Treat with Eleni’s Cookies

Hey friends! You must be shocked to see two posts from me in one week. I know it’s been a little while since I’ve busted out some content on SoFortWorthIt, but I promise you, it was worth the wait.

If you follow me on social media, then you’ve probably heard me mention the words, Academy Awards or Oscars a few times. Well, let me fill you in on the goods! It’s true, Sweet Hubs and I are beyond thrilled to attend the 90th Academy Awards in just a few weeks.

You can check out the nitty gritty of who, what and how in the world we get the opportunity to check this off our bucket-list HERE. In the meantime, I’m kicking off the first of several articles about this once in a lifetime weekend, starting with these sweet treats. We’re not just talking about any sweet treat, we are talking about the uber-famous Eleni’s New York cookies and cupcakes.

Eleni's New York Logo

What I love most about these slightly crisp, not too sweet and intricately hand-decorated confections? They make the perfect dessert to either give or serve for every occasion. Speaking of occasions, every year Eleni’s celebrates the Oscars with her Signature Illustration Hollywood Cookies honoring Best Actor and Actress Nominees.

This year’s Academy Award gift sets pay homage to Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins, Timothee Chalarmet, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Kaluuya, Gary Oldman and Denzel Washington.

SoFortWorthIt and Eleni’s New York are Long Time BFF’s

I tasted my very first Eleni’s cookie way back in the late 90’s when my parents gave us one of the coolest Christmas gifts. It was an Advent-like green Christmas tree from the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, and Eleni’s Christmas cookies hung from ribbon on these long wooden dowels. It was magnificent, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

And, In the mid-2000’s, I hosted a book signing for the ever fabulous Kimberly Schlegel Whitman with a breathtakingly delicious dessert-themed tablescape. This event was so yummy, the calories were even swinging from the chandeliers. I sourced desserts locally and nationwide. I knew this event wouldn’t be complete without Eleni’s playfully unique cookies and I couldn’t resist adding these fashion staples to the buffet. 

Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Eleni's Cookies at book signing
Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Eleni's Cookies at book signing
Kimberly Schlegel Whitman and Eleni's Cookies at book signing

Plus, Eleni’s came to the rescue when we needed the perfect thank you gifts for my husband’s overseas clients. We sent high-res files of each company’s logo. In return, they produced the best gift for Jason to honor their business relationship. A set of cookies with the MSmith Exporting logo were placed next to the client’s logo-cookies in a box tied with a big red bow to signify luck.

Thanks to Eleni, we scored big in gift-giving etiquette with the Chinese. Below is a picture of the MSmith cookie and us in the airport hauling huge boxes of cookie gifts.

Eleni's gift-etiquette perfect for business trip to China

The sky’s the limit with corporate or special occasion cookies from Eleni’s.

ElenisCustom

Below are some of my favorite sets. I’ve ordered these summer cookies to take to the lake, and I’m going to order these ski cookies to take with us on spring break.

Eleni's Lake Cookie Set
Eleni's Ski Cookie Set

Wouldn’t these make the perfect thank you gift for that special friend hosting you in their luxury sports box or to watch the big game in their home?

Eleni's Cowboy Cookie Sets
Eleni's Play Ball Cookie Set

We all know the flu is running rampant. This gift set would get someone well real quick, I’m almost sure of it! You know what they say, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Eleni's Get Well Cookie Set

Giveaways Galore!

Here’s the yummiest part of it all! Eleni’s New York is giving away their signature Academy Award set which includes Best Actor and Best Actress cookies valued at $100. These will be the hit of any Oscar-themed party.

Eleni’s is also extending a 10% discount to all SoFortWorthIt followers. Enter promo code SFWI10 at check out. Good through February 2019.

Head on over to my Instagram for a chance to win this signature New York, New York Gift Set valued at $46! Drawing a lucky winner on March 2, 2018.

NYNYEleni's

26 Dec

A Thanksmasgiving Tablescape

Holy moly! Life knows how to throw curve balls, huh! Although I intended to publish this post over two weeks ago, sometimes God has other plans in store. Between helping to care for my mother-in-law who has Alzheimer’s, tending to sick kids and getting sick myself, and trying to wrap up Christmas shopping before Santa arrived, my plate was just a little fuller than usual. 

With that said, I hope you had a Merry Thanksgiving and Happy Christmas! Speaking of, have you ever celebrated Christmas at Thanksgiving? Well, that’s exactly what my mom planned. In our family, members who live out of town fly in every other holiday. This year was Thanksgiving and next year will be Christmas, you get the idea. Anyway, lots of extended families were coming, including both of my brother’s mother-in-laws. This was the year that tradition was flipped. I hope you enjoy the images below from our Thanksmasgiving.

This holiday table was designed around an elf theme using whimsical characters, lots of ornaments, and several red and gold Christmas cone tree decorations, all on top of a custom made-to-measure tablecloth.

Three ornament-filled containers placed on glass risers have a total of 20 white Hydrangea. The larger arrangement in the center of the table has two playful elves hanging on each side

In between the floral arrangements are red, and gold cone trees, several of Santa’s helpers and piles of colorful ornaments are strewn down the table. Intertwining through the ornaments are spools of holly leaf and candy cane striped ribbon, red felt flowers and battery-operated strings of micro Christmas lights.

Silver starburst chargers are the foundation of the place setting, with holly ribbon china on top. Tying the gold table décor and the silver chargers together are filigreed crystal wine glasses and antique sterling silver goblets. Sterling silver flatware and hemstitched linen dinner napkins with embroidered alpine skiers top off the place setting.

For the kid’s table, a lime green tablecloth sets the foundation where all of the fun will unfold. A more simplified version of the adult table, only one floral arrangement with ornaments is the focal point, along with playful elves sitting on candy dishes at each end.

Disposable paper placemats were a perfect fit, along with durable, reusable plastic chargers and dinner plates. Plastic cups with screw on lids were ready for the inevitable drink spill. Because the plates had festive images, hanging the plaid napkin off the side of the table was the best way to showcase the plates. By each place setting was a holiday party cracker, a fun toy with a name tag tied to it, and a gift bag of surprises.

Thanksmasgiving RECAP!

I hope you enjoyed these tablescapes. I have to say; although we’ve never celebrated Thanksmasgiving before, boy am I glad we did. Sometimes the stress and pressure of getting everything ready for jolly old Saint Nick interferes with the beauty of being able to stop and enjoy the moment. And because this celebration took place in November, all of the crazy that unfolds from Black Friday on, wasn’t there. It was like celebrating Christmas without all the crazy. All though we didn’t do a gift exchange, mom did have a bag of fun little gifts at each seat.

Custom tablecloth Fabrictopia

Whimsical elf figures Katherine’s Collection

Multiple sized ornaments for table and containers

Tabletop Christmas cone trees

Double-lined glass cylinder containers Pottery Barn (discontinued)

Spools of specialty ribbon and red felt flowers Katherine’s Collection

Battery operated Christmas lights Target

Silver starburst chargers Z Gallerie

Royal Worcester Holly Ribbons fine china Replacements

Crystal wine glasses Saint Louis

Sterling Silver wine goblets

Sterling Silver flatware Towle Old Master

Linen dinner napkins Wisteria (discontinued)

Candy dishes on kids table Pottery Barn (discontinued)

Paper placemats Needle in a Haystack

Kids plastic chargers, dinner plates, cups, and plaid napkins Pottery Barn (discontinued)

A special thank you to Jim Irwin Floral and talented photographer Maria Kithas Ciszek.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful and STRESS-FREE holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year and everything in between.

Oh, and one more thing! Still looking to view Christmas lights while on school break, The ULTIMATE and BEST Christmas Lights Display in DFW is the most comprehensive list of light displays in the metroplex.

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