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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.

14 Feb

SoFortWorthIt Takes on Hollywood

It’s not often a heavy-hitter Hollywood producer and his beautiful wife move to town and make Fort Worth the perfect city to raise their children. And it’s not often a Hollywood producer’s wife reaches out to you the second their plane hits the tarmac. Ok, let me back up a couple of decades and share the bigger picture.

Angelique & Mike De Luca

This wasn’t Angelique’s first rodeo to Texas. She was actually born in Fort Worth and attended Southwest High School with my cousins Clif and Cami, but for her junior year she hopped over to Arlington Heights High School, and that’s where the mutual friend thing comes into play.

Several years ago, Jason and I hosted an event at Del Frisco’s with Neiman Marcus in collaboration with Riedel Wine. We had a great turnout and everyone enjoyed the educational wine-tasting experience and gifts. Afterwards, Jason and I entertained our close friends in the basement wine cellar. That’s when Kristi Wilson introduced me to Angelique, and the rest was history!

Fast forward to the present, when Angelique and Mike De Luca made Fort Worth their new hometown, they both mentioned wanting to get involved with a few local non-profits and charities. Many institutions have been clambering for their attention, I mean who wouldn’t, but eventually, the De Luca’s hearts settled on founding member, Jean Roach’s beloved KinderFrogs, a family-focused, early intervention program that provides a developmentally appropriate educational environment for children with Down Syndrome and other developmental delays.

You know what that means! A very special party would soon be in the works. Last October the appropriately themed fundraiser, Hollywood Celebrates KinderFrogs, became the center of attention in the Who’s Who of Fort Worth’s upper echelon. Scoring an invite to this event would not be easy, and of course, it sold out almost immediately. If you weren’t quick to reply, then you weren’t going.

Months before, Angelique mentioned she and Mike were donating two tickets to the Academy Awards for the Leap Frog 2017 live auction. I told her attending the Oscars would be a dream come true, it was a bucket list item of mine and I was determined to check it off the list. She said it would be so fun if we went with them. The mission to win those tickets was on like Donkey Kong.

We laughed at the concoction of excuses I came up with on how to get away with winning this auction item. It was like a scene straight out of, “How To Get Away With Murder”. I was afraid to tell Jason for fear he would shut that fun down real quick, and I definitely didn’t want to tell my Dad because I knew he would knock some sense into my head. No time for that either! So, I called up our accountant to figure out what it would take to get me to the Oscars. After hanging up the phone, my mind was at ease. Now, all I needed was to let Jason know of my plan.

The night of Leap Frog 2017 finally came, and I was so excited I could hardly stand it. When we pulled up, the paparazzi were waiting at the red carpet flashing their camera lights to take everyone’s picture as they arrived. We checked-in and walked down the driveway to the De Luca’s backyard, which was transformed into a majestic scene of purple wonder.

The De Luca Family
The De Luca Family
Jean & John Roach
Jean & John Roach, Founding Members of KinderFrogs
Lauren & Mark Yamagata
Lauren & Mark Yamagata, Honorary Chairs of Leap Frog 2017

I immediately knew this event had its A-game on when I spotted Daylan Sharpe and his very sharp team of service staff. They always set the tone of sophistication and perfection for any event. This outdoor soiree was lit, and in purple too. The floral and place settings complimented the Hollywood and TCU theme of the evening.

After a cocktail and mingling with friends, the dinner bells chimed and we all headed to the table. We worked our way over to the Dunaway Associates/Foundation table with our guests and the guests of President/CEO of Dunaway Assco. Tom Galbreath. 

As we were enjoying a delicious catered meal from Jon Bonnell’s restaurant Bonnell’s, the presentation for the evening got underway.

Angelique & Mike De Luca
Angelique & Mike De Luca
Mary Martin Patton
Mary Martin Patton, Dean of TCU College of Education
Mary Martin Patton, Amy Yudiski & Diane Ayres
Mary Martin Patton with Co-Chairs Amy Yudiski & Diane Ayres

When dessert was brought to the table, I knew it was almost showtime. My hands began to shake in nervous anticipation for the bidding to begin. There were seven live auction items, and “Night at the Oscars” would be the last one on the list. Jason and I had actually instated a “no-bid on live Auctions” rule (several businesses over the years didn’t honor the donations we won at other charity events), but this time was different. The De Luca’s were our close friends, and we knew this was going to be legit!

As Scott Murray finished up the second to last auction item on the list, my heart started to race. The moment I had been waiting for all night was about to unfold. Scott starts in on the bidding. Several people raised their hands, I raised mine shortly after to let the auctioneer know I was in the game. My heart was pounding. I was hoping it wasn’t going to go very high, then one of our friends sitting with us raised his hand just to get a reaction out of me! I gave him the stink eye. He laughed. The bid kept going up. Many people had given up and dropped out. Even though I knew the money was going to a great cause, I still didn’t want to break the bank.

What felt like the longest live auction bid in history, finally came down to me and one other guy in the ring. It went back and forth between the two of us when another friend, sitting at our table, mentioned I was bidding against a billionaire. I mean really?!?! Can it get any worse? But, just as he said this, the bidding slowed. I thought, “I can’t give up now. What’ s an extra $500, just one more $500!”

And then it was over! Although the wallet felt pretty beaten up, in the end, it all went to an incredible cause. We won the Academy Award tickets and Leap Frog 2017 broke many records, raising $394,550, the most money for KinderFrogs in the event’s history.

Scott Murray
Scott Murray

What’s Happening Next

Now, let me share with you the exciting things that are unfolding as we speak. Since January 2nd, I have been on a journey to go from drab to fab by March 4th, 2018. I restarted my super clean diet from indulging over the holidays, and I’ve have lost over 10lbs so far. I’m actually at the lowest I’ve been since I broke my back four years ago. Yay me! Nothing like having something to motivate you, right?

I also tried a few things I’ve never done before, including Botox and fillers. I went to the very best doctor in Dallas/Fort Worth and even live filmed the procedure on Instagram (you are following me there, right?). Before and after photos have been taken and I can’t wait to share the results, plus the incredible giveaway from his practice that you don’t want to miss.

 This Week:

Get your sweet tooth ready, SoFortWorthIt followers! There’s a delicious giveaway hitting the blog this week that you do not want to miss!

 

Next Week:

Total hair makeover and Giveaway!

 

In Two Weeks:

Red-carpet makeover by the best in the industry and of course surprises for you!

 

And then:

Made-to-Measure Oscar dresses- you’ll see the entire process, start to finish, on how this designer for the stars has created a dress just for me.

 

Oscars Weekend:

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram for LIVE, behind the scenes moments throughout our weekend in LA. The excitement is brewing, and I can’t wait to share it all with you.

 

***All professional photography from Leap Frog 2017 courtesy of  Glen Ellman.***

4 Dec

The ULTIMATE and BEST Christmas Light Displays in DFW for 2017

Happy December! I’m super excited to share this post in collaboration with Epic Helicopters. I’ve been living under a rock all week researching the holy night out of neighborhoods in DFW with amazing Christmas lights and drive-through light parks. If you drive around aimlessly looking for Christmas lights, light shows, and holiday displays every year, then look no further. This just might be the most comprehensive list you will come across.

GIVEAWAY!!! DON’T MISS THE MOST FABULOUS GIVEAWAY OF THE SEASON! Enter at the bottom of the article for a chance to win a holiday light tour from Epic Helicopters.

Click HERE for more chance to win incredible prizes!!!

FORT WORTH

TXMotor

Gift of Lights: Texas Motor Speedway, 76177

TMS Gift of Lights is the LARGEST drive thru park in TEXAS boasting over 150 new LED light displays brought to you by Christmas by Zenith. Santa’s Village is bigger and better this year at 22,000 square feet! Be sure to visit the village to ride the miniature train and have photos with Santa.

Check their calendar of event before you go! TICKETS

Open every evening November 23 through December 30, 2017; 6-10 PM. Closed New Year’s Eve.

FairmountFestivus

Fairmount Festivus: 1101 W. Magnolia Avenue 76110

Come celebrate the fourth year of Festivus! Tour the Fairmount neighborhood by bus to view the Christmas lights! Begin your tour at Kent & Co. The Space where you can enjoy refreshments and holiday activities. There will be a stop at Santa’s Village (Rosen House Inn) where you can take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy carolers, and craft making activities and more! Hop back on the bus to return to The Space. TICKETS

December 12, 2017; 5:30-8:30 PM

SilverWestLimo1

Christmas Lights by Private Limo:

View Christmas lights in style with private transportation. The best part is that you can leave the driving to someone else and just enjoy the lights! Silver West Limousines offers fab Holiday Light Tours to many destinations around the area. Call Brian for info on packages, pricing, and to book your tour at 817-870-1333.

LutherLakeXmas

ARLINGTON

Interlochen1

The Lights at Interlochen: Westwood Drive & Randol Mill Road 76012

Celebrating its 44th anniversary this year, more than 200 homes make this one of DFW’s largest holiday light displays and one of the very first and original of its kind, enchanting visitors with their extravagant Christmas lights, decorations, and displays. Voted “Texas Best” Christmas lights by viewers of Texas Country Reporter television show.

December 15-25, 2017; 7:00-11:00 PM MAP

Dalworthington

Dalworthington Gardens: Rushing Meadow Court & Harder Drive 76016

For more than 30 years David Kulesz has decorated his house with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, sparking his neighbors to follow suit. Don’t miss this amazing display that encompasses 2 cul-de-sacs and 14 houses. Mr. Kulesz’s light display is in honor of victims suffering from Alzheimer’s. A sign in his yard gives the address to make donations to the North Texas Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

DALLAS

HighlandPark1

Highland Park Neighborhood:  Armstrong Parkway & Preston Road 75205

Bring the family out to tour this mansion filled neighborhood! Start at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Road and wind your way through the streets to view the beautifully decorated homes. Be sure not to miss the Rheims to Mockingbird and Lomo Alta to Preston area! It is especially gorgeous and makes the perfect square! For the Prancerciser in you, try this 4 mile, 21 block walking tour. Start in Highland Park Village, head to Armstrong Parkway, work your way down Armstrong to Lakeside Park, boogie on over to Abbot, hook it over to Beverly and make your way to Douglas, then back to the Village.

KesslerPark

Kessler Park Holiday Lights: Oak Cliff @ 1415 W. Colorado Blvd. 75208

Check out the five colorfully lit trees in the street island at Colorado and Lausanne with the beautiful Dallas skyline in the background. You won’t be disappointed! This is also a lovely neighborhood to drive around and see all the lights.

Chocolate Tour

Christmas Lights, Chocolate, and Sips: Greenville Avenue 75206

View holiday lights in delicious style on our private motorcoach! Begin by tasting scrumptious treats from premier local dessert venues. Then relax as you glide past some of Dallas’ most spectacular holiday displays! While touring, you’ll sip hot chocolate, soft drinks, and water as well as other beverages (you may also bring your own).

November 24, 2017-January 1, 2018; 6:30 PM

UniversityParkDallas

ADDISON

Vitruvian

Vitruvian Lights: Vitruvian Park 75001

It’s the most dazzling time of the year! With millions of sparkling LED lights, Vitruvian Park is transformed into a winter wonderland. Lights come on at 6:00 PM on November 24 as the Mayor of Addison flips the switch! There are special events and performances on select evenings. Be sure to attend and make Vitruvian Lights a family tradition.

November 24, 2017-January 1, 2018

BEDFORD

GlenbrookChristmas

Glenbrook Christmas Lights: Cummings Drive @ Brookside Court 76021

For over 20 years, the Glenbrook subdivision has told the story of “It’s the night before Christmas, in Texas That is” using colorful storyboards and decorations.The streets are lined with beautiful red lights and the houses are brightly decorated with colorful lights and displays. Start a new family tradition by visiting this neighborhood every holiday season.

December 1-31, 2017; 6:00-10:00 PM

DayStar

Daystar Television Network: 3901 Highway 121, 76021

Visible from state highway 121 with more than 1 million lights, a full, life-sized 20-piece nativity scene serves as a visual reminder of the true meaning and reason for celebrating Christmas. New this year is Christmas Town. This kid-friendly attraction includes an interactive 8-foot “JOY” sign, toy soldiers, a candy cane archway, Santa’s workshop, a gingerbread house, Olaf, Thomas the Train, and more! Daystar’s Scratch Cafe will be open every Friday and Saturday of December for holiday treats.

November 28, 2017-January 3, 2018; 6:00 PM

December 15-16, 20-22, 2017; 6:00-8:00 PM (Santa will visit)

December 22, 2017; 7:00 PM (Santa will read the Christmas Story)

CLEBURNE

WhistleStop

Whistle Stop Christmas: Hulen Park 76033

Your kids will LOVE this Christmas wonderland!! Just a short drive down the tollway and you’re transported to Hulen Park turned magical village with more than 3.5 million lights. Check out the full SCHEDULE of fun activities including children’s train rides, lighted Christmas parade, pancakes with Santa, and much more! The Christmas tree lighting kicks off the season on November 20 at 6:30 PM!

November 20-December 31, 2017

FARMERS BRANCH

FarmersBranch

Tour of Lights: Historical Park 75234

Tour of Lights is the longest animated light shows in DFW with over half a million shimmering lights. This tour will surely be a crowd pleaser with its themed displays ranging from fantasy to patriotic. There will be festive holiday music, and the grand finale includes Santa himself! The Tour begins at Valley View Lane and Interstate 35, continues south on Denton Drive, and through the Farmers Branch Historical Park.

November 24-December 30, 2017; 6:30-9:30 PM (Excludes December 3 & 25)

GRAND PRAIRIE

PrairieLights-2

Prairie Lights: Lynn Creek Park on Joe Pool Lake 75052

Upon arriving at the entrance of Prairie Lights, you will be dazzled with 4 million lights set along 2 miles of path. Hundreds of ALL-NEW displays in shapes of all kinds line and arch over the roads. Halfway through the drive get out of your car for a stop at Holiday Village where you will find food, gifts, Santa, the brand-new indoor Snow Maze, and the Holiday Magic Lighted Walk-Through Forest. Once back in your vehicle, the second half of the drive ends with the very animated light tunnel – the perfect finale to a night you will never forget! EVENT DETAILS

November 23, 2017-January 1, 2018

MCKINNEY

HeardHoliday-2

Holidays at the Heard: Heard Museum 75069

Enjoy viewing holiday lights in nature. Walk the ½ mile Heard Trail to view a beautiful light display designed to enhance the nature that surrounds you. There will be photos with Father Christmas and Mother Nature along with family-friendly entertainment. Hot beverages and treats will be available for purchase. TICKETS

December 15-16, 2017; 6:30-9:00 PM

Eldorado

Eldorado Holiday Street Themes: Eldorado Parkway @ Country Club Drive 75070 Eldorado is widely known for its extensive, theme-based Christmas lights and decorations.  People come from all over North Texas each year to drive through the streets and enjoy this tradition. Eldorado is just another secret neighborhood gem in DFW with so many homes decorated for Christmas. December 1-31, 2017

TuckerHill

Tucker Hill Neighborhood Christmas Lights: Tucker Hill 75701 Although there isn’t a particular theme surrounding the holiday decor found in Tucker Hill, the residents are encouraged to go all out and even bring in a judge to pick their favorite. Traditionally, most homes have their lights and decor up by the second week of December. Start a new tradition and make this precious community a stop on your Christmas light tours. The Tucker Hill’s front porch lifestyle will take you back in time! December 1-30, 2017, 6:00-10:00 PM

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS

DiamondLoch1

Diamond Loch Christmas LightsDiamond Loch Drive 76180 Diamond Loch is another festive neighborhood that you can tune your car radio into a suggested local station and listen to holiday music while driving along their streets. You’ll avoid long lines and the fuss from well publicised holiday neighborhoods when you visit this NRH community. December 1-31, 2017; 6:00-10:00 PM

PLANO

Deerfield-2

Deerfield Holiday Lights: Legacy Drive @ Colonnade or Archgate Drives 75024 This longtime holiday tradition has brought joy and fond memories to many families for years in this 16 plus block community LOADED with festively decorated homes. Vote on your favorite decorated homes by texting category and address to 469-200-4699. (Example: D – 1222 Main) A- BEST OVERALL B- MOST TRADITIONAL C- CHILDREN’S FAVORITE D- FUNNIEST December 1-30, 2017; 7:00-10:30 PM

TROPHY CLUB

TrophyClub1

Trophy Club Neighborhood Christmas Lights: 76262 This wealthy northern country club suburb of DFW has a Christmas light contest each year with four different award categories, including the Griswold Award, cause you can never have too many lights, right? December 1-31, 2017; 6:00-10:00 PM

GETTING INTO THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT

Now you too can register your appalling, I mean ridiculously, I mean beautifully decorated abode right HERE and HERE, or at least find out who’s registered near you.

A UNIQUE & ROMANTIC WAY TO SEE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Anyone can load up their car with family or friends and head out for an evening of holiday cheer, but what about trying something different, maybe something you haven’t done before, EVER? Well, welcome to Santa’s Sleigh Ride!  Epic Helicopters is the largest helicopter tour operator in North Texas, offering several Christmas light tours from the sky! Experience the holiday magic in a genuinely Epic way when you climb aboard one of these whirlybirds.  Make this a memory your loved ones will NEVER forget!  Oh, and they do gift certificates too, the PERFECT STOCKING STUFFER!

VITRUVIAN LIGHTS

HIGHLAND PARK VILLAGE

DOWNTOWN FORT WORTH

INTERLOCHEN LIGHTS

EPIC HELICOPTERS GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a 30-minute helicopter ride for TWO, scheduled to leave Fort Worth Meacham Airport on Thursday, December 28th at 8:30 PM. VALUE $400

Be sure to check out The ULTIMATE and BEST Christmas Events and Activities in DFW for 2017. Over $1000 in prizes are being given away on this post. 

Subscribe to SoFortWorthIt via email, so you never miss a killer GIVEAWAY and follow me on Instagram for all the pretty pictures!

I hope you enjoyed my annual Ultimate and Best list, since 2012.

Have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a fabulous Holiday Season!!!