4 thanksgiving party tips

With Thanksgiving coming in just a couple days, we are in last minute prep mode around here! As much as I adore large, organized parties… sometimes it’s the little details that really take a gathering from everyday to amazing. During a busy week like this one, there isn’t enough time to do everything from scratch. That is why I love hints and tricks that give our gatherings those homemade touches that seem natural (and are super easy to achieve). This way, you can still have time to baste the turkey!

I am thrilled to be partnering with Marie Callender’s this season to share 4 Thanksgiving party tips to help with a your last minute touches.

Temporary table runner made from contact paper

One of the wonderful and crazy things about a Thanksgiving is the need for more surface space. No matter how big our table is we always need an extra one for seating, setting desserts, bar service etc. Normally I pull up our fold out tables and use a tablecloth which always ends up wrinkled and looking out of date. This year I decided to stick with the natural wood of our tables and just add a graphic detail with contact paper!

Forming a contact paper table runner is really easy and will make your party space stand out. The contact paper works just like a sticker so it is a completely temporary update and can be done in any shape, color, or pattern you choose.

Contact paper table runner

Contact paper table runner

DIY contact paper table runner

To make the contact paper table runner, start with a basic design (download our hexagon template right here). Purchase contact paper at your local big box store, or order it online right here. Working on the backside, trace out the template and cut. Remove the backing and place the decal stickers on whatever table you are using this year. The result is a festive, modern take on a traditional table runner.

Temporary table runner made from contact paper

Party tip: Make your pies chatty with chocolate letters!

Get your pies and your guests chatting with a sweet typography pie topper. The hardened chocolate letters are a great way to give thanks and celebrate! Make miniature pies as place cards, or big ones with notes of gratitude on the top. Adding elements like hardened chocolate letters make for a dessert that definitely has the homemade feel, no matter how you managed to get the pies done. Because we all need a little room for slack and whimsy this year.

Chocolate letter topped pie

pie for days...

DIY chocolate letters

DIY chocolate letter pie topper

To make the hard chocolate pie typography – start with a printed version of the text you’d like to use (download our examples right here). Lay the paper out on a baking sheet and layer wax paper on top. Heat up chocolate candy-melts per package directions and place into a fine tip plastic squeeze bottle. Trace the letters onto the wax paper and allow to fully dry.

Once the chocolate is dried simple remove the text and place on your desserts. The letters will keep in a plastic container for up to a week – so make them tonight and be ready to easily add your perfect final touch come Thursday.

Last minute party idea: Chocolate letter topped pies!

Party tip: Use old necklaces to top holiday pies.

Here is an amazing last minute way to make your table shimmer and shine! Use old costume jewelry, or grab a couple new chains (thift stores have a great selection) to adorn your napkins and your pies with bling! A little shimmer and a little shine can make a huge statement on a holiday dessert table.

Gem topped pies and napkin rings!

Party tip: Use old necklaces to make napkin rings!

Party tip: Use old necklaces to top holiday pies.

Jeweled napkin rings, made using old necklaces!

To make the jewel napkin rings you will need a couple costume jewelry necklaces. Using scissors or needle nose pliers when needed, remove the jewels from the necklaces and thread or glue onto a piece of thread. Combining different jewels and designs makes for a table setting that will really WOW your guests. If you’d prefer not to permanently damage the necklaces – you can simply wrap the entire necklace around the napkins, layering around and adjusting the gems as you go. Use glue dots to hold the gems in place temporarily. The look is so pretty and perfect for any holiday meal.

pie-jewel-square

Jewel topped holiday pie

The same concept works to gussy up holiday pies as well. Marie Callender’s pumpkin and pecan pies are so easy to make, they have a rich and traditional homemade taste, and with an added element like jeweled edges – no one will know your freshly baked pie was not started from scratch. Our little secret.

To adorn the pies, you will need to start by thoroughly washing the gems with soap and water and allow to fully dry. Layer the necklaces around the edges of the pies and build up with the gems for a dessert table that will not be ignored!

Freeze whip cream and make cut-outs with cookie cutters to top a pie!

This last party tip is a great way to top end of the night drinks, pies, or anything you might be baking. Using cookie cutters to make festive designs out of frozen whip cream will be the hit of the night. Any night you do it!

Freeze whip cream and make cut-outs with cookie cutters

Freeze whip cream and make cut-outs with cookie cutters

Freeze whip cream and make cut-outs with cookie cutters

Frozen whip cream cookie cut-outs

To make these whip cream cut-outs. We first covered a pan with a layer of parchment paper, then sprayed an entire can of Reddi-Wip into the pan. Smooth the top out with a spatula and let freeze fully overnight.

When drinks and dessert are ready to be served, simply pick out your favorite cookie cutters and push them into the frozen whip cream. Carefully push the molded whip cream out of the cookie cutter and place onto the treat. Pie with a side of adorable detailing is a fabulous way to end a Thanksgiving feast!

Freeze whip cream and make cut-outs with cookie cutters to top pies!

MC LogoYou don’t need the juggling skills of a big-top performer in order to host a successful holiday gathering. Careful planning, time management and an eye for adding quick and easy ‘homemade’ touches will make your gathering one for the memory books, while still having plenty of time to enjoy the company of your guests. This holiday season, let Marie Callender’s arm you with everything from decorating tips for the home, to pie-serving tricks from the kitchen. We’ll show you our secrets to getting the homemade goodness your guests crave while spending less time in the kitchen and more time with family. To discover more secrets worth savoring, check out Marie Callender’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MarieCallendersMeals?ref=br_tf

Compensation was provided by ConAgra. The opinions and ideas are my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of ConAgra. Thanks so mcuh for supporting our sponsors!

(Photography © A Subtle Revelry by Jocelyn Noel).

Posted November 24, 2014 0 Comments
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why don’t we… light candles in cupcake trays

Tea lights in cupcake trays for the party table.

Tea lights in cupcake trays for the party table.

There’s something about this time of year that makes me gravitate towards easy tips and tricks. My good friend Brenda recently shared this idea of putting tea lights in cupcake trays to act as candle holders for the table. Such a simple idea and one I immediately needed to replicate with the holidays knocking at our door. The idea works for birthdays, holidays, or anytime you want to add a little sparkle to the table without a lot of fuss.

It’s been a fun week of sharing some favorite tips and tricks before we jump head first into the holiday season… Thanksgiving is next week! Craziness. Here are a few other quickie ideas to make this year’s parties more festive and fun:

Adorable printable pie labels | Secret Santa with a twist | Umbrella + lights makes a huge statement | Sock wrapped wine | Text printed marshmallows | Apple pie ships | 8 office party hacks | Potatoes in the dishwasher | Paint your pumpkins white next Friday and call them snowmen | And the ultimate bloody merry!

Have a great weekend. xoxo

Posted November 21, 2014 3 Comments
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let’s talk about wrapping and wine

Wine gifts wrapped in tights and socks!

Wine is obviously one of my favorite party elements for the holidays and an awesome gift to give. If done right the present is not only simple to buy, but can be personalized to become a really special gift. We are giving some of our favorite wines this year that match the region of origin for our family, match the year our friends got married, and match the number of years that each of the kid’s teachers have been teaching.

To wrap up our wine gifts I cut off the bottom toes on a few pairs of socks and tights before sliding them up the bottles. Our “wrapped” wine bottles have the look of a gift you’d actually want to receive. They’re also a festive way to showcase a wine bar (or wine tasting) at the next holiday party.

To hear more holiday tips and wine talk… Please join A Side Of Sweet‘s Kelly Egan, and me on Thursday, November 20 from 9 – 10pm ET for the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau #CelebrateBN Twitter Party. The more, the merrier!

Wine bottles wrapped in socks for gifting!

Bring a wine bottle wrapped in sock for easy wrapping.

Wine bottles wrapped in socks

Did you know that every year, under French law, at 12:01 on the third Thursday in November, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is released. Nouveau Day harvest celebrations take place all over France with fireworks, fanfare and festivals, and bottles are uncorked into the wee hours. And they are all covered in socks! (That last statement is not exactly true). This French law might be my favorite law ever created and we’ll be ringing in the new vintage stateside tonight!

The arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau kicks off the holiday season, so on Twitter tonight we will be chatting about how you make merry: traditions, getting into the spirit, what you’re drinking, what you’re eating, what you’re listening to, and what you’ve been counting down to all year! PLUS, we’ll be armed with tips on how to throw a Beaujolais Nouveau or holiday shindig of your own.

We will be giving away away ten $50 gift cards throughout the hour. That’s the spirit! But you must RSVP to the party to be eligible to win. (US residents only).

twitter-party

Date: Thursday, November 20 – Nouveau Day
Party Time (excellent!): 9-10pm ET
Where: #CelebrateBN on Twitter.
Who: @ASubtleRevelry, @ASideOfSweet & @GeorgesDuboeuf
Prizes: Ten $50 gift cards and Georges Duboeuf-branded items be given away throughout the party. Must be a US resident to win.
RSVP: one2onenetwork.com/ready-set-fete-georges-duboeuf-beaujolais-nouveau-celebratebn-twitter-party/

(Photography © A Subtle Revelry by Jocelyn Noel)

Posted November 20, 2014 2 Comments
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3 effortless tips for holiday parties

Festive holiday drinks

I love throwing holiday parties, but always seem to end up rushed this time of year. To allow for my dreams of revelry to come true, I’ve found a few simple tricks for making a holiday gathering come together in a pinch. A simple cocktail, a shared appetizer, and a decorative element that makes a big statement makes having friends over this time of year basically effortless!

Large floating balloons

String garland with extra large balloons for a holiday party!

Float holiday garland with extra large balloons!

To set this effortless holiday table, I started with a party element that is easy to pull together and gives everyone a big WOW. Hanging garland with extra large balloons is a great way to make that happen. Local party stores have these 36-inch balloons in stock (or you can order them here). I love using large balloons for the holidays because they fill a space with festive style quickly and they will stay inflated for a couple weeks – meaning you can buy them for Thanksgiving and still have them floating for Christmas cocktails. Last year, ours even made it until New Years Eve!

Use glad to keep holiday garland separated and fresh looking

1. Perfect Garland Year After Year

I use a lot of garland in our holiday decorating and I found a simple tip to keep it shaped and looking fresh year after year. I wrap the strands in Glad Press n’ Seal before carefully storing them away. The wrap keeps everything from getting tangled and allows my holiday garland to look perfectly shaped year after year.

pipe cleaner holiday garland

balloon-garland

To add an extra festive touch to this year’s table decor, I am lining our greenery with a bright-linked garland. To make this garland I used a package of pipe cleaners cut into thirds. Start by making a circle and twisting the ends to secure, then combine another and another to form this festive garland. The bright touch adds so much fun and whimsy and can be used all season long.

Ice cube mimosas

Freeze juice in big ice cube molds and add champagne for festive holiday mimosas!

2. Unexpectedly Whimsical Decor

For our easy-peasy holiday drink, I will be serving mimosas all season long! I grabbed these awesome large circle ice cube holders and froze orange juice and cranberry juice, our favorite mimosa mixings. Once I popped the ice cubes out of the molds, I wrapped each in more of the Glad Press n’ Seal which made them look like big pieces of candy — a really fun element to our holiday cocktail display. Pop an ice cube in a cup and add champagne for a bar that could basically serve itself.

Festive ice cube ornament mimosas

Line any bucket in Glad press and seal for an instant ice bucket! Add tinsel to the ice to make it festive.

3. Silver Lining

I found this deer printed holiday basket in the dollar section and thought it would make an awesome ice bucket. To transform it, I added a layer of Glad Press n’ seal to the inside. It kept the ice contained and the bucket dry – which basically means I can now turn anything imaginable into an ice bucket! Baskets, bowls, vases, boxes – anything can be transformed with this simple holiday party trick! Yeah for a cocktail table that is stylish and effortlessly fun.

This post is brought to you by Glad. Freshness, wrapped up.

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Posted November 19, 2014 3 Comments
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how to throw a festive feast

How to throw a festive feast!

Thanksgiving is almost here! And with it my desire to throw a feast of epic proportions. Whether it is the day of turkey you are prepping for, or any holiday meal, it is the little touches that can make it really great. I am teaming up with COFFEE-MATE today to share a few favorite ways I like to make my feasts festive, fun, and downright special.

The most important element to making any gathering special is to realize you don’t need a specific reason to bring on the fun! I love pulling out confetti, balloons and anything special I can find from around the house to make our table ready for a feast. And when possible (and sanitary) bringing the decor onto the food is always a hit – tie a couple tassels to your holiday bird for a seriously show stopping plate.

Thanks a bunch Thanksgiving party favors.

Thanks a bunch floral party favors

No matter the occasion, I love to send our guests home with something special. These small bunches of flowers are a simple way to say thanks for celebrating with us. Placed in paper cups around the table – the flowers make a nice centerpiece and can be taken home and enjoyed along with leftovers from the feast.

Butter rum cake gravy

Butter toffee mashed potatoes

Gussying up our holiday food is another fun way to take our feasts up a notch. I’ve been trying out the COFFEE-MATE® creamer seasonal flavors in some of our recipes and the taste has nicely surprised me. A little sweet, and a lot of fun to add to our meal. Surprise yourself with a yummy new take on holiday staples. Plus enter for a chance to win $25,00 towards a Martha Stewart kitchen makeover this season. No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes ends 12/31. Click here to enter and for official rules.

Mashed potatoes served in individual ramekins are perfect, they make for a nice touch to the table and it relieve guests from having to haul theirs out with a gigantic spoon. For this mashed potato recipe I replaced 1/2 of the cream with COFFEE-MATE® Butter Toffee flavored creamer. It adds a sweet and rich taste to the mashed potatoes.

Spiced rum Thanksgiving gravy

To compliment the mashed potatoes, we of course need gravy. I have a favorite gravy recipe that has been passed down in our family, which I think came out even better using a bit of black coffee and a dash of COFFEE-MATE spiced rum cake flavored creamer.

To make this coffee rum cake gravy (doesn’t that just sound amazing!?!) you will need; 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1½ cups chopped yellow onion, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 cups turkey or chicken stock – heated, 1 tablespoon fresh black coffee, 1 tablespoon COFFEE-MATE® Spiced Rum Cake flavored creamer.

Cook the onions in the olive oil until they are browned and soft. Add the flour and stir well. Add all the other ingredients except the creamer and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes or until thickened. Add the creamer and serve while hot.

The result is a smokey and sweet gravy that has quickly become a new favorite side to bring to the table.

Text printed marshmallows

Print text onto marshmallows using food safe pens!

To finish off our feast in festive style I usually plan to move into the living room to enjoy an after dinner coffee service. Adding a few favorite COFFEE-MATE flavors like Pumpkin Spice and Spiced Rum Cake adds a special touch to our normal black coffee. To gussy our coffee up for special holiday occasions I made typography marshmallows!

The marshmallows are a great way to add whimsy and spunk to the coffee service. All you need to make them is a bag of marshmallows and a pack of food writers (pens that have edible ink inside!). The pens are sold in the baking section at craft stores to write on cakes – they work just perfectly for making a set of holiday marshmallows that everyone will love.

Text printed marshmallows made using a food safe pen.

No matter what you are feasting to this season, take the extra few minutes to make it special. The holidays only come around once a year!

I have teamed up with my friends at COFFEE-MATE to share about their seasonal creamer selection, which I love this time of year. All opinions and projects are my own. Thanks so much for supporting our site sponsors.

Posted November 18, 2014 1 Comment
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painted block candleholders kit

Painted block candleholders

I am super excited to announce the collaboration A Subtle Revelry is doing this holiday season with Brit to make our DIYing even easier! I designed this painted block candleholders kit that will make the table beautiful from now… all the way through Valentine’s Day. The stacked block candles are simple enough to blend with any table decor from rustic to graphic. They add that perfect detail to make the dinners we’ve all been planning seem extra special.

Plainted block candleholders

Painted block candleholders

The candleholders kit includes everything needed to make this centerpiece, even the pretty candles. The holders are a simple solution for counting down Advent or lighting the mantel when it’s not time for feasting.

Painted blocks

DIY painted block candleholders

brit-kit-ad-page

To make the candle holders you’ll be painting the blocks and then stacking and gluing them together to make the various height holders. Finish each stack off with skinny taper candles (there are 3 colors to pick from). This project is definitely one you can bust through during the latest Selfie episode – does anyone else love that silly show as much as I do?!?

You can check out the details and purchase the kit right here! Cheers to fancy tables and the best season for DIY.

Posted November 18, 2014 0 Comments
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jingle chime garland

Holiday Jingle Garland

You guys… We turned on the Christmas music this weekend! I just couldn’t wait any longer :) The season is coming and, although I still have a few Thanksgiving goodies to share, I am definitely ready to get a jump on our holiday decorating and ideas. I’ve decided this year that having a select few decorations out before Thanksgiving  (as long as they are not too holiday and more festive and fun) will actually blend well with our fall table plans.

Here is one of the first things going up in our house: beaded jingle chime garland. It’s fabulous for hanging on a door knob, around the house draping from a chair, etc. The bells really jingle and the colorful beads make it ready to fit in for any celebration this season.

Jungle Chim Garland

Jingle Chim Garland

To make the garland we used a thin white string, this bag of beads, these jingle bells, washi tape, and a package of Dixie cups.

I was inspired for this project by a door hanger in this great new book. To make it start by covering the Dixie cups with a fun selection of Washi tape. The colors and designs available can instantly make this project fit into any home.

Once the cups are covered – begin stringing the beads, cups and jingles together until the garland is the style and size you like.

Jingle Bell Garland

jingle garland

I love the idea of having a couple garlands and more holiday seasoned elements out at Thanksgiving – to make it special and bright! Who else is ready to get festive already!?!

(Photography © A Subtle Revelry by Jocelyn Noel)

Posted November 17, 2014 2 Comments
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why don’t we… party with fringe and fizzy drinks

Bright fringe banner

It’s about time to start thinking about all the holiday parties we have coming up. Tinsel, fringe and fizzy drinks are my plan for conquering this weekend and the crazy, amazing season ahead. The combination of colorful fringe and a few favorite words will solve any party decoration needs. We have feasts, multiple birthdays, a family reunion, and Christmas coming up – this festive combo will get me through it all.

With so much to celebrate this time of year, I’ve noticed having a few standard go-tos like this can really help me keep my sanity. I love this fringe garland because I can keep up all year long and just change the words out as needed for each event. Having a stand by drink allows me to be ready for any party… any time. I teamed up with Glam today to bring you this fun party garland and fizzy party drink – the best combo for whatever is being celebrated this holiday season!

Bright fringe garland banner

Bright fringe garland

bright holiday fringe garland

To make the tinsel and text garland, you will need wrapping tissue paper in your favorite celebratory colors (mine is pink of course!) and garland letters. Most party stores sell these for under 25 cents per letter.

Fold the tissue paper in fourths and cut along one side about 80% up to the crease. Open the tissue up and glue a string at the crease to create a layer of garland fringe. This banner has three lengths of tissue strung side by side.

Repeat the steps with different colors making the full fringe garland. I suggest adding in a metallic just to make it shine. The best thing about this garland is that it can be made as long or thick as you like! Add in text strung on top of the garland. Change it out as needed. One project that will definitely take you all the way through the party season from Happy Birthdays to New Years Eve.

Tinself drink markers - fun for the holidays!

You might have seen that I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago filming a festive and rustic holiday party for Bud Light Lime Cran-Brrr-Ritas. You can see the whole video with some easy and fun party tricks right here. This drink is another festive trick for getting easily through the party season. It has a sweet and bubbly taste that is fabulous for any party this time of year.

Pour a can of it over ice and top with a festive glass marker. For someone who doesn’t want to be standing behind the party bar all night, this fizzy drink in a can (all I have to do is pour:) is a great way to serve my guests something special.

bright holiday party garland

Tinsel and sticker drink toppers for holiday drinks (click through for the how-to)

To make the drink markers, snip off piece of tinsel and glue it to a small clothes pin. A little text sticker on top and your guests will easily be able to find their tasty drink all night long.


cran-brrrThe awesome flavors of Bud Light Lime Ritas are so incredibly delicious that wherever they go, a party happens! For more Fiesta Inspiration, visit https://www.facebook.com/budlightlimeritas!

Compensation for this post provided by Anheuser Busch. The opinions are all mine and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Anheuser Busch. Cheers to drinking responsibly and thanks for supporting our holiday sponsors!

Posted November 14, 2014 1 Comment
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