THE MOST FABULOUS APRONS YOU’VE EVER SEEN plus pineapple salsa salmon

Luxury hostess apron and Pineapple Salsa Salmon via Lauren KelpHey there, Megan here! I’m popping in on one of my favorite hostessing blogs (aka Lauren Kelp!) to share a delicious recipe and background on a little adventure I recently embarked on that is perfect for all your party lovers. If you can’t tell from above, it involves champagne…and lots of it.

So yes, go grab that glass and sit back and enjoy!

Luxury hostess apron and Pineapple Salsa Salmon via Lauren Kelp

First and foremost kicking things off with a little introduction.

Full name: Megan Patterson

Occupation(s): CEO/Founder of Bon Aprontit, Lifestyle/Hostess Blogger of Blog Appetit and Senior Marketing Manager at Modern Luxury Media <- 9-5 gig

Hobbies: Anything that involves cooking, friends and champagne

Guilty Pleasure: Binge watching New Girl and Shark Tank

Starbucks Order: Black with Splenda

Yup, that about sums it up. I’m a champagne drinking, party throwing and everyday hustling kind of girl.

Luxury hostess apron and Pineapple Salsa Salmon via Lauren Kelp

So now to the good stuff.

I always dreamed of starting my own company as I’m sure many of you have since you’re all a bunch of #GIRLBOSSES. It wasn’t until this past fall my dreams finally came true and I launched Bon Aprontit – a line of luxury jewel embellished aprons to help women feel fabulous in the kitchen.

Luxury hostess apron and Pineapple Salsa Salmon via Lauren Kelp

The idea of Bon Aprontit all started when I would watch my mom throw these elaborate dinner parties for friends and family and buy a beautiful new dress to wear for the evening but then cover it up with an old apron. We all love to throw a good party, am I right? But who wants to worry about spilling on their new dress or covering it up with an old apron? Not I, so that’s how Bon Aprontit was born.

Bon Aprontit is the perfect gift for the dinner party hostess, bride to be, new homeowner and woman who loves to look fabulous when cooking up a delicious meal at home especially my favorite salmon dish that I’m sharing below.
Luxury hostess apron and Pineapple Salsa Salmon via Lauren Kelp

Trust me when I say this will be your new go-to dish this summer because yes, it’s that good.

With only a few simple steps and basic ingredients you’ll be whipping up this summertime favorite in no time and in style with Bon Aprontit 😉

So now to the recipe (aka the REALLY good stuff) and an overload of photos because I can’t get enough of how beautiful this dish looks. Enjoy!

Luxury hostess apron and Pineapple Salsa Salmon via Lauren Kelp

PINEAPPLE SALSA SALMON
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
 
Ingredients
For the Salmon
  • (4) 4OZ PIECES OF FRESH SALMON
  • 1 TABLESPOON OLIVE OIL
For the Pickled Red Onions
  • ⅓ CUP WATER
  • ⅔ CUP RED WINE VINAIGRETTE
  • 1 TBSP SUGAR
  • ½ TSP SALT
  • 1 MEDIUM RED ONION
For the Pineapple Vinaigrette
  • 1½ CUP PINEAPPLE JUICE
  • ¼ CUP WHITE WINE VINEGAR
  • 1 TSP DIJON MUSTARD
  • ½ CUP OLIVE OIL
  • ½ TSP SALT
For the Pineapple Salsa
  • 1 CUP DICED PINEAPPLE
  • 1 SMALL FRESNO CHILI, SEEDED & DICED
  • 1 TBSP RED ONION, FINELY DICED
  • CHOPPED CILANTRO TO TASTE
  • SALT TO TASTE
  • 1 TSP LIME JUICE
  • 1 TBSP OLIVE OIL
Instructions
HOW-TO COOK THE SALMON
  1. Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat.
  2. Once pan is hot, place skinless salmon in pan and sear on each side for 3-5 minutes, until golden. Finish in oven for approximately 3 minutes, or until desired finish.
PICKLED RED ONIONS RECIPE
  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Immediately remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  3. Slice red onion and place in pickling liquid.
  4. Refrigerate for 6 hours, up to 24.
  5. Drain liquid from onions.
TO MAKE CUCUMBER RIBBONS
  1. Using a potato peeler, peel cucumber lengthwise to create thin slices.
PINEAPPLE VINAIGRETTE RECIPE
  1. Combine pineapple juice, white wine vinegar, and dijon mustard in blender.
  2. Blend on low and slowly add olive oil in a steady stream until vinaigrette is emulsified.
  3. Finish with salt to taste.
  4. Place cucumber slides in a bowl and lightly drizzle with pineapple vinaigrette to soften.
PINEAPPLE SALSA RECIPE
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.
TO SERVE
  1. Place seared salmon on plate.
  2. Top with pineapple salsa, pickled red onions, and cucumber ribbons.
  3. Lightly drizzle pineapple vinaigrette over top.
  4. Finish with micro greens and edible flowers if desired.

Luxury hostess apron and Pineapple Salsa Salmon via Lauren Kelp

photography by aimée mazzenga

 

 

HOW TO HOST A GALENTINE’S PARTY

There are lots of reasons to love Leslie Knope from Parks & Rec, but I think the standing O goes to her for coining the phrase “Galentine’s Day.” Maybe I totally live under a rock, but that is the first time I had hear of it and it was the perfect excuse to get the gals together, celebrate them as the magical unicorns they are, and throw a little party!
This year (because, don’t worry, Galentine’s Day has become an annual event) we decided to do something casual and classy. We kicked off our shoes, slipped on our Birdies, and settled in for a non-stop afternoon of catch-up. It was the absolute highlight of my month!

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Have you ever made a breakfast board? It’s the easiest thing & my new favorite way to arrange breakfast goodies. We cleared the coffee table, threw down a runner, and piled cheese boards full of homemade grapefruit donuts, the most delicious cranberry & orange scones from Simply Taylor‘s cookbook Real Food, Real Simple, tons of fruit, and other goodies sprinkled throughout.
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It was the absolute perfect Galentine’s Day spread! This way, the gals can nibble, munch, and graze all morning long and brunch slowly turns into lunch so the party never stops.

We had a mimosa bar on a side table & several of bottles of wine placed throughout the room (for easy access, duh) and it was the easiest, no-fuss party I think I’ve ever thrown!

Give it a try – I promise, it will be the best party you’ve had in a long time! Happy Hosting, LK

YOUR BOOK CLUB WILL LOVE WHEN YOU HOST easy spring tablescapes with Marshalls

Are you in a book club? I just joined one and, let’s be honest, it’s more of a wine club but HEY I support reading and drinking, so it all works out. Last week it was my turn to host and I totally lost it. I had no idea what to do! Should it be themed? Should I make a dish relevant to the narrative? Why am I stressing so hard about this book club thing? THIS IS TOTALLY MY FIRST BOOK CLUB GET-TOGETHER AND NOW EVERYONE KNOWS IT. 

Your Book Club will Love When You Host via Lauren KelpSide note, I’ve really been into ‘Greenery’ as the Pantone color of the year. Mainly because it gives me an excuse (like I need one) to buy more plants & work towards my dream of living in a greenhouse, but also because it’s like a genre of colors. Not one specific shade, but more greenery in general. It’s like, anything kinda, slightly, potentially green-ish, maybe, if you want. I love it! 
Your Book Club will Love When You Host via Lauren Kelp

Okay, back to book club. So I was stressing about being a cool bookclub host & I did what I always do when I am stressed and in a rut – I went to Marshall’s. Some women love Target, this gal loves Marshall’s. Okay, I digress, so I was walking down the aisles, finding tons of things I couldn’t live without and what did I almost run into? The most fabulous display of turquoise green plates, bowls, and napkins. I mean, the Kate Spade dinner plates were $12 (whhhhat?) and I paired them with these smaller fun plates (that were handmade in Portugal, naturally) to give the setting some fun texture – done & done! I also picked up a stack of blue/green turquoise dish towels – because I love using them as napkins (they cover you lap so well & help give the table a relaxed vibe) and they totally made the whole setting come together. I mean….how fun, right?

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Your Book Club will Love When You Host via Lauren Kelp

Goodbye book club blues! This girl was all set to run home & start setting that table. For an extra little something fun, I added some of my favorite books to each place setting. Can you spot the theme? They are all green…ish! 

Truthfully, this blue green combo is going to be a frequent flyer on the Kelp dining room table this spring. Pink and yellow usually get all the glory when it comes to color themes for spring, but I really think a deeper green turquoise should get in on the action. The color says, “warmer weather is coming so let’s get excited about it!” without going full-blown tropical…you know?

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Your Book Club will Love When You Host via Lauren Kelp

Toss in some greenery, light a few candles, pour the wine cause it’s book club time! 

Literally nothing I ever write has been so witty, so I am just going to sign off & leave y’all with that. 

Happy hosting!
Your Book Club will Love When You Host via Lauren Kelp


 

HOW TO HOST A FRIENDSGIVING

host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelpHello, hello you amazing holiday hostess! How are you feeling? The holidays are officially here – Thanksgiving is like, tomorrow, and Christmas is right around the corner. You are tempted to let holiday anxiety sneak in and mess up your killer girl-boss-ness, but you won’t let it. Here’s why – we got you. We are going to help make this holiday season off the freaking chain. Don’t worry about the turkey, the presents, the holiday dynamics. You know why? Because, life is messy and weird and that’s okay. There is beauty in the mess. There is joy in imperfections. And, change starts at the dinner table, so let’s make this season one of big bear hugs instead of worrying about the perfect pot roast – shall we?host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

Okay, so real talk. Now that everyone is freaking out that Thanksgiving is right around the corner (which means Christmas is basically here in the blink of an eye), your calendar is about to get a whole lot more jam packed. How is that possible, you ask? Well, your friends love you & they want to get together to celebrate. Not to mention all of the work outings, parent/significant others parents commitments, and all the other normal busy stuff that is going on – you are about to  be one busy gal.
host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

We propose HOSTING YOUR OWN FRIENDSGIVING! I know, I know, it’s not some revolutionary new idea, but it is awesome nonetheless. Gather your friends, work besties, neighbors, and whoever else you want to invite over & have one big low-key, super fun bash.

So, friends, here is our step-by-step, fool proof plan on how to host the most delicious, stress-free Friendsgiving of all time! Interested? I thought so! Keep scrolling…. host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

SET THE TONE

As you know by know, we are all about the attainable dinner party. We choose friends over fancy table settings any day of the week, but Thanksgiving is a special time, so we are going to do a bit of both.

If you are like me, and live in a small apartment, there is temptation to not have a lot of people over due to space. Ignore this temptation because it’s silly. We totally rearrange our furniture to fit in as many people as possible. I mean, who cares? It’s just furniture! You won’t hurt it’s feelings.

Figure out the largest room in your house & take it over. Push those sofas back, hide that coffee table in the backyard, or do whatever you need to do to clear it out & move a big table in (yes, folding tables from Ikea or Costco totally count as big tables). Round up some chairs & set the table however fits you.

You like pumpkins, great – do that! Going for more of a moody jewel tone theme – fantastic! I am not going to tell you how to decorate your table because you already know how. My goal is to encourage you to be the catalyst that gets everyone together. How am I doing? Pretty good so far, right?!

host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp

MENU PLANNING

Everyone knows that a rule of thumb for a killer Friendsgiving is to make it a potluck. It’s the best because everyone gets to make their favorite dish, it takes the pressure of the host, and it’s so fun to try everyone’s favorites! That being said, it’s important (you know, as the host) to have a few dishes to get the party started.

We recommend this amazing sauteed green bean recipe & the most ahhhhmazing browned maple butter sweet potato recipe. Pair them with a glass (or two…) of Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir & you’ve got the fixings for one heck of a party!

host a friendsgiving dinner | lauren kelp


photography by Constance Higley

This post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

HOST A CANDY MAKING PARTY

Hello, hello, my favorite festive friends! How has your fall been? Can you believe we are already half way through October?! Holiday season is officially around the corner & we are talking all about how to get the jump on party planning today (it involves wine so you know it’s going to be good!) host a candy making party this holiday season via lauren kelp

The holidays can get so hectic & while everyone wants to get together for parties, potlucks, and mini gift exchanges, your already busy schedule can’t handle much more. Sound familiar? It’s true! We are busy birds but we also love a good get together, so that is why we are throwing a candy making party!

That’s right…. A CANDY MAKING PARTY!

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It’s almost too good to be true, right? Wrong! It’s the best idea ever! Whether you want to be fabulous & make your own Halloween candy, try a dry run for Christmas presents, or be extra prepared and get a holiday party on the books, this candy making party is legit & perfect for so many reasons.

host a candy making party this holiday season via lauren kelp

#1 – WINE + CANDY = MAGIC

Everyone loves a good get together, but everyone loves it more when good wine is involved. You know I am right! For the perfect candy-making recipe & an even better wine pairing, hop on over to our friends Kendall-Jackson.

Here is a hint, it involves delicious chocolate, sliced almonds and the most perfectly paired Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet you’ll ever had. The rich flavors of dark chocolate paired with the complex oak and cherry notes of the Cabernet are legitimately divine!

host a candy making party this holiday season via lauren kelp

#2 – GATHER THE GALS

When sending out the invites for your fabulous candy-making party ask your guests to bring their favorite chocolate bark, toffee, or caramel recipe to share with the group! Grab some index cards or print off this recipe card (made by the amazing Ashley Cooper Design) for your guests to do a fun recipe share!

For our get-together, we had the ingredients of two of our favorite bark recipes – white chocolate and cranberry bark & a dark chocolate and almond bark – already prepped & set out. This way, while your guests are swapping recipes, pouring wine, and catching up, you can have some candy already set out & ready to whip up!

host a candy making party this holiday season via lauren kelp

#3 – PREP THE SPACE

Whether you’ve got a big island that everyone can gather around or a tiny little galley kitchen, it’s important to create a designated candy-making space. Since my kitchen is the latter, I clear off my dining room table and have everything all laid out and ready to go. That way, my friends can sit around the table, drinking wine & catching up, all while making their own little tin of candy from the pre-prepped ingredients on the table.

Not interested in going the individual tin route? Have a few bigger baking pans & have everyone work on those. Once the candy is done, you can break up & divvy up then.

host a candy making party this holiday season via lauren kelp

#4 – GOODIE BAGS

You are hosting a candy-making party, of course there has to be goodie bags! Luckily, they are wildly easy & most of the work is already done for you.

Grab a few clear plastic bags (your local grocery store should have them in the baking aisle) and a packet of twist ties, & if you are feeling really fancy you can make or buy little name tags for your bags!

Cut up the candy into squares & divvy them up amongst the bags & voila! Add in those recipes you asked everyone to bring & you’ve got yourself one heck of a little parting gift.

host a candy making party this holiday season via lauren kelpHappy hosting, my friends!

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Photography by Constance Higley & Recipe Card by Ashley Cooper Design

This post is sponsored by Kendall-Jackson but all thoughts, opinions, and food obsessions are our own.

A STUNNING FALL TABLESCAPE perfect for an intimate dinner party

Hello, hello! Happy Friday my little entertaining dames. Man, oh, man, do we have an absolutely stunning spread for you today. It’s full of thoughtful details, mixed metals, patterns, and textures, and the most stunning floral arrangement you’ve ever seen. I mean, it has figs in it! Scroll down, feat your eyes, & prepare to get totally inspired to host a lovely little get together.
a stunning fall table via lauren kelpa stunning fall table via lauren kelp a stunning fall table via lauren kelp

Hello, hello! It’s Antoinette from Claiborne & Lime again. Have you enjoyed our fun week of fall entertaining in California? Don’t know what I am talking about? Hop on over and check out our weekend girl’s retreat & the most delicious Quiche Lorraine recipe ( it’s Julia Child from crying out loud!) Okay, now that you’ve seen the week of festivities it’s time for the main event – a stunning fall dinner!

a stunning fall table via lauren kelpa stunning fall table via lauren kelpa stunning fall table via lauren kelp

Surprise, surprise- in our spare time, guess what we like to do? Entertain! With the weather getting cooler, we decided to usher in autumn with a cozy and intimate dinner at home in Santa Barbara. We called up our friend, Laura, from DishWish Events to lend us some of her gorgeous china, crystal glasses, and flatware to dress up our tabletop. Eventually, we did return it… grudgingly.

a stunning fall table via lauren kelpa stunning fall table via lauren kelpa stunning fall table via lauren kelpSince we split our time between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, we decided to mix it up and invite friends from both places. We spent the day in the kitchen making chicken stuffed with roasted red peppers, artichokes, and Asiago cheese, along with smashed red potatoes, and our personal favorite- brussels sprouts. We planned on baking a pie for dessert, but then quickly realized we couldn’t top the brown butter pear tart from Fresco- so we went ahead and picked that up instead. We stayed warm in the garden with the help of some candlelight, laughter, and of course- some red wine.
a stunning fall table via lauren kelp a stunning fall table via lauren kelpa stunning fall table via lauren kelp


Copy & Styling by Claiborne & Lime

 

A LOVELY GIRLS RETREAT wine tasting, brunching, & gal pals!

Hello, hello my lovely little autumnal goddesses! How is your October shaping up? If you are like me, you’ve got travel on the brain. I am just itching to get the gals together and host a little girls retreat – apple picking, wine tasting, brunching – the works! Luckily our dear friends Claiborne & Lime are feeling the travel bug too and threw the most beautiful girls retreat.

Check out their weekend of fun and get inspired to host your own! Don’t have a local vineyard near you? Who cares! Do a little wine tasting in your backyard. If that gang is together, nothing else really matters 🙂
The perfect fall girls weekend via Lauren Kelp

“I wanted to escape myself. I wanted to feel overwhelmed and disrupted. I wanted something- an event- to happen to me, to sweep me up and change my life.” –Sue Miller

To us, September represents a fresh start- back to school, seasons changing, and a time for new beginnings. We decided to gather a small group of girlfriends together- all on different creative paths with the intention of escaping… Out of that came an idea- to have a retreat of sorts. A safe haven away from our lives to let go of fear and perfection. A place to brainstorm, inspire, and set goals. We didn’t need to go far, we just needed to get unstuck. So we set off to Los Olivos, in Santa Barbara wine country.

The perfect fall girls weekend via Lauren KelpFirst stop, a local vineyard for brunch. Guys… what better activity to do on a girls weekend then wine tasting?! Bring your own treats or reserve a private picnic spot overlooking the lake – you can’t go wrong! Since fancy is what we do, you know we had to create an amazing experience- complete with chocolate croissants, homemade quiche Lorraine, and a champagne bar. Lucky for you, we passed along the quiche recipe for you here!

The prefect fall girls retreat via Lauren Kelp

The perfect fall girls weekend via Lauren KelpNext up, wine tasting… Because what gets the creative juices flowing better than MORE alcohol? We sampled the sauvignon blanc, the cuvee le bec, and tasted Grenache grapes which will become a 2017 rose. We took a tour of the winery, and spent the afternoon lounging on the lawn (or passed out- whatever you wanna call it). On the ride home, we sang along (badly) to Beyonce’s Lemonade, and started planning how we would make things, collaborate and create our next adventure!

The perfect fall girls weekend via Lauren Kelp The perfect fall girls weekend via Lauren Kelp


Copy & Styling by Claiborne & Lime

THE PERFECT PAIR FOR A FALL PICNIC

Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpHappy Fall, my fabulous entertainers! Are you ready for cozy sweaters, reading by the fireplaces, and lots of other deliciously autumnal things? I know I am! See ya later humidity, hello scarf weather! Here is the best part about fall – entertaining! Call me crazy, but it’s my favorite time to gather a bunch of friends, drink good wine, eat great food, and hang out all night. Gone are the hectic days of summer and the mania of holiday season hasn’t hit yet, it’s a sweet spot where schedules are free, the weather is great, and the stars align!
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpToday we are talking all about why you should host a fall picnic (yes, outside) and what to serve at it! I mean, come on, just look at that spread above – who wouldn’t want to spend the evening with friends noshing on that? Guess what – it’s totally attainable, easier than you think, and won’t take up your whole Saturday prepping. Interested? Of course you are! Well pour yourself a glass of wine, scroll down, and let’s get this party started! Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpWe are talking all about my love for outdoor entertaining in the fall over here, but it deserves to be re-enforced. Having a bunch of friends over and dining outside with the crisp fall air in the trees, drinking wine, and catching up is just about as magical as the Midwest can get. So, now that we’ve convinced you that a) you need to host a dinner party this weekend and b) it has to be outside, it’s time to talk about the menu!

Here is the best part about a fall picnic – the spread! The small plate spread is totally undervalued and is a total show stopper. Pick a theme (for this we did mediterranean mezze) and if your guests ask what to bring, you can tell them something on theme.

When our guests asked, we had them bring olives, a few cucumbers, a bunch of carrots, or a packet of pitas. We put the olives into a cute little dish, sliced the carrots & cucumbers up (for dipping in the spreads), and voila! A fun spread that your guests helped curate!
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpNow, it’s important to pair the menu with the perfect accompanying wine & let me tell you, nothing is more delicious than a cold glass of Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon-Blanc on a fall day with a delicious spread. Typically, a Sauvignon-Blanc is thought of as a summer wine, but with the rich flavors of the Mediterranean seasonings, the crispness of the white wines cools everything down a bit and makes for a really delicious pairing.  I love pairing foods with complex flavors or unique spices with K-J’s Sauvignon-Blanc because it doesn’t wash out the spices but almost enhances them.  Warm up those pitas, put out some spreads & accouterments, pour those glasses of wine & hop to it!

Looking for some good spreads to whip up? How about a batch of homemade hummus! Super easy, delicious, and everyone loves a good homemade spread. Five minutes in the kitchen and a small stockpile of hummus later & you’ve got yourself a party!
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren Kelp

THE PERFECT PAIR FOR A FALL PICNIC
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups drained well-cooked or canned chickpeas, liquid reserved
  • ½ cup tahini (sesame paste), optional, with some of its oil
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin or paprika, or to taste, plus a sprinkling for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. Put everything except the parsley in a food processor and begin to process; add the chickpea liquid or water as needed to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning (I often find I like to add much more lemon juice). Serve, drizzled with the olive oil and sprinkled with a bit more cumin or paprika and some parsley.

Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren KelpSo, what are you waiting for?! Let’s get this party started! Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Host an outdoor picnic this fall! Fall entertaining tips via Lauren Kelp


photography by Constance Higley & recipe by Brendan McCaskey
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5 TIPS FOR HOSTING YOUR FIRST OUTDOOR DINNER PARTY

Are y’all making a fall to-­do list yet? Jotting down some new recipes to make or crafts to DIY? If you are, we have one more thing to add to your list, and it’s likely something you’ve found a bit intimidating in the past.

But fear no more, my party friends, because we are about to let you in on 5 tips that will make throwing your first backyard garden gathering as easy as all of these hostess with the mostess’ make it look. So let’s celebrate the end of summer at ease and in style, shall we?
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1)   SPACE

Before you think, “I don’t have enough room for a party,” think again. Scope out your spaces and really figure out how many people you can comfortably entertain. If you have a big backyard, great! If it’s a smaller deck area, that’s perfect too. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be a big blowout; intimate settings are classy and more admired than ever these days.

A quaint area where you and your friends can sit, sip and catch up is really all you need. So, whether it is 5, 10, or 30 people – do a little structuring in your mind before you quit the process all together. Creative problem solving is key here!

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2)   ATTIRE

Ever been to a job interview and wish you would’ve dressed differently? Like maybe you should’ve taken it up a notch, and now you’re uncomfortable for the remainder of the time? This is so relatable to a dinner party – but the opposite. There is nothing worse than dressing too fancy when everyone else is casual!

So unless it’s a dress-to-impress occasion, we typically recommend more “business casual” wear. For instance, some of our guests wore pants, others wore long or short dresses, guys wore jeans, and our main gal, Lauren Kelp, wore a flow-y wrap dress. As the hostess, you’re probably going to be mingling a lot more than anyone else. So feeling good about how you look and, more importantly, how you feel is essential. Bottom line: just be you and be comfortable.

 

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3)   BOOZE

Cocktail hour is the hour everyone really gets to meet and greet, share stories and dive into each other’s lives. That’s what it’s all about; creating new connections and nurturing old ones. So don’t worry about your best friend “only” liking martinis or your cousin claiming she only will drink vodka soda. Sure, it’s nice to cater to your loved one’s preferences, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Just get one or two specialty cocktails and stock up on red and white wine. (I promise they’ll be happy!)

As the hostess, it’s your job to make sure that the conversation and cocktails are flowing. As Charles Macpherson, author of The Butler Speaks: A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette and The Art of Good Housekeeping, puts it, “Make sure everyone has someone to talk to, and make sure everyone has a drink in hand.” Rules to live by. Thanks Charles!

tablemakers0454)   HORS D’OEUVRES

It’s also your job to make sure no one goes hungry, especially with all those drinks in hands. So for this part, while your guests are standing and walking around, sharable finger foods and tiny bites are your best bet; something someone can easily pick up, eat, and go on with their interactions without any dialogue being interrupted.  Thanks to Truffleberry Market, we got to munch on mini fried chicken and waffle fries and ahi edamame soba as part of our small appetizer menu. Setting up a spread of various snacks works great too. Also, you can never go wrong with a local or artisan- made cheese platter! Pair the cheeses with the wine you bought and your guests will be so impressed!

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5)   TABLE SETTING

Table décor is our favorite and we like to keep is simple and sweet. Don’t get carried away with colors and different pieces. Stick to the overall theme and maximize on one or two staple items. As you can see from our dinners, we love candles and florals. They’re so easy and you can always select them according to season. For fall, try  blooms or an autumn inspired centerpiece. Succulents are also beautiful, versatile and the ultimate all­ seasons plant. They also make the perfect parting gift for your guests. To make the table as uncluttered as possible, set them aside and hand them off as guests start to leave. They won’t expect it and they’ll have take­ home token to remember the night by.

New seasons are for new beginnings and with fall just around the corner, we hope we’ve inspired you to throw your first attainably elegant, end ­of­ the­ summer soirée.  Things to keep in mind during preparation: Pinterest is a social site and not exactly real life, so cut yourself some slack and don’t try too hard to mimic everything you see to a T. And don’t sweat taking short cuts by making dishes you’ve made before and heading to the bakery for desserts. That is perfectly acceptable! Let us know how you feel when you put that check mark next to “host my own dinner party.” I bet you’ll start planning your next one soon after! Cheers!

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VENDORS:
● Host: Lauren Kelp ● Co­Host: Ashley Cooper, Graphic Designer ● Sponsor: Michter’s Whiskey ● Chef/Catering: Brittany Ferrin of Truffleberry Market ● Floral Design: Christine Janda of Christine Janda Design & Events ● Photographer: Aimee Mazzenga ● Tabletop Design: Table & Dine and Lenox USA ● Gift Bags: The Citizenry ● Outdoor Rugs: USA Rugs ● Ice Cream: Tea­rrific! Ice Cream


HOST A COLORING BOOK PARTY

Host an adult coloring book party via lauren kelpHello, hello my summer-time party throwers! How has your summer shaped up? Has it been everything you wanted it to be? Well, if you are kicking yourself for not throwing more dinner parties or little get-togethers, this is the excuse you’ve been waiting for! Meet my favorite new party to throw – an adult coloring book party!

Wildly simple to throw (and I mean beyond easy) and a total blast, this party is perfect for the end of summer shindig, neighborhood happy hour, or gal pal get together!

Host an adult coloring book party via lauren kelpMy fabulous friend, Katie Harvey, is this magical illustrator who makes really fun prints, stickers, custom art, and coloring book pages inspired by her life in California. I have always loved her mermaid prints and thought it would be such a fun idea to print off some of her killer sketches on a placemat size paper & host a little coloring book party.

How freaking fun, right?! Her sketches of yoga gals, mermaids,(both of which are free!) and other bohemian fancies are super easy to download, print off, and wildly fun to color. Like, how easy is that!

Host an adult coloring book party via lauren kelpOnce we had the theme all set, my sweet sister and I ran to Marshalls to pick out the decorations, table decor, and other fun party surprises.

You guys, have you been to Marshalls lately? Do you know that all this party decor (and the dress my sister is wearing!) cost me less than $10o! We are talking those adorable bowls, colored pencils, glasses, funky little jars for the vases, tablecloth, napkins (which I used as coasters) and that adorable summer dress for LESS THAN $100. Like, how?!

When was the last time you threw a freaking dinner or get together, for that matter, that was under $100? Between the wine, the food, the appetizers, and flowers for the house and table, that is easily above one hundred dollars – or at least in Chicago. I love that about Marshalls. You walk in looking for colored pencils and you walk out with a dress, a new set of nut bowls, and a fabulous cowhide tray (that has yet to make an appearance but is equally as fabulous).

Host an adult coloring book party via lauren kelpYou guys, I am serious – this is the most fun I have had at a dinner party in a long time. Do you know how fun it is to sit with friends, drink wine, and color in mermaids – it is just about the best time. Grab some gals, print off some of Katie’s amazing coloring book pages, go to Marshalls and pick up some fun table & party decor (plus a bunch of amazing surprises you never knew you needed but are way to cute & affordable to pass up) and have your self a COLORING BOOK PARTY!

Throw an adult coloring book party via lauren kelp


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