Entertaining

Holiday Room - Painting Tips

Four Rooms to Prep for Holiday Guests – With Paintzen

· Entertaining, Holiday, Home Improvement / Decor · , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again; the holiday season is rapidly approaching along with a seemingly endless list of things to do, presents to buy, and parties to plan. If you entertain friends and family in your home, you want it to look its absolute best. I recently sat down with Paintzen, an online service that makes painting your home simple, to discuss how you can prepare your home for the holidays. You don’t need to go overboard. Instead, focus on the four key areas that will be most visible to guests: the entryway, bathroom, kitchen, and living room.

Resourceful Consultants clients can use code “RC100” to get up to $100 off of their first paint project with Paintzen! Here’s to a Happy 2019 from Paintzen and Resourceful Consultants.

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Nix Holiday Stress in 6 Simple Steps

· Entertaining, Holiday · , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We all know holiday prep has a way of spiraling into full on hysteria. From gift shopping and RSVPs, to party attendance and clean-up, managing your holiday schedule is a full time job. This season, approach “the most wonderful time of the year” with a clear, organized plan of attack. Keep calm and party on!

  1. Buy gifts you love in bulk and give them to as many people on your list as possible. Gift cards are your best bet.
  2. Have hostess gifts on hand and keep it simple. It’s okay to bring a bottle of wine or to buy a dessert instead of cooking or baking.
  3. Take inventory of your holiday decorations before and after the holiday. Before the holiday, you can assess whether you need to buy anything new. At the end of the holiday, you can get rid of anything broken or soiled.
  4. Keep a spreadsheet of all of the holiday tips you give. You may not remember how much you tipped your mail carrier last year, but he or she will.
  5. If you have a social commitment that you’re dreading, be targeted about how you spend your time when you get there. Arrive early and spend a few minutes one on one with the host. Put in your face time, do the necessary networking, and be on your way.
  6. Don’t feel obligated to save your friends’ holiday cards with their children’s pictures. Since you probably don’t have your own children’s photos perfectly organized; why would you add pictures of other children to the mix?

 

Thanksgiving Countdown

· Entertaining, Holiday · , , , , , , , , , ,

Every year, clients ask me how to avoid last minute chaos when they host a holiday. Here is a comprehensive list of to-dos for Thanksgiving STARTING NOW:

3 weeks before Thanksgiving
• Deep clean your house and purge excess clutter.
• Polish silver.
• Invite your guests. Consider using Paperless Post if you’re having a large group.
• Give specific assignments to guests who ask what they can bring.
• Prepare a dinner menu including wine, liquor, and soda.
• Prepare a grocery list based on the dinner menu.
• Think about table décor (e.g., flower arrangement(s), votives, small bud vases).
• Order the turkey.
• If you don’t have proper roasting tools (pan, rack, thermometer, basting tools, carving knife), buy them now.
• Order any favorite dessert items from your bakery (non-refrigerated items are best).
• Take an inventory of your serving pieces, dishes, silverware and glasses. If additional items are needed, purchase them now or contact a rental company to reserve. Don’t forget to include rental tables, chairs or linens, if needed. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Countdown” »

Diamonds Are Forever, Monogrammed Gifts Are Not

· Entertaining · , , , , , , , , , , ,

When my twins were born 17 years ago, we received not one, but two decorative, monogrammed seesaws…from one store. It’s difficult to imagine that the store wouldn’t have told the second person ordering this “gift” with the same names and delivery address to select something else, but that’s another story. Suffice it to say that I was stuck with two seesaws that were, in my practical mind, a waste of space and a silly gift. So, I did what any self-respecting professional organizer would do and put them both out on the curb the next morning.

Although this can be difficult for some people, never feel compelled to keep a gift you don’t like. It will end up taking up space in your home and your psyche for what is often literally years. To avoid this, consider these tips

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Unexpected Guests

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Recently, after a great day boating with friends, we decided to meet at my house for drinks before having dinner at a nearby restaurant. Some of our guests were on the boat with my husband and I, and others would drive to our house. They would arrive before I did, so there would be no time for a last minute clean up. Since I’m a professional organizer, that didn’t pose a problem for me. My house is almost always company ready. However, if you’re not like me, what can you do if you get a call that friends “are in the neighborhood” and will be there in 20 minutes? Tilly Rose, founder of TenancyCleaning, a cleaning service in London, offers these tips for de-cluttering your home when it needs to done quickly.

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No Fuss Entertaining

· Entertaining

Every year, I host the holiday meal after Yom Kippur (called “Break Fast,” when you literally break the fast from sundown the previous day).  This is the only holiday I enjoy hosting for several reasons.  First, the traditional meal is bagels and appetizing which I order already on platters. Second, it’s buffet style, so no serving is required.  Third, while some of my guests may wait until sundown to eat, others eat as soon as they arrive.  This means I don’t need to have seating for each guest.  Finally, I use paper plates and plastic utensils, making clean up a breeze!

The only thing I actually cook is my “famous” baked cinnamon French toast.  I say it’s famous because I refer to it in my book, Secrets of an Organized Mom, and it’s amazing the number of people around the country who have emailed me asking for the recipe.  I prepare it the night before and heat it up as my guests arrive. My house smells delicious and people think I slaved all day in the kitchen. Here’s my recipe, so you can try it yourself:

 

Recipe: Baked Cinnamon French Toast

Ingredients: 6 eggs
2 1/2 cups of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (can use more)
1 baguette
1 stick butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Method: Combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in bowl. Slice baguette into thin slices and layer in a 9 x 9 pan.
Pour mixture over bread and refrigerate (overnight if possible).
Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and nuts.
After bread has soaked in liquid, spread over top of bread.
Cook on 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until puffed and golden.

 

Hosting a Stress Free Summer Barbecue

· Entertaining

Are you hosting a barbecue this summer?   If planning your party is putting a dampener on beach weekends, here are my tips for a stress free barbecue!

One Week Before:

  1. Finalize your headcount.
  2. Figure out the menu, including what drinks you’ll serve.
  3. If guests ask to bring something, have suggestions ready.  Then, keep a list so there are no repeats.
  4. Shop for food and drinks.  Don’t forget to purchase alternative options for vegetarians, and condiments, too!
  5. Shop for plates, utensils, and linens.
  6. Check your grill: if you are low on supplies like propane or need new tools, purchase that too.  Don’t forget to purchase bug spray and citronella candles!
  7. Make sure you have enough tables and chairs for the event.

One Day Before:

  1. Prepare whatever food you can.  You don’t want to be working during your own party!  And if your budget allows, hiring help for food prep and cleanup can change the tone of the day for you, too.
  2. Put all drinks in the refrigerator.  In summer weather, you’ll need to have plenty of cold water and ice available throughout the day.
  3. Tidy the house, inside and out!
  4. Figure out your summer music playlist.  If you dare, you can leave this one up to one of your kids.

Day of the Party:

  1. Wake up early.  Get dressed — keep it casual for a barbecue!
  2. Set the table early and make it festive with flowers and great summer serve ware.
  3. Make sure to have some outdoor games available.
  4. Make sure that no food is overcooked or undercooked!  And set up your grill somewhat distanced from the center of the party.
  5. Pour yourself a drink before guests arrive, and get ready for some real summer fun!

 

 

Hosting a Super Bowl Party

· Entertaining

I admit to not being a sports fan, not knowing who the contenders are for the 2014 Super Bowl, and even (gasp) not really caring.  Yet, I find myself hosting 20 to 30 people each year for a Super Bowl party that’s often pulled together at the last minute.  Since clearly I’m not a last minute party planner, you might wonder why this happens, and the answer is twofold.  First, my husband and son spend the week or so before the game casually mentioning to friends that they should come over to watch the game without keeping track of how many people “might” be coming. And, two, the Super Bowl lends itself to such casual entertaining, that it’s not difficult to pull off.  So, if you find yourself in this position, here are my tips for a simple but easy Super Bowl celebration!

  1. Assemble a guest list.  Or, in my case, figure out who has already been invited and confirm who is actually coming.
  2. Consider a simple email instead of an actual invitation.  In the email, you can clarify the time you want people to arrive and ask for an RSVP response.
  3. Encourage guests to bring specific items.  I always request that guests bring dessert.  It’s one less thing to worry about.
  4. Easy appetizers are perfectly appropriate.  This is the one party where you can simply pour some chips and pretzels in bowls, and you’re all set.
  5. Create party areas.  Make sure you have enough seating for people to watch the game, but also be prepared for those who may want to mingle (or just watch the commercials).  I leave televisions on in the kitchen, living room, and den and encourage people to move around.
  6. Serve dinner buffet style.  And there’s no shame in just ordering in pizzas and eating on paper plates.
  7. Do most of the clean up during the last quarter of the game.  Admittedly, this only works if, like me, you’re not vested in the outcome of the game.  If you use disposable plates and utensils, all that’s required is throwing things in one big garbage bag and taking it outside.

 

 

Dress ↑

· Entertaining · , , , ,

‘Tis the season of many parties, and as invitations start appearing in your mailbox, you can’t help but be confused by the dizzying display of dress codes.  There’s business casual, casual chic, country club casual, dressy casual, resort casual, and just casual.  There’s also black tie, festive, cocktail, and my personal favorite, “dress ↑”.  Dress codes, like Henry Ford’s Model T, used to be a lot simpler.   Now, even when there is a dress designation on your invitation, it’s unclear what to wear.  So, what can you do?  Ask yourself these questions, and you’ll be dressed to impress this holiday season.

  1. Who’s on the guest list? If it’s an office party, you might dress more conservatively than if the party will be attended by your still wild and crazy college friends.
  2. What will your host/hostess be wearing? There’s no shame in asking when you’re really not sure.
  3. Where’s the party being held? If the party is being held in a fancy hotel you can dress more formally then if the party is held at someone’s home or a more casual restaurant.
  4. When is the party? Weekends, especially Saturday nights call for more formal dress than a weeknight party.
  5. Why stress when you have a Little Black Dress? There’s a reason why this wardrobe staple has stood the test of time so well.  No matter the occasion, there’s never a time when your LBD isn’t perfectly appropriate.   Change your lipstick and your jewelry, and you can step it up or down in minutes.

Party on…and dress ↑!

 

 

 

Organizing for Guests

· Entertaining

There are some people who love playing host and those who believe that guests and fish stink after three days. I have to admit, that I fall into the latter category. Yet, even though my guests’ visits are short and sweet, I still make sure my guest room is well stocked and my guests are comfortable for the duration of their stay. If you want to ensure that the time you have guests is as enjoyable for you as it is for them, here are my tried and true “guest rules”:

1. The guest room and bathroom should be dusted and clean, including clean sheets on the bed and fresh towels and soap in the bathroom. Have extra pillows and a blanket available. A light for reading, an alarm clock, and a working television are also nice to have.

2. Consider sleeping in your guest room for a night. It’s the only way you’ll know if it’s comfortable or if there are other issues that need to be fixed.

3. Remove any personal items that you may have been storing in the guest room. If you can’t allocate an entire dresser or closet, empty a few drawers and a portion of the closet. Empty hangers should be in the closet.

4. Let guests know about any house rules. For example, you may not allow eating outside the kitchen, and there may be specific instructions about turning on or off an alarm.

5. Your guests should be told what time meals will be served and whether there are any structured activities that are occurring on a schedule.

6. Be specific about when your guests should arrive and when you expect them to leave. There’s nothing worse than guests who arrive at inconvenient times and/or overstay their welcome.

7. If you have a vacation home, consider not inviting guests on consecutive weekends. Playing host/hostess is exhausting, so having your own weekend in between hosting guests gives you time to unwind and do what you want to do.

8. Leave some time unscheduled so everyone can relax.

9. Ask in advance about food preferences and allergies. Do any necessary grocery shopping prior to your guests’ arrival.

10. Add fresh flowers in a small vase to the guest room. Your guests feel special, and it requires minimal effort on your part.