Category Archives: Gifts and Parties

Make a Pretty Napkin Stack

Instead of putting out a messy pile of paper napkins on your nicely decorated party table, try this easy catering trick to turn them into a neatly twisted stack.

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1. Remove any rings you might be wearing, then place a stack of paper napkins on a non-slip surface like a tablecloth or place-mat; any size napkin will work.

2. Place your fist on the the stack of napkins, and pressing down firmly, turn your fist 90 degrees. Lift your fist up, place it back on the napkin stack right where you started, and do it again. As you repeat this pushing down and turning, you’ll see the whole stack slowly start to spiral around.

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3. The top part of the stack will spiral quicker than the bottom, so depending on the height of the napkin-stack, you might take the top couple inches off once it has a nice twist, and carefully set that aside, stacking “mini-spirals” on top of each other as they are formed. Keep going until you have a spiral that continues down the whole stack (it looks sloppy if the top half is nicely twisted and the bottom half isn’t.)

4. Remove the top napkin that your fist has wrinkled up, smooth things out with your hands, and there you have a fancy napkin stack! These stacks stay like this pretty well, so you can make them in advance and put them out when you need them. Of course they also come together pretty quickly, so its an easy last-minute addition to the table.

Kate’s Babe

Sister had a baby, and to celebrate, of course I hosted a shower for her. The theme of her bachelorette party was Tiffanys (her first favorite store) and so what else could I have done but plan baby’s shower around her second favorite store, Kate Spade.

The Food

The shower was for 50 people, at 2:30 – not quite lunch and not quite dinner. I was looking for classy, tasty shower food that was, well, reasonable: reasonable effort to prepare, reasonably neat to eat on your lap, reasonable cost, and reasonable “heaviness” since it was for an in-between time – I knew not everyone would come super hungry.

Here’s the menu I came up with:

Salad Bar: with chicken, candied walnuts, mandarin oranges, cranberries, and honey mustard or cherry balsamic vinagerette.

Sandwiches: turkey with apple butter and brie, or roasted vegetable with herbed cream cheese. (Served in tamale bags cut to size with pinking shears)

Chopped romaine lettuce was served in plastic take-out containers from the restaurant supply store – this was done in advance and provided an easy container to eat from. Guests would take the lid off and add toppings and dressing, and could put the lid back on to toss it all up. To make them look catered (not so that guests would think that we had it catered, but so that the plastic containers looked less out of place) I designed a little label that we stuck on the side. (Babe’s Gotta Eat is the catering division of Kate’s Babe, of course)

For dessert, I also wanted something fancy but not super fussy. My friend Bex recommended macaroons, and assured me that they were easy. She was right! SO delicious, and WAYY less work than I expected. And since they are purchased for $2.00 a pop at bakeries, making them was the only way to go. Here’s the recipes – we made guava and raspberry butter-cream to go inside.

Pictures moving clockwise: Pink Guava macaroons,  Guava Gelées (also easy, like little gumdops) Cream Puffs with lemon and guava butter-cream. Trader Joe’s Meringues were a great addition too – very pretty on the plates and tasty as well!

The Decorations

I designed little signs to put in Ikea Frames and hang on the walls from ribbons. Also found Sixlets (candy) that looked like little pink and white pearls and filled fancy bowls and purses with them.

The Activities

Hubbs gave me a remote shutter for my camera, which was perfect for a photo booth. I set up the camera on a tripod, and attached the remote to the chair in the photo booth. Guests could write a piece of advice to baby, grab a prop, and click the remote to take a self-portrait. This way, no-one needed to spend the whole time taking photos. (you can see the remote in her hand in the picture)

We also played Name that Tune, featuring songs with “Baby” in the title. Since it was a multi-generational shower, we used songs that spanned the decades, from Frank Sinatra to Mariah Carey to Justin Bieber.

Well there’s more, but I think this post is long enough. Thank you SO much to my Mom, Bex, Bex’s Mom, and everyone else who helped out. It couldn’t have happened without you! For Sure.

The Third Wheel

Yesterday I hosted a friend’s baby shower. The new mom and dad are avid cyclists – their wedding theme was “a bicycle built for two,” so what could be more fitting for their baby shower than tricycles?

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The Invitations

I used pingg.com to send the invitations,because I wanted to use my own graphic and evite wouldn’t let me. You’ve got to try it. It has so many useful tools for event management, and the whole thing is very intuitive. Favorite feature? If you know that Great Aunt Sue doesn’t use email and won’t get the digital invite, pingg will print and mail her the invitation. For a fee, of course, but what a helpful tool!

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The Food

Lunch was Trader Joes Red Pepper soup in lidded-bowls (I didn’t want ladies at a shower ladling out sloppy red soup.) and toppings: meatballs, cheese, rice and sour cream. The white balls on the right are rice, scooped out with a cookie scoop into neat little portions.

We also had peppermint bark (red, white, and black – perfect!), a veggie tray and cuties (for those who made New Year’s Resolutions) and popcorn balls.

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The Hot Drinks

We had a hot chocolate bar (thanks Kelly for providing it!) on this warm January day. You can see what we did for the cups: we took a set of glasses, dipped the rim in melted chocolate chips and then sugar sprinkles. (Hubbs and I did a trial run to make sure that this wouldn’t cause melty chocolate to get all over your face. It doesn’t.) Then we took paper coffee sleeves which were slightly too big, cut them open and hot-glued them to the glass.

This seems like it would take a long time, but mom and I sat down and did all thirty cups in about a half-hour. So really not too bad, considering how fun and sparkly they turned out.

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The Decorations

Dad’s new red wagon was up front to put the gifts in. I got a few feet of astroturf from the hardware store to use as table runners over the white tablecloths. And then I pulled out all the red, white, and black that I had and put it out all over the place: japanese lanterns hanging from the ceiling, red cranberries in the water, red glasses with tea-lights in them, black rocks in vases with white candles.

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The Favors

Little cello bags with red and white candies, sealed with matching stickers.

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And there you go! A tricycle baby shower. I’m hosting another shower in a few weeks for my sister, so the fun continues.

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Hungry Caterpillar

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Or, Ellie is One Month Today (well, yesterday). Sister gave us a thoughtful shower gift: a copy of the Hungry Caterpillar book with some special modifications. She made 12 little stickers, one for each month of Ellie’s first year, held … Continue reading

The Creativity of Others

Today I thought I would showcase some of the amazing creativity of some friends who helped make last Saturday’s baby shower just wonderful.

First up is this incredible cake. Since the nursery is garden-themed, he made a vegetable garden cake.  Yes, that’s a fondant picket fence, yes those are three-dimensional tomato trellises, yes you do see a little box of corn cobs and a baby wrapped as a sweet-pea sitting outside the fence on the cake board. (everything hand sculpted out of fondant) And what kind of cake was it? Carrot cake, of course.

To the right, you see an amazing flower arrangement made by Sister. But those flowers aren’t all flowers, they’re wrapped up bibs, onsies, blankets… I can’t actually say exactly whats in there since I haven’t wanted to take it apart and ruin it! (I will before the baby comes, I promise). But this was such an impressive gift here, so cute and clever. (Sister – will it ruin the surprise if I put the link to instructions?)

Finally, here’s the pitcher of lovely fancy water made by the hostess. Whats so fancy about it? its made with water, strawberries, lemon, and basil leaves. This makes the most refreshing water that’s slightly sweet, slightly savory, and has the prettiest light pink tinge.

So thank you so much to all of my creative friends – what great ideas you have!

Green Flowers and Turtle Shower

Last weekend I went to a turtle-themed baby shower for a friend. The host smartly planned and delegated many of the shower responsibilities; my contribution was flowers and a banner. I used the same flower puffball instructions that I showed last year, but used an assortment of green flowers to make the arrangements look sort of… turtle-y. I also made a banner (yet another use for an old book!) by pulling out pages, folding them in half and stapling the tops to a piece of twine before writing the letters on the pages.

In case I didn’t find all the green flowers that I had hoped to (which I did find, thank you helpful Safeway florist!), I’d also gotten bags of limes and mossy looking rocks to put in glass vases for the tables. You can barely see them in the picture below.

Another friend made this incredible stacked turtle cake, which was beautiful. Yes, that’s a real, edible cake in the lower right hand corner. And chocolate turtle candies, of course.

Wrap it in the Bag!

I arrived home last week to a surprise package sitting on my doorstep! (How fun is that!) Of course I couldn’t wait to rip in and see what was inside, but I was stopped by the great idea the wrapper had in packaging the gift.

As you can see in the pictures, its a plain paper shopping bag, with the top folded over about an inch. Then its sewn with a zigzag stitch halfway across, the string of a gift tag is tucked underneath, and the stitching continues. There’s no back-stitching at the ends, it just starts and stops. She used white thread, but a contrasting color would be super fun also.

And that’s it! No tissue paper, no finding the right sized box, no tape/scissors/giftwrap. Sewing it closed makes it look so finished, and puts to good use the bag that it came in (which means its the right size.) And I *love* that the tag is incorporated right into the wrapping.

Want to see what was inside the bag? (I thought that it couldn’t get any better than that clever stitching idea, but I was wrong.) It was an adorable apron, handmade by etsy’s pamwares. How much do I love the vintage floral fabric? SO MUCH!!!!


Thanks B for such a lovely delivery.