Thursday, June 26, 2008

How To Plan A Housewarming Party

When it comes to organizing a Housewarming Party the key to a job well done is personalizing the party. We decided to go with the theme of "All Things Audrey". The significance of an "All Things Audrey" theme is not easily defined. Yet, we managed to narrow it down to some fundamental characteristics of our friend, Audrey. 

First, we decided upon a menu. Knowing that it would be a hot day we kept the food light and simple. Roasted and BBQ chicken, a variety of croissant sandwiches, pasta salad, beet salad and Tivoli salad.

Several weeks in advance I ordered a handmade greeting card from my favorite vendor, Toya's Designs. I have been ordering cards from her for the past few years and have never been disappointed. In fact, she seems to come up with unique ideas that continue to amaze me.  I merely tell her what I would like the card to say ("Audrey in Alhambra") and Toya does the rest of the work. The above card was the end result. It was perfect!

There we were in 103 degree weather on a Sunday afternoon when our guests began to arrive. Our first order of business was to serve cold drinks. We purchased some clear plastic cups and decorative flower straws to create a similar atmosphere of  a smoothie bar. We guided our guests to refreshing appetizers such as chilled grapes, cheese & crackers, fresh watermelon and cool dips & chips.

We then started to pull the theme together by announcing our first treat. We handed a special little envelope to our guests. Each petite envelope contained an item directly related to Audrey. Inside was one of her favorite things, tea. Audrey is particularly fond of London and so we used "English Teatime" tea bags with a special printed message enclosed in the envelope. The envelope was closed with a seal with her initial of the letter "A". Our guests were taken by the idea of receiving a gift at party instead of only giving a gift.

Later we passed out decorative cards with Audrey's first initial in the corner. We asked our guests to write on the card a personal message to Audrey. It could be clever or funny. Long or short. The idea was to leave Audrey with a personal note that she could reflect upon afterward.

Next, we performed in "All Things Audrey" Theatre. Since Audrey is a great admirer of Jane Austin, we performed scenes from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma. We also played on Audrey's Japanese culture and had a skit in Japanese.

After the "All Things Audrey" Theatre we passed out a second gift to our guests. We gave petite bottles of Japanese Cherry Blossom shower gel. This little gift is clearly directly related to our guest of honor and continues to carry the theme.

We moved along to the anticipated event of  opening the presents. While we "oohed and awed" at the gifts we served dessert. Beautiful and delicious little cupcakes from Audrey's favorite Cup-cakery, Dots Cupakes is located in Pasadena. We added in the extra touch of cute little butterfly cupcake toppers that we ordered online.

When the last bow had been untied and the last ribbon had been cut, we offered our guests one last treat. In the spirit of giving, we truly wanted to thank our guests for showing love and support to our friend. We handed out one last "thank you" gift. Wrapped with ribbon and containing a thank you card, each guest received a bag of homemade cookies. The enclosure read, "Thank you for helping us turn Audrey's house into a warm and cozy home". This extra little gesture added the final element of tenderness and gentility, much like Audrey.  

As if there had not been enough surprises for one evening, we surprised Audrey with one final surprise. Weeks before the event we asked each guest to contribute a recipe in order for us to create a personal recipe book. We all contributed a favorite recipe and compiled quite the collection for Audrey. Not only was this a useful gift but it is also a great keepsake.

For my gift to Audrey I decided to get personal again. I found an adorable apron and matching oven-mitts. I took the apron to a local embroidery shop and had her name embroidered on the apron. Voila! A personal gift. I also found a book (knowing that Audrey loves to read) that went with the theme of the party and had the perfect title. The title of the book was "What Would Audrey Do?" The book is based on the life of Audrey Hepburn. It matched the theme of the party so well, I couldn't resist. 

With a lovely evening coming to an end, we happily passed out our little bags of cookies and thanked everyone for coming. We were delighted with the outcome of over a month worth of planning. Audrey was elated. Our guests departed feeling appreciated and we, the organizers, were content and overjoyed by observing everyone enjoying themselves tremendously.

The party dwindled down to about 8 guests and we retreated to Audrey's deck. We were satisfied when we contemplated the events of the evening. We tailored the House Warming party with specific features of Audrey's personality and everybody went home with a sense of warmth and friendship. When planning an event using a few personalized elements goes a long way. Personalization shows how much you really know your friends. Hosting a successful party for a good friend is just another day in a European Style Life.

Go Green, Go Chic!

Everybody seems to be participating in the “Go Green” project these days. I decided to get a piece of the action and do my small part. Additionally, c’est tres Parisian to use tote bags for grocery shopping instead of plastic bags. In Paris the grocery store will charge you for taking your groceries home in their plastic bags. So the majority of Parisians are obliged to bring their own reusable sacs or totes. After seeing specialty stores selling their own reusable bags (many of which are not cute) I decided to try to find my own cutesy bag.

I am happy to say that I found an adorable shop on (where I sell my handcrafted jewelry This shop is called Paris Chic Boutique. They offer many French items for the home as well as greeting cards, gift tags and other handcrafted items. I ordered the “Visez Vert” tote. This chic tote flaunts the Eiffel Tower. I hope you find your special way to express yourself when choosing to “Go Green”. Using tote bags to carry your groceries home is just another day in a European Style Life.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Le week-end avec Nadine et les filles

Saying goodbye to a good friend is never easy. We decided to give Nadine a proper send off to her new home in Haiti. First we started by planning a weekend away with 5 of Nadine’s friends (though she has many). We selected Palm Springs as our destination because of it’s locality and imposed relaxation.

While searching for a hotel where we could feel pampered we also wanted a lot of bang for our buck. We chose the Embassy Suites Spa Hotel in La Quinta (15 minutes from Palm Springs). Our suite included full cooked to order breakfast each morning and a complimentary Happy Hour in the evening.
We had many events planned for Nadine and a weekend full of surprises.

First we ate lunch at Chez Philippe where we surprised each girl with personalized tote bags filled with lots of goodies. Each tote bag contained decadent treats such as Lavender Crabtree and Evelyn hand cream, Japanese silk fans, monogrammed Anthropologie tea cups, vintage luggage tags, comfy flip-flops, Branché handmade crystal necklaces and a relaxing eye mask. Quelle surprise! 

We rested up a bit in our suite and gave Nadine her second surprise. Each girl took one letter from Nadine’s name and wrote a personal message to her on the back of the letter. We posted these up in the suite. When Nadine took down each letter we read our personal note to her. But remember, I said that there were only 5 of us and there are 6 letters in Nadine’s name. Who was the last letter from? Encore, quelle surprise! 
The last letter in her name was a guest appearance by Alheli all the way from Switzerland! As you can imagine the laughter roared and the tears rolled. Nadine was completely touched by this gesture of sincere expressions.

Later that evening we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Piero’s. We spent time reminiscing and laughing at stories we recounted during our years of friendship.

The next morning we awoke to a delicious breakfast where we all gathered in the hotel restaurant for more feminine bonding. 
We really did need that cup of coffee since we stayed up all night talking. 
Next, we headed over to the city for some leisurely shopping. We found an adorable Chocolate Café where we further surprised Nadine with gifts from Tea Forte. All of these surprises were adding to the excitement of the weekend and Nadine was overjoyed. She is the type of person that is a pure joy to do things for because she truly appreciates even the smallest gesture.

Our weekend was truly relaxing. We stayed in one night and took advantage of the swimming pool. We ordered Chinese food and enjoyed each other’s company. All in all we had an amazing weekend filled with memories to help us with our separation of Nadine. It is times like these that we will reflect on for all things to come in the future.

One of my favorite moments of the weekend was when we were driving and listening to our Hotter Than Haiti soundtrack (combined songs from each of us). We all sang along and serenaded Nadine with the song Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant. This song depicts the very essence of how we all feel towards Nadine. Spending time with friends and saying goodbye as one moves to another country is just another day in a European Style Life.

Kind and Generous Lyrics

You've been so kind and generous,I don't know how you keep on giving 
For your kindness I'm in debt to you For your selflessness, my admiration For everything you've done, you know I'm bound, I'm bound to thank you for it....
Na Na na na na na na na na nana na na 

You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving. For your kindness I'm in debt to you

And I never could have come this far without you
For everything you've done, you know I'm bound, I'm bound to thank you for it....
Na Na na na na na na na na nana na na na na

Oh, I want to thank you for so many gifts you gave with love and tenderness, I wanna thank you I want to thank you for your generosity, the love and the honesty that you gave me

I want to thank you, show my gratitude, my love and my respect for you,I wanna thank you
Oh I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Helpful Housewarming Hints

In about 3 weeks Deanna and I will be hosting a Housewarming party for a dear friend Audrey. With as much event planning as I have done in the past, this is actually my first time hosting a Housewarming party.

While most of the elements of the party remain a surprise for our friend, I’d like to open a forum of ideas that others have used. After the party I will post a write-up on how I conducted my first Housewarming party.

Additionally, Audrey, needs a little help to get ready for her party. With the party only being three weeks away she still does not know what she’s going to wear. Notice the poll on the right side bar and vote to help Audrey to look her best for her party. Audrey has great sense of style so she can pull any one of these looks right out of her closet. Please feel free to submit any comments below. Hosting parties and planning the perfect outfit is just another day in a European Style Life.