hostess basics

over the years, i have hosted many a party.  like a million.  at least ;)

what has made it easy for me is that i have all the basics on hand, and then i can just add details to make it special!

now my hostess stockpile took a few years to build up – it did not happen over night!  my biggest tip: go neutral.  i have gone with clear glass and white for all the basics.

hostess basics

this simple collection will help you to set a table for a crowd (i think i have settings for at least 30), and then add all the fun details with accessories.

hostess basics

years ago we bought a big ol’ stack of inexpensive plates from ikea, and bowls as well.  years later, i found a stack really similar dessert plates at a garage sale and snatched them up!

hostess basics

i used to use a couple pretty pitchers to serve drinks in at gatherings, but my drink dispensers are so much more convenient – so filling and refilling the pitchers all night.

hostess basics

i have a really big table and i can’t find a table cloth big enough to cover it.  or if i did, it would be ridiculously expensive just to get spaghetti sauce spilled on it.  my solution (and this would work for any size table):  plain white flat sheets.  i buy king size flat sheets from walmart and they work perfectly!

hostess basics

while i don’t have 30 just yet, i love using cloth napkins for nicer meals.  they are a nice step up from paper napkins.  i have a few different sets of white napkins – some linen, some thrifted – but because they are all white, they work well together.  i’m also thinking of gathering some other colors, too.  best thing about white, though: bleach.

hostess basics

our table regularly seats 8, but we can fit 12 pretty easily.  we have a set of folding metal chairs around our front porch table that migrate inside when we have a gathering.

hostess basics

i like to keep my serving dishes neutral: lots of white, clear and silver.  we tend to do mostly buffet style, so at least the buffet table can look nice!

hostess basics

and on the buffet as well, i like to add a little variation with cake plates.  i have been collecting a variety of cake plates since we first got married and they definitely come in handy!

hostess basics

we have a regular weekly gathering of our growth group at our house on monday nights, where we have as many as 35 for a potluck dinner.  having forks, knives and spoons on hand is so nice!

hostess basics

basic glassware is a must.  you can use red solo cups, of course, but real glasses make the table so much nicer!  while i don’t have 30 matching glasses for entertaining, i do have 30+ mason jars that work just as well!  they are definitely more on the casual side, but they are cheap and on hand, so thats a win for me.

once you set your all white table, you can mix things up by adding colored/patterned runners, centerpieces, place cards, whatever you can think of!

so how about you – do you have a hostess stockpile?  what do you have that i’m missing?


DIY reclaimed wood sign


my mother-in-law sent me a link a couple years ago to a blog post about a sign she wanted me to make for her.  i told her i could make it, and i did!  it only took me 2 years to make it…

well, not really.  just 2 years to start it!


sean took some reclaimed wood, assembled it into a rectangle – it was pretty big… about 2.5′ x4′.


simple wood scrap braces support the back.


i created a word document with 2 fonts: modern no. 20 & stalemate.  to save on ink i printed it as an outline only.


i layer out all the pieces of paper, connecting them with tape.


i trimmed anywhere the papers overlapped.


after several different attempts, i finally figured out the quickest way to transfer the outline to the wood:  with chalk!  i kept the top edge of each word taped in place, then flipped it up…


and coated behind the lettering by rubbing chalk on it.


i flipped it back in place and then traced the printed outline by pressing hard with a sharp pencil.




the chalk transferred right onto the wood!  it was trickier in some spots because of the heavily weathered wood we chose, but still turned out great.


i was doing this project late in the night and kind of forgot to check if i had all the supplies on hand that i needed.  i ended up mixing together several bits of bottles of white paint and used a couple super thin brushes to outline the letters, then filled in with slightly wider brushes.


after it had all dried i just dusted off the excess chalk (this pic is pre-dusting).


i added the star at the end, using a straight edge and a white colored pencil to make the lines, then coated with paint.


and here it is in its final resting place on my mother-in-law’s mantel.  until its time to pack up the christmas decor…

(this project was relatively simple, but pretty time consuming.  after the wood was assembled, the rest of the work took about 8 hours.  just a heads up!)