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?

 

mint & gold bridal shower

bridal shower

my sweet niece (who lived with us for a short time) is getting married!  i hosted a small shower for her with friends and family in our area (she lives in another town now).  it was so much fun pulling together the details!

bridal shower

because it was a smaller group of ladies (and a few little girls), i was able to serve a sit-down meal.  that’s my favorite!  i love being able to set a pretty table for a party!  i always do my best to use what i have on hand or can borrow, so it makes the decor side even more challenging and fun for me.

i had all the plates on hand as well as the silverware (i’ve bought a few sets of 6 forks and spoons from target – we host lots of big groups).   i borrowed the champagne flutes, bowls and some of the jadeite goodies from a friend.

bridal shower

i covered the tables with a couple vintage chenille bedspreads (my tablecloths aren’t large enough).  we used our large dining room table paired with 2 folding tables side by side.

i printed out a simple menu card and water colored them, heavier at the top or side and lighter toward the other edges.

bridal shower

i really wanted to step up from the mason jars, but i didn’t have enough water goblets on hand.  i had some glittered gift wrap ribbon in a drawer from last christmas that i taped onto the mason jar.  we wrote the guest’s names in metallic ink on shipping tags.

bridal shower

just another time to be thankful for the iceberg roses lining our front yard!  it was almost time to trim the latest blooms, so i just jumped the gun a bit and used the big blooms in square vases.  i love the casual, unfussy look they give.

see the table runner?  its christmas wrapping paper from target (similar) that i cut in half.  i love the metallic gold woodgrain!  if you ever need to try cutting a roll of paper in half, try this: while the paper is still in its plastic wrapper, mark the center with a sharpie all the way around.  then with a sharp exact knife, cut through the paper along the sharpie line.  i had to go around several times before it was cut through, but it was a pretty clean cut and easier than cutting a straight line down a long roll!

bridal shower

my niece’s wedding colors are mint and gold, so i wanted the shower to nod to that, but with a bit of a vintage twist.  i pulled out my sea glass colored vintage bottles and set them alongside silver and milk glass pieces filled temporarily with succulents.

bridal shower

 

bridal shower

 

bridal shower

 

bridal shower

besides my sister-in-law (the bride’s mom) and my mother-in-law, lily was my biggest helper.   when she wasn’t helping with the decor, she was helping in the kitchen, like cutting the cucumbers and lemons for the water. (find the jar here)

bridal shower

i wanted to try a new version of mimosa: champagne with orange sherbet.  but then i remembered that i don’t love champagne so i switched to ginger ale instead.  and it was still super yummy!

bridal shower

how pretty is my sister-in-law?  so pretty, in fact, that my kids call her aunt pretty.  no joke.

bridal shower

ok, so we need to talk about the food i served for lunch.  if you know me much, you know i am not a fancy cook.  but you know who is?  my friend joy.  she was so kind to help with planning the menu and recipes and answering my panicked texts while i was cooking.  we all need a joy in our lives.  but you can’t have mine ;)

here’s the menu:

pineapple with fresh berries

roasted potato & leek soup with crispy shallots (possibly the best soup ever)

turkey cranberry croissant sandwiches (made amazing with cream cheese mixed with orange marmalade and whole cranberry sauce)

bridal shower

and the cake.  that i remade a few times.  the first time i forgot to put in sugar.  then i switched the measurements for the oil and water.  sheesh it was ridiculous.  but in the end, it was super tasty!

one bowl chocolate cake with swiss meringue buttercream

(cake topper from lisa leonard designs)

bridal shower

i’ve slowly collected mismatched floral plates since we got married and i had just enough to serve the cake on.

bridal shower

believe it or not, this isn’t even half of the ladies in my sweet family!  amber, the bride, is the one on the middle.

congratulations amber & ben – we love you!