Holiday Hosting Tips

It’s the holidays and the hustle and bustle can make people crazy and holiday hosting can get even more crazy. Below are some easy tips to help with holiday hosting to make sure your guest and YOU are merry!


It's All in The Details

The key to any party is nailing the details. Sometimes it's fun to twist in a theme to help create details your guests will remember. Last year, we hosted a holiday party and I decided to go with a ‘Whoville Christmas’ theme. I found bright colorful décor and decorated the main areas of the house: entryway, kitchen, bar area, living room, guest bathroom, etc.

Play into the holiday decor, have fun with it! I set out holiday candy throughout the house and make some custom signage for the bar area. Extra Christmas ornaments are always an easy way to create a decorative piece. I like to drop them into empty hurricane vases or large candy jars. Fresh garland is a nice touch as well, it makes your home smell great too. You can find fresh garland at most local trees farms, it's usually $5 per foot. The garland helps bring color and texture into the space. And it makes the whole room smell like Christmas!

Additionally, it's always fun to throw some surprises at your guests. Have someone dress up like Santa and greet everyone as they come in or bake some cookies as to-go gift on their way out. 


Make The Bar Easy

Sometimes it can become overwhelming trying to please everyone. So my best is advice is to keep the variety and selection simple, (which makes it easy on your guests as well). 

  • Wine - I try and stick to one red and one white. You don't want to over complicated it. If you are serving an appetizer that goes well with a bold red, you can always add another red to the line up. But for the most part, guest tend to stick to red blends and chardonnay. 

  • Beer - I keep things super simple here too. Select one light beer and one dark beer. Two options make it simple for everyone.

  • Spirits - This is totallypreference and it's good to know your crowd. If your hosting a larger group, it might be easiest to pre-make a cocktail. I did this one last year, it was a hit! Jingle Juice (a recipe from Baked Bree). The recipe calls for Gin, but we used Vodka and it was delicious!

If that seems like a lot, you can always cut it down and serve wine and beer. Oh, and don’t forget a few water stations or bottled water.


Communication 

Communicate with your guests! Whether it's through a digital invite (my preferred method is Paperless Post or Evite) or an old-fashioned paper invite. Make sure your guests know what is going on. Don't forget the main details like: date, time, location, parking info, attire, options for plus ones, etc. The more prepared your guests feel the more comfortable they will feel in your home. 


Don’t Forget The Snacks

Rule of thumb, if you serve booze you have to serve food. Again, I keep it simple here too and timing being key. If your party starts earlier in the evening your guest might arrive hungry or assume you are planning to feed them. If your event starts later in the evening, plan for lighter and sweeter snacks assuming guest will arrive post dinner. Either way, mixing in festive snacks are always a crowd pleaser!

Enjoy The Party

As a host, you want to actually enjoy the event. So pre-planning is very important. Complete all your details well in advance and ask for help if needed. Don't wait until the day before your event to get all your errands done. Tip: I pull together a checklist of everything I can think of, and start checking off my list five days before the event. That way there is less stress the day-of and you have more time to get ready and enjoy the party!

Happy Holidays!

Kayla

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

I love the holidays, for so many reasons. The décor, the parties, (the party planning!), the fun festive outfits and of course the holiday shopping. I’m trying hard this year not to shop for myself as I’m shopping for others – wish me luck! There are so many great things out there!

Below is a fun gift guide for all the special people in your life. All items are links so it should make shopping this year fun and easy, enjoy!

xo, Kayla

For Her

Whether you're shopping for your mom, sister or best friend these gift ideas are so perfect this year. Some of my favorite things are: Slip Silk Pillow Case, 2019 Planner and custom jewelry by Rachel Brooks Fine Jewelry.

For Him

Any male - will love these gifts! Jay wears a lot of Ted Baker and I like it because it dresses him up but it’s still casual and comfortable for him. My top picks for the guys: Ted Baker Apparel, UGG Slippers and Lululemon underwear.

The Travel Buff

These are all fantastic gift ideas for anyone who has a travel bug or lives on a plane!

The Beauty Queen

I’ve been obsessed with skin care this past year, so this was a fun category to shop for! Skincare can be tricky, since you don’t always know someone’s routine or skin type. But all the gifts below are great for all skin types! My current favs: Mario Badescu, Herbivore, Tata Harper and Bobby Brown Beach - Such an amazing scent!

Home Gifts

These items are an easy way to cozy up the house this holiday season. All great housewarming ideas too!

Holiday Decor

Again, my favorite stuff to shop for. Michaels and HomegGoods have been my go-to’s for years. But this year I’ve been finding great stuff at Crate & Barrel, Cb2 and Pottery Barn.

Hostess Gifts

These are fun and so thoughtful! Many of these little gifts are perfect for year-round hostess gifts. My personal fav - Pink Wine Stones!


Stocking Stuffers

I love shopping for stocking stuffers! I always enjoy finding cute inexpensive gifts for the people I love.

Thanksgiving Hosting Tips and Ideas!

Thanksgiving is upon us. We aren’t hosting this year, but I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes and hosting tips from last year. We are spending Thanksgiving over at Jay’s parents house, can’t wait to eat all the things! Follow my Pinterest board here for more tips and ideas.

Thanks to Woman's World, I found this cute idea for our table setting. Our house decor is pretty modern, so it was fun to twist in some traditional pieces. We set the menus at each table setting and asked our guest to write down what they were thankful for. It was a fun post-dinner activity to read them together.

I had a blast with my table setting, maybe my favorite part from last year! I mixed in fresh florals in a harvest color scheme and used a mix of modern and traditional decor - lots of gold! I found some great stuff at Crate and Barrel, CB2 and HomeGoods.

Idea inspiration from Woman's World.

Table Decor Designed By: Kayla Cook Events

Table Decor Designed By: Kayla Cook Events

Whether you're doing buffet or family style, this setup from 100LayerCake is perfect for the bar, desserts or a stationed buffet. I really like the mix of fall decor, wood and gold ascents.

Inspriation from 100layercake and their Friendsgiving shoot with Crate & Barrel.

Sparkling Cider Sangria is a great starter cocktail for your guests. It is refreshing and it's a super easy to make, which is always a perk and it looks very pretty too! (The recipe calls for cognac but we did whiskey instead and it tasted great!)

Another amazing recipe that I made last year (and will be making again this year!) is an Apple Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing. It’s not a traditional stuffing recipe. It has a ton of flavor and was pretty simple to make - You can make it gluten free as well!

More next year, happy Thanksgiving everyone!

xo, Kayla 

Recipe By: Kitchn

Recipe By:  Wicked Good Kitchen

Party Tips & Ideas! NYE - Let's Celebrate!

New Years is one of my favorite holidays but every year it sneaks up on me. This year we are having a very low-key celebration with close friends; but I wanted to share some fun decoration ideas that I’ve done in the past that are quick, easy, cheap and look awesome!

Balloons

These never go out of style so why not make them a little glam! Once you’ve inflated your balloons add a light coat of gold paint (or any color that goes with your color scheme!) to the bottom of the balloon. You can also use clear glue and sprinkle gold or metallic glitter on the balloon for some extra sparkle! (Tip: Make sure to use a light coat of paint or glue so it doesn’t weight the balloons down)

Party Signage

You can find the cutest printable templates on Etsy or you can design them yourself on a chalkboard, wood sign or glasses mirrors. I’m in love with my vintage letter board (on amazon for just $30 bucks!). Adding some signage to the bar and food areas allows you to bring your decor to life.

Anything Gold or Silver

If you were you walk into any local craft store you’d be covered in gold and silver. These are the two NYE staple colors so have fun with them! Whether it’s more balloons, tassels for the bar, confetti or gold twisted paper straws. (also found on amazon for just $6 bucks!)

Fancy Cocktails

This can be easy! Below are a couple of my favorite bubble cocktails. You can also go the super-easy route and just pour some bubbles and garnish with fruit or herbs, adds some glam and gives the bubbles a little flavor.

French 76

  • Vodka
  • Simple Syrup
  • Bubbles (prosecco or champagne)
  • Garish with a Lemon Twist

Jingle Juice

I shared this on my last holiday post, but I thought I’d throw it at you again because it’s delicious and great for a party. It’s easy, you can make it bulk and you can add in some bubbles to give a NYE twist!

  • Vodka
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Club Soda
  • Bubbles (prosecco or champagne)
  • Garnish with fresh cranberries and rosemary

Happy New Years everyone!

Xo,

Kayla

How to host the best party, the easiest way!

I know you could have guessed it, but I LOVE to throw a good party. I mean who doesn’t love going to a good party!

We are on the eve of hosting our first holiday party and I thought I'd share some tips and ideas that can really work for any party or event you may be hosting. You will notice a theme, I’m all about keeping it as simple as possible.

Tip #1 It's All in The Details

I think the key to every good party is having a consistent theme throughout and touching on that theme with little details your guest will remember. This weekend, since it’s in our house, I’m going with a ‘Whoville Christmas’ theme. I’ll add some pops of colorful décor on the bar and mingling areas; and include little touches throughout the party: bowls of colorful candy, custom signage, funny cocktail napkins, etc.

Extra Christmas ornaments are always an easy way to create a decorative piece, just drop a few into some hurricane vase or jars. Fresh garland is a nice touch as well. You can find it at local trees farms, it's usually $5 per foot and it really helps bring color and texture into the space, and bonus - It's makes the whole room smell like Christmas!

Additionally, I will throw in a few surprises like a guest Santa, unexpected carolers and fresh baked to-go cookies as a thank you gift for our guests on their way out. Again, it’s all in the details. (see more ideas below in the gallery)

Tip #2 Make The Bar Easy

Sometimes it can become overwhelming trying to please everyone, specifically their drink of choice. My goal has always been to keep the variety and selection simple, (which makes it easy on your guests as well). My selection this weekend is a mix of light and dark beers, one red and one white wine, a variation of whiskey options and a pre-made vodka cocktail (Jingle Juice recipe from Baked Bree). If that seems like a lot, you can always cut it down and just serve wine and beer. Oh, and don’t forget a few water stations or bottled water.

Tip #3 Communication 

Communicate with your guests! Whether it's through a digital invite (my preferred method is Paperless Post) or an old-fashioned invite. Just make sure your guests know what is going on. Don't forget the main details like: date, time, location and the mini details like: parking info, attire, options for plus ones, etc. The more prepared your guests feel the more comfortable they will be.

Tip #4 Snacks

Rule of thumb, if you serve booze you have to serve food. Again, I keep it simple here too with timing being key. If you party starts in the earlier evening your guest might arrive hungry or assume you are planning to feed them. In our case the party starts at eight so we planned on lighter and sweeter snacks assuming guest will arrive post dinner. Either way, I’m mixing in some meat skewers, baked brie, festive snacks like popcorn and chex mix, and of course holiday treats like sugar cookies, ginger snaps, etc. 

Tip #5 Create a Pre-Plan

Don't wait until the day before your event to get all your errands done. No one enjoys running around like a crazy person gathering last minute details, plus that leaves WAY too much room for error. I pull together a checklist of everything I can think of, and start checking off my list five days prior to the event; that way there is more time for things you may have forgot, less stress the day-of and you have more time to get ready and enjoy the party!

Happy planning!

xo, 

Kayla

Thanksgiving Hosting Tips and Ideas!

Thanksgiving is upon us. 

How did that happen? I swear it was August like 2 minutes ago. Well, here we are, it's fall and Thanksgiving is coming up in less then 3 weeks. One more exciting twist, we decided to host this year. (I can't believe that either!) Is it bad that I'm more excited for my table setting and bar decor then the actual turkey and sides?? Maybe, maybe not. All decor aside, I think what I am most excited about it hosting our families in one place. On a personal note, we recently moved from downtown Seattle (ultra-urban apartment life) to the beautiful Seattle suburb of Kirkland. We have a gorgeous home and it is perfect for hosting, and that being said we have plenty of space to our host our friends and family for this feast-full holiday. Plus, we have to break in the new place, right?

I've been pinning like crazy, follow my Pinterest board here. Below are a couple of fun ideas and recipes I'll be incorporating into my game plan. 

Thanks to Woman's World, I found this cute idea for our table setting. Our house decor is pretty modern, so I'm trying to twist in some traditional pieces. I think it would be a fun idea to have these little menus at each table setting to give all guests a chance to express what they are thankful for.

Idea inspiration from Woman's World.

I haven't fully decided on the menu and whether or not it will be buffet or family style. I'm leaning towards a buffet setting and found this sweet little setup from 100LayerCake. I really like the mix of fall decor, wood and gold ascents. On that note, I've found some really great table decor at Target - fun side note: gold is in!

Inspriation from 100layercake and their Friendsgiving shoot with Crate & Barrel.

To kick of the day, I'm planning on serving this bubbly cocktail recipe from The Kitchn. I think it will be the perfect starter, nice and refreshing as well. It's a super easy recipe, which is always a perk! (it calls for cognac but I might do a whiskey instead)

Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria Recipe from Kitchn

Also, another amazing recipe that I will be making this year is an Apple Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing. I found this recipe on Pinterest, view here.

Recipe By: Wicked Good Kitchen

Recipe By: Wicked Good Kitchen

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

xo, 

Kayla 

Halloween Treats

Obviously you have to serve sweet treats at any Halloween party! Below are a few of my favorites. 

Candy Corn Jello Shots

The fabulous women at A Beautiful Mess created this fantastic recipe for candy corn inspired jello shots. And guess what? They are easy to make, hooray! View the the recipe, here

Blood Spattered Sugar Cookies

To die for, right? A little creepy, but delicious and also super easy! Follow a based sugar cookie recipe and spatter (using a paint brush) red frosting. Click out the step-by-step recipe, here.

Halloween Krispy Treat Pops

Another genius idea by Hott Mama In The City! There are almost too easy... All you need are: rice krispy treats (cut any shape you'd like, open to creativity!),  white chocolate chips, sticks or straws and sprinkles! Check out the full recipe, here

Halloween Cocktail Ideas

Call me crazy, but Halloween has been one of my favorite holidays for years. I love the idea of dressing up and bringing people together to drink spooky cocktails, indulge in sweets and play in the traditions of All Hallows Eve!

Halloween Inspired Cocktails 

This cocktail is delicious, classy and look how cool it is! My. Hyde's Potion is a combination of vodka, blackberry liqueur, lemon juice and lavender. Check out the full recipe from HGTV, here

More cocktail ideas below. 

The Black Widow Shot

Black Vodka and cranberry juice, simple! You can use either red or black sugar to rim the glass.