Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thinking Thursday - Party Theme Ideas - Part 1 in a Series

Thursdays are for "thinking" out of the box. Together with Yummyday Tuesdays and Why Worry? Wednesdays - Thursdays will be a part of the Simple Party Planning Series this month.

For our first Thinking Thursday, let's go over some great party themes and ideas.

•Create a poster or cork board with pictures of your guests from throughout the years. Ask guests to bring their own pictures to add and swap out. Your guests will love (and laugh) at pictures of themselves and others. To expand on this idea – try it with your neighbors. Many times neighbors do not exchange the many pictures they take throughout the year of each other’s children. It’s a great way to collect and exchange these photos.

•Have Santa make a surprise visit at your adult parties too. Guests can give Santa a wish list and have their photos taken. Great way to start the laughs – and maybe get what you really want this year!

•Arrange for the neighborhood kids or another group to stop by and Christmas carol for your guests. OR, have a Christmas Caroling party. When I was a child, we would meet at someone’s home and take a hayride to people’s homes to carol. Every third or fourth house we would go in for hot chocolate and treats before going on to the next house. After the last house, we would go back and the adults would socialize with Hot Rum while we decorated the tree. How I loved it!

•Have a Christmas Card Making or Baked-Good Baking Party – Gather your friends for pot-luck dinner while you all sign and address your Holiday cards or bake and package your baked gifts.

•For “Christmas in July” try the following: Place the lid of a large Rubbermaid tote on the center of your food table. Cover it with a tablecloth. Fill the lid with play sand. Add Barbies in swim suits, shells, and other summer items for décor. Suggest Hawaiian shirts, serve margaritas, mini BBQ sandwiches and homemade ice cream. Play Jimmy Buffet music and have everyone do the “limbo!”

•Create “stations” instead of a food table. Banana split bars, soup stations and taco bars are great easy to fix tables.

Next Thursday..... Holiday Party Decor. For more great party planning ideas, decor photos and recipes, visit The Kendal Companies

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Worry? Wednesday - Who To Invite and Will Anyone Come?

Welcome to the first "Why Worry? Wednesday." This is a part of my Holiday Party Planning Series. Please be sure to check out the Introduction and previous posts if you are new to my blog.

The series begins this week with "Things Women Worry About When Planning A Party." Included in this series will be:

Who to Invite & WILL ANYONE SHOW UP?
What to do before, during and after your event to get guests to crown you “Hostess of the Year”

We begin with:

Who to Invite & WILL ANYONE SHOW UP?

There are many things you can do before, during and after your event to ensure your guests will attend, and will want to attend, your events.

Date Selection -Getting your guests to attend takes more than just an alluring invitation. Think about your own obligations and apply it to your guest list. Consider more than just choosing whether a Friday or Saturday will work. Scan the local newspaper or school websites to find out what is going on in the community that might be a conflict for your guests. Sports schedules, school concerts and local community events such as holiday parades and tree lightings should be taken into consideration.

Send an enticing invitation - Be creative! This is an example of how I used humor to get party guests from the Georgia Coast to come to a party in Northern Georgia:

Intrigue them with a creative theme -When choosing a theme, think outside of the box. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to have traditional themes. Try “July in Christmas” for a fun theme . With traditional parties, add another dimension by having a centralized event such as having Santa stop by or have Christmas carolers stop by. Focus more on what you can offer your guests that is different than just the theme’s décor.

Simple Elegance during your event - Down play the decor. SIMPLE decorations make a stronger statement than lavish tinsel and bows.
Food that is different but wonderful - Add a few unusual items to your regular party table. Pickled watermelon Rinds or Okra Tea sandwiches are great conversation starters!
Make each guest feel they are the most important guest - take the time to sincerely thank each guest for attending. Everyone is busy during the holidays and they didn't have to take the time to stop by YOUR party. Be grateful!
Never let them see you sweat - Have everything ready so that you are out of the kitchen by the first ring of the doorbell.
Consistency is the KEY - Guest will remember and RETURN to your home for wonderful parties. Keep up the level of elegance at each function you host- whether it's the holidays or just afternoon tea.

- Send a card, or email, with pictures of you guests from the party, thanking them for attending.

Next Wednesday.... Is My House Clean? For more great tips, visit The Kendal Companies.

For more great party planning tips, visit The Kendal Companies

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yummyday Tuesdays - Smoked Salmon Spread & Secret Cheese Ball Recipes

The following post is a contiuation of my Simple Party Planning Course and these menu items are from my Simple Brunch Selections.

It's Yummyday Tuesday! If you've read our Intro to Party Planning, then you know how this works. If not, click over and start this party planning course from the beginning. Be sure to also read the Pre-Planning post as well. Now - on to the recipes!

Smoked Salmon is a staple on my appetizer table. To add a "little something extra" I serve it with chopped red onion, capers and lagniappe (which means, a little something extra!)

Lagniappe (for Smoked Salmon)
4 oz. cream cheese
Lady & Sons Seasoning - add to taste (see Recipe below)

Lady & Sons Seasoning
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Our Family Secret Cheese Ball
Cream Cheese 3 – 8oz. pkg. (room temp.)
Onion, Chopped 2 C. (1 Lg)
Worcestershire 3 Tbsp.
Accent 3 Tbsp.
Sandwich Beef, Chopped 4 Pkg. (Best if chopped in food processor)

Mix all ingredients together, using only 3 of the 4 packages of meat. Shape into ball and use the reserved meat to cover the outside. Served best with Tollhouse or Ritz Crackers

Coming up next Tuesday....Spicy Tomato Grits and Sauteed Spinach! For more great recipes, visit The Kendal Companies.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thinking Thursday - RSVPs - What is that?!

We all are guilty of it. Not RSVPing, or waiting until the last minute to call, or worse - showing up after not RSVPing. Why do we do this and why is such a crime?

In my business, everything depends on the guest count. From how many tables and chairs to how many individual hand-made appetizers I have to roll - believe me, it matters.

Let's talk about why most of us have such a hard time picking up the phone, or emailing, or sending in the pre-stamped RSVP, or any other forms of letting the hostess know you will or won't be there:

Commitment phobia. What if something better comes along? What if I can't get a sitter? What if Brad Pitt shows up at my door and sweeps me away? What if? You can always call and let the hostess know (I promise she'll understand if you're on your way to France with Mr. Pitt.) The whole reason for RSVPS is so that the hostess can plan on how much food, beverages, chairs and space she will need AND how much money she needs to budget for all of it. If she knows she is having 100 guest instead of the 250 she invited, she may serve lobster instead of chicken. Likewise, if she does have all 250 RSVP, she knows she can never afford lobster for everyone and will have to go with the chicken.   

You want to help the hostess with her budget.  Don't try to save the hostess that per-person catering fee by saying "I won't eat" or  "my child can share off my plate" because the truth is, you WILL pick up a couple of pieces of cheese and your five-year-old will visit the dessert table at least twice. If you show up unannounced and do eat, there may not be enough food. It's better to have too much food than to not have enough so go ahead and say "yes" even if it's a "maybe." If you wait or don't RSVP you could be left empty-handed. You CAN change your mind but at least you will be covered

You simply forgot. Solve this problem by immediately responding the minute you get the invite. Don't put it in the pile on your desk or leave it in the car. Go ahead and pick up the phone or mail in the card. If it's an Evite, immediately respond online.  If your hostess was gracious enough to put a pre-stamped RSVP card in the invite, at least mail it back to her. That's alot of postage down the drain if you don't!

You're afraid you will hurt her feelings by responding "no." Yes, this is a possibility but hostess know that not everyone can attend her event. She does expect some "No's" but I also know that she would rather hear something from you than feel like you are avoiding her by not responding. For big events such as weddings, the hostess is going to make around of phone calls to those she has not heard from. Don't ingore her to save her feelings, save yourself (and her) the grief by simply being honest and RSVPing your regrets. You don't have to say "I'm going to Jenny's wedding instead." or "I'm allergic to your cat and can't come to you home Christmas party." Just a simple, NO on the RSVP will suffice.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Party Planning Course - PRE-PLANNING

The following post is a contiuation of my Simple Party Planning Course....

So you’ve decided to have a party. Now What?


Don’t be overwhelmed by planning your event. Sit down and put the following down ON PAPER:

-DATE: Getting your guests to attend takes more than just an alluring invitation. Think about your own obligations and apply it to your guest list. Consider more than just choosing whether a Friday or Saturday will work. Scan the local newspaper or school websites to find out what is going on in the community that might be a conflict for your guests. Sports schedules, school concerts and local community events such as holiday parades and tree lightings should be taken into consideration.

-TIME & DURATION: For evening events your starting time should be late enough to give yourself time to prepare and give your working guests time to get home and change but should also be early enough that your party doesn’t run late into the night. 7 or 7:30 is usually standard for evening affairs. For afternoon events, be considerate and don’t choose time frames that take up your guest’s entire day. Plan for brunch time 10:30 – 1:30 or late afternoon 5 -7pm.. You will have more people attend if they see that they still have time to accomplish their own agendas.

LOCATION – It is most cost effective to host your party at your own home. Think about how many guests your home will accommodate. Consider removing furniture out of the entertaining rooms and place folding chairs around the areas. Everyone likes to show off their home décor, but scale back your cherished items for a crisper, cleaner look for entertaining. You will benefit more by saving your favorite collectible from being broken than from displaying it for your guests. If you are planning an outdoor party, be sure to think about the weather. On porches and in garages, bring in extra fans to circulate the air and keep bugs away. Outdoor tents are very elegant for winter outdoor parties and save your home from the mess, but can be expensive to rent.

THEME- When choosing a theme, think outside of the box. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to have traditional themes. Try “July in Christmas” for a fun theme (see Party Starter page for details.) With traditional parties, add another dimension by having a centralized event such as having Santa stop by or have Christmas carolers stop by. Focus more on what you can offer your guests that is different than just the theme’s décor.

ATTIRE (cocktail, casual, dinner) – This one is your personal preference. Most people like to have a reason to dress up a little bit, but sometimes you just want to be comfortable.

GUEST COUNT/LIST –Is this just neighbors? Your company holiday party? Don’t mix guest list. Business parties should not be combined with less formal occasions. No one wants to see their slightly obnoxious neighbor chatting with your biggest client. It is also too stressful to try to be professional and hang out with the girl next door at the same time. Again, consider how many your home will comfortable hold.

Coming Next..... the "Menu".......

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yummyday Tuesday - Sweet Potato Balls

Sweet Potato Balls

Bake, Peel and Mash 4 large Sweet Potatoes

Mix together:
2/3 C. Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Orange Juice
1 tsp. Orange Zest
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

Add to potatoes.

In a seperate bowl toss together:
2 C. Coconut
1/2 C. Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon

Press the mixture around a large marshmellow. Roll ball around in the coconut mixture. Place in a large paper cupcake wrapper and bake in muffin tin for 20 mins. at 350 degrees.

Be careful not to overcook or the marshmellows will pop.

For more great receipes visit

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

YOU ASKED - YOU GOT IT - Holiday Party Planning Course

Last holiday season I did a series of seminars for local businesses and civic groups on simple holiday party planning. It was a great success and I have had emails from several attendees requesting  a "reminder" course. I added a slideshow to my website and thought it would be a great idea to add it to my blog during the month of December.

Starting this week, I will be breaking down my series into three posts per week. On Tuesdays I will post "Yummyday Tuesdays" which will consist of recipes from my family, friends and personal catering company. I will start with the brunch menu I used as a guide in my seminars.

This will be complimented by "Why Worry? Wednesdays." These posts will cover the  "Things women worry about the most when planning a party." 

Finally, "Thinking Thursdays"  will highlight party planning shortcuts and tips. Sort of my own "thinking out of the box" series.

By the end of the month you should be able to hold a simple, but elegant, brunch for the holidays or for a festive NewYears Eve Gala. If you are short on time and need to fast-forward, visit my website for the complete course via slideshow. To look ahead, in January, the topic will change from Simple Party Planning to Simplifying YOU and Your Clutter.

Simple (but Elegant!) Brunch INTRODUCTION/SCHEDULE

Yummyday Tuesdays:
Beverages - Posting on Tuesday December 1st
Hot Russian Tea
Coffee Bar
Starters - Posting Tuesday December 8th
Smoked Salmon
Served with Capers, Red Onions and Lagniappe
Maries' Cheese ball
Served with Artisan Crackers
Main Course - Posting Tuesday December 15th
Spicy Tomato  Grits
Thick Cut Bacon and Sausage Patties
Sautéed Spinach with Onions and Garlic
Sweets   -Posting Tuesday December 22nd
Lemon Glazed Scones
Homemade Pound Cake Served with Chocolate Gravy and Grand Berries

Why Worry? Wednesdays4 Things Women Worry about When Planning a Party
Who to Invite and Will Anyone Show Up? - Wednesday December 2nd
How Clean Is My House? - Wednesday December 9th
What Food will I Serve? -Includes Printable Shopping List Wednesday December 16th
What Will I Wear? - Wednesday December 23rd

Thinking Thursdays
Party Themes - Thursday December 3rd
Decor Ideas - Thursday December 10th
Party Starter Ideas - December 17th
Final Notes - December 24th

I am very excited about this series and hope you will leave lots of comments for me! You can always visit The Kendal Companies for more great recipes, tips, crafts and more!

Stay tuned for the first post: Party Pre-Planning....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yummyday Tuesday - Chilled Pumpkin Dip

Chilled Pumpkin Dip
A wonderful lady from my Recipe Club brought this dip to last year's appetizer night. Thanks Heidi!

8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
2 C. Powdered Sugar
1 Tbsp. OJ Concentrate
1/2 C. Sour Cream
15oz. Can of Pumpkin
1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon

Combine cream cheese, sour cream and sugar in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add pumpkin and beat until combined. Stir in cinnamon and OJ. Refrigerate one hour before serving. Serve with gingersnaps, graham crackers or apple slices.

For more great receipes visit

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

RECIPE Wrapped Pickled Watermelon Rind

If you are looking for a conversation starter - I have TWO great recipes that are attention getters. Mention "pickled watermelon rind" or "pickled okra sandwiches" and I promise you will get a sneer or at least a raised eyebrow - but I guarantee your guests will be pleasantly surprised how great these apps really are! Try them out this holiday season. Be sure to check out more great recipes and party planning tips at my website.

Watermelon Pops
1 Jar Pickled Watermelon Rind
6 Slice Bacon, cut in 1/2
Parchment Paper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use a baking sheet that has a lip on it (watermelon rind is a little juicy and will drip if you don't) and line it with parchment paper for easy clean up. Drain the rind WELL. Roll each piece in the 1/2 slice of bacon and place on cookie pan with the seam UP.

Bake until golden brown. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Transfer the pops on a tray and watch your guests try them out!

Note: I have found that each jar of rind is different. Some will only have 8-10 large pieces of rind while others can hold 20 pieces or more. If you are planning a party using the "bites per person" method, you may have trouble figuring how many jars to buy. I suggest planning on each jar holding 12 pieces so it will average out. many stores won't carry but a handful of jars at a time so I buy these throughout the year and keep them on hand for when I have a large party and need them.

These little tea sandwiches may get a sneer at their name and green toppings, but one bite and everyone will be hooked. I serve these at all my functions as an extra treat and they are gone in a flash! I do have to credit Paula Dean for the original recipe, but I am sure she would be glad to share it with you herself if you asked her!

24 oz. Loaf of Sliced White Bread
8 oz. Softened Cream Cheese
16 oz. Jar of Pickled Okra, drained
1 Cup Finely chopped Fresh Parsley

Remove crusts from bread. With a rolling pin or smooth glass, roll each slice very thin. Coat each slice with cream cheese and place an okra spear in the center; roll up. Spread a light coat of cream cheese on the outside of each rolled up sandwich. Roll sandwich with sparsely. Cut into thirds , if desired.

Quick Hints:
It easiest to use your fingers to spread the cream cheese on the outside of each roll. My little girl loves to help with this part!
Always use the best brands of cream cheese and the cheapest brands of bread.
I use HOT okra and everyone loves it!
Don't prepare these too early or the bread will dry out. They can be kept in the refrigerator for a short time if necessary. My niece uses flour tortillas and says they are just as good and can keep longer.

For more great receipes visit