Entertaining

I had the most wonderful night on Saturday night!  I held a dinner party fundraiser for my friend Kyly’s daughter who has Cystic Fibrosis.

When out for dinner recently we were discussing the expensive costs associated with treatment for Kyly’s daughter and I suggested we host a Girls Night In (stealing the idea from the Cancer Council) to help raise funds for a new nebuliser or physiotherapy vest.  Kyly loved the idea and so we ran with it.

With 15 invited, 12 were able to make it.  Women all connected to me from different parts of my life.  My Mum, MumO, SILS, friends and Kyly’s Mum, Sister and SIL – all women I have known for 5 to 21 years, plus of course Mum – all my life – der!

Today I thought I would share with you how I prepare for an event like this.  For me, it’s about lists and planning and being organised.

On the Friday the week before the event I planned the menu properly and wrote out my grocery shopping list.  The menu consisted of:

On Monday night I ordered most of my groceries for the event online, to be delivered Thursday morning after school drop off.

On Friday I was up early and cooked the Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce and Chocolate Mousse. After swimming lessons, Mr 3 and I headed to Aldi and bought all these flowers for $25.00. Bargain!


Once home, I made the pastry and lemon filling for the Lemon Meringue Pie.

On Saturday we had swimming and dance lessons. After this was done it was time for home and last minute prep.

I made the meringue, assembled the pie and popped it in the oven for 5 minutes. I then made the Creamy Chicken Pasta. With all the cooking now done, I put the dishwasher on, ready to be emptied before everyone arrived.

It was then time to make the house look pretty. This is how I set my table. Firstly, I needed to seat 12 people.  Hubby has created an extension to add on to our table.  We have 6 dining chairs constantly in use and 4 cheap IKEA chairs I store in the attic when not in use. I asked Kyly to bring the rest of the chairs needed with her. Then I ironed and placed white tablecloths on the table.

As I was serving the main meal and dessert on the kitchen island bench, I set the table, minus dinner plates. I used the width of the chairs to space the cutlery. Bread a butter plates to the right with IKEA paper napkins (didn’t have enough cloth ones) with butter knife and spoons for dessert.

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I used glass bottles as vases and placed 4 roses in each. I also used candles to provide soft lighting along the table.

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The final touch, a red ribbon in honour of Cystic Fibrosis.

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I then got all the plates (bread and butter, main and dessert plates) and servingware ready. We then prepared the salads, cooked the pasta and prepared the antipasto platters.

I like to use my console table with a tablecloth on it as the drinks table. All the glassware goes on top with wine in a large stainless steel dish and I borrowed MumO’s drink stand for the soft drinks.

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Lighting – I wanted to keep the mood relaxed so lit candles and lamps.

We were now ready for all our guests.

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The evening flowed well with great conversation shared as well as many memories and funny tales. Dishes were cleared away as each course was finished.

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Kyly and I worked well after all the guests left, with the clean up and pack up completed within 40 minutes. Plenty of time to sit down for a chat and a cuppa tea before bed!

Do you like entertaining for a crowd?  I love having all my loved ones near me, and all women of different ages sharing stories/memories/experiences?  Priceless!

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Christmas Cards

I usually have my Christmas cards ordered by now, ready for me to sign, seal in envelopes and post on 1 December or thereabouts. I’m running a little slow on that this year and it’s due to indecision on my part as to how/what to do this year. 

I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards. I love it best when there’s a letter with the card telling us about our friends adventures over the past year. This happens less and less now that we see what most of our friends are up to but I have a few who aren’t on Social Media and it’s lovely to receive their letter. It’s also lovely to receive something in the mail that isn’t a bill or junk mail!Before we had the kids I would just head to the shops and pick a packet of cards that I liked the look of.When Miss 5 arrived though, I wanted to do something more personalised. 
These are the designs we’ve done since 2011:

2011:


2012:


2013:


2014:


We did a personalised card in 2015, and whilst Hubby and I thought it was hilarious, as did most of our family/friends, it’s been suggested I don’t share it here. I’ll just say ‘silent night’ and leave it at that. 

I loved how 2012 acted as a baby announcement for Mr 3!
This year with the change in colour theme I think I’ll just do something with no humour in it at all, just a nice family photo in front of our tree. 
What do you tend to do? No cards? Store bought cards? Support a charity with your cards? Make your own? Be sure to tell me!

Christmas 2016

Last week I shared with you how I prepare for Christmas with mapping out our commitments on the calendar and budgeting for all the presents.  This week, I am talking ‘pretties’, how I would like my Christmas to look.

I am a traditional soul at heart and have always gone the green tree route with variations of the traditional red/gold/silver decorations.  Here are some pictures of what I’ve done over the years:


As I was setting up the tree last Christmas, I disliked (especially the red) how it all looked.  As you’ve seen over the past weeks when I’ve shared my home, I like calming blues, creams and whites.  I didn’t like the stark contrast offered by the Christmas tree.  I started searching on Pinterest for images of a blue and white Christmas that brought me joy and pinned like mad.  I then kept an eye out at the shops for decorations that would work, especially after Christmas in the sales.

I have also been keeping my eye out this year for blue decorations but haven’t made any purchases as yet as I can’t recall how much I have already bought.  I am super excited to get it all out in December (we set our tree up on December 1) and set it all up.

I have made the following purchases from Target this year:


The other decorating that will need to be done is our dining room table.  For the first time, I am hosting Christmas Eve with my side of the family (a Dutch tradition – my Dad is Dutch).  I am looking forward to preparing the food, but most of all, I am looking forward to decorating the table.  With a rough idea in mind, I purchased a plain navy tablecloth in Spotlight last week on sale – having a plan saved me money!  I already have silver charger plates and will now need to consider what else will go on the table.  I’ll be getting my Martha on and ironing cloth napkins and the tablecloth.  I might have some flowers on the table, some battery operated fairy lights or maybe candles.

Here are some inspirational images I am using:


I also do trees in the kids rooms.  Miss 5 had red gingham decorations for the past few years, but this year I have purchased her some pastel pinks, purples, blues and greens to go with her new room theme.  I’m excited to show them all to her in the coming weeks.


I bought Mr 3 a grey scandi looking timber tree in the sales from Domayne early this year.  I will be decorating that with navy, red and grey ornaments to align with the colour palette in this room

So tell me, what colour theme are you going with this year?  Do you stick to the same theme each year?  Are you trying something completely new like me?  Share your pictures with me in the comments below, on FB or tag me on Instagram!

 

Christmas 2016

“Argh! Why is she talking about Christmas? It’s not for another 47 days”. Or 7 Sundays.I am talking about Christmas because I’m sure my daughter only started Kindergarten last week and this week we seem to be in Week 5, Term 4. 

Ever since we had kids, days turn into weeks and into months and in the blink of an eye another year is over. So whilst Christmas is 47 days away, it will be here in no time. So now is the time to plan!

Grab your diary. If you don’t have one, pop into your Outlook Calendar and print of weekly or monthly views for November/December. Now go through your text messages, your Events page on Facebook, notes from School/Daycare/Dancing/Sport and write all the dates down. When I did that I started to panic because we have a lot of events coming up in the next two months, some Christmas related, some not, all things we’d like to do. 


Then call anyone else that needs to contribute to this. Hubby/wife/parents etc. I called Hubby at work and although I didn’t intend it to take this long, it took 10 minutes for me to let him know everything that was going on so that he could note it in his work diary, submit any required leave dates or make a note to leave by a certain time on a certain date. If you are hosting an occasion at your home in this time, book in time in your calendar for the housework/grocery shop/prep for the event. 

The next big thing is Christmas present shopping. I made a start on this in September. Ideally, I would have started earlier as we have a crazy amount of birthdays in the second half of the year, but as stated above, the year has gotten away from me. I started by working out the cost. As a rule, we spend around $50 on our parents/siblings/in-laws/nieces/nephews. We spend $20 on most of our friends kids and then I discuss with my Hubby what we’d like to spend on each other and what we’d like to get for our kids. I add these costs up and then divide it over the amount of pay periods we have between now and Christmas. I don’t like the feeling of a financial hangover in January and if I can avoid it, I like to. It feels like we are still recovering from when we bought the kids their cubby house. 


I then create a list of everyone we buy for and brainstorm ideas on what to get them. This year I’ve actually found it quite easy to come up with ideas for most people. Other years it is a lot harder. 

Research and shop online. I spent time in my lunch break and on the train three days a week looking at department store websites/Instagram/Facebook getting ideas. This was great because I had my list and managed to save some money during Spend and Save promotions through some stores, buying things I needed to get anyway!

Another thing to think about is how you want your Christmas to look. By that I mean your Christmas decor, but I may have overwhelmed you enough so I will leave that for next time. 

How are you going with your plans for Christmas?  Have you started shopping?  Got a plan?  Let me know!