What I’ve learned about entertaining



Am I the only one who feels like they are still catching up after the holidays? We finally put our Christmas tree away this week and it felt so good! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and seeing all the beautiful ornaments we’ve collected over the years but it was time to have my house back.

I took a week off in between Christmas and New Year’s – what I call “family week” – and during that time I was thinking about how much easier this Christmas Eve felt to host. This is the third year we’ve hosted and I felt like I finally was in a groove after learning from all my previous party “mistakes”. Here’s what I’ve learned to have a fun, easy, stress free and memorable party…


Set up beforehand, if possible. I like to have the table set up a day or two before Christmas Eve so Ryan and I don’t have to stress about taking folding chairs and folding tables in from the garage the morning of the party. This year we ran out of time and set up last minute, but it worked out because our curious almost-three year old was very curious and would have moved everything around anyway. :)

Cook some, buy the rest.  Pre-baby, I used to go crazy trying cook everything, proving to myself and my guests just how domestic I was. Ha!
Post-baby I realize how crazy I was! If you’re hosting dinner, make the meal and buy the appetizers and/or desserts. No one wants to go to a dinner party where the host is stressed, so do yourself a favor and let other people help! Plus you don’t want to be in the kitchen all night feeling like a caterer. Accept help so you can actually enjoy your guests!
If you’re hosting a big group, like I do, do a potluck. I make a ham and some roasted veggies while our families bring sides and appetizers.

Have sternos on hand to keep meals hot. Someone will always be late. No matter how organized you are with planning your meal times, someone will be late and all your food may get cold. I only have one oven, so I keep these on hand to keep the meal hot as guests arrive.

Always have a bottle of champagne in the fridge. You never know if someone will share news to celebrate! I love drinking champagne even on days where there’s nothing to celebrate but life itself, so I usually have a bottle chilling in the fridge.

Take stock of dish soap, paper towels, and toilet paper. A few years ago when we were hosting a party, we had only one roll of paper towels and one clean dish towel. Party foul. The next year I made sure all the dish towels were clean so clean-up was easier. Also, make sure all bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper so your guests don’t get embarrassed asking for it mid-party.

Set the mood. I’m a bit of a pyro, so every party I have there are tons of candles. On Christmas Eve, we try and get our neighbors involved to do luminaries, so our house had 48 candles outside alone. We may have had three times that inside on the tables!  For table settings, I like to keep it simple: lots of candles, plates all in the same or similar colors, and small flower arrangements.  I feel like the candles and the flowers elevate the mood and make guests feel special. At least that’s my intention!

Have the dishwasher empty. You’ll likely go through a lot of dishes cooking and eating, so have the dishwasher ready to do it’s job! This way you don’t have to wake up to a kitchen counter filled with dirty dishes.

OK to have dishes in the sink. Nothing is more annoying than when you go to someone’s house that appears spotless and they say “oh, don’t mind the mess” just to be polite. Do you agree?! I like to keep a few dishes in the sink: 1) because I’m lazy and hate doing dishes and 2) it makes guests feel like your home isn’t too precious and they can kick back and relax.

OK to entertain barefoot. On the same note as above, I read a tip years ago to entertain barefoot so you’re guests feel more relaxed and at home. I am typically barefoot at home anyway, so the same thing goes when I have people over.

Have ice made. If guests want a cocktail or a glass of water, they’ll need ice to keep it cold. (duh.)  One of my first parties I hosted, I forgot to make ice and I felt awful that my friends were drinking warm cocktails. Lesson learned!

Don’t go crazy buying desserts. If you’re cooking dinner, you’ll likely be too full to binge on sweets. Make/buy one or two and call it a day.

Do not mop your floors beforehand. I repeat: do not mop your floors beforehand. Ryan’s just as OCD as me, if not worse, and we would always mop before a party. As clean as you think your friends and family are, a big party tracks in a lot of dirt and stickiness from spilled drinks even if the party is mainly outside. I’ll vacuum before a party and do a very quick cleaning, but always mop the day after.

Have the garbage and recycling empty. Similar to the note about the dishwasher, have the trash ready and empty to throw things away so you don’t have to bring it out during a party.


Hudson, NY

Hudson, NY

This October Ryan and I were able to sneak away for a weekend getaway while my amazing sister-in-law stayed with Cole. I’ve been meaning to post pictures for way too long, but it’s better late than never, right? What’s the point in taking pictures if you can’t over-instagram or blog about it?! Kidding. (Or am I?)


I’ve been wanting to explore Hudson, NY for years now. We love New Hope and we’ve heard from friends that it has a similar vibe and they were right. Ryan isn’t a fan of B&B’s so I was so excited to find The Barlow, a fancy schmancy boutique hotel with modern interiors. Apparently there are only two hotels in the area, and this is one of them. We tried making reservations years ago at another place and learned that apparently you need to make reservations six months-a year in advance. After the year we had, we needed a mini-vacation (and a real vacation!) so I booked it in just enough time.


We arrived on a Friday evening and since everything closes early, we just walked around and did some window shopping, ate our weight in mexican food and drank the best margaritas I’ve ever had. It was such a luxury to do just be us… and do what we wanted when we wanted. I wish I could say we even had the luxury to sleep in but my husband has the internal clock of a toddler and can’t spend his time being unproductive. (He’s a freak, but it works to my advantage when Cole wakes up early on weekends. :)


We spend our Saturday shopping for furniture, art and accessories that, in Hudson, are completely out of our price range. Everything in town seemed to be refereed to as “artisinal” including items like cheese, candles, wine and coffee. So Ryan would say the word “artisinal” for everything even when we got home… asking for artisinal bacon or artisinal pancakes for breakfast. And then there was this one store where my husband developed a man crush on a furniture shop owner. Ryan loved every piece in the store and said that this man was living his dream life… buying old furniture, refinishing it and selling it for a huge profit. I was so amused by the “crush” that I forgot to take pictures of any pieces. We walked by the next day and it was closed and he looked longingly into the store and said he wished he asked him what he used to clean his wood. I kid you not. We both couldn’t stop laughing. (Disclaimer: Ryan, my straight husband, is really good at refinishing furniture and was genuinely interested in what materials this mystical man used.) :) Thinking of this still makes me laugh as I type this. You’re one of a kind, Mr. Dreissig.


The rest of this post is very picture heavy, but I was so inspired and couldn’t stop taking pictures. I love the fall: the colors, the scarves, the crisp air. It’s hard to believe it’s December!


IMG_0229One night we headed over to Chatham, NY and did some beer tasting at Chatham Brewing Company.


We really lucked out and they were having a chili tasting festival on the Hudson. It was so interesting to see how each was different. Some added pumpkin and some had a sweet chili with apples. Our fave was from American Glory made of pulled pork and was so amazing. I asked the owner, dressed in a leather vest and chaps, for the recipe and he laughed at me.

Just a beautiful home. I love Ivy growing up a brick facade. I’m also super creepy taking pictures of people homes. ;)

We both really enjoyed the John Davis Gallery. This art by Daisy Craddock was so beautiful. Each piece was of landscaped created with acrylic and oil pastels on paper. I wish they weren’t sold (or so expensive) because I loved the colors and texture. I am always drawn to art with trees for some reason.


The same gallery also had this back space where a building (an warehouse I think?) houses sculptures and more art. It was a unique way to experience art for sure.



Even the wine shops were beautiful!

This was my favorite showroom and now it’s driving me nuts because I can’t remember the name. I think it was called Hudson Home but I can’t find a website. I loved their store front, florals, wood floor color, everything.


IMG_0157  IMG_0155




Another gallery/store I can’t remember the name of but aren’t these colors beautiful? They had beautiful accessories and fun hats that didn’t fit on my gigantic head. :)




wish lanterns

During our most recently slumber party with our nephews, we snuggled up on the couch to finally watch the movie Tangled. (If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it… no matter how old you are.) Every year on the princesses birthday, the entire kingdom lites wish lanterns to set them free into the sky. During the wish lantern ceremony, my oldest nephew Tyler (10), looked over to me and said, “Aunt Lisa, this movie is really emotional.” I love his honesty and that he was feeling the same things I was as an adult. I told him that I would eventually love to be a part of a wish lantern ceremony, thinking that would probably never happen.

Wish lanterns from Tangled

But, then I came across some photos on Pinterest and it hit me. Why can’t we create our own “ceremony”? I bought these lanterns and was thinking we could start a tradition when we go camping as a family. How beautiful would these look floating over the lake?! I am beyond excited for our next trip!

Floating wish lanterns

summer to do list

Now that I’ve accepted that it’s June and the thermometer has hit 100 degrees, I decided I should write a list of my summer to-do’s before I realize it’s August. I often make to-do lists in my notebook with boxes next to it so I can check them off gratifyingly, but announcing them on my blog makes them much more official. I’ve been keeping busy doing consulting work from home, and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m writing this list to remind me that it’s okay to turn off my lap top, leave my phone and play a little bit.

  • Enjoy a weekend wine tasting in each Cape May, NJ and New Hope, PA
  • Go blueberry and strawberry picking (…and finally try some new baking recipes I’ve been collecting!)
  • Organize photos for  our wedding album
  • Decide which style of album to do (thinking of doing a beautiful coffee table art book)
  • Try at least two new campsites and/or bike trails
  • Spend a day in NYC as a tourist enjoying the museums (it’s been so long since I’ve gone!)
  • Paint at least one new painting or charcoal sketch
  • Try this recipe.  (So simple to make, but looks as elegant as rose petals.)
  • Picnic in the park with the basket my parents got me last year for Christmas
  • Finish the book I’ve been reading for over four months, and read at least two more
  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with nothing but my husband and camera

What about you, my sweet readers? Do you have to-do’s for the summer?

(photo via audrey hepburn complex.)


I loved today. Let me count the ways…

. Woke up at 7:30a after getting over 8 hours sleep. I happily woke up, drank some coffee and eased into my day.
. While starting the morning doing some space planning for my residential project, I got a phone call with a job offer.
. Later received an email for a possible consulting job.
. Found out a project I worked on at a previous  job might be in vogue. Amazing.
. Purchased a fun white Calvin Klein dress (60% off) for my bachelorette party!
. My new iPhone case makes me feel like I have a new phone. (I used to have a clunky bumper that would get caught in my hair!)
. Ryan surprised me with a great bottle of wine to celebrate. (instead of the budget wine we’ve been drinking to save for the wedding…) :)

I was supposed to start my new work out routine tonight, but I’ve been sucked into a happy pinot noir euphoria. Good night, indeed.

new year

Happy belated new year! I’ve never been one to have new year’s resolutions. I’ve recently started reading The Happiness Project and thought now was a good time to set goals for this year, rather than resolutions.

1. Get a job with a local interior design firm.
2. Save money to buy an old fixer upper with my soon to be husband!
3. Floss more often. (As in, not just when my dentist appointment is coming up!)
4. Learn and master at least 2 more recipes to add to my recipe book.

5. Take more photos and not just for special occasions. I want to remember the every day things.

6. Read more.
7. Schedule more Sunday brunches with friends.
8. Study and apply to take LEED exam to be a certified green designer.

(1978 ball via the new york times)