Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them


Worried about what to bring to the party host? Here are 9 of the best hostess gift ideas. Cheers!

Housewarming parties. Dinner parties. Anniversary parties. Birthday parties. Baby showers and bridal showers (when you’re the honoree). Overnight visits. Themed parties. Holiday parties.

It can get exhausting to find unique gifts to serve as mementos to thank your hostess (or host) for his or her hospitality.

Likewise, it’s sometimes confusing to determine whether giving a hostess a gift is appropriate.

I asked Myka Meier, the founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, to weigh in:

When are you required to bring a hostess gift? “You should bring a hostess gift when you are invited to someone’s home for any reason. It can be something small and thoughtful, and it constitutes a thank-you for an invitation to host you. Never show up empty handed.”

When is a hostess gift not required? “When you are invited to someone’s home for an event or dinner, you should always ask the host what he or she would like you to bring. Sometimes the person may assign you to a dish. In that case, the dish would be your contribution. It would be extra generous (and unnecessary) to also bring a hostess gift.”

How much should I spend on a hostess gift? “There is no specific amount; rather, it’s the thought behind the gift. For instance, bringing homemade cookies would be as suitable as monogrammed cocktail coasters or an expensive candle from the host’s favorite store.”

What is the not-so-obvious thing to bring as a hostess gift? “Flowers that are not already in a vase or container. It is the hostess’s sole responsibility to ensure her guests feel comfortable and welcome when they enter her home. The moment you will arrive with flowers, the hostess will need to cut their stems and find a vase to fill with water. While she is trying to accommodate the flowers you got for her, she has not been able to do her job as a hostess and may have missed greeting guests as they arrive.”

Here are nine of my favorites.

Scented candles. I love scented candles and usually wouldn’t splurge on one for myself. My favorites are from the Seventh Avenue Apothecary in Tampa, Florida, which is family owned and operated by a group of great women.

7th

Rifle Paper Company recipe box. How perfect is it to gift a recipe box for a dinner party hostess? This Citrus Floral Recipe Box is made by the Rifle Paper Company (a Florida enterprise flagshipped in the charming town of Winter Park) and is available for $34. They also offer a diverse online section of other gift ideas to suit your hostess’s taste or hobbies.

9 Best Hostess Gifts on The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

Michael Aram pomegranate catch all.  I love the pomegranate catch all from the Michael Aram collection. At $49, this natural bronze beauty is perfect for the hostess to place in her kitchen for her “whatevers.”

Aram2

Corkcicle. This little device is $17.95 of goodness and is ideal for the wine aficionado hostess. You freeze it, then stick it into a wine bottle so it stays cold. If you purchase them through the Corkcicle website, you get 15% off your first purchase. Good reason to buy them in bulk. Cheers!

9 Best Hostess Gifts on The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

Hen House Linens kitchen towels. Bright and colorful, these towels from Hen House Linens will spruce up any kitchen.

9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

Gourmet Cheeses. It’s fun to give the hostess something she can look forward to enjoying when the party’s over. You can get gourmet cheeses almost anywhere (and who doesn’t like cheese?) but I prefer to shop local and purchase mine at Cheese Please in Tampa. It’s run by two hilarious and personable guys who have a knack for fine cheeses and chocolates.

9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

Menagerie wine pourer/ aerator. I discovered these gems at a tasting at the Gundlach Bundschu winery in Sonoma. There are 64 styles made from original hand-sculpted designs and forged from high-grade stainless steel. At roughly $29 a piece, they combine quality, functionality, durability, and style. My husband is an avid hunter, so I got him the elk pourer, but as a University of Florida alumnus and fisherman, he would have been equally thrilled with the alligator or fish pourers.

wine

Funny cocktail napkins. For the hostess with a sense of humor, funny cocktail napkins make the perfect gift. I love these “Real Housewives” themed cocktail napkins from Caspari, which also sells boxed note sets, candles, matchboxes, and picture frames online.

9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

Bathroom guest book. For the regular entertainer, make every trip to the powder room an event to remember with the Bathroom Guest Book available at Z-Gallerie. This witty little book is a great conversation piece, and at $14.95, each guest’s deep thoughts on the loo will live in infamy.

9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

Cheers to being a gracious guest!

 

    The 10 Commandments of Workplace Etiquette


    The Champagne Supernova- 10 Commandments of Workplace Etiquette http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/07/the-10-commandments-of-workplace-etiquette/

    I’ve worn many hats over the years.

    I’ve been a grocery store cashier, a restaurant server, a receptionist at a home sales center, a mortgage loan officer at a bank, a summer clerk at a small law firm, and an associate attorney at a large law firm.

    While I am not an etiquette expert, and often prefer the company of people who do things their way, there are a few observations I’ve had in the work environment over the past decade that are worth mentioning. These are the 10 things guaranteed to annoy your colleagues:

    Thou Shalt Control the Sound of Your Bodily Functions. There’s no reason someone sitting on the opposite side of the office should be able to hear you sneezing, coughing, chewing food, or clearing your throat. One of my daughters would jump in utero at the sound of a colleague’s sneezes.

    It is entirely possible to control the decibel of your bodily functions. If you wouldn’t make the loud and distracting noise in a church, at a funeral, or in a library, then you should have equal consideration in the workplace.

    Thou Shalt Help Keep the Restroom Tidy. When you work in a large office building where everyone on the floor shares a bathroom, it’s embarrassing to direct multimillion dollar client representatives into a restroom where there might be toilet paper stuck to the floor, water splashed all over the sink, or, worst of all, a toilet that wasn’t completely flushed.

    Clean up after yourself.

    Thou Shalt Not Reheat Smelly Food. I once attended a crowded deposition in a small room where the air conditioner wasn’t working. Despite being packed in the room like sardines (pun intended), one of my colleagues took a container of stinky cheese out of her mini cooler, and proceeded to spread it all over crackers before eating it. The sound of her smacking jaw and the repugnant odor of the cheese in the hot, tiny room was nauseating.

    Fish.

    Broccoli.

    Curry.

    Burned popcorn.

    Keep these smelly culprits out of the office.

    Thou Shalt Not Take Food That’s Not Yours. People shouldn’t have to label or initial food items that are placed in the community refrigerator. If you didn’t bring it to work, then don’t eat it without permission.

    Easy peasy.

    Thou Shalt Replenish the Coffee. This is one of the simplest ways to make your co-workers despise you. It takes ten seconds to brew a fresh pot of coffee. If you don’t know how to use the coffee maker, then someone will be happy to show you.

    Ignorance doesn’t justify inconsideration.

    Thou Shalt Not Be a Mooch. Don’t be “that person” who routinely attends potluck work events without contributing. If you didn’t have time to bring something from home, then call Domino’s and have something delivered to the office.

    Everybody loves pizza.

    Thou Shalt Keep Personal Internet Use at a Minimum. Nowadays, Big Brother is constantly monitoring how you spend time on the internet at work. This also true if you’re logged into your employer’s wi-fi on your smart phone. I’ve heard of several instances where employers audit their employees’ computer use to ensure they’re not burning work time on the internet.

    If you are completing your assigned tasks or are on your lunch break, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional internet diversion. However, if you are getting paid to perform a job but, instead, are spending your time shopping online or catching up with your Facebook friends, you are arguably stealing from your employer.

    Thou Shalt Turn off the Music. I’ve never been the person who can perform thoughtful activities while listening to music. It’s hard to concentrate with it in the background, and I find myself focusing on the words and rhythm of the song, as opposed to the task at hand.

    If you work in an open office environment, turn your music off completely. If you listen to music on headphones, make sure it isn’t so loud that other people can hear it. If you listen to music in a private office, keep the door closed.

    Thou Shalt Dress Appropriately. I once worked at a law firm where one of the older assistants routinely wore a letterman-style Skittles jacket to work.

    Skittles. As in, taste the rainbow.

    Nobody over the age of 12 should wear a Skittles jacket in public, let alone to a professional environment.

    Wear clothing that is suitable for your age, body type, and the nature of your career. If you are 25 years old and employed at the Victoria’s Secret headquarters, then it is likely appropriate (and encouraged) to wear short skirts to work.

    In 99% of other situations, nobody wants to see your bra strap or the outline of your underwear through your tight pants. (See also: nobody wants to see the tattoo of the Disney character on your breast- cover up the cleavage.) Further, don’t wear items that are ripped, stained, or make you look like you are one of the People of Wal-Mart. Depending on the work environment, open-toed dress shoes are acceptable, as long as the person has their corns, callouses, and cracked heels under control.

    Thou Shalt Show Gratitude. Your employer doesn’t owe you a holiday party, paid maternity leave (in the United States), and, in many cases, a year-end bonus or raise. While you likely worked hard to achieve these things, showing a bit of gratitude by acknowledging the benefit and thanking your supervisors will go a long way. It takes two seconds to say “thank you.”

    Cheers!

      The First Birthday Party for a Second Child: How to Not Go Insane


      Arden's birthday from the Champagne Supernova http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

      Arden’s First Birthday Party

      Let me be up front and say I’m not Martha Stewart. I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I don’t make cutesy crafts. I don’t plan parties. I don’t enjoy planning parties. Don’t get me wrong… I love attending parties and admire anyone who loves managing big events, it’s the planning and effort that make me crazy. Even if I didn’t have a full time job or kids, I wouldn’t like putting these things together.

      I’m not criticizing anyone who chooses to throw massive birthday parties for their toddlers, I’m just saying that I won’t do it again until my children are old enough to remember and appreciate it. That’s all.

      Case in point: my own wedding. I don’t like the stress associated with planning an event and feeling responsible for things running smoothly or guests having fun. So when I got married almost 6 years ago with all the proverbial bells and whistles, I spent the majority of the morning of my wedding day crying in the bathroom from anxiety. We should have just eloped.

      I get it. My husband, Jason, told me so. 

      When Arden turned one a couple years ago, we threw her a Pinterest-worthy soiree that was the toddler equivalent of a Quincinera. It had a circus theme and we rented carnival games from an events company, tables and chairs from an outside vendor, and had matching invitations, cupcake toppers, napkins, and food labels to boot. It was over-the-top, expensive, unnecessary, and to be honest, the party was more about entertaining our family, friends, and friends’ children than it was about celebrating Arden. Let’s be real: a one year old is clueless about their surroundings and has no memory about what happened yesterday, let alone at their own birthday party when they are only one.

      http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

      Yes, people, these are CIRCUS GAMES. At a first birthday party. Doh!

       

      http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com/admin

      The Pinterest-inspired snack table. Read: I am an idiot.

      http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

      The area where Arden had her first morsel of cake. Where frosting ended up on the wall.

      A Snapfish photo album and some Facebook shots are the only way she’ll ever know the party truly happened. And the three dozen leftover lollipops that are sitting in my storage closet (if my dog or husband don’t get to them).

      For her first birthday party, Arden would have been just as content if we ordered bar-be-que, a gallon of chocolate ice cream, and called it a day.

      I certainly would have had more fun.

      What the Facebook world didn’t get to see was how the day ended up:

      http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

      It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

      Lesson learned.

      Enter the second child: Elle. She turned one this past weekend and, instead of throwing a party, we opted for a three-day weekend at the beach with our families. The invitations were sent via text message. The decorative napkins and plates were from the local grocery store. The birthday hat was a hand-me-down from her sister.

      It was a blast.

      http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com/admin

      Jason, Elle, my Mother in Law, and Me celebrating the beginning of a great year.

      Being a second-time parent has made me wiser than I was the first time around. With my first child, if a person would have told me to hold off on a huge party for my one-year-old, I would have been annoyed at their unsolicited advice, have mentally slapped them, and would have thrown the party anyway. Now, I am that person.

      I ran into a mother of one of Arden’s classmates in the school parking lot yesterday. You missed the best birthday party on Saturday, Jen. It was at a park and the mom ordered pizza and a bounce house. It was the perfect party for a three-year-old and everyone had so much fun. I give a big, fat, “Cheers” to that mama.

      In the end, what the birthday person remembers (if they are old enough to remember) is whether they had a good time and if they were surrounded by people they love. And if a mom wants to throw in a life-size piñata at the party, power to her. It just ain’t gonna be me.

      Cheers!

      Note, while my family and I were at the beach celebrating Elle, one of my girlfriends, Julie Borm of the Everyday Happiness blog, was busy throwing a birthday party for her one-year old that would put ole’ Martha to shame. Read about her hilarious experience (and confession) here.

        The Spanker Man: Lies We Tell Our Kids to Make them Behave


        Disclaimer: Do not read this post if you are politically correct, become easily offended, are a child psychologist, a parenting know-it-all, or have no sense of humor. You’ve been warned.

        Read about the mythical creature of the spanking man on The Champagne Supernova blog.

        This is who I envisioned The Spanker Man to look like.

        Before there was Elf on a Shelf, there was The Spanker Man.

        Before there was Mensch on a Bench, there was The Spanker Man.

        The Spanker Man is a fictional character my mother created to deter my younger sister and me from misbehaving in public. She told us public places, particularly restaurants, had hidden cameras where The Spanker Man was watching in a back room to ensure that children acted appropriately. If The Spanker Man observed kids who were bratty, sassing their parents, or having tantrums, he would remove them from the premises and give them an apocalyptic whoopin’.

        You better believe my sister and I never received a visit from The Spanker Man. As children, we didn’t have an opportunity to discover he didn’t exist because we were on our behavioral A-Game in public.

        While joining us for dinner, my parents’ friends usually sat in awe of our good behavior. They couldn’t believe that two young children could be so well behaved in public. When receiving compliments on our behavior, my parents just smirked at each other. I think even in the mid-1980s when spanking was accepted, and sometimes expected, The Spanker Man concept would have been too taboo for my folks to advertise.

        Nowadays, if parents told their children about The Spanker Man, someone would call the Department of Children and Family Services, the kids would be thrown into foster care, and the parents would be featured on 60 Minutes.

        Having kids can make parents do desperate things.

        I get it.

        I’ve told my three year old some mighty tales when, during extreme acts of desperation, I’m trying to get her to do something she doesn’t want to do.  I’m susceptible to doing this on weekday mornings when she’s fighting with me about putting her shoes on for school, I’m trying frantically to get both girls in the car because I’m late for a hearing, my infant spits up on my work clothes, and I’m furiously scrubbing a Clorox Bleach Pen against my suit so I can pretend I’m professional. For instance, I’ve told her that if she didn’t brush her teeth, bugs would crawl into her mouth when she was sleeping and would eat the gunk. [For the record, that doesn’t work].

        If you’ve told your children creative stories to control their actions, you’re not alone. A study from the University of California, published by the International Journal of Psychology, suggests the vast majority of parents lie to their children to get them to behave.

        I’ve polled my girlfriends regarding childhood whoppers their parents told them, or even lies they’ve told their own kids. Here are some of the gems:

        – “My parents told me [and my sibling] they would call the adoption agency and have them come get us and take us away if we didn’t listen.”

        –  “My mom told me that if I didn’t eat everything on my plate, the number of crumbs left is how many pimples my husband would have. I was a devoted member of the clean plate club, and my husband has really good skin.”

        – “I told [my five year old daughter] that if she didn’t stop picking her nose and eating it, she would actually turn green and look like a witch. When that didn’t work, I Googled “stretched out nostrils” and showed her images that her nose would look like if she kept putting her fingers up there. Seems to work.”

        – “We tell our son that we’ll call the police if he doesn’t listen. We usually end up hearing sirens in our neighborhood so he believes it.”

        – “My parents told me [and my brother] that our cookie dough eating habit would give us worms. As our Dad was a veterinarian and we were no strangers to the world of parasitic infections in critters, we took it as gospel.”

        – “My mom said that if I ever hit my brother or sister, then when I was dead and buried, the hand I hit them with would stick out of the grave and I’d never truly Rest in Peace.”

        Woah. 

        Fortunately, my sister and I didn’t need therapy because of The Spanker Man. My mom didn’t want us acting like jerks in public, so she did what she had to do to keep us under control. Ultimately, there was no harm and no foul. If anything, it’s been a hilarious topic of conversation among my friends and the concept catapults my mom into genius status.

        If only she would have been the one to create Elf on a Shelf. We’d be rich.

        Cheers!

          Easy, Healthy Salsa: I’m Not Martha Stewart


           

          Easy, Healthy Salsa (I Promise!)- The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/04/easy-salsa-clean-healthy-few-ingredients/

          I stink at cooking. Ok, I don’t stink at it because it’s not rocket science to be able to follow a recipe. “I avoid cooking” is more accurate. While I love sampling delicious food, making it myself is too much of a hassle and too much of a time suck. Not only do I have to find recipes that I’m interested in making, but then it becomes a process of figuring out which ingredients I already have at my house (usually zero), running to the store to buy the ingredients I don’t have, and then finding the time to execute everything.

          I stumbled across a variation of this recipe inside a mini Clean-Eating style magazine that was included as an insert in my recent Better Homes and Gardens subscription, and decided to improvise by adding a little bit of this and removing a little bit of that. What caught my eye about the recipe is 1) it involved only a few ingredients, 2) it is healthy (and would cancel out the Chic-Fil-A fries and chicken sandwich I ate the day before), and 3) can be eaten with chips… anything that requires dipping is good for me. Most importantly, it is easy. We had a family cookout at my house over Easter weekend and this was so good that we made it two nights in a row, and then my mom made it as a dish for a recent pool party at one of her girlfriends’ houses.

          Once you have all the ingredients, the recipe takes less than five minutes of preparation.

          This is what you need:

          1. One package of frozen corn
          2. One pint of cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
          3. One container of pre-cut feta cheese
          4. 1 cup- Fresh parsley
          5. 1 cup- Fresh cilantro
          6. 2 tsp lime juice
          7. Salt and pepper to taste.

          Combine everything together and keep adding salt and pepper until it tastes the way you like it. If you are feeling extra healthy and adventurous, you could add small cubes of avocado (but be careful not to mush them). Cheers to an easy hit.

          Easy, Healthy Salsa (I Promise!)- The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/04/easy-salsa-clean-healthy-few-ingredients/

          Salsa1Easy, delicious, clean salsa from The Champagne Supernova; http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com Easy, Healthy Salsa (I Promise!)- The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/04/easy-salsa-clean-healthy-few-ingredients/

            The 10 Best Songs of All Freaking Time


            Larry Busacca; Getty Images

            “When you hear a great song, you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time. A great song has all the key elements- melody; emotion; a strong statement that becomes part of the lexicon; and great production.” -Jay Z

            I don’t care how old I am or where I am in my life. There are certain songs that make me want to go euphorically insane when I hear them. Here are the top ten:

            10. More than a Feeling: Boston. This is the ultimate dive bar jukebox song. Reminds me of my freshman year of college when my girlfriends and I would listen to this while getting ready to go out, “pre-gaming” (do they still call it that?), and hitting the town wearing the official college uniform of the early 2000s: black pants, a solid colored spaghetti-strapped top, and Reef flip flops.

            9. Fortunate Son: Creedence Clearwater Revival. I was old enough to appreciate this song and the meaning behind it when it was featured on the Forrest Gump soundtrack. I feel sorry for anyone who gets stuck in a car next to me when this song is on the radio. Free entertainment.

            8. Free Fallin: Tom Petty. When I was in elementary school, my parents allowed my middle-school aged neighbor, Brandy, to babysit me and my sister. Brandy was a “bad girl,” but she would sweet talk my parents a-la-Eddie Haskell, and at $2 per day, she was cheap labor. She would sometimes babysit us at her house next door, and I remember watching the music video of this song in her upstairs bedroom with the pink canopy bed and Barbie Dream House. The video stood out to me because my parents would have flipped if they knew Brandy was letting us watch MTV (this was when watching MTV would buy you a first class ticket to the epicenter of Hell) and I recall Tom Petty riding escalators in the video. Brandy probably ended up in prison, but I ended up a lifelong Petty fan.

            7. Summer of 69: Bryan Adams. If this song doesn’t make you want to dance, then we can’t be friends.

            6. The Train: Quad City DJ’s. Shamefully, I love this song. LOVE IT. I’ve always wondered who Michelle, Tamika, and Tonya were to receive such an amazing shout-out.

            I think I can, I think I can. 

            5. Livin’ on a Prayer: Bon Jovi. Tommy and Gina, I want to know you. I want to be your friends.

            4. Shawty Swing My Way: KP and Envyi. This song puts me in the parking lot of high school in tenth grade when my best girlfriend, Nicole, was kind enough to drive me to and from school every day, before I had a car. She bought this song as a cassette single and we blasted it in the morning prior to rolling into 7-Eleven for a Frappuccino before heading into the school parking lot, where we sat in the car pretending we were cool until the bell rang. This has been the theme song for bachelorette parties, weddings, and girls’ nights. Man, I love this song.

            3. Tiny Dancer: Elton John. Elton is the greatest performer who ever lived. Not many “artists” write their own music, play an instrument, and perform their own songs. Sorry Beyonce. My parents took me to my first Elton concert in middle school, and I’ve seen four more after that. It never gets old.

            More Styles On Sale Now at Tea Collection

            2. Don’t Stop Believin’: Journey. If college had a theme song, this would be it. So many memories are associated with just one song.

            1. Sweet Child O’ Mine: Guns N’ Roses. I know Slash’s solo at the beginning of this song like the back of my hand and just hearing it gives me heart palpitations. The world stands still. This song has sentimental value. Childhood babysitter Brandy (see Number 8) was obsessed with GNR and introduced my sister and me to the band when we were kids. I remember watching the videos of Axl Rose (before the freaky plastic surgery) wearing biker shorts, a red bandana, and dancing in front of a microphone.

            What are your favorite songs? Which ones conjure the best memories and why?

            Cheers!

              Candy-less Easter Basket Ideas


              The Champagne Supernova- Easter Baskets Sans Candy

              Easter Baskets

              My kids need Easter candy like they need more clothes or “junque” to accumulate around the house: not at all. Like Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to figure out what to put in their Easter baskets when the stores are packed with candy: Puffs, Cadbury Creme Eggs, Robin’s Eggs, Lindt Chocolate Bunnies, and jelly beans. My three year old, Arden, loves sweets, but they have a tendency to set her off. She celebrated her birthday a couple weeks ago, and there’s nothing else she needs after she received tons of birthday presents (that she didn’t really need in the first place).

              I decided to go Easter basket shopping on Saturday with my 10-month old while my husband was at Home Depot with Arden buying mulch and renting a chainsaw and pressure washer (we are considering putting our home on the market and these are necessary evils before sticking the ole sign in the front yard- whew, exciting little weekend we had over here!) Anyway, my wildest dreams came true because the baby fell asleep- and stayed asleep- and my shopping endeavor turned into a shopping spree. I don’t know the last time I had free reign at Target but, man, it was nice. (I also moseyed over to some stores to shop for myself just because I could. It was a matter of principle.) When I’m at Target, it’s usually with both kids in tow, so I make a little list… formula, check… wipes, check… detergent, check… hightail it outta there. This time was different.

              Candles? Target sells candles? I probably sniffed every candle on the display wall.

              Cards? Who do I know who needs a greeting card? Did anybody die? Who had a baby? Whose birthday is coming up? I’m going to sit here and read every greeting card. Because I can.

              Scented lotions? Target carries scented lotions? I never get to go into any of the “fun” aisles with my kids. I rubbed so much lotion on my hands and arms that I became the human equivalent of the Exxon Valdez.

              My point, and I do have one, is that I went home poor, but with a bunch of cool things for the girls’ Easter baskets:

              Easter basket ideas from www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              These adorable, Easter baskets were around $12.00 each and are lined in cute fabrics. Eat your heart out, Pottery Barn Kids!

              Easter basket ideas from www.thechampagnesupernova.comFor our three year old, I purchased a cute Circo romper (that matches the one I purchased for her sister- twinning!), an Eos Lip Gloss set, The Story of Easter book, Annies organic Animal Cookies, a swirly straw cup, a Play-Doh Sparkle set (yes, I’m nuts), and I payed homage to my 1990s childhood with a Lisa Frank sticker set.

              IMG_4264For our ten month old, I purchased a romper to match her sister, some sippy cups, the same Easter book (thought I could use an extra for Grammy’s house), a stuffed lamb toy, some Easter bunny socks, and a beach hatEaster basket ideas from www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              Easter basket ideas from www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              Easter basket ideas from www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              Easter basket ideas from www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              One thing this experience reminded me is that shopping can be exhausting.

              What are your favorite Easter basket additions that do not involve candy? I’m always looking for good ideas for next year, so keep me posted.

              Cheers everyone, and have a wonderful Easter.

                Regifting: Forgivable or Faux Pas?


                canstockphoto0409788

                I witnessed something happen at a bridal shower that was so mortifying that this is the first time I’ve told the story. It was so mortifying, in fact, that even writing about it is mortifying.

                It was 2007 and Shelby (whose name isn’t Shelby) was elated about her bridal shower, the first in a string of what would be fabulous events prior to her June wedding. There were around 40 guests at this shower, comprised of Shelby’s mother, grandmothers, future in-laws, great aunts, hometown girlfriends, and sorority sisters. After the cocktails were served, brunch was eaten, and games were played, everyone sat in a large circle around the bride-to-be as she opened gifts. Per custom, Shelby read each bridal shower card aloud and announced who the gift was from before she opened it. (Cue the oohs and aahs). The third gift was immediately recognizable, a large square blue box from Tiffany’s that was tied with a perfect white ribbon. Inside the box was a gorgeous crystal pitcher and Shelby’s friend, Caroline, beamed as Shelby read her bridal shower card and announced that it was from her. As this was happening, I thought to myself “Wow, Caroline is about to get married and finish grad school in a couple months, this is a generous shower gift!” Before Shelby moved onto the next gift, she stopped and said, “Wait… I see another card.” Tucked inside the pitcher was a tiny white envelope that was 2″ wide by 2″ tall. Shelby opened the envelope, and inside was a card that contained typewriter-style font, which Shelby read out loud: “Dear Caroline, wishing you and Bobby many years of love in your marriage. Jim and Patricia Perkins.”

                Nobody knew what to say. Nobody knew what to do or how to react. Everyone was speechless, including poor Shelby, who probably wished she never accidentally discovered the card to begin with. Caroline was silent and her cheeks were scarlet. She was just red-handedly caught regifting.

                We’ve all been victims of regifting. I have a girlfriend who received a used ceramic “vase” as  wedding gift, which we all swear was an urn. I think most of us have also been guilty of regifting, though not to the same extreme as poor Caroline. For example, you received two copies of Goodnight Moon for your baby shower, so you gave your extra copy to someone else at their baby shower.

                Personally, I don’t have a problem with regifting. And so we are all on the same page, my definition of regifting is giving away a new, unused item, that somebody purchased for you to somebody else under the guise that you purchased it for them. Regifting, to me, is not giving a used hand-me-down as a gift. (I mean, I appreciate hand-me-downs, but just don’t wrap them and represent that the items are new). I realize it gets incredibly expensive and time consuming to routinely attend bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, and kids’ birthday parties. If Little Susie received two Sparkle Studio Barbies at her birthday party, I wouldn’t be offended if I found out that Susie’s mom wrapped one of them and gave it to my child as a gift at her birthday party. No harm, no foul. I think it’s nice that people take time out of their schedules to attend these events and don’t believe people should be fixated on the gifts they receive. (Unless, of course, we’re talking about a wedding and a guest doesn’t give a gift at all- not even a card- which I find despicable).

                Evidently, most Americans agree with my position on regifting. In 2012, The Huffington Post cited a survey initiated by CreditDonkey.com (sounds legit) where 83% of respondents said they wouldn’t mind receiving a resifted present. Further, about half of the 1,125 adult Americans polled in the survey said they suspected they had received a regift in the past. However, only 35% of survey respondents admitted to regifting something.

                Emily Post disagrees with my stance on regifting. According to her, it’s “not really” acceptable to pass along a gift you’ve received to someone else. She believes that gifts should be recycled rarely and only under the following circumstances: 1) You’re certain the gift is something the recipient would really like to receive; 2) The gift is brand new and comes with the original box and instructions; and 3) The gift isn’t one that the original giver took great care to select or make. In other words- you have to make sure you don’t hurt feelings, either the original giver’s or the recipient’s. (Emily Post is my go-to for scenarios when I am tempted to do something tacky, and you can purchase her most popular book here).

                What do you think? Is regifting a forgivable offense or a faux pas? Is it greedy and selfish to expect people to attend your event with a brand spanking new gift, let alone any gift at all?

                  Plan a Baby or Bridal Shower in an Hour: It Can be Done!


                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  Bridal showers. You’ve been there. Your friend is getting married (or is pregnant) and you offered to host a shower- in addition to caring for your own family, killing it at the office (or at home with your kids), and honoring your expanding list of volunteer commitments that you wish you never signed up for in the first place.

                  Shoot me.

                  You need to get this planned, and fast! No worries, with the assistance of Tracie Domino of Tracie Domino Events, here are some tips on how to quickly plan a shower, with it looking you spent days making Pinterest projects.

                  To illustrate this work-in-progress, I included photographs from my sister’s bridal shower in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

                  Set the Date and Time: This will help dictate the rest of the planning process. Work with the Guest of Honor to select a date and time that is convenient for her, usually 2-3 months before the baby is due or 2-3 months before the wedding. If you choose an evening event, you might want to include the father or groom-to-be and invite other men. Guys typically don’t like baby or bridal showers, but you can entice them with booze and good food.

                  Pick a Venue: Hosting a shower at someone’s home is often the most cost effective, but if nobody has the space, there are other options. Private rooms at restaurants and clubs work great for this. Make sure you ask the venue about minimum fees for food and beverages so you don’t have a heart attack when you receive a ridiculous bill.

                  Choose a Theme: The theme of the event should jive with the venue. Depending on the location, and the taste of the guest of honor, you might not need a theme. For Amanda’s shower, the hostess’ home was beautiful, and we didn’t want to spend money on decorations and ruin the flow of the home. Should you choose a theme, which is usually better for baby showers, you can order everything you need in one click on Etsy, and the decorations will usually arrive at your house pretty quickly. Etsy is a lazy person’s (me!) manna from heaven.

                  Send the Invitations: I prefer digital invitations over hard invitations because you can send them on the same day that you create them and they make it simple to track the RSVPs. My hands-down favorite company for this is Paperless Post.

                  Choose the Menu: Don’t drive yourself nuts by committing to making food that requires massive preparation the day of the event. Either order everything from a local restaurant that delivers or make platters the night before. Costco or Sam’s Club will be your God. For my sister’s shower, we went to Costco and purchased three large tubs of chicken salad, two dozen croissants, two dozen dinner roles, kale salad that’s already bagged, and pre-cut fruit. All of those items were enough to feed around 25 people and cost only $110. The shower hostess already had beautiful serving bowls, so we put the food in those and it was picture perfect. We purchased a couple dozen white cupcakes from Publix and placed them on a three-tiered platter.

                  What to Drink: One of the biggest mistakes people make at baby showers is not drinking because the Guest of Honor is pregnant. Absent religious or health reasons, don’t do that to your guests. With regard to bridal showers, alcohol is often expected. For my sister’s shower, we set up a bar that contained two signature cocktails: orange creamsicles and mimosas. With mimosas, you can use the inexpensive champagne, like my college preference of Andre, and nobody will ever know. Except when they wake up the next morning. But that’s their problem.

                  Minted's Limited Edition Art Prints

                  Play a Game: While shower games can be lame, they can be an ice breaker for your guests. Some of my favorites are here for a baby shower and here for a bridal shower. Most people like gambling for fun, so have everyone guess the date the baby will be born or it’s weight, gender, and length of the baby.  If it’s a bridal shower, have them bet on a “Newlywed Game” where the groom answers certain questions ahead of time and the bride is tasked with correctly guessing his responses. Regarding whether games will be played, leave it to the Guest of Honor. And please skip the “poop in the diaper” game if you’re throwing a baby shower. If you don’t know what game I’m talking about, then you’re lucky.

                  Opening Gifts. Years ago, it was an absolute requirement to open gifts at a shower. This is no longer the case. If you have a huge invite list or you are inviting men, you might want to skip this altogether and let the couple open gifts after the shower. Trust me… with the exception of the Guest of Honor’s mom and some great-great aunts, nobody would mind. I recently attended a baby shower where all the guests sat in a large circle with each guest holding another guest’s gift. One by one, each guest introduced themselves, stated how they knew the Mother-to-Be, gave one piece of motherhood advice, and then opened the other guest’s gift and stated what the gift was. I loved this idea. It was a way for all the guests to interact, and spared the Mother-to-Be the trouble of opening tons of gifts in front of everyone. Cheers to that!

                  Below are some photographs of my sister’s shower.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  The bar featured mimosas and orange creamsickles, our “signature cocktail” for the bride-to-be and guests. The recipe is awesome because you don’t need to “measure” anything… just start pouring and tasting. Combine Liquor 43, vodka, orange juice, fat free, non dairy vanilla creamer, and a touch of vanilla extract (only if you’re using plain, non-flavored creamer). Blend it all together and you’re good to go.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  The hostess rented tables and chairs, and decorated the place settings with a variety of winter-colored flowers. She used her own China and rented the linens. The China is Spode and was purchased in Stoke-on-Trent in the United Kingdom.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                   

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  This table wear is so special that I couldn’t resist photographing it. The hostess purchased this in 1997 in London at “Bermondsey Fair” and it is dated around 1840.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                   

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  The hostess made this shrimp salad and it was a hit. She took 6 lbs. of cooked, deveined, shelled and cooled shrimp, chopped celery, mayo, and Old Bay Seasoning to taste, and combined everything together. She then refrigerated it until it was ready to serve.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  The cupcakes are from Publix, which supplied the heart-shaped toppers.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                   

                  Me and the Bride-to-Be.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  The Mother-of-the-Bride, Mother-of-the-Groom, Bride-to-Be, and Me.

                  How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                  Some of the awesome guests who helped to make the day so special for my sister.

                  About Tracie Domino: Tracie is the Founder and Creative Director of her own company, Tracie Domino Events. Her stylish expertise and relatable sophistication have made her a trusted wedding planning consultant to business leaders, professional athletes, and high society since 2004. She and her team make fun, memorable weddings happen on the west coast of Florida, and are available to travel to destination weddings worldwide. She is a fan of beach vacations, Florida State football, Vegas casinos, guacamole, and one smart and sexy six-footer. Tracie can be reached at 813-810-0621 or via e-mail at Tracie@TracieDomino.com. Cheers!

                   How to plan a baby or bridal shower in just an hour | The Champagne Supernova

                    Valentines Gifts for the Slacker Parent


                    Easy Valentine's Gifts | The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/02/valentines-gifts-for-the-slacker-parent/

                    Valentine’s Day at my kids’ school has been a repeated reminder of what a slacker I am. For the last two years, Arden has come home from school with intricate treasures from her classmates that look like they cost a lot of money to buy and a lot of time to make. This will be the first year I purchase Valentine’s gifts for my kids’ classmates. I mean, what could infants and toddlers possibly need for Valentine’s Day? At this point, spending a lot of time on a gift is fruitless for me because 1) I don’t have the time and 2) I wouldn’t do it even if I did have the time.

                    With the help of some friends, I came up with a list of the best Valentine’s gifts that are not food, are gender neutral (the true slacker doesn’t want to have to get separate gifts for boys and girls, now do they?) and do not require a lot of time.

                    Books. One of the moms in Arden’s infant class gave each child a cardboard Sesame Street book for Valentine’s day. It was gender neutral, probably cost around $2.00, and was a perfect “distractor” to put in the diaper bag for when we went out in public and were looking for ways to entertain our daughter. As an added bonus, it’s educational. This is the Curious George book I bought for my daughter for Valentine’s day. Don’t tell..

                    George

                    Bookmarks. These are free at hardware stores and all you need to purchase is a heart shaped hole punch and ribbon. Specific instructions on how to make these are on Old Town Home.

                    Bookmarks

                    Crayons. Encourage creativity and are inexpensive. Check out the off brand crayons at the dollar store. Picture taken from the Mother Nature Network. I recommend washable crayons. Crayons Lip Balm. With an added note that says “You’re the Balm!” I have a sick sense of humor but wish I could claim this was an original idea. And as we’re in the middle of winter, isn’t this perfect? Here’s an example from Jollymom, where they are offering the printable FREE. Tip: you could do something similar with small container of jelly with a note that says “You’re the Jam!” Heck, you could even pick up free samples of jelly from your local Cracker Barrel. (No, I wasn’t born during the Great Depression…) balm Animal Figurines. These are good for older kids who aren’t likely to choke on the toys. Had to add that disclaimer, I’m a lawyer. My two year old daughter loves playing farm animals, and these don’t contain sugar that will likely get other parents angry. Best of all, you can buy a huge package of farm toys for like 89 cents. Here’s a cute suggestion from Popsugar: zoo Bouncy Balls. These double as gifts for kids and their parents because they provide at least 10 straight minutes of distraction for the children. You can probably get them in bulk from the dollar store. Here’s a cute idea from PositivelySpendid. A friends suggested the adorable idea of enclosing a note with the ball that says “My Heart Bounces for You.” Love it! Bouncy balls

                    Throwback Boxed Valentine’s Cards. You know, the ones we had in elementary school. Ideal for mini-hipsters. Here is some awesome FREE clip art from Vintage Holiday Crafts:

                    Vintage Pic

                    DIY Valentines that Come in a Kit: These incredible little smackaroos come straight to your front door in a kit with everything you already need. This provides good bonding time with your kids and, best of all, are only $10.95 per package. I love this from Kiwi Crate:

                    ValentinesDay

                    And for the teachers…

                    Nail Polish: Inexpensive but still shows you thought about them. Who doesn’t like a nice bottle of nail polish? The gift tag is FREE from Gone Like Rainbows: nail polish

                    Soap: These are inexpensive and smell nice. These are also perfect for washing your kids’ mouths out when they sass the teachers! (muahaha). Photo from Fun Holiday Crafts.

                    soap

                    Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends! Cheers.

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