Great Gatsby New Years Eve Party

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In October, I attended a Halloween party. It had been quite some time since I attended a party where I had to show up in costume. Let’s just say, I loved it! I loved everything about it, but mostly, the wig; my newfound long, flowing brown locks. I discovered that I.love.wigs. I also discovered that although I grew up with blonde hair my entire life, brown hair is a good match for me. A few days later I wore the same wig and a different halloween costume to work and received an overwhelming response that brown hair was meant to be on my head. Immediately I made my way to my hair dresser who I see but once or twice a year (side note: come to find out, I only see her right before I head out on a trip. Strange fact: she has another client who only comes in before funerals. I would much rather be the traveling girl. Right?). Anyhoo, I let her know that I wanted to dye my hair brown. She told me “no!” and instead I went blonder. Why is all of this significant? Two reasons, I knew I needed to throw a party that required costumes and I needed to sport the brown hair, like pronto. I had it! A New Years Eve party, Great Gatsby style. This way I could dress up like a flapper and wear a short brown wig. Perfect! So, on October 26, I sent out a Save the Date for the Great Gatsby NYE Gala.

The best time to let people know about a costume party is right after Halloween. I was able to score all of my costume items (such as a flapper dress, pearls, long black gloves, fishnet tights, and a long cigarette holder) for 30-50% off at Party City totaling about $63 with free shipping and a super cute short brown wig for $8 on Amazon. I’m a planner, I like to save money and I was excited. Although, I can imagine that most of my friends didn’t start thinking about their outfit until the week of, and thought I was looney tunes for sending out a STD (save the date) so early. I will say, in the end, they all “brought it” and looked dashing!

The Decor

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I knew that the decor had to be classy and NYE appropriate. I opted for a lot of glass, candles, black, gold, silver, strings of beads, big shiny gold and silver ornament balls, and fun fabrics. I also knew I needed lots of gold frames sitting around with fun pictures. The first order of business was to find some fabulous pics from the web to frame for the party. These also doubled as pictures I added to the Facebook event invite and the Postmark evite. I found gold frames at the Dollar Tree and used either card stock or photo paper to print the images.

I purchased most of my items at the Dollar Tree, 87 in total, as the bill came to $87! Had I purchased these items elsewhere, easily I would have spent over $300. It was perfect timing, as I went in late November and they had everything I needed! Glass candle vases, flower vases, candles, glitter stars, gold and silver swag, bendable wire with silver stars, strings of gold and silver beads, big and small gold and silver ornament balls, silver platters, black ceramic plates, martini glasses, NYE noisemakers, and plastic “silver”wear.

I purchased black fabric tablecloths for about $8 each (2 rectangular, 1 square, and 1 round), a 40-pack of plastic champagne glasses, mason jars, black and white striped straws, and a 4-in-1 roulette, poker, blackjack, game table all on Amazon for about $125.

I purchased black and white polka dot mini cupcake liners, a gold basket, mini letters “B, A, R” and gold spray paint to paint the letters. I also purchased gold glittered battery operated tea light candles, a sharpie, and some decorative craft tape at Michaels, for about $40. I’ll get to the craft tape and sharpie later…

I purchased NYE decorative hats, NYE hanging decorative clocks, a bag of silver star confetti, a big black plastic salad bowl and tongs, 50 packs of NYE plates, napkins, and appetizer plates, along with a 40-pack of black plastic soup bowls at Party City. With a $5 off coupon, my total was approximately $65.

Finally, I purchased 3 yards of various fabrics (1 shiny black, 1 gold, and 1 basic black) from JoAnn’s to use for decorative purposes. With a 15% educator discount and a 25% off my entire order JoAnn’s coupon, the total cost for fabric was $11.

That just about did it! Phew!

The Menu

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The food needed to be filling, tasty, and quick to access for approximately 25 people. I decided on soup, salad, bread, and a large assortment of appetizers. Thank you to my friends who added to the tasty spread.

Main Course

New England Clam Chowder from Boudin Bakery

Organic Tomato Bisque from Panera

Sweet Kale Vegetable Salad from Costco (thanks Alexis!)

Assorted breads from Costco (they bake bread fresh daily!).

Appetizers

Crock Pot Vegetarian Meatballs

Fondue (from Trader Joe’s) with cubed sourdough baguette

Marinated Shrimp with dipping sauce (made by my friend Kelli, I’ll get the recipe one of these days!)

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls

Blue Cheese and Pomegranate Endive Spears (thanks Amanda!)

Spinach Artichoke Dip from Costco and Pita Chips

BBQ Chicken Wings from Ralphs

Cheese Platter- 4 types of cheeses, assorted crackers, rosemary and olive oil marinated marconi almonds, grapes, honey, marinated olives, dried apricots, salami, and blackberries (thanks Brent and Kylie for bringing cheese!)

Spinach Dip in a Bread Bowl

Cream Cheese with Harry and David Pepper and Onion Relish and Wheat Thins (thanks Erin!)

The Dessert

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I’ll admit, I’m obsessed with how pretty my cupcakes turned out, so I had to take as many pretty pictures as I could of these delicious little morsels. Aren’t they cute? I purchased a Cake Boss cake decorating tools and icing bag kit online at Kohl’s and 2 mini cupcake pans at TJ Maxx Home Goods. By God, I was going to make cupcakes for this event!

I researched lemon cupcake recipes far and wide online and on Pinterest. I purchased all of the ingredients and I was ready to rock. Until I arrived at my mom’s and she suggested I use the boxed mix as they would probably come out tastier and more moist. Mom’s know best, so, back to Target and Ralphs I went with my “from scratch ingredients” and I picked up a box of Betty Crocker White Cake Mix along with a White Frosting.

Although, yes, I’ll admit, I used a box, I tried to make them semi-homemade! I gussied up the mix with 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (in place of some of the water), and I added some fresh lemon zest to give it that lemon flavor I was looking for. I added to the frosting a Tbl of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and a few drops of yellow food coloring. Voila!

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The dessert table consisted of my lemon cupcakes, Alexis’s Cream Cheese Star Sugar Cookies, assorted See’s Candies, and Pepperidge Farm Pirouette Rolled Wafers

What’s Shakin’ Bacon…The Cocktails

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I knew along with champagne, beer, wine, and your typical alcohol and mixers, I wanted to add something special…a specialty cocktail menu that reflected the roaring 20’s period…I created this bar menu using MS Word, added a black matting, using card stock, and put it in a gold picture frame. I also used the other picture at the wine bar.

It was important, that along with all of the required liquor for these drinks, we also provided items such as sliced lemon, lime, cherries, sugar cubes, sugar in a bowl to rim glasses, and fresh lemon juice.

I’m a fan of drinking cocktails at a party out of glassware, so our guests could use wine glasses for the wine bar, martini glasses for the martinis, or mason jars with cute straws for the cocktails. I did opt for plastic tumblers for the cocktails at the outside bar and plastic champagne glasses, considering it would be pretty late and people would be pretty tipsy by the time they needed it for the NYE toast! I found this cool idea using washi or craft tape and a sharpie on Pinterest, so that people could recall which glass was theirs.

Ladies and Gents, I present to you the bar menu:

Old Fashioned

Muddle 1/4 ounce Bitters, 1 slice orange, and 1 cherry

Add: 1 ounce Whiskey & 1 splash Seltzer

1 Sugar Cube

Sidecar

1 & 1/2 ounces Cognac

3/4 ounce Contreau

3/4 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake and strain into a glass with a Sugar Rim

Bees Knees

2 ounces Gin

3/4 ounce Honey Syrup

1/2 ounce Lemon

Shake and strain

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Photo Op…1,2,3 Cheese!

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I used my work laptop and projector. I opened up MS PowerPoint, and made a 1 screen PowerPoint that read:

Happy New Year

Let’s Ring in 2014

in style…

I projected that current screen onto the back wall above the pool. It made for a really awesome photo backdrop!

Games

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I wanted my guests to stay entertained throughout the night as the party began at 7:30 and had to last until at least midnight. Poker, Black Jack, Craps, and Roulette kept the party going into the wee hours. It helped to have guests step up and play “dealer”. I purchased both game sets through Amazon.

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Tapas and Paella Rehearsal Dinner

304070_10150365754536973_631686972_8388232_1369035987_nFor our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner, I knew I wanted 4 key things: Our amazing families, a killer view, my favorite wine, and delicious food with a twist. The most important factor was my family. My brother Graham is on the left with his wife Ali, my brother Mike is on the right with his wife Abby, and my hubby and I are in the middle. We were able to celebrate with our mom’s, dad’s siblings, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmas. Our groomsmen and bridal party celebrated with us as well. The night was magical because all of our favorite people came to support us.

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Me and my friend Alexis!

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Left to Right-My Aunt Dood, cuzster Carrie, me, and my mom.

 

 

 

Below, me and my mother in law. She flew out to CA from NJ. The night of our rehearsal dinner was her 10 year wedding anniversary to her husband Barry!

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The View

My parent’s friends Jim and Kerry had a beautiful home, on a cliff, overlooking the ocean in Capistrano Beach. They were gracious in allowing us to use their home. It truly was the perfect venue. Check out the view! We married the next day at Casa Romantica, in San Clemente, CA. I kept the decor simple. I used old wine bottles (I managed to empty quite a few during the wedding planning phase), and kept the labels on (it was a pain in the A$% to take them off, so I opted to keep them on), and I filled them with various colors of Gerbera daisies that I purchased at Trader Joe’s that morning. I placed them in odd numbered pairs (3 or 5) around the space and added some tea light candles for ambiance.

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The Food

IMG_1761I love Paella. I found a great place in San Diego called San Diego Paella that not only caters parties, but they were willing to drive to Orange County to cater our event for a reasonable fee. The food was amazing and you were able to watch the chef make the food on premises. The guests loved it! All Paella prices included a Mediterranean Salad consisting of Spring mix lettuce, Feta cheese, sliced almonds, and Italian dressing served with French bread. We opted for Paella Tradicional which included Chicken, Mussels, Clams, Shrimp and Scallops at a reasonable cost of $18.50 per serving. We also ordered Paella Vegetariana which included Zucchini, Asparagus, Red Potatoes, Mushrooms, and Broccoli at a reasonable cost of $15.95 per serving. I would definitely work with this company again!

We wanted to stick with theme, so we also had tapas for our guests which included assorted cheeses (such as brie and manchego), assorted salamis, olives, tapenade, breads, almonds, and dried apricots. The tapas paired well with the Paella!

My Favorite Vino

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The wine for the evening included my favorite La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Edna Valley Chardonnay. We also had lemonade from Trader Joe’s, Sparkling Water, and Champagne. Of course we had our trusty lemon water too! (this is a staple at EVERY party I throw).

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As a marker for guests to find the house, I used the wedding sign that my husband, dad, and I made for the wedding. Here are directions on how to make the sign!


Radio Flyer Baby Shower

final shower invite

When I discovered one of my besties was preggo I could not WAIT to throw a baby shower for her little bundle of joy. When I think of my friend Alexis two colors come to mind 1.) turqouise 2.) candy apple red. I knew that this event had to comprise those two colors. I started planning before I knew the sex of the baby, but as soon as I knew baby Violet was a “she” I had to throw in a little pink for good measure. I made the invites using Microsoft Word. I printed them on 4 by 6 photo paper, added a little white rhinestone sticker in the center of the red dots above the wagon and red rhinestone sticker  in the center of the wagon wheel to resemble the Radio Flyer. I mailed them off in candy apple red envelopes along with her registry info.

Let’s Get Crafty!

onesie decorating

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Guests could decorate onesies, headbands, or bibs for the mommy-to-be. I purchased buttons, bows, flowers, puffy paint and whatever else I could find to embellish these items to make them fun and festive. People could attach their items using a glue gun or a needle and thread.  I hung a ribbon in the backyard and added some wooden clips so the artists could display their work when they finished.  Everything turned out really cute!

The Menu

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Appetizers

Caprese Bites: Tomato, Basil, Kalamata Olive, and Fresh Mozzarella skewers drizzled with EVOO,balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Walnuts and Gorgonzola: Slice sweet potatoes 1/4-1/2 inch thick, lay slices in a single layer on a cookie sheet, drizzle with EVOO, salt and pepper, and chopped fresh rosemary. Bake in 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes). Remove from oven, add chopped up walnuts and a little bit of gorgonzola crumbles. Bake for another 3-5 minutes or until cheese slightly melts. Remove, cool, enjoy!

Cream Cheese, Jalapeno Crescent Poppers: Find recipe here

Strawberry and Blueberry Skewers with this amazing Chocolate Fruit Dip

Main Course

Croissant Sandwich fixins‘ (assorted meats, cheeses, tomatoes, red onion, lettuce, avocado, mustard, and mayo)

Asian Slaw with Ginger Peanut Dressing: Find recipe here

 

Drinks

Mimosa’s and Peach Iced Tea in Mason Jars

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Decorations

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I borrowed a Radio Flyer wagon from a neighbor. Score! I purchased the turquoise poof balls from Michaels they are from the Martha Stewart Collection. I bought flowers at Trader Joe’s and put them in Mason Jars and I purchased polka dot balloons on Amazon and at the TomKat Studio. Such a cute online shop!

Dessert

Candy Buffet, Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes, and Brown Sugar Cookies

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I think the dessert table was by far my favorite part of this event! I found super cute polka dot bags at the TomKat Studio and some other cool party supplies including the paper red and white straws used for the drinks. I purchased all of the candy in bulk at Target, borrowed some of the candy buffet jars from a friend, improvised with other glass jars, and used the die cut at work to cut out the letters “SWEET BABY” (from cardstock), I then strung the letters on red and white twine. I purchased the block letters to spell out “Violet”from Michaels. They were pre-painted white, so I kept them as is.  I also found a cute square of polka dot pre-cut fabric at Jo-Ann’s. I layered a few boxes for height, added the fabric, and then put the cake tiers up that I bought for my own wedding at TJ Maxx Home Goods and placed the lemon and raspberry cupcakes that my mom made on top. We filled the little Radio Flyer that I purchased on Amazon with the brown sugar cookies my mom made.

Games

We played a few standard baby shower games and gave guests cute gift bags which included Starbucks gift cards and candles. Need help finding baby shower games? Head on over to Pinterest!

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Beach Themed 30th Birthday

IMG_6788When my friend Amanda was turning 30, she and her sister asked for my hand in helping to throw a 30th birthday outdoor, beach themed shindig. Of course I couldn’t resist! The party was catered by a super yummy mexican food restaurant in Laguna Beach, CA. As soon as I get the name of the joint, I’ll update here! We had burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas, beans, rice, chips, and salsa.  It was delish!  Of course we also had homemade margaritas (thanks Brooke!), Sangria, and plenty of other bebidas alcoholicas to wet our whistle (and the shark’s!). Amanda’s brother in law Alex did a pretty awesome job on carving that shark if I do say so myself!

Food/Drink Labels

IMG_6787As I mentioned in another post, I ususally like to make a framed menu for my parties. This particular party warranted something a little different and a little less fancy but cute nonetheless.  The overall color scheme was turquoise, blues, greens, tan, and black. I used turquoise card stock, cut it into 4 in by 8 in  squares, folded it over and added cute beach themed stickers that I purchased at Michaels in the scrap booking aisle.

I used these cards to label the food and beverages:

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Sand Bucket Food/Ice Storage

bucketsOn Pinterest, I saw this cute idea! Use sand buckets for ice and food storage. I found a great deal at Michaels and bought approximately 3 turquoise and 3 blue buckets.  We filled them with chips and ice. It worked really well and looked cute and festive!

 

Tablescapes

knettingSadly, I never got around to taking pics of the tablescapes, but here is the type of netting I used. I purchased it at Michaels. I wanted the tables to look pretty and fun! I purchased fish netting, shells, glass candle holders, and sand. I covered the tables with a black tablecloth, cut the netting to size to layer in the center, added the glass candleholders filled with sand and a tea light, and tosssed a few shells on top of the netting. It looked cool and added a nice beachy element to the party.

 

Fun Straws, Baskets, and Napkins

IMG_6795IMG_6796I purchased the baskets and straws at Michaels. I love, love, love all of the fun new paper straws today! They add a super fun and festive touch to your party and can be purchased online or in party stores.  They are available in just about any pattern/color to match your theme. We used the baskets to hold napkins, plates, and silverwear. I thought Michelle, Amanda’s sister did a super fun job on rolling the napkins up, securing them with twine and a life saver!

Games

30th Birthday BashWhat’s a party without games? Amanda’s sister put together this cute board with pics of her growing up. People had to guess her age in the pictures. The winner with the most correct won a bottle of vino!

IMG_6790We also randomly had a magician show up! How funny right? It worked perfectly. You would have thought I planned it. I’ll never tell!

IMG_6789Someone also brought corn hole and a life size version of Jenga. Nonetheless peeps had a good time. Check this out if you need ideas on fun summer lawn games!

30 BLOWS

IMG_6784This was Michelle’s idea, which I am sure originated from Pinterest, but it was super cute. Personally, 30 was pretty awesome, but for some people the thought of turning 30 blows. Just fill a basket with Blow Pops, attach a sign, and you are good to go! They made for a good late night snack.

 

Jello Shots!

IMG_6785Looking for a beach themed jello shot? Make these! Use berry blue jello and add swedish fish. Pretty cute eh? Not sure how to make jello shots? Check this out: Jello Shot Recipes

 

Dessert

IMG_6786For dessert we had vanilla cupcakes dusted with crushed nilla wafers (to make it look like sand), topped with an umbrella (so cute right?) and Nutter Butters made to look like flip flops.  Just use a little decorative frosting and add a cute colorful sprinkle at the “toe”. I purchased the frosting and sprinkles  at Michaels.

 

English High Tea Bridal Shower

On May 23, 2010, my mom and I threw a beautiful English High Tea bridal shower for my sister-in-law Ali. Hopefully, you can get some ideas for your next high tea. Cheerio.

The Menu

The English High Tea Menu

When I throw a party, I almost always make a menu for guests. Just use colorful computer paper, or card stock, get crafty on MS Word, print it out and stick it in a clear document holder or a frame, and you are good to go!

Silver Tea Service

Silver Tea Service

I absolutely adore this silver tea service that my mom received which was passed down from her mom (my grandma Peggy). It has been in the family a long time! As soon as I learn more about the history of this beautiful set, I will post more! It was the perfect addition to our fancy tea party.

California Salad and Citrus Asparagus Spears

California Salad and Citrus Asparagus Spears

I first tried this delightful salad while attending my friend Jessica’s beautiful wedding at The Turnip Rose. This wedding venue is located in Costa Mesa and has a delightful charm about it. The buildings are very CA mission style! Check it out: The Turnip Rose Wedding and Event Venue

The recipe is directly from the Turnip Rose catering menu. It’s called the California Salad.  It seemed like a perfect salad to pair with this event. Here are the items you’ll need to make this yummy salad…

-Sliced Avocado, Mandarin Orange Wedges, Sliced Almonds, Bibb Lettuce, Wonton Strips (I added this for extra crunch and flavor!), and finally, Poppy Seed Dressing (purchased at Albertson’s)

We also served Citrus Asparagus Spears as a side dish…

Ingredients
-Large bunch of asparagus
-2/3 cup of fresh lemon juice
-1 Tbl lemon rind
-1-2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
-1/2 cup of grated parmesan
-2-3 Tbls EVOO
-salt/pepper to taste

Directions
1. Steam a large bunch of asparagus
2. As soon as the asparagus is steamed, give em an ice bath. Brrr!
3. Place in a plastic bag, add EVOO, lemon juice, lemon rind, garlic, salt pepper and let sit and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
4. Serve cold and sprinkle with parmesan…enjoy!

Tea Sandwiches 

Tea Sandwhiches

You can’t host a high tea party without tea sandwiches! These cute, little bite sized yumminess morsels are a perfect party food! You can also make tons of different types of sandwiches. Whatever suits your fancy. We made ham, egg salad, dill cream cheese and cucumber, and a raisin bread with a cream cheese and raisin spread. See below for some great recipes!
50 Tea Sandwich Recipes

Grandma Lucy’s China

                   Grandma Lucy's China       Grandma Lucy's China

When throwing a high tea, you simply can’t scrimp on the server wear. These beautiful dishes were passed down to me from my grandma Lucy. Ask your family if you are in need of fine china to host a fabulous tea party, as your grandparents may have some of these beauties cooped up in a box in the garage or the attic gathering dust somewhere! Pull them out and host a fancy party. You can also purchase fine china fairly cheap at local thrift stores. They don’t have to match either! Pair the beautiful dishes with some fresh lavender for your floral centerpieces and voila…a beautiful, and great smelling table awaits your guests!

DIY Lavender Sachets  

Grandma Lucy's China and Lavender Favors

Pair the place settings with a DIY lavender sachet…
-We used clear screen fabric, cut into squares, filled with lavender scented room freshener.
-We used this room freshener and scooped about 2 Tbls onto each square along with some freshly dried lavender bits from my garden: WillowBrook Lavender Sachets 
-We then tied the sachets closed with ribbon, added a fresh sprig of lavender from my garden and a silver tag purchased at Michaels

Scones with Currants

Scones with Currants

A high tea is certainly not complete without a tried and true scone! My mom made these scrumptious scones. We added some clotted cream, butter, and jam to the mix. For the recipe, click on the link:  Cream and Currant Scones

Lemon Berry Trifle

Lemon Berry Trifle

Trifle is always a great addition to a tea-themed party. This yummy dessert is perfect when you have access to plump, sweet, seasonal berries. With a hint of lemon, this is a sure hit. Either a clear glass bowl or a trifle bowl will do. It’s so pretty, it has to be displayed! Click on the link below for a great recipe!
Lemon Berry Trifle

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My mom made red velvet cupcakes to compliment the dessert table.  Check out the link below for a great recipe:
Red Velvet Cupcakes

Lemon Water and Drink Tags

Lemon Water and Drink Tags

It’s always nice to have lemon water on hand for an event. It looks pretty and keeps guests hydrated!

I made drink tags to tie on to wine glasses by cutting rectangular strips of scrapbook paper, hole punching, and looping ribbon through the hole. Place them in a bowl with a pen and you are good to go! Guests can mark their own drinks. I like using glassware as much as possible versus plastic at events.

Mimosa Bar

Mimosa Bar

Now that I am a huge Pinterest fan, I would have made this mimosa bar a lot cooler,but that was in 2010, and I am much older and wiser now! Here is a fun link to some tips and tricks on hosting a great mimosa bar!
How to Make a Mimosa Bar!