Sunday, January 31, 2010

Holiday Stock-Up

During the holiday season, nearly every retailer boasts great deals on small gifts and entertaining items. This is a perfect time to stock up on products to use at all of your events during the coming New Year. Take the time this holiday season to look for bargains on recycled glassware, paper goods and unique gift items that can be used as party favors or décor. Here are a few items from my personal wish list:

Recycled Cardboard Coasters
These durable, water-resistant coasters, which are made from old cardboard, are crafted into a unique, playful honeycomb design. (, $22 for a set of four)

Recycled Glass Round Bowl
These recycled bowls would be perfect for serving salads or other starters or for displaying floating flowers or candles. (, sale price $6.99/each)

Vintage Doorknob Wine Stopper
A vintage glass doorknob sits atop a sturdy chrome and rubber stopper. Leave one of these unique stoppers on each table at your next party to prevent spills in style. (, $24.95/each)

Recycled Glass Goblets
Most goblets are so delicate that many hostesses are afraid to use them except for very special events. These solid, 100% recycled glass goblets are statuesque and sturdy, making them perfect for an elegant dinner party or a backyard barbeque. Each goblet holds 14 ounces. (, $36.00 for a set of two)

Soy-Blend Filled Recycled Glass Votives
Simple, yet elegant, these candles are made from a blend of soybean, cottonseed and beeswax oils. (, $16.00 for a set of four)

Soda Bottle Glasses
These individually flame-cut glasses are crafted from recycled Boylan’s soda bottles. Quirky and unexpected, they are the perfect tabletop addition for a child’s birthday party or other playful event. (, $15.00 for a set of two)

Cobalt Frosted Goblets
Created from discarded wine bottles, these richly colored goblets will stand out on any table. (, sale price $62.00 for a set of four)

Low Centerpieces

Photo: The Knot

Elevated centerpieces are one of the hottest floral trends right now. Often placed on the top of a large vase or candelabra, the centerpieces are eye-catching due in large part to their size. While these types of centerpieces can indeed be beautiful, there is much waste in their design. Consider the abundance of flowers that is required in order to properly fill out such a large arrangement. Or the great deal of water that must be used in order to keep so many flowers looking fresh. To keep these arrangements sturdy, florists must use floral foam – a synthetic block of sorts – to steady the base of each centerpiece. Also, because the centerpieces are so large, guests tend to avoid carrying them home to enjoy, meaning the arrangements can end up in the trash immediately proceeding the event.

Though there are many unique, flower-free centerpiece options available, as the daughter of a florist, I’m somewhat partial to seeing flowers as the focal point of a table. One trend I currently like is low centerpieces. Unlike elevated centerpieces, which are celebrated for their extravagance, low centerpieces are celebrated for their simplicity.  During your floral consultation, select a simple, yet interesting vase or container. Ask your designer to fill each container with water and a few small seashells, river rocks, glass beads or something similar that will not detract from the simplicity of the design. Then, pick out a few striking flowers, such as gerberas, anemones, tulips or peonies, which are visually appealing because of their unique colors and shapes. Tables can be decorated with a single vase, a row of vases, or a small cluster of vases. Whichever style you pick, you’ll be adding more green to your event in a few ways. You’ll save materials, such as floral foam and excess flowers, from reaching landfills and increase the chances of your guests taking home centerpieces to enjoy for several days as opposed to just one celebrated afternoon or evening. But perhaps the best part is the money you’ll save. Depending on your specific florist and the flowers selected, elevated centerpieces can cost upwards of $100 each, while low centerpieces can be created for as little as $50 each.

DIY: Printed Favors

Photos: Martha Stewart

Over the years, I’ve received my fare share of useless party gifts. Cheap jewelry rolls. A tin of gum marked with the couple’s last name. Sashes of ill-fragranced potpourri. Maybe it’s because I’ve been trained to have an eye for detail when it comes time for special events; but I have to admit that nothing demerits the classiness of a special party like seeing a paper tag that reads “Made in China” beside an elegant place setting.
I like the idea of gifts and favors that are both beautiful and useful. And so, with winter approaching (as well as my tendency to spend many hours indoors involved with creative projects), I’ve been considering fun ideas for chic, handmade gifts to pass out at parties this season.

Printed Journals
In a world overflowing with BlackBerrys, I find something very romantic about the idea of an occasional handwritten letter or note. For your next event, why not pick up some blank eco-friendly journals (these are a bit pricy, though they’re the perfect fit for the job: Once you have the journals, you can print a unique design on their covers that will blend with the theme of your event. Natural objects, such as leaves or dried seaweed, make excellent design patterns. Follow the link below for specific directions on how to easily and properly print your one-of-a-kind gifts (substituting journals for a tablecloth).

Printed Totes
Only a few years ago, carrying reusable bags was hardly a trend. However, today, you can pick them up in the grocery store, the bookstore, and even in some clothing stores. Why not embrace the green trend and create unique, printed reusable totes as parting gifts for guests at your next shower or birthday party? Just pick up some blank totes (here are some that are made in the U.S.A: and follow this link for specific printing directions (

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chocolate Favors

Photo: Cocoa Vino

I remember the thrill I felt as a child when my parents were attending a wedding. I was never thrilled because I would be a guest at the wedding. Rather, I was thrilled because I knew that when my parents returned home, they would have several small bags of candy-coated almonds to pass off to me.
Using candies as wedding and party favors is a long-standing tradition. And so today, I set out on a mission to find an eco-minded company who has taken this tradition and spun it with some green.
CocoaVino ( is a fabulous New York City-based company who specializes in artisanal chocolates and confections that are made using regional, sustainable and organic ingredients. The reason I really like this company, however, is because they carry a variety of chocolate favors that are the perfect parting gift for any stylish event. Their candy favors come in simple yet elegant packaging that can be customized to perfectly match the décor of any green event. What could be tastier than that?

Small Gifts

Photo: Soap and Paper Factory

With the holidays approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts – gifts to give on Christmas morning, gifts to give to other hostesses and gifts to give to friends at my own gatherings. Specifically though, I’ve been thinking about small gifts to give guests at a dinner party. Since dinner parties are often intimate affairs, I’m willing to spend a bit more on small gifts to give to my friends who attend. Recently, I stumbled across the website for the New York-based company, The Soap and Paper Factory ( The company, which is run by three eco-conscious women, creates beautifully made soaps, stationary and beauty products, all made with the environment in mind. Each of their products is worthy of gift giving, though I particularly like their candles. Unlike other “designer” candle companies who use petroleum and other harsh products in their design process, The Soap and Paper Factory has a collection of clean burning soy-based candles. Every individually packaged candle is poured into an Italian glass jar that can easily be reused in the home as a small vase or a juice glass after the candle has been burned. Another thing, however, that I love about these candles is that each comes packaged in an individual box (made of recycled materials) that is printed with a modern, nature-inspired graphic. Since the boxes are so beautiful, I can avoid using (and wasting) wrapping paper altogether and I can also place one at every place setting without ever taking away from my tabletop décor.

Green Invites

Photos: Paper Culture

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about invitations. After all, invitations mark the official starting off point of most events. What better way, then, to begin to plan for a green event than right from the beginning of things.

Of course, the most logical green option would be to simply opt out of the invites all together. But I have to admit: I really love the idea of receiving an invitation no matter how informal. Perhaps receiving a personalized invitation brings me back to my childhood and the sincere excitement I felt when I was the recipient of a party invitation from a classmate, or even better, a crush. I think that, even as adults, many of us still feel this same excitement when we receive word that a great party is on the horizon.

Below are some stylish options to start your green event off right.

Green Paper Options:

I know. It seems like an oxymoron. A green event with (gasp) paper invites. However, there are several companies who are busy crafting green invitations and stationary for all occasions. One of my personal favorites is Paper Culture ( They carry invitations and stationary for a range of events including holidays, baby showers, bridal showers and housewarming announcements. There are two reasons I adore this company. For one, they pride themselves on creating modern designs that contain sleek lines, tasteful color combinations and a contemporary whimsy. But the main reason I love them is because they create such beautifully contemporary designs in an eco conscious way. All of Paper Culture’s products are printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified post-consumer recycled paper, and all of their envelopes are also printed on recycled paper. Translation: big design with little guilt and definitely no sacrifice.


It’s become a popular trend for brides in recent years to create personalized wedding websites via and other similar host sites. And while I find it fun for brides to create these pages as an online home for their wedding registries and “how we met” stories, why not take things a step further?

With blogs and websites becoming more and more easy to navigate, it is easy for hostesses to use technology to create one-of-a-kind website “invitations.” With sites like, which allows users to create a wedding website for a fee, and, where anyone can create a personal website in just a few easy steps, the computer may just be housing this generation’s new line of invites and announcements.

On your “invite” website, you can post all of your big event information, such as the date, the time, the location, etc. You can also help to get your guests excited for the event by posting images to your site that are related to your affair. The options are innumerable. You can post maps and directions compliments of Google Maps (eliminating the obligatory “directions” sheet found with most invitations), post links to products you’ve added to your registry (no need to print a ten-page registry list or to take an unnecessary trip to a mall) or even links to websites that will help your guests to better understand the theme or dress code of your event. Once your website is complete, simply set up a separate email account (ex: to send out a link to your site, and then ask guests to RSVP you via email (thus eliminating RSVP cards, additional postage, etc.).
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