Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Year's Party Ideas For Kids

Celebrating New Year's with children might seem difficult since it is a celebration at midnight, which should be way past bedtime. However, there are so many unique ideas for games and parties I've found for celebrating this holiday, so try a few out this New Year's with your kids. Just make sure you all get a good nap that afternoon so that everyone lasts until midnight. If you don't want to keep the kids up at midnight, try celebrating New Year's with another part of the world with an earlier time zone. Cook dishes that you might eat in a particular city, play music from there, and you could even decorate with items you might find in that city or country. What's a party without decorations? For your New Year's party, have the kids make some of the d├ęcor. Streamers are simple to make by stapling lengths of crepe paper to an empty cardboard tube. Then you can drape them from the ceiling to different corners of the room. Bright and festive colors will make all the difference. You can even have your own balloon drop at midnight. Get two rectangular paper tablecloths and stitch the tablecloths together with yarn, leaving a foot or so at the end for a rip cord. Tape the cloth to the ceiling on three sides, leaving the side opposite the rip cord open. Tape the cord up separately, so it's accessible. Let the center of the cloth hang down to allow space for the balloons. Inflate at least 75 balloons and stuff the cloth with balloons, then add confetti and streamers on top. Tape up the last side of the cloth. At midnight, pull the ripcord and watch the excitement on their little faces. Another really fun idea to decorate for your New Year's party is to take your Christmas tree and deck it out with noisemakers, horn blowers, candy and streamers. It's already up so you might as well use it for a spectacular decoration for New Year's. The great thing about doing this is by the time the party's over, your tree will be bare and ready to take down.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

New Year's Celebrations

The season of entertaining is almost coming to a close with one more big night - New Year's Eve!
Stay Tuned to our upcoming ideas for New Year's entertaining ideas that will allow you, the hostess, to enjoy the ringing in of the New Year too.
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HURRY while supplies last.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Shimmer and Shine Tablescapes Idea

Shimmer and Shine Tablescape Idea:

When it comes to holiday parties, creating a fabulous and festive tablescape is just as important as decorating the tree. Here is a shimmering and shining tablescape idea from .

Use mirrors as your base to reflect sparkly gold and silver objects for a truly elegant display that can last right through New Year's. 

First, create a table runner by placing several small, unframed square mirrors down the center of your table.
Place two or three silver, gold and/or glass pillar candle holders (you can also spray paint ones you have) on top of the mirrors.
Top them with 9" gold pillar candles or mix it up and use the gold candle holders with silver candles.

Gather lots of silver and gold holiday-themed objects like clusters of jingle bells and shorter metallic votives and scatter them between the candle holders and down the runner.

For a sparkly touch of nature, gather pinecones from your yard (or the craft store). Brush on some craft glue and roll the pinecones in glitter. Once dry, place a few of those down your runner as well.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Gift

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." -Melody Beattie

Writing down what we are thankful for each day, each month or each year is a clear visualization of how much better life can really be if you concentrate on what we have instead of what we need.
This Thanksgiving add a 'Gratitude Journal' to each place setting. You can purchase a notebook at any stationary or office supply store. Add your own unique touch to it. Here are some ideas:
  • Wrap several strands of raffia around the width of the notebook, add a leaf or small card with the guest's name on it.
  • Copy the quote from above and make a bookmark to be placed inside the journal
  • Purchase a fall colored double sided satin ribbon and tie a big bow around the notebook and glue an acorn or leaf in the center of the bow.

However you decide to decorate it, the Gratitude Journal makes for a wonderful parting gift for your Thanksgiving guests.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Start your own Thanksgiving Tradition

On Thanksgiving, family and friends gather around a table to visit, eat, and drink. Here is something they can do that will be remembered year after year. Start a Gratitude Tablecloth.

What is it, you might ask? Well, you can get very creative with it or keep it simple. It is entirely up to you. The simple supplies needed are a tablecloth (preferable a white or ivory one) and fabric pens. Have each guest write on the tablecloth what they are thankful for that year. They can write their name or initials next to their words or phrase with the date including the year.

Each year, your Thanksgiving guests can add their gratitude to the tablecloth. The idea is to have your guests remember what they are thankful for. It is a fun idea for all ages to participate in. And it is fun to see all the many thankful thoughts over the years.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Napkin Folding Ideas

The napkin - a crucial part of a table setting for everyone at the table. Why? Each guest needs it to dine for avoiding spills on their lap and of course, to clean their lips after indulging in your fabulous feast. However, think outside the box in regards to how and where you are going to display the napkin at each placesetting. We have used this book as a great reference for folding a napkin in fun and entertaining way. The hardcover book is called "Napkins with a twist - fabulous folds with flair for every occasion" available at You will be amazed at how clever the napkin can be folded.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fake The Food on Thanksgiving

Here is our first fake the food idea. If you have a Trader Joe's in your area, stop by and pick up a box of their pumpkin bread mix, it is a seasonal item. It is very moist and easy to make. You can be a little creative and add dried cranberries and walnuts to the mix before baking. Make pumpkin cupcakes for the kids and add mini chocolate chips to the mix. The kids at your Thanksgiving feast will love them. Stay tuned for more "Fake the Food" ideas.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fall Table Setting Ideas

If you want your Thanksgiving to go smoothly this year, you have some planning to do. Thanksgiving should focus more about the people you gather with then the food you serve them. Do you honestly think that your guests really on come just for the food?
Of course not, they have come to visit, reminisce about the ole days, create plans for the future, and hopefully give thanks for being in the company of such wonder family and friends.
So here are some of our ideas to make this Thanksgiving at bit more hassle free. You probably already know what we are going to say first. Set your table a few days before; don’t wait until the last minute.

If you are looking for ideas for a fall table setting visit us at, to see what we have created for this holiday. Unless you are using perishable items for your centerpiece or accents, set your table early. If you are worried about dust or little fingers, once you set it cover it with a light weight material. The plastic covers you get from the dry cleaners are perfect.
If you absolutely enjoy making everything from scratch by all means go for it! However, there is nothing wrong with “Faking the Food” a bit (check back with us in a few days for ideas for “faking the food”). Or have each guest bring something to contribute to the meal. We know that most people are happy to bring at least one thing toward a Thanksgiving dinner.
We are huge list makers. Our biggest suggestion is to write it all down, that way nothing is forgotten. You can even do an hourly schedule to keep you on track. For example: 1:00 make stuffing, 1:45 place bread or biscuits in basket, 2:45 take butter out of refrigerator etc…
We hope some of these tips make your Thanksgiving Holiday a bit smoother so you too can enjoy the gathering.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Traditions

An excerpt from the book Celebrations by Jim McCann & Jeanne Benedict:

Most of us know the story of this holiday from an elementary school play where we donned pilgrim hats or feathers acting out the first Thanksgiving feast. In the 17th century our forefathers set sail on the Mayflower in search of a happier way of life and religious freedom.
They landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts around 1620. Ironically, there is no reference to the actual rock as a landing place in pilgrims' accounts, but they do cite the famed piece of granite in writings about 100 years later.
Plymouth was as good a place as any to settle and the pilgrims were soon befriended by whom we now refer to as the Native American Indians. The first winter was severe and many pilgrims lost their lives to the elements.
Seeing the hardships of these struggling people, the Indians took the pilgrims under their wing and taught them the way of the land. Squanto, as he was called by the pilgrims, and others from his tribe showed the newcomers how to plant corn and squash and to hunt and fish. As a result of working together the harvest was bountiful. A feast was held to give thanks for the gifts of the land and kindness of the Indians.
The actual date of the first Thanksgiving is unknown. In the coming years, the pilgrims feasted only when the harvest was plentiful. And over the next century records indicate that the handful of people that populated the nation had some sort of Autumnal celebration.
Apparently George Washington attempted to set Thanksgiving on November 26, 1789, but with the political turmoil of the day the feast never made it into the official records. In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November to be Thanksgiving and every president following Lincoln had made the same declaration.
It wasn't until 1941 that President Roosevelt signed a bill that designated the fourth Thursday in November as the national holiday of Thanksgiving. Some hold hands in silent prayer while others express gratitude aloud, but all gather around the table and give thanks for what they have.

Create your own Thanksgiving Traditions. Visit us at to view our Fall table setting ideas that can be easily created onto your Thanksgiving table.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween Party Food Ideas

This Halloween serve squishy earthworms in mud and vampire punch to your party guests. They'll get a kick out of these creepy but yummy All Hallow's Eve treat.
Let's face it. Regular old party food isn't going to cut it at your Halloween do. You're going to need to amp up the creepy factor while still serving tasty (and recognizable food) Here are some suggestions for that All Hallow's Eve bash!
1. Scary -tini's. Make any martini and sink a plastic eyeball or a gummy worm in the bottom. For a really wild one make an apple-tini in a creepy green and put a plastic finger in it. (wash the eye balls and body parts to get rid of that plastic taste and smell before you start dropping them into people's drinks
2. Devil dogs- Grill hot dogs and then serve with a fiery hot relish. An easy one is to puree five to six jalapeno peppers and one half of an onion. Spread a thin line of this on your grilled dogs. For a sweeter devil dog, start out with five to six tablespoons of barbecue sauce or ketchup, depending on your tastes, add minced jalapeno peppers and onions.
3. Fire starter burgers . For every pound of chopped meat , add one teaspoon cayenne pepper and chopped onion. Grill until done. Another method is get already prepared hamburgers, turkey or veggie burgers ,dredge them in cayenne or chili pepper and then grill or fry.
4. Halloween corn - Pop two bowls of microwave corn or use two bag s of already popped corn. Sprinkle one bowl with cheddar powder (if you can't get this in your local store then you can get it online at - a great online cheese store). Now sprinkle the other with cracked black pepper. Put the two in a bigger bowl with one half cheese and the other black pepper. For a real cool Halloween look put the cheese corn in a black bowl and the peppered corn in an orange bowl.
5. Squishy earthworms in mud. Sautee one to one and a half pounds of ground beef or soy beef in two to three tablespoons of oil over a low heat. Add one chopped onion for flavor. Reduce heat and cover. Prepare two package of brown gravy mix. Stir into meat until thoroughly mixed. Now prepare two boxes of bucatini (about 32 ounces) in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water. When pasta is done pour meat sauce over it and serve hot.
6. Vampire Punch. Mix 2 bottles of Pom pomegranate juice with two two liter bottles of lemon lime soda. You can add strawberries preserves to act as “clots” or add skull or bone shaped ice cubes. (you can find these at
7. Blood shakes. Make the standard vanilla milkshake but instead of two cups of milk uses only one. Add ½ cup Pom pomegranate juice and enough red food coloring to make the shake a dark red. Serve in skull cups.
8. Boneyard Cake. Prepare chocolate or devil's food cake according to package instructions. Pour into two eight inch in diameter pans.. You can use your own recipe for fudge frosting or a prepared one. Once the layers are cooled, you can then ice the bottom one with the frosting. Scatter candy bones over this and then put on the second layer. Using the rest of frosting , ice top and sides. For the headstones you can use square shortbreads or Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies cut in half. Write RIP on these and stick into the cake's top. For added ghoulishness, you can leave a few bones scattered amongst these or even put a toy fence around the cake. This Halloween serve fun and scary food at your party. Your guests will get a thrill out of these eerie but tasty treats! Now have a skull full of vampire punch and join the crowd!


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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Holiday Table Setting Ideas. Setting A Festive Table

Holiday Table Setting Ideas. Setting A Festive Table

Don't let Martha intimidate you. Setting a beautiful holiday table may be easier -- and cheaper -- than you think.

You don't have to know what a charger is. You don't have to own separate salad, dinner, fish and dessert forks. And, according to celebrity party planner David Tutera, "you don't have to spend a lot of money, just a little time and effort."

Whether you're hosting a casual or formal affair, the table can instantly set the mood for your dinner guests. Allison Reynolds, an editor and stylist, maintains that "it is about not over-decorating or over-planning the decor." The former home market editor for the defunct Budget Living magazine and current contributor to the Shelterrific design Web site added that "there are so many choices out there. Keep it simple and organic."

If you're limited on space and money, what should be the priority? According to Tutera, a unique centerpiece is the most important element of a striking table design. Although he has worked with the rich and famous -- including the Rolling Stones, former Vice President Al Gore and Elton John -- he has plenty of ideas for low-cost centerpieces.

"For a contemporary look, take a collection of simple glass vases you may already have, fill them with water, and add red food coloring to tint the water. Then add floating candles, place them down the center of your table, and accent with clusters of simple round ornaments," he said.

"For a more traditional and rustic look, take empty soup cans and turn them into unique vases for flowers. Simply wrap the outside of the can with cinnamon sticks around the outside of the cans, affix them with a rubber band along the top and another at the bottom. Then cover the band with raffia or leftover ribbon."

In his book, "The Party Planner," Tutera provides tips for a holiday dessert party inspired by candy canes. Glass vases are filled with alternating layers of rock candy and cranberries. A display is made with a glass bowl, layered with red feathers, and topped with an ornament.

"Candles are a great way to add a festive glow for little expense," Tutera said. But avoid scented ones, he advised. "Keep them in the powder room or living room. Let the aroma of the food entice your guests at the table."

But be careful when shopping at big discount retailers, said San Francisco event planner Alison Hotchkiss: "Ikea can be a great resource, but you know when something looks too Ikea? You don't want that. It's a balance of eclectic old and new."

Last year, Hotchkiss went with an all-white theme for the holidays -- decorating with white mum flower balls and white pillar candles, and even serving (what else?) White Russian cocktails. White faux fur throws over chairs created a cozy yet elegant look. (There's another tip: don't overlook texture as a design element.)

When setting the table, little things can go a long way in making guests more comfortable. "You can use mini-ramekins at each setting with individual salt and pepper so there's less passing and arms flailing across the table," said Reynolds. She also recommends keeping carafes of water within easy reach of guests.

Tutera said that "a great soft background music mix adds so much to any dinner or party." And he warns that "one of the biggest things people overlook is place cards. Whether a small or large, casual or formal party, the host should always take the time to think about where everyone should sit." Simple folded tent cards will suffice.

For a free alternative, turn to nature. "Use fall leaves placed at each setting," suggested Hotchkiss. "Use a colored Sharpie to write the guest's name." With larger leaves, this idea can be applied to the dinner menu.

Reynolds is also a big fan of leaves. "I'm a bit of a connoisseur," she said, "so I find I have a nice collection and can spread them on the table or write little notes for place settings." Pine cones, acorns, twigs and rocks are other good options for table decor. "There is always something outside that is more beautiful than something money can buy."

Tutera has a few nature-inspired tricks up his sleeve as well. "Holly branches look great incorporated into a wreath or laid down flat for a table runner or on a mantel," he said. "Birch logs also look great as the base of pillar candle holders." Cut the birch into 3-inch slices and top with a pillar candle. For tapered candles, drill a 1-inch deep hole in the log but be sure to never leave candles unattended.

Think about objects that can be recycled. For example, Tutera suggested taping together old holiday cards to make placemats. Cardboard paper towel rolls can be cut into segments and, with a bit of creativity, transformed into napkin rings.

Once the table is set, remember to relax and enjoy the evening. The hosts should not appear to be working or stressed out.

"I hate when people are picky about the spillage, so avoid caring too much if the cloth gets messy," Reynolds said. "A sign of a good time is a slightly messy tablecloth."

Source: Anh-Minh Le is a frequent contributor to Home&Garden. E-mail her at

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Exotic Table Settings . Table Decorating For An Outdoor Soiree.

Exotic Table Settings . Table Decorating For An Outdoor Soiree

Dress up an outdoor rendezvous with your own personal touch. Whether you are looking for an exotic, elegant, casual, or beach theme, spice up your party with these simple and affordable table decorating ideas.

Exotic Table Settings
Express your exotic side with neutral base colors and bold accents. Keep your base colors natural, opting for earth tones. Then match tablecloths, napkins, chargers, and vases that have natural colors with an exotic pattern.

Bright colors like coral and turquoise, are ideal accent colors for an exotic theme. Be sure to get coordinating napkin rings, plates, glasses, flowers, pillows, chair covers, and silverware in bold colors to stand out against the neutrals. Summer is the perfect time to use bold colors and patterns, so go big and impressive.

Classic Table Settings
Yellow and blue are the quintessential classic summer colors. Use a blue tablecloth and napkins with yellow plates and bowls. Arrange a vase full of yellow flowers or fill a vase with bright yellow lemons for a beautiful table centerpiece.

Elegant Table Settings
Even if you are throwing a garden party in your backyard, you can still make it elegant with regal rich colors, such as brown, gold, and dark green partnered with silver tableware. Use elaborate candleholders and goblets for the feeling of grandeur.

Beach-themed table settings
If you are looking for that “day at the beach” vibe, stick with bright blues and crisp whites. Use bright blue placemats topped with bright white dishes. Keep the table setting to a minimum to maintain a casual feel. Group large seashells in the middle of the table for an oceanic centerpiece.
Source: Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master’s degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Visit Table Ambiance today for all your outside table setting needs. Great prices and wonderful services. We have the table setting products you need today to make your table settings look great tomorrow. Visit us at

Tablescaping: The Art of Table Setting

Tablescaping: The Art of Table Setting

A few ideas on how to make beautiful table settings for special occasions.

Setting your table for a holiday dinner, or any dinner party, should be more than a practical arrangement of plates and flatware. Your tablescape should be a work of art. It should reflect not only the warm welcome you want to show your guests, but also serve as an artistic venue for the fabulous meal you're about to present.

Here are some ideas for terrific tablescapes:
For the sophisticated Christmastime dinner party, set your table using solid colors and simple ornamentation. Begin with a dark green tablecloth. Linen is an excellent choice of material, or use a cloth with a subtle sheen to it. For your dinnerware use white china, silverware with a simple pattern, etched stemware and white linen napkins. Your serving ware, if being placed on the table, should be white as well. Place a brilliant red linen table runner along the center of your table, lengthwise. Depending on how long your table is, place silver candlesticks with white candles at intervals along the runner. Don't forget to use dripless candles.

Is the dinner more casual? Use a patterned tablecloth in bold holiday colors. Instead of etched stemware, use tumblers. Replace the candlesticks and candles with small decorative bowls filled with wrapped candies.

This simple premise of layering - tablecloth, place setting and serving ware, and ornamentation - described above can be adjusted to accommodate your existing dinnerware. If your holiday china has a pattern, play off the colors with your tablecloth, napkins and runner. Use the runner to set off the centerpiece or ornamentations.

If your celebrating a summer holiday, such as the Fourth of July, it's likely your setting isn't going to be as formal. That doesn't mean your table can't be just as striking.

Using the same concept of layering, set your table to play up the feel of the holiday. If your party is outdoors, you can use a vinyl red checked tablecloth, red, white and blue melamine dinnerware, brightly colored plastic tumblers, and inexpensive flatware. Put paper napkins in oversized plastic cups so guests can help themselves.

Use pinwheels in a small plastic bucket waited with sand or rocks for your ornamentation.

A good tip if your eating outdoors is to weight the corners of your tablecloth. Fill four small plastic bags with colorful stones and tie them with ribbons. Then attach these to the corners of your tablecloth. Use a hole punch to create the hole and thread the ribbon through.

Want to add a little more to your work of art? For each place setting, place a small piece of Styrofoam on a small dish. Stick a small paper flag in the Styrofoam and cover the foam and dish with moss. This creates a little hill with a flag on top.

Obviously, using holiday colors or the holiday itself is the starting point in the examples given so far. If your party doesn't have a central theme, find your inspiration in the season.

For a winter party, create this warm tablescape for your guests.

Begin with a bright white tablecloth. On top of that, place a smaller, dark blue cloth. Use thin, double sided tape at the corners to keep the top cloth from sliding. Now add a deep gold table runner, preferably one with embroidery or damask patterning.

For your place settings, use white dinnerware with a gold accent. Add dark blue napkins in gold napkin rings. If possible, use gold plated flatware, and glassware rimmed in gold. For ornamentation, place an oblong white bowl with gold trim in the center and fill it with silk flowers of various colors, predominately gold. Add a few, low round candles on decorative plates along the table's center.

The examples given demonstrate the basic tenets of tablescaping: theme, layers, and color. They also demonstrate traditional pairings and formats. Once you begin crafting tablescapes, you'll find yourself adding more layers and patterns, and becoming more creative with ornamentation. Tablescaping may become one of your favorite parts of giving a party.

Visit Table Ambiance today for all your table setting needs. Great prices and wonderful services. We have the table setting products you need today to make your table settings look great tomorrow. Visit us at

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Baby is a Gift

Think pink!
That was the original theme for the baby shower my mom and I planned for my cousin, who is having a girl. My mom did such an amazing job pulling all different elements together to make the tables incredible, but after all the elements were put together, we decided the theme should have been "A baby is a gift". Because we had "packages' all over the place. My mom had such a great idea by using the gifts from us as the centerpiece. Table runners were placed across the table so the table itself looked like a package. We used large pink safety pins as napkin rings. My cousin has a huge sweet tooth, so we filled glass baby bottle with jelly beans and tied a "it's a girl" ribbon around for fun. For this occasion, we definitely used our favorite motto "Fake the Food". We purchased boxed lunches and cupcakes for dessert, so we could spend more time on the fun part, setting the tables!
Share your favorite baby theme with us.

Happy Entertaining!
Visit Table Ambiance today for all your table setting needs. Great prices and wonderful services. We have the table setting products you need today to make your table settings look great tomorrow. Visit us at

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We were on TV, again

My mom and I had the pleasure of doing another segment with View From the Bay's House Doctor Lisa Quinn. She was so much fun to work and visit with. To view our 4th of July segment, click here. To view our recent segment about tips on setting a table click here.

We are in the middle of designing our Fall and Holiday table settings, so stay tuned.

If you have any comment or suggestion, please do not hesitate to contact us at

To view Lisa Quinn's website visit her at

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Family Gathering

Talk about the ultimate gathering.... a family reunion. About every other year we gather from my mother's side of the family to catch up with everyone, laugh and cry while remembering the ones that are no longer with us, and chat about the promising future. My cousins hosted this year at their beautiful home in Petaluma. They did such an amazing job! They made all the food which was delicious, provided endless beverages, and took pictures throughout the day to cherish the memorizes made that day. Coming from a large Italian family, most gatherings are all about the food, and this year my mother and another cousin gathered family recipes from the entire family and created our own family reunion cookbook. It is filled with wonderful recipes created from past generation, new concoctions, family favorites, and to top it off old photos from the past. It was truly a memorable occasion.
But the most important thing we all remember is, besides the great food, we just love to gather!

We hope you have the opportunity to gather with your family or friends before the summer runs out.

Happy Entertaining!

Monday, July 7, 2008

The summer heats up

The temperature of the summer heats up. Table Ambiance can help you create a seaside table settings to help cool your party guests down, well........almost. We have created a fun yet easy table setting to be enjoyed outside or inside. We have provided the idea, now all you need to do is decide what elements you already have and which new ones you need to make it just right.