Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Hip Hostess is taking a week break for the holidays, but we'll be back in 2009 with more musings. We hope you all are able to spend lots of time celebrating with your friends and family!

XOXO -- a & b

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We Planned, We Shopped, We Conquered

Holiday Party Saving & Planning Tips.

About a month ago, Hip Hostess was approached by a gentleman who wanted help with his annual holiday party. He had considered cancelling due to the economy but was urged by a friend to see if Hip Hostess could help him out. Our challenge was t0 provide food & drinks, serveware and entertainment for 100 people for under $17 a person....oh, and the party usually stretches as long at 6+ hours. After Amber and I picked ourselves up off the floor we decided to put our money where our mouth was, after all aren’t we always preaching that with good planning you don’t have to give up your holiday entertaining?

We were lucky that the apartment created instant atmosphere with almost panoramic views of Manhattan. The next step was finding food items that were both plentiful and beautiful to double as décor. We were asked to stay away from any definitive "holiday themes," so instead we decided to incorporate a Parisian City of Lights theme. Suffice it to say that in the end the party was a smashing success and the guests were completely unaware that the host was on a budget.

This was a journey filled with research, hard work and lessons learned. In an effort to inspire you to not give up on your holiday entertaining, Hip Hostess would like to share some photos and tips that you can incorporate into your own party to help you stay within budget.

1. Use seasonal items to double as centerpieces such as Clementines shown below.
2. We used the carton that the Brie came in and printed out a label to tie in the Parisian theme and double as décor.
3. We covered candles with vellum luminaries that we printed ourselves to incorporate the theme.
4. We purchased checked blue and white fabric for $4.00 per yard which enabled us to use plastic platters as serving pieces.
5. We searched many grocery stores and found that Trader Joe’s offered the best prices on cheese and has amazing chocolate croissants that you can bake yourself.
6. Use finger foods as much as possible to cut down on serving ware.
7. We offered all Champagne based drinks such as Kir Royales, Bellinis and Mimosas, which allowed us a discount per case but still offered variety with just a few additional ingredients.
8. We offered crudite in individual servings with the dip already in the bottom of the container. It was easy for the guests to grab and eat...and also created a great visual element.
9. We bought all fruits and vegetables from Manhattan Fruit Exchange (a wholesale produce provider) which ensured the price point was low and the merchandise fresh.
10. Cut off the tops of diaper pins to double as cheese markers
11. Use egg based dishes to stretch your budget.
12. Everyone likes to receive a gift when they leave. We prepared easy, yet delicious palmiers for guests to take as a favor.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wedding Paper Divas Contest Winner!

Thank you everyone for participating in the Wedding Paper Divas Giveaway. The lucky winner of the $100 gift card chosen at random is:

Jade said...
I would love to have a wedding at a castle in Scotland. The Tartan invitations would be great! It would match all the kilts I would make everyone wear. It would set the mood for the candlelight ceremony, bagpipes and drinking beer out of chalices at the reception.
December 14, 2008 8:26 PM

To claim your prize, please email us at : Thanks again everyone for participating… and don’t forget to check back after the first of the year when we will have a new giveaway from M. Flynn.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Minute Centerpiece Solution


With the holidays fast approaching and time slipping away like it usually does this time of year, you might find yourself in a last minute pinch for holiday décor. Normally in this situation I would pull something from the Hip Hostess “bag of tricks”. However, while visiting Jessica Jones’ blog, How about Orange, I saw an idea that was so brilliant, easy and economical that I would feel guilty not sharing the wealth.

I ran across Jessica’s website while researching fabrics to use at some of our events. As most of you know it is difficult to find fun, modern fabrics at a decent price. So when I ran across Jessica’s line, the happy dance was done more than once.

This project will take minimal time at an economical price and make a fabulous impression. Jessica definitely gets a Hip Hostess seal of approval for this one! Below she’ll show you how to make easy fabric covers for vases or even shot glasses.

1. Cut a piece of fabric large enough to wrap around your glass or vase once, plus about an inch of overlap. Make it as tall as your vase is, plus an extra half inch. (Of course, vary this depending on how much glass you want to show at the top.)
2. Fold over and press a half inch at the top and bottom of the fabric; then sew a seam across it to hold it down.
3. Wrap the fabric around your vase, right side to the inside, and pin it exactly where you'd like your seam to go. Slide the vase out and draw a line along the pins to help you sew where you need to.
4. Sew the tube along the line and press the seam open.
5. Flip the tube right side out and put it on your vase.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last Reminder - Wedding Paper Divas Contest

Before you completely settle into another December weekend of libations, cookies, and appetizers, don't forget to sign up for our amazing contest with Wedding Paper Divas. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate for products from this amazing stationary company...and they do everything from bridal & wedding invitations to holiday cards to karaoke party invites!

And for anyone that has not been to the WPD website or seen their final products I have a first-hand review for you. First of all, the website is VERY user friendly. Once you choose the invitation style that you prefer, you simply follow the guided steps to personalize the invitation wording, colors, etc. There is even the option to use custom colors for many of the invitations if you so choose. Once you have made all of the modifications...voila! are shown a preview of your future invitations.
And WPD's were kind enough to send us many samples of their work. I was impressed. The offset printing was very clean and crisp. The color quality was also very nice. And with options ranging from traditional to more adventurous, there's something to suit every style of event. And as a recent penny-pinching bride, I was also struck by how affordable the options are. You really don't have to sacrifice quality for cost. But don't just take my word for it, check it out for yourself! --a

Friday, December 19, 2008

Toasting the Holidays.

Fun Facts.

A raise of the hand and a clink of the glass never cease to bring on a quick dose of cheer. There are many theories about why we toast—beginning with the ‘clinking’ of the glass, this was believed to ward off evil spirits. Another tale claims that by crashing glasses together, the libations in each glass would slosh into the other person’s cup, proving that neither was poisoned. Most commonly the toast translates to ‘good health and good fortune’.

“Cheers!” is a word you will hear many times in the coming weeks, as well, it should be. It is the perfect time of year to look back and toast your accomplishments, say good riddance to your surpassed hurdles and look forward to a New Year. My personal theory is that each time you Cheers you are bumped up on the Good Health and Good Fortune list. So, I am going to provide you with a list of many different ways to say “Cheers”. Go Clink and Prosper. --b

Danish – Skaal (skawl)

Dutch – Proost (proast)

Finnish – Kippis (kip’ pis)

French – A votre santé (ah vo’ tra san’ tay)

German – Prost (proast)

Hebrew – Le’chaim (leh khy’ yim)

Ireland – Slainte’ (slahn cha’)

Italian – Salute (sah loo’ tay)

Japanese – Kanpai (kahn pay)

Portugese – Saude (ser oo’ dher)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Big Fat REAL Wedding - Favors

Lesson #6
DIY's take as many things as possible in advance.

I'm here to tell you that even the most prepared bride can become overwhelmed during the last 2 weeks before the wedding. When you look at the checklists from magazines, you will notice that the responsibilities during the last month jump up to a dizzingly high amount. It's really easy to just run out of time to do all of the DIY projects that you wanted to incorporate. So it is my opinion that it's never too early to start on those projects. A perfect example of this was our wedding favors.

In keeping with our desire to make every detail very personal, we decided to do miniature banana breads (my husband's favorite snack since he was a kid) in bakery boxes. Now at first glance this may seem like it must be done towards the end...but there was plenty of room for advance work.

First, I purchased the banana bread boxes and coordinating sized baking tins at least 9 months before the wedding. Then I had the joy of assembling 125 of these most of my DIY projects I did this leisurely while watching quality shows like Rock of Love with Bret Michaels. The next step was adhering ribbon to those boxes for a decorative element. Then...I created laminated recipe cards to place inside the boxes with the banana breads. I used the same design that I created for our invitations. That's when I shipped all of the boxes to my in-laws outside of Chicago, where they sat for 7 months in sealed boxes in their basement - aka. Amber's wedding basement.

About a month before our wedding, we were in Chicago for our shower. So we took advantage of this time to bake all 125 banana breads. We then individually wrapped them all in plastic wrap and froze them. So all that was left the weekend of our wedding was to put our little banana bread bundles in the boxes with the recipe cards. I think it took us a total of 5 minutes with the help of 2 friends.

So what's the point of this long-winded story? If I had waited until the last month to complete this project I may have just scrapped it and gone with something else...or had to pay someone 3-4 times as much to create my vision. Instead, we ended up with delicious & adorable favors that everyone devoured on our way to our wedding after-party. --a

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dish. Drink. Dice.

Hip Hostess Resolution Idea.

Nobody thinks about New Year’s Resolutions before December 31st at 11:00pm. However Hip Hostess has come up with a 2009 New Year’s Resolution that is fun, economical, and educational. Learn to cook delicious meals and hang out with friends! That translates into the first New Years resolution you actually want to keep.

At Hip Hostess we are always keeping our eyes open for great venues that will exceed our client’s expectations and bring a Hip Hostess quality to any event. Recently we ran across the perfect kitchen space for cooking classes in NYC. The venue holds up to 12 people and is perfect for an intimate gathering with friends, couples or even clients. The level of culinary expertise can be tailored to your group and can range from easy to expert. The cost runs about $130 per person (based on a group of 12) and includes cooking demonstration, 3-4 course meal and of course plenty of wine.

If you are located in New York and this sounds like a New Year’s Resolution that you would be happy to make and keep, please contact us at If you live outside of the city, we will be happy to do some investigative work and find the perfect venue for you to keep your resolution in 2009. Just shoot us a note and we’ll get right on it.

The invitation below was created for an upcoming event, using Jessica Jones’ fabulous Calliope designs. Hip Hostess is going to incorporate a couple of surprises for the guests using fabric with the same designs. Don’t miss out!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hit me with your best shot!


Tis the season to party, party, party. And if you are throwing a fete for your friends, you probably want to watch your wallet yet still create a buzz. One way to kick-start a party is to have a fun drink. The only problem is that many "fun" drinks require you to purchase a lot of different kinds of alcohol & juices...and then who wants to stand by the bar all night mixing up those complicated concoctions? No thanks.

Luckily the people at DeKuyper created a solution - Burst Bar Shots. They are offered in 3 very familiar options: Red-Headed, Kamikaze, and Washington Apple. And no worries about these guys tasting too saccharin sweet...they are just as good as any shot that might be prepared by your favorite bartender at the local pub. What I might recommend is decanting the pre-mixed shots in a fun container - and then shake in a cocktail shaker with ice as needed. Your friends need never know that you didn't break the bank on 80 kinds of schnapps. --a

Monday, December 15, 2008

We're not slackers...we promise!

Hip Hostess is taking a Monday hiatus to recover from a weekend filled with Holiday parties. We'll be back tomorrow to tell you all about our newest discoveries, last minute holiday ideas, more wedding info.

And don't forget to sign up for our Wedding Paper Divas Contest!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Easy and Impressive Entertaining


We are getting close to the end of the year which means the predictions for 2009 are running rampant. I read an article in Epicurious written by James Oliver Curry that predicted Peruvian is the new Thai.

Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the most diverse in the world and is on par with French, Chinese and Indian Cuisine. Thanks to its pre-Incas and Inca heritage and to Spanish, Basque, African, Sino-Cantonese, Japanese and finally Italian, French and British immigration, Peruvian cuisine combines the flavors of four continents. Along the Peruvian coast alone there are more than two thousand different types of soups and more than 250 traditional desserts.

Although I am not one to get carried away with trends, this is a good one. Anything that combines many different regional flavors and can be made ahead of time is the perfect entertaining solution. The recipe I chose, Smoked Chicken in a Banana Leaf, not only tastes delicious but is super easy to prepare. And for the finishing touch it is steamed in a banana leaf which is a beautiful exotic presentation. If you don’t live in an area with Latin or Asian supermarkets you can purchase banana leaves online at

Pair the main course with one of many Peruvian side dishes and serve the traditional Pisco Sour which is a cocktail containing Pisco (a regional Brandy), lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup and bitters. You will score major points with your guests for being original and creative and little will they know it only takes 30 minutes to prepare. --b

Smoked Chicken in a Banana Leaf
Serves 4.

· 2 fresh red hot chili pepper, chopped
· 1/4 cup lime, juice
· 2 tbsp olive oil
· 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
· 2 tsp minced garlic
· 1 tsp paprika
· 1 tsp salt
· 1 tsp dried oregano
· 2 lime leaf, finely chopped
· 1/4 cup chicken stock
· 1/4 cup coconut milk

· 1 smoked chicken, (about 1 1/2 lbs), meat removed from the bones and shredded Plantain
· 2 tbsp olive oil
· 1 1 large plantain, peeled and sliced on the diagonal, 1/2-inch thick
· 1 tbsp sugar

· 4 banana leaves
· 4 sprigs fresh coriander


1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste.
2. Put the chicken in a non-reactive bowl and rub the marinade all over.
3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

1. The next day, remove chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick saucepan.
3. Sprinkle the plantain with sugar and fry until golden and softened, about 2 minutes per side. 4. Remove from the heat and set aside.

1. Heat a grill on medium-high heat.
2. Divide the chicken among the banana leaves
3. Top with the plantains and the coriander sprigs.
4. Tie the banana leaves with kitchen twine, or a banana leaf torn into strips.
5. Put the packages on the top shelf of the barbecue for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is hot.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Big Fat REAL Wedding - The Flowers.

Lesson #5
Trust the professionals.

So I'm going to jump right into the the Lesson that I learned on this subject. It is so important that you choose professionals that you trust for your wedding. Every vendor is going to have their strengths and weaknesses, so you must learn to work with what they do best...or better yet, chooose a vendor that does best what you want. And then if this trusted, hired vendor gives you their professional opinion...take it very much to heart.

I placed a lot of trust in my wonderful florist, A New Leaf. When I did all of my wedding research, I had one flower that I was enamored with - the white anemone. Of course the white anemone is pretty puny-looking at the end of August, so my one true flower love was completely out of the question. What's a girl to do?

Rather than pin-pointing the exact flowers that I definitely had to have, I constructed a concept for the overall look. Then I used my florist as a consultant in making the best final decisions. As long as they understood my concept, I would be fine with them making judgement calls based on what flowers looked best for our day. Our floral concept was "organic." Rather than heavily structured flower compositions, we wanted to achieve something that looked like it might have been picked from a garden.

So for the boutineers, we did different variations with mixed wildflowers, orchids, and even hops (the grooms request).

My bridesmaids carried an assortment of ranunculus, roses, wildflowers, name it.

And since I am...err..."pigment challenged," I wanted a prodominately white/cream bouquet but with pops of black and green to set it off from the whiteness of me and my dress. We used scabiosa, ranunculus, black elderberries, and others.
(BTW...those of you brides wth champagne/ivory dresses, don't fear pure white flowers. They look lovely next to your non-white dress.)

And for the centerpieces, I lovingly purchased urns in a couple of different styles. Each was filled with different combinations of roses, several kinds of orchids, lemons, ranunculus, hosta and more. Each centerpiece had its own unique, but similar look.

I ended up with the most wonderful flowers...half of which I had never even heard of before. With trust in my florist, I was able to reap the rewards of her interpretation of my vision. --a

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Simple Pleasures.


The way I look at it you have about three weeks to bring on the holiday cheer. So for these three weeks I eat, drink and create “holiday”. One of the simple little things I like to do is melt some chocolate in the microwave and then dip about a dozen or so peppermint sticks into the chocolate.

I enjoy this special little holiday treat with my morning coffee or after dinner tea. I could go on to tell you the benefits of adding the peppermint sticks to chocolate martinis for guests or as a special treat for the kids. But I think this one should be reserved as a holiday indulgence between Hip Hostess and you! So enjoy your peppermint chocolate sticks and relax. --b

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Canadian Club, 150 Years Old!


Hip Hostess is always on the lookout for eye-catching packaging. When I spotted the 30 Year Old Limited Edition Bottle of Canadian Club we were more than a little impressed. I decided to do a little research to find out what all the hype was about. What I found was a perfect party in the making, Canadian Club is celebrating 150 years of success and also has a very fascinating rich history.

Which reminded me of our post on hot toddies. No one associates women with whiskey…but why not? Whiskey is no more potent than vodka which is perceived as a girl-friendly liquor. So, Hip Hostess decided to break the old-school stereotypes and give it a go.

At our latest all-female party, not only were we serving delicious Canadian Club 30 year Reserve but also going to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition in the United States (December 5th). We designed small signs to place on serving trays with the fun facts listed below. This set the tone for the evening and got the conversation flowing.

· Legend has it that bottles of Canadian Club were inside cases stolen by Al Capone during an ambush in Chicago on February 14, 1929 - an event referred to today as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

· Canadian Club became a favorite cargo item for legendary smugglers like Captain William S. McCoy, who earned a reputation for hauling only quality contraband, not the watered-down knock-offs commonly found during the era. His shipments of top-quality brands like Canadian Club became known as “The Real McCoy,” a phrase still used today.

· The term “bootlegging” comes from the shape of the bottle used to smuggle whisky during prohibition because it would very easily fit into the boot and curve around the shape of your ankle/calf.

· Rumor has it that there are still thousands of Canadian Club bottles sitting at the bottom of the Detroit River from bootleggers who threw it overboard to avoid getting caught.

The result of our all women whiskey party was that we all found an appreciation for the previously intimidating liquor. The 30 Year Canadian Club is incredibly smooth. When you first pour the whiskey it has a sweet almost caramel-like smell. With each sip you get a hint of dried fruit/oak/spice that is very easy to drink. Yes, this is definitely a special kind of whiskey.

If more women turned in their cosmos for CC, we could break the stubborn notion that this rich, moody drink is just for Mad Men. --b

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Big Fat REAL Wedding - The Food

Lesson #4
Traditions can be broken as long as you plan accordingly.

I'm sure that many of you future brides have checklists that you have clipped out of magazines that detail exactly what month each task needs to be done. They are great tools to keep you on track, but I'm here to tell you that you can play around with those a long as you are never behind schedule. For us, one of those earlier than necessary decisions was our food.

I was ready to talk about food early because I had plans for how this would set the tone of the evening. My husband was ready to talk about food because...well, he's a dude. Our first major decision: Scrap the traditional seated dinner and go with food stations. I had to employ Lesson #2 for this decision (Stick to your guns), since I received the stink face more than once when I told our families and close friends about our plans. But we plunged forward.

In order to add the "So Sean & Amber factor," we wanted the menu to really reflect us. Because of the layout of the space and the amount of people that would be filling it, 2 big stations was the way to go. Now as to not rock the boat too much, we needed to have one station that was typical Midwestern fare - Meat and Potatoes - only kicked up a notch. Instead of rubber chicken and mashed potatoes with a mystery vegetable, we had amazing carved meats with an assortment of sauces, herb roasted potatoes, salads, and more rolls and butter than you could count. That should make all of the diehard traditionalists happy, right?

For our second station, we wanted to choose a food genre that is also universally likable. (As much as I would have LOVED to have had a raw bar, I was pretty sure that I'd be stuck eating everything myself.) So instead, we took the menu from one of our favorite little restaurants in NYC and had our caterer take a stab at it...thus the Mercadito Mexican Station was born. Items like queso fundido, pork tacos with pineapple salsa, and ceviche would never be considered low brow...but at the same time, who doesn't love Mexican food?

These stations were preceded by a full cocktail hour filled with passed hors d'oeuvres that swayed towards the heartier side to ensure that it would be impossible to go home hungry.

But the main obstacle of our station wedding was the seating. We did not do assigned seating for our wedding. This was sort of the point of why we chose our venue and this kind of eating structure. We wanted to encourage people to keep mingling and moving so that it was a "party" atmosphere...not just an extension of our ceremony. So we provided as many traditional dining height tables as possible both inside the reception and outside in the garden, but then we also added high-top cocktail tables throughout along with seating at the bar. It worked like a charm. In the end, it was these breaks from tradition that our guests loved the most.

And don't forget to plan for yourself. My amazing caterer, Blue Plate Catering, assigned a server to us for dinner and dessert. They set a two person table for us in the garden (just enough away from the action) to allow us a little private time for our first dinner as husband and wife. Had we not made that provision, we may have never eaten...or had the pleasure of this special moment in our night. --a

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wedding Paper Divas Giveaway

The month of November was very exciting at Hip Hostess. We had many things to be thankful and excited about: holidays, parties, family & friends, sponsor discounts and increasing readership.

Hip Hostess has been up and running for about 11 weeks now and we are very thankful for the opportunity to do what we love on a daily basis. We have been very fortunate to run across many talented and special people in our quest to bring our readers the very latest and greatest of products, tips and advice mixed with a few satirical comments.

This month we are proud to bring Hip Hostess readers our first ever Destination Wedding Invitation Contest. Wedding Paper Divas has been kind enough to offer one of our Hip Hostess readers a $100 gift certificate! The contest will run from December 8 through December 22nd. We ask that you envision your ideal destination wedding and then visit Wedding Paper Diva’s Signature Collection and select the design that best represents this destination. Save your design in an account on Wedding Paper Divas and then share your inspiration and card design with us in our comments section.

To help you get started I found a list of the Top 10 wedding destinations of 2009.

As for us, Brandi would choose the Grand Hyatt in Kauai with Floral Flurry Invites.

Amber would choose the Inverlochy Castle in Scotland with Color Burst Invites.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Big Fat REAL Wedding - Color

Lesson #3
Think Big Picture.

Alright...I have a date, a venue, a dress and shoes...what the heck are my colors? Here I am a person that preaches how great inspiration boards are and I'm making decisions left and right without having "a vision."

So it was time for me to take a breath and think about what the future Mr. Hip Husband and I wanted to accomplish from our day. Both of us decided that we were totally fine with breaking rules as long as our guests would come away saying, "That was SO Sean & Amber." It may not be an inspiration board, but it was our mantra.

With this in mind, we quickly knew that we were not going to have an early ceremony. Neither of us are morning people in the least, and I did not picture my perfect day starting with hair and make-up shortly after dawn. A late start time worked for us because we also didn't want any lag-time between the ceremony and reception. It was our goal that within 5 minutes of us being pronounced man & wife, our guests would be sipping on their first cocktail.

Believe it or not, the time of day was the deciding factor in the colors that we chose for our wedding. An evening wedding tends to set a more formal tone (perhaps black & white), but we didn't want things to be too fussy either. So we needed to pair the formality with a bit of whimsy. This is where lighting came in. We very much wanted to take advantage of the candle treatment options at A New Leaf because it really highlights the raw architectural look very well. So our challenge was picking a focal color that would be bright and cheery at 6:00 when we had a decent amount of daylight...but would also create some luminescence at 8:00 when the sun had set and candles were our main source of light.

Shades of green didn't cut it. Pink starts out nice but loses it's luster. Orange begins Summery but at night turns to Autumn. Finally we decided on Lemon Yellow with Black & White. Thus I learned Lesson #3 - Think about the big picture - just because the color looks good while you are looking at it in your apartment, doesn't mean it will work all night long at your party. --a

Friday, December 5, 2008

Turning Honey Into Wine.


Mead—made from fermented honey, not grapes—is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world. I sampled my first glass of Mead at the Renaissance Faire in upstate New York. Although it takes a little getting used to, it is still a rare treat.

It smells a bit like honey and flowers, but with a sharp alcohol undertone. It doesn't taste sweet, but has a nutty, bitter-edged honeyed flavor, almost like dry sherry. I was drinking it alone, but it would probably be good with mild seafood or chicken.

In some parts of Europe it is traditional to give newlyweds enough Mead for a month, this is suppose to bring much happiness and fertility. Some believe this is where the word “honeymoon” originated. For many years the states where a bit Mead challenged, but thanks to Brother’s Brooklyn Buzz we to can have many smiling fertile couples.

Brooklyn Buzz’s Mead can be found at Chelsea Wine Vault and Astor Wine & Spirits for $13 a bottle. It is well worth trying at least once, especially since it is affordable, and you’ll be supporting a small, local, sustainable business. I recommend yelling “Huzzah” after each drink, it adds a little something.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tasty Infusion


I am a huge fan of signature cocktails - they are an easy way to add a personal touch to any event. Recently Hip Hostess had the pleasure of hosting a Casino Night in an upscale private club in downtown NYC. In true Hip Hostess form, we wanted to incorporate something that was new, unique and memorable. Since the venue provided a full bar, we had an inkling that our male-dominated party would make Scotch the drink of choice. So we decided to put a new spin on the signature cocktail, having it double as our dessert course.

As you may have read earlier on the Hip Hostess blog, we have been experimenting with infused vodka. Recently we had success with a Caramel Infused Vodka and Amber had an epiphany that it would make a delicious White Russian…..she was right! Toward the end of the evening, the servers passed around our signature White Russian. They were made with our homemade Caramel Infused Vodka and served in chocolate shot glasses garnished with lingonberries. The presentation was beautiful, the drink was a success and it was a great way to end the evening. –b

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Big Fat REAL Wedding – The Bridal Attire.

Lesson #2. Stick to your guns.

Few things about my wedding stressed me out as much as shopping for my dress. At the airport coming back from our engagement trip, I made my first bridal magazine purchase. Dress after dress had staggering prices…some as much as 25% of my reception budget (gotta love those Oscar de la Renta dresses). I was convinced that I had just bought the super fancy magazines with super fancy dresses. Two days later, I bought a couple more magazines…same thing. It gave me ajada.

But on the positive side, I quickly learned from my fancy magazines what styles I liked best. So armed with this knowledge, I went to a Reem Acra sample sale to see if I actually looked alright in this style. The third dress that I tried made me cry so I bought it on the spot. I saved some serious coin on the dress and detachable train (75% off), which afforded me the opportunity to splurge on shoes and accessories – such as my Badgley Mischka shoes, JCrew Slippers for the reception, and the amazing satin hair flower/broach from Gabriella New York.

But I have to tell you, as amazing as it was that I was able to find my dress about a month and a half after I got engaged, I learned my next lesson: once you make a pivotal decision, be confident in it and don’t second guess yourself. With well over a year before I would actually walk down the aisle, it was very difficult to not look at the 1000’s of dresses in bridal magazines and not think “did I make the right choice?” You cannot do that to yourself…whether it is a dress, a venue, or invitation…you will drive yourself crazy.

As for me, my wedding dress and all accessories were a hit. No one else even knew that I had lost sleep lusting over that Oscar de la Renta. --a

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Big Fat REAL Wedding - Date & Location

Lesson #1.
It is all about making your guests’ lives easier. Suck it up.

My Hip Husband and I got engaged on my birthday – March 3, 2007. It was so amazing and we were just glowing with excitement. But when we first shared the news with all of our friends and family, what was the first thing that they asked?

“Do you have a date?”

Thus with barely anytime to absorb how amazing it is to be a “fiancé”, we were starting to compromise…I mean plan. You see, Sean and I live in NYC. About 75% of our guests live in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan). The other 25% are scattered throughout the US. So even though it would have saved us so many flights, we decided to have our big she-bang in Chicago. It’s a main airport hub for many airlines. It’s drivable for our Midwestern crew. It’s also a really fun city.

Now, I have made it no secret that I hate to be too hot or too cold (75 degrees and sunny, people!), so that narrowed our possible months to May/early June or September-ish. Ideally we would work with a 3 day weekend to give our family maximum party and recovery time (we are not a reserved group).

For our venue, I did countless hours of online research looking for anything that didn’t look like too stodgy or didn’t have hideous carpet. I then found A New Leaf, which is now pretty well known. But at the time, it was a breath of fresh air to me in my search. I took the only weekend day that they had available in my set criteria and ended up with August 31, 2008 – the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. I was now getting married in a city far from convenient on a date that made me a perpetual fiancé, but I learned my lesson…it’s all about your guests. --a

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Big Fat REAL Wedding.

Lessons from a Hip Hostess Wedding.

As event planners, we have very strategic ways that we approach all elements of an event. The idea is that no matter what budget, we want to make the most impact that we possibly can with every part of the evening. As a bride, you are bombarded with an extraordinary amount of images and ideas everywhere that you look. Because there is so much emotional attachment to your big day, it can be very difficult to let go of some things in order to best serve the overall picture - like falling in love with a cake that costs more than a down payment for a car…so you have to save money by serving Old Milwaukee from a keg. It’s all about perspective.

As a recent bride, I think that I can speak fairly accurately from both sides. So over the course of the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share elements from my wedding and the thought process that I used behind it. It wasn’t easy being objective when dealing with my own day, but thankfully my planning side of the brain beat out the impulsive side. I hope this is helpful to any future brides out there…and it will also give you a glimpse of how Hip Hostess operates. Don’t hesitate to shoot us an email with any questions or thoughts. --a