5 Entertaining Tips Everyone Should Know

Party season is right around the corner, and we have some great party tips to make your next get-together memorably festive. Whether it’s your turn to host an office party, a birthday celebration or just a good excuse to have fun with friends, these tips will provide you with what you need for success.


Pick a Theme

Holiday parties have a built-in theme, but even if you’re hosting a mid-week gathering for no particular reason, coming up with a concept for decorations, drinks and food can help you create a festive atmosphere. Luau and tiki themes are always hits for backyard barbecues, but don’t feel constrained to popular party ideas; you can go as wild as you like with your concept. Guests will be charmed with a Mardi Gras masquerade or a retro party with dishes and drinks from vintage cookbooks.




Cook Ahead

When you get most of the cooking done ahead of time, you give yourself more freedom to enjoy entertaining. Instead of spending your party in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on some complicated dish, plan a simple, straightforward menu of foods you know your guests will love. You and they will remember the fun more than the food, so prepare something elegant and easy. Lasagna, roasted chicken and macaroni and cheese are a few possibilities.

Cookware that looks and performs beautifully, such as this set of three handled baking dishes, lets you assemble and store entrees or side dishes the night before and pop them in the oven shortly before guests arrive. They go straight from the oven to the dinner table, saving you another step and giving you more time to spend with your guests.



Make It Inviting with Light

What makes a chic nightclub or formal restaurant special? In many cases, it’s the lighting, not the decor, that makes the difference. Try some special effects with lighting to make your next get-together magical. Outside, try stringing colorful paper lanterns or white fairy lights above your deck or patio. Interior spaces take on a beautifully warm and welcoming glow with candles. Kids and pets don’t always get along with candles, though, so choose child-friendly alternatives such as this electric pillar candle light string for part of your table design.



Create a Play List


Music makes a party, and you have more options than ever for music that complements your theme. Internet radio stations have hundreds of stations with dozens of exciting musical genres from which to choose. You can even find music from favorite television shows or movies to play as background music for a season finale party or Oscar night. For holiday parties, look for unique takes on classics; an album of vintage Christmas music, for example, makes your party memorable and will get people talking.



Appeal to All the Senses

You’ve already decorated, cooked and chosen the music, but don’t forget to make an impression on your guests’ noses. Bouquets of fresh flowers, incense or candle warmers have the staying power to perfume the air for hours without coming on too strong. For a dinner party, choose scents that go well with food and won’t overpower the meal, such as vanilla or spice fragrances. A summer cocktail party might call for something exotic and tropical.

Entertaining can be as much fun for you, the host, as it is for your guests when you plan. Start thinking about creative, fun party ideas today, and you’ll be set from now until the new year!

Choosing the Best Home Lighting

home-lightingOur homes and the way we decorate them say a lot about us. Lighting is such an important part of home decor yet sadly it’s too often overlooked or an afterthought when decorating. From Feng Shui, we have learned that choosing the right type of lighting can affect the entire mood of a home.  Even if it’s perfect in one room, another area may have horrible lighting creating an immediate negative vibe. For choosing your lighting, take these ideas and tips into consideration.

Bulb and Fixture Type
The bulb you choose can make a huge difference in a room. Gone are the days when we had simple 60-watt bulbs or the exciting three way ones that got brighter with the slight turn of a key. Now we literally have hundreds of styles and levels of brightness and energy efficiency models to choose from. Fixtures are also widely varied and can be purchased in every style imaginable from 1930s art deco to modern spun glass.

Kitchen and Bath
For safety in the kitchen and bathroom, you will need brighter lights. You want to see what you’re cutting with that knife or where you’re applying eye liner.

Home Ofiice
A home office will be more comfortable with lighting that mimics the outdoors, especially if you don’t have windows to help bring in natural light.  You’ll want to stay away from the garish overly bright fluorescent that make you look or feel washed out and tired.

Bedroom lighting should be first and foremost, relaxing. Gentle lighting encourages relaxation. Consider dimmers for bedrooms. Both kids and adults are made much more comfortable by use of dimmers. For kids who like to sleep with the lights on at first, a dimmer switch makes it easy for a parent to later turn the light down gently without turning it off entirely or suddenly. Adults can adjust the lighting to bright when getting ready for work and dim for relaxing which aids in getting better sleep.

Your lighting shouldn’t be exactly the same throughout the house but it should flow. Your fixtures don’t have to be perfectly matched but again, flow and a common theme is good. You don’t want 1950s contemporary in one room with a deer antler chandelier in the next. It’s too jolting as you go through the home. Also, consider the size and style of your home as a whole unit and then room by room.

Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting for porches, patios and yards can be fun. From criss-crossed string lights to twinkle lights in trees or patio spotlights, just being outdoors in a fun style environment is great. Your lighting can make or break a party though. If it’s too garish and bright and everyone will try getting back inside while too dim has everyone squinting to see.

Energy Efficiency
There are numerous new energy efficient lighting choices although some bulbs are painfully bright. Use fixtures and shades to cut brightness to acceptable levels. Consider LED lighting for soft hallway or night-lights.  They cost more up front but basically last a lifetime and pay for themselves quickly.

Overall, don’t be afraid to show off your inner decorator when choosing lighting for your home. There are literally thousands of combinations of fixtures and bulb types that make choosing new lighting so much fun.  Make your choices based on how you use each room and the mood you’re going for overall.

Luke Garbutt is the owner of Fully Amped Electrical. With over 14 years’ experience in the electrical trade arena, Luke has had experience working in the residential, commercial and Mining sectors. As the owner of a growing business, one of the hardest things to do is to ensure quality and the highest of standards. So Luke does his best to share, through writing, as much of his electrical knowledge as possible to help out anyone who needs it.

7 Things You Need to Do Before a DIY Project

To-Do-ListTackling projects yourself pays big dividends. You save money, learn something new and gain a sense of accomplishment. Your new bookshelf or birdbath is almost a bonus. Unless you’re an avid do-it-yourself-er, though, you’re probably going to have that moment of alarm when you wonder if you’ve taken on too much. There’s no such thing as guaranteed perfection with improvement projects, but with planning, you’ll maximize your chances of success.

1. Get Everything Together

Chefs use a term for collecting ingredients before they start cooking: mise en place. The French phrase describes putting everything within easy reach, and it prevents the chef from ruining a delicate dish through inattention. Your latest painting project may not be as time-sensitive as the perfect pancake, but it’s still helpful to gather everything you need before you start. Making a checklist will keep you on track.

2. Get Organized

Having everything in one place is a great start, but organizing it improves your efficiency. Tool kits or household organizers that hold everything you need for your latest do-it-yourself job make staying organized throughout the project a snap.

3. Study Your Subject

You probably already know something about your project before you start it, but unless you’re already an expert, getting a refresher course from books or online sources can make the difference between a serviceable item and one that’s spectacular.

4. Try a Kit

Whether it was riding a bike or baking a cake, your first attempt at doing it yourself probably needed a little input from an expert. If you don’t have a master crafter handy when you start your project, work from a kit. Many artists got their start with paint-by-number sets, and even the best cooks still use recipes sometimes. Kits make things accessible for beginners. After putting together your first fairy garden, you’ll undoubtedly have tons of inspiration for your own version.

5. Find a Good Work Space

When you have enough room to spread out and see what you’re doing, your DIY efforts pay off with better results. If the weather’s pleasant, work outside or in your garage with the door open. When you’re inside, like to work at night or must work on your project in confined quarters, use ample lighting to avoid eye strain.

6. Stay Clean

You’ll have plenty of use for cleaning supplies after you’re finished, but your project will also benefit from using them before and during the job. Cooking in a spotless kitchen or working in a well-organized garage is always inspiring, so clean before you build or craft.

7. Use the Right Tools

Many of us have used a shoe heel as a makeshift hammer, but when it’s time to do a project right, having the proper tools can spell success. With a ball-joint vise, for example, you gain an extra set of hands and can work on the whole project at once.

Whether you’re building a dollhouse or your own home, every great do-it-yourself project starts with preparation!

Image Credit: Iris Classon