Gulp…here we go. This year, February 14th looks a little different for me. For the better part of a decade, I was one of those people in love, coupled off, splitting a slice of cake with my sweetie, one of the lucky ones struck by cupid’s arrow on Valentine’s Day. I’ll spare you some of the juicy or heartbreaking details, but needless to say this year instead of staring across the table all googly-eyed at someone, I’m having a couple girlfriends over for dinner. (Most anticlimactic break-up announcement ever? Sorry about it, but that’s all you’ll get.)
This is not a pity party type of Valentine’s day…so don’t you go feeling bad for me. Thank god the term Galentine’s Day was born because it has removed the stigma of being alone on the Hallmark holiday, it has taken the single girls’ valentines day from something pitiful to something fabulous. I feel so lucky to have so many bomb babes in my life, and I’m pleased as punch to be able to spend a holiday showing some love to my favorite gals.
There’s only one way to celebrate with friends…well, I’m sure there are plenty of ways to celebrate with friends…but there’s honestly only one way I’m interested in celebrating: by popping bottles of champagne and uncorking some delicious wines.
I’m laying out my two favorite wines for your special night, whether you’re getting dressed up and hitting the town with someone special, or having a girls’ night in with your Galentines!
Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso 2016 – Everyone knows the story of those silly, fickle star-crossed lovers who had a steamy 3-day affair which ended in lots of bloodshed and devastation…a little dramatic if you ask me. Nevertheless, sharing this bottle on valentines is very fitting. It’s a blend of merlot, corvina, and coatina. The richness of the grapes shines through in this lush, rich, easy drinking wine. It’s a little spicy and juicy like any good valentine’s day should be.
Cuvée Deor Gold NV – I can’t think of a better bottle of bubbles to drink with some girlfriends than the Deor. First of all, the bottle is fancy AF. It’s painted in a Venetian style with matte gold and glitter. The bottle represents wealth and brings good fortune to all who sip from it – and who doesn’t need a little bit of that luck? The taste is expensive too, floral and fruity. The best part? This decadent sparkling costs less than $15, so you get all that opulence and none of the expense! Pouring out some of this wine with my favorite gals is as good as gold to me.
I hope, like me, you’re lucky enough to spend Valentine’s Day with the one(s) you love if that’s your significant other or a few fabulous friends. And if not, at least you’ll have a few nice wine options to drink the night away!
If you are in your twenties or early thirties it is inevitable that you will have one of those years where every weekend is devoted to weddings. Your calendar will be filled with showers and ceremonies, or trips to the Bed Bath and Beyond bridal registry. This is my year, people, I am experiencing a wedding filled 2017. I am in three weddings, and invited to attend many more. I didn’t know I had so many friends! But I honestly shouldn’t complain, one of my college friends had a year where she was either in or attended 11 weddings! But even with my whopping 7 weddings on the horizon, it is making for a very busy fall.
Because of this, I have gotten really really good at knowing just what to do for each event: what to buy, what to wear, and how to plan. This became even truer the past two weekends when I was the host of two very different, but very fun bachelorette parties. It seems like I’ve got a bachelorette party formula down with only slight alterations necessary to fit each bride.
Here are some simple tips and touches that will make your bestie’s bachelorette bash one for the books:
Know Your Bride
Does anyone still hire strippers for bachelorette parties anymore? Surely someone is out there doing it, but chances are, the bride to be isn’t all that interested in a sweaty man (other than her own) bumping up on her. The point here is, plan activities around what your bride might actually want to do. It’s a day or a weekend to celebrate her, after all, so keep the bride’s style in mind.
Is the bride a party animal? Good, take her out to a club, let her dance the night away. Is the bride shy? Cool, so maybe don’t make everyone stare at her while she opens gifts. Pick activities that your bestie is sure to enjoy, that won’t make her feel uncomfortable, like a *cough cough* stripper. If you’re in her bridal party, then you know her best, so make sure her style is in mind when you’re planning her bash.
Bride First, but Guests Second
You want the celebration to feel true to the bride’s style, but remember that you’re still the hostess of a party, and you have to entertain the other guests too. This means picking activities that everyone can enjoy. If you’re in my group of friends, that means drinking. A bachelorette party formula that has always worked in the past is starting the day with brunch, then heading out to a pool for some fun in the sun. Not too many people I know would object to that. Keep the activities light so that everyone can have fun. Make sure there’s good music playing, and enough food and drinks for everyone.
On that same note, be sure to have a variety of food and beverages. A bach party I threw recently had two girls in attendance that had gluten allergies. That meant ensuring we ordered pizza with gluten free crust and had some hard ciders on hand. We knew that the rest of the group would want to drink wine and champagne, so those were the drink options. This goes back to being a good host, know your audience, and prep accordingly.
Don’t Skimp on the Photo Ops
This is a weekend to remember, but also one where things get a little bit fuzzy, if you know what I mean. You will want this fun filled weekend well documented. In an era where everyone has a phone in their hands 24-7, take this opportunity to have extra special pics of the bride and her gals. My recent Columbus bach extravaganza was full of great photo ops. One of the bridesmaids made an awesome photo cut out with the bride’s name. We also had big balloons in our hotel room to pose around. My next bach party started out at my house, so I made a little photo booth area for guests to pose in front of. We also live in a magical time of Snapchat filters, so make your own geo-filter for the night. It’s quick, cheap, and really ups your social media game.
Also, and I cannot stress this enough, make a bachelorette party hashtag. You can go online and get hashtag options generated, or come up with one yourself, but it’s a great way to catalog the weekend events, and something the bride will probably want to look at time and time again. Hashtags are the future people! And if you’re still coming up short, ask me for help. It’s one of my greatest joys in life.
The Devil is in the Details
I’m typically not one of those girls that thinks that every party needs to have a theme, but sometimes with a bachelorette party, it helps. For big bachelorette parties, like the one in Columbus, a theme helps keep everything organized, like party favors, and decor. Because my friend’s bach party fell on the same weekend as the Lollapalooza music festival, we decided to make the bach party a festival theme, we called it Bride-a-palooza. We had flower crowns, VIP passes, temporary tattoos, etc. We set up a tepee in the hotel room for the bride’s gifts, tie-die plates and cups. Everything went down to the smallest detail, and it made all the difference.
Again, not everything has to have a theme, but you still want the party to feel cohesive. My Dayton bach party didn’t have a theme, but I made sure to put effort into creating the right atmosphere with food, cocktail napkins, and decor.
Because it’s still a party, it’s important to have a little fun with it. The bride we were celebrating in Dayton is getting hitched to another bride, so penis straws were out. Instead, I baked boob cookies, that’s right, nipples and all.
As with every party I throw, paying attention to those extra details may mean a little extra time, but it will translate to your guests as an extra special event. This is your best friend, we are planning for, right? That extra mile will mean the world to her, so plan around a theme, buy those balloons and make those boobs!
Bachelorette party gifts are sort of a strange territory. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of attending or planning a bach party I’ve asked my friends “So, what are you getting for her?” A bach party is not the time or place to buy the bride something off of her registry, it’s a time to have fun with her present, be a little silly. Some brides want wedding night lingerie options. I did not, no no, I did not want to hold up panties the size of a tent in front of my friends. Good gifts include personalized jewelry, fun clothing, undergarments, and even a silly *gasp* toy can make for very good options.
Bachelorette parties have really transformed from the days of drunk girls stumbling around with veils on their heads. Trust me, there are still plenty of drunk girls, but they have become a much different type of party, a party that requires more effort than penis shaped crowns and tequila shots. It’s the last chance to get super silly with your girlfriends, have a ball, and throw back a few drinks (or chambongs, because, let’s be honest.) Keep these few bits of advice in mind and your bride-bestie is going to have the time of her life, and that’s what it’s all about.
Yesterday was my birthday. The big 3-1. I was sort of dreading it. Not in a “woe is me, I’m getting older” sort of way, but rather a “Man, 31 means I have to start acting a lot more like an adult” way.
Last year for my 30th birthday I threw myself a little party. My friends came over mid-day. We drank lots of champagne and had a blast. I’m pretty sure, though I can’t confirm, that I did a cartwheel in the middle of my apartment. We chambonged the afternoon away, and the next day was rough…like, real rough. But it was okay, because 30 is an appropriate age to act like a bit of a fool. You’re an adult, but you still know how to have fun, and you don’t have to take yourself too seriously.
However, adding on that extra digit made my 30th birthday feel so juvenile. As my date of birth started to creep up and my family asked me how I wanted to celebrate, I felt like I had a very adult decision to make. No longer was it appropriate to bong glasses of champagne and attempt gymnastics in my home. No no, now there was a real threat of breaking something (like a bone, or a piece of furniture that wasn’t purchased from IKEA), or never ever recovering from my hangover.
Instead I opted for dinner with with my family and friends. Trust me, there was still plenty of champagne consumed, but mostly we just ate until we were stuffed to the brim. We went to a traditional Turkish restaurant and filled up on baba ganoush, lamb, and baklava. It was a pretty perfect way to ring in another year; good food, good company, and instead of reaching for a gatorade and Advil the next day, my 31 year old self was reaching for the Tums. That, my friends, is called growing up.
My parents used to throw lots of parties. I remember watching my mom float around the kitchen cooking and setting up, delicious smells filling the air. I’d peek through the banister as guests entered the house, smiling and laughing. I’d trot downstairs in my pj’s and sneak a few snacks with my sisters. My parents made it look so effortless and adulty, I couldn’t wait to grow up and throw parties like my mom and dad. Flash forward 20 years, and it’s now something I take great pleasure in.
I love having my friends gathered around the table, drinking wine, and having fun. What I’ve learned though, is while my parents made it look easy, there’s quite a bit of work involved. Hosting a party requires organization, lots of planning, and even more attention to detail. Back when I used to plan events for a living, inevitably something would slip through the cracks and I would learn quickly never to make that mistake again next time. The same goes for hosting in your home. There’s a million ways to make sure your party goes right, and here’s just a few tips to ensure your friends have a blast, and there are no party fouls.
1) Make your guests feel comfortable by taking out the guess work
Make your guests feel comfortable…duh. This seems obvious, right? But this is more than welcoming your guests in with a smile, and offering them a drink right away. This requires the attention to detail I’m talking about. This means having a predetermined spot for your guests’ coats to collect. This means having enough seats for every butt. This means having glassware sitting out and drinks readily accessible. You never want your guest to ask “Where should I put my coat” or “Can I get a glass of water.” Have all of this stuff accessible for them ahead of time. If you want your guests to use a coaster, make sure there are coasters out already. If you want them to help themselves to food, have the buffet ready to go. If you’re having a sit down dinner, have place cards set up so there’s no awkward moment of telling people where to sit. Your guests come over to your house to relax and enjoy, so let them do just that and take out all of the possible guess work.
2) Stage everything out strategically
When I was an event planner I would walk around the event space and pretend to fill my plate up at the buffet and then walk to my table, or pretend to stand in line at the bar so I could map out where everything fits and what will work. I recommend doing the same at home. Of course, you know your own home like the back of your hand, and chances are you’ve carried a plate of food from the kitchen to in front of the couch, but I find it beneficial to map out where everything will go and how your guests will get around. If you’re staging a buffet, it’s good to anticipate where the buffet will start and end. You may think it makes sense initially going left to right, but find that one area will get really congested and block space to the bar. Again, you want to make your guests feel at ease, and the smoother your service goes, the better.
3) Make it feel fancy
You don’t have to serve caviar from the Caspian Sea to show your friends a luxurious time, but if you’ve already taken the steps to work through every detail, why not go the extra mile and add a little flourish here and there. For example, flowers brighten up party and add a little or a lot of drama depending on the arrangement. But my favorite way to spruce up a party for your guests is in the bathroom. When we have guests over, we keep our guest bathroom stocked with some comfort items that friends can put to good use. We have hairspray, hand lotion, dental floss and the best and most important item of the bunch: Poo-Pouri. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial, you spray Poo-Pouri over the toilet before you go numbero dos, and it completely masks the smell of your business. It’s a miracle product, and when a guest goes into our bathroom it either makes them laugh, puts them at ease, or both. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than having to go at a party, and being worried that someone else is going to get a whiff. So maybe you don’t want your friends feeling SO comfortable at your house that they are ready to do that in your bathroom, but as my mother would say “When you’re window is open, there is no stopping it.” So at least you’ve made your friends’ party poopy experience stress free.
When it comes to party planning, the devil is in the details. Keep in mind these three steps to give good host, and your friends will be able to focus solely on how good of a time they are having…no stinky bathrooms, awkward moments, or long buffet lines will stand in their way! Cheers and Ciao!