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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

something new - quick tips #ofhquicktip

Some of the best things I've learned in life have come from tips from my girlfriends.  Like freezing lemonade in ice trays to make ice cubes that won't water down the lemonade you're serving at a party or pulling up the sides of a juice box to make "wings" so that your kid doesn't squeeze all their juice out of the box.  Surely, I've learned a great many of life's lessons from from my mom and dad, but I wouldn't discount the stuff I've picked up from my best gal pals.  It's with that in mind that I've decided  to start a fun new series called "quick tip" where I'll be sharing one possible life changing tip per week.  These little tips will cover everything from decorating, design, crafting, organizing, cooking and healthy living to kid stuff and ways to just make life simpler.  Each week will have a theme.  And because I'm no guru, and I want this to be a girlfriend sharing session I'm asking you all to participate via instagram by sharing a picture featuring your own quick tip of the week using hashtag #ofhquicktip.  Sounds fun right?!  

This week's theme is "Making Weekday Morning Routines Simple and Easy".  With the holidays fast approaching and the busy-ness this season brings, I'm thankful for my little Sunday evening ritual.  

Our Fifth House Quick Tip of the Week - Choosing your children's outfits once a week makes early, busy mornings simpler for mom!

I spend a little time on Sunday evenings choosing my children's outfits for the entire week ahead, and that one simple task is truly an early morning game changer!  It also eases any wardrobe "discussions" with my little fashionista who doesn't always understand why you can't wear a sleeveless dress in 30 degree weather!  She and I hash things out on Sunday evening when we're both in good moods which is a much better time to have such conversations than at 6 am on a Monday morning.  In both of my children's closets I've got a space designated for their weekly outfits so when they wake up in the morning they know exactly where to find their clothes and what to dress themselves in for the day.  It seems so simple and yet it makes such a huge difference!  

Now it's your turn, what little tip for making weekday morning routines simple and easy do you have to share?  Show the class on instagram with #ofhquicktip.  I'll be featuring a few favorites here on the blog next week!  

Hope you'll join in the gal pal sharing session!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the 5 minute hostess - holiday party

I'm back with another edition of The 5 Minute Hostess, and this time I'm talking about holiday parties.

I don't know if it's because of blogs and Pinterest but it seems like women these days put a lot of pressure on themselves in the hostess department.  Remember when a birthday party was as simple as a cake and balloons and a few of your best pals?  Yeah, I'm talking about when you were a kid before etsy shops existed, back when no one ordered water bottle wrappers to coordinate perfectly with the rest of the party decor, when you decorated a cupcake with sprinkles not some cute-sy diy topper.  I mean, obviously, there's nothing wrong with wanting to go all out and really create a fun party atmosphere, but at the end of the day what anyone ever remembers about the party has pretty much nothing to do with the decor.  So ladies let's take the pressure off and just enjoy playing hostess because I promise you it's super fun and you'll actually enjoy the party so much you'll want to entertain more often! 

Holiday party hosting can be especially daunting just because it's such a crazy busy time of year!  I mean sure you can scour the web for party ideas and come away with tons of inspiration - cheese cubes shaped into Christmas trees on platters, hot cocoa bars with homemade marshmallows and peppermint martinis complete with crushed candy canes around the rim - and all of those ideas are awesome but they can also make you feel a little overwhelmed before the party has even started!  So here are a few tips for easy holiday party entertaining that are totally doable in about 5 minutes - give or take.  ;) 

Simple and Easy Holiday Party Ideas

1. Pick a color palette a few days before your party. 
Don't stress over having to have all of your serving pieces match.  Pick a color palette  - red/white  - green/red/white - and just go with what you have.  Using a runner down the buffet area adds a little life to the food display and will help to tie your mismatched pieces together.  And knowing exactly what platters/serving trays/bowls/plates you're going to use ahead of time will make the day of the party a whole lot less stressful.  

2.  Don't serve warm food.  
Unless you're planning to use your crockpot or you have a chaffing dish I'd recommend sticking to cold appetizers and desserts.  Having to hover over the stove/oven will suck the fun right out of hosting unless you want to be stuck in the kitchen all night.  For our recent holiday party I busted out the fondue pot and had a little dark chocolate going with marshmallows and fruit dippers.....and even potato chips to dip (try it- you'll like it).  Our guests loved the dark chocolate fondue, and I loved that I didn't have to do any baking!

3.  Let rosemary be your friend.
Not great at creating a cheese/charcuterie board?  Grab some rosemary and let her work her magic!  
Rosemary makes for a great divider on a cheese or meat platter.  My friend Courtney is a pro - check out how easy to do yet totally gorgeous her party platter looks! 

4.  Make something into individual single servings. 
There is something special about a mini version of anything, in my opinion.  Individual servings of ceviche or strawberry shortcake or little soup shooters totally put me in the party spirit and they are so darn easy to literally just create individual servings!  For our party I made mini shrimp cocktails using inexpensive reusable plastic martini glasses from the party store.  They were so fun and so ridiculously easy to put together!  They added a festive vibe to the buffet area. 

5.  Decide on a signature cocktail before the party. 
This way if you do want to crush up some candy canes for that peppermint martini you'll be prepared ahead of time.  And you won't have a bunch of different things going on in the bar area.   

6.  Rock a theme. 
Okay, so this isn't exactly a must-do but in terms of a holiday party it really does make it that much more fun and festive.  Plus when you have a theme party  - tacky Christmas, ugly sweater, 80's Christmas, dress as your favorite holiday character - your guests focus more on what everyone is wearing and less on your holiday decorations............because the guests become the decorations.  ;) 
And you don't need a photo booth or photo props because everyone already looks ridiculous as is! 

7.  Put your co-host to good use. 
I realize you're not all married, but you don't have to be married to have a party co-host.  You can totally ask one of your friends to help you on the day of the party!  My hub, my party co-host, is always in charge of the grocery shopping, and I make sure to leave him a very detailed shopping list  - sometimes even with the aisle number.  ;)   And I always put him in charge of the signature cocktail and overall bar area - which he loves.  Every host needs a good co-host  - just ask Kelly Ripa.  

Parties aren't just supposed to be fun for the guests, the hosts should be able to have fun too!  So don't stress!  Do you have any easy holiday party entertaining tips to share?  

Hosting a sit down dinner?  Check out my 5 minute tablescape

Monday, December 15, 2014

christmas kitchen + breakfast nook

Happy Monday friends!  Can you even believe we're just 10 days away from the big day?!  Wow, did Christmas come fast this year or what?!  Whenever Thanksgiving is so late in November Christmas just sneaks right up on you.  Being that my hub and I planned a little family Christmas vacation before the big day I decided to keep our decor really simple this year.  The truth is though I've been going for a really simple Christmas look for a few years now.  My game plan basically involves giving myself about 2 to 3 days to sprinkle a little Christmas spirit around the house and then calling her done and just enjoying the season.  I believe holiday decorating should be fun not stressful, and I've also come to find that less is more.  And on December 26th that motto really rings true! 

So enough with the talky-talky, welcome to my Christmas-ified kitchen and breakfast nook!

our fifth house - christmas kitchen

wreath over range and red plaid kitchen towel
pewter soap dish with pinecones and holly
little flocked christmas tree

kitchen christmas mail center

christmas breakfast nook

pointsettia centerpiece

Like I said - simple.  And easy.  What's your holiday decorating motto?

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