Picking the perfect present for a proud party planner isn’t always, well, a party. They have the food, music, and games covered. Yes,they already have everything their guests need to have a great night down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t love to get one of these special gifts to help them create a fresh presentation for appetizers or add a little extra flair to their tablescapes.
I was most excited to put together this collection of jewelry and home decor that reminded me of water. Having grown up on a small island, three blocks from the ocean and one from the bay, water is the element with which I am most comfortable and most familiar. In putting this all together, it became very clear to me that so many of our artists share the same affection for the deep blue as me.
Inspired by the peaceful hues of the ocean and the unique colors and shapes of its many creatures, this is a collection of goods that will evoke the spirit of this element that is as placid as it is exciting.
Have a Backyard Party
When it comes to summer entertaining, there’s no better venue than your backyard. With just a few items you can create a fun, laid-back outdoor celebration.
01. Gray Stoneware. Just because you’re eating outside doesn’t mean you have to use paper plates! This stoneware is the perfect combination of rustic and elegant.
02. Stoneware Growler. I love the idea of using beer growlers as an alternative to individual bottles. Set out a few growlers and mugs? Perfect. You’ll save so much room in your fridge, too…
03. Footed Bowl. The cutest bowl ever, right? Fill it with cherries or guacamole. Your guests are going to love it. Definitely a conversation starter.
04. Reclaimed Slate Cheese Board. I’ll be honest, I need a cheese lesson… but until then, there’s this. Thank you, cheese board.
05. Neon Crocodile Planter. Using unexpected items as decor is one of my favorite things about party planning. This little guy would make a great outdoor table or bar accessory.
06. Baguette Slicing Board. This reclaimed cutting board would make the perfect outdoor serving tray.
07. 3D Garden Pinwheels. These sleek and modern pinwheels would make your backyard instantly party-ready.
08. Wine Barrel Serving Tray. Trays and other shallow dishes are the best way to keep a table of food and drinks organized. Use it for appetizers or a place to lay out napkins and utensils.
09. Star Spangled Spatula. So classic! If you’re having an outdoor BBQ this summer, you have to use this spatula.
10. Galapagos Pillows. Use throw pillows on your outdoor furniture to create an even more relaxing party space.
Happy summer entertaining!
Growing up in a big Italian family, the dinner table was the hearth of the home. It was where everyone gathered during get-togethers or parties, whether or not there was a formal meal set down. As an adult I love having my friends and loved ones over to feed them but so far all my meals have been spread across a small apartment with plates on laps. However I spent enough time setting tables between stirring my grandmother’s gravy (tomato sauce!), reading my mother’s hip-high pile of Martha Stewart Living magazines, and the studying the copy of Emily Post that I bought at a yard sale when I was 12 to consider myself an expert in-the-making in the art of table setting.
Since I don’t have a big rustic table of my own, I have been living vicariously through my newly betrothed friends and have been dishing out dinner party advice. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts I have put together from years of research.
DO give everyone at the table all the plates and utensils they will need for the entire meal… unless your butler is there to change each place-setting between courses. This means soup spoons, salad forks, any utensil they may need for dessert.
DON’T put out dessert plates until the dessert course. It’s everyone’s favorite part anyway so save all the surprises for later.
Some basics: Utensils are set from in the order they will be used from the outside in. This means the fork to the far left is your salad fork; the one inside is your dinner fork. The spoon to the right of the knife is for soup, a course that comes before dinner. Forks on the left, knife on the right as it’s proper etiquette to hold food down with the fork on your left hand as cut with the knife in your right, then switch the fork when you are ready to eat.
DON’T choose a centerpiece with an overpowering aroma. Stay away from scented candles and very fragrant flowers. You don’t want the décor to upstage your amazing meal.
DO make sure that centerpieces allow guests to see across the table to keep the conversation flowing. Nothing is worse than having to talk to someone’s forehead over a ridiculously large flower arrangement.
DO get funky with your napkins. Fold them, roll them, or use a pretty ring. Napkins can really tie a whole table together.
DO provide your guests with a water glass and another for the alcohol being served with dinner. If you are offering white and red wine, choose a versatile glass.
DON’T play music that will stand out. Like your centerpieces, the music should be noticed but not enough to offend or distract. Try something without lyrics – Pandora has a lot of instrumental options that don’t sound like elevator music.
Hello! My name is Melissa and I am a new buyer over here at UncommonGoods. I look for product for a number of categories, including and especially games and toys. Obviously, for these types of items, the question “is it fun?” comes up every time in our decision-making process. The thing about games is that the ideal way to determine how fun a game is going to be is not in reading instructions and checking it out alone at my desk at work – but rather with friends at home. Shocking and insightful observation, I know.
So, in an effort to do my job better (take note, boss!), make new friends (I just moved out to New York City to join UncommonGoods from sunny California – or, in my case, foggy San Francisco), and generally have fun, I decided to start hosting game nights to test the new product that I’m considering. When we were chatting about this in one of our sample review meetings, someone threw out the idea of sharing the experience with our UncommonGoods community, and Melissa’s Game Night was born.
Up first was ZinZig ™:
“ZinZig is the wine tasting and trivia game that will challenge your mind and palate. So sit back, relax, and sip your wine. You’re in for a Zin-ful good time ™!”
I bribed my friends over with offers of pasta & sautéed Brussels sprouts, convinced them that yes, it is a great idea to play a wine tasting board game on a weekday, and raced out of the office to get set up.
[Disclaimer: since I just moved to NY, my living room looks pretty sparse, I know — hopefully it will continue to get more interesting as these blog posts continue!]
Once I cooked dinner for the boys (note to self: make more female friends), I asked/told one of my friends to read out the instructions and help us get set up. Luckily for him, it was fairly straight-forward and user-friendly: the beginning of the game opens with drinking and testing all of the wines. We also each picked a winery as well as a figure to represent us on the board. We each started on the space of the Winery that we chose – since the board is circular, the location that you are on is not really important (until the end) – it is all about the squares that you land on. On each turn, you get a trivia card and have to try to answer correctly – once you answer, the square you are on determines whether you “Swap”, “Trade”, etc. There are a few wild squares (ie: Corked: Wine spoilage detected. Answer wrong and lose one bottle card), as well as my personal favorite – Sip and Savor – in which you “Sit back, relax, and enjoy your wine” while earning a free card.
Each trivia card has a ‘resource’ printed on the back; the point of the game is to collect one of each resource (barrel, grape, bottle, cork) to start production. Once you do that, you move to the middle of the board and go through the stages of production (crushing, fermenting, aging, bottling) by answering a trivia Card. The first player to complete production is the winner of the game. Even though I am overly competitive, I did not manage to win. The shout-out of victory goes to my friend Mike who came in from last to crush us all.
In terms of game play, I thought the range of the level of difficulty of the trivia questions was well-balanced and on the intelligent side. I am a fairly big wine geek, my friend Alex claimed to know nothing, and everyone else fell somewhere in between. All of us got answers right and wrong, which made it a fun learning experience as well. The game lasted roughly 2 hours, and a good time was had by all. This game was approved and is available now HERE.
Thanks to Barry, Matt, Alex, Gabe, Colin, Erik, and Mike for playing!