Tag Archives: Buffet

Labor Day Fun, Part One:The Tablescape…

As the More is More Mom®, I am always about….more parties! Celebrations are a fantastic way to connect with family and friends. In fact, a few weeks ago we enjoyed Labor Day fun with a pre-holiday party in our home with great friends.

To me, Labor Day is a turning point, marking the end of a wonderful summer and kicking off the fall season (which just so happens to be my very favorite!). This week I am super excited to share with you my ideas and inspirations for a festive filled weekend.

Parties practically throw themselves when you have a theme. For about two seconds I considered the old Red, White and Blue, but we’ve already done that twice this summer. What better way to end the season than with a picnic? Not your typical burgers in the park on a red checked blanket, but a beautiful upscale affair with woven textures, fine linens and crystal.  Delightful!


I always start my parties with a generous cocktail hour (or two). Seriously, what’s the hurry? Pattern makes me happy, so to set the tone for my picnic theme, I pulled out one of my favorite toppers with a cream colored background embellished with green grapes and leaves. I lay it evenly across my island on an angle. I am a huge fan of anything over the top. Little things get lost, while larger items make a statement. It was time to empty my awesome, enormous hurricanes that I had filled with popcorn for Movie Night. In this instance, I loved the simplicity of the hurricanes with a large, three wick pillar candle (A contradiction for the More is More Mom®? No, it’s just that I appreciate that sometimes more impact is achieved through simplicity).   

To further enhance the table, I filled two vases with lemons and limes and tied a pretty green ribbon around each for a little extra embellishment. Inspiration is everywhere! I was in my grocer’s floral department when I noticed these gorgeous perennials, Liatris, (on special…normally $24.99, offered at$9.99. Isn’t that awesome?).  I love the spiky, lavender plumes for their color and aesthetic quality.

For an elegant touch, I brought out some of my crystal serving pieces. I truly appreciate the beauty of cut crystal and how it sparkles in the glimmer of candlelight. Besides, crystal feels special and lends credibility to the more casual….Frito’s Scoops. 

While I love mingling in a cocktail setting, there is nothing more intimate than formal dining. At our house, a sit down dinner in our Dining Room is reserved for friends that Chuck considers “table worthy.” You know you rate at our house if you’ve eaten in our Dining Room. I was excited to set a special table. As always, I start with a tablecloth. I love pattern and dark colors for the simple fact that they are so forgiving. Here I chose one of my favorite tablecloths, a rich chocolate brown. Then for some personality, I incorporated an enchanting needlepoint topper enlivened with …..ladybugs! Ladybugs are special to me, because I have been collecting them for Amanda for years. I call her my Ladybug. Perfect for a picnic!


As a centerpiece, I filled a large stone planter with perennials that I found at Lowes on 75% off clearance. The whole thing cost $3.75 (you can’t even buy Baby’s Breath for that). They really helped with the picnic vibe. Customarily I am a sucker for a placemat, but in this case I didn’t want to cover up my ladybug topper, so I opted instead to settle for the use of a rattan charger. Rattan just screamed picnic fun! Sometimes I like the clean quality of a white dinner plate. These are special because of the scalloped edges and embossed detail. Some time ago, I fell in love with these beautiful leaf plates. The green is great and they are so versatile. I traveled store to store until I collected 20. Just the other day, my dear friend and neighbor, Mrs. Hobbs, asked me why I collected most things in 20 and not 24? I actually don’t have a good reason for 20, but I must say the hoarder in me is intrigued by the concept of 24…. Look out retailers, here I come! To complete each setting, I placed a burlap style napkin drawn through a bamboo napkin ring, a crystal water glass and a lovely green apple at each place setting for some extra special detail. I have several, metal ladybug and leaf style tea-light candle holders, which were the perfect finishing touches on my table.

Now that the table and buffet are set, over the next few days, I can’t wait to share with you more recipes for delicious entrees, tasty appetizers and an unbelievably, family friendly cookie for dessert. I hope you are inspired to throw you very own lovely Labor Day Party!

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Fourth of July Celebration; Day One…Decorations

What’s more fun than more parties!?! There’s nothing more All American than commemorating Independence Day. I have an exciting week planned, and I can’t wait to share with you the details for a fantastic Fourth. Each and every day I will demonstrate my ideas for divine decorations and delectable dishes. Actually, we enjoyed a fabulous Father’s Day dinner last weekend. My family was kind enough to indulge me by celebrating the “Faux of July,” which made it possible to bring this to you today…….

We had so much fun with our Memorial Day celebration, and we could certainly have used the same patriotic elements again this go around, but I wanted to show you how you could mix it up a little bit.

I would have loved for us to dine al fresco, but Mother Nature has been so darn unpredictable (that’s not true, she’s very predictable….rain everyday.). We settled for cocktails and appetizers on the deck, which was perfectly pleasant…..and dry.

My love affair with fabric, texture and color lead me to start, as it usually does, with a table covering. For Memorial Day I used a fantastic quilt as a tablecloth. Today, I was inspired to use this very bold, red tablecloth with stripes made out of polka dots. Great attention to detail. Tablecloths are another of my collecting obsessions. This one is great because it is suitable for so many occasions; Valentines Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day and any other day you’re moved to entertain in a sea of red.

Layers just add dimension and interest, so I always use a placement over my tablecovering. Here I selected a dusty blue (with a nice little tone on tone stripe) in homage to the Red, White and Blue. I topped that with a silver leaf charger, with a hobnail trim (which is a subtle tie in to the dots, in the stripe, of my tablecloth), reminiscent of the sparkle of…..sparklers! I pulled out these great red, stoneware dinner plates. I like the raised scroll detail. As always, I am taken with the way a snappy dessert plate pulls the theme of a table setting together (kind of like a great necklace or bracelet). For years I have been collecting a mish mash of blue and white plates that I use for appetizers and desserts. My collection stands at about 50, and I’ve used them all together, and their color combination is what unifies them, not the pattern. It’s just sort of groovy and eclectic. Here I enlisted the aid of two different patterned Spode plates and they look great (I alternated the pattern at every other place setting).

I am morally opposed to paper products while entertaining, but this was an exception. My menu consists of two potentially, very messy food items; ribs and buttery corn on the cob. Having heart palpitations because the good linen napkins are going to be ruined is no way to go through dinner, so I picked up these sturdy, 2 ply paper napkins and gave each guest two. So much more relaxing for all concerned! Red handled flatware showed off quite nicely against the blue napkins and placemats. You know I am a Target junkie, and I found these cute acrylic tumblers for $1.99 a piece. They’re perfect with their rows of blue stars (stars and stripes forever…). Each glass held a patriotic pinwheel.

Alas, the centerpiece. A low arrangement was in order, as I wanted to be sure we could see each other across the table. I set out five, simple clear glass vases and tied a red, white and blue wired edged, plaid ribbon around each one, for a little slice of Americana. The stripes on the tablecloth are white, so I was determined to find something sweet like white daisies. I raced and ran from floral department to floral department when Amanda and I popped in for a visit to our favorite Costco. Disappointed because there were no white flowers, I was about to settle on red roses, which were really much to formal for the occasion, when my gal pointed out bouquets of gorgeous blue and white hydrangeas. She is so smart! We brought them home, trimmed the stems so they would form a luscious, full cluster. Lined up together, they were stunning. To complete the look, I placed red and blue tin stars amongst the vases, and for a little romantic candlelight, resurrected blue and white votive holders to coordinate with my Spode plates. The table was lovely!

For this party, my buffet was really just set up for appetizers, but I still wanted it to make a statement. Pattern and color always sets the tone, so I was excited to use this classic, flag, throw size, quilt as a topper (I’ve had it in my collection for so long, I don’t recall from whence it came. Target or Kohl’s would be a pretty safe bet.). My four appetizer offerings took center stage. Elevation always makes for a pleasing, and user friendly food display. A pewter, hob nail trim, pedestal cake plate stood proudly in the back. On either side (and slightly to the front) of the highest point, I wanted to present two additional, raised appetizers, without being so un-original and boring as to incorporate two more cake plates. How cute are these storage bins embellished with red and blue stars? They were open at the top, so I simply flipped them upside down, and voila….two tall, patriotic, colorful, pattern-ful stands. Flat on the table, lined up across from the tall, pedestal cake plate, is a slate cheese board (that my friend Mrs. Lilly found for me). It’s fantastic! People are forever curious about the flavors in beautiful gourmet cheeses. The slate cheese board offers a smart solution. With a piece of chalk, you can simply write down the sorts of cheeses you are serving. Genius!

As the More is More Mom®, I could never leave a quiet, empty space, so I am inclined to fill in every nook and cranny! In the center of the table, I resurrected the Liberty Bell that I used for Memorial Day, and next to that I placed a crystal bowl full of fresh blueberries! On one side of my Kitchen island, I displayed two tall arrangements of all American sun flowers. They are so happy! For nearly an eternity I have had these two tall galvanized cylinders which nest inside wicker, handled baskets. They remind me of a picnic, which is perfect for the 4th! I stuck two American flags in each for a dramatic backdrop. This may sound crazy, but I found this whimsical bicycle at my grocery store. Inspiration is all around us, we just have to be open to it…… I could easily have stuck potted plants at the base, and at the top, but I had so many beautiful flowers already. Instead, I filled one basket with limes and one with lemons for an Earthy, organic quality.

On the opposite side of the island, I wanted something lively to fill the space. I knew I needed some height to mimic the other end of the buffet. At my Memorial Day bash, this red, rustic urn took center stage filled with mums, but today, it was the perfect place to rest a large, red, white and blue beach ball (height, color and shape…..a three-for). To the left, I placed a crystal bowl full of cherries and to the right a big, crazy pig with a rooster on top that sported the colors of the day. I scattered white tea light candles around the buffet for a festive glow and we are ready to party!

I hope you will be inspired to get creative and set a beautiful table and buffet for your Independence Day party this coming weekend.

Tomorrow: Dinner Menu and recipes….guaranteed to be finger licking good!


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Throw a Great Memorial Day Party….Part Three: The Buffet

As the More is More Mom® I am a huge fan of grand, sweeping entrances. Part of the fantasy of entertaining is setting the stage for a big show……. and the bigger the better!

This Memorial Day I set up a gorgeous buffet to greet my guests.

Whether decorating my home, accessorizing an outfit or entertaining, I’m all about making a statement. Selecting a few key pieces quickly sets the tone for your event, suggesting to your guests that a memorable evening is in store.

Paying attention to all of the little details goes a very long way in striking a remarkable balance. Always a sucker for texture and fabric, I typically start with a table covering. Memorial Day is all about Americana, and what is more classic than a red and white checked table cloth (other than perhaps, an American quilt?)?

I always anchor my table setting, or buffet, with a stand out, style defining piece (or pair, or however many I can get my hands on. As the More is More Mom® you must know I am always on the look out for interesting treasures with potential.). I found these two amazing, and enormous, iron lanterns at Pier One (they stand nearly three feet tall!). Aren’t they awesome!?! These are actually very good investment pieces, because a simple, clean lined lantern is an item that will lend it self to many other themes and events. They would be lovely illuminating your front porch; offering a soft glow on a warm summer night on your deck; they would be super fun for displaying decorative floral arrangements in your home, on your dining table as a pair, or on a hall chest alone; it would be so creepy-cool to stretch cobwebs from the top, across the front, while featuring a giant rat or vulture inside for Halloween; and they would be festive with giant ornaments tied with gorgeous ribbon around the handle for a Christmas celebration. So you see, these lanterns were actually a bargain when you consider their cost per use. Pier One is actually, almost paying me to use them.

One giant lantern set near each end of the island (like bookends) certainly makes a statement. For a centerpiece I selected a pot of white Mums and placed them inside a rustic, red iron urn that I nearly sold in my garage dale this past fall. I knew I kept it for a reason! With my key items in place, it was time to fill in with some more personality.

I found these fantastic galvanized, two tier stands and knew they would be perfect for a myriad of reasons. Great for a patriotic holiday, a rustic garden party, a happy Harvest season…..again the purposes are only limited by my imagination. I place them on either side of my centerpiece. They are great because the scale of the stands hold their own against the large lanterns and urn, but not just vertically. The tiers allow for varied interest in a horizontal fashion as well, and they’re practical. One contained apples and sliced watermelon, and the other was the perfect place to showcase my baked goods.

For this particular buffet display I have included a place for all of my culinary offerings. The galvanized, tiered stands showcased my desserts. On the left side of my island I featured my little snicky-snacks to get the party started. The menu I created was hearty, so the appetizers were really just simple fare meant to tide my guests over until the main course. Rather than creating a flat, one dimensional, presentation, I find it more pleasing to use varying heights for more dimensions. One platter rests directly on the surface, another is served in a pedestal dish and the third is shown on a slightly taller cake plate.

Please note that it is critical that all serving pieces cooperate in emphasizing your theme. Each piece selected should serve an aesthetic (and practical) function. There should be a commonality; color, shape or decorative element.

My main course also happens to consist of three items (I love balance and symmetry, but not necessarily complete equality. Sometimes I am a rebel and like to mix it up a bit.). Again, for the sake of interest and dimension my chicken dish is served on a platter that rest directly on the table. My salad gives the appearance of sitting at a higher level because the rim of the bowl splays outward and upward. My potato dish rests on another cake plate (as a hoarder, I recommend that you collect as many pedestal’s as possible. They are beautiful to look at and are very useful in creating height and interest.). I paired fruit kabobs with my dinner menu, and rather than stack them on a boring platter, I stood them straight up on end in short, glass hurricanes with a cobalt blue rim. Totally festive!

While my table is set beautifully for a sit down meal, my guests still need a plate and napkins for nibbling before dinner and dessert. Today, to balance out the mirror image of my design, I have placed my blue and white Spode appetizer plates in two equal stacks lined up in front of my arrangement of white Mums. While I think cloth napkins are to die for while dining, I am completely practical when it comes to beverage, appetizer and dessert napkins. Paper…there is no substitute. However, I pronounce that with a caveat: paper napkins must, at the very least, re-enforce your theme. Here I have selected a red with white stars pattern. Very patriotic!

To emphasize my theme, and pull it all together, I have chosen one very sweet element that screams charm………a little lady, sporting an American flag, which stands atop the Liberty Bell exclaiming, “Let Freedom Ring.” Here’s to that! God Bless America!


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