Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hostess with the Mostess

Ok y'all, here are some tips on how to be the Hostess (or Host) with the Mostest (or Most)

They are simple and intuitive, but some people do forget from time to time.

1. Advance Notice.
Always give your guests advance notice, at least one week, but two weeks is preferable, to any party or social gathering. Your friends are busy people and on a Monday, they probably already have their weekend activities planned out.

2. NEVER ask
I'm sorry, but I'm a firm believer that you do not ask people to bring something, you let them offer. If you run in the right circles, your friends will either ask what they can bring, in which case you can offer up a side dish or dessert for a dinner party, or a bottle of wine or booze for a drinking party, or they'll just bring something without asking. I hate BYOB parties and BYO-anything parties--they are gauche.*
*(The only exception is if the activity is a group-organized activity such as a Potluck in which everyone is contributing).

3. Snackies
Even if it's a drinking party and advertised as such, set out some cheese and crackers. I'm Polish and when someone comes into your home, you feed them. Simple as that.

4. The first guest
Never leave a guest alone. Even if you are in the middle of preparing for the party, hand them a glass of wine or a drink and engage them in conversation in your kitchen until another guest arrives.

5. Always greet guests at the door and take their coat
Self explanatory.

6. Buy More
Always get more than you think you need. Any good hostess wants to have too much (booze, food, etc.) vs. too little. I know parties can be expensive, so for booze, always buy that cheap 30 pack and hide it until the night gets going so you have booze for those rowdy late-night partiers.

7. Ask in Advance...
If anyone is allergic to certain animals or any kinds of food. Let the guests know what they can expect if you do have a pet at home and prepare something that a picky eater can eat. Assuming makes an ass out of you and ming.

8. Guests
Don't say no when people ask to bring guests. If you are having an intimate party, ask that your guests refrain from inviting more than (1) additional person and ask that they tell you in advance so you can plan accordingly. But it's rude to say no, unless the person wants to bring the entire cast of Rent, well then, we may have a problem. (The entire cast of Gossip Girl, NO PROBLEM).

9. Attire
Be specific if your party requires formal wear or costumes. You don't want anyone feeling stupid unless they want to.

10. Don't yell
Even if a guest breaks your favorite glass (which you should hide before any party) or spills red wine on your cat, refrain from yelling or causing a scene. Any good hostess keeps her cool and deals with the consequences later.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Freakin' Halloween!

Beware, this post may be more gruesome than what agmac's partiers are used to!

In honor of this fair holiday coming up, I've put together some great links to party decorations and other Halloween-themed fun.

Since Halloween is on Friday, and I will be attending the kick-ass annual Union Street party, I won't have pictures until after the weekend. So this should tide you over.

Check out the following Websites for Off-the-Cuff Decor and some of the best examples from each (MWAHAHAHAHAHA):

Horror Dome

Zombie Risers, Blood Suckers, and lots of really expensive special-effectsy/animatronic creatures can be found at Horror Dome.

Gore Galore

For "clever clevers" or clown zombies, check this site out.

Dapper Cadaver

I will spare you this sites' animal fetuses, but it does have cool creepy portraits (like "James") and fun medical and lab supplies.

And this one, well this one is wrong on so many levels:

Creepy Feely Game

For those who like to drink, I salute you:

Skeleton Funnel

Tasty Treats:

Syringe Cookies

Anyone got a lot of money to spend on chi chi Halloween?
Dean & Deluca

And lastly, my good friend Dana has an awesome blog and her favorite holiday is Halloween, so check out some of her best posts:

She Walks Softly

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guest Blog: Interview with a Planpire

Hello agmac-ers,

Last Thursday I was cordially invited to attend my friend Abby's work party. She works at
Moment, a very cool design firm in a kick-ass SoHo space.

The highlights were definitely the mini hot dogs and mini sliders, the kava (rose champagne) and the take home tee-shirts (a great party favor!)

Check out my interview with Ms. Hannan and some pictures (courtesy of Audrey Aponte) below:
Q: Abby, in your current job position, how many parties a year do you plan?

A: I'm the office manager for a small design firm, and I usually plan two major parties: the anniversary party for about 200 clients & friends, and the company holiday party. I also help out with other random events throughout the year.

Q: Do they typically give you a budget and tell you to work with it, or are you free to break the bank?

A: We usually start off by doing some research and getting estimates, and then I get a flexible budget. After that, any additional costs within reason are usually okay - as long as it is not for monkey waiters or ice sculptures.

I decided to get some extra wine and beer just in case which ended up helping out towards the end of the party.

Q: Do they give you any "requirements?" Or were all the choices basically yours as to food, music, decor, etc.?

A: There are no required elements, but there is an expected level of polish to the event since there are clients involved. This year people wanted a fancy party with gourmet comfort food.

I tried to be democratic in the process and held a few planning meetings for anyone who wanted to come. The group brainstormed ideas and then after that did what I thought would work the best. The biggest decision was finding a caterer and after that everything fell into place.

Q: Lastly, do you have a short list of vendors you rely on or do you search for new ones every time? Where do you find them?

A: I knew about Crave because they had catered a party in the gallery space downstairs earlier this year, and I loved their mini sliders! We found a few alternatives online but I would advise getting a good referral and trying out the food before hiring anyone. Most good caterers will have no problem with that, and will take care of any rentals themselves.

I'm always on the lookout for good ideas for the next party - thanks Agatha!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stoop Sale Fun

Evidence that anything can be turned into a party--our stoop sale on Sunday. Four of my gals and I got our "vintage" clothes and other knick knacks together and planted ourselves on Abby's stoop to see if we can make some cash in these hard times?

The results--we made between $30 - $60 each and spent it all that night at Bonita on Margs and Tacos!

But the sale itself was so much fun. We had a beautiful day in Brooklyn and started out the morning with coffees form Connecticut Muffin and my homemade apple turnovers (which Abby sold 2 for $1!!).

When the wine stores opened, we bought some bottles and made some delicious Sangria. The whole time, we had an ipod going and we made lots and lots of neighborhood friends.

Check out the pix below (Photos by Jessica Schoen):

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Best of the Worst Party Favors

All of these amazing party favors/decorations can be found at Oriental Trading

Here they are, in their very own special categories...

If you want to do your nuptials in style, check these out

(For throwin up?)

Simply Cheesy

And these are just plain w

What are people supposed to do with candy cane pacifiers anyway?

For the Evangelica
ls out there

Why have a Christmas party, when you can just have a Birthday Party for Jesus?!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Other Awesome Party Ideas

So on Saturday my friend Mike expressed "concern" over me blogging only about parties that he's attended, basically fearing that he was going to be invited to some stranger's party some day, only to have it be some replica of party's past!

So this post is dedicated to Mike H. Here are some other awesome party ideas that I've had that never took flight.

1. Paint Ball
Boys love paint ball. A great idea for a co-ed party in honor of one of your fave guy pals.

2. Punks vs. Preppies
I can't take credit for this one, it was a party my friend Dierdre once threw. Basically, people got randomly assigned a type and had to dress up either as a punk rock kid or a preppie and later they had some kind of contest and I believe the Preppies won. It makes it more fun if the people dress up as the complete opposite of their usual inkling.

3.Trapeze Party
Um, need I say more? For those adventurous friends of yours who love to try new thing, why not spend a day at Trapeze school? Hell, I'd love it! (hint, hint ;-)

4. Pizza Grill
My friend Greg B. sent this to me. Basically, you make a bunch of pizza dough and buy lots of pizza toppings. You cook the pizza dough half way in the oven, and then people come over and make pizzas. The fun part is that you put a pizza stone in a regular weber grill, and after
everyone has assembled their own pizzas, they bake them the rest of the way on the stone in the grill.

5. Roller Skating Part-ay!
While roller rinks died away in the past decade, they are seeing a resurgence. Mainly thought of as a "retro" thing, there are actually die hard skaters who simply love jiving to the music. Check out this Roller Rink in Brooklyn.

6. A Decade Party
Always a fun twist to liven a party up, specialize any event (Anniversary or Birthday) by making it center around "that date in history." For example, if it were my Birthday we could put up pictures of famous people born on December 23, 1979, get music that was popular in 1979, make snacks and food from 1979 (bottle rocks!) and even dress up in 70s attire.

7. David Bowie Party
Self explanatory. David Freakin' Bowie.

8. Bath Houses
Weird, and maybe a little too intimate for some, but the idea is that you go to a bath house, wearing bathing suits, and soak up the goodness with good friends. Hell, you can even go to one with a billiard and cigar room! A GREAT idea for a bachelor party!

9. A puppy party!
I just went to one of these on Saturday. The best thing in the whole wide world is a puppy dog. Bring one to your next party, and I assure you it'll be a success.

1o. Wee-Lympics
OK, so this is the only one so far that's been done already, and at Mike H's house no less. Idea is simple, project Wii onto a wall, make people dress up in tennis outfits, and battle it out on Wii tennis, bowling, baseball, etc.

Party on people, party on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

*Special Report* Social Clubs

OK, so this is a "special post," dedicated to Social Clubs. No, not the Indie Rock Band variety or the Italian Mafia kind. These clubs are about two things: bringing people together and doing something fun.

Here are a few of my favorite Social Clubs that I"ve participated in in the past Year:

1. BMX
This stands for Borough Music Exchange. The idea behind this is that you have a group of people who love music. Every month, or in our case due to the number of people interested every two weeks, someone makes a mix CD. This mix can be anything at all, there are no special rules or limitations. Then you send the mix out to everyone on the mailing list. Since I "started" this club, I made labels with everyone's addresses in the beginning and sent the labels to everyone on the list. This makes mailing go that much faster.
The reason we went with CD's, and not just an electronic exchange of music, is that it's really fun to see people get inventive with the cover designs, packaging and special inserts.
*I call to all my fellow BMXers who have made mixes thus far to post their cover art in the comments section!

2. Crafternoons
Knitting has become a big thing amongst hipster females as of late, sort of like taking back the very traditions that used to enslave us to empower us! Or something.
Anyway, Fall is a perfect time for "Crafternoons," in which a bunch of ladies (or if the guys are into this) get together and make crafts--that includes knitting, collage-ing, other special projects, and of course tasty snacks and booze.
The last one we did was last Fall and Abby made an apple pie and I made breakfast bagels. It was delicious, calming, and awesome.

3. Vampire Book Club
Some of you may know the sensation that are the "Twilight" books by Stephanie Myer, some of you, if over the age of 15 and male, may not. Twilight Saga
Well, it's a series of 4 books that center around a teenage girl and her romance with a vampire. While these are targeted towards teenagers, they have a huge following among women of all ages, including my friends and I!
So instead of a general "book club," we decided to have a themed book club centered around these Vampire stories. We've met twice so far at different people's houses and the hostesses prepared wonderful "vampire-themed" snacks and drinks such as Sangria & Red Velvet Cupcakes.
Our group is going to take a field trip to see the film once it comes out.
If you want to read something slightly more sophisticated and vampire-themed, I suggest Anne Rice

This stands for Brooklyn Ladies Association of Happy Hour and was started by my friend Martha as a monthly way to get the ladies together in different Brooklyn haunts that served yummy drinks. While we haven't done it in awhile due to everyone's busy schedules, when we did do it, we always opted for very special drinks at bars around the fine borough of Brooklyn that had a little somethin' special to 'em.

Remember, people actually like being a part of something, and "if you think of it, they will join."

Next Posting: How to be the Hostess with the Mostest!

Monday, October 6, 2008

BeDazzle Any Party!

Have you often thought, gosh, I wish I could make this party amazing, too bad I don't have a lot of money? Well, you're in luck! There is no need for money when you have a computer, printer, tape, and some time on your hands.

As promised, (10) simple, cheap ways to personalize any celebration:

1. A Photo Slide Show
Anyone who has a mac can do this on iDVD, and I'm sure there's an equivalent for PC's, I just don't know what it is.
It's simple to do--gather a bunch of photos of the person or people being honored/celebrated, and turn it into a slideshow complete with music.
I did this for my friend Pete's 30th Birthday party and I even emailed his sister to get pictures of when he was a little kid. Then I added some Frank Sinatra, his favorite all time singer, and viola, a wonderful DVD slideshow of Pete through the years that he was able to take home with him, and everyone enjoyed watching during the party.

2. A Wall of Memories
For Abby's party (mentioned above as the ultimate rock girl party), I was in charge of decorating the hotel suite. I did this by gathering awesome pictures of Abby + Friends from the past few years and framing them around bought Party City decorations around the whole suite. This was great for people to look at and smile at the memories, and it also celebrated Abby.
If you don't have pictures from the film era of photography, simply print out digital pictures at 5x7 or 4x6. And if you don't have a printer at home, which I don't, you can sneakily do it at work!

3. A Theme
I've gone over some of this in my first post, with themes ranging from Nautical Karaoke to Rock n Roll. The key to any theme is to make it something the party boy or girl enjoys. Think about what they like to do and then center the party around that, personalizing each detail.
Or, you can center a theme around a cultural event or annual festivity.
Examples of both of these are: 1) I threw a party for my boyfriend at the time that centered around driving all of our friends to Medieval Times in New Jersey (see image above). It was so ridiculous and childish, that it was amazing, and 2) I throw an annual Oscar Party, next year will be my 6th!

4. A Color Combo & Decorations
This is directly linked with a theme. Any good theme needs a good color scheme. For example, there's Red and Black, representing a person's favorite colors, or the traditional red, white & blue for a 4th of July party. However, you can also extend red, white & blue for other party themes. A few years ago, my boyfriend at the time became a citizen of the United States of America. To celebrate, I threw him a Red, White & Blue Party, complete with red, white & blue drinks!

5. Costumes!
I love, love, love dress codes for parties. You can specify that something is "formal," or you can ask your guests to dress up as part of the theme for the party. Not everyone will want to, which is fine, but those that do will have really great photo ops and I promise, they will have fun getting ready!
Two different costume examples are below--there's the Oscar party, in which I ask everyone to dress up as someone nominated in any of the categories. This can be a character from a nominated film, or a nominated actor. There's been some great costumes in the past, including characters from Juno, but my favorite was when I dressed up as a Dream Girl and my best friend Lauren dressed up as Penelope Cruz from Volver.

And another great one was when my friends Jaime and Abby and I dressed up as 50s gang girls to attend a Rockabilly show at Southpaw, and then a Halloween Birthday Party afterwards.

6. Cheese (or something like it)

EVERY party is made better by a snack table, and even a sucky party can be made bearable by a snack table. While you may think, food is expensive, it doesn't take much to make the masses happy. My favorite cheap party snack is chips and French Onion Dip (made by Lipton). The dip is to die for and costs around $3 something for a package of two. Another great place for cheap snacks, Trader Joe's, which just opened up in Brooklyn.,-73.561707&spn=1.328022,1.642456&z=9

7. Tchatchkes
As shown below with the sailor pigs, tchatchkes are always ridiculous, should be inventive, and should be something someone would like to take home with them.
For holidays, my mom always decorates her table with little doo-dads that you can take home with you, whether it's little chickadees for Easter or tiny ornament placeholders that people can later put on their tree. It leaves people with a nice memory of a great time, and it adds to the deocorations of the party. Whereas simple streamers and signs make a party cookie cutter, tcatchkes add that persona touch that make your party stand out from all the rest!

8. Games
This can be "athletic", such as setting up Bocce game in the backyard, or a simple drinking game or poll. For example, for every Oscar party I have we do a poll where you rank your choices (who you think is going to win) from 1-5 in each category, and the person with the most "1's", or lowest score, wins. And since each person puts in $5, the winner gets an Oscar trophy and a nice pool of money!
Another fun one is drinking games based on characters' idiosyncrasies. For example, my girlfriends and I used to have an ANTM (America's Next Top Model, for those not in the know) Drinking Game where you'd have to drink whenever Tyra said "Fierce," or one of the models cried. Good times.
There are plenty of other drinking games, such as ones for watching the Presidential or VP Debates:

9. Surprises
These are easier than you think to pull off because no matter how many surprise parties you've been to, you always think that your friends are
You can throw the person off in a number of ways.

For my friend Carolina's surprise trip to Fire Island for a beach birthday getaway, we had her boyfriend pretend he was taking her on a romantic trip, and when she boarded the train, all of her best friends popped out to surprise her. Then just when she thought the surprise was over, when we landed at our destination, another group of her friends were waiting there for her!

Another way is to make it in an unexpected place so the person thinks they are going there for a completely different reason. For example, our first collective 30th birthday party surprise was for Pete, and we did it at his WORK! His co-worker asked him to come pick him up there as he was finishing up some things, and bam! we all jumped out and surprised him.
It was magical.

10. A Playlist
The simplest way to make a party a success is the music. With the invention of ipods, this is easier than ever before. Make sure you pick music the person likes but also music that makes people dance. Because the best kind of party ends with a dance party! It gives the party an unexpected and unprecedented energy.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Apple Picking We Went!

Just a little update about Apple Picking today. 
We spent most of our time at Warwick Winery picking apples, eating delicious pizza, taking ANTM worthy photos, and tasting yummy wine. It was very crowded, I guess other people had the same idea as us, but it was a beautiful day. Some pictures below.

Tomorrow is the best street fair ever and a great place to walk around with your friends: Atlantic Antic!! See you there I hope!