Friday, December 17, 2010

Staff Holiday Party

Date: Friday January 17th
Venue: Faculty Club
Guests: 31
Catering: Chartwells
Decor: Provided by venue

  • Festive Punch
  • Chicken supreme with pink peppercorn sauce
  • Vegetarian crepes with mushroom, asparagus, and spinach
  • Parisian Potatoes
  • Mixed Vegetables
  • Mixed garden salad with raspberry vinaigrette
  • Assorted desserts
  • Coffee and tea

Coffee and Tea Station

Punch and Beverage Station




Guess the object photo game:
I confess this game is not my idea, it was developed and executed by two colleagues. Common objects that can be found around the office were photographed, then distorted using Photoshop. Guests had to guess what the object is. The guests with the most answers correct won a Starbucks gift card. The game was harder than it seemed. Some objects used were: the arm of an office chair, a fire extinguisher, and a pattern from upholstery fabric.

Gift game:
Guests were give the option to participate in a stealing gift game. To participate, they were asked to bring a wrapped gift of a value of $10. Guests drew numbers from a basket. Guest number 1 unwrapped a gift, showed it to everyone. Guest number 2 had the option of unwrapping a new gift or stealing the first gift. If stolen, guest number 1 returns for a new gift. And so and so on. I capped the stealing at two steals per item to save time. Great fun had by all! Wine and liquor proved to be the most stolen. A surprise popular item was a singing penguin. It was stolen the maximum amount, and I'm sure it would have continued to be stolen if the rules allowed.

Toy drive:
Guests were given the option to bring a new unwrapped toy to donate to charity. I collected 17 toys for the Salvation Army Toy Mountain.

Carol singing:
Two guests volunteered to play the piano and flute to accompany carol singing for the final fifteen minutes of the party. Song sheets with lyrics from common seasonal songs were passed out to the guests for a sing-a-long. A rousing way to end an excellent party!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photo Frame Christmas Ornaments

  • small photo frames
  • old greeting cards/ scraps of wrapping paper
  • pencil
  • cutting tools-such as paper cutter, scissors or xcato knife
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • 1/4 inch satin ribbon
In keeping with the theme of re-using things I already own to decorate for Christmas, I made these cute little photo frame ornaments on Saturday. You may recognize the silver frames-they were the place cards/guest favour at my wedding. I originally bought these ones online from a wedding favour site, but I have seen them at Solutions and Kitchen Stuff Plus. You might find some at the dollarstore/craft store. For reference, they are about 2.5 by 2 inches.

This is a very easy and quick craft. My plan was to use scraps of wrapping paper-but it turned out only one pattern was the right scale for the frame. It happens to be the pattern I used for the "table cloth" in last week's post. So, I scrounged up some old greeting cards from last year with fun graphics to fill in the other frames.

Step one: isolate what area of the paper or card you want to frame. I took apart the frame and moved it around until I was happy with the image. Next mark the edges with the pencil. I used my small paper cutter to quickly trim the image to fit inside the frame.

Step two: flip the frame over. You can see the magnet at the back. I attached a small piece of satin ribbon to the back to make a loop, with my glue gun. You need about an inch or so for each frame. This ribbon was a scrap I saved from a gift box last year. Attach the ribbon at the top of the frame for portrait, or at the side for landscape-depending on the image you choose.

Step three: Put the frame back together, and there you go! There are so many options, you can customize the image to suit your decor.

Many people I know like to alternate themes from year to year. Keep the frame and swap out the image. Why not photocopy family pictures in black and white? Sure to be a conversation starter at Christmas dinner. It's also a nice way to commemorate a special event such as a wedding, a new house or baby's first Christmas. I am going to keep this idea going and change the images from year to year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Easy and Frugal Table Setting

Here is how I made an easy and affordable holiday table setting using things I already had around the house.

Step 1:
Create a table cloth from gift wrap. I already owned this paper, I just unrolled and cut to the size I wanted. If you have a dark wood table like mine, you might want to let some of the wood show through. I left a space on all sides. Next, I folded the cut edges under and taped them down on the underside for a cleaner look. You can cover the entire table if you are worried about spills, scratches or hot dishes marring the surface. Other options: create a runner down the table or cut out rectangles for individual place mats.

Step 2:
I set the table with my basic white plates, cutlery and wine glasses.

Step 3:
I already had this centrepiece, it was one I used at my wedding in May. The set comes with the mirrored tray, the square vase and the round candle holders. I simply added the silver glittered foliage (from the dollarstore) and some clear crystals. If you want to create this look-any piece of mirror will do. You can find the other items at any dollarstore-the vases, the foliage, the crystals and the tea lights. Adapt the centrepiece to suit your theme. An even more affordable idea-collect fresh greenery from outside.

Step 4:
I simply rolled basic white napkins and tied with a length of satin ribbon. I prefer knots to bows. If you like, tuck a sprig of greenery under the ribbon.

Step 5:
Place cards are optional. For a small table like mine, you don't need them but I wanted to include them anyway. I simply used a pinecone and a small rectangle of paper. Couldn't be easier. I bought a whole bag of pinecones, but by all means collect them outside if you live near pine trees. Just be wary of any sap residue. These ones are spray painted white in some areas, that can easily be done if you want to add a bit of pizzaz. Or dab on some glue and sprinkle glitter on top.

That's it! If you start with basic white dinnerware, you can add details in any colour scheme you like. A good general tip is to stick to no more than four colours. A nice thing about using wrapping paper is that everyone has it at Christmas time and it comes in a multitude of colours and patterns. For a kid's table, lay down kraft paper and give out crayons.

*I did recycle the paper I used, I wrapped a large gift with it later the same day.

I was so pleased with the results, I continued to decorate other areas of my apartment with gift wrap. The colour scheme is red, white and silver. I chose paper in different prints, but they are all the same colours, so the overall scheme works.

This is actually an office armoire, but it looks like a buffet. I simply laid out the paper and cut to the size I wanted. I decided to cover the entire surface. I folded under the edges and taped them down on the underside, same idea as the tabletop. The armoire is my entrance way-it's nice to jazz up the front hall or foyer to greet guests with Christmas cheer. For a party, I would set this up as the bar or hors d'oeuvres station.

This arrangement was created from elements I already had. I dug through my bin of Christmas stuff and pulled out a silver charger plate and a red pillar candle. Next I added some more pinecones. It needed a bit of sparkle-this is a snowflake ornament that is too big for my small tree. The vase is a smaller version of the one on the table. I had one more piece of foliage leftover from the centrepiece. The stack of gifts are actual presents waiting to be delivered.

This shelf is in my hallway, and it is one of the first things visible upon entering the apartment. Normally it looks like this:

Lovely, but not very Christmas-y, is it?

So, I simply wrapped the framed prints to make them look like gifts! So easy.

A bit of coordinating ribbon, and there you go. I think it looks great. I love the graphic punch of the prints. The paper and ribbon are all from Ikea, if you are wondering. I left the lengths of ribbons long enough that I will be able to re-use it to wrap gifts next year. The ribbon on the two smaller prints is actually tied at the back. The little red bow is meant to decorate a wine bottle, I just taped it to the white ribbon with double sided tape. Double sided tape is fantastic, I use it to wrap gifts all the time.

It seems like I used alot of paper, but I didn't really. I have plenty leftover to wrap gifts. I even have an idea on how to re-use scraps of gift wrap-all those pieces that are too small to wrap gifts but too nice to put in the recycling bin. Keep an eye out-I am going to the craft store tomorrow to get the things I need.

Happy Decorating!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Corporate Christmas Decorations

I was asked by the head of a public building to decorate both the public spaces and the staff lounge with "seasonal" decorations. The stipulations were that they had to feature a white colour scheme, had to be non-denomational and nothing could be permanently affixed to any surface. Oh, and of course the whole thing had to be done on a budget.

The key points:
  • Main level reception desk
  • Main level public space
  • Fireplace seating area on the third level
  • Staff lounge on the fourth level

So! The first step was to gather everything the company had from storage and go through it all. The majority of it was horrible and 80's tacky. I did manage to re-use the following:
  • a 6 foot artificial tree
  • several artifical garlands
  • several yards of faux white pearl garland
  • white indoor lights
  • some lovely glass ball ornaments in blue, gold, white and clear with crystal embellisments
  • some vintage silver glass balls with wire stems

The client wanted some form of wreath, as long as it was white. I scored this beauty at Home Sense for about $65, not bad considering most were $85-$90. It's a very good size too, quite substantial. The client loves it, so I used the wreath at the inspiration point for the other decorations. Some of the key features of the wreath are pinecones, white poinsettias and roses, and assorted greenery. I hit up my favourite dollarstore and loaded up my cart.
I picked up:
  • white satin bows
  • lots of wired pinecones
  • assorted greenery
  • plenty of decorative floral accents
  • assorted tree decorations, including a plastic star topper

The wreath is hanging on the wall above the main reception desk. I picked up the heftiest 3m removable hook I could find so I could hang it on the wall without damaging the paint or drywall.

The next place I decided to utilize is a small half wall in the public area on the main level. I used small clear 3m hooks to hang some of the artificial garland. I added faux white poinsettias and white peonies, wired pinecones, some assorted faux greenery, the white satin bows and faux white pearl garland. Then I wired in the vintage silver balls I found here and there.

This picture is quite horrible, it was hard to get an overview shot. I do apologize. Here are some details shots:

The fireplace lounge on the third level is blessed with a very wide mantle. I simply laid the garland across, no need to attach anything. In this area, I added some gold accents. Again, I used white flowers-poinsettias, peonies and roses. The same wired pinecones, assorted greenery for texture and some decorative floral accents with gold here and there.

The natural tones of the pinecones and floral accents echo the wood surround quite nicely.

In the staff l0unge, I had a bit more freedom. The colour scheme of the room is tones of teal blue/green, you can see the colour on the accent wall behind the tree. I saved alot of the decorations they already had-the overall scheme is tones of blue, gold, and silver with crystal accents. I found an inexpensive white and silver felt tree skirt at walmart, as well as some inexpensive blue and silver ornaments. The tree itself is more yellow-green than spruce green, so that worked well with the tones of the room.

I had some crystal floral picks I originally intended to use for the fireplace, but I didn't like the way they looked. So-I snipped apart the bunch, cut off the floral wire and bent the wired end into a loop. Hanging on the tree, they look like icicles. Very pretty. A bunch of 5 cost $1, so really they are only 20 cents each. So affordable!

The entire cost came in under $150. Gotta love the dollarstore.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Countdown to Christmas!

Six weeks to go! I've started an inspiration board on
Check it out here


P.S Time to start collecting pine cones and greenery now, before it gets too cold.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Craft idea: Wooden Shapes

I bought some unfinished wood shapes from the dollarstore. One package of flowers, and one of butterflies. 10 shapes for $1. Not bad. But what to do with them? Here are some fun and frugal ideas. They make great gifts and are simple enough for children to make. This can also be incorporated into a party, as both an activity to occupy guests and as a take home favour.

Fridge Magnets

Unfinished wood shapes
Craft paint in assorted colours
Tray or palette for mixing colours (try an ice cube tray!)
Paint brushes, smaller are better
Adhesive craft magnets

Step one:
Lay down some newspaper, especially if you want to do this craft with children. Assemble the painting supplies and pick out which colours to use.

Step two:
Paint your wooden piece with a base coat. I found the paint soaked in, so two coats are usually needed. Don't forget to paint the edges! This is where it can get a bit messy.

Step three:
Once the base is try, it's time to add the details! This is the fun part. Use a small brush and take your time. Do darker colours first, then add the lighter colours. Let dry thoroughly.

Step four:
Once completely dry, flip your peice over and attach a small magnet. I used a roll of adhesive magnet and snipped off a small piece of maget for each shape. Ta da! That's it! Super easy, right?

So, what else can we do with these?

Gift Bags:
Glue a shape on to a plain gift bag. Bonus if you make a magnet first, and then tape it to the bag.

Ribbon garland:
Glue the shapes onto a ribbon for a fun garland. Great for parties. Why not a christmas themed one to decorate your tree or fireplace?

Carefully poke a hole into each shape with a large needle or awl. Hang the shapes from an embroidery hoop with string or fishing line. Hang some longer and some shorter, being careful to balance the weight so it hangs evenly. It would make a very inexpensive and customized mobile.

Christmas decorations:
Poke a hole into each, thread with metallic thread and hang on your tree. Use shapes such as stars and snowflakes.

Try it out! It's fun and cheap!