Holiday season is in full swing, so if you love to entertain at home, it's helpful to have your basic entertaining essentials already on hand. You never know who might want to pop by and it'll save you lots of time if you decide to entertain at the last minute. If you're a bride-to-be, now's the time to add theses things to your registry!

If there's anything I've learned in planning events over the years, I can say that it's crucial to have a plan, be prepared for the unexpected and that details matter.


Entertaining Essentials

Going with neutral colors will last you year after year. You can always add pops color for specific events by changing the color of the napkins, candles, flowers or tablecloth. If you're married you've probably already received some of these things through your gift registry.

Here are your basic essentials:


  • Wine bucket
  • Martini shaker shaker
  • Wine glasses, champagne glasses, shot glasses
  • Coasters
  • Small cocktail napkins


  • Serving trays and bowls
  • Cutlery if needed)
  • Small napkins


  • Neutral table cloth (white, beige or grey)
  • Good set of dishes (a set of 12 is best)
  • Good silverware/cutlery
  • Nice salt and pepper shakers
  • Serving platters and bowls
  • Salad bowl and utensils
  • Place mats or chargers
  • Linen napkins or pretty paper napkins
  • Candle holders (for tall candles a must - votives and tea lights optional)
  • Candles (white/cream)


  • Cake stand
  • Dessert plates - usually part of your dish set or you can have a different set of pretty plates
  • Mugs for coffee and tea
  • Sugar bowl and creamer
  • Napkins

Create a menu

It's always a nice touch to have a menu on display. First, it's important to consult with your guests about any food allergies. You can write the menu on a chalkboard in your kitchen but if you don't have a chalkboard, you can print and frame it in a menu. Not only does it let guests know what's in store for the evening, it works as a checklist for you too! No need to forget that cheese platter or your grandma's homemade cookies!



Entertaining doesn't stop at the dining and living area. Making your guest bathroom cozy leaves your guests feel even more welcome. It's their mini getaway from the party that let's them regroup and freshen up throughout the evening. Besides making sure the bathroom is extra clean, I like to include the following:

  • Nice soap
  • Hand cream
  • Pretty and soft hand towels (I have some that I use only for guests)
  • A scented candle (I like to keep it lit all night)
  • Extra toilet paper!
  • Flowers are optional


Make a To-do list

Now that you have a plan it's important to set a schedule that you can follow. Try to do as much as you can in advance, even starting the week prior if possible. Create a list of things to do and when. You can also indicate who is responsible for which task if other people are helping. I find following this schedule very helpful when I'm receiving:

  • Week before: all decor items are bought and/or set aside, order cake
  • Two days before: clean bathroom
  • Day before: clean and declutter kitchen, dining area and living room, pick up cake, buy flowers if you can't day of, wash and set your outfits aside (if you can iron them too even better)
  • Morning of: mop all floors, wipe down bathroom, clean kitchen, buy flowers, shower
  • Two hours before: start gettign ready
  • 30 minutes before: do a run throught of all the rooms in the house, check on your appetizers and wine/drinks, take photos


Delegate TASKS

My husband and I have a routine wehenver we entertain adn it works out very well becuase we each know what our tasks are, we can focus. If you're entertinin with your significan other make sure to have these tasks detteminrd before hand so nothing gets forgotten and you each know what your part is. In our home, my husband handles evyrhign to do with the meal (excpet desset): the menu, groceries and cooking. He also runs out to the grocery store if we'remissing anything and picks up the balloons if I've pre-irderd them. I handle the cleaning and decorating. Throughtout the day we help eachohter if neede

Set the mood - before guests arrive!

Ambiance is so important and helps set the tone for the evening. It's really easy to forget some things when you're busy cleaning, cooking and decorating! Here are some things you can do to set the mood - but make sure you do them before your guests arrive. You don't want to be scrambling around when they're there. Once these are set in place you can relax and will be able to welcome them properly:

  • MUSIC: Have nice music playing in the background. I like to have ambiance music playing in the background from the satellite radio on our AppleTV
  • DRINKS:  Have your welcome drinks ready. Create a little area where your guests will gather once they arrive (for us that's around the island in our kitchen). That means your wine is already chilled in the ice bucket, glasses are washed, dry and on display, your fridge is stocked with drinks, etc. If you're using wine charms have those already on the glasses or in a little bowl next to the glasses.
  • APPETIZERS - have appetizers on display where you want your guests to mingle - on the coffee table, side tables, on the island in the kitchen
  • TABLE SETTING - the table should be all set up: tablecloth, menu, centerpieces, flowers, salt and pepper shakers, candles (lit!), plates, cutlery, napkins, names for place setting (optional)
  • GIFT AREA - if your guests are bringing gifts have a corner or table set aside so they'll know where to leave them. If you have gifts too, place yours there first.
  • LIGHTING - lamps are on and candles are lit. Also don't forget to leave the porch light on so your guests can see the doorbell!
  • ENTRYWAY - clear the entrance of any clutter and make space for your guests to put their shoes or boots by laying out shoe mats or a rug. In the fall/winter season it's nice to have a little basket of unisex slippers. Make sure the console table is also clean and free of clutter. Decorating it with candles and/or flowers is a welcoming touch
  • CLOSET - make sure to clean our your closet and make enough hangers available for your guests to leave their coats and handbags


before your guests arrive...

The final but very important detail - whatever you do make sure to set time aside to get ready! I've learned form experience - there will always be those 'early arrivers'. It's happened a couple of times where the doorbell rings and I'm still putting on my make up! Try to be ready at least 30 minutes prior so you can compose yourself and take a breather before guests arrive. If you leave yourself some buffer time a half hour it will giver you the chance to:

  • do a quick run-through of your house to perfect details
  • set the mood
  • I like to use this time to take photos of the set up
  • enjoy a sip or two of wine and get ready for a great evening!





Ella cozy grey by Ella and Marie.JPG

It's no secret I love grey - at home and in fashion. Personally, I wear grey often and love the coziness of grey t-shirts.

I've come to discover that grey is actually the perfect color for Ella, too. Since she has red hair and fair skin, it's sometimes difficult to find colors that suit her. Lately, I discovered that grey really complements her hair and her blue eyes!

It's becoming one of my favorite colors for her to wear. What colors do you find complement your baby?


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Images via Style Me Pretty

Images via Style Me Pretty

This is the first post of my Inspiring Moms Series. The women that will be featured are all amazingly talented, with an unmatched sense of style. They have managed to create successful businesses all while taking care of their families and little ones. They are moms, entrepreneurs and bloggers who have influenced me personally. Here we go!


Emily Ley is someone who has been a true inspiration to me in many ways over the years. Her business Emily Ley, is a brand who inspires women to implement joy and simplicity into their lives. She's the creator of the gorgeous daily planner called The Simplified Planner, The EL Playbook - resources for the well-loved brand, and is now author of her first book - Grace Not Perfection. She is also a key speaker at the Making Things Happen conference twice a year.

Emily has built a creative business with purpose. Her branding is perfection - modern and preppy with crisp, bright, happy colors. Emily also has a huge heart and it shows in everything she does. She started her business so that she could work from home to spend more time with her baby. Her story captured the hearts of many a few years ago when she courageously shared her struggle with infertility. She now has a little boy and twins!

We met exactly two years ago, at the Making Things Happen Conference (more on this amazing conference in another post).  I was hoping to get the chance to meet her but at a conference of about 80 women, I didn't have high expectations. Ironically, I was sitting outside the airport after landing in North Carolina when we met. After a couple of minutes I glanced to my right and realized I was sitting right next to Emily! You could say I was almost a little star struck. I introduced myself and we had a wonderful chat. I confided in her about a few things and she was exactly what you would imagine her to be - sweet, kind and encouraging. Her words of encouragement meant so much, especially coming from her. It was a low period for me and she gave me the hope I truly needed at that time. That conversation was one of the major highlights of my trip but stayed with me long after. It changed my view on my situation and I felt more positive and hopeful moving forward. I honestly felt it was meant to be, meeting her sitting on that bench that day, and still do.

Emily is truly one of the most genuine, kind-hearted and inspirational women I've ever met. You can read more about her story, here!

I'd love to know, who would be on your Inspiring Moms list?



Planning for your baby's birthday or a holiday dinner party this season is a lot on it's own. I wanted the perfect dress for Ella's party and was set on either grey or pink. Luckily I found a cute pink tutu dress a few days before, but that was the last thing I needed to focus on so close to the party.

To avoid any additional stress or rushing around, I plan to buy Ella's holiday dress way in advance (lesson learned!). I'm not really into they traditional red Christmas dresses. So here are my fave picks for neutral dresses this holiday season! I must say the Gap definitely has the best options. Where are your favorite places to buy dresses for your baby girl?

1. Cable Kit Sweater Dress |  2. Grey Sparkle Dress 3. Cozy Polka Dot Jumper

4. Intarsia Swan Tutu Dress  5. Grey Tutu Dress



Ella's first birthday by Ella and Marie.JPG

Last Friday, Ella turned one! I'd been looking forward to planning her first birthday party since I was pregnant, so it was a bit surreal now that it was finally here.

We had a small celebration with family on Saturday mid-afternoon. My husband prepared all the appetizers and I took care of the decor and dessert. On the dessert table: vanilla cake with amazing buttercream icing, I made red velvet cupcakes, mini powdered donuts and popcorn. We also had a photo slideshow of Ella playing on the TV, (displaying photos of her since birth in chronological order). It was so special seeing how she's grown up this past year!

I managed to add a few simple DIY projects: I made the banner, painted the letter 'E' to match the pink theme and the created the slideshow. I'm happy with the way it turned out and already getting ideas for next year!

Cake: Dolci Piu | Cupcake stand: Linen Chest | Gold leaf: Indigo | Ella's tutu dress: Gap | Ella's hair bow: Mlle Leonie

Cake: Dolci Piu | Cupcake stand: Linen Chest | Gold leaf: Indigo | Ella's tutu dress: Gap | Ella's hair bow: Mlle Leonie


Image via Monika Hibbs

Image via Monika Hibbs

I've always loved everything to do with organizing, whether it be at home or at work, or in the way I plan things. That's not to say I don't have moments or certain areas in my life where it's a bit more of a struggle to keep things in order, like most people. For me, I'll admit it's usually been in more difficult when it comes to my wardrobe. So. many. clothes.

They say the first year you should get used to your home not being so organized and just let it go. Of course my priority is taking care of Ella and making sure she gets everything she needs. So I've had to learn to accept that it's ok if the house isn't spotless at the end of each day.

Before the baby arrived I did a major clean up getting rid of a lot of stuff. However, now being almost into a year with a baby, you can imagine how much more has accumulated. I've been pretty good about doing laundry though, especially when it comes to Ella's things. Earlier this year I saw Emily Ley's post about throwing in a load of laundry every morning, as part of her 30 Days of Simplicity challenge. By incorporating this tip into my daily routine, it's been a huge help!

As a new mom, I can say that getting organized involves two things: 1. stick to a cleaning schedule as best as you can and 2. making sure everything has it's place. I'm learning that a huge help is getting things done after the baby goes to sleep for the night. She has an early bedtime, so after she's asleep I try to get the dishes and kitchen in order and mop the floors (now that she's crawling ALL OVER the place!).

What are your tips for keeping the house in order with a little one? For now, I'll continue with what I know works. Little by little friends!