For something fragrant on the table, and not to mention fairly inexpensive and really easy: grab a bunch of pretty herbs, wrap them in ribbon or twine, thread a piece of paper with a name on it, and lay on a plate for an herb bouquet (I have no idea how they got this one to stand up – further proof of Martha’s magic powers).
This would go with most color combinations, and depending on the herbs could be more or less casual. Plus, did I mention easy?!
Martha suggests tiny potted orchids as party favors, and I think they would be lovely as placecard holders as well. If you find small potted plants on sale – they certainly don’t have to be expensive orchids – it would be such a nice way to welcome guests to a ladies dinner! (It’s my experience that guys don’t really like carrying flowers home, and for couples it still just feels a little effeminate of a table to me. But that’s just me, to each their own.)
Martha used butterfly-shaped paper perched on wire holders, which looks wonderful, of course. But if you don’t feel like going to all that trouble and buying all those special little items, just throw a piece of paper around the stem with a name on it and be done with it – it will look wonderful regardless.
Here’s another one from Martha that also looks gorgeous, and more simple.
It’s so beautiful against the white! You all know I’m such a sucker for for a clean white table with just a little bit of greenery.
Easiest of the easy – just buy a pretty box of truffles and some labels, put the label on the box, and write your guest’s name in a pretty way. DONE with placecards, DONE with dessert!
Now, if you want to spend a little more time, you could make the truffles yourself. Like this so yummy and easy sounding recipe for Balsamic Truffles from Giada, which I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while. If you find pretty boxes – I love pretty boxes – this would be a great way to use them.
This one will take a bit of work, but how cute would monogrammed cookies be for a party at which the guests’ names all start with a different letter?
You could cut the cookies in letter shapes if you have enough cookie cutters, or pipe the letters onto each cookie individually. Wrap them in a pretty cellophane bag, attach a name card to the bag, and let your guests have fun finding their cookie on the table…and obviously you’re done with dessert this way too!
Dessert is difficult for a girl who really likes to serve appetizers. Guests fill up on the apps and on dinner and by the time dessert rolls around, no one wants any more to eat. I told my mom about this dilemma once and she said “You probably shouldn’t serve appetizers then.”
Which literally had had not ever occurred to me. Not serve appetizers?! That wouldn’t be a dinner party! That would just be dinner.
So I have to serve appetizers, even if its just some warm nuts and olives. I also have some sort of trigger in me that requires a finish to the meal; something sweet to mark the end. So I’m leaning towards starting to do small tidbits, petit fours style. Maybe meringues, or small brownies with a homemade sauce. Cookies are an obvious choice, or cupcakes. If the meal hasn’t been too cheese-heavy, an assortment of cheeses with fruit and a nice port would go over well. Or, if I really have to make a pie or a cake, I’ll tone down the heaviness of the meal…or just warn everyone before that they’d better come ready for true gluttony.
Martha Stewart the Goddess has a lovely idea for caramel apples to take home – both a dessert and a party favor! I love this idea because I feel like I’m giving guests something to end the meal, but they can enjoy it when they like. AND, I could use them as placecard holders!! Just tie on a little slip of paper with a name on it, and you’re done. I love love love this idea. Especially because caramel apples are so easy to make and inexpensive, and have a great sense of childlike fun about them. Oh, Martha: so genius….
I’m going to post a series of placecard holder/favor ideas from Martha over the next few days, because they’re so lovely and I’m always looking for innovative placecards.
Jackson Hole's "Photo of the Day" - Ryan Vanianen goes swimming
I hope the skiers are thanking me for going back to New York, because clearly I was the bad luck charm that prevented the snow from falling on Jackson Hole. 37 INCHES have fallen in the last two days! I’m DYING.
Cooking Light came up with some ways to use classic ingredients in new ways: cinnamon, soy sauce, peanut butter and several others.
My favorite idea of theirs is to use thyme and Parmesan cheese in savory waffles or pancakes – how yummy and unusual for a dinner party! I would top them with sauteed mushrooms, maybe in a creamy sauce with a little chicken, if you like that sort of thing, and a dollop of creme fraiche on top. Mmmmmmmm!! Of course, you could leave the chicken out for a vegetarian meal, or even replace it with some soy veggie crumble for a little heartiness.
I can’t find a recipe I like for what I have in mind – I’m just going to have to try it out and see if I can get it right. This one is closest, though I wouldn’t fry the chicken first: Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms.