a seasoned hostess’ tips for successful soirées

Photos of the week…

the secrets to hosting

I am an extrovert.

As an extrovert, a good party invigorates me. As a mother of four, we can stay longer and visit more if the party is at our house.

The day of parties came after two days of rain brought to us by the Pineapple Express.


Middle schoolers took to the park for their own party finishing off spring break.


Tip #1

know when to outsource

There was a time when our parties featured homemade bread, homemade marshmallows, extensive decor, linens and pumpkin parmesan gnocchi.

With children, our practices changed, but the spirit of hosting did not.

On Divine Mercy Sunday my eldest child received her First Holy Communion. Following morning mass, we held the first of two parties of the day. I knew I needed some help.

Given the choice between a flower crown or a veil, Miriam chose the flower crown.

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Rather than make it myself, I ordered from Kelley Flower Farm a crown of yellow and white flowers, (in season ranunculus) and blue ribbon, reminiscent of Our Lady of Lourdes who Bernadette observed wore a blue sash and gold roses at her feet. I love how easy these ladies are to work with. A few Facebook measurements, a follow-up phone call and we were set. I dashed through the rain as the Farmer’s Market open to pick up our prize.

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Tip #2

know the things you’re set on and find a way

I had a crazy idea for Miriam’s First Communion Dress. I loved my wedding dress, the sight of it brought my joy, but I never saw it because it was an enormous dress in an enormous box. Taking the scissors to it, drying my eyes, I removed the lace and mailed it with two yards of a silk-cotton blend to a dear friend in Minnesota.

We talked for weeks (months) over details for this special gown. The dress that came back to me was stunning and perfect for a little girl.



Tip #3

avoid tasks that require work when the guests arrive…i.e. don’t cook.


The morning’s festivities included party platters inspired by Real Simple, my go-to for stress-free parties. We served an antipasto platter and a platter with carved ham (half ham from Costco, grandmother’s meat slicer) with green apples and brie served with Hawaiian rolls (from Costco). All the ingredients were prepped the day before and plated just before party time.

For dessert we served shortbread dipped in chocolate, madeleines and bite-size honey-lime tarts (from the Magnolia magazine), provided by my mother.

The less work you do once people arrive, the better. We kept the menu light and delicate for my Little Flower.

We try to plan menus that avoid the use of utensils.

Tip #4

remember how party plans affect others

My husband was tired after playing cumbia through the night. My four-year-old struggled to understand that the morning party was not for her. To honor that sweet thing, I planned ahead and ordered two bouquets the girls.

I love Kelley Flower Farm‘s practice of adding herbs to their arrangements. It adds another level to the sensory experience of holding a beautiful arrangement of flowers, and those double ruffle tulips, oh my!

Unfortunately, I think my five-year-old son is still reeling from all the attention the girls got.

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Tip #5

themes make planning easier

Embracing the spring theme, my mother decorated a homemade carrot cake with a basket weave and daisy spritz, complete with a real basket handle. There was also a movie theme, so we served nachos and pizza.

You can use a theme to determine every detail or use it to act as a loose guide.

I prefer the loose guide approach.

Let your theme narrow down the colors and menu for the celebration.



Tip # 6

the one thing that matters most is the people

Take a few moments to lay down, close your eyes and gather your thoughts for ten to twenty minutes before guests arrive. Let go of anything that was not finished, the unswept floors, the dirty walls, the imperfect dishes, the burnt Madeleines. Let it go.

We do not celebrate to make Pinterest and Instagram moment, we celebrate to be with others, to honor special events, to teach our children what matters.

So, whether you eat from fancy platters or Costco take-n-bake, in the end, what matters are the moments you share and those you share them with.


Photos of the week (v)

It’s all personal today!

Recently, we drove the 2.5 hours to Monterrey to visit the Aquarium. I love Pacheco Pass. I find the hills breathtaking.


Preparations began for Miriam’s First Holy Communion. I decided to take out my wedding dress, which I love but had not laid eyes on since my wedding. In true KonMari fashion, I removed the fabric from the skirt (some tears were involved). Once the act was done, the decision sat fine with me. We will use the fabric from my dress to make her First Communion dress.


Antiquing with my mother I found these beauties! Dessert and serving plates by Currier and Ives, Royal China. They bring me joy. The KonMari method is not about minimalism, so much as it is about surrounding yourself with things that you love. All the discussions about how many books to own are unnecessary for the book lover and, in this case, dishes for the dish collector.


Valentine’s Day (sorry for the quality), we set out Valentine’s for a morning surprise. Everyone picks one Valentine to cut down on craft-stress out time. We observed the day on Tuesday in order to give Ash Wednesday its due. In the morning we took Celeste the bunnies and hearts.


I am thinking about writing and photographing my own Stations of the Cross for kids. I took a quick snapshot of one station at St. Dominic’s when I was there prior to Peter’s surgery last week. To stand inside that church, as the procession moves forward and the organ swells, is like being enveloped in beauty. This is called “contemplative architecture” and it lifts our hearts to God. For parents whom little children are constantly distracting, this beauty helps one maintain or regain focus throughout the mass, entering into the kairos of God.


And here is the little hero, waiting to go in. Everything went well, though recovery has been stressful. It was his 8th surgery in life, and his first outpatient surgery. As such, a triumph!