"Project Party" on the Today Show

I was asked to participate in this fun idea, kind of like Project Runway, but for party planning to be shown on the "Today Show". Two event designers, myself and David Monn, had less than 12 hours to pull off a fabulous, festive dinner for 8 for less than $150. Even though I often say that a last minute party is sometimes the best party, I have never planned such an event with these strict conditions. I totally felt stressed. Luckily I have an amazing partner and friend, Sisi Soestrisno, who really helped me pull it all together.

The Today Show chose two families that were neighbors and friends who often entertain and assigned us each a group. And, we found out later B. Smith, the fabulous style and food guru was going to be our celebrity judge.

Lynn, Ray, Michael and Matthew Quartarano were my amazing family. David Monn designed his evening for Steve, Jenny, Mike and Brian Margolis.

Below are our two ideas. B. Smith declared mine the champion, but I personally think they were both so different that we were both winners. My goal in planning private events is to hopefully inspire people to do a little something with their family together to help provide connection and fun. With that in mind here are my tips and ideas:

1. Shop at home
2. Develop a plan
3. Make a list of what you need
4. Be creative and have FUN!
5. Stick to only two decor colors, keep it simple

The idea I presented my family was to use paper items to add to the table as a festive and colorful centerpiece. We re purposed items the family had to create a beautiful candlelight centerpiece. For food we served Italian. We did a little research prior to meeting the family and here is what we prepared for them with their approval:

Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Deconstructed or Open Lasagna

And for dessert Lynn, Matthew and Michael made and decorated sugar cookies that we also used as place cards on the table.

We got really lucky. Lynn had a Shop Rite card, so in addition to discounted items

David Monn and his family created a mystical table made with organic products such as recycled cardboard. He used quilt batting as a table cloth with white Christmas lights under the batting to create a warm glow. The centerpiece was fresh fruit, green apples, green grapes all dusted with sugar. He added a few rose cones and babies breath also.

His menu:
A Chestnut soup
A Twice Baked Potato with a Hearty Chili topping
and mint chocolate chip ice cream with crushed vanilla meranges
for more on his design and dinner check out www.davidmonn.com

My next post will be recipes and "how to" make these fun crafts for your family any time of the year!

Click here for video

Forest Green and Ruby Red for the Holidays

My three-year-old and I often go to a really wonderful upper west side cafe in New York City, Blossom. They have fresh juice everyday, we always order the Ruby Red and Forest. It so inspired me to ask my secret Santa for a juicer this holiday. Now my family can juice at home.
I know toddlers can be picky and the Ruby Red is an amazing juice. Every little one I've let try it loves it. First, it is a reddish pink color, which is fun and second, it is made from beets which are sweet. Beets also happen to be why a red velvet cake is red. Beet sugar was originally used during WWII as a sweetener as there was a ration on refined sugar. So, beets are really really sweet. Combine them with carrots, green apple slices and a little pineapple and WOW you have a new treat that is good for you. I also happen to love the Forest juice. It is a green juice with ginger that is yummy. Plus the colors are nice for the holidays. I hope we can inspire you to try a fresh juice too!

Here's a little more about the menu at Blossom and other juice ideas. http://menupages.com/restaurants/cafe-blossom/menu