Monday, November 30, 2009

Close The Book On This Party

When it comes to throwing a successful party the fun is all in the details. Now Graphic Image has a leather-bound journal to help you keep them all together. The Leather Entertaining Book comes with areas to record menus, diagram seating plans, keep track of guest accommodations, and catalog your favorite caterers, florists and the number of that cute sommelier at the local wine shop. If the $77 price tag on the deluxe hardbound edition gives you pause, you might opt for the Brights Leather Entertaining Book ($58). This tabbed journal includes 240 lined pages with 5 different tabs labeled for cocktails, menus, rentals, music, and caterers. And just when you thought your notebook couldn't get any more fancy-pants, embossed personalization is available on both covers. Write on.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sip It Sweetly

The folks at Decole have done it again. Makers of the charming Little Red Riding Hood tea goodies we recently featured, Decole also designs this Pudding Tea Cup and Saucer set found online at Japanese Gift Market. This absolutely delicious dishware would make a perfect gift for any tea lover, or pick up a few cups for your own collection and achieve pastry perfection.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tag, You're It

Just Spotted: Vintage-style tags from Faded Plains, a terrific online shop full of paper goods, stenciled burlap decor, and other various goodies for the home. For me, nothing tops these French Bee Tags. There is something regal about these little bees ensconced in such an elaborate design. The tags, along with the French Bee Skep Tags below, are a lovely accent for any gift, but suit a jar of local honey or a basket of honey-based bath products to perfection.

Order up more more whimsical, handmade tags from Faded Plains. Host-It Notes recommends:

And of course, tis the season for these Christmas Nest Tags.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cubby Christmas

As I reminisce fondly over Tom Turkey and a lovely Thanksgiving with my family, I'm secretly welcoming the start of the Christmas season. I know what you're thinking (namely that I'm crazy and it's far too soon to be be humming a merry tune), but hear me out. Christmas Day may be a month away, but a favorite holiday tradition is about to to kick off: the Advent calendar.

An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count and celebrate the period of Advent—the days of expectation and preparation leading up to Christmas. "Advent" comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming," and while its origins are religious in nature, the secular world has embraced this holiday tradition as well. There are 24 days of Advent, starting on December 1st, but calendars can be extended to 25 days to include Christmas Day.

We've all seen the typical 2-ply cardboard affair where you open a cutout door each day revealing the number of days remaining until Christmas. In my house we grew up hanging a felt tree with charming felted ornaments added one by one. If you want to be the king of calendars, though, you can create a touch of Christmas magic all month by wrapping up a wee gift for each day of Advent. Instead of a traditional pocketed fabric calendar, display your petite presents in a cubby organizer with 24 or 25 slots. My favorite is this rustic cubby organizer from Pottery Barn. Already numbered for you, this organizer can double as storage in your home year-round then truly shine as your calendar in December. Loved ones will delight in opening one dainty treasure each day until Santa finally arrives.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Come on, get happy!

Increase a friend's appreciation by raising her level of gift anticipation: stock up on charming Japanese tapes for your holiday wrapping. These tapes from Happytape come in a selection of patterns, colors, and styles and take an average adhesive from functional to fabulous. Made from Japanese washi paper, this colored masking tape is now available in the United States.

I'm quick to point out this preppy set (above) which won my heart, but below you'll find my best picks for your holiday gift-giving.

Best for accenting paper with a busy pattern- The "Wedding Tape" 2-pack has gold and silver leaf ($12.00). Adds a subtle accent to an already pretty paper.

Perfectly Plaid- These two rolls of plaid tape in green and orange add a bit of splash to your traditional green or red wrapping paper ($11.00).

Seasonal Spice- Masking tape in "Polka Red" has the feel of Christmas. At $5.50 per roll (about 50 feet) it's perfect for card-making or taping up your Santa-themed packages.

Country Kitchen- Happytape's "Red Gingham" design is tailor-made for adhering labels to your handmade gifts ($5.50). Use it to mark jars of homemade jam or granola.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My what a cute saucer you have!

The next time you have friends over for tea, spruce up your tea service with this fairy-tale finery. I found this cup and saucer duo by Decole online via From Japan With Love.

You can also find this design at Japanese Gift Market, with the matching teapot. Adorable!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Whimsical Party Hats

For all of us birthday babies born nine months after Valentine's day, our celebrations can sometimes get lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle. Lend some charm to your favorite fall fĂȘte with party hats from The Polka Dot Pinwheel on Etsy. Below, and even cuter, are these pinwheels, which can come personalized for your party and theme. These certainly inspire me to make a trip to the paper store to stock up on new styles and ribbon for some paper crafts of my own.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cake Stand Love - Whitney Smith Pottery

Cake stands are truly a favorite here at Host-It Notes. There's no better way to dress up a dish than to put it on a pedestal. In the future you can expect a regular parade of cake stands galore. First up, this avian artistry by Whitney Smith Pottery. What better way to indulge?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pilgrim Nation

Martha Stewart is the master. Not every thanksgiving table has to be topped with the usual cornucopia, or even a selection of squash. This ingenious setting is recommended for kids, but who can resist it at any age? It's a nod to the Mayflower lets you celebrate the pilgrims without having to don the bonnets and over-sized buckles we usually associate with them.

You can find a template for the centerpiece as well as instructions for these adorable boat place cards online at Martha Stewart. For those coveting the map tablecloth, head to for a great selection of vintage maps, or find one you like online and have it enlarged and printed for the occasion.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thanksgiving Inspiration - Take 2

Country Living online has a muted Thanksgiving tablescape on display. Dried corn encircled with twine makes a simple and elegant seasonal centerpiece. Linens can be hand-stenciled with phrases of gratitude for family and friends or the things you are most thankful for this year. What really caught my eye was the wooden bucket used to chill wine at the table. Below are a few bowls to help you create a similar look in your home.

My top pick is this Thomas O'Brien bowl from Target. At a mere $19.89, it offers great style for your money.

Crate and Barrel's Mango Wood Salad Bowl ($39.95) might be a little over-sized, but trust me when I say this is a piece you need to own. I received this as a wedding gift and have fallen head-over-heels for this sleek, sexy, well-designed bowl.

Finally, has this little number for those looking for a more shallow container ($38.99).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thanksgiving Inspiration

The weather is finally getting crisp in San Francisco, and it's time for Host-It Notes to accept reality: the holidays are here. I find myself turning to the web for a bit of Thanksgiving inspiration. First up, Yankee Magazine's buttery-brown holiday table. Stylist Matthew Mead overturned a long tin box to create a raised centerpiece down the table then topped it with bittersweet and roses. I love his use of gourds and persimmons throughout, particularly the cheeky persimmon perched on a low candlestick. Below is a mantel in the same theme. The richly colored glass bottle adds varied texture and style to the scene. What really works in this scene are the varied heights drawing your attention in and up. After the guests are gone, it's time to recycle your decor and bake some fresh persimmon cookies. (Photos by Francine Zaslow)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Future (of paint) Is Here

Now this is what I've been waiting for!! The other day I was pondering one of my favorite things: place cards (naturally...don't we all sit around thinking about place cards? no?). I'd seen some lovely ceramic ones while on a wine country trip. You could write on them with dry-erase markers, which made them pleasantly reusable. However, their grapevine theme wasn't versatile enough to fit all of my entertaining needs. What a shame, I thought, that everything can't be dry erase! But it seems I spoke too soon. I'm happy to say I've discovered Idea Paint, a miraculous new product that turns anything you can paint into a dry-erase surface. Aside from my obvious need for an entire wall of dry-erase paint to play with, think of the possibilities! Using this I could make reusable name cards out of anything, paint a square on the outside of the cups my guests drink from, write birthday messages on a wall at a child's birthday party, even paint re-giftable label areas on beautiful boxes for my holiday gift wrapping. Thank you, Idea Paint, you truly made my day.

Party Inspiration - got milk? Chocolate

Sometimes the littlest things can be the biggest inspiration for your next party. Last weekend I attended the rather lackluster Fabulous Food Festival in San Francisco. After perusing aisles of the usual olive oils and sauces (each requiring a taste, of course!) I had resigned myself to disappointment until I stumbled onto the Bridge Brands Chocolate booth. There I found sippable sweets in the form of these got milk? Chocolate Flavored Straws. Each straw is filled with tiny balls of cocoa that turn your daily dose of calcium into chocolatey goodness as you drink.

What's the big idea, you say? These straws are just perfect for kids. One look at them and I knew I had to start planning a cookies & milk party for kids and adults alike. In the meantime, I'll be stuffing a few lucky stockings with these this year. Happy sipping!

10 Hostess Gifts Under $20

Holiday parties are here--and the chic guest never arrives empty-handed. Rather than settle for the last-minute, dusty bottle of wine from the corner deli, stock up on these great gift ideas. They are the ultimate way to say thank you.

#1) State of Mind - No matter where you are from, these state-themed dish towels are almost too cute to use. Designed by Catstudio™, I found mine online at Neiman Marcus ($20). You can find more designs and products by city, region and country at Catstudio online.

#2) Light it Up - I couldn't stop at just one when I picked up these match boxes. At less than $3 a piece, the price is right for pairing with a simple candle. Being from San Francisco, I naturally couldn't resist the SF themed box, but my real favorite is the Birdie Brand Love Matches (shown here). For more head to

#3) Put Your Stamp on It - Paperwink's rubber stamps make corresponding a cinch. Plan ahead to customize one with your host's address. All super-affordable, with several under $20, these stamps are just the ticket for a housewarming party.

#4) Lock it in - For a gift that simple (and shiny!), give Stat Key Company's Designer Keys. These nickel chrome key blanks can be cut at any hardware store, relegating your original keys to spare status. I heart this one ($11), but stock up on styles that fit your friends' personalities.

#5) A Real Gem - I discovered these doorknob-sized wine stoppers in bold gem-toned colors on a recent wine country tour and kicked myself for not snapping them up on sight. Luckily these beauties can be found online at Amber Marie & Company ($16.99). They display the clear, ruby and amethyst versions, but it's the emerald and cobalt toppers I covet.

#6) I Like You Too - Don't be fooled by its kitschy illustrations. I LIKE YOU ($15.99) is a guide to entertaining that is full of solid advice and recipes for any hostess. Comedienne and domestic goddess Amy Sedaris (of Strangers With Candy fame) brings her quirky brand of humor to the table. My favorite tip: "Try filling your medicine cabinet with marbles. Nothing announces a nosy partygoer more successfully than an avalanche of marbles striking a porcelain sink."

#7) Rainbow Bright - Celebrating early? Give your host these adorable Rainbow Village holiday cards ($14) by Rock Scissor Paper via Fred Flare with enough time to send them out for the holidays. Then check your mailbox to see if you made the list.

#8) Seasons Readings - While you're there, fill your cart with this personal library kit ($20) by Knock Knock. Your guybrarian host or smarty-pants hostess will swoon. The kit includes adhesive pockets, insert cards, and a date stamp--making it all the easier to borrow that cookbook of theirs you've been hungering for.

#9) Measure Up - For true domestic bliss, gift your hostess with these Baker's Bliss Measuring Spoons ($18) from Anthropologie. Just be sure to get a bite of whatever treats are whipped up with these sweet spoons.

#10) Bird is the Word - At $24 this doesn't quite meet my price requirements, but I'm taking the liberty to make it my honorable mention. These silver-plated origami cranes from Gump's can display name cards, label buffet dishes, or hold some of your favorite photos. I haven't loved cranes this much since I cried over Sadako in grade school.

When word gets around these are the gifts you're packing, you'll be at the top of everyone's guest list in the new year.

Let's Get This Party Started!

Host-It Notes is a collection of tips and inspirations for the hostess entertaining at home or throwing a party for friends. Every day I'll try to feature products I like, parties that rock, or the latest DIY desire. Throwing a big bash yourself? I'd love to see how it went! Just send an email with a few pictures to Thanks, and I hope you find something here that makes your next party special.


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