Category Archives: entertaining

Free Christmas Music Playlist

Earlier this week I was sharing some of my party tips that I’ve used in the past. I mentioned how important music is to a party. It’s kind of a no brainer but I have been to several parties where there have been no music playing. And I think it’s the easiest thing to do to change a mood. I have music on in the background most days. Especially if I’m working in my kitchen I would much rather listen to music then have the TV on.

clever christmas

 

I am a big fan of spotify and I have shared a playlist for Thanksgiving in the past. Here is one for Christmas. Maybe it has some Christmas tunes on there that you may have not heard yet. Download it and play it this holiday season and feel free to pass it on. Spotify makes it easy to share on your favorite social channels. I think the one album that brings back my childhood Christmases is the Carpenters Christmas album. My parents had the record and we played that every season of my childhood. I hope if you’re entertaining this weekend that this music will lighten the mood and put everybody in a fun festive spirit!

xo

Happy weekend friends!

Tracie Stoll is a wife, mom and has a passion for creating new things. On her blog Cleverlyinspired.com she is constantly sharing ways to inspire her readers to be clever in their own home. Since 2010 Tracie has been sharing DIY projects, crafting, remodeling and decorating along with some easy tasty recipes…all on a mindful budget. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton where she studied visual art and communications. Tracie has been featured on popular sites such as Country Living, CNN living, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, Huffington Post, Apartment Therapy, Seventeen and Design Sponge. She is also a member of the True Value Blog Squad & Martha’s Circle of trusted bloggers.

10 no-fail Entertaining Tips (Holiday Entertaining Ideas)

Hi all! Hope you had a restful and filling Thanksgiving weekend and start to your holiday season. I enjoyed a nice break from the blog and most technology….only plugging in a couple times a day. Nice to have a break! I am certainly NOT Martha when it comes to entertaining….I take a pretty casual approach to things. But I have been having friends and family over for the better part of 20 years….so I wanted to share a few things I have learned along the way that may make it easier for you—if you are looking at hosting your first holiday shin-dig…If you have any tips and tricks to add…we would love to hear them…be sure to comment below:)

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And these are in no particular order….

1. Music: I think that music can make or break a get together. When you are having friends over who may not all know each other…the common thread of music gets the party started. It is an ice breaker…a conversation point…and a mood changer. I normally log into my Spotify account and create a playlist based on the mood of the party. Many of you like my Thanksgiving playlist…and I am going to be sharing a Christmas playlist too later this week. Set up a Bluetooth speaker so that friends can pair up their music too. Always a hit! (I know…don’t you love my ipad stand….:)

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2. Fresh flowers…..they are hard to beat. Something as simple as a “managers special” at your local grocery store…along with some babies breath. Not a lot of expense for a huge payoff:)10 no-fail entertaining tips @cleverlyinspired (6)

3. Menu card. Friends who have allergies….picky family members….nosy party goers….the menu card keeps the question out of “what are we eating?” It also starts conversations. Always a good thing.10 no-fail entertaining tips @cleverlyinspired (3)

4. Drink station. This cuts down on traffic flow issues. If your space is tight…and you want to be sure people move around the space….place the bar on a cart in a separate spot. I used a corner of my kitchen that was away from the fridge. Getting out all the clean glasses, ice bucket, ice, bottle openers, and napkins encourages folks to help themselves.10 no-fail entertaining tips @cleverlyinspired (8)

5. Repurpose some of your favorite pieces for serving ware. I like to pull out some of my favorite things and put it to work. This silver picture with some tissue paper is perfect for holding plastic forks and knives. Nice drinking glasses can double as votive candle holders. Collecting a bunch of candlesticks in various sizes grouped together is a perfect centerpiece for a serving area or a table. No need to go out and buy something new just make what you have fit the festivities. Holiday ribbon goes really far by just tying it on to some of your favorite things. Those pieces immediately fit together!

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6. Let people help. There’s no sense in doing all the work yourself if your friends and family are offering to help. It helps to share the load. You’re the one getting the house all clean…so getting help with some of the food or beverages is a great way to lighten your load.

7. Place post-it notes or note cards into special serving trays to let you know what is going where. The more work that you can do ahead of time the less frazzled you will feel on the day of your party.10 no-fail entertaining tips @cleverlyinspired (7)

 

8. One signature cocktail is really all you need to make the party feel just a little bit more festive. For Christmas you can freeze some fresh cranberries or red grapes. Plop one into a champagne flute and top with a favorite cocktail recipes. It looks so festive and it took you no time at all.

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9. A favor or parting gift does not have to be anything very elaborate or expensive. I have done several in the past that I can make several weeks ahead of time and just have them ready to go. I think it’s nice to send a friend off with a little something to remember the night by. (Here is a bunch I have done in the past…easy!)entertaining tips @cleverlyinspired (1)

10. Lastly and yet most importantly make this be your mantra… People will not remember what you are wearing or how your house looks or if you had brand new wine glasses or the perfectly pressed napkins but they will remember how you made them feel in your home. Make them feel relaxed…make them feel warm…make them feel welcome…because that is what it is all about!:)

xo

Tracie Stoll is a wife, mom and has a passion for creating new things. On her blog Cleverlyinspired.com she is constantly sharing ways to inspire her readers to be clever in their own home. Since 2010 Tracie has been sharing DIY projects, crafting, remodeling and decorating along with some easy tasty recipes…all on a mindful budget. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton where she studied visual art and communications. Tracie has been featured on popular sites such as Country Living, CNN living, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, Huffington Post, Apartment Therapy, Seventeen and Design Sponge. She is also a member of the True Value Blog Squad & Martha’s Circle of trusted bloggers.

Grown Up Iced Coffee with Absolut

We had our first snow day this week. It was actually rather nice….everyone slept in—except Stella of course:) Snow days on a Monday are about as good as a Friday snow day:) When my kids were younger…snow days meant lots of work for me. The sleds…the wet clothes…the fourteen cups of coco…endless loop of Disney channel. Don’t get me wrong, I loved most of it…it is why I wouldn’t trade my job for any other job on earth. But these snow days ….that sometimes go on and on (like last winter thanks to the polar vortex)…at the end of the day…Momma may need a little way to relax. This little cocktail may be a nice way to end your day…next to a roaring fire…with your comfy pants on. grown up iced coffee #absolutWarhol @cleverlyinspired (3)

 

My friends at Absolut would love for you to take a look at their new Limited Edition Warhol bottle for your grown up parties this holiday. Have the moms in your neighborhood over after a long day of sledding and snow fun and pull out this cocktail to celebrate the season. (drink responsibly mates:)grown up iced coffee #absolutWarhol @cleverlyinspired (1)

 

This bottle is available now for a limited time. It is the perfect addition to your bar…and will get the conversation started;) It is the perfect Pop of color for your bar too! Search up #absolutWarhol for some fabulous inspiration!

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Grown Up Iced Coffee with Absolut
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ¼ C strong brewed coffee
  • ½ C (or more to taste) of milk
  • 1 shot Absolut Vodka
  • dash of amaretto
Instructions
  1. Brew coffee and set in fridge for 5 minutes.
  2. Fill rocks glass with ice.
  3. Pour in Coffee, vodka and amaretto.
  4. Top with milk. Stir and enjoy!

 

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Smooth, creamy and just the hint of naughty:) Stay warm friends!

xo

 

I am a brand ambassador for companies that create products and services that target my readership.  I work with Social Spark and Clever Girls, along with individual companies. I will always be mindful of your time and needs…and keep with the mission of CleverlyInspired; which is to inspire you to be clever in your own home. I appreciate your understanding. I have been compensated for my time, however all opinions and thoughts , photos & errors are 100% mine;)

Tracie Stoll is a wife, mom and has a passion for creating new things. On her blog Cleverlyinspired.com she is constantly sharing ways to inspire her readers to be clever in their own home. Since 2010 Tracie has been sharing DIY projects, crafting, remodeling and decorating along with some easy tasty recipes…all on a mindful budget. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton where she studied visual art and communications. Tracie has been featured on popular sites such as Country Living, CNN living, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, Huffington Post, Apartment Therapy, Seventeen and Design Sponge. She is also a member of the True Value Blog Squad & Martha’s Circle of trusted bloggers.

Thanksgiving Cheese Ball

We woke up to a few inches of snow here…and our first snow day from school. Seems a bit early, no? I don’t remember ever having a snow day this early in the school year. Check out instagram to see Stella’s first walk in the snow….hilarious. I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I know that many of you are getting ready for the big turkey day….and I wanted to share one more great appetizer to serve up to your guest….Have a great Monday friends:)

Realizing that this is my 2nd cheese post within the last couple weeks….love me some cheese:) Cheese ball & holiday’s….it’s like peanut butter and jelly….bacon & eggs….mac & cheese…you get the point…. I used to love going to the mall during the holidays and seeing that big Hickory Farms kiosk…..guarantee sausage sample….It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Sausage and cheese….hellllooooo:) So in the spirit of the big day of turkey…I thought I would create a turkey shaped cheese ball. It is so fun to play with food:) You can obviously make this into any shape you desire…..go play….Thanksgiving cheese ball @cleverlyinspired (2)

I bought a box of kitchen gloves…and I use them all the time for recipes like this….getting cheese out of nails=not fun at all…..

 

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Combine everything except the bacon. Make a basic turkey head by shaping the body and then a small ball for the head. Roll the entire thing in bacon….wax paper makes for  quick cleanup:)

 

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I used 3 kinds of crackers to create a “feather” effect.

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Thanksgiving Cheese Ball
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 C shredded smoked gouda
  • 1 T chives
  • dash of tabasco
  • ⅓ C bacon chopped or bacon bits
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except bacon.
  2. Form into turkey head
  3. Roll in bacon (spread bacon on wax paper for easy clean up)
  4. When ready to serve, place crackers in "feather" shape and cheese in the center.

 

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You can make it ahead and then just place the crackers on before guest arrive:) Try not to say gobble gobble to much:) (recipe adapted from RachelRay)

xo

Tracie Stoll is a wife, mom and has a passion for creating new things. On her blog Cleverlyinspired.com she is constantly sharing ways to inspire her readers to be clever in their own home. Since 2010 Tracie has been sharing DIY projects, crafting, remodeling and decorating along with some easy tasty recipes…all on a mindful budget. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton where she studied visual art and communications. Tracie has been featured on popular sites such as Country Living, CNN living, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, Huffington Post, Apartment Therapy, Seventeen and Design Sponge. She is also a member of the True Value Blog Squad & Martha’s Circle of trusted bloggers.

Rustic Thanksgiving Table & DIY candles

Talk about one-stop shopping! With Thanksgiving and holiday entertaining coming up, I wanted to create a beautiful yet simple DIY centerpiece with common household items. I think I succeeded! To make this tablescape, you’ll need just a few things from your local True Value hardware and grocery stores, but other than that it’s an inexpensive, rustic and easy table to put together. While I used an assortment of vegetables and candles, you could really use anything you wish. I think tablescapes can often be kind of intimidating because all we see is the end result, but I created a gif below to show you how I went about putting this one together and you’ll see building blocks is all it is…building one thing upon another. Here is how I created this rustic table…perfect for your fall entertaining :)

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For my table, I picked up a few cabbages, oranges, pomegranates, eggplant, squash, sweet potatoes and a 2 lb. bag of lima beans. Some good additions would be pumpkins, cranberries and apples. Of course you definitely need some mood lighting. I added candles of all shapes and sizes using votives, tapers and some DIY candles too.

 

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I cut a small round hole in the cabbage and oranges and scooped out some of the “guts” so that my votives would sit inside. Tearing off the outer layers of the cabbage makes a perfect little vessel for a votive candle. I think the key is just adding layers. Starting with a clean, wide open table, add in some inexpensive kraft paper, which you can find in the paint prep area of your local True Value. Add in some height with cake platters. Upside down vases also work great. Start with the biggest vegetable, working down to the smallest. For mine, I placed the squash than added the eggplant, cabbages, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, oranges and finished up by scattering the lima beans. I love the varied texture and colors that all the different vegetables bring together. (click on this picture below to see how I arranged from start to finish)

tablescape[4]

Start with a clean wide open table, add in some inexpensive craft paper, which you can find in the paint prep area at True Value. Add in some height with cake platters, or upside down vases also work great. Start with the biggest vegetable, working down to the smallest. For mine, I placed the squash than added the eggplant, cabbages, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, oranges and finished up by scattering the lima beans. I love the varied texture and colors that all the different vegetables have together.

 

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Mixing in some more elegant candlesticks against all the rustic tones makes it feel casual and thrown together but with purpose.

 

 

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These simple oil lamps make great use of different size jars (how-to below!). You just want to make sure that the washer fits on the top because that is what’s going to hold your wick. These wicks make great use of wine bottles also:) I like the fact that this tablescape is really no fuss; it could be used for a Thanksgiving buffet or a sit down dinner, and when you’re done you can use all your vegetables. Win win!

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To make these DIY oil candles, you will need:

· 3/8th inch size washers

· Cotton roping (I buy this cotton wick material online)

· Lamp thread kit (1/8th inch sold at True Value in the lamp repair area)

· Lamp nuts (1/8th nut)

· Clear lamp oil

· A bottle with an opening that is no wider than your washer. I found these vinegar glass jars at my local Dollar Tree, but a wine bottle also works.

 

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The bottles that I bought said “vinegar” on the side, so to hide the words on the side I used some kraft paper and double sided tape to wrap the bottles. Burlap ribbon would also be great! I would suggest that you take the washers with you when you’re looking for the glass bottle that you want to use.

*Caution* The wax rests on the top of the bottle, so always keep your eye on the candle and do not leave it unattended. You can read more about fire safety precautions here.

 

 

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The washer sits in between the two nuts and threads onto the lamp rod. The cotton wick goes up through the middle.What I love about these DIY candles is that they make use of an old bottle…plus you can make as many as you need! They are so pretty all lined up on a table.

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Putting together a casual rustic table is easier than you thought right?? So just add these things to your Thanksgiving list…and your shopping will be done!

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xo

I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Tracie Stoll is a wife, mom and has a passion for creating new things. On her blog Cleverlyinspired.com she is constantly sharing ways to inspire her readers to be clever in their own home. Since 2010 Tracie has been sharing DIY projects, crafting, remodeling and decorating along with some easy tasty recipes…all on a mindful budget. She is a graduate of the University of Dayton where she studied visual art and communications. Tracie has been featured on popular sites such as Country Living, CNN living, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, Huffington Post, Apartment Therapy, Seventeen and Design Sponge. She is also a member of the True Value Blog Squad & Martha’s Circle of trusted bloggers.
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