Party planning on 660News

I had a blast talking holiday hosting with Cindy White at 660News

Happy hosting!

Party planning on 660News

Party planning on 660News, part two

Holiday hosting made easy with etiquette expert Karen Cleveland and Jackson-Triggs

by Irene Seiberling

I love Christmas! Do you realize it’s just over two months away? It’ll be here before we know it.

So, I did a little online Christmas shopping before heading to work this morning. And I’ve already extended invitations to family and friends for festive get-togethers, so they could mark them on their calendars before they get completely booked up.

‘Tis the season to entertain. I always appreciate tips that make hosting: holiday gatherings easy. So this media release  from Jackson-Triggs piqued my interest. It shows us how to channel our inner host with expert advice from hosting guru Karen Cleveland.

Here’s the release:

The holiday season is upon us and we all know that means: holiday parties, and lots of them! While guests have it made, hosts have some work to do. Jackson-Triggs has collaborated with hosting expert Karen Cleveland to create the ultimate holiday hosting guide, sure to help any host – first-time or experienced – to create the ultimate holiday experience for their guests.

“I was inspired by the challenges I’ve faced as a host when entertaining over the holiday season,” says hosting expert Karen Cleveland, who works for St. Joseph Media by day. “We’ve created an easy to follow guide that can help even a novice host sparkle and deliver a holiday experience their guests won’t soon forget.”

 A Selection of Tips from the Jackson-Triggs Guide to Hosting

• List everything you need to buy and set mini deadlines for getting it all. If any of the prep work can be done early, get it all out of the way.

• When stocking up, scope out the boxed wine selection too. They’re a cinch if you’re pre-pouring a few trays of wine to have ready as guests arrive.

• Don’t stress about decor – keep it basic. Try all white with tons of greenery like magnolia and boxwood. They last and look great without being overdone.

• Anticipate guests’ arrival by having music on, wine pre-poured, snacks ready – like cheese, and a place for coats, accessories, and boots.

• Don’t be a slave to the party. Freshen food and guests’ glass throughout the night, but remember to get out and enjoy your own party!

• Last but not least, plan your revelry! Take some unabashed relaxation time the next day to put your feet up and bask in your hosting success.

“Above all, my best piece of advice is to keep it simple,” says Karen Cleveland. “Hosting with ease is the name of the game. Boxed wine is a logical choice for entertaining over the holidays, whether you’re planning one big hurrah or a few smaller parties.”

Five great reasons to consider boxed wine over the holidays:

• Value. It holds more than 5 bottles and still costs less.

• Convenience. It is easy to open and fits nicely into the fridge or pantry.

• Less packaging. Only 1 bag vs. 5 bottles.

• Portability. It’s easy to carry, without glass or bulky bottles to worry about.

• Freshness. Boxed wine stays fresh for up to 6 weeks.

With Jackson-Triggs guide to hosting, guests will look back days after the party and remember one thing: the gracious host. What more could any one ask for?

For a full list of Karen Cleveland’s hosting tips,  visit: http://pinterest.com/jacksontriggs/hosting-tips-a-toast-to-the-host

Follow Irene Seiberling on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ISeiberling

(First published in The Leader Post, October 2012)

Five Unique Hostess Gifts For That Last Summer Invite

There’s no more avoiding the obvious: the last weekend of summer is looming. Hopefully the past few months held long, languorous days devoted to soaking up the sun in good company. If a trip away for Labour Day weekend is in the cards, bringing along something nice for your host could keep you as a guest in good standing.

Flowers or a great bottle of wine are always good, safe bets, but if you’re jockeying to be top of mind for the first long weekend invite for next spring, it might be time to stock some other gifts.

Books

  • Nothing says unabashed relaxation more than being horizontal with a book. If you know your host well enough, you could pick up a display-worthy coffee table book on a topic they are into. If you know them intimately and think they share your taste in literature, you could pick up copies of some of your favourite reads.

 

Magazines For The Year

  • Magazine subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving. If you have a sense of what they read and subscribe to, you could bring the latest issue of a magazine with a note explaining that you’ve arranged for year’s subscription.

Food

  • Foods that can be lazily grazed on are perfect because they don’t impede your host’s planned menu or cramp their kitchen. Bring along fresh baked goods to add to tomorrow’s breakfast table, or visit a great patisserie for treats — like fresh marshmallows and macaroons — that will last for a few days. Buy twice the amount and you’ll even have excellent snacks for the drive….

Booze

  • Not to knock the ubiquitous bottle of wine, but there are boundless options when it comes to boozy gifts. Bring along the ingredients for a classic cocktail (Negronis are my favourite) and a classic shaker, or find a gorgeous pitcher and whip up a few batches of sangria. Just ensure you’ve brought all the ingredients to keep out of your host’s hair.

Coffee and tea

  • Put together a basket of some freshly ground high-end coffee and some gorgeous teas. It could also be packaged prettily into a teapot or a French press — salvation for a die-hard coffee drinker should they find themselves a guest in the home of a non-coffee drinking host.

(Published first on The Huffington Post Canada, August 2012)

Travel Tips: 5 Expert Bring-Your-Own-Wine (BYOW) Tips at Restaurants

Restaurant bring-your-own-wine (BYOW) policies for patrons continues to spread across Canada (welcome to the club, British Columbia), with some savvy venues enticing diners with reduced corkage fees, or sometimes waiving them entirely.

Considering wine markups at most restaurants, this could save customers a bundle, though it puts a twist conventional wine service.

Here are some etiquette tips for bringing along your own bottle:

  1. Do some digging to avoid bringing a bottle that is already on the restaurant’s wine list.
  2. Feel free to ask for your server to decant or put your bottle on ice, though dropping it off earlier in the day might be wise if it requires serious chilling.
  3. Consider putting your server’s pairing prowess to good use for choosing pre-dinner aperitifs or a dessert wines.
  4. As a courtesy, offer to pour a taste from your bottle for the restaurant’s sommelier or your server.
  5. When calculating gratuity on your bill, account for the corkage fee. If the restaurant charges a $30 corkage fee and you are planning a 20 per cent tip, consider adding an additional $6 in gratuity. If the corkage fee is waived entirely (lucky you!) tip based on what the retail value of the bottle would be if it were on the restaurant’s wine list.

(First published for Where, August 2012)

Five Unique Hostess Gifts For That Last Summer Invite

There’s no more avoiding the obvious: the last weekend of summer is looming. Hopefully the past few months held long, languorous days devoted to soaking up the sun in good company. If a trip away for Labour Day weekend is in the cards, bringing along something nice for your host could keep you as a guest in good standing.

Flowers or a great bottle of wine are always good, safe bets, but if you’re jockeying to be top of mind for the first long weekend invite for next spring, it might be time to stock some other gifts.

Books

  • Nothing says unabashed relaxation more than being horizontal with a book. If you know your host well enough, you could pick up a display-worthy coffee table book on a topic they are into. If you know them intimately and think they share your taste in literature, you could pick up copies of some of your favourite reads.

Magazines For The Year

  • Magazine subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving. If you have a sense of what they read and subscribe to, you could bring the latest issue of a magazine with a note explaining that you’ve arranged for year’s subscription.

Food

  • Foods that can be lazily grazed on are perfect because they don’t impede your host’s planned menu or cramp their kitchen. Bring along fresh baked goods to add to tomorrow’s breakfast table, or visit a great patisserie for treats — like fresh marshmallows and macaroons — that will last for a few days. Buy twice the amount and you’ll even have excellent snacks for the drive….

Booze

  • Not to knock the ubiquitous bottle of wine, but there are boundless options when it comes to boozy gifts. Bring along the ingredients for a classic cocktail (Negronis are my favourite) and a classic shaker, or find a gorgeous pitcher and whip up a few batches of sangria. Just ensure you’ve brought all the ingredients to keep out of your host’s hair.

Coffee and tea

  • Put together a basket of some freshly ground high-end coffee and some gorgeous teas. It could also be packaged prettily into a teapot or a French press — salvation for a die-hard coffee drinker should they find themselves a guest in the home of a non-coffee drinking host.

(Published first on The Huffington Post Canada, August 2012)