May 2019


Like many people, you may enjoy entertaining. However, you may also be interested in planning gatherings that are a bit more informal, do not require a full meal, and yet feature classy, even elegant, tablescape. There are some solid design ideas you should consider employing to craft and create a stunning tablescape for a perfect wine, dessert, and cheese gathering.

Emphasize the Beautiful Bounty of Nature

In many ways, wine, cheese, and, in many ways even desserts, illustrate the bounty of nature. As a result, when it comes to designing an ideal tablescape, you should seriously consider emphasizing the nature’s bounty.

By way of example, you literally can use wine bottles of carafes, cheeses, and desserts as the focus of the tablescape itself. Oftentimes in creating a tablescape, the food is something to be inserted among the decorations. In the case of a tablescape for a wine, cheese, and dessert gathering, the items served become the focal point of the tablescape design itself.

The wine, cheese, and dessert served at the function can be augmented by other items that underscore the bounty of nature. For example, fruits can be added as adornment to the tablescape to carry forth the theme of nature’s abundance and to add a splash of color to the tablescape.

Large bowels can be added to the tablescape that contain fruits like apples, peaches, pears, and other items. Additional bowels can be included on the tablescape for placement of berries and grapes.

Include Mood Lighting in the Tablescape

The reality is that a wine, cheese, and dessert gathering becomes even a greater hit when lighting is included into the mix. A tablescape for a wine, cheese, and dessert function needs appropriate lighting to enhance its overall ambiance

The room where the tablescape is being placed is likely to have overhead lighting. For a wine, cheese, and dessert party, avoiding the use of overhead lighting if at all possible usually is a wise decisions. There are some exceptions to this suggestion. Nonetheless, in most instances, overhead lighting tends to the harshest type if lighting. A wine, cheese, and dessert gather tablescape calls from a softer lighting scheme.

Candles provide a perfect solution when it comes to illuminating a tablescape for a wine, cheese, and dessert gathering. Candles can be utilized in a number of highly effective ways with this type of tablescape.

Small tea light candles can be situated next to each place setting. A variety of candles of different sizes can be scattered around the table and tablescape to add suitable illumination and add to the lovely appearance of the setting.

Because you will be serving wine, you need to make certain that the lighting choices you make are suitable to properly illuminate the wine being served. When wine is a focus of an event, three elements associated with service come into play. Of course, these include smell and taste. However, the third element is the appearance of the wine itself.

Know How to Use Neutral Shades

As mentioned previously, using the wine, cheeses, and desserts as the true focus of a tablescape works beautifully for this type of function. As a result, in considering the foundation for the tablescape for this type of event, you are usually wise to consider neutral colors.

In developing the foundation for a tablescape for a wine, cheese, and dessert gathering, consider very basic table linens in white, ochre, or tan. Depending on the other design items you will be incorporating into the tablescape, different shades of gray may be suitable. Black may also work as well, in very specific instances.

Add a Splash of Color

Once you lay the neutral color foundation for your wine, cheese, and dessert party tablescape, you can add items here and there to the tablescape that will add a dash of vibrant color. Of course, as was noted a moment ago, the color of the wine will be part of the dashes of color on the tablescape. The desserts may also assist in this category. As was also noted, fruits can add a dash of color to the tablescape.

You can round out the addition of color splashes to the tablescape through the specific candles used for the setting. You may add a few other elements of color through place cards or even a floral arrangement included as part of the tablescape.

Creative Place Cards for Guests

You can round out a tablescape for a wine, cheese, and dessert function with the addition of creative place cards for guests. The sky’s the limit when it comes to place cards at this type of function. The focus needs to be on utility and how the place cards follow and even enhance the theme already selected for the tablescape.

Jessica Kane writes for TIPS Alcohol Training, offering TIPS responsible alcohol service training online for both on and off premise needs.

Forgot someone on your list?  Don’t worry! These last-minute gifts look thoughtful and with a little arranging, beautiful, too!  

We’ve all been there– you’re on your way to a party or family get-together, and you suddenly realize that you forgot to buy a gift for someone!  Or perhaps you MEANT to get the gift, but life just got in the way!

Don’t panic, friend.  We’ve got some last-last-last minute gift ideas to help save the day.  Our goal was to make everything purchase-able at most well-stocked grocery stores or immediately available online.  We think we did a pretty good job, but the proof is in the pudding– if you try one of our ideas, please let us know how it went!

When choosing teas for a Wellness Gift Basket, boxes of bagged teas are convenient.  However, loose-leaf teas give an extra touch of elegance when packaged in clear cellophane bags.  Image courtesy of Pexels.   

Wellness Gift Basket or Care Package 

Often the first thing to go during the busy holiday season is our self-care, and with it, our wellness.  This gift basket should be easy enough to put together in any well-stocked grocery store, hopefully with a homeopathic section to their cough & cold aisle.  To contain everything, double-up a gift bag or– if you have a REALLY cool grocery store and want to make an impression– nab a small pot or large-ish mixing bowl.  

First, hit up the canned soup aisle.  Grab a couple of cans of really good-quality higher-end canned soups that the gift recipient wouldn’t likely spend the money to purchase themselves.  We find that Amy’s organic canned soups are easily found, but Wolfgang Puck and Emeril are also great choices. We recommend a vegetable and bean soup plus a really unique soup you don’t think your gift recipient has tried yet.  

Next, pop over to the cough & cold aisle.  The goal here is not to pick up medicine, but to pick up immunity boosters– we want to avoid medicine here because you don’t want to give them something that might interact with any prescriptions they’re taking.  The immunity boosters shouldn’t do that. (If you’re worried, just skip this part.) We recommend Umka–particularly the powdered drink mix, which is also the cheapest version– which lessens the severity of colds and flus, shortens their duration, and helps fight that fuzzy-headed feeling without caffeine.  If your grocery store doesn’t sell Umka, try Sambucol or Zycam.  

Then head to the tea aisle.  Ideally, you’ll want to grab an elderberry or tulsi (also knowns as holy basil) tea to continue that immunity-boosting trend.  If you can’t find that, you can grab echinacea tea (unless your gift recipient has an underactive thyroid– then avoid it, because echinacea stops the body from absorbing the medicine).  To help combat stress, look for chamomile or kava kava tea. We also recommend a hibiscus tea for its gorgeous ruby color and blood-cleansing properties (it’s also great as an iced tea).  

If you have some extra time, it’s worth it to go to a specialty tea shop and select a few beautiful types of loose-leaf tea.  Ask the proprietor to help you select a few herbal blends, and then re-package the tea in clear cellophane bags to show them off.  Be sure to include a tea strainer in a cute shape, such as a star or little house. We’ve even seen them as spoons!  

Finally, in the bath & body section nab some shower melts to help combat congestion.  We really like the Aura Cacia Eucalyptus shower melts– they last about 10 minutes and are just like using a vapor rub but without the stickiness and burning sensation.  While there, grab a bath bomb or two in a similar scent vein or a bright and happy citrus blend. If you can’t find either of these things, Dr. Teals or Village Naturals both make highly-scented eucalyptus bath salts.  

Feel free to add extras, such as vitamin C tablets, face masks, or a high-quality oil-based lip balm such as Desert Essence (made for harsh conditions). 

Creative types love a diy gift, so why not make it a diy that helps them pamper themselves?  Image courtesy of Pexels.

An I-Made-It-Myself Gift Basket

If you’re not doing this last-last-LAST minute, giving them a gift basket with the recipe and materials to create something for themselves is a great idea for creative types.  We found that a lot of these ideas were already sold as kits, but the kits are marketed for teens and often contain sub-par perfumes and moisturizers.  All of these ingredients should be found at well-stocked grocery stores or even Wal-Mart and Target.

First, head to the personal care section and grab a large bag of unscented Epsom salts– aim for 6 lbs if possible.  Since the aromatherapy section is usually there too, grab a selection of essential oils– popular ones include lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, orange, and cinnamon.  We recommend starting with anywhere between 2 and 4, which gives them a variety of combinations.  Grab a bottle of witch hazel and then head to the cleaning or baking section and grab two boxes of baking powder and one box of cornstarch.  Next, locate the pickling section and pick up two bottles of citric acid.  In the oil and vinegar section, grab a bottle of scentless oil– we like grapeseed, sunflower seed or safflower oil.  Finally– and this might be a stretch– try to locate a flexible silicone ice cube tray.  If you can’t find that, grab some disposable muffin tins.

All of these ingredients are everything a person needs to make bath salts, bath bombs, and shower melts!

We’ve included the basic recipes here, but we recommend either printing them out in a pretty font or hand-writing them on some nice paper–leftover or rogue pieces of stationary are excellent for this.  Alternatively, take any leftover holiday cards– or ones saved from last year– and cut the cover (the part with the pretty picture) off.  Often, the inside of the cover is blank, and perfect to reuse for writing these recipes.

Bath Bomb Recipe: ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup cornstarch, ¼ cup Epsom salts, ¼ cup citric acid, 3-4 Tblsp oil, 20-30 drops total of essential oils, a spray bottle full of witch hazel.  First mix the dry ingredients together– careful, because the citric acid can make you cough!  Next, mix the oils together.  Drizzle over the dry ingredients and mix well– hands or a fork work best.  Mist the mixture with the witch hazel– 3 spritzes at a time– until it’s damp enough to hold together when you grab a handful.  Then pack the mixture into the silicone ice cube tray (tamp it down VERY well) and mist again with witch hazel.  Let dry overnight (longer if the weather is damp).  Carefully pop out the bath bombs and store in an airtight container!

Shower Melts Recipe: 1 cup of baking soda, ⅓ cup citric acid, 20-25 drops total of essential oils, witch hazel in a spray bottle.  Mix the dry ingredients together, and drip the essential oil(s) over the mixture randomly– don’t put them all in one spot or it’ll clump and not mix properly.  Stir together with hands or a fork, misting lightly with the witch hazel until the mixture holds together when you pick up a handful.  Press firmly and tightly into the silicone ice cube tray and mist again with witch hazel.  Let dry overnight (longer if the weather is damp) and store in an airtight container.

Bath Salts Recipe: 3-4 cups Epsom salts, ½-1 cup of baking soda, ¼ cup odorless oil, 20-30 drops total of essential oils.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Mix the oils together and drizzle over the dry mixture.  Stir well until everything is blended together– we recommend using your hands for this.  Store in an airtight container and use within 3 months.

We highly recommend rinsing your body very well after soaking in bath salts or bath bombs, and do make sure to only use them once a week or so.  Frequent use of these products can lead to yeast infections.  We also highly recommend cleaning the tub very well after using bath products to avoid slipping on the oil residue and falling.

Help someone get their date-night groove on!  Image courtesy of Pexels.

Date-Night Package

Know a couple who could use a night out alone?  How about one who prefers to “Netflix and chill?”  Build them a Date-Night Package and promise to babysit!  (Then make good on that promise!)

A good Date Night package for going out should include a theatre gift card or tickets, a gift card to their favorite restaurant– or that hot new place in town that they haven’t tried yet!  It all fits into their holiday card and you’re done!  Alternatively, see if there are other kinds of entertainment in their area– axe-throwing is a hot new trend to try, and most axe-throwing companies provide gift cards.

If they’re a stay-in kind of couple, grab a bowl or a box and stuff it full of popcorn, movie-theatre snacks like cookie dough bites, and dvds.  Alternatively, slip a gift certificate to their favorite delivery food joint into the card and add it to a pack of dvds.

Set a date and time to pick up their kids for a sleepover and make sure to show up a few minutes early to help pack up the car and let the parents get ready in peace.

This gift is also a great idea for caregivers, whose role is often forgotten or taken for granted during this time.  Offering to take over their role for a date night with a spouse or family is guaranteed to bring joy to their holiday!

We wish you the happiest holidays you could ever celebrate!  Image courtesy of Pexels.

Lastly, we’d like to remind you all that no matter what holiday you do or don’t celebrate, the season of giving is all year round.  Whenever you’d like brighten someone’s day, sending a care package and a quick note is as easy as a mouse click.  Don’t wait for the next holiday to send a little sunshine!