10 Ways to Upgrade Your Next Event

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If you've been following me for some time now either on here or through my social feeds, you know how much I LOVE to host events! From dinner parties and brunches to simple girl's nights and couple's game nights, I love an excuse to get friends and family together over food, drinks and laughs! There is something about being able to be a good host and entertain people that runs through the generations in my family. My grandmother was an amazing host, always inviting strangers into her home for after church dinner on Sunday and my mom followed suit, always coming up with reasons for us to have friends over so that we could plan an elaborate menu and do themed birthday parties and events. My sister and I have taken the reigns and now do our part to bring people together in our homes whenever we can. I have heard from many people that they prefer not to host because it's overwhelming and stressful, but it really doesn't have to be! Yes, being a good host requires detailed attention, organization and creativity, but you also want your event to be fun! From the moment you decide to have an event, as long as you stay organized and follow your vision, you'll be jusssst fine.. REMEMBER: LISTS ARE YOUR FRIEND! I think my favorite part of hosting is seeing it all come together from my preliminary idea to the day or night my guests arrive and how much fun they have at the event. A good event will leave your friends talking about it for months to come!

With Spring coming to an end and Summer creeping up on us, entertaining will be in full swing and I want you to see that planning a nice event can be more simple and within budget than you think! So, today I'm sharing some simple tips to entertaining that can take your next event from good to great with just a few small details and upgrades!

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1. Send real invites. There is something about receiving an invitation to something that sets the stage immediately for your event. Text messages are modern and easy to do but an actual invite makes your guests feel like they are important and that your event is going to be amazing! If you have the time, take it back a few years and even mail them to your guests! Yes, like real mail to an address delivered by the post man lol (Paperless Post and Punch Bowl are my faves for upscale e-invites!)

2. Personalize things. Take a little extra time out to create simple name cards for seating or menu cards for the evening. These can be handwritten or created on the computer but instantly make your guests feel special and appreciated.

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3. Serve your meal in real glass dishes instead of on paper or aluminum. This simple detail can upgrade your event x 10! You don't have to get too fancy. Piece meal it by using glass baking dishes, cool mix matched glass bowl ware, etc. Take a look at your cabinet and see what you have, you'd be surprised!

4. Serve an appetizer. Dinner is rarely ready on time so this is a simple step to entertain your guests without having to be physically present and hold them over until dinner is ready. Even if you aren't having a formal sit down dinner, finger foods go a long way to keep your guests with full and happy tummies! CLICK HERE: for cheese platter ideas that will blow your event away!

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5. Set a dress code. Even if you are just doing an informal night in your home, asking your guests to step their dress game up sets a fancy and adult tone. Coming to dinner in sweats sounds good but you can make it a classier affair by just asking for your guests to dust something a little nicer off and come in style for the evening. Plus they will thank you later when they look great in those Instagram pics!

6. Upgrade the party punch to a "signature drink". Remember those questionable punches we used to drink in college? This is like the adult version only it's called a signature drink now! (See how that works) Have a little bar or table set up with all of the ingredients and directions for how to make your signature cocktail for the night. Be sure to serve this in real glasses and not red cups! LOL

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7. Cocktail style is the way to go. An intimate, formal dinner can make you feel a bit overwhelmed, so keep it more informal by doing a cocktail style event. Center everyone in your living room around the coffee table with floor seating and random chairs and have your appetizers placed throughout the room on side tables. This way, everyone can mingle with one another and keep the evening lighter and more relaxed.

8. Adorn your home with fresh, seasonal flowers. Flowers are my absolute FAVE! I purchase fresh flowers each week in our home and they really set a warm and inviting tone. Trader Joe's has simple seasonal bundles that you can grab a few of and spread around your home on the kitchen table, the bathroom, the coffee table and more. Plus they can serve as a cheap and beautiful centerpiece that didn't take you hours to create.

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9. Tapas are the new formal dinner! Serving up a variety of fun appetizers is a great way to offer more variety to your guests in smaller bites. Everyone is on their healthy kick now and watching what they eat so this is a great way for them to make a meal of smaller bites. Plus you can serve them up on cool platters, cutting boards and plates that will make for great and memorable pics.

10. Give a small gift to say thank you. Remember as kids when goodie bags were given to us at birthday parties? Why did we ever stop doing that again?! Gift bags are the perfect way to say 'thank you' and can be created on a budget at the dollar store or dollar section in Target!

11. BONUS: Throw in some customized napkins and fun straws. These are all the rage and can bring a fun and cute element to your next event. Oh Happy Day is my favorite go-to for these things!

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So cheers to you and good luck on hosting your next event! I look forward to seeing some great memories created this summer at your next dinner, brunch or shindig in your home :)

xo, Ashley