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Our Cassie LaMere Events team is putting the finishing touches on this weekend’s Derby Day Party and as seasoned Southern Hosts, we’re sharing a few easy tips for reinventing your Kentucky Derby gathering that will send you off to the races!

Bourbon whiskey cart with vintage crystal glasses and decanter at an event

Everyone loves to get into the spirit of the Derby and the race has all of the ingredients of a fabulous party; the over-the-top fashion, the Southern Charm, and the signature sips. Pair that with ample entertainment courtesy of the most exciting 2 minutes in sports and you have all of the makings of a grand occasion.

Hot of the heels of a trip to the bourbon trail, we felt inspired to reinvent the traditional take on the Derby Party with some new ideas that felt fresh, effortless, and still quintessentially Southern. Here are the easy Derby Day party ideas you can bet on.

To Julep or Not to Julep

Bourbon whiskey cart with vintage crystal glasses and decanter at an event

It wouldn’t be a Derby party without the signature cocktail on the menu, but we’ll also be serving up some playful bourbon cocktails that are sure to be crowd pleasers.

Try a Bourbon Sour Slush, because who doesn’t love a slushy beverage on a hot day? This cocktail allows key bar ingredients to do double-duty by utilizing the same ice that you’ll need for the classic julep. Speaking of the consummate Southern host, we’ll be making Patricia Altschul of Bravo’s Southern Charm’s personal recipe, which calls for crushed ice, whiskey sour mix, and bourbon + garnishes of orange slice and maraschino cherry. For those of you who are from the South and in the know, think Sonic ice.

A Kentucky Mule is a fun twist on a familiar cocktail and works well in an ice-cold metal cup- another must for a bourbon-fueled affair.

Michter’s Bourbon Paper Plane cocktail

If you prefer a spritz, try a Paper Plane: besides bourbon, a key ingredient is fan-fav Aperol. We love using Michter’s and by including this enthusiast pick on your bar menu, bourbon fans will take note of your extensive whiskey knowledge.

Roses, but Not So Literal

Rose charcuterie and cheese board

Reinventing the Derby Day party calls for finding creative ways to incorporate roses into your food, beverage, and decor that are unexpected. Our team loves rose-petal charcuterie for an elevated presentation of snackable meats and cheeses. Simply place layers of meat onto the rim of a wine glass and when completed, flip the glass over on your board to reveal a flora masterpiece. See Couple in the Kitchen‘s quick 4-step guide to this hosting hack.

The current viral trend of freezing juice in rose shaped ice trays is perfect for on-theme mimosas that pair well with a fabulous Derby hat. Check out Five Foot Feminine’s video for a quick how to. Invite guests to pick their rose and place it into a chic coupe glass, then pour over your favorite champagne for a beverage worthy of the winner’s circle.

Finger Lickin’ Good

Ralph Lauren Polo Bar burger and fries

In the spirit of keeping things simple, stick to accessible menu classics that wash down well with a bourbon. Southern style entertaining is taking something familiar, comforting, and mouth-watering, and adding a thoughtful touch to how it is presented.

Serve up a mound of fried chicken on a silver serving tray to make a staple seem special when placed on the table. Or take a cue from Ralph Lauren’s equestrian-themed Polo Bar and serve french fries in silver julep cups with an array of dipping sauces.

A Horse in the Race

Home bar cart with vintage decor and silver trophy

Lastly, don’t miss out on an opportunity to make the party interactive! No Derby Day party is complete without some friendly competition. For a quick way to ensure everyone can join in on the fun, place the roster of names into a silver trophy or champagne ice bucket and have guests draw out their thoroughbred.

Plan a fun, equestrian-themed prize for the winner to take home, such as a bottle of Blanton’s, a Polo baseball cap, or a greenery wreath that guests can display proudly as new home decor.

We hope our tips will ensure you can spend less time prepping and more time enjoying a lively afternoon of cocktails and comfort food with friends in your home. Be sure to tag us in your party pics!

Images 1 and 2 Courtesy of Shannon Skloss x Cassie LaMere Events | Image 3 Cassie LaMere Events | Image 4 Dagnushka x Cassie LaMere Events | Image 5 Bon Appetit | Image 6 Pinterest

So you’re throwing a baby shower, but aren’t sure where to start?!

A baby brings new beginnings, a fresh dynamic, and so much joy- we believe that every detail of a baby shower should reflect that. We know that as a host, you want your friend or family member to feel special and celebrated as they await their new addition to the family. We are here to support you in creating your party’s vision with these key 4 questions to ask the expectant parent(s). Our quick guide will help to get you started and hone in on your party’s purpose, theme and goals.

Question 1: If the shower is for a couple, would you like the baby shower to honor both expectant parents?

Couple baby showers are becoming more popular and in the spirit of the more, the merrier, opening up the guest list can add to the fun! Knowing if the parents would like a combined or individual event will help you to choose the appropriate location for the shower, as well as the activities (if any) planned for the festivities.

Speaking of activities… designing your shower to be experiential can add a fresh touch to the occasion and be inclusive to everyone attending. Some ideas that get guests interacting and engaged throughout the shower include:

  • Mini golf

  • A floral arranging class

  • Progressive shower, a take on a progressive dinner! (Ideal if a few of the willing hosts live in the same neighborhood)

Build your own bouquet flower cart

Question 2: Do you want a more traditional baby shower or something unexpected?

Knowing the answer to this will help you gain clarity on the expectations of the expectant parent(s). The traditional route could include a theme that appeals to the baby’s gender, games, gift opening and typically brunch fair. But what if they want something out of the box? Consider ways to reinvent the baby shower by incorporating a specific gift theme, a gender neutral design for a modern take on the occasion, or a full bar and hearty eats.

Once you have a better understanding of the expectations, then it's time to begin brainstorming some theme ideas! The best themes will stem from meaningful places, cultures, personal stories, or time periods that resonate with the expectant parents. Once you have put together a few possible directions, provide the parents with these options and find out their favorites. We recommend maintaining an element of surprise for the guests of honor; to achieve the perfect balance of honoring their wishes and still leaving a few tricks up your sleeve, have them narrow down the options and then the host(s) can choose the final direction from those pre-approved selections.

For traditional a theme we are loving:

  • Baby in bloom with monochromatic florals, balloons made to look like large-scale flowers, build-your-own bouquet flower cart, and a fresh seasonal menu. Check out this bounce house inspiration below from Starr of Texas, who we adore and collaborate with often!

For a gender neutral theme we are swooning over:

Or get groovy with a non traditional theme:

Mamma Mia featuring a Grecian disco with bold blues, pops of white, disco balls, boas, funky sunglasses and rocking ABBA tunes. Book Extragrams- their high-energy performers to delight guests with a surprise musical performance! Now that’s a baby shower we’d go to any weekend.

Daisy balloon bounce house

Question 3: Is there anything you absolutely do not want and what are your must haves?

By asking this question, you are ensuring any elements of the expectant parent(s) day is tailored to their preferences. When planning an event, it's just as helpful to have an understanding of what people do not want as what they do want. Having this dialogue may reveal that there is something they’ve always wanted when they envision their baby shower. How special is it to know that you get the opportunity to bring that to life?!

Some people have a hard time opening gifts in front of others. Some might want a more intimate gathering instead of large. We suggest always keeping in mind that the details of the baby shower should be based around celebrating the expectant parent in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

Question 4: Is there anything your community can do for you now to help you before the baby is born?

It might be helpful to provide some suggestions for this question. For example: start a food train sign-up at the shower! Perhaps there's furniture that needs to be assembled? A baby shower is a great time to get organized; imagine giving the expectant parents the gift of knowing this is already covered once their new bundle arrives.

Another option would be to gift something for the parent-to-be that’s focused on wellness or a little pampering. It’s nice to keep the parent top of mind and a little “me time” is always much appreciated, pre or post baby. We love any of the robe and slipper sets from Parachute- they're always great quality and functional for parents to be.

This final question can help you know what the expectant parents are needing now and possibly also once the baby is born. Bringing a child into this world is magical, but also very hard. Wouldn’t it be great to have a shower to showcase to the expectant parent(s) what an awesome community they have rallying around them to support their journey?

However you decide to host, we know for certain that your thoughtfulness and effort will be so appreciated by the expectant parents. As they say, it takes a village and a shower is a great way for the village to gather and celebrate welcoming new life into this big, beautiful world.

Images Courtesy of Dagnushka, Jerry Hayes Photography, and Starr of Texas

The holidays are here, and with them comes a touch of frenzy about being organized enough to host guests, both planned and unplanned. Creating a meaningful and memorable holiday experience for your loved ones doesn’t have to be stressful — as experts in all things entertaining, we were invited by Good Grit Magazine to share our tips for hosting (plus a few hacks!) in their holiday issue and we had to share them here, too! Consider these tips to keep the spirits festive and your prep stress-free.

1. Get the best of both worlds with traditional décor with a personal twist If you want to add your own distinctive touch to a holiday table arrangement, concentrate on one typical holiday hue and match it with vibrant complementary colors. We would include rich camel tones into the tablescape in place of the traditional Christmas red to add buttery, neutral layers that are akin to cinnamon lattes and gingerbread sweets. Offering familiar and novel experiences to visitors maximizes their comfort and joy.

2. Always be prepared for impromptu gatherings Always have a bottle or two (or three or seven) of cold champagne on hand as well as a set of humorous cocktail napkins so that you can entertain any unexpected guests right off the bat. To dress up simple party snacks, place moreish salty and sweet pantry staples like chocolates, mixed nuts, and potato chips in beautiful bowls. We’re pretty certain there will be a crowd gathered around the sweets and treats.

3. Purchase host gifts early and have a stash you can access throughout the holidays Even better, you can pre-wrap these presents and put them under the tree to save time during the hectic peak party season. We adore this time-saving tip because it will make your décor feel finished with gifts under the tree and make them easy to grab and go when you're rushing out the door in your best party clothing (fashionably late, of course). To distinguish which gift is which, a pro tip is to attach a temporary tag or coding system to the bottom of the bag.

Holiday hosting with Cassie LaMere Events

4. Time-saving menus for place settings This is one of our favorite holiday hacks. A menu can be written by hand or printed out and attached to a holiday card. You can either insert the menu inside the card or cut off the back to make the front and back of the card one solid piece. As you find a use for the extra cards from the previous year and a reason to buy new ones at everyone's favorite after-Christmas sales, you'll also be adding style to your table.

Holiday hosting with Cassie LaMere Events

5. Collaborative playlists to set the tone We love sending out a collaborative playlist to guests in advance with an opportunity to add their favorite tracks to help with party preparation. We start listening to the playlist a week prior to the event, picturing all the fun that will be had at our soirée, to get us excited about the celebrations and hosting duties that lie ahead.

6. All praise party punch We adore the adaptability that a festive punch provides; spice up your recipe to raise the spirits and include a zero-proof version so that everyone can join in on the party. Your punch can eve be pre-made to give your festive table a splash of color.

Holiday hosting with Cassie LaMere Events

7. For the time-crunched Consider incorporating dried flowers into your table settings and décor. The arrangements will last you for the duration of the season, relieving you of the stress of maintaining a routine for changing out your florals. During the holidays, we could all use a little stress relief, and doing this can free up your schedule so you can watch more Hallmark movies.

Holiday hosting with Cassie LaMere Events

8. Use the HiNote app for personable, digital invites When a text message just won't cut it and you need a quick way to invite people, use the HiNOTE app. Its sophisticated, pre-designed templates have a ton of personality and are simple to alter so that you may personalize them with information about your party. (Our go-to items right now are the martini memo and the antique silver tray.) To send through text or DM, just pick one of the adorable designs, provide the necessary information, and press one button. Voilà! Get the party started.

9. No table linens? No problem Using a pretty blanket or throw as table linen is one of our favorite party hacks. The texture ups the coziness level of your gathering, creating the ideal mood for the holidays and private dinner parties at home

Holiday hosting with Cassie LaMere Events

10. Repurpose what you already own With a few seasonal touches, organic textures, neutral tones, and ornamental items can quickly change your home to reflect the most delightful season of the year. You don't need to buy a brand-new assortment of furniture and accessories to give your home a fashionable and festive feel. Your vase arrangements will feel more festive with a variety of foliage. With a little rosemary, a cinnamon stick, an orange slice, or a pinecone—all of which are conveniently available at your neighborhood grocery store or in nature—your standard plates or glasses can be made cheery! In addition, a lot of these work well as components in mulled wine, which will give the house a lovely Christmassy smell.

11. Embrace incorporating personal or traditional details into your entertaining Celebrate what makes you who you are, and guests will enjoy embracing that too. You can easily add authentically you-inspired features to your party by customizing the cuisine, décor, and music. Our advice: your visitors will appreciate these unique moments much more since they tell a story of what makes you, you.

Holiday hosting with Cassie LaMere Events

From the corporate and private Christmas parties we’ve produced to the holiday decorations we’ve designed for some very special clients, we consider ourselves well-versed in the art of holiday entertaining. We hope you feel inspired and empowered to create your own memorable gathering. Our team is excited to see what you come up with! Tag us on Instagram so we can share the moment with you. A very happy holiday season to you all!

Images Courtesy of Dagnushka for Good Grit Magazine

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