the entertaining basics (according to megan)

Google “entertaining basics” and you won’t have a hard time finding lots and lots of comprehensive lists telling you what goods are necessary to throw a great party. But a quick glance at those lists will tell you they were not keeping a tight budget in mind. I thought it might be fun to share a boiled down list of what I have deemed my “entertaining basics” which won’t cost you any pretty pennies or spare body parts! These choices are meant to be timeless and compliment any additional décor you might be using (for themes or special occasions).

Here we go:

1. Candles & Candle Holders. Candle light makes everyone (and every room!) look better. Clear candle and votive holders and white candles set the party mood in no time. A few clusters around the room and you’re ready to go. Numi Candle Holders from CB2 -$4.95 each.

2. A Great Wooden Cutting Board. I chose this because it is a versatile purchase! You can use it to prep the meal and/or display cheese and crackers as appetizers for easy guest access. The wood makes everything look a little classier and using it to create a food display just saves you from ‘having’ to buy one more serving platter specifically for whatever you’re serving. Grand Epicure Butcher’s Block Cutting Board from Target – $29.99

3. Basic White Dinner Plates. Now, keep in mind, this is just what I deem as my entertaining basics. I happen to think that white dishes are beautiful and super versatile but really it’s up to you and your style. We snagged our white dinner plates (which are almost an exact match to the ones pictured) from the Dollar Tree for, you guessed it, $1.00 each! I bought them about four years ago and they are still pristine. Aurora 11″ Dinner Plates from Target – set of 6 for $34.99

4. Small Bowls. Again, these are a really versatile purchase. We use small dishes like these for dips/sauces, desserts, or even to set out any ‘fixin’s’ your meal might have (like lettuce, tomato, and corn for tacos). Great for a party but also for daily use.  Square porcelain bowls from Crate & Barrel – set of 6 for $14.95

5. A Glass Pitcher. Simple and classic. A clear glass pitcher lets your drink choice stand out. Whether it’s sangria with gorgeous fruit slices or even sweet tea with lemon; it’ll look beautiful in one of these. Plus, setting out a pitcher lets your guest get their own refills if you’re busy with something else Caspar Pitcher from Crate & Barrel – $29.95

6. Cloth Napkins. This was a purchase that made me feel so grown up! Cloth napkins just up the class of any party. I think that is undeniable. A quick search on pinterest will show you some gorgeous and easy ways to incorporate cloth napkins into your table setting. You could choose a neutral color like white or the gray ones pictured or go with something more color. Heck, for the price of these napkins from World Market you could snag a few colors and mix and match! Gray Buffet Napkins from World Market – set of 6 for $9.99

There is certainly no one list that should be regarded as the be-all-end-all list of entertaining needs but I thought the blogosphere needed one with the budget conscious in mind. I mean, just because I can’t afford a $130.00 ice bucket doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to throw a party. (No, that’s not a joke. This advice is out there!)

What’s on your entertaining must-have list? Share below!


throw a: late summer bash

Row 1: watermelon smiles, diy lawn twister, bbq chicken pizza
Row 2: paper cup lights, refreshing ice cubes
Row 3: outdoor seating, grapefruit and strawberry popsicles

The Feel: There’s just something charming about a laid back, chilled out get together. No need for matching plates or cups. Just pull what you’ve got out of the cabinets and let the guests serve themselves from a food spread. Fun outdoor games like lawn twister or ladder golf will keep guests having fun. Easy entertaining at its finest!

The Food: Keep the menu casual with easy-to-eat food. BBQ Chicken Pizza is an easy adaption of a classic summer recipe with very few ingredients. (I’ve made this several times at home and it is seriously yummy!). Supplement this main course with light, refreshing treats. Obviously, watermelon slices are an easy favorite. Maybe even some individual servings of baked chips in cute containers like this. Cool down and finish off the meal with some homemade popsicles! Take advantage of all the delicious in-season fruit before the fall rolls around!

The Drinks: An easy choice is tea and lemonade. Mix up these classics and try lavender lemonade, watermelon lemonade, or strawberry iced tea. Try blueberry vodka lemonade or ‘grown-up’ sweet tea for some summer-y cocktails. Go the extra mile with fruit filled ice cubes! A cute drink bucket filled with ice, bottled water, and some sodas would be perfect for a party with guests of all ages.

The Décor: Let the outdoors do this for you! A table, some outdoor chairs are all you really need. (Those fun colored ones would be cute though!). If your party is going into the night, add some lanterns, candles (with citronella to keep the bugs at bay), and/or some festival style lighting. The cute lights above are just white string lights and inexpensive paper cups. Cute, casual, and an extra way to utilize your holiday decorations!

Have you thrown any casual summer parties this year? Send in photos or links to maybe be featured! If you want more of my summer time inspiration you can visit the TLC Summer Time Pinterest Board!

entertaining tips for overnight guests

This past weekend, we hosted Josh’s sisters (Rachel and Jennifer) in our new apartment who were in town for Rachel’s college orientation. And even though I am the self-proclaimed “aspiring hostess” in my family, overnight entertaining is a challenge.

Here are a few tips to make it easier!

Set everything out in advance – There are certain things you can anticipate your guests needing. Towels, pillows, water glasses, and extra blankets are a few examples. You can avoid running around to pull these things out after your guests need them by setting them out in advance.

via Emily Henderson

Have a snack basket – We always have one of these set on top of our refrigerator for easy access but if you don’t it would be a great way to make sure your guests are never hungry! We filled ours with granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, and a few popcorn bags.

via Teal and Lime

Set up your coffee maker to start automatically – It’s hard to get the timing right in the morning with guests. Someone has to wake up first and if it’s your guest(s), you’ll want to make sure they have something to start the morning. Of course, non-coffee drinkers (if any of those exist) need not worry about this.

via Apartment Therapy

Have something to do – With my family, good conversation is usually the primary activity at get-togethers but it’s always good to have something else on hand. We are huge advocates of board games! They’re fun and can create some really hilarious memories. Depending on your guests, you might stick with something classic like cards or dominos or you can go a little bit silly with a game like Quelf (one of our favorites) or Apples to Apples, which we played this past weekend.

our game shelf

Make sleeping arrangements in advance – knowing who is sleeping where early on lets everyone relax a little bit sooner. They can have a designated place to put their belongings and when they’re ready for bed they already know where they’re going!

our bedroom from 1313

And there you have it! Just a few things to consider before your overnight guests arrive!

Do you have any other overnight entertaining tips? Share below!

Halloween at Apartment 1313

Welcome to November! I hope you all had a safe and fun Halloween. I thought I would share some more pictures and details from the party Josh and I threw this past weekend. The thing that sparked our interest in have a Halloween party was the fact that our apartment number is 1313. Creepy on its own accord, right?

And of course, this whole month, I’ve been going on about non-traditional Halloween themes. This year, I chose black birds/bird silhouettes.

We invited people through Facebook, so I found an image of bird silhouettes and added the party information in paint with a creepy font. This one was Destroyed License Plate from I also made fun food cards from another “googled” image.

Dead flowers add a nice touch, eh?

I picked up some “matte-finish” ornaments from Hobby Lobby and filled them with black feathers to create a “black orb” kind of feel.

Here you can see my first attempt at decorating cookies. As I mentioned in my October Favorites, I have fallen in love (fairly quickly) with cookies. For this party, I made ghosts and black cats. They turned out rather well for a beginner (if I do say so, myself). More cookie updates to come!


And another note? I will never, ever make candied apples again. First of all, I didn’t find actual sticks, so I ended up using the popsicle sticks that came in the kit, so while they looked spooky (because they were really deep red) they didn’t have the same effect as actual sticks would have had. And then of course was the problem of “they were just a pain in the ass”. They were so sticky, I couldn’t get them off of the cookie sheet. I literally had to use scissors to cut them up. They did look creepy, but it wasn’t worth the work. Now I know.

Once our friends arrived, we had an awesome time! There were so many candles lit, it looked like we were going to be sacrificing someone. Good (and interesting) conversation with good friends.

What did you do for Halloween?