10 Tips for Successful Summer Entertaining

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They say the kitchen is the heart of your home. I find that’s especially true for me. My roommate Bambi loves to cook, so we are always hosting a weekly dinner night with significant others or friends. With summer on the way, we expect to do more summer entertaining than ever.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

We recently moved my patio table into the backyard to use for summer entertaining as the weather heats up. Bambi loves to grill. So we have a grill on our list of things to buy this summer. There’s nothing more magical than BBQ and great friends as the sun goes down. We’re even thinking of making our own string light solar lanterns.

As Bambi is also a gamer, not just an incredible cook, we’re also looking forward to hosting more game nights. While I prefer games that are more in the realm of Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity, Bambi prefers games of strategy. Hosting guests for summer game nights gives us both a chance to enjoy the games we love.

And of course, I’m looking forward to hosting a few ladies only craft nights as well. There’s something about the warm weather and shaking off the final remnants of those winter blues to inspire extra socializing.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

Before summer entertaining gets into full swing however, it’s nice to take a minute and create an inviting space we feel proud to entertain in. Bambi and I are both a bit obsessive about both cleaning and creating the perfect space for hosting guests. It’s one of the many reasons we work so well as roommates – especially post divorce. It’s also why we are both such big fans of Grove Collaborative.

We both love the non-toxic and pet friendly products that Mrs. Meyer’s has to offer. (Bambi and I are both mommies to fur babies!) Not only are they effective at cleaning our home, they also look great by the kitchen sink.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

If you aren’t already a Grove Collaborative member, you can get a free kit of Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, hand soap, and lotion and replaceable head dish brush with your first order of just $20. We received this fantastic cleaning kit when we signed up and loved it! (You’ll want to hurry though as supplies are limited.)

Grove Co. offers more than just eco-conscious, non-toxic cleaning essentials. They also offer other homemaking and personal healthcare products from brands I trust. I buy Lovebug Here’s the Skinny Daily Probiotic at a discount from Grove for my own gut health. (Many of you know I suffer from fibromyalgia so vitamins and supplements are a must.)

Bambi on the other hand is crazy about Grove Collaborative’s Walnut Scouring Pads. In fact she ditched her regular brand of scouring pads for these after she tried them for the first time. She also loves Grove’s Cleaning Concentrate Essentials which are scented with natural essential oils. They’re another great way to get a pet safe, non-toxic clean we can both feel good about.

We also both found the Grove Collaborative Reusable Bag Essentials Set extremely useful. (I got these as a free gift as a part of Grove’s VIP member program.) These bags are super high quality and are great both in and out of the kitchen. We use the large bag for leftover Naan when Bambi makes curry. And the others for easily stashing personal care essentials when traveling and camping.

Place your first $20 order with Grove now to receive your free Mrs. Myer’s cleaning kit. Or, if you’re already a Grove Co. member, you’ll receive a free set of the Grove walnut scrubber sponges that Bambi is so fond of. Then keep reading for some great tips for entertaining guests in your home this summer.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

If you’re as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great products and tips for opening your kitchen — and the rest of your home — to guests this summer.

Great Products & Tips for Successful Summer Entertaining

1. Hand wash summer accessories that have been in the cabinet all winter. Grove’s replaceable head dish brush has curved bristles and a sturdy bamboo handle that’s perfect for washing pitchers, platters, and prep boards.

2. Wipe down the counters to create a clean and tidy space for food prep and serving impromptu midnight snacks. All you need is some warm soapy water and a microfiber. I love the ones from Grove because they have a hanging corner for easy drying and storage.

3. Your sink gets a workout during the summer, from washing grilling utensils to cutting flowers. Make sure it’s up to the task by giving it a good scrub with a paste of baking soda and Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap.

4. Set up a beautiful sink side experience that makes everyone happy. Mrs. Meyer’s soaps and lotions come in a variety of cheerful scents like honeysuckle, lavender, and lemon verbena that guests of all ages will love.

5. Everyone’s always hungry after a day at the pool. Now is a great time to stock up on supplies like Bees Wrap and Grove reusable snack bags for storing cut-up fruit, cheese, and pretzels!

6. Cool drinks are a must for successful summer entertaining. Make sure your blender is ready for fresh fruit smoothies or frozen cocktails. Simply add a drop or two of dish soap and two cups of water and blend on high for 30 seconds. Then pour out the suds, rinse, and dry with a microfiber cloth.

7. Punch up your home decor with a pop of happy color, from new throw pillows to a fresh kitchen towel. I’m feeling inspired by lush greens like Grove’s garden tea towel.

8. Create an inviting entryway with plenty of space for guests to stash sandals, hats and pool gear. I like to stash my Full Circle dust pan and brush from Grove near the front door for quick cleanup of dirt and grass clippings.

9. The powder room is a small space, which means a little bit of effort goes a long way. Freshen it up for summer by laundering and fluffing up the rug, putting out a fresh hand towel, and switching out the hand soap and lotion for a summery scent.

10. Once you’ve submitted your Grove order, you’ll be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. The VIP program is a great way to keep your home streamlined all summer, with perks like free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. Now, it’s time to light a rose candle and enjoy the quiet while it lasts!

For more great summer entertaining ideas, be sure to check out these must have wine and cheese night party essentials. Or grab a few ladies craft night ideas. You can discover even more entertaining ideas on my Party Ideas Pinterest board.

You’ll also want to follow Soap Deli News across all of your favorite social media platforms including G+FacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram as well as subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

Spring Entertaining: How to Prep Your Kitchen for Guests

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

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Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You’re going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task.

Transform Your Kitchen for Spring Entertaining

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Lately, I’ve been drooling over all the bright, clean kitchens on Instagram.

Even though a full kitchen makeover isn’t in my budget, I’ve found some affordable ways to rediscover pride in my home, so I wanted to share them with you. (My roommate LOVES all of these ideas! Being a little OCD herself – like that’s a bad thing? – she’s always excited when my order from Grove Co. arrives.)

It’s amazing how something as simple as a good spring cleaning or a bouquet of fresh flowers on the counter can help you fall in love with the home you have — whether it’s a tiny apartment or your dream home.

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

First, you must grab this free set of Mrs. Meyer’s spring hand soap + dish soap + multi-surface spray + spring kitchen towel! You can can get them all here with your first order of $20 from Grove Collaborative. Choose from three limited-edition Mrs. Meyer’s spring scents: mint, lilac, or peony. (I LOVE the mint!) If you’re already a Grove customer, you’ll receive free Grove walnut scrubber sponges.

Then follow my tips to create a dreamy kitchen — just in time for spring entertaining! 

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Green Cleaning Tips & Tricks for Spring Entertaining

Step 1: Instead of treating spring cleaning as a chore, set the tone for an enjoyable day by opening the doors to let the spring air in and brewing a fresh pot of coffee.

Step 2: Start with a clean slate. Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface spray makes quick work of cleaning appliances, the inside of the fridge, countertops, and backsplashes. Plus, it leaves your kitchen smelling like a spring garden!

Step 3: To get your pots and pans ready for new spring recipes, make a paste with Bon Ami and water and apply it all over. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then wipe away those scorch marks with a sponge. I prefer Grove’s walnut scrubber sponges because they don’t scratch your cookware!

Step 4: The sink is probably the most used area in your kitchen, but gets the least love when it’s time to clean. Grab the Bon Ami again and sprinkle it on your sink and faucet, rub with a wet cloth, and then wipe clean. To freshen up your garbage disposal, squirt Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap into the disposal and run the disposal with hot water. The mint scent is especially good for neutralizing odors!

Step 5: Just like a statement necklace can make an old outfit feel new, sink-side accessories can totally transform your kitchen. I love Mrs. Meyer’s hand and dish soaps because they add a pop of cheerful color to my kitchen and smell amazing! 

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Step 6: Treat your kitchen to a fresh new towel in a spring color. I consider these Grove chef’s towels an essential, since they work for everything from wiping hands, to drying spills and dishes, to grabbing hot pans. The cornflower blue color is brand new, and you’ll be among the first to get one! 

Step 7: Trick your guests into thinking you redecorated with strategically placed accessories like a bamboo cutting board, a wooden handle dish brush, or a stoneware tray. I got all of mine from Grove! (And, if you’re a soapmaker like me, these are also the perfect props for photographing your homemade soaps to sell.)

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Step 8: Of course, you can never go wrong with cut flowers. But lately, I love filling glass jars with fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, or chives. Decorative, and useful! 

Bonus tip: I’m a huge fan of Grove Collaborative because they help me create a healthy, beautiful home I can feel proud of. When you submit your first order using my link, you’ll be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, you’ll save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. 

Want more great tips and DIY ideas for spring? Then follow Soap Deli News across all of your favorite social media platforms! You can find me on PinterestG+TumblrFacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram as well as subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

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Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life’s Changes

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

Many of us grew up celebrating holiday traditions that were taught to us by our parents and families. You may remember some time honored traditions such as mailing out Christmas cards, decorating with natural elements, baking from scratch and even making homemade gifts. Even as we’ve grown up and left home many of us have continued to carry on those same holiday traditions we learned as children.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes. #holidays #tradition #holidaytradition #cookies #cookieexchange #cookierecipes #recipes #diy #hosting #entertaining #lifestyle #christmas #christmastradition #holidayideas #party #treat #crafts #family

However, some of these holiday traditions may have changed with time. Whether it was due to a death in the family or a move out of state, many traditions tend to adapt to the needs of our new families and life changes. But what makes these changes special as we shape our new traditions from old ones is the meaning and the stories we keep and carry on throughout the coming years.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Change

Growing up and into early adulthood, my friend Bambi always made sugar cookies with her grandmother to celebrate the season. These cookies in turn were given to friends and family as homemade gifts. Using family sugar cookie and buttercream icing recipes that have been passed down through the generations, Bambi’s new tradition is making and then decorating those same cookies with her closest friends now that her grandmother is gone.

This year was the second year I able to participate in decorating cookies with Bambi as part of her new holiday tradition. That I’m able to be a part of something so meaningful to her, in turn makes it more meaningful to me. And while there was no amount of prodding, poking, coaxing, bribing or begging to convince Bambi to dish and share her recipes (sorry!) I certainly can’t imagine not participating as the years move forward.

Along with this Bambi also gave me one of the best presents she could gift me with this year – a new holiday tradition. So whether you’re looking to start new holiday traditions with your own friends or a new family, decorating Christmas cookies and holiday cookie exchanges are a longstanding tradition that I can certainly get behind.

So just how to do you go about planning a cookie decorating party? Keep reading to learn how my friend, Bambi, organizes her cookie decorating parties and for some great links to tips for hosting a holiday cookie exchange as well as a few sugar cookie recipes to get you started. Plus learn more about new holiday traditions other people have started and how to deal with holiday celebration overload.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions with Cookies

Prior to hosting her guests, Bambi prepares for her holiday cookie decorating event a few days in advance. She spends about two days baking sugar cookies using her grandmother’s recipe. Then in between the time she makes them and then everyone gets together to decorate them, they are stored in plastic storage containers in the refrigerator.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

A few days later everyone shows up with a bottle of wine in hand. Typically Bambi also provides some simple appetizers like hummus, crackers and cheese. However, if we “accidentally” break a cookie, it’s like a bonus prize and gets eaten right then and there. But only after it’s been decorated, of course!

The buttercream icing isn’t made until the arrival of all her guests. New batches of icing are then made as we run out.

Annie, Bambi’s rescue dog, always manages to walk under “mom” while she’s mixing more icing. Thus we have photos of her two years in a row covered in powdered sugar spots. (My own dog, Jasper, attended this year as well.)

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

Once the first batch of icing is ready to go, the icing, cookies and candy decorations are laid out on her dining room table within reach of everyone.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

Then we all decorate our cookies on paper plates to keep the colored sugars and candies from making a mad dash for the floor.

Celebrating Holiday Traditions Through Life's Changes. Plus how to host a holiday cookie exchange and a collection of homemade Christmas cookie recipes.

The cookies are then laid out on the table on top of wax paper as each one is completed.

Once all of the cookies are decorated, they are packaged in reusable plastic containers. Bambi then gifts each of her guests a box of cookies and the rest get shipped to her friends and family back home in Wisconsin.

If you’d like to host your own holiday cookie decorating party, The Kitchn has a great article with ten essential tips to know before you begin baking. Additionally, Real Simple also has a great checklist for hosting a holiday cookie exchange that also works for hosting a cookie decorating party. Sugar & Charm as well as Handle the Heat also offer some great tips for hosting a cookie exchange.

Glazed Sugar Cookies Recipe with Buttercream Embroidery via My Name is Yeh Blog! Plus celebrating holiday traditions and how to host a Christmas cookie decorating party!

If you’re looking for Christmas cookie decorating ideas, I am head over heels for these glazed sugar cookies with buttercream “embroidery” from My Name is Yeh. You can find and print the recipe for these cookies here. I also really love the star Christmas cookies recipe from Tell Love and Party.

Printable Christmas Cookie Gift Tags via Cranberry Bush blog! Plus celebrating holiday traditions and how to host a Christmas cookie decorating party!

For gifting your homemade holiday cookies, Cranberry Bush has two super cute printable cookie gift tags. You can find more printable gift tags on my Printables Pinterest board. Or discover great gift wrapping ideas on my Pretty Packaging + Gift Wrap Ideas Pinterest board.

Starting New Holiday Traditions

I know when I went through my divorce from my first husband and my son inevitably ventured into adulthood, celebrating Christmas lost much of its luster for me. So much so that one of the best Christmases I had after getting separated was ice “skating” in my sneakers on the frozen parking lot of Market Square downtown with a friend. It wasn’t until I started making my own holiday traditions, that some of the magic of the holiday season started to come back for me.

If your old holiday traditions are no longer an option for you, then you may want to consider creating new ones. They don’t need to be religious or even fit into any particular winter holiday. They simply need to be something that brings you joy. Having something to that brings you and your loved ones together during what is typically the most depressing season of the year can definitely make cold days seem a bit warmer.

O’Boy! Organic, who moved away from his family in Michigan over twenty years ago, has a great article on the importance of holiday traditions and how they help to build unity and stability. He also shares his top five new holiday traditions. Number four is baking cookies with his kids.

There’s also a great post on HuffPost with ideas for 15 new traditions for families reclaiming the holidays after a divorce. Shared by their readers on their Facebook page, my favorites are creating a guest list for holiday get togethers to try new things, ditching the chaos of the Christmas tree tradition, taking a trip instead of giving gifts and of course, the best one yet, just finally being happy.

Does Celebrating Holiday Traditions Leave You Feeling overwhelmed?

In the midst of celebrating holiday traditions, both old and new, it’s also important to realize there is such a thing as too much tradition. Reluctant Entertainer touches on this in her post “Traditions: When Is It Time to Change?.” Women especially tend to put extra emphasis on holiday traditions which in turn can often lead to a lot of stress and guilt when they are unable to meet expectations. So this article offers some great insight into being able to say “enough is enough.”

Personally I know how it feels to be on this side of things, as I’m sure many of you do as well. And there were a few years that I especially struggled and therefore made the decision to opt out of holiday gatherings completely. And it is okay to do this. After all, your mental and emotional well being matter more than a dinner regardless of the time of year.

So if celebrating holiday traditions feel more like an obligation, it may be time to simply take time for yourself. After all, you’re not really celebrating holiday traditions if you’re spending much of that time trying to avoid a panic attack.

Additionally, if your head space isn’t where it needs to be to even attend holiday functions, much less embark on a new tradition, then you may be able to gain some insight from the article “Family Change: Don’t Cancel the Holidays!

Are you celebrating holiday traditions this year or starting new ones? I’d love to hear how you enjoy the holiday season in the comments below.

Also be sure to follow me via all of your favorite social media platforms including G+TumblrFacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram. Or subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

Delicious DIY Holiday Drink Recipes

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

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Whether you’re entertaining for the holidays or just want to enjoy the spirit of the holidays, here are a few of my favorite homemade holiday drink recipes. Also be sure to grab the book, 21 Best Winter Holiday Beverage Recipes from Amazon!

DIY Homemade Holiday Drink Recipes - Drink Recipes for Entertaining During the Holiday Season

1. Spiked White Hot Chocolate from Sweet Designs | 2. Rosemary Limoncello from My Recipes | 3. Cranberry Fizz from Sweet Paul Magazine | 4. Gin & Ginger Cocktail (Not Pictured) from Sweet Paul Magazine

Holiday Entertaining - Homemade Holiday Drink Recipes

5. Decadent Chai Latte from My Recipes | 6. Eggnog Martini from Martha Stewart | 7. Italian Hot Chocolate from Camo Meets Couture (Plus an Almond Crescent Cookie Recipe)

Delicious Homemade Holiday Cocktail Recipes

8. Brazilian Pumpkin Frappe Recipe from Pizzazzerie | 9. Hot Buttered Rum from The Plunge Project | 10. Pomegranate Champagne Punch from Epicurious | 11. Cooked Custard Eggnog (Not Pictured) from Martha Stewart | 12. Sgroppini (Not Pictured) from Party Bluprints Blog | 13. Cranberry Spice Champagne (Not Pictured) from Family Circle

DIY Homemade Fig and Melon Holiday Martini Drink Recipe

14. Fig & Melon Martini from Snippet & Ink | 15. Pumpkin Spice Marshmallow Cappuccino (Not Pictured) from Cake Vintage Blog | 16. Gingerbread Apple Cocktail (Not Pictured) from Marie Claire

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Retro Themed Melamine Dinnerware for the Modern Home

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

Melamine TV Trays from Target - Photo by Rebecca D. Dillon
I was in Target yesterday when I happened across some of the coolest TV trays ever. Since Scott and I don’t really have any sort of living room tray to use for our place, I bought one of each. I purchased the TV Melamine Tray for myself and the Record Player Melamine Tray for Scott. Both are available at Target stores for $9.99 each.
Retro TV Melamine Tray - Photo by Rebecca D. Dillon
These fun retro themed trays are not only functional, but they are fun to look at and are a great conversation piece at parties! And, because they’re made out of melamine – the popular plastic of the 50s for dishware – they are microwave and dishwasher safe. Plus they stand up to quite a bit of abuse making them less likely to break if dropped.
I also picked up two sets of plates from this collection. Two plates in a Chevron pattern and two plates in red. The bottoms are ridged for easy stacking and compact storage. The plates run just under $2 each. They were also perfect since my 50s vintage plates don’t fare well in the microwave. However, there’s no need to stop there! If you’re looking for even more fun to add to this collection, be sure to check out Target online.
Cool retro melamine dishware from Target
Target online offers Chevron Appetizer plates, Triangle Record Appetizer plates, Camera Appetizer plates, and a 3 Melamine Cassette Tape Bamboo Tray. There’s also a lot of cool glassware including a set of 8 Black and White Cassette Tape Tumblers. You can view all of the fun, retro themed pieces from this collection at Target online.
Which one is your favorite?