Search This Blog

Monday, October 29, 2012

Home Sweet Apartment

Since it would be the only time my grandmothers would come to New York and a bunch of out of town friends were coming for a visit, Matt's wedding weekend was the perfect time to unveil my apartment to all my friends and family.  I had put so much time, effort, and money into this apartment so I wanted it to be absolutely perfect before anyone came over.  That's a big secret to keep for 4.5 months!  It all paid off because although it wasn't perfect (this is real life, after all), it was pretty dang close.  I know everyone's facebook feeds are overcrowded with engagement and pregnancy announcements, but this apartment is the closest thing I have to a child and I was touched so many people came to help me celebrate my major life moment, even if it doesn't involve a diamond ring.

Unlike previous apartments, I took the time to plan out how I wanted to decorate before doing anything.  In the past, I would buy something like a curtain and find myself locked into a color scheme that wasn't my particular aesthetic.  This time, I did some serious pre-planning.  I scoured the internet, magazines, stores, and flea markets for inspiration and then searched and searched til I found the pieces that I truly wanted.  I will show pics of individual rooms and elements in subsequent posts (3 on Thursday, most likely), but for now, these are two items in my apartment that are indicative of both my style and decorating forethought:
I am preppy through and through and love monograms so I put a huge one on the inside of my door (left).  It's just very me and in my first grown up apartment, I don't have to be anything but the truest version of myself.  I'm no Martha Stewart, but I like getting crafty every once in a while as a creative outlet.  I knew I wanted to incorporate a couple DIY elements in my apartment because it would both save money and make my space unique.  I bought white nightstands from Ikea (so cheap and so easy to put together), sanded them, painted them (yellow with a gray gingham design on top), and added new hardware (adorable squirrels).  They came out exactly how I envisioned them!  
Now, onto the party itself!  When I sent my email invitation, I included a logo that I created (pictured below).  It was just a little hint of the party's theme, the iconic I Heart NY design.  I bought an apartment in this city so I better "heart" it!  I found this great print on Etsy (also pictured below) that was a play on the traditional logo stamped on a vintage NY map, and I taped it to the door so people would know they were in the right place.  In case they forgot about the logo in the email, this served as a little reminder of the theme to come.

All the food and drink was New York themed.  I made "I Heart NY" labels for everything just to hammer it home.  I even covered the wine bottles with new labels I made that said "New York State of Wine'd".  Other than the wine, the menu was as follows:

  • Little Italy Antipasti Platter (prosciutto, olives, fennel salami, and mozzarella)
  • Bagels and Lox (a dip made with cream cheese, sour cream, dill, lemon, and smoked salmon, served with bagel chips)
  • Lower East Side Pickles
  • Big Apple Brie (a wheel of brie, warmed in the oven, topped with chopped Granny Smith apples and honey)
  • Black and White Cookies (a New York specialty, served in mini Yankees hats they use for ice cream at baseball games - I found mine on Amazon)
  • New York State of Wine'd
  • Concrete Jungle Juice (pre-mixed drink of your choice)

The party was a hit!  I learned a few things in planning it.  First and foremost, I learned that you don't have to slave away in the kitchen all day or buy all pre-made food to create something special and thematic.  I didn't have the luxury of spending all day prepping for the party.  My family and friends were in town, and I wasn't about to relinquish precious time with them to set out paper plates.  Here are my tips:

  1. Pick one item that can be made several hours [or even the night] before the event.  For me, this dish was the lox dip.  Slow cooker dishes and baked goods are great for this, too.
  2. Pick one item that is homemade but takes zero time to make.  In my case this was the brie.  There are plenty of things you can top brie with (pecans and brown sugar are a great combo) so you can basically do different versions of the same thing at each party.  Puff pastry tarts are also great, just give yourself time to let the pastry thaw.
  3. Have one item that's "assembled".  Antipasti plates and cheese platters are life savers.  You may not be cooking anything, but you're picking each item out individually and using artisinal products (it makes a difference, trust me) so there's a personal touch.
  4. Serving pieces make a difference.  Does it take extra time to put out the fancy red and white paper straws vs. plastic ones?  Nope.  It just took some advance thought.  The straws matched the I Heart NY color scheme and made people feel less like they were at a frat party.  I'm a huge proponent of disposable serving pieces because no one has time to do dishes for 50, but not all plasticware is created equal.  I ordered plastic wine glasses from Amazon so people didn't have to drink wine from Solo cups.  It doesn't cost much, and it will make your grown up guests feel like they're at a soiree instead of a hoedown.  Labels really tie everything together.  Invest in placecard holders (cheap on Amazon) - you'll use them over and over again.  
  5. Offer wine, beer, and a signature cocktail.  This cuts down on the liquor/mixer bill and gives you the opportunity to stretch your theme.  I promise, people won't even miss the other liquor.  My Concrete Jungle Juice was cucumber vodka mixed with Simply Lemonade.  I don't even like vodka that much and thought this was delicious.  Garnish with cucumber slices for extra flair.  Huge thank you to my brother for working as bartender.   
  6. Finally, set the stage with music and a movie.  I made a playlist of songs about New York and Home to set the mood (including "Empire State of Mind," "Nolita Fairytale," "Hometown Glory," and "Take Me Home Tonight").  I planned to play an iconic NYC movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's on mute in the background but, unfortunately, my DVR was broken.  Best laid plans...

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails