How to Host a Fabulous Holiday Cocktail Party: with Rita Wong Events & Cointreau

The holidays are here. Time to step-up your cocktail game.

Be the hostess they all talk about with your next holiday cocktail party.

Ever since I planned mine and Joe’s 2015 nuptials, I was hooked on the idea of event planning. I learned that entertaining and playing hostess was something I loved to do. Whether it’d be on a larger scale like Leo’s baptism, or a more intimate setting like my best friend’s bachelorette, I’m always up for a party (or two!).

Rita Wong is the owner and founder of Rita Wong Events. She is, in basic terms, queen bee of Montreal’s party planning industry. After sifting through her Instagram and witnessing her work, all I could tell myself was: “Can my 10-year vow renewal come any sooner?!”

When I heard that Rita would be hosting an event to teach the A-Z of hosting cocktail parties, I was ecstatic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to learn straight from the expert?!

How to Host a Fabulous Holiday Cocktail Party: with Rita Wong Events & Cointreau

So, you’re ready to take on your first holiday get-together? Take a breath. Relax. Everything will go okay. The most important part is to be organized, have fun, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

In Rita and Cointreau‘s event, guests walked  through a circuit-style setup to learn from some of the industry’s top experts. Each station was dynamic, keeping us interested, entertained, and well-fed.

At one station, we were warmly welcomed by Rita. Charismatic and compelling, Rita had tons of valuable lessons to share about party planning. At florals, we met with Robert Pettigrew (psst: if that name seems familiar it’s because he is, in fact, Celine Dion’s florist) to get  hands-on with flower arrangements.

The final station was a Cointreau interactive bar. (I know, right?! You can only imagine my excitement when I found out that I’d be mixing cocktails alongside Cointreau‘s very own experts.) Here, we were handed a cocktail guide and given the ultimate instruction on creating delicious, high-quality drinks. It was hands-on, full of information, and so much fun. (And duh, we got to drink our own concoctions… along with other beverages!)

Here was the overall takeaway:

Tablescape & General Ambiance
The first aspect to think of is your party’s theme: will you be showcasing a specific colour? A motif?

When it comes to themes, you’ll also want to think of the general ambiance of your party. Will it be a more intimate, formal, sit-down dinner? Perhaps you want to set up a buffet and have everyone serve themselves. If you’re expecting a larger guestlist, passed hors d’oeuvres may be your best bet.

Be the hostess they all talk about with your next holiday cocktail party.

Set up your table to make it convenient yet, beautiful for your guests. A few suggestions:

  • Menu cards on each table setting for more formal dinners
  • Candles, candles, candles: set the tone (they’re pretty and budget-friendly)
  • For buffet-style parties, ensure you have enough plates, cups, cutlery (consider rental to ensure that you have more than the right amount)

Be the hostess they all talk about with your next holiday cocktail party.

Floral Arrangements
Take your party to the next level with unforgettable floral arrangements. Be bold  and create a “hills and valleys look” by using vases of different heights. Go for seasonal flowers and greenery to ensure that your arrangements are looking crisp and fresh.

Don’t be afraid to “accessorize” your floral decor. A bouquet could be elevated with a few ornaments, well-placed branches, etc.

Be the hostess they all talk about with your next holiday cocktail party.

The Perfect Cocktail
Okay, so imagine this: your guests arrive, they put their coats away, and you walk towards them whilst handing them a welcome cocktail.

Hostess goals: check!

A holiday cocktail party isn’t complete without… well, a cocktail.

  • Go for gold – you’ll only want to use quality ingredients for your mixed drinks. Cointreau offers the best flavour because they use the best ingredients.
  • Prepare your cocktail in batches. This will make your life easier as you’re serving. Essentially, you’ll just have to pour the drink and garnish it.
  • Take flavours into consideration (because it’s all about balance). Mix it up with sweet and bitter notes. It will regulate the overall taste of your signature beverage.

Be the hostess they all talk about with your next holiday cocktail party. Be the hostess they all talk about with your next holiday cocktail party.

When it comes to balance, Cointreau has perfected its game. The orange liqueur boasts both sweet and bitter orange peel that creates an incredibly delicious flavour.

So what are you waiting for? Enjoy the fruits of your labour. If it weren’t for you, this holiday cocktail party wouldn’t be a reality. Rita suggests: “The thing to remember about hosting a really beautiful, festive and delicious party is that you are enjoying if you were a guest as well. This is why it’s beneficial to get as much done before and to make it about treating your guests to a wonderful experience.”

Do you plan on hosting any holiday parties this year? What are your tips and tricks? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

Be the hostess they all talk about with your next holiday cocktail party.

 

Tips on Sending Out Holiday Cards

This year, go with classic correspondence by mailing out the most beautiful and heartfelt holiday cards!

‘Tis the season… to get your holiday correspondence in order! Here are our reasons for sending out holiday cards this year.

I always knew. I always told myself: “When I start a family, I am so mailing out Christmas cards.”

And so, folks, that is exactly what Joe and I (and Leo!) will be doing this year.

This year, go with classic correspondence by mailing out the most beautiful and heartfelt holiday cards!

Tips on Sending Out Holiday Cards

I’m a sucker for traditional snail mail, so I’ve had our Christmas cards planned out for quite some time. There are a few tricks that I’ve followed to ease up this holiday process.

Timing
You’ll want to make sure that your cards are well-received before December 25th. Ensure that you give yourself enough time for photos, printing, and general correspondence.

Handwritten Words
Try to handwrite as much as you can: the address on the envelope, signing off your names, your message, etc. It just adds that personalized touch we lose with emails, texts, etc.

Short, Sweet, & Positive
Don’t get carried away with your card’s personalized message. Keep it short, sweet, and free of negativity. Remember: it’s the most wonderful season of all!

Include a Photo!
Your loved ones will love to see how your family is doing. Including a photo makes for wonderful memories.

Of course, we had our family photographer, Laurie-Anne Thuot, capture some of our first holiday memories. See more of her work here and here.

This year, go with classic correspondence by mailing out the most beautiful and heartfelt holiday cards! This year, go with classic correspondence by mailing out the most beautiful and heartfelt holiday cards! This year, go with classic correspondence by mailing out the most beautiful and heartfelt holiday cards!

Are holiday cards a part of your family’s traditions?

This year, go with classic correspondence by mailing out the most beautiful and heartfelt holiday cards!

Holiday Wardrobe: Shimmery Pleats

Keeping it shiny, pleated, and sophisticated for this year’s holiday wardrobe.

Keeping it shiny, pleated, and sophisticated for this year's holiday wardrobe.

Metallic double-layer dress (Gap) / Merino wool crewneck cardigan (Gap)

My mom always had an admiration for pleated skirts. She’ll gracefully pair one with a tucked-in blouse, strappy sandals, and pulls off her signature look each time.

For this year’s holiday wardrobe, I wanted to be ahead of the game. Last year, I was struggling to fit in maternity-wear. I was 8 months pregnant and Leo was just about ready to greet the world.

When I spotted this metallic number, I decided to take a page out of my mom’s book. I loved the fact that the pleats were in the form of a dress as I always struggle to match anything with a single skirt. The flow is magical and forgiving to my postpartum body. I love how it follows that metallic trend that’s been popping up in holiday lookbooks everywhere.

Most importantly, I’m happy that I found my outfit well ahead of schedule. The holidays get stressful as it is; your holiday wardrobe shouldn’t be a hassle, but something to feel beautiful in.

Keeping it shiny, pleated, and sophisticated for this year's holiday wardrobe. Keeping it shiny, pleated, and sophisticated for this year's holiday wardrobe. Keeping it shiny, pleated, and sophisticated for this year's holiday wardrobe.

Sleeping Habits: 5 Tricks to a Better Night’s Sleep

Feeling groggy? Tired? Stay fabulous and thriving with these tricks for a better night's sleep.

Rise and shine. You deserve a better night’s sleep.

When I announced my pregnancy, the most common piece of advice I received was: “Get your sleep… now.” Of course, with becoming a parent lies the possibility of losing hours upon hours of sleep. Well, Joe and I scored pretty well within that department. At just two months old, Leo was doing his full nights. We relished in an entire night’s sleep early on in our parenting journey.

Feeling groggy? Tired? Stay fabulous and thriving with these tricks for a better night's sleep.

Regardless, there are still processes and steps that we take in order to get the right amount of shut-eye.

5 Tricks to a Better Night’s Sleep

It’s All About Routine
Babies thrive on routine and your sleeping pattern should be the same. Get accustomed to going to bed at the same time every night. This also goes for waking up: rise and shine at the same hour every single day.

Bookworm
Get lost in a good book. Nothing else gets my eyelids feeling heavier than reading in bed.

Feeling groggy? Tired? Stay fabulous and thriving with these tricks for a better night's sleep.

Lights Out
If you find yourself tossing and turning, avoid bright lights. TVs off, cell phones put away… you’ll find yourself having a better night’s sleep.

Partner Agreements
Joe and I have always respected each other’s sleep preferences. We openly discuss what our likes/dislikes are regarding bedtime routines. Joe prefers the left side of the bed, whereas I don’t mind either one. If Joe has a snoring phase, he’ll find solutions ASAP to ensure I get a sufficient amount of rest.

A Made-Up Bed
I make a conscious effort to make my bed every morning. It’s just so much more inviting to crawl into a clean bed with neatly folded sheets and fluffed-up pillows.

What does your sleep routine look like? What steps do you take to ensure a better night’s sleep?

Feeling groggy? Tired? Stay fabulous and thriving with these tricks for a better night's sleep.

Twirling in Tulle

Embracing my post-baby body with a tulle skirt - my favorite skirt of all time.

Because a tulle skirt is the best kind of skirt!

I can’t stress the importance of knowing your own body. I’m a firm believer in self-love and embracing every square inch of yourself – both inside and out.

When I gave birth to Leo, my body went through a lot of changes. Though it took some time, I finally came out of my shell and started appreciating myself. Pregnancy and childbirth puts you through so much. Heck, I should have burst out of that shell, held my head high, and screamed with great pride with all that I did. It’s no easy feat, let me tell you.

But that’s not how it went.

In reality, it’s as if I had to introduce the new me to… well, me. Yes, my body went through a lot. While some things shifted and changed, it just took getting used to.

I can finally say that I’m happy. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but it feels great to be comfortable in my skin again.

Embracing my post-baby body with a tulle skirt - my favorite skirt of all time.

I decided to celebrate with my favorite wardrobe piece of all-time: the airy, romantic, and classic tulle skirt. I have always had one in my closet. When I spotted this one on sale at Forever21 (score!), I grabbed it, attempted to try it on, but then Leo started crying, so I just paid for it and left. True story.

Embracing my post-baby body with a tulle skirt - my favorite skirt of all time. Embracing my post-baby body with a tulle skirt - my favorite skirt of all time. Embracing my post-baby body with a tulle skirt - my favorite skirt of all time.

Photos by: Laurie-Anne Thuot

5 Fabulous Gift Ideas: Baby’s First Christmas

Who’s ready for the holidays? Here are a few ideas we tossed around for baby’s first Christmas.

Baby's first Christmas is always a special time! Make gift choices easy with these unique gifting ideas!

This year, I seem to be surrounded by babies. Yep, amongst my peers, there has been a baby boom – myself included!

Our family is definitely looking forward to Leo’s first Christmas. This is the time of year to start traditions and we couldn’t be more eager. Not to mention, we’re in full-mode for gift-preparation. With all the babies, infants, and toddlers in our extended family, we’re trying to get creative.

Here are a few ideas we’ve come up with:

5 Fabulous Gift Ideas for Baby’s First Christmas

Luxurious Bathtime
How about some accessories to elevate bath-time? Imagine putting this gift basket together: fluffy kid-sized bathrobes, comfortable slippers, and high-end soap. These are the items that people never think of buying on a regular basis, so they’re ideal to receive as presents!

Their Very Own Stocking
Stockings are the gifts that keep on giving. Think about it: they’re filled to the rim with goodies on Christmas day! Why not invest in a stunning stocking for baby’s first holiday season?

A Personalized Pillow
Make their room look ultra special with a personalized throw pillow. Many Etsy shops even have the option of putting baby’s name, birth date, weight, height, etc.

A Scenic Keepsake
Snow globes are some of my favourite things to receive (yes, even as an adult). Although it’s not something he/she can use right away, it’s a great way to showcase the memories from baby’s first holiday season.

Fluffy, Cozy, and Charming Pyjamas
Let’s face it: babies and infants live quite the life. With milk, sleep, and poop on rotation, they have the entire day to play, discover, and just have a good time.

But all jokes aside…

Most of the time, your baby will be sporting pj’s – so why not make them fabulous? Pyjamas should be comfortable, easy to clean, and one-of-a-kind. I mean, now that you’re a parent, you’re always looking for that perfect photo opp! Right?!

Baby's first Christmas is always a special time! Make gift choices easy with these unique gifting ideas!

When I discovered Happy Panda Clothing, I just knew that Leo needed to sport one of their onesies. First and foremost, their handmade in Canada. Quality is key – especially when you’re looking for meaningful holiday gifts.

Once we received our cow baby onesie, I was ecstatic. Softness aside, I could tell the stitching was done with so much care. Leo plays, rolls, and crawls a lot, but I knew these pj’s would hold on their own. Not to mention, the attention to detail is what makes these pyjamas stand out from the rest. We’ve got little hooves, the sweetest ears, and cute little cow horns to make these pj’s truly one-of-a-kind.

Baby's first Christmas is always a special time! Make gift choices easy with these unique gifting ideas!

Be sure to follow Happy Panda Clothing on Instagram for the cutest updates. Trust me, your feed will be full of the fluffiest moo-cows, monkeys, and lambs! So. Worth. It.

How will you be celebrating baby’s first Christmas?

Baby's first Christmas is always a special time! Make gift choices easy with these unique gifting ideas!

4 Ways to Snack Healthier, Better, and Tastier

Eating right doesn’t have to be a chore. After months of trial and error, I figured out 4 ways to snack healthier – without compromising flavour.

…and seriously: I am so happy to not have to give up snacking. *score*

Eating right doesn't have to be a chore. After months of trial and error, I've figured out 4 ways to snack healthier - without compromising flavour.

This is not a sponsored post. I received my Hot Air Popcorn Popper courtesy of Hamilton Beach – all opinions are my own. 

After giving birth, I wasn’t one of those women to “swing” back into my pre-pregnancy bod. I was eating poorly, lacking sleep, and lost all willingness to exercise.

I felt drained. Of course, I needed to cut myself some slack. Being a new parent, I knew there’d be adjustments. But after a few meltdowns (and yes, these included crying sessions in changing rooms where sales associates had to cut me out of dresses), I was ready to make a change.

I found myself a nutritionist (who is also a trusted friend) and together, we’ve been going through a well-rounded eating plan. And really, there’s not much to it: no sacrificing, no strict regimes… just smarter (and realistic) choices.

And yes: it includes snacking.

Here are some winning food-combos that will have you snacking healthier, better, and tastier:

Veggies + Hummus
Easy to prepare, easy to pack, and you could go cray-cray with your veggies variety. My personal favourite: green peppers, radish, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.

Granola bar + handful of nuts
This is the snack that my nutritionist started me on. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t suffice. Boy, was I wrong! I often go for Kashi Bars (as she recommended) and 1/4 cup of unsalted cashews for my mid-day treat. I also love the idea of keeping a granola bar in my purse so that I have something to munch on if I’m on-the-go.

Hard boiled egg + piece of fruit
Yup, one simple egg can really keep you going when you need a pick-me-up.

Popcorn
You’re seeing correctly. I was ecstatic I was when my nutritionist suggested popcorn as a healthy snacking option.

Eating right doesn't have to be a chore. After months of trial and error, I've figured out 4 ways to snack healthier - without compromising flavour.

But wait, back it up: popcorn? Salty, buttery, warmly-popped kernels that can be deliciously washed down with an extra large soda?

Not exactly.

This is where a popcorn maker comes in.

So yes: forego the heavily poured-on butter. Flavourful, delicious popcorn is still a possibility: you just have to be creative.

Lucky for me, I recently received Hamilton Beach’s Hot Air Popcorn Popper. It has helped my snacking game tremendously.

It is so easy to use. I can make myself a snack in just a few minutes. Want to know just how simple? This is how it works: pour in your desired amount of kernels, plug it in, and watch it do its thing.

So whether baby is taking a nap or sitting in his high chair, I can multitask and prepare myself a delicious helping of popcorn. Yes, Hamilton Beach, you have made healthy snacking a possibility for a new mama. I applaud you.

Here’s how I flavour-up my bowl of popcorn:
– 1 tbsp of paprika
– 1 tbsp of parmesan cheese
– pinch of Himalayan pink salt
– 2 to 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Eating right doesn't have to be a chore. After months of trial and error, I've figured out 4 ways to snack healthier - without compromising flavour.

What do your snacking habits look like? How are some ways you can snack healthier?

Prepare yourself for… a giveaway!
In partnership with Hamilton Beach and my good friend Marielle of ladymarielle.com, we’re giving away a Hot Air Popcorn Popper to two lucky readers!
Hamilton Beach Canada: Hot Air Popcorn Popper

Eating right doesn't have to be a chore. After months of trial and error, I've figured out 4 ways to snack healthier - without compromising flavour. Eating right doesn't have to be a chore. After months of trial and error, I've figured out 4 ways to snack healthier - without compromising flavour.

Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Infants

Give us something good to eat! (Even if we’re teething.)

Make trick-or-treating a good ol’ time – even with your little one!
Trick-or-treating with little ones can be fun, safe, and enjoyable for all!
Last year, I remember being pregnant and just not wanting to go outside for Halloween. It was cold, rainy, and I was incredibly fatigued.

Now baby’s arrived… and that totally changes the game! You can surely bet that for this Halloween, we are so eager to get outside and introduce Leo to a world of costumes, candy, and Jack-o-lanterns. Trick-or-treating… here we come!

Tips for Trick-or-Treating with Infants

Just walk around!
I know candy is one of the best parts to trick-or-treating, but baby won’t actually know what he/she is missing out on. Halloween is a time to get festive, so put on your spooky gear and allow baby to observe the decorations, the ambiance, and all the fun costumes.

Spook-up the stroller
Perhaps baby’s not into wearing his/her costume? Maybe you decided last-minute that you’d take a festive stroll around the neighbourhood? No worries! If you’re not up for a disguise, you can add a few touches to your stroller to get into the Halloween spirit.

Work it, work it – model that cute costume!
Rather than going door-to-door, visit a mall or a local museum dressed from head-to-toe. I don’t blame you for wanting to show off your cutie-patootie!

Trick-or-treating with little ones can be fun, safe, and enjoyable for all!

I know many parents who’ve expressed the “tackiness” in taking a baby door-to-door for candy. Rest assured, Leo and I will be having our own treats this year (teething biscuits and pumpkin puree for the win!), but remember: each family has their own preferences. Do whatever’s best (and most fun!) for your little one! Whether you’ll be seeking treats or just roaming the streets on the 31st, I hope you all have a fun, festive, and amazing Halloween!

Photographs by Laurie-Anne Thuot Photography (and be sure to follow her on Instagram here!)

 

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Morning Routine

The clock is racing! Here are a few of our tips to speed up the process and get through your morning routine!

Tick tock: pick up the pace with some of our simple tips. Liven up that morning routine of yours!

The way my mornings unravel is the ultimate reflection on how the rest of my day will be. I wake up and set myself an expectation to complete specific tasks. I aim for a healthy breakfast, a made-up bed, a clean kitchen, and to look presentable for work/meetings/events.

Despite a crazy household, schedule, itinerary – whatever your case may be, I’ve got 5 simple steps that can keep your morning routine going and flowing.

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Morning Routine

Who’s Working Wardrobe?
As simple of a task it may seem, laying out your clothes the night before can save a lot of “Hmms…” and “Does that even match?” first thing in the morning.

Know Your Face
If you’re one for sporting some makeup, practice a 5-minute “glam routine” until you get a look down pat. Mine mainly consists of mascara and undereye concealer.

Not a Dirty Dish in Sight
I strive to get all of the dishes and kitchen clean-up done the night before. Waking up to a sink full of dirty plates can be a real eyesore.

Everything Has Its Place
Whether it’s Leo’s pacifier or my car keys, I make a conscious effort to put everything back where they belong. This way, I can just grab whatever I need and make my way out the door.

Breakfast Sandwiches are Ultra-Convenient
I’m a sucker for a good breakfast. I’ll rarely take things to-go and actually take my first-meal-of-the-day very seriously. Hit me up with some bacon, eggs, and a hot cup of coffee, and I’m totally your gal.

The clock is racing! Here are a few of our tips to speed up the process and get through your morning routine!

Of course, feeding my family an abundant breakfast on a daily basis is not-so realistic. Breakfast sandwiches are often my go-to because they offer versatility, good taste, and convenience.

Up until recently, I was assembling my breakfast sandwiches the traditional way: fry the egg, melt the cheese, toast the bread, etc. But then I found myself with Hamilton Beach‘s oh-so famous Breakfast Sandwich Maker… and you know what?

Total. Game. Changer.

The clock is racing! Here are a few of our tips to speed up the process and get through your morning routine!

In 5 minutes, I can make a breakfast sandwich that’s sizzled to perfection with any ingredients that I want. No hassle. No mess. It’s just a fun game of layering! Everything is literally made within the sandwich maker itself. I love that I can crack the egg directly on one of the cooking plates and I leave the rest to my new, nifty machine.

When I made my first sandwich, I immediately fell in love. It saved me so much time for prep and cleanup that I was actually looking for something to do.

The clock is racing! Here are a few of our tips to speed up the process and get through your morning routine! The clock is racing! Here are a few of our tips to speed up the process and get through your morning routine!

Retailing at $39.99 CDN, Hamilton Beach has totally changed my morning routine… for the better. I can’t wait to try different ingredient combinations (next stop: red bell pepper).

How do you keep it speedy in the morning? What do you usually put in your breakfast sandwiches?

The clock is racing! Here are a few of our tips to speed up the process and get through your morning routine!

 

Shopping Local with Sour Bags and Totes

Love me a good local brand: Sour Bags and Totes is original, durable, and ultra-adorbs!

“Go local,” they said. Let me tell you: the task is easy when brands are as cute as Sour Bags & Totes.

The world is a small and funny place. I first discovered Sour Bags & Totes while I was (aimlessly) browsing Instagram. After a few short scrolls, I realized how adorable the brand was. I noticed nifty, one-of-a-kind bags that used recycled and up-cycled materials. I was intrigued. I made it a point to keep an eye out for more of their collection.

Lo and behold, a couple of years later, I learned that Sour‘s owner and I shared a mutual friend. Lucky for me, I had the chance to meet the girl boss behind the popular Etsy shop – and the rest is history.

Love me a good local brand: Sour Bags and Totes is original, durable, and ultra-adorbs!

Shopping local is easy in cities like Montreal. We’re surrounded by talented artists that come up with the most fascinating brands and beautiful product offerings. In fact, from September 30th to October 1st, Sour Bags & Totes will be teaming up with other shop owners for a Mini Pop-Up event.

With 14 artisans present, this Mini Pop-Up event is something you’ll want to check out. A little bit of everything for everybody, you’ll find that “going local” is the best way to shop!

Check it out, September 30th to October 1st:
Loft Créatif

5775 blvd St. Laurent
Montreal, QC

Love me a good local brand: Sour Bags and Totes is original, durable, and ultra-adorbs! Love me a good local brand: Sour Bags and Totes is original, durable, and ultra-adorbs! Love me a good local brand: Sour Bags and Totes is original, durable, and ultra-adorbs! Love me a good local brand: Sour Bags and Totes is original, durable, and ultra-adorbs!

You can also check out Sour Bags & Totes directly on their Etsy shop and give them a like on Facebook and a follow on Instagram!

Love me a good local brand: Sour Bags and Totes is original, durable, and ultra-adorbs!

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