5 ways to serve up Hollywood magic at your awards night party

Red carpet entrance

(BPT) – What makes a great party on a big awards night so much fun? It probably has something to do with why we still go to packed movie theaters: We love a shared experience.

This year, make your red carpet viewing experience one to remember for you and your friends, and host a bash that celebrates our decades-long fascination with movie magic, celebrities and Hollywood mystique. To make it special, try some of these tips when planning your awards night viewing party.

Set a dress code: Let your friends know they’re in for a special night, and make it a dress-up affair. Or for something both glam and comfy, invite everyone to come in their fanciest lounge wear. (Think slippers, smoking jackets, dressing gowns and satin pajamas.)

Kick it off with red carpet glam: Build a red-carpet photo booth in your entryway, complete with red fabric, gold stars and topiaries and urge your guests to work it for the camera. To make it more fun, have photo-ready props handy, like oversized sunglasses, wigs and feather boas, and they’ll do the rest!

Make it interesting: During the big event, bring the spirit of competition into your living room and hand out ballots, asking your guests to predict who’s taking home the gold statue. To enjoy the unpredictable fun of live TV, make up some bingo cards. Up the stakes and prepare a few swag bags for the winners. Some ideas: DVDs with winning movie titles of yore, movie theater passes, gourmet popcorn and locally made candies.

Get bubbly: Champagne is always in style with the rich and famous. Popping open some chilled bottles of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut will make your guests feel like A-listers, because this year, special edition bottles from the famed champagne maker will be also poured at the ceremony and after-party. To learn more, visit piper-heidsieck.com.

Serve delicious, sophisticated bites: Serving up platters of tasty hors d’oeuvres is always a simple but classy way to feed your stylish guests because it lets everyone eat, mingle and watch the show. This year, let your menu be inspired by Wolfgang Puck, the creator of the luxurious, over-the-top feast served at the awards show after-party. Try his recipe for Gougères with gruyere, and your guests will give you a standing ovation. (Find the recipe below.)


Makes about 75 bite-sized puffs

Gougères are savory puffs flavored with cheese and served hot from the oven as a quick hors d’oeuvres.

Gougères batter:

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 1/2 ounces bread flour

2 extra-large eggs

3 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Gougères toppings:

1 extra-large egg

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Fleur de sel


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Set rack in the center of oven.

Insert paddle attachment in a stand mixer. In a heavy metal saucepot, combine the water, butter, cayenne and salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, add all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined to form a smooth paste. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer.

Put the paste in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix at medium speed for 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed until each is fully incorporated and stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the 3 1/2 ounces of grated Gruyere and mix until incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe nickel-size mounds onto a non-stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, 2 inches apart.

In a small bowl beat together the egg and egg yolk forming an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush each of the Gougères with the egg wash. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere cheese and a pinch of fleur de sel.

Bake the gougères on the center rack in the preheated oven until they are puffed and golden brown, about 18 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Source: Wolfgang Puck.


5 ways to take your holiday party to the next level

(BPT) – On the one hand, the holidays are all about traditions. You and your family probably have some favorite recipes you like to cook up, or maybe it’s a trip to the tree farm or pumpkin patch. But just as much as holidays are about tradition, many have an insatiable drive to outdo themselves and try something new, to outdo the festivities of years past and make this holiday season the most memorable yet.

How can you outshine yourself this holiday season? The answer is simple: Think big. Don’t be confined to the party supplies you have around your house; stretch out and rent equipment similar to what professional party planners use. RentalHQ can connect you to nearby rental stores and help your party stand out from the usual traditional gatherings.

Here are some other great ideas to jump-start your holiday party planning. Continue reading

3 things you’ll need to throw the ultimate tailgating party

Fall is tailgating season. Grab your friends and have a Ball.

(BPT) – Football season is finally upon us and fans everywhere are getting revved up to cheer on their favorite team. Whether you watch the big game from the comfort of your home or head down to the stadium, it’s the perfect time to throw the mother of all football celebrations – a really big tailgating party.

Tailgating is a chance to enjoy (or brave) the fall weather and bond with friends over the anticipation of football. At its peak, stadium tailgating can turn into a free-flowing block party that anyone can crash.

Whether at home on the deck or camped out at the stadium, an unforgettable day of tailgating starts with a good plan and the right mindset. Whatever you do, be sure and roll out the welcome mat and tackle the tailgating experience head on, creating the ultimate football party zone.

  1. Up your grill game

You can’t tailgate without great food and mountains of meat. That means this is a good time to evaluate your outdoor cooking gear.

Consider adding a second grill, and you’ll have plenty of extra cooking space to feed the crowd. One great addition to your lineup is the Black 3-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill by Char-Broil, available at Lowe’s. It’s easy to start so you’ll have those extra burgers, steaks or chicken wings sizzling right away.

Explore other additions to your grilling kit to help you fix up a memorable feast. Invest in that smoker you always wanted so you can perfect your brisket recipe and make your tailgate party an instant fan favorite. Nowadays, portable grills come with larger cooking spaces, so you can keep those bellies filled while making the trip to the stadium much easier.

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Inspirational tips for autumn outdoor entertaining

Fall party time is a great time for all the fun, unique decor and great food.

(BPT) – The days are shorter, the temperatures are cooler and kids are back in school. You’ve said goodbye to summer socials, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to put away your apron and stow the patio furniture. Autumn is one of the best times of the year for outdoor entertaining, and with a few smart tips you’ll fall in love with hosting fall gatherings.

Extend the fun feeling of summer entertaining into the autumn months by taking a few simple steps to create a memorable experience.

Switch up dishes: The cool dishes of summer should be swapped with savory recipes that feature hearty ingredients. A roast or slow-cooker meal is the perfect option. Visit the farmers market and feature local fresh harvest foods. In addition to standard drinks like water and soda, offer a signature warm beverage, such as spicy hot apple cider.

Enjoy the night: Autumn evenings are spectacular, with cool temperatures and star-studded skies. Serve dinner al fresco and then ask guests to stay to gather around the bonfire to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. Add an element of entertainment and guests will enjoy themselves all night. Continue reading

Throw a sizzling summer cocktail party

Bar carts are perfect for keeping cocktail parties organized

(BPT) – Raise your glasses high – cocktail parties are the toast of this summer’s entertaining. Don’t know where to start? Think barware, which is nearly as hot as the rising temperatures. That’s why we turned to designer Julie Robbins from Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of vintage and current dinnerware, for fabulously fun ideas sure to make your soiree one of your favorite summer memories.

Why are cocktail parties so popular for summer 2017?

These gatherings are both fun and easy to put together – you’re not trying to seat everyone at the same table so you can make use of more of your home, whether that’s an apartment, condo or house. Cocktail parties are all about conversation, networking and introducing one group of friends to another, so people are always moving around. This type of entertaining is perfect for both small and large spaces alike; you can use your kitchen, family room or head outside to a patio, deck or even your yard.

What’s the best time for the perfect cocktail party?

Any time! Cocktail parties are usually the warm-up or wind-down for the evening, and timing often depends on your reasons for celebrating. For instance, if you’re holding your party as a kick-off to some event, say an evening out or concert under the stars, you may want to serve drier drinks and savory, spicier foods. If it’s a post-event gathering, consider a late night with sweets, such as liqueurs and dessert-type finger foods.

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Party Themes for a Summer Bash to Remember

Create a Summer Bash to Remember

(BPT) – When summer party season arrives, your guests will be happy to eat the grilled food you serve and down gallons of iced tea, but will they recall your party after Labor Day? Every good host wants to throw a bash guests will talk about all summer and remember long after the first snowfall. A themed summer party can be just the ticket to ensure your summer celebration has everyone clamoring to be on the guest list for your next big event.

Here are tips for staging a summer celebration to remember:

Sporting fun

A summer without sports would be like a beach vacation with no water! A sports-themed party is sure to have broad appeal, whether you opt to focus on a single sport or incorporate several favorites. Sports-themed decorations are a good start, but to really make a statement, rent some bleachers from your local party rental store, add in some concession equipment like popcorn and cotton candy makers, and throw in some backyard-sized versions of your favorite sports games. You can rent basketball tosses, pitching games and more at your local rental store.

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Tips for hosting a better brunch

Host a Brunch

(BPT) – Love the idea of hosting a brunch, but begin to regret it the moment you’re toiling over a pan of bacon grease while your friends are chatting over mimosas? You’re not alone. Whether you’re planning a simple brunch for a small group or an Easter brunch to wow a crowd, these simple tips and ideas are guaranteed to get you out of the kitchen and into the action.

Prepare a game plan. Developing a checklist will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with to-do’s. Once you know how many people will be attending the brunch, start planning the menu, gather recipes and make a grocery list. Take inventory of your cooking supplies, serving dishes and tableware. While cleaning the house, identify what decorations are needed. Continue reading