Cookies + friends? Yes, please.

I’ve been invited to my very first cookie exchange (aka cookie swap) and according to my friend Martha Stewart, this is what will be happening…

“Simplify your holiday baking by hosting a cookie swap. Invite a group of friends, and have each person make enough of one kind of cookie to share. At the party, sample the treats, then trade and package them in appealing assortments. Everyone leaves with finished gifts — and plenty of new recipes.”

Truth be told, I only know how to make these cookies, so maybe this is the perfect opportunity to expand my repertoire. Until then, a few extra ideas to sweeten the evening just a tad more. I cannot get over these Dominique Ansel “cookie shots“!

cookie

 

Photos: Cookie Shots (Dominique Ansel) / Cookie Cutter Thank You’s (Carolina Charm) / Spatula Invitation (Babble) / Decorations (Babble) / Bubble Bath Party Favor (Philosophy

There is something so exciting about “building” your own food, especially when you have an array of delicious toppings readily available. Ever since reading about this mouth-watering, Halloween Soup Bar, I’ve been dreaming of food bars!

soupbar5

What I love is that something like this would be a hit anywhere and anytime. It works for a full-blown event or a simple dinner party at home. Plus, everyone gets to pick and choose what they like. Move over taco bars, you’ve got some competition…

Grilled Cheese Bar – 

GRILLEDCHEESE

Pancake Bar – 

PANCAKES

Baked Potato Bar – 

POTATO

S’mores Station -

gourmet-smores2

Juice Bar – 

890a0543juicershoot_millie$!400xBiscuit Bar -

biscuitbar

Sip & See or Sip ‘n’ See – “a party held after the baby is born, which allows friends and family to come by and ‘sip” on a drink and ‘see’ the new bundle of joy.”

Inspired by designer Emily Henderson’s ‘Scandinavian Strongman’ party, I decided to do a litte sippin’ and seein’ (from my computer)…

When my daughter was born, several of our friends were kind enough to bring us dinner (was amazing, so grateful!) so they met her then, but if we hadn’t done that, this would have been a great alternative. Or if you don’t get around to having a baby shower, this can be another way to celebrate! You can really make it as simple or extravagant as you want, perhaps depending on the amount of sleep you are getting around that time (sigh).

 

Sip-and-See-Living-Room-2

 

welcome-to-the-world

 

sip and see

hellobaby-shower-01

favors

 

mimosa

 

Photos: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

atlantaskylineRecently, I shared that Events by Sofia was moving to Atlanta, GA and here we are!

The last 3 weeks since we moved, have been a whirlwind, but we are slowly getting settled. One of the main reasons for the move was to be near family, so while I do miss DC (especially our friends…) it’s been extremely nice to live near loved ones.

I will definitely continue event planning here in Atlanta and I’m excited to start discovering new vendors, venues (I just found out you can get married at the Aquarium!) and meeting new people. If you have any suggestions and/or advice, please let me know!

Fact: There are more than 65 streets with the word Peachtree in Atlanta!

Atlanta skyline poster: Etsy

“This is 2014, people. If Americans can send a robot to roam Mars, why can’t we create a functional, easy-to-use, search engine for wedding and event venues that has all the info you’d ever need?”

photo (2)

abc

Q&A with Lauren Wolfe, CEO of Partyista –

How did you first come up with the idea for Partyista?
I planned a lot of events for my last job but it was always so difficult – you couldn’t find basic information about the venues online, you couldn’t sort by size, there seemed to be no comprehensive list of places, etc. I set off creating my own list and then I put everything online with Partyista.

How many venues have you visited? 
Oh gosh. I haven’t kept count but in working in DC and with Partyista, I’ve visited well over 100 venues.

Most unique venue you have visited so far?
People are always looking for something a little different to make their day stand out. In the DC area one of my favorites is the Woodend Sanctuary in Maryland. I really liked it because it is so close to DC, but it feels like you are in the middle of a forest with all of the deer running around. I just got back from a weekend visiting Cape Cod and a new restaurant here, The Canteen, has a small backyard beach space that is available for events. The casual beachy theme with all of the string lights is gorgeous and straight out of Pinterest.

canteen

 

(The Canteen in Provincetown, MA)

Top 3 things to look for in a venue:
1) Size. First, know how many people you want to invite BEFORE you look for a venue. That way you can narrow your search based off of capacity limitations.
2) Cost. How much is this really going to cost? Is the cost of this venue JUST the space? Do you have to pay to bring in all food, chairs, plates, etc? Or does the venue cover the space, the dance floor, the food, the tables, etc? Really look at what the “price” entails. Paying for all of these additional things could easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars!
3) Fun. Does this venue fit you? Would you be proud of having an event here? Like I said, a gorgeous hotel ballroom would professionally take care of everything for you but it might not be the vibe you are looking for. If you love camping, consider having your wedding or big event at a campground. If you love traveling, consider going to Mexico (or anywhere) to have your wedding. If you love art, consider getting married in an art gallery. Make the event a fun reflection of your style.

What is your favorite DC venue?
It certainly isn’t easy to pick just one, but I do have to say for a big event, The Carnegie Institution of Science is a crowd favorite. I’ve had many couples get married there and they all rave about how gorgeous it is – and right in the middle of DC! If you are looking for a funkier space, The Long View Gallery just added on and now it is able to host events with up to 600 people!

If there was one venue you could visit, anywhere in the world, which one would it be and why?
I absolutely love traveling and I’ve been to 70 countries so picking just one destination is very difficult for me. I’d say that there are thousands of gorgeous, relatively inexpensive beach wedding opportunities nearby in Mexico. If you have family and friends in Boston, DC, Seattle and St. Louis, it could be easier to gather in Mexico than picking a coast! If your friends are members of the Forbes 500 list, you could always fly your private plane to the Maldives. The Maldives is a chain of gorgeous tropical islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I’ve never been (one day!) but I can’t imagine a more secluded and luxurious place to have a destination wedding.

Aerial shot of our hotel

 

(Photo courtesy of The Conrad Maldives Rangali)

We know you are revamping your site soon, we’d love to hear more about what exciting things we can expect!
Currently, Partyista is only available in the Washington, DC area. Right now you can search for venues in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. We are currently working on building up our lists so that you will soon be able to search for venues across the country. We currently have 20,000 venues listed and we are excited to get the huge list up for everyone to search!