Monthly Archives: December 2012

How To Set Up a Festive Drinks Station For Your Holiday Party

Entertaining, Holiday, Recipes and tagged , , , , | | | 6 Replies

We’re excited to feature a post today from Carmen Taylor, who shows you how to create an easy and festive drinks station for your upcoming holiday soirees!

Setting up a drink station for a large crowd can be stylish and fun. Follow these guidelines for a seamless holiday beverage service.

Choose a signature drink that may be customized using infusions, purees and juices. An interactive beverage station is personal and exciting for guests. Use a beverage dispenser suited for larger service like the Decorator’s Drink Dispenser.

 Fill the base of the drink dispenser with seasonal decor elements.

 Mercury Glass Ball Ornaments add the perfect amount of glimmer.Prep glassware by garnishing Jewel Cut Double Old-Fashioned glasses before guests arrive. I enjoy using fresh herbs or fruit slices.

 

Rosemary Gin Sparkler

1 ½ cup of sugar

1 ½ cup of water

8 sprigs of rosemary

2 ¼ cup of gin

2 cups of club soda

½ cup of lime juice

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, 4 of the rosemary sprigs, and water to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool.

Strain the sugar syrup into a large pitcher. Add the gin, club soda, and lime juice and stir to combine. Chill before serving; garnish each glass with rosemary sprigs.
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Source: Photos courtesy Carmen Taylor

The Story Behind Our Wesley Throw — And Knitting Tips From the Designer

Behind the Design, Behind the Scenes | | | 1 Reply

This week, we caught up with Jenn, one of Pottery Barn’s textile designers, to find out what went on behind the scenes with her design of the Wesley Knit Throw.

In the case of the Westley Knit Throw, it was fashion informing decor. Jenn told us, “Originally I’d knit a big cowl scarf out of that yarn that I used to wear all the time. So I sent swatches of that [out] and had the yarn developed in the same stitch as my big chunky scarf.”

Want to start knitting on your own? Jenn told us that she was initially frustrated by knitting when she started around 10 years ago, but after she switched to a continental knitting technique, she found her stride. She also said that this technique has advantages of creating a more even stitch and using fewer skeins of yarn for a larger project.

Jenn also offered these tips:

  • Start with something easy. “A scarf is the best first project.”
  • Go big. “Start with big needles. Don’t use anything over a 5 to 7 gauge needle.”
  • Hang in there. “Don’t get frustrated! That’s my number 1 tip.”
  • Repair your work with ease. “If you drop a stitch don’t rip apart the whole thing, just go back to the row with the hole and repair from there.”
  • A good stitch to add to your repertoire. “A rib stitch is a good stitch to learn after you learn how to knit and purl. That way, if you’re doing a bigger blanket you can get your stitches to lay flat.”
  • Don’t try something too ambitious right away.“Start with square and rectangular projects first and then work up to shaping.”
  • Stop into a store in your neighborhood. “My favorite is ImagiKnit at 18th and Sanchez in [San Francisco’s] Mission [District]. They’re really helpful. You can go in there and ask for advice and they’ll help you.”

 

 

 

Endless Ways to Give: A Chat With St. Jude Outreach Director Marlo Thomas

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When actress-author-activist Marlo Thomas was growing up, her father, nightclub performer Danny Thomas, had a favorite saying: “There are two kinds of people in the world: the givers and the takers. The takers sometimes eat better, but the givers always sleep better.” Guided by this philosophy, the elder Thomas went on to found St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and for the past eight years, Pottery Barn has been honored to work with the hospital as a fundraising partner. To date, Pottery Barn has raised $18.6 million toward St. Jude’s groundbreaking efforts to find cures for catastrophic childhood diseases through its landmark research and treatment. In keeping with its founding vision, no child is ever denied treatment at St. Jude for a family’s inability to pay. That’s because St. Jude pays for everything, including the cost of treatment, travel, lodging and food for patients and a family member.

In honor of the holiday season, we sat down with Marlo Thomas to talk about St. Jude. For the past 21 years, she has been the hospital’s tireless spokesperson, raising awareness and funds in her role as National Outreach Director. Here’s our conversation:

For those who aren’t familiar with St. Jude, can you tell us a bit about the hospital?

“In addition to making sick children well, we are dedicated to two things: One is to raise awareness, so that mothers and fathers and grandparents and caregivers know that St. Jude is there when their child is sick and they have nowhere else to turn. A lot of hospitals don’t know exactly what to do — not because they’re bad hospitals, but they’re working only with what they know. At St. Jude, we work on what we don’t know. That’s because, in addition to treating very sick kids, we are also a research center — and that’s a very important distinction. And second, we also must raise the funds to do this life saving work. So the whole idea of our annual Thanks and Giving campaign is to raise both money and awareness so that we can continue this work.”

How does St. Jude help to make its patients feel happy and comfortable?

“Whether you’re an adult or a child, it’s important to be surrounded by joy and positive people. That helps the healing process.  At St. Jude, all of the walls are painted with fairy tales and murals. It doesn’t look like a hospital at all — it looks more like Disneyland! We also make sure that children enjoy a lot of play time. We have crafts and artwork for them, and every Tuesday we bring in dogs for a special petting time with the kids. And then there’s our Child Life department, where specialists work with patients and families to minimize stress and anxiety through age-appropriate activities. We also host programs for the children during the holidays, whether it’s Halloween or Valentine’s Day or even prom time — we give little dances! We want to help them not miss out on the experiences of normal childhoods. Our most exciting tradition is our off-chemo party, which we have to celebrate when a child ends chemotherapy treatments. We have balloons, cake, streamers, ice cream and party hats, and everyone gets involved in it — the doctors and nurses, the parents and children. In the end, our overall goal is to do everything we can to celebrate the children, make every day special and fun for them and to keep their spirits up.”

As a company, we’ve been so pleased to help in some small part. How can our customers and associates continue to help?

“For one thing, Pottery Barn is no ‘small part’ of our efforts. So far, you’ve raised $18.6 million — that’s amazing! It costs $1.8 million to run the entire hospital every day, so you’ve basically paid for ten straight days. That’s a lot of love. What’s also really important about Pottery Barn’s contribution to St. Jude is the commitment of your associates at the individual stores, who every year not only ask guests to make a donation to St. Jude at checkout, but know all about the hospital and answer questions of your guests. We feel blessed and inspired that the entire Williams-Sonoma Inc. family has joined us this way, and with such great enthusiasm and creativity. And, by the way, I just love your Gifts That Give Back — the beautiful home décor, the fragrance items and the mercury glass. I’ve actually bought a lot of the mercury glass as gifts this year. I love the collection!”

What can readers do if they want to do a little something extra to help St. Jude?

“They can go straight from this interview and click onto the St. Jude website and make a donation. They can also learn more about volunteering for St. Jude, and read all about our children. They can watch the videos and commercials we’ve made this season, with our great family of celebrities — Jennifer Aniston, Robin Williams, Sofia Vergara, Michael Strahan and all of the big stars who are involved with the campaign. Every one of them is invaluable to us.”

We love the new “Hey St. Jude” video! How did this video come together?

“We all took part in it. My brother Tony always had the dream of getting the rights to the ‘Hey Jude’ song. It ‘s such a natural for us. So he started by making calls to people he knew to get them involved. The staff at St Jude had worked with some of the stars, I knew some people — a lot of calls were made. It was such fun to do. We were able to use it for online only, and it still is up there and doing really well. About a million people have seen it so far, and it’s helped us raise a lot of money and awareness. And those two things are the lifeblood of St. Jude!”

 

Source: Photos courtesy St. Jude

DIY Painted Animal Ornaments and Holiday Entertaining Tips

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This ornament project would be great for a craft afternoon with friends or kids. — Folk Magazine

Make your own stamped wrapping paper. — Poppytalk

One mantel, three ways. — Country Living

A stress-free plan for tidying your home before a party. — Apartment Therapy

10 gift ideas for holiday hosts. — House Beautiful

What a fun project: glitter bulbs. — Sweet Paul Magazine

Source: Photos courtesy Folk Magazine

Streamline Gift Giving With a Gift Wrapping Station (or Improvise Your Own Version With These Tips)

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At this time of year, many of us are desperately searching for that extra pair of scissors, length of ribbon, and roll of wrapping paper. Crafty pros know that a gift wrapping station can eliminate this vexing process completely.

Even if you’re stretched for square footage, a wall in a laundry room, guest bedroom or craft room is enough space to accommodate a gift wrapping station. Our Gibson Craft Station is a great option. You can also cobble together a station by using furniture you might already own, such as a small buffet. By using such items, you can easily assemble your gift wrapping station for this peak holiday gifting time, then disassemble it after the new year if you so desire.

Whether you have  a dedicated gift wrapping station, or not, here’s our list of essential gift wrapping items that you should have on hand.

  • Tape dispenser with tape refills. Double-sided tape is also a great option.
  • Scissors
  • Gift wrapping paper. We also love the look of brown kraft paper used as wrapping paper.
  • Ribbon
  • Gift tags
  • Gift bags
  • Tissue paper
  • Bows
  • Pen and paper for labeling gifts

For more tips, check out this post from Country Living.

Mystery Box Design Challenge: A Divine Cocktail Party

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This week, we’re taking a closer look at the five bloggers who are featured in our Mystery Box Challenge. We challenged five of our favorite entertaining bloggers to create holiday decor vignettes with ornaments from our Jewels for the Home collection in the second Mystery Box Design Challenge. You can vote for your favorite design here. Today, we’re featuring the designs created by Shelley O’Donnell at Divine Party Concepts.

What’s your favorite type of holiday party to throw?

“My favorite type of holiday party to host is a Christmas cocktail party.  I love to serve finger foods and nice cocktails.  The décor and ambiance of Christmas always makes for a nice party.”

What’s your favorite holiday drink to serve (or drink)?

“My favorite holiday drink to serve is sangria.  A nice berry-flavored sangria goes well with the holidays and I’ve even served chocolate sangria at a holiday party that everyone loved.”

What’s one effortless way to add holiday décor to a party?

“One effortless way to add holiday décor to a party is to use natural items such as pinecones, acorns, branches and berries.  You can easily dress these items up with glitter, spray paint and crystals.  You can also add these items to candles and tables for a beautiful accent to your décor.”

Vote for your favorite design on Pottery Barn’s Facebook page now!

Source: Photos courtesy Divine Party Concepts

See What’s on Our Wish List From Mark and Graham

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We’re happy to introduce the he newest member to the Williams-Sonoma family, Mark and Graham, whose incredible selection of monogramming options and products makes personalized gift giving effortless. Check out a few of our holiday favorites from Mark and Graham!


These Alpaca Wraps ($199) would add such sophisticated coziness to your home over the holiday season and beyond.

We love these handmade Rectangular Napkin Rings ($39 for a set of 4) . Choose your favorite font to completely change the look.

Keep your fireplace stylish with this Iron Log Holder ($99). Which monogram will you choose for it?

 

How can a gingerbread house get even cuter? When it’s a Personalized Gingerbread House ($59), of course

We’re imagining a tree decorated exclusively with these chic Spherical Glass Ornaments ($10 – $12).

 

Take a peek at the  other great products, from leather totes to chic glassware, available at  Mark and Graham!