Jes Gordon, the author of Party Like a Rock Star, has put her party-planning skills to work for such clients as Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Nicolas Cage! Now, she is providing inventive yet budget-friendly holiday ideas to make your holidays stress-free.
Remember when fabulous was truly fabulous? Channel your inner Don and Betty Draper (the on-screen couple played by Jon Hamm and January Jones) with this nod to retro Americana. To avoid a totally kitschy time warp, keep the Mad Men touches inspired and the party modern with a few simple updates.
Create your very own website with iWEB or any other self-starter web kit, and do your own virtual Evite -- but with a twist. Create a lovely trip down memory lane of holidays past with great vintage photos of friends and family. Another swingin' idea? Send a vintage-looking ornament with all of the party information attached.
Mid-century touches like vintage bubble Christmas tree lights and a shiny tinsel tree are fun ways to bedeck your halls, but for a more modern aesthetic, fill inexpensive glass cylinders -- try discount stores such as Big Lots -- with eye-catching items like pinecones, old-fashioned ribbon candy, oranges, cinnamon sticks, or pine sprigs. To keep things from getting too mish-mashy, stick to one item for each cylinder -- oranges in one, pinecones in another and so on.
Let's be honest: This is the real reason everyone will RSVP. To appease your guests, serve classics updated with a sophisticated twist! Some ideas? Pigs in a blanket (upgraded with spicy chorizo and caramelized onions in a puff pastry dough, served with a mustard dipping sauce), deviled eggs (made with crème fraiche instead of mayo and topped with caviar) and champagne gelatin treats with fresh berries.
To keep the costs down for your food budget, I suggest you go "mini!" Nix the sit-down four course meal for platters of mini-versions! Your guests will probably be making appearances at other parties, so miniature food selections let your guests try everything without having to gorge themselves, saving on individual costs at the same time.
And this is the other reason everyone shows up! Strong, old-fashioned cocktails like gin martinis and Manhattans are an absolute must. Want to serve more modern spirits? Create an awesome signature drink that all of your guests will enjoy. Both men and women usually like vodka, or they'll be impressed if you brew up a vat of Sangria or spiced apple cider. Don't forget to post a cute sign that tells everyone about your retro-inspired signature drink.
For the wine-lovers, try Costco. Their Kirkland brand of wines are surprisingly tasty -- so much so that you may want to hide the bottles from your guests! I also love Voga, an Italian brand that comes in an amazing ultra-modern bottle, and Bogle Vineyards. The best part: They both run about $8 a bottle.
Fun and Games
Get people in the swinging mood with a mix of holiday tunes from the '50s and '60s era, such as Dean Martin and Rosemary Clooney. Then, challenge everyone to a (wholesome) game of charades.