Having Your Birthday Manners

With my birthday right around the corner, my excitement (as well as glitter, frosting, and sprinkles) is in abundance! I have been thinking about what goes into making a celebration special and even though the day is mine, other people are involved too. So, I brainstormed a few ideas on how best to ensure you celebrate a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  1. Be appreciative and thankful for everything!
    • Remember the lyrics, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”? DO NOT be that person (a.k.a. the Demanding Birthday Diva)! No one wants to be around a self-absorbed individual who demands attention and perfection from sunrise to sundown with expectations that cannot be met. Be happy, be calm, and smile 🙂
    • Acknowledge everyone who leaves you a birthday wish on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
    • For anyone who brings or sends you a birthday gift (no matter how big or small!), write them a handwritten thank-you note and mail it no later than 3 days after your birthday.
    • Thank your mom! Your birthday is a shared day with her too.
  2. It IS Your Day. Celebrate how you wish!
    • Plan something that will make you happy! Do not let yourself be pressured into celebrating in a way you do not want or handing the reins over to someone else who will not plan something to your liking.
    • Feuding friends? Speak to them individually prior to your celebration and express you hope to see them both. If they are unable to put aside their differences, suggest celebrating individually at another time. This will help to avoid any unnecessary drama from unfolding at your celebration.
  3. Make your guests feel special!
    • Although the celebration is about you, you are also the host/hostess and have guests to entertain!
    • If you have guests from different social settings (family, friends from different cities, school friends, work friends, etc.) introduce them to each other.
    • Plan things others will enjoy as well!
      • If you plan to play games, keep them tasteful to avoid embarrassing your guests or making them feel uncomfortable.
      • If couples are invited, plan things both ladies and gentlemen will enjoy. Be sure to have “guy drinks” (i.e. beer, a variety of liquor, regular soda, etc.) in addition to “fun, flirty, girly drinks.”
    • Whether you are having friends over for a small dinner party or throwing a huge birthday bash, have party favors! They do not need to be extravagant, simple is wonderful.
      • A few ideas are: a pretty bag of your favorite candies, a koozie, a mini bottle of wine with a piece of chocolate, pretty or funny beverage napkins, or an accessory with your guest’s initial on it.
  4. I got something I do not like, now what?
    • If you receive a gift that is “not quite you” and the person is there when you open it, smile, give him/her a hug, and simply say “thank you.” Do not exaggerate how much you like something if you do not actually feel that way.
    • If the individual is not there, write a note stating “thank you for thinking of me” or “it was so generous of you to send me a gift.” Do not write how much you like something and go into detail about it if you do not actually feel that way.
    • If the item is returnable, you may exchange it for something else, BUT I caution you on doing this. If it was not sent with a gift receipt and the gift is from a close friend or relative they may expect to see you display it in your home, wear it some time when you see him/her, etc. If this does not happen, the gift giver may wonder where it is and ask you. It is better to keep something you do not like than to offend the gift giver in the future.
    • Stay away from “re-gifting.” Too many things can go wrong.

Overall, these suggestions lead to one point: Stay humble on your birthday. Be appreciative of all the love that surrounds you (not just on your day, but everyday)! With this in mind, enjoy your day, live it up, and have a sparkling smile 🙂

To all my other September birthdays, I wish you a very happy day filled with love, laughter, and lots of cake!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

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Tailgating with Class and Style!

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Photo Credit: Southern Living

Football season is officially underway! As a BIG fan of college football (Go Terps! 🐢), it is one of the many reasons why Fall is my favorite season! As if the game itself is not enough to get you excited, having a well-planned tailgate is the best way to start the day! Here are my tips to kick-off your game day experience in the best way:

  1. Get in the Team Spirit!
    • Tie in your team colors and symbols to the table, tent, and lawn decor.
    • Dress the part! It’s time to break out those team tees, dresses in your team colors, and accessories that add to the team spirit (hello turtle earrings and team koozies!)
    • Football shaped food and mascot inspired trays or desserts are always a hit!
    • Make a signature cocktail that ties into your theme or your team, use festive drink stirs, or serve a beer that ties into your team name!
  2. Be Inclusive, Not Confrontational
    • While we all have our favorite teams and love our alma maters, be inclusive of those who may be cheering for the other team. Add a little of their team color or invite them to bring a dish tied to their team.
    • While a little bit of friendly competition is always fun, avoid getting into arguments or confrontations with fans of the other team. Remember, you are there to have fun – not to “bad mouth” others!
  3. Plan Ahead
    • Tailgates can range in size from small and simple to large and extravagant (I’ve seen it all!). No matter what size your tailgate, the following always apply:
      • Be sure to have an accurate count of how many people will be attending and buy/make your dishes accordingly (aka make a little extra). Running out of food and beverages is never a good thing!
      • Bring plenty of ice for drinks and food. Keep any food that needs refrigerated in coolers and ensure it will stay cold the duration of the day or else you will end having to throw it out (you do not want anyone to get sick).
      • Label your coolers to avoid confusion.
      • Remember trash bags and clean-up as you go.
      • If you are hosting, make a timeline for your set-up and when you need to start cooking. No one wants to miss kick-off!
      • Bring chairs for people to take a rest. You do not need enough for every person, but a decent number is always appreciated!
      • Here is a great checklist for all your tailgating needs!
      • Plan for the weather! If it’s a chilly day, bring along your favorite team sweaters and stadium blankets. Rain in the forecast? Get ready to set-up those tents!
      • Noon kick-off, how do you tailgate for breakfast?! Get those donuts, bagels, egg bakes, grilled bacon/ham/etc, and mimosas ready!
  4. There Is More to Tailgating than Eating
    • While the food (and drinks) usually take center stage at any tailgate, there are plenty of other fun things to do as well!
      • Just as you would in your home, be an excellent host/hostess and introduce guests to those who do not know each other.
      • Bring lawn games! Corn hole, ladder ball, bocce ball, and playing football in the parking lot are all fun ways to get people up and moving.
  5. Not Hosting, Just Invited to Tailgate?
    • Ask what dish, dessert, or drinks you can contribute to the tailgate.
    • Always help with clean-up!
    • Be a classy attendee – Dress for the theme/your team and as mentioned earlier, avoid confrontation with others (especially from the opposing team).
    • Be social with the others at the tailgate and make an effort to meet new people!
    • If you have your own chairs, it is always a friendly gesture to bring them along.

For more tailgating inspiration (decor, food/drink, and games), visit my Pinterest board! Happy Fall and Football y’all!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Hosting Tips: Welcoming House Guests

Photo Credit: graphicalinteriors

Photo Credit: graphicalinteriors

With summer just around the corner, lots of people’s travel schedules are getting busy which also means lots of us will be welcoming house guests. What can you do to help your guests feel right at home? Here are my tips for being an excellent host/hostess!

  1. Confirm Travel Plans with Your House Guests
    • Prior to the arrival of your house guests, double check the dates with them and ensure you have the right ones on your calendar.
    • The day of travel, check-in with your house guests so you know when they plan to arrive.
      • If they are traveling by plane, it is always good to know their airline and flight number so you can check to see if their flight is on time or delayed when going to meet them at the airport.
      • If you know traffic in your area is bad at a certain time or certain roads are worse than others, offer this helpful information to ease their travel stress.
    • If your guests are driving to your home, reserve them a parking space or offer them the “prime” parking spot at your home.
  2. Create a Welcoming Guest Room.
    • Make a cute sign/photo frame that has the WiFi password posted.
    • Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet.
    • If you use your guest room for extra closet/storage space, be sure to clear some room for your guests to hang their clothes or put them in the dresser.
    • Have a luggage rack in the room.
    • Put together a toiletry basket (travel size soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, cotton balls, band-aids, etc.) and leave it on the bathroom counter in case your guest forgot anything.
    • Ensure the room smells clean, but avoid using too much fragrance – some people get headaches from overly scented rooms.
    • If there are any “funny things” about the room or your home, let your guests know ahead of time. For example, if the shower starts in an intricate way, explain how to use it.
  3. Plan Your Menu and/or Make Reservations in Advance.
    • If there are things you know your guests like (a snack food, certain type of soda, etc.), try to stock up on a few things you know they will enjoy and be sure to tell them to “help themselves.”
    • Be aware of any dietary restrictions and/or food allergies.
    • Make sure you have breakfast foods. Often times, breakfast is not the meal we eat out so it helps to have choices for the morning meal!
    • Having refreshments and hors o’Doeurves at your home is a nice touch before going out for dinner.
  4. Have Fun Things Planned/Be Knowledgeable of Your Area
    • If your house guests are in town just for a fun visit, look into local activities (food tastings, art shows, concerts, etc.), tourist sites, and new places to take them. Be sure to add in some of your local favorites too!
      • If you have things planned ahead of time, let your guests know! This helps them plan around what they will already be doing and also lets them know what they need to pack.
      • Be cautious of how much you have planned. Traveling and touring is tiring, your guests will need some down time.
    • If your house guests are in town for a special occasion, be understanding of their commitment, but offer to show them around or do something together in their free time.

What have you appreciated your host/hostess doing when you have been a house guest? Are there special things you do to welcome your house guests? I would love to hear from you all! Happy Hosting!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Holiday Traditions!

Merry Christmas

Photo Credit: BoatHouse Restaurant

In the spirit of Christmas, this week’s post is about traditions. From those we have been celebrating with our families for generations to those we have created on our own with friends, they bring us together and make so many special memories. The link between traditions and etiquette may not be apparent, but I have a few important thoughts well-worth sharing:

  1. Participate in the cheesy stuff! You may think you have grown up too much to do the childish activities, but trust me you have not. The smile it will put on your parents’ or grandparents’ face is well worth it! Plus, it’s your job to teach the next generation!
  2. Include others in your traditions. If you have a significant other or friend spending the holidays with you, be sure they are included in the fun. Teach them about what your family does and have them fully participate in the festivities.
  3. If you are not able to spend the holidays with your family, ask the people you will be with if you can share your tradition with them. Whether it is eating a certain dish, singing a certain song, or a certain activity you always do, most hosts will welcome your addition! Just be sure not to take over the occasion. Something small is good, but do not interfere with the traditions already in place.

As I get ready to celebrate my traditional Italian Christmas Eve, I know I am blessed to have family, friends, and loved ones celebrate with me. Cherish these moments and enjoy them!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Handling Holiday Stress with Grace

As we shop for gifts, welcome house guests, and prepare for parties and holiday meals, the joy of the holiday season has a tendency to also bring quite a lot of stress. While stress levels increase, our positive attitudes and mannerly ways often times decrease. This year, let’s not have that happen! Here are some of my tips to ensure you have a merry and bright holiday season!

  1. The Shopping Experience
    • Be prepared to handle the crowds. Do not push your way through people, simply say “Excuse me” or “Pardon me” as you move.
    • Always thank the sales associate who helped you find the gift you wanted, the right size, a pretty color, etc. They appreciate polite customers 🙂
    • Avoid fights with other shoppers over the last item in stock. You will find something else and let’s be honest.. Getting dragged out of the store by mall security is not worth it. 😉
    • Give people their space while looking through clothing racks, items on the shelf, and standing in line.
    • Speaking of standing in line, do not huff and puff because the line is long. Instead, use that time wisely. Get your coupons and method of payment ready so you can be quick at the register.
    • When you check out, do not be on your cell phone. Give the sales associate your full attention and be sure to wish him/her “Happy Holidays.”
  2. Welcoming House Guests
    • Create a welcoming guest room.
      • Make a cute sign/photo frame that has the WiFi password posted.

        Graphic Available for Download on Life of Verde's

        Download Sign at Life of Verde’s

      • Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet.
      • If you use your guest room for extra closet/storage space, be sure to clear some room for your guests to hang their clothes or put them in the dresser.
      • Have a luggage rack in the room.
      • Put together a travel toiletry basket (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, cotton balls, band-aids, etc.) and leave it on the bathroom counter in case your guest forgot anything.
      • Ensure the room smells clean, but avoid using too much fragrance – some people get headaches from overly scented rooms.
    • Plan your menu and/or make reservations far in advance.
    • If there are things you know your guests like (a snack food, certain type of soda, etc.), try to stock up on a few things. For example, I do not drink coffee, but I know most people do so I make sure I have it prior to guests arriving.
    • It is certainly easier said than done, but try to check as many things off your to-do list as you can before your guests arrive. That way, you can enjoy the time with them. For example, make sure gifts are wrapped and any food preparation you can do early is done.
  3. Hosting the Party/Holiday Meal
    • Set and decorate your table ahead of time.
    • Plan out where you will place the food and make sure the serving dishes fit so when food is ready to come out of the kitchen, it goes directly to the table.
    • Do not wait until the last minute to shop for ingredients. It is better to stock-up early and have enough for the season so you do not have to run to the store at the last minute.
    • Prepare as much as you can before the day of the event. If you can make certain dishes and freeze them, go for it. If you can cut up ingredients and store them before making a mix or tossing them into a recipe, get all the prep work out of the way.

I hope these tips help you to have a low-stress holiday and one you can find some time to relax during! Remember, as busy as your schedule gets, always be polite and think positively.. You will get through it! Enjoy the time with your family, friends, and loved ones!

Happy Holidays!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: Designer Blogs

Photo credit: Designer Blogs

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this week’s post is about being thankful. I want to take the time to thank all my readers and followers for going on this blogging journey with me! To everyone who has commented, asked questions, and sent suggestions, thank you for participating in the fun and helping me to make this better! It has truly been a wonderful few months of writing and I look forward to continuing the journey!

As a “thank you” to all of you, here are my top tips for Thanksgiving 😉

  1. If you are traveling to someone else’s home for the day/weekend, take a host/hostess gift.
  2. If you are hosting, decorate your entrance and the table in the Fall or Thanksgiving theme to make it festive and even more welcoming.
  3. If you are not the host/hostess or main person preparing the meal, ask what you can bring to contribute to the meal, lend a hand in the kitchen, offer to set the table, and help with clean-up.
  4. Remember your Essential Table Manners!
  5. If you were a guest for Thanksgiving, send a handwritten thank-you note within 3 days of returning.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sparkle On,

Alexandra