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Festive Table Decor

As we approach the craziness of the festive season, get inspired to make your holiday table sparkle with ideas for table settings and dazzling centrepieces when hosting get-togethers for family and friends this holiday season.

During our recent Girls’ Great Escape, one of our workshops was to share creative ideas on how to decorate your table with beautiful festive decor. The Old Mill Flower Shop created the dramatic flower centrepieces and can help you entertain in style this Christmas, with a custom made centrepiece for your home. 

These beautiful holiday tablescapes were a collaboration between Weddings by Design, weddingsbydesign.ca a full service event planning and design firm, and Dinner Party Diva, info@dinnerpartydiva.ca a dinner party tabletop rental company.  Together they create magic and bring you the ultimate experience in party planning and design.  
 
 

Traditional Table

“This traditional red and gold holiday dinner table takes its cue from the floral motifs that are huge in fashion this season.  A Romantic floral centrepiece surrounded by tall charcoal grey taper candles and an array of gold and red accents and formal dinnerware, complete this elegant table scape.”

Rustic Chic  

Inspired by current trends in reclaimed wood and copper, this Rustic Chic holiday table decor is perfect for your cottage holiday dinner party. 

Winter Wonderland

The silvery white “snowfall” table linen is the perfect backdrop for this winter wonderland themed table scape. The monochromatic light blue candle scape combined with crystal accents and snow globes make this table a show stopper!! 

Modern Geometric

This contemporary holiday table takes inspiration from modern geometric design and infuses it with a pop of colour. The gold pineapples are all the rage this season, and are the perfect accent to this holiday table symbolizing friendship and hospitality.

From intimate dinner parties for 6 in your own home to larger parties and events for any occasion, we hope these festive tables have inspired you! 
 



Office Christmas Party Planning

There is a lot of ideas to choose from when it comes to the type of Christmas party that you can plan. The location, budget, numbers attending and how much you want to be directly involved in planning and managing the event also comes in to play. However the most effective way to plan a successful office Christmas party is to first understand the goal behind the event.

1. Are you using this as a motivational event 
2. Do you want to hand out awards to employees in recognition of performance 
3. Do you want to say thank you to everyone and Celebrate.

When you know what your goal is it will help you get started on organizing things into place, as good preparation can help it run as smoothly as possible. Don’t go at it alone, you need to assign a team to help plan the Christmas party. This will allow the event to be the result of multiple perspectives and will make the party planning workload more manageable and allows you to enjoy the event as well.

The top key initiatives to begin with are;

1. Set a preliminary reasonable budget
2. Select the location for the Festive Party
3. Select the menu for the Festive Party 
4. Select the entertainment, decor, gifts and if necessary the awards.

Remember to consider the time and location, it should be a place that is suitable to everyone. Is it close to public transportation, is parking included, do they have over night accommodations? Wether your hosting a cocktail party, a buffet, or a sit down meal it is easier to have a theme which sets the tone of the event and gives you a starting point when selecting your menu, entertainment and decor.

Knowing your budget will determine how much you can spend on food, entertainment, room rental, decorations and other items you may wish to purchase. For smaller workplaces there are shared party nights, where you buy tables at a large ‘off the shelf’ Christmas party, sharing the event with a variety of other companies. This is ideal for those that want the atmosphere of a larger event, but don’t have the budget, time or enough guests to put something bespoke together.

When you find a location suitable make sure you discuss room rental costs and what is included in those fees.  Do they provide security for your event? Do they provide bar tenders? Do they provide linens, plates, napkins and silverware? Do they have in-house Dj’s? Do they have any festive decorations? Take advantage of everything they offer for free to help with your budget.

As you get closer to your date it’s a good idea to make a critical path list, tracking all the details big and small. Make sure you have covered all the time-sensitive details and double check your list to make sure you have not forgotten anything.

Also think about planning some activities during the party, nothing is worse than walking into a decorated room with tables full of food and employees hiding in every possible corner. As awful as icebreaker games can be, you need to find a way to inspire your employees to interact with one another.

A slide show of memorable moments from the year can give shy employees something to focus on. Everyone enjoys a photo booth, which will give you images to post on your company blog or at next year’s holiday party.

When you make the organizational experts at the Old Mill Toronto an integral part of your planning team, you can be confident that together, we will accomplish your every objective for a successful Christmas Party.

After the Christmas party don’t miss the opportunity to send a short survey asking your guests for their feedback. The information you receive will be a useful resource in helping you plan a successful Christmas Party the following year.  



Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas

This versatile Italian dish isn’t as difficult as you may think, there are endless variations of this creamy comfort food, but this Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas is a favourite that your friends and family will enjoy.

5 3/4 cups canned low sodium chicken broth
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped onion
10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

BRING THE BROTH to a simmer in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms. Cover and set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and finely chop. Cover the broth and keep warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white mushrooms, porcini mushrooms and garlic; saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice, add the wine; cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 28 minutes. Stir in the peas. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, Season with salt and pepper to taste.

** In order to use dried porcini mushrooms – or any dried mushrooms for that matter, you have to reconstitute them by allowing them to sit in hot water for a few minutes, absorbing that water and plumping up. Then the mushrooms are ready to cook with, and you have all this flavourful liquid as a by-product.**
 

 



Romantic Winter Weddings

While winter is not the most popular season for weddings, it can be one of the most romantic and magical times of the year. We are seeing more couples capture the richness of this season with it’s warming colours, roaring fires and twinkling lights, that add a cozy warmth, which can not be captured the same way at a summer wedding. Winter weddings can be truly spectacular.

Keep in mind, when choosing a winter wedding location, the indoor space should be warm and inviting, making your guests feel at home. Wood-burning fireplaces and rooms with windows, so you can see the soft fall of snowflakes outside, and, the sun flooding your room with natural light adds a cozy warmth to your winter wedding. It is also a good idea to select a wedding venue that can accommodate everything you need in one location; ceremony, reception and overnight accommodations for your guests.

The ambience around a winter wedding is similar to the first snowfall of the season, it’s magical and very romantic. Make sure to highlight and maximize the winter elements in your decor; faux snow and Christmas twinkle lights add to a perfect winter wedding wonderland, incorporate this with natural components, such as frosted pinecones, pine leaves and snowflakes. 

A romantic winter wedding provides the perfect opportunity to serve wintry comfort foods. Try hearty dishes, like pasta, lasagna, a roast, casseroles, classic filet mignon, hearty greens and warm soups. Also, be fun and creative with the dessert course, consider setting up a fancy hot chocolate bar, and serve creamy eggnog cocktails and spicy mulled wines, it’s a sweet and stylish way to celebrate the season.

There’s a new take on self-service candy bars that’s perfect for trendy winter weddings: an all-white candy spread. Think white M&Ms, yogurt-covered pretzels, white chocolate-covered cranberries, white-coated chocolate mints, nonpareils covered in white sprinkles, and various white Jelly Belly flavours. Self service candy bars can serve as both dessert and party favours.

Have a look at some winter wedding inspirations on pinterest.

Don forget to have fun creating a winter-themed wedding invitation. You can play up the uniqueness of your chosen wedding date by including snowy scenes, holiday themes, snowflakes or cozy fireside tableaux.

And, when it’s time to shop for your wedding dress begin your search by browsing dress photos online. The season will also affect your choice of material, brocade, faux fur and velvet will keep you warm in the winter, but, satin, shantung, silk and tulle are perfect year-round.

The entire wedding, from ceremony to reception, is guaranteed to make an impression in the memories of all your guests simply because it’s different from all of the spring and summer weddings they typically attend. Plus, your wedding will provide something to look forward to in the colder months.

Few Toronto wedding venues compare with the casual elegance and timeless style of our unique Old Mill Toronto, creating an unrivalled location for your special Wedding day.



Girlfriend Getaways Are Necessary

It is often hard to make plans with your friends for a weekend or even during the week without real life stepping in the way. It’s truly a gift to have wonderful friends and it’s important to take the time to nurture your relationships and enjoy each others company away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A Girls Planned getaway is the perfect time to catch up with each other, and rediscover the bond that created your friendship in the first place.

There are many experiences that you can choose from when searching for a perfect Girlfriend Getaway, but first you should ask yourselves what type of an adventure are you looking for:

Relaxing by a pool
Spa going
Wine-tasting
Shopping
Outdoor Adventure and exploring
Yoga Retreats
Cocktail Celebrations

The bond between women plays an important role in your physical and mental health. When you can spend a lot of time with your girlfriends, your happiness levels will soar. Take time to laugh together, try something new, and enjoy your friendship, there are endless choices for that long awaited getaway with your girlfriends. So grab the girls and pick a date! Friends are nurturing and feed our soul, leaving us energized and inspired to take on the world.

Did you know that July 30 is International Friendship Day, a time to recognize your friends and their contribution to your life. Friends come in many different shapes, sizes and guises: school friends, work colleagues, siblings, partners, parents, pets and neighbours. Pull out all the stops and let your friends know they are truly appreciated on International Friendship Day!

The Old Mill Toronto celebrates friendship with The Girls Great Escape.  This unique weekend exposes you and your girlfriends to unique workshops, wonderful food, wine tastings, Luxury room accommodations and spa services. Every Escape is different from the next and many of the girls come back to try out new experiences.

If a getaway is not in the cards for you at this time, why not spend time with the girls at home. Catch up over some take out, enjoy the beverage of choice and watch a good friendship movie like; Fried Green Tomatoes, First Wives Club, An officer and a Gentleman and of course Beaches with Bette Midler…make sure to have a kleenex on hand though when she sings Wind Beneath My Wings!

The best of friends can change a frown into a smile when you feel down. The best of friends will understand your little trials and lend a hand.  The best of friends will always share your secret dreams because they care.  The best of friends are worth more then gold, they give all the love a heart can hold.

When is the last time you had a getaway with just your girlfriends?



Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

 

For some of us Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate a long weekend, usually eating delicious food consisting of Turkey, with family & Friends.  But let’s explore the real meaning behind Thanksgiving.

Let’s take a trip back to 1621 Plymouth Massachusetts. After the harvest crops were gathered Govenor William Bradford announced a meeting on the hill for all pilgrims to listen to the pastor render Thanksgiving to God for all “his blessings” and to give thanks to Squanto and the Native Americans for teaching them how to do things and live life in different ways.

You might think that after 1621 the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving every year and that it just became a national holiday. Well, that’s not the way  it happened. It wasn’t until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an annual National Holiday.

Canadian Thanksgiving is more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States.  The very first celebration in Canada was in 1578 when Martin Frobisher an explorer from England arrived in Newfoundland. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World, peace and good harvest. That means the 1st Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth Massachusetts.

For a few hundred years, thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November but it was declared a National Holiday in 1879, originally on November 6th, but after the World Wars it was moved to the second Monday in October because it kept conflicting with Remembrance day.

Another reason for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. Other than the date there is not much difference in our celebrations, we both celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey.

What will you be doing to celebrate Thanksgiving this year?