5 Tips for Spring Entertaining on a Budget

Now that spring is finally here, it’s time to start thinking about entertaining. Just because the holiday season is long gone doesn’t mean you don’t get to play hostess every now and then. There are so many reasons you might want to invite people into your home this time of year, but don’t worry – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to show friends and family a great time.

5 Tips for Spring Entertaining on a Budget -  Tamera Mowry

How to Entertain on a Budget

Host a potluck. People have mixed feelings about potlucks – guests don’t always want to feel forced into it, but it can be a great way for an already busy hostess to save money and time, too. The trick here is to make it worth guests’ while. If you’re going to host an event potluck style, be sure to take on something else instead. Give guests a guide or suggestions on what to bring instead of a strict menu, and offer something like ample drink options or custom décor in order to make the event feel special.

Cheap cocktails. Beer and wine is often cheaper than a bar full of alcohol, but it can still add up. Create your own cocktails with bubbly for a fun, inexpensive alternative to traditional event offerings. With a little fruit or a homemade simple syrup, you can take sparkling cocktails up a notch and not need to worry about getting the fanciest bottle.

Create an ambiance. A lot of people think you need great flowers to create a beautiful centerpiece, but you can actually create a fabulous tablescape without the blooms. Opt for a little greenery (preferably from the farmers market – you’ll get the best prices) and lots of candles instead. You can even buy votives in bulk for the occasion, allowing you to save room in the budget for more important things. This looks even prettier outside, so if you’re entertaining in warm weather you’ll be able to impress guests without completely transforming your backyard. If outside, hang bistro lights for an added oomph!

Create a paper table runner. Instead of expensive linens, there are tons of pretty printed papers that can double as a table runner or placemats. You can even buy a roll of kraft paper for less than $5 and create a rustic base to arrange all those candles on. This handy trick also makes the table a lot more personal for your guests to enjoy.

Keep it casual. Who’s ever said no to a casual hangout? Especially when the temps warm up. If you’re on a budget, don’t go overboard trying to make an event more formal than it needs to be. Guests aren’t always thrilled about spending a lot of money on an outfit or dinner anyway, so they’ll be relieved to attend a casual dinner party during a season with so many weddings and formal events.

Find more entertaining ideas on my Pinterest!

Xx,
Tamera

5 Ways to be a Better Hostess this Holiday Season

Are you guys feeling ready for Thanksgiving? Holidays stir up a lot this time of year – we’re excited to be in the company of those we love, many of which we don’t see as often as we wish we would. If you’re hosting, you’re also likely heading up a gathering for people of all ages, making it tough to cater to everyone’s needs – literally. Even the most casual gatherings come with at least some pressure, so I really wanted to tackle ways to truly make the most of the holidays we wait all year to enjoy – both for your guests AND you:

5 Ways to be a Better Hostess this Holiday Season - Hostess Tips from Tamera Mowry

5 Ways to Be a Better Hostess

1. Learn from years past. Even if you didn’t host the last holiday gathering, you can think back and consider what stood out to you. What were the highlights? The near-disasters? Use those as a basis for planning your own party, before you dive in.

2. Don’t overexert yourself. Ask for help if you need it. I know some people really struggle with this – it’s so easy to think because you CAN do it all you should. In reality, people are often ready and willing to help – sometimes they just don’t think of it at first.

3. Keep expectations in check. Going off of that last point, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Remember, you probably know at least most of your guests pretty closely, right? …Don’t get too caught up in the planning that you forget what type of get together THEY like to attend. Keep it realistic!

4. Try something new. That said, the holidays only come around once a year. If you’ve been eyeing a tutorial like my DIY place settings or a recipe I’ve shared, now is the time to go for it! Do a trial run before the big day to work out kinks and get confident.

5. Keep it in perspective. Remember, when people look back on this event, they’re going to think mostly about the awesome day they spent with you – even if dessert took too long or one of the side dishes looked a little sloppy. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to your vision – different can be good too.

This time of year is so action-packed, and it’s all about to get crazier! But all this entertaining is truly all about love and comfort and warmth – don’t let anything get in the way of that.

What’s your favorite part of holiday gatherings? Any tips for avoiding stress?

Xx,
Tamera

DIY Thanksgiving Place Setting Idea

Hosting gatherings during the holidays can be a scary thought – you’ve got food, drinks, décor and guests to think about. And if you scroll through Pinterest for fall table inspiration like I’ve been doing, it can seem impossible to pull ALL that off, even for a simple dinner party. Luckily, simplicity can be beautiful this time of year, and you can actually get creative with what you already have to make your Thanksgiving or other fall tables come alive.

DIY Thanksgiving Place Setting from Tamera Mowry

This DIY place setting looks elegant but is so easy to throw together right before an event – even while dinner’s in the oven.

DIY Thanksgiving Place Setting from Tamera Mowry

You just need a place mat, the dishware you’ll be using, and your supplies: ribbon, a metallic pen, kraft paper or card stock, and whatever twine or ribbons you already have stashed away. Navy and cream make a rustic fall combo if you ask me :)

DIY Thanksgiving Place Setting from Tamera Mowry

Punch a hole in the card stock (or use ready made tags) and write out your message. I like the idea of writing words like “thankful”, “blessed”, etc., but you can also write guests’ names down if you have a lot of friends and fam gathering around the table.

DIY Thanksgiving Place Setting from Tamera Mowry

Tie the tag to a piece of twine or string and then tie it and a few ribbons around your cutlery.

It’s such a simple design that really goes a long way in setting a gorgeous fall table.

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Tell me about your plans!

Xx,
Tamera

Homemade Hot Apple Cider Recipe

Are you ready for a season of hot drinks and comfort foods? Can’t wait to bring you as many recipes as I possibly can for you to share with friends and fam. That’s why I’m kicking things off with a classic hot apple cider recipe. This one is for all you that want to try your hand at homemade treats—it’s super easy! And for you more advanced hostesses, it’s easy to dress up gorgeously for serving to a crowd.

Homemade Apple Cider Recipe - Tamera Mowry

Homemade Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon

The title says it all, here’s what you need…

Ingredients
4 cups apple juice or cider
1 tablespoon honey (more or less depending on whether juice is already sweetened)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (can warm up with a cinnamon stick if you don’t like the powder)
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions
Add juice/cider to a small pot over medium heat. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and honey. Serve warm.

Serve garnished with a cinnamon stick and apple slice, if you’d like!

What’s your go-to fall drink?

Xx,
Tamera

Fall Wine Pairing Guide

Now that it’s *officially* November, I’m realizing just how much I’ve missed Napa in the fall. Everything about it is perfect, but obviously one of the best things about wine country is, well, the wine. Lately seasonal pairings have been on my mind, like how to make the most of not only the abundance of fall wines, but the incredible seasonal foods and all the opportunities for entertaining November and December bring. The world of wine is straight up enormous, so if you haven’t read my wine 101 post, you might want to before checking out these pairings!

Fall Wine Pairing Guide via Tamera Mowry

Red Wine

Reds generally scream fall because they are often richer and more robust than white wine, and pair well with hearty meals and comfort foods you see this time of year. Even so, there are a few types that really make the most of the complex, warm flavors that seasonal dinners often come with. A few choices:

Pinot Noir with pumpkin, squash, carrots, and other veggie-focused dishes, because it’s a mild red that’s well suited to bring out these flavors without over powering them.

Zinfandel with hearty and creamy pasta dishes, even those mushroom and fall vegetable dishes above. Again, not quite as rich as red meat, but full enough for a light red.

Cabernet, Merlot, or blend with roasts, steaks, meat-heavy dishes. This can vary quite a bit, but you essentially want to match up the richness of the meat with that of the wine so that one taste isn’t overpowering the other. A pork roast for example will pair well with a red blend, while steak might be better for merlot. Also, if you’re pairing with sweet sides like a cranberry on Thanksgiving, keep in mind that you may want something a little more mild like a Zinfandel to work with both.

Fall Whites

If you’re a white wine drinker, don’t fret! Don’t overlook the power of a good white this time of year! There’s actually a surprising amount of seasonal pairings to put on your shopping list, and you don’t have to wait until warmer weather rolls around again. My suggestions:

Chardonnay with mushroom dishes and classic chicken-based meals. The more robust the meal is, the more full-bodied you want your white to be, so an oaky or buttery Chardonnay can be amazing. If you prefer white to red, you might try this instead of Pinot Noir with the vegetable ideas above.

Sauvignon Blanc goes well with many spring dishes but for the fall it can be paired with poultry and fish as well as cheese and charcuterie boards if you are looking for a crisper, fruitier taste than Chardonnay.

Try a Gewürztraminer, a fruity Chardonnay OR a Pinot Noir or Zinfandel for meals that contain varying levels of sweet and savory – such as those big family spreads like the ones served on turkey day. Or, opt for sparkling.

Dessert Pairings

Pinot Gris with pumpkin pie

Sparkling wine with pear dishes like tarts and pies

Riesling with apple pie (or if you’d like a red, Pinot Noir, depending on the recipe!)

And as for sparkling – we all know there are plenty of things to celebrate this time of year. Don’t forget to break out the bubbly when a celebration calls for it!

Are you doing any entertaining this fall? And, what other fall topics should I cover here on my site? I’m all ears!

Xx,
Tamera

How to Create the Perfect Mini Bar

If you love entertaining as much as I do, having a home mini bar is a must. You have everything in one place, can keep better track of what’s on hand and have a ton of options for throwing great parties or even just movie nights in with your girls. A mini bar doesn’t have to be a fancy dedicated space – hence the term mini – but just a spot to gather up your collection and mix up a cocktail for guests. However, when you’re first getting into entertaining, it’s intimidating! For those who want to create your own home bar, I’ll try to stick to the basics.

At home wine bar

Think like a hostess.
Even if your mini bar is for the most part going to be for you + your hubby to enjoy, it helps to think like a hostess when it comes to the set up. First of all, think of what type of mini bar you want. Is it a wine bar or will you be whipping up cocktails? Or a combination of both? Make sure it’s equipped with everything you might need for a party or romantic night in. And then there’s the fun part: a good hostess always thinks about design and décor, so make sure the mini bar is representative of your celebration and home. Goodies like cocktail napkins and drink stirrers (love this DIY) are helpful for creating a whole experience around your choice libations.

How to create the perfect at home mini bar

Get the tools you need.
A good mini bar has all the right tools, but my advice is to stick to the ones you use. A shaker, muddler and strainer are most likely going to get some use, so that’s a good start. And you can’t forget glassware. Having a few pairs of each type of glass – short glasses, tall glasses, and if you serve wine, red and white glasses and flutes – will ensure that you can whip up any cocktail like a pro. If you’re creating a mini wine bar, you’ll want a bottle opener, chillers and stoppers too, to start.

It really depends how far you want to go. If it’s just something you enjoy at home and only host during the holidays, there’s no need to spend extra money or take up space with a bunch of pretty tools you’ll never use. But if you love having people over and have regular parties, it’s worth investing in nice tools and even coming up with a few extras to impress your guests!

Stock it up.
The Kitchn has a great post on must-have bottles for your collection. It’s more fun and less expensive to form your collection over time instead of splurging on all sorts of alcohol at once. That way, you can play bartender with each before you decide on what you want to serve at get togethers. But over all, you’ll want classic bases (like vodka, rum, tequila, etc.), and the mixers you plan to pair them with. Even just a few different liquors can mean plenty of different drinks so just choose a few you actually enjoy and experiment to your hearts’ content!

Are you planning any fall parties? Let me know what drinks you’ll serve!

Xx,
Tamera