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effortless entertaining

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Friday Fete: Girlfriend's Gift Exchange

It wouldn't feel like the holidays without a gathering with the gals!  When I'm trying to host a soiree, I try to focus on fun decor to make up for my lack of cooking skills.  You may be the opposite, so just stick to your forte and get some ladies together for your own shindig.  I thought a simple happy hour gift exchange would be a great way to celebrate the holidays (without stressing out with meal prep)!   Here are some tips to recreate a fun & festive Christmas celebration of your own. 

1. Adorn Your "Bar"

I'm a huge fan of a chic bar cart, but you don't need to own one to have a swanky cocktail set-up.  You will see me reusing my gingham table cloth by TableVogue again and again, because it totally transforms a basic card table (yes, that's a $30 table underneath!).   Any piece of furniture (like this white console-like table) can also be transformed into a bar area or place for guests to put their purses/coats with a few flowers and greenery. Frampton's Florist used gold-dipped vases, boxwoods in various sizes, and minimal blooms like anemones to help give us a festive tabletop.

2. Pop Bottles for a Cause

When it comes to libations, nothing says "celebration" like champagne!  The One Hope brut that I served is a definite crowd pleaser, and it tastes even better because it's a brand that gives back.  50% of profits go to various charities, and another $25 will go to St. Jude (for cases purchased through 12/9).  You also will get 30% off of a case, so this bubbly won't break the bank! Purchase here.

3.  Get a Great Backdrop

Depending on where you live and what the weather is like, this could mean meeting up in a park or on a friend's rooftop.  Even simply gathering your friends in a room of the house you wouldn't otherwise use, like a formal dining room, can make the occasion feel special.  The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina was gracious enough to host us, and we really enjoyed their very southern porches, fire pit, & giant chess set!  You are going to love it at this newly opened hotel, and I'm sure they will have many fun events of their own coming soon.

We had so much fun during this happy hour gift exchange, and don't forget that "wrapping it nice shows you care twice"!  Luckily we had some help with the wrapping thanks to The Blue Root, who is offering Christmas gift wrapping services & curated gift boxes with free delivery.  Check out the details of our holiday Draper James attire HERE, & I'll be sharing some gift guides soon if you could use a little help filling those Christmas stockings! 

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Weekend Hostessing: The Perfect Brunch Tailgate

With the exception of the occasional hurricane interruption, fall Saturdays in the south are all about football!  The ritual of getting the perfect tailgating outfit together and planning out a tasty spread are all part of the fun, no matter who you're rooting for.  Here are some of my recommendations for the ultimate tailgate brunch.   

What to wear:

I'm really excited to tell y'all about a great local clothing company called Borough that has you covered for everything fall, from tailgating to oyster roasting!  I first met the owner Ashley at a market where we were both vendors, and later I found out we share the same alma mater (NC State).  She is a very talented textile designer, and her fun and vibrant fabrics are all made in the Carolinas out of really soft organic cotton.  She is a Charleston transplant like me, but through her prints her love of the Lowcountry is evident.  She really knows how to dress the southern gal that loves to go all out for a good celebration, and I think that applies to most of the southern women I know! Check out two of her collections (tailgating and oyster roast) in this shoot I styled for Ashley.  Also be sure to check out her new High Cotton design (which I happen to think would work great for a Tar Heel/Citadel tailgater or a stroll down King Street).

What to serve:

Now that you are all gussied up, you need to get your tailgating refreshments on the same level.  I'm not the best chef, so I always stick with the "it's all in the presentation" mantra.  I created a simple biscuit & bloody mary bar set-up to make those classic brunch staples a little more exciting.  If you think you have to slave over a rolling pin to make these picture perfect bisuits,  you need to know about a handy helper named Callie (as in Callie's Charleston biscuits).  All I had to do was bake their handmade frozen delights straight from the package enough to reheat them.  As I discovered while "letting them cool",  they actually taste great without any toppings!  I decided to spruce mine up anyway with a little Blackberry Patch syrup drizzled on top and also created a BPT (bacon, pimiento, and tomato).  Plop the extras in Draper James' cute Game Day bowls and plates and you are ready to get this tailgate brunch party started (without having to wait in line for Bojangles all morning).  To finish off the decor, Ashley lent me some of her fabric scraps as coasters for our bloody mary bar, and the DIY queen Coastal Kelder whipped up the cutest burlap football banner.

Photos: Jennifer Collins Photography | Clothing: Borough | Brunette Model: Paper Meets Pearl  | Styling: Charleston Weekender


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Friday Fete: Throw the Perfect Pool Party Anytime of Year

Summer is only showing minor signs of letting up in my neck of the woods, so I think we have plenty of pool time left.  Even if you are somewhere that is back to full on jeans weather, don't put away all your pool gear just yet. There are plenty of ways to use your pool as part of the fun all year long.  Sweetgrass Properties has many luxury rentals with pools around the Lowcountry, so we headed to one of their homes on Kiawah for a day of champagne and desserts with some great ladies.  Read on for 5 tips to have your own pool part no matter what season it is!

1. Always Set the Table

I'm one of those people that likes any excuse to pull out the fine china, without wanting anyone to feel like they are at a stuffy party.  With the help of Event Haus and some accents from West Elm, I designed these cheerful place settings that would work for a morning brunch or a delightful dinner. The great mix of silver and gold really popped on the faux moss circular chargers.  Topped off with gorgeous florals from Charleston Flower Girl, this set-up was was as fabulous as the company.

2. Have Fun With Your Food

With a pool as your background, a playful ambiance is what this soiree will be all about.  The talented Ashleys I know really took our party food to the next level.  My summer intern turned friend Ashley from Always All Dressed Up really has a knack for creating amazing party treats. How fabulous are her pineapple cookies and wait for it... fruit "pizzas". Sugar cookies + cream cheese + fruit = food magic.  We were in dessert mode for this party, so Ashley Brown of ABCD Cakes just whipped up some delicious macarons like it was no big deal- but then she topped them with the most beautiful art and calligraphy! I've never seen something so pretty that also tasted so great.

3. Opt for a Seasonless Color Palette

I never get tired of black and white no matter what time of year it is, so that is a great choice for attire, accents, and place settings. The Town Serif created some great place cards in the shape of tropical leaves with her beautiful calligraphy, and we all got decked out in some lovely Rove and Roam looks, shoes, and sunglasses from Dandy Boutique.  Eventhaus worked some magic to create a black and white table runner for our food table, which was perfect with the pops of white Le Creuset serve ware and Charleston Flower Girl's greenery.

4. Don't Retire Your Pool Floats

Last summer was the year the mini flamingo was popping up everywhere, but have you seen the mini swans!? They are just adorable and made the perfect mini bar for our pool! Just chillax and a beverage will eventually float your way.  Of course the classic giant swan always makes for perfect pool decor, too.  I'm finding them majorly on sale right now, and even spotted a pink swan!  You can also just enter to win your own through 8/28, so head over to @sweetgrassproperties on Instagram and find the swan photo for details.

5. Get Cozy With Turkish Towels

You guessed it... this is a shameless plug for my Turkish towels!  Seriously though, I use them myself all the time and they are perfect to have both indoors and outside.  They can spruce up your pool chairs, and if you keep some handy for drying off pool-dangled feet they are super absorbent. We used the yellow cabana and charcoal gray ones for our party.  When it cools off they are also perfect to have on hand so your guests can wrap up in them.  They are 20% off through 8/28 with code SWEETGRASS.

All photos are by Mary Beth Creates.  Happy Weekend and cheers to another fun fete, y'all!

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A Weekend of Fun: Backyard Entertaining With Your Squad

Jennifer Collins Photography

Jennifer Collins Photography

Summer is the perfect excuse to have your favorite gal pals over for some fun times and cold beverages.  Take your girl's night out to the next level and to the outdoors for a change!  We headed to the bocce and badminton courts at Mixson Bath & Racquet Club for a fun and games happy hour, but you could execute a great outdoor get together in your own backyard or at a local park.  It's all about the #squadgoals.


Give the Girls a Theme

Ladies love to dress up, and let's be honest: we really dress up for each other, not for the guys!  A regular weekday could be far less mundane if you have a little excuse to rock a fun outfit. You could invite your guests to wear all-white or shades of denim and chambray.  Since summer is in full swing and the 4th of July is approaching, I invited these ladies to wear white and blue. I didn't forget the red... we had some One Hope rose to take care of that pop of color!  Kelly and Andrea dressed up their Madewell jeans with great shoes, and I tied up my favorite new tee from Southern Socks. Everyone accessorized with bags from Simply J Boutique (I'm obsessed with their graphic totes!) and baubles from my favorite jewelry store in town, Candy Shop Vintage.

I also made sure we all had our sunnies, provided by Nectar! They are a very well priced local company with amazingly lightweight and really comfy shades.  All the sunglasses shown here are under $50, and they are also offering a 20% discount to "my readers"... so guess what mom that means you get a sunglasses discount!

  Use code WEEKENDER @


Decorate the Yard 

How fun are the colorful red chairs at Mixson!? It's great to have fabulous outdoor furniture, but you can just improvise with what you already have.  We set up a relaxation station, and all it took was one of my Turkish towels with a cute pillow plopped on it.  Set up a serve yourself "bar" by putting your ice bucket on whatever stool or end table you have.  That was about the easiest backyard decor I have ever done and freed me up to enjoy hanging with my guests.

Playing Is Encouraged

I think it's due to my mom's sunny influence that made me never quite grow out of fun and games.  The choices of backyard games are endless, and they usually add some fun aspects to your decor and event photos as well.  We set up some croquet and bocce, and I'm pretty sure the ladies had fun!


Thanks to Jennifer Collins for these awesome photos, and to the #HolyCityChicks shown here! These gals happen to be other local bloggers, so check them out for awesome fashion tips no matter what suits you:
The Charleston Shop Curator finds the best stores and brands to incorporate in her stylish looks, and she's also a down-to-earth mom of 2! Paper Meets Pearl has a cool, chic look that's usually pretty feminine and polished like she is, with some fabulous DIYs mixed in.  XoXoIJoelle has plus-sized fashion tips with fun and colorful looks that any gal will be inspired by.  Katherine of Styled Sugar Plum is the most stylish little mom ever. I am always super impressed with a woman that can raise a little human and still look flawless.  I cannot wait for you to see ThriftyLittleBecca's post, because ALL of her outfits came from Amazon!



Birthday Week for the Win!

'Cause It's My Birthday Week!

'Cause It's My Birthday Week!

What a week! No matter what age you are, I'm a firm believer in celebrating your birthday for an entire week, or at least a whole weekend!  Maybe a birthday week isn't that different from most weeks, except that you are inclined to pay extra attention to all of the good things that happen.  Even the small things, like discovering the best $3 bamboo pen from the Indigo Market, have made this an awesome birthday. However, the last few days have been extra special for a few reasons:

A couple months ago, I teamed up with Charleston's cherry & curly-headed photographer, Rachel Red Photography who has some killer talent.  The weekends should be all about fun and ease, so we created an article to inspire effortless entertaining. She captured every second of our "no stuffiness allowed " day, and you can check it out over at Style Me Pretty Living! I can't wait for you to see who we partnered up with...

I felt even more excitement from our SMPLiving feature when some sweet people helped share the love. I was delighted to be mentioned in Ibu Movement's weekly newsletter and interviewed for Charleston Blog Society. I'm very appreciative of the time involved from those two dears!

The best part of week was when I got to see the coffee label that is for my coworker's VERY OWN ROAST!! Ripple Coffee has offered to let us sell bags to fundraise for Bill, a physical therapist in Mount Pleasant, who is facing an unknown muscular condition.  Paulette at Ripple is just the best, and she even let Bill create his own flavor combo for his special roast. I just can't wait to share more and continue to team up with them.  Kelly at Paper Meets Pearl has graciously agreed to help me get this coffee party started very soon!

People are so generous when you pay attention; so many of my sweet friends have supported Bill's T-Shirt Fundraiser instead of getting me a present. We have raised $300 in a short time period, and it was very easy with Bonfire Funds!  To top it off, my newly adopted mentor treated me to birthday lunch today! I hope I am able to return some of this love!!

Please help me celebrate my birthday by supporting my coworker and treating yourself to a t-shirt! The fundraising ends Sunday, so I hope we can hit at least $500. We got this.

Please help me celebrate my birthday by supporting my coworker and treating yourself to a t-shirt! The fundraising ends Sunday, so I hope we can hit at least $500. We got this.