Organize the Holidays

Things can get overwhelming during this hectic, holly-jolly time of year.  That’s why we here at CUE call upon the expertise of Lisa Zaslow (www.GothamOrganizers.com) to keep us at our very best.  Here are her tips for a stress free, organized holiday season:

GothamOrganizers Holiday Survival Tips

“Holidays are an expensive trial of strength. The only satisfaction comes from survival.”

— Jonathan Miller

Bah humbug Mr. Miller! The holidays should be a time to feel blessed, not stressed!. Follow these tips to save time, effort and energy this holiday season!

First, stop beating yourself up for not picking up gifts for everyone on your list all year long and for not having your cards addressed before Thanksgiving. This is the home stretch – time to focus your efforts on what you can do.

* Presto Presents – Technology is your friend. Use the power of the internet to pick, click and ship gifts for everyone on your list, from clients to cousins. Gift certificates to sites like Amazon.com, Gap.com and CrateandBarrel.com will appeal to a wide range of folks. If you must get actual presents, hit a few big stores at off-hours and knock off many items on your list in one shot.

 

* Wrap It Up – Why wrap? I’m a big fan of tissue paper and gift bags. They’re super-speedy and no tape, ribbon or scissors needed.

 

* Go-to Hostess Gifts – One for all and all for one. Get a slew of one great item – a nice bottle of olive oil, beautiful kitchen towels, fancy nuts and/or chocolate, or the tried and true gift soaps or bottle of wine. Pick up a bunch of gift bags and you’re good to go.

 

* Speedy Decorating – Go minimalist. Candles are quick, inexpensive and festive. And you can use them year-round and don’t have to store them.

 

* Feast Without Fuss– Let someone else cook. Put pre-prepared foods on nice serving dishes with a little garnish and no one will be the wiser. Ask your guests to contribute dishes and lighten your cooking load. You can hire a caterer to cook entire meals or just a few key dishes.

 

* Quick Cards – Again, technology is your friend. Cut and paste a photo into an e-mail and you’re done, or send an electronic card at egreetings.com or similar sites. If you really love the idea of sending actual cards, you can extend your deadline by a few extra days and send New Year’s cards this time around.

One last note

Take a deep breath and remember that the true spirit of the season doesn’t require any of the above. Spend your time with friends and loved ones, not running around trying to fulfill an idealized vision of the holidays that may not fit your current lifestyle. Happy holidays!

* * *

 

Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers, has helped hundreds of people get organized at work and at home. Her expertise has been featured on The Nate Berkus Show, Inside Edition and in numerous publications including The New York Times, Real Simple, and InStyle. Get Lisa’s super-easy organizing tips at www.GothamOrganizers.com

© 2011 Lisa Zaslow. All rights in all media reserved.

Project Holiday Organization

The holidays have FINALLY arrived and there is still so much to do! It starts with brainstorming for those perfect gifts, then braving the holiday hoards of mall madness, and culminates in executing the most gorgeous gift wrapping since Buddy the Elf walked through the Lincoln Tunnel. Gifts: check! What did you forget?

Decorating. Some may ask, “What’s so hard about placing a little holly here, a few lights there, picking out a tree, setting out the menorah, or finding the right candles for the kinara?” Well, actually finding those decorations tucked way in the back of the closet, stuffed in a box with other holiday miscellanea, can be a bigger headache than hunting down that one bad light keeping half of your tree unfestively dim. Organization is key when tackling such a project because you don’t want to have to deal with a mess before and after you set up.

Lisa Zaslow, founder of Gotham Organizers, is known nationwide for her expertise in organization. She helps her clients find customized solutions that help them become more organized and, therefore, more productive. She shared some tips with the CUE team on how we all could be more organized throughout this holiday season.

Gather

Go through your house and collect all the different holiday items that you have stored in a variety of places: the jack-o-lantern cutting knives in the kitchen, the menorah in the hall closet, the ornaments in the basement. You’ll probably have to open a bunch of “mystery boxes” in the process. This is a good thing. Have a thick black marker handy so you can label the carton with your high school memorabilia when you come across it in the attic.

Prune

Now that you see your complete holiday stash, toss or give away the items that you’ll never use: the lady bug costume that your daughter wore four years ago, strings of bulbs tangled beyond any chance of liberation, impulse-purchase ornaments that you have never once displayed, and wrinkled wrapping paper that you wouldn’t use even for the anonymous office grab bag.

Contain and Store

Now that you know how much space your decorations take up, treat yourself to some new containers to store them in. Sturdy plastic bins that stack will save space and protect your decorations from dust, water and breakage. They even make color-coded containers for this purpose – orange for Halloween, red and green for Christmas, etc. Label the containers so that you can see at a glance what’s in each one.

Designate an out-of-the way place to store your seasonal stuff since you don‘t need to get to it often. The basement, attic, or garage is perfect, if you have one. Apartment dwellers can use a high shelf in a closet or under-the-bed boxes.

Congratulations! You’ve solved a major holiday headache. Now if there was only an easier way to deal with all those relatives who‘ll be visiting …

Thanks Lisa, for all of your wonderful tips! They have already made my holidays less of a mess and allowed me to spend more time on the things that are more important in life.

To find out more on how Lisa Zaslow can help your organizational skills, check out her website at gothamorganizers.com.

If some of you are still having difficulty finding time to juggle work or school, decorating, and holiday gift shopping, the CUE team is here to help YOU! We can take care of all your holiday decorating, home or office. Need inspiration? We have plenty! And don’t worry about the dreaded post-holiday undecorating. Not only will we set everything up, but we will also break it down and stow it all away again.

You can e-mail us at info@curtainupevents.com. We look forward with working with you soon!

Have a safe and happy holiday season.

Xoxo,
Kiki

Gobble Gobble Time!

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, you begin to consider many things: “What do I do first? How should I decorate? What should be on my menu? Dare I attempt the Turducken?” With that in mind we at CUE thought it might be nice to offer a few suggestions to help you get in the Thanksgiving spirit.

First, let’s start with a craft project.  A cute way to spice up your Thanksgiving table is to create a Turkey Bread Basket.

Turkey Breadbasket Centerpiece

Courtesy of Familyfun.go.com

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Large wooden spoon
  • Tacky glue and a glue stick
  • Pair of googly eyes
  • Pencil and scissors
  • Construction paper in a variety of colors
  • Flat wooden craft spoon
  • Red marker
  • Colorful printed wrapping paper or pages from old magazines
  • Waxed paper
  • Thin wooden skewers (sold in the kitchen/cooking section of most grocery and department stores)
  • Basket to serve as the turkey’s body (it should be large enough to fit a loaf of bread or dinner rolls)
  • Florists’ foam or Styrofoam block (sold at many large craft or department stores) large enough to wedge into the basket
  • Cloth dinner napkin
Instructions
  1. To create the turkey’s head, turn the large wooden spoon so that the back of the bowl becomes the face. Use tacky glue to stick on the googly eyes. Then cut out a yellow construction paper beak and glue it in place.
  2. For the turkey’s wattle, use the marker to color the flat wooden craft spoon red. Glue the wattle onto the face at an angle so that the top slightly overlaps the beak. You can use a pinch-style clothespin to hold the pieces in place until the glue dries.
  3. From the construction paper, help your kids cut out lots of colored feathers that measure about 10 inches long and 1 3/4 inches across at the widest point. Cut out the same number of feathers from the wrapping paper or magazine pages, then trim them so that they are slightly smaller than the solid-colored ones.
  4. Cover a flat work surface with waxed paper (this makes for easier cleanup after applying glue), and you’re ready to assemble the feathers. For each one, place a construction paper cutout on the waxed paper and set a wooden skewer atop it so that the blunt end is just below the top of the paper and the pointed end extends about 3 inches below it.
  5. Next, use a glue stick to coat the underside of a printed feather. Then press it, glued side down, onto the construction paper feather, sandwiching the skewer between the 2 layers.
  6. Wedge the foam block into the basket (trim it first if necessary). Push the spoon handle into one end of the block deep enough to secure it. Stick the feathers into the opposite end. Cover the block with the cloth napkin, and the turkey basket is ready to fill with bread.

If you are  in the mood for a more elegant meal, then consider using a few leaves from your yard to create a subtle fall theme. Display autumn leaves beneath a sheer tablecloth and the dining room will look as brilliant as the trees in your front yard. First, place leaves between paper towels or waxed paper inside a phone book for a week to dry and smooth them. Next, if needed, use double-sided tape to attach foliage — in any grouping — to a standard white tablecloth. Then place a sheer cloth, such as organza, on top.

Courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

You might also want to use a leaf or a sweet-gum-tree spur as a place card. Just tie a name tag with a bit of ribbon to the stem of your chosen item.

Courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

Finally, no Thanksgiving is complete without a bit o’ Pumpkin Pie. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Follow the recipe below.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of 100% Pure Pumpkin or Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can NESTLE® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.)

Libby's(R) Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Courtesy of AllRecipes.com

But remember, no matter what decor you choose or how many delicious treats you taste, Thanksgiving is ultimately about being grateful for the ones we care about and the meaning they bring to our lives. So, this Thanksgiving make sure to put a little extra TLC (Tender Loving Care) into each project or dish and it will certainly shine through to your loved ones!

Happy Horror Madness

Halloween is creeping around the corner and as you work your way around the crowds, through the mess they’ve left behind in the costume store, and pick out your last minute costume, you might’ve forgotten a vital component in making Halloween such a wonderful holiday – a party! The greatest thing about this day is that you can get away with doing anything from different themes to activities to food selection. Do you want to make it kid friendly? Or scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs scary? If you are still deciding and need some inspiration or just need some last minute tips, the CUE team is here to save the spooky.

As the tricks of planning are over, the treat of seeing your guests flow through the door shows off your dedication in making an unforgettable night. Now it’s your turn to relax and party like there’s no tomorrow!

xoxo,
Kiki

1st Presbyterian Church Pre-School Fundraiser

Who says you need an extravagant venue to hold an event? With the right planners, rentals, lighting, and bartenders, you can take an empty space and make it your own!

CUE helped plan and design a low key Pre-school Fundraiser located at 1st Presbyterian Church on 5th Avenue. Some may question how could we possibly hold an event in a Church where the guests wouldn’t be reminded of all the Sunday sermons they’ve missed? The simple answer is paying a great attention to detail in decor.

A silent auction was the best way to go in making this fundraiser function smoothly. The walls were all covered with bid sheets where guests would write their offer. A square bar was placed in the middle of the room and draped in grey table cloths. Yellow ribbon was purposely set along the borders and crisscrossed with another strand of ribbon creating a grid-like look. These grids symbolizes a grid of New York City’s streets. The unexpected color contrast between the grey cloth and yellow ribbon draws attention due to the pop of color it gives out.

Fresh branches with small buds growing out of them were placed in steel cylinders were positioned on the bar as well. The branches were picked up from stores located in the Flower District here in Manhattan. The branches moved the eye to bring attention to the floral garland strung from the chandelier in the center of the hall. The garland generated warmth to the room and brought things together creating a unification.

Decor is everything. Whether it might be the smallest detail to a big centerpiece, decor sets your event apart from the next. It sets the mood and is the first thing guests see when walking into your event. Just remember, it’s not about where you have it, it’s how you present it.

We would also like to give a big thanks to jewelry designer, Sarah Radford from Chic Gems, etc., for providing the beautiful jewelry that Danielle wore to the event.

xoxo,

Kiki

Don’t Fight Your Venue

In these times, many of us don’t have the money (or don’t want to spend the money) to completely drape an entire event venue to completely transform it from what it is into something new and different. One thing we notice of late, is that our clients think that by choosing a less expensive venue for their event and spending on extravagant transformations of the space will in the long run save them money. This is completely untrue!

Don’t fight your venue! Period. End of story.

If you are settling for a venue that doesn’t fit into your event vision, perhaps this is not the right location for you. You will spend thousands of dollars trying to transform your space, and your funds will more than likely run dry before you can really do the space justice, leaving you with a half-hearted theme that stands awkwardly against the original structure.

If you’ve chosen an old mansion for your event, think about bringing in colors and décor that compliments the space rather than fights it. A Great Gatsby theme could be just as fun and elegant and much more fitting than a Moroccan lounge, and a 70s disco party might not be the most fitting theme for an elegant ballroom. If you work with, rather than against your venue you will end up with not only a beautiful event, but some extra cash in your pocket as well.

People like congruity—it’s something that makes us feel comfortable. This doesn’t mean that juxtaposing competing concepts can’t work wonderfully, but it takes a strong concept and expert execution to pull such events off flawlessly. It takes more than just hanging fabric and bringing in furniture to completely transform a space to an entirely different vision.

Fighting your venue is a lost cause. Find a venue that you are happy with and build off the beauty that originally drew you to that space. We promise, you’ll be much happier in the long run!

Picture Curtosy of Martin Jobes Design

**A theme that worked in the space! When you work with your venue, amazing things can happen.