office holiday party at top of the town

holiday party at top of the town in arlington, va

A few months ago I featured a site report on Top of the Town, just outside of Washington, DC. In December, we used Top of the Town for an office holiday party for about 150 people. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the venue and how the party worked out, as well as share some of the ideas we used for decor and the menu. We also had some entertainment for the evening, but I will feature that in a separate post.

I’ll start with a disclaimer – my photos are terrible. We didn’t have a professional photographer at this event so it was just me and my decent camera in poor lighting conditions during set-up. So, please forgive me!

The Venue

The selling point for Top of the Town is its view. It’s right outside DC (in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington) so it has magnificent views of DC and the monuments. It was actually a gray, rainy day on the night of the party, so I wasn’t able to take any good shots of the view but you can see some here. Luckily it cleared up enough by the time the party started that the guests were able to marvel at the view.

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christmas place setting ideas

diy christmas place setting and place card ideas

As promised, I am continuing this Christmas week with ideas for entertaining at home. I am a day late but I did have a good excuse – last night was a company holiday party that I planned and I’m happy to report that it was a success – I’ll have more info on that next week, but I definitely was able to follow my own advice because the party was not a disaster.

On Monday I featured centerpiece ideas – today I have some ideas for place settings and place cards. Even if you don’t have so many guests that you “need” assigned seats, I love doing place cards. It’s a fun way to add a little something special to the table, especially if you don’t have room for a centerpiece – which is most likely going to be the case for me, since I always overdo it with the food. Just about all these ideas are DIY-friendly, too!

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christmas centerpiece ideas

christmas DIY centerpiece ideas

As I’m sure you’re aware, Christmas is just around the corner (it’s coming a little too quickly for my taste!). While I’ve been absorbed with planning a company holiday party (could you guess that’s been on my mind?) I don’t want to forget about Christmas at home. This year will be my first hosting Christmas in our new house. While it will just be a small group, eight total, I still want it to be special and perfect. As I’ve been brainstorming little ideas to make my first Christmas dinner in the house special, I wanted to share some ideas with you. I’ll have three posts over the next three days geared toward Christmas entertaining. These are all ideas that you can DIY. Today I wanted to focus on centerpieces.

Just like with Thanksgiving dinner, I feel like the centerpiece at Christmas dinner should err on the side of simple. There’s always so much food on the table, you don’t want the centerpiece to get lost or get in the way. I usually opt for something low. Your comfort level around candles will depend on who your guests are. Since the “kids” at our dinner are my 17 and 20 year old nieces, I think I’m ok, but you will need to decide for yourself.

I also recommend something that you can do ahead – with everything else you’re worried about on Christmas, I wouldn’t add greenery arrangement on top.

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DIY decor and details at fall festival

My colleague, Brie, planned this fabulous fall festival at the Brixton Restaurant in Washington, DC. The weather was perfect, so the group was able to take advantage of the rooftop. Brie did all of the decor herself (can we say glitter pumpkins!) and with some crafty volunteers, and designed a fun menu, including a DIY trail mix bar, a chili bar, and signature drinks.

fall festival DIY decor

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incorporate apples into weddings, events and entertaining

apple bouquet

Despite 90 degree heat, I went apple picking this weekend, as we do almost every fall. And judging by my Facebook feed, everyone else was apple picking as well. While apples don’t get quite the same attention as pumpkins do, they are just as reminiscent of fall as their orange counterparts. In honor of the fact that I have 17 pounds of apples to figure out how to use in the next week or so, here are some ideas on how to incorporate apples into your events – whether you are planning a fall dinner party, a fall wedding, or a full-blown Oktoberfest extravaganza.

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rustic table numbers

rustic table numbers

The rustic theme is very big right now, especially now because it’s fall. There are so many different directions to take this theme, but one of the ways to incorporate it is through the table numbers if you are hosting a formal seated affair, such as for a wedding or gala.

Here are a few suggestions – many of which are DIY friendly.

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diy rustic trail mix bar

DIY rustic trail mix bar | amanda jayne events blog

Everyone has been to a meeting or a conference and seen the ‘coffee break’ or ‘snack break’ agenda item and been excited, only to groan when it’s the same old cookies or granola bars with whole or sliced fruit (if you’re lucky). Well hotels and caterers are starting to respond by offering more themed breaks and more creative options. My colleague Brie took this one step further and created her own themed break during a day-long conference: a make-your-own trail mix bar.

DIY rustic trail mix bar | amanda jayne events blog

DIY rustic trail mix bar | amanda jayne events blog

DIY rustic trail mix bar | amanda jayne events blog

DIY rustic trail mix bar | amanda jayne events blog

DIY rustic trail mix bar | amanda jayne events blog

My favorite detail: I love the small details that make this trail mix bar pop – the burlap table runner, the wooden crates, and the cute font for the sign.

Steal this idea: Use what you have on hand! Some of the items were purchased for the bar, but others were recycled from other events, such as the birch tealight holders (which still looked great tealight-less in a flameless-office environment) which were leftover from last year’s holiday party.

How Brie was inspired:  “I was inspired by watching a webinar, which included how to provide healthier options for snack breaks during an event. I realized I wanted to do something that provided attendees with a little more optionality, while also being creative. While many catering companies and local food chains provide catered snack options, consisting of trail mix or easy-to-grab snacks, I wanted to find a better, cheaper way. After looking for some additional inspiration on Pinterest, I knew I wanted to go with a trail mix bar with a rustic flare. From seeing a variety of pictures at weddings, birthday parties, and festivals incorporating the same idea of a trail mix bar, that was all the inspiration I needed to recreate the same idea.”

 Brie’s favorite detail: “I was really excited about finding a font for the main signs and the labels for each food item in the trail mix bar. Since my theme was outdoorsy and rustic, I wanted to make sure that continued throughout, even down to the font.”

Great job, Brie! Thank you to Brie and Anna for the photos of this fabulous real inspiration!