Don't get me wrong. I am a big fan of getting cocktails in the hands of party goes as soon as possible...  but sometimes (especially after sitting through an outdoor wedding ceremony in the mid-Atlantic in July) I see the value of offering a fun, non-alcoholic beverage (that is not soda) to refresh and hydrate before the partying begins.
It can be as simple as a pretty pitcher of water with thinly sliced cucumbers floating in it.  Add an over sized mason jar of lemonade surrounded by smaller jars of citrus segments, mint sprigs and lavender flowers and you have a great looking- much appreciated beverage station that is very low cost.

You can always step it up by displaying several flavors and garnishes.
Later in the party, add a chilled bottle of vodka... and everyone is happy!

Here are some great "Lemonade Stand" ideas:

Start with a really good lemonade:

  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • Water
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice (best to squeeze it fresh...)
  1. Make a simple syrup with the sugar and 1 cup of water: heat in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Chill. 
  2. Mix 7 cups of water, the simple syrup and the lemon juice. Serve over ice or add a fun infusion.

Pineapple- Mint: Bring pineapple juice to a boil.  Simmer until the juice has been reduced by half. Chill. Add to lemonade and garnish with fresh mint.
Thyme: Combine several fresh thyme sprigs with simple syrup and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and let sit for 15ish minutes. Strain and chill.  Add to lemonade.  This also works really well with rosemary.
Ginger- Lime:  I am a sucker for anything with ginger in it.. this is really wonderful!!  Peel fresh ginger. Grate. Wrap in cheesecloth and squeeze over a bowl to release the juice. Add the ginger juice to your lemonade with a touch of honey. Squeeze 1/2 lime into the pitcher and garnish with  lime wheels.

Sparkling Sodas:
These are really simple, and unbelievably delicious and refreshing.
Add any of the Stirrings mixers to club soda.  1:1.  Serve over ice and garnish.
My favorites are:
Watermelon, Blood Orange, Chocolate Peppermint, Peach, Pomegranate, Mojito and Wild Blueberry.

Don't forget to label everything so guests know what they are drinking!


Sweet Favors!

Invariably, at some point in the planning process a bride will ask me about favors. Often she has her heart set on something like a tiny silver bell with (very time consuming) ribbons in the wedding colors attached, or a very expensive heart shaped, engraved ornament with their engagement photo in it. Big. Mistake.  I hate to say... but most favors end up either in the trash, or in the trunk of the groom's car with all of the gifts. 
That said, I love the idea of an offering or token of gratitude and some couples really come up with cool and creative ideas that really reflect who they are. Several years ago, I had a couple who placed a handwritten note on each placesetting. Time consuming: yes. Meaningful: out of the park.

One of my favorite ideas was from a very creative and thoughtful bride, Lindsay. She made her favorite treats (peppermint popcorn, chocolate dipped pretzels, blueberry bars, cookies, cake pops, birds nests...) and provided environmentally friendly, reusable shopping bags for each of her guests to fill with the sweets to take home.  The guests LOVED it! 

While the offering was really appropriate and meaningful (and delicious!) the display was as well.
She gave me a lot of really cool props to use for food and beverage displays which created a cohesive and coordinated design throughout the site.  For the favor display, we used an old dresser that belonged to her grandmother. It was one of the few things left from her long closed flower shop and held alot of meaning to the family. 

Unlike a 10 year old's birthday party (where favors are CRITICAL to the child's social standing) you should should not feel pressured or obligated to buy or make everyone a favor. You can certainly express your gratitude in many other ways.  If you do choose to send your guests away with an offering: make it  relevant and meaningful!



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