Friday, October 22, 2010

Welcome Bags Set The Stage For Your Event!

Photo Courtesy of Favors and Flowers
Welcome bags a/k/a hospitality bags are a lovely way to embrace family and friends who have traveled from afar, to attend your celebration. They set the tone for the fabulous festivities you have planned for your guests. So, it's important to put some creativity into the design. 

Photo Courtesy of Southern Weddings

Yes, it's true. There's just no way around it. Welcome bags do make an impact, but I wouldn't stress about them. I see the eyes rolling! Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Simply plan in advance by using my guide for success.

3 - 4 Months Prior

Choose the Style, Color, Theme, Etc. of Welcome Bags and Tissue Paper
Searching for canvas totes? I suggest Lands' End. For beautiful paper bags in all shapes and sizes and tissue paper in every hue you can imagine,  I love shopping online at  Nashville Wraps!

Photo Courtesy of Unbeatable Sale
Create a List of  Perishable and NonPerishable Items 
I usually include Bottled Water, Individual Bags of Chips, Pretzels, Cookies,Chocolates, Peanuts, Bananas, Apples, Granola Bars, Breath Mints (A must when I'm shopping for client's and always a hit!), Theme Items, Etc.

Having a beach themed event? Why not add suntan lotion, a bright beach towel, inflatable ball,  flip flops, etc. Expecting guests with young children? How about supplying  Uno game cards, crayons or colored pencils, coloring books, Mad Libs and puzzles.
2 - 3 Months Prior

Order Bags and Tissue Paper
Estimate and count anyone that might attend...then add a few to the final number, in case of that last minute addition or a bag  ruined in transit.

Order Custom Gift Tags/Labels
Customizing is a popular way to make a chic statement, without spending a ton of money. Remember to use good quality paper if printing these yourself. Check out wiskergraphics. This company allows you to format your text with their graphics and then print your gorgeous creations at home or the office!

Order Custom Water Bottle Labels
This is a personal preference, but one I feel is worth the money. Search for vendors offering a multitude of shapes, sizes and styles.

Photo Courtesy of Mitzvah-licious

1-2 Months Prior

Compose  A Short Welcome Letter
It's customary to include a short note welcoming and thanking people for taking the time out of their busy schedules to attend your event.

Create A Weekend Itinerary
Guests want to know where and when they have to be someplace. When prepared in advance, it alerts the host to any potential scheduling  issues and gives them ample opportunity to make changes. See the adorable example below for inspiration.

Photo Courtesy of Lori Decter Wright and Project Wedding
Visit Your Local AAA Office
If the schedule allots for guests to have time to themselves during their stay, maps and brochures for popular city sites are a must. AAA offices around the country make them available to members free of charge.

Purchase Labels and/or Gift Tags
If printing these yourself, make sure to order more than you think you'll need. If a mistake happens, they'll be no need to worry. 

Photo Courtesy of tinyprints
3 - 4 Weeks Prior

Purchase Paper For Welcome Letter
Order online or find a specialty paper store in your area. Once again, always order more than you think is needed...just in case! The Paper Mill Store or paper and more! offer huge selections at great prices.

Print Labels and/or Tags
If printing them yourself, give enough time for mishaps. If you find you've taken on more than you can handle, there's still time to hire a printing professional in your area to take the pressure off your hands.

Shop for NonPerishable Items
Set aside anything you buy together in a cool, dry place away from pets, small children and direct sunlight. 

Request Help for Delivery of Hospitality Bags
The week leading up to an event is hectic. Ask a trustworthy friend or relative to deliver hospitality bags to the hotel.

Photo Courtesy of Project Wedding
2 Weeks Prior

Finalize Welcome Letter to Guests 
Print letter, sign each one and set aside with the nonperishable items. Why? Trust me, I've heard horror stories of letters being misplaced by people. Keep everything together!

Assemble Hospitality Bags
If fashioning a large number of bags, why not invite a few friends over for an "Stuffing Soiree?" Gab with the girls, sip a glass of wine, while organizing welcome bags! Once completed, set the bags if possible in the same area the non-perishables were stored. Have your designated friend or family member deliver the bags to the hotel the night before your guests arrive.

The Week of The Event

Shop for Perishable Items
No one enjoys spoiled fruit! Choose fruits that stay fresh longer, like apples, bananas and oranges. Place them in the hospitality bags no earlier than the day they are to be delivered to the hotel. 

Confirm Procedure with Hotel for the Delivery and Distribution of  the Welcome Bags
Find out which staff member will be responsible for accepting and storing the hospitality bags once they arrive at the hotel. Bags should be clearly marked with the individual, family or couple's name. This provides the hotel's staff guidance at check-in. A host can also stop by the front desk to view who hasn't arrived and/or didn't receive their treats upon arrival.
Photo Courtesy of Project Wedding and Navy and Lavender

Happy Entertaining!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Diva With A Fork - New Logo Design

Diva With A Fork has a divalicious new logo thanks to Leelou Blogs

 Stay tuned...this is just the beginning! Our new website will be launching soon!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Three Cheers...Stone Crab Season Is Here!

Photo Courtesy of

It's begins stone crab season! I can't wait to sink my teeth into a chilled jumbo claw, dunked in mustard sauce. If you've  never tasted these succulent claws and are up for an adventure, head down to Marathon in the Florida Keys. There you'll find the Keys Fisheries Market and Marina, the supplier of stone crab claws for the famous,  Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Florida. Beware though before you venture...if your vision of dining out must include waiters in tuxedos, fine china and crystal, you won't find that at Keys Fisheries Market and Marina. People go there for the fresh seafood at a price that can't be beat! Order at the counter, then dine alfresco while savoring the sunset's breath-taking views. It's no fuss dining and worth the trip in my opinion.  If you can't break away for a visit, head over to your local seafood market or purchase stone crabs online.
Photo Courtesy of George Stone Crab
Although some enjoy them heated with drawn butter, I relish mine chilled with mustard sauce. I'm planning to celebrate the start of the season tonight with a family feast. Why not start your own tradition by having one too? In fact, here's the mustard sauce recipe I found online and love. Now all that's needed are your family, friends and of course...lots of mouthwatering stone crab!

Eat, Drink and Enjoy,


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Trend Alert...Whoopee Pies Are Taking Over!

Photo Courtesy of


Whoopee pies are quickly stealing the spotlight from cupcakes and are becoming the "must have" dessert at events. Considered a comfort food by the people of Maine, whoopee pies originated with the Pennsylvanian Amish. The Amish created these divine darlings from leftover batter. Legend has it they were named whoopee pies, because the Amish children would exclaim, "Whoopee!" when finding one in their lunch bag. 


Like cupcakes, whoopee pies can be made in an assortment of flavors, satisfying everyone's inner dessert diva. Check out the recipes for Chocolate and Mint Whoopee Pies courtesy of Chef Elgin Woodman from A Joy Wallace Catering Production, as well as, Cousin Jonnies Red Velvet Whoopee Pies from Johnnie Gabriel

Chocolate and Mint Whoopee Pies

Recipe Courtesy of A Joy Wallace Catering Production


Serves: 28 



  • ¾ cup Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 cups Flour
  • ¾ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2tsp Baking Soda
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 1 ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp instant coffee


  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1tsp Vanilla
  • ½ tsp mint Extract
  • ¼ tsp Green Food Coloring
  • 2 ¾ cups Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 2 ½ cups Marshmallow Fluff
Optional: Chocolate Jimmies to coat the outside of the whoopee pie.

Cookies | Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs one by one until fully incorporated. Follow by adding the vanilla to the mix. In a second bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Take a third bowl and dissolve the coffee in the buttermilk. Add ½ the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then continue by adding half of the buttermilk mixture. Slowly incorporate all of the ingredients together. Finish by adding the rest of the dry ingredients and then the rest of the buttermilk. Scoop the batter onto a nonstick pan forming 56 circles. Cook at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. You are looking for the cookie to be firm on the outside but still be soft in the inside. Allow to cool.

Filling | Make a butter cream by mixing the butter, sugar, vanilla, mint extract and food coloring. Fold in the marshmallow fluff. Place the filling in the cooler to stiffen.

Place a small scoop of marshmallow fluff on a cookie and top with another cookie. Roll the sides with jimmies.

Photo Courtesy of the Seattle Times

Cousin Jonnie's Red Velvet Whoopee Pies

Recipe courtesy of Johnnie Gabriel

Serves: 24



  •  3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk


  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (recommended: Crisco)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets. Sift the flour, baking soda, and cocoa together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, food coloring, and vanilla.
Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs together in a large bowl until they turn pale and double in volume. Add the oil mixture and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 5 small additions, starting and ending with the flour.
Drop the batter by teaspoons onto the baking sheets, allowing 1-inch between drops, as the cookies will spread. You'll be making 48 cookies. Bake until the cookies are firm but not crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to racks to cool. 

Put the flour into a medium saucepan and slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until very thick, about 3 minutes. Remove the flour mixture from the heat and allow it to cool completely.
Cream the sugar, butter, shortening, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add the cooled flour mixture and whip until fluffy. Spread some filling onto 1 cookie and top it with another to make a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining cookies and filling. Cover the filled whoopee pies with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Live, Love and Eat Lots and Lots of Dessert!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hot Products and Services To Make Your Event Sizzle

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I love to shop! I'm constantly looking for the latest trends and hottest items to enhance celebrations large and small. I delight in the prowl and rejoice with every acquisition. I've realized not everyone delights in the search as I do. Therefore,  I'm beginning a monthly post dedicated to sharing Diva With A Fork's picks for amazing products and services that can add sizzle to your next affair.

Check out October's finds...


Chameleon Chairs add glamour to any event. Available in a variety of luxurious fabrics and styles, these chairs are the perfect enhancement to any tablescape. Move over Chiavari Chairs...these babies are bewitching!

Photos Courtesy of Brides Magazine
Liz Green is an award winning mixologist and the creative genius behind BarCandy. BarCandy is a company offering luscious edible martini and champagne glass inserts in a sinful array of flavors, as well as, bartending services. Imagine the pleasure your guests' are sure to encounter, when sipping delicious cocktails from these decadent glasses. Edible martini and champagne glass inserts are available for shipping anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. For a pricing and a list of BarCandy's sugary flavors, visit

Koyal Wholesale offers these stunning showpieces in thirty-eight eye catching colors and in a multitude of sizes and shapes. These centerpieces create an alluring ambiance for any affair.

Your tables will sparkle with these head-turning beauties! Crystal Chandeliers add shimmer to romantic decor designs, as well as, ignite a sleek, sexy, modern look. Many online stores carry them. The one above I discovered at

One of my favorite online stores to find unique supplies and party favors is beaucoup. Recently, they've added a new product I'm thrilled to share...affordable custom printed aisle runners! Adds a touch of personalization to your wedding ceremony. What can you do with a customized aisle runner after the wedding? I recommend framing it to adorn a wall in your new home as husband and wife! Once back from your honeymoon, cut the aisle runner to a size of your choice and have it framed. It's home decor, as well as, a keepsake you'll treasure forever. 

Stay tuned...more fabulous finds are coming to Diva With A Fork in November! 

Happy Entertaining,


**Have an item or service to showcase? Contact us at All products and services submitted for consideration will will be subject to approval. Products and services containing vulgar language and/or pornography will not be considered. Vendors approved for publication on the Diva With A Fork site, will be notified of their acceptance.**