Does Social Media Make Us Spend More Money?

I know I can’t speak for every woman out there, but it’s pretty safe to say that most of us love to shop. For some reason, a new dress or handbag makes us feel as good as getting our nails done or trying some new lipstick. I guess you could say we like to try different things and reinvent ourselves.

RELATED: Dating And Social Media: Have We Gone Too Far?

It has always been like that, but recent studies have found that social media has changed our shopping habits and actually makes us buy even more and also shop more frequently. The reason? We don’t want to be seen in the same outfit twice on Instagram and co.

It sounds extremely superficial and kind of ridiculous, but think about it: Have you honestly never changed an outfit because you remembered that your friends or family have already seen you in it?

Now replace friends or family with all the people that follow you on social media and you have a much larger group looking at you. So if you have a habit of documenting your life with the help of selfies and status updates, chances are you want to portray a glammed-up version of your life that includes a closet full of outfits you only wear once.

But it’s not just about the fear of re-wearing clothes; social media bombards us with pretty pictures of the hottest trends and must-haves every single day, which increases our need for new things and changes our shopping behavior. This is not just limited to fashion, but also applies to homewear, make up and food.

In a survey by British fashion retailer TK Maxx, 25 per cent of people admitted to being influenced by comments and likes they received on social media. Positive comments on a new outfit thereby reinforce our urge to buy more.

It’s quite remarkable how important social media has become in the past few years. It has gone from a means of communication to a crucial marketing tool for brands and individuals alike, but the fact that we tend to buy more because of social media is really just a new version of an old problem: we care too much about what other people think. Always have, always will.

Image via 604now.com

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Keep the kids amused this summer by throwing a small party with their friends at home or the local park. If you’re stuck on party ideas or themes, try a few of our favourites below which are ideal during the summer.

RELATED: Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Water balloon stations

Isn’t this every kids fantasy? An entire box filled with a bunch of water bombs for the party. Keep them out of direct sunlight since the suns rays can pierce through and pop the balloons before the party.

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Lucky there are handy tools that can help to fill up to 100 balloons per minute!

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Water guns

Fill a few empty bottles with water, then place a ping pong ball over the top. Guests will have to shoot their water gun directly at the ball – first to do this wins a prize!

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Life-size Jenga

Get crafty and make your own life-size jenga game using 2×4 pieces of wood. This is easy enough to carve at home and the kids will never tire of it.

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Outdoor twister

Take a classic game of twister to the next level with food colouring! Simply colour small portions of the grass to emulate a Twister board. Plus, it won’t ruin the grass!

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Pool decorations

Decorate the pool with waterbombs, plastic swans and noodles ready for the party. It will make any pool like fun and inviting for all guests.

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Noodle flowers

Chop up an extra noodle to make these stunning flowers which will also float in the pool! Hang them from the doors, along the windows, or from the ceiling as wind chimes.

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Sunscreen station

Don’t forget a sunscreen station where guests can re-apply and stay out of the sun for a while. Their parents will certainly be thanking you for this helpful idea at the end of the party.

Fun Summer Party Ideas For Kids

Images via eHow, A Thirfty Mom, Nate and Luisa, Holli Long, Just Us Girls, Decor Zilla, Holly Hill Pools, BuzzFeed

5 Fun Ways To Use Social Media On Your Wedding Day

Getting married nowadays couldn’t be more different from the way our parents got married. Everything is bigger and more expensive (at least if you decide to have more than a handful of guests), but also much more creative than 20 years ago.

And that’s not least because of how far technology has come with virtual inspiration boards and thousands of ideas shared on social media making it somewhat easier to be creative. So how can you use technology, especially social media to your advantage? Everybody uses it anyway, so I am pretty sure you and your guests will love the following ideas:

RELATED: 9 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding

1. Create a hashtag

Whether it’s #bestweddingever or #wefinallyputaringonit, be creative and pick ONE hashtag that you share with your guests before the wedding. Tell them to use this hashtag whenever they upload a photo of your wedding to social media, especially  facebook or Instagram. Not only will this make it easier for everyone to find and look at all those lovely snaps, but it also creates a sense of community and encourages your guests to upload great photos.

5 Fun Ways To Use Social Media On Your Wedding Day

2. Have a wedding blog

In the months leading up to your wedding, most of your guests and especially your bridal party will be very interested to read about your wedding plans, so a blog can be a modern way of keeping everyone in the loop. You can share the link in your save-the-date cards/e-mails and even continue to use your blog after the wedding for honeymoon updates etc.

3. Have a social media photo booth

Photo booths at weddings are nothing new. But you can make it a bit more fun by getting crafty and making props related to social media, such as facebook’s Like Icon to hold up or an Instagram frame. Your guests will have a lot of fun with it for sure!

social media, wedding, bride-to-be, Instagram, Facebook, honeymoon, blog

4. Livestream your wedding

What sounds like something that only over-the-top celebs like Kim Kardashian would do is quickly becoming quite normal thanks to a lot of destination weddings. If a rather large number of guests can’t make it to your wedding, you might want to live-stream it so they can be part of it even from afar. Services like bridalstream take care of everything for you.

5. Ban social media

Of course it can be just as fun to completely ban social media from your wedding. If you prefer your wedding to be smartphone-free, that’s absolutely fine. Just make sure you let your guests know prior to the big day.

Images via aisleperfect.com, weddedwonderland.com, and stylemepretty.com

5 Bride-To-Be Decor Ideas

Gather up your girlfriends and plan a bachelorette night filled with laughter, drinks and of course, some modern games for the bride-to-be. Our tips below are perfect if you’re planning an at-home party or pre-drinks before you head out and dance the night away!

RELATED: Inspirational Engagement Party Ideas


If you’re planning this party at home, cocktails are a must-have. Rosé, prosecco and other light, summer wines can serve as basis for your favourite cocktails. Fresh berries can also serve as a tasty garnish for sangria and other cocktail drinks.

Pre-Bachelorette Decor Ideas


Decorate your favourite balloons in glitter, lace and ribbons for a truly magical party. All you need to do is coat them in glue, then dip into some sparkly gold or silver glitter.

Pre-Bachelorette Decor Ideas

Sweets table

A champagne and sweets table is the best way to stay organised for any bachelorette party. Keep it looking modern with glitter and confetti as decoration.

Pre-Bachelorette Decor Ideas


Skip the same-old banners for ones that you can purchase off Etsy or even make yourself! This one is perfect for the bride who loves Beyoncé.

Pre-Bachelorette Decor Ideas

Table setting

Decorate the table with white tulle veil, a bridal sash and other fun bride-to-be ornaments for the party. They’re also a fun way to get into the spirit of the wedding!

Pre-Bachelorette Decor Ideas

Images via A Beautiful Mess, Buzzfeed, A Blissful Nest, We Heart Parties

6 Bridal Shower Decor Ideas

Planning a bridal shower for a relative or friend with no idea where to begin? Start with the party decor, which will leave the bride-to-be feeling excited for the big day! From the invitations to the decorations, SHESAID has you covered for the bridal shower.

RELATED: Flattering Hairstyles For Every Bride


Rather than using the same-old vase, get creative with these cute and quirky mugs. Trim down the flowers and place them in the middle of the table for everyone to see.

7 Bridal Shower Decor Ideas

Candy table

Who can resist a few sugary treats? Not us! Decorate the sweets table with vintage-looking vases, bowls and cupcake trays.

7 Bridal Shower Decor Ideas


Don’t forget the balloons if you’re hoping to make a big statement for family and friends. Stick to a colour theme and make sure it’s cohesive throughout the entire shower.

7 Bridal Shower Decor Ideas


Whip-up this stunning bridal cake made from individual cupcakes, which all your guests can enjoy.

7 Bridal Shower Decor Ideas


To really personalise your wedding, why not draw up a timeline of how the bride and groom met. This is a fantastic way to make the bridal shower feel more homely.

7 Bridal Shower Decor Ideas

Mimosa bar

Mimosa bars are so popular at bridal showers because they’re a great way to enjoy a guilt-free cocktail. Gather today a few different fruit juices, chill the champagne, then let your guests help themselves!

7 Bridal Shower Decor Ideas

Images via Wedding Chicks, Sweetie Factory, Brit and Co, iVillage, Savvy Style, Smarty Had A Party

9 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding

Since your wedding day is all about sharing the love with friends and family, get creative and personalise everything from your veil to the placement cards, with a touch of your own personality. If you need a little extra inspiration, we have nine of our favourite picks below.

RELATED: 1960s Inspired Wedding Dresses


Give your guests something sweet to take home, with a cute note or card along with it!

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


If your nuptials are taking place outdoors, these cute little signs are the perfect way to keep your guests on track.

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


His and hers sneakers are another great way to add a personal touch to the wedding photos without doing the same old standard photos.

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


How cool is this one! Give a paper and pen to each guest as they are seated so that they can give their advice and well wishes throughout the night. Also, they would be so funny to read the next morning.

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


Treat yourselves to a super-cute memento which will keep the day sacred forever. These stunning pieces of cutlery are perfect for enjoying that first piece of cake as husband and wife.

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


Who doesn’t have a bit of cold feet on their wedding day? This is a funny way of keeping the day light-hearted!

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


Decorate the chairs of both the bride and groom in these lovely cushions. They are the perfect way to add a personal touch to the wedding photos.

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


Add a monogram to your veil, which your husband is sure to love and will remain timeless!

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding


Create your own signature cocktail which will then be served to guests during the reception.

10 Ways To Personalise Your Wedding

Images via So Feminine, Etsy, The Berry, Bridal Guide, Southern Weddings

Must Try Hidden/Underground Bars in Sydney

A good cocktail is hard to come by, but finding a bar which isn’t crowded at 5pm is another hassle in itself. We are sharing the love and shouting out some of our favourite hidden or underground bars in the Sydney CBD and surrounding suburbs that you must visit… If you can find them, that is!

RELATED: Top 5 Cocktail Bars in Sydney CBD

Marble Bar

Basement 1/488 George Street Sydney

Technically this bar is quite well known since it’s part of the Hilton Hotel, but you do have to take a lift downstairs to find it. The heritage listed bar dates back to 1893 and features delicious cocktails and live music.

Must-Try Hidden/Underground Bars in Sydney

The Wild Rover

75 Campbell Street Surry Hills

The Wild Rover gives an entirely different meaning to a hidden bar – just make sure you keep your eyes peeled! The security guards at the front of two large wooden doors will allow you to enter this 2-storey bar that’s ideal for a cocktail, or two. Go straight for the cocktail list and ask for a Pash and Dash.

Must-Try Hidden/Underground Bars in Sydney

Stitch Bar

61 York Street Sydney

Blink and you might miss the sewing machine which is a dead giveaway for this stunning underground bar. Go through the wooden saloon doors and down the stairs to be led to a world of smokey cocktails and yummy food. The Smoking Rocket is a must-have if you’re looking for a signature cocktail, with whiskey, tequila, and a slice of chilli for an extra kick of flavour.

Must-Try Hidden/Underground Bars in Sydney

Eau de Vie

229 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst

While Eau de Vie technically doesn’t have any signs, it’s always packed to the brim with patrons waiting for one of the best cocktails in Australia. We’re not kidding. Ask for the Noble Experiment which is made with nitrogen, or a fruity Yuzu Mule with tequila instead of vodka. You’ll thank us later!

Must-Try Hidden/Underground Bars in Sydney

The Baxter Inn

Basement 152-156 Clarence Street Sydney

Voted as one of Sydney’s best bars (for real) this place is known for it’s smokey scotches and port wines. Situated in a back alleyway and under 2 flights of stairs, the 1950’s music is welcoming and the bartenders basically all sport a cool moustache.

Must-Try Hidden/Underground Bars in Sydney

Images via Urban Walkabout, Marble Bar, Timeout, News.com.au

5 Hens Night Party Ideas

Are you a bridesmaid or maid-of-honour planning your best friends hens party? Tough job! Planning a hens party might seem a little difficult at first, especially if you’re not sure about going out, staying in, or combining the best of both worlds for a truly unforgettable night.

RELATED: No Stress Wedding Gifts 

Rather than making your evening feel like another sequel of The Hangover, try these fool-proof ideas which are sure to be loved by every bride-to-be.


Not the permanent kind! Try these stick-on tattoos if you’re planning a night of dinner and drinks – just in case someone from the bridal party gets lost throughout the evening. You can even personalise them, but really, how cute are they?!



If you’re staying in for the evening, a good set of games is ideal to keep everybody interested. Some of the most popular hens night games include:

  • Truth or dare: Pretty self-explanatory, right?
  • Mr and Mrs quiz: Ask each couple a set of questions to see how well they know each other.
  • Pass the parcel: A modern take on a traditional game, but also with a few twists. Some lingerie, mini bottles of alcohol and even chocolates are a great way to get the party started.
  • Pinata: Fill your favourite pinata goodies such as miniature drinks, chocolates and even lollies for the night.

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Bra Pong

A traditional game of beer pong but with a twist. The bride must shoot the ball into one of the bra’s on the wall, then she must drink! A hilarious way to get everyone involved and bonding throughout the night.



Brighten up the party space with some fun and cheeky decorations – which the bride is sure to love, of course.


Big, bright balloons are an inexpensive way to decorate any space (perhaps spelling out her name, or just bride), banners, and even cute table settings as well.



You can’t have all this fun without some pictures to show for it? Create a fun hashtag for your social media accounts, this way all the guests can check up on the photos as they’re taken! Make sure your profile is public otherwise they won’t show up on the feed.


Images via Etsy, Flickr, Hens Party Superstore

Top 5 Cocktail Bars In Sydney CBD

Are you a Sydney local who fancies a drink (or two) after a long day at the office?

RELATED: Best Romantic Date Ideas in Brisbane

Look no further! We have tracked down some of the cities best cocktail bars to unwind at with an after-work beverage, and all of which you can really let your hair down until it’s time to do it all over again.

The Baxter Inn

Where: Basement, 152-156 Clarence Street, Sydney

We recommend: Whiskey and Fresh Apple Juice

Often hailed as one of the best cocktail bars in the entire city, there is no way you can be disappointed with a statement like that. While the focus is on whiskey and wine, the bartenders specialise in all kinds of cocktails and the 1950s music is sure to get you in the party mood – that is, if you can find the underground bar.

Top 5 Cocktail Bars in Sydney CBD

Eau de vie

Where: 229 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst

We recommend: The Noble Experiment

Located in the bustling suburb of Darlinghurst, Eau de Vie serves up some of the most interesting cocktails in the entire city. There’s no chance of ever getting bored in this establishment, just take a look and see how your cocktails are made!

Top 5 Cocktail Bars in Sydney CBD

The Butler

Where: 123 Victoria Street, Potts Point

We recommend: Air France

Although The Butler is a relatively new bar located just east of the city centre, it deserves a visit for more than just its views of the Royal Botanical Gardens. With a long list of cocktails, which are sure to land you Instagram’s popular feed, they are accompanied by a tasty cuisine of modern Australian food.

Top 5 Cocktail Bars in Sydney CBD

Stich Bar

Where: 61 York Street, Sydney

We recommend: The Smokey Rocket

If you’re ever working near Wynyard, then Stitch Bar is the place to be. With a broad range of cocktails on offer, there is bound to be something you like. Definitely try The Smoking Rocket if you love a gentle fusion of whiskey and tequila with a pinch of lime and chilli.

Top 5 Cocktail Bars in Sydney CBD

Gazebo Wine Garden

Where: 2 Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay

We recommend: Giggly Rose

You’ve probably made it to the Winery in Surry Hills before, but nothing beats the charm that is Gazebo Wine Bar. If the French garden isn’t enough to lure you in, then the cocktails will.

Top 5 Cocktail Bars in Sydney CBD

Images via Ecouzi and Chanel Bags And Cigarette Drags

Stalking: Pray You’re Not The One!

It’s reported that 7.5 million Americans are stalked each year. That’s Americans alone! Around 75 per cent are women and a majority are stalked by an intimate partner, ex, boss or someone they know. Stalking by a stranger on the other hand, is much rarer than people anticipate.

RELATED The New App That Helps Women at Risk

During a person’s life time, US statistics indicate that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men will become victims of stalking. Aussie figures are similar – the ABS reported that 18.5 per cent of ladies and 7.8 per cent of men are stalked in Australia.

So for lack of a better phrase, there’s far too much stalking going on. Plus, let’s not forget, not all stalking cases get reported – actual figures are thought to be considerably higher.

Now, stalking has been considered a domestic violence issue for many years. It effects victims physically, emotionally, financially and is strongly linked to family violence. Of women abused, murdered or killed by intimate partners or ex’s, stalking has played a major role. The fact that technology has made it so much easier to stalk is what has authorities, women’s groups and DV advocates so worried.

How technology is involved has been a focus for some time. The Safety Net Project recently surveyed victims, service providers, police and other persons of interest and the results were staggering – 99 per cent of stalking victims reported their stalker had abused technology, with social media, text messaging, computers and emailing being the most widely used.

The following tables from the Safety Net Project give an overview of the problem.

Abuse of Technology in Stalking

stalking, cyber-stalking, stalking victims, stalker

While many of these are self-explanatory, let me explain the significance of computer software and apps: They run undetected, monitoring a victims every move. Even deleted items are saved for the stalker to view at their leisure.

Marketed to parents to protect their kids and employers to monitor computer and productivity abuse at work, these apps are a stalkers wet dream. For around $200 they get all the information sent directly to them. There are no checks required to purchase and all the stalker needs is access to the device.

stalking, cyber-stalking, stalking victims, stalker

Facebook takes the lead here because of a victims need to stay connected with loved ones – the abuse even extends as far as impersonation so they can catch their victim unaware. If they decide to meet in person, you can imagine how dangerous it can really become.

stalking, cyber-stalking, stalking victims, stalker

stalking, cyber-stalking, stalking victims, stalker

Now, kids are also a popular tool for stalkers, especially of the ex variety. They can tap their kids phones, laptops and get to their victim via their child’s social networks. The aim of instilling as much fear as possible through using a victim’s kid is not something they consider off limits.

Stalking Victims

Some people down play what victims endure and believe their fear is often unwarranted – this belief is naive and exceedingly dangerous. The following is just a glimpse of how stalking impacts their lives:

  • Stalking victims have a greater account of severe depression, anxiety, insomnia and social dysfunction than the general population.
  • Victims often feel vulnerable, unsafe, mistrusting, suspicious, paranoid, confused, anxious, irritable, impatient, depressed, hopeless, overwhelmed, tearful, angry, frustrated, isolated and obviously exceptionally distressed. Plus many have trouble concentrating, sleeping, remembering, eating and sleeping.

Stalking, therefore, effects their entire life – why should so many people have to live in fear? I suppose the question that really needs answering is: Why should access to technology make it easier for stalkers? Around a third have terrorised a victim before, so surely this knowledge is vital and much more can, and should, be done.

So, do advocates need to petition Facebook and ask them for tighter control? Is legislation needed to catch up to technological  stalking? The victims surveyed in the Safety Net Project have put forward their proposals:

stalking, cyber-stalking, stalking victims, stalker

It seems they feel prevention is the key – if they were more aware they could protect themselves more effectively. Here’s some suggestions if you’re feeling a little uneasy:

  • If smart phones or cell phones are playing up and not behaving correctly, this could indicate a program running discretely. Either have it checked, or reset factor default settings. Don’t back it up and reinstall it. You could reinfect it.
  • Change your phone numbers often. A stalker will continue to try and gain access, so only give it to select people. If, or when, you get strange calls or they discover it, change it immediately.
  • Block Facebook users from personal information and images and only ever befriend close friends or family. Better still, delete your account – now knowing that 99 per cent of stalkers prefer Facebook is a damn good reason to opt out.
  • Check your phones settings and make sure they are set to private. If installing a new app, don’t enable the location tracker.
  • If relocating because it’s gone too far, don’t give people the address and get a post office box. You never know who the stalker has on their side.
  • Get an apprehension order out on the stalker. This will give you legal power and quicker response by police if you need them. Report and record EVERY incident no matter how small. Many police officers take tech contact as seriously as physical contact because of the escalation of violence thereafter. If they don’t sound interested speak to another officer, tell them how serious it is, or find one who gets it. You may need to enlist support services to work with them on your behalf. They also have access to services which you may end up needing.

Lastly, the overall aim is to make it harder for the stalker both on and offline. Be pro-active in your self protection and seek legal help and police support. Also, consider getting counseling depending on the severity of the disruption caused by the stalking. Remember, above all, don’t keep a stalking incident to yourself.

Tables via techsafety.org Image via familyarrested.com

Behind The Scenes At Batlow Cider

Ever wondered what the story is behind some of Australia’s favourite cider?

SHESAID recently chatted with Rich Coombes of Batlow Cider to find out some of their delicious new flavours, how the cider is actually created, and some sweet collaborations just around the corner.

RELATED: Christmas Party Cocktail Ideas

Tell us, how did Batlow Cider get started?

Batlow Cider was born on a sunny Sunday arvo having a few (as many a great idea is born!). We were drinking imported brands of cider asking ourselves why we couldn’t readily find great local cider made from top quality apples and the best cider-making practices.

It’s a partnership between Sam, myself and Batlow Apples, growers of Australia’s Favourite Apples in the Snowy Mountains.  We approached them with the idea and they were excited about it. The rest is history!

How important is it to use local, homegrown produce in your ciders?

It’s super important, we only use Batlow Apples and locally grown pears in our cider production. What surprised us when we started out was the lack of companies in Australia doing this. It makes total sense, our farmers and growers are responsible for some of the best produce in the world, so not only are we supporting local businesses but we’re using the best available inputs.

What are some of the best dishes to complement your cider?

One of our favourites is a whole roast suckling pig (delicious and the experience and process of the spit is a sure crowd pleaser).

Any white meats such as chicken and a variety of seafood partner well with cider. The sweetness and acidity balance in our cider partners well with these meats. 4 Fourteen in Sydney has a great dish steaming their mussels in our cider and that’s absolutely delicious too. It’s also suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and cider like ours is gluten free for those intolerant.

For those of us who don’t know, how does the cider process actually work?

Cider production is very similar to wine, we actually do our cider production at a winery. The production methods vary from producer to producer: craft producers like us (Batlow Cider) crush fresh fruit (mainly apples) add a specific cultured yeast and then transform the apple juice into alcoholic cider. It’s very simple.

The mass market brands will generally use apple concentrates that come in a syrup like format (mainly from China), add water then ferment that as their base juice. That’s taking shortcuts and usually driven by financial motivations, whereas as we only use fresh fruit. Our motivation is to produce a top quality product and pay respect to the apples we use!

 Do you have anything special coming up for winter 2015?

Mulled cider has worked very well for us over the years, so that’ll be happening again this year with some tweaks on past years. We’ve just done a collaboration beer with a local craft brewer using apple juice in the ferment and have some other plans that you’ll have to watch out for!

Where are some of the best places our readers can shop the new collection of ciders?

Online at www.beerbud.com.au or www.ciderinsider.com.au and many independent bottle shops with a craft focus. Our major products are available more widely – Batlow Premium Cider in selected BWS outlets and Batlow Cloudy Cider in Dan Murphys and both are available in selected independent stores nationally.


Top 5 Ways To Personalize Your Wedding

The pressure for couples to have a unique, one of a kind wedding can frustrate even the most chilled out brides and grooms. While it may seem impossible to find a truly original wedding idea, there are still many ways you can personalize key elements of your special day. Here are a few simple ways to add a personal touch to your wedding day:

RELATED: 5 Items Every Bride Needs On Her Wedding Day

Table numbers

Transform an otherwise boring yet practical element of your reception décor by personalising your table numbers. Fun options include grouping each table as a destination you have both visited together that holds a special meaning to you; eg, table number 1 = Your first holiday together, table number 2 = Your first date location, table number 3 = your honeymoon destination. It’s a great way to spark discussion among your guests and adds a personal touch to your reception.

Fun favours

Sugared almonds can seem a little generic as favours, so break free from tradition and choose favours that reflect you as a couple. It could be miniature bottles of your favourite wine, scented candles that remind you of your favourite vacations, or even homemade treats that you made together. Personalised favours are a great way to leave a lasting impression on your guests once the wedding is over.

Bespoke wedding bands

A great way to celebrate your engagement is to share the unforgettable experience of designing your wedding bands together. Artisanal jeweller, Michael Fallah (also known as Mick the jeweller), gives couples the opportunity to visit his workshop in Sydney to watch him melt down the yellow, rose or white gold he will be using for their wedding rings in person. It’s a great chance for couples to bring in their wedding photographer or videographer to capture the once in a lifetime experience to include in their wedding album and video.


Arrange with your caterer to incorporate a family dish or signature drink into the reception and then give out the recipe along with your favours. A great way to involve your family is to use your bridal shower as an opportunity to request dessert recipes from your relatives and surprise them at the reception with a dessert buffet featuring their delicious recipes.


Create a simple, but unique hashtag that makes it easy for your guests to upload any photos they take on the day. It’s a nice way to encourage guests to share their favourite photos, while also making it easy for you to track down all the photos. Make sure to include information about the #hashtag and any social media requests with invitations and programs so that you’re guests are aware.

The 5 Most Stylish iPhone 6 Cases

So you got your new Iphone 6, you’ve installed all your apps, you’re ready to use it and you have sworn that this time you will not crack the screen. Rather than not taking it anywhere and refusing to let your friends use it, just get a protective case for your phone!

RELATED: iphone Addiction: Fact Or Fiction?

Luckily, the days of boring plastic covers are over, today’s phone cases are super stylish and can actually make your iPhone look better than without one! There are of course countless cases out there so we’ve done the hard research for you and came up with our 5 most stylish Iphone 6 cases.

1. Kate Spade

iphone 6, Kate Spade, case, rosegold

This beauty is the right choice for all fashionistas out there. It’s simple, elegant and a little bit cheeky at the same time thanks to the subtle “kiss and tell” on the back. The rose gold colour looks stunning and is oh-so-trendy.

2. Zazzle

iphone 6, case, macarons

For everyone loving bright colours and sweets, this Iphone 6 case with yummy-looking macarons printed on it is the right choice. But beware, you might get a craving for French sweets every time you look at it.

3. Society6

iphone 6, wood, navy, case

If you’re the preppy kind of girl who likes to wear polo shirts and play tennis, this sophisticated, yet sporty Society6 case will tick all your boxes.

4. The Case Factory

iphone 6, black, quilted leather

This black, quilted leather case will transform your iPhone into an accessory as luxurious as a Chanel handbag. Goes especially well with a diamond ring.

5. Casetify 

iphone 6, case, metallic

We love this half transparent case with a metallic print that reminds us of liquid nail polish.

We want all of them! But which one is your favourite?

images via oliviasstyle.blogspot.ie, katespade.com, zazzle.com.au, society6.com, net-a-porter.com, casetify.com

How To Make Friends in Your 20s and 30s

There is no denying that making new friends in your 20s and 30s isn’t as easy as it once was in the schoolyard.

Nowadays, finding a solid friend who isn’t just an acquaintance seems more difficult since everyone has their own work and family commitments. If you want to change-up your group of friends, or simply looking to reconnect with some old ones, this is the guide for you.

RELATED: How To De-Friend The Nice Way

Have a hobby

A very important quote which still sticks to this day is ‘Old habits don’t open new doors.’

Sticking to the same-old routine won’t help you find new friends, or build a connection with anyone new. If your hobby lies in sport, exercise, or even in a number of creative fields, it’s important to take a risk, and join a class.

Even if you’re feeling shy or too embarrassed to go alone, it’s always worth it in the end! Making friends with people who share the same hobbies as you, makes it so much easier to connect.


Reaching out to an old friend is always a good idea, especially if it’s been a number of years since your last meeting. The connection with old high-school friends will always be something you have in common (especially if you were the best of friends), and you can always arrange an impromptu mini-reunion with those who want to reconnect. It’s a great way to see where everyone is at, and could possibly lead to a life-long friendship.

Be proactive

Don’t be the type of friend who sits around at home waiting for people to make plans with you. More often than not, this won’t get you out of the house anytime soon. Text, call, and keep in touch with friends, and better yet, show them that you’re interested in meeting up again.

Put yourself out there

Whether it’s hanging out with the family, or meeting a friend-of-a-friend for a cup of coffee, be prepared to put yourself out there and do something new. Be willing to compromise on plans and try something new with an extended group of people. Grab their mobile number, and be sure to engage in texts which will keep you out of the house, and into new and exciting company.

Meet online

Many forums, blogs, and message boards are filled with people who already have common interests as you. Just because you’re chatting through the internet, doesn’t mean that the friendship isn’t as genuine.

However if you do want to meet up, remember to stay safe and never send through any money to someone you don’t personally know. Anyone who truly values your friendship won’t expect anything in return.

Image via Divine Caroline

Hens Party Ideas For Every Budget

If you want some ideas for an upcoming hens’ party you’ve come to the right place! I’ve noticed most hens party ideas are location-based, but I’d like to cater for everyone. So regardless of where you live or the budget you have, I’ve got some fun hens party ideas for everyone.

RELATED: How To Host A Party And Still Have Fun

The PJ party/sleepover

If the budget is super tight for everyone this one may sound boring but it’s actually a lot of fun especially if there’s a few of you. Ask everyone to bring along bedding, drinks and nibbles and turn it into a pajama party. Order take out, watch the latest chick flicks (or porn?), drink some champers, snap some photos and just enjoy time together.

To make it more like a hens’ party, hire a stripper, tarot reader or some sort of entertainment that will come to you, plus play some hens’ party  games. There are heaps around. The main focus is to get together and have a great night in. No one has to drive or go anywhere so it makes for a fun, intimate night with the girls.

hens party, hens parties, hens night, girls day out, girls pj partyStart your night with a photo shoot

Tell the ladies to come in casual clothes and bring along makeup and a sexy outfit. Prepare some drinks and nibbles at someones house, crank the music and everyone can get ready together. There’s nothing like girl time and dress ups! Pre-book a limo and take it to a preferred location and have yourselves a photo shoot. If cost is an issue, ask someone handy with a camera to take the photos. Alternately search for a studio, tell them what you want and see if they will accommodate.

After your shoot, head out to dinner or hit the clubs. Starting with a photo shoot will give the bride-to-be some amazing memories and begin the night a little differently. Getting ready together will be a lot of fun plus it’s a great ice breaker for ladies who are unfamiliar with each other.

A day out with the girls

If sitting around drinking champers sounds a bit sedate why not book a limo and take the crowd to paintball, laser skirmish, bowling, a fishing charter, jet boat ride, river or dinner cruise, scenic flight, day spa, a guided tour of some description or what ever else is available where you live and within the budget.

This can done during the day or night, depending on the activity you select. Perhaps complete a daytime hens’ party with  sleep over or night on the town. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it’s fun, everyone enjoys themselves and the bride-to-be has an awesome experience.

girls day out, hens party ideas, hens party, hens parties
Weekend away

Why let the fun stop after a few hours? Head away for the weekend, just the girls. If the budget is a little tight, go to a caravan park or hire a room or two for the weekend. This one can cost as little or as much as you like. Take some hens’ party games, hit the town, hire a limo or try some new restaurants.

If budget allows, book a bus that will fit the entire party and take you all to a holiday house at the beach or in the country. Go explore the region together, relax and get a bit or R&R at the same time. Organize a tour or combine some of the other options while you’re away. With so much time you’ll be able to pamper the bride-to-be, experience something new and have heaps of opportunity to giggle, drink champers and have fun.

A night interstate

It’s quite unlikely the bride would have done this before, so go explore the nightlife in another city. Hire a return limo to the airport and back and don’t bother taking luggage. Larger cities are open 24/7 so catch an evening flight and fly back in the morning. Providing you’re not too drunk to be let on board!

Explore the nightlife and the hens can be as silly as they like knowing they’re not likely to bump into anyone any time soon! You won’t need accommodation either if you feel like you’ll all be able to pull an all niter. This one is probably be for a younger crowd but don’t underestimate the older hens. They just might teach the young ones a thing or two!

Being so unique the bride-to-be most likely hasn’t done this before, so it will be something special. Plus, if friends or relatives interstate are attending the upcoming wedding, this is a perfect option to be able to include them providing you visit their city.

hens party, hens night, hens parties,

A weekend interstate
If one night interstate sounds too hectic or if you just want to prolong the fun, bring your bags, book accommodation and spend the entire weekend interstate. Set off Friday night so you can make the most of the weekend. When you get there you can either hit the town or have a quite night in. (Good luck with that one!)

Organise a tour the next day, followed by dinner and a night out on the town. Check out what the city has to offer and make bookings well in advance. You might find some fun ladies entertainment venues, a naught show, plus checkout what packages the local limo companies have to offer.

Make the most of the weekend away and go exploring, shopping or sightseeing the following day. Have dinner  together and book a late flight home. Remember to take loads of photos for the bride-to-be to look back on the experience.

As you can see a hens party doesn’t have to be one night of alcohol, clubs, topples waiters and limo’s. There’s a world of experiences waiting out there so why not make the best of this awesome excuse to get the girls together and experience them!

Images via amfogfarms.com, www3.pictures.gi.zimbio.com and dailymail.co.uk

How To Host A Party And Still Have Fun

How would you like some professional hosting tips for your next social gathering? I’ve organized and hosted a bucket load of social events in my time, ranging from big community functions to small backyard barbecues. The planning guidelines are basically the same, so if you use the tips I’m about to share with you, regardless of the event, you’ll be able to enjoy yourself instead of being a slave to the festivities.

Now the first thing you need to organise is a plan. Jump on your computer, get a spreadsheet happening and brainstorm. There are some templates available online or make up your own. Do you want decorations, music or a bar area? What about the food? Jot down everything you want at your party, right down to the smallest detail like bins, serviettes and ice. Make sure you have extra columns to mark off when items are ordered, organised and completed. Print this out and remember to keep it updated as you go along. This will not only be a guide for you, but will also help you allocate jobs to willing volunteers.

Next is the shopping list. Shopping for parties or events takes valuable time which you no longer need to spend in store. Jump online, order all your items and get everything delivered. It might cost a little extra but when you consider the time factor of physically sourcing everything, trust me, it will be money very well spent.

Now that you’ve got that organised, if the event is at a private residence, head back to the computer and get some decorative signs made up that lead to the toilet and bathroom. Plus, if you have areas you want to keep off limits, put together some no entry signs. Get creative and make up signs for the bar area, coat storage, can and bottle recycling or whatever you like. These will add to the decorations if you spruce them up a bit.

Speaking of decorations, make sure you get these delivered about a week before the event. If the event is in your home, spend some time each night setting the house up. Arrange the bar area with large containers for ice, plastic cups, etc.

Set up the music and speakers. Using an iPod, mobile phone or something similar is easy. Get your playlist together and make sure you have enough tunes to flick on the music before your guests arrive and forget about it. Just a tip, guests may ask for music requests during the party. Unless you want to start being the DJ for the entire event, let them know that the music is preset. If you have a volunteer who is willing to DJ and take requests, that’s great. Allocate the job to them if they are willing.

Now if the party is at home, don’t be too fussy about having a spotless house. It will look a lot worse afterwards. If you are concerned your home isn’t being presented the way you’d like, give it a quick vacuum and dust as you set up. Mopping floors are a waste so don’t bother.

If the event is at a different location, enlist the help of others to assist with decorations and preparations. Ask the facilities staff or management if you can have some time to prepare before the event. Most will agree to allow you limited access so plan decorations which you can set up within that time-frame. If you are having balloons, order a cheap pump with the decorations or opt for helium. Blowing up balloons is time consuming and there are easier ways to make it happen without running out of valuable oxygen!

The night before your party, prep any food which can be done early. Keep it as simple as possible and try not to make extra work for yourself. If possible have a reasonably early night and get a good rest.

The day of your party all that should be left to do is the final food prep. Cook anything which needs cooking, get out serving implements and you should basically be ready for an awesome event. If the event is at a catered facility you won’t have this concern. Spent some time during the day with your feet up relaxing and give yourself plenty of time to have a shower and get yourself ready to receive your guests.

Doing all the preparation prior to your party will really pay off. Instead of being the type of host who is rushing around ignoring guests, you can actually spend time with them and enjoy yourself. Plus, the more entertaining you do, the easier this gets. Save any documents you’ve created on the computer in a separate file and re-use them.

These tips and techniques are ultimately what professional event organisers do everyday. They plan, organise and prepare. It’s that simple! It doesn’t matter if it’s a small gathering like a BBQ, kids party or a big event like a wedding; these guidelines are super flexible.

Good luck and enjoy your festivities!

Image via spatrendonline.hu

3 Easy Steps To Becoming A Better Crafter In 2015

If you love nothing more than unleashing your imagination on a host of art projects and producing an array of wonderful crafts, you might be looking for ways to perfect your skills in 2015. Often, simple ways of improving are overlooked, so here’s how to up your game in three easy steps.

RELATED: Join An Etsy Craft Party

1. Think about your materials and tools

Whether you enjoy etching, painting, crocheting or quilting, it’s essential to look at your tools. Even the most skilled professionals would struggle to make a decent picture with a frayed paintbrush or a cushion out of threadbare material, so choose your equipment carefully and update where necessary. With a wide range of artistic products available online from sites like Homecrafts you’ll find everything you need and more to become a better crafter with high-quality quilling paper and beautiful oil paint being just some of the items on offer.

Moreover, make sure you have everything you need before starting a certain project as you don’t want to run out of wool halfway through knitting a scarf, or run out of bees wax during an afternoon of encaustic art. A bit of forward planning will help you stay organised and allow your artistic talents to flow undisturbed.

2. Research and talk to like-minded people online

No matter how many ideas you have running through your head, it’s always a good idea to carry out a bit of research before committing yourself to an art project. Sure, you might have been knitting for 20 years but with a wealth of patterns, techniques and ideas available via Pinterest and other online community sites such as Ravelry, you might just come across something that piques your interest. What’s more, interacting with likeminded people could also fuel your passion for arts and encourage you to try new and more adventurous things such as crocheting a tablecloth instead of a coaster, or using decoupage to cover a large desk rather than a small jewellery box.

As well as research and finding new ideas, talking to experienced crafters online can also help you overcome artistic hurdles or offer essential help and advice if you get stuck. If there’s a certain stitch you can’t master, for instance, seeking advice from someone who’s done a similar project can really help.

3. Brainstorm, experiment and get out and about

Are you stuck in a rut doing the same old thing time and time again be it cross-stitch, clay-modelling or etching? If so, it might be time to get out and about in search of new ideas. The internet is a great way to fuel the mind but sometimes it’s good to catch some fresh air, visit new places and look for different perspective and approaches. UK art museums are ideal for crafters as they display some of the best work in the world but there’s no harm in just picking up a sketchpad and going for a walk. You might come across something so beautiful that it just has to be painted and that could get your next art project off the ground. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm, to experiment and to make mistakes as this is how many people learn.

There are many ways to hone your skills and become a better crafter, but following these three easy steps will certainly set you off on the right track.

Top 7 Wedding Invitations Your Friends Won’t Have

An estimated 116, 000 weddings take place in Australia each year. That equates to a hefty price for postage, for wedding invitations alone! But, of course, every bride would be willing to fork it out to ensure that the best day of her life is complete and utter perfection.

For some brides, the wedding invite acts a teaser for what is to come – it reveals to guests snippets of what to expect, without disclosing everything.

Traditional wedding invites are just that – traditional. No one wants a typical, been-there-done-that wedding invitation! Invites now come in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of designs. So go on, amaze your guests with these seven wedding invitations that your friends wouldn’t have!

1. 3D pop-up wedding invitations

Stand out with these 3D pop-up cards that are taking the market by storm! 3D Cards is an online store that offers intricate 3D pop-up cards that are laser-cut and then assembled by hand. Your guests will love these innovative and beautifully handcrafted wedding invites!


2. Vintage is in, and so are your invitations

Transform old gadgets into funky invitations, like these classic custom-made View-Master wedding invitations. Your invites will look sentimental and classic, and be a ton of fun for your guests to peek into! They are completely customisable, and so cute!

3. Look beyond the page, try something new

Why not try a new printing technique with your wedding invitations? Many couples are now printing their wedding invites on materials other than paper, such as wood, fabric and even metal! The end result: a super cool wedding invite that looks worthy of being framed!

4. Add a personal touch with DIY invitations

Be quirky and creative, and get started on making your own wedding invitations! Not only will this save you money, but you can also add your own personal flair to it. There are plenty of designs to choose from – vintage, rustic, elegant, and more! This is your chance to showcase your craft skills, and personalise your invitations.

5. Chocolate. Always chocolate

What would be better than receiving an invitation for your friend’s special day? Not much else, except quite possibly receiving an invitation in the form of a chocolate bar! Satisfy your guests’ tummies before they even get to your wedding with these quirky and delicious chocolate bar wedding invites!

6. Useful wedding invites

Let’s be realistic, your wedding invites will most likely end up crinkled and torn in a corner somewhere, or even become a makeshift coffee mug coaster. Put your mind at ease by giving your guests a wedding invite they can use! These awesome invitation boxes unfold to make a candleholder, and provide the guests with all the details of the wedding!

7. Folded map invitations

Do you and your partner both have incurable wanderlust and a constant crave for seeing the world? These beautiful map invites are easy to make and also pretty to look at! Share your love of travelling by customising these invitations with the places you and your partner have been, or even by marking the location of where your wedding will be held.

wedding invitations


Image via 1ms.net

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

If you have a child’s birthday coming up but are fresh out of ideas for a party, take a look at these themes for inspiration to create your own unforgettable party.


What little boy (or little girl for that matter) wouldn’t love a pirate inspired birthday party?  A black and white striped garland and table cloth would fit the theme perfectly and consider serving the drinks from old rum bottles (labels removed and bottles thoroughly cleaned first).  You can purchase black skull and cross bone balloons, party bags and cupcake cases.  For a treasure hunt, bury treasure in the garden or sandpit in snaplock bags and mark the spots with an X.  Don’t forget to tell you guests to dress up as their favourite pirate too!

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties


If your little princess loves ballet, then a ballet themed party would go down a treat!  Use subtle pink and white colours for decorations and purchase tutus to slide over the backs of chairs for a really elegant look.  Pink and white striped cupcake cases and ballerina toppers look wonderful for the cupcakes and if you plan on making a birthday cake too, of course make it pink.  Tell your guests to dress as ballerinas and even consider getting a tutor in for a short ballet lesson.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Under the sea

An under the sea inspired birthday party would suit either a boy or girl and of course has a blue theme with lots of fishy friends.  This whale cake is amazing (and possibly one you may need to get made if you’re not experienced in making cakes) and I love the clam shell idea with the pearls inside (which of course are gumballs or another similar type of candy).  Use blue frosting for your cupcakes with little shark fins poking out the top and decorate the room with varying shades of blue crepe paper, twisted slightly for great effect.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties


For a jungle inspired birthday party, you’ll need lots of green, brown and animal print decorations and party supplies.  Purchase an animal piñata, consider paying someone to make an animal themed cake and provide guests with safari hats and toy binoculars when they arrive.  Decorate the room with inflatable (or real if you have them) palm trees and all those animal soft toys that you thought would never have any purpose.  Consider hiring a reptile handler for the party.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties


If your little girl loves travel and the finer things in life, this elegant travel themed party could be perfect for her.  Give guests their own passport in a pink travel bag, filled with yummy treats and play pin Australia on the world map – a different take on pin the tail on the donkey.  You’ll need lots of pink decorations and I particularly love the Eiffel Tower themed party hats and cupcake toppers.

Best Kids Themed Birthday Parties

Images via blog.hwtm.com, blovelyevents.com, karaspartyideas.com, designhome.pics, hostingessence.com

Best Birthday Gifts For One-Year-Olds

Toy shops can be so overwhelming! Bright colours, flashing lights, loud noises… All the toys look like they can grab a one-year-old’s attention, but which ones will hold it longer than it takes to open the box?


Blocks can be used in a variety of ways. You can build towers, knock them down, sort blocks by colour, build a doll house, put blocks into boxes, take them out and then put them in again. My first child got a set of big blocks for his first birthday. Two children and 6 years later, the blocks are still around and the kids are still playing with them.

A stroller

I’m yet to meet a little child (boy or girl) who doesn’t like toy strollers. Even if the one-year-old you’re buying it for is not a confident walker yet, soon he will be. Children love pushing dolls and teddy bears around. It also encourages them to walk with their parents without getting distracted too much, once they hit that cute stage of refusing to sit in their own stroller.

A tricycle

A tricycle can be an exciting progression from the pram. Choose a tricycle that can be adjusted as the child grows and will be used for several years. A trike for a one-year-old will have a push bar and a safety belt or harness. Later the bar can be removed as the child turns into an independent trike rider.

Toy kitchen items

Kids like imitating what the adults around them are doing, and a safe place of their own where they can practice cooking can provide hours of indoor entertainment. Depending on your budget, you can choose a complete toy kitchen or a set of plates, pots and utensils.

Shape Sorters

A fun way for a one-year-old to learn about shapes is to try putting items through matching holes. There is a wide variety of shape sorting toys out there – it can be a bucket with a lid, a puzzle board or even something that flashes and makes sounds when the child finds the right hole.


Babies love reading with their parents, but they go through a lot of books fast, so you can never have too many of them. Choose board books, which have a better chance of lasting for a while, with bright pictures to stimulate the child’s interest.

Ask the parents

If you’re stuck for gift ideas, it’s always ok to ask the parents. They know their child best and will be able to give you good advice. It will still be a surprise for the one-year-old!

Image by centidocomun via pixabay.com

By Tatiana Apostolova

Simple But Effective Kids Birthday Cakes

Do you have a child’s birthday coming up and you’re dreading making the cake? If you’re not creative and you’re looking for something easy that will still please the kids, check out these easy kids birthday cake ideas that are sure to impress.

Kit-Kat and M&M cake

This effective cake is so easy!  All you need to do is bake a round cake, cover it with butter cream frosting then stick Kit Kats all the way around the outside.  Fill the top with M&M’s, tie a ribbon around the outside and ta-da!  If you want a larger cake consider baking two round cakes then adding a filling in between them (you could use jam or icing) and then place them on top of one another before you apply the butter cream over the both cakes.  I made this cake for my daughters 3rd birthday but made the cake in the shape of a 3.  It went down a treat!

Simple But Effective Kids Birthday Cakes

Image via sixsistersstuff.com

Cupcake balloons

The cupcake balloon cake is so simple.  Using your desired flavour bake your cupcakes and then divide your butter cream icing into four bowls.  Colour each one a different colour and then apply to the cupcakes.  All you need to do is arrange them on a large platter and using a small piece of Sellotape, attach one strand of ribbon underneath each cupcake (they still have their cases on).  Gather all the pieces of ribbon together and tie a bow.

Simple But Effective Kids Birthday Cakes

Image via thedailydigi.com

Sports jersey cake

You need to bake two cakes and then cut out two rectangles so you have the t-shirt shape.  Cut a half circle from the side of one rectangle for the neckline and then decorate with the appropriate coloured frosting (depending on what club they support).  You can either pipe the sleeve decorations, number and name onto the cake or consider cutting these shapes out from coloured fondant.

Simple But Effective Kids Birthday Cakes

Image via ivillage.ca

Racing grid cake

This cake may look hard but its really quite easy, prided you have the time.  I made this cake for my son Jack’s birthday and it did not disappoint.  I baked two cakes and placed them on top of one another with a chocolate ganache between the two and then also covering the entire cake.  Once it had set I then smoothed down the entire cake before I laid white fondant over it.  I then cut out squares from black fondant and placed them around the outside in the grid pattern as well as the number 1.  Although it did take a few hours the number of ingredients you need to decorate it is very minimal.

Simple But Effective Kids Birthday Cakes

Image via Karyn Miller 

Dinosaur cake

For this effective dinosaur cake you need to bake two round cakes then cut out the shapes for the body, tail and neck and arrange them on a plate before you ice it with coloured frosting.  For the dinosaur’s spots, use chocolate drops and brown M&Ms, it’s that simple!

Simple But Effective Kids Birthday Cakes

Image via ivillage.ca

Rainbow cake

This rainbow cake is super easy, but it just takes time.  You can use any shape cake you like and ice it with white frosting before strategically placing the coloured M&M’s in a rainbow pattern over the cake.

Simple But Effective Kids Birthday Cakes

Image via ivillage.ca

Featured image via thirtynineblog.blogspot.com

Q&A with Celebrity Chef Ben O’Donoghue

The festive season is a time for celebrating, entertaining, cooking and of course, the dreaded cleaning-up. As a busy family man, celebrity chef and Fairy ambassador Ben O’Donoghue shares what’s on his Christmas menu this year, and his handy tips and tricks to help get you through this fun but busy time of year.

What are you cooking for Christmas this year?
A Bangalow pork ham from my butcher and loads of prawns and oysters – simple and fresh!

What are your best tips and tricks for stress-free entertaining over the holiday season?
For the food, develop a menu plan. Get everything you need ahead of time and also keep it simple.

For the enviable mess aftermath, make sure you have some Fairy Platinum in the cupboard, which cuts through grease in one wash.

What are your favourite summer ingredients?
Tomatoes, chillies, coriander and fish.

What are some foodie gift ideas that you’ll be gifting this Christmas?
Cookbooks and some quality produce, like good olive oil. Also, my new BBQ cookbook is out, Ben’s BBQ Bible, so all my relatives and friends will be receiving one this Christmas!

What’s coming up for you next year?
Hopefully we will get a TV show off the ground. My new restaurant, Billy Kart Kitchen in Brisbane has been keeping me busy but I will also look to start writing a new book.

What’s on your Christmas menu this year? Tell us in the comments!

Dîner en Blanc Sydney Takes Over Bondi Beach

On Saturday 30th November, Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach transformed into a spectacular shade of white, as the surprise location for secret global party Diner en Blanc.

3,000 guests dressed head-to-toe in white flocked through the streets, gathered on the sand, and began unpacking tables, chairs and decorations right on the beach for a once-in-lifetime picnic.

Described as a ‘fancy flash-mob picnic’, the idea behind Diner en Blanc is for insiders to dress in white, BYO tables, chairs and food, and gather at various meeting points across the city. This year’s Sydney Diner en Blanc, the second time in the city, collected guests on buses, strategically circled around various locations across the CBD to sway the speculations until finally arriving at the iconic Bondi beachfront.


“Sydney has so many amazing locations, we wanted to take Diner en Blanc out of its urban context and closer to nature this year,” said co-host Antoine Bessis. “A picnic on one of the world’s most iconic beach sounded great on paper, it proved in fact even more spectacular.”


Guests wined and dined on picnic favourites, from cheese platters, dips and breads, to gourmet hampers of cold meats, salads and sweet treats, topped off with delicious bottles of Champagne and wine – white, of course – although some dared to drink red and spent the night trying to avoid a serious spillage mishap.

Attendee numbers have doubled since Sydney’s first Diner en Blanc event last year, so finding a location big enough to accommodate was definitely a challenge – in fact it took eight months of planning to secure the space.


“The evening was a spontaneous epicurean and elegant feast with friends, old and new. A truly spectacular and magical way to rediscover the beautiful public spaces that Sydney has to offer,” summed up Antoine.

A truly magical experience, with guests standing on chairs and waving white napkins and sparklers in the air. Others danced to music, with many there to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and even engagements (how romantic!).

We can’t wait to see what Diner en Blanc has in stall for Sydney in 2014. Visit  sydney.dinerenblanc.info for information about signing up for next year’s Diner en Blanc.



7 Habits of Highly Stress-Free Hostesses

Entertaining season is in full swing, so luckily Babe Scott, the Lazy Hostess, shares her tips on how to host guests in style without having a nervous breakdown.

Excerpt from The Lazy Hostess by Babe Scott. Published by Random House, RRP $29.95.

1. Recruit a friend to play the role of sous chef
There is nothing lonelier than cooking solo, especially when you don’t know your left elbow from an artichoke. I never cook alone. It’s as much fun as a private joke. Recruit a friend with culinary talents to be your sous chef. Cooking with a friend turns the preparation itself into a social event. It means you will have someone to chop onions and share tall stories with as well as confer on the menu. He or she can also make sure you stay on course and don’t get distracted and incinerate the meal. They can also teach you all their tips and tricks, like making sure the oven is turned on.

Make sure you both taste everything so you can compare notes on flavours. Having someone else to consult will give you the confidence to add a little twist here and there to suit your own tastes. Spending time in the kitchen is also a great bonding exercise and you two, or even three, can share a spot of sherry to get in the mood before the guests arrive.

I guarantee you will learn more about your foodie friends in the time it takes to put together your finger food menu than if you had known them for years. There’s something about the camaraderie of the kitchen that inspires confidences. But, remember, what goes on over the stovetop stays over the stovetop.

2. Pre-plan the evening
More important that you have time to relax, do your nails and douse yourself with perfume. You want to look and feel perfectly edible. You don’t want to be outshone by the hors d’oeuvres.

I suggest preparing everything you can ahead of time. Any items you can pre-cook and freeze, do so on a rainy day with a friend. Then you can simply defrost and reheat them on the evening. It’s also better to spruce up your space and put together your party playlist at least the day before. And make sure at least a few items can be served at room temperature.

Make sure you have pre-thought everything else so you don’t have any last-minute panic attacks. The soundtracks and any sprucing up are also best done at least the day before. Make sure your kitchen cohort arrives early to help with the pre-heating and plating, and that you have a bunch of platters to put things on. This way, you will get to spend most of the day preening. If you do forget anything on the appointed evening, just pour yourself another drink and don’t worry. Throw up your hands and let someone else take care of it.

3. Delegate like a true diva
Friends love showing off their talents, so make sure you avail yourself of any skills they might have.  Make sure you delegate someone the role of official photographer. There is always some friend who thinks of themselves as an aspiring Mario Testino or David Bailey who will enjoy taking paparazzi-style snaps. Being the group happy-snapper is a great ticket to popularity as everyone (or at least all my friends) loves posing. This way you should have some great photos to mount on your wall of infamy and also to put in your party scrapbook later.

Palm off whatever other tawdry tasks you can too. For instance, you might have a friend who is great at decorating, so get her to help you create a festive atmosphere. Some other acquaintance may have a fantastic CD collection . . . you follow my drift. Delegate like a cocktail-party diva. This way everybody gets to feel like part of the event and his or her respective talents get recognised. Just make sure you point out and applaud each contributor’s efforts at some point during the evening. This also gives them plenty of talking points and gives you a good excuse to raise multiple toasts.

4. Serve an icebreaker signature cocktail
Nothing kickstarts a party better than serving your guests a signature cocktail at the door. It’s like giving them a dose of rocket propellant. It loosens people up straight off the bat and creates a great icebreaker by giving them something to talk about. It also adds a touch of pizzazz.

Make up a fabulous name for your libation that helps set the right tone for the evening. A good trick is to give it a slight twist and name it after yourself – for instance, the ‘Janetini’. This will lend it a little of your sparkling personality. Or call it something seductive like the ‘Sexytini’ and tell everyone this magical mix is an ‘aphrodisiac in a glass’. Nothing like the power of suggestion. And everyone can blame your mystical potion later for their misbehaviour.

5. Set a dress code
Another way to set the right tone straight off is to have a dress code. It’s all about flaunting our frocks and putting on the ritz. I like to pretend I am Princess Margaret holding court on the island of Mustique, or I will take fashion inspiration from Ginger Rogers or my all-time favourite fashion icon (‘I’m not bad, I’m  just drawn that way’) Jessica Rabbit. Thank God for push-up bras and shapewear. Dressing up is half the fun. Otherwise, you may as well go out and eat a falafel at your local food stand. And where’s the romance in that?

6. Let the games begin
Running a cocktail party is akin to running a daycare for delinquent children. I generally find guests regress to an infantile state as the night wears on. Just like controlling a hyperactive class of under-fives, you must make sure your charges are adequately fed and watered or they will become fractious.

I find having some fun activities on hand also helps. For instance, buy a karaoke machine from Toys R Us and let your friends take turns warbling. You may want a giant hook to get some of the keener songsters to leave the microphone, but it’s guaranteed hilarity.

7. Start a cocktail party guest book
Finally, start a guest book that your friends can write in before they leave. Try to select the ideal time for them to make the most flattering comments. This should be when they are drunk enough to be generous with their superlatives but not so loose they can barely string a sentence together. I would suggest  the ideal time is after a few beverages but before they start bopping on the dance floor. Encourage them to put into words what a fabulous time they had and let them know that they can’t be effusive enough, that high-flying fits of hyperbole are more than welcome.

Self-styled kitchen vixen, Babe Scott, has just released her new book, The Lazy Hostess, the ultimate guide to getting you through the party season in style – without fuss. We think The Lazy Hostess would make a great Christmas present for your BFF, sister, mum or aunty.


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