Valentine's Day Is for Lovers! Great Gift Ideas for Him and Her

Mini_cakesValentine’s Day is just around the corner…have you found your fabulous gift yet for your one-and-only?

I’ve got some lovely ideas, just in the knick of time. Drop by A Perfect Event for your sweet Valentine. We’ll take care of you from start to finish.

P.S.- These ideas also work great if you are attending a party and need the ultimate hostess gift.



For the Ladies:

Let her eat cake, literally! Skip the predictable flowers and chocolates, and make her a yummy cake from scratch. Then accompany it with all the right accessories. Our stunning new arrivals from Rosanna would fit right in on Marie Antoinette’s table.

A glossy 3-tier black cake stand steals the show. More fabulous French-style pieces include beautiful candlesticks that you won’t believe aren’t vintage. White, black and daring gold are the palette.

Snap up the dessert and coffee set, also from Rosanna. Stunning red florals dance across plates, cups and saucers. Best of all, the boxes are works of art themselves—no wrapping required (ahem, men!). Just add ribbon.

4804p22951 If cake’s not her cup of tea, how about the singular style of Kate Spade? Score points with the pink leather agenda or chic pencil cases (that don’t have to be used for pencils…great for makeup, spare change, you name it). Kate Spade also makes adorable playing cards, with pretty designs.

Now, every woman likes jewelry and pictures, so how about something to feature them? Stunning brocade jewelry boxes and picture frames are truly beautiful. She’ll adore them!                                                   4805p27001_2



For the Men:

Romance is in the air with these gifts he can’t help but love. Combine his love of adventure and celebration for the year ahead with creative gifts that are sure to impress.

For the wine snob, pick up a Wine Kit, for picnics on the beach, concerts at Ravinia and lazy days in Grant Park. Package it with a bottle of his favorite wine, or make it a case! Label each bottle in the case with a special occasion—“Valentine’s Day,” “Birthday,” “4th of July,” “Father’s Day” and more!

If martinis are his thing, create the Martini-to-Go Kit. Who doesn’t love to mix a cocktail at all of the fabulous summer parties and outings downtown along the lake. Pick up a Martini Recipe Book, filled with great new cocktail and garnish ideas, then top it off with a vodka sampler: Grey Goose Orange, Stoli Vanil and Effen Black Cherry. You’re set!

Rock his world with a sophisticated collection of music from his favorite city, from the AFTER DARK mix series. This is hot and modern “house” music for grown-ups, including: After Dark Milan, After Dark Paris…London…San Francisco…you get the idea. Travel without ever leaving the house.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photography done by Artisan Events. To see more of their fabulous photography, visit

Invitation Etiquette Part 2 – Salutations…Addressing Your Envelopes

Ready to throw your own party? Addressing the invitations doesn’t have to give you a headache. Reference this quick and easy chart for perfect etiquette.

Forms of address…



Addressing a Woman

Maiden name

Ms. Jane Johnson
Miss Jane Johnson*
*Usually for girls under 18

Married, keeping maiden name

Ms. Jane Johnson

Married, uses husband’s name socially

Mrs. John Kelly
Mrs. Jane Kelly*
*Today this is acceptable


Mrs. John Kelly*
Mrs. Jane Kelly
Ms. Jane Kelly

     *If you don’t know the widow’s preference,   this is the traditional and preferred form

Addressing a Couple

Married, she uses her husband’s name socially

Mr. and Mrs. John Kelly

NOTE: Traditionally, a man’s name preceded a woman’s on an envelope address, and his first and surname were not separated (Jane and John Kelly). Nowadays, the order of the names—whether his name or hers comes first—does not matter and either way is acceptable. The exception is when one member of the couple ‘outranks’ the other—the one with the higher rank is always listed first. (see below)

Married, she prefers Ms.

Mr. John Kelly and Ms. Jane Kelly
Ms. Jane Kelly and Mr. John Kelly
*Do not link Ms. to the husband’s name:
      Mr. and Ms. John Kelly is incorrect

Married, informal address

Jane and John Kelly
John and Jane Kelly

Married, she uses maiden name

Mr. John Kelly and Ms. Jane Johnson
Ms. Jane Johnson and Mr. John Kelly

If you can’t fit the names on one line:
Mr. John Kelly
and Ms. Jane Johnson

*Note the indent, either name may be used first


Invitation Etiquette Part 1 – RSVP…You Are Invited

Whether it’s to a wedding, a dinner party, a shower or a gala event, an invitation comes with some important obligations.

Here’s a quick guide to keep you on the guest list:

From the French, it means “Réspondez, s’il vous plaît,” or, “Please reply.” This little code has been around for a long time and it’s definitely telling you that your hosts want to know if you are attending. Reply promptly, within a day or two of receiving an invitation.

2. How do I respond? Reply in the manner indicated on the invitation.

  • RSVP and no response card: a handwritten response to the host at the return address on the envelope.
  • Response Card: fill in and reply by the date indicated and return in the enclosed envelope.
  • RSVP with phone number: telephone and make sure to speak leave your name and who is attending with you.
  • RSVP with email: you may accept or decline electronically.
  • Regrets only: reply only if you cannot attend. If your host doesn’t hear from you, he is expecting you!
  • No reply requested? Unusual, but it is always polite to let someone know your intentions. A phone call would be sufficient.

3. Is that your final answer?

  • Changing a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ is only acceptable on account of: illness or injury, a death in the family or an unavoidable professional or business conflict. Call your hosts immediately.
  • Being a “no show” is unacceptable.
  • Changing a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ is OK only if it will not upset the hosts’ arrangements.

4. “May I bring…”
Don’t even ask!  An invitation is extended to the people the hosts want to invite—and no one else.

  • …a date. Some invitations indicate that you may invite a guest or date (Mr. John Evans and Guest) and when you reply, you should indicate whether you are bringing someone, and convey their name.
  • …my children. If they were invited, the invitation would have said so.
  • … my houseguest.  It’s best to decline the invitation, stating the reason. This gives your host the option to extend the invitation to your guests, or not.

5. Say “Thank You.”
Make sure to thank your hosts before you leave, and then again by phone or note the next day.

Enjoy your event!

2007 New Year's Entertaining (as featured on ABC News)

As we leap into 2007, here are some fun and interesting ways you can theme your celebrations this New Year’s Eve, with special and distinctive treats for both the adults and the kids.

Themed parties are a great way to add a unique touch to your at-home celebrations and one of the best ways to ensure that your New Year party will remain one of those “remember when…” evenings!

With the hype of the latest Bond movie still looming and the year 2007 just around the corner, what better way to bring in the New Year than with a 007 themed celebration!

Here are some simple and entertaining ways to add some extra fun to your festivities:

  • 007 Adult Fun!

Creative a custom 007 Centerpiece – For a centerpiece with “Bond” style and elegance, simply place an array of white orchids on contrasting black linens. Simple and chic in minutes! For an added touch, combine with custom 007 votives (all you do is print 007 onto vellum paper which you can get from office depot or any craft store. Cut the shapes and tape onto votive candles). Candles are always a great way to add ambiance to the party and the perfect touch to a stylish centerpiece.

No party is complete without that specialty cocktail – and no 007 theme is complete without that signature Martini. For a 007 Martini, feature a garnish bar with lemon twists, stuffed olives, and cranberry skewers. Then serve on trays for guests to enjoy… And don’t forget, it’s to be shaken, not stirred!


For a menu with the infamous Bond flair, combine a variety of international selections for a “Jet Set Global Cuisine.” Menu items could include Hong Kong Sushi, Thai skewers, Spanish tapas, Parisian cheeses and Roman antipasto. An exotic menu in minutes and all from the grocery store aisle!

Serve on a coffee table or buffet table using a collection of glass or silver trays. For that added 007 touch, theme with black and white linens!

  • 007 fun for the kids!

And the 007 fun is not just all for the adults! Adding a theme to a party is also a great way to involve the kids in the New Year festivities. Here are some simple 007 themed ideas and activities that will keep the children amused and enjoying the celebrations as much as the adults.

For a Jet Set Cuisine that the kids will enjoy, include some fun and exotic ‘mini’ menu choices. So along with the Hong Kong Sushi, Thai chicken or beef skewers, also provide some New York Mini Cheeseburgers, Chicago mini hot pups, and Parisian Pommes Frites in cones. A variety of simple and easy foods that the kids will enjoy, and all from the grocery store aisle! Serve on a lower coffee table for the wee ones, but still keep in theme with black and white linens!

Having a mini martini (or mini mocktail) for the kids is a great way to keep them in the spirits of the celebrations. Why don’t you try a 007-Up Punch? Simply combine 7-Up, CanGrape Juice and Lemonade. The kids will love it!

And of course the kids will need a few other activities to keep them amused throughout the night, while the New Year’s celebrations kick into full swing. Why not have top hats and boas for the little ones to play dress ups? You can get these special pieces from any party store. Kids love playing around with fashionable accessories and this will make them feel special while keeping in the spirit of the 007 theme.

Another easy activity to keep the kids entertained is arts and crafts. Why not have a variety of coloring books and craft activities using only black and white color palettes? Something simple, that the kids will enjoy and again, all in the Bond theme! And if you’re feeling extra creative, why not create secret agent mission maps? You can plan around the house treasure hunts in search of some exciting treats or 007 prizes… and I wonder just how long it will take for the adults to join in this one!!


Lastly, a great idea for the kids no matter what your theme, are Resolution Name Tags.

For each little guest, their name tag can read, “hi my name is ______ and I’m going to___ (resolution of choice such as; make my bed each morning). This is a simple, yet personalized activity which will have the children thinking about the good things they will do in 2007.

Enjoy your celebrations!

New Year's Party Planning (as featured on WGN Morning News)

The holiday celebrations are in full swing and the New Year is just around the corner. It’s time to start thinking of some fun and interesting ways to create an unforgettable evening. If you’re entertaining at home, here are a few simple tips on how to “wow” your guests and add chic to your party this New Year’s Eve!

For at-home celebrations, table top centerpieces are a great way to stylize your party. To create a fun and festive New Year’s Eve centerpiece in minutes, simply use glass bowls that you already have at home. Fill will collections of noise makers, party horns and New Year’s Eve tiaras. All of these items are available at party stores and are a great way to create that joyous atmosphere. For a fun and decorative finishing touch, scatter these festive flutes with an array of vibrant colored candles.

Creating the specialty cocktail is one of my favorite party planning activities – and an ideal New Year’s Party starter. “Champagne Icicles” are the perfect celebratory drink. Simply combine Brut Champagne, White Cranberry Juice and a splash of Blue Curacao. For a special touch, serve cocktails on a tray as guests arrive. And don’t forget the mocktail! It’s always a good idea to have a non alcoholic drink for guests to enjoy.

Want a stylish menu of gourmet hors d’oeuvres? Why not consider a selection of the following gourmet specialties, as ingredients are available from your local grocery store:

-Bruschetta pops – skewered cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil are easy and enjoyable.

-Soup sips – An absolute winter wonder! Serve holiday soups such as roasted chestnut or butternut squash in shot glasses or Irish Coffee Mugs.

-Shrimp “cocktails” – With cocktail sauce pre-poured, place shrimp bites in a tiny glass or cup. Tasty and healthy!

My professional menu tip is to always have one vegetarian, meat and seafood selection available, so that everyone’s tastes are accounted for!

Serve on a coffee table or buffet table using a collection of glass or silver trays. The secret to making it look professionally catered, is for all trays to coordinate; same color, style, etc!

You’ve heard me say it before but Dessert Bars are a “hot” entertaining trend and a great way to add that finishing touch to a fun filled party. For a festive dessert bar, spice things up a little and provide an array of different candies for guests to serve themselves. You can theme with colors or various types of candies…perfect for that inner child!

Gifts of the season…

I love gifts.  Shopping, wrapping, ribboning, giving, receiving…it such utter joy. And of course nothing compares to the holiday season…

Here are just a few hot new favorite trends for this holiday season’s gift giving:

320__dsc0800 320__dsc2507_1 320__dsc2508 320__dsc0802

Who doesn’t love luxurious
papers…gift wrap…gift tags…ribbons…everything paper? This is one of my
signature gifts – The Gift Wrap Kit. We box up everything gorgeous –
ribbon bolt collection sets from Midori, letterpressed gift tags by
Lunalux, ribboned tags by Exquisite Papers, handmade glittered and
beaded tags by Barbara Schreiber, wonderful wrapping papers from
Glitterwrap, and more. Boxed together as a stunning set of details…it
is just as thoughtful as it is enjoyable.

For the gardener

320__dsc0823 320__dsc0839 320__dsc2516 320__dsc0858 320__dsc0804


I love everything floral…and I fill my store with such flowery details no one can tell what is fresh floral vs. actual gifts! These floral arrangements are the best new stocking stuffers fresh from France.  The  preserved roses are artfully arranged in bay leaves, lamb’s ear and more. They come in petite designs perfect for the powder room and large topiary for centerpieces.

The rose topped gift boxes are perfect for little treats – they come in a rainbow of colors and can be filled with treats, sweets, ornaments and so much more.

These art deco vases harken the glamorous Hollywood era. They are so easy to fill with just a few graceful orchid blooms or Monstera leave – making fresh flowers in the home simple as 1, 2, 3.

Another option – for your purse – is the Rose Pen from Ribbons – available in many colors to match your mood.

Other favorites are these new Blooming Pen Sets – handpainted pen holder “vases” that display lush silk rose beribboned pens. What a cheerful desk accessory!

For the gourmet


320__dsc2547 320__dsc2545 320__dsc2640 320__dsc0853
320__dsc2834 320__dsc2831 320__dsc2836

Our favorite Bella Cucina cookbook from Italy features glorious black and white photographs – not to mention recipes that make your mouth water. They also have made the most beautiful and delicious hostess gifts for instant giving. Our favorites are the Italian Olive Jar, Bowl and Spoon set; and the Artichoke Pesto, Baking Dish and Spoon set. Bellissimo!

No hors d’ouevre is complete without a fabulous little serving piece. These boxes of miniature seashell toothpicks are just the perfect touch to any cocktail party

A very happy hostess loves new kitchen wares…and these custom designed monogram French flower buckets seal the deal. We fill them with a monogrammed linen kitchen towel, Italian biscotti, Italian olives, an herbal Apothecary kitchen candle, wooden spreaders and spoons, and more.The perfect collection of gourmet spices has been designed by Pinch Plus for your kitchen gifts in countries near and far…the petite books include spices from Thailand, France, India and more.

For him



Playing cards have never been so much fun. These new collector sets are packaged in leather flip cases embossed with sayings like “Heads I win, tails you lose” and more. Artist sketch books are the perfect travel set. The feature a rainbow of colored pencils and sketch pad all in a leather case. Both gifts come in black, red, and turquoise.

Who doesn’t love new CD sets in their stocking? From “Poker Night” featuring all the Rat Pack swingers, to “Paris After Dark” lounge collections, we have dozens of favorites to chill to all year long.

For the wee ones


320__dsc2644 320__dsc2653 320__dsc2691 320__dsc2722 320__dsc2720

Malibu crepe paper wrapped miniature presents unwrap to a dozen fun toys like mood rings, fortune fish, and more. Our other favorite – their Surprise Presents feature the same little treasures – but packaged as sets to place at each setting on the table.

Every child squeals with joy as they open up handpainted and glittered buckets filled with old fashioned toys to unwrap and enjoy. These are even great for placesetting favors to keep small hands busy at the holiday table…

Who could forget the little gift-lovers on your list?

Last, but not least, these handmade holiday boxes delight both young and old. Fill each with gifts, candies, and jewelry…they make even the smallest gift look like a million bucks.

Photos by Photo Journalism by Artist Group


President and Chief Eventeur
A Perfect Event

Debi Lilly is a Chicago-based national event-planning expert and entrepreneur. She is the founder and president of Chicago’s most successful special event company that has a faithful (and famous) following, including Oprah Winfrey. She is a remarkable talent, committed to the personalization of every event, invitation, gift and photograph. In addition to her business acumen, Debi deftly balances a demanding career and a growing family.

Debi was the event planner for Oprah Winfrey’s televised 50th Birthday Party.
2006 Fall Daily Candy Wedding Guide – Wedding and Event Planner
2006 Best of Citysearch- Audience Winner -Party/Wedding Planner, Chicago
2006 Best of Citysearch-Editorial Winner -Party/Wedding Planner, Chicago
2004 Wedding of the Year Winner – Best Reception – Florist Review Magazine




1 324 325 326