How to Throw a Seasonal Soiree

In Southern California, there really isn’t such a thing as winter. So when event planner Jacqui Marino of Deets & Things was tasked with designing and implementing a winter-themed first-birthday party, she had to think beyond palm trees and sandy beaches. “In Southern California, we don’t have white Christmases or winters, so the idea of snowflakes is enchanting and magical,” says Marino, who designed the party for Black Twine, a platform that provides DIY party directions from top event planners. “I knew I wanted to center the party around a snowy component, and what came out of it was a whimsical snowflake chandelier above the table and other cozy spaces.”

Marino also looked for inspiration from hanging floral installations and images of icicles. “I love florals and use them whenever I can, but this particular party was for a first birthday, so changing out a floral installation for a paper-made one was different, fitting, and a lot of fun,” says Marino, who also added fake snow to the driveway for a full wintertime effect. Disney’s Frozen was at its height when Marino was designing this particular party, but she and the client wanted something with a different look and feel. One of the ways Marino was able to avoid the popular movie’s wintry theme was by swapping the traditional whites and blues for a completely different color palette. “We chose blush pinks and creams to keep it warm and inviting but also appropriate for a little girl’s birthday,” explains the event planner.

“Choosing the right shades and color palette and keeping that consistent in every area helps keep a party cohesive,” says Marino. “We also kept everything playful and carried the snowflakes throughout the party space.” Marino approaches her party designs like an interior design plan, oftentimes looking to a central fixture to play a prominent role in the overall aesthetic with complementary accents. “When you have a focal point such as the chandelier or the table,” she says, “I recommend keeping a simple color palette but using different textures to add visual interest.”

Ultimately, Marino kept the attendees in mind. It wasn’t a party just for adults or kids or vice versa. So Marino hired a puppeteer to entertain the little ones during the party, while adults noshed on charcuterie and sampled delicious desserts at various stations. The final piece of the party puzzle was a s’mores cart, which kept both the kids and adults entertained and satiated.

Looking for more DIY party planning inspiration?

Turn to Black Twine for the latest designs and events.

Visit or find them on Instagram @blacktwine.

Jacqui Marino’s Party Planning 101

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to set up so potential hiccups don’t set you back.
  2. Start with one component, such as plates, and add to your design from there. Having decor/pattern inspiration like plates to refer to helps keep the party cohesive.
  3. Be sure to keep the kids entertained so the adults can enjoy the party, too. Include activities for all ages, like the s’mores cart in this featured event.
  4. Enlist help! Party planning and crafting is more fun with friends and family.

Jacqui Marino shares her inspirations and designs on Instagram @deetsandthings. You can find more of her collaborations with Black Twine at

The party was a hit, of course, and Marino has since used it as the springboard for her blooming business as an event planner. “It really was an event designer’s dream to have such free rein on a party such as this,” she says. “It turned out beautifully.” Written by Blake Miller. Photography by Ilene Squires.

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OTTAWA — The number of homes sold nationally rose 11.3 per cent in November compared with a year ago but the picture varies significantly by region, said the Canadian Real Estate Association.

By: Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The number of homes sold nationally rose 11.3 per cent in November compared with a year ago but the picture varies significantly by region, said the Canadian Real Estate Association.

A major rebound in sales in the Greater Vancouver Area and continued growth in the Greater Toronto and Montreal regions propped up sales, while the Prairie cities of Calgary, Edmonton, and Regina saw declines.

Overall, there were 37,213 homes sold through CREA's MLS system, up from 33,437 in November 2018.

The increase in sales came as the national average price for a home sold in November was about $529,000, up 8.4 per cent compared with a year ago. Excluding Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver, the average price was around $404,000, up 6.9 per cent compared with last year. The MLS home price index rose 2.6 per cent year over year to $638,300.

Price gains also saw regional variances, with the Greater Vancouver benchmark price down 4.59 per cent from a year ago and Prairie home prices also down, while Greater Toronto saw gains of 6.52 per cent, Greater Montreal had gains of 8.72 per cent, and Ottawa registered gains of 11.45 per cent.

"Sales continue to improve in some regions and not so much in others," said Jason Stephen, president of CREA in the release.

In its updated outlook, the association says it expects home sales this year to total 486,800, while it says the national average price is on track to rise 2.3 per cent.

That compared with an earlier forecast for 482,000 home sales for 2019 and a 0.5 per cent increase in the national average price.

Prices rose as the number of newly listed homes slid 2.7 per cent, driven primarily by fewer new listings in the GTA.

Nationally there is 4.2 months of inventory, the lowest recorded since the summer of 2007. The inventory, which represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, is well below the long-term average of 5.3 months.

For 2020, CREA says it expects home sales to rise 8.9 per cent next year to 530,000. The national average price is forecast to rise 6.2 per cent to $531,000.

TD economist Rishi Sondhi said he also expects rising sales in 2020 from job growth, population gains and a mild boost from government programs for first-time home buyers, though he notes there is some room for caution.

"This view rests on financial conditions remaining accommodative. The backup in bond yields since September, if sustained, could offer some downside risk to our forecast."

He said the recovery in home sales, especially helped by the Greater Vancouver Area's 55.9 per cent jump, would yet again support fourth quarter economic growth.


When you think of the best timing of selling your home, winter might not be the first season that comes to mind! Aside from the freezing temperature outside, people are often preoccupied with the holiday season! However, there are many reasons why you should consider selling your home during the winter.

If you want to sell your home during the winter but are hesitant, here are five reasons to do it!

1. The buyers are serious.

Unlike popular belief, demand does not really go that low during winter. And while it is not the peak buying season, the buyers that will encounter are much more serious and motivated. The buyers you will encounter during winter are often in a rush, are ready to make offers, and plan on moving in before or after the new year. This is a great advantage for sellers because you don’t have to waste your time with buyers who are just looking.

2. There Is less competition.

You won’t have that much competition if you sell your home during winter. Many people decide against listing their homes during winter and wait for Spring instead. With less competition, it will be easier for your listing to stand out. You’ll be able to have a higher chance at attracting buyers and selling your home much quicker and at a better deal for you.

3. Loans are processed quicker.

For lenders, winter is a time when the inventory is smaller and they have more time to process loans. Since loans can be processed more quickly than other seasons, your selling process will be much smoother and your road to closing will be faster. If you or your buyer is in a rush to close the home before the new year, your buyers will not have s problem processing their loans.

4. You can get better deals.

Since there is less competition and buyers are much more motivated during this season, you can definitely negotiate better deals with your buyers. According to Redfin, listings during winter actually sell faster and for more money. Make sure to stage your home, create a good and sound contract, and have it inspected so you can put a premium on its price. You can take advantage of serious buyers and try to sell your property at a higher price and better payment terms.

5. It’s a great way to start the year.

If you’ve been wanting to sell your home or if there’s an inevitable reason to do it, doing it before the start of the year is definitely the best time. The end of the year is the perfect time to let go of your property. It is the perfect timing for Spring where you’ll be able to move on and start anew without carrying any pieces of baggage from the year before.

Selling your home during the winter, whether it’s because of financial reasons, relocation, or if it’s an investment property you’ve been holding on to, is a decision that you will be thankful for when Springtime comes.

If you think that it’s best for you to wait for Spring or Fall to sell your home, you better think again. While there are many factors that can contribute to your listing being sold, winter can definitely be a good time to sell it if you give it a chance. Keep these five reasons in mind the next time you hesitate on selling a home during winter!