Thursday, June 25, 2020

Outdoor Entertaining Tips and Tricks for Summer 2020

A Backyard Event

After many of us have been isolated for months, we are slowly starting to re-emerge into society.  In many parts of our country, social distancing is still a thing.  But we are craving interaction with others and a great way to do that safely is by spending time together outdoors.  Summer days, especially those that end with a nice evening breeze, are perfect for outdoor dining. To help you prepare for your next fabulous backyard event, here are some tips and tricks for making entertaining easy!


A Theme & D├ęcor Sets the Mood

Pick a theme that incorporates a unique color scheme and summer nostalgia. Establish your theme by planning each detail ahead of time. Having a playful theme will help you determine what you will use to set the table, what time of day is right for your outdoor dining experience, and, most importantly, what your guests will be eating and drinking.

Have fun when deciding your decorative colors, the event name for your invite text or invitation, and even the dinner playlist that will get everyone excited. Find music that will really set the scene for a memorable meal. You might choose oldies, French jazz tunes, summer hits, or an ambient chill playlist. 

For family gatherings, think bright colors. You can go with patriotic pastimes and get into the red, white, and blue. Plan a poolside dinner with pink flamingos and large monstera leaves lining your patio. You might prefer French country styles with blue and white everything. For a low-key party of adult friends, you may want to stick to neutral tones, like beige and creamy peach hues. You could even bring a splash of energy to a simple sophisticated set-up with some fresh lemons to provide a yellow accent.

Stock Up

Set up a well-stocked bar area. Throw plenty of extra drinks in the cooler to keep everyone hydrated. Fill the cooler with drinks for the kids, including bottled water, soda or flavored sparkling water. Mark a section for adult beverages only. Next to your cooler set-up, have koozies, bottle openers and an ice bucket on deck. Just wait until the last minute to add ice to your custom monogrammed ice bucket.

Boatman Geller - Create-Your-Own Lucite Ice Buckets (Awning Stripe)

Incorporate fresh colors and your evening’s theme into the decor by selecting a matching tablecloth, linen napkins and choice dishware. Skip the glass to avoid items crashing onto the patio and breaking. Instead, opt for a lightweight set of dishes. Consider personalized melamine plates customized to complement the colors of your patio furniture.

Boatman Geller - Personalized Melamine Plates (Maggie Raspberry and Tangerine)

Serving trays and cutting boards are great for transporting a group of items that need to go outside. You can use your lucite Dabney Lee trays to bring out items for setting the table, then later load up the trays with food at meal time!  These melamine platters not only add color to your table, they are great for serving food as well – especially side dishes!

 Boatman Geller - Create-Your-Own Personalized Lucite Trays (Chain Link - Large)

Just Grill

Personalized Grilling BBQ Set with Bamboo Case

Prepare the grill station for the family’s favorite BBQ chef. Have all of your grilling tools ready for business. Use a practical grilling set that includes all the necessities: tongs, fork and a spatula. Station aluminum foil, a roll of paper towels and some mesquite spices nearby. Really get into the BBQ mood by making sure your cook is outfitted with a perfectly cheesy “kiss the cook” style apron. Bonus points if the sassy apron has the grill-master’s name front and center.

 Pen At Hand Stick Figures - Apron (BBQ)

Light It Up

Have a plan for lighting: Consider using decorative lanterns, twinkle lights, or tiki torches depending on your backyard aesthetic. Some small white candles can add romance to an ordinary patio table. There is nothing quite like the ambiance created from the soft light of candles. Citronella candles are a great added touch to keep the bugs off your guests.

Outdoor entertaining has all the festivity of a meal out but with the comforts of home. Start planning your theme and table setting for the next holiday or event on your calendar. Whether your invite list includes the family or your favorite friends, you are sure to have a wonderful night once your patio table is set to impress.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Meet Debbie

We are back to blogging and it feels so good! You may notice our last post was November 2017.  A lot has changed in three years, but plenty has stayed the same.  One of those things? More Than Paper is still online bringing you the best in stationery, paper, and personalized gifts–just like we have been since 2000.  We wanted to introduce you to the woman who has been the driving force behind More Than Paper and its success – meet our founder and owner, Debbie Volk!

How it all started
Debbie is a graduate of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Science in Economics with concentrations in Finance and Decision Sciences. Earlier in her career, she was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. 

When she and her husband of nearly 28 years, Judd, were starting their family, she left Morgan Stanley to focus on being a mom.  Three years later, she started looking for an entrepreneurial business that she could do from home while also caring for her young son. 

Her mother-in-law had been in the invitation business for over 30 years and suggested the possibility of retailing stationery to friends and family as an income source. Debbie went to her first National Stationery Show in NYC in 1999.  She realized then that owning a paper/gift store would allow her to marry her finance background and her love of being creative.  Being a mother of a toddler and with another baby on the way, opening a brick and mortar store wasn’t an option and even seeing clients in person was becoming challenging.  She had just learned to build a website for her husband’s business, so it was relatively easy to get a website up and running (remember it was 2000 and websites were a lot less sophisticated back then).  That is how More Than Paper became an ecommerce business! 

What it is today
Today, More Than Paper prides itself on having a huge selection (tens of thousands of products) of stationery and gifts found on an easy to navigate website, – all at great prices.  She typically lists merchandise 20% below manufacturer’s suggested retail pricing every single day.  No coupons or codes or flash sales – just everyday great prices.  

More than just selection and price, Debbie & team offer more service than many other online stores. It doesn’t matter if a customer is buying address labels for $16 or holiday cards for $500, Debbie and her team are willing to spend time and go the extra mile to make the customer happy.  It’s not unusual for her to pick up the phone and hear a customer say, “Oh, I am so glad that a human picked up!” With so many companies investing in overseas chats and burying customer service phone numbers on their websites, Debbie is more than happy to speak to customers. Curating the right purchase and ensuring customers get exactly what they want is what she’s all about.

What else it offers
You’ll notice that there are tens of thousands of products at More Than Paper, and she and her team are constantly adding new ones from their manufacturers.  New, trendy products are balanced out with timeless classics.  Trends are followed via industry publications, watching fashion trends, and of course via relationships with manufacturers.  Debbie has always placed a strong emphasis on keeping strong relationships with her manufacturers who introduce new products all the time.

Debbie has learned a lot since opening in 1999. To do it right takes a tremendous effort, an attention to detail, a willingness to take chances and great customer service. She says, “operating a retail website is really a 24/7, 365-day job since the internet is never closed, and you need to commit to that obligation to make it through the inevitable ups and downs of business cycles.”

Outside of her online business, Debbie is passionate about her family; she has three children–Ethan (23), Brian (20), Amanda (16). She also loves singing and performing in local musical theater.  It’s clear that this smart, dynamic woman has built a business that fits her lifestyle, education, and passion and she has been able to help thousands of people with their life occasions.

What’s ahead?
With years of expertise in the stationery industry, Debbie has amassed tips and tricks that she will be sharing.  Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and subscribe to our email list for the latest.