The Wrong Way To Set A Dinner Party On Fire

Nothing beats a good dinner party. By this age, you and your friends have kids, jobs, and other commitments. Finding the time to get together can be tough. 

Dinner parties are ideal, because they mean you don’t have to get a babysitter. Plus, they don’t cost as much as going out does. And, let’s be honest, money is always hard to come by once you’re a parent! But, there’s no denying that dinner parties bring their own pressures.
As host, it all falls on you. A dinner party disaster will soon become a memory you all laugh at. But, it never feels funny at the time. You can put as much effort into your party planning as you like, but sometimes, things still escape you. Here’s how to cope when it all goes wrong!

WHEN SOMETHING BREAKS

Let’s be honest; kitchen appliances have a habit of breaking at the worst possible times. The oven cuts out on Thanksgiving morning. The fridge stops working when it’s filled with food. Don’t think your dinner party is free from these disasters. Instead, set a plan in place for if your oven decides it doesn’t want to cook on the day. Write down the number of a company like City Appliance Repair, and call them the moment something happens. The repair time may set you back, but it’s better than not having anything to serve. And, there’s no need to hide what’s happened from your guests. When they arrive, explain why the food might be a bit late. They’re sure to laugh!

 

MISSING INGREDIENTS

No amount of preparation can save you from the odd missing ingredient. You know the ones – pesky ingredients that are easy to forget, but somehow form a crucial part of your meal. If you notice you’re missing something, head straight to the shop. Don’t spend time beating yourself up. Let it go, and get what you need. The faster you are, the better. Of course, there is the risk of your local shop not having it. If that’s the case, you’re going to have to think on your feet and tweak the recipe. The internet can be a real help in situations like these. Search for alternatives. There are ways around everything! It might be worth doing this before you leave for the shop. Just in case…

A COOKING DISASTER

Did you notice how this is very much a worst until last situation? Cooking disasters are every host’s nightmare. And, let’s be honest; our food often fails when we’re cooking to impress. The best way to avoid a disaster on the night is to practice the meal beforehand! In fact, it might be best to choose something you’ve cooked many times. If you’re trying a new recipe, though, have a practice run. Prepping on the day can also be a huge help. Pre-cook anything you can so you have less to do when you’re distracted by guests. That way, you have time to redo if you need to.

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From Bachelorettes To Baby Showers: Perfect Party Planning Tips

If you’ve been tasked with the job of planning a party, you’ve probably got a lot on your plate. With planning comes great responsibility. You want to do your best to make the event a success and treat your loved one to a day or night they’ll remember forever. Whether you’re organizing a bachelorette party or a baby shower, here are some tips to make party planning a breeze.


Planning the guest list and spreading the word

Even if you’re taking responsibility for the entire event, and you want the party to be a surprise, it’s essential to get some input from the bride or mom to be when putting the guest list together. You don’t want to invite people they’re no longer friends with or miss people out. All you need to do is ask for a list of names and numbers, and you can take over from there.

Once you’ve got the guest list, you can start spreading the word and sending out invitations. If you can get this done weeks in advance, there’s a better chance that people will be able to make it, so try not to leave it until the last minute. If there’s a tight budget, you can save money on printing and postage by designing and emailing e-cards.


Choosing the venue

The venue is really important. Think about how many people are coming, how much you have to spend, and the theme you want to go for. If you’re organizing a small, informal gathering, how about booking an area in a cafe or restaurant or having your party in the garden at home? If you’re planning a weekend away for a bachelorette, think about hiring a house or an apartment rather than booking a load of hotel rooms. You’ll have more chance to spend time together as a group, and it’ll probably work out cheaper.

Once you’ve got a venue, start planning how you’re going to style it and get some helpers on board. Do you want to add flowers and candles to the tables, hang banners or bunting or decorate the bride to be’s room with old photographs? If you’re short on ideas, you should be able to find inspiration on sites like Instagram and Pinterest.

Gift bags

Everyone loves to leave a party with a gift bag. If you’re organizing an event that is all about a special person, you can personalize the bags. Print details of the party on the front of canvas totes or order everyone a commemorative t-shirt. Include small matching gifts for every guest. If you take advantage of discounts like elf925 overstock jewelry online, you can get lovely items without breaking the bank. In each bag, leave a blank card for the guest to write and add to an album the party princess can keep.

We all know that planning parties can be a stressful affair. However, if you’re organized, you have willing helpers, and you have a vision in mind, you should be able to pull it off. Hopefully, this guide will help you plan an event to remember.


 
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Birthday on a Budget

Let’s face it: after Christmas, birthdays are some of the most expensive occasions in the year. Of course, we don’t feel begrudging of treating our nearest and dearest to the finer things in life one day a year – but it can be a little taxing on the wallet, particularly if you have a big family. Here are some tips to help you save on money for your family birthdays this year.

The Gifts

First of all, it’s crucial that you set yourself a budget and that you don’t let yourself go over it. One way to make sure that you don’t spend more than you mean to is to withdraw the money in cash from the bank before you go shopping – it’s so easy to spend more than you intend to if you’re using your credit card! It’s also a good idea to talk to whoever’s celebrating a birthday and ask them what they actually want so you can make sure that whatever you get them will be used and appreciated. No one likes to give or receive gifts that aren’t particularly wanted or needed.

The Party

If you have kids and you’re wondering how to keep the costs down at a birthday party, then hold it mid-afternoon so you don’t have to provide either lunch or dinner. That way you can go for snacks instead like bowls of potato chips, chopped up vegetables and cookies instead of having to produce burgers or pizza. When you’re considering your party theme, go for invites that can be printed off rather than bought like these ones from Adobe Spark, and make sure that you don’t make the guest list too extensive. You could also consider having your party at home instead of hiring a hall, but make sure that you cover the floors and put away any furniture or items that you don’t want to get ruined! If you usually hire an entertainer then why not research party games yourself? You might not be making any balloon animals any time soon, but anyone can pause a CD and turn it back on again to play a rousing games of musical chairs or wrap up a gift in a million layers of newspaper for Pass The Parcel. You could also get the kids to go nuts on an art project like decorating cheap T-shirts or paper wings.


The Decorations

One of the best ways to keep costs down at birthday parties is to cut back on the décor. This doesn’t mean that you have to have a complete somber space – on the contrary, why don’t you just ditch a theme for this year’s party and pick out party pieces that you can use again in the future? No one wants to be left with a huge stack of Frozen paper plates and napkins that they’ll never get out again (or be persuaded to use at every meal for the next week…). Make your own decorations like pasting together coloured paper to make paper chains and blowing up balloons instead of buying expensive helium ones.

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Get In Character For Your Kid’s Next Party

Does your little one have a birthday coming up? As kids grow older, more thought has to go into each party. Every year, the party you throw has to be bigger and better than the other parties your little one’s attended. In short, the planning is no easy task. 

Why don’t you create a party with a difference by choosing a character theme? Think about your child’s favorite show and theme the party around that. Themed parties can be a lot of fun, and the right choice is sure to go down well. Once you’ve organized a space and chosen your theme, you’ve got some work to do!


DO YOUR RESEARCH

To make the most of your theme, it’s important you do your research. The good news is, you should be able to do this without putting real effort in. All you need to do is pay attention next time your little one is watching their show. Take note of the characters and subject so that you can get things right. Children know what they like. If you make a mistake, they’re sure to notice. Take note, too, of which is your child’s favorite character. As well as all the planning, you’re going to have to get their dress-up costume ready!


PERFECT THE DECORATIONS

Once you’ve done your research, start perfecting the decoration. Begin by making a plan. Draw out how you would like the space to look. Play around with colors and layout. Research to find out where you can buy tablecloths and napkins of the show. Or, you might need to get creative and make your own. The good news is, you can often get your own printed. If you go down this route, take a little time to find a picture that would work well!


THEMED FOOD

The theme doesn’t stop at the decoration, either. You’ll need to think about keeping the theme going with food. You might need to get creative with this. If you’re catering yourself, try out a few recipes. Think about the theme of the show itself. If it’s on a pirate ship, for example, make ship themed food. Use cocktail sausages as boats. Cut sandwiches into parrot shapes. If the show is a fantasy, make food in the form of the fantastical beasts. Think, too about the cake. To make life easier, look into prices and more information on kroger cakes here, or ask a relative to make the cake for you. You could even get a picture printed onto the cake, as well!


MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS

Don’t forget to let everyone know about the theme. Print themed invitations so that everyone knows. Make sure to state, too, that it’s a fancy dress party. Seeing all the kids in their outfits will be the best part! It’s your job to make sure they come prepared! Make sure, too, to let any parents helping out know to dress up. The kids have a lot more fun when the parents get involved, too!

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Perfect Party Tips For Your Little Prince Or Princess

If your child has a birthday coming up, you will no doubt be busy trying to plan them the perfect party! You might have thought that planning a child’s birthday party would be super easy, but you may be surprised at just how difficult it turns out to be! After all, it needs to be within budget and also meet your child’s expectations. Plus, it needs to be fun for all the kids who come! 

Need some help planning the perfect party for your price or princess? Here are my top tips!


Set Your Date

Planning the best date for your child’s party is the first hurdle that you will face. These days, families are very busy, and you will have to find a date that works for the majority of children. It also needs to fit in with parent’s busy work schedules! Ideally, you should decide on a date and send out the invites at least four weeks in advance. This way, everyone knows to save the date so that they won’t end up double booked! If you want to hold the party in a venue, you should book this around the same time too. That way, it is yours for the day, and you don’t have to worry about someone else booking it!

Choose The Guests

Do you know who your child wants to invite to their big event? If not, you should ask them. Some schools are now starting to create policies which state that all children in the class should be invited to parties. This prevents anyone from being excluded. You will need to check if this is the case at your child’s school. You will also need to decide whether you want the children’s parents to stay for the whole duration or if they can simply drop their kids off. If the parents are going to stay, you will have to include them in the numbers when you start to plan food.

Entertainment

One of the main expenses for children’s parties is the entertainment. Some parents like to hire clowns and magicians to put on shows for the children, but these can often turn out expensive. If you want to keep your costs down to a minimum, you can always organize some games; these party games are easy and fun to play and will be simple enough for kids of all ages to join in with.

Food

When you are thinking about the food, you need to consider what time of day the party is. For instance, if the party is in the evening, don’t provide too many sweet and sugary options as you may have some parents complain that they couldn’t get their kids to sleep afterwards! Also, it is a good idea to include a healthy option, such as fresh fruit, as not every child will be happy with pizza and hot dogs. Planning a finger buffet will give you the chance to offer a variety of foods.

I hope you and the birthday boy or girl have a great party! 

Don’t forget to check out our DIY Pool Party Article.

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Sweat The Small Stuff To Set Your Party Off With A Bang

Planning a party can be fun. It can also be stressful. From invitations to securing a space, you need to ensure everything goes to plan! With so much to consider, you’re at risk of forgetting the small details, and those little details are what can make or break your party. To save you having to think about them, here are a few ideas of little touches you could include!

EATING

 Napkins

As the catering for your party plays such a big part, we’re going to assume you’ve already got that bit covered. But, have you thought about what your guests will be eating with? When you were on the phone to the caterers, the chances are you didn’t think about cutlery! Even if your food is bite-sized, people will want something to eat it from! Who wants to head to the buffet table every time they take their next pick? To save on washing, opt for paper plates and plastic cutlery. This option also avoids breakages! Think, too, about the napkins you provide. Do you want to tie them in with your color scheme? You could go all out and get monogrammed napkins if you wanted to!

 Menu Card

DECORATIVE FLOURISHES

The decoration was probably one of the first things you considered. Did you think about the small flourishes, though? Simple things, like flowers around the room and confetti, can make a huge difference. You could even brighten the place with the addition of a few balloons! These touches won’t take long to complete, but they’ll make all the difference in adding a splash of glamor!

SEATING

Everyone will be dancing the night away, so who needs seating? That may be true in an ideal world, but it’s rarely the way a party goes. Take a little time to consider how much seating you want to provide. Though guests will warm to the dance floor as the night gets going, you still need to provide an escape. Accept, too, that some of your guests won’t be fans of dancing! Make sure you’ve got enough chairs to go around. That’s not to say you need a chair for every guest. Just make sure you provide a large enough seating area for a few groups at any time. Think, too, about whether you want the chairs around the dance floor, or in their own half of the room.

MUSIC

By this stage, you will have already hired a DJ or found some other way to get music to your guests. Even so, you may not have thought about the music that will be played. Most DJs will ask for a playlist so that they can be sure to play the music you’re after. Make sure not to neglect this aspect! In many ways, it’s the music that will make your night. Make sure to pick some songs that are sure to go down well. You could even provide different playlists for certain times. The night is what the music makes it!


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2017 Valentine’s Cards for Kids

This is a sponsored post on behalf of my affiliate partner, Minted.  As always, all opinions are my own.  Post contains affiliate links.
DIY Valentine's Cards

Thinking back to Valentine’s Day celebrations in class when I was a kid, I remember getting loads of cards each year.  But what I remember the most is receiving cards with candy attached to them.  That was the best!

I always try to make my daughter’s school Valentine’s cards extra special with some sort of treat – lollipops, snack size bags of M&Ms, Valentine’s Muddy Buddies, etc., but what I’m not a huge fan of are the generic Valentine’s cards that everyone buys from Target or Walmart.  Sure, they’re cute, but we end up getting 10 of the same cards by the end of the holiday.

Last year we ordered our Valentine’s Day cards from Minted.com and everyone absolutely loved them.  If you missed last year’s article, check it out here.

This year I decided to use one of my favorite photos of my daughter from our Grand Cayman vacation in November for her school cards.  I originally had the hole-punched card (shown below) in my cart and intended on placing a lollipop through hole, but decided to go with a rectangular scalloped card with hearts, instead.  My daughter loves the rainbow colored hearts, so it was an easy decision for her.

I chose to leave the backs of our cards blank so my daughter can write cute little notes on the back.  She is learning how to read and spell right now and loves to write notes to everyone.

Idea: ‘I Really Dig You’ Valentine’s Day Shovels

Combine the cuteness of Minted’s “I Really Dig You” Valentine’s cards with plastic shovels from Amazon, Dollar Tree or a party supply store and the candy of your choice for a unique V-day treat.  Wrap it all with cellophane, tie a ribbon on it and you’ve got the perfect gift.

Minted.com Kid’s Valentine’s Cards I Love

Minted has some of the cutest Valentine’s cards that I’ve ever seen.  Their cards are fully customizable and are very easy to personalize.  The average price for 25 cards is $20 and from there you can add extras like print on the back, upgraded paper, and more.
If you’re looking for upgraded Valentine’s cards this year, I recommend you browse the giant list of unique cards at Minted.com.

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10 Wedding Trends We’re Loving Right Now

This post is part of a sponsored collaboration with Minted. As always, all opinions are my own and not influenced by compensation.  This post contains my Minted affiliate links.  Clicking on them will not cost you anything, but helps me earn extra money.

Wedding trends change all the time. In the last few decades, a typical wedding has changed a lot. For one thing, they’re now a lot more expensive. That’s partly due to rising prices and partly due to our expectations. What we call a “DIY wedding” today would have been par for the course not too long ago! I enjoy seeing how weddings evolve every year, and I love some of this year’s trends.

Natural and Botanical Decor

Image: Bloominous

Things have become a bit too artificial for some couples, so they’re getting back to nature with some rustic and natural decor. Flowers are a familiar wedding sight, but now you might spot lots of greenery, neutrals and rustic wood too.

Foil-Pressed Invitations

Invitations are the wedding’s first impression. Shiny foil-pressed invites have become popular for maximum, sophisticated impact. The collection from Minted.com shows some beautiful examples of the style, which makes paper look engraved.

Chalkboards

Chalkboards give a personal touch, with something of a vintage feel. They also allow you to indulge your childish side just a little! They’re used for a range of signs, from welcoming the guests to announcing the bride.

Colored Wedding Dresses

White and ivory are no longer the only choices for a stunning wedding dress. Colored dresses are making a comeback, although most brides aren’t picking anything too outrageous. Pastels and neutrals like champagne, gray, and peach are some shades brides are loving.

Vintage Chic

Vintage-themed weddings aren’t going away anytime soon. One of the most popular practices is using antiques as props to create a vintage decor. It could be anything from a practical item, such as a table, to something more whimsical, like a bicycle.

Hashtags and Geofilters

Social media has become part of many people’s weddings. It’s a great way to share the experience, and Instagram and Snapchat are taking the lead. Custom hashtags and Snapchat geofilters, make it easier for everyone to share their photos, and add an element of fun to the event. You can buy customized geofilters from xobspoke.com.

Interactive Activities

Weddings are all about entertaining your guests (when you’re not busy getting married). To show their friends and family a good time, many couples are breaking out some fun activities. Things like dress-up photo booths or cupcake stations are interactive and can entertain for hours.

Intimate Celebrations/Destination Weddings

Weddings are expensive, and not everyone wants a huge party. By choosing a smaller guest list or perhaps a destination wedding, you can focus more on the wedding you want. And you can share it with the people who matter most.

Donating to a cause in place of buying gifts

Most couples get married after having lived together, so they no longer need things for their new home. Instead of asking for stuff they don’t need, philanthropic couples are asking for donations to charity instead.

Going All-Out for Vowel Renewals

Invitation Created on Minted.com
I recently attended a 50th wedding anniversary for some dear friends of mine.  Since they had only spent $200 on their wedding, they wanted to go all-out for their 50th wedding anniversary.  They booked a venue, had a fancy cake made, wrote their own vows to each other and danced the night away.  It was so beautiful and special.  I absolutely love the idea of doing it big for vowel renewals.

We can’t wait to see some more of these trends later this year and into next year. Maybe we’ll see some new ones start to emerge, too. Did you get married recently? We’d love to see pictures!

Planning A Party? Stress-Busting Solutions To See You Through

Are you celebrating a special occasion? Are you planning a party and hoping to impress friends and family? Organizing any event can be stressful. Thankfully, there are ways of saving time and effort and eliminating last-minute hitches. Here are some stress-busting solutions to help you plan the party of the year without any hassle at all.

Giving Guests Notice

When you decide to have a party, the first thing you usually do is draw up a guest list. Once you’ve got your list, set up a social media event or send out some invitations, but make sure you give your guests as much notice as possible.

Many people have hectic schedules. The sooner they have a date, the higher the chance they’ll make it. It’s always beneficial to specify an RSVP date. This will give you an accurate idea of numbers before you make final decisions about food. In the days leading up to the deadline, give your friends a gentle reminder if you haven’t received an RSVP from them.


Planning Ahead

It’s always a good idea to be organized when you’re planning an event. If you leave everything to the last second, life can get very stressful. Get the main obstacles out of the way first. Send out invitations and get numbers. Decide on a theme. Think about what kind of food you’re going to serve and how you’re going to decorate. If you’re booking caterers or entertainment of any kind, do this well in advance of the party.





Ordering Online

If you’re taking control of food and drink, online shopping is a godsend. You can place an order on the Internet in seconds, and it will arrive on your doorstep at a specified time. You don’t have to worry about carrying heavy bags or making time for a trip to the grocery store. If you’re catering for a large group, think about easy options. You could do a buffet, or fire up the barbecue if it’s a summer gathering. When it comes to providing drinks, it’s often cheaper and easier to buy in bulk. Can you buy alcohol online or visit a store like Costco to stock up on drinks to save time and money? I’m all about saving time and money. Make sure you take a look to your RSVPs before you order and work out how much you need. Keep track of what you’ve ordered, and create storage space for when your delivery arrives.  



Getting Help

Arranging an event single-handedly is a big job. If people offer their services or assistance, don’t turn them down. A helping hand from time to time can make all the difference. Rope in friends and family to help you set up, prepare the food, and pour drinks. Make sure you have a team of helpers to assist in the clean-up operation, too. The more hands on deck, the faster you’ll get it done.


Party planning is exciting, but it’s also hard work. If you’re hosting, plan ahead, and think about ways you can make life easier. Order food and drinks online, and make sure you give people an RSVP date. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and keep a record of what’s been ordered and paid for.

How to Choose a Party Theme

This article is part of a sponsored collaboration with Oriental Trading.  As always, all opinions are my own.






Committing to a party theme can be tricky.  You have to take into account the time of year the party will be thrown, the age of the person the party is honoring and/or the holiday you will be celebrating.  Pinterest is loaded with so many great ideas, but it can be hard to actually commit to a single theme.

My oldest just turned five in July and I threw her a little last minute ice cream-themed birthday party.   I invited a few of her favorite friends over to swim and enjoy some DIY ice cream sundaes.  We all had a blast and the party was a complete success, despite it being put together in one week.

As always, our supplies came from one of our favorite party supply stores online, Oriental Trading.  I get their catalogues in the mail and we happened to see some adorable ice cream party supplies, so we rolled with it.  Since I’ve partnered with them in the past, it was the obvious first choice this year.

Choosing the ice cream theme was a no-brainer, since I’ve already done Luau and Hawaiian pool party themes in the past.  Oriental Trading made it easy because they had their entire lineup of ice cream party supplies in one section of their website.


If you need help picking a party theme, follow these simple steps:

1.  Before you do anything, write down the person’s age, gender, time of year for the party, holidays coming up, where the party will be held and what the person is into at the moment.

2.  Stalk Pinterest for party ideas.  I have a party board which offers some great ideas, but you can also use the search bar to find even more.

3.  If you still need help decided on a theme or decor ideas, blogs are also great for ideas.  I follow some really great party planning bloggers on Instagram.  You can browse through my “following” list to take a look.

4.  Decide on a budget.  By doing more DIY projects for your party, you might be able to save a lot of money versus buying pre-made decorations.  Make sure you compare the cost of DIY projects versus store-bought decor, though.  DIY projects’ cost can add up and end up being really time consuming.

5.  If you will be buying any party supplies, choose your vendor.  Oriental Trading is an inexpensive party supply store and they really do have just about everything you’ll need.  And they carry bulk supplies!

If you are an individual that has trouble committing to a single theme, I feel you.  Try combining a couple of themes like I did with the Pool/Ice Cream Party.  Ice Cream, sunshine and swimming go together perfectly!

Supplies Used in my Ice Cream Party



Goodie Bags:


Toppings:

  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
  • Oreo Cookies
  • Gummy Bears
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Salted Peanuts
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Variety of Simple Syrups
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
  • Whipped Cream
  • Smucker’s Hot Fudge
  • Smucker’s Caramel Syrup

Decor and Tablescape:

Have you recently thrown a party?  I’d love to see pictures.  Share any social media links in the comments section.