Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Game Night

I got a call from a friend the other night to invite the kids and I over for Game Night. And when she said the game I about fell off my chair - MASTERPIECE! I loved that game as a child and haven't seen it around recently. It is an art auction game - and of course you want to end up with the most money in dollars and art at the end.

My friend had played it a lot when she was young as well and we laughed and reminisced as we played the game and compared which paintings we loved as a kid, who was our favorite character, etc. It brought back great memories, and such fun to share the game with our own kids!

Playing Masterpiece also gave me the idea to bring over a few side dishes from my childhood - my Mom's strawberry/pineapple layered jello, dill weed dip and chips, and angel food cake with butter cream icing! I had fun making them and it was fun to share memories of my childhood with friends and family. Overall - a great night! I encourage you to try it out yourself!

Take Care,

PS: Here are the recipes!

Strawberry/Pineapple Layered Jello
1 lb. Can Crushed Pineapple with Juice
2-10 oz. Sliced Frozen Strawberries - Thawed with Juice
2 Small Packages (or 1 Large Package) Strawberry Jello
1 Cup of Boiling Water
1/2 Pint of Sour Cream

Combine Jello and boiling water. Stir well. Add crushed pineapple and strawberries. Dip out half of the mixture into a large glass rectangular baking dish. Let set in refrigerator. Spread sour cream over Jello. Gently spoon remainder of Jello mixture on top.

Dill Weed Dip (Such a great change from Spinach or French Onion!)
1/2 Pint of Sour Cream
Garlic Powder
Dried Dill Weed

I feel a bit like Rachel Ray in telling you I don't measure this - just go by taste! But here is some general directions!
Mix 3 - 4 heaping TB of mayo into sour cream. (You want the 2 tastes to blend - not taste too much like sour cream or too much like mayo! The ratio is a little less mayo than sour cream) Then add 3 - 4 splashes of Worcestershire and a then a shake of garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust! Then add a lot of dill weed. You want to be able to see it in the dip and have plenty in each taste.

Angel Food Cake with Butter Cream Icing
Start with a store bought or homemade Angel Food Cake

For Butter Cream Icing:
1 Cup Butter
1 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
5 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
3 TB Milk

Blend butter with mixer until soft. Add vanilla and begin adding and beating in powdered sugar slowly. As mix gets dry, slowly add in some of the milk and continue adding powdered sugar. Blend until light and fluffy and yummy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Flower Personality

At your next Birthday or Cocktail Party, try a unique kind of Take Home Gift, that comes from your heart and expresses your true feelings for your friends. Pick out a fresh single stem flower that reminds you of each friend. And for an added personal touch, attach a little note with ribbon letting them know how much you appreciate having them in your life.

Do you have a granola, sporty friend? Give a Sunflower

An elegant, sophisticated friend? The Orchid is a match

A tried-and-true, loyal, consistent friend? The Rose

An out-going, happy friend? A bright, happy Gerbera Daisy

A friend you can share anything with? The sweet, fresh Tulip

A creative friend always full of neat ideas? The unique Iris

A complex, unique friend? The stunning Tiger Lily

A friend with a sweet, kind personality? The Hydrangea

A strong, courageous friend?
The bold, graceful Gladiolus

A unique, exotic friend? The unique, exotic Bird of Paradise

This is a Take Home Gift that your friends won't soon forget. And until you hand them out, you can have them all sitting in an elegant vase or keep boxed in a cool place with an individual water holder.

Here's Hoping all of your Parties are Filled with Special, Meaningful Touches,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hiring Extra Help for Family Parties

I'm a real kid person. And if you are planning a backyard family party this summer where kids will be attending, I can't stress enough how important it is to think ahead and plan out a few things for the kids. Taking that extra planning time will help both you as the host and your guests with kids feel a little more comfortable.

Hire Extra Hands:

If you or several of your guests have children under the age of 7, hiring a babysitter to help at the party will be the best money spent!!! This is especially true if it is your children who are still little.
Having an extra set of hands and eyes to watch over the kids is sooooo helpful. It frees you up to mingle with your guests, handle the food, refill drinks, etc.

And even if your kids are a little older and the guests have younger ones, hiring some extra party help will put everyone at ease and allow your guests to sit back and relax and have fun.
I was just talking with a friend of mine who had a wonderful summer party a few weekends ago. They have a beautiful backyard facing the mountains and a great play area for the kids with a lot of fun things to do. And while most of the children were above 9, she has a toddler and not hiring a babysitter to help at the party is the one regret she had! Of course she loves spending time with him, but it is difficult to get around to your guests when you have a toddler trying to join in the water gun fight with the 10-year-olds!

Have Kid-Friendly, Age-Appropriate Toys and Activities Available:
Setting up yard games like croquet or volleyball, filling up a wading pool and buying a selection
of water guns, renting a bouncy house, grabbing bottles of bubbles and sidewalk chalk, setting up a craft table with colored sand and containers or rocks and paint, pulling out trucks, balls and other age appropriate toys are all great options to think through ahead of time and get set-up before guests arrive!

Again - I like to be with my kids, that's why I like family entertaining. But having kid friendly activities available allows the kids to be happy and the adults to have a little adult relaxation time as well.

Happy Summer!


Fruit and Flowers

Although summer entertaining is more relaxed, you shouldn't overlook table centerpieces. And nothing is easier and more natural than combining fruit (or vegetables) and flowers to create simple, stylish centerpieces.

Using fruits and vegetables has been a "hot" trend for a while, but the concept can feel totally fresh because the variations are endless.

For this Tropical Centerpiece, I combined pineapples, coconuts and bananas with white and yellow flowers. You could easily bring in more color by adding orange, red or pink flowers or fruit as well. (For more detailed instructions see: PartyOriginals.com/Tropical Centerpiece How-To.)

The other thing I like to do with fruit is create tealight holders or vases. I've used apples and oranges here for a Holiday Party Centerpiece, but for summer you could use lemons and limes as well. (See more detailed instructions at PartyOriginals.com/Fruit Tealight How-To.)

To make a fruit vase, follow the directions for the tealights, but scoop out the hole in the fruit a little deeper so that a stem can fit down in. I like to pair gerber daisies with oranges and lemons.
It is such a happy, whimsical look.

So head to the grocery store and while you are picking up your burgers, chips and other party food, grab some fruit and a bunch of flowers and create a fun, easy, attractive centerpiece.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer Party Tips

Take time this summer to create fun, family memories. And if the economy has your budget limited, look for affordable ways to entertain in your own backyard. If you are like me, I find myself re-prioritizing how and where I am choosing to spend my "recreational budgeted" money. My kids are doing less camps and more getting together with neighborhood friends. And I am enjoying having families over for casual get-togethers more so than heading out to a restaurant.

I put together an All-American party with some of those ideas in mind. You can check it out at:

Here's a simple, fun, affordable dessert that my kids and I like to make. Hope you enjoy at your next backyard summer party:

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches
Premade and precut cookies (Whatever flavors you like - chocolate chip, sugar, peanut butter, etc. The precut version allows for all of the cookies to be exactly the same size.)

At least 2 or 3 flavors of ice cream (pick your favorite flavors that go with the cookies. IE: strawberry ice cream with sugar cookies, chocolate chip with peanut butter cookies, banana ice cream with chocolate chip cookies, etc.........!!!)

Bake cookies and let cool thoroughly. When ready to assemble, make sure ice cream is soft. Using an ice cream scoop, place 1 - 2 scoops on a cookie and then put the other cookie on and press lightly. Use a knife to clean and mold the ice cream that tries to push out around the sides.

These are best prepared a day in advance. Make sure you have enough room in your freezer for a large container (I usually store mine layered in a square plastic storage container.)

Have Fun,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Summer Blossoms

I love to take advantage of the wonderful summer flowers that grow in my yard or that I can buy from the local Farmer's Market.

And here's a fun project that takes advantage of recycling an ordinary object into something very fun. Save your cans and create whimsical flower vases. (See How-To on PartyOriginals.com)

This is so easy that it is a fun project to do with kids. They love to clip blossoms from the garden and if you help them cut the paper to fit the cans, it is easy for them to glue on. You can grab lots of fun scrapbooking papers at stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby to fit any theme you can think of!

The can vases are also great for outdoor entertaining because there is no worry of breaking a glass vase. Collect plenty of can sizes and shapes so you have them on hand all summer. They are great to display all around the patio when you are entertaining outdoors.

Have Fun!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Eco-Friendly Party Supplies

I recently attended my daughter's end-of-the-school-year party. It was a great time - the parents and kids had a "Murder Mystery Party." It also gave me the opportunity to learn a few things from some of the more "eco-friendly" moms in the group who decided that we must use biodegradable paper plates for the party.

The idea behind these products, such as the ones make by Stalkmarket, is that they are made of sugar cane fiber that is a waste product of the sugar refining process. Once you've used the plates, napkins, cups, etc., you compost them in your backyard compost.

If you decide to use these - just remember to let everyone know that you are going to collect them to compost because unfortunately the wonderful mom who was going to compost the plates was left digging through the trash to pull out all of the plates at the end of our school party! But she did it with a smile!

OK - I must admit - for right now they just come in basic white which isn't quite as fun as colors and patterns for this party girl. But, it is definitely something I will keep in mind and include in future parties. (I've added them to my Shop Section/Paper Goods on PartyOriginals.com) Of course, first I need to get a compost bin and a sign for the trash can to avoid garbage digging.

I've conquered fluorescent light bulbs and reusable grocery bags - now on to composting paper plates! It's a new (and hopefully improved) world.

Take Care, Barb