Category Archives: Party Ideas

Cinco de Mayo – Mexican Independence Day

Cinco de Mayo InvitationYou don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and you don’t have to be Mexican to throw a Cinco de Mayo party! Invite your guests for May 5th with colorful fiesta invitations and request that they dress like their inner vaquero (Mexican cowboy) or dancer.

Traditional multi-colored paper flowers are easy to make. Put them everywhere! Polish off the hanging decorations with a burro piñata from your grocery or party store, and some strands of lights. Use plenty of green, white and red for Mexican flag colors, or all the bright colors you see in a beautiful mexican serape.

Cinco de Mayo InvitationYou’ll think you’re in the heart of Mexico on Independence Day if you play an assortment of Mexican guitar music, mariachi music and some salsa. Your library should have a good selection. They may also have some instructional DVDs to teach you a few salsa dance steps you can teach to your guests during your fielta. You may be surprised who’s the best dancer!

Completes the south of the border setting with Mexican goodies: tortilla chips, queso and homemade salsa on the tables for snacking, with warm quesadillas, tacos and fajitas on the food bar. Cold Dos Equis,  a big pitcher of Margaritas or  refreshing mojitos on ice fit the bill, as do delicious Mexican wedding cookies and coffee flavored with cinnamon, vanilla or cocoa for dessert.

Enjoy these important times with close friends and family, and you will have the best of old Mexico!

Top 10 Graduation Gifts under $200

photo graduation invitationMoney Well Spent

The graduation invitations are received and the big day is coming. If you didn’t have a budget, you could get the graduate something incredible… like a car, vacation, or a new laptop. The list for their new adult life is endless. In the real world, on a budget, you may be looking for some ideas for practical gifts that will really be used and appreciated. Here are some favorites for less than $200.

1. Prepaid Cell Phone – start at about $79

Teens and young adults consider cell phones to be more than just a convenience. They are the main tool of their social life. If the mom-sponsored cell phone is ending when the graduate moves out, a great gift is a prepaid cell phone. You can get a prepaid kit, like one from T-mobile that includes a cool wireless phone, starter minutes, a battery, a charger, and a hands-free headset. You can add more starter minutes if you have a slightly larger budget.

2. Camera

There are plenty of fun times ahead, without the family camera available. Does the graduate own a decent camera? When choosing one, don’t necessarily get the first one you look at. Choose one with the longest optical zoom. (Digital zoom and 12 megapixels won’t really help you capture better photos.) Also, make sure the camera has a rechargable battery. Cameras that use AA batteries will cost the grad a fortune in batteries just to keep the camera going. Check Consumer Reports for a fast comparison. We love our Olympus and Sony cameras and recommend them often.

3. Dorm Refrigerator

If the new dorm does not provide refrigerators, which many are doing now, it is a college-life necessity. Then when you go visit the cramped and cluttered dorm room, you can have a cold drink, and your student can keep perishable snacks available.

4. Luggage

What student has decent luggage? About none. A good, sturdy suitcase will hold up for years of student excursions, weekend jaunts and trips home. If left to their budget, they may only be able to afford a cheap suitcase that will not weather many luggage handlers. Check the bag ratings. The wheels need to last!

5.  Resume Writing Service

Does your grad have goals, but trouble getting started? Great background and experience but no presentation? Or an interesting job history which needs careful translation? A professional resume writing service can provide a great start to their job search by presenting all the details in a positive, succinct and beautiful resume. Just add job leads. Check out grandresume.com

6. Soft-Sided Briefcase

If your college grad is going into business, a professional looking briefcase is necessary today. Taking work home is the norm, often with the company laptop. A quality, versatile briefcase is a nice polishing touch to their new business persona.

A versatile soft-sided briefcase makes the trip to and from work a breeze. Consider a leather messenger bag for a trendy look that will make a good impression at school.

7. iPod or MP3 Player

Kids today download the songs they want onto their MP3 player and take them everywhere. Since they travel, they also get beat up. How about a gift of a fresh new iPod to take to college?

8. A Small TV with DVD Player

A TV is a necessity to any student today, making it more appreciated as a gift. Two items any student will want for her dorm room, or first apartment, and for many years to come.

9. Clothing Gift Card

The young grad always appreciates the opportunity to get some new outfits for their new life. A gift card to their favorite clothing store ensures that they will feel good about their wardrobe in their new life: work, college or travels.

100 dollar bill
The Stand-by Gift for All Occasions

10. Money

OK. This one is obvious. Money is the one thing that works with any need, at any store. Maybe it doesn’t seem personal or caring to give cash, but it is always appreciated by the graduate. He is saving toward some big purchase… computer, tuition, car… and you can be a part of that goal.

Try These Tasty Acorn Treats at your Fall Festivities

acorn candiesLooking for a cute treat idea for fall? Offer a nutty party candy by making acorns from Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, mini Nilla Wafers and peanut butter chips. Children will love to help with this project, especially if you have an “it is okay to eat the ugly ones” policy.

To make these super cute candies, all you need is one box of mini Nilla Wafers, one bag of peanut butter chips, Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, and a tiny bit of milk. These snacks are extremely easy and fast to make! First put about two tablespoons of peanut butter chips into a bowl and melt them in the microwave. Stir the peanut butter chips to melt them. To get the right glue consistency, add a teaspoon of milk and stir it in. Add more milk if necessary until you have a white glue consistency.

When your peanut butter glue is ready , grab a Nilla Wafer, unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss, and a peanut butter chip. Dip the bottom of the kiss into the peanut butter glue. A small amount of the glue should stick to the bottom of the kiss. Then put the kiss and the flat side of the Nilla Wafer and push them together. Then do the same with the peanut butter chip, but push it to the rounded side of the Nilla Wafer (as shown in the picture). Voila! You now have an acorn! Once you have a fair amount made, loosely cover and refrigerate to protect them from melting.

The acorns are delicious! These snacks are perfect for candies at parties. Because of the small size, they make excellent snacks at school Halloween parties or a tiny treat for your kids’ lunches!

Display your acorns on a fall-colored plate or tray, or layer them over paper leaves (the kind you use to serve cheese on a tray.) Not only do they make a great impression on your table, but offer just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy a craving.

A Baby Shower for the Newest Wee Lad or Lassie

Welcome the baby-on-the-way with Irish spirit! A baby shower incorporating the colors, symbols and traditions of Ireland can not only be fun, but also build Irish-American family spirit and camaraderie. Take a look at these fun finds for an Irish theme baby shower!


shamrock brownie bites

Leprechaun Baby Hat

Irish Coffee Recipe

Irish Baby Shower Invitations

lavender cake recipe

Pumpkin Date Scones

Irish and Celtic Folk Classics

green and white tables

The first step: Irish baby shower invitations that set the scene and let your guests know all the details of the baby shower. Be sure to share helpful information like registry information, nursery theme, and if the baby is a boy, girl or a total mystery.

Next, plan some Irish into the shower with traditional Irish foods and music. This menu for an Irish Bridal shower would work just as well for a baby shower. Serve wild rice and barley stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer. Feature salmon, Irish broccoli and cheese pie (quiche), roasted mustard potatoes, Irish coffee, and Irish chocolate truffle cake for dessert. Other fun classics you could serve are scones, tea, Baileys mini brownies, and lemon lavender cake. Yum.

For Irish music, choose any contemporary or traditional Irish music. Since people will mostly chat and mingle during the shower, play your music softly to provide a pleasant Irish background. Music by the Chieftains, or perhaps a compilation of folk songs like O’Malley’s Irish and Celtic Folk Classics or this collection of Irish Classics.

Add some green to your tables, and possibly a bit of the live variety if possible! (Silk shamrocks are hard to find! If you have some, please advise!) Try one of these idea for cute Irish/green centerpieces:

  • Grow wheat grass in cute containers and stick in springs of lavender (reminds me of Ireland) or small orange flowers.. inexpensive and really charming!
  • Use green glass bottles and jars with fresh cut daisies and orange accent flowers for a light, simple countryside look.
  • Put a couple small shamrock plants on each table and add a colorful wrap around the pot. If it needs a bit of filler, try popping in a few small flowers.
  • Use bouquets of white and green flowers in simple white vases and green table covers.

Gifts for the little one are part of the fun. Take a look at these fun finds for ideas for your gift to the mom-to-be for the biggest “awwwww” response at the shower…
Irish Onesie from EtsyIrish baby hat from EtsyThe Donegal Cutest baby hat from etsyJaqui's Preemie Pride Irish Shamrock Baby Suit with VestTSBPhotoPropsDonegalHat

Accessorize Your Rock and Roll Party

Jubilee Shop Bake Rattle and Roll Cupcake KitThrowing a rock and roll theme birthday party or baby shower? This fun theme gives lots of play to musical props and edibles. You’ll want to include some of these goodies on your rock star dessert table or in with your party favors. Drum up some smiles with musical note lollipops, rock star cupcakes, guitar shaped chocolates and drum set cookies. Get some inspiration from all the wonderful ideas we found to add to our rock and roll theme party!

SweetNSmiles Note Pops

Cupcakes are workable for the amateur baker with a helpful kit like this one with wrappers and picks. More adventurous bakers can try creating fondant music notes, guitars, drums and miniature vinyl albums to decorate their cupcakes. Limit yourself to the color scheme you have chosen for your party for all your dessert table items and table items to coordinate with your decorations. Black and white with a bright color or two seems to work easily into a rock and roll look.

Party Supplies Delivered plastic microphonesNote Cutouts from Wallys Party FactoryCentury Novelty Guitar Mint Tins

Include chocolate music pops with your party favors, tied with coordinating ribbon colors. These can be found in the shapes of music notes and guitars from online favor or candy shops. For children’s favor bags, add a pack of Pop Rocks, a rock candy stick and a kazoo. Decorate colorful favor bags with black music notes for an easy tie-in.  Favors for grown-ups may include chocolate pops, dark sunglasses, and a toy microphone. The latter will likely be found in the hands of enthusiastic divas during the party.

rock and roll baby invitationmusic straw flagsFor your tables, top your table decorations with cutout black music notes and guitars. These can be used on the tables like confetti, or attached to tooth picks or longer sticks to add them to arrangements. Add some 1950’s rock-n-roll cafe fun by providing drinking straws that have been decorated with coordinated flags as well.

Gift Giving Etiquette

Every year all of us have the occasion to give someone a gift. By the very definition of the word, it’s not something that’s mandatory but a token of your affection for a person, appreciation of an occasion and is something you do from your heart. Never go into debt to keep up appearances because it’s not about what you spend but that you care. Cost should never been an excuse for not giving a gift at all. Even a small gift is better than none. Another alternative is pool your resources with another guest and combine your funds to buy a larger gift. But one rule of thumb of gift giving to remember is: “no go, no gift”. If you don’t attend a particular function you are not obligated to send a gift.

Re-gifting. Rather than to store or discard gifts that you can never use, spread the sunshine by giving them to someone who can enjoy and appreciate them. Once a gift is given to you, it belongs to you, it is yours to do with as you please. Caution: do not give the gift to someone even remotely connected to the person who originally gave it to you.

Giving cash. Cash is the usual ‘go to’ when you just can’t think of anything else. It’s a safe bet for teenagers who have very definite tastes and would like to do their own shopping and the elderly who may need the extra spending cash. It’s generally not appropriate to ask for cash as a gift for yourself. A way to make it seem more appealing to the gift giver is to specify that the cash will be used for a specific purpose. Saving to replace an old car, school tuition or a donation to your favorite charity. When the goal has been met then send a thank you note to anyone who contributed and they’ll have the good feeling of knowing they helped accomplish something real and meaningful.

Wedding gift registries. If the bride and groom are specific about wanting gifts from a particular store and from a set list of gifts try to stick to that list. If the items on that list are out of your price range, get a gift certificate from that store in an amount that you can afford and include a note saying that you hope they can use it towards the purchase of something they may not receive as a gift.

Gift cards. Back in the day it seemed impersonal and lazy to give someone a gift card. Today, gift cards are available for a never ending variety of items in-store and online. A generic gift card from a major credit card company is less personal than one chosen from a store that could provide something that the recipient would enjoy. Give it some practical thought. If giving a gift card to a specific store, consider their price points. Don’t give a $10 card for a store where they won’t be able to buy anything without adding their own funds to buy something.

Anniversary. Any anniversary is cause for celebration not matter the year. There are common gifts to give on certain years, but unless the invitation specifies ‘no gifts please’ you should bring a gift along for the couple. Many invitations will request that you do not bring gifts with a phrase like “warm greetings only” or “your presence is their present.”

Baby showers and Bridal showers. Baby showers are generally given before the baby is born to ‘shower’ the baby with necessities. Moms-to-be usually register at particular stores and it is highly suggested that you stick to what Mom requests on her registry. She knows what she needs and wants. The same holds true for a bridal shower. If the invitation specifies a particular theme, then the gift should be purchased within that theme because it follows the wishes and needs of the bride.

Retirement. Retirement parties can be given by employers or family members. Gifts can range from items that add to a hobby collection, a watch, gag gifts or travel gift certificates.

Flowers, flowers, flowers….it used to be more common than it is now, but the gift of flowers is a good old standby.

Just remember, gift giving is a way to show the celebrant of any occasion that you care for them. Don’t break the bank and give them what they want or ask for. Large or small the gift you give should be a cause for joy for both of you. You’ve given them something that shows your regard and they in turn know that you cared enough to give it.

Halloween Party Ideas for School Parties

It’s almost that time of year again to begin thinking about 25 or 30 little monsters in a room with games and sweets. Scary. Enjoy these classroom party ideas and please contribute any ideas and activities that have worked for you with the rest of us room-parents!

This year my son hits sixth grade, and probably does not want me in the classroom at all. Low key is the answer, and the party has to be a hit. But no pressure! I found ideas for all ages on this blog article page. I pulled one game from this article, which will work for all ages. I am going with a carnival theme for the games and will set up stations for the kids to rotate. They liked that last year. Here is my party recipe for 2012:

TryItMom.comtoilet paper pumpkin bowling game

 

 

  • Assign two volunteers to bring party treats (rice krispie treats and caramel apple bites will be suggested.)
  • Assign one volunteer for a gallon of apple cider, plus I will bring a pitcher for those who prefer water.
  • Assign one volunteer to bring in halloween plates, cups and napkins.
  • Ask a final volunteer, or several combined, to bring in enough small prizes for the class. Oriental Trading company type toy/gadgets. We will need about 75 for carnival game prizes. I am thinking bulk treasure chest goodies like the dentist gives out.
  • STATION 1: Prepare the ghost bowling game as pinned to Pinterest. Love this!
  • STATION 2: Prepare this witches hat ring-bag-toss game I saw on pinterest.
  • STATION 3: Charades with the clues tied into filled balloons. (Child must pop balloon to get his word. Terms are popular halloween costumes. Arrange orange balloons into a pumpkin shape on a board if you wish.)
  • STATION 4: Prepare a halloween ping pong ball toss by gluing three black plastic cups to a box so they stay upright. Give each child a turn to toss three ping pong balls into the cups. (A sharpie marker can turn orange ping pong balls into pumpkins, or white ones into eyeballs)
  • STATION 5: Snacks

Enjoy your party!

Wow! Rock Star Baby Shower

rock star baby shower
Amazing shower decorations captured beautifully by VickiLynnPhoto.com

I am so inspired by the beautiful photos of this rock star baby shower on the Hostess with the Mostess site. The colors, the photos, the decorations. They all rock.

If you are choosing to have a rock star theme baby shower (or decorating your nursery with a little rocker theme) your options for colors are completely open!

You’ll want to start with a color scheme. The orange, blue and green in this incredible example works great! For a girl, you could substitute pink for one of the colors, or just pull out the blue/turquoise to go with a unisex look. After you choose your date, location and colors, pick out some invitations. These should go out 3-4 weeks prior to the shower if possible. Be sure to include all information that will help your guests know what to expect and participate in the fun.

For those of us who are not so gifted in decorating, start with a list! This incredible shower (still lovin’ the pictures!) used the following basic elements to complete the decor:

  • Consistent color theme through table covers, decor, food, props and well, everything!
  • Colorful cloth table covers to add richness. (Does a lot more for effect than plastic.)
  • A clothesline. Included at many baby shower, the clothesline is often a gift from the hosts of the shower to the mom-to-be. Find several fun items coordinating with your theme in both color and style. The tiny clothing definitely adds the “awwww” factor. (This element can also be turned into a memory game by asking guests to write down as many items as they can remember from the clothes line after removing it.)
  • A selection of desserts. The dessert table is the new sheet cake. Offer a variety of theme-colored sweets: cupcakes, cake pops, cookies, candies. Let your beautiful desserts speak for themselves by arranging them on the table with props and cake stands so you can see them all from the front.
  • Visually coordinate the decor with ribbon, tags, or labels to create a uniform look. This shower used the name, and initial throughout and it works very well.
  • Go for height. Use theme props, gift-wrapped boxes, wall decor and hanging decorations to create a look from floor to ceiling. The big Martha Stewart paper puff balls that are in stores are an easy add for the top layer.
  • Labels for drinks and desserts, name tags, place cards, party favors, signs and centerpieces and are easy ways to add color to your overall look and pull the theme across the room.
  • People love pictures! A recent photo of the parents-t0-be and pictures of them as babies are always a hit. Use a frame in your theme colors, of course!
  • For a rock and roll theme, pull out any of these that you can get your hands on to add to the decor: Vintage rock album covers and posters, musical instruments, vinyl records, concert Ts, concert tickets.
  • Add rock and roll ballads and lullabies as background music at the shower.

Rock on!

Hosting a Wine Tasting

 

wine tasting invitation
Add a wine tasting to any special event where friends and family gather!

If you simply enjoy wine, or are a bona fide wine expert, hosting a wine tasting is a great opportunity to have some fun with friends while trying some new vintages. Planning is simple! Invite a few good friends, select a few varieties to sample, and your party is off and running.

Pair a wine tasting with a family dinner, or add a champagne tasting to your parents gold anniversary dinner. Wine works with all occasions! If you would like to add a sense of competition to the party, try dividing your guests into male and female groups and see which one does better in a blind tasting.

First decide what you want to taste. You could sample different varieties from a specific region, regional varieties from one type of grape, or simply wines that have the same color. Grocery stores now carry wines from around the world, but you may want to visit a wine store if you have any specific questions. Be adventuresome and select a wine you wouldn’t normally buy. Even blind tasting can be interesting. Cover all labels and price stickers before your guests arrive and test to see who has the best palate for knowing what wine comes from where or what the most expensive ones are just from taste and aroma. Be ready for some surprises! The best finds are the $10 bottles that drink like $20 vintages.

It’s not necessary for you to buy all the wine yourself. Send out the invitations and include whatever theme there may be and encourage your guests to contribute a favorite of their own.Let your guests know what you’re planning to serve to eat so they can select wines to pair with the meal. If taste testing from a specific region you can serve dishes that country is best known for. If you are not serving a meal, offer cheese samples from the wine region with crackers and fresh fruit.

Aside from having wine glasses for each guest, you will need to offer some light food to clear the palete between wines. Rinse the glasses between varieties. Offer some paper and pens for guests to rate and comment on the wine. If you wish to have a blind taste test, be sure to cover the labels before the guests arrive.

wine tasting cardAvoid having strongly scented flowers or candles near your tasting area. The strong fragrances will make it much harder to enjoy the bouquet of the wines. If not already well versed, learn a few wine basics before the tasting. This will help you to encourage discussion of the various aspects of each vintage: bouquet (smell), texture, color, mouth feel, acidity, and of course flavor. Savoring the wine from different aspects increases the enjoyment of the experience. A favorite book, Great Wine Made Simple by Andrea Immer, can give you the basics.

After the party you could send out an email that includes a list of the wines served and where they were purchased so that guests can buy a bottle of their own.

Vow Renewal Ceremony Ideas

Photo by Mary R. Vogt

While on vacation, we visited a Polynesian cultural center and learned about traditional Fiji weddings. The customs were complex, but the vows were very simple…the bride and groom promise to never leave one another. That’s it. Wedding vows, from a celtic hand-fasting to an lengthy wedding mass, are essentially saying the same thing. I promise to stay with you.

Recently we printed a vow renewal invitation for customers who chose to publicly renew their vows since they chose a simple civil ceremony years ago. This time they chose a church ceremony to stand up in front of their child, parents, friends and family and repeat their vows. It was a special gift to the bride from the groom to have the ceremony they had wanted. A celebration of love and family followed.

Your plans may include any traditions and ceremonies you wish, and special symbolism and messages unique to your relationship. After years together, this set of vows celebrates your history as a couple, the support and love you have shared and the future together.

Attire for your vow renewal ceremony can be as formal and public as you wish. Your vow renewal could be a private rite… just the two of you holding hands and stating your vows to each other on the beach. A small casual event may include a garden or chapel ceremony officiated by a family member or friend, followed by a luncheon gathering. A formal event may include a larger church service, formal attire, a photographer and a dinner dance. Unlike the traditional first marriage which often caters to the needs of the extended family, the canvas is blank. This event is yours to make it exactly as you wish.

Some ideas to include your history and personalities in your ceremony:

  • Write personal messages to each other that include a description of how you have grown together as a couple. These can be included within the vows or used for a toast during the celebration.
  • Include a thank you to the people who mentored or supported your marriage.
  • If you are having a vacation vow renewal, consider some of the local wedding customs to add meaning and color to your service.
  • Incorporate some cultural traditions your ancestors used to celebrate marriages, like a traditional folk dance, costume or music.
  • Make a ceremony of presenting your parents, or other relatives or friends, with a gift in thanks for their support of your marriage.
  • At the start of your ceremony, light a candle for each of your parents, or have your children light them.
  • During the exchange of vows, invite other couples to stand and repeat their vows to each other as well.
  • For the relatives just beginning their adult life, share short stories of how you weathered the good times and the bad, or a brief list of “why I would marry you all over again.”

If you are planning a vow renewal, perhaps to coincide with a milestone wedding anniversary, you may want to read our vow renewal planning article.