Christmas Sock Parties!

Now that we are starting to mingle with friends again (thanks to the amazing people that develop vaccines!) here is an innovative party idea. Similar to an ugly Christmas sweater party, may I present (drumroll please) the Christmas sock party!

Merry Christmas and ‘Fleece’ Navidad! Yes indeed, sweaters are out, and socks are in. I LOVE Christmas socks! Fluffy ones, patterned ones, ones with pom-poms on them, ones with jingle bells, ones with funny faces. So let’s get Sockin’ around the Christmas Tree!

There are three concepts you can go with, when planning your Christmas Sock Party.

1) Similar to a Cookie Exchange Party – Everyone brings a couple pair of socks and each person is able to go home with some new socks picked from the table filled with Socks, Socks, Socks, Socks!

2) Similar to an Ugly Sweater Party – Guests come in wearing the most outrageous socks they can find and there is a contest and a prize for the best socks. You can designate sock categories for additional prizes (IE Most Comfy, Most Tacky, Most Festive, etc.)

3) Similar to a Gift Exchange Party (Secret Santa) – Your friends bring a pair of socks filled with a small gift. The socks are picked by each person per their number drawn from a hat. As they select a pair, they reveal the gift. The next person can choose a new pair or steal from a previous recipient.

Whichever plan you pick, incorporate some games for the night. Here are some ideas…

1) DESIGN A SOCK – Have crayons, markers and paper available for the guests. Set a timer and see who can design the best sock!

2) MATCH THE PAIR – Gather a basket of unfolded socks (they don’t have to be Christmas socks, in fact similar color and patterned socks make this more challenging – also make sure you throw in some unmatched socks) Have guests get into partners. Set a timer and see how many pairs of socks they can match.

3) SOCK STUFF – You will need old socks, a spoon and sand (cheap cat litter will do). Allow each person 60 seconds to fill a sock up with as much sand as they can. The heaviest will win a prize.

4) SOCK THROW – This game needs to be played outside. Fill a thick sock with coins and tie off. Give each guest a try at throwing the sock. The person who throws it the farthest wins!

You must have food that matches your theme, right? A Christmas cookie cutout can come to your rescue. You can make sugar cookies or pizza dough (for individual pizzas) into a sock shape. How about Fruit by the Foot (get it, ha-ha) or arrange a vege tray to look like a Christmas sock. You can find plastic cowboy or santa boot cups (looks close enough to a sock for me!) and fill them with popcorn, peanuts, Christmas colored M & M’s, Caramel Corn or any smaller sized treats.

When it comes to decorations, you will need to get creative. I have seen little commercially made, other than Christmas Stockings. Grab some twine or ribbon and make a garland with paper sock cutouts along and Christmas tree cutouts. You can also make garlands by incorporating Christmas sock components, like puffs balls, jingle bells, ribbon bows, Christmas plush animals, reindeer ears and Santa hats. You can attach the items to a colorful string of lights for even more fun. Make a large sock from poster board or brown paper wrap to hang on the front door, welcoming guests to your Christmas Sock Hop!

And speaking of Sock Hop, it brings to mind theme music. Maybe a 50’s theme playlist will be prefect for your party. If that is just too much for your ears to handle, pick Christmas music that suits you. Whatever you do, have fun and have a Wonderful Holiday! I thank you for a year of following my blog. It has been a tough one for all of us!

Why Not Balloons for the Wedding???

When we were kids, balloons were a sign of a party. Balloons were a big part of a multitude of occasions:  birthday celebrations, pep rallies, school dances, fund raisers and more! Now that we’re all grown up, why aren’t they a thing for weddings (aka, the single greatest party of our life?) Well, they are to all those “Cool” now-adult kids! It’s time for more people to embrace wedding balloons.

The option of balloons for weddings makes a huge statement without breaking the bank. If you chose a floral piece the same size, you would look at a much higher price tag. Balloons are more unique than flowers and few weddings use them for décor. You can get elaborate with balloons or keep it simple. Either way, there is no limit to creative ways to use these latex lovelies. Here are a few examples.

1) WEDDING PORTRAITS

Take your portraits to the next level by posing with a celebratory cluster of balloons. The bride can carry a train of air-filled balloons or the couple can pose with helium-filled balloons. Extra-large balloons can make a tremendous impact. You can customize the colors to your wedding theme or use standard white balloons. Foil balloons in shapes will add another dimension to the display. Hearts, doves, or the word LOVE will give you some memorable photo opportunities.

2) WEDDING PARTY

Get the flower girls into the action. Instead of carrying baskets of petals, send your flower girls down the aisle holding a couple of big, tasseled balloons in your wedding colors. You can also forgo the traditional ring bearer pillow with an enormous balloon too. This whimsical gesture will definitely tug at your guests’ heartstrings and make for exceptional photos.

Include balloons for the wedding party too. If they are as big a kid as you are, they will welcome the chance to clown around with balloons!

3) WEDDING DÉCOR

Using balloons in the chapel or outdoor area where the nuptials will take place can be a pleasant surprise for your guests. Consider using oversized balloons down the aisles or create archways for the wedding couple to walk under. You can use basic white or add some of your wedding colors into the pallet. If the reception is at a different location, have your wedding party or the balloon company you hired repurpose the balloons in the hall.

4) RECEPTION DÉCOR

There are many ways you can decorate at the reception. Use balloon garlands for the table runners or centerpieces. Creating them with an assortment of balloon sizes and adding greenery makes for a conversation-starting accent that won’t go unnoticed. If it is a summer wedding and a pool is part of the landscape, levitate balloons in the pool. You can add floating candles or lights in the balloons for an interesting effect.

,Consider varied types of balloon arches over important wedding tables. Use them for dessert tables, wedding couple photo tables, gift tables, cocktail tables and/or a DJ table. Make them in your wedding colors and add foliage for an ethereal touch. You can also incorporate lighted balloons at sign-in or other important tables so they can be seen easily.

Adorn the reception table or sweetheart table with oversized white balloons. You can hide the ribbons by using fishing line (monofilament line) wrapped in floral or leaf garland.

5) GRAND EXIT AND BEYOND

They have banned so many exit treatments in most locations. Balloons can be a welcome alternative. We are not talking about a release here, for that is not so good for the environment either. It is easy to instruct your guests to take the balloons home with them. The kids will be thrilled, and the look of a large group of people holding and waving balloons around is exciting. Now, what about the honeymoon suite? Decorate the room with a sea of helium balloons to finish your balloon dream journey. If you have the balloons treated with hi-float, they will last for days. You will even be able to gift the hotel staff with a bundle on your way home.

Balloons are a festive and affordable way to decorate a wedding. Whether it’s with a grand archway or fabulous table centerpieces, we can use balloons in a multitude of ways to create sophisticated, stunning décor for your big day. Call me for free quotes and ideas. Thanks for reading!

Have a Holiday “Staycation”

With continued stay-at-home orders we need to learn other ways to enjoy our lives. With the kids getting a winter break and the holidays fast approaching how about planning a vacation at home – a “Staycation”!

A staycation can be rewarding plus less stressful and more affordable. Most importantly, commit to unplugging. If you act like you’re not on vacation by answering work calls and emails or being as in-touch with neighbors and friends as you usually are, it won’t feel like much of a staycation at all. Make sure everyone knows that you’re taking a little trip by putting your staycation on your calendar, telling friends and coworkers you need some time away, and resisting the urge to respond to every message. That task accomplished, let the staycationing begin.

Studies show that simply looking at beautiful travel photos releases oxytocin in the brain, helping you feel calm, focused and energized. It’s a mini vacation for your brain. So, choose some places that celebrate the Holidays and download photos and the information about the location to share with your family. Here are some suggestions…..

1) Nestled in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a Bavarian village in Helen, Georgia. You can visit their market, winery or take a ride in a horse-drawn hayride and enjoy the history of the town. https://www.helenga.org/

2) In the Santa Ynez Mountains outside of Santa Barbara, this tiny Danish village celebrates Christmas with ample cheer during its annual “Julefest” in Solvang, California https://www.solvangusa.com/things-to-do/solvang-julefest/

3) This New England town in Woodstock, Vermont, has many charming historic homes that are elaborately decorated every year. The annual “Wassail Weekend” has a variety of events. https://www.woodstockvt.com/events/wassail-2020

4) Leavenworth, Washington, is a small Bavarian style town tucked away in the Cascade Mountains. Along with the thousands of lights, carolers, hand-bell ringers and marching bands they have an annual Christkindlemarkt for handmade gifts and steaming cups of spiced wine or hot cocoa. https://christkindlmarktleavenworth.com/

5) Over 6.5 million lights sparkle in Branson, Missouri every festive season. This town does Christmas proud with 100 Christmas trees, Rudolph’s parade, a petting zoo and more! https://bransonchristmas.info/branson-christmas-activities-attractions/

These are just a few places to explore. See more at this website! https://www.oprahmag.com/life/g28616974/best-christmas-towns-villages/ You can make a slide show and play on your computer or a large monitor.

When planning your staycation locations, research the food available at each place. Bring home some of the taste of the areas for your family to try. With all the restaurants able to deliver now, have your meals brought to you and spend the time you would be cooking, playing games or watching holiday movies with your family. Make your own Mulled Apple Cider in a slower cooker. You can leave it on all day and indulge whenever you want. The recipe is simple. Pour 2 quarts of apple cider into your slow cooker. Add ½ cup brown sugar, stir. Place 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp whole cloves and 1 tsp whole allspice in a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with a string to form a bag. Drop the bag into the cider. Slice one orange and place in cooker. Turn on low setting.

A fun idea is to create a cookie-decorating party! Purchase or make undecorated sugar cookies. Lay out bowls of decorating sugars and toppings along with icing. Decorate your party area with balloon garlands and streamers. You can purchase balloon garland kits here https://www.etsy.com/listing/788159019/custom-balloon-garland-kit-pick-your Gather the family around the table and get creative! Do some nibbling while you are at it. Stream your favorite Holiday music while you work.

At the end of the day gather everyone around the fire, cuddle up in warm blankets and read Christmas/Holiday stories. Search the internet for online stories along with books you may have purchased. Few months present the multicultural “teachable moments” that December does! The following multicultural events and celebrations are among those that will happen this year:

Saint Nicholas Day (Christian), Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican), St. Lucia Day (Swedish), Hanukkah (Jewish), Christmas Day (Christian), Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian), Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish), Kwanzaa (African American), Omisoka (Japanese), Yule (Pagan), Saturnalia (Pagan)

Get the family to research these celebrations and share what they learned. Whatever you plan be blessed and safe! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!

Make a Gratitude Tree

Well, I’m guilty. Along with many others I’ve been pretty depressed the last few months. I haven’t had the energy to post since August. I’m sorry for that but I’m also forgiving myself too. Reflecting on everything that has happened to the world over the last 9 months is heart wrenching. It’s easy to descend into the hopelessness this pandemic has caused.  

I’m an advocate for self-care. I wear my mask, wash my hands, stay at home and pray. But today I got up and said I’m thankful too! Thankful to be healthy, thankful to have the money to pay my bills and thankful that there is a light shining for all of us. I decided to make a Gratitude Tree for my little family this Thanksgiving. Even in the darkness there are things to be thankful for, I want to write them down!

The concept is pretty simple. Get a bunch of branches, tie or tape them together to create a tree. I’ve seen some people use plaster in a pot, some just use newspaper or florist foam. Whatever you conjure up will probably be awesome! Make some leaves (or any shape you like) to write on from construction paper, punch a hole in the top so you can hang them on your tree with ribbon or twine.

Encourage your family to fill out and hang messages the entire week before Thanksgiving. Then you can have someone read them at the dinner table while you dig into that scrumptious Turkey or Ham! I believe this exercise will bring new hope to everyone. Remembering our blessings is a good thing during times like these.

I trust you all have a good Holiday, God Bless you!

Covid-19 Indoor Camping Trip

Your summer plans are likely in a bit of disarray due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be rethinking plans to send your children to summer camp or your camps may be cancelled altogether. No need to worry! Check out these great ideas for an “Indoor Camping Trip”!

The first part of this adventure is to set up a tent. Move large pieces of furniture out of the way so you have a nice sized area to create your campsite. If you don’t have a real tent you can use sheets or blankets to make a canopy. You can get some great instruction for constructing temporary tents here https://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Indoor-Tent  If you have sleeping bags put them under the tent. Or you can pile up pillows and blankets. Anything comfortable.

Bonfires aren’t very transferable to indoor camping parties (unless you don’t mind burning your house down) but this is a really easy way to make a safe, indoor campfire using some old toilet paper rolls. Paint the tubes different shades of brown. You can make them look like wood with light colored stripes.  Arrange them like a camp fire and tuck in some red, yellow and orange tissue paper. You can use some tissue shred as well. Cut red and yellow shiny card stock for flames. Pop a few LED candles in the middle. LED candles are battery powered and much, much safer than a real flame and won’t cause a fire if they’re knocked over. They shine pretty brightly too so you could create a bit of atmosphere by turning off the lights and eating in the light of your fake bonfire!

Stringing mini Christmas lights around the area can mimic a starry night sky. If you have some camp chairs bring them down from the attic and place them around the campfire. If your kids have large stuffed animals bring them to the party too. Place the creatures around the area to be your forest friends. Look for a CD of nature sounds and play that in the background. They can be found online or at Barnes & Noble. Also check a used book store. Grab a bunch of small flashlights for everyone to have. They will be great tools for storytelling and games. Stock up on some glow necklaces and bracelets for fun in the dark.

Now it is time to stock up on tasty camping food! An indoor camping party means you can really go to town on themed food! Think about all the things you’d eat if you were going on a real camping trip and simply recreate them! Here are a few ideas to get you started: Hot dogs or burgers. Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly is my favorite!), one pot meals like stew or mac and cheese or any finger type food and/or trail mixes. And it wouldn’t be a real camping experience without Smores! You can easily make indoor smores and they literally take about 30 seconds and are so yummy!  You can use standard ingredients, add peanut butter, use Nutella, or substitute a chocolate bar of your choice. Cut the graham cracker in half and add a big marshmallow on top- pop in micro for 15 seconds.  Add your chocolate bar of choice and micro for 5-10 more seconds. Top with the other half of the graham cracker and voila! One little slice of heaven on a plate. Don’t forget breakfast treats the next morning. Pancakes and bacon – Yumm!

Hopefully you can convince your kids that you can have fun without the internet. Make a rule – NO PHONES – for this camping trip. Sit around your faux bonfire and sing camp songs. You can find the lyrics and guitar chords to some of the classics here https://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/camp-songs.html#.XvT8IyhKjIU If you are unsure of the melody check on YouTube beforehand. Make sure you print out the lyrics so no one is staring at a cell phone screen.

Play cards games. My favorite game to play on our yearly camping trip was Cribbage but if the kids are to young for this game there is always Uno, Fish or Old Maid. An unusual card game that the kids will adore is “Blind Man’s Bluff”. The standard version is simply high card wins. Each player is dealt one card from a standard deck and they display it to all other players (traditionally stuck to the forehead facing outwards- supposedly like an Indian feather). This is followed by a round of betting. Players attempt to guess if they have the highest card based on the distribution of visible cards and how other players are betting. Not to get cash involved, bet with jelly beans or candy bars. Art and craft projects are always fun and keep kids entertained. Rock painting has become very popular and people love leaving them in public places for others to find. Set up a craft table and find smooth river rocks. Have paint supplies handy for the rocks and maybe some other projects like popsicle stick frames and tin can pencil holders.

Next, I remember so well how scary stories around the campfire was the highlight of the night! A good resource for some of the most memorable stories is here https://www.bustle.com/articles/191893-10-spooky-campfire-stories-to-tell-your-friends-in-the-dark. Again, print them out so you keep the no phone rule. Reading a book to the group is another way to enjoy your campout. Chose some kid friendly books like Don’t Feed the Bear by Kathleen Doherty, Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt or Mouse Scouts: Campout by Sarah Dillard. Maybe you can have an older child read to the little ones.

Now that you know how, lets get to camping! Stay safe and wash your hands!

Covid-19 Event & Party Guide

Covid-19 Party Collage

It’s graduation season, wedding season – and Father’s Day is coming up. And birthdays keep coming—last week I supplied balloons for a birthday “parade”. They all drove past the kid’s house honking their horns. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled… actually they probably were. Anything to break up the monotony.

You can still have that bachelorette party – and all your other events, and they don’t have to be boring. You are your biggest hurdle – think creatively! Try to think about ways people can still have fun at a social distance. And put in place some important safety measures. Here are some ideas.

I would first start by not thinking of it as a pandemic celebration – that feels so anti-celebratory! You’re creating a celebration, a gathering, or an event that happens to be during our “temporary new normal”.

In-person events are going to be a challenge, but can be achieved. As the host I know you have the right intentions, but haven’t been prepared for the attendees’ mindset around coming together in person. You need to realize that the attendance may be much lower than you anticipate, because your guests might not be prepared to gather in person, after being separated for so long. Lack of attendance is not a personal reflection on you, just a normal human reaction. Perhaps you should consider a hybrid event between live and streaming?

Keeping guests down to a smaller group is the first thing that must be followed. When setting up tables and chairs for your friends and family lessen the settings per table. A 60” round table or an 8ft. banquet table usually seats 8 people per. Spread the chairs apart to seat a maximum of 4 to 6. If you want to place 8 chairs at a table, fill a few seats with large stuffed animal friends to bring some joy to the process. If placing only chairs around the party area make sure they are 4ft to 6ft apart. If someone wants to get closer it is on them to move. You have done your due diligence. Make sure all the tables and chairs have been sanitized properly before guests arrive. Rigorous cleaning of the other areas of your home or venue should be done too. Wipe down with appropriate disinfectant agents. Remember door knobs, hand rails, bathrooms and counters. When setting your tables supply hand sanitizer on each table and perhaps some baby wipes.

For the health of yourself and your attendees conduct temperature screenings as they arrive. You can purchase a no touch forehead thermal thermometer for around $30. Individuals with temperatures higher than 100 F should be gently asked to leave. Make face masks available for everyone, if they feel unwell. Implement a “No Hand-Shake” policy at your party. Use fist bumps, “ebola” elbow bumps, virtual hugs, air waves and hellos, and other mechanisms to replace the handshake during the crisis. You can supply people with small pom-poms for hello waves. Wash all hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after any eating, blowing of the nose, coughing, sneezing, and using the bathroom.

Safety measures for food preparation can be difficult. It is suggested if you have a buffet setting that you need to have splash guards and sneeze guards. Since this isn’t something readily available in a home environment you might think about getting individual box lunches/meals delivered or pick them up. You can do this on your own by wrapping sandwiches and placing salads in inexpensive plastic containers. Cookies and other snacks can be purchased in individually wrapped packages. You can also buy individually wrapped plastic cutlery at Walmart or a restaurant supply. Drinks can be served by the can or bottle. Make sure you place hand sanitation devises near the meal station. Some folks may not have been able to get into the bathroom to wash their hands. Just try to be on the safe side.

Setting up an area to carry on a Virtual Party for the people who could not attend will help include everyone. The right chat platform will be different for different groups. I like Zoom because it’s user friendly and it’s easy to send invitations to anyone. The drawback to Zoom, though, is that the free version will only allow for a 40-minute group meeting. Google Hangouts, Facebook, and Skype are all viable options, and there are many more. Choose whichever platform your family and friends are most familiar with or like best. Be sure to give your virtual people instruction on how to use the service you choose, especially the older folks.

Designate one of the younger “geekyer” family members to monitor the Virtual station. They can give the networked guests a blow by blow description of what is going on. They can guide everyone at your event to make sure they stop and visit the electronic invitees. Decorate the Virtual area with balloons and streamers to make it stand out. You can also hook up to a flat screen television to make a bigger impact.

I trust these ideas will help you begin to get back to a place where we can all be together again! “And Party!”

Coronavirus Drive-by Parties & More

Because of the recent orders for Social Distancing we have had to come up with innovative ideas to keep peoples spirits up for Birthdays, Anniversaries and quite possible the upcoming Graduations. All over the county, birthdays for young and old are being celebrated instead with drive-by caravans/parades of honking, decorated cars. From 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds caravans tickle the fancy of the birthday people!

Balloons are a great way to mark the location of the guest of honor along with decorating the vehicles. Large foil numbers can be used for the age or letters can spell out a name. Tie clusters of latex balloons to mirrors, luggage racks or bumpers. Make large bows or puff balls (check our blog for directions on how to make your own!) and tie to door handles and front grills. Custom make signs on poster board and attach to the side of the auto.  Some people may hand gifts out the windows but a safer way is to give gifts virtually. Wish list can be set up on Amazon. Email details to friends and family. If you know anyone who can bring a fire truck or police car by, go for it. Make sure they honk the horn and have lights flashing!

It looks like Graduations this year will be impacted by the Stay-at-Home orders too. Along with the cancellation of Senior Grad Nights and Commencement Ceremonies the Class of 2020 will have a lot to remember; NO OTHER class will have this Pandemic in their memory books. Celebrate at home with a meeting online with family and friends via Zoom. Be sure to decorate the area with balloons, banners and streamers so the graduate has a great background to show everyone. If you have a drive-by event guests can use large 2020 foil numbers to decorate the vehicle along with balloons, banners and bows in school colors. Decorate your yard with 2020 Graduation decorations. Place photos of the graduate on stakes showing them through the years. Your drive-by visitors will enjoy this! You can find a Drive-by Graduation Invitation here https://tidylady.net/collections/drive-by-birthday-parade-invitations/products/drive-by-graduation-parade-invitation-779801514

Whatever you do stay safe and alive. God Bless us all! If you need balloons we are here to be of help. Out of the Denton area? Call me I can ship anywhere!

 

 

 

Spring Equinox Celebration

Spring Equinox Party

The spring equinox, or Ostara, is also called the vernal equinox and has long been celebrated as a time of renewal, rebirth, and new beginnings. The exact date and time of the spring vernal equinox changes slightly each year and marks the first astronomical day of spring in the Gregorian calendar. The word equinox is derived from Latin. It means “equal night.” On the day that the sun passes over the equator, the length of day and night are said to be approximately equal. This means that there will be approximately 12 daylight hours and 12 hours of darkness on both the spring vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox.

The spring equinox is an awesome reason to celebrate with friends and family. Try getting everyone together (aside from Easter) to enjoy the change of season. Celebrating outside is the optimum way to enjoy Spring. But, since next week the forecast is rain, you can bring the festivities inside or under a covered patio. You can plan on a day party or late afternoon into evening party. If it is clear enough it is fun to have the party flow into the evening to view the night sky and stars. You can have a constellation naming contest. If weather permits consider a bonfire. It is always fun to sit around the fire and tell stories, sing or make smores.

Since you are celebrating the beginning of the Spring Season make sure you display lots of jars or vases of flowers from your local Florist or Grocer. You can decorate walls with cutout flowers and birds. Make them yourself or buy pre-made cutouts from a party store. Balloons in beautiful spring colors can be tied to chairs or bundled and weighted down around the party area. Decorate a Spring Nature table. These tables are used for placing natural items that reflect the season. It is meant to be explored and used as a nature study. Ask your guests to bring something to add to the display. Allow them to share the story behind the items they give. The benefit of hosting this party is that you can keep the nature table intact. If you have children you can study the table and the children can add things they discover outside. Playing with nature tables provides a rich sensory experience for the developing child. See more about nature tables here https://rhythmsofplay.com/spring-nature-table/

Serve fresh food reminiscent of Springs bounty. Fresh fruit skewers made of strawberries, kiwi, pineapple and grapes. Green salad with lots of cut cucumbers, shaved asparagus. Radishes, cherry tomatoes and the like.  Deviled eggs and local fresh baked breads. Fire up the grill – even if it a little chilly outside and make up grilled chicken and vegetables. End the evening with fun delicious macarons decorated like chicks. Here is a great video on how to make them! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7j9jCuHzvw

Since the spring equinox celebrates a time new beginnings a fun activity is to have everyone make a list of new things they want to do. Share them with each other. You might find other people that would like to share the same experience with you. Or you might find someone that can help you achieve the new skill. An example is that you want to learn the piano and someone in the group knows how to play and would love to help you with that dream. Another activity, if you are so inclined (for the mess it makes!), would be for everyone to get their fingers in paint and get creative. Children and adults alike will enjoy this. Set up a table with plenty of paper or canvases, finger paints, paper towels and paper plates to use as palettes.  Make sure you cover the table with newspaper or a plastic table cover. Let your guests make paintings of all things related to spring. You can find a ton of ideas here https://rhythmsofplay.com/the-best-fingerprint-and-thumbprint-art-ideas-for-kids/  Finally send home all your party goers with a small flower, vegetable or herb plant that they can plant themselves. Make sure you print out some simple instructions in case the little pot goes home with a novice farmer.

Happy Spring!

 

Plan a Game Night Party

There really isn’t anything more fun than introducing your kids to classic games that you loved when you were a child or getting together your adult friends to indulge in your guilty pleasure!  I don’t know about you but a classic game of Monopoly, Scrabble. Twister, Parcheesi, Candyland or Sorry are more fun and engaging than everyone sitting on the couch focused on their phones, not communicating and self-absorbed.  Who knows, planning a game night with friends and/or family might start a trend of talking and laughing with each other regularly! Here are some ideas to get you started on this new adventure!

Greet your guests with a fun “Move ahead 12 Spaces” sign, laying down directional squares (like a game board) made from colored napkins or construction paper, and brightly colored balloons. As your friends enter the party area, make sure your food table hits them in the face with the fun theme. Make a backdrop from air filled round foil balloons in different colors. Tape them together to resemble a twister game mat. Attach to your wall with Command strips. If you don’t have the budget for balloons use colored paper plates.  Pile up games as risers for glass containers or bowls filled with brightly colored candy. Wrap water bottles with candy dots; add a homemade Monopoly inspired “Water Works” sign. If you are serving sparkling drinks serve them in candy rimmed glasses. To do this dip the rim of each wineglass in melted white chocolate and then press into a saucer filled with confetti sprinkles. Use scrabble tile food signs next to your food’s trays. Serve simple foods that can be taken to game tables and eaten casually during the evening or day (based on the timeline of your event).  Popcorn is an awesome choice, make Domino inspired popcorn bags using white bags and colored card stock. You can find instructions here https://www.hwtm.com/2015/12/game-on-5-easy-creative-ideas-for-game-night/ Make crispy treats, cookies or a cake and decorate with M & M’s. The bright colors and circle design mimic so many board games. Some other heartier food items that tend to be mess free are Miniature Corn Dogs, Miniature Pizza’s, Hero Sandwiches, Taco Dip and Chips, Cheese and Crackers, Pigs in a Blanket or Chicken Fingers.

Making decorations for your game theme party may need a trip to a thrift store. You can make garlands from Uno Cards or Monopoly money. So, not to steal from the game you are using to play with, take a trip to a second hand store and buy up any games you can find to tear apart and use for decorations! Tape game cards on helium balloon ribbons, hang from the ceiling and use as place cards or invitations! Use Poker Chips or gold Coins to scatter on tables like confetti. Fill flower vases with poker chips and place flower stems inside. Wrap paper cups and cutlery packages with playing cards. You can hang game boards from the wall behind game tables or beverage stations.

Create several game stations. Set up games in various corners of the room. Using 3ft or 4ft card tables and chairs (4 at each table) is a perfect setup. If you don’t own these, consider renting them. Divide guests into groups of 4 and let them start a game circle. Set a timer for a specific time (15-30 minutes) and let the fun begin. When the timer rings, guests move to the next station noting who was the winner at each station. After everyone has played all the tables the best 4 people will have a playoff. The champ gets a prize, like a special edition of Monopoly.

Everyone walks away a winner when you reveal the biggest surprise of the party: secret prizes hidden behind the balloons (or paper plates) at the buffet! As you setup your twister backdrop, tape scratch off lottery tickets on the back of each balloon or plate. Then at the end of the party ask each guest to pick one for their prize!

I hope you try this fun party and find you have created new bonds with friends and family! My family always plays board games on holidays but after writing this blog post I think we need to get together more often! God bless!

Communal Dinner Party

Communal Dinner Party

Communes were plentiful in the 1960’s & 1970’s. Communities of people sharing everything and living off the land were pipe dreams of peace, brotherly love, harmony, blah, blah, blah. Today there are a few left but the disillusionment of communal living started when the “Laid back attitude” translated to “they have absolutely no ambition”! However, the idea of sharing a meal with friends and/or family is still an attractive and heartwarming experience. So, this dinner party is taking the best of the communes of old and spinning them into a fun and relaxed night with people you love!

It’s a peaceful, easy feeling at your table. We can even imagine someone’s legs thrown over the corner of the table. The menu here is very simple. Just like it was in communes. Soups, Salad and lots of home baked bread. If you don’t have all day to simmer a variety of soups, pick them up at a deli or look for some hearty frozen soups. Soups like Navy Bean & Ham Soup, Potato or Broccoli Cheddar, Cream of Chicken, Barley Vegetable and Clam Chowder are perfect. Toss a salad with plenty of greens and place out a homemade vinaigrette dressing. Have baskets of fresh bread, breadsticks and croutons to accompany the yummy delights. For dessert bake up some Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip Cookies. For communal type libations have pitchers of Sangria, Ice Water with Lemons and an assortment of teas. Serve in big mugs or mason jars.

The Décor will be down to earth too! Bring in greens and flowers from the garden or purchase at your local grocers’ floral shop. Set out votive candles with an assortment of different sized candles along the tables. Hang string lights around the party area. As hostess, put on a peasant dress if you have one or look for a similar type of loose-fitting garment from the thrift shop.

For background music you have to choose a mellow blend of tunes. Look up some New Age artist like Kitaro, Enya, Yanni, Secret Garden, David Lanz, Jim Brickman, Shadowfax or Suzanne Ciani; which are among my favorites. If you prefer to tap into the 60’s vibe choose anything by Peter, Paul & Mary, Donovan, The Association or Crosby, Stills & Nash. If one of your friends plays and instrument invite them to serenade the group.

This party is mainly to have friends share a meal. But if you want to add an activity or two that will incorporate a bit of “how well do you know each other?” here is a couple of suggestions.

  • At each place setting, include a pen and pad of paper. Have each guest write two statements about him or herself that are true and one that is false. The statements should be things the other guests would likely not know. An example would be 1) I once hitchhiked across Europe; 2) I had my picture taken with President Reagan; 3) I played the Tuba in the high-school marching band. Other guests then determine which is the false statement. Play for points or for fun, and play at least two or three rounds.
  • Purchase an inexpensive white tablecloth and colored permanent markers, one or two for each guest. During dinner, invite guests to doodle, draw caricatures of themselves or of one another, or sum up their life philosophies in one sentence each.

Enjoy the night breaking bread together and be at “Peace”!