Milestone Birthdays

Milestone Birthdays

It has been a while since I have posted. July was a little depressing with everything going on. I trust you are all staying safe and pray the world heals itself soon. Although we have experienced more virtual events during this difficult time, smaller parties are starting to emerge. Today I want to discuss the ever- popular Milestone Birthdays. Even with pared down get-togethers these ideas can help make that something-0 landmark special! Although younger milestones (1, 16, 18 & 21) are important we usually begin focusing on age markers starting at 30.

AT 30 you bid the 20’s goodbye. You are in hopes that all those stupid mistakes you made in your youth can be forgiven and you are independent and, on your way, now. Some may have started a family; others are working at their ambitious careers and yet others are exploring the world. AT 40 you are on the brink of middle age, perhaps starting a new chapter or just dealing with the challenges of your life. AT 50 you’ve made it half a century on the planet! Your circles are flourishing, with friends, colleagues and family, some of whom have flown the proverbial nest. It is time to focus on you. AT 60 and beyond your life is full, a rich tapestry of love, experiences and memories. You have much to celebrate and so many people to celebrate with. AT 70, 80 & 90 you’ve witnessed so much change; technology and science have made huge leaps, the world has become smaller, our ambitions bigger. Families have spread further afield, yet we’re more connected than ever. AT 100 you need to give yourself a cheer, this doesn’t happen often. Only .02% of the population find themselves at this momentous milestone! You have been gifted with time and love.

Starting off with an invitation to your party, this idea can be done on Photoshop if you or someone in your family have expertise with the program. Otherwise paper and a pair of scissors will due. Find photos of yourself throughout the years. They can be with your significant other. Then cut them out into silhouettes and arrange them in order on an 11″ x 14″ piece of paper. The plan is to fold the paper as a four-panel accordion style invitation. The front of the invitation would be copied on the backside and folded over to be the front of the invitation. The text is printed on your computer and arranged so that it fits in-between the folds of the paper. Use a spray adhesive to glue the text and the photos in place.  Then take the original copy to a business that can make the 11″ x 14″ color copies. Hand fold and mail them in brightly colored envelopes. A smaller version of the same idea can be done on a standard 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper. The invitation would then be a tri-fold brochure type. The printer can fold them for you too, for a minimal charge.

When choosing a theme for your event be selfish! Do something you want. If you choose a humorous approach there is plenty of “Over the Hill” décor available commercially. You can always crack out your Halloween stash to mock a funeral party. You can also decide to go with your hobby or interest such as fishing, hunting, gardening or sports. Choose a favorite place you have traveled to. Perhaps a tropical paradise or foreign destination. There are many international theme decorations available too. Celebrate “The Best of Times” by creating a pictorial timeline of the special moments in your life. You may choose a particularly happy decade of your life and plan the party around that, like the 50’s (Rock & Roll), 60’s (Hippie, Flower Child), 70’s (Disco) or 80’s (Dance, Digital). Have everyone dress in a decade costume. Last but not least is a focus on a certain color scheme that puts a smile on your face. This can make your party decorations very personal.

Balloons are a must for a milestone age. There are the large and small foil numbers that can be incorporated into the balloon décor. Match whatever colors work with the theme you have chosen. Air-filled Columns and centerpieces make great additions to the festive environment. And if you are doing the party virtually, they make great backdrops.

The food should be something you want too! It is all about you, anyway right? If you are having a specific theme try to choose the appropriate ethnic blend of food and drinks. But remember, it has to be stuff you like! If it is a generic motif pick your favorite foods to serve. Have your favorite restaurant(s) deliver the meals, individually is best with social distancing. (see my post on Covid-19 Party Guide https://pjspartyrentalandessentials.wordpress.com/2020/06/15/covid-19-event-party-alternatives/ )

Some terrific party favor ideas for your guests is candy bars with your photo and information on them. You can find an assortment of styles here https://www.whcandy.com/ You can also have labels made for wine bottles. Pick your favorite flavor of wine at a discount outlet and paste the personalized label on them. They are a perfect keepsake. Find the labels here https://www.personalcreations.com/ You can also find personalized M & M’s on their website. Plus consider personalized napkins or bookmarks from Carlson Craft here https://viewonly.carlsoncraft.com/ Another cool idea is to make cd’s or maybe a flash drive (cd’s are becoming outdated) of the American Top 40’ #1 song for each year of your life, as well as a few faves thrown in. It will be quite lengthy and interesting for the 100-year-old! Ask your family and friends to mail you a great memory they have of your relationship with them. You can put these memories in a scrap book. Remember to ask for pictures if they have them!

If your party includes real live guests you can have a “Roast” for the birthday person. Play Jeopardy! Set up a Jeopardy game board for guests to participate in. Instead of general trivia questions, they can be questions about the birthday guest of honor. Choose a handful of topics about the birthday man or woman, and then create 5-7 questions within each topic. You can either choose specific topics about the person or make each topic a decade of their life (if they’re old enough to have at least five topics). The harder the question, the more points they’re worth. Instead of having individuals play, you can divide your guests up into groups. That way, there’s some teamwork involved.

Whatever you do keep it safe! I am turning 70 soon and am excited about looking up all the #1 hits for the last 70 years! That will be quite a mix! God Bless!

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!

Divide & Conquer – Best Potluck EVER!

 

May I speak freely? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had much luck at a potluck.

I don’t want to offend, but why do potluck members have such a fervent desire to make Jell-O? Don’t pretend you haven’t seen this. For the spring potluck, someone always shows up with a Jell-O bunny mold surrounded by-oh the wonder of it all! -green coconut. Within an hour, the black jellybean eyes have bled into the Jell-O, and the bunny looks as if it came straight out of Children of the Corn. Standing nearby without fail is its creator, needling people into “just a little taste of the ear”.

When reduced to the simplest form, the Divide and Conquer party is a potluck with one important exception: You will take on the title of Supreme Potluck Commander in order to make it an elegant affair. And if anybody asks, “should I bring Jell-O?” the answer is no.

As Supreme Potluck Commander, you’ll contribute the main dish. Ask each guest to provide one or more items to complete your menu. The key is to create something stylish without demanding too much on short notice. Assign categories of food to participants. Try a simple sign-up sheet that you can email around to everyone. When making your list specify what foods should be brought. Use the guide below to put this upscale meal together.

ENTRÉE: Chicken Breasts, pork chops or pork tenderloin – using a marinade and grill or broil.

SALAD: Fresh Greens, Veggies, Fruit tossed – with dressings on the side.

VEGGIES: Steamed are best (avoid casseroles) broccoli, corn, green beans or mixed. Sprinkle with lemon juice and/or Mrs. Dash type seasoning.

RICE AND/OR PASTA: Using stock to cook rice or pasta makes it more flavorful, sprinkle with herbs.

BREAD: Rolls or French loaves should be warmed for the best flavor. This donation should include butter or flavored olive oil to dip bread. Flavored oil can be placed on the tables in small glass bowls.

DESSERT: Brownies dusted with confectioners’ sugar, seasonal pies or cake.

BEVERAGES: If your organization allows wine and beer, coffee, iced tea, water and here in Texas you must have Dr Pepper.

A special note to label your food. Don’t make guests guess at what they’re eating. Provide a recipe name and any warnings necessary (i.e., contains nuts, shellfish, dairy, gluten, etc.). Your extra effort will be appreciated, especially by those with food allergies or intolerances.

Ask for help with utensils, cutlery and dishes. Because you want this potluck to be a swankier event use real dishes and cutlery. You can mix and match designs, in fact mismatched table settings is a fashionable trend.  Make sure you have pitchers for water on the tables, plenty of serving pieces and wine and/or drink glasses. If your organization does not have a coffeemaker you can easily rent one. If you don’t have cloth napkins purchase the better “almost like linen” napkins. Use some twine or pretty ribbon for a napkin ring. And definitely use linens on the tables and candles. You can use votives in mugs and on saucers or if you have enough taper holders place them on the tables too.

Prep a playlist for background music for your party. The last thing you want to be doing when your guests arrive is fiddling around with the playlist and trying to get it right. Plan ahead of time by making a suitable playlist in advance. Set the mood for your celebration because there are no awkward silences allowed at your potluck!

Be prepared for leftovers. Have plenty of plastic containers on hand. Keep food safety in mind by throwing away any leftovers that have been sitting out for more than two hours.

Follow this guide and you will never have a potluck fail again!

Roaring 20’s Theme – 2020 New Years

20's Roaring 2020 Party

People have always enjoyed the glitz and glamour of 1920s or The Great Gatsby themed New Year’s Eve parties, but this year, as we ring in 2020, this theme is very “BIG”! At your party, turn back the clock 100 years to a time filled with dimly lit speakeasies, homemade gin cocktails, jazz, art deco and iconic fashion trends. Ask your guests to arrive in their best flapper dresses and tuxes and you’ll be well on your way to a party fit for Gatsby himself.

Keeping in the fun Speakeasy feel have “security” at the front door asking for a password, which you can include in the invitations.  The color scheme you will use is Gold, Black, Silver and White. You can find New Years Party Kits that will include Top Hats, Tiaras and Noisemakers in these colors.

Activities If your budget won’t afford renting Casino tables, set up a few Poker Tables and you can find Felt Game Sets that include Blackjack and Craps. Beistle’s set includes the craps rake, cards, dice and instructions, you just need a table to place it on! Hire a Jazz band or put together a play list, you can see and hear the top 20 hits of 1920-1929 here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07f0TPfNLnk to give you some inspiration. Play classic movies during the party (with or without sound) these are a some of the classics of the 20’s, The Kid – Charlie Chaplin, The Jazz Singer – Al Jolson, Safety Last – Buster Keaton, The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Charles Laughton, Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – John Barrymore or Steamboat Willie – Mickey Mouse.

Décor for this theme will also be in Gold, Black, Silver and White. Hang strings of clear lights and have plenty of candles around the party area. Use Gold and Silver shimmer curtains as a backdrop for buffet tables, the bar area and a photo area. Include beads and feathers (signature items for the 20’s) in your centerpieces. A cool idea is to glue glitter on to wine bottles and then add beads and feathers. Balloons can be used too! The balloons pictured above are called “Bubble Strands” and they have the theme colors plus clear balloons filled with gold confetti in the arrangements. These are perfect for a Gatsby touch, and what would New Year’s Eve be without large 2020 numbers? Use them in your photo area or stage. Use both colors, mix or match.

Food – At this time in American history, Wonder Bread was fresh on the scene and foods such as Chinese and Italian were considered ‘exotic.’ Glam up your party with crab stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, tea sandwiches with different meats and vegetables, and glazed hams. To achieve an elegant feel, you can hire servers to pass plates or create a presentation incorporating gold and silver sprays, confetti, balloons and feathers. Elaborate cheese, olive, and nut displays are right on theme, involve no actual cooking, and can be set out and replenished throughout the night. For sweets, pineapple upside down cake, lemon cakes, and Jell-O were all popular.

Cocktails – Combining a holiday and a decade that revolved around spirits makes this part of planning exceptionally fun. Champagne, or your favorite sparkling wine, is a must. Unlike the champagne flutes we use today, the coupe glasses were most commonly used in the 20s. You can find this style at most party stores. As for cocktails, gin was in. This was during Prohibition when bathtub gin was the common spirit. You can find the recipes for the classic mixed drinks of the day here https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57719/origins-10-popular-prohibition-cocktails

Here is to a wonderful New Year, thank you for reading my Blog, I promise to try and continue posting great ways to celebrate life! Happy 2020!

 

How to throw a Cocktail Party!

Cocktail Party 101

The cocktail party is a perfect way of entertaining for occasions as diverse as a casual after work get-together to a New Year’s Eve extravaganza. Even though these types of parties are a throwback from the 50’s they are still popular and a staple in the hospitality industry. A perfect adult event that can be fun and rewarding.

Taking advice from caterers as to how they plan on the amount for drinks and how much to buy for cocktail parties, they use a formula that roughly estimates 10 people will consume 20 drinks at the average cocktail party. Make that 40 drinks if it’s a full evening affair, usually including dinner. This is based on a typical 1.5 Ounce shot of hard liquor.

So, how many drinks can you get out of a bottle? A 750 ml. bottle will yield about 17 cocktails. A liter bottle will yield 22. A 1.75-liter bottle will yield 39. For a party of wine drinkers, plan on stocking 5 bottles (750 ml) for 10 people. You should get roughly 5 servings per bottle. For beer drinkers, stock 5 six-packs for ten people, based on a twelve-ounce serving. If you have the budget and inclination, you can stock a full bar. However, a more economical idea is to offer a selection of cocktails that can be made from one or two primary types of liquor or to limit yourself to a wine and/or beer party.

If you do want to stock a full bar, you could go wild purchasing all kinds of exotic liqueurs and alcoholic concoctions, but most people’s imbibing needs can be met by having the following on hand: Vodka, Rum, Gin, Scotch, Bourbon, Blended Whiskey & Tequila. The mixers necessary for these alcohols will depend on the cocktails you plan on offering. I would suggest Juices (Orange, Grapefruit, Tomato Juice), Club Soda, Tonic Water, Cola, Lemon Lime Soda, Ginger Ale. Make sure you have Lemon and Lime slices and Olives available. Always have bottled water on hand.

If you’ve still got budget and want to offer more cocktail choices, consider choosing 5 of the most popular creations (maybe one’s your friends ask for) and stock ingredients to make them. According to bartenders 5 of the top sellers are Dry Martini (flavored one’s too), Old Fashioned, Margarita, Manhattan & Daiquiri.

Now that we have covered what to drink, how about some food? Most Cocktail parties are short and include snack food. Choose one recipe that requires cooking, add one or two that only require simple assembly. The rest of the snacks can be store-bought. And look for recipes that you can make in advance. A platter of crudités is always a good idea along with bowls of mixed nuts & pretzels. Oh, and skip the cheese board—it’ll just get messy. If you want to put out one nice cheese, though, go for it with some nice crackers and maybe some olives and salami. A nice finishing touch to an evening of cocktails is a dessert buffet and selection of coffee and teas. (btw if you need a large coffee machine we have them for rent!)

Enjoy Hosting!

Have a Halloween BASH!

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year! There is such a vast amount of ideas for great Halloween parties, I hope these concepts will help you put together an amazing event! Do you want to make a realistic looking ghost? These spirits are perfect placed outside wandering around your Halloween graveyard! Shape chicken wire into a ghostly figure and spray it with glow-in-the-dark paint. It will look like a real ghost standing in your yard. This is also a great prank idea! Conjure up a terrific entrance and have your guests walk through a Halloween themed Balloon tunnel using pearl arches in Halloween colors. We can help you with this, give us a call! These are impressive for school dances too! Glow in the Dark Star latex balloons added to Halloween Colored helium filled latex balloons become remarkable arrangements that can be placed around the room or use several as a backdrop for a photo booth area. Make your buffet a gruesome and tasteful display by making a zombie meat presentation. Meat selections are placed in aluminum pans and wrapped with real clothing you can buy at the thrift store. Add our custom Balloon Vampire for a fun sculpture the kids will love! Run classic horror movies on your DVD player during the party for conversation starters and have a howling great time!

Vintage Dress Up Party

GRANDMA'S ATTIC PARTY

This party is a delight for little ones because it revolves around imaginative play – dressing up in old grown-up clothes; something young children love to do! If you don’t have a trunk of old clothes in the attic make one up (in baskets or suitcases) with a trip to the Thrift Store. Be sure you grab up hats, shoes, scarves and costume jewelry too! You can turn this into a fun Tea Party serving finger sandwiches, mini scones, cookies & fruit along with punch or sweet tea. A great craft project is making button bracelets, old buttons are so ornate and colorful (again if you don’t have any, Thrift Store here we come!). Since todays Grandma’s are mostly from the 50’s, purchase the old “Little Rascals” DVD’s and let them play during the party. I loved watching these on T.V. when I was young. Make sure you take plenty of pictures to email to families along with your thank you for coming note.

Chef Junior Party

Chef Party

With all the kids cooking shows now a day’s, children love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen. You can find Downloadable Invitations on many websites or make your own using Card Stock from the office store. Decorate with Polka Dot Foil and Latex Balloons. This party lends itself to lots of activities. Get your craft supplies out! Your list should include – Markers, Paints, Glitter Pens, Sequins, Pipe Cleaners, Goggle Eyes, Craft Foam, Craft Glue, Card Stock, Tissue Paper and Clothespins. The projects will be Decorating their own Apron (you can purchase plain aprons from the Craft Store), Making their own Chefs Hats of Cardstock & Tissue Paper (go to pbs.org for instructions) and creating fun Refrigerator Magnets (see activitiesforkids.com). For the menu two items are simple and scream kids. Individual Pizza’s and Decorated Cupcakes. Make sure you have plenty of components for their imagination, Bon Appetit!

Clouds, Stars and Rainbows!

This Celestial party theme lends itself well for dress up and balloons. Two things kids are crazy about. You can find Rainbow invitations commercially which are great for this. Include the verse: WELCOME All angels, stars, rainbows, raindrops, moons, suns, lightening bolts, unicorns, airplanes and others. DRESS HEAVENLY! You can try your own hand to create or hire us to make clouds from white balloons to hang from the ceiling. The pictured Rainbow Balloon Sculpture can be placed on the food/cake table for a beautiful backdrop. Cover the walls with light blue plastic table covers. In another area use Silver Foil Star Balloons to make a night sky. You can cover those walls with dark blue or black plastic table covers. A fun game is to search for cloud 9. Hide about 20 white clouds made from white paper or cotton, each numbered, the one who finds “Cloud 9” wins! A wonderful craft project is making sun prints. This will amaze the children. Purchase light-sensitive paper (Amazon carries Sun Art Paper) and lay out a tray full of things like leaves, forks, cutouts, buttons, doilies, lace pieces, plastic snakes and lizards, coins etc. Each child places his chosen items on the paper and leaves it in the sun for about eight to ten minutes. Then remove the objects and dip the paper under cold water to permanently set the images. Instead of cake try making the adorable Cloud Cupcakes pictured – you can find the recipe on yourcupofcake.com. Hope this inspires and you have a divine time!

The Mingle Game-Let’s Talk!

 

Mingle GameWhen your guests overstay at a party that is certainly a kudos to the host. That means your planning allowed for perfect mingling. When building a traffic pattern use a three-to-one guests-to-seats ratio. Count all the places one could sit; sofas, rented chairs, ottomans, even wide windowsills. Aim for three people for every available perch so you have a good number of folks moving around. Also, consider renting Bistro tables that urge the crowd to stand and converse. Another way to ensure swirl is to keep the Food table and Drinks on opposite sides of the party area. Distribute three or four bowls of munchies (nuts, olives, pretzels etc.) around the room to ease the crush at the hors d’ oeuvres table and encourage guests to spread out. Provide a conversation Kickstarter. You can print conversation cards (find them online) and have them in a jar at the entrance. Ask everyone to pick a few and use them during the evening.