Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Super Bowl Party Ideas

Are you planning on having some of your rowdy football-fan friends over on Super Bowl Sunday? I’m not a big professional football fan, but I like any excuse for a party! We’ve hosted several Super Bowl parties over the years, along with a plethora of other types of parties, and I’ve learned a few Super Bowl party tips.

For one thing, a Super Bowl party is different than most parties. At most get-togethers, the guests move around. They wander over to the snack table or the buffet, then they mingle with the other guests. At a Super Bowl party with diehard fans in attendance, there isn’t a lot of mingling. They’re focused on the TV. They want food, but they prefer eating it from the couch so they don’t miss a play.
With that in mind, you need to have food tables in the room with the television. Use your coffee table, your end tables, and card tables. If you’re serving real food or even heavy hors d’oeuvres, I suggest inviting guests early, before the pre-game show. Then they’ll have time to eat and visit before the action starts. Set the foods up on the dining room table or in the kitchen. That’s a great thing about the typical Super Bowl party – it’s very casual. Make as much of the food ahead of time as possible, then zap it in the microwave or warm it up in a crock pot.

Of course, the guests are still going to want to snack while watching the game. This is where non-messy snacks come into play – munchies that don’t require plates and forks. If you’ve already fed the guests a meal or substantial finger foods, you can get by with less during the game. Place big bowls of chips, pretzels, nuts, and snack mix around the TV room. Supply napkins, but don’t worry about plates. I’m including some links to my recipes for snack mixes and other party foods – see below.
Other Super Bowl party tips to consider: How much drinking will be going on? Most guys expect to drink beer at a Super Bowl party. If you’re supplying the brew, you’ll save money by buying a keg. If you do, set it up in the kitchen on a floor that’s impervious to liquids. There will be leaks and spills and dribbles! Also, if your living room coffee tables and end tables are wood, you might want to cover them with cheap plastic tablecloths – not to look pretty, but for protection. Even if you supply plenty of coasters, ardent fans often get so involved in the game that they become careless.

Some other Super Bowl party tips to think about: Will any non-football-fan spouses be coming to the party? If so, you need to think about them, too. There needs to be an area either inside your home or out on a deck or patio (if you live where it’s warm) where the non-fans can visit. Someone needs to play hostess to them, too.

And what about kids? Will any guests be bringing their children? If so, set up a bedroom or basement as a playroom for the little ones. Hire a babysitter to keep them entertained. You might want to pop a kiddie movie in the VCR, and be sure to have juice boxes and kid-friendly snacks on hand.
If you plan your Super Bowl party far enough in advance, it’s sure to go off without a hitch. You can find more Super Bowl party tips online. Also, adequate planning will ensure that you get to enjoy your own party!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wedding Invitations

When it comes to parties and celebrations, weddings are some of the most complicated. There are just so many things to remember, and so many decisions that must be made! Of course, this includes wedding invitations. Where do you find some great wedding invites that are reasonably priced yet top quality? The answer, my friend, lies at your fingers – your keyboard. Visit an awesome site called Invitation Styles.
Believe me, this place has just about anything you might want in the way of invitations, including some styles you’ve probably never thought of. If you want a specific color, they have you covered. If you’re looking for invitations with a specific theme, you’re set. Planning a beach wedding? Get invitations to match. If you want a more traditional type, or even a vintage style, you’ll be happy with the selections at Invitation Styles.
Some couples want their wedding invitations to be truly memorable, so they’re looking for something different. The site has some amazingly unique wedding invitations! Some of my personal faves are the cartoon invitations. They’re just so darn cute! They depict likenesses of the bride and groom in full color cartoons, in your choice of settings or themes. If I received such an invitation, I’d be really looking forward to attending the event. I’d know for sure that it was going to be a good time!
Every bride and groom have a wedding budget to follow, so prices are important. With the current depressed economy, you have to save money wherever you can, but you should never have to give up quality for low prices. With Invitation Styles, you can have your (wedding) cake and eat it, too! And, by the way, this company also provides stellar customer service.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Ideas: Thanksgiving Appetizers

This post includes holiday ideas for Thanksgiving recipes – more specifically, Thanksgiving appetizers. From what I can gather, serving Thanksgiving appetizers prior to the turkey feast is somewhat new in the South. My mother never followed this practice. I think she spent so much of her energy focusing on the entrees, side dishes, and desserts that she never even thought about making Thanksgiving appetizers. Also, she probably didn’t want us to ruin our appetites for the main attraction.
Several years ago, I attended Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter’s home, and she served several Thanksgiving appetizers. At first, I was a little confused, but it turned out that I enjoyed the strategy. It gave her guests something to do while we were waiting for her to put the finishing touches on her Thanksgiving dinner. I also noted that it helped people to relax and visit with each other before sitting down to dinner.
Thanksgiving appetizers can actually be very easy to make, and if you use some creativity, they can be fun to make and attractive in appearance. I like to use cream cheese as a base for many appetizers. It takes on other flavors well, and it’s easy to mold into different shapes. If you like the Thanksgiving appetizers you see pictured, click the link above to get the recipes!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Party Ideas: Arranging the Foods

This is another installment about holiday ideas and party ideas. I’ve already offered some party ideas in previous posts, and this one is about arranging your party foods. If you’re hosting a dinner party, this information doesn’t apply. This is for parties held in your home, where you serve hors d’oeuvres and finger foods. The strategy you use for arranging and placing your party foods might be more important than you think!
Party foods
Most hostesses like to serve party foods that are easy to eat, without the need for forks or spoons. When you’re planning your party menu, consider how the foods will be eaten and served. Can they be eaten easily? At cocktail parties, most guests will be eating while standing, and guests might be dressed in their better apparel, so you might want to avoid messy sauces and such. No one wants a stain on her cocktail dress.
Serve party foods that are small. Most guests want to try a little of everything, so if you keep the individual servings small, this will be easy. You also want your party foods to be attractive and varied. Include savory foods, creamy foods, spicy foods, and a few sweets.
Have one area to serve as your main food table. The table should be easily accessible from all sides. Place the foods at different heights by using cake stands, tiered serving dishes, and footed dishes. You can use crystal stemware and wine glasses to hold small portions, too.
As you’re arranging the food, take notice of the colors of the party foods. For example, you don’t want to place all the white foods together. Mix up your palette to make your table more attractive. If some foods need toothpicks for serving, place the toothpicks near those foods, and use attractive holders for the toothpicks.
Party foods and party strategy
When you’re having a party, you want your guests to be moving around to different areas and joining in different conversations. You can help this along by placing some party foods in different rooms or areas. Let’s say you have a nice seating area in your library. How do you get guests to venture there? Have a small tray of delicious treats in the room!
Placing some “surprise” party foods around your home will encourage people to move about, helping your event “flow.”

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Planning a Party - The Guest List

If you want to have a successful party and be a great hostess, careful consideration should be done when planning a party. You guest list is extremely important! When you first start planning a party, decide on how many people you want to host. Always invite more than you actually plan on having attend. I’ve read that a good rule of thumb is 50%. In other words, about half the number of people you invite to your party will actually attend. I’m not so sure I agree with this figure, however. Attendance rates to my parties are usually significantly higher. In fact, one year we had a Christmas party to which we invited 100 people, and 112 people attended! Not sure how that happened, but it was a great party! Maybe folks were just in the Christmas spirit and in the mood to attend some holiday parties.
If you’re planning a party that’s going to include a large number of guests, be careful not to leave anyone out that you meant to invite. This is easy to do when you have so much to take care of. When I’m planning a big party, I keep a running guest list in my party composition book. When I think of someone I’d like to include, I jot down the names.
When you’re coming up with names for your event, think about the atmosphere that the guests will create. Unless you’re hosting a party for a specific group of people, I strongly suggest mixing it up. In other words, if you’re a teacher, don’t just invite other educators to the party. If you do, the conversations will likely be about nothing but school, grades, curriculum, and students. If that’s what you want, fine. But if you prefer something more interesting, a mixed guest list will be better.
We’ve thrown some great parties, and I attribute much of this success to my guest lists. I always include people from all walks of life and from different socio-economic groups. I also include different ages, even if it’s an adults-only party. At a single party, I’ve had teachers, electricians, doctors, lawyers, coaches, college professors, small business owners, college students, blue collar workers, and farmers. You’d be surprised at how these groups intermingle! It gives guests a chance to get to know people they don’t usually come in contact with. Don’t forget to invite people who have invited you to their parties and events!
Once you have a guest list, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to invite people. Will you mail invitations, or will you make phone calls? Unless I’m hosting a more formal party, I make phone calls to guests. This gives them an opportunity to ask questions about what to wear, about whether kids can come, and/or about what to bring. Know the answers before making the calls. Don’t tell one guest they can bring her kids and tell another potential guest that kids aren’t invited. Some guests will offer to bring a dish to the party. When guests ask me what they can bring, I usually respond by saying something like, “We’ll have plenty of party food, so you don’t need to bring anything unless there’s a special appetizer you’d like to make.” This gives the guest an “out” if they don’t have time or just don’t want to prepare something for the party. In the South, most folks like taking a side dish or party food because they like showing off their cooking skills! Phone calls will also often give you a good idea of who’s planning on attending and who isn’t. some people will tell you up front that they have other plans for that date, while others might tell you they’ll definitely be coming.
Here’s a problem you might run into with your guest list: feuding friends. This has happened to me before. I’d have two friends that didn’t like each other or were quarreling at the time of the party. If you like both friends, how do you handle this? This is what I do: Let’s say Mike and Joe don’t like each other, but I like both of them and want to invite both to my party. In this case, I’ll probably mention to Joe that Mike is coming, and I’ll understand if he doesn’t want to attend, but that we’d love to see him. I’ll tell Mike the same thing. This puts the ball in their proverbial courts. They can decide whether or not they want to attend, without being “blindsided.”

Planning a Party - General Overview

If you’re planning a party, you can make things a lot easier on yourself by taking care of details in advance. If you do, you can actually enjoy your party instead of running around all stressed out. As you think of holiday ideas and party ideas, jot them down. Keep a composition book just for this purpose. Place the composition book by your favorite TV viewing chair, along with a pen. Sometimes I think of great party food and party ideas while I’m “lost” in a movie or television show, and if I don’t write it down immediately, I’ll likely forget about it.
First of all, you need to consider your party theme. Of course, if it’s a holiday party, you won’t have too much to think about in the way of a theme. Otherwise, you’ll have some decisions to make. In considering your theme, you’ll also need to decide if this will be an adults-only party, a kids’ party, or a party for families, with adults and kids invited. You’ll also need to have at least a rough idea of how many people you plan on inviting.
Once you’ve chosen from among hundreds of party themes, decide where your party will be held. The number of party guests will have a big impact on where you’ll hold your event. Will it be indoors or outdoors? Will it be held at your home, or will you rent a party venue? Both have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Next, you’ll need to decide on decorations. Will they be elaborate or simple? Will you do the decorating yourself, or will you hire it done?
Will you have entertainment at the party? If so, what type? Things you might consider are live bands, DJs, and games. Games don’t have to be just for kids. Adults enjoy games and activities, too. Of course, you might not need any entertainment at all. Well planned parties with dynamic guest lists usually create their own entertainment!
Plan your party menu as far in advance as possible. This is usually where most of the stress and effort come from for the hostess. Party food doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, but it needs to be tasty and attractive, and you’ll need to make sure you have more than enough.