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Category Archives: Party Planning

Party Friday – Glass Markers!

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Glass markers?  Is that a “thing?”  I guess it would be wine charms.  But you know what I mean.  Things to mark your drinking glass when you’re in an environment that is swimming with drinking glasses.  Maybe it’s just me, but I kinda sweat things like that.  The thought of drinking out of someone else’s glass is pretty gross.  I even feel a little icky when I get a clean glass that still has the last person’s lipstick on it.  I mean, I know the glass is technically clean.  It’s just that lipstick these days is practically indestructible and some can only be removed by sandblasting or something.  (Side note – how is that possible?  Is it safe to wear something that you are inevitably ingesting (you know you are), yet will only wash off a glass with elbow grease, exasperation and mild swearing?  It really can’t be healthy.)  SO, if I’m throwing a party (which I obviously haven’t done in a long time as I haven’t posted a “Party Friday” installation in months [insert sadness here]), I try to make sure everyone is able to mark their glass.  Maybe, deep down, it’s only for myself.  Regardless, here are a few ideas to facilitate this without trying to mentally keep track of everyone’s different lipstick shade.

Chalkboard paint.  Brilliant.  There’s actually a tutorial for this here.  Just throw some chalk down near the glasses and done. 

 

Fancy pants!  The only problem I see with these is that after a drink or two (OR A THOUSAND!), I’d be all “Wait.  Was I the silver square sparkle or the round square sparkle?  Or the gold circle??  Crap, I’ll just get a new glass.”  I’d wind up blowing through a couple (OR A THOUSAND!) glasses that way.  But they’re so sparkly!  And they’re DIY, so here’s how you make them.

OR, if you’re like me, you can take miscellaneous objects and put them on stickers.  I did this for a party a while ago.  I put them in a bowl for people to wade through so that they could pick something they liked.  That way, throughout the evening, I would be able to shout-sing “Encarnación!!!!!!” as I  grabbed my Nacho Libre glass off a table and headed for the bar.  I’m immature…

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Party Friday – Dessert Trays!

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I’m a little obsessed with dessert trays.  I’ve got two of these things in our TINY apartment.  The one pictured above is permanently displayed on the buffet in the “dining room” and the other I use to house some of my jewelry.  But I want more.  I keep seeing them on various DIY sites and  almost have to close the browser window immediately because I know Ryan would have me committed to the loony bin if I even contemplated making another one. 

ANYWAY, these things are a total piece of cake to make.  HA!  Get it?  Cake!  Because this is a dessert tray!  I know, you can’t really put a cake on this particular one, but it was a little funny.  OK.  Back to the assembling.  All you need are some plates, vases or candlesticks (whatever you want to separate each plate) and some sort of epoxy.  Everything I used in the picture is either from a thrift store or a dollar store.  That means it cost about $8.  Yeah, that’s it.  I really don’t think I need to say more than this:  decide what order you want them in and then you glue them all together.  Of course, let it dry for a while before you put all your goodies on it.  Unless you want to poison people with epoxy.  Or are making epoxy cookies or something.  I’m assuming epoxy is poison.  Listen, just to be safe, let it sit for 24 hours.  Just to be safe…

So, as I said above, I do stumble across other ones I want to make.  I said I ALMOST have to close the browser window, but…I don’t always.  I sometimes make a note for a future DIY project.  Who knows, maybe I’ll become rich and I’ll buy a mansion with a dessert tray room.  Laugh your head off.  Didn’t Tori Spelling’s mom have THREE gift-wrapping rooms in her palace/house?  Yeah, she did.  Look it up.

But if you’re dumb and don’t want to make the kind of dessert tray I made and are in desperate need of a different kind, here are a few other tutorials.

Have you ever had these cake pop thingies?  Do they just sell them at Starbucks?  That can’t be right.  There’s probably a cake pop store somewhere here in LA by now.  But these things present a unique (first world) “problem” as you can’t lay them down on a tray.  I say can’t like they would spontaneously combust.  It just would make them ugly looking.  Or smooshed.  Regardless, you don’t have to worry because you can make this out of styrofoam, wrapping/scrapbook paper and glue.  Done and done.

I know this is a little middle earth, but it’s super pretty.  Admit it.  You do need a saw and a clamp, but that doesn’t seem THAT hard.  You could always have the guy at Home Depot cut it.  Or maybe that’s just wood they sell.  Maybe it would be a bit weird to walk in with a log and ask them to cut.  A little Twin Peaks.

If you’ve ever been to a dollar store you’ve seen that they almost always have those weird metal things that strangely go over the burners on a stove.  I have.  And I wonder who in the world still uses them.  Or ever used them.  If you do you use them or ever used them, please accept my apology.  But please also e-mail me and tell me why because I genuinely don’t understand why.  ANYWAY, this is made from those!!!!!  And, of course, some sort of separator (these are wooden thingies that have been spray painted) and scrapbook paper.  Or you could use fabric!  I’m totally getting into using fabric as paper.  I’ve got a secret project going on now that will knock your socks off.  Well, if I can pull it off.  I digress…per usual.

I don’t know if you know this, but they sell cardboard cake/dessert plates that you can put together yourself.  But they are a TOTAL snoozefest.  So, this clever girl, jazzed one up with some maps.  Of course, you could use whatever paper you wanted – wrapping paper (from Tori Spelling’s mom’s house, maybe) or scrapbook paper.  OR FABRIC!!!!  GAH!!!

So, I think you get it.  You can buy a dessert tray which I think are, like, a million dollars (okay, a little less than that) OR you can make one.  And it’ll be customized to your awesomeness.  You could always glue pictures of me all over it as I gave you the idea.  I’m not opposed to any sort of homage.

Party Friday – Favors!

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Not favors like “you scratch my back, I scratch yours.”  Party favors!  I know some people hate these things.  They can be expensive and sometimes they can be a snoozefest.  But I LOVE them.  I love making them (duh) and I love getting them.  Even the jordan almonds in netting.  I mean, who doesn’t love jordan almonds?  No one, that’s who.  So, here are a few ideas for party favors that I’ve collected.  I wish I could show you the adorable mirrors (for the girls) and bottle openers (for the boys) I made for one of my parties, but the pictures are lost forever because of a hard drive crash.  I don’t want to talk about it…

ANYWAY…

Recipe favors.  Not only are these simple with a touch of cute, but they’re inexpensive.  Of course, you may not have a local grits farm (?), but you can put anything in there – cookie mix, hot chocolate mix, Bisquick (that would actually be a favor to me because I love Bisquick muffins).  Put the mix in a baggie inside the paper bag, of course.  I know that sounds obvious, but I just want to cover my bases.  And these buttons…love!  Here’s a tutorial on making fabric buttons.  OR, you could just use real buttons.  Or pins.  Or ANYTHING.  But I love big fabric buttons.  My two cents…

Remember when I talked about the jordan almonds in the netting?  How about jordan almonds in these?  Or macaroons.  YUM!

I think I’ve posted about s’mores before, but…GAH!!!  I LOVE s’mores!!!  Well, I think I can eat one and then I’m pretty much at sweet tilt, but heavens to murgatroid.  They are heavenly.  And how perfect would they be if you were having a little backyard BBQ!  Or, if you’re like me, whenever the heck you want!  Here’s a little fancier tutorial.

If you’re a audiophile and have a kickin’ soundtrack to your party, hand that puppy out!  I was at a party that gave these out and I LOVED it!  Of course, I would have been happy with aforementioned jordan almonds, but this is beyond cool.  I mean, the label looks like a freaking 45 record aka a “little record.”  I know some people won’t have a clue what that is.  Oh man, and you could incorporate these things in there!  I have no idea how, but GAH!  Right?!

So, that’s a start.  I’m always stumbling upon new stuff, so…sit tight.  There’ll be more.

Party Friday – Glamping!

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Have you heard of “glamping?”  No?  Me neither.  I guess it’s glamorous camping.  Well, that conjures images of mega yurts (I SO want to camp in a yurt) containing canopy beds, jacuzzi bathtubs and flower petals all over (probably).  And a masseuse at your beck and call.  This doesn’t fall into that category.  This is a glamping-themed party.  But still.  I don’t have to poop in the woods (no, I’ve never actually done that) to enjoy some outdoorsy things!  And by outdoorsy things, I mean things that are not truly outdoorsy, but look it.

Tatertots and hot dogs! 

And cupcakes and marshmallows!!!

I would sit in this chair and be the queen of glamping.  Maybe I’d get a throne.

Glamping, who woulda thunk?  Oh, and if you want more pix, hop on over to Hostess with the Mostess for more party details.

Party Friday – Photo Booth!

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Happy Friday!  Welcome to the party post!  This week, I’m going to talk about something near and dear to my heart – photo booths.  I don’ t know why I say that they’re near and dear to me, but just suffice it to say that I love them.  I wish I owned one.  Or at least had full access to one at any time.  How fun!

I wanted to have one at one of my parties, so I checked out the price to rent one.  Ummmm…let’s just say it’s a lot.  I was super bummed.  I mean, everyone loves photo booths!  So, I set out on a DIY hunt.  Obviously, you can’t DIY an entire photo booth, but I wanted to figure out a way to get the same effect.

The first idea – a regular camera on a tripod with some crazy sheet/fabric backdrop:

Kinda.  It’s super cute, but my party wasn’t going to be outside and it was going to be on the darker side.  PLUS, I wanted the traditional feel – the kind where you sit down and there’s a black or velvet curtain.  Plus, I didn’t have a tripod or a photographer.  Nix that.

Then, I stupidly realized that my computer has a program called…Photo Booth.  Oh Lizzie…  I found another program which would allow you to take 3 successive pictures that would then be printed on a strip of paper just like a REAL photo booth would.   Yeah, it didn’t work.   Eh, I didn’t want to carry my printer around anyway.  I just uploaded the pictures to Snapfish, sent out an e-mail inviting people to look at the album and then they could print which ever ones they liked.  Pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself.

SO.  I settled on this idea – I got a couple of yards of red velvet fabric and a few 2×4’s, made a little frame and draped the velvet over it as a backdrop.  That’s basically it.  Now I just needed a table (or something that level) to set my computer, a couple of chairs and, of course, lots of props.  I brought hats, feathers, wigs and mustaches (thanks Martha Stewart website).  At both of the parties, it was a HUGE hit.  What can I say.  People like to ham it up.  Well, my friends and family anyway.  Side note – as you can see, it was a bit dark in the “booth,” but they still turned out to be pretty cute.

Since then, I’ve found a lot of other cute ideas that will get incorporated next time.  Free printable props:

Chalkboard speech bubbles:

Whiteboard speech bubbles:

Or just spray paint frames or cut a rectangle shape to make a framed photo  Can you say, POLAROID!  GAH!  I love it!

Right?  So much fun!!!  So, give it a go at your next party!  And if you have a Mac, Photo Booth comes as a standard application.  Now you have no excuse.

Mad Men Cocktail Party, Part 2

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Part 1 of my Mad Men(esque) Cocktail Party ideas talked about invites.  This post (part 2) will talk about my favorite aspect – food and drinks.  And more drinks.

The drinks are what I like to call “old man drinks.”  I love old man drinks.  My signature drink is a Stiletto.  Perfect, as Mad Men appears to be all about whiskey.  These people drink it like it’s water.  Of course, it doesn’t END at whiskey, though.  Here are a few drinks of choice.  Oh, and the AMC site actually has a page devoted to Mad Men cocktails.  Oh AMC…

Old Fashioned

INGREDIENTS

2 dashes aromatic bitters
½ tsp sugar dissolved with water and bitters
1½ oz of bourbon
1 cherry
1 orange slice
1 lemon wedge

INSTRUCTIONS
Fill glass with ice. Add cherry, orange slice, and lemon wedge. Pour in bourbon. Serve in a rocks glass over ice.

Whiskey Sour

 INGREDIENTS
2 oz whiskey
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz tsp sugar
1 cherry
½ lemon slice

INSTRUCTIONS
Put all ingredients in mixing glass and add ice cubes. Strain into highball glass. Add lemon slice and cherry to garnish.

Gibson Martini

 INGREDIENTS
2½ oz of gin or vodka
¾ oz dry vermouth
3-5 cocktail onions

INSTRUCTIONS
Stir gin or vodka and vermouth on ice in mixing glass. Strain into martini glass and add cocktail onions.

Sidecar

 INGREDIENTS
1½ oz cognac
¾ oz triple sec
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1 orange slice

INSTRUCTIONS
Squeeze lemon in mixing glass. Shake briskly. Select sugar-rimmed snifter. Strain into glass and garnish with orange slice.

White Russian

 INGREDIENTS
1 oz vodka
½ oz coffee liqueur*
1 oz heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS
Pour vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream into cocktail glass. Stir well.

*Of course, Roger Sterling just drank it with whole milk and vodka.  No coffee liqueur required, apparently.

Greyhound

INGREDIENTS
2 oz vodka
5 oz grapefruit juice

INSTRUCTIONS
Pour vodka and grapefruit juice on top of the ice in a cocktail glass. Stir well.

 
 
 
Typical 60’s party fare was all about finger food which is perfect for me.  Not that I am horrible at cooking, but I think everyone will end up happier if I don’t.  Here’s a small sampling I’ve compiled of the finger foods (well, one is salad) that I thought looked delicious. 

Deviled Eggs

 INGREDIENTS

  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced sweet pickle
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot red pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley , for garnish
  • Paprika , for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS
Place the eggs in a large saucepan just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add enough cold water to cover by one inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain carefully and rinse under cold water. When cool enough to handle, but still warm, peel the eggs. Cool completely.Cut each egg in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks and place in a medium bowl. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, pickle and Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.Transfer the yolk mixture to a pastry bag with a half-inch wide opening. (If you wish, fit the bag with a half-inch star tip before filling.) Squeeze the yolk mixture into the hollows in the whites, and place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the filling with the parsley, and then the paprika. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour and up to eight hours. Serve chilled.
 

Shrimp Cocktail with Spicy Bloody Mary Sauce 

INGREDIENTS

  • 11 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • Pinch red pepper flakes , optional
  • 1 1/2 cups cocktail sauce
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 cups white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 to 6 jumbo shrimp , peeled and de-veined (tail left on)
INSTRUCTIONS
Combine horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, celery seeds, red pepper flakes, cocktail sauce and vodka. Mix well and chill.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat wine, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Poach shrimp just until pink and curled, about 3 to 4 minutes. Place on ice and refrigerate. When completely chilled, season lightly with salt and serve with sauce.
 

Pan Fried Onion Dip

INGREDIENTS 

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
INSTRUCTIONS
Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.)

Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper, and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Let the onions cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dip. Mix well and adjust seasoning to taste. Place dip in a decorative serving bowl and set on platter.

Caesar Salad

CROUTON INGREDIENTS

  • 6 slices (1-inch) ciabatta or another crusty white bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • Coarse salt (to taste)

SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 2 large egg yolks (or 1 tablespoon store-bought mayonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 to 5 anchovies
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and dried thoroughly and torn into 2-inch pieces
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS

For Croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, toss bread cubes with remaining crouton ingredients. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and toast croutons until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

In a large wooden bowl, using a wooden spoon, mash halved garlic cloves to a fine paste. Stir in egg yolks and Dijon mustard. Add anchovies, and grind to a paste. Add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Slowly stir in olive oil until dressing is creamy.

Add lettuce to bowl, and toss to coat leaves thoroughly with dressing and grated Parmesan. Sprinkle croutons over salad, and serve topped with Parmesan shavings.

Rib-Eye, New Potato and Portobello Kebabs

INGREDIENTS 

  • 4 new potatoes, such as Red Bliss (about 3 ounces each)
  • 1 large portobello mushroom cap (about 4 ounces)
  • One 14- to 16-ounce rib-eye steak
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Four 12-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes

INSTRUCTIONS
Place the potatoes in a 1-quart saucepan, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Set the pan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cook the potatoes at a gentle boil until barely fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and allow the potatoes to cool. Cut the potatoes in half; set aside.

Remove the stem and gills from the portobello with a sharp knife, and cut the cap into 8 wedges. Place the wedges in a medium bowl.

Cut the steak into 8 equal pieces, and season them with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place the meat in the bowl with the mushrooms. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary and garlic, and stir to coat mushrooms and steak well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Heat a grill to medium-high, and lightly oil the grate.

Remove the bowl from the refrigerator. Skewer a potato, followed by a piece of steak and a mushroom wedge. Add another potato, piece of steak and mushroom wedge. Repeat with remaining skewers. Reserve remaining marinade for basting the skewers as they cook.

Grill the kebabs, basting them as they cook, for about 3 minutes. Turn and cook for another 3 minutes, basting, before turning them over to cook on the first side again. Continue to cook on the first side for 2 to 3 minutes before turning them over and cooking a final 2 to 3 minutes. Season the kebabs with the remaining salt, and serve immediately.

OK.  That’s probably enough.  My stomach is growling.  And like I said, this is just a small sampling I tracked down online.  There are MANY more ideas out there. 

Next stop – decor/ambiance…

Mad Men Cocktail Party, Part 1

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OK. I just started watching Mad Men.  I know, welcome to 2006.  It’s especially strange that I never started earlier as I love that time period – the clothes, the architecture, the decor, THE CLOTHES!!  I think it was because I missed the boat for the first season and I didn’t want to jump in without starting at the beginning.  Fast forward a million years and it was added to the Netflix streaming pool.  Commence watching…NOW!  It’s funny because I thought I’d love many people on the show, but almost everyone is a jerk in a way.  The men are total pigs and the women all take their crap.  Gack.  But they all look so wonderful in the meantime.

Why am I blathering away about Mad Men?  Well, it has to do with the fact that I’ve been ITCHING to throw a cocktail party.  And I’d love it to be Mad Men-esque.  I wouldn’t make everyone dress up (unless I would), but I’d just like the overall vibe to be 60’s lounge.  So, while it’s not in the “official” planning stages, here are my ideas.   

Invites.  You know how I feel about invites.  They have to set the general mood.  I love Evite, but there’s something about getting a real invitation in the mail.  It gives it a bit of class.  And it’s one more thing that I can DIY.  There, I said it.  So, what would a standard 50’s/60’s invite would look like?  In other words, WWBDD (what would Betty Draper do)?  Probably something like this:

I know, slightly boring.  But it’s totally what Betty Draper would do.  Admit it.  I mean, it’s not like she could pull out her laptop, open Photoshop or Illustrator and get to business.  She wouldn’t want to be flashy anyway.  It would seem common.  The furthest she’d go is a graphic like the one above or some sort of watermark.  That’s just how she rolls.

OR, if you don’t want to be a die-hard, you could do the cutesy vintage/retro vibe:

OR you could give in and make it apparent that you’re looking for a Mad Men feel.

OR you could be me and sit and mull over all of this until your head explodes.  Just looking at the silhouette of Don Draper makes me want an Old Fashioned.  Which means…next post – cocktails and food.  Or cocktails and cocktails if you lived on the set of Mad Men.  Oh, and about 3 packs of cigarettes a day.  Yikes…