Posts in the ‘Party Planning’ Category
What's so tasty about it is the smoky flavor from the Gouda and the heat from the chili pepper. I love to serve it with a crunchy baguette or pita chips.
Here's how I do it...
SPINACH DIP RECIPE
- 2 pounds fresh spinach
- 1 small onion or half a large onion
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 1-2 small hot peppers - (jalapeno or fresno peppers work well)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3/4 cup of cream cheese
- 3/4 cup grated smoked gouda (you can substitute mozzarella, jack, or your favorite cheese)
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- pinch of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a sauce pan and heat on medium high heat until shimmering. Add 4-5 minced or pressed garlic cloves, diced pepper (remove the seeds), and diced onion. Cook until onion is soft and translucent.
Roughly chop the spinach, and add to the saucepan along with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Cook down the spinach; it's always surprising how much it shrinks! Add the salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the spinach into a strainer and set in the sink. You can press down on it lightly with a spoon or whisk to get some of the liquid out.
You can now add the milk to the sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk in the cream cheese. Add 1/4 cup of the gouda (save the rest for topping), and continue whisking until it is melted. Now you can mix the spinach back to the saucepan.
Add the mix to your baking dish. It will fill 2-3 large ramekins, or you could use an 8 inch baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining gouda on top.
Cook for 25 minutes. If you aren't getting a nice golden brown crust on top, put it under the broiler for minute before you take it out. Watch it closely because it can quickly go from brown to black!
If you have extra, add to a ramekin, tightly seal with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer. You can keep it for at least a month, and then bake when you are ready to serve.
And for last-minute entertaining, here are a few of my other tips...
Tip 1 -- Have some quick table setting items that you can quickly pull out in a pinch
My table settings tend to be simple, I'm a minimalist at heart. I have my go-to table runner, napkins, and plates that I use all the time. Plus, we have a lemon tree outside so I love picking a bunch of lemons, putting them in a basket, and using that as my centerpiece. See... simple. Also, I like to put out low candles because they look so pretty lit on a table (as long as there are no young children around). I keep everything ready to go in one cabinet in my dining room.
Tip 2 - Have food on hand that could work for fast preparation
Here's what I always have on hand that is easy to pull out of my fridge and cupboard for quick entertaining: cheese and crackers, puff pastry for making these cheese pinwheels, and silver dollar pancakes to top with whipped cream and strawberries (which are always in my fridge because they are my favorite fruit).
Tip 3 - Have mixes on hand to whip up some last minute desserts
I'm a big fan of dessert mixes. They are great to pull out for unexpected guests, school potlucks, and even a rainy day activity with my daughter. Since I think yummy smells add so much to a party, it's fun having something sweet cooking in the oven when your guests arrive, and they never have to know that it's really just a mix. Plus, they are easy to spruce up with powdered sugar, fruit, frosting, or sprinkles.
Tip 4 - Have candy, cellophane bags, and ribbon on hand for last-minute party favors
I usually like to send my guests home with something sweet. I keep candy stored away in my cupboard just for these situations. I like to put the candy in cellophane bags and tie them with pretty ribbon. It makes me look like such a seasoned host, but little do my guests know it took two minutes to do. This also works great with home baked items like cookies or brownies, even ones you've made with a mix. :)
What are your quick entertaining tips? Please leave them in a comment here or on our Facebook page. I'd love to put a post together incorporating them.
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I welcome you to download my checklist, print it out, and find at least one new idea that will make your party sing!
And when you're done throwing your party, please add your photos to our site so I can show off what you did!
Also, have you seen my kids' party planning checklist? It's great for planning your child's next birthday.
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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by HP via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of HP.
I've been wanting to give away a set of Kentucky Derby printables, and finally I get my chance thanks to Wanessa from Wanessa Carolina Creations who designed this terrifically fun collection! Now on May 5th, you can serve up your mint juleps, put on your fancy hats, and watch "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" in style!
The collection includes: drink wraps, mini party logos (with the names of all the horses), favor tags, patterned paper, invitations, cupcake wrappers, tented cards, and a "138th Derby" banner. Just perfect!!
If you use these printables at your Kentucky Derby party, please add your party to our site. I'd love to show off what you do!
Thank you, Wanessa. I always love your bold and vibrant designs!
She just recently threw her daughter a Pirate Party and made it look so easy.
I asked Melissa to share her best kept secrets, and here's what she said...
Ahoy Buckeneers! I love a good challenge! Don't you?! My "challenge" on this Pirate Party was the fact that I needed to STICK to a strict budget (not easy to do with my creative mind).
My daughter is a lover of pirates, Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates to be specific. I knew that I wanted to have a quality party and less quantity (of children) which is something "we" don't do that often! I told our daughter that she could invite 5 other girls (besides herself and her sister). What I would love to share with you today are my top 5 Pirate Party Budget Challenges and their solutions!
1. Challenge: Cover the white plastic outdoor chairs for the party table
HIGH END: White fabric pre-made chair covers (not in the budget).
BUDGET: White plastic rectangle tablecloths from the Dollar Store (didn't break the bank). You only need 1 tablecloth per 2 chairs - cutting them in 1/2 - Solution! (I also splurged on 2 rolls of black crepe paper at the same store to tie around them.)
Challenge - Venue drapery covering to cover the green tents we had up
HIGH END: Bakery made cake (my opinion - so much cake gets wasted as the children really only eat the frosting).
BUDGET: Store bought 1 layer cake used to make into Cannonball Cake Balls - sticking with a pirate theme, cannonballs seemed appropriate. Chocolate and red chocolate melts. I used reusable Push Up Pop containers to showcase them. Solution!Challenge - Quality goody bag items that will not be lost in the bottom of the Mini Van!
HIGH END: Fill with a lot of little trinkets that somehow end up at the bottom of the minivan never to be seen again - money wasted.
BUDGET: I try to find something that goes with the theme that the guest will keep for a while. In this case I found bottlecap Izzy necklaces with the chain on Etzy - less than $ 3.00 per necklace. The bags themselves I found at Hobby Lobby's after Christmas sale (red & white polka dots) for 80% off, less than $2.00 for 10 of them! I would have spent more than that on little trinket stuff that would never be seen again. Solution!Challenge - Craft that are higher end for less price
My advice on crafts, find something that can be showcased in your guests' own homes or something that they can keep and use to remember the party. In this case, I rummaged thru the clearance rack at Michael's and found these good sized pirate banks to be painted for $0.77 each! They were behind a lot of other items and I had to search to find 8 that were not broken. Success!
Thank you, Melissa, for these smart tips. A little common sense and ingenuity go a long way to throwing a great party.
I just learned of a great new site I had to share. It's called Eventup and it's an online party venue booking site.
It's based here in Santa Monica, so a few weeks ago I had coffee with the founder, Tony Adam, and he told me all about it.
Now if you're looking for that cool loft, new restaurant, or great house to throw a party or wedding at, you don't need a party planner. All you need is to head to Eventup and you'll find exactly what you need. The site currently only serves LA, San Francisco, and New York, but they plan to expand to other cities soon, so be on the lookout.
What's great about Eventup is they offer a wide range of unique locations in every price range, but I asked Tony to share with me some of the most incredible spots in LA you can book, and here's what he chose. Wait until you see these spots... You'll drool.Oviatt Penthouse in downtown Los Angeles. Housed in the 13-story Oviatt Building, this Art Deco landmark was built in 1927 and 1928 for James Oviatt. A rich haberdasher who dressed the dashing likes of John Barrymore and Clark Gable, Oviatt’s building was inspired by the novel splendors of Art Deco he viewed on a trip to Paris. The ground floor houses the glamorous Cicada Restaurant, featured prominently in the 2012 Oscar-winning The Artist, while upstairs, the ten-room penthouse and expansive rooftop terrace with entrancing downtown views provide 7000 feet of undeniable Jazz Age glamour for any event. Lalique himself designed the building’s glass front doors, gilded elevator doors, and etched glass used throughout the building. The rooms feature Oviatt’s original burled mahogany furniture and built-in cabinetry. Disney Hall is an architectural wonder. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, who Vanity Fair called “the most important architect of our age,” the structure’s swooping, curved façade, uniquely laden in stainless steel, is breathtaking. Within, the auditorium, fully paneled in fir wood, is equally peerless in its sailing ship-inspired design. This home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic can be rented for weddings, parties, and other events. Opened in 2003, Disney Hall may prove to be as representative of Los Angeles as the Chrysler Building is of New York City. Frank Lloyd Wright Jr.’s Sowden House in Los Feliz is one of L.A.’s most unique homes. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son Lloyd Wright in 1926, it beautifully exploits the wonders of nature, with every room surrounding a spacious central courtyard. An important part of L.A. history, the Mayan-inspired dwelling played host to famous photographer Man Ray in the 1940s and has been featured in Architectural Digest and Martin Scorcese's 2004 film The Aviator. It’s perfect for a truly exceptional wedding, launch party, or birthday soiree.
This mid-century modern home in the Trousdale Estates section of Beverly Hills was designed by a builder of dozens of homes in Palm Springs, a city that exudes mid-century style. The 5000-square foot Simon House is situated on an acre of land. The front entryway is home to a unique reflecting pool reminiscent of the one Peter Sellers lost his shoe in Blake Edwards’ 1967 comedy The Party, while the backyard features lush gardens, an infinity Jacuzzi, a heated pool, ocean views, and complete privacy. It’s an ideal setting for photo shoots, filming, and select events.Union Station is a unique and stylish choice. Across from Olvera Street in Chinatown, the bustling station dating back to 1939 brings a sense of style, action, and adventure to any event. Surrounded by palm trees, this landmark’s architecture is Spanish Revival with Moorish influences. The waiting area retains its original elegance with dozens of plush leather-and- wood Art Deco armchairs and vaulted, ornately painted soaring ceilings. One room available only for private events is the old Main Ticketing Concourse. It features grand ironwork chandeliers, a gorgeous wooden ticket counter that doubles beautifully as a bar, and space for as many as 1,000 guests. Another private venue, a former Fred Harvey restaurant, suits a special occasion with its original, elegant details such as red leather banquettes, a horseshoe-shaped bar, and a balcony perfect for a band or DJ setup.
How awesome would it be to have your party in a train station??? Even if you don't live in LA, SF, or NYC, definitely take a look at Eventup. There are so many fun place to check out!
If you're looking for some creative and exciting ideas to bring to your New Year's Eve party, here are my favorites (Click on the images to see more)...
How impressed would your guests be if you served them champagne cupcakes! If you're looking for a great recipe check this one out from Sprinkle Bakes, and for the easy version, take a look at what Betty Crocker has baked up.
BLACK AND WHITE DAMASK
An easy way to make a statement and add some style, is to use black and white damask. How about buying some cheap black and white damask fabric and using it as a table cloth, a table runner, or as part of a backdrop...
Plus, add these free damask printables to finish off the look.
GOLD AND SILVER
Add a few pieces of gold and silver to pump up the glam and to let people know that this is no small celebration (even if it is a small celebration :)).
Adding tuxedos and top hats will add a touch of sophistication and whimsy to your party.
Here are some free retro printables that will add a festive 1920's feel to your party.
FREE PRINTABLE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION CARDS
How about asking your guests to write down their New Year's resolutions? Just print these cards out and pass them around. Good conversation starter, don't you think?
Ooh la la! I saw Heather L's Pink Parisian Patisserie Party and I was swooning -- all that pink, all those treats, all those fluffy pom poms!
Then I noticed the budget... $75! Can't be done, I thought. But I was proven wrong. Here's how Heather pulled it off...
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I LOVE to throw a party! I have so many ideas running through my head, it can get overwhelming at times. However, I get a reality check every time I think about actually implementing all of my crazy plans when I remember the “B” word – BUDGET.
As a stay at home mom of five, with a hardworking husband who has recently started his own business, I feel that it is my job to keep a very strict budget when it comes to party planning – but still make those in my life feel special and spoiled! Over time, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for creating a fabulous party on a budget. Here are a few ways I saved money but still managed to get the look of a more extravagant party.
Use what you have, borrow what you don’t! This is my favorite tip, and I cannot stress this enough. For this particular party, my daughter wanted a cupcake/bakery theme. As I was thinking of ideas for the party, I realized that a French bakery theme would be cute – especially since my daughters’ shared bathroom is decorated in a pink/black Parisian theme.
I simply borrowed some items from their bathroom – like the metal Eiffel tower, a small painting, a cute poodle, and much more! I also pulled many things from both daughters’ rooms. If it was pink or black, I grabbed it =)
I had a ton of tulle on hand (that I have kept since my 12 year old daughter’s fourth birthday!) so I used tulle on everything. For NO money, I had instant party décor. As you are deciding on a theme, think about what you have in your house that matches your colors – maybe there is a red bucket, a cute aqua shelf, or a pink bird cage that would look just PERFECT dressed up for your party. Additionally, borrow what you can – for my Paris party, I borrowed several serving plates/platters as well as both tablecloths I used.
Don’t plan your party during a meal time. I purposely planned our party for 2:00 – 4:00 pm. I knew that I couldn’t afford to serve a huge spread of food, so I kept it light and simple – and it was perfect for little tummies!
I served cupcakes (baked at home using boxed mix and canned frosting that I piped on to look more “professional”), sugar cookies I baked and decorated myself, marshmallow pops (I already had the marshmallows and just purchased pink candy melts with a coupon), a little candy, and some grapes and pretzels to balance out all the sweet stuff. I already had the grapes and pretzels on hand for my kids’ lunches, so I only had to purchase a few items. Our drinks were inexpensive “Shirley Temples” made with Sprite and grenadine.
The kids had plenty to eat and most even took some treats home with them. If I had served lunch, I would have busted my budget for sure.
Start planning early. I always start planning my parties well in advance. One reason for this is that I just can’t help myself – I’m always looking forward to the next party =)
The main reason, though, is so I can start looking for items that are deeply discounted that go with my theme. You can find cute buckets, frames, serving pieces, scrapbook paper/supplies, etc. on major clearance at craft stores if you know what you are looking for. It might be on sale six months before your party, but if you know your theme ahead of time you can purchase it at a great price.
Use party printables (reasonably priced ones). In my opinion, cute party printables really do make your party. However, you have to factor in the cost of purchasing them as well as printing them. If you purchase a very expensive party printable package and then go to the office supply store to get it printed (or use up all of your own very expensive ink!), you might be shocked at how much of your budget is gone. Shop around, and find a reasonably priced printable package.
I was able to find a great one for my Paris party for only $10! Even if you can only afford to get one printable item, such as cupcake toppers/party circles, print a bunch of them and use them everywhere. Other than cupcakes, you can use them as favor tags, to dress up store bought party hats, or even glue them to ribbons and have them hanging from your chandelier. For my Paris party, my very talented mom embellished the already adorable banner that I printed, and it looked like a million bucks!
Do it yourself. People tell me all the time that they “can’t” make things, or they “aren’t crafty.” Well, let me tell you – if you have a small budget, you’ll figure it out quickly =)
Every single party I do, I make most of the decorations. There are SO many tutorials out there in blog land – just Google what you are looking for and you are sure to find instructions on how to make it. Everything might not be perfect, but my kids don’t care – and they are SO proud to tell their friends, “My mom made that!”
For this party, I wanted a beautiful floral arrangement for my front door, and while I do consider myself pretty crafty, I am NO floral arranger – at all! But, I was determined, so I purchased five bunches of flowers at the Dollar Tree and played around with them in a door bucket I already had until I achieved the look I liked. I tied a little ribbon and tulle around it, stuck in a party sign (and a cute little poodle) and voila! I can only imagine how much I would have paid a professional to design that bucket for me. Certainly more than the $5 it cost me =)
Here is the breakdown of the cost of my party. (My mom purchased the adorable little macarons from Trader Joe's as well as some of the candy):
- Printables/printing - $15
- Paper goods - $12
- French cupcake tags (used as party décor) - $4
- Flowers (from Dollar Tree – five bunches) - $5
- Candy - $6
- Poodles (party favors – purchased from Oriental Trading) - $15
- Craft supplies - $9 (I already had many supplies on hand, such as ribbon, glue, tulle, rhinestones, etc.)
- Baking supplies - $8 (had some on hand, only needed to purchase candy melts and some extra canned icing)
Just amazing, Heather! Thank for sharing all your smart tips. It shows that with a little ingenuity, you can add lots of special touches without spending a fortune.
If you haven't already, check out the rest of Heather's chic party.
I'm always impressed by people who can throw amazing parties on the tiniest of budgets. I was a fan of Melissa N's Baseball BBQ when I first saw it, but then when I read she put it together for $100, I had to know more.
So here are Melissa's top 5 tips for how she saved money throwing her Baseball BBQ...
One can of chalkboard paint has gotten me through 5 parties so far! I use them for signs and all sorts of decor! The scoreboard for the baseball party is being reused for a 7th birthday party... just using some chalkboard paint to cover the last sign. (I use chalkboard markers on the boards and they tend to not all come off that easily, so I like to repaint them.)
The green "turf" on the table was used at our Easter Egg Hunt and made a great covering for the baseball party also! Cost was $8 and so far I have recycled it through two parties!
4. BUY ON CLEARANCE - Rummage through the clearance bins and dollar bins at Target, Party City, Walmart and more. I always buy anything in primary colors because they can always be altered with paint and other crafty items.
The striped table clothes that you see on the tables and on the main baseball table were purchased at Target on sale, and I am reusing them for 3 more up coming parties! Big savings there!
5. RESEARCH way a head of time - I always use the Internet for research beforehand and using FREE printable (making sure to give credit back to the original blog or website).
Thinking outside the box, and being creative with food also, the s'more pops were a big hit and easy and very economical to make!
Thank you, Melissa, for these helpful money-saving ideas! My two biggest takeaways from this post are... Reuse anything and everything, and chalkboard paint is your friend. :)
Take a look at all the fabulous parties Melissa has added to our site. She is definitely an entertaining expert!
I love July 4th. I don't know why because in Los Angeles it is always cloudy at the beach. But take a look at these gorgeous July 4th parties people have added to our site. If you are in the need of ideas, here are some great ones! (Click on the photo or link to see the whole party.)
Norene's 4th of July Party
Laura's Americana Luau
Magnolia Creative Co's Budget Friendly Patriotic Party
Molly E's Celebrate our Independence!
Pinwheel Lane Parties creates custom party decorations like banners, cupcake toppers, favor tags and bags -- all with serious flair!
And no need to print them out and assemble them yourself. They do all the work for you and send you the finished product in the mail. Plus they will customize orders to fit your party needs.
Look at how cute these party packages are...
To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is "like" Pinwheel Lane Parties on Facebook, then come back here and leave a comment that you did just that.
Thank you, gals, for doing this wonderful giveaway with us!
We’ll pick the winner at random on Thursday, June 30th at 10:00PM (PST). Any entries after that won’t be considered, sorry. We will use random.org to generate our winner and will notify you by email.