{PARTY ON A BUDGET} Pirate Party

by Jillian Leslie on

Melissa N from My Party Passion is a party aficionado. She's added thirty three parties to our site! The best thing about Melissa is she knows how to throw a great party on the tiniest of budgets.

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.)


2.   Challenge - Venue drapery covering  to cover the green tents we had up
HIGH END:  Fabric Curtains or other fabric to use as curtains around the tents.
BUDGET:    Again using Dollar store tablecloths for the curtain effect.  Solution!
3.  Challenge - Find a cake the guests will eat and not waste

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!

4.  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!

I also found the black medium size handled bags after Halloween for $0.28 each. Slap on a skull and crossbones sticker and you have a goody bag, or in my case a bag for the kids to put all their loot in (crafts, etc.).
5 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!  

In short, don't be afraid to search out deals, bargains, clearance items, and Etsy for some great goody bag ideas! Use your local Dollar Store and find the after-holiday sales at the party stores to pick up generic colored items to be used for other parties!  

Thank you, Melissa, for these smart tips. A little common sense and ingenuity go a long way to throwing a great party.

Do check out Melissa's other fantastic parties on our site and her new blog, My Party Passion.

Eventup -- A New Site to Book Cool Party Venues

by Jillian Leslie on

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

Tap into the glitter of old Hollywood at the 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

Downtown Los Angeles’ 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 Wright Jr Mansion - Sowden House

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.

Simon House

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

Admittedly, a train station might be the last place you might consider for a fabulous party, but 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!

{RECIPE} Delicious Soft Pretzels with Two Dipping Sauces (Spicy Gruyère and Creamy Nutella)

by Jillian Leslie on

My husband is really excited about baseball season starting, so I thought it would be fun to try my hand at baking homemade pretzels.

I love hot pretzels, especially when paired with a good dipping sauce (like the spicy Gruyère and creamy Nutella recipes I've included below). Honestly, what could be better than enjoying a hot pretzel and a cold beer while watching baseball?

Plus, if you like making dough -- mixing it, kneading it, shaping it -- this is a very satisfying recipe to try. The results are fantastic!

Here's how you do it...



pretzel dough

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115F)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter (melted)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or pretzel salt (for topping)
poaching liquid
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda


In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, and yeast to 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Let the bowl stand about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. It should bubble.

Add the flour and melted butter and mix until completely combined.

If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, you can mix on low for 5 minutes. Otherwise, drop the dough on a smooth surface and knead for 7-10 minutes (trust me, it's not hard).

Put the dough in a  lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour. The dough should roughly double in size.

After it the dough has risen, preheat the over to 450F and start boiling the 10 cups of water in a large stock pot. Once you have a rolling boil, add the 2/3 cup baking soda. Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat, or very lightly oiled parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into 16 inch ropes. The dough is very elastic, so it will tend to shrink a few inches as soon as you stop rolling it out - that's normal.

To make a traditional pretzel, take the rope and form a 'U' shape. Twist the ends twice, then fold them back down onto the base of the 'U'.

To make pretzel bites, take the 16" ropes and cut into 2" sections.

For the traditional pretzels, lower them carefully into the boiling water with a spatula. They will sink initially, but float up to the surface after 15-20 seconds. Let them boil for about 45 seconds then lift them out with a spatula, and movebthem to the baking sheet. If you are making pretzel bites, you can add 8-10 at a time. I like to use a large slotted spoon to scoop them out.

Brush the egg yolk on the tops of the pretzels, then sprinkle some coarse sea salt over the top (use as much as you'd like).

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until you get a nice brown exterior.

Serve warm with a cold beer and a nice cheesy dipping sauce.



  • 4 ounces of grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of kosher salt

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat (you don't want to brown the butter). When the butter starts to bubble,  whisk in the flour. Whisk over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Add about a quarter of the milk to the sauce pan, and whisk until the mixture is smooth, and there are no lumps of flour. Add the rest of the milk, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so.

Whisk in the garlic clove (finely minced, or pressed), chili powder, and mustard powder.

Turn off the heat, and add the cheese in 4 parts, mixing after each until it is melted. Add salt to taste.

Here's my daughter tasting the pretzels with the Nutella/whipped cream sauce!  Start with Nutella and add the whipped cream until you like the creamy consistency. Yum!

The whole thing takes about 1 1/2 hours (because of rising time), and makes 16 traditional pretzels, or 50 pretzel bites. Trust me, these are good!


FREE "It's a Boy" Baby Shower Printables from Green Apple Paperie

by Jillian Leslie on

We recently gave away an adorable collection of free girl baby shower printables, and today I'm thrilled to be giving away the matching boy baby shower set. These printables were designed by Katie from Green Apple Paperie.  I just love how classic and modern they are.

The collection includes: invitations, thank you cards, party circles, cupcake wrappers, Hershey’s Kiss labels, wish tree cards, advice for mom cards, water bottle labels, tented cards, straw flags, and an “It’s a Boy” banner.


Here are a couple photos to see how great they look...

To learn more about Katie and see all of her beautiful designs, check out her Etsy shop andFacebook page. Thank you, Katie, for creating such sweetness for our readers!


{DIY} How to Make a Moss Covered Monogrammed Letter

by Jillian Leslie on

I saw these moss covered letters Raychel from Kush Event Planning made for the Black and White Damask Wedding she styled and I loved how rustic and classic they looked.

Raychel generously offered to put together a DIY on how she made them, so please, Raychel, take it away...

Hi all you Catch My Party readers! I’m Raychel from Kush Event Planning. There is no way I can describe my excitement over being asked by Jillian to do a DIY feature for them! So here it is.

I am partial to making parties, weddings, and events very personal. What better way than displaying the guest of honor or host’s initial. First initial, last initial, even a monogram would be super cute!

I have made these letters covered in many mediums, but one of my favorites is moss. It gives such an earthy feeling. I love this look for country/homespun weddings, but if done right can work so nicely with an upscale/elegant scheme too. Even better – great for your front door to welcome SPRING! (I’m sure you’re all as ready for that as I am!)


  • Cardboard letter
  • Spray adhesive (this gets messy so I suggest you do this project outdoors, with newspaper, and if you have rubber gloves it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wear them)
  • Moss sheets -- (I use this Super Moss it’s on a mesh mat and sometimes has a brown paper backing)
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon (optional-- if you choose to hang it you will need about a yard of ribbon depending on how you want to hang it. Otherwise you can just stand it up on a table, shelf, mantel, etc.)
I purchased all of my supplies at Joann Fabrics and Crafts. And if you use coupons you can get all of the supplies (not including the scissors) for about $11. A little craft buying tip: Joann Fabrics (at least ours) lets you use as many coupons as you want! Including competitors coupons (as long as it’s something they also sell). That has saved me SO much moolah!
Step One

Step one is a bit tricky. Figuring out how to cut and glue your moss. It varies with each letter since each one has a completely different shape. It also depends on if you want to cover both sides, or just the front. If you’re hanging it on a wall or door you really don’t need to cover the back.  For the “W” (and quite a few others) I find it easiest to completely cover the front and outer sides of the letter, then cut away the excess. I started with one side and sprayed as I went while pulling the moss somewhat tight so it lays flat on the cardboard. 

And if it’s an extremely windy day you might need some help holding down your newspaper.

(My son, Jackson and my niece, Sophie were perfect for the job.)

Step Two

To make the corners, fold up the sides and glue. You will get a little “tail”. Just cut it off right up against the cardboard to make it flush. The moss is so forgiving that you will hardly be able to tell there is a seam there, and if you do see a seam just pick up some of the moss pieces that have fallen on your paper (or all over your clothes—but don’t worry it brushes right off) and spray a tiny bit of adhesive to cover up the seam. 

Step Three

Cut strips of moss to fit into spaces that are not covered and fill in gaps. You can either cut and then glue or glue and then trim along the edges. 

Step Four

Add ribbon. Just cut the length of ribbon you want and spray the adhesive to the tops of the back of the letter. This will take some adjusting considering the different shapes of the different letters. I planned to hang it with two ribbons with two bows and two hooks, but changed my mind and tied the two ribbon ends together to hang it by one. 

Step Five

Viola! You have a hanging (or not) moss covered letter! I decided last minute to add a silk flower to mine. Hope you all like it! Our door is ready for SPRING!!!

How gorgeous, Raychel, thank you. And how great would a letter like this be as part of your Easter decor!

To learn more about Raychel, visit her at Kush Event Planning.



My Favorite Easter Treats and Desserts So Far This Year

by Jillian Leslie on

Now that Easter is approaching, I had to highlight my favorite treats and desserts from this year. And the best part... there's no calories in looking. :) To see the whole party, just click on the link or photo.

Petit Social's A Vintage and Belle & Boo-Inspired Easter

Fanciful Events "A Tale of Cottontail"

Lynlee B's Bunny Easter Egg Hunt

Elise B's Sweet Scarlet Easter Collection

Frog Prince Paperie's Preppy Bunny Party

And if you need free Easter printables for your celebrations, we've got nine incredible collections to take a look at. Enjoy!

DIY -- How to Make a Hanging Easter Garland

by Jillian Leslie on

Here's a great DIY! Wanessa from Wanessa Carolina Creations designed these beautiful "bunnies and birds" Easter printables. Then she turned her banner into a beautiful hanging garland. Take a look at how she did it...


  1. Banner template you can download here
  2. Twine
  3. Hot glue / gun
  4. Plastic eggs (approximately 24 units)
  5. Ribbo;
  6. Wire or any kind of stems
  7. Small screw driver (to make holes on the eggs) and lighter
  8. Spray adhesive


  •  Print out two copies of the Easter banner and cut it out

  • If your eggs don't have holes in them, heat a screw driver and make a hole in the bottom and another in the top of each egg
  • Attach the twine to the wire (I didn't have a wire, so I used a Chenille stem) using a little bit of hot glue. This will make the "sewing" easy.
  • For the word "Happy" cut approximately 60" of twine. Starting  from the top, pass the twine through the first egg and make a knot very close to the top of the egg so the egg won't slip
  • Glue the twine to the middle of the H letter (make sure the letter it's not upside down)
  • Apply spray adhesive to the other H letter and stick them both together
  • Add another egg to the garland, then glue the next letter


  • Repeat these steps until you are done.
  • To finish, use 2 eggs on the bottom to make the garland heavier. You can also alternate the letters using ribbons instead of eggs.
  • For the word "Easter" use approximately 70" of twine
  • For the "Bunny/Bird" garlands, use 42"-48" of twine
Thank you Wanessa, what a great new way to make a banner! To learn more about Wanessa and see more of her designs, please visit her blog, Facebook pageand Etsy shop.

FREE Bridal Shower Printables from Wanessa Carolina Creations

by Jillian Leslie on

Wait until you see what we're giving away today! It's an entire collection of gorgeous paisley bridal shower printables designed by Wanessa from Wanessa Carolina Creations! This romantic set has everything you'll need to throw a beautiful affair, including an invitation you can add text to yourself.

The collection includes: and editable invitation (how cool!), a welcome sign, party circles, mini party circles, cupcake wrappers, tented cards, favor tags, thank you notes, return address labels, wine glass markers, drink wraps, party flags, a "love" banner, and three pieces of patterned paper. Told you it was everything!


Thank you, Wanessa, the printables are stunning, and I love your use of patterns!!

To learn more about Wanessa and see more of her designs, please visit her blog, Facebook pageand Etsy shop.

FREE "It's a Girl" Baby Shower Printables from Green Apple Paperie

by Jillian Leslie on

I'm so excited to be giving away this exclusive girl baby shower printables collection designed by Katie from Green Apple Paperie. How cute are these little onesies!!!

The collection includes: invitations, thank you cards, party circles, cupcake wrappers, Hershey's Kiss labels, wish tree cards, advice for mom cards, water bottle labels, tented cards, straw flags, and an "It's a Girl" banner.



Stay tuned for the boy baby shower collection Katie designed for us!

To learn more about Katie and see all of her fantastic designs, check out her Etsy shop and Facebook page. Thank you, Katie, I love your style!

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