Tips for Hosting a Successful Party

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks. Sarah is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger.

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Tips for Hosting a Successful Party

Playing host or hostess is an extremely rewarding experience; especially when bringing loved ones together to celebrate family ties. But it can also be a daunting proposal for party planners faced with coordinating the wide variety of details involved in carrying-off successful parties.

You are out to have a good time too, so getting a firm handle on your party plans allows you to relax and go with the flow. Use these proven tips to take the stress out of the equation, launching trouble-free fun for your entire family.

Plan Ahead for Success

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Start your party planning effort with a wide angle view; roughly deciding when you’d like to host a gathering. Certain times each year, like holiday seasons and summer months; when kids are out of school, are heavily scheduled for many families, so choosing prime-time dates may limit your guest list. On the other hand, advance notice gives friends and family plenty of time to mark the date for your special event.

At the very least, craft your timetable much as you would for a wedding or other occasion, supplying at least a month’s notice for your guests. As you firm-up plans, consider other things that might be happening in people’s lives. Graduation season, for example, furnishes built-in commitments for families, who may not be able to attend your party during this busy period. Major, isolated events can also hinder attendance – don’t try to compete with sporting events or religious holidays for your guests’ attention.

Keep it Simple

Hosting festive gatherings immediately pushes your own expectations higher. After all, you want to put your best foot forward, staging a memorable event. For successful parties, resist the urge to take on more than you can reasonably handle – despite your desire to impress your guests.

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Ambitious menus, for example, quickly spiral beyond manageability, taking all the fun out of host and hostess duties. Instead of trying new dishes and calling-on exotic ingredients, stick to simpler fare, using proven recipes and sure-thing crowd-pleasing dishes. And don’t forget to project your menu selections to the scale of your party. While elaborate canapés with detailed presentations are manageable by the dozen, you may find it unreasonable to produce hundreds of them for large parties.

Though variety is the spice of life, you needn’t prove it with sprawling menu selections. Instead, focus on a few well-prepared offerings with mass appeal. And whenever possible, include items you can prepare ahead of time, reducing your commitment on the big day.

Call-In Reinforcements

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Family gatherings are all about having fun and reconnecting with loved ones you don’t see as often as you’d like. When working out the details of your party, remember others have walked before you, facing the same host and hostess duties on your plate. To ease your own burden, enlist the help of friends and family willing to contribute to the party-planning effort. Each aspect covered by helpers checks a responsibility off your own list; leading to a well-rounded event and less stress for you.

Mobilize volunteers in ways that help you most. If you need a decorating committee, for instance, tap creative contributors for ideas and input fostering festive ambiance. Or if the party grows beyond numbers you generally accommodate, request spare chairs, tables, and other needed items from helpers, rather than buying or renting them yourself.

Hosting parties can be fun, as long as you don’t become overwhelmed. For sure-fire success, start with a reasonable game plan, using advance coordination to rein in the details. And don’t be afraid to use helpful volunteers to pull-off entertaining, worry-free events.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com

Olympic Games Party 2014

 

I’m always looking for an excuse to have a party and the Olympics is great excuse!  I really didn’t come up with the idea until Friday morning (our weekly pizza and game night) so I had to do things fast!

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Sochi Olympic Mascot Print Outs

The Sochi mascots are soooo cute. I found  a great site with these printouts that I used for decorating.  This site  is great because they give you the option of printing them in color or black and white.  My granddaughter spent a significant time coloring her own mascots to take home.  Follow the link below  to print out your Sochi mascots.

dltk-kids Olympic Mascots

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Olympic Rings Cake

This Olympic rings cake is super simple.  I originally wanted to use fruit to make the rings but most of the fruit I needed to use was $5.00 for a small container so I opted for a less healthy option and went with M&Ms.  Use a glass or a round cookie cutter to mark where the rings should  go before placing your candies.

Sochi Olympic Placemats

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I also made placemats  for each  of the grandkids.  I just printed this cute picture of the mascots on two pieces of 8 1/2 by 11 sheets of paper.  There are many complicated ways to do this but the way I do  it is so simple! 

First make your image as large as possible on your in the “portrait” layout. Some of the picture will be pulled off the page- that’s what it’s supposed to do.   Print this half of your picture.  Then carefully drag the portion of your picture that was cut off back onto the paper and print it off.   Match the two halves together, cut off the white area on the inside edge, overlap until the picture matches up perfectly, tape together and then laminate.

Follow this link for the picture I used to make my placemats.

Sochi Olympic Mascot Placemats

Red, White and Blue Drink

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The idea behind this drink is choosing 3 drinks with varying sugar content and layering the drinks with the highest sugar on the bottom working up to the no-sugar drink on top. We used cranberry juice  for the bottom layer, blue Gatorade for the middle layer and Sprite Zero with 0 grams sugar for the top layer. Just fill each glass with ice, pour  in the cranberry juice, followed by the Gatorade and top with the Sprite.  This would be perfect for your Independence Day party also.

Olympic Rings Pizza

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I’m kind of embarrassed to show this picture of our Olympic rings pizzas but like said, I didn’t give myself much time to throw this party  together.  If you have a large group you could just buy 5 pizzas and set them on your serving area in a “ring” arrangement.  We only had 12 at our party and couldn’t really justify buying 5 pizzas so I made my own  dough  and made five mini pizzas.  I also made a large pizza so I would have enough  food to feed my family but this is what I  put  on the table.

Red, White and Blue Salad

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My daughter made red, white and blue salad using strawberries, blueberries and Feta cheese.  She served it with a raspberry vinaigrette for the dressing.

What’s the deal with all the red, white and blue you may ask- well,  besides celebrating the Sochi Olympics we wanted to cheer  on our own USA athletes and wish them luck.

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I decorated the table with my Olympic placemats, a light blue tablecloth, blue plates with white and blue candies sprinkled around.  It really wasn’t too fancy but when my grand-daughter walked into the room and saw it she exclaimed, “Oh look, it’s a party!”  She was so excited she danced with joy.  So glad I threw this Olympic party together!

Aunt MO

Are You Ready For Christmas- Take The Test

Are You Ready for Christmas?

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original artwork©delightful-doodles.com

Take this test to find out if you’re ready for Christmas

If you have attended a Christmas party give yourself 1 point, if you hosted a holiday party give yourself 5 points. If you didn’t yell at anyone while you were setting up for the party give yourself 2 extra points.

Give yourself 1 point if you’ve started you Christmas cards, add 5 points if you’ve mailed them. If you sent your holiday greeting on Facebook deduct 2 points.

Give yourself 1 point if you’ve started Christmas shopping and 5 points if you’ve finished all of your Christmas shopping. If you had to pay 2-day or overnight shipping on an online order so it would get here on time deduct 2 points.

Give yourself 1 point if you’ve begun your Christmas baking, and 5 points if you’re all done. If you put sprinkles on something give yourself 2 extra points.

Give yourself 1 point if your gifts are all wrapped and 5 points if you wrapped them yourself. Deduct 2 points if you paid someone to wrap them.

If you have purchased your Christmas ham give yourself 1 point. If you have purchased a Christmas turkey give yourself 5 points. If you shot a Christmas goose, give yourself 2 extra points.

Give yourself 1 point for each item you’ve eaten in December: sugar plums, a roasted chestnut, Figgie pudding, Christmas goose or eggnog. (5 points possible)

If you are wearing something red or green give yourself 1 point. If you are wearing a Christmas sweater give yourself 5 points. If you are wearing Christmas underwear give yourself 2 extra points. (Must be willing to prove it.)

If you have sung “Jingle Bells” this Christmas give yourself 1 point, if you have gone caroling, give yourself 5 points, if you have performed in a Christmas play, program or concert give yourself an extra 2 points.

If you have watched the movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” give yourself 1 point, if you have watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” give yourself 5 points.

If your birthday is in December give yourself 1 point, if it is Christmas Day give yourself 5 points.

If you’ve seen Santa this year, give yourself 1 point. If you’ve sat on Santa’s knee give yourself 5 points. If you’ve kissed Santa give yourself 2 extra points.

If you’ve put Christmas decorations outside your home, give yourself 1 point. If you checked to see if they were working give yourself 5 points. Give yourself 2 extra points if your lights were still working after you put them up.

If you will have 10 or less people at your table for Christmas dinner give yourself 1 point, if you will have more than 10 people at your table for Christmas dinner take some headache medicine, put your feet up and give yourself 5 points. If you will be eating a TV dinner for your Christmas meal subtract 2 points.

25 points or more- Congratulations, you’re ready for Christmas! Christmas is definitely your thing. You love every minute of the holidays.

15- 24 points- You’re getting closer! Just a few more presents to buy and it’ll be time for some hot cocoa!

Less than 15 points- It’s not Christmas yet! RIGHT? Going shopping now…

Black Friday Shopping a Family Tradition

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For our family, Black Friday shopping is a Thanksgiving tradition as rich as turkey stuffing or pumpkin pie.  We wake before the crack of dawn the morning after turkey day and start hunting down Black Friday bargains.

I know that many of you are shaking your head in disgust right now- for many  people staying up late or getting up in the wee hours of morning seems ridiculous to you.  I’ll be the first to admit that you have to be a little (maybe a lot) crazy to get up early and be standing in a long line by 5 a.m.- in the cold, and the psycho crowds, but for me, it’s not about the bargains out there or the money I might save- it’s about the family memories we make. 

Black Friday Memories

In our family we enjoy remembering the time Uncle Lee almost got trampled (Well, not really but it makes a better story) by a mob of frenzied shoppers fighting over Furby pets.

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We loved the year Sears gave out free $10.00 gift cards to the first person in line and we all came out with our purchases and hadn’t spent a dime of our own money.  My daughter still has the slippers she bought that day and wears them proudly.

Then there was the year we stood in a freezing cold Staples line and they brought everyone hot chocolate.  The hot Styrofoam cup kept our hands warm while we stood in line and talked and laughed about how stupid it was to be standing outside in the freezing cold at five in the morning.

One year our main priority was to hit the huge sock sale at Fred Meyers but when we entered the store we found it overflowing with bargain sock shoppers that we left without purchasing even one pair of socks.

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For the Wells family, Black Friday is an event and a rite of passage for pre-teens as they hope to be included in the early morning shopping spree.

My brother Lee, Uncle Steven and I are the instigators of the craziness and a few years ago we took Black Friday Shopping to a whole new level with an “Application to Go Black Friday Shopping With Aunt Mo & Uncle Lee” form.  This was a tongue-in-cheek application that those who wanted to go shopping had to fill out.  (A copy of this form can be  found at the end of this blog.)

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My brother, Scott, added some “over the top” fun to the event by organizing all of the ads for Black Friday sales in a crate with hanging file folders.  He was adamant that we return all ads to their specific file location so that everything stayed organized.  (Of course, all his organizing was only a ploy to be accepted as a member of our Black Friday shopping team.)

Black Friday Shopping Tips

Here’s some things we’ve learned to help us have a successful shopping trip:

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Make a plan.  Decide in advance which stores have the best bargains for the most shoppers in your group.

Leave your coat in the car and anything else that makes it difficult to maneuver through the store.

Beat the system by shopping in teams. We always separate into teams and go after items that we want.  One person (usually Uncle Steve) always heads for the check-out line so we don’t have to waste so much time waiting in line to check out.

One final note to store and shop owners- please don’t ruin Black Friday shopping by opening your doors a week early and calling it a “pre Black Friday” sale.  It seems that stores are opening earlier than ever and some have door busters slated for the day before Black Friday, letting you shop after Thanksgiving dinner.   I guess you’d say I am a purest- I like Black Friday where it’s supposed to be- the day after Thanksgiving, very early in the morning and surrounded by my family- at least those that filled out a Black Friday shopping application.

Aunt MO

Black Friday Application

Application to Go Black Friday Shopping With Aunt Mo & Uncle Lee

Black Friday shopping is a very serious business. It is a great honor to be part of Aunt Mo and Uncle Lee’s Black Friday shopping team. If you would like to be considered for a spot on the our Black Friday shopping team please fill out the following questioner and give it to Aunt Mo or Uncle Lee by 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day. We have very strict guidelines and take our Black Friday shopping very seriously. We will notify all successful candidates by 9:00 PM that same day. Good luck!

NAME ____________________ AGE ______

1. How many times have you been Black Friday shopping? ___________________________________

2. Are you an experienced Black Friday shopper YES or NO

3. What time will you go to bed Thanksgiving night? ________________________________________

4. Do you push the “snooze” button when your alarm goes off? YES or NO (We don’t want to wait for you)

5. What will you be shopping for? ________________________________________________________

6. Name three stores you would like to shop at? List in order of importance.

1.__________

2. __________

3. __________

7. How much cash will you bring with you? _______________________________________________

8. Do you have a credit or debit card? YES or NO (We do not allow those who use checks as they slow us down)

9. What do you feel is a good price to pay for a Hot Wheel car on Black Friday? __________________

10. Are you willing to stand in line while others shop? YES or NO

11. How fast do you run the mile? _________________________________________________________

12. How many pounds can you bench press? _______________________________________________

Please attach one letter of reference to this form.

Thank you for applying to be part of our Black Friday team. We will contact you by 9:00 PM Thanksgiving night.

When You Were My Age Giveaway

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We’re so excited about our new and updated version of “When You Were My Age Party” that we’re giving away a free copy to one of our subscribers.  Just tell us what celebration you might  use this party  for in the comments section of this blog and we will randomly select one person to receive a free copy on December 1st, 2013.

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Our new version of “When You Were My Age” includes a fill in the blank invitation and gives you 37 pages of information for the years 1921- 2010.

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This is such a fun program, fashioned after a Bill Cosby Show episode and was called, "When Mom Was my Age." We have done variations of the program for 70th and 80th birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries. Each time we do "When You Were My Age" everyone is thrilled and excited to be a part of the celebration. Everyone has a part on the program and an opportunity to highlight world events and significant family happenings throughout the life of your loved one.

This is a great way to honor your Grandma or Grandpa on their special birthday or your Dad or Mom on their 50th anniversary. Celebrating a landmark birthday or anniversary is always going to be a lot of work but with this package you’ll be well on your way to saying "We love you" in a very special way.

When You Were My Age

Introductory offer- 50% off our Caveman Reunion

Caveman Reunion Personalization

For the next seven days Family Reunion Helper is offering special pricing on our Caveman reunion theme package- $12.95. You can save 50% on this package if you order it before it’s official release November 14th.

New and Improved Caveman Reunion

Caveman Reunion Personalization

We’re excited to share with you the new line of products our staff has been working on for the upcoming reunion season. The Caveman reunion has been given a complete overhaul and now includes new invitations, water bottle labels and name tags. Choose either a formal or fun Caveman theme.

Caveman Reunion Personalization

http://familyreunionhelper.com/products/products.php?ProductID=1

Take your family back in time to celebrate with a Prehistoric Family

Caveman Reunion

Reunion complete with dinosaurs and cave dwellers. With this fun family reunion you can plan a Saber Tooth Tiger Cateye hike in the dark or challenge family members to work together to make a prehistoric pipeline. Children at your reunion will have fun with their dinosaur hunting license, searching for dinosaur eggs or making prehistoric slime. They’ll also love “Lost World” obstacle course.

A fill-in-the blank invitation is included along with water bottle labels and reunion name tags in two styles to choose from- forma or fun. You will also find recipes and ideas for “Good Things to Eat”. Don’t forget to print off the dinosaur Bunko score card and leave dinosaur footprints all over your reunion site with the footprint printable pattern. Reunion activities for one day or a weekend of prehistoric family fun!
Purchase Item

M & M or Skittle Ice Breaker Game

Getting to Know You Game

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Take a bag of M&M’s or Skittles candy and tell everyone to grab a handful…or specify a number (I prefer this if you have a large group so it doesn’t take so long- I suggest each family member take 4 or 5 candies) You might also choose to split up in smaller groups such as children under 12, 12 and over, young adults etc. if you have a larger group such as a family reunion.

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Assign a different meaning to each color, blue= family, green=hobbies, yellow=animals, brown= work or school etc. Participants must tell one thing about themselves for how many candies they have in their hands using the colors as their guide. They may also eat them as they share their information.  (“Blue…I have two sisters.”, then eats the candy. “Yellow…I have a dog named Kodi.”, and eats the candy etc.) If you have two or more of the same color you have to tell one thing per candy regardless the color.

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This is a good ice breaker because you can play it as soon as your party is supposed to start and those that come a little late can participate when they arrive.

Dinosaur Party Game

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Carnivores vs. Herbivores Game

This is a fun dinosaur game to play outside. Divide family members into two teams, the Carnivores and the Herbivores.

Give each Carnivore a small sheet of dinosaur stickers. When you say "Go", the Carnivores chase the Herbivores. A Herbivore is "caught" when a Carnivore places a sticker on his or her back. The Herbivore must "freeze" until another Herbivore releases him or her by removing the sticker.

Play until the Carnivores run out of stickers. Distribute stickers to the Herbivores and repeat the game.

NOTE:  This game comes from our Caveman Reunion Theme. 
Caveman Reunion

Crescent Roll Pizzas for Family Game Night

 

At our house, Friday night, is pizza and game night.  On Friday night, all the kids and grandkids that are available come to our house for homemade pizza and fun.  The truth be known I get a little tired of pizza every Friday so I’m always on the look out for non-traditional ways to prepare pizza and was excited about this super simple but yummy pizza variation.

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You’ll only need four ingredients:

Pillsbury crescent rolls
Pizza sauce
Pepperoni or favorite pizza toppings
Cheese sticks

Preheat oven by the directions on the crescent’s

  • unroll the crescents
  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of pizza sauce (more if you don’t mind the mess)
  • Place pepperoni or other topping on top of the sauce at the wide end of the crescent
  • Put your cheese on the wide end of the crescent
  • Roll beginning at the  wide end of the crescent
  • Bake for about 8-10 mins.
  • Let cool and enjoy!

Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts part 2

 

Scavenger Hunt Clues Using Pictures

Take a picture of the location of a hidden clue but only take a portion of the picture. In the example below you can see that just a portion of the word is shown.  You could do part of a clock, drinking fountain, corner of tent, a car wheel with interesting rims etc.  When the hunters figure out what the clue is a picture of they run to that location to get their next picture clue and so on until they find the treasure.  This does take some advance planning but makes for fun hunt for even the very young that may not be good readers.
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Secret Codes Hunt

Writing secret codes is another way to generate clues. Using numbers in place of letters is an easy way to create the code (1=a, 2=b, etc.), but  using a backwards letter code can make things a little extra challenging. Decipher the  clue to find out where to look for their next clue.

Urban Race

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As a Youth Council advisor for our town, I had the fun opportunity to participate in a Great Urban Race at Utah State University.  The teenagers learned a lot about the university by unscrambling clues and completing challenges to complete the race.  The kids loved it and I couldn’t help but think what a fun activity it could be for a family reunion, especially if you held your reunion in a town that your family had ties to. 

Urban Race is the team race that’s part photo hunt and part trivia. Teams must solve clues to find checkpoints throughout the city. To move on they must take photos or perform certain tasks to earn points.

The fun part of an urban race is that the use of cellphones is  okay. Teams may call family members left back at the reunion site to get help with difficult trivia. Everyone gets a chance to participate in the fun.

Riddle Clues

Scavenger Hunt Ideas & Riddles | Treasure Hunting | Riddle Me

The most difficult part of a treasure or scavenger hunt for me is making up the  clues, it’s also time consuming. I found a website that can help with that- it’s called “Riddle Me”. They have over Over 10,000 Riddles on 1,200 objects and can target different age groups and types of gatherings.  Their program also lets you be in control over the time of the activity, because it lets you decide how many clues to print in a scavenger hunt.