Saturday, November 12, 2011

Keep the kids busy at Thanksgiving...

     At most Thanksgiving gatherings, there is plenty for the adults to do.  Cooking, setting the table, watching football, or just catching up with each other.  The kids can probably find plenty to do, too, but if you have a few things prepared to keep them busy, maybe they can stay out of trouble!!

     Coloring placemats are one of my favorite things to use anytime I am making a place setting for children.  They are easy to make, and add an activity to any celebration.  For this holiday, I printed a placemat with 2 sides.  Thanksgiving on the front, and pre-Christmas on the back.  The front has pictures to color, but you could also find word games or puzzles for free online to print out.  The most important part is the box for each person to write what they are thankful for this year.  The back is a Christmas Wish List.  Those Black Friday circulars are full of gift ideas and toy catalogs.  There are spaces for both gifts "To Get" & "To Give."

(made by Events DEE-signed)

     I LOVE this tablecover idea from the  Sweet Paul Blog.  You can get this type of wrapping paper at your local dollar store.   
(from Sweet Paul blog)
     Simply draw the placemats directly on the paper, put out some crayons, and let the kids decorate the entire table cover.  After dinner, you can either cut out each child's artwork for a keepsake or, if the table is a mess, just fold everything up in the paper and throw it all away in one quick sweep.  Then the table is ready for board games, or maybe some after-dinner crafting.

     Always have a couple of board games for indoors, and a couple of outdoor game ideas along with balls, frisbees, etc... in case you are lucky enough to have nice weather.  We still have Thanksgiving in my grandparents 2-bedroom house, even though the family has grown to 20+, so if we can send the kids outside, that's just one more enormous thing to be thankful for!!  The kids' table can be board game central, or they can set up in a spare room on the floor.

     Some kids will want to help in the set-up.  There are plenty of simple napkin folds that a child could master.  You can always find tutorials on YouTube.  This one from Danielle's Place is adorable.
(from Danielle's Place)

     Maybe they could help with a very simple appetizer that requires no cooking. This does the double-duty of keeping the kids busy and the adults from sneaking any turkey while everyone waits!!   Most children can arrange pre-cut vegetables or cheese squares onto a plate.  Another cute idea I found on Pinterest (I LOVE that site!!) is to put fruit pieces on skewers and make this Fruit Gobbler from Family Fun Magazine.  They used a cantaloupe, but I think a small pumpkin would be great.
(from Family Fun Magazine)

            I hope some of these ideas will work for you, or at least get your own imagination flowing!!


Why must the stores be an entire holiday ahead of the calendar?

     Today's post isn't so much creative and inspirational, but a bit of a rant.  I know I am not the only person that hates seeing Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving, and also hates knowing that the stores will want me to begin buying my Valentine's Day stuff around Christmas Eve!!

     I understand that items need to be sold before a holiday actually happens so that everyone can prepare, but come on!!  Even when I am prepared, I still like to go out a day before or the day of Halloween and grab a couple of things.  Nowadays, it was already on clearance a week before and gone by then.  (Silver lining to my procrastination, I do get sale prices if I manage to find anything left!!)  Even I have to start talking about holiday parties early so that people can get them on the calendar, but I will not be decorating my house or any of my sites for anything other than the closest holiday coming up.  Each one is special in its own way, and should be given its full time to be appreciated and enjoyed.

     I can force myself to accept the fact that stores may never stop this selling trend, but could they, at the very least, not take down their decorations and put up new ones until the day after a holiday?  This goes for all businesses, and even towns.  Driving down the street in my hometown in the end of October, I looked up to see the Christmas snowflakes already on the poles and lit up.  We are lucky enough to not have any of the snow that some parts of the country are getting right now, and only last week did our Fall colors finally turn to (almost) all brown.  Autumn is my favorite season.  Slow down and let my enjoy it before you start throwing winter in my face and reminding me how many shopping days I have until Christmas!!

     Sorry for the outburst, but I feel a little anxiety relieved.  Let me know how you weigh in on this subject.  Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.  I promise that my next post will have something helpful or fun to try.    

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quick & Easy Mummy Cupcakes

     These cupcakes are super easy and quick to make.  Perfect for a last minute homemade Halloween treat!!  All you need is cupcakes, white icing, and some candy corn (or any small candy for the eyes.)

     The cupcakes in the picture are chocolate and cherry chip.  For the mummy wrap, just pipe on plain white icing in strips, leaving a slit for the eyes.  I used candy corn for the eyes by cutting off the fattest stripe and inserting the pointy part into the cupcake.  The leftover candy corn makes a perfect tray garnish. 

     Hope you all get to have a fun Halloween!!    

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Table

   This is one of my absolute favorite holidays!!  Most likely it's because I LOVE any excuse to put on a costume and be a character for a little while.  The "getting scared" is a thrill, too, but only when you know it's not real. 

     The idea for this table began with the centerpiece.  I first imagined having a table that looked like a ghost was rising out of the center of the tablecloth.  I used cheesecloth and liquid starch, and made a form for the ghost with lots of large flower pots stacked on top of each other.  In my imagination, the ghost would be about 4 feet tall and the guests would be able to see across the table through it.  A time limit to finish the project along with the reality of my first try set in, and the ghost turned out to be too heavy to be that tall and not collapse.  Instead, I bunched the bottom up inside of it, and that kept it upright through the entire luncheon.  You could still see through it though, so that worked out great!!

     My very favorite part of the entire table turned out to be the placecard holders.  The idea came from a lollipop holder that looked like a monster finger, and fit on top of your own finger.  Since I found those a few Halloweens ago, I had to make my own version for this table.  I found the severed fingers I used at a Dollar Tree store.  They were already "bloody," but I painted the nails black.  I used a small craft knife to make a slit behind the nail so that they would hold the placecards.  (Yes, this was very disturbing to do.  Even though they were plastic fingers, they felt a little too real to cut. Eeewww!!)  The next task was to figure out how to make them stand up.  Rummaging through my old Halloween decorations, I found these adorable skeleton hands, and the fingers slid perfectly between the bones to stand upright.  Isn't it great when you can re-use something you bought in the past for a new idea!!

     I used window cling spooky eyes to decorate the black chargers.  (These stay on for the meal, but are removed easily so the chargers can be used for another event.)  They peeked out from behind the dinner plates.  Also, I found some creepy crawlies at the Dollar Tree (bugs, centipedes, etc...) to place under the plates for a surprise when the plate was picked up to visit the buffet.  The napkins are Halloween bandannas.  I have this great book of napkin folds just for occasions like this.  Of course, the day of this luncheon I couldn't find that book anywhere!!  YouTube to the rescue.  I was able to find a quick, easy fold along with a video instruction.  Now that the event is over, I'm sure the book will turn up. Lol !!

     Pinterest was my inspiration for some of the table decor.  I LOVE that site!!  The rest I found in my handy Halloween stash from years past.  I picked out everything I had that fit in with the whites, blacks, and reds that emerged as a theme.  I did purchase some flameless tealights for the candle holders because the ghost in the middle of the table was a bit too flammable for real candles.

     You can't have a Halloween table without a bag of treats.  This is also a great chance for some marketing. I included a business card along with the candy.  Hopefully one (or more) of the guests needs a little help planning an event.

          A bag of plastic spiders worked for table confetti, and finished off the empty spots to make the look complete.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A SpongeBob Squarepants Luau

This particular luau had lots of handmade items to make it one-of-a-kind.  Below is an example of each place setting.

I glued coloring pages onto colored construction paper, and then onto brown shipping paper (which you can find in rolls at Dollar General) to make the placemats.  The kids were able to color while waiting for their food, and they could take their artwork home after the party.

These cups started out plain yellow, and I just used a black permanent marker to draw SpongeBob's face.  Since the cups were short, I also cut the straws to fit without falling out.  These are sturdy plastic and washable, so the guests were able to take them home.

These "chum buckets" are made from clear plastic cups with pipe cleaners glued onto the sides to resemble a handle.  Gummi fish and worms, plus oyster crackers and Goldfish crackers make a pre-lunch snack for all of the guests.  I got the little "shovels" from a local ice cream shoppe.  They are the little spoons used to give out ice cream samples.

Raffia with a seashell hot-glued on holds the silverware bundles into place.

The treat bags were a huge hit.  Everything inside came from either the dollar store or Oriental Trading Company.  The bag itself started out as a plain brown lunch sack.  A few snips with scissors, a marker, and a sticker, and there you go!!

It's simple to personalize the favors.  A return address label fits perfectly around these tiny bubble bottles.

A tropical playlist specially selected for the birthday boy and girl was a special keepsake of their party.  I used a permanent marker and some stickers to decorated the cd.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sometimes simple is all you need.

This month I am running specials on Reunions.  This is one that I had with some wonderful people I had the pleasure of working with:

Recently some old work colleagues and I decided to gather and talk about the "good ol' days" together at Tres Hombres Mexican restaurant.  Plans started on Facebook with one coworker posting an event.  A few different ideas were discussed among those interested, like a float trip, a party bus, and dinner at our old restaurant.  (Now Italian instead of Mexican, but the same building.)

I started researching decoration and favor ideas.  Also looked into pricing a party bus to drive us to a nearby Tres Hombres that is still in business.  A date was picked and agreed upon.  The only problem was that no one would really commit to a definite yes or no.  While I love making party preparations, they take plenty of time, which is very scarce in the life of a single mother starting a new business.  Up until the week of the reunion, there was a chance that it wasn't going to come together at all, so I only made the most basic arrangements, just in case. 

 We were to meet in the bar area of the old restaurant where we all worked.  This way we didn't need a reservation, and it could accommodate both a small or large group.  After the group assembled, we could all make the decision to have cocktails and move on, or stay there for dinner.  It turned out to be just enough preparation for a very enjoyable evening!!  An event as "up in the air" as this really just needs a when and a where.

Of course, I couldn't leave it without just a bit of flair.  I brought a sombrero along to add just a little of the old Mexican restaurant feel.  It made a simple, yet perfect centerpiece, and this was exactly what we needed to get the picture-taking started!  We remembered old stories and looked around a bit to see what was still the same.  A nearby Mexican restaurant is where we stopped for dinner.

Margaritas, cervezas, and chips and salsa.  Just like old times!!

The moral of this story is that some celebrations only need a time and a place, and the people are what make it special.  The super-involved planning and money can go into the set events that you know will have a definite crowd.  Who knows?  We did have a great night, so maybe next time we can go for a themed reunion with all the bells and whistles.  You know I'm always up for one of those!!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Flowers for the Fourth of July

The last party I coordinated gave me a fairly generous flower budget for a birthday party, and it sparked my interest in the many different varieties of flowers available.  I plan on heading out this week and making a festive 4th bouquet for myself, so I turned to the trusty internet for some ideas.  

Red flowers seem pretty easy to come by.  The most popular and easiest to find is the red rose.  Florists always seem to keep these on hand.  I can almost always find Gerber Daisies at my florist, too.  The others probably have to be in season.

Starting top left and going clockwise:
Rose, Tulip, Gerber Daisy, Orchid, & Carnation

Blue flowers, on the other hand, seem very hard to find.  Your are most likely to find some that have been died, because true blue flowers are rare.  Most that are considered blue are more violet or purple.
Hydrangea, Delphinium, & Veronica

Now white flowers should be just as easy to find as the red ones.  Baby's breath (which I forgot to include in my collage, but I'm sure you've all seen it) is a great white filler to use, too.
Carnation, Hydrangea, Gerber Daisy, Daffodil,
Hibiscus, Jasmine, Orchid, & Calla Lily

A perfect way to top off a patriotic bouquet would be to insert mini American flags, and maybe some metallic streamers shooting out like fireworks!!  I will try to get a picture of whatever I end up creating, and I would love to see some of your red, white, and blue bouquets, too.  

Do any of you have a good flower suggestion for this holiday?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dollar Junction Inspiration - 4th of July

I LOVE walking through Dollar Junction for inexpensive things to spark my creativity!!  If I spend a couple of dollars and an idea doesn't work, I'm not out too much money.  If the idea does work, I either have a very inexpensive new idea, or a base for a project that works, and I can confidently spend a little more to make it just right.

This time through, the red, white, & blue was catching my eye.

Okay, I admit it, I am usually drawn to the candy aisle.  The wrappers have done most of the decorating for me already!!  Just plopping these in a bowl on a table looks plenty festive, but I did think of a couple of different possibilities.

Tying the curling ribbons around the Tootsie Pops, I was trying to make the streamers look like bursting fireworks.  It seemed to look better when I didn't curl them, but cut them plenty long.  I used red hots in the bowl to hold the sticks up.  You could even hold the stick between your palms and twist back and forth to make the ribbons "fly."

This red pot with the star border fits right in with a "star-spangled" theme.  It was too deep for the sucker sticks, so I placed a shorter bowl on top of old ribbon spools to make it sit higher. 

These tootsie rolls look great in this star dish (also found at Dollar Junction!!)  If you place them under the upside down dish, you can put a candle or other decoration on top.  Looks good, but the guests can't really get to the candy.  Hey, perfect for saving a few for yourself after the celebration!!

Above is just another option combining both kinds of candies.  Below, I was attempting to make a tootsie roll star, but it could also easily be decorated as a "4th of July guy."  You know, a couple of googly eyes in just the right spot.  

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't use the fudge-filled candy stars in any of the photos.  Well, I re-learned an old lesson with those.  If you are shopping on a warm day, DO NOT leave any type of chocolate in your hot car.  I ended up with a red, white, & blue lump!!  Still tasty, but not very pretty.  The bright side is that it was only $1 lost, and I've got enough time to get back to the store before July.  The stars would be great sprinkled on cupcakes or used to decorate sugar cookies.

I really hope some of these ideas sparked a little of your own creativity.  What holiday things have you found lately to inspire you?

I'll plan, so you can party!!

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Tip Junkie handmade projects

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Animal Print Baby Shower

A fashionable baby girl deserves a very chic animal print shower!!  This particular baby shower was a co-ed celebration.  We picked a sports bar/restaurant with an upstairs party room so that the ladies could do the "girly" stuff, and the guys could play pool, video games, and poker, all while watching the ball game.  Everybody's happy!!

The gift table was covered with a zebra-print rug.  Glittery pink letters spelled out baby's name.  There was a huge mug for "Big Dad Cory" and a pretty tiara for Mommy Connie.

The guys' tables were set up with baby girl playing cards from Oriental Trading Company and pink cash and coins from Dollar Junction for poker playing.  Bubble gum or chocolate cigars make great favors for the fellas.

Upstairs the tables had floating safari duckies.  One table had a fountain in the center, which was a perfect place for these little guys to swim!!  The children at the party got to pick a "duckie" to take home with them.

I made these adorable baby bracelet wine glass charms for the ladies.  Here is a link to my tutorial blog:

The girls had their own games while the boys played downstairs.  Each received a book with a few baby games to fill out while we ate.  The pencils were personalized with baby Josie's full name and birth year. These cute animal print bags were filled with prizes for the game winners.  More "active" games were also played.  This super-cute corsage was one of the prizes.

After about an hour, we joined the boys downstairs to play onesie basketball, guys vs. gals.  
It got very loud and competitive, and sooooooo much fun!!  


Cake was served while Mom and Dad opened gifts.  Personalized candy bars and little bags of animal crackers were passed out as favors.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Celebration Ideas

This is a great holiday for me to research right now, because I am currently working on a reunion for my fellow Tres Hombres employees.  I had the pleasure of working with some very special people when I worked there.

The first thing Cinco de Mayo makes me think of is MARGARITAS!!  These are very simple to mix.  The main ingredients are:
1 shot of tequila
1/2 shot of triple sec
fill with sweet & sour

Personally, I add a splash of Sprite.  Some people prefer a splash of orange juice.  Shake the ingredients up and pour over ice.  The most important thing is finding a sweet & sour or margarita mix you really love the taste of.  For a virgin mocktail, leave out the alcohol and add orange juice to taste.

For a Peach Margarita (my personal FAVORITE!!) substitute Peach Schnaaps for the triple sec, and add a splash of grenadine (mostly for color.)  This one tastes especially good with sugar around the rim instead of salt.

A taco bar is great because you just have to set out all of the toppings, and your guests can help themselves.  Having a variety of salsas and hot sauces gives everyone a chance to try something new.

I found a really great (and simple) mini-pinata favor on Family Fun's website.


I can't imagine a party without some type of special cupcake or cake.  This one is super easy, but super festive.

Whatever you end up doing, make sure you have fun!!  And always take lots and lots of pictures!!