Party Tips and Tricks

A festive blog with lots of ideas on how to make a party great, or keep it from going south. Themes, recipes, do's and don'ts, and any other helpful information I've stumbled across and thought you readers might appreciate.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Balloons Are Fun!

Balloons Are Fun!
        by PartyFan

We recently had a graduation party for my sister, who was finally done with nursing school. While waiting for her and other family members to finish up shopping for various party goodies, her 11 year old son and I got into a balloon fight. It was loads of fun for the two of us.

Many decorations had already been put up, some pretty fancy with sparkling letters and wonderful messages, and lots of trimmings like mini mortarboards. Along with all of the jazzed up stuff was a lot of plain ribbon, and some balloons. Only a few balloons had been blow up, and tied in various places, leaving a big bag of them yet to be utilized.

We quickly dove into the bag for more ammunition for our fight, and before we knew it, we had blown all of them up. I hung a few more from strategic locations, but the remainder we bashed off of each other, or played at keeping as many in the air at one time as we could. When we tired of the games, the rest of the balloons wound up in a big pile in the living room.

Great fun for her two boys which turned out to be great fun for all. The pile got more mention than all the fancy decor, and while the boys were awake, the balloons were in constant motion, bouncing off of everything. When the boys went to bed, the adults kept right on playing with them. They got kicked, patted, tossed, zinged at each other, and otherwise stayed in motion. It was great!

So next time you are on decoration detail, don't forget the balloons, and don't just hang them up to look pretty, have a bunch of loose ones. While they might not admit it, even adults think balloons are fun!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why Do Make-Ahead Recipes Work So Well To Reduce Your Dinner Party Stress?

Why Do Make-Ahead Recipes Work So Well To Reduce Your Dinner Party Stress?
by Margaret Thomas

One of the "tricks" I find most useful for hosting stress-free dinner
parties is to make some of the recipes ahead. I find that too many last minute jobs can overwhelm me, so I plan ahead to eliminate as many as possible.

The more dishes you can prepare a day or some hours before guests ring your doorbell, the more you reduce your stress. Here are some reasons:

• You avoid a last minute crisis if preparation takes longer than you thought it would.

• If you like to cook, you'll have the leisure to enjoy what you're doing instead of feeling frantic about a deadline

• You have time to clean up after you cook.

• If there is a disaster, say you burn something, you have plenty of time to come up with an alternate plan.

• If you have prepared the dessert ahead, you don't need to leave the table for a long stretch just when the conversation is getting really interesting.

Put your imagination to work for you! Try to imagine your way through the last minute jobs you will have to get dinner on the table, and reduce them to a minimum you feel comfortable with. It helps to think about what all those last minute jobs are: setting out the ice water pitcher, lighting the candles, putting items in serving dishes and getting the guests to the table.

By the way, many of these are jobs that your guests can do.

What is your level of tolerance for last minute jobs?
Now ask yourself what your level of tolerance is for last minute jobs? If it is low, then you should think about finding some recipes that absolutely minimize any last minute work. This is especially true if you are an inexperienced cook.

Some of the recipes I rely on are make-ahead, and some are just items that I can bring home from the store and put out in nice serving dishes.

Some cooks even make everything ahead. If you love stews, lasagna and casseroles, then you could do that too.

But I often prefer serving a delicious roast of lamb or beef or chicken as the special item on the menu. Luckily these dishes are ones you can put in the oven and leave to themselves while you do other things.

If you can add potatoes and vegetables to the roast while it cooks you have almost all of the advantages of make-ahead. Once you pop them in the oven beside the roast you can pretty well ignore them until they are cooked.

So I tend to focus on finding appetizers, salads, side dishes and desserts that I can make ahead, or set out straight from the store, or vegetables I can cook alongside a roast. Then I can concentrate on the last minute items like slicing a roast, making gravy, and getting things on the table.

Probably the most important category for me is appetizers. I find it too stressful to be fussing at cooking something while the doorbell is ringing. If you are hosting by yourself you may find the same.

So I try to have a repertoire of make-ahead or buy-ahead appetizer recipes that work for me. Often I serve more than one, since some of my guests like to stick to very light appetizers, and others enjoy heartier ones.

You can build your repertoire of make ahead recipes for your home dinner parties. I suggest you start with appetizers. If you want to see some of my favorites, just go to my Make-Ahead Appetizers page on my website.

Enjoy minimizing your hosting stress and watching your guests' eyes light up at the sight of your tasty, well presented appetizers.

Original Article

Margaret Thomas - About the Author:

Spiral slicer is great in making vegetable garnishes and Asian salads. Find out how to make amazing spiral salads and vegetable noodles with a spiral slicer

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Setting a Stylish Table Can be Simple

Setting a Stylish Table Can be Simple

Courtesy of:
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Setting a stylish and attractive dinner table is an art that is certain
to make dinner guests feel that extra bit special. If you’re not
artistically inclined the trick is to keep it simple.

Choose dinnerware that
is durable and dishwasher proof
. My personal preference is for all white
crockery and
href="">stainless steel

in a contemporary design. But whatever you do try
to choose crockery that is chip and scratch resistant so that it lasts.

Another thing to consider, when buying a dinner service or cutlery set,
is can you buy replacement items. Inevitably plates and bowls will
eventually get dropped, broken, cracked and chipped. It’s useful to be
able to replace odd damaged items without the need to buy a complete
replacement dinner service.

The same is true for cutlery. My husband will often use a table knife as
a quick and handy screwdriver, although I have asked him not to. Over the
years we’ve been together I’ve had to replace quite a few knives and
spoons that he has chosen to use as tools. So it’s good to be able to buy

But there is much more to setting an attractive table than the plates,
bowls, knives and forks. Glassware

is also important and again I recommend simple, but stylish. Like your
crockery, choose glassware that is dishwasher safe and make certain you
have a good stock of glasses. I suggest that you make sure you have
enough wine glasses and general purpose tumblers and maybe a few shot
glasses or beer tankards if you like. And if you like a little bit of
champagne then you will probably want to make sure you have a set of nice
champagne flutes.

Choose crisp cotton or linen table napkins rather than throwaway paper
ones. A few tasteful placemats will work for day to day use but for a
dinner party you will probably want a nice table cloth and some tasteful

Choose and attractive centrepiece for your table and you will be ready to
serve the food and wine. But that is another story.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Arranging The Buffet Supper

Arranging The Buffet Supper

Sometimes old advice is still the best advice. This short film from the 1940's is very dated, and obviously a product of the times, but it still has some good advice that is worth following.

"The American tradition of the buffet supper is shown in its simple preparation. A 'must' for the homemaker or hostess."

I'll let the clip speak for itself:

Friday, February 5, 2010

How to Create the Perfect Valentine’s Day Dinner

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February can only mean one thing. Valentine's Day. Normally, when you
think of Valentine’s Day, you associate it with flowers, nice restaurants
and chocolates. This year, change it up and try preparing a Valentines Day dinner for that
special someone. The great part about this dinner is you can create it
while being in the comfort of your own home! This article will give you
some easy ideas for decorating, dinner recipes and what to get as the
perfect gift!

Start the night off by setting up a romantic mood. A nice arrangement of
flowers will set the evening in motion, while also providing a great
centerpiece. Try filling a jar or vase with Candy Hearts and then taking
turns pulling a few out and reading them to each other. Be sure to
include candles and that special music the two of you love. Other things
to add are rose petals and a place card that has a short poem on it
professing your love. The sky is the limit on your creativity!

Next, you need to select what appetizers and/or salads you want to serve
your sweetie. An antipasto platter includes salami, cheese and thin
slices of a baguette or crackers and makes for an excellent appetizer. If
you want to get really creative, you can slice the salami and cheese in
heart-shaped pieces! I like to use Volpi Genova salami. The flavors blend
well with the cheeses. If you want more choices for the platter, try
adding some specialty Italian meats from Volpi Foods.

This is an extremely easy appetizer to assemble and create. As for the
salad, I would suggest mixed field greens tossed with a little olive oil
and balsamic. You can add some roasted red peppers for the Valentine
color. If your special someone likes salami, add a few slices to the

Now it’s time to select that perfect dinner recipe! Pasta is a perfect
choice for a romantic dinner! I would suggest Fettucini Alfredo. This is easy to
make and allows for creativity. Try adding a variety of cheeses like
parmesan and Romano. Try adding some pecorino cheese. You can mix the
pasta with fresh vegetables like peas or meats such as Pancetta.
Similarly with the salami, you can find excellent Pancetta at Volpi
Foods' online Italian store.

If you like wine, pick up a Sangiovese or Chianti. Either wine is an
excellent addition to the fettucini.

The hardest part will be deciding which dessert you are going to make or
buy. Here are a few choices. I would pick up some cannolis or tiramisu if
you want to stay on the Italian theme. You can carry on the red theme
with a cheesecake with strawberries and strawberry sauce or create
heart-shaped sugar cookies with red icing. If you want to include a
different dessert, feel free. All are relatively easy to make or purchase.

To add the magical touch, don’t forget to pick up a meaningful and
special gift! Try a couple’s massage, favorite movie on DVD,
chocolate-covered strawberries or a picture frame with a special photo?

Any one of these ideas will create a memorable and perfect night for you
and your loved one! Make sure to eat, drink and be merry. Happy
Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Simply Super Guacamole

Simply Super Guacamole

by PartyFan

Guacamole is a Super Bowl party favorite, but it makes a great addition to the eats at any event. Here's a simple recipe for it that always gets rave reviews when I make it.

Cut avocados in half, lengthwise. You can't go through the large pit in the middle, so just spin the avocado against the knife blade until you have cut all the way around it, to the depth of the pit. Now twist the two half's slightly in opposite directions, and you should be able to pull them apart easily. The pit will most likely still be stuck in one half. You can scoop it out with a spoon, but the more common method of removal is to lightly tap the pit with your knife, like you were trying to chop it in half, which will stick the blade into the pit. Now keeping the knife in the same orientation, move the handle to one side or the other to spin the pit in place, using the same motion you did to twist the two half's apart, and the pit should stay stuck to the blade and pop right out.

Scoop all of the insides out into a bowl, leaving just the rind behind. Once you have all of the avocados pitted and rind less in your bowl, you need to mash them. The best tool for this is a mortar and pestle, like the restaurants use for table side guacamole, but I don't have one of those. Next best is a tool I do have, a potato masher. If you don't have one of those, either, a fork will do. Use the masher or your fork to mash the avocados thoroughly. Make sure to stir and scrape the corners, so you don't leave any major lumps hiding. You don't need to completely eliminate all the tiny lumps, but you don't want any sizable ones, so mash, mash, mash.

Once you've gotten to the well mashed stage, you add whatever flavorful goodies you want to enhance the guacamole, and stir them in well. Here's where my simple trick comes in. For every three avocados, I add one small can (7 oz.) of Herdez Salsa Casera. I normally avoid brand names, but in this case I think the product is superior to anything else I've tried. I prefer using the mild, but the medium or hot will work just as nicely if you prefer to add a little more heat. Make sure it is the Casera type, you want the chunks. If you have a favorite salsa, or are making do with what you have in the fridge, you can substitute 6 to 8 oz. of any chunky garden salsa (make sure it is chunky style, with tomatoes). Stir it in well. Now add two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice. This is to help prevent the guacamole from turning brown.

That's it. Simple, huh? If you are feeling fancy, you can garnish with a little bit of chopped cilantro, but don't overdo it.

A few extra tips:

You want to start with ripe avocados. If they are too firm, they won't mash up easily, and the consistency of the guacamole suffers. Overripe ones can mostly still be used, but will have bad spots (any dark, discolored area) you will need to avoid when you are scooping the rinds clean or trim off once you've gotten the material in your bowl. Be picky when selecting your avocados. They should be dark in color, not bright. Give them a squeeze, they should yield but not feel like mush. Too firm, not ripe yet. Too mushy, and they are overripe. If you already have avocados that aren't ripe yet, leave them out on your counter somewhere for a few days to ripen.

Don't forget the lemon juice. It really does help prevent the guacamole from turning brown. It still will turn, but it will take longer with the acid of the juice added.

Make the guacamole as close to the time you will serve it as you can. It is best fresh, and really doesn't keep well, even with the lemon juice added.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

7 Best Hot Beverages for Cold Nights

7 Best Hot Beverages for Cold Nights
by PartyFan

Winter is here, and the nights grow cold. What better way to ward off the chill than a hot beverage? They are good for both body and mind, and besides, they are tasty! Here are my 7 favorites, in no particular order. Feel free to comment and tell us all about yours.

1) Cocoa. It is hard to go wrong with chocolate! There are many good instant mixes available on the market, and you shouldn't feel bad about taking advantage of them. Quick and convenient, for most people they are every bit as tasty as the stuff made from scratch. If you insist on being a purist, here's an honest from scratch recipe for you, that doesn't require scalding the milk, which I always screw up:

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
4 cups milk, or 3 3/4 cups milk and 1/4 cup
half and half for creamier cocoa
2 pinches salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the water, sugar, cocoa, and salt in saucepan.
Stirring constantly (I can't emphasize that enough,
heat on a medium stove until it boils, keep stirring
while you let it boil for one minute. Stir in the milk
and let it warm up, but do not let it boil. When
warmed, remove from the stove and stir in the vanilla.
Serve right away.
4 servings.

Optional. Add 1/2 to 1 1/2 Oz. (to taste) of dark rum, brandy, or cinnamon schnapps. Yum!

2) Hot buttered, or mulled, cider. This stuff is delicious! Most of the recipes I've seen use a little too much butter for my taste, so I've cut the amount down in this recipe. You can add more if you like it, or leave the butter out for the simple mulled variety. Cinnamon sticks are best, they give you something to stir the butter back in with as it separates, and they seem to infuse a little more flavor, but ground cinnamon will do if that's all you have.

3 cups of apple cider or juice
2 cinnamon sticks or 1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2-4 cloves (optional)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
2 tsp. butter (preferred over margarine)

Dissolve the brown sugar in cider in a saucepan. Add
cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon, and the cloves if
you decide to use them. Heat until it just starts to
boil, and remove from heat. Place 1 tsp. butter in each
of two glasses. Strain the cloves and cinnamon sticks
from the cider, saving the sticks (placing the cloves
in a piece of cheesecloth will make this easier), and
pour the hot cider into the glasses. Put the cinnamon
sticks back in as a garnish, and sprinkle some nutmeg
on top if desired. Some people add a dash of vanilla.
2 servings.

Optional. Add 1/2 to 1 1/2 Oz (to taste) of dark rum, spiced rum, or cinnamon schnapps.

3) Coffee. Long a beverage of choice for combating the cold. If you need to avoid caffeine late in the day, make it decaf. For a long time I considered decaf as blasphemous, and I very much notice a difference in taste. As I've gotten older, I find that I can't get to sleep well if I drink the fully charged stuff later in the day, so I've gotten used to decaf. I have a trick to make it taste better, which is to blend caf and decaf together. Some people do this blending 50/50 (half caf), but I've found 25% caf to 75% decaf works best for me. If you can't taste any difference between caf and decaf, or if you are going to be putting booze in it, you won't need to use this trick. I've recently seen some partially decaffeinated coffee in the stores, but I haven't tried it yet.

Optional. Add 1/2 Oz. (to taste) of Kahlua, Amaretto, Frangelico, or cognac (with cognac it is called Cafe Royale). We'll discuss some other additives next. It is easy to overdo the liqueurs, so I recommend the smaller amount, you can always add a little more if you like.

4) Irish Coffee. Ambrosia! I have found few drink recipes that cause as many arguments as Irish Coffee, probably because the two main ingredients, coffee and whiskey, are things that many people hold very strong opinions about. I certainly have mine, which are: Irish Coffee should be served in a glass coffee mug, the rim of the glass should be frosted with sugar, it must be topped with whipped cream, the whiskey must be Irish (which to me means Bushmills, although Jameson will do nicely), and finally (I can hear some people screaming already) the coffee should be poured into the whiskey, not the whiskey into the coffee. There are many recipes for Irish Coffee out there, and I've enjoyed most of them. Here's a basic variant to get you started, although it uses heavy cream instead of whipped, and I usually don't use the brown sugar:

1 1/2 Oz. Irish Whiskey
1 tsp. brown sugar
6 Oz. coffee
heavy cream

Pour the liquids into a glass coffee mug, stir in the
brown sugar. Float the cream on top - do not stir it in.
1 serving.

5) Mexican Coffee. This is a delightfully simple variation, and I've enjoyed it on many occasions. Basically brew your coffee as you prefer, and then add an ounce or two of brandy to it. If you are doing decaf, there is no need to blend it with regular coffee, the brandy will cover up any taste difference you might normally notice.

6) Hot lemonade. Normally associated as a frosty treat on hot summer days, this is much better hot than you might think. I think sweet is better than tart when it is served hot, but you can certainly vary this to suit your personal tastes. Here's a basic lemonade recipe, simply heat it in a saucepan or the microwave after you've made it:

Make a sugar syrup first, everyone agrees this works best.
One cup sugar, one cup water, mix together in a saucepan
and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Let
this mixture cool before using, you can save any extra for
another time. Next mix one part syrup, one part lemon juice,
and four parts water. If you are using all the syrup, that
will be one cup of the syrup, one cup of lemon juice, and
four cups water. Mix well. If this is too sweet, add a
little more lemon juice. Too tart, add a little more syrup.
Too thin, add a little more of both. Too thick, add a little
more water. If you don't mix the syrup first, the sugar will
settle out of the lemonade, which is undesirable.

Optional. Add 1/2 - 1 Oz. (to taste) of vodka, lemon or orange flavored vodka, or peppermint schnapps. Don't overdo it, it is easy for the alcohol to overpower the lemonade. Again, you can always add a little more if you desire it.

7) Tea. Wars have been fought over tea. White, green, or black, it is all good. Most people find that tea is low enough in caffeine that a cup or two at night doesn't bother them, but if you are overly sensitive, there are literally hundreds of caffeine free herbal blends out there, I'm sure you can find one that tickles your taste buds, and the search for the perfect one might be fun all by itself. If you sugar your tea, try a little warm honey for a special treat.

Optional. Well, I haven't any options, as I haven't found any booze that mixes well with tea. That certainly hasn't kept me from enjoying a hot cuppa, though. If you have found something that works for you, please pass the information along, I'd appreciate it!

So, there's my list. Hope you find at least one of these hot beverages enjoyable.

Stay warm!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Year's Alternative

New Year's Alternative
by PartyFan

If you have grown tired of alcohol fueled soirees full of people trying too hard to have a good time, staying up until midnight and later, worrying about your guests getting DWI's or worse, and other New Year's Eve annoyances, but you still enjoy hosting parties, consider the alternative of a New Year's Day party. This can be a wonderful event, enjoyed just as thoroughly by your guests, perhaps even more than the Eve.

Families are more likely to attend and have a good time, but the singles will show up and enjoy themselves if you do things right. I'm going to rely on a party that a friend of the family threw every year, that was very well attended, and enjoyed by all, as an example of how to do things right. I'd say her parties were legendary, but mostly they weren't talked about - yet everyone in the world showed up, at least for a quick drop-in to pay respects (which often turned into staying for "just a little while longer").

When I asked a few people who had attended her parties to tell me what the best thing about these events was, the first thing everyone mentioned was food. Yet no one mentioned the same food! That brings up our first tip - lay out a good spread, and the guests will come. Variety, variety, variety. I remembered fresh fruit platters, hollowed out pineapples filled with chunks of all sorts of goodies. Another person mentioned stuffed mushrooms, and artichoke dip. Yet another the bowls of fresh cherries and short, sweet Mexican bananas. Meatballs, lasagna, cakes, pies, chips, dips, hamburgers and hot dogs for the kiddies, you name it and there was probably a platter of it. Now she knew the party would be well attended, but there were still always leftovers, and I heard she had an arrangement to give them away to some local places that could use them - nursing homes or somewhere similar - and she had some of the guest take home plates as well.

You'll want to imitate the variety, but do try to keep the amount of food reasonable to the amount of guests you can expect to show up, especially if this is your first time throwing such a party. Once you get the tradition started, if you want to start a tradition, you can go more and more overboard as your party gets more and more attendance. This can be a chicken and the egg situation: the better the spread, the better your attendance; the better your attendance, the better you can do the spread. Don't be afraid to experiment, and while she never used full-service catering, I'm sure she didn't do everything herself, it wouldn't have been possible.

The next most common praise I heard was about the guests. Again, variety, variety, variety! There were always interesting people to chat with, folks that you might not normally encounter in your daily routine. Invite everyone you can think of, not just your close circle of friends or co-workers, and make sure the people you invite feel free to invite others. Do your potential guests have holiday visitors from out of town? Tell them to bring them along! The more the merrier. If you have space constraints or can't afford to feed the world, then you'll have to tone this down, but you do so at the risk of a having a homogeneous group of party goers boring each other with stories they've already heard. Everyone knows a character or two, so if you have to limit the guest list, make sure the characters you know are on it first and that will help avoid this potential buzz kill.

Have some booze available. It doesn't have to be a large quantity, or top shelf stuff, just cover the basics without resorting to generic rot-gut. There will be some folks who will enjoy having a cocktail, but most of the serious drinking people will have indulged the night before and will be unlikely to tie one on.

Don't start the party too early. Even people who didn't party hardy may have stayed up until the clock rolled over, and they will want to sleep in. You probably won't have to worry about the party running too late, by around sundown most people will have had about all the New Year's fun they want to have, but having a reasonable ending time won't hurt. If you do decide to shut things down at a certain time, make sure your guests know about it in advance.

Make a television available. Usually this is a distraction you don't want at a party, but in this case it is better to make an exception. You still don't want it to be a big distraction, so try to keep it out of the way and not in a central area, but having it there will be a plus. These parties always had a TV on in the den, so that people interested in the college football games could pop in and watch for a bit. If that outlet wasn't there, I'm sure some of the sports fans would have passed on the party, and being able to watch the games in the company of other folks to talk football with I'm sure was a plus. No one stayed glued to the set for all that long, and many casual viewers enjoyed being able to pop in for a moment, get an update, watch a few downs, and chat a bit.

I could go on and on, but I think that I've covered all the major areas: variety in both food and guests, just a little booze, not too early, and give the sports fans an outlet. There were other traditions to be followed (decor, certain regional dishes, good luck symbols and myths, etc), but yours will vary by region and personal taste. Make your party unique by using your own ideas and creating your own traditions. Feed them well, and they will come!

Have a good time, and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Offfice X-mas Party - Don't Have a Great Time

Office X-mas Party - Don't Have A Great Time
by PartyFan

Normally, being a fan of parties, I relish any excuse (or no excuse at all) to throw or attend one. The office Christmas party is one event, though, that has very little upside and a lot of potential downside, so I usually try to avoid them if I can. Unfortunately, while attendance is rarely mandatory, social customs and other pressures frequently mean you have to go. Even the most determined eventually wind up attending one. One of my past employers always gave out the Christmas bonuses at such a party, and while no one actually believed he would withhold the bonus of someone who didn't attend, they didn't believe it strongly enough to test the theory! So, make the best of it, have a good time if you can - just don't have a great time.

The impressions you make may have lasting repercussions in the workplace. I'm not just talking about getting roaring drunk and dancing on tables, or Xeroxing parts of your anatomy best left covered, although that certainly would have impact. Much more subtle events can have effects for months to come. Here's a few tips to minimize the potential risks, while still managing to enjoy yourself. No need to suffer, just for suffering's sake, it is a party after all. Just don't overdo it.

Good cheer is a wonderful thing to bring, but don't be too enthusiastic about it. Laughing too loudly or too often, overdoing the personal charm, or otherwise goofing around can make you seem frivolous. Frivolous workers don't get serious assignments. No need to be a buzz kill, but stay away from over the top behaviors and jokes - especially the risque. If you wouldn't feel comfortable saying it at an office meeting, it is probably a good idea not to say it at the party. If the joke someone tells you is really funny, don't be afraid to guffaw, but polite chuckles are better, especially if the jokes aren't that funny.

Moderation with the booze is key, and avoidance altogether might be your best option. If you don't drink alcohol for whatever reason, you are ahead of the game. If you do drink, make sure you don't go past a pleasant but mild buzz. Alcohol lowers the inhibitions, making it more likely you'll do something silly. People who have been drinking also have a tendency to be much louder than the sober, and this can be quite annoying, so even if you don't do anything you wouldn't do sober, you may give a bad impression without realizing it.

For some reason, there is always someone who will want to pour the booze into you, don't let them! Sip slowly. If the bar is self-serve, mix your drinks a little weaker than normal for you. Drink something non-alcoholic in between your cocktails. A great trick to fend off that person who seems determined to get you drunk is a mock-tail - something that looks like the cocktails you are drinking, but without the booze. Rum and coke your thing? Have a few plain cokes - but throw a wedge of lime in there so it looks like a Cuba Libre. Clear sodas (club, lemon-lime) are wonderful for this, the only way to tell it isn't a gin or vodka tonic is to taste it. Keep a few appropriate stock phrases at the ready: "I'm still working on this one, thanks!" and "No, thank you, I'm driving" usually work well.

One area you can indulge in safely is food. Holiday overeating is almost traditional, and making a pig of yourself is mostly expected and overlooked. If the spread is anywhere near decent, and it usually is, go ahead and stuff your face. So long as you mind your table manners, don't pile things on your plate approaching record altitudes, or get caught sneaking food into your pockets or purse for later consumption, you won't get much more than a stray joking comment, and no one will be talking about your appetite in January. Take reasonable servings, and go ahead and go back to the buffet eight, nine, a hundred times.

Try to avoid talking shop, although a certain amount of this is unavoidable, and try to mix and mingle with people you don't normally see much of at work. There is a natural tendency to clique up, and hang out with people who are familiar, but you'll probably enjoy yourself more if you aren't hearing the same stories from the same faces you see every day. Use the opportunity for a little informal networking, but keep it casual, or you might come off as overly anxious about your job, or just mildly annoying. There is almost always one person in the office who thinks they are everybody's friend, and most of the office can't stand them - don't be that person!

Last, but not least, don't be a pest to the opposite sex, and keep any potential romances exactly that - potential. Keep your flirting casual, or don't flirt at all. Be aware of signals, and if your casual flirting isn't going anywhere, stop. Serious flirting should probably be saved until a better time and place. If you really hit it off with someone, go ahead and make a date (assuming inter-office romance isn't forbidden in your circumstances), then you can pursue it in a more appropriate venue. Don't get caught necking in the hall, nothing can spoil your professional image like being seen behaving like a teenager. Behaving like a teenager can be fun, is certainly OK in certain circumstances, and I'm all for it, but getting caught at it when it isn't appropriate could be ruinous.

Don't let me scare you too badly. You probably already knew most of this stuff, and can carry it off well. Keep these tips in mind, but do try and relax and enjoy yourself. No one wants to see you bored or uptight, and I'm sure you don't want to *be* bored and uptight. Have a good time - just not a great time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Bachelor's Guide To Gift Wrapping

A Bachelor's Guide To Gift Wrapping
by PartyFan

I know I am posting this article early. No self-respecting bachelor, or self-loathing one for that matter, has even thought about going out to buy gifts. The possibilities of an online purchase may have flirted with you, but have more than likely stayed right there at the flirting stage. I'm sure when it comes down to the wire, you will manage to remember a few of the things I'm about to tell you, or at least be able to find this article again - even though you won't bookmark it. (Google isn't just for porn!)

I'm going to presume that you are forgoing the traditional bachelor cheats like buying your gifts at stores that offer a free or low cost wrapping service, buying pre-wrapped items, giving a card or other goodies easily stuffed in a decorative envelope, or using gift bags. If you were going to cheat like that, you wouldn't be needing my advice. You want to do it yourself, for whatever reason. More than likely the reason is you want to impress somebody, and it is also quite probable that that somebody is a female you think is cute.

OK. So what is a bachelor to do? I have heard it said that one can get through life quite handily by merely following quotes from either _The Godfather_ or _Caddyshack_, but in this case I think we can't go wrong with Clint Eastwood: "Man's got to know his limitations." If you are a fumble-fingered klutz, you are going to want to keep things real basic and simple. If you aren't, you'll probably still want to keep things real basic and simple.

Most of us have seen and unwrapped a few gifts by this time in our lives, so you probably have the basic concept. Gift goes in a box, with padding if necessary. Box gets wrapped in pretty paper. Ribbon or other ornamentation is applied to the wrapped box to jazz it up. There is nothing wrong about going with this simple tried and true formula.

Here are a few places that will tell you how to do it right:

eHow Article: How to Wrap a Gift
wikiHow Article: How to Wrap a Present
YouTube Video: How to wrap a gift professionally
YouTube Video: How to Gift Wrap a Box

If you want to do something distinctive, yet still stay in the basic and simple safety zone, here's a unique idea I ran across in of all places, the library. Get a clear glass jar with a cork top, large enough to hold the gift. They sell these at most department or big box stores, and you can probably find them elsewhere at reasonable prices. Cut a round disc of wrapping paper to cover the bottom - remember to put the print side down so it can be seen through the glass. Now line the sides of the jar with wrapping paper, again print side out. Use a small piece of tape to make sure the paper stays in a tube shape, which will help hold it against the sides of the jar. Now you can paint, use magic markers to write or draw, and/or glue doo-dads or glitter, on the outside of the jar. You can do the same to the cork, making sure you don't glue things where they will keep it from still fitting in the jar. You can tie ribbons around the neck of the jar easily, or staple/pin them to the cork. Go nuts! Now put the gift inside, use some padding to keep it from rattling against the glass, and cork it.

The result will be unique, memorable, and hand-made by you, without being very time consuming or difficult. So when you finally get around to buying gifts around December 24th, remember this advice. Or cheat. I have!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Still Frozen? Take This Advice!

Turkey Still Frozen? Take This Advice!
by PartyFan

OK, so you missed my tips for beginners, and your turkey is still frozen, what to do?

I have to give credit where credit is due, the best advice I have seen on this subject came 3 years ago from Ziggy M over on YahooAnswers, who got a Best Answer for it:

YahooAnswers Thaw a Turkey Question

The cold water bath works, I've done it. If you want to give it a try, here are a few tips from my past experience and research.

1. Don't use hot water. Really. Bacteria love warm and wet...

2. Leave the turkey wrapped, and putting it in a garbage bag won't hurt. The garbage bag will be needed anyways if you follow tip number four.

3. Breast side down. This is the thickest part of the turkey, and you want it under water and exchanging heat.

4. When the turkey is pliable, remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity, this will help speed the thawing. Careful with the wrapper, or re-wrap the bird in a garbage bag.

5. The common wisdom is 30 minutes in the water for every pound of turkey, and you should change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it remains cold.

6. Room temperature is not your friend! You don't want the water to reach it, nor do you want the turkey to. You want the turkey to no longer be frozen, but not be warm. Bacteria love warm and wet! Remember the Rule of 42 - degrees. Nasty things have a much harder time growing below 42 degrees.

7. If you don't want to give up your sink for the extended time it will take a large bird to thaw, improvise with a cooler, washtub, bathtub, or bucket, anything that can hold enough water and support the weight of the bird.

8. When it is thawed, or nearly so, put it back in the refrigerator. Rule of 42!

Still think Ziggy M hit the nail on the head, and provided the truly easy solution, but if you give the water bath a try, I hope these tips help out.

Good luck, and happy feasting!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Turkey? Don't Panic! 8 Useful Tips for First Timers

First Turkey? Don't Panic! 8 Useful Tips for First Timers
by PartyFan

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and you find yourself committed to doing a "Traditional Thanksgiving Meal", or at least a "Real Turkey", yet you say you have never cooked a turkey before? Don't Panic! Just follow these fairly simple tips, and you can get through this in one piece - and perhaps garner a few "Yum!"s or even a "What is your secret?" along the way. Even if you are an old hand, you might find these tips worthwhile, or at least humorous when they remind you of past mistakes.

1. Avoid the number one mistake first-timers make, thaw that bird! I've seen far too many expectant cooks ready to do their thing, only to discover their bird is still half-frozen. There are ways to speed up the thawing process in an emergency, some work better than others. Don't be forced to use them! A general rule of thumb for thawing in the refrigerator is one day for every four pounds, but feel free to add an extra day or two to be sure. The bird will keep in the refrigerator quite nicely for an extra day or two, and if you wind up needing the extra time you will be very glad you planned for it in the first place. Place the bird breast side up, in the original unopened wrapper, on a tray (to catch drippings). Thawing at room temperature is not recommended.

2. Get the right size bird. There is nothing wrong with leftovers, stored properly, so if you want to cook a really big bird, go for it. Just avoid getting too small a bird, and you'll be fine. Assuming your guests want to eat, and that you would like some leftovers, figure on two pounds of bird per adult and one pound per child. If you know your guests are light eaters, you don't want leftovers, or both, half those amounts. So a party of six adults and two kids would call for a fourteen pound bird if everyone likes to eat and you want some leftovers, or a seven pound bird if you have light eaters or don't want much in the way of leftovers.

3. Even if you aren't going to stuff your bird, remember that there are things tucked inside as it came from the store. The neck and a package of "giblets" are most likely in there somewhere, make sure you get them out before you start to cook, check those cavities, and rinsing the bird out while you are at it won't hurt. If you do rinse, it is a good idea to pat dry right afterward.

4. Go Potluck. You have enough to worry about with the bird (or at least you can make such a claim with a straight face). Decide on the turkey, and perhaps a side dish or two (stuffing is a natural), and have the guests each bring a favorite dish to make up the rest of the meal. This can provide a nice variety, eases the burden on you, and involves your guests in a meaningful way in the special day.

5. Consider one of the faster cooking "foolproof" methods - the "foil wrap" at high heat, or a oven cooking bag. The oven bags are inexpensive, and if you follow the directions, cook more rapidly than most recipes, without needing higher temperatures, and you will never have a dry turkey problem. I highly recommend the bags for first, and any, timers.

6. The pop-up button is your friend! Many turkeys these days come with a little pop-up thermometer device already installed in the bird, which pops up when the turkey is done. Buy a turkey with one of these wonderful things if at all possible, then you won't have to hand check for the proper 190-195 degrees, or play "the joint should twist easily" games.

7. Let it cool! Don't try to carve the bird right out of the oven. Plan on 20 minutes of cool down before attempting to carve. It really does make a difference in the ease of carving, and the end results.

8. If you can't carve, pass the buck! It is very likely one of your guests knows how. Let them have the "honor", and don't take no for an answer.

If you follow the instructions or recipe that came with your turkey, or the appropriate recipe for your chosen cooking method (I love the oven cooking bags! Just follow the directions that are included), and keep these simple tips in mind, you'll have great success in the kitchen, and your guests will be well fed and happy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How To Cook That Succulent And Juicy Turkey

How To Cook That Succulent And Juicy Turkey
by: Kathy Smith

The centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal would be the roasted turkey &
it has been the king of your dinner table ever since Thanksgiving
traditions began in the US. There really are lots of great recipes out
there on how to roast turkey right but take note that the simpler the
roast turkey recipe is, the better. It's best to just have the basic
ingredients so that your turkey really will still taste like that of
turkey & not like the other ingredients that you're using.

The dressing still is considered the best accompaniment to your turkey
then it is followed a close 2nd by some mashed potatoes, deviled eggs &
the potato salad. With those dishes to accompany your turkey for sure
you'll have a really delicious dinner which is good but turkey should
still be left just the way it is, taste should still be that of turkey.

Most people usually wake up very early during Thanksgiving and they cook
their turkey within a couple of hours & then wonder why their turkey
turned out a bit tough. Actually turkey's best cooked overnight so that
you'll achieve that roasted turkey that is full of flavor & so lusciously
tender to the bite.

Cooking turkey overnight on your gas-fueled oven at low settings is
really best but it is also a bit risky. It makes me stay awake overnight
when roasting turkey inside the gas oven. I set its temp. at around 200
deg. F then at about 7AM, I just turn up temp. to around 350 deg. F and
let the cooking finish within 2 hrs.

You could try & cook your turkey on the day itself when you'll serve them
up using an electrically operated oven but you'll be sacrificing its
flavor & it won't be tender at all. Again, cooking your turkey overnight
still is one of the best things to do.

Although cooking electrically is less risky when doing overnight cooking,
it really is more expensive. Since you'll be doing the cooking for the
whole day, then temperatures will rise a bit in your kitchen. Using your
electric roaster is actually one great way of cooking your turkey. It is
not as expensive as using those gas ranges and it's safer compared to
those gas ovens. Also it creates lesser heat compared to the gas &
electrically operated oven.

Just place your turkey inside your roaster at around 11PM & cover turkey
using lots of margarine. Season with pepper and salt. Temperature should
then be set to around 200 deg. F. Then you could now go back to sleep
without worrying about anything.

If sometimes during the middle of the night you wake up, then baste your
turkey prior to going right back to sleep. Next morning when you're
waking up at 7AM, turn your temp. to around 350 deg. F. then baste turkey
for about 2-3 times during the last hours of cooking.

Your bird will cook after 3 hrs, and for sure the bird will really be
tender and "fall of the bones" tender. So use your roaster because it's
the ideal way of cooking your turkey & save you much money and will give
you that succulent and juicy Turkey for your centerpiece.

About The Author
Kathy is a food Lover! You can check out her very popular Thanksgiving
Recipes website where she shares some of her Thanksgiving Stuffing
Recipes and Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes on

The author invites you to visit:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Great Suggestions For A Fun Thanksgiving Dinner

Great Suggestions For A Fun Thanksgiving Dinner
by: Mary Walsh

Searching for that great idea on what needs to be done on Thanksgiving
night? Thought about planning or hosting that Thanksgiving dinner and
planning to invite your family, friends, neighbors, maybe just about
everyone close to you. You may feel just a tiny bit overwhelmed on
thinking about what exactly should you be doing during Thanksgiving night.

Thanksgiving isn't just about food but rather it's the time spent with
people who are most important to you. You could allow them to enjoy
making some crafts together, maybe jump into some pile of autumn leaves,
watch that big game, or involve them in some games like Pictionary and
don't forget saying your poems and prayers for Thanksgiving, talking
about what made them feel great over the past few months because
Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about thanking the one above for the
blessings that you have received.

But of course aside from spending time with people close to your heart it
also means that juicy mouth watering turkey will be served altogether
with that perfect stuffing, or freshly made cranberry red sauce, or that
melt inside your mouth pumpkin-pie.

By tradition, celebrating Thanksgiving night usually involves the turkey,
pumpkin-pie, sweet potato dishes, freshly made cranberry red sauce then
some stuffing. But how about celebrating Thanksgiving nights with just a
twist, create favorite Thanksgiving recipes with something exciting and
unique but not deviating or going overboard on the traditionally plan set
of menu.

For starters try something different by serving your guests some
appetizers and some drinks. This usually isn't considered as one kind of
Thanksgiving tradition but you may start this tradition with just your
guests. Try serving crackers with cheese, then maybe create cheese balls
that looks alot like turkeys then offer them some hot drink of apple and
cinnamon cider and include some spike by putting liquor for those adults,
perhaps some wine for them to taste, and for your little guests create
some red-orange punch with bits of fruits.

You may stick to just your special turkey as your main food during
Thanksgiving meal; then try cranking it up by including some special
delectable spices, fresh lemon squeezed juices, orange flavors, some
liquor, walnuts and cranberries, or just about anything that you think
would simply compliment the turkey dish. Some fantastic turkey recipe
alternatives includes roasted ham with bits of pineapple, herb flavored
roasted chicken, or roasted beef draped with that delicious gravy sauce.
Twist your ordinary cranberry red sauce with something different by
mixing some fruits or including some berries like raspberries and other
fruits that goes perfectly well with you dish.

Create those starch recipes of your Thanksgiving night, by making that
sweet potato recipe with marshmallows on it with sugar (brown) and some
walnuts for extra flavor, some herbs, onions, spices, bits of bacon,
cheese altogether with just that gravy turkey, mashed tasty potatoes.

Include warm vegetables together with those dishes, like broccolis with
cheese melted in perfection or some medley of vegetables and herbs. Don't
just stick to those traditionally tossed green salads, shake them up some
more by including a blend of strawberries, cranberries, seeds, walnuts,
raisins, carrots that were shredded, onions or that delicious cheese
together with some sweet rich balsamic vinegar for your dressing.

Baking pumpkin-pie for your dessert isn't your only option. You may
choose from pie alternatives like apple-cinnamon pie with some spices, or
some rhubarb or strawberry pie, plain cheesecakes together with walnuts
and warmed caramel just drizzling at the top, cheesecakes with some
pumpkin on it, or those small pumpkin tarts or pies, carrot luscious cake
that is spiced together with creamed cheese, and then some muffins made
of carrots. Try including some variety, by turning your favorite recipes
into something extraordinary delectable delights for your future
Thanksgiving nights. Enjoy!

About The Author
Jaydon is a food fanatic! You can check out his very popular Thanksgiving
Recipes website where he shares some of his Thanksgiving Cooking Recipes
and Thanksgiving Day Recipes on

The author invites you to visit:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Luau Party Planning-Bring the Tropical Islands Home

Luau Party Planning-Bring the Tropical Islands Home
by: James Craven

Luau party planning is an excellent idea to move forward with. If you
love the idea of flowers, bright colors, Hawaiian music, grass skirts,
tiki torches and luau or hula dancers you are in for the time of your
life. It's the ultimate tropical illusion set perfectly in your home or
yard and would make you the hit of the neighborhood. So go ahead and take
your planning to the next stage because this article is dedicated solely
on how to make your tropical island dreams a reality.

Party planning is best if taken one step at a time and luau party
planning is no different. Your first step should be in creating a
checklist to keep track of all the key factors, including: budget, venue,
guest list, food and decorations. Once you have created your checklist,
you must decide on a budget that is workable. You can keep the price tag
relatively cheap, if kept at home and your guest list is under 25. If you
plan on having a large party you might want to consider defraying some of
the cost by asking some of your guests to bring some of the party items,
i.e. food and drink.

A luau calls for a creative invitation. You may want to think about
having them professionally made, giving you the choice between some
already prepared invites. Or if you had something special in mind, have
them created per your imagination. You could also go online and have them
sent out via e-mail. There are some great services that provide excellent
choices for any type of party. If you decide to craft them yourself go
with bright colors and maybe a picture of a hula dancer. Try and create
the right mood. This will certainly catch the interest of those you are
trying to invite.

Once you have the invitations sent out and the parties venue picked out,
start choosing your decorations. You are going to want to have the right
ambience set for the party. In order to create that festive atmosphere
and Hawaiian feel use a lot of candles, balloons, and tropical
adornments. Hawaiian music is an awesome mood setter too.

When choosing your food, go with the tropical variety. Some choices to
consider are; pineapples, mango, coconuts, fruit drinks, tropical drinks,
wine coolers, roast pork, veggie kabobs, rice and salad.

An important factor in making your luau party planning a success is by
having the right entertainment. There are many ways to make this work. If
you have the funds, hire a hula dancer for the evening. A Hawaiian band
would also be a great choice. If you can't find one in your area you
could always hire a DJ. There are also many other things you can do to
bring the Big Island home. There are outdoor games you could play. A
favorite would be crab football. The rules are similar to soccer except
you use a large inflatable ball and everyone walks or tries to run like
crabs. This is done by placing your hands down in front of you and
scurrying around. It is fun to play and even more fun to watch. Another
cool thing you can do is add body art. The kids will absolutely love the
idea of having their faces painted and maybe some of the adults will too
once they've had a few drinks.

Luau's are definitely a great time. You can expect a lot of playful fun
and laughter. When the time comes and the guests arrive at the door give
them the added surprise by wearing a grass skirt and a ring of flowers or
lei around your neck. The cameras will surely snap. Then take it a step
further and place a lei around their neck. It'll be your turn to take
pictures and it'll be the beginning of a party long to be remembered.

About The Author
James Craven is a party planning expert. For more information regarding
luau party planning visit:

The author invites you to visit:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cocktail Party Planning-Drinks Before Dinner

Cocktail Party Planning-Drinks Before Dinner
by: James Craven

The definition of a cocktail party hasn't changed. It is still considered
an early evening or late afternoon party where drinks are served in a
socially active atmosphere. The picture is clear. There are no real
hurdles to cross, making it fairly simple to prepare for. So take the
bull by the horns and make your cocktail party planning a success.

A good cocktail party can be a lot of fun. The guests are bursting with
energy, crackling with conversation and slowly sipping their drinks. The
scene is all so familiar. The night is young, the appetizers are
delicious and so is the taste of the alcohol. Everyone is either laughing
or deep in conversation, whilst the host is preparing another drink. The
crowd shifts towards the deck, where a group is bursting with laughter
from some old joke. These are good times that create fond memories.
Whether it be between family and friends or the more common cocktail
party for business or corporate gatherings. It matters little, because
the actual cocktail party planning is the same. It is fairly simple and
easy to prepare for.

There are a few decisions to be made pertaining to the type of cocktail
party you would like to have. It normally depends on who you plan on
inviting. Such as, if it were to be mainly business associates you may
want to have everyone arrive in formal attire. If it were going to be
family, the decision on how to dress is best left up to them, unless you
had other plans where the party itself was a prelude to a long night out
on the town. Whatever your choice of dress, the rest is your basic
pattern of cocktail party planning.

The best place to start is with your guest list. From there, send out
your invitations. Once you have a rounded number of approximate guests,
you can figure on the amount of food and drink. Of course, it is always
best to have more instead of less, so when doing your shopping make sure
you spend more than what is needed, while not breaking your planned
budget. Also while you are out shopping, you may want to purchase some
flowers to match the table cloth and add some other decorations, if you
are so inclined. Flowers are always a nice touch to any table and I
highly recommend adding them.

Now that you have the desired ingredients or readymade appetizers to go
along with the wine, champagne, booze and/or beer you may begin getting
the living room ready for some heavy foot traffic. If not the living
room, then maybe the deck or the pool house would be ideal. Wherever you
choose be sure you are able to provide ample seating for all the guests,
along with glassware. Since you will be serving a large amount of drinks
you may want to hire a bartender for the evening. It isn't good practice
at a cocktail party to have everyone pour their own drinks, so the job
would ultimately fall on the host. If you would rather spend the night
laughing and giggling, mingling and bouncing from one conversation to the
next it would be a headache saved and a good time made by hiring out. You
could easily find someone to work behind the bar for a fair amount or you
may get lucky and have one of your friends opt-in for the job. Although
this would be my preference it is not to say you would not enjoy serving
drinks. The bartender is surely very popular at all occasions and gets
plenty of attention, but as host more than just drinks must be served.

The appetizers are an important part of any cocktail party. So make sure
you get it right by having enough to last. If dinner is not in the plans
for the evening, expect more to be eaten and faster. If dinner is
planned, then figure on just the opposite.

Cocktail parties are great social events. If you are making plans, don't
plan on having fun. It just happens!

About The Author
James Craven is a party planning expert. For more information regarding
party planning visit:

The author invites you to visit:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Party Planning Checklist-A Party Planner's Bible

Party Planning Checklist-A Party Planner's Bible
by: James Craven

You're about to start planning a party, but don't know where to start.
You run to the grocery store, looking at this and that, deciding on a few
things you may need, knowing the whole time you've forgotten something.
Now it's time to head over to the local department store for some
decorations. You follow the same unguided principles you went through at
the grocery store. Then once again you missed a few things at the liquor
store. You've also forgotten to send invitations to so and so and a few
others and the party is only a few days away. Suddenly you find yourself
scrambling back to all the same stores trying to find the items you
missed the first time around. Then out of nowhere the night of the party
arrives and you realize you don't have enough food for all the invited
guests. Then the worst possible thing happens, you hear a knock at the
front door. It's as if a new and frightening nightmare has blossomed out
of thin air. You feel the shakes coming on and your stress level is
reaching new and incredible heights. I could go even further, but I think
you get the idea. If only you had begun your planning by keeping track of
all that you need, every purchased item and menu dishes prepared. If only
you had made a party planning checklist none of the awful party mistakes
listed above would have happened. Now that I've gotten the point across
about how important a checklist is I will now inform you about what it
needs in order to make it work.

A party planning checklist should consist of the type of party you plan
on having, it's budget, the guest list, venue, decorations, food and
beverages and the time and date of your party. Start by writing yourself
a header. Something like, 'Luau party planning checklist', will do just
nicely. The reason it's a good idea to create a headline is it will make
it more difficult to deviate from your parties theme if you keep reading
it over and over.

The next aspect of your checklist should definitely be your budget.
Creating a budget and keeping track of all your spending is very
important. Your budget will be the key reason for many of your up and
coming party decisions. The checklist is a way of keeping everything in
order so you don't overspend in one area and leave another area short.

The item listed after the budget on the party planning checklist is
usually your venue choice. If you are planning to have the party away
from home the venue choice will cost money and will come out of your
budget and a time will have to be arranged for decorations and so forth.
If your party is going to be at home, and you have to hire a professional
to come and clean some unwanted stains out of your rug the parties budget
will be affected, making it an important listing in your checklist. Of
course, if your home needs nothing besides some freshening up you may
leave it off your list for now.

The checklist is about to be hammered with information and the reason for
this is you're about to create your guest list. Here you should write out
the invitees names, phone numbers and addresses. You will be needing this
information for the invitations and it makes it much easier than trying
to look through your address book and try and remember who was invited,
what their numbers are and where they live.

The menu should be added once you have completed the above. Now you will
have a clear idea as to what you need and how much. List the items you
need, then check them off the list once purchased, while also keeping
track of prices. The same goes for decorations.

The information listed above should help prevent problems created by
trying to 'wing it'. If not, there is plenty of available information out
there, you just have to know where to look.

Good luck on your up and coming party and have a great time.

About The Author
James Craven is a party planning expert with over 20 years experience.
For more information and valuable tips on party planning checklist visit:

The author invites you to visit:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Party Planning Information-The Party Starts Here

Party Planning Information-The Party Starts Here
by: James Craven

The days of your youth are at an end. Back then party planning was so
simple anyone could do it. Unfortunately things must change. You've grown
up and things no longer come as easy. Actual planning must be strategized
in order for your party to produce a success. The best way to insure a
great party today is by examining the possibilities. The party planning
information you will discover here takes you bounding through time to the
here and now, gleefully leaving your childhood behind, into a world of
alcohol, great food and variations of intense partying that'll fit any
mood or personality.

This strategy of party planning is for those looking to create a more
formal affair. If you want to revert back to your youth, you can
certainly make some phone calls and tell your friends to bring the beer
and the chips because the party is at your place tonight. Otherwise, read
on, because the party planning information you are looking for starts now.

There are 6 basic steps in party planning that you must consider.

The 6 basic stages of preparation are:

1) Checklist: The creation of a checklist is a vitally important tip for
anyone who plans on having a party. It is imperative to keep track of all
your party preparations. In order to eliminate the inevitable stress,
create a checklist, then use it.

2) Deciding on the type of party: For most people the idea for a party
developed long before the date for the event was scheduled. This is true
in most cases, but not all. There are many different types of parties,
including: theme, luau, surprise, baby shower, wedding, bachelor,
surprise, etc. If you've decided to have a party, but don't know what
type, now is the time to make a choice. Once you've come to a decision,
write the name down on a piece of paper and entitle it (your party
choice) checklist.

3) The Budget is a major step: This is the step that has a direct impact
on most of your coming decisions. Your budget size decides the size of
your party, where it will be held, what type of food and beverages you
will serve and whether or not you will be adding decorations.

4) The Venue is next: Where you want to have your party should be next in
your party planning. This decision is not always an easy one. If you have
a large guest list and the accommodations will in no way be adequate,
renting a space may be your only choice. However, if your budget is
limited, don't be shy in asking for help from relatives and friends.
Remember this is a party you are having and your guests will more than
likely be willing to help.

5) The Guest list should now be formulated: Now that the other big
decisions have been covered you can begin the actual guest list. You
should now know whether or not your party will be big or small, at home
or abroad. With this information in hand, the who and the how many on
your guest list should be jotted down on your checklist. The invitations
should now be sent. The partying is soon to begin and the excitement is
definitely building at this point.

6) The Food and Beverage Menu: With all the other planning accomplished
the menu should now be sorted. Take great care in your food planning.
This is an area where people tend to make mistakes and find themselves
either running short or running out at the last minute to grab something
they've forgotten. Don't let this happen to you. Plan accordingly.

Those are the basic steps in party planning. With the information listed
here you will be well on your way to having a party that will far surpass
the days when making a phone call was all you needed to do.

About The Author
James Craven is a party planning expert with over 20 years of experience.
For more great tips regarding party planning information visit.

The author invites you to visit:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Be A Great Potluck Host For Thanksgiving!

Be A Great Potluck Host For Thanksgiving!
by: Kathy Smith

Being the host of an appetizing potluck isn't as easy as it sounds but
it's definitely fun once you learn how to handle one, especially when
it's during a warm and fruitful holiday like Thanksgiving. Here are ways
that might help improve those hosting skills.

1) Write down the number of people you are expecting on that day. Your
family, friends, neighbors, business partners, colleagues, anyone you are
expecting or the ones you invited. Don't forget to include the people who
might be coming along with them (kids, girlfriends, boyfriends). This
list will help narrow down the quantity of prepared food needed.

2) The holiday's potluck must have the common or usual dishes in order
for things to remain traditional. But adding new ones to the developed
menu isn't a bad idea. It's actually a brilliant idea! Select a specific
menu you plan on having for the dinner and inform the expected guests
about it. Try looking for a selection which you think everyone will
appreciate. The holiday's potluck must have the traditional turkey,
veggies, garnishes, condiments, desserts, berries and breads.

3) Make everything easier by e-mailing the chosen menu to expected guests
coming. Also ask what dish in the selected menu they plan on bringing
over. Some are nice enough to volunteer in bringing more dishes. A family
might even bring more than expected.

It would also be easier if they could tell you the food they plan on
bringing ahead of time to avoid guests bringing the same kind. So
deadlines must be set. Inform them the number of expected guests coming
that day for them to know the amount of food they'll be preparing.

4) An extra hand is always useful in the preparation of a successful
Thanksgiving potluck, so do not hesitate to ask. You could just probably
ask the closest to you or anyone free on that time to go to your house
earlier and give you a hand.

It's a lot more fun having someone accompanying you rather than having no
one helping you out. This will make the tasks lighter and faster to
accomplish, plus you also have the opportunity to bond with each other
more. More things you may be thankful for.

5) Display the prepared potluck on one table big enough for all the
dishes. Arrange it like how a buffet is done to let that appetite grow.
Make sure everything is set well. Potlucks are best eaten when
self-served, especially when it's Thanksgiving.

Invite everyone to eat. Start by digging in yourself. But of course don't
forget to say grace before doing so. Let's be reminded of what
Thanksgiving really means. Then, nothing else is left but to have fun
with Thanksgiving potluck. Happy Thanksgiving!

About The Author
Kathy is a food Lover! You can check out her very popular Thanksgiving
Recipes website where she shares some of her Thanksgiving Stuffing
Recipes and Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes on

The author invites you to visit:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Learn How To Prepare The Most Disgusting Halloween Recipes Ever.

Learn How To Prepare The Most Disgusting Halloween Recipes Ever.
by: Chris D Gardner

To stimulate one's appetite, presentation is key. Food that looks
appealing can get people crave for them. If you're looking for added fun
and gross dishes for your upcoming Halloween party, here are some ideas
that are sure to be a big hit and is sure to really make party guests
scream in delight.

Pimple Poppers


1 dozen cherry tomatoes, drained
Soft cream cheese spread, flavored

Core the tomatoes using a small knife. Stuff the holes with cream cheese
using a butter knife. By gently squeezing them, you give the gross idea
of popping out a pimple. Arrange onto a platter and serve.

Hairball salad in drool dressing


1 ripe avocado
Grated carrots
Vinaigrette or any salad dressing of your choice

Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh and put
in a bowl adding the sprouts and mashing it using a fork. Having some
lumps is fine. Set aside. Then, distribute the grated carrots evenly
depending on how many servings you like. Form hairballs the size of
walnuts and put them over on your grated carrots. Then drizzle the salad
dressing, which constitutes the 'drool'. Serve.

Ghoulish Eyeballs


6 hardboiled eggs
6 oz. cream cheese, whipped
7 oz green olives, with pimiento
Red food color

Remove the shell off the eggs and remove the yolks. Stuff the hole with
whipped cream cheese so as to form the eyeball. Press one olive to every
eyeball. Make sure the pimiento faces up. Now, draw broken blood vessels
in the stuffing using the toothpick dipped in red food color.

Stale Bath Water


12 oz frozen lemonade
2 liters lime soda
Half a gallon sherbet

Thaw the sherbet for about 15 minutes and place in a container. Prepare
the lemonade according to package instructions and blend with the lime
soda and the sherbet. At this point, the sherbet should melt and turn
into grayish-brown liquid, much like used bathwater. You may use colored
mints to float on your scummy-looking drink.

Gooey Brains


1 pack jello
1 carton cottage cheese, small-curd
1 can of berries of your choice, in thick syrup,
Food coloring

To prepare:

First, make the jello according to instructions. Set aside to chill. In a
bowl, mix the cottage cheese and your choice of berries carefully, as
cheese constitutes the brain matter. Add food color. On a serving plate,
place a few tablespoonfuls of your jello, which makes for your brain
fluid. Drizzle with thick syrup. Top with the cheese-berries mixture.

Make these recipes a part of your Halloween party menu. These are
must-try gastronomic wonders that are bound to have your party guests
screaming in utter delight.

About The Author
Chris is a food fanatic! Visit his very popular Halloween Recipes &
Sandwich Recipes & Pork Chop Recipes

The author invites you to visit:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


by: Mary Walsh

Kids enjoy special treats during Halloween - but usually it takes some
time in creating those spooky meals, it might seem like its impossible or
such a burden to do but NO. Here are 5 quick & easy food suggestions for
your Halloween. Creating them will seem effortless and they can be easy
to prepare, it's even easy for your older group of kids to create the
treats themselves.

Eye Ball Rice Cake Treats

These treats are tasty, crunchy and they definitely look disgusting!
Align the treats onto one plate then using some squeezy bottled ketchup,
trace red lines across the plate for it to appear like a spider. Cut into
circles some cheese for that violent yellow pupil look, then top it with
1 slice of pepperoni or salami. Feel free to vary the eye ball treats
with different kinds of elements, prefer choosing those that kids surely

Ghostly Burger Treats

Cook burgers. During cooking, create or trace out ghostly shapes of
cheese using some Halloween molders or with the use of some template.
Then cut two eye holes. Once they're done, arrange each cheese with
ghostly shapes on top then quickly cook them using a grill or a broiler
until cheese starts to melt.

Guts Jello

Mix some yellow or green jelly then pour them in suitable Halloween
containers, you may use goblet shaped containers that looks grand, but
plastic cups would work. Once ready, drop some plastic spiders on top in
every container. Allowing them to stand each alongside every plate while
scattering some extra spiders will enhance that spooky effect.

Marshmallow Ghouls and Ghosts

During the event invite a group of kids who want to be involved in the
festivities to make this activity easy and fun. Melt chocolates (white)
or chips of chocolates (white) into a microwaveable bowl then microwave
these for one to two minutes. While waiting, string some marshmallows
(white) on each lollipop or popsicle stick.

Then dip each marshmallow on some chocolate (melted) while swirling them
around ensuring total coverage of every ghost heads. Take the treats out
then put them flat onto each paper plate for chocolate to cool. Prior to
it cooling, push two silver pieces of balls to serve as eyes.

You may use some writing frosting tube to create one mouth also include
some features that you like. Create each ghoul using multi-colored
marshmallows. Then thread each of the marshmallows onto sticks then add a
bit of green food coloring unto chocolate (melted) prior to swirling each
of the marshmallows, to ensure total surface coverage.

Use two silver pieces of balls to serve as their eyes just like what we
did earlier, and then add a bit of decoration as well: for example, we
made strawberry strands of candy appear to look like its hair; we could
have included some drops of chocolate for those ears if only we had not
already eaten all! Allow your chocolate to cool just like before

About The Author
Mary is a food lover! Visit her very popular Halloween Recipes & Sandwich
Recipes & Pork Chop Recipes

The author invites you to visit: