Decorations · Food and Drink · Games and Entertainment · Gifts and Crafts · Invitations · Miscellaneous · Planning and Organizing

Retro Pinball Party

By Amber Keiper

I always make a big deal out of my birthday and often joke that it usually lasts all month long.  My poor husband, on the other hand, usually gets something a much more toned-down type of celebration – going out to dinner, having a few friends over – things like that.

So this year, I decided to make a big thing out of my husband’s birthday (he’s turning 33).

Picking The Right Venue

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My go-to place to look for party venues, bars, and restaurants is Yelp.com.  Not only can you find local places you might have never heard of before but you can also read the reviews of fellow Yelpers so you have an idea of what you’re getting before you make your party reservation.  Decide what your budget is and where your ideal party venue will be and you can narrow down your choices pretty quickly.

Since my husband has been into pinball lately, I was able to find a neat pinball museum and arcade called Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, CA.  I called them and found out that they had a couple of party rooms available which worked perfect for my event.  They even upgraded us to their larger party room for no extra charge since they didn’t have any other events going on that day.  When booking a rental space for your event, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a deal or to be upgraded…you never know, you might get it!

Maximize Your RSVPsPinballEvite

The faster you get people to respond to your party invitation, the better of an idea you’ll have for how much food to order, party favors to put together and how big of a space you’ll need for your event.  The best way to get your guests to RSVP fast is to send your party invitation using multiple delivery methods:

  • Send an invitation by mail.  People still like to receive these since usually bills are the only thing being mailed these days.  Plus it gives your guests a physical reminder of your event which they can put in their day planner or on the refrigerator.
  • Email invitations work well too.  Personally, I prefer Evite.com but you can use any other online party invitation software to get it done…or a simple email could work too!
  • Post a Facebook event.  Nowadays, pretty much everyone from your best pal to your grandma are on Facebook.  Create an “event” and post your party details there.  Don’t want guests to invite other people you don’t know?  You can elect to list your posting as “private” and deactivation the ability for guests to invite others to your event.

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Since my husband’s favorite pinball game is “Funhouse”, I decided to go with a carnival party theme.  Carnival colors are usually heavy on the red and white with hints of blue and green so I got a few blue and red tablecloths from Dollar Tree.  Since I was there, I decided to try and get as many party supplies as I could from there, since everything there only costs $1.  I was able to get lots of different types of candy, party plates, bowls, napkins, and some nice-looking picture frames to display my food labels in.

Next stop was to check out Pinterest.com for some inspiration and ideas.  Of course, whenever I get stuck, I always make sure to consult with my fellow Hip Chick Hostesses.  It’s good to have a group of friends to help you sort out all your good ideas so that you don’t go overboard and make sure that what you do come up with is as impressive and creative as possible.

I made a checklist of everything I needed to get the rest of my decorations together, checked out Amazon.com for everything I could get at a good price online.  Though usually quite reliable, this time my order didn’t deliver on time.  Luckily I was able to replace everything I ordered online by stopping at Michaels, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Cost Plus World Market.

The Big Day

With the help of my fellow Hip Chicks, I was able to put everything together and impress my husband on his big day.  He still talks about his party and how much fun it was, raving that it was “the best birthday ever”!

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“Funhouse” is my husband’s favorite pinball game so I went with a carnival birthday party theme.
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What’s a carnival themed birthday party without brightly colored drinks?
Strong Man Soda and Bearded Lady Brew - carnival-theme for birthday party
Strong Man Soda and Bearded Lady Brew – carnival themed birthday party (custom drink labels)
Firebreather's Fire Water and Jesse's Funhouse Elixer
Firebreather’s Fire Water and Jesse’s Funhouse Elixer

 

Party favors included Barnum's Animal Crackers with custom "raffle tickets" and goody bags for the kids.
Party favors included Barnum’s Animal Crackers with custom “raffle tickets” and goody bags for the kids.

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Evan loves his balancing clown set - retro carnival theme birthday party
Evan loves his balancing clown set – retro carnival theme birthday party

 

 

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Decorations · Food and Drink · Gifts and Crafts · Miscellaneous

Hand-Painted Wine Glasses

By Jennie Ramirez

For you creative ladies who are always on a budget, here’s a great idea to customize your wine glasses – or any other glassware you need for a holiday event…or as a gift. This is an expensive, artisan look done at home to decorate glassware for your party or event.

Supplies Needed
Paint brushes
Martha Stewart paints for glass
Wine glasses (or other glassware to decorate)

Now the fun begins! You can paint create whatever you desire or need for your next event. Get creative and think of the person receiving it, if it’s a gift. The end result makes a great looking piece for pennies on the dollar!

painted_wine_glasses

Decorations · Food and Drink

A Very French Birthday Party

By Amber Keiper

I think it’s every girl’s fantasy to visit Paris. It’s portrayed as such a romantic city – full of love in the air – what girl could resist? And with my deep love of french cinema, you can imagine just how irresistible the thought of visiting the “the city of light” is to me.

Well, my dream is finally coming true! This year my husband and I are planning to visit this famous tourist spot. I am so excited! So in an effort to bring a bit of “Perrie” to my friends and family, I decided to host a very french birthday party. Come and take a look:

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French sodas While I was lucky enough to find these brightly colored French sodas with the Eiffel Tower pictured on the label, you can also opt to print your own beverage labels yourself. Try to use pictures of famous Parisian landmarks or classic French things: croissants, berets, Vespas…how about a couple kissing in public? Use your imagination! Avery has easy-to-use printer-friendly labels that work great.

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French Canapes My best gal pal (and fellow Hip Chick Hostess) Monica, decided to make some delicious French canapés as an appetizer. The cool thing about canapés is that they are beautiful, delicious, and – best of all – super easy to make. (A hip chick hostess’ dream!) You can pretty much use any topping combinations you like. Just make sure they all go on a fresh baked baguette. For Monica’s delicious and easy canapé recipe, click here.
Also, did you notice the white serving tray, displaying the word “Paris” on the top plate? This is an add-on decal we created using black Contact paper and a handy, Xacto knife. Read more about this in our next article, Customizable Serving Trays In 5 Easy Steps. We’ll show you how we made a cute French Poodle serving dish as well as a zebra striped tray for Monica’s Animal Print Birthday Bash.

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Eiffel Tower Centerpiece What’s a French birthday party without an Eiffel Tower centerpiece? I found mine at Pier 1 Imports, but you can also try Cost Plus World Market (another one of my favorite haunts). Then again, you don’t really have to spend that much, especially if you only plan to use it once,Visit your local consignment shops or check out what the internet has to offer.

Or why not take a stab at making your own Eiffel Tower centerpiece? Simply print four, identical images of the front of the tower on 8.5″ x 14″ (legal size) paper. Next, glue each piece of paper onto a piece of poster board, then use an Xacto knife to cut each side out. Finally, use a little tape along the inside of the tower to assemble each side together. Fini! Your centerpiece is done!

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French Pastries (pâtisseries) Finally, the tour de force: dessert! We featured classic French desserts such as truffles and cookies. Yum! Notice the red pomander flower balls affixed to the pewter candlesticks? These are definitively French: pomander, or pomme d’ambre means “apple of amber” in French. (Very fitting for MY birthday, no?) For a step-by-step tutorial on how to make these gorgeous (and inexpensive) decorations check out my article, Crepe Paper Flowers & Pomander Kissing Balls.

Needless to say, if you plan on serving lunch or dinner, it would be perfect to have a few French dishes on the menu. We went with Chicken Coq Au Vin and French green beans!

What other French party ideas can you think of including? Share your thoughts, comments, and inspirations in the “Comments” section below. Au revoir for now!!!

Decorations · Food and Drink · Invitations · Miscellaneous · Planning and Organizing

Tea Parties Are Not Just For Girls Named Alice

By Amber Keiper and Susan Keiper
 

Ever since I was a little girl I loved to read. It was my favorite way of leaving wherever I was and transport myself into another world…a world where I could enjoy someone else’s life and embark on an incredible journey.

Of all the stories and novels I read as a child, my absolute favorite was the fairy tale of “Alice in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll. My mom had bought me a beautifully illustrated copy of this classic story complete with fantastical pictures drawn by Sir John Tenniel. I would immerse myself in this extraordinary story time and time again.

One of the scenes of the story is that of the “mad” tea party where Alice becomes an unsuspecting guest of a tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter, a wacky fellow who only speaks in riddles. Poor Alice soon tires of all the insults and riddles and escapes “the silliest tea party I ever went to!”

A Mother’s Day Tea Party

You don’t have to be named Alice in order enjoy a nice tea party with friends. I recently hosted a nice Mother’s Day tea party for those special ladies in my life. It was a beautiful day and the women who came had such a lovely time. Here are some suggestions that I used (and some I wish I did!):

Invitations

Since all the ladies I was inviting to my tea party are internet-savvy, I decided to go with an electronic invitation. My favorite website to use for these is www.evite.com. Its free, eco-friendly plus they have hundreds of beautiful designs to choose from. Best of all, they send out an email reminder to all your guests a day before to remind them of your event.

If you do decide to go with a paper invitation, why not have some fun with it? You could make an invitation that is designed to look like a bag of herbal tea. Or how about an invitation shaped like a teapot?

Decorations

Tea parties are elegant affairs that give women a chance to dress up and be fancy – even if it’s just for one day. To create this elegant environment, use flowers and lace to make beautiful centerpieces and decorations. You can even have guests take home the flower arrangements after the party is over.

When choosing flowers, you can go with fresh flowers from your local florist. They smell beautiful and look gorgeous. Or, if you prefer, try silk flowers instead. Silk flowers are cheaper than real flowers, are great for moms with allergies, and they can be reused for multiple occasions. The most realistic silk flowers to use are carnations, roses, and peonies.

I always shop www.dollartree.com first. They have silk flowers, vases, glass beads and plant moss for only $1 and with a little creativity, they can be assembled into pretty table centerpieces.

Lace doilies are beautiful when placed on serving dishes plus they make cleanup easier. Plastic lace tablecloths look like real lace yet they’re more durable and easier to clean.

Cup and saucer sets with flower patterns fit the party atmosphere best. The patterns don’t have to match  (in fact, I personally think they look better when they don’t!).

Used tea sets can usually be found at a garage sale or at your local thrift store. Some people will also sell their old tea sets online – try www.craigslist.org. It’s are cheaper and more eco-friendly alternatives to purchasing a brand new set. If you do decide to go with a new set, try Bed Bath and Beyond or Macy’s housewares departments.

Food

What’s a tea party without yummy finger foods? At my tea party, I served cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwiches.

Cucumber & Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Sliced sandwich bread (white country-style bread works best)

English cucumbers, sliced into 1/4” rounds

Softened cream cheese

Cut off the crust on the bread. Smear cream cheese on one side, and place a slice of cucumber on each of the four corners. Place another slice of bread on top and cut into four, bite sized sandwiches. To make them even more festive, use a cookie cutter to make a lovely shaped sandwich.

Other classic tea party foods include quiche, garden salad, cold pasta salad, cheese and crackers, and other finger goods.

Desserts are always the highlight of the tea party. Petite fours are delicious, miniature cake bites which can be purchased at a gourmet bakery. Another popular dessert is cake pops, which can be ordered online at www.sweetcrumbsbake.com. They’re much easier to eat at a tea party since you don’t need a fork to enjoy them!

Other dessert foods to include are fruit salad, ladyfingers, tube wafer cookies, mini tarts, and cheesecake.

Beverages

Herbal teas are great for a tea party and it’s good to have a variety. Green, chai, black, earl grey, jasmine, chamomile, peoke, and mint are all great teas to offer. For those guests who don’t drink tea, make sure to have some fresh-brewed coffee available.

If it’s a warm day and you’re having your party outdoors, it may be better to offer iced tea instead (same goes for iced coffee).

Whether you decide to serve tea or coffee, make sure to have plenty of cream and sweetener available for guests to use in their drinks. Milk, sugar, honey, lemon, artificial sweeteners, and cinnamon sticks are a must.

Do you have any other ideas to make your tea party unique? Share your comments in the “Comments” section below and let your fellow hip chicks in on the fun!

Costumes and Attire · Decorations · Food and Drink · Games and Entertainment · Invitations · Miscellaneous · Planning and Organizing

4 Easy Steps To An Authentic Cinco de Mayo Fiesta (That Your Guests Will Love!)

By Amber Keiper & Jennie Ramirez

The weather’s getting warmer and many people are happy to start getting back outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. How about a Cinco de Mayo-inspired party for your friends and family? It will help to cure their cabin fever!

Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for “the 5th of May” and celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over France during the Battle of Puebla.   While it’s technically a Mexican holiday, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have yourself a fiesta, right?

1. Start With the Invitations

You should always do an online invitation – it automatically reminds your guests of the event a day before with an email…plus its eco-friendly. Or, if you have the time, mail a paper invitation to your guests. People always like to receive mail (as long as it isn’t a bill). If you have a printer at home, you can create some festive postcard invites with a Mexican Flag printed on one side and the party details on the other.

2. Next, Get Your Decorations Together

Sombreros are a classic symbol of Mexican attire and serve a multi-purpose. They can shade you from the sun, be a great party prop for pictures, and can also be used to serve chips and salsa.

All you have to do is push in the top of the sombrero and place your salsa bowl in the divot. Next line the brim with foil and fill with some tortilla chips. Voila! A fancy chip and salsa platter.

Other party decoration ideas include mini piñatas and tissue paper banners (“papel picado”). If you’re planning to take the party into the evening, have some white string lights put up. Mexicans love to party from dusk until dawn!

3. Keep the Momentum Going with Some Fun Entertainment

Piñatas: These are always a party favorite for the kids. Each child takes a turn swinging a stick at the piñata while blindfolded. The goal is to burst the piñata to get at the candy inside. You definitely want to make sure that you have a couple of adults in charge of maintaining order and making sure no kids (or adults for that matter) are hurt while that stick is swinging!

Musical Chairs: This is an easy party game that both kids and adults can play. All you need are some chairs, a stereo, and some eager people to play. Keep the Cinco de Mayo theme going by playing some mariachi music.

Party Pictures with Props: The best pictures are ones with props! Sombreros, panchos, tequila bottles, and bandana are all you need to get that Mexican fiesta theme in your group party photos.

4. What’s A Party Without Party Foods?

At Hip Chick Hostess, we are all about fun, easy and fast party ideas. How else are we able to enjoy ourselves and socialize too? Here’s a quick and easy menu plan for your fiesta:

2-in-1 Taco & Nacho Bar

Here’s What You Need:

  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Chopped Tomato
  • Chopped Onion
  • Guacamole
  • Sour Cream
  • Pico de Gallo salsa
  • Mexican Rice
  • Refried Beans
  • Chunky Salsa
  • Melted Nacho Cheese
  • Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack work well)
  • Grilled Steak (“carne asada”), cut into chunks
  • Grilled Chicken, shredded
  • Shredded Pork (“carnitas”)
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Tortilla Chips

Lay everything out in individual serving bowls on your serving table. Guests can fill their tortillas with their favorite fillings or make a plate of nachos with some hearty toppings.

7-Layer Flag Bean Dip

Here’s what you need:

  • Refried Beans
  • Mexican Rice
  • Cheese
  • Chunky Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamole
  • Black Olives
  • 13” x 9” glass baking dish

Spread a 1/3” layer of refried beans on the bottom of your pan. Next goes a 1/3” layer of rice followed by a 1/3” layer of the following items (in order): cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. To create the flag effect, spread a thin layer of the following three ingredients on the top of the dip in a 4 & 1/3” x 9” rectangle (from left to right): guacamole (green), sour cream (white), and salsa (red).

If you want another great party appetizer, check out our Bacon Jalapeno Poppers, referenced in our Super Bowl Party article.

Here’s a tip to avoid a party disaster: Put the food out a little at a time and just keep re-filling the serving trays as needed. You’ll spread the food out longer and make sure that people don’t overfill their plates and end up wasting uneaten food. Also, if you can get assistance from some reliable friends, they can help you serve the food. This will help to further reduce food waste and ensure that everyone gets to try a little bit of everything.

Drinks

Classic fiesta beverages include: margaritas, sangria, and Mexican beer. While Corona is quite popular here in the States, Tecate, Modelo and Dos Equis are considered more authentic Mexican beers. Another great idea is tequila & lime Jello shots using lime-flavored Jello.

For the kids, you can serve Jarritos sodas, Tampico juice punch, or “agua frescas” like horchata (a refreshing rice drink), tamarindo, or Jamaica (a tart drink made from hibiscus flowers).

Desserts

A very innovative dessert idea I found on sheknows.com was for piñata cookies. They’re basically sugar cookies filled with mini M&Ms so when you bite into it, the candy spills out, just like a piñata!

Other traditional Mexican desserts include flan, pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) or tres leches cake.

Viva Mexico!

So you can see how easy it can be to throw Mexican fiesta. And you don’t have to wait until Cinco de Mayo to get the party started.

Share your own fiesta party ideas in the comments section of our website, http://www.hipchickhostess.com. Adios amigos!