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.

Time To Get Creative (Decorations)2013-10-12 19.11.12-1

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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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!

Costumes and Attire · Decorations · Food and Drink · Games and Entertainment · Miscellaneous

The Cat In The Hat Comes Back…To Your Birthday Party

By Amber Keiper
 

When I was a kid my mom used to read to my brother and I every night before we went to sleep. It was so much fun listening to her soothing voice as we dreamed about dragons, beanstalks and fairy princesses.

There was one book in particular that I always made sure to stay awake for from beginning to end. The story was about a little boy and girl who let a mischievous cat wearing an odd red and white striped hat into their home while their mother is away. The boy and girl quickly learn that they should have listened to their pet goldfish’s advice to not let the strange cat in as the cat in the hat begins to wreck havoc in their home.

Theodor Seuss-Geisel aka Dr. Seuss was a famous cartoonist and children’s book author who wrote over 60 books throughout his lifetime. Some of his most notable works include: “The Cat in the Hat”, “Horton Hears A Who”, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, and my personal favorite, “Green Eggs and Ham.” Some of his books have even been made into cartoons and major motion pictures.

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday (which is on March 2nd) why not bring back a classic favorite and host a Cat in the Hat themed birthday party for your kids? Here are a few suggestions that will really enhance the storybook experience:

Red and White Striped Party Hats

What’s a birthday party without festive party hats? These easy to make Cat in the Hat inspired party hats are just as much fun to make as they are to wear. So let your guests put these hats together themselves. It will not only take the stress off of your shoulders but it will also give your guests a fun activity to do together.

Step 1. Take a paper plate and cut the center out leaving the outer ring. This will be the rim of the hat.

Step 2. Take an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of white cardstock paper and with a black marker, draw a line every 2″ along the width of the paper.

Step. 3. Now starting from the top, color each alternating stripe in with a red crayon or marker (red, white, red, white, red) leaving the bottom stripe blank.

Step 4. Next, fold the last stripe along the black line with the flap facing out.

Step 5. Tape the flap to the underside of the paper plate ring so that the striped paper is sticking up. Your head should fit inside the paper plate ring with the striped cardstock sticking up like the Cat in the Hat’s red and white striped hat. To complete the look, you can use black facepaint to give each kid some whiskers!

Cat in the Hat Birthday Cake

This is an easy cake to make as it’s made out of five round tiers of cake. The key to this dessert is the design. You can make this cake with the birthday boy or girl’s favorite flavor or filling. For the recipe below, I decided to do a chocolate cake with strawberry filling. Here’s what you’ll need:

For the cake:

3 Boxes of Chocolate Cake Mix

9 Eggs

1 cup Vegetable Oil

3 & 3/4 cup Water

Two 8″ Round Cake Pans

White Cardboard cut into a 14″ diameter round base

White Icing

Red Icing

For the filling:

4 cups Fresh Strawberries, sliced

1 cup Strawberry Jam

4 cups Heavy Whipping Cream

1/2 cup Sugar

Bake cakes per box directions. You will end up with 6 round cakes but will only need 5 of them to use as tiers for the hat cake. For the filling, whip the heavy whipping cream and sugar in a mixer until the texture becomes thick and fluffy. Fold in the strawberries and jam and set aside. Your white round cardboard base will be the brim of the “hat” and also the base of your cake. Place one tier of the cake in the middle of the cardboard base and spread a layer of strawberry filling over the top of the cake tier. Repeat process for the next four cake tiers: cake, filling, cake, filling, cake, filling, cake. Make sure to leave the top tier of the cake plain. Use icing to decorate each tier in alternating colors of red and white starting from the top tier down: red, white, red, white, red. For a smoother look, use fondant icing instead of whipped icing.

Get creative and think of other ways to make it a Seuss-tastic party. How about giving each guest a copy of “The Cat in the Hat” or “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back” book as a party favor?

Another idea is to decorate the gift table with a blue tablecloth and place an oversized square cardboard box on top that has been painted to look like a red crate. Cut a hole in the back of the box where the guests can’t see and have someone behind the table place each gift into the box one by one using the hole in the back. Let the birthday boy or girl reach into the red “crate” and pull out each gift to open. It will seem as though the box is bottomless as each time the child reaches in there is another present waiting for them to open.

What other ideas can you think of to really Seuss up your kid’s birthday party? Feel free to submit your ideas in the “Comments” section below.

Decorations · Food and Drink · Games and Entertainment · Invitations

Attract Good Fortune With A Chinese New Year Party

By Amber Keiper
 

Throwing a New Year’s Eve party can be a blast – but the fun doesn’t have to stop after January 1st.  How about hosting a Chinese New Year party too?  It’s a great way to get your friend together again and celebrate the New Year, but with a little Asian flare.

Chinese New Year starts this Monday, January 23rd and runs until February 6th.  This makes the date for a Chinese New Year shindig very flexible…and if you are of the “party hard” mindset (like me), you can certainly prolong your celebration and turn it into a multiple day event!

A Red Envelope Invitation

It is a customary Chinese tradition for people to give each other decorative red envelopes, called Hong Bao, filled with money.   These envelopes symbolize the giver’s intentions of good luck for the recipient.  They are even thought to ward off evil spirits.

You can repurpose the Hong Bao envelopes as invitations for your event.  Hong Bao envelopes are usually found at your local Asian supermarket during this time of year. You can also order them online – try Amazon.com or OrientalTrading.com. To make your invites stand out even more, you can include a crisp dollar bill inside as a nice surprise for your invited guests.  But make sure to use only crisp, new money as worn out money is not good luck.

Red and Gold – The Symbolic Colors of the New Year

The primary colors used during the Chinese New Year festivities are red and gold.  You can decorate your party with red tablecloths and accentuate it with gold cups, plates, napkins and utensils.  Gold tableware can sometimes be found on clearance right after January 1st.

Red paper lanterns and Chinese firecrackers are also very popular decorations that can be found in Asian supermarkets around Chinese New Year.  Oh, and make sure you incorporate the customary holiday colors into your party attire as well.

Essential Chinese New Year Foods

So what do you serve your guests?  Chinese food of course! The must-have foods to celebrate Chinese New Year are:

  • Chow Mein Noodles, which signify a long, fruitful life should definitely be included in your party fare.
  • Pot Stickers represent wealth, as their shape is similar to that of the golden ingots used as currency during the Ming Dynasty.
  • Fortune Cookies are a fun dessert option.  Once broken apart, they contain a strip of paper inside that reveals a personal fortune for the recipient.
  • Tangerines and Navel or Mandarin Oranges are also a common food during this time of year and symbolize wealth luck.  That’s because the Chinese words for tangerine and orange sound much like the words “wealth” and “luck”.

Let Your Guests “Roll in the Gold”

Once all your guests arrive, gather them together right outside the entrance to where the party is being held.  Hopefully this is your own home.  Why?  Because the next game you’ll be playing is to roll the “gold” into your home.

  1. Hand each guest an orange.
  2. Have your guests takes turns rolling their orange through the front door and into your house.
  3. Make sure to make a lot of noise – clap and cheer each other on.  This bring the yang (positive) energy up.
  4. The oranges should be rolled hard enough that they goes completely into the house.  You don’t want your wealth rolling right back out  the front door right?

This amusing Asian tradition symbolizes rolling in gold (or wealth) into the home for the New Year.

Now it’s Your Turn!

Hopefully these ideas inspire you to host a Chinese New Year party for your friends and family.  Just remember to make it fun and don’t be afraid to put your own spin on it.  That’s what makes a party memorable and a huge success.

If you come up with any other tips or tricks on how to jazz up a Chinese New Year celebration, please make sure to share in the “Comments” section below.  This is the best way to get the dialogue going and the inspiration flowing!