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  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 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 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 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.
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!


Gifts and Crafts · Miscellaneous

Hot Chocolate Snowman

By Amber Keiper
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

I always find that I have to most fun looking for (or making) gifts for the kids. They get a kick out of everything fun, whimsical and creative. This year especially, there are a lot of kids on my Christmas shopping list so I decided to go the homemade route with them.

Scouring through hundreds of images on Pinterest, I found these cute mason jar snowmen that I just had to replicate. Since the source didn’t post how to make them, here’s my spin on these cute, kid-friendly holiday gifts.

Supplies Needed
Three 4 oz. mason jars
Black felt
Powdered Hot Chocolate mix
Mini Marshmallows
Mini candies (I used mini assorted chocolates)
Orange construction paper
Black construction paper (or a black permanent marker)
Hole punch
Glue stick
Black spray paint
Glue gun and replacement glue sticks
Red jingle bells (optional)
2″ holiday ribbon or fabric (for the scarf)

Wash and thoroughly dry the mason jars. You don’t want the powdered chocolate to stick to the jar. One thing I didn’t do (but should have) was spray paint one of outer jar lid rings black. This lid ring will be the snowman’s top hat.

Fill the first jar full of marshmallows (this is the snowman’s head). Place the inner lid cap over the jar opening. Cut a 4″ x 4″ circle out of the black felt, place it over the inner lid then screw the black lid ring over the felt.

Next, fill the second jar with the hot chocolate mix and screw the cap and lid on.

Finally, fill the last remaining jar with the candies and then screw the cap and lid on.

Next comes the assembly. Using the glue gun, glue the bottom of the jar of hot chocolate mix to the lid of the jar of candies. Next, glue the bottom of the jar of marshmallows to the lid of the jar of hot chocolate.

The last step is the decorating. Use the hole punch to make two small circles from the black construction paper (or use the permanent marker) to make eyes for the snowman. Cut a small triangle from the orange construction paper to make the nose. Glue these pieces onto the marshmallow jar to make the face of the snowman. Finally, you can hot glue two red jingle bells (or use some red construction paper) to make a couple of buttons on the hot chocolate jar.

The finishing touch: tie a piece of holiday ribbon or fabric around the top of the hot chocolate lid to make a festive scarf.

Gifts and Crafts · Miscellaneous

Quick and Easy Fabric-Bound Recipe Book

By Jennie Ramirez
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My daughter Yvette is a talented baker-in-training. Over the last couple of years, her skills in the kitchen have ALMOST reached my own.

All jokes aside, baking is one of her passions and that is why I decided to make this semi-homemade fabric-bound recipe book. Here’s how I did it:

Supplies Needed
One 8″ x 10″ photo album that holds 4″ x 6″ photos/recipe cards (I found mine from the dollar store)
1/2 yard of fabric ( I used a cupcake-print since those are Yvette’s specialty)
Spray adhesive

Open the photo album and peel back the cardboard on the inside cover, making sure not to rip it apart from the inside binding. Do the same to the backside cover.

Cut the fabric to fit around the outside covers of the album, leaving a 2″ inch border of fabric over the edges of the album.

Spray adhesive to the exposed edges of the fabric as well as the outer border of the cardboard cover. Fold over the 2″ fabric edge and smooth out any wrinkles. Cut off excess fabric with scissors.

Spray adhesive to the cardboard cover you peeled away and smooth over the fabric edges you folded over so that they are sandwiched underneath the cardboard cover.

Now comes the fun part:

Pencil in the design you wish to paint on the cover of the book, then use fabric paint to fill in the pencil outlines. Let dry for an hour.

Finally, insert a few of your own favorite recipe cards and leave the rest of the album pages blank so the recipient can complete the book with their own recipes.


Gifts and Crafts · Miscellaneous

Customized Shopping Tote

By Monica ReyesClick to play this Smilebox slideshow

Everyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a shopaholic. The thrill of finding the cutest skirt at a great price or discovering the perfect set of earrings that finish off a flawless ensemble is truly exhilarating.

And who doesn’t want to look fabulous when they’re out shopping or simply running errands?

For the holidays, I decided to make these customized shopping totes for the other shopaholics in my life. They’re surprisingly easy to make and come out beautiful. The best part is that you can tailor each one to the person you’re making them for, giving them a unique, one-of-a-kind present that they can use every day.

Supplies Needed
1 blank tote bag (try Michaels arts and crafts store)
Fabric paint
Faux gemstones, jewels, etc. (optional)
Glue gun (optional)

The key here is to think of a design that fits the personality of the person who will be receiving the tote bag.  What’s the first thing you think about when you think of them? What’s their favorite hobby, sport, or food? Once you figure this out, the rest is easy.

For my abuela (grandmother), I decided to go with a garden-type design because she loves flowers. The fabric paints are easy to work with so that took no time at all. My mom had some leftover vine leaf ribbon from my son Evan’s baby shower (it was a jungle/monkey theme) and my sister and I scrounged up our leftover single earrings and mismatched jewelery pieces we had and found some nice flowers to hot glue to the bag design.

Use your creativity, take a look through some craft books, or check out for some inspiration to make your own customized shopping totes.