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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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!

Invitations

Bring the Beach to Baby’s First Birthday

By: Monica Reyes

The date June 11th is coming up around the corner! This date is significant to me because my son is turning 1 this year! The day is nearing quickly and I am starting to plan his Big Birthday Bash. I would like all you Hip Chick’s to join me on planning this journey. I’m excited to share this special day with you all.

I have began my party planning with an invitation of course. I chose to send a Facebook invite because I’m planning to keep this event small. Most of my guests are easy to contact via facebook rather them by paper invites. I have also decided to create an Evite so I can personalize the invitation.

My fiancé and I have decided to host a beach party for Evan’s big bash. With Evan’s birthday falling in the summer, we thought it would be perfect! There are so many ideas I have for this event. Stay tuned to see my handsome bou’s bash come together. Can you think of any decorating  ideas to make the beach theme really stand out? Share your comments on our blog at www.hipchickhostess.com

 

Costumes and Attire · Decorations · Food and Drink · Invitations · Planning and Organizing

A Mardi Gras Celebration Without the Trip!

 By Jennie Ramirez

There are only 4 days left until New Orleans begins their Mardi Gras celebrations. These celebrations originated in Medieval Europe but are now celebrated in New Orleans, Louisiana.

If you don’t have the budget or schedule to visit New Orleans, bring Mardi Gras to you! I have great ideas on hosting a Mardi Gras event for family and friends right at home.

Invitations

You can’t start a Mardi Gras bash without festive invites. I have a neat idea for some easy, and inexpensive invites. You can purchase colorful beaded bracelets or necklaces from your local party store and attach metallic tags with the event information. Print the party details on a 2” x 3” space on gold metallic cardstock. Cut it out and attach to the beaded necklace with wire or string. Your guests can even wear the bead portion of their invite to the party – how fun!

Costumes

 

Don’t forget to remind your guest on the invitation to dress up in their wildest costumes and masks! To get guests to participate, You can host a costume contest for the most impressive outfit. The winner can be given a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or eatery!

While people often think to go to their local party store to purchase their costumes and masks, why not make yours stand out from the rest by decorating it yourself?

All you need is:

Package of metallic masks

Metallic glitter

Clear glue

Colorful feathers

Scissors

Decorations

To successfully pull of the “Mardi Gras” feel, you’ll need the have the right decorations at your party. Decorate your home or backyard in bright, traditional colors used in celebration of  Mardi Gras: purple, green and gold. The King Rex chose these fabulous colors in 1892 to represent justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold). Here’s a neat trick: you can really change the mood in your home by changing your lightbulbs into the traditional colors of Mardi Gras! Also, make sure to use colorful tablecloths to make your display tables stand out!

Mardi Gras Party Foods

Your partygoers will probably need some foods to keep them going throughout the night. Here are some delicious Louisiana-style recipes you can share with your guests. You can even encourage your guests to bring their favorite bayou-inspired dish or cocktail to bring some great variety of dishes to your event!

New Orleans Shrimp

(4 Servings)

1 lb frozen shrimp (cleaned & thawed)

Olive oil

2 tbsp Lemon or Lime juice

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Cajun seasoning

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional)

1/2 cup chopped Onion

2 cloves minced Garlic

1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup

1/2 cup Milk

Stir shrimp with 1 tbsp of olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire and Cajun seasoning in a medium bowl. Heat enough oil to thinly coat you pan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until iridescent. Add the soup, milk, paprika and hot sauce. Bring to a boil. Add the shrimp mixture. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp is done.  Serve with oven warm cornbread or biscuits.

Colorful Jello Shots

This is an easy recipe and always a classic party dessert enjoyed by many.

1 package of Jello

Vodka

Fruit Juice (optional)*

To keep the Mardi Gras theme, choose Jello flavors that fit the green, gold and purple color scheme. Make Jello according to package instructions, with the exception of adding the last portion of cold water. You will substitute the cold water for your favorite vodka. Wait 3-4 minutes for the gelatin and hot water mixture to cool otherwise it will burn the alcohol out of the vodka. Add vodka to gelatin mixture and stir. Pour the mixture into small plastic shot glasses and chill until gelatin is set (about an hour). *If you prefer to not have your guests too tipsy, you can substitute half of the alcohol portion of the recipe with fruit juice. However, make sure the fruit juice compliments the flavor of Jello you are using for the recipe.

As you can see hosting your own Mardi Gras bash is easier then you thought! With these great ideas your party will come alive for your family and friends and everyone will be sure to have a blast!