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



Click to play this slideshow

Ultimate Birthday Party Planning Guide…for Procrastinators

By Monica Reyes
My little boy is turning 2 – gotta make his birthday party memorable!

As a full-time student and working mom, life is busy! I try very hard to accomplish all my tasks in a timely manner; whether at work or at home. Well, next month my little one turns 2! It was just yesterday that I was still able to fit him in my arms and now I am planning his 2nd birthday. Time sure does fly. After school finals and all the talk about planning my son’s birthday, I realized that I was less than 30 days away from his birthday bash.

I had taken the time 3 month’s prior to look for ideas and get inspired on all the crafts that I can begin for a Thomas the Train party. Yes, that is my son’s favorite at the moment, so figuring out the theme this year was quite easy. Although, I had gathered my ideas and devised a plan to host the “hip kid’s” birthday party, I really had accomplished nothing. Now that I realized that it is SERIOUSLY “crunch time”, I came up with a strategy to make this a great and unforgettable party for my toddler.

I knew that I wanted this party to be kid friendly and entertaining so there has to be games and activities to keep the kiddies going throughout the day.

Step 1.

  • Set a date and time for your party.  Take into consideration your guests work schedules and any events that may conflict with your guest’s ability to attend your party.  Also remember that if it is a children’s party that you consider school schedules, nap times, bedtimes, etc.
  • Know your goal, theme and budget.  This will help you narrow down your party ideas and keep your expenses manageable.  Make sure to add any extra $50 or so to your original budget estimate to cover any last minute expenses and avoid being surprised by a larger than expected bill.
  • Create a list organized with ideas, things that you need to do, headcount of guests to invite and items to be purchased.  Make sure to take a look at your list every week and cross off the items as you complete them.  This not only gives you a sense of accomplishment, it also helps to keep you on track by reminding you of what still needs to be done.
  • Do your research to gather your final ideas for the party (décor, invites, food, etc.). Pinterest is a great social media tool that I use to find pictures for inspiration and party ideas.  Google Images is another useful tool that is similar to Pinterest but you don’t have to create a login profile to access the images.

Step 2.

  • Recruit a team of reliable helpers (uncles, aunts, grandparents, and friends).  Your friends and family will most likely be very willing to participate in making your kid’s birthday party a huge success.
  • Assign tasks that your helpers can easily accomplish for you.

Example: Hip Chick Amber Keiper is quite the whiz when it comes to designing invites. So I decided to put her in charge of putting them together :) This removed one item from my to-do-list.

  • Finalize your guest list and do not get in over your head. Keep it minimal so you do not overwhelm yourself of your child.

Step 3.

  • Complete things by category. Preferably in this order (invitations, decorations, layout, favors, games, food and the cake!)

A key thing to remember when throwing a party is to stay calm and organized. Just remember: as long as the children enjoy the party, it will be a success! Not everyone needs to know that you pulled your party out of a hat!

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!



Spiked Hot Chocolate In A Jar

By Amber Keiper
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Since I’m not a big fan of egg nogg, I always think of hot chocolate as my signature holiday beverage. This year, I’m sharing my love for hot Mexican spiced hot chocolate with my friends with a fun little gift: Spiked Hot Chocolate in a Jar. This is a quick and easy gift for all your last minute holiday procrastinators. (Make sure to make one for yourself too!)

Supplies Needed
Hot chocolate mix
Mini marshmallows
One 2 oz mini bottle of Baileys Irish Cream
1 pint mason jar with lid
White felt (optional)
Fabric paint (optional)
Red jingle bell (optional)

Wash and thoroughly dry the mason jar to avoid getting the ingredients wet. Fill the jar 2/3 of the way with the hot chocolate mix and the remaining 1/3 of the jar with the marshmallows. Put the inner ring on the top of the jar.

Cut a 4″ x 4″ square of white felt and place on top of the jar. Take the outer lid ring and screw it over the felt. Tie a piece of twine around the bottle of Baileys (I strung a small red jingle bell through before I tied it on the bottle to make it look festive but that’s up to you). Tie the bottle to the outer lid of the jar.

Use fabric paints to decorate the felt topped lid. Set aside to dry for an hour.

Try other variations to this idea: different alcohols like Kahlua, flannel fabric instead of felt, or even replacing the alcohol with a peppermint candy cane for your non-drinking friends. What other ways can you think of tweaking this gift idea to make it your own? Post your comments, ideas, and inspirations in the “Comment” field below.

Happy holidays!

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.