August 2008

bridal bow-quet

August 29, 2008

bow sho!

One of my favorite bridal shower traditions is the ribbon bouquet: A paper plate adorned with the bows and ribbons from the bride's shower gifts to use as a bouquet during her reception. It's sentimental and adorable (two of my favorite adjectives). Unfortunately if you've not been to many bridal showers, you may not get how to create one of those bouquets.

As the maid of honor at my sister's shower, the ribbon bouquet was my responsibility and quickly turned into a comedy of errors. First of all, the only plates anyone had were those ultra-heavy-duty cardboard ones — try poking a hole in one of those without almost stabbing yourself. Second, the plate was oval, not round. Third, I just had no idea what I was doing. My sister ended up with a pretty sad-looking bouquet.

Then karma gave me an equally problematic ribbon bouquet for my rehearsal. My future sisters-in-law were in charge of collecting the bows and attaching them to the paper plate. They had a stapler, which seemed to be quite helpful. However, they created a ribbon bonnet instead of a bouquet. (This is either a tradition that I'm not aware of or a form of hazing.) After politely refusing to tie it to my head at the rehearsal, carrying it wasn't so easy because of its lack of handle.

To make sure more brides end up better faux-quets for their rehearsals, I assembled a few tips from some savvy former bridesmaids:

  • Just make one hole in the middle of the plate and pull all the ribbons through. Tie the ribbons together underneath the hole to keep everything in place and create a handy handle.
  • Ask guests to use ribbons that go along with the wedding colors. At my sister's shower, all the guests brought ribbons in various shades of pink. Even though the bouquet was quite sad, the colors looked really pretty.
  • Have a few extra ribbons on hand to fill out the bouquet if it looks a little anemic. Thin curling ribbon, for example, isn't so great for creating a full, lush ribbon bouquets.
  • If you're just not a DIY-er, get a bow-quet kit or a ribbon organizer to which you can tie the ribbons. No muss, no fuss.
  • FYI: As legend has it, the number of ribbons the bride breaks as she's opening gifts will be the number of children she has. Tear carefully!

spiked slushies a la bill nye the science guy

August 28, 2008

double, double toil and trouble, slushy churn and cauldron bubble

If you want frozen cocktails that double as serious entertainment, you’ve come to the right place. What I have for you today involves a drill, a slab of dry ice, vodka and mixers — prepare to be amazed.

Basically for this activity/refreshment station, you create a dry ice bowl, and then mix various liquids in the bowl until they form a slush. First things first: Don’t touch dry ice with your bare hands, and don’t eat it — these are dangerous things. The gas will expand in your stomach, and too much of that is really, really bad. In this instance, we’re using the surface of dry ice to turn liquids into slushies, so your exposure to it is minimal. (It may, however, make you burp — this is the gas that creates carbonation.)

Another word of caution: Be sure you do this in a well-ventilated area to reduce exposure to excessive CO2 fumes. Also, ignore the person above who ignored the gloves I supplied — it’s safer to wear them if your hands are going to be near dry ice, which can cause frostbite when touched.

If those warnings haven’t scared you off, read on for the instructions on how to throw this mad scientist party for adults, courtesy of Amanda Gall at Bold American Catering in Atlanta. The catering company made these slushies at a party I attended, which I wouldn’t shut up about for months. Then I pestered Amanda until she told me how they did it.

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straw vaganza

August 27, 2008

winner of the straw poll!

This sucks ... but in a good way. Parties, as we all know, are all about the details. Something as simple as a straw can become a fun and functional party accessory that gives your event an unexpected twist.

The DIY drinking straws above, from my website crush ThinkGeek, would add a fresh spin to a kids' mad scientist party. And just think of the flavor combinations that enterprising adults could create with some potent potables and mixers — no shaking or stirring required, just dip some interconnected straws into the bevvies of your choice, put your lips together, and sip.

An informal straw poll (sorry, couldn't resist) also turned up these tubular gems:

turn on, tune in

August 26, 2008

and now a word from our sponsor...

Like this design? Create an Evite invitation with this image.

I've missed my shows. We spend all this time together every week for months, and then summer comes and they just disappear. Sigh.... But it's finally premiere time again, which almost makes the end of summer bearable.

This season's crop brings some intriguing new shows that may, of course, be canceled as soon as we get really into them, several old faves (Heroes, you've been gone too long), and the return of 90210 (Brenda, you've been gone way too long).

Here's how to plan your premiere party:

  • Find your faves on TV Guide's handy premiere calendar.
  • Send one of our TV-themed invitations, like the one above.
  • Move your furniture and break out the pillows and lawn chairs to give your guests comfortable seating with unobstructed views.
  • Make lots of popcorn. If you're feeling especially fancy, create a popcorn fixin's bar. Give each guest their own bowl of the good stuff, and put out popcorn seasonings, Parmesan cheese, M&Ms and Raisinets. 
  • If you're watching a returning show, recap last season's cliffhanger moments before the premiere. Bonus points if you act out all the key moments in full costume. Extra bonus points if you film it and share it with the rest of us.

Which shows are you most excited about? And how will you be watching the premieres?

question of the week: labor day plans

August 25, 2008

qwestyuns. I haz dem.

This Friday kicks off Labor Day weekend. Don't pretend like you'd forgotten. We know you've been counting down to this weekend since you came back from 4th of July. Now tell us what you've got planned.

games people play

August 22, 2008

cartwheel, keep on turnin'

It's Friday, and that familiar question is on everyone's lips: What are we going to do this weekend? There are a few things to take into consideration with this weekend in particular. First, we're only a week away from Labor Day weekend when everyone will be having barbecues and beach parties. Second, this is one the last true weekends of summer. Sure, we'll be enjoying warm weather well into September, but there's something about weekends post-Labor Day — they're just different.

We've got a simple idea that combines getting together with friends, enjoying the outdoors, being active and not stealing next weekend's holiday-barbecue thunder: Play some good old-fashioned kids' games. At first, you and your friends may be thinking that you're just too old for this. But remember how much fun you had as a kid? Taking an evening of relinquishing your adulthood could be just what you need.

Plan to meet at a park or someone's big backyard (preferably someone's in your group and not a vacationing neighbor's — don't relinquish adulthood to that extent). Once you're all there, pick a game and have a blast. Here are some of our faves:

  • Tag: The fun way to burn calories. After the sun goes down, switch to flashlight tag.
  • Red rover: You're stronger than you were as a kid, so certainly you can hold the chain. But then again, the players are quadruple the size.
  • Capture the flag: All the fun of tag with an actual goal in mind.
  • Scavenger hunt: This one lets you branch out into different parts of the neighborhood. It's also time-consuming, so it can take you well into the evening.
  • Dodgeball: Excellent for those who want to live dangerously.

land-locked and lovin' it

August 21, 2008

a flippin' good time

Like this design? Create an Evite invitation with this image.

Rather be sailing across the Caribbean? Me too. A real cruise may not be in our near future, but I can help you create a pretty snazzy fake one with this cruise-ship themed party. Here’s what I had at mine:

  • A “plank” led to the front door. (If you do this, make sure your wood slat is secure and safe for people to walk on.)
  • I handed out leis — they do that on cruises, right? I wouldn’t know. This was my first!
  • Have an appropriately ridiculously fruity featured drink. A rum runner is a good one — and don’t forget the paper umbrellas and excessive garnishes: cherries, pineapples, straws, etc.
  • I kept my food buffet basic with meat roll-ups, a fruit display with fruit dip, a veggie display with veggie dip and other simple things I can no longer remember.
  • I posted an itinerary with optional activities for guests to participate in. The late afternoon party started with volleyball and shuffleboard for those who wanted to play. My co-host and I held a Hula-hoop and limbo competition (faaar more fun to watch than expected). Toward the end of the evening we had karaoke with the microphones set to super-low, which encouraged even the shy folks to sing. And eventually, we had an out-and-out dance party.

Land ahoy!

what a surprise

August 20, 2008

oh. my. starry eyed surprise

Reader Erin asks, "I want to throw a surprise party for my best friend, but I want it to actually be a surprise. Do you have any tips for planning a party without ruining the surprise?"

Surprise parties certainly are tricky. What's more of a let-down than planning a one only to be able to tell from the look on your friend's face that they knew something was up? And I'll admit — I've totally faked a surprise for the benefit of my friends, even though I'm certain they saw right through it.

If you really want to surprise your friend, you'll need a little extra planning and coordination to pull it off. Continue after the jump for our tips on getting everything together.

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do bamboo

August 19, 2008

earth + bamboo = : )

Like this design? Create an Evite invitation with this image.

Everyone wants to be a little more eco when throwing parties, especially when it comes to those disposable plates and utensils. One of our favorite eco-friendly tips is to simply use what you have in your cupboards instead of buying paper or plastic. But what if you're having a party for kids? Pulling out your heavy, breakable plates doesn't exactly seem like the best idea for a room full of children. But neither does a garbage bag full of plastic plates and forks.

The kids line from Bambu may just be the perfect solution. The products are made from sustainable, renewable bamboo, and they're perfectly sized for small hands. The Bamdino plates couple a cute dinosaur drawing with an eco-minded message. But my favorite product from the line is the kid's spork — a genius fork-on-one-side-spoon-on-the-other utensil that the little ones are certain to love. The best part is that bamboo composts in just a few months, so you can actually feel good about these disposable party goods.

Want more ideas to green up your get-togethers? Check out our eco-friendly party guide.

question of the week: party food preferences

August 18, 2008

qwestyuns. I haz dem.

Let's be honest, there are lots of decisions to make when you throw a party. When to have it, who to invite, what to do, which music to play, what to name your Evite invitation. And, of course, what food and drinks to serve.

Which can lead to some party conundrums. Who hasn't stood in the supermarket, spicy salsa in one hand, the mild stuff in the other, and tried to remember which one your friends prefer? Or gone up and down the aisles mumbling about who's allergic to what, who's squeamish about tomatoes, how many are vegetarians.... Am I the only one who does that?

So we can't solve every problem today, but we can cast our votes on our food preferences. Why? To give party hosts a general sense of what the masses prefer. The less time spent stumped in the supermarket, the better.

Plus, all you need to do is ask someone "Red Vines or Twizzlers?" to learn that people tend to have really strong preferences about these sorts of things. (And yes, you will get to cast your vote for your favorite red licorice after the jump.)

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