Party Newsletter – February 2012

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February 2012
In This Issue…

Valentine’s Day Decor Ideas

Valentine's Day ToteValentine’s Day conjures up chocolate, red hearts, roses and Cupid. It’s dedicated to romantic love, and if your significant other forgets about it, the “But honey, every day is Valentine’s Day!” ruse won’t work!

However, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate devotion and fun with our kids. More than just making some cards (though that is certainly fun) it’s also a time to share in some baking, story reading and just plain bonding. So this weekend, get out some books, red food dye, and the glue, red paper, yarn and glitter to create some fun memories of love and affection!

Heart shaped tote

Before you get started on your craft, protect your work area with newspaper and have all your supplies needed laid out. If you already have some crafts in mind to do with your children that call for construction paper, think about using foam paper as an alternative. It’s stronger and more durable.

Supplies Needed:

  • Red or Pink Foam Paper
  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue gun and Hot glue sticks (or you can use a strong craft glue)
  • White, pink or red yarn and a needle
  • 1-1/2 inch white, pink or red ribbon
  • Elmers Glue or a glue stick
  • Red or pink glitter

Instructions:

Depending on the size of the tote you would like, cut two sheets of foam paper in the shape of a Heart so that you have two hearts of the same size. Place the hearts together and use your scissors to stab small punctures all around the V portion of the heart, about half an inch from the bottom. The punctures should be about one half inch apart…

Continue reading how to make a heart-shaped tote

View More Valentine’s Day decor ideas

Make a Cake Pop Bouquet for Valentine’s Day

cake popsIs the idea of giving your sweetie a traditional box of chocolates just not doing it for you this year? Then get in on the cake and brownie pop trend with a Valentine’s Day cake pop bouquet.

Everyone loves cake pops…they’re not only delicious, they’re cute, and they’re fun to eat. (Mmm.) Don’t have a cake pop pan? No problem! You’ll be making cake “crumbles” with icing in this easy recipe.

This idea is great for children, but can also be a very fun, romantic way to tell your special other, “I love you.” Here’s how:

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole baked, unfrosted, cooled cake, white or pink in color, from any standard boxed cake mix
  • 16 oz. pink frosting (canned from the store is fine, or use your favorite recipe — this must be a fairly thick, standard cake frosting)
  • 8 oz. pink candy meltable wafers/candy melts
  • 8 oz. white candy meltable wafers
  • 8 oz. chocolate candy meltable wafers
  • decor such as sprinkles, piped icing, nuts, etc.

You will also need:

  • double boiler or microwave-safe bowls
  • cookie sheet
  • lollipop sticks
  • wax paper
  • plastic wrap/cling film
  • piece of ribbon
  • disposable non-Latex gloves
  • long piece of Styrofoam

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, break the cake into pieces, then into smaller pieces so you have crumbles of about even size.
  2. Add the pink frosting to the cake crumbles in large scoops. Put on gloves and begin mixing the cake crumbles and frosting by hand. Keep adding frosting until you have a moldable mixture that forms and stays in balls on a cookie sheet. The mixture should feel “thick”, somewhat like a truffle mixture.
  3. Line cookie sheet with wax paper. Roll mixture into 1″ balls and place on cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, until the icing has hardened up within the mixture.
  4. Melt your meltable wafers by color, either one at a time in a double-boiler (clean inside pan between each color and dry thoroughly — any water in the mixture will change the consistency), or in a microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between.
  5. Take the chilled balls out of the refrigerator. Insert one lollipop stick about 1/2″ into each ball on the slightly flattened (bottom) side.
  6. Dip balls one at a time into the various candy melt mixtures, or dip, then cool completely and double-dip in a second color for an interesting look. Drip above pot for a few seconds to make sure the excess comes off.
  7. Before the candy melt outsides are firm, decorate with sprinkles or nuts. If you’ll be piping icing or another wet accent onto of the melted candy outsides, cool the dipped pops completely in the refrigerator before adding the piping.
  8. Insert the sticks of the finished pops into the Styrofoam so they are standing up and the candy coating isn’t touching anything. Chill completely.
  9. Before giving the gift to your sweetheart, wrap a bunch of sticks together with a pretty ribbon, and you have your “bouquet” finished and ready for presentation.

Mmmm, sweet…in so many ways.

Snow Day? No Problem!

snow dayIsn’t it amazing how the one day you don’t have to pry your kids out of bed with a crowbar and threats is when school calls a snow day? There’s something about hearing those words “No school today!” that gets kids hopping — and immediately looking for things to do.

If your children are driving you crazy on their unexpected day off (“But I’m bored!”), be ready with a few fun activities. Here are our best snow day ideas:

  • Let kids make a fun breakfast. (Also, February is Bake For the Family Fun Month!) Have them go crazy with chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit and anything else they can find in the fridge.
  • Allow them to invite ONE friend (who lives within walking distance) each to come play. They’re less likely to hang on you complaining they’re bored if they have buddies to run around in the snow with.
  • Give kids a few kitchen tools to go outside and go crazy with. An ice cream scoop is a great snowball-maker; plastic food storage containers are perfect for filling with snow, packing down and making igloos or snow forts. Spoons, wooden or metal, are ideal for digging moats to defend their territory. Get creative.
  • Before allowing kids out the door, make a few firm rules. No one goes outside unless FULLY dressed against the weather in warm, buttoned/snapped/zipped, waterproof clothing. When returning inside, kids must take off their outerwear and leave it in the entryway; no tracking muddy snow into the house. Apply any other rules you feel are important, but these two are “musts” in our snow day book!
  • Bake up something special, and let them help. Make cookies, muffins, cinnamon rolls (yum) or fudge with your children after they come inside and warm up. Have cocoa ready on the stove as they come in to do their baking so they can sip as they make their delicious creations.
  • They’ll get tired eventually (we promise!), so have “down time” activities ready. A movie is great; so are video games (limit their time on this so they don’t waste the rarity of a snow day). If your kids are creative, print out some snowy images from your computer, such as snowmen, snow flakes and wintry outdoor scenes, set them down with crayons, glitter and glue and have them make some beautiful artwork.

You’ll love these activities as much as your children do. Everybody loves a snow day; live it up, then take the afternoon “off” to do some reading in a cuddly chair with a nice cup of tea within easy reach while the kids have quiet playtime in their rooms. Your children will never forget these fun times, and some day they’ll be stirring up wintertime fun with their own brood when the school makes that exciting announcement on a chilly day.

Valentine’s Day Idea: Have a Couples Retreat…While Staying Local

Romantic getawayAll couples love to get away for a bit and focus on nothing but each other. But economic, family and work obligations will be keeping many couples local this Valentine’s Day.

If you can get a babysitter for one day, or even for an afternoon, we can help you save the day and show your spouse your appreciation on the holiday of love. Here are some tips for a great “retreat” on your own home turf:

  • If you have children, leave them with someone you trust completely. You don’t want to be worrying and calling in constantly during your all-day “date” with your spouse. If you have pets, arrange to have a good friend or trusted neighbor come in once or twice during the day to check that everything’s okay and that the food and water dish are filled.
  • Our suggestion: have your celebration on a day other than Valentine’s Day. You may find more specials at local restaurants, spas and theaters that way, and things should be less crowded. You can also switch off babysitting with a trusted couple by each of you picking a different day.
  • Not every activity on the agenda has to be expensive. A picnic and concert in the town park can be incredibly romantic, for example.
  • Make reservations. Everywhere. Don’t lose time in the waiting area waiting for your spot to open up. If a place that interests you doesn’t take reservations, look for a different locale.
  • Seek out Groupons, Living Social deals, etc. Often, these will come in groups: dinner and a movie, for example. And they’re guaranteed to be local.
  • Don’t have your day “retreat” be a surprise to your spouse. Plan the day together. Surprises on limited time can be hurried, may miss the mark and somewhere along the line, somebody is sure to spill the beans. Sit down with your love and carve out a day you’ll both enjoy.
  • Make the day low-key and only comfortably active. If you both like being active, make a time slot for a leisurely walk downtown or through a favorite park. But don’t cram bungee jumping, horseback riding and a rushed footrace from one location to another into a day that should be all about relaxation, togetherness and fun.
  • Most of all, remember that saying about the best laid plans. If something goes awry during your romantic day together, laugh it off, and file it under “hilarious adventures to remember.” Next year you can recall all the fun you had, including the giggles and faux pas. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Theme Party of the Month: Throw a Mardi Gras Celebration!

Mardi Gras PartyThere’s more to Mardi Gras than beads, masks and drinking! There are many traditions and activities that are just as fun, and tasteful, as some of the wilder elements of New Orleans in spring. Here’s how to throw a Mardi Gras party that your friends will be talking about, long after the fun ends.

For decor, you’ll need primarily gold, green and purple, the traditional colors of Carnival and Mardi Gras. The colors symbolize power (gold), faith (green), and justice (purple). A traditional Mardi Gras party must include this trio of colors.

The more glitter and splash, the better! Beads, balloons, glitter, confetti, twinkling lights, you name it! Helium-filled balloons floating along the ceiling with ribbons hanging down transforms even the most blah house into someplace special. Even more than blowing up the balloons yourself, helium goes the extra mile! You can rent a helium tank from a party store, have the employees prepare them in advance, or even buy a disposable tank.

Invitations in the shape of masks, with feathers, glitters, beads to wear to the party, etc, will set the tone far in advance.

Read more ideas for Mardi Gras, including a recipe for the king cake …

Sales and Coupon Codes for Online Party Merchants

Celebrateexpress.com – coupon code 20-off100 – Save $20 off $100 order. Two day sale only! Discount is applied before taxes, shipping or duties, and can not be combined with any other offer. Use coupon code at checkout. Good through February 12, 2012

Shindigz.com – Coupon code FSU47P – Save $10 on orders $75 and over! Order is for ground shipping in the continental US, and can not be combined with any other offer. Expires at the end of February 13, 2012.

Next issue in early March. See you then, and happy Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, and President’s Day! (Who says February is boring?)

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