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5 Hostess Gifts Under $10 that Make a Big Impression

By Rachel Hart, 
I’m the first to appreciate a good bottle of wine, but when the hostess receives twenty bottles of wine as a hostess gift, it seems impersonal. The next time you plan on attending a party, take some time to think ahead and prepare a more personalized gift. The
following hostess gift ideas are thoughtful, unique and best of all under $10.

Plant extra herbs in medium sized pots and give the gift of fresh ingredients. Herbs pack an extra punch because of their sharp earthy smell and green presentation. This is the bouquet that keeps on giving. I don’t know a cook alive that wouldn’t appreciate a fresh
bunch of basil.

Give a classic book as a gift. What woman turns down another read of “Jane Eyre?” Keep your eyes open for unique editions at rummage sales and used book stores. If you feel comfortable enough with the gift receiver, jot a note to request a cup of coffee and book discussion at a later date.

Bring a pound of exotic coffee, tea or chocolate. (I like to support local chocolatiers and roasters.) Who doesn’t love caffeine in some form?

For intimate friends and relatives, you can frame an old picture in a small frame (anything bigger than 5X7 presents a placement problem.) I would suggest scanning the photo and changing it to black and white so it will blend with their décor. Write a note about the particular memory and tell that person how much that experience meant to you.

Dog or cat treats are an exceptional hostess gift and elicit smiles or wags from all.

Building Event Excitement with Social Media

You’ve set the date, made the plans and put out the word for your event. Whether it’s a fundraiser, business event, outdoor event like a 5K, or a personal event (think reunion or grad party), building guest excitement is always a good idea.

Social media offers an easy and free platform for promoting your event, involving guests in the fun of putting the event together and generating excitment making sure you have good attendance at the event.

Use these platform based tips to make your next event the best ever!

#hashtag: Create hashtags for your event and start using them before the big day to advertise them.

Post photos of supplies purchased, recipes to be used, venue, decor etc. with the event hashtag.

Encourage attendees to post photos of their event prep w/ the designated hashtags. If it’s a 5K ask for training pics, if it’s formal event ask for pics of what they are wearing. For personal events, ask friends to post pictures of the guest of honor.

Those hashtags again! Use the same ones across all social media to make your event easy to follow where every guests are looking.

Event updates and shouts. Get a new sponsor? Thank them on Twitter and tag their account in hopes of a retweet. Shout out featured guests and
speakers by tagging them and encouraging them to participate in the converstation on twitter.

Create an event on Facebook to promote your event. Invite guests and share the post to your wall or personal feed to gain more attention.

Involve guests in the planning with a Facebook  Ask for input on entertainment and food. Gather information that can be used at the event, for example a poll on a retiring person’s biggest achievement, or a grad’s best sports moment.

Use your event page to post images and updates on the event. Include a branded bar that features the logo or event name and important details like when and where.

There are a bunch of great apps available to make posts that feature text and images. The Textgram App lets you easily add text and other embellishments to an image. Ripl let’s you create an animated slide show with text. Both are free!

Trends in Wedding Showers

by Shana Vesel

Gone are the days of church basement bridal showers hosted by the bride’s aunties. No more sandwich loaf, pasta salads and sherbet punch. No more bridal corsage, paper plate ribbon bouquets and word scrambles.

Gone are the boring crepe paper and balloon decorations. Today’s wedding showers promise a fun party for everyone. New and exciting themes include Mexican fiesta, beach parties, 50’s glam housewife, champagne brunch or couples barbeque. There is even a trend for grooms called a “Bro-dal Shower” – like bridal shower but for guys!

The whole point behind a bridal shower was to “shower” the engaged couple with gifts to start their new life together. Often times, the couple have already accumulated household items. Now here’s where things can get fun. Not only can you have a themed party for decorations and food, but you can theme the gifts. The possibilities are endless but some interesting ideas include camping, tools, games, or gardening.

Anyone can be the host a wedding shower – the mother of the bride, mother of the groom, sisters, or bridesmaids! It’s not a faux pas for someone other than the bride’s aunts anymore. Even brides and grooms are taking an active part in planning and prepping. People are looking “outside the box” for interesting places to have the shower. If it’s beach
themed, there are pavilions, gazebos and beach houses to rent. If it’s a couples beer & barbeque, sometimes the backyard is fine. But there’s also neighborhood parks, restaurants and micro breweries. The key is to be creative!

It’s time to eat!
So instead of that 5 layer sandwich loaf (which actually is quite delicious, by the way) people are serving foods and beverages that match their themes. The trend is toward food bars. This is where all the components are set up and people can make their own. Some examples include: a taco bar, baked potato bar, yogurt bar, bloody mary bar or mimosa bar. Setting up this way actually saves the host time and money, plus it’s fun for the guests.

Who wants to play a game?
Remember the word scrambles, the “What’s in your purse?” and the “look at the bottom of your plate” door prizes? Guests aren’t playing the same old games. Hosts are planning games “minute to win it” style to get everyone up and moving. It’s all about laughing and having fun.

No matter the theme, no matter the location, the point behind a wedding shower is to “shower the couple with love”. So, get on board with a theme and get creative. Oh, and invite your aunties too. They’ll even have fun!

Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

By Devyn Tostenson

Party cocktail, part hangover cure, and all canvas for culinary creativity, the Bloody Mary is a must for any early daytime event. The simple cocktail is notorious for becoming a meal with the addition of garnishes. Having a Bloody Mary Bar at your event lets guests get creative with all their favorites. For a little fun, have guests take photos and create a best looking bloodie photo album on facebook, letting friends “like” their favorite!


Zing Zang
Miss Mary’s Bloody Mary Mix Bold and Spicy
Vodka of choice
For people who don’t like vodka you can do Rum, known as a Bloody Pirate


Pickles – from spicy to sweet (my favorite is
Claussen) and even pickle juice.
Olives, the standard pimento or elevated stuffed with blue cheese or jalapeno
Pickled asparagus
Meat sticks, find them at super market delis or your local meat market.
Tabasco sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Cheese, get a variety like cheddar jack and pepper check, some people love spray cheese to fill celery sticks!
Banana peppers
Salt for rim or celery salt for an extra kick. You can also find specialty “Rim Shots” made with bacon, herbs and spices.

Make it a meal with these additional elements,
typically added to the drink with a skewer.

Mini cheeseburgers
Beer chaser (Side car)

Cilantro Dill Dip

1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. sour cream or plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients together and chill for at least 1 hour.
Serve with vegetables, crackers or chips.

Super Simple BLT Pasta Salad

8 oz Box Rotini Pasta, cooked
6 oz Bacon cooked to crispy, crumbled
1/2 head of lettuce, washed & dried, chopped
4 oz cheese diced (swiss or cheddar)
1 medium tomato diced
3/4 cup ranch dressing

In a large bowl mix cooked pasta, crumbled bacon, cheese, tomato and ranch dressing. Refrigerate.
Before serving mix in lettuce.

This recipe makes a lot, the lettuce will get wilted and yucky if you save overnight. If you anticipate leftovers,
only serve a portion of the pasta mix and lettuce
at a time. This way you keep the leftovers delicious,
just add lettuce to the portion you plan to eat.

Create Your Own Outdoor Movie Theatre

A new trend for this upcoming summer is to create your own outdoor movie theater in your backyard.Everyone wants to have this party on their bucket list! There are a ton of different ways you can do this. First you need a guest list, after that comes everything else.

What you will need:
You can rent a projector from multiple places. Some great places that offer projector rentals are AVR, Haavisto Video, and Twin Ports Outdoor Movies, amongst many others.

You can make a screen on your fence, on your house, or even buy a few things to make your own outdoor movie screen. You can also rent inflatable outdoor movie screens as well. Twin Ports Outdoor Movies offers this type of rental.

Media player
This can be anything from a DVD player to your laptop. Anything that can play a movie on it. Just make sure that the device can be hooked up to the projector.

Some projectors allow you to play sound through them but other devices do not, so just make sure you get loud enough speakers so everyone can here. Also make sure the speakers can be hooked up to whatever device you are playing the movie on.

· Pillows &Blankets
Have enough pillow and blankets for everyone or tell everyone to bring their own. A big trend is using air mattresses or even inflatable kiddie pools on the ground and having a ton of pillows and blankets to make it feel like you’re in a bed.
· Lawn chairs and Hammocks are also a great easy idea to stay comfortable during the movie.

Bistro lights are a big trend for backyard events. They set the ambiance and add a vintage take to this outdoor movie theater.

Snacks & Beverages
You can get creative with snacks and make a popcorn bar, with different options of toppings. Just make sure you have a wide array of snacks. You also don’t want to forget a variety of beverages, make sure you have something for every age that will be there.

One thing that you do not want to forget it bug spray!

Mesmerize with a Magician

Who doesn’t love magic? Local magician, ventriloquist, and escape artist Kelvin Saline has been amusing and delighting crowds for 44 years. As an 8 year old Cub Scout, Kelvin was introduced to magic when his mother, the den leader, made a coin disappear using Kelvin as her “secret accomplice.” He said that the reaction from the other kids was so unforgettable that from that day on he was hooked! He researched magic in library books and catalogues, and became a self taught magic man.

He began by making coins disappear, then larger and larger objects. Since adding the family comedy, ventriloquism, and incorporating escapes, Saline’s show has been in high demand. His “Magic Village” stage show is a 30 – 45 minute performance. Fairs and Festivals welcome him to entertain and amaze their crowds. Fundraising performances are also available for organizations, such as PTA’s, elementary schools, school bands, etc. Saline provides all that is needed for the fundraiser, but the group provides the venue.

He is a lifelong Duluthian married to Sherilyn, with children Brittney, 27, and Zach, 10. As he humorously states, he has 2 children between 10 and 27. While serving in the Air Force, he brought his special brand of diversion to the folks at an air base in Maryland. Later, he was also stationed in Southern Italy, and did magic shows for the Italian orphans there, through an interpreter. A highlight for him was the opening ceremony at the Special Olympics in Fort Meade, MD.

Saline believes that helping and motivating  others through his gift of magic is important. He has been very involved in Anti-bullying campaigns throughout Minnesota schools, mainly on the Iron Range and Twin Cities. This is done through visual interpretation and his ventriloquism, gaining more of a captive audience. He is hoping to become a bigger part of the Duluth Schools anti-bullying awareness
movement in the future. Saline also has a motivational presentation for businesses that stresses goal setting and success-driven strategies using magic. Though well received, it hasn’t been a main
focus for Saline. As the anti-bullying program gains more traction and clout, he will plan to develop and market the motivational aspect more.

A few of the outstanding events that Saline has been part of include being a Magic Consultant for the smash hit musical Pippin, “Day out with Thomas” yearly train ride and family fun, the Pumpkin Patch train rides in the fall, and the Lester River Rendezvous.

The testimonials from audience members are very positive. Saline uses clean humor and audience participation to make it an enjoyable time for all. He has a proven track record, and will continue to draw smiles and laughter through his professionalism and talent. Maybe for 44 more years!

Tune into Local Musicians for Your Next Event

Gina Lee

Duluth is known for its eclectic array of musicians, and Gina Lee is certainly one of them. She started singing when she was a little girl, and has been singing and performing professionally since 1979. Lee has become a well-established musician/entertainer/songwriter. Gina was born in Arizona, raised on the West Coast and made the transition to Minnesota in 1988, after a divorce, and met family members she hadn’t seen before. It’s been her home since.

You could call her a one woman band since she plays a 12 string guitar and pre-records music on her keyboard, for a fuller sound. Gina played in rock and country bands in 1979 and the early 1980s, starting in North Dakota and then on to the West Coast.

Her day job as an accountant is taking all of her time and energy, since it’s tax season. But when that fun time of year is done, she performs regularly at local venues. Even while raising a family and becoming an accountant was important to her, she still continued to play on occasion.

Music became a way of life 6 years ago, when she began performing as a “one-woman” act. Lee has no specific musical influences, but enjoys playing originals, folk rock, rock, and country. While Lee appreciates all types of music, folk rock is notably her specialty.

When asked if she has a favorite song, she replied, “I don’t really have one. But people sure like ‘Jambalaya’!!”

Gina Lee has performed in a variety of establishments. Emily’ Lighthouse restaurant in Knife River (now closed, sadly), The Iron Mug in Morgan Park, RT Quinlan’s, Beaners, Amazing Grace, GB Schneider’s, Bent Paddle, Clyde Iron, Radio Waves Music Festival, Pizza Luce, Lake Avenue Cafe…. and the list goes on.

But Lee said, “I find the assisted living homes most rewarding and other venues when people are having fun and dancing!” Sounds like she is not only a gifted entertainer, but also a giving one!

EventPro has helped and encouraged local musicians and bands in forming an alliance geared toward networking and arranging gigs. Our local music and arts scene is flourishing and Lundeen Productions has had so much to do with that.  Lee met Tracy Lundeen a few years ago at the Women’s Expo that she performed
and Rose Hoene, local music events promoter and coordinator, introduced them.

In our correspondence via email, I asked Gina a bit about her accomplishments. She replied, “I have played the  Homegrown Music Festival and Radio Waves Music Festival in Grand Marais more than once. I have written, performed and produced two albums. I have
(so far) contributed 5 original songs to Christmas by the Lake CD. I have come very close to winning the theme song contest for Bentleyville…. but alas, did not!”

Find Gina Lee at

Greg Tiburzi

When Bob Dylan left Hibbing, Minnesota in 1960 to venture out into the big world, Greg Tiburzi was born there. Seems like it was fate that another Iron Range musician came along to spread the gift of words and melodies.

Tiburzi listened to pop music on WEBC-am radio out of Duluth, and in Chisholm years ago, his grandmother sang on a station during the heyday of radio.

He found the drums to be his first instrument of choice. He began playing them in school bands and other groups. His very first band in 1978, called Open Fire, helped him work though his stage fright while singing and drumming. He continues to play drums for First
Lutheran church and other local groups.

Tiburzi began writing songs in the late 1970’s. He relays that his favorite song to play is an original called “Flow Again”. In his own words about that song: “It was written during a bout of powerful anxiety. The song is about hope, and it is a release for me each time I play it. Even though it is of a very personal nature, I feel it is a common feeling we all share.”

At times, a song can bring healing, not only to the listener, but for the artist at the helm.

Lately Tiburzi has focused on singing and playing acoustic guitar and harmonica at local establishments, nursing homes, private parties, and an occasional fundraiser. He enjoys performing many styles of music.  His performances mainly feature his originals, pop music from each decade, rock, folk, country, and standards. And this is impressive–Tiburzi appreciates world music and often incorporates songs from other cultures into his sets.

If you’re curious to hear Greg Tiburzi’s music, once a month you’ll hear some Italian songs when he plays at Valentini’sVicino Lago (various Wednesdays) and Gannucci’s Italian Market (usually last Fridays). He also plays once a month at Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake (every third Tuesday) and Bulldog Pizza and Grill. Add to that list The Spirit Room, Breeze Inn, and much more. He has also taken the stage at the ever popular Duluth Homegrown Music Festival.

Musicians that I’m familiar with, (of which I’m one) strive to be
perfectionists at their craft. Tiburzi is no different, and shares this
regarding his performances:

“I strive to do justice to the song and perform it as the melody and lyrics call for. The song keeps me focused. The reward for me is in playing the song properly, whether for an audience of 100 or 1.”

When asked how he met Mr.…I mean… Tracy Lundeen, it was while Tiburzi performed at the Engwall’s Corn Maze about 6 years ago. He has also been on the Christmas by the Lake charitable CD, which is produced by Lundeen Productions. Tiburzi said, “Tracy is such a great asset to the local music scene.” As this writer views it, Greg Tiburzi deserves the distinction of being a wonderful asset, also.

Summing up what he feels about music and performing, he said, “I revere the healing quality of music, the ability to lift and better connect us to each other, our surroundings, and ourselves.” Well said, Greg.

Find Greg Tiburzi at

Ricky Lee

I was born in a log cabin in….no seriously, I was born in St. Paul Minnesota—in a hospital — I am a child of the suburbs in the 60’s. We had lots of open fields and lakes around our house and I could swim by the time I was 5.

I was very active in sports and wanted to be Harmon
Killebrew when I grew up. People always seemed to be having me sing. At that point I really didn’t like that very much.

My dad played in a band and gigged every weekend at a supper club called McGuires in the northern Twin Cities area.

He always had music playing. Sinatra, Matt Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr among others. My mom gravitated to show tunes so I also heard Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins to name a few.

When I was about 10 years old, The Beatles showed up. My dad made sure we watched them on Ed Sullivan that night. That took me down the rock and roll path.

As time went by I pretty much stayed with rock and folk. Then about five to six years ago I heard my oldest son listening to Michael Buble. When I heard, him sing, it brought me back to the music I grew up with.

Imagine my surprise when I found I could actually sing those old standards of my youth. This has become great fun. I love it. I love the new arrangements. I only wish my dad had survived to hear me sing them.

Rickey Lee is a crooner for any occasion. He is heavily influenced by the music his parents played while he was growing up. This includes the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Rickey was born and raised in the Twin Cities but moved to Duluth with his wife in the mid 1980’s.

Featured Grad Party

My family and I decided to stick with the tradition of having Famous Dave’s cater my grad party. Both of my brothers had Famous Dave’s cater theirs as well. We have found that choosing to have a company cater is much easier than preparing the food for the grad party by yourselves. When you decide to have a caterer, you don’t need to worry about food safety and keeping things warm, because the catering company takes care of that themselves.

We decided to just order one cake and then order blue and gold cupcakes for everyone else. Sometimes it’s much easier to give away cupcakes then to have a bunch of leftover cake.

For desserts, we ended up getting lucky. A lot of the women in my family and some of our friends love to bake. Most of them offered to cook a dessert/bar for my grad party. This cut costs by a lot because they were all willing to do it for free.  I’m also a huge fan of chocolate covered strawberries, so I ended up making those the night before.

We decided to have all of the pictures in our back garage. In order to make the garage presentable we ordered pipe and drape and sectioned off one part of the garage for the party. In case it rained, we thought it would be best to have part of the garage as a shelter.

I love pictures, so I had a ton of them to display at my grad party. I took strings of lights and hung them from the ceiling and then used clothespins to attach pictures to them. I also did this around the tables and we had a couple of poster boards as well.

We have a lot of little ones in our family so to keep them entertained we set up a candy bar in the garage as well. This was a huge hit. Who doesn’t like candy?

We also had a fire going in the backyard to keep our guests warm and the kids entertained. We also had a football, volleyball, and the bag game set up in the yard for entertainment.

Weather tends to always be an issue in northern Minnesota for outdoor events. We lucked out and the rain held off until the party was over. However, we did order a huge tent from London Road Rental in case it was raining out. I also had my nephew walking people up and down the driveway with umbrella’s.