By Rachel Hart, www.apronelegance.com
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.
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!
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!
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: Projector
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.
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!
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.
CAKE & CUPCAKES & TREATS:
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.
KEEPING GUESTS ENTERTAINED:
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.
Planning a party that will leave your gueststalking for weeks is no easy task, but fi nding theright venue can make the feat a bit easier.
In Duluth, we’re lucky have a variety of amazing locations to choose from – but may of them have the most unique venue for parties, corporate events, reunions and more, The Engwall’s Corn
Maze. The maze is located at Engwall in Hermantown and features over an acre of corn stalks to get lost in. You’ll also fi nd a 3,000 square foot big top tent available, and a conference room. This
venue brings the whole party for you, beyond the maze itself, you’ll fi nd activities like Corn Cannons,
Hayrides, Pumpkin Bowling and Fire Pits. Engwall’s owner Rod Saline, heard “if you build it, they will come”. And come they have.
By Shana Vesel
My favorite time of year is when summer comes to a close. Days are getting colder and leaves are turning colors. With Halloween right around the corner, the best way to enjoy a fall day is to have a party! Most people don’t have much going on. School is in full swing, the cabin is packed up tight, and there aren’t any other big events or holidays. So, every year, I host a camping gathering called “Octoberfest”. It started out several years ago with my Grandpa.
He was a big fan of fall camping. The colder the better. My husband still jokes that if we don’t travel down 20 miles of dirt roads and pull off into the wilderness, it isn’t camping by Grandpa’s standards! So, “Octoberfest” became a tradition and we made it into more of a party. I like to plan food, activities and games so that everyone can be involved and have a good time. We lost Grandpa a few years back, but our annual “Octoberfest” helps us remember him and celebrate with fall camping.
When we decide on a weekend, I send out an invite either by regular mail (if you have the time to put something fun together) or by email. We always have our favorite campground in mind and I plan games and activities around the campground layout. With the invitation, I will invite the group to sign up for our one group shared meal: a soup
We plan arrival for Friday afternoon. That gives us time to all get to the campground and set up. Decorating your campsite is highly encouraged! I’ll hit the local craft stores, dollar store and home store for various props, lights and decorations. There are no power hook-ups at this time of year, so I have to keep in mind that whatever we do has to be run off of a generator. I can’t tell you how cool light-up inflatables look at night in your campsite. Think of your neighborhood, only condensed! It’s especially fun when we have the campground to ourselves. Something else to keep in mind is the weather. It may be cold, rainy or sometimes snowy. Your decorations should be able to withstand mother nature. A covered screen tent or canopy makes a good gathering spot if the weather is not the best.
On Friday evening, we like to carve pumpkins. I ask everyone to bring their own pumpkins and I supply the tools. They can carve their pumpkin however they choose. We line them up in front of our campsite and put lights inside. Be careful with candles especially if there are children or dry leaves. I prefer to use the battery operated lights. Walking around the campground loop seeing all those carved pumpkins lit up is really neat!
Saturday we start the day with t-shirt or sweatshirt making.
I usually buy multi-packs of men’s white t-shirts to share, but you could have people bring their own. Choose an area with lots of ventilation and a flat space to decorate the shirts on. Using masking tape, create a design on the t-shirt making sure to press the tape down firmly. Lay flat and take spray paint to highlight various areas of the design. Be sure to supervise and assist children with spray paint! Once dry (usually less than 30 minutes), remove tape and customize further. We like to cut and/or tie the t-shirt with ribbon to really make it your own. Matching t-shirts really make a group photo look amazing!
After the t-shirts are made and everyone’s wearing them, we get some fun games started. One of our favorites is called “Newspaper Costume Contest”. We separate the group into teams. It works best if you have at least 3 people per team, especially if there are children playing. Every team gets a stack of old newspapers, scissors, masking tape, packing tape and/or scotch tape. On the word “go!”, each team has to create a handmade costume using only newspaper and tape. One person has to designated as the “costume” wearer and the other teammates are the builders/designers. I recommend a 30 minute limit, but you could make it longer. To set the mood, I will play Halloween music while the teams work. After the time is up, have a costume parade and judge for places. Make sure you have lots of prizes – it’s hard to choose a favorite sometimes. Also, it’s important to take as many photos as you can!
For lunch, we gather together for our soup potluck. Some people bring soup or stew, others bring crackers, bread or rolls and some bring dessert. Whatever you decide on, just make sure it’s enough to share!
When it starts to get dark and our campsites are glowing with decorations and pumpkins, we have a flashlight scavenger hunt. I choose about a dozen various Halloween themed items to hide around the campground. In the past, I’ve made painted wooden
cut-outs, but the dollar store will have lots to choose from too. Teams split up and use their flashlights to hunt down all of the items on their list. If you’re creative, make up little clue poems to help find them. If not, make sure all the items are out in the open enough to find easily.
Our fall camping trip has become something my family and friends look forward to all year. It’s something fun to get everyone outside and enjoying our fall weather. This party can easily be adapted for other locations and condensed into one day or afternoon. We have also used some of these ideas for other holidays. Just make it your own and invite your family and friends. They’re sure to have a great time!
Show me a mom, and I’ll show you an event planner. What’s that old saying… Mothering is a the necessity of event planning?
It’s starts innocently with little family birthday parties, and then as your children enter school it balloons into full blown friend parties and sleep-overs, and no matter how hard you try to avoid them, you’ll get roped into planning garage sales and fundraisers, or end of year parties for school groups and your kids’ sports teams.
10. A plan/budget in advance
9. A big screen TV
8. A place for everyone to sit (plenty of chairs)
7. Activities for kids to do/ or a babysitter
6. A lot of food, you can either pick foods from the teams hometown to make a menu easier or a potluck always works too. Think about themes or food “bars”
5. Add football related decor, DIY decorations are easy and fun and you can easily incorporate the teams in the game
4. Games to play before and after the game (maybe football trivia?) Think about creating a score sheet for the Super Bowl Commercials
3. You don’t have to be a gambler to enjoy a good football board you could even win some great prizes like cash, gift cards, etc.
2. Team apparel
1. Beverages- Alcoholic, and non-alcoholic
For more resources or ideas to plan a great super bowl