Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 12 Pinwhirl Posts of 2011

As we wrap up 2011, we're excited about what the New Year will bring. We're also proud of what we've accomplished in the last 12 months, and we're so thankful for all of our Pinwhirls customers and supporters out there.

Cupcake Toppers
So much happened this year, and October was a particularly great month for us. Pinwhirls was featured on Martha Stewart's Dreamers Into Doers and we hosted a fun giveaway at Catch My Party. Plus, we've grown to more than 200 fans on our Facebook page. It's been a fantastic year!


Wedding Pinwhirls
Before we take the plunge into 2012, here's a look back at some of our top posts on the Pinwhirl Parties Blog from 2011.


The Party Is Right Here!

Party Invitations

From our house to yours, we wish you a safe and happy 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Eve Activities for Kids


Do you have plans for the family this New Year's Eve? It's fun to stay up late and watch the ball drop from Time's Square, but kids need lots of fun activities to keep them occupied while they wait to ring in the New Year. We've compiled a list of great activities that are fun for the whole family and great for getting school aged kiddos excited about celebrating a fun new year. So put on your party hats and get ready to celebrate!

Write Your New Year's Resolutions Together

Coming up with New Year's resolutions can be fun. The trick is to make sure you keep everything simple and light-hearted. For starters, scrap the long and tedious lists and promises to get in better shape. Instead have each member of the family come up with just one or two small resolutions. Then make sure your resolutions are all about having fun! For example, you could commit to visiting 5 different local parks in the upcoming year or make plans to play board games together a couple of times each month. 

Make Predictions for the New Year 

As a family, write down your prediction for the next 365 days, then keep track of them throughout the year to see how many things actually happen. Here are a few questions that might help you get started with a fun list of predictions:
  • How many soccer games will Sarah's team win next year?
  • How many different kinds of vegetables will you harvest from the family garden?
  • How many parties will the family attend?
  • How many jars of peanut butter will the family buy next year?
Celebrate the New Year in Every Time Zone

Okay, so staying awake for every time zone might be hard to pull off. You can still track the New Year across the globe in several different time zones. This activity is a great way to learn about science and geography while you party. For extra fun, see if you can say "Happy New Year" in the languages of the different countries as you make the count down. (Hint: use this cheat sheet for help.)

More Game and Activity Resources

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Favorite Family Christmas Traditions



One of the best ways to make Christmas meaningful this year and every year is to establish thought family Christmas traditions. There are so many things we can do together as families to celebrate the warmth and love of the holiday season.


Tell Stories

It might be difficult to recreate the holidays exactly as you experienced them at your grandmother's house when you were a small child. However, you can borrow from the inspiration of Christmases past to start new holiday traditions with your own family. One of our favorite ways to do this is to pass on cherished stories of Christmases past. While you make holiday treats, decorate the tree, or open gifts, share your memories of loved ones and friends with your own children.


Make it a DIY Christmas

Get the children involved in the holiday festivities and work on a handmade project together. It can be something as simple as making a new family ornament for the Christmas tree (we have some DIY pinwhirls in festive holiday colors to adorn your tree) or baking and decorating cookies together. (By the way, don't miss our previous post, Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes!)

Help a Needy Family

If you're able, you might want to consider adopting a family this Christmas. Many local charities are willing to pair you with a family that needs helping this holiday season. Your family can buy groceries and select and wrap gifts for each member of the family. It's a great way to spread holiday cheer and be reminded of how blessed you are to have each other as well as your material blessings.

Read Together

Every night before bed leading up to Christmas, read a treasured holiday story. From The Night Before Christmas to the nativity story, everyone gets a chance to hear their favorite Christmas classic read aloud. If you're children are old enough, they can read to the family too. That way everyone gets a chance to participate.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions? 
Which traditions have been in your family the longest?

Photo Credit: MeiTeng

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top Holiday Cookie Recipes


It's that time of year again! Time for holiday baking and sweet treats. Not only are Christmas cookies the stuff Christmas is made of, they are great gifts for teachers, neighbors, coworkers, and sitters.

If you are tired of the same old sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie recipes, we think you might enjoy baking these delicious recipes we've compiled from one of our favorite sites - Pinterest!

Honey Cookies: These cookies from the Pastry Affair look delicious and are made with honey, brown sugar, and a blend of holiday spices. If you're looking for a soft  Christmas cookie that's elegant in its simplicity, we think you'll want to click over and copy down the recipe.

Hot Cocoa Cookies: Pip & Ebby did their take on a recipe from EveryDay with Rachael Ray magazine. And these hot cocoa cookies look like the perfect sweet treat for chocolate lovers—so delicious! Who doesn't love a little cocoa and marshmallow?

Source: charlotteobserver.com via Emily
Refrigerator Cookies: We all know the holidays are busy. Wouldn't it be nice to have something on hand you could bake up as you needed them? These recipes from the Charlotte Observer include:
  • chocolate chip refrigerator cookies
  • pinwheel refrigerator cookies (our favorite!)
  • refrigerator shortbread cookies
Mix things up with nuts, candies, sprinkles, frosting and more to bake the perfect holidays cookies for your family or as gifts for neighbors, teachers, and friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Creative Thanksgiving Recipes for Special Diets

It's okay. You can say it. Sometimes you get bored with the same old mashed potatoes and gravy every year at Thanksgiving. Although you might be a little scared to try something new for a holiday firmly rooted in tradition, we're pretty sure no one in your family is going to stage a coup if you change up the menu a little this year.

If you want to try something a more creative, inspired, healthy or sustainable this year, there are so many resources available online. We've collected a list of some of our favorite alternative recipes, with a little help from everyone's favorite pin board—Pinterest! (Click the images for links to these pins.)

Source: eatingwell.com via Tracey on Pinterest
Vegetarian Recipes 

In some homes it's pretty impossible for a vegetarian to eat find something to eat at Thanksgiving.

The green beans have bacon in them. The stuffing is made with chicken broth. The list goes on.

If Cousin Jen's a vegetarian, we're guessing she'll be very thankful to see one of these yummy dishes on the buffet.




Source: godairyfree.org 
Dairy-Free Recipes

As lovers of dairy in general, we don't know what a world without dairy is like. But for those who are lactose intolerant or suffer from dairy allergies, the Thanksgiving menu can be a challenge.

Go Dairy Free has tons of recipes to choose from including breads, main dishes, vegetables, sides, and everyone's favorite—dessert!

In fact, the Pumpkin Soufflé is gluten-free and soy-free. Sounds like a winner on all counts.


Sustainable Thanksgiving Recipes

Many of us are concerned about doing what we can to ensure that we take care of the earth for future generations. One we can do that is to implement greener, more sustainable living habits.

One place to start is with your Thanksgiving meal. This site features tips for preparing better birds from organic, pasteurized and heritage breed turkeys. Of course, going meatless for Thanksgiving is also a way to have a sustainable Thanksgiving.

You will even find sustainable drink recipes on this site. They key is to buy local and use fruits and vegetables from your own garden this year.

Are you changing up the Thanksgiving menu this year? 
What are you going to try?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

Source: familyfun.go.com via Natalie on Pinterest
You can work on these Thanksgiving crafts for kids ahead of time to help decorate for the family feast, or you can set up a workstation for the kids while the adults work hard to prepare the meal.

Fun Crafts for Kids

Finger Stamp Place Cards: Your children's fingerprints make colorful turkey place cards for the dinner table. Get all the project details from the Disney Family Fun website.

Turkey Cupcakes: This treats will delight everyone at the kids' table this year--and probably some adults too! With cupcakes, frosting, candy corn and sandwich cookies, Linette Gerlach at Amazing Moms shows you how to make these scrumptious treats.

Paper Plate Pilgrims: The people of All Kids Network have come up with an adorable craft project—making girl and boy pilgrims from paper plates, paints, crayons, glue and construction paper. These would be perfect for the kitchen door or the fridge.

Toilet Paper Roll Turkeys: This is another great Thanksgiving craft from All Kids Network. Save those empty toilet paper rolls to make these happy turkeys. You'll also need some construction paper and googly eyes to complete this craft.

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages: Coloring is a long-time kids' favorite! At DLTK's site you will find several different Thanksgiving themed coloring pages. In fact, if the adults are feeling a little stressed, we recommend you sit down and take a few minutes to color a page too.

Thankful Tree: What is your family thankful for? With this handprint tree everyone in the family can work together to create a gorgeous fall-colored tree and share something you're thankful for.

Crafts are a great way to make this Thanksgiving a little more colorful and a lot more fun. What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving crafts for kids? Share your links in the comments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creating Thanksgiving Traditions

Fall Pinwhirls for the Thanksgiving Table
What makes Thanksgiving so special is its ability to bring extended families together year after year to celebrate and share our many blessings. Whether your Thanksgivings are formal or casual, they can always be extra special from the decorations right down to the tasty dinner.

If your family is young, you might want to brainstorm some new traditions that your children can look forward to and carry with them as they grow up. We've got some ideas to get you started.

Creating Thanksgiving Traditions for Your Family
  1. Cook Together: No matter how young your children are, there are plenty of ways to get them involved with meal preparations. Ask them to help you wash veggies, peel potatoes, roll out pie dough or even help you plan the menu.
  2.  
  3. Share Stories About Your Childhood Thanksgivings: This is particularly memorable if you have some physical object to tie to the cherished memory. For example, do you use your grandmother's gravy boat every Thanksgiving? Tell your children why that item is so precious to you.
  4.  
  5. Keep a Journal of Thanks: You and your children can keep a journal of thanks all month long, filling it up with something you are thankful for every day leading up to Thanksgiving. Turn the journal into a scrapbook and fill it with family photos from Thanksgiving day.
  6.  
  7. Share Your Blessings: Volunteer as a family to serve a Thanksgiving meal at your local soup kitchen or place of worship. Taking time to serve others is a great way to spend time as a family, and it could become a family tradition that endures for many more generations.
  8.  
  9. Use Black Friday to Shop for a Needy Family: If shopping is your thing, spend Black Friday buying gifts for a needy family or a charity like Toys for Tots. You can still experience the thrill of the holiday shopping season while doing something good for someone else.
  10.  
  11. Make a Wish: Don't forget to break the wishbone! The person who gets the longest piece of the wishbone gets to make a wish. This Thanksgiving tradition actually dates back all the way to the Etruscans of 322 B.C.! Now that's a long-standing tradition.
  12.  
  13. Watch TV: Spending a little time together in front of the TV is okay too. You can cheer on your favorite football teams or pick your favorite balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
What family traditions have you started at Thanksgiving? 


    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    5 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner


    If you are hosting your family's Thanksgiving dinner celebration, chances are you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Lots of hostesses feel the pressure of making such an important holiday perfect in every way. We've got some great ideas to help you pull it off without losing your mind.

    5 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner
    1. Ask for Help: There is nothing wrong with a Thanksgiving potluck! If everyone brings a dish, that gives you more time to focus on the little finishing touches like making sure the house is decorated just the way you want. If you're worried that you'll end up with 12 pumpkin pies, you can always assign courses first.
    2. Shop Early: If you don't already have most of the ingredients, get to the store ASAP. The closer you get to the big day, the better your chances of finding empty shelves. Plus, fighting a mad rush in the baked goods aisle is a sure way to squash your Thanksgiving spirit.
    3. Cook the Turkey Ahead of Time: If you cook and carve the turkey ahead of time, you can rest easy on Thursday and spend less time in the kitchen and more time visiting with your family. To make sure the turkey tastes its best, cook it according to the instructions the day before. Carve the turkey and place the pieces in a baking dish(es), then cover with the juice from the roasting pan. Simply reheat the baking dish(es) before meal time. You can separate white and dark meat easily, plus your turkey will soak up all those tasty juices.
    4. Prep for Leftovers: If there is one thing you can count on, it's that there will be leftovers! Clean out your refrigerator ahead of time so you have plenty of room for storing what's left of the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie. Pick up some disposable plastic ware if you'll be sending leftovers home with your visitors.
    5. Try Something New: Thanksgiving meals can sometimes become ho-hum. However, the trick to introducing new dishes at the holidays is to try adding one or two new items without changing up the whole menu. Leave those classic favorites on the table, and no one will feel like you've hijacked the holidays.
    Are you ready for Thanksgiving? What do you do to make hosting the family meal easier and more enjoyable?

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Tips for Safe Trick-Or-Treating

    As you and your children make your way through the neighborhood showing off costumes and pleading for treats, make sure you keep these tips in mind. Have a happy, safe, and fun Halloween from Pinwhirls! 


    Tips for Safe Trick-Or-Treating
    • If you can, get all of your trick-or-treating done before dark. This is especially important for the little ones out there.
    • If you go out at night, carry a flashlight.
    • Plan your trick-or-treating route in advance and stick to it.
    • If you have older children and allow them to trick-or-treat as a group without an adult, make sure at least one child has a cell phone.
    • Parents should wear something reflective, particularly if your children's costumes are dark or hard to see.
    • If you can, choose a costume for your child that is reflective or made of bright colors that can easily be seen by any drivers in your neighborhood.
    • Make sure any masks fit comfortably and don't prevent your child from seeing or breathing comfortably.
    • Go only to houses you know.
    • Consider going to a local mall or community event if you are worried about going door-to-door this year.
    • Check your child's candy before you let them eat it.
    • Only allow your child to have homemade treats if they were made by neighbors you know and trust.
    • If it's particularly warm where you live, make sure that children don't become overheated in their costumes, and take plenty of water breaks.
     That's it! Remember to be safe and have lots of fun, and don't eat all of that candy all at once!

    What are your children going to be for Halloween this year?

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Fun Halloween Games for Kids



    Preparing for a classroom Halloween party or a fun Halloween party at home? Then you're going to need some fun games to keep the little ghouls and goblins entertained. Pick your favorites or play them all.

    Top Halloween Games for Kids

    Halloween-themed Scavenger Hunt: Give the children clues that lead them to special Halloween tricks and treats. Children can play alone, in pairs, or in teams, depending on the number of guests at the party.

    TP Mummy Wrap: Divide the children into teams, and have them select the member who will be the "mummy." The remaining teammates each take a toilet paper roll and go to work covering their "mummy" from head to toe. The first team to complete cover their teammate in TP wins.

    Costume Contest: Let the guests vote for their favorite costumes or have a distinguished panel of judges pick the best costumes from a number of categories like best cartoon character, best superhero, best homemade costume, or whatever you can come up with.

    Hot Pumpkin: You play this game just like hot potato, except you use mini decorative pumpkins or gourds instead of a potato.

    Candy Counting: Count out and fill a large jar with your favorite Halloween candy like M&Ms or candy corn. When the guests arrive have them write down how many pieces of candy are in the jar. The child that comes closest without going over gets to take the jar full of candy home to share.

    Halloween Bingo: You can print Bingo cards for free online or you can draw or print your own Bingo card creations.

    What Are Your Favorite Halloween Games?



    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Pinwhirls is Giving Away a $50 Gift Certificate!

    If you haven't been to the Catch My Party website lately, you should definitely stop by. We're sponsoring a $50 Pinwhirls Giveaway on the site. You could win some great party favors, pinwheels, invites and more in our Pinwhirls shop.

    Getting your entry in is pretty simple. First, just like Pinwhirls on Facebook, then stop by the giveaway post and leave a comment saying you liked us on Facebook. It's that easy!

    The great people at Catch My Party will be selecting a random winner using Random.org on Thursday, October 20th at 10:00 p.m. PST. So if you want a chance at winning, you need to get your entry in before the deadline.



    Here are just a few of the things we have to offer right now in the Pinwhirls shop:

    • Pinwheels We've got Pinwhirls of every size for corsages, boutonnieres, cake toppers, bouquets, cupcake toppers and more.
    • Party Pretties Here you'll find everything from cupcake wrappers and party hats to banners, signs and invites.
    • Do It Yourself Supplies Feeling creative? We can customize a package that you can put together for your next birthday party, wedding, or classroom party.
    • Custom Orders Custom orders are our specialty!
    • Party Supply Papers You can choose from more than 1,000 custom party papers. Happy browsing! :)
    So what are you waiting for? Enter the contest now!

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Nicolette & Alex: A Pinwheel Beach Wedding



    This real wedding is near and dear to me as it's my youngest sister, Nicolette's wedding.  When she let me know that she'd like to include pinwheels in her big day of course I jumped for joy and then I sat her down and seriously asked if she was wanting to include them only to be 'nice' to her big sister or if she actually truly wanted them in her wedding. You see, as the owner of a business that specializes in personalized pinwheels, I never know if my friends/family really want to integrate my products or if they are trying to be kind by doing me and the business a favor. :)  But, thankfully in my sister's case, she was getting married on the beach in Amelia Island, Fl and was envisioning a fun rather than a formal wedding.  Pinwheels in a beach setting scream fun so we moved ahead with the planning details. She didn't envision her wedding being totally pinwheel centered rather just hints of pinwheels here and there. I designed custom papers to go with her color scheme of yellow, pink, orange and slight green accents. They can be viewed here. These papers were used to create her custom pinwheels.  Pinwheels were included on her Save the Date, on wedding signage, in bridal bouquets, as boutonnieres, as beach decor, as cake decor,  and also as part of the napkin ring.


    My sister asked all three of us sister's to be her bridesmaids.  {I'm in the yellow.} We included both large handheld pinwheels and pinwheel picks in our bouquets.  We assembled the bouquets in the very early hours of her wedding day. Did I mention that we aren't florists and don't have experience making bouquets yet here we were at 3 am trying to assemble bouquets? I started out making them as I once took a couple hour class on how to assemble flower arrangements so at least I had some experience - or so I thought. Hehe. To say my first attempt looked horrible is a huge understatement. Looking back, I wish I'd snapped a photo.  It was the ugliest bouquet I've ever seen.  A few months after the fact, it seems rather laughable, but let me tell you in that moment, I almost had a severe panic attack as they were just looking so wrong and we had very little time to correct them.  Thankfully my oldest sister, Erin, took over and perfected the bouquet process just a couple short hours before we had to head over to the reception site to decorate the morning of the wedding.  Moral of the story: Even though things worked out in the end, do not go the diy route at the last minute.  At least create them the day before or even better hire a florist to create the bouquet and have he/she insert the pinwheels for you. :)


    Our peony yard pinwheels were placed into tins filled with grass and gerber daisies to line the wedding aisle.  The tins were filled to the brim with sand to keep them weighted down.


    A close-up of the bridal bouquet.


    And a close-up of my bridesmaid bouquet.

    It was a pleasure being such an integral part of one of the biggest days of my sister's life! 

    To view more photos of her big day including her fun manzanita branch centerpieces, fingerprint tree guest book, and Jones Soda Escort Card table, just click here.

    ...
    Photos courtesy of Bliss and Whimsy Photography.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Free Pumpkin Carving Templates

    Halloween Party Hats from the Pinwhirls Etsy Shop
    Do you have fond memories of carving Halloween pumpkins? Maybe roasting the seeds for a delicious (and healthy) snack? Did you ooh and aah at all the amazing jack-o-lanterns on your trick-or-treating route?

    According to the writers at Pumpkin Carving 101, jack-o-lanterns were traditionally carved from gourds or turnips and set on porches or in windows to protect deceased loved ones from evil spirits. Later on, Irish immigrants found America's native pumpkins to be much easier to carve. And, well, the rest is history.

    Pumpkin carving is so much fun, and jack-o-lanterns of every shape and size make for some great Halloween party decorations. Whether you're looking for something spooky or fun, there are lots of free templates out there to try. We've round up some links to make those pumpkin carving templates easier to find.

    5 Free Pumpkin Carving Template Websites

    1. 12 Free Printable Pumpkin Carving Stencils: Reader's Digest has put together some great patterns. The designs look pretty easy to create, so these are good for the kids and pumpkin carving novices.
    2. The Pumpkin Lady's Free Pumpkin Carving Patterns: The Pumpkin Lady's free templates change, so you might want to check back frequently for updates. She also offers exclusive patterns and freebie updates to her Facebook and Twitter followers.
    3. Free Pumpkin Carving Patterns: Pumpkin Masters has some really nice carving templates too. If you're looking for carving tips, you might want to check out their how-to video.
    4. Free Carving Patterns from Spook Master: In addition to some standard templates, you can also return to the site for their daily freebie pumpkin carving pattern.
    5. PumpkinGlow.com: This site offers some great UN-Halloween patterns. If you want to do something out of the ordinary, this is the place to go. They have themed templates including Christian patterns, famous people templates, and special occasion patterns.
    So what are your favorite ways to decorate for Halloween parties? Do you have a pumpkin carving tradition at your house?

    Jack-o-lantern photo by Paul Keleher on Flickr

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Twirling with Delight - I'm Martha Stewart's Doer of the Week!


    Sometimes a girl just needs to twirl with delight, but today, and the rest of the week, it seems I’ll be twirling with delight so many times that I’ll also become dizzy with delight.   Today has to be the best day of my professional career - I’m honored to be named Doer of the Week by Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers.

    My road to this honor started 4 years ago this month.  Forty eight months ago my business started as a creative outlet and overtime it has turned into a full-time profitable business and career.  Years ago I would have never in my wildest dreams have thought that I’d be receiving such recognition from the Martha Stewart community.  On a day like today, I feel as I’ve been rewarded for all of the hard work and long hours that have gone into building Pinwhirls.
    I have many to thank:
    -   All of my previous customers, especially those who have nudged me to create new
    products.  My business would not have come this far without each and every order.
    -     My sister, Erin – my master pinwheel assembler, for over 2.5 years.  Without her,
    the business literally could not exist!  (I do not tell her this enough).
    -      My family for always being there and putting up with the highs and lows I’ve
    experienced over the past 48 months.
    -     Everyone who has helped Pinwhirls along over the past 4 years from accountants, to
    writers, to proofers, to web designers and programmers, to part-time employees.  Their
    work and expertise has helped lessen my workload which is very much appreciated.
    -     Finally, a word of thanks to Martha Stewart, her staff, and every Dreamer.  Not only
    am I very thankful for the personal recognition, I’m also thankful for the community that
    Martha helped create and for all of expertise and ideas that Dreamers continually add to
    the environment.  Many times larger businesses just don’t understand how smaller craft
    type businesses such as ours operate.  The Dreamers into Doers site has turned into an
    invaluable resource for small business owners like me and I’m beyond thankful that
    Martha continues to give back with this site as well as events like the Dreamers into
    Doers annual event.
    To read more about my road from Dreamer into Doer, visit my interview at Martha Stewart’s Dreamers into Doers. And to those reading who haven’t yet become a Dreamer, I encourage you to sign up and begin learning and networking with the thousands of other Dreamers and Doers already on the site.
    Shana

    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Drink Recipes to Warm Your Body & Soul

    It is definitely autumn in Central Indiana. The air is brisk, and the rainy days have chilled us right to the bone! If you're like us, you're looking for ways to stay warm this fall.

    We suggest trying one of these delicious warm drink recipes. They'll warm you up from the inside out. Try one after the kids' high school football game, after the the hayride or after a long day of raking leaves. The best part is, these sipable treats will continue to work their magic as winter approaches.

    Our Favorite Warm Drink Recipes


    Spiced Warm Cider: This drink from Country Living features warm apple cider, a splash of citrus and the perfect blend of spices. Dark brown sugar and fresh ginger make this a special treat.

    Hot Mulled Pineapple Drink: A new twist on traditional apple cider, this drink from Reader's Digest gives you something a little sweet and something a little tart with a blend of pineapple and cranberry juices. You'll love the smell of this warm drink as it simmers on your stove top.

    Hot Ginger Coffee: Spice up that boring old cuppa joe! This recipe comes from Taste of Home and can be dressed up with a simple whipped cream, orange peel, and cinnamon stick garnish. Yum!

    Hot Chai Latte: You don't have to go to an expensive cafe to get a great chai latte--you can make a less expensivce (but very delicious!) version at home. This recipe comes to us from Allrecipes.com, and features just the right blend of milk, black tea, citrus and spices.

    Hot Cocoa: No warm drink list would be complete without hot cocoa! This is recipe comes from Alton Brown at Food Network, and it features a secret ingredient we bet you never considered adding to your hot cocoa--cayenne pepper!

    With these recipes you should be prepared to relish the cool autumn nights. Have a favorite recipe or a variation you'd like to share? Tell us about it in the comments!

    Be sure to check out our website for fall themed 
    Pinwhirls pinwheels, invites, favors and more!

    image credit: CWMGary 

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    5 Tips for Setting an Elegant Table

    Sometimes the Dixie plates and plastic utensils just won't cut it. If you're planning a more formal dinner or party, one of the best ways to set the mood is to create a stunning table setting. There are several things you can do to create a beautiful and elegant table. Often it's the little details that set the mood for the entire party. Here are some things to consider when planning your event:

    5 Tips for Setting an Elegant Table 

    Linens: Steer clear of rustic fabrics for your table linens. Opt for smoothly textured tablecloths and cloth napkins and skip the place mats. Fold napkins or use napkin rings that coordinate with your decorative theme. 

    China: An elegant dinner party screams for the classic elegance of China. The pattern can be classic white with a silver rim, or something more contemporary. Leave the stoneware and disposable plates for another, less formal ocassion.

    Centerpieces: Great centerpieces real make a table setting. There are a number of ways you could go, depending on your individual tastes. Floral centerpieces are a traditional favorite. So are centerpieces featuring an assortment of candles and glassware. You can also use fruits and vegetables to bring a splash of color to your centerpiece.

    Stemware: Glassware and crystal stemware are another must have for an elegant table setting. Intricately cut patterns will sparkle in the right light, but simple smooth glasses also help you pull of a gorgeous presentation.

    Additional Resources:


    In case you've forgotten where everything should be placed on the table, you can use these additional resources.


    Tips for Setting a Formal or Informal Thanksgiving Table





    Don't forget to visit us on Etsy to see the newest Pinwhirl additions!

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    After-Party Cleanup: Tips & Tricks

    Last week we offered you tips for cleaning up the house before the big party. This week, we're sharing tips to help you clean up after the big party. Depending on the type of party you're hosting, this could be a really daunting task. So don't dive in without a plan of attack.

    Here are some recommendations to help keep the mess from becoming too overwhelming:

    • Buy cleanup supplies when you purchase your decorations: Parties need trash bags, cleaning wipes and spot removers just as much as they need invitations, favors, and cupcakes! Put must-have cleaning items on your list.

    • Make it easy for guests to pick up after themselves: Put trash receptacles in several locations so that your guests can simply toss their used plates, napkins, and cups when they're done. This will save you lots of time when the party is over. Likewise, make cleaning wipes and paper towels available so that guests can wipe up any spills.

    • After the guest leave, make a quick run-through with a garbage bag: Leaving garbage bins out during the party will help, but you'll probably still find stray cups and plates scattered here and there. Start the cleaning process by removing any trash.

    • Assess your home, and look for things that need special attention: While you collecting the trash, did you notice any spots or stains that need special attention? Get to those right away. The longer you let them sit, the harder it will be to remove the stains.

    • Follow-up with routine cleaning: Chances are that after the party you will need to do some light vacuuming and dusting. You will probably have dishes to do as well. These things can be done quickly once you've taken the other steps in order.
    With a little planning and forethought, you can make cleaning up after your guests easier. Happy cleaning!




    You can find great party invitations, party favors, and more at the Pinwhirls Shop on Etsy!

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Carrie & Sean: Happy Wedding Day

    Carrie & Sean Wedding Large 6
    I began working with Carrie, an Australian Bride, back in June of 2010 on pinwheels for her September wedding. From the colors and designs selected, I just knew that her wedding was going to be a happy and whimsical garden affair. Fast forward to July of this year ... I received an email from Carrie letting me know that her wedding was featured in Cosmo Bride Australia's My Day. Yay! One look at their wedding photos, and I began to learn why. It was filled to the brim with lots of unique, fun, and whimsical handmade items - lots of them from Etsy. For more photos, of their happy day visit MissPrintDesign. 
    Carrie & Sean Wedding Large 5
    We provided Carrie and Sean with Large Handheld Pinwheels, which they scattered amongst the walkways and gardens.
    Carrie & Sean Wedding Large 3
    We also provided them with handheld pinwheels which they placed into pitchers.
    Carrie & Sean Wedding Large 1
    Didn't they make the cutest centerpieces?
    Carrie & Sean Wedding Large 2 I especially loved the seating - long, narrow tables instead of the traditional rounds. 
    Carrie & Sean Wedding Large 7 Thanks Carrie and Sean for allowing us to feature your wedding on our site. Thanks also to their photographer, You Can't Be Serious, for allowing us to feature their beautiful photos.

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    Pre-Party Cleanup: Tips & Tricks

    Everyone knows that there's a lot that goes into hosting a great party: invitations, menu planning, cooking, decorating, and more. But before the party starts, most hosts and hostesses find themselves stressing over the state of their house.

    Clean homes are welcoming, so it's a good idea to get things in order before the big event. However, cleaning up for guests shouldn't throw you into a complete tailspin. Here are a few simple tips for pre-party cleanup when you're hosting at home.

    Pre-Party Cleanup Tips & Tricks
    1. Strategize: Before you dive in and start remodeling the nursery, sit down and make a list of the rooms that will be used and seen by your guests. Put those at the top of your list and work in order. If you don't get to the rooms at the end of your list, it's probably not going to mean the end of the world.

    2. Knock out the big stuff first: Remove clutter and big-ticket eye sores that hinder the flow of your home before you dust or vacuum. People will notice clutter immediately, without even looking for it. However, your party guests aren't likely to notice that you didn't scrub the grout in your kitchen with an old toothbrush before they arrived.

    3. Get help: Pre-party cleanup can actually be a pretty huge undertaking, especially if you share space with roommates or family. Get others to pitch in and help and the job will go a lot faster. After all, if you're not the only one making the mess, you shouldn't be the only one cleaning it up!

    4. Prepare in advance for mishaps: Get the SpotBot and the paper towels ready ahead of time, maybe during your decorating phase. Spills are almost inevitable, especially at parties where children are present. If you have the cleanup tools stashed in a convenient place, you have a better chance of lifting the stain before it sets--and you won't have to go digging for the carpet cleaner.
    By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can whip your house into shape before your guests arrive. You'll also have more time for the fun stuff, like decorating, cooking, and visiting with your guests.

    Photo credit: lusi


    You can find great party invitations, party favors, and more at the Pinwhirls Shop on Etsy!

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Pinwhirl Party Recipies

    Soy Cheese Pinwhirls via norwichnuts 
    We have a real treat for you today! We're linking up to some of our very favorite party recipes around the web. The really cool part? All of the recipes are for eye-catching and scrumptious pinwheels (or Pinwhirls, as we like to call them around here!)

    Pinwheel appetizers make great party food. If you're looking for something to take and share or something to compliment your dinner party menu, why not try giving one of these tasty recipes a try?

    California Pinwheel Sandwiches: Just five simple ingredients make these a cinch to whip up in your kithchen: ham, cheese, pickles, bread, and California dip.

    Pizza Pinwheels: Put a new "spin" on a classic favorite with pizza pinwheels. This recipe serves 8 and can easy be doubled or tripled if you are making them for a large party or get-together.

    Poppy Seed Pinwheels: This recipe comes from Food Network's Paula Deen. Chives, cream cheese, garlic, parsley, and poppy seeds give these a distinct flavor.

    Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels: It's hard to resist the savory combination of bacon and cheddar. These pinwheel apps come straight from the Pillsbury kitchen.

    Italian Calzone Pinwheels: These mini calzones are similar to a pizza calzone, but they are paired with a fun and tasty dipping sauce. They're sure to be a hit with kids and grown-ups alike.

    Cranberry Cream Cheese Pinwheels: With cranberries in this recipe, these sweet and yummy pinwheels would be an excellent treat for the holidays. But they're so delicious you might not want to wait.

    Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels: Every game night of sports party is better with Buffalo sauce! These delightfully scrumptious pinwheels are sure to be a hit with all the guys.

    So what do you think? Will any of these recipes end up in your recipe box? Do you have a favorite pinwheel appetizer recipe to share with? Blog about it and leave your link in the comments below.

    Use the Pinwheel Theme for Dessert too!

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Top 10 Signs It's Fall

    With the kids heading back to school and a little relief from the heat, it won't be long before the crisp chill of Fall is in the air. At Pinwhirls, we're ready for Fall. We've added a huge lineup of autumn themed papers for creating custom Pinwhirl items for that school Halloween party or for a family or church harvest gathering.

    Before we unveil our Fall additions, though, we've got the top signs that Fall is just is just around the corner so you'll know when it finally arrives!

    Top 10 Signs It's Fall

    1. The Honeycrisp apples have arrived at your favorite grocery store or farmer's market.
    2. The leaves are crunching beneath your feet.
    3. Friday nights and Sunday afternoons are filled with football sounds.
    4. The lightning bugs and cicadas are quiet.
    5. Pumpkin Spice lattes are back!
    6. The leaves suddenly seem like they've been set alight
    7. You gather around at backyard bonfires to roast marshmallows and make smores.
    8. It's time for late night hayrides through the country with a flannel blanket and a cup of steaming hot cocoa.
    9. You've packed away your swimsuit and pulled out a cozy sweater or cardigan.
    10. Trick-or-treaters are knocking at your door.
    What are your favorite signs that fall has finally arrived?


    Now for our new pinwheel papers to help you decorate for any autumn party! Here's a small sampling of some of our specialty papers. For the complete gallery, visit us on Flickr.

    HallowBlackWeb

    HallowChic2

    HallowChic9

    HallowOldDamask4

    HallowOldDamask2

    Don't miss out on last year's Monster Laboratory, if you haven't seen it already. You'll find a smorgasbord of party ideas including decorations, drinks, and food. The Cherry Brain Parts, Marshmallow Monster Teeth, Skull Cake, and Brain Juice Punch were real hits!


    Have you been blogging about Autumn? Don't forget to share your links with us in the comments.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Best Birthday Printables for Children's Parties

    If you're planning a birthday party or just planning to attend a birthday party, we think you'll love incorporating some of these free birthday themed printables at your next party. We rounded up our 7 favorite resources so that you can have fun picking from the best birthday party ideas.

    Top 7 Birthday Printables


    Creature Pencil Toppers from Disney Family Fun. These adorable pencil toppers feature 7 different colorful creatures. The printable PDF includes simple instructions.

    Kids' Coloring Pages from Kaboose.com. Select from a number of different coloring pages, and give your party goers a fun and creative activity to do during the birthday party or to take home.

    Printable Birthday Cards from DLTK's Growing Together. Need a card to give? Check out these fun birthday cards you can print at home. There are tons of different themes to choose from.

    Printable Gift Tags and Wrapping Paper from Disney Family Fun. Having trouble finding the right wrapping paper? You can get colorful gift tags and wrapping paper designs and print them in an instant at home.

    Printables by Amy on Livinglocurto.com. Some cute free vintage ice cream and Lego themed printables. If you don't find what you're looking for, you can also get customized designs from us at Pinwhirls.

    Free Coloring Pages & Activity Pages from Printables4Kids. From Super Mario to Princess, you'll find several different activity printables to choose from on this page. Plus you'll also find birthday party theme ideas.

    Stickers from Disney Family Fun. You'll find stickers to match your birthday party theme here. They also have a huge selection of holiday and everyday stickers that you can print out too!

    Where are your favorite sites to find free birthday party printables?

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Why I Love Your Blog (Or Not)





    This post is part of the #SummerBlogSocial, hosted by Liz and Jessica.

    Liz and Jessica ask, "When you visit a blog, what areas – besides the main post – do you check out? Do you visit the Nav Bar pages? Look at the sidebars? Check for a list of categories or tags? Talk about the elements of a website that are most important to you."


    1. The About Page: After reading a post, the first thing I do is go to the about page or the profile link to learn more about the person writing. I like to learn a little bit about other bloggers' favorite things, hobbies, families, or whatever, because I usually find out that we have something in common. I always like to be able to put a name or blog title and a face together. It helps me keep track of everyone!

    2. The Social Media Stuff: I like to connect on Facebook and Twitter, so I'll look to see if you have links to your social media pages. (Bonus if I can like your Facebook Page, add you on Google Friend Connect, or join your Networked Blogs profile through a widget already on your website!) I also look to see what other social media sites you use that I haven't heard about yet.

    3. Tags and Categories: I like to browse the categories or tag clouds on your blog to see what kinds of things you write about. Logos, blog titles, and tag lines rarely tell the whole story! So I dig a little to find out what other topics you cover that interest me.

    4. RSS Links: If it looks like your content is going to be interesting, I'll subscribe to your feed. It's impossible to visit every blog every day, so I think RSS feeds are a godsend! I really want you to make it easy to subscribe though. I might click away if I have to dig too much to find it.

    5. Pictures: Words and pictures go together like peanut butter and jelly. I love to see a blog with interesting and colorful photos or illustrations. They help me find interesting content more quickly, and they really add something to the blog post. Doesn't matter if they're pictures you took with your cell phone, scanned snapshots, or professional images. They're all awesome.
    What do you notice most when you visit a blog?