Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to Plan a Family Game Night

Family game nights aren't just fun, they're a good way to reconnect as a family. With the hectic pace of life and work today, taking the time out to spend time together with your family is a good way to take time out and relax.

Favorite Board Games

The following board games are great for family night. If you are in need of some games to get things started and are on a tight budget, check out the local Goodwill or other thrift store for sweet deals on games. (Just make sure everything you need to play is still in the box!)

  • Pictionary
  • Charades
  • Clue
  • Scrabble
  • Card games
  • Cranium
  • Scattergories

Game Stations

If you are blessed enough to have extended family close by, you might want to make family game night a big bash once or twice a year—or even once a month. With different game stations, you can accommodate all age levels.

Fair Play

Remember that couples and close friends always have an advantage in game play. It's best to separate any groups of players that might have an unfair advantage. Of course, is if it's every family member for himself, this won't be a problem.

Game Night Necessities

Some games require paper, pens and other consumable materials. Make sure you stock up on these items in advance of game night. Ask for a volunteer scorekeeper to tally points, but keep a close eye on the scorekeeper's math!

Finally, don't forget the food. Game night is much more fun with snacks to get your munchy fix. Non-greasy finger foods are easy to eat while playing, and they won't get your game pieces covered in grime. Some of our favorites include: fresh whole fruits, nuts, unbuttered popcorn, pretzels, and raisins.

What's your favorite family game night board game?

Photo credit: idesign-er

Monday, May 21, 2012

Progressive Dinner Party Tips & Suggestions

If you're tired of the same old cookouts and dinner parties, you might want to try hosting a progressive dinner party with your friends.

What is a progressive dinner party?

At a progressive dinner, several different friends plan and host an entire meal. Each course of the meal is served at a different participant's house, and all the partygoers move from home to home during until the even concludes.

Progressive dinner parties can be a lot of fun, plus they break down party planning activities so everyone shares a little bit of the responsibilities for the party. You can include as many different courses as you like, but here are some suggested courses:

  • hors d'oeuvres 
  • cocktails
  • appetizers
  • soups
  • salads
  • entree or main course
  • desserts
  • after dinner drinks
Tips for Planning a Progressive Dinner

Four to five stops works best. Unless you're planning to go all-out, four to five different stops will be enough to fill up your evening. Remember that the more stops you add, the later your dinner party will last. 

Plan enough time for each stop. Each course will require a different amount of time to complete, but you can generally plan 45 to 90 minutes at each home for the different dinner courses. Don't forget to calculate travel time between homes.

Consider making it a monthly event. A monthly progressive dinner is great for groups of friends that want to keep in touch on a regular basis. With larger groups it's also a great way to divvy up the entertaining costs and prepping responsibilities.

Try a themed dinner. Try coordinating with all hosts to plan a themed menu. You could try themes by inspired by country's cuisine, a holiday, or even a movie. The possibilities are endless!

Have you ever hosted a progressive dinner? What tips do you have for first-timers?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to Give a Wedding Toast

Pinwhirls Pinwheel Wedding: Photo Courtesy Customer Emily O.
Whether you'll be giving a toast at the rehearsal dinner or the wedding reception, it's important to avoid those cringe-worthy speeches you always see in bad wedding comedies. The whole point of the wedding toast is to honor the bride and groom.

How to Give a Wedding Toast

Try these tips, and you should be able to deliver lovely and short speech while avoiding any awkward or embarrassing moments.

  1. Celebrate the couple. You might think that sharing jokes from the past is a great way to entertain the crowd, but it's too easy to stray into dangerous territory. Humor makes for a great toast. Youthful indiscretions you shared with the groom in high school or college, however? Those are not fodder for a wedding toast. Go for short anecdotes about fun times you shared with the couple while they were dating.

  2. Don't deliver your toast toasted. Aside from the difficulty you may have with slurred words after a few too many glasses of champagne, giving a speech under the influence is never advisable. Saying the wrong thing at a wedding toast can ruin friendships for a life time. If you plan to indulge, wait until after the speech is done.

  3. Keep it short and sweet. The toast is not an opportunity for you to steal the spotlight or take over the celebration. A good rule of thumb is two or three minutes for a toast. Anything over five minutes is usually considered unnecessarily long.

  4. Remember the other guests at the wedding. The wedding toast is not your opportunity to establish yourself as the couple's favorite. Don't go there.

  5. Get help from friends and family. Friends and family of the bride and groom are usually full of great stories that can become a part of your wedding toast. If nerves have got the better of you, ask for some help. You can also run ideas by other guests if you're not confident about the toast you have prepared.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Casual Party Planning Checklist

The easiest way to plan a party without a hitch is to use a checklist. While this checklist is a little to basic to get you through something like a wedding, it is great for smaller and more informal parties. You can use it for all kinds of events from graduations and birthday parties to wedding showers and baby showers.

Casual Party Planning Checklist

One Month Before the Party
  • Create your guest list.
  • Mail invitations or send e-vites.
  • Choose a theme and select whatever party decorations, music, and games you might need; then start shopping for any items you'll need.
  • Plan your party menu and hire a caterer, if you'll be using one.
Two to Three Weeks Before the Party
  • Purchase disposable tablecloths, plates, and plastic utensils or launder linens and dishes for a more elegant party.
  • Purchase non-perishable food items on your list.
  • Prepare any items on the menu that can be frozen ahead of time.
One Week Before the Party
  • Clean the house. 
  • Remove clutter to create more space for guests.
  • Rearrange or remove any furniture that you want to protect.
  • Let neighbors know about the party if you expect it will affect parking on your street.
One to Two Days Before the Party
  • Decorate indoor party areas or outdoor areas that are covered.
  • Buy perishable food items.
The Day of the Party
  • Finish cooking last-minute menu items.
  • Prepare a place for coats.
  • Set out any food that doesn't spoil 1-2 hours before guests arrive; wait to set out any food that may spoil quickly.
Using a checklist will help you stay organized and get your party off without any snags. Are there any items you would add to this checklist? Tell us in the comments!