Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Morning guys and gals! How are you this blistery morning? I’m freezing really, but in general good spirits considering I have sick babies, busted pipes under my house, and a broken side mirror on my car! I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s Mardi Gras festivities. As I discussed a few days ago, its time for me to start planning my yearly parties. And of course I know I’m always talking about the parties we have here. Well, I’ve been asked in an email I received from Tabitha, and yes I’m gonna share all those ideas with you as well so you can have your own fun and festivities! Together we’ll be discussing decorations, foods, and everything in between! You can choose to just have holiday parties or you can have themed parties just as an excuse to get together with family and friends (that’s my excuse LOL)! If planned properly, you can have the best time and make some great memories while being nice to the wallet too! And if you are a “people person” or like to entertain crowds, then maybe hosting a couple of parties would interest you but you just don’t know where to start. So I’m gonna help you!

OK, so while sitting there yesterday with my ill kids, I got out the trusty “Mom Planner” as well as paper and pen. I thought about parties I had last year, and ones I want to have this year. I plan fiscally LOL so this “year” will be from Feb. 2010 to Feb. 2011. There are 3 obvious BIG ones ahead… Halloween and Christmas, which are just always a must, and my DD’s Sweet 16 Birthday Bash! The guys want another Poker night, and there is Easter (which is on April 4, 2010 btw) as well… ok so we have 5 so far. We’re gonna be some party throwing fools LOL! Gonna aim for a big 4th of July BBQ cookout and Crawfish Boil which will also double as my Dad’s birthday party… yep, he’s an independence baby! I want to do a Fiesta/Mexican theme dinner party and an Italian night. Then of course we have Super Bowl and Mardi Gras NEXT year, as well as St. Patrick’s Day. But we really don’t “Party All Out” on those like the others, so I don’t really “count” them, I just plan for them. So we’re up to 8 now right? OK I also thought of Circus day! I think it would be neat to have games, etc… and maybe things like Dunking Booths or a Moon Walk or something! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME! I know some people and maybe I could barter for those things! Anyway, as you can see I have a HUGE list already working, and I have more ideas for themes, so get ready cause the next year is gonna be full of fun times, fun crafts, and really fun food!

One of my friends once told me that I should do party planning for a living. He said everyone always has such fun at my parties and they are always decorated and catered so well. He thinks I could make a lot of money like that. Well I told him thank you for all the great comments but not many people are looking to host parties in a recession. Of course, I may be wrong… I don’t know. So I thought the next best thing would be to help everyone have homemade fun instead. So I want to talk today about the steps to make you a good “Party Planner”.

1. Invest in a good calendar! It can be one that you hang on the wall or carry with you. I use the “Mom’s Plan It” products. I carry the “Engagement Calendar” with me everywhere! It’s awesome. It has tear out lists and even cute stickers to mark special events, etc. They also make magnetic calendars, paper calendars, etc. Check out the line of products on Avalanche Publishing (which BTW is having a 75% off sale on all 2010 dated items advertised on the homepage). If you’re like me, once you use it, you won’t want to use anything else! We LIVE out of my planner LOL! And you can use it for everything, INCLUDING planning your parties! Day Runners and even homemade calendars work well too! Use whatever is easiest for you.

2. Pick dates for your parties. Generally, I hold most of my parties on either Friday nights or Saturdays. That seems to be when MOST people are available… they don’t have to work, they can get baby sitters, etc. Of course, my parties are all “kid-friendly” so that’s not an excuse my friends can use for not coming LOL! There are also people who may work odd shifts (like MANY in my family!)- refinery shift workers, doctors and medical personnel, fire fighters, etc. etc. etc.! Try getting together with everyone a month or so in advance and asking if they would be able to attend your party on such date. Try to be considerate of your guests and pick dates that are good for them to attend. This insures you HAVE guests show up, and that they all have a terrific time!

3. Pick themes for your parties. If you are going to host on a day other than a Holiday, pick a theme and plan accordingly. You don’t HAVE to have a theme, but it tends to make the evening more interesting! For instance, trying to figure out who is who at a costume party or masquerade ball is quite fun. Or having everyone dress as their favorite 50's Rock & Roller is cute too! If you just would like to host a dinner party, why not turn it into a themed “cuisine” party (IE. Italian Night, Fiesta Night, etc.). When you figure out a theme, then the menu, decorations, and general planning comes easily!

4. Research your theme. Ok, so you chose to host an Italian night… awesome! That can be a fun night! Rent or borrow (or even invest in) some round tables. Cover them with Red gingham fabric table clothes. Hang some cardboard cutouts of Italian flags or famous Italians such as Galileo, Sophia Loren, or Luciano Pavarotti … etc. etc. etc.! How do I know this? RESEARCH! Look up ideas for your theme on the internet or at the library. You can find ideas for a wide range of themes. And, even if you are making it up, then maybe research the history of your topic and you may pull ideas from the information you find. Find out about games played in that region, traditional gifts of the area, costume, etc. All these things you can incorporate into your party!

5. Plan and make your invitations. You have the dates, now you need to figure out what time you will have your party and how long you want it to last. (I normally do not put an “end” time.) Type up and print your invitations on your computer. You can buy printed stationary or ready-to-print invitations, print stationary online, or you can buy invitations that you hand print the information on, all to match your theme! I usually print out the information on printed stationary or make the invites myself. I think its cuter and the full size paper allows me to put as much, or as little, information on them as I need. Make sure to mail out your invitations far enough in advance so that your guests can make arrangements. Request R.S.V.P.’s no later than 1 week before your party so that you can get a final count of expected guests and make enough food, preparations, etc. Mention on your invites the date, times, address, if there will be games, a buffet or formal dinner, if costumes are required, etc.!

6. Plan and make (or purchase) your decorations. Now you don’t HAVE to decorate by any means… but it gives ease to any atmosphere. It makes the situation fun… somewhere people WANT to be and can relax. My guests often tell me they look forward to my parties because it gives them a temporary escape from all their troubles and they can relax and in turn become refreshed to deal with their lives. Do you know how GOOD that makes me feel when they tell me that? It makes me think I am doing something right! So, when you did your research, you learned the traditional colors, etc. that would be appropriate for your theme. Make flower arrangements, poster cutouts, print pictures from the internet, etc. If you choose to purchase, allow yourself at least 6 weeks in advance to place and receive your order. Two websites I order some of my things are Bargain Balloons and Party Cheap. They have great variety and really good pricing! The only thing with Bargain Balloons is that you will need your own helium tank to fill the mylars you purchase because they are NOT inflated. But you can buy a disposable tank at party stores, Hobby Lobby (online too. Oh and make sure to wait for the 40% off coupon to save money!), and even Wal-Mart. You can also check out Oriental Trading Company and Party City for great party theme packages and items too! Decorations can also be used as game props. Decorations include table centerpieces, wall pictures, party props, etc. Go all out… It’s fun to be creative!

7. Plan your menu. Now this can be a bit tricky. Make sure to prepare a wide variety of things allowing for all kinds of situations- vegans, allergies, etc. Menus will vary depending on the type of party you are having.

Most of my parties tend to be buffet style… tons of variety and serve yourself types. But I do also host the traditional sit down dinners as well like Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. On “International” themes such as Italian, Mexican, Greek, etc. I try to have 3 of each- appetizers, entrees, and desserts… all served with a themed salad and bread. So your menu might look something like this (yes this is a small version of one of mine!)

For example, if you have an Italian Night you menu could include: Lasagna with meat sauce, cheese tortellini, Chicken Parmesan, and veggie bruschetta. Have loaves of bread with olive oil for dipping and wine and sparkling (non-alcoholic) drinks and even desserts if you like. Cheese trays with various cheeses and crackers are good too! So are fruit plates with grapes, berries, etc! If you plan to serve hot foods, either keep them warming in your oven until ready to serve (but make sure they don't get dry and unedible) or buy a couple of those buffet servers with the warming sources. They are not real expensive and a one time investment. Then all you need to worry about is aluminum pans in the future!

Now you can go out and BUY premade platters of food, but you are going to pay an arm and a leg sometimes. So if you want to DIY, then go online and find pictures of professional platters and make yours look like those! Then when they ask where you got them, you can remark how you made them yourself and watch their faces in amazement! (I made this “Meathead” platter for our last Halloween party! The guests were really diggin it!) For the very creative, you probably won’t even need a picture guide… but it’s perfectly alright if you do! Be prepared to tell people what’s in a certain dish in case they have allergies to certain things. An alternative to this is to print out the recipe on an index card and place it by the platter so they can see what’s in it. After the party, if they enjoyed the food, let them take the recipe card home as an added bonus! You can even prepare copies enough to pass out if others want the recipe as well.

8. Plan gifts and games galore! Many hosts/hostesses like to give their guests complimentary favors as a token of their appreciation for coming to their parties. I do this at every party I host. I appreciate my friends and family taking the time out of their schedule to come be with me for a while. These can be small or large or whatever you find appropriate.

For example, those who come to my Italian Night party will each receive a small bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar that has the recipe to one of the dishes I will serve (with also uses the vinegar or oil in the recipe). The recipe is printed on pretty stationary I found on clearance at Office Depot. It’s then rolled and tied to the bottle using color-coordinated ribbon. Favors could be edible or not, its up to you. You can make them theme related or personal to the guest. Favors are not a requirement by any means... just a nice little token of appreciation!

Games could include “Guess that Italian” using the pictures you print of some of the famous Italians you find online. LOL You’d be surprised how people stumble on names even of more famous and recognizable faces LOL! It can be very fun! The prize could be an Italian Dinner for 2 Gift basket (as the one I make pictured) or something else you would love to give. Incorporate some of the games of the region you found during your research. Give prizes for the winner of your games or just play for the fun. As the host/hostess, the choice is yours!

9. Party Day- TIMING! Give yourself enough time allotted to set up decorations, complete foods, etc. If your party is at 6pm, and you have tons of decorations, etc. try setting up/hanging some the night before (if you have to work the next day) or take the whole day of (non-working) to decorate and prepare. Always allow for some extra time because you never know if you’ll run out of staples and have to run to the store to get some when you are hanging decors, or any other little OOPS-es that you didn’t plan for! PLUS, you always have those “early bird” guests who arrive before everyone else and it can be a little awkward if you aren’t prepared.

10. Enjoy your party! You’ve “done your homework” and prepared an awesome party for your family and friends. You put your best foot forward with the time and effort you used in planning this party. Now sit back and enjoy the ride. Host the dinner and the games and just have fun. Take photos and have a lot of laughs with the ones closest to you! It will be something you can all talk about for years to come!

OK, let’s talk food! Now, within this blog, since I have started, I have posted a total of over 150 recipes with at least 30 of them being “Party Appetizers”. Depending on your party, any of these could be appropriate for serving. Or your secret family recipes or ones you find on the internet would work too! Just a word of caution though…. always try out new recipes first to see if they are any good or need to be changed. A trial run is always wise before serving a group of people!

As for my dinner tonight? Well since we got some sick babies in the house, its gonna be soups and hot sandwich night… things easy enough to swallow and digest. Macaroni & Cheeses, etc. and other things easy on their little tummies! I saw some frozen crawfish tails in the freezer and some Crawfish Po’boys are sounding mighty yummy for my sandwiches though LOL! Oh gee, I love living on the Gulf Coast with all the yummy seafood. Never had one? Oh boy… oh boy… oh CrawDaddy PO’BOY! LOL… Try this recipe on for size!

Crawfish Po’boys


Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 16-ounce package crawfish tail meat, rinsed and drained
4 hoagie rolls, sliced in half horizontally
Shredded green leaf lettuce
1 recipe Remoulade Sauce (Recipe follows.)

Remoulade Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons dill relish
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
2 tablespoons fresh chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped capers
2 teaspoons Creole mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped shallots
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce


1. Fill a Dutch oven or deep fryer with vegetable oil to a 2-inch depth. Heat oil to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, Creole seasoning, salt, and pepper.

3. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and pepper sauce. Soak crawfish tails in milk mixture for 10 minutes. Dredge crawfish in flour mixture.

4. Fry crawfish, in batches, for approximately 3 minutes per batch, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

5. Serve on hoagie rolls with shredded lettuce and Remoulade Sauce.

Remoulade Sauce:
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, stirring well. Cover and chill.

Yep, we LOVE seafood in this house! And I am lucky to live on the Gulf Coast to where we can get fresh seafood all the time pretty much! But in the summer is when its best… AND CHEAPER! So be on the lookout for lots of seafood recipes this summer! Alright gang, I’m outta here for the day! Ya’ll be good, be safe, stay warm, and meet me back here tomorrow! HUGS!

1 comment:

  1. Wow thanks for the information... and the great blog. Keep up the great work.