Summer Time, Party Time!
It's hot out, you're feeling festive; what could be more fun than throwing a July 4th party?
It's summer, everyone's in a party mood and usually, there's time off from work for people to relax a little longer and enjoy themselves. Make your party the best ever with these exceptionally festive Fourth of July party ideas.
Image courtesy of Rubbermaid Products on Flickr
Choose a color scheme for all your decor and food. The logical choice is red, white, and blue for the celebration of America's flag, but you're not limited to this palate. Go with just red or just baby blue if you like. You can even go purple, yellow, and green to emulate fireworks. Go wild and make it festive, most likely everyone will wear some sort of red, white and blue anyways!
Keep it Simple
Next, select your menu based on foods that are easy and fun to eat. Remember, it's going to be July, so you don't want to serve foods that may spoil easily like mayo based salads. Try to stick with foods that you can bring out and that will be gobbled up so they don't sit.
Secondly, don't forget the desserts! People have some serious sweet tooth cravings in the summer, so be sure to cater to that! Some tasty Independence Day cookies look great on a table, and taste great too! Or if you want more simple treats, try Rice Krispy Bars, Brownies or a Rhubarb Cake. They will all certainly be enjoyed!
Affordable Fourth of July Foods
Yum it up!
One fantastic way to encourage guests to interact and have a great time is to have a clam bake. You can order clam bakes from local grocery stores. Often, the fish department will put them together for you. You can also order them online from companies who specialize in this sort of party food. Tell them how many people you anticipate and they'll send you the food packed in a cooler of dry ice. You cook it when it arrives.
Image by arnold | inuyaki on Flickr
Items in a standard clam bake include lobsters, crab, clams, corn on the cob, and potatoes. Other items like sausage are often included. You can easily put together your own clam bake and spare some expense. You'll just need a way to cook the foods. This can be done in metal pails or cans (be sure they're clean and fire safe) that you find at the hardware store. Or you can do a crab and fish boil in a pot on an open flame or outdoor gas grill. Cook the corn on the cob and potatoes on the grill as well.
Purchase extra food baskets for guests to bring home leftovers. It'll be the gift that keeps giving!
Keep it festive!
Make your whole party festive by offering a casual yet festive atmosphere. Tie up plastic cutlery in red and white checkered cloth napkins and place them all in a cheap gift basket, there's no need to get something expensive. Any old basket will do! Guests can grab their own utensils all at once, and they will have a sturdy napkin for their laps as well! It's a great plan for an outdoor setting.
Keep drinks flowing by offering a cooler full of sodas, water, beer, and wine. Use cheerful plastic wine goblets that you can buy at the dollar store. That way there's no glass that can accidentally break or that you have to wash. And if you anticipate children, be sure to have a little cooler with juice boxes as well. They will think it's so cool that they get their own cooler of goodies.
Stick With Basics
Easy & Fun
The simpler you keep your party, the more fun everyone-including you-will have. Keep bug spray and citronella candles on hand so tiny pests don't ruin the outdoor fun. If you have a beach location, great. But if you don't, you can still put hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and have a great time. Make it a 1950s theme and have all retro decor from plastic plates to napkins and tablecloths. You can find everything you need online.
Image by US Mission Canada on Flickr
Have a ball this July 4th. It's one holiday that celebrates the summer which flies by all too fast. Take lots of photos so you can remember your awesome party next year when you go to plan the festivities. And don't forget to send guests off with a little Fourth of July gift or festive party favors. They'll remember your party for years to come!
Need Game Ideas? How about Gladiator!
Give It Personality
Depending on your daughter's personality, you'll want to include games that suit her and her friends for her Sweet 16. You need not go overboard, as your decorations, food, and their friendships will make the party a success, but it's fun to include games and give out prizes. The prizes can be as simple as a dollar store trinket or as elaborate as a cd, dvd or gift card.
Image courtesy of liquene on Flickr
You can always include a game of charades where girls have to act things out for prizes. Make it more personal by writing up a set of cards with the actions that include favorites of the birthday girl.
You might make someone act like a pampered Chihuahua if your daughter loves them or have them mimic your daughter's favorite singer or movie. Make the prizes fun like small gift baskets or gift certificates to stores the kids like or inexpensive earrings or bracelets.
Ring of Fire - Game of Balance
You've probably saved some of your daughter's favorite board games from when she was younger. Set up card tables with a few easy-to-play games and have girls rotate who plays where.
Image by Greencolander on Flickr
Set a timer and make it more exciting. When the timer goes off, the girls switch and have to take on the seat to their left. Include games that are meant for younger children.
The girls will get a kick out of it and it will bring back good memories for your birthday girl. Don't forget to find some fun sweet 16 party favors to hand out to the winners!
Some games to consider include: Chutes and Ladders, Scrabble, Sorry, Monopoly, Life, Girl Talk, Blokus, Rummy and more. Ask your daughter beforehand if she has any favorite board games that she'd prefer to play that night. Odds are, she still has a favorite that she'd love to have an excuse to play with her friends.
Add flair to the game of scavenging. Instead of having girls just go out with a list of objects to find, create something that matches your theme. If you're having a princess theme, create a page from a storybook written with old English type. Hide objects that have a princess feel-bracelets, tiaras, fake oversized diamond rings-and let the girls keep what they find. You can adjust this for any theme or types of personalized favors that you want.
Question & Answer
Before the party, ask your daughter's friends to come up with trivia questions about her. You can suggest that they write them down on index cards and bring them to the party.
They can ask her about favorite movies, kids at school, brands of clothing, favorite song or music, favorite foods, favorite mall or store, etc. For the girl who gets the most right, offer a fun prize such as a themed gift basket based on the question asked.
Another Game on Video
Pop the Balloon
Find the Prize
There are so many things you can hide inside a balloon for a fun surprise. Place pieces of paper inside before you blow up the balloons that include numbers or clues to a game. Have the girls pop them to discover the clue to a mystery or something you've hidden around the house. Have numbers correspond to wrapped sweet 16 party favors you've prepared on a gift table. Or include little trinkets inside the balloons for girls to discover.
Place the balloons in a container that matches your theme. For a princess theme, you could have them all arranged in a decorated carriage made out of cardboard or for an undersea theme, you could have the balloons in a small boat.
Dance, Dance, Revolution
Girls love to dance, so why not make a contest of it? See who can dance the longest without stopping. Add some bling to the action by giving them light-up glow sticks or bracelets and turn on a disco ball. Of course, you'll want to give out a prize to the winner. A gift card for music downloads is a great idea.
Walk It Out
Gather from friends or a thrift store as many shiny baubles and jewelry, shoes, dresses, hats and scarves as you can find. The wackier the better.
Goodwill is a nice source for old prom gowns and other fun castoffs. Hang them on hangers and put the smaller items in baskets. Include some inexpensive makeup and brushes, rollers or curling irons. Let the girls go wild dressing up.
Image by facemepls on Flickr
Then, when they're all prettied up, you can stage a fashion show where you take pictures for them to remember the event. Give lessons on walking a catwalk, applying makeup, or accessorizing. The girls will love the attention. You might even want to videotape the event and email each girl a copy to keep.
Host An Amazing Owl Themed Baby Shower!
Naturally themed baby showers are becoming increasingly popular, and one of the most popular new ideas is to incorporate owls into the theme. Whether Mom-to-be loves owls or you're just looking for the perfect way to do something a bit different, an owl baby shower is the way to go.
Keep in mind that in many cases, word play will be the name of the game. From banners reading "Baby Whoooo?" to invitations that use an owl's signature call, many of your cutest decorations and accents will probably incorporate at least a little word play. Here are a few ideas that will help you cover every aspect of the upcoming shower.
Owl Baby Shower Invitations
There are so many cute ideas for invitation designs with an owl theme. An invitation in the shape of a hoot owl would be adorable. Just place your text below the owl's large eyes for maximum effect.
You could also create one in the shape of a large tree with the text on the tree's trunk and an owl or two in the branches of the actual tree. You may even want to create one in the shape of a nest with a mommy and baby owl inside. This is a great gender-neutral theme, or you can make the baby owl pink or blue to reveal the gender to your guests!
If Mommy is expecting multiples, feel free to put more than one baby owl on the branch next to Mom. . You may want to incorporate some of the word play in the invitation's text. Things like "You'll never believe Hoooo's coming soon" or "Guess Whoooo's Expecting," will all fit nicely with an owl baby shower theme.
A quick and easy invitation option is to buy your invites online. Many online retailers sell either fully customized invites with all of the shower information printed on the theme or invitation you choose or fill-in invitations where you simply add all the details prior to sending them to guests. The fill-in baby shower invitations shown in the photograph to the right are available from All About Gifts & Baskets.
Owl Baby Shower Tableware & Decorations
There are so many fun ways to decorate for this theme. As you did with the invitations, you may want to stick with the natural colors or colors that match your tableware pattern for the decorations. In fact, you may want to stay as natural as possible, incorporating some of your cartoon owl images where you can.
One great decorative idea is to use tree branches, instead of flowers, as your table centerpiece. Place them in a vase, just as you would fresh flowers, and you've achieved a perfect owl home inside. You could also create a paper tree on the wall, then hang your name tags from the branches. As each guest comes in, she can sign the guestbook, then grab her name tag from the tree. This would be extra cute if you cut the name tags in the shape of leaves.
Another idea is to make a nest of streamers in the right colors, then place an owl mylar balloon in the middle. If you want to get really creative, find a smaller owl mylar balloon to place next to it so Mommy and baby can sit in your "nest" together. You could also make a mobile in the shape of a tree. Owl cutouts can sit right on the branches.
For the tableware, you may want to stick with the colors you established in the invitation. Various shades of brown with a hint of pink or blue will look nice, as will darker shades of ivory. There are lots of cute owl decorations and cheap baby shower tableware options available from various online outlets too. From banners and hanging cutouts to great tablecloths and even plates and cups, many of these options will only serve to enhance your theme.
Hanging Felt Owl Decorations
Photo Courtesy of Southern Belles Charm. Visit their blog for lots of cute ideas and instructions.
Owl Party Food Ideas
Creative food ideas for this theme are all around you. Instead of a traditional cake design, create a cake in the shape of a tree. Place your owls on the branches. You could also create a cupcake cake, or a cake made from many different cupcakes with one solid design. The tree theme fits really well with this type of cake, but you could also make it into the shape of an owl. You'll probably also be serving snacks, and one perfect snack is owl shaped cake pops. These creatively designed items are simply cake and icing mixed together, then formed into the shape of an owl. You could also bake and make decorated sugar cookies into the shape of an owl.
Photo from Hungry Happenings
Another creative snack idea is owl cupcakes. Start with a chocolate cupcake, then use half an Oreo for the eyes. Place the cream side up. Add a Junior Mint to the center for the pupil. You could even use a Runts banana for the nose. Then just add some icing to the top for ears and feathers, and you have the perfect owl cupcake. See the Youtube video below for step-by-step instructions for creating some cute owl cupcakes.
Consider making haystack no bake cookies, too. They look like tiny nests, and you could put little fondant owls inside. To make them, melt butterscotch chips in a double boiler. Add two cups of chow mein noodles, and stir gently. Remove from heat, and drop by spoonful onto wax paper, arranging then into a nest shape as you go. Let them cool until they're set.
Owl Baby Shower Cake Ideas
How To Make Owl Cupcakes - Easy & Adorable!!
Baby Shower Game Ideas
Legend has it that owls are very wise, and playing off that theme during your games is a great way to make sure everyone is having fun. Consider having each person write down a bit of advice for the mother-to-be as they come through the door. As an ice-breaker, these tidbits could be read aloud.
Another fun game to play is "Guess Whoooo's the Baby." Have each guest bring a picture of herself as a baby. Number them, then post them for everyone can see. Have your guests try to figure out which picture belongs with which guest.
You could also play "Who Are You?" Blindfold the guest of honor, then have another guest say "Who." See if Mommy-to-be can guess who is speaking. Then blindfold that guest and see if they can guess "who" the caller is.
Finally, you can find owl-themed printable baby shower games online. Simply buy, click and play.
Owl Baby Shower Favors
There are some clever baby shower favor ideas that you can have your guests to take home with them. Consider creating an owl face on the front of a Mason jar. Felt eyes and a nose along with some feathers at the top should do it. Fill the jar with treats like chocolate covered pretzels, peanuts, or even brown M & M's. Clear baby bottles would work just as well.
Another option is to offer a natural treat to take home like homemade granola. Give guests a small bag to fill from the flavor options on the table, then they can select what they like best. Just be sure to give the bag a design that works well with your theme.
Owl Baby Shower Gifts
Tie the owl theme into the unique baby shower gifts with some of these fun ideas. Consider giving books. It could help them become as wise as that old owl. There are even many great children's stories that incorporate an owl, including Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and The Sleepy Owl by Martin Pfister. A stuffed owl makes a great gift, and there are many handcrafted custom choices available at sites like eBay and Etsy.
Another beautiful choice would be a newborn cap that looks like an owl. With large eyes and ears at the top, the new baby will look every inch the theme you worked so hard to create. We even sell little baby owl outfits and personalized baby blankets like the ones shown above.
Getting Festive With It
If you're searching for a fun party food to bring as a Fourth of July gift, be a great guest and show up with something delicious. Here are some ideas on what you can bring that will look festive and be gobbled up by happy party goers.
Think fresh and sun-friendly. Since Fourth of July parties usually end up outside under the hot July sun, make sure your dish is not based in mayo or any other ingredient that could spoil easily. You want to bring something that will be fresh and won't wilt or melt before it's served. Show up with your dish in a pretty bowl with ice under it if it's perishable. At least that way you can stretch the life of it on the table.
Red, White & Blue
Why not consider bringing a red, white, and blue fruit salad to the party? You can mix in some strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and of course some whipped cream for the white part.
Other red, white, or blue foods you can think of will also work for other types of savory or sweet "salads." A red Jell-O salad is always a good idea. Mix in blueberries or strawberries and whipped cream or yogurt for a thicker texture much like a parfait might be.
Fourth of July Dessert - Frozen Lime Cheesecake
Independence Day Cupcakes
Red, White & Blue
If you want to go the cupcake route, which is never a bad idea, try going with chocolate-cherry cupcakes! They are simple and easy. You'll already have the red with the cherry, and the white with the frosting, so you'll need to add in some sort of blue.
Add in some blueberries on the top or use blue cupcake liners to get the full red, white, and blue effect. If all else fails, make Fourth of July cookies or sugar cookies with white frosting, and blueberry and strawberry bits on top.
Betty's Fourth of July
- 3/4 cup(s) whole-wheat pastry flour (see Note)
- 3/4 cup(s) cake flour
- 1/2 cup(s) unsweetened
- cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
- 3/4 cup(s) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup(s) canola oil.1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup(s) nonfat buttermilk (see Tip)
- 1 1/2 cup(s) chopped pitted cherries fresh or frozen (thawed and drained)
- 12 fresh cherries with stems for garnish
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 ounce(s) reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchtel), at room temperature
- 1/2 cup(s) reduced-fat sour cream
- 1 cup(s) confectioners' sugar, packed
- To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.
- Whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Beat granulated sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. With the mixer on low, alternately mix in the dry ingredients and buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Fold in chopped cherries until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared cups (they will be full).
- Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 22 to 26 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
- To prepare frosting: Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, sour cream, and confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Refrigerate the frosting until very cold, about 2 hours. Spread the frosting on the cooled cupcakes and decorate with a cherry on top, if desired.
- Exchanges: 3 carbohydrates (other), 2 fat. Carbohydrate Servings: 3
Tips & Techniques
Help & Advice
Ingredient note: Look for whole-wheat pastry flour in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.
Another tip: Out of buttermilk? You can make "sour milk" as a substitute: mix 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar to 1/2 cup nonfat milk! No one will ever know the difference.
When you hear the words, "corporate gifts", do you think of pens, desk organizers, and mugs with your company logo? This is the extent of some corporate gift endeavors, and as a result, employees, clients, and associates have a collection of coffee mugs and calendars that they really don't need - especially because they get them year after year!
Whether you have to arrange gifts for holidays, birthdays, promotions, or congratulations, infuse some creativity and uniqueness into the process. Here are some ideas that can have your employees or associates saying, "This is the best corporate gift ever!"
The Gift of Choice.
Everyone loves to get what they want, and this year, you can be the one to give it to them. Instead of spending money on a gift of dubious use to the recipient, give them the ability to choose what they want.
One excellent and innovative way to do this is to find a service like XperienceDays. You can get a voucher in a certain amount which entitles the recipient to one of the "experiences" offered by the site. These can include anything from race car driving and hot air ballooning to horseback riding and dance lessons. Whether your recipient wants a soothing day at the spa or a death-defying skydiving lesson, you can make it happen.
The Gift of Money.
If your area does not have access to a service like XperienceDays, giving the gift of money is always a thoughtful gesture. Bonuses are one of the most popular corporate gifts; probably the most popular!
To give your gift a personal feel, have a corporate gift card custom-made for your business with the recipient's name on it. This gives them the freedom to use the money as they see fit and ensures that they don't have one more dust-collecting coffee cup to deal with.
The Gift of Personal Attention.
Giving everyone in your office or all of your clients a gift card is a very nice gesture and one that is sure to be appreciated. But it is sometimes a bit more elegant to offer a gift that reflects your interest in and knowledge of the recipient. If, for instance, you have an employee who is retiring, a gift card will be welcome. But so will a holiday gift basket that shows how much he has meant to the company.
Say he loves trying new and exotic treats. Why not go all out and find the most unusual goodies? Ginger and wasabi chocolate bars, basil absinthe truffles, Kopi Luwak coffee, bacon caramel toffee, chocolate covered ants, and other interesting choices will be a fun way to say thank you and enjoy your tasty retirement.
The Gift of Gourmet Treats.
Gourmet treats, sans insects or undigested berries, is also a wonderful gift. This is great for clients, employees, and associates that you do not know as well - yet or for whom you want to make a special, high quality presentation.
Include gourmet coffee gifts or even cocoas, gourmet popcorns and pretzels, hand dipped truffles, smoked cheeses, fine wines or even chocolate corporate gifts. Include locally made or produced items as well.
The Gift of Practicality.
Sometimes practicality is called for when you are purchasing corporate holiday gifts. This may be the case when you are giving a small gift to say thank you or good work on that project. An example of a practical gift may be a zip drive. These are useful - and when you choose a great design, they are fun and personal as well. They come in any number of shapes - from butterflies to hamburgers - and you can choose the best design to suit the recipient.
Another idea that will appeal to the practical is a gift card and a matching donation to a favorite charity. This is the gift that helps others, which can make both giver and recipient feel good. Get into the gift-giving spirit. The "best" gifts can fall flat if you forget about your recipients' needs and interests. When you acknowledge there is an actual person behind the corporate gift, you will have much more success.