10 Simple Steps for Planning a Party!

The key to a great party is great planning.

Below are 10 steps for planning a SIMPLY extraordinary party!

1. Pick your (ideal) date. I personally love throwing parties on a Saturday because then you have all of Sunday to rest. However, this is a personal option. I write ideal because the place that you want to have your party might not have your date so you might need to adjust.

2. Pick your (ideal) time. If this is your child’s party, take nap times into consideration. I remember when I threw my daughter’s 1st birthday party. I put the start time as 2pm not realizing that she usually naps till about 2:30pm. Needless to say, she was late to her own party!

3. Pick your place. Look for a post soon about creative, fun and inexpensive places to have your parties!

4. Pick your theme! Once you have your confirmed place, date and time, it’s time to pick the best part: THEME! I always make sure that the place is confirmed first as it will determine the theme. For me, I like things to match and make sense especially for a party. For example, if you’re having a party at a Mexican restaurant, it would make more sense to have a Mexican themed party than a Princess party.

5. Pick your invitations. Once you have your theme, it’s time for the invitations. First, determine if you want to send out paper or electronic invites. I have been leaning towards the electronic invites lately. It’s super easy, FREE and you can always add any extra guests without having to take an extra trip to the Post Office. However, there is something really special about getting a paper invite in the mail. Either way, make sure your invite gives your guests a preview of what to expect for the party. Is it a pool party? Do guests need to bring anything special to attend the party i.e. swimsuits? Do you want them to wear something special i.e. baseball jerseys for a Baseball theme? Make sure you have all the important information on the invite so it alleviates calls, texts and emails with questions about the party.

6. Pick your menu. Food is very important at any party so make time to think about your menu. I love menus that coordinate with the theme of the party even if it’s just the desserts. I would also take into consideration who your guests and the time of the party. If you have a lot of kids, make sure you have options for them. If you are having an outside party, make sure the food is “light” and can hold up in elements. Most important, make sure the food is YUMMY! Nothing says a great party than really good food! And don’t forget dessert!

7. Pick your entertainment. I’m old school when it comes to entertainment at parties. I feel, especially for young kids’ parties, that you don’t need much. Kids are entertained with a cardboard box so they don’t need a whole clown show at their party. Plus, I feel that it sometimes takes away from the socialization of the party which, to me, is the whole point of having a party anyway. Simple, fun games are super fun because they are interactive and don’t take up too much time. If you do decide you want entertainment, keep it short. A good time to have your entertainment come in would be after the food is served and before the cake is cut.

8. Plan your day. Take time to figure out your plan for the day of the party. You don’t want to have to figure out who is picking up Grandma the morning of so make sure you think about your plan for the day. One of my party planning mottos is to “do what you can today so you don’t have to do it tomorrow.” This motto has worked well for me both professionally and personally. Ideally, you want to be able to have as much as you can do so that the day of the party, you can just enjoy!

9. Take pictures! This might sound really simple but you will be surprised how challenging this could be once the party is underway (and you have an active toddler). I suggest that you take pictures as the beginning of the party before most of your guests arrive. This is especially important if you are planning on sending thank you cards with a photo from the party. The last thing you want is at the end of the party figure out that you never took a picture of your child with his/her grandparents from the party. Again, you be surprised how easy this can happen. A good tip is taking candid shots (especially when you have a toddler running around). I’m also a huge fan of candid pictures! Some of favorite pictures of my daughter are the ones when she is just running around and not being forced to pose so walk around the party and “capture the moments”.

10. Have fun and enjoy! I added this on here because you will be surprised how many times a party host (especially us mommies) forgets to have fun at their own parties! I get it! It’s so easy to do. You’re too busy making sure there is enough food and worrying about everyone else having fun that you forget to have fun yourself. So make sure you take time to enjoy your own party! Your child will only have their 1st birthday once so make sure you don’t miss it.

What are your best tips for throwing a great party? Please share!

I would love to hear from you!

Mini Meat Loaf

Prep Time 20 min
Total Time 30 min
Servings 6

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard (whatever mustard you have in your fridge will do)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 cup) (OPTIONAL)
1/2 cup ketchup, chili sauce or barbecue sauce

Directions
• Heat oven to 350°F.
• Mix all ingredients except ketchup. Spread mixture in greased 12-muffin tin. Spread ketchup over top.
• Insert meat thermometer so tip is in center of mini loaf. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until thermometer reads 160°F.

Favorite part of this recipe is that it has minimal cleanup and bakes in 30 minutes!
Feel free to let me know what you think of this recipe.
Enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken Nachos

Ingredients

1            tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 ¼        lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1            package (1 oz) taco seasoning mix

1            can (8 oz) tomato sauce

1            medium red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)  OPTIONAL

1            can (15 oz) black beans, drained, rinsed

1            can (7 oz) whole kernel sweet corn, drained

2            cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (8 oz)

Directions

  • In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in oil 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink in center.
  • Stir in taco seasoning mix, tomato sauce, bell pepper, beans, corn and 2 cups of the cheese.
  • Reduce heat to medium; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through and cheese is melted.

Serve with tortilla chips or rice. I also love to add a scoop of sour cream.

Buen provecho (“Enjoy your meal” in English)!

 

Sombrero Cookies

Ingredients:

  • Ready made sugar cookies (homemade or store bought)
  • Vanilla Frosting
  • Multi colored Sprinkles
  • Gum Drop Candies

Instruction

  • Pour the rainbow sprinkles on a plate.
  • Place frosting in a pipe bag. If you don’t have a pipe bag like me, I just placed the frosting in a zip lock bag and cut off a tip at the end of it.
  • Pipe a small amount of frosting on the edge of the cookie and then press the frosted cookie onto the rainbow sprinkles.
  • Pipe a small amount of frosting in the center of the cookie and then place one gumdrop candy in the center.
  • Place a few sprinkles around the gumdrop to cover any excess frosting.

That’s it! You have just made adorable and festive cookies!

First Birthday Fiesta!: A Mexican Themed Birthday Party

Party Details

I don’t know about you but 1st birthdays are huge where you end up having way more adults than kids. So for my daughter’s first birthday party, I wanted to do something that was not only fun for the kids but also for the adults. My husband and I searched high and low. Everything was either too expensive or too fancy. One day, I was in the mood for Mexican food so we went to a local Mexican restaurant. While eating my enchiladas, I got the idea to have the birthday party there. Lucky for me, the restaurant hosted private parties and for an extremely reasonable price. I was so excited and started planning right away.

The best part of hosting a party at a restaurant is that you save tons of money on décor and entertainment. I didn’t have to do much for decor because the restaurant already had gorgeous bright-colored Mexican tablecloths and paper flowers for centerpieces. Additionally, there was a beautiful exposed brick wall that was the perfect backdrop for the cake (and pictures!).

The restaurant also had their own music system, which provided a fun atmosphere throughout the entire party.

The first thing I did was purchase the invitations. I looked at the typical invitation sites but didn’t find anything I loved. So I went on http://www.etsy.com (Check out this amazing website if you haven’t already) and custom ordered the digital invitations. One of the benefits of getting digital invites is that you can print as many as you want and can use the images for something else (i.e. thank you cards). I actually was able to take the banner design from the invite and used it to make tags for the gift bags (see below).

Party Bags: I found great bright colored gift bags at Family Dollar. They were 2 for $1 and the colors matched perfectly! I personalized them by adding a favor tag with the banner image from the invites and added the words “Muchas gracias” (“Thank You” in Spanish to keep with the Mexican theme). I then tied the favor tags onto the bags with raffia ribbon that I found at the Dollar Tree. It was a great colorful addition to the party and the bags (including the treats inside) cost me less than $4 each.

Time saving tip: I can give you the free printable template for the favor tags. Just email me and I can send it to you!

Cake: I will admit that this is where I spent most of my budget. I figured we needed a fabulous cake to place in front of the fabulous exposed brick wall. So I worked with a local bakery and designed a Mexican themed birthday cake.

Money saving tip: Order a smaller cake for display (display cake) and then have a sheet cake in the back to cut for your guests. No one will know and you save tons of money!

Centerpieces: The restaurant provided me with some paper flowers but I needed more. So, instead of buying prepaid ones, which are super expensive, I decided to make them. I bought bright colored tissue from the Dollar Tree and actually ended up having my amazing aunt make the paper flowers for me as she has a real talent for it. I plan on providing you with step-by-step instructions on how to make these soon. They are extremely inexpensive to create and make for great décor to any party. I then purchased clear vases also from The Dollar Tree. I felt the centerpieces still needed more color so I purchased scrapbook paper from Michael’s and placed in on the inside of the vase and then placed the paper flowers inside. I was able to make 7 centerpieces for a total of $14! Can’t beat that!

Money saving tip: Scrapbook paper is an amazing décor party tool. Look for a post on all the ways that you can use scrapbook paper coming soon!

Sombrero Cookies: This is a great and very easy recipe that anyone (including non-bakers like me) can make. All you need are sugar cookies, vanilla frosting, rainbow sprinkles and gumdrop candy. I have the full recipe on my Food and Drink page.

Party Games: The restaurant provided me with the Pin the Tail on the Donkey game. So all I had to buy was the piñata, which I got at Party City. I was able to provide the kids with 2 fun games and it all cost me a total of $20! I also had an activity table with coloring books, crayons, stickers and puzzles that I purchased at The Dollar Tree for a total of $6!

All in all, it was a great 1st party that was enjoyed by both the kids and adults. I guess it didn’t hurt that there was delicious sangria and guacamole as part of the celebration…

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments!

I would love to hear from you!

Hello Fellow Mommies!

I’m Ananis! You’re probably thinking how the heck do you pronounce that? Think Ana-nephew; Ana-Niece! I’m so excited to invite you to join me in this new adventure! As a fairly new mom, I searched all over the Internet looking for a great mommy blog for inspiration and support. However, I never found one that was geared towards me so, with the help of my marketing guru husband; I decided to simply create my own! I will share with you what I’m most passionate about: being a mom, throwing great and (inexpensive) parties, discovering easy and delicious meals, organizing a home and giving you some tips, tricks and advice on what I’ve learned about being pregnant, breastfeeding and raising a toddler. As I’m not a fashionista or a fitness guru, you won’t find much fashion or exercise advice on here. You can thank me later!

So who the heck am I? Well, I’m a wife to an incredible and supportive husband and a mom to a beautiful, super silly and extremely energetic little girl. I love all things positive and PINK! I work full time as an events coordinator for a major hotel chain and now I’m a blogger! Planning events is my job so I wanted to share what I’ve learned. You can easily throw a fabulous party and not have to dip into the college fund. There are tons of websites out there for party inspiration but they are not for real moms like you and me.   Most of them just post these absolutely gorgeous pictures but don’t show you the step by step on how to actually execute them. Also, most of these gorgeous parties are actually done by professional planners. I don’t know about you but I’m not hiring a professional planner to throw my toddler’s birthday party. And now with my help, you definitely don’t have to.

Besides loving to throw parties, I love to cook. However, as a full time mommy, cooking must be easy and quick. I don’t have hours to prepare a 5 course meal especially on the weekdays. I found myself constantly cooking the same 5 meals because they were easy to make. Though my husband would never admit it, it got a bit boring after a while. There’s only so much chicken piccata you can eat. So I made it a point to search high and low for great easy recipes. I asked fellow moms, went online and dusted off my cookbooks that I eagerly registered for when I was a blissful bride. Hopefully, this will make your life a little easy when it’s 6pm and you have no idea what to make for dinner. Believe me, I’ve been there!

And I’ve left my favorite passion for last; organizing! I love it so much that I have contemplated being a home stager. However, I decided I would rather write about it than actually do it. So I will share with you how I’ve been able to keep my home as organized as it can be with a toddler running around. If I can do it, you can definitely do it especially now with all the fabulous (and inexpensive) storage solutions out there. Here’s to a clutter-free (or how I like to say “clutter-less”) home!

Now that I’ve told you a little about myself, I would love to hear about you! Please share your own advice, tips, tricks and stories with me. Also, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about anything I’ve talked about. I would absolutely love to hear from you!

Thanks so much!

Remember you are SIMPLY extraordinary!

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