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Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

Party Etiquette for Kids

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Time to party! They’ve got the boys dress suit, or the girls dresses, the hair, and the shoes. No matter how cute they look, there’s one accessory every child needs to bring to a party – good behavior! Getting them to act like little adults can feel like a battle. As with any potential conflict, a little preparation goes a long way.

girls formal shoes

Put your dancing shoes on…it’s time to party!

1. Distraction

If it’s an event for mostly adults, ensuring good behavior can also mean keeping them entertained. Do they know other children at the event? If not, introduce them to some new friends as soon as you can, so that a round of duck-duck goose can get underway before the toasts begin.

2. Socializing 101

This is a time when their social skills will be tested, maybe for the first time. If it’s a party for another child, make sure you review concepts like sharing and taking turns before the celebrations begin. Do you have a rule for how you want them to address adults? Have you covered the importance of “Please” and “Thank you”? It’s a good rule of thumb to make your expectations clear before the event, and not during.

Practice shaking hands. The more formal interaction you rehearse, the more comfortable they’ll feel. If your child tends to avoid eye-contact with adults, or hides behind your leg when confronted with strangers, consider how their shyness may impact them during the event. If you have a party on the calendar, now is the time to start focusing on building their confidence.

3. Time-outs

Bad behavior could result from the well-known phenomenon of “too much birthday.” In over-stimulating environments, acting-out could be the result of stress. Don’t overreact to tantrums – take an understanding approach. Tell them you’ve noticed they’re having trouble remaining calm, and you’re here to help. Go for a walk outside, do some light exercise, and take deep breaths. Only return to the party once you’ve restored inner peace.

4. Get a good night’s snooze!

Just like adults, children perform the best when they’ve had a good night’s sleep. The day before the big event, make sure your baby sleeps like a baby.

5. Positive Reinforcement

Just as you would outside of a party, communicate to your children how proud you feel when they respond appropriately to unfamiliar situations.

While you emphasize the importance of good behavior, don’t create a stressful, pre-party environment. You’re both going to have fun, no matter what. And whatever outfit you pick for the occasion, remind your kids: They’re never fully dressed without a smile. Check out our girls formal clothing and boys formal clothing together and find a look you’ll both be excited about!

Spring Formal Events

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

As the Earth gets closer to the Sun in its annual revolution, Mom’s calendar fills to the brim with once-in-a-lifetime events. April showers bring May flowers – and a slew of weddings, anniversaries, and First Communions. You’ll be in and out of church so much you’ll wish they’d put in a revolving door. Stock up on all the boys suits and girls dresses your children will need to dazzle the relatives they “Haven’t seen since they were only THIS big!”

spring formal girls dresses

From the time they can walk (maybe even before!), your children have unique, undeniable personalities. They figure out pretty quickly how to make that known through their choice of dress. Does your daughter see herself as a pageant participant, 24/7? In the world of grown-up formal wear, you rarely see a full skirt outside of wedding gowns. Only at a young age can you get away with the classic princess look. Let your daughter take full advantage!

On the other hand, your little girl might want a look that resembles the favorite styles of her current role-models. But don’t let her get away with growing up too fast. Your junior fashionista can opt for a modern, geometric floral pattern or a dramatic gathered skirt. Even without poofs and crinoline, she can radiate her own brand of youthful joie de vivre.

Your son can get in on the pageant parade of a formal event as well. He may not get as many ribbons and curls, but with a bit of spit and polish he’ll shine like a new dime. Transitioning from the casual sandbox look to formal wear can feel confining, so make sure his suit can be quickly adjusted. In case he finds a formal jacket too restrictive, a vest will set him apart from the crowd of drab polo shirts, without making him feel he has limited use of his arms.

All too often, children look back with regret at the outfits their parents made them wear to formal events. A kilt? Poofy sleeves? Mom, what were you thinking? But you have good taste. So pass it on! During the year’s wedding season, all eyes will be on your bonny lads and lasses as they strut their stuff on the dance floor for the first time. Give them an outfit that will add to their nostalgia for their first whirl at the Macarena.

Planning A Superbowl Party

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Planning any party is a challenge, but a Superbowl party adds the additional element of television viewing.   This may be the most laid back party you will ever throw.   You have built in entertainment and the menu can be as easy as you want it to be.  This is the time to bring out all your favorite finger foods and not worry about counting calories.  Here are some tips for a successful gathering.

  • Have more than one viewing area.  Think out of the box and move tvs around if possible.  There is always one group of more serious watchers.  And then there are those who are in it for the commercials.  Consider using the garage as additional space (if you have time to clean it out!)
  • Borrow as many chairs as you have space for and set them up strategically around the house, including the back yard if you are expecting good weather.
  • Have something for the kids to do.  Consider a bounce house (again, if weather permits), coloring books, games.  The parents will take the lead if you have some toys around.  Don’t have any organized activities that will take parents away from watching the game, though.
  • The menu – keep it simple!  Outsource the main course if you can.  If you are cooking, make sure it’s a dish you can prepare in advance so you are able to enjoy your guests.  Set up a buffet area that has good flow so people don’t get crowded up.
  • Have a main appetizer table, but also sprinkle a few throughout the viewing areas.  Use plastic serving bowls for anything not on the main table.
  • Stock a variety of drinks including water, sodas, and sports drinks in addition to beer, wine, and mixers.
  • Be prepared for spills!  Have cleaning supplies handy so you are not scrambling when a spill inevitably happens.
  • Have enough plates, napkins, paper towels, and flatware ready.  Buy football themed items that are not specific to that year’s Superbowl so any items not used can be stored for next year.  Keep a tub of all football related serving items for future use.
  • Have disposable guest towels and a trash can available in all bathrooms in addition to your regular hand towels.
  • Have a pool prepared so your guests can have a friendly wager on the game.  You can make your own, print one on line, or purchase one (the store bought ones usually come with fun ribbons to give out!)

Appetizer ideas for game day:

  • Chips and dip, salsa, queso, and guacamole
  • Cheese, salami, and cracker tray
  • Crockpot meatballs
  • Chicken wings
  • Pigs in a blanket
  • Fruit platter
  • Veggies, pita chips, and hummus
  • Tortilla roll ups or pinwheels
  • Grilled shrimp or shrimp cocktail
  • Pizza squares or rolls
  • Deviled eggs
  • Snack mix

Main course:

  • Make your own sandwich bar
  • Make your own taco bar
  • Lasagna
  • Pizza
  • Chili

Meatloaf Muffins ~ Holiday Pot Luck Recipe

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Pot lucks are popular this time of year.  These “muffins” are a unique twist on meatloaf that makes them easy to bring to potlucks and holiday parties to share as an entree dish.


1-1.25 lbs ground turkey (or beef)
1 egg (or 1 tsp apple sauce*)
1 cup bread crumbs (plain or Italian)
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp Worchestershire
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients by hand in large bowl.  Fill muffin cups 1/2 full with mixture.  Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes or until top is crisp and brown.

*I use apple sauce to replace the egg due to my daughter’s egg allergy.  It is still delicious with this substitute!

Pot Luck Recipes ~ Pasta Salad

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Pot lucks are a very popular way of entertaining during the hot months of summer.  It  not only eases the burden on the hostess, but is a fun way for everyone to try different types of food and new recipes.  This is one of my favorites!

Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz bow tie pasta or tri-colored spirals, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 can hearts of palm, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 cucumber, sliced and seeded
  • grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced and seeded
  • 1 container mozzarella balls


  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dijon or spicy brown mustard
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • pepper, to taste

Combine all the items in a large serving bowl, toss with dressing, and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.  You can make this a main dish item by adding cooked chicken or shrimp!

Hosting A Summer Outdoor Party

Friday, July 9th, 2010

One of the best parts of summer is the nice weather which makes it possible to have outside parties.  I love entertaining and have found since having kids we do it a lot more informally.  But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a lot of work involved! Backyard parties are fun for adults and kids.  Being prepared is crucial, you don’t want to be running around looking for the wine opener after the guests arrive!


  • Wipe or hose down all patio and outdoor furniture including any toys the kids will be using.
  • Buy paper or plastic plates, utensils, and cups.
  • Buy plenty of ice.  Make sure you have drink ice and cooler ice.  Ice down sodas, beers, and juice.
  • Use plastic tablecloths for the food area.  Have tape or weights to keep it from blowing away.
  • Have blankets or towels  available for extra seating.
  • Have bottle openers and wine openers available.
  • Tidy up!  Make sure all important toys are safely tucked away.  Get that pile of mail out of the way.
  • Stock the guest bathroom with lots of toilet paper.
  • Have receptacles for trash AND recycling outside.
  • Have lots of paper towels on hand to clean up spills or dirty children.
  • Make sure there is a shady area for guests who are too hot or don’t want to sit in the sun.
  • Do not stage all the food and drink in one area, spread it around.
  • Block off all areas of the house or yard where you do not want people to be.
  • Contingency plan – you never know when the weather will turn on you!


  • Plan a menu that includes plenty of appetizers and snack foods.
  • Keep the main course simple with as much prepared ahead of time as possible.
  • If using the BBQ, make sure it is out of the way of the kids play area.
  • Have a dessert that does not require an additional plate (think cookies, brownies, rice krispy treats)
  • Lots of drinks including juice boxes, sodas, water,  lemonade, beer, and wine.  Make a fun punch or some sangria.


  • When guests enter, point them in the direction they should go or everyone will end up in the kitchen!
  • Offer drinks to the guests and point out the areas with kids drinks and adult drinks.
  • Be on the lookout for empty serving dishes and refill.  Find a friend to help with this.
  • Relax and talk to your guests, you don’t want to be busy the whole time and not enjoy the party!

And then there is the clean up.  Having the trash and recycling cans outside can help make this easier!

4th Of July Food

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Many of us will be going to parties this holiday weekend and most likely bringing a dish along.  I personally have been looking for some fun themed treats for our family potluck.  I have found that most are desserts or involve strawberries and blueberries!  Here are a few red, white, and blue recipes.  I am going to try making the pretzel sparklers this year!

Rice Krispy 4th of July Cut Outs – cute star shaped desserts
Summer Berry Trifle – with strawberries, blueberries, pudding, and ladyfingers
Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream Pie – ice cream and sorbet in a graham cracker crust
Wave Your Flag Cake – jello, cool whip and fruit (personal favorite!)
Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad – red, white, and blue skinned potatoes
Red, White, and Blueberry Skewers – strawberries, blueberries, and marshmallows
Pretzel Sparklers – pretzels dipped in chocolate and rolled in red, white, and blue sprinklers
Fruited Cheesecake Flag – individual squares combine to make a flag
Red, White, and Blue Strawberry Appetizer Recipe – with blueberries and yogurt or cream
Chocolate Covered Strawberries – use white chocolate and add blue and red food coloring

Have a happy holiday!

The Play List – Songs For All Ages Gatherings

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I love music.  I have all kinds of playlists on my IPod, but have a special mix for occasions where I know the attendees will span the generations (my family has four living generations).  When you get the entire family together the ages can range from infant to seniors and let’s face it, some of the music we like isn’t necessarily appropriate for this type of occasion. Try for a nice mix of oldies, classic rock, contemporary rock, and pop.  Get some great stripped down acoustic versions of those harder rock songs you like.  If there are children, remember to leave out anything with explicit lyrics or even adult themes.  You probably don’t want to explain to little Susy what a Golddigger is at your next family party!

Music for a party should be in the background so make sure the volume it set so your guests do not need to shout at each other to hear, at this includes grandma! There will always be time to rock out later. If you have a portable speaker, this can be a great way to shift the music if the party will move to another area.

Here is a list of a few songs that work for family parties, holidays, or any occasion with a wide variety of ages:

Jame s Taylor – Sweet Baby James
ColdPlay – Clocks
Billy Joel – New York State of Mind
Simon & Garfunkel – America
Time Of Your Life – Green Day
Van Morrison – Someone Like You
I Can See Clearly Now – Jimmy Cliff
Fly Me To The Moon – Frank Sinatra
Alanis Morissette – Head Over Feet
Better Than Ezra – Good
Eagles – Take It Easy
Elton John – Tiny Dancer
Sarah McLachlan – I Will Remember You
The Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday
Sting – When We Dance
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams
Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight
Elvis Presley – Don’t Be Cruel
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody
Norah Jones – Don’t Know Why
The Beach Boys – Surfin USA
The Beatles – Twist and Shout
Dave Matthews Bank – Crush
Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young – Southern Cross
REM – End Of The World
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – American Girl
The Who – My Generation
38 Special – Caught Up In You
Ben E King – Stand By Me
Big Bad Vodoo Daddy – Go Daddy O
Blues Traveler – Run Around
Bobby Day –  Rockin Robin
Boston – Amanda
Chuck Berry – Johnny B Good
Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World
Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
Joe Cocker – You Are So Beautiful
Jack Johnson – Flake
Goo Goo Dolls – Slide
Four Season – December 1963 (oh what a night)
Enya – Only Time
Drifters – Under the Boardwalk
Counting Crows – Mr. Jones
America – Sister Golden Hair

Mom’s Turkey Stuffing Recipe with Sausage and Apple

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Every Thanksgiving my family looks forward to homemade stuffing.  Here’s my mom’s famous recipe!


6 cups freshly crumbled french bread
1 pound pork sausage meat (without casing)
2 medium onions diced
1 cup celery diced
2 cups apples diced
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp thyme
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups turkey stock (or more)

Tear apart french bread into breadcrumbs.  Place on baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees in the oven.  Brown sausage meat and set aside.  Saute onions and celery in meat fat until soft, not brown.  In large mixing bowl combine bread, apples, sausage meat, onions, celery, slightly beaten eggs.  Add poultry seasoning.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Add melted butter and turkey stock to moisten as desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Add turkey juices as desired.  Or stuff in turkey and it can cook with the bird!

Kids and Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

It is important to involve children in Thanksgiving day.  With the cooking, cleaning, football watching, and adult conversation, children can sometimes get lost in the moment.  Here are some ideas of how to involve your children in the holiday which can make it more enjoyable for both you and the little ones.

Cook with the kids. There are lots of little things kids can do to help you get the meal ready.  Even if it doesn’t feel like a big help to you, it will help them feel invested in the meal and proud to have been a part of it.  Rinsing potatoes, stirring, tearing bread for stuffing, arranging the cheese and cracker tray, sweeping, and setting the table are all ways to get some help from your little ones.

Have activities for the kids. This may apply during prep time or the actual day.  Check out this site for Thanksgiving free printables, crafts, and games.  Find an area where the children can have enough space for their supplies (paper, crayons, markers, glue) and you wont get upset if it looks a little messy.  In my house we have an arts and crafts area in the garage.  You can even use some of the crafts they make  as decorations for the table. You can have older kids create place cards with each person’s name or you can dot the letters for a younger child to trace.

Seat the kids with the adults. A controversial one, I know.  But I really do enjoy having the kids seated with the adults during the meal.  We are one family and I like it to feel that way.  You can also avoid all those trips to the kids table to check up on them.  If space is an issue and you need to have a kids table, make it fun!  Line it with butcher paper so the kids can decorate the “tablecloth”.

Desert,coffee, and clean up help. The kids can help by asking each guest for their dessert preference and also who is need of after dinner coffee.  Younger children can assist by putting forks or spoons on the dessert plate and older children can serve.  Make a game out of clean up and see who can get the most items from the dining room table into the kitchen.

Traditions. Make sure your kids understand your family traditions and where they came from (if you know).  In our house growing up we always watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and my kids do as well.  What is your family tradition?


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