Must-Have Birthday Party Decor

With a few of the stress out of the way with my last post, it’s time for all the fun. It may be no surprise to my bee readers that March for me is all about my birthday and St. Patrick’s Day (only because it’s the day after), so that means eating cake, fun party plans and festive decor!  So, continuing on this birthday party train — here are a few finishing touches that are easy and essential for any party celebration and can really help pull in a thoughtful and personalized flair.
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Balloons. Ok, helium shortage aside — balloons are super fun and can be made affordable with the personalize helium tanks, and also make transporting and decorating easy and convenient to decorate in the party space! Bare minimum, having big gold numbers for the big milestone birthday is an absolute MUST. Ordering those off Amazon can also help save on cost and have the balloons shipped right to your door. Even adding a little bit of helium into balloons so they cover the ceiling with long pretty strings is also a simple yet bold look!

Polaroid Frame & Polaroids. This is another Dollar Store hack! If you grab their foam board, it’s conveniently the same rectangular size as a polaroid — so tracing and cutting out to make it a hand held photo prop is another fun way to make a memorable mark. You can even include a hashtag, date or event title on the bottom for all the pictures! Not feeling crafty? You can order customized ones from Etsy. If you have a polaroid camera, this is another fun way to capture memories and moments in front of a photo wall or all the faces who are helping celebrate!

Festive Centerpieces. As much as I love fresh flowers for parties and events, there are simple and cost effective ways to add a little party flair to dessert tables, centerpieces and food spreads.  Grabbing a bunch of party blowers from the Dollar Store and throwing them into small glass vases from the Dollar Store, is a fun and party festive way to add a little extra flair — and even more perfect if you’re throwing a surprise party!
PartyEssentials(1)Dessert. Whether it’s a fun party cake that represents the birthday bee’s personality and favorite flavors to a tee or custom sugar cookies with fun designs and year dates, having a variety of desserts, favorite snacks (like frosted animal crackers or chocolate covered pretzels) or just a super fancy cake, is a fun way to add another personalized touch while making the birthday bee extra happy. Don’t forget, left overs for breakfast!

A Signature Cocktail. A festive cocktail and even themed party cups is another easy finishing touch that can serve as a conversation starter and fun party favor! Whether the cocktail is a play on the number, or an ode to the birthday bee’s favorite beverage and mixer with a fun garnish, patterned paper straws or golden party umbrellas for a fun birthday beverage!

Simple Photo Collage. Creating a simple photo wall of the birthday bee can be the perfect way to celebrate the big milestone birthday and looking back at all the years before! Using a string and festive clothes pins can be a cute way to display all the pictures, also clipping onto your blind strings is another alternative that can help fill up a space without making away from streamers and other fun party decor!
PartyEssentials(3)Another easy way to help keep yourself on track and also having a cohesive look for your next birthday bash is picking a theme whether it’s a 90’s throwback theme, a color scheme, or a mood you want to invoke — this can help keep you in line for picking all these finishing touches and really make a statement!

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Bee’s Holiday Party Check List

It’s no secret around the bee life that I love planning and hosting parties! We’ve slowly started a tradition of hosting a Christmas Party each year, that started in our old apartment hosting a Christmas Ale themed shin-dig and has turned into a larger party now that we have a home to entertain in.
HolidayCheckList-beelifeblog(2)With hosting a Christmas party nearly 4-years in a row (last year we substituted B’s 30th surprise party in place of it) — I have a lot of the fundamentals down that are my go-to party planning check-list.

  1. Simple but inclusive menu. For our parties, I really like to stick with the basics and easy snackable items. Like a nice charcuterie board, pizza, peanuts, popcorn, and chips and dippy items. Also work to be conscious of dietary restrictions, since I’m an offender of that and have a few friends who are meatless.
  2. Don’t forget the booze. We always like to have a variety of beverages for our guests available, as everyone is always good about BYOBing. So we always have plenty of options and variety for everyone!
  3. Something Sweet. It is important to ALWAYS have dessert – especially something chocolatey. I love having m&ms around in little dishes and then other yummy treats like brownies, cookies and even a few Christmas cookies if I really get my butt in gear.  Let’s be honest — I’m going to be drinking champagne and eating desserts.
  4. Party Games. With our holiday party, I like to bring in some of my family traditions and games to our friends.  As we’ve had these parties over the years, games have been requested and even demanded and it’s fun to see these new tradition started.  We even do a white elephant ornament exchange!

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I’ll be a busy bee elf next week getting ready for the party, especially with Thanksgiving falling so late in the year — our house is not yet Christmased. So it will be fun getting everything set come December 1st for our party! Do you have any party planning hacks that you swear by? Do you stick to the same general game plan when you host parties or switch it up each time? Leave me a comment below, telling me your hacks!

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Create Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

One meal that is just as important and often shared with our loved ones is BRUNCH! We love brunch, and even more than going out to brunch, we love hosting brunch with friends and family.  From easy breakfast casseroles prepped the night before, to french toast and egg skillets – the only other thing you need is a yummy Bloody Mary to go alongside it! I have an easy way to make an awesome statement for your brunch-goer guests with an awesome Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar.
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What You’ll Need:
– Cube Cheese; Sharp Cheddar, Colby, Swiss – all your faves!
– Beef Sticks
– Celery & Carrot Sticks
– Pickles
– Thick Cut Bacon
– Stuffed Olives; 3x (garlic, blue cheese, feta)
– Horseradish Sauce/Hot Sauce – extra spice
– Bloody Mary Mix: Zing Zang
– Vodka!
– Extras: Sport peppers, whole banana peppers

For Serving:
– A round or square tray to hold all your toppings & keep you bar area contained
– Glass containers; I used 5-square votive holders (washed) and 4-taller sphere candle holders (washed) to hold the various toppings, you can find these at the dollar store!
– Write with a marker on the glassware to help distinguish cheeses, stuffed olives, etc.
– Fun Paper Straws, skewers & cocktail napkins!

Step-by-Step:
– Cook your bacon; this might be the item you’ll want to prep most ahead of time in order to make sure you account for that bake time appropriately in the oven, the goal here is for the bacon to be nice & stiff.
– If you don’t buy your cheese pre-cubed, you’ll want to cut up your various cheeses and separate into glassware and label accordingly – Next prep, wash, and cut your celery and carrots. For your celery it’s OK to keep the leaves on, it’s a fun garnish for your bloody! I also bought pre-cut beef sticks, so it was easier for platting.
– When your ready to create your Bloody masterpiece fill your pilsner glass with ice; add your shot of vodka, or more, fill the rest of your glass with your Bloody Mary mix! This is when you can add any additional hot sauces or horseradish to mix in.
– Garnish your bloody to your liking & last, but not least – cheers with your crew!
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I was inspired by one of our favorite brunch spots who has an impressive Bloody Mary Bar – the options are seriously endless of what you could have for garnishes for your bar, but the most important factor is knowing what your guests like and having enough of a variety!  This is a fun way for guests to create something they love with all their favorite toppings, in addition to a delicious brunch!

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5 Hosting Tips for Fall

It’s getting to one of my favorite times of the year – the time for holiday parties and plenty of opportunities for hosting friends and family.  Whether you’re planning an intimate sit down dinner or a more festive party, these five tips will help cover your bases, wow guests and have a fun night to remember!
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These tips will also help you relax as a host while still having those finishing touches and taking your party to the next level.

  1. Consider a Bulk Signature Cocktail. Signature cocktails can be fun, especially if it’s more of a seasonal drink for the fall and winter months.  As a host pro-tip, make these in bulk ahead of time in a pitcher or shaker – that way you won’t be stuck making everyone a drink as they come in.  Don’t forget the garnish and a fun cocktail napkin to top off the full effect!
  2. Make a Killer Charcuterie Board. This can serve as your focal point and will cover the bases on a variety of food categories from meats and cheeses, to breads, jams, nuts and fresh fruit that will make guests want to dive right in.  Check out Skinnytaste or Spend with Pennies on some tips to making a killer board.
  3. Don’t Forget the Dessert! It’s easy to get caught up figuring out the main dishes for the evening and overlook the best part, dessert!  This is something to keep simple whether it’s buying some more expensive chocolate bars, baking fresh chocolate chip cookies or asking friends to help bring this, so you can check it off the list!
  4. Plastic vs. Non-Plastic Plates. The great debate on which to use continues! I often shy away from plastic because I prefer the aesthetic look of plates – but depending on which type of party you’re hosting, one might make more sense than the other.  For example a more intimate dinner party or smaller guest count may call for plates to add that extra touch, but if you’re having a large party that is a bit more casual save yourself the end of the night clean-up and grab plastic bowls and plates!
  5. Create Welcoming Smells. This can be an easy victory – if you’ve been prepping food all day, your house might have a mixture of smells, so to clear it up light a few candles with similar scents throughout your home (don’t forget the bathroom!) or throw in some chocolate chip cookies right before guests arrive for a homey welcome.

If you’re looking for inspiration to host a fall party and ways to keep it simple read; 5 Reasons to Host a Fall Party.  And don’t forget to have fun and enjoy your own party, as the host it’s easy to get caught up in perfection and making sure everyone else is taken care of – but don’t forget to grab yourself a drink too!

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Image Sources:  Skinnytaste \ The Effortless Chic | Apartment 34

Winter Weekends – Parties

Christmas parties are in full swing as we are nearly 1-week from the big day! And after this past weekend, I am exhausted although super excited and ready for the Christmas holiday and break.

Thursday kicked-off the start of our holiday parties, starting with my first work holiday party with my new company! It was hosted at a new hip speakeasy, called Magnolia- it’s front is a doughnut and coffee shop, and it smells amazing! With the lights up, and elegant decor this club turned into a cozy and intimate party!

Saturday night, was party number 2 and we hosted! We had a house full of near and dear neighbors and friends.  The premise was to be a game night, mainly playing LRC and then my family’s card game, Pass The Trash all for some extra cash, but the games were a minimum, since everyone was busy chatting, catching up and laughing, snacking and sipping.

Christmas Ale and champagne were the drinks of choice! The ladies were shipping champagne to celebrate, one of my besties A, who got engaged on Friday – YAY!!! I also had my signature party favor – jello shots with pop-rocks. For food, our neighbors killed it with homemade popcorn and bourbon meatballs, along with your standard party snacks. We also did a white elephant ornament exchange which was rather tame but still funny, the highlight ornaments were a framed high-school photo of one of our neighbors, airplane bottles taped together with a hook, and a handmade wooden snowman!
winter-weekends-parties_2winter-weekends-parties_3winter-weekends-parties_4Come Sunday, we were both pretty spent and partied out. But now it’s just a few short days of work until a much needed, holiday break with family!

Cheers!

5 Reasons To Host a Fall Party

If you don’t have an upcoming fall party planned, I highly recommend getting something in the books whether it’s later this month or into early November. And if you’re not convinced why you should be hosting a fall party… or that it can be SUPER easy, let me tell you how. reasons-to-host-a-fall-partyBrunch & Football – Throwing together a football brunch can be really easy too, with a magic thing called breakfast casserole (recipe to come)! Most of the prep for a breakfast casserole is the night ahead, so all you have to do the morning of is throw it in the oven.  Have a TV with football? Boom, turn it on and grab some mimosas or bloody mary makings and your set for a day of drinking, friends and football – check out our brunch last fall.

Chili – I’ll be sharing my mom’s delicious chili recipe (that I’ve adopted overtime) on an upcoming post.  But as long as you have a killer recipe, a box or two of cornbread and a crockpot, all you need to do is throw the ingredients together in the morning and by mid-afternoon or by dinner time you’ll have a delicious, easy to serve, low mess and matience dish for your guests!  Have some friends bring some beers and dessert and you’ve got a low key night. Light some candles, start a fire and pull out some games and you’ve got a fun night ahead of you.

Pumpkin Beers – Literally craft a party around pumpkins beers (or harvest blends).  Have your guests bring a six pack or two, and let the tasting begin.  You could even create score cards and a rating system for everyone to weigh in.

Breweries or New Spots –  Don’t want to host something at your house? Plan a gathering at a local pub or a new brewery with your favorites.  Not only will there be no mess to clean up at the end of the night, but you’ll be able to try something new or enjoy a fan favorite.  Then end the night with a bonfire back at your house!

Pie Baking – Have a girls afternoon and bake some pies! Pop open some wine or rose, share some recipes and bake some yummy pies or fall favorites to work out the kinks for upcoming holiday celebrations!

The summer’s are always so busy so try and catch-up with friends now before the holiday craze starts up again! You don’t need to be too elaborate or overthink your upcoming fall party, it can be easy, low key and affordable!

Hosting an upcoming fall party? Share your pictures or hacks with me on twitter or instagram @mmariebee.