Fun Ideas for Monsters Inc or Monsters U party!

As a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community, I’m super excited that they trusted me to share some sweet info about the new Monsters University themed toys and gear available at Walmart.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

Monsters University just hit U.S. theaters nearly 12 years after the original “Monsters, Inc.” theatrical debut… Have you seen it yet? I am craaaazy-excited to take the kids to see Monsters U this week! We are such big fans of the original Monsters Inc. movie – {I sometimes have a hard time finding cartoons with a really good message to them, but this one rocks} – so obviously as soon as I heard the news that there would be a new Monsters movie I was stoked. Then I read the review of Monsters University from Sippy Cup Mom, and got even more excited.

Fun party ideas for Monsters Inc or Monsters U party!
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Create a #RedCarpetReady Movie Night Party for the Oscars

Getting #RedCarpetReady for our Oscar viewing party…. Ok, by now you ladies know that I love any reason to have a party. I also love sparkles and glitter and glam. So – what more perfect excuse for a party than the biggest red carpet event of the year – the Oscars. Just like my Mister can stretch out a football game into a full day event, I can make a great awards show like the Oscars into a full-on party, all evening and into the night! Let me share some of the fun ideas I’m working on, so you can use some of them too.

Popcorn for movie night party [Read more…]

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How to Create a Cinderella Princess Party – #DisneyPrincessWMT

“Oh, that clock! Old killjoy. I hear you. ‘Come on, get up, you say, Time to start another day.’ Even he orders me around. Well, there’s one thing. They can’t order me to stop dreaming.” – Cinderella… I loved Cinderella as a little girl, but we only had it on an old VHS, so Abby hadn’t seen it yet. Which means that you know I was ALL over it when I heard that it was being released on BluRay, and started planning a fun party to get some of Abby’s friends over to watch it. If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you probably remember that a few months ago Abby had a seizure. It was the scariest thing that I’d ever been through in my entire life. Ever. Full-on Grand Mal seizure, and she wasn’t even two yet. They had hoped that it was just a febrile seizure – related to a fever. Well, I haven’t posted about it here yet, but I’ve talked to some of you on Facebook about it… She’s had more. We’ve been driving a few hours both ways to Seattle Children’s Hospital for appointments, since the doctors here in town aren’t sure what’s wrong. So – saying that life has been a little stressful is an understatement. And it also means that we were in definite need of some fun times. So momma got to work putting a Cinderella party together to help Abby shake things off and have a fun day!

Cinderella toys at Walmart

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Free Fisher Price Toys: How to Have a HouseParty

HouseParty.com – The budget hostesses best friend!… If you’ve never heard of House Party, you can read details here – How to host a House Party. The basics are just to sign up on their site, apply for parties you’re interested in, invite friends when you get approved, and party it up with your free party packs when they arrive. Totally simple, and totally awesome.

Fisher-Price Playdate House Party

Why House Party Rocks

Ok, as a long-time member of HouseParty.com, I admit – the parties aren’t always as good as they used to be. If I could offer the brands that sponsor parties a word of advice, it would be to choose fewer hosts, and send those hosts bigger packages – instead of trying to send very bare-bones packages to a huge amount of people. It makes the hosts more excited to get a generous package that they feel good about inviting friends over to share, it makes them more likely to build buzz for your brand, and it just gives a positive vibe to a TON of people who received a sweet package from you. The whole point is to get people talking about you, spreading the word about new products, and building some great buzz for your brand, so you want to make sure the packages you send make people excited enough to do that. And…. One brand who clearly TOTALLY understands this is Fisher-Price – Check out the package that they sent us this weekend:

Fisher Price New Fall Toys Free Houseparty

Fisher-Price Toddler House Party

Ok – this isn’t the greatest pic ever. We unloaded the GIANT box of free toys in the spare bedroom that’s still kind of a mess after my brother and the kids moved out – and it was getting late, which meant not a great amount of light. But neither Abby or I could wait until morning to check out this big ol’ package…. And ohmyHECK, we were not disappointed! Here’s what we received:

We still have one more shipment on the way, with all of the other goodie bag gear – Fisher Price coloring books, DVD’s, coupons, and more. So that if the kids find a new favorite while playing with this new fall line-up of fun toys, moms can save some bucks if they want to head out and purchase them too! Awesome, right?

Learn more about the upcoming Fisher Price House Parties by following #FisherPricePlaydate on Twitter – or check out @HousePartyFun for updates on upcoming parties you can apply for!

So – now that you know how awesome these packs from House Party can be – make sure to sign up for a free account today, to get updates on new parties to apply for over the holiday season. They have everything from food and wine, to basic household supplies like the new Kleenex hand towels – to totally fun party packs for holiday entertaining, like the Kmart Halloween party that’s open to applications now. So get signed up and apply to host some fun {and totally FREE!} parties today!

More Awesome Frugal Living Tips for Busy Moms:

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Football Party Food: Build a Snackadium with #SNICKERSMinis

“The reason women don’t play football is because eleven of them would never wear the same outfit in public.” –  Phyllis Diller… My home is a football home. I have some serious football lovers living here. Me? I have very little understanding of it all, but I like the food, I love having people over, and enjoy all of the excitement around it all. So in a way, I guess I love football too. I remember years ago, when Mike and I were first dating – His favorite team of all time, the Seahawks, made it to the Superbowl. Since we live just a couple of hours from Seattle, there was a LOT of excitement all over town for that game – it was a huge deal. Billboards all over town, stores were selling out of Seahawks gear, it was craziness. That was the first game I ever really watched – Mike explained how the game worked to me as it was played, and I finally “got” it. Alas, the Seahawks didn’t win {yes, I am a firm believer that those stinky ol’ Steelers stole the game. Sorry Steelers fans!} – but it did give me a much better appreciation for the game. These days, Mike manages his super-serious fantasy football team, we watch the games every week, and we love to have football parties. So that means I needed to come up with some creative new football party foods this year, since football season is in full swing now…

Snickers minis chocolate bagged candy

How to Build a Snackadium for Football Party Fun with #SNICKERSMinis

You might remember the Snackadium that I made last year, using chips and dips. I made that a couple of times for different parties, and it was a HUGE hit. So, I thought it might be fun to try to create a new Snackadium this year made out of sweets instead. My challenge was to find the new NFL bagged Snickers Minis at Walmart, and incorporate them into my dessert display. And I love a challenge! Here’s a list of what you’ll need to do this too:

  • Snickers bagged candy, the minis and the fun size bars.
  • Wilton white and milk chocolate candy melts, one bag each – and you’ll have lots left over for other projects too.
  • A bag of rod pretzels
  • Disposable aluminum baking pan {I forgot this, and had to use an old cookie sheet, which doesn’t look as clean and nice}
  • Fruit dip {or make your own, mix half marshmallow fluff with half cream cheese. So good!}
  • Caramel dip
  • Food coloring
  • Stadium fillers – I used 2 packages of filled sandwich cookies,1 big bag of apple slices, and the rest of the Snickers candy
  • One giant Rice Krispies Treat, cut into squares
  • Toothpicks

And, before you head out to Walmart to pick up all of these goodies, make sure to print out some of the new football party coupons – so you can get extra savings. {See my own Walmart search for NFL Snickers bagged candy on Google+.}  Because us busy mommas on a budget need all the help we can get, right? Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, you’re ready to get started on your Snackadium.

how to build a snackadium

How to Build a Snackadium

Ok, building a Snackadium takes a a bit of time, but it’s really pretty darn easy to do. First step is to gather all your supplies and Snickers candy. Now, let me walk you step by step through the basics:

  • Playing Field: I used a fruit dip tinted green with Wilton gel color to make the field, and caramel dip on each end to make the end zones. To help keep the edges even, I put down two little wooden BBQ skewers where I want the divide to be – as you can see in the second photo above. Then just take them out when you’re done, and smooth any little shmears.
  • Goal Posts: These look complicated, but are pretty much impossible to mess up, I promise. Take two Snickers fun size bars, and dig a little notch in one side of each one like the photo, so they fit snug around the pretzel rod. That’s your base. Break one pretzel rod in half, and another into smaller sections, to make the top of your goal posts. To put it all together, melt some milk chocolate candy melts – dip each piece in candy, stick ’em together, and arrange on wax paper to cool {once they harden, they’ll stick together sturdy.} My trick: I used a thin book {yep, that’s the Baby Brezza cookbook that Abby and I are in!} – Then I laid the pretzel goal post on it, with the bottom Snickers bars on the stovetop beneath, so the whole thing could lay flat. Worked great!
  • Stadium Walls: Cut your giant Rice Crispy Treat into rectangles – then stick them together with toothpicks, to make a retaining wall around your stadium.

Congrats – The hard part is behind you! You’ve made your football field, set up a wall around the perimeter {love using that word. Perimeter…} and you’re goal posts are cooling down. Let’s fill the stands, and set up the field. Ready? Go….

snickers snackadium

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.” –  Erma Bombeck

Filling the Snackadium is simple – just take whatever goodies you’ve got, and fill them inside of your Rice Crispy Treat “stadium” walls. This makes your crowd of fans – ready and eager to see the #SNICKERSMinis players enter the marshmallow dip playing field…. To make the players, you’ll just melt a couple of handful of white candy melts in a couple of different bowls, and add a different color of food coloring to each one. Dip the tops of the Snickers minis in the candy, let cool – and now you’ve got two opposing teams. Grab your cooled candy and pretzel goal posts – put one in each end zone, with the caramel dip keeping them in place. Then place your chocolate football players on the field, however you wanna set ’em up. Now it’s time to cheer – and let the games begin!

Snickers Snackadium

“If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” –  Vince Lombardi

Here it is – the Snickers Snackadium! Fun, right? When I make this to bring to parties, I’ll definitely be using the disposable aluminum pans, for a cleaner look. This was just kind of a test-drive, to see how this would all come together. I love it – and I’m sure it’ll be as popular as the chips and dips Snackadium of last year – if not more popular, because I mean, who doesn’t LOVE Snickers, right? Perfect football party snack. Love it!

How to build the Snickers Snackadium

Hope you have fun building your own Snackadium too!

You can find tons more ideas on building Snackadium creations online, there’s an actual site – Snackadium.com, totally devoted to it. There are some crazy-impressive ideas on there that make me feel like SUCH an underachiever, lol. And if enjoyed this little tutorial, I’d love for you to share it with a retweet or a pin!

If you decide to make your own Snackadium this fall, either the chips style, Snickers style, or something totally new – I would love, love, LOVE it if you’d come share pics on my Facebook wall! I might even feature them on my site – I love seeing the amazing creativity my readers have. You guys rock.

Snickers NFL bagged minis

Like Snickers on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @Snickers too!

{Disclaimer: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and SNICKERS® Brand #CBias #SocialFabric. All photos and Snackadium creativity here are 100% my own work.}

 

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Planning Tips for Hosting a Perfect Summer Party

There are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them… Who loves to party? You know that I sure do, right? I love any type of party – from a fancy wedding dinner party event, to a barefoot camp out on the beach. But my favorite parties happen right here in my home – with my best-est, most favorite-est friends and family. {Yes, I know I just made up a couple of words…. :)} We entertain here throughout the year, but summertime is my favorite, since we have a pretty awesome outdoor space. So if you’re ready to spice up your summer entertaining, keep reading for some of my fave tips for planning the perfect party:

summer entertaining tips

Looking for some ideas to spice up your summer parties, Rentals.com has entertaining tips and how-tos for entertaining at home!

The most important essential for hosting a successful summer party is planning! A great plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but you want to cover all of the bases – cleaning before and after, a theme, menu and drink choices, decorations, games, favors, and guests. So, here are some easy peasy tips to help you plan ahead for your own perfect party this summer:

  • Cleaning: We all know that this is a super important part of having guests over, right? Check out a great post on Step-by-Step Quick Cleaning Tips for your Rental Home – these also apply to home owners too. This includes a room-by-room break down on quickly getting your house ready for guests! And, to make clean-up after the party simple too, read my tips on making any party a one-bag party!
  • Theme: Any party is easier – and much more fun! – with a theme. Whether you go super simple and just pick a couple colors to tie things together, or get more elaborate with a theme like a Summer Luau party, a fun Football party during Superbowl, or  a family game night, a theme makes it much simpler to pick your menu, drinks, games, and other fun party stuff.
  • Food & Drink: If you need some inspiration for super cool party foods and unique drink ideas, check out my boards on Pinterest. You’ll find super fun creations to make for your next summer party – including great ideas for kids foods too.
  • Decorations, Games, & Favors: These are totally up to you… I personally love to make most of my decor and favors myself – with a little help from fun Dollar Store finds, and party packs from Oriental Trading Company. You can also use free printables for many of your party needs, from invitations to banners, to cupcake toppers. Love these.
  • Guests: As I mentioned in Neighbor-Friendly Entertaining Do’s & Don’ts, it’s super important to make sure you invite the kind of guests who will not only be respectful of your home, but also of your neighborhood too. If your guests leave empty bottles and cans along the sidewalk as they leave, your neighbors are going to consider that your mistake – and will rightly expect you to clean it up. Not a great way to make friends in your ‘hood, you know?

So, armed with these great tips, anyone can put together a great plan for their next summer party – or a party any other time of the year. One of my favorite sayings has always been, “Failing to plan is like planning to fail,” because it’s just so true. Yes, a party can be put together on the fly, and sometimes you get lucky. But even a last minute party can benefit from just a few quick minutes of planning – make a couple of lists, divide up the tasks between a few trusted helpers, and things should flow much more smoothly! 

The do's and don'ts of summer party hosting

“Like” Rentals.com on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @Rentals_com to get their latest tips on making the most of your home. When you’re ready for a new place to call home, Rentals.com has the information you’ll need to find the perfect property for your family – choose from rental houses, apartments, condos or townhouses. 

What are your best tips for planning a perfect summer party? Share ’em in the comments!

{Disclosure: Rentals.com and owner Consumer Source, Inc. partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in blogger programs.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products featured, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.The winner of this giveaway will be randomly chosen and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party. Photo Credit: Chronogram.}

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Neighbor-Friendly Entertaining Do’s & Don’ts

“I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.” – Nancie J. Carmody… As you know, I love to entertain. Especially during the summer months, since we have a pretty great outdoor space with the pool and patio here in our new house. But, while entertaining at home can be a blast, it also comes with quite a few challenges too! So, with a little inspiration from my good friends over at Rentals.com and Apartment Guide, I’ve put together a smart set of solutions for your next party – check ’em out:

neighbor-friendly entertaining tips

“Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbor’s noisy party than being there.” – Unknown

Even though our home is on a pretty big piece of land, we still have neighbors that are close enough to hear all of the good times happening out at the patio and pool. And if you’re living in a neighborhood where the houses are really close to each other, or even an apartment building or duplex, then you know that it’s NO fun listening to someone’s big party when you’re trying to sleep! So here are a few tips to solve that problem during the next party your throw at home:

  • Meet & Invite the Neighbors: This is especially important if you’ll be entertaining while living in an apartment – and it’s a great way to meet your neighbors if you’re new to the area. {Want tips on how to break the ice with new neighbors? Easy peasy ideas that really work.} So, DO head on over and introduce yourself, give them an invite to your upcoming party, and be sure to leave them your number if they won’t be able to make it – so that they can let you know if things get too noisy. When approached in a friendly way like this, most people are a lot more likely to overlook a little extra noise. DON’T just party away all night long and expect the neighbors to still love ya in the morning!
  • Plan Ahead: We’re lucky to have a big area out back for parking – but at my old house, we could only fit 3 cars in the driveway. That meant people had to park on the road, which sometimes would block my neighbors parking – which is NOT a good thing! So, if you have limited parking too, DO come up with a plan before the party, and make sure to communicate that to all of your guests. And, make sure that you plan your seating areas well – DON’T put a bunch of tables and chairs right next to your neighbors fence, where the talking and jokes may be loud enough for them to bothered by. Keep seating closer to your own home, and make sure to have areas to move inside when it gets late.
  • Mind the Music: Loud music is part of having a good time, I know. But, if you’re entertaining outdoors, please remember that other families nearby may not appreciate those sweet tunes you love so much when they’re keeping their toddler awake at 11pm. So, be fair to those around you, DO drop the volume after 10pm.
  • Know your Friends: Remember that your neighbors will see your guests as an extension of yourself – if they are outside being obnoxious until late hours, use a lot of profanity where children can hear it, leave empty cans or bottles in the yard or along the street – your neighbors are going to consider that your responsibility. So DO make sure that the buddies you invite over will be respectful of you, and your neighborhood, and DON’T invite that friend who always drinks too much and starts a fight.

With a little bit of extra care and planning, you can make sure that your next party isn’t just fun for you and your guests – you’ll also ensure that it’s a great experience for your neighbors too! Whether they decide to join you in the festivities, or are just pleasantly surprised by the care you take to keep things calm, cool, and under control when guests stay late – either way, you’ve definitely made some new friends in the neighborhood! And hey – maybe they’ll invite you to their next sweet party too, right? Good times.

do's and don'ts of summer party hosting

“Like” Rentals.com on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @Rentals_com to get their latest tips on making the most of your home. Rentals.com is the #1 online source for single family home rentals, apartments and houses for rent. You can also find tons more sweet tips for entertaining in a smaller space on the Rentals.com blog.

What is your best entertaining Do or Don’t tip? Share in the comments!

{Disclosure: Rentals.com and owner Consumer Source, Inc. partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in blogger programs.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products featured, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.The winner of this giveaway will be randomly chosen and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party.}

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