Easy Ways To Update Your Bathroom For The Big Game

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MegaGame #CollectiveBias

The big game is just around the corner and I’m so excited! Though my favorite team didn’t make it very far this year, I am still looking forward to watching the game in a couple weeks. It’s great to spend time with family while cheering the teams on throughout the game.

One fun way to celebrate the big game is to have a football watch party with family and friends. If you are hosting at your house I’m sure you’ve started preparing for it already- from buying the party decorations to cleaning. One area of the home that’s often overlooked when it comes to party planning is the bathroom. You probably clean it but do you do anything else?

This month I chose to do a few simple updates to add a bit of football spirit to our guest bathroom. The first, and most important addition, was making sure that we had enough toilet paper and that it was readily available to guests. The only thing worse than running out of toilet paper while you are a guest in someone’s home is not being able to find another roll after you run out. I like to keep toilet paper readily available so my guests aren’t put in that awkward situation!

I found a great deal on Quilted Northern Ultra Soft & Strong® Mega Rolls and Quilted Northern Ultra Plush® Mega Rolls at my local Target. Not only did I get a $5 Target gift card when I purchased two packs but there is also a Cartwheel offer for 10% off as well. I like the Quilted Northern Mega Rolls because they are 4 regular rolls in one which means they last longer so you can change the roll less often during the big game.

To store the extra toilet paper so it was accessible to my guests, I decorated a basket with ribbon and set it out on the bathroom counter. Your house will be full of people celebrating, and you want to keep your guest space perfect and put together. This basket will help you do that! It was easy to make and I’m including the simple instructions for you to put this DIY decorated basket together in just minutes!

Materials:

  • Basket big enough to fit at least a couple rolls of toilet paper
  • 1 or 2 ribbons in your choice of colors – you can choose your team’s colors, brown and green for a generic football theme, or even add a cute football ribbon if you have one
  • Glue dots or another adhesive that will hold the ribbon on the basket
  • Scissors to cut the ribbon

Directions:

Measure your ribbon to ensure it’s the length it needs to be to go around the top of your basket and then cut the ribbon

Put your glue dots or adhesive along the top of your basket, adding one dot/spot of adhesive about every inch

Carefully wrap your ribbon around the top of your basket, making sure that you are putting it on straight.

If you have two ribbons you will want to wrap your second ribbon around the basket under the top ribbon.

See how easy that was?! You can just add your toilet paper into the basket and you are all set. If you are using Quilted Northern Mega Rolls you may find that the spare toilet paper basket isn’t even touched throughout the party because they are fuller rolls which means less roll changes. Nobody wants their guest to experience a bath tissue run out but you can enjoy the game knowing that you are all stocked up on this essential.

A few other ways to decorate the bathroom include adding in a football themed hand towel, some football themed trinkets, and adding football shaped stickers to things like clear candles and the soap dispenser.

How would you update your bathroom for the big game? However you choose to do it, avoid a MEGA party fumble by stocking up on Quilted Northern Mega Rolls at Target (found in the bath tissue aisles) so there’s less roll changes which gives you more time to enjoy the game!

To find more Quilted Northern inspiration, check out the social hub here.

Cucumber Bites Christmas Tree Appetizer Tray

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayEntertaining #YogurtInspiration #CollectiveBias

One of my favorite ways to celebrate the Christmas holiday is to have my family over to spend time together. Christmas Eve is our big celebration at my house and I always have a table full of appetizers. I don’t just do parties a little bit. I go all out and make as many appetizers as I can. We then enjoy the leftovers as we lounge around on Christmas Day (because nobody really feels like cooking after all the work of the holidays has ended in ten minutes of unwrapping frenzy).

If you do any entertaining over the holidays you’ll want to make this fun Christmas tree shaped appetizer. I love cucumber bites but I decided to change them up a bit after having a gyro for lunch one day and wanted to make the topping for them taste somewhat like the tzatziki sauce I love. To do so, I added dill and feta cheese in to try to recreate the flavor. You could always add in some ranch mix instead of the dill and feta cheese if you’d rather.

Since I was making this recipe for the first time it was a bit of trial and error trying to get the thickness right. The texture of the creamy mixture on top should be similar to the texture of frosting. You don’t want it to be thin and runny. I think I nailed it after making a couple of adjustments.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Dannon All Natural Plain Yogurt
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of feta cheese
  • 4 sprigs of dill
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • Brick of cheese (optional for star on tree)
  • Crackers (optional for trunk of tree)

To start you will want to add your yogurt, cream cheese, feta cheese, dill, garlic and lemon juice into the cup of your food processor and blend until you have a thick, creamy consistency.

Once you have your topping you’ll want to cut your cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. Before cutting your cucumbers you can use a vegetable peel to take the skin off or you can leave it on. Cucumbers should be sliced about an inch thick and cherry tomatoes should be cut in half. Set aside the tomatoes and place the cucumber slices on your tray to look like a Christmas tree. You may need more than one platter if you have smaller sized trays.

To top the cucumbers I put the cream filling in a frosting decorator tube with a frosting tip but a piping bag works just as well. If you don’t have either of those you can always use a plastic sandwich sized bag and just cut one of the corners off to squeeze the topping through. I liked how fancy they looked with the special tip and I wanted to get some use out of the frosting decorator that I had discovered as I was cleaning out my pantry this week.

Once the cream mixture is on the cucumbers you’ll want to top each one with a piece of tomato.

The last step is to add the “trunk” of the tree and the star. Both are optional but I thought they really made things look festive. To make the trunk of the tree I stacked crackers on the tray and for the star I used a cookie cutter to cut a star out of a brick of cheese.

I love how my Christmas “tree” turned out and I know my guests will love eating these appetizer bites.

As I shared a couple weeks ago, I love using Dannon All Natural Plain Yogurt in my recipes because it’s made with only natural ingredients. While it can be enjoyed on it’s own, I often use it as a cooking substitute in recipes. Many recipes for these cucumber bites use other ingredients like sour cream or mayo but I chose to make mine with yogurt to make it a bit healthier. Yogurt is also a great base for any dips you may be making this holiday season!

 

You can find Dannon brand yogurt at your local Meijer store.

Will you be entertaining in your home over the next few weeks? If so, what kind of appetizers do you set out for your guests?

Concession Stand Themed Football Party

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This post is written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. All opinions are entirely my own. This shop has been compensated by Acorn Influence, Inc. and its advertiser. #ClubTysonFFL

You all know that I love football parties so I’m really excited to share about an easy one I put together recently. This party comes together in about 30 to 45 minutes from start to finish so it’s perfect for those last minute party guests! I decided to go with a red and white colored concession stand theme and serve mostly foods that could be found at a concession stand.

For food, I served hot dogs, chips, chicken wings, popcorn and soft pretzels. I love “heat & eat” foods because they make life easy!

Tyson® Boneless Wyngz and Ball Park® Franks are ready within minutes so they let me spend less time in the kitchen and more time actually watching the football game with my friends and family.

I found both products, along with all the other food, at Sam’s Club so I saved money on everything, too!

To drink I had cola and water. I also made some chocolate covered strawberries for a sweet treat. I used icing to draw white “laces” on the strawberries so they’d look like footballs.

What are your favorite simple football party foods to serve?

Football Party With A Baked Potato Bar

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AD #Tailgreatness #CollectiveBias

Football season is one of my favorite times of year and it’s a great excuse to get together with friends and family. This year I wanted to plan a party with a baked potato bar because I love party foods that let me enjoy the company and the football game instead of being stuck in the kitchen for hours. Along with the baked potato bar I’m sharing three of my favorite loaded baked potato recipes and information about Nexium® 24HR which provides all-day, all-night protection from frequent heartburn so I can enjoy my favorite baked potato toppings (even the spicy ones!) all season long. Of course, my love of themed parties means I have to share all the party decorating details and three easy, but delicious, dessert ideas!

DECOR

Walmart has a plethora of football tableware and decorations and I chose to do some quick DIY projects as well. I made a colorful banner that says “Go Team” using some green paper and letter cutouts which I hung from string using cute little clothespins.

Silverware holders can be created out of mason jars with a piece of ribbon wrapped around the top and football shaped confetti at the bottom of the jar. I also made labels for all of the bowls on the table from little wood place settings by adding a football sticker and writing the names of the food on them. BAKED POTATO BAR

I love a good baked potato with the typical butter, cheese, sour cream and bacon toppings but there are so many other delicious toppings out there, too. I set out a variety of choices that would appeal to a number of diets, from vegetarian to meat lovers.

I also included options for every palate- from mild to spicy. I bought condiment bottles so I could offer a variety of sauces including hot sauce, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing and buffalo sauce.



Speaking of spicy…do you avoid spicy foods because they give you heartburn? I used to avoid a number of heartburn inducing foods, knowing that as soon as I laid down I’d be regretting my dinner choices, but now I don’t have to anymore! Just one pill a day and you can get all-day, all-night protection from frequent heartburn with Nexium® 24HR* (*Use as directed. *May take 1-4 days for full effect.)

So now that you aren’t worried about heartburn, I wanted to share three of my favorite baked potato topping combos.

Buffalo Chicken Baked Potato Ingredients:

  • Baked Potato
  • Chicken
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Blue Cheese Dressing
  • Blue Cheese

Mix your chicken and buffalo sauce together. The more sauce you use the wetter and tangier the potato will be. Once done, cut your potato open and add in the chicken and blue cheese then drizzle with more buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing.

BBQ Pork Baked Potato Ingredients

  • Baked Potato
  • BBQ Pulled Pork
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Fried Onions

This baked potato is really easy to make! Slice the baked potato and then put the pulled pork inside. Sprinkle cheese on top and fried onions and then drizzle barbecue sauce on top of your baked potato.

Chili & Cheese Baked Potato Ingredients:

  • Baked Potato
  • Chili
  • Shredded Cheese (or Cheese Sauce)
  • Corn Chips
  • Green Onions
  • Sour Cream

If your fall go-to meal is chili you’ll love this chili topped baked potato. Just add your favorite chili and top it with shredded cheese, green onions, sour cream and corn chips.

SNACKS, DESSERTS & DRINKS

No party is complete without appetizers and desserts! I found cute popcorn containers that had a football design and put popcorn, corn chips and tortilla chips in them. I also used a football serving dish for the dips and set out salsa, cheese sauce and guacamole.

For dessert I made a few different treats with store bought bakery items. To keep with the football theme I used a football shaped cookie cutter to cut football shapes out of brownies and then I used white icing to draw “laces” on them.

I used the excess brownie pieces to make trifles by layering brownies, chocolate pudding and whipped cream in cups and then topping them with green hard candy sprinkles. Since my kids love cupcakes I got some of those and put them in football cupcake wrappers and added brown and green chocolate candies to the top of them.

To drink I offered two options- water and root beer. I tied a festive straw on to the bottles with football themed ribbon.

So now that you are prepared for a football party with decorations and food, don’t forget to take Nexium® 24HR daily for all-day, all-night protection from frequent heartburn so you can enjoy the party and all the football fun!

Nexium® 24HR is the #1 Choice of Doctors and Pharmacists* for their own frequent heartburn. (*Among PCPs and Pharmacists who use a branded OTC PPI) You can find 42 count packages of tablets or capsules at your local Walmart store by the other over the counter medications. Each box has 3 smaller bottles inside with 14 days worth of capsules/tablets.

What foods would you serve at your football party? Whatever you choose, don’t get sidelined by frequent heartburn! Make sure to get ready for tailgreatness and take your Nexium® 24HR daily to ensure you can enjoy all of your favorite party foods.

*May take 1 to 4 days for full effect. Use as directed.

Angry Birds Movie Night Party Ideas

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #AngryForSavings #CollectiveBias

Our family loves having movie and game nights as often as we can. We enjoy spending time together and I enjoy planning fun evenings. Our family night is always the highlight of our week. With the Walmart Family Mobile Plus plan we get a free VUDU movie rental ($7 value) each month which is awesome and something that makes our movie nights so much better because it gives us the opportunity to choose from more movies.

This past week we had an Angry Birds themed party. My little Angry Birds fans were so excited to watch this movie!

To start our Angry Birds party we played a couple games that we had in our game cabinet. We played a round of our Angry Birds card game and had fun trying to roll the right bird to knock out the pigs.

I had also pulled out our Angry Birds Telepods set we had received a few years ago. We hadn’t played it in a while so I used our new Coolpad Catalyst phone and the data from our plan to download the game from the app store.

I like the interactive nature of the game and how the toys can be played without the app as well. We used blocks to set up towers and then “launched” the Angry Bird character toys to try to knock the pigs off the blocks.

Since we still had a bit of time before the movie, we made a fun Angry Birds craft. We used craft pompoms and added googly eyes and construction paper beaks to make our own pompom Angry Birds. Though they didn’t look too much like the birds they were supposed to be, the boys had fun creating them and that’s all that counts, right?

Of course no movie night party is complete without something to eat and drink! First, we set up the table area and decorated it in colors of the Angry Birds characters- red, yellow, black and green (I had to look them up on my phone because I couldn’t remember what colors the main characters were lol). I covered a trifold board with streamers for the backdrop, used a green tablecloth on the table, and then set out plates, cups and silverware. To add more “themed” fun to the table, the boys and I added bird faces to some of the cups, put a few of the small Angry Birds character figures on blocks and also spread some feathers out on the table.

I served red fruit punch for the kids and fizzy lemon lime soda with colored ice cubes for the adults. To make the colored ice cubes I just put a couple drops of food coloring in with the soda in the ice cube trays and froze them. It was a fun, fizzy surprise when they were added to our lemon lime soda!

Food wise, I wanted to keep things simple so I chose to stick to finger foods and treats. For healthy choices I put together fruit and vegetable trays using black, red, yellow and green fruits and veggies.

I made the fruit tray with strawberries, green grapes, blackberries and pineapple and the vegetable tray with mini tomatoes, yellow peppers, black olives and cucumbers.

To make the cucumbers into “pig snouts” I sliced the cucumber and used a straw to poke two holes in the middle of the round slices. I think they turned out so cute and it was a fun addition to the vegetable tray.

Sticking with the “bird” theme of the day (and because I have been craving deviled eggs lately) we made “red bird” eggs for our party. Sinisa used the new phone and it’s data plan to look up a recipe online that he could follow and we then used food coloring to make the inside filling red, just like Luke’s favorite Angry Bird. The eggs were set on a plate of black feathers that we had laid a piece of saran wrap over. (While I loved them, I realized after watching the movie that “eating” eggs was probably not the right thing to do for an Angry Birds themed party lol. You’ll understand why when you watch the movie.)

For treats I made cupcakes, popcorn with red chocolate drizzle and candy sprinkles and chocolate covered pretzels.

The final touch was little glass jars filled with “bird food” (aka gummy worms) and “bird poop” (aka chocolate candies).

I love that the Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan offers Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data which includes up to 10GB of 4G LTE plus a free movie on VUDU every month ($7 value) per line for $49.88.* We love cuddling while we watch movies every week and this plan saves us money so we can watch even more movies!

New customers will also need to purchase the starter kit. You can start service on ANY plan today for $19.88 which is awesome! The phones are a great value as well. We bought our Coolpad Catalyst for only $59.88. (*Pricing Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/4q-u1 or your local Walmart for current pricing.)

Walmart Family Mobile also has some fun in-store events going on. While shopping, look for the Angry Birds display. You can scan the Angry Birds code on the displays to unlock a selfie augmented reality experience with the Hatchlings (who are absolutely adorable by the way). You can also visit the hub to find an in-store event near you to meet with a Walmart Family Mobile rep. The event will have a code that you can scan to receive a free power up for the Endless Runner Game on the Angry Birds Action! app.

What will you do with the unlimited data? Maybe look up a recipe, download a fun game app, watch a movie trailer, upload pictures of your family fun night or find out who sings that song on the movie soundtrack? Whatever you choose to do you will appreciate the Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Plan and all the value and data that it offers your family!

Memorial Day Party Ideas

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DipintoMeze #CollectiveBias

This coming Monday is Memorial Day. It’s both a day to remember those who gave their lives in service for our country and the unofficial start of Summer for many. I couldn’t be more excited to start my favorite season and it’s definitely a reason to celebrate with those we love.

Normally I have advance notice when people are coming over but have you ever decided to host something at the last minute or had your inlaws call and let you know they were on their way over? If you have ever been in this situation you know how stressful it can be so I wanted to share my simple tips for preparing a table that looks like you planned for company. A table, like the one above, can be completely ready and setup within an hour if you use what you have on hand.

First, try to find some festive decor. Since Memorial Day is celebrated with red, white and blue you can easily pull out your 4th of July decorations and nobody will know the difference. I keep baskets on the top shelf of my kitchen pantry for the major holidays and tend to buy tableware on clearance after the holiday has passed. This helps me save money and be prepared for company. I love this star tablecloth and these little flag bowls. Think outside the box as well…do you have something around your house that works for the holiday or theme? I used these child flag pinwheels to add a pop of fun to the table!

Next, don’t worry about fixing a meal. I enjoy having people over for holidays but don’t like to cook so I usually do an appetizer spread. It is easy and can fill people up just like a meal would. It also gives you the chance to spend time with your family and friends since you don’t have to be sitting in the kitchen cooking.

The best appetizer tables are those that are kept simple. For Winter holidays I set out more appetizers that need to be cooked or prepared but for Spring and Summer anything that keeps the stove off is best. I love to set out fresh fruit, including watermelon which is a summer staple. Look in your pantry or fridge to see what other snacks you have and set them out in festive cups for your guests. Things like pretzels, pickles, chips, cheese and crackers work perfect.

I always try to have something sweet out as well. I found these adorable mini cake bites at Walmart but some sliced pound cake would also work and would pair well with the sliced strawberries.

A vegetable tray with lots of healthy veggies and a great dip is something my mom always set out for parties and a tradition I continue. My rule for the vegetable platter is to only include veggies my family enjoys so if there are any leftover I know they will get eaten with lunches and dinners. A good dip is always a nice addition to the veggie tray and I recently discovered these new Chobani Mezé™ Dips that are delicious.

These dips combine delicious Chobani Greek Yogurt and real vegetables and are made with only natural and non-GMO ingredients. Found in the deli section of Walmart, they come in four flavors- Roasted Red Pepper (a sweet and slightly hot, mix of roasted peppers), Three Pepper Salsa (a light blend of green peppers, chili peppers & jalapeno peppers with herbs), Smoked Onion Parmesan (a rich mix that combines bold onion flavor with nutty parmesan) and Chili Lime (a tangy blend of lime and light spice, with ranch-style herbs).

As someone who loves cheese it’s no surprise that my favorite flavor was the Smoked Onion Parmesan. Sinisa liked the kick of the Chili Lime flavor.

Another fun way to add a little something special is to find a cookie cutter that works with the holiday you are celebrating and add some shapes to your fruits and vegetables. This is a quick way to make things look “fancy” when you have limited time. I thought stars would be perfect for Memorial Day so I grabbed some star cookie cutters and cut out some stars in the strawberries, cucumbers and cheese.

It was so simple to do. For the cucumbers I just sliced them into round circles and cut a star out of the center where the seeds are. I served the cute star cucumbers and kept the seed stars to put on my salads for the week. I created the stars in the strawberries the same way. The cheese I used a large star cookie cutter and then cut a smaller star out of the middle which left me with two types of stars, an outline star and then a mini-star. I also decided to cut out a few stars from my red pepper to set on top of the dip for decoration. This is so easy but your guests will think you spent hours in the kitchen!

I’d love to hear what your family does on Memorial Day and I hope that my post gave you some ideas of simple ways to set a party table for those last minute guests. If you want to recreate our tablespread you can find all the delicious food you need at Walmart, including the amazing Chobani Mezé Dips  (we got our’s at the Hodgkins, IL location in the deli area)! Your guests won’t be able to stop talking about these savory dips and they won’t even realize that you’re serving them a nutritious option. Click here for a $1 off coupon.

Last Minute Halloween Party Ideas

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I love planning elaborate parties but sometimes I just don’t have the time to do so. This season has been a perfect example with football, work, personal events and travel taking up so much of my time. I wanted to have a little Halloween party for the kids and decided it was just going to be a low key event this year. A couple weekends ago, in between Jacob’s noon football game and the boy’s Awana program at night, I ran to the store and and bought everything we needed and then hosted a spooktacular, kid-friendly party on a budget. A huge thanks to Meijer for making all of this possible.

The first thing I typically do for parties is dress my kids up for the theme so when I came across these Halloween shirts I just had to get each of the kids one. I love the designs that Meijer had this year. How cute is that little owl my niece is wearing?!

For the decorations I put a Halloween tablecloth down, added some pumpkin plates and napkins, a pumpkin bowl and orange dishes for the snacks. Instead of buying themed cups I figured it would be cheaper and provide an extra activity for the kids if I had them decorate their own cups. I bought clear plastic cups and a $1 sticker book and let the kids personalize their cups.

After decorating the cups we played a couple indoor games. The favorite one was pin the mouth on the skeleton. Even my mom got in on the fun! I found this game in the Halloween aisles and it was easy to grab and setup quickly.

 

We did a couple other activities, including playing with the jumping spider party favors I’d bought and decorating wooden Halloween pieces with markers and glitter to take home. These kept the kids busy while we were heating up dinner.

The kids worked up an appetite after all that fun so it was time for dinner. I kept it simple with fried chicken from the deli, baked beans, potato salad and carrots (to keep with the orange theme). After dinner it was dessert. We had pumpkin shaped cookies, candy corn and gummy worms.

Once we ate it was time to get dressed up in our Halloween costumes. Meijer had sent us some costumes for the kids to wear at the party. The kids liked getting dressed up.

After the kids were in their costumes we went outside and played ring toss with witches hats. The kids liked this game a lot and it was nice to get outside a bit to burn off the sugar rush from dessert. I wrote a post last week about fun Halloween games if you are looking for more ideas.

When we came inside it was time to start wrapping up the party and getting ready to head to Awana. I pulled out the bowl full of candy and let each child fill up a goody bag with treats. They each got a noisemaker and the spider toy to take home, too.

Overall, this party was so easy to put together. It only took me about an hour to prepare for and setup (and that included shopping time!). The kids all had a great time and I loved knowing that no matter how busy I am, I could provide an afternoon of Halloween fun for them. Seriously, look at how much these kids enjoyed this party…doesn’t it make you want to throw one of your own??

If you loved this party please pin it! :)

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Tailgating With McDonald’s

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(Disclosure: My tailgating party was sponsored by McDonald’s, an official sponsor of the NFL.)

I am so happy that football is back! There is little I enjoy more than spending time with family while watching the Bears (and now my oldest son!) play. It’s a Fall ritual!

Last weekend both my son and my nephew had football games on Sunday morning so we were getting together with family after their games. Twelve o’clock kickoff times aren’t the easiest to get ready for because being gone in the morning, for Church or youth football, means a rush to get some food ready once we get home.

We got to my mom’s house right before the Bears kicked off. Instead of cooking, we tried something new last week and picked up McDonald’s. This way everyone could get what they wanted and it was as simple as running to McDonald’s and picking it up. No cooking involved!

One thing I did add to the list of everyone’s food order was a box of cookies. Did you know that McDonald’s sold their delicious chocolate chip cookies by the box!? I didn’t! I regret only buying one box because, with a group, 2 or 3 boxes (at least!) is a must.

I kept the decorations simple. Just a football tablecloth, a few hanging decorations and a cute centerpiece that held the cookies was all we needed. We had football napkins as well, but no dirty plates or cups to wash. It was a really easy get-together to plan for and both setup and cleanup were easy-peasy.

Since not all of the kids were interested in the football game we made sure to have plenty to keep them busy. Along with playing with some toys upstairs, they played a couple games and spent some time crafting (more on that coming soon!).

They also loved playing with their football figures and Littlest Pet Shop animals that came in their Happy Meals. Overall, it was a great afternoon of football, food and fun.

We can’t wait for the next Bears game and will definitely be tailgating with McDonald’s again!

Want to join in on the fun? Learn about the ways you can earn weekly prizes and enter for a chance to win the ULTIMATE tailgate at mcdtailgate.com.

Our Big Game Celebration With Gold Emblem Snacks

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Football and food are two of my favorite things so when CVS/pharmacy contacted me about sponsoring my next football party I was so excited. Even though my favorite team didn’t make it all the way I was still looking forward to the big game last weekend.

CVS/pharmacy sent me an assortment of products from their exclusive Gold Emblem collection including a variety of nuts and other snacks, cookies, and juices. The morning of the party I went shopping to get the rest of the food, tableware and the decorations. Since I was short on time I decided to keep everything simple and I think everything turned out pretty good.

I am a huge fan of “themed” parties so everything except for a few bowls was football themed. I even had a special centerpiece- a signed Walter Payton football {thanks to my brother for letting me borrow it}!

Check out my little helpers above! We had to represent and wear our Bears football gear! I didn’t really have a favorite team to win until I heard Derrick Coleman’s inspiring story {about being deaf} the week before the game and then started rooting for the Seattle Seahawks to win.

I used little snack cups to display all of the nuts, the trail mix, the popcorn, and the pretzels that CVS/pharmacy had sent me. These snacks were a huge hit with the kids, especially my niece.

Cheese and cracker trays are popular at parties. I decided to try a new type of cheese with white cheddar and chipotle peppers and it was really good.

Spinach dip is healthy because it has spinach in it right? ;) We love to eat ours’ with Hawaiian bread.

We had chips and dip and tortilla chips and dip. I love the taco dip my mom made. It’s a layered dip but she makes it without the refried beans. {Thankfully there was a whole dish full of it on the counter…otherwise what you see in the picture above would have been all mine.}

After eating appetizers the kids played games with their Nana and my sister in law. I was busy watching the game and being disappointed in the commercials. For dinner we had pizza and chicken wings.

 After dinner it was dessert time! There were cupcakes and two types of Gold Emblem branded cookies. After more football it was time to say goodbye and my guests received goodie bags from CVS/Pharmacy.

We had such a fun time and I enjoyed tasting all of the delicious Gold Emblem snacks. My favorites are the Natural Pistachios, Milk Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels and the Cranberry Nut Trail Mix. The line has over 250 products so there is something for everyone, from savory to sweet.

What foods do you like to have at your sports parties?

How to Throw a Home Canning Party‏

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Summer’s last juicy pickings are still available and fall’s hearty harvest is on the horizon. Stumped about what to do with all this abundant produce?

Thanks to Country Woman magazine, you can now celebrate this bounty and enjoy it year-round by throwing your own Home Canning Party! Preserving is all the rage today and it’s something that you can do in the comfort of your own home. So go beyond that same-old cocktail soiree, grab some good friends and follow this simple advice:

  • Pick out your produce and canning recipes. When you combine prep work and processing time, a canning recipe can take an hour or more to complete. Limit your party to three canning recipes. Plan to make a full batch, but don’t double it. Altering a recipe’s quantities and times may affect the quality and safety of the final product.
  • Gather your tools. Have these basics on hand (or assign guests to bring them): jars, lids and rings; heavy-bottomed cooking pots; a roomy stockpot to use as a water-bath canner; sharp knives and a grater; stirring spoons and ladles; measuring cups and spoons; jar grabbers; a funnel; clean towels; and hot pads.
  • Send invitations. Mail invitations to guests about three weeks ahead. Include how much and what type of produce, other ingredients or canning supplies to bring. Also tuck in the recipes you’ll use as a preview.
  • Plan some snacks. Give home canning party guests something to nibble and sip. Incorporate fruits you’ll be using into beverages, and pick up breads, meats and cheeses to serve.
  • Set up stations. Clear off counters and tabletops to make ample room for work stations to sanitize equipment, prep produce, fill jars and seal, boil and cool your finished batch. Assign guests to each station and have only one canning recipe going at a time.
  • Jam out! Karaoke with your canning? Sure! Stir some of these tunes into a party playlist: Cherry, Cherry (Neil Diamond), Blueberry Hill (Chubby Checker), I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Marvin Gaye) and Strawberry Fields Forever (The Beatles).
  • Label your labors. “Mystery jars” collect dust in the pantry, so clearly label your goods with contents and canning date. With printed labels, pens, decorative ribbons and fabric on hand, guests can create personalized wrappings for cooled jars.

For more on how to plan your next home canning get-together, visit Country Woman Magazine.

(Disclosure: Post and text-free image courtesy of Country Woman magazine. I was not compensating for posting this but I am sharing because I loved the idea.)

Buzz Lightyear {Glow-In-The-Dark} Themed Party

buzz collage

(Disclosure: Compensation and products for review were provided by Glidden via MomTrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Glidden.)

After spending a month or so redecorating the boys room, we were really excited to host a small party and show it off. Since the theme of the room was Buzz Lightyear and we had used the Glidden glow-in-the-dark paint I wanted to have a Buzz Lightyear themed party. It was so fun!

Before it started we had to decorate. Here are some pictures of the decor:

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We did a lot of themed activities. Here are some pictures of all the fun we had:

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We made Buzz Lightyear themed candy necklaces.

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We painted white t-shirts with glow-in-the-dark puffy paint. Not my best idea ever apparently since all of the children loaded the paint on and I had to keep all of the shirts to dry.

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They played an alien game, grabbing aliens with “the claw” like in Toy Story.

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We also painted figurines. I bought a box of Toy Story ones, a box of Disney Princess ones and a box of Disney Cars ones.

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Once it started getting darker we had some glow-in-the dark fun. To start, each child got some glow-in-the-dark bracelets. We also had balloons that glowed in the dark. The kids built a tent with a blanket to sit in so that all the items could shine to their fullest in the pitch black.

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Of course checking out the walls in Jake and Luke’s room was a must. Since their walls are a light color the glow-in-the-dark paint was kind of camouflaged with the lights on (unless you looked closely) so it was a huge surprise when the lights were turned off. With the lights off, the designs on the walls along with the stars on the ceiling glowed.

I was a little disappointed that the big Buzz Lightyear decal I had bought for the wall didn’t glow but it was still cool to have to add to the theme of the room.

Everyone loved the walls. Every night when their light goes off, Jake still says, “Look mom!”. I’m not sure the novelty will ever go away since every night he seems to be amazed that his walls are glowing.

As for my thoughts on the paint, I thought it added some uniqueness to the room. Sinisa thought the paint went on easily and spread evenly. I’d recommend using a sponge tipped brush if using stencils. We originally tried a small roller and that did not work at all and paintbrushes worked okay but I didn’t think they were the best tool we could have used and some of the paint smeared a bit under the stencil and dripped a bit. For stencils we used a cluster of stars, two planets, and a space shuttle.

When it comes to the paint glowing, it should be noted that it only lasts for a short period of time (like 5 minutes). It’s advertised to have a short glowing period so that time frame was expected but I would have liked for it to last a bit longer. The lights also need to be turned on ahead of time for the paint to glow (I’d recommend half an hour or so). Overall, I was pleased with the paint and would use it again in the future.
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Easter Entertaining Tips From an Expert‏

Cheryls Easter Basket

The following tips are from lifestyle expert, Rachel Hollis.

  • Personalize your party – for a simple and chic Easter seating card simply write your guest’s names on plain white eggs and place on their folded napkin.
  • Put Spring on display – wheat grass is available at most grocery stores and fairly inexpensive. Just add some fresh floral or dyed eggs for easy décor!
  • Take the credit for gourmet treats – Gourmet cookies and brownies are a crowd pleaser, but get crafty and take the credit yourself (and deserve it!). Add toasted coconuts to your favorite treats to create a “nest”. Put jellybeans or egg shaped candies on top to complete the Easter feel.
  • Surprise your guests with flowers – edible flowers are easy to find in the produce department of your grocery store. Use them to add a little “springtime” to your desserts, cocktails or even salad!
  • ‘Eggs’ mark the spot – create a little map of your yard or house where you can easily mark how many eggs the, er, “Easter Bunny” left in each area. That way the kids don’t miss out on any of them.
  • A new twist on an old favorite – consider serving your Easter recipes in a unique way… an Easter ham becomes pork tenderloin, use quail eggs instead of chicken eggs, or maybe you turn Grandma’s favorite pudding into a pie. Guests always love to be surprised with something new!
  • The more, the merrier – rather than going with just one Easter dessert, consider creating a dessert buffet with candies, cakes and your favorite sweets. Don’t have the time to bake it all – order a premium assortment at Cheryls.com.

What are your favorite tips for entertaining? I’d love to hear them :)

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. All tips are courtesy of the lifestyle expert listed above who is affiliated with Cheryl’s cookies.)

Keeping the Cost in Check: 6 Secrets to Planning a Kids Party on a Budget

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Elaborate birthday parties seem to be all the rage these days, with parents planning for months in advance, making fancy treats fit for a wedding, and spending tons of time or money on the decorations and party favors. The truth is, though, that an expensive party may not be the most enjoyable for your child. Instead, keep it simple and limit the cost with these tips.

Keep the Guest List Small

You don’t have to invite everybody you know, or your child’s whole class at school. In fact, having a lot of people there may be overwhelming for your child. Instead, a great rule of thumb is to add one to your child’s age to get the perfect number of guests. For example, if your child is turning five, invite six guests to the birthday party.

Keep It Simple

Ditch the elaborate centerpieces, bouquet of fancy balloons, or other expensive decorations. Get a simple package of tableware at a site like birthdayexpress.com for inexpensive and easy decorations. These can set the stage for the party, and all you need to add is some simple color-coordinated streamers, which you can usually find at dollar stores. Given that decorations usually find the trash can soon after the party, you don’t want to spend a ton on them.

Homemade Fun

Have your party at home so you don’t have to rent a separate venue and be locked into using that venue for the food as well. If you party at home, you can prepare your own food, like a simple sheet cake or cupcakes. If you have a morning or afternoon party, you can even get away with just serving a small snack and cake instead of having to pay for a whole meal for all the guests.

DIY Invites

Make your own invitations and hand-deliver them so you don’t even have to spend on postage. You can even ask your child to draw a birthday picture on a blank card for a creative and meaningful invitation. If you don’t even want to pay for materials, just invite guests with a phone call or send free online invitations. The only important thing is that guests know when and where the party is!

How to Game

Play simple games for entertainment at the party rather than hiring someone or purchasing new materials. Music makes an easy backdrop for freeze dance, musical chairs, or hot potato. Games you already own, like Twister, can also make perfect activities for birthday parties. If you have nice weather and a decent sized yard, head out for some fun relay race games, like carrying an egg on a spoon or a sack race.

Craft Time

Don’t give out goody bags to guests when they’re leaving the party. The party favors in the bag often get discarded soon after the guests leave. Be the first one in your circle to get rid of goody bags, and other parents will likely follow suit at their parties. Instead, have kids make a craft at the party and send them home with it so they don’t leave empty-handed.

Looking to your child’s interests and personality is the best way to design a party she will love. As long as her best pals are there and they get to participate in some fun activities together, you’ll have a successful party. Don’t worry about coming up to the standard of other parties you’ve been to, but just focus on your budget and designing a fun party that matches your child’s interests.

(The above was written for this blog by Amanda Gutierrez. Amanda is a freelance writer who writes for several health and fitness digital publications. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and is a licensed fitness instructor.)

The Amazing Spider-Man Themed Party

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With The Amazing Spider-Man movie’s upcoming release on November 9th the stores have been full of Spider-man mania and infected our house! The kids and I wanted to throw a Spider-Man party for our extended family so we headed to Walmart to get our food and decorations.

We got Spider-Man tableware, party favors, and themed activities to do during the party. It was then time to head to the grocery side and stock up on food.

I was excited to find The Amazing Spider-Man pizza boxes that Walmart had out for the movie release. Closer to the movie launch, Walmart will be releasing Amazing Spider-Man themed Augmented Reality triggers that will be included on the pizza box & display pallet, triggering special Amazing Spider-Man experiences on shoppers’ iPhone, iPad or Android in-store.We also got boxes of cheese-it’s and fruit snacks that had Spider-Man packaging. And what party would be complete without some kind of dessert? We got a package of cupcakes that had Spider-Man rings on top of them.

I decided to host the party at my mom’s house since it’s larger than mine. My brother’s family came over for the party and the kids are always excited to see their cousins. Each of them wore a Spider-Man shirt for the occasion. While the pizzas cooked and I set the table the kids watched Spider-Man cartoons.

I kept the table-settings easy. I used disposable Spider-Man plates and plain napkins. I was going to get disposable cups too but Walmart had kid’s reusable cups for less than a dollar each so I chose to get them and then each child could have one to take home. I loved the masks because they were an inexpensive way for the kids to pretend to be Spider-Man. They were a hit with the adults, too! My brother put one on and was a good sport and let me take his picture!

After we ate pizza the children enjoyed doing a variety of activities. They colored Spider-Man pages, made sticker books, and played with Spider-Man character figures.

Before leaving everyone enjoyed the Spider-Man cupcakes.

At the end of the party each child took home a goodie bag with Spider-Man figures, fruit snacks, stickers, sticker books, rings, masks, and cups.

Are you a Spider-Man fan? Did you know that you can view the movie before it comes out on the 9th?! Since we bought the pre-purchase case we were able to watch the movie on October 30th and will get the hard copy mailed to us when it’s released. If you get The Amazing Spider-Man Pre-Purchase from Walmart you can watch the movie on VUDU now along with being able to access special features. You can get all of the details by reading my post from last month. This is a must buy for any Spider-Man fan!

(Disclosure: 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 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment #CBias #SocialFabric #SpiderManWMT )

Throw A Birthday Party For Jesus {10 Ideas}

birthday party for jesus

This year for Christmas we will be staying home. The children will be getting Christmas gifts but we will also be celebrating Jesus’ birthday. I wanted to share 10 ideas for throwing a birthday party for Jesus:

1) Along with “Happy Birthday Jesus” you can sing Christmas Carols like “Joy To The World” and “Away In A Manger”

2) Bake Him a birthday cake (find a cake recipe with symbolism here)

3) Have your children make a birthday card for Jesus

4) No birthday party is complete without gifts. Look through a gift catalog, like World Vision’s, that gives gifts to those in need and choose a gift to give.

5) Have everyone wear birthday “cone” hats (find a printable here)

6) Make birthday party decorations by creating paper chains with all the names of Jesus on them

{click to be taken to Spell Outloud blog for directions on making this paper chain}

7) Make a CHRISTmas craft (I have ideas here)

8) Bake cookies together and package them to give to friends.

9) Read about Jesus’ birth to focus on the reason you are celebrating.

10) Invite friends. If you do it on a day other than Christmas you can make it a true birthday party by inviting your friends to celebrate with you.

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You may also enjoy my post on 7 ways to celebrate the reason for the season!

My Oscar Viewing Party

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The 2011 Oscars

Last night we had a party and invited some family over to watch the Oscars. I loved the Party BluPrints Blog‘s guide to hosting the perfect Oscar viewing party and took some ideas from that site. We enjoyed so much yummy food:

Appetizers

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"Shrimp Shots" - No alcohol needed!

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Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil Roll-Ups

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Chips and salsa (both regular and homemade black bean and corn salsa)

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Orville Redenbacher's popcorn! (Love that I didn't have to dirty another dish because it came in it's own bowl)

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Vegetable Quesadillas (Delicious! Used Parmesan cheese instead of Cojita cheese and also put filling in the quesadilla before heating the tortillas in the oven)

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Cupcakes with gold sprinkles as the "accessories"

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Angel food cake and strawberries

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Everyone enjoyed the food as we talked about the Red Carpet fashions and which movies we wanted to win. I was voting for The Social Network and Toy Story 3 because, honestly, those are the only movies that I have had a chance to watch. My sister-in-law amazed me with her knowledge of all the actors and actresses that came on screen. One of our favorites was Anne Hathaway so we enjoyed watching her co-host the awards.

Overall, it was a fun night. Before the guests left I had one snap a picture of Sinisa and I:

Sinisa and I

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(Disclosure: I was compensated by Collective Bias but all thoughts are my own.)

Throwing A Game Time Party For Less Than $5 Per Person

Collective Bias recently challenged me to throw a game time party on a budget. I had a great time putting this together. I knew I wanted to have the party during a Bears game because they are my favorite football team.

I had football plates and napkins that I knew would be perfect for this so I was set on tableware. All I needed was the food so I headed to Walmart. I bought snacks like Chex Mix, Doritos, chips and salsa, and my very favorite fudge covered popcorn. I bought soda for everyone to drink. For lunch I decided to buy pizza. I chose DiGiorno Rising Crust pizza. I bought two to feed our group, one pepperoni and one cheese. I really liked the pizza and loved how DiGiorno didn’t skimp on the cheese or pepperoni. I also thought it was great that the DiGiorno box directed me to their website where it gave me the directions for cooking two pizzas at once so I didn’t have to guess and risk burning one (or both!) pizzas.

All together I spent less than $5 per person on food. Considering this was the price for drinks, snacks, and a meal I think that was a great deal. I think knowing that I can have celebrations with food involved and it not cost an arm and a leg will push me to have more gatherings in the future.

To read more about my party (and see more pictures) you can view my whrrl here.

(Disclosure: I was compensated for this post by Collective Bias but all thoughts and opinions are my own.)