tea party

I absolutely love making ordinary moments special for the girls. This is especially true when it comes to family celebrations and parties. Some parties are planned well in advance, and sometimes we embrace last-minute party planning and simply wake up and say, “let’s celebrate something.”

Emily and I recently went to a book talk featuring Whoopi Goldberg who discussed her new book “Unqualified Hostess”. In the book, she shares tips for planning and throwing parties using things you already have around the house! Her book inspired me to create 10 Holiday Tablescapes using items we already had at home, and they could be adapted for any type of party.

And to help YOU pull off the perfect last-minute party, my party planning committee and I are sharing 5 party planning tips!

1. Involve your kids in the planning

baking cookies

There are some overall decisions that have to made about any type of party, such as the party theme (i.e. last day of school, Valentine’s Day, the end of a difficult week!), whether guests can be invited, what type of food to serve, and some craft ideas. We love involve the girls in the planning process, and incorporating their ideas makes a party even more special! Their favorite ideas are, “Let’s eat on the fancy plates!”, “Let’s invite friends to the party!” and “Let’s make cookies!”.

2. Bake something, and make it the centerpiece!

centerpiece - baked goods

We celebrate special occasions (and even ordinary occasions) by baking. When we plan special parties in advance, I like to plan bakes that will help to teach me a new baking technique. But when we’re planning a last-minute party, I choose simpler bakes.

For early morning parties (yes, sometimes we throw parties as early as 6:30am!), I typically bake one of our favorite weekday bakes. For parties later in the day, we often keep things simple by using a box cake mix to make something special.

 Cake Cookie Recipe

Years ago, my Grandma Noreen shared with me her simple cake cookie recipe! This recipe can easily be adapted for any cake flavor or mix-in combination!

Ingredients

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Pour box cake mix into a bowl and whisk in eggs and oil
  • Add in mix-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit, candies, coconut, peanut butter, etc. The options are endless!)
  • Using a spoon, drop tablespoon size scoops of mixture onto a baking sheet
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes

No Bake Cookies

And here is another simple and easy family cookie recipe. This recipe is courtesy of my dad!

no bake chocolate cookies recipe

I love that my dad’s “No Bake Cookie” recipe incorporates ingredients that we almost always have in the house! The girls love helping to drop the mixture onto wax paper. Then the cookies simply cool for 10-15 minutes and are ready to eat!

3. Make it fancy

last-minute party with fancy details

Mabel’s #1 party request is that it be “fancy”, which means that we enjoy yummy foods on our China plates, pull down the tea cup set, raise our pinkies, and have a grand time.

storing fancy plates

We used to store Emily’s grandmother’s China dishes in a box in the back of our pantry. After reading Spark Joy by Marie Kondo and going through the KonMari tidying process, we knew we wanted to move this sentimental item into a new location. We installed additional open shelving in our kitchen and moved the China dishes out of boxes, and into a place where we more frequently see them and use them. We think of Emily’s grandmother each time we use the plates!

last-minute party using plastic tea set

When we invite preschool friends over, we sometimes use the play tea set and plates for place settings. The vibrant colors pop off our white table and are a bit whimsical when used with “real food” as opposed to play food!

last-minute lunch party

I firmly believe that charcuterie boards are to the 2020s what fondue pots were to the 1970s. We recently had a few of Mabel’s friends over for a last-minute party at lunchtime, and I made a kid-friendly board! I filled the board with meats, fruits, veggies, crackers, and hummus. They literally cheered when I placed the board on the table.

4. Establish the flow

party decor

A party offers a departure from the normal rhythms of life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be chaotic! I like to establish a flow of events for a party, especially when kids are involved, so that we have a plan to keep things organized.

Activity

Kids need something to do during a party, and we enjoy thinking of creative activities to keep them engaged. Sometimes activities involve making arts and crafts, sometimes they get to help decorate special edible treats, and sometimes we simply pull out toys from our toy rotation and set up play stations around the apartment! Here are a few of our favorite party activities:

Play-Doh Station

play doh station

Our girls love playing with Play-Doh and one of our favorite party activities is called “Creature Creation”! Our cake stand is reversible, and the base has a divided tray with a center holder that we fill with Play-Doh. Then we fill the outer sections with fun craft supplies from a craft kit, like googly eyes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, and craft sticks. “Creature Creation” is an open-ended play time and invites the kids to get creative!

Stamp Art

stamp art

Some art activities can also double as an edible treat! Greek yogurt mixed with food coloring is perfect for stamp art. We used marshmallows as stamps and the girls made beautiful designs on construction paper. Once the art project was finished, the “stamps and ink” were a yummy party treat!

Snack and Treat Time

No party is complete without snacks and treats! Our girls have an incredibly strong sweet tooth (I wonder who they got that from?!) and we try to balance sweet with savory, and healthy with unhealthy. Presentation is key when it comes to kid parties!

snack time

We have a buffet in our kitchen that we use for food presentation during parties. We serve snacks and treats in our glass serving bowls and fancy trays to make things look special. Sometimes presenting healthy foods in a fun new way can make them feel extra special.

Closing

All good things must come to an end, and the same is true for parties. When we invite friends over, we’ve found that 1.5 hours for a party is typically perfect. We’ve noticed the excitement of a party can tire kids out more quickly than usual.We try to keep the flow of the party moving and then end things while the party is still going well.

5. Add something unexpected

balloon arch

I think it’s fun when a party has an element of the “unexpected.” Fabulous parties don’t have to cost a lot of money, and a little creativity can go a long way. Sometimes the unexpected is a special game or activity.

last-minute party activity

One New Year’s Eve, I initiated an elaborate “Nailed It!” style competition. I made a model dessert of the Times Square ball suspended in the air before it dropped! Pair teams of kids and adults had to attempt to replicate the dessert. I put out a spread of baking supplies and treats, and even timed the competitors! Here are the results (my model dessert is on the far left):

dessert competition

And sometimes, the unexpected is setting out helium balloons at each of the place settings.

balloons

And sometimes, the unexpected is a 15-foot balloon arch, given to you for free by a neighbor!

balloon arch

The Beauty of Childhood

Childhood is a wondrous time, and our girls are at an age where almost anything can be special and magical. I love turning ordinary moments into special opportunities for us to spend time together. It’s amazing how a few special treats, some “fancy” plates, and a well-planned activity or two can transform an ordinary afternoon into a last-minute party!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

This post contains affiliate links. We may make a small commission for purchases made through these links with no additional fee to the customer. We only link to products we use and love! Thank you for supporting our blog!

for pinterest

Thanks for Pinning!

About me

Hi, my name is Tyler Moore. My wife and I live with our three young daughters in a 700- square-foot apartment in New York City. I began my tidying journey when an early-30’s crisis invited me to reflect upon, challenge, and change my patterns of daily living. I quit my job as a school administrator, returned to teaching, and started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


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February 13, 2020

5 Tips for Party Planning

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tea party

I absolutely love making ordinary moments special for the girls. This is especially true when it comes to family celebrations and parties. Some parties are planned well in advance, and sometimes we embrace last-minute party planning and simply wake up and say, “let’s celebrate something.”

Emily and I recently went to a book talk featuring Whoopi Goldberg who discussed her new book “Unqualified Hostess”. In the book, she shares tips for planning and throwing parties using things you already have around the house! Her book inspired me to create 10 Holiday Tablescapes using items we already had at home, and they could be adapted for any type of party.

And to help YOU pull off the perfect last-minute party, my party planning committee and I are sharing 5 party planning tips!

1. Involve your kids in the planning

baking cookies

There are some overall decisions that have to made about any type of party, such as the party theme (i.e. last day of school, Valentine’s Day, the end of a difficult week!), whether guests can be invited, what type of food to serve, and some craft ideas. We love involve the girls in the planning process, and incorporating their ideas makes a party even more special! Their favorite ideas are, “Let’s eat on the fancy plates!”, “Let’s invite friends to the party!” and “Let’s make cookies!”.

2. Bake something, and make it the centerpiece!

centerpiece - baked goods

We celebrate special occasions (and even ordinary occasions) by baking. When we plan special parties in advance, I like to plan bakes that will help to teach me a new baking technique. But when we’re planning a last-minute party, I choose simpler bakes.

For early morning parties (yes, sometimes we throw parties as early as 6:30am!), I typically bake one of our favorite weekday bakes. For parties later in the day, we often keep things simple by using a box cake mix to make something special.

 Cake Cookie Recipe

Years ago, my Grandma Noreen shared with me her simple cake cookie recipe! This recipe can easily be adapted for any cake flavor or mix-in combination!

Ingredients

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Pour box cake mix into a bowl and whisk in eggs and oil
  • Add in mix-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit, candies, coconut, peanut butter, etc. The options are endless!)
  • Using a spoon, drop tablespoon size scoops of mixture onto a baking sheet
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes

No Bake Cookies

And here is another simple and easy family cookie recipe. This recipe is courtesy of my dad!

no bake chocolate cookies recipe

I love that my dad’s “No Bake Cookie” recipe incorporates ingredients that we almost always have in the house! The girls love helping to drop the mixture onto wax paper. Then the cookies simply cool for 10-15 minutes and are ready to eat!

3. Make it fancy

last-minute party with fancy details

Mabel’s #1 party request is that it be “fancy”, which means that we enjoy yummy foods on our China plates, pull down the tea cup set, raise our pinkies, and have a grand time.

storing fancy plates

We used to store Emily’s grandmother’s China dishes in a box in the back of our pantry. After reading Spark Joy by Marie Kondo and going through the KonMari tidying process, we knew we wanted to move this sentimental item into a new location. We installed additional open shelving in our kitchen and moved the China dishes out of boxes, and into a place where we more frequently see them and use them. We think of Emily’s grandmother each time we use the plates!

last-minute party using plastic tea set

When we invite preschool friends over, we sometimes use the play tea set and plates for place settings. The vibrant colors pop off our white table and are a bit whimsical when used with “real food” as opposed to play food!

last-minute lunch party

I firmly believe that charcuterie boards are to the 2020s what fondue pots were to the 1970s. We recently had a few of Mabel’s friends over for a last-minute party at lunchtime, and I made a kid-friendly board! I filled the board with meats, fruits, veggies, crackers, and hummus. They literally cheered when I placed the board on the table.

4. Establish the flow

party decor

A party offers a departure from the normal rhythms of life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be chaotic! I like to establish a flow of events for a party, especially when kids are involved, so that we have a plan to keep things organized.

Activity

Kids need something to do during a party, and we enjoy thinking of creative activities to keep them engaged. Sometimes activities involve making arts and crafts, sometimes they get to help decorate special edible treats, and sometimes we simply pull out toys from our toy rotation and set up play stations around the apartment! Here are a few of our favorite party activities:

Play-Doh Station

play doh station

Our girls love playing with Play-Doh and one of our favorite party activities is called “Creature Creation”! Our cake stand is reversible, and the base has a divided tray with a center holder that we fill with Play-Doh. Then we fill the outer sections with fun craft supplies from a craft kit, like googly eyes, pipe cleaners, pom poms, and craft sticks. “Creature Creation” is an open-ended play time and invites the kids to get creative!

Stamp Art

stamp art

Some art activities can also double as an edible treat! Greek yogurt mixed with food coloring is perfect for stamp art. We used marshmallows as stamps and the girls made beautiful designs on construction paper. Once the art project was finished, the “stamps and ink” were a yummy party treat!

Snack and Treat Time

No party is complete without snacks and treats! Our girls have an incredibly strong sweet tooth (I wonder who they got that from?!) and we try to balance sweet with savory, and healthy with unhealthy. Presentation is key when it comes to kid parties!

snack time

We have a buffet in our kitchen that we use for food presentation during parties. We serve snacks and treats in our glass serving bowls and fancy trays to make things look special. Sometimes presenting healthy foods in a fun new way can make them feel extra special.

Closing

All good things must come to an end, and the same is true for parties. When we invite friends over, we’ve found that 1.5 hours for a party is typically perfect. We’ve noticed the excitement of a party can tire kids out more quickly than usual.We try to keep the flow of the party moving and then end things while the party is still going well.

5. Add something unexpected

balloon arch

I think it’s fun when a party has an element of the “unexpected.” Fabulous parties don’t have to cost a lot of money, and a little creativity can go a long way. Sometimes the unexpected is a special game or activity.

last-minute party activity

One New Year’s Eve, I initiated an elaborate “Nailed It!” style competition. I made a model dessert of the Times Square ball suspended in the air before it dropped! Pair teams of kids and adults had to attempt to replicate the dessert. I put out a spread of baking supplies and treats, and even timed the competitors! Here are the results (my model dessert is on the far left):

dessert competition

And sometimes, the unexpected is setting out helium balloons at each of the place settings.

balloons

And sometimes, the unexpected is a 15-foot balloon arch, given to you for free by a neighbor!

balloon arch

The Beauty of Childhood

Childhood is a wondrous time, and our girls are at an age where almost anything can be special and magical. I love turning ordinary moments into special opportunities for us to spend time together. It’s amazing how a few special treats, some “fancy” plates, and a well-planned activity or two can transform an ordinary afternoon into a last-minute party!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

This post contains affiliate links. We may make a small commission for purchases made through these links with no additional fee to the customer. We only link to products we use and love! Thank you for supporting our blog!

for pinterest

Thanks for Pinning!

February 13, 2020

5 Tips for Party Planning

tidy home

Are You Ready
To Transform Your
Cleaning Routine?

free Download

About me

Hi, my name is Tyler Moore. My wife and I live with our three young daughters in a 700- square-foot apartment in New York City. I began my tidying journey when an early-30’s crisis invited me to reflect upon, challenge, and change my patterns of daily living. I quit my job as a school administrator, returned to teaching, and started Tidy Dad to help others tidy, simplify, and find joy in their lives. I firmly believe the tidying process can transform your life. I’d love for you to join me in exploring ways that tidying can make room for what’s important in life. 


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