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halloween costumes for babies

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

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Need some easy peasy Halloween costumes for babies? Sure you do, if you’re like me and you think you’re not going to dress them up then do it anyway. My son was six weeks old on his first Halloween. I had no intentions of buying a costume for someone that little. Nor did I want to make one when he could wiggle out of it. Then I thought of all the pictures I’d be missing out on. So, that Halloween morning I went through my house and figured out a plan. I did the same thing last year, only slightly more in advance. I’ve determined there’s no point in paying for costumes you’re never going to use again and they only wear for five minutes, so I decided to share my ideas with you.

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

1. Toga Baby!

I decided my son would be Julius Caesar when I realized I could make a toga out of a napkin and it would fit him. I also happened to have the headpiece lying around from an actual toga party many moons prior.  If you are a crafty person, you’ll probably already have this stuff stashed away as well, but if not you can get these items at most dollar stores or superstores. All you need for this is a napkin or pillowcase, a decorative rope or sash, a stem of a fake plant, and a safety pin or two to hold it together. This will work best for babies who can’t walk yet, but it’s great for pictures and it can be used for boys and girls.

2. The Hulk

I like this because it’s all clothes the baby can wear over and over. My son had green sweatpants and a matching green bug shirt. Since the Hulk doesn’t have bugs crawling all over him (or if he does they’re invisible), I turned the shirt inside out and drew on a six pack. So easy! I did have to cut up a pair of purple leggings (they’re a bigger size than the sweats so they fit), but I can straighten them back out into shorts for my daughter next summer. This is Cat and Jack from Target, but it’s last year’s, so I found another you might try here. It’s important that the pants and shirt match colors since it’s supposed to be skin.

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

3. Snow White

I’m pretty sure you could do any Disney princess with clothes you already have for your baby girl, but mine happens to look like Snow White. If you need inspiration for a different princess, I suggest perusing Polyvore’s Disney ideas. They’re for adults, but you’ll get the idea. For this one you will need a blue onesie, yellow leggings or skirt, a white jacket (mine comes off her holiday dress), and a red hairbow. If your blue onesie says something, turn it inside out. That’s it. You’re done. Granted, my skirt is actually a homemade circle skirt (I use this tutorial; you only need fat quarters and elastic). But, I put her in those anyway so she can be more girly in her brother’s hand-me-downs.

Easy Peasy Halloween Costumes for Babies

easy peasy Halloween costume ideas for babies.

As you can see, these really are easy peasy Halloween costumes for babies. For the most part it’s just a matter of collecting the appropriate color clothing and turning them inside out. Don’t have kids but somehow King Google sent you here anyway? Check out last week’s Halloween dinner party post – maybe that will be more your speed!

Three easy peasy Halloween costume ideas for babies. #Halloween #HalloweenCostumes #babycostumes #babyhalloweencostumes #DIYcostumes #cheapcostumes #cheapHalloweencostumes
Three easy peasy Halloween costume ideas for babies. #Halloween #HalloweenCostumes #babycostumes #babyhalloweencostumes #DIYcostumes #cheapcostumes #cheapHalloweencostumes
host a halloween dinner party

Ideas for a Dark Halloween Dinner Party

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Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is a fun way for adults to celebrate this holiday without having to dress up as either a slutty or terrifying  anything, and won’t we all be much happier that way? Okay, okay, I’m going to a crazy Halloween party, and I do plan to enjoy it, but I’m not throwing one this year and I’m not going to fake one just for the blog. But I really do think a dark Halloween dinner party will be a lot of fun, mostly because I’m pretty sure the internet exists only to horrify us and give us recipes, sometimes simultaneously. In this case, we’ll be going with both.

I’ve hosted plenty of fancy dinner parties in my day, but they are a lot of work, and Halloween is all about fun. Instead of trying to impress everyone with your kitchen skills, I think it’s a good idea to focus on easy recipes but make them look kind of creepy. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Ever seen a rambutan? Food is plenty scary enough on it’s own. Of course, I don’t know where to find a rambutan, so we’ll be sticking with things you can actually do at home. And for once we won’t be skipping decorations!

Dark Halloween Dinner Party Decor

Last week I told you all I think the only Halloween decoration you need is cobwebs, and that’s still true, but for this I’m going to add three more, yes, that’s right, THREE MORE decorations. Is my sarcasm coming through? I hope so. I really don’t find a total of four Halloween decorations all that impressive, but then again, I don’t need a pumpkin patch on my table either. The only part of the house I’m going to decorate is the table, since that’s where everyone will post up. I realize people have different sized tables, but I have a big one and a small one, so you’ll get to see examples of both.

1. The Cobwebs

Host a dark Halloween dinner party!

Well, you knew they were going to be included, so here we go. For a big table, I like cobwebs coming down from the chandelier. For a little one, I like little jackets on the chairs. If you have a chandelier to decorate at your dark Halloween dinner party, you can stick to the chandelier itself, or do a little extra work and pull it down to the table. If you do this, you will want to stretch the cobwebs really thin so people can still see each other from any part of the table. For the chair jackets, there’s really no need to stretch anything, but you should only do the back side. You don’t want your guests going home covered in cotton.

Host a dark Halloween dinner party!

2. Dead Flowers

Host a dark Halloween dinner party!

No, not fake flowers. Straight up dead ones. I want the atmosphere of my dark Halloween dinner party to be like someone set the table a long time ago, and for whatever reason, they were never able to return. For this, I suggest you buy your flowers a couple of weeks in advance, leave them in the sun, and don’t water them. There are ways to speed up up the process if you need to, but what could be easier than forgetting to take care of something? My flowers actually wound up with more color than I wanted for these pictures, but they’ll be super dead by the time Halloween dinner gets here.

3. Gourds

 

Gourds are so weird! I love them. Pick up a couple and throw them on the table somewhere. Pumpkins are fine as well. That was my original plan, but I found an awesome decorative gourd set at Walmart and decided to use that instead. They had some that were legit moldy and gross, though, so if you’re getting them early you might want to pick up fake ones. Here’s a set that looks like it would fit in. If you want to keep with the theme, I’d stay away from pumpkins with faces, but that’s about it.

4. A Messed Up Tablecloth

I wanted a really holey one, like mice had eaten it or something, so that’s what I picked up. But, it wasn’t long enough for either table, so it became a table runner. The tablecloth I used underneath on the big table was purple, because I like purple better than orange, but you could do any color that floats your boat. In fact, you don’t have to have one at all if you don’t want. I can’t even find one to fit on my smaller table. It’s too big of a square. I did see this tablecloth after I already took all my pictures, so that is what I’m using when I actually throw the party.

How to Make Black Food for your Dark Halloween Dinner Party

Okay guys, this is too easy. All you have to do is color one of your dishes black to keep the vibe going. You can be fancy and use squid ink, or you can use black food coloring. You want to be gentle with food coloring. A little black goes a long way. Obviously you can’t dye just anything, but the choices are surprisingly bountiful. What you need is something kind of mushy. I had some shrimp and grits and mashed potatoes to practice on. You can see how they turned out. The taste wasn’t altered at all, but don’t they look disgusting? I do have a complete menu you get when subscribing to my newsletter, and there is a recipe with squid ink included if you’re curious about that. You can subscribe below. Now go have fun hosting a dark Halloween dinner party!

Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is super easy and fun! #halloween
Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is super easy and fun! #Halloween
Hosting a dark Halloween dinner party is super easy and fun! #Halloween

 

the only

The Only Halloween Decoration You Need

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The only Halloween decoration you need is fake cobwebs. There. I said it. You don’t have to read the rest of this, all your decorating problems should be solved. Still here? Great! Let me explain. In general, I’m not big on decorations. I don’t even get carried away for my kids’ birthdaysBut, when it comes to Halloween or Christmas, I love the nonsense. That doesn’t, however, mean I suddenly get tons of extra hours to spend on decorating. My husband will help with Christmas, but he’s not a Halloween fan, so anything I do I do on my own. That’s where cobwebs come in.

To be clear, while I think cobwebs are the only Halloween decoration you need, I’m not against other decorations supplementing it. But if you only have the time or budget for one thing, go with them. For one thing, they’re super cheap. You can get 200 sq ft on Amazon for $5, and I’m sure they’re at the dollar store if you (unlike myself) can find the time to get over there. For another, they’re good for any type of Halloween party. Halloween dinner party? Check. Little kid party/decorations for trick-or-treaters? Check. Spooky party for adults? Yup. College party? Also yes. So, you see what I mean. You can buy a big bag and throw eight different parties without redecorating. But, they can get time consuming if you let them, so I have a few helpful hints for you.

Tips for the Only Halloween Decoration You Need

1. Cut them up first.

This is simple enough. Instead of trying to figure how much you need for each spot, or spending too much time trying to figure out how to rip them apart, just cut your big block of webs into pieces. Then you know right away how much you’re working with for each spot and when you run out you shrug and move on. The only exception here is outdoors – if you’re doing your porch/bushes/whatever, it’s fine to go crazy and use the whole thing. They’ll stretch from place to place. Before you cut, stretch the webs out and see which way they’re running and cut with them, not against them.

Cutting vertical gives plenty of room to cut; cutting horizontal not so much.

2. Use the spiders.

I know the spiders are stupid. But if you find yourself with a big chunk of spiderweb you don’t like, throw a spider on it and stop worrying about perfection. Done. In the following pictures you will see that I draped a cut up chunk of web over my chair. I didn’t stretch it out at all other than to pull it from one side to the other. Then I put a spider on the thickest part, and it looks fine. That’s going to clean up real nice too – I’ll just lift it off and throw it away.

3. Start at the top.

Say you’re doing a dinner party. Do you have chandelier above your table? Start there. If not, try the backs of chairs. Having a party in your living room? If you can reach the fan, go for it. If not, how about a fireplace mantle or the tops of windows? Drag a chair or a step stool over and go crazy. It can be really tempting to do cobwebs everywhere, but people tend to notice things up high before they look down, so why waste time on the coffee table? Starting up also means that when you get to the bottom you don’t have to tape or pin any parts of the spiderwebs.

Draping over the top of the stairs, no tape required to start.
When you’re done you can let the spiderwebs hang at the bottom. Still no tape, no hassle, no one cares.

That’s pretty much it. Seriously, you guys, the only Halloween decoration you need is fake cobwebs. Yes, you’ll have to throw them out when you’re done, but then you don’t even have to worry about storage. How nice! Next week or the week after (I have some costume ideas to share too; we’ll see which one seems more urgent soon). I’ll show you what I did with the spiderwebs for a dark dinner party.  I will be adding a little more to the decor, but the cobwebs are the star of the show.

The only Halloween decoration you need is cobwebs! #Halloween
planes, trains & Automobiles Party

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Party

I threw my son a planes, trains, and automobiles party this weekend. He turned two, so we based it on modes of transportation, not the Steve Martin/John Candy movie, although that would be an interesting party too, don’t you think? Anyway, I knew for awhile this was going to be my theme because he’s obsessed with cars and trains. Would you like to know when I prepared for this party I knew I was throwing? That afternoon. Seriously. I took my mom to the store with me to pick up balloons, decorations, and even food. Prepping is not for me. Now you know to avoid my house if the world ends – and shut the door on me if you see me coming, since I’ll probably be there to rob you.

Anyway, excuse my end of the world obsession, let’s get back to the planes, trains and automobiles party. I’m sure some of you other bloggers who read this think I’m exaggerating about how little time I have. You know how much work goes into a blog. But to be fair, I’m including this blog in my crazy schedule, or lack thereof. When I throw a party, I don’t want to deal with decorations. In fact, even seeing other people’s exhaust me. Why do you go through all that work?I did get balloons, but I swear it was no trouble since I got them at Party City. Everything else I decorated with was a toy. Yes, that’s right. I saved myself not only the trouble of horrible streamers and other bad for the environment decorations, but also the trouble of wrapping presents. Hooray!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Party

Please excuse the terrible pictures. My husband turned the train on before I was ready, so I had about thirty seconds to take a whole bunch of them before my son destroyed everything. I’m not the type to recreate things, so these will have to do.

The Decor

Here’s the general feel. You’ve got a train track around the presents, a cake (and the rest of the food, eventually), airplanes on the chandelier, balloons, and your standard Happy Birthday banner that we will use for every birthday party until it falls apart.
Planes and a train make up the bulk of the decor.
This $10 battery operated train from Walmart actually did turn on and run around the track – until the 2-year old swiped it.
These Party City planes doubled as party favors. Instead of cutting off the tags I used them to tie them very simply to the chandelier and they came right off when needed.
Bought some balloons and tied them to the table. So easy. The other side had a Thomas the Train balloon as well.

The Cake

It’s a box cake with buttercream frosting. I made two colors, black and green, for a road and grass. Then I threw a few toy cars on the road and scribbled a message. Why yes, those are his plates from his 1-year old birthday in the background. Because, seriously you guys, he can’t read. Who cares?

That’s it. Wow, right? Can you imagine an easier way to throw this party? I can’t. Believe me, if I could have made it easier, I would have. I know my creations aren’t the most beautiful thing in the world, but you know what? It was a lot less stressful doing my version of a planes, trains, and automobiles party than trying to copy a professional party planner’s version. The cake was delicious despite not being beautiful. My son loved all of it. I’d say the party was a success, wouldn’t you?

A Planes, Trains & Automobiles Party for a Toddler
guide to

The Guide to Last Minute Tailgating

**Featured photo by  Harry Knight on Unsplash**

This is the guide to last minute tailgating, but what I really mean is busy people tailgating.  You know, people who know there’s a chance they’ll go tailgating, or know they’re going, but don’t have time to be elaborate. I’ve attended plenty of tailgates in my time, both large and small, and I love people who go all out. When I went to college in Nevada, long before Colin Kaepernick had anything to say about anything, but right alongside him, I joined a great group who would take turns doing all the work. I learned a lot from them. Unfortunately, I can’t put it into practice. I just don’t have the time. But, I love football. I feel guilty about loving it due to all those concussions, but if you invite me to a tailgate, I’m going to go.

Right now my husband is getting his MBA at the University of Tennessee. While I disapprove of their color choices, I like their school song, so I’m willing to attend their games. Tailgating for an SEC game is so different than tailgating for the Mountain West. If you haven’t done both, I think you should. At Nevada I’d roll up, park in the tailgating area, and commence the party. Here I have to find parking at least two miles away, probably pay $10 at a minimum, walk to the tailgate, and get to whatever tent I’ve been invited. People pay more for the good spots here, and a large chunk of them are catered, but if you can find your own spot, these last minute tailgating tips will probably help you out since you’ll be spending so much time just getting there!

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through them I will receive compensation at no additional cost to you.

Equipment for Last Minute Tailgating

1. Cooler

I’ve reviewed ways to keep your drink cool before, but for this I recommend a regular cooler. It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking alcohol or not, you’re going to get thirsty. Throw your cooler in the trunk of your car, grab some ice at the gas station, and get going. You can even pick up water, beer, or soda at the gas station if you’re not already prepared. Now, if you’re not serving very many people and you want beer, I really like growlers. Then you don’t have to lug a cooler around. My husband has this one and it keeps his beer cold throughout the game. Hmm. I just realized I spend way too much time worrying about drink temperature.

2. Grill

You’ve probably seen those amazing set-ups on College Game Day where everyone has wild grilling options. Don’t get crazy here. You need something you can throw in the car and go. You’re probably wondering why you need a grill at all if you’re last minute tailgating, so I’ll tell you why. It means you get to cook your food when you get there instead of doing it at home. Genius, right? Okay, so I would say get a charcoal grill. They’re pretty cheap, plus if you’re a broke college student you can probably find one at a yard sale or on Craigslist. Or, even easier, get a stove for camping like this oneIt’s not going to get you on TV, but it will heat your food.

Last Minute Tailgating Food

Bring some dip for last minute tailgating.

1. Meat

Ah ha! Now you get it. You’re providing the main part of the meal, making you the hero – and you had to do zero prep work. Hot dogs are cheap and totally appropriate. Hamburgers are also great; I like to throw garlic salt and cayenne pepper in my bag to season them up, although you can get patties that are already seasoned. Remember to bring buns along, and cheese if you go with hamburgers. There is no need to get any fancier than that if you’re last minute tailgating. The fancy stuff is for people who have more time to devote to this than you. Vegetarians, grab some portobellos instead of meat.

2. Dip

I typically advocate a mix of homemade and store-bought food for parties, but if you are really last minute tailgating, you’ll only want store bought food. I say bring some chips and dip. Then you have a side dish that doesn’t need to be cooked, and really, who needs more than chips and a hot dog at a football game anyway? If you want to get really crazy, pick up a thing of sour cream and use one of those packaged mixes to make a fancy dip. You can even mix it once you get there, saving you even more time.

That’s it! Bring some meat, chips and dip, a cooler, and a grill. Unless you’re tailgating by yourself, request some else brings all the condiments, paper plates, etc. Why? Those people have to pack things up and bring them home. You will not, which means less clean up afterwards. Now, obviously this isn’t completely last minute tailgating, since you will already need to have the equipment at home unless you want to do a frenzied dash through Walmart. But, if you know there’s a chance you’ll be tailgating, you can at least be prepared and do the minimum amount of work beforehand. More time to party!

Throwing a tailgate can be a pain when you're always busy, but it doesn't have to be. #gameday
throw a (3)

Cheap DIY Wine and Paint Night

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Want to throw a cheap DIY wine and paint night with absolutely no skill required? Then you’ve come to the right place! I love wine and paints, and I am absolutely not knocking their business model, but they run around $30 per person on average, plus you have to buy your own wine. So, while it’s a great idea, it is a higher cost for a night out. I know you wind up with a nice canvas painting, but let’s talk reality for a second. You painted it while you were drinking. Are you really going to be hanging it up somewhere? If you go with a husband or roommate, what do you do with the spare? Believe me, no one wants you to gift it to them. I’d have to say for most of us it’s about the experience, not the art.

I say these things, but do I have both my art and gifted art in my guestroom?
Yes I do. Sorry guests.

My best friend came to visit me over Labor Day and I decided she’d be the perfect person to test out my cheap DIY wine and paint night model. After racking my brain on how I could do this without having an art training, I decided the best way to go was abstract. Yes, that’s right. Abstract wine and paint! You’re already picturing the terrible possibilities, aren’t you? Lots of DIY-ers actually do their own abstract art to decorate their houses. Here’s an article with a few ideas if you’re interested in going that route. But, my friend and I didn’t actually need any art, we just wanted to paint for fun. So, we came up with a way to make it really hilarious – we weren’t allowed to see each other’s til the end. Intrigued yet? Well, here we go!

Directions for a Cheap DIY Wine and Paint Night

Materials:

Canvases

At a typical wine and paint night you will be using something like a 16 x 20 canvas, although that will vary. For your own party, it doesn’t matter what size you use, but you can buy an 8″ x 10″ pack of 12 on Amazon for $12 and if it’s unlikely you’ll hang it, does the size really matter? The cheaper options don’t come stretched, which, again, I didn’t care about, but here’s a tutorial if you do. Here’s a few bulk options for less than $20:

Artlicious Canvas Panels 12 Pack 8″ x 10″ – $11.99
US Art Supply Multi-pack 6 each of 3″ x 5″, 4″ x 6″, 8″ x 10″ Canvas Panels – $19.96
LWR Crafts Stretched Canvas 10″ x 10″ Pack of 6 – $17.80

Paintbrushes

For these I suggest a big mixed bag. You can get one for less than $10.

Paint Brush Set CONDA Starter Kit 25 Pieces – $7.69
Loew-Cornell 245B Brush Set 25 Pieces – $9.49

Paint

Again, you can buy bulk if you want, especially if the idea of picking out colors stresses you out. But, if you really want a cheap DIY wine and paint night, you can pick up a few singles for less than $1 each at various stores. I picked out 5 colors (I already had black and white). You do need to get acrylic or oil paint if you’re going to use canvas though, so don’t go looking for watercolors! 🙂

Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint Set, 18 piece (2 oz) Best Selling Colors – $17.82
Apple Barrel Acrylic Paint in Assorted Colors (2 oz) – $0.50 each

Paper Plates, Plastic Cups, Paper Towels

Plates are for your palates, cups are to wash the brushes, and towels are to dry or clean. How much do these cost? Not very much, but don’t you already have some somewhere in your house? I also had a leftover plastic tablecloth from my streamer vs. tablecloth experiment, and I definitely recommend using one of those if you have one.

Wine

This is up to you, folks. I suppose you don’t need wine, but it wouldn’t really be a cheap DIY wine and paint night without wine, would it? I personally picked up two bottles of Kroger brand Bay Bridge for $3 each.

What to Do:

Create a Fortress – I mean, painting stations
Solitude behind our canvases.

Here’s the fun part! Set up your painting stations so that you can’t see each other’s work. My friend (why yes, the one who came up with the potty training cake) and I started before my sister got there, so we had a simple partition of the extra canvases held up by the wine bottles. As we went we had to get a little creative since my sister and husband both joined in. We constructed a paper towel fortress around my table. I posted and image below so you can see what I mean. Now, you might be thinking this seems like a silly part and you should skip it, but I swear it’s important.

Complete fortification behind a paper towel castle held up by plastic bags.
Write down Instructions

Next up you need to decide your directions. I’m assuming you don’t have an artist among you. If you do, make them teach your class. If not, here’s what you do. Have everyone throw out a couple of instructions that would presumably make your art look abstract. You know, things like draw three lines, splatter your painting, do a circle, use your wine cork to make dots. We did always start with painting a background, and I suggest you do too to make sure your canvas gets covered. The more we did, the vaguer we got, but here’s an example:

Feel free to copy that one if you’re not feeling very creative, but we enjoyed going around in a circle and suggesting things. Each of us got to pick two and then we collectively agreed on our final instruction. We did have a couple of rules after the first round. I couldn’t paint stars so I forbid them. Later my husband suggested a stick figure and we all thought that would ruin our creations so we struck that out too. It’s really up to you though. Don’t worry about your paintings while you’re doing this or make it into a big, stressful ordeal. Just get something down on paper. The real creativity happens next. If all else fails, just say.  “Splatter.”

Paint!

Pick one person to read the instructions and get to work. Some of you will undoubtedly feel nervous about the vagueness of these instructions, but the most fun part of this experience is showing each other your paintings when it’s all done. It’s amazing how differently we interpret things! At one point before my husband joined us we told him we were following the same instructions and he said, “Like hell you are.” Lol. Here’s that particular set of masterpieces:

Totally the same right? This came out of the instructions I posted up above.

The even more amazing thing was when we interpreted things sort of the same. My husband and I had a similar color palate when he joined us. My sister and I both did the ocean at one point – not that you could tell by looking at them! That set will be underneath this. You don’t have to do multiple paintings. We kept going because we were having so much fun, but if you had a bigger canvas you might focus on it and add more instructions. Overall, we painted 9 paintings between us and drank two bottles of wine. I spent a total of $26 (not including the miscellaneous towels and plates we used since I already had them). If we’d split it between the four of us, that would be $6.50 each. Either way it’s better than $30 plus wine, right? Now enjoy your cheap DIY wine and paint night!

It’s pretty obvious which one is mine, right?
game night

5 Ideas for a Fun, Unique Game Night

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I love a fun, unique game night, whether I’m throwing it or not. Admittedly, I also love the classics, and I certainly won’t say no to a game of Cranium or Clue.  But, sometimes you want a new experience, especially if you are having frequent game nights. If you aren’t normally a hostess, or if you’re as busy as I am, game nights are a great way to go when you want to have people over. There’s not a lot of pressure for you to entertain each person individually, food and beverage requirements are minimal, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a group of friends who know each other or not since they won’t be expected to make non-game related conversation. Plus they’re fun for kids and adults alike. So, without further ado, here’s a few ideas for your next game night!

Ideas for a Fun, Unique Game Night

1. Kill the World

Fun, unique game nights include apocalypses
Yes, we can totally survive off this after we become radioactive!

We live in precarious times, don’t we? I was actually inspired (or uninspired, I guess) enough to write about surviving political conversations a while back, but today I’m going to go the other direction. Blow it all up! Send in the plague! You’d be surprised how many different end-it-all games there are, but I’m a huge fan of Plague and it’s based on Pandemic, so I’d suggest those, but Amazon has plenty of similar ones. You can check out the app versions of Plague and Pandemic first if you want to see which one you prefer. The point of these is to kill the world with disease, but if you’re more of a nuclear holocaust lover, try The Manhattan Project Game. I love this one because I live near Secret City, but it is a little complicated so maybe skip it if it’s a kid night.

To make your game night particularly unique, enjoy an end of the world theme all around. Play a little The Walking Dead or Armageddon in the background (Okay, maybe not Armageddon, it’s a little too hopeful – 2012 maybe? Put it on mute and just enjoy the special effects). Serve End of the World cocktails and snacks like Twinkies or something honey related. Honey doesn’t expire, get it? We’ll be  living off it once the world is over. Is all this too bleak for you? Do you not share my love of the apocalypse? Okay, then, on to my next fun, unique game night idea.

2. Make everything a Game

Fun, unique game nights make everything a competition.
I didn’t have blindfolds, but what a great use for my solar eclipse glasses.

Why only focus on board games? I’m pretty sure every time we have a game night we all dissolve into madness by the end and resort to Name that Tune with our iPhone playlists, so why not start with that? While you’re waiting for everyone to get there, you can find a playlist of TV theme songs or 80s tunes, or whatever strikes your fancy, and get people ready to play. It would also be fun to play guess the wine or snack food if you have a couple of blindfolds handy. You don’t have to throw a wine tasting on top of your game night, but see if people can tell red or white. Or, see how many different chip flavors they can guess when you’re in between games, especially if you’re playing the type of game where people get eliminated. The uber competitive will love this!

3. Role Play

Role play for a fun, unique game night.
I don’t have any sword and sorcery gear, so we’ll be role playing as fire fighters.

You’ve heard of Dungeons & Dragons, right? I’m sure you have, and I’m also sure you either think it’s way too geeky for you or you already love it. I was in the former camp until I watched the episode of Community where they make it look like the most fun thing that anyone has ever done. Haven’t seen Community? Skip your game night and binge watch it instead.  Now, I’m not suggesting D&D itself, because it requires a lot of work. I did attempt to play it once and had trouble getting into it. It required research beforehand. I don’t have time for that. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, but there’s plenty of other role-playing games you could try for a fun, unique game night. I like Expedition. The rules are easy and a whole game can be completed in one sitting.

4. Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunt the neighborhood for a fun, unique game night.
Bonus points if you can find all the manholes pretending to be plants.

This one might not be as effective if you live in an apartment building, but if you’re in a neighborhood it could be great. Go around beforehand and make notes of weird things your neighbors have lying around. You know, all the good lawn ornaments. You might want your roommate/spouse to do this separately so you can each play fairly. Divide into a few groups and give everybody lists of what to find. Make sure to give them a perimeter and determine if they just have to write the address or take a picture as proof they found it, then have at it. This sounds like maybe not the most adult thing to do, but think of bachelorette parties. Scavenger hunts are great fun. In fact, if you gave me a discreet glass of wine and a scavenger hunt list, I might not need a board game at all.

5. Test Kickstarter Games

Test out Kickstarters for a fun, unique game night.
What, you thought I was kidding? It’s a real game.

Ever heard of Exploding Kittens? It’s all the rage right now, you know, and it has Kickstarter to thank. At some point for this game to succeed, people had to play it, right?  Some game creators will release free beta versions on Kickstarter (or whatever crowdfunding site they’re using). Others might require a pledge to get a printable version. This does require a little research beforehand, unfortunately, so you might want to ask your guests to see what they can find to give you a couple of options. If it takes too long, search “free print and play games” and pick something in the creative commons. You could wind up playing the most amazing game ever. Or, you’ll be playing the worst thing ever created. Either way, people will remember that, right?

Now that you’ve got plenty of ideas, go out and have yourselves a fun, unique game night!

ideas for a fun, unique game night
Parties for pay

Parties for Pay: Good Idea or Not Worth the Time?

I don’t throw parties for pay, but my Facebook is plastered with invites for this kind of thing. So, I’m going deep into the bowels of the internet to find out – do people actually make money with this stuff? How hard do you have to work? Is it worth a busy lady’s time? Personally, I’m not a sales person, so if it requires any work at all I’m out. I’m also out if there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. I just don’t have time with all that I’m already doing. But, I know there are plenty of ladies (and gentlemen) who would like to give up some of the work they do and make money another way, so let’s take a look.

First of all, parties for pay are technically called “Multi-Level Marketing” companies, or MLMs. If you’re looking for one to start, that’s how I’d search for it.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think of the Tupperware parties of yore, or Thirty-One bags today. They’re everywhere, right? Someone invites you to a party where they’re going to show you a bunch of products and then either try to push you into buying something until you feel guilty enough to do it, or feel too guilty to push their products and then lose a bunch of money. What a fun idea! We can probably blame this on Amway if we want, although technically the first MLM was a company called Wachter.  Today there are over 1000 options, so something for everyone I guess.

The Bad News about Parties for Pay

Competitive pricing? Maybe.

One of the reasons I’m writing this is because a friend of mine started Mary Kay a while back and it cost her a TON of money. Yes, you read that correctly. It cost her money to make money. I get it; she’s technically buying a franchise, so of course it comes with a price tag. But it was a lot, and the rules were strict, and she wound up losing all of it. Then the other day I saw this article online. Parties for pay were causing women to lose money AND have psychological problems. Wow! That seems like a terrible business opportunity, doesn’t it? In fact, the FTC did a study of 11 companies and found 99% of MLM reps lose money. Reading that made me cringe and think parties for pay are terrible, terrible ideas.

When I started this research I admit I was only looking for physical parties for pay, like you see with Mary Kay or Thirty-One, but I went down the rabbit hole my friends. I mean, I went deep down a rabbit hole, and I’m not even interested in this for myself. It started to seem like such a scam I felt like I had to talk about all MLMs, including ones where you do all your work on Facebook and never see another person.  A different friend of mine got into LuLaRoe and swears she is thriving, despite all the bad news coming out of that company. Now, she might be lying, but she is a hustler and she’s pretty open about her mistakes, so I feel like she probably is making money. Obviously some people have to, right, or this wouldn’t be a thing. So what’s their deal?

Who Actually Makes Money?

Buy my fancy lipsticks! I’m selling it out of a van so you know it’s good!

Oh come on now. We know who they are. They’ve got a bridge to sell you. They were the Girl Scout that somehow sold enough cookies to feed a small country. They can place three hundred cold calls and still feel upbeat. Oh, and it appears they all have their own websites. When you first start researching parties for pay, you’ll see a lot of hopeful articles and hear about how much money people made. I’m sure plenty of them are true. But, I would remember one thing when you’re looking at those articles. If the person writing it is involved in an MLM, they’re probably selling you something. It might just be trying to convince you to join up, but you can be sure they’re getting something for that.

Actually, they’re probably getting more for getting you to join than if they’d sold you something. That’s where the real money is – networking and signing people up under you. It’s not exactly a pyramid scheme, but here’s a good explanation of how MLMs work. People who make money blogging have to network a lot too, so don’t think that’s a bad word.  It’s all about having a community, and if you are good with that, you’ll probably be more successful at your MLM. I’m going to talk about the numbers on this anti-Jamberry article in a second, but for now I’d like to direct your attention to the comment section. People are aggressively fighting both for and against the company. I especially like that the pro-Jamberry people try linking to their websites. See? They are constantly on it! No wonder they make money.

Should I Try Parties for Pay?

Not enough money for my time (although what is, really?).

I don’t know you, but I’m going to go ahead and say no, don’t do it. Not unless you are willing to devote your life to it, lose money, or potentially to scam them instead of vice versa. Is that possible, you ask? I think so, yes. After my research, I’m pretty sure you could sign up for one of these companies, do a launch party (where people typically have the most success – after all, no one’s sick of you yet), and get out with a tiny little profit. But even that would require a lot of research, so don’t think you’re just going to have a fun party one time and make a little extra dough with no work involved.  Honestly, you should never really expect that. No one’s going to hand you money for nothing.

If you’re going to do it anyway, I suggest you research and research A LOT. That Jamberry article I mentioned before calculates that their “$99” startup fee was actually more like $124 because you have to pay shipping, which they don’t mention. The average Stella&Dot rep makes between $0 and $100 a year if you include inactive reps, which many are because you have to sell $200 a month to be considered active. Is that even worth the effort? You’re going to need to do more than just generic internet research too. Check with your friends and family to see if they’re interested in whatever you’re selling, because they’re your first customers, and if it’s something you won’t put the time in for, likely your only customers.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know, friends. Parties for pay aren’t really scams, and they’re certainly not illegal, but they’re not for me, and they’re definitely not for people short on time trying to make real money. I’ll stick with not selling things to my friends at parties. Sometimes I’ll spend too much, like at my dinner parties, and sometimes I’ll make them so simple I don’t even decorate, but either way I won’t be making money. If anyone I know personally asks my opinion, I’ll probably tell them to skip it too. There are lots of other ways to make money from home if you want, and thinking you’ll casually make money at a gathering you’d throw anyway is probably unrealistic.

What do you think? Anyone had success with this type of money making scheme or plan on giving it a try? Let me know in the comments!

Can you actually make money with parties for pay? #workfromhome
potty training cake

How to Make a Potty Training Party Cake

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I’ll be honest, I don’t need a potty training party cake right now.  My son likes to tell me his toys are pooping and put them in his potty, but heaven forbid he sit on it himself. But, my best friend’s daughter recently potty trained, so of course they had to celebrate. When she was looking for cake ideas, she couldn’t find what she wanted, so she created one herself. I, being the good friend I am, saw the picture and immediately decided to steal it for the blog. Her response? Let me know how it does on Pinterest. Lol. So, people, pin away!

Now, my friend called her party a “panty party,” and the cake she did is for girls. For some reason she didn’t take pictures of the entire process (what a slacker, right?), so I had to make my own. Since my son’s older than my daughter, I figured it made sense to do one for boys. I’ll just leave the potty training party cake on my counter until he potty trains in a few months or so and then we’ll eat it. Kidding, you guys.  We’ll eat it all in one sitting like healthy people. This looks like it’s going to be pretty complicated, but it actually isn’t. The secret? Cupcakes and a willingness to be a little messy. It’s called a pull-apart cake, which I’ve never heard of before, but is apparently a thing.

Instructions for Making a Potty Training Party Cake

How to make a potty training party cake
The perfect cake for a panty party.

What You Need

24 unfrosted cupcakes in wrappers
2 batches buttercream icing (the thicker the better here – I like this recipe)
Food coloring
Fondant & Edible Spray Color (optional)
Other cake decorating items, like candies or ready made decorating icing (optional)

What to Do

No, I did not mean to have two types of cupcakes. My dog enjoyed 11 chocolate ones so I had to make more (he’s fine).
First frost. Is anyone else reminded of Mrs. Doubtfire?
Second round. So much frosting! The kids will love it.
  1. After you’ve baked your cupcakes (it is totally acceptable that they come out of a box), it’s time to set them up. First prepare a surface for  your cake. It needs to be quite big, so you might have to make one out of cardboard. I used my pizza pan. Cover it with aluminum foil. This is where the cupcakes will go.
  2.  Start with 2 rows of 6 cupcakes, then a row of 5, then 4, then 3, then 2. You may have less at the end depending on how big the tops of your cupcakes are.
  3. Push the cupcakes as close together as possible. This will help prevent frosting falling through the holes, although it’s probably going to fall through at least a little. That’s why you covered your cake tray in foil. 🙂
  4.  Smear your first batch of buttercream frosting all over those cupcakes. Have fun with it, no one’s going to see this part! In fact, this frosting doesn’t even have to be colored. You might still have some gaps in frosting here but that’s fine; just make sure they’re not too big.
  5. Put the cupcakes in the fridge to chill the frosting for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Decide what colors you want your underwear. I’m lazy and decided to opt with white for the main part, but my friend used a couple of colors for hers.
  7. Once your cupcakes have chilled, get them back out and frost all of them again with your main color. There should be no gaps this time.
  8. Add your lines. You can do this with cake decorating tips, or you can do it the real frenzied way and draw them with tube frosting. Start the top of the underwear line under the second row of 6 and the bottom of the line above the row of 2.
  9. Decorate however you see fit. The girl’s potty training party cake has stars made of fondant and colored by edible spray. I can’t tell you how to do that as I would never be bothered to use fondant, but I’m sure there are 8 million tutorials online.
  10. Put it back in the fridge until it’s time to eat. Serving is easy – just pull off a cupcake! I would note that they come off a lot cleaner if you let the cake sit out a bit beforehand. If you do it when they’re still cold the frosting will break in weird places.
Making some lines (don’t mind my terrible attempt at stars).
First we had a panty cake, now we have a tighty whitey cake.
A little mess when you pull apart, but that’s alright. Toddlers don’t judge your cake skills.

Bonus Decoration Idea

I may have mentioned over and over again that I hate decorating, but I have an idea for this one that won’t take much time. Besides balloons (because every kid party really does need balloons), why not string some underwear up and hang it someplace? It’s the same basic concept that these baby showers use with baby clothes. Just get yourself a couple packs of underwear, which you’re going to need anyway unless you’re also making this potty training party cake for giggles, and either hang them on a string or clothespin them right side up. Alright, moms and dads! Go convince your kids to use the potty so they can get this awesome cake!

A potty training party is the perfect way to celebrate your little one. #kidparty
style sneakers (2)

Best Ways to Keep Drinks Cool at an Outdoor Party

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What are the best ways to keep drinks cool at an outdoor party? I wonder this from time to time when I’m browsing Pinterest and seeing all the little DIY coolers people have made. Do they actually work? Do we even need them? Doesn’t everyone own a Coleman or an Igloo? Why can’t we use those anymore? As you can see, I have a lot of questions about cooling devices. Anyway, since global warming is making summers hotter and hotter,  I thought it would be fun to test out a couple before the end of summer barbecues started. I tested out streamers verses tablecloth decorations awhile back and enjoyed bashing streamers, so I figured I could do the same with this.

Before I get started, let me give you a quick rundown of the method. I got four different cooling devices and a whole bunch of ice on a very hot day (91 when I poured the ice). The sky was sunny, humidity not bad. I poured the ice at 4:00 P.M., figuring most people have their barbecues in the early evening. Then I just left them to see how fast the ice would melt. I did put one drink in each of the drink coolers and a plate on the bonus food coolers, but I am aware that the ice will melt differently when completely full. This is still a good baseline. Anyway, here we go!

Reviews of Cooling Devices

1. The Yeti Cooler

Full disclosure: I don’t own a Yeti. My mom won my experimental cooler at a raffle a few months ago so I borrowed it from her. If you haven’t heard of Yeti, they’re basically the new standard of coolers. My husband got one of their glasses last year and that was the first time I’d heard of it, but even a year ago everyone acted like I was an idiot for not knowing. Anyway…

Review:

How Many Bags of Ice: 1.5 (could have put more, but I probably wouldn’t have if I was filling it up with drinks)

Time to Set Up: However long it takes to dump ice. If you’re entertaining at a park instead of a house, this will be a bonus time saver because everything will already be packed when you load up.

How Long To Melt: As of writing, it’s still holding strong, so at least one day.

First hour, still frozen
Hour four, still frozen
The next day – still ice, with a really low layer of water at the bottom

Pros: This is pretty obvious, right? The ice still hasn’t melted. Plus it’s portable.

Cons: It’s not “cute.” If you’re looking for a nice outdoor setup, this isn’t going to wow anyone with how adorable it is. It is plain white though, so it’s also not going to be that weird blue cooler color in your pink and purple party scheme. Also, it’s going to cost you way more than any other cooling device.

Best For:

You can’t really go wrong using this if you want an outdoor party because it will keep your drinks cool, but I don’t know that I’d pay for it if I was just throwing barbecues in my backyard. I would cough up the money if I camped a lot or did a lot of long hour entertaining, like days on the lake. It’s kind of strange comparing it to the others since it’s an actual cooler, but really, a list of the best ways to keep drinks cool at an outdoor party would be remiss if it didn’t have Yeti. Besides, if you don’t feel like you need your drink holders to be Pinterest worthy, might as well be high tech, right?

2. Inflatable Cooler


This is basically just a float you can put ice in. It’s said to float in a pool, but I don’t have one so I can’t confirm that. I mean, it would definitely float, but I don’t know how much you could weigh it down before it started to sink.

Review:

How Many Bags of Ice: 2

Time to Set Up: It took me forever because I blew it up without a pump and I kept getting interrupted. But I think probably 5-10 minutes is a good estimate, including getting it unfolded and filled.

How Long To Melt: It was halfway gone by hour 2.

Survived hour 1.
Hour two we’ve got serious melting.
It’s just a pool of water by hour three.

Pros: The look. It would look fun set up on a table in your backyard, wouldn’t it? You can put both drinks and plates in it. Also, they’re pretty cheap.

Cons: I was honestly surprised with how fast the ice melted in this one. I realize that most people will not put it on cement (I don’t have backyard furniture yet), but if you’re using a table that’s always outside, it’ll still be pretty hot. If you have something to put in between your surface and the cooler, it’ll probably do better. It’s also the longest set up.

Best For:

Short parties or parties where the decor is important. Think pool party or maybe a summer birthday party – especially one at night. In one of the Amazon reviews, they added a picture of this with some glowsticks in it to light up a night party. That would be pretty cool, and presumably the lower temperature would help keep the ice frozen.

3. Kiddie Pool

The kiddie pool cooler is honestly my reason for writing this. I keep saving the idea on Pinterest then wondering if the ice would melt immediately. If so it definitely wouldn’t be one of the best ways to keep drinks cool at an outdoor party, that’s for sure. Sorry I don’t have a link for it, but really, would you want to deal with a box that size? Go pick one up at Walmart or whatever. Mine came from Babies R Us for $5.

Review:

How Many Bags of Ice: 3, room for more

Time to Set Up: A couple of minutes, just dumping ice.

How Long To Melt: About 3 hours

The ice started melting immediately in this one, but there’s still plenty at hour one.
We’ve got a lot of slush at hour two.
There’s some ice hanging on at hour three, but it was gone by four.

Pros: It fits a lot of stuff. Plus people will probably tell you it’s creative. And it’s the cheapest on this list.

Cons: Um… you guys… it’s a kiddie pool. Good luck trying to keep your toddlers out of it. My son did not care that it was ice. It’s his pool, and he wants in. The pool’s so big you can’t really put it on a table, so people are going to be reaching to the ground to pick up their drinks, which is also kind of a bummer.

Best For:

Barbecues and kid parties, assuming you can get the pool set up without your kids trying to get in. The best ways to keep drinks cool at an outdoor party do not involve freezing your children as well. 🙂

4. Bonus Food Cooler


So, I have this ice mat that you can put food on to keep cool. It’s definitely not going to be one of the best ways to keep drinks cool at an outdoor party, but if you have a plate or bowl you want to leave outside this will work.

Review:

How Many Bags of Ice: 0

Time to Set Up: One minute, but you have to remember to freeze it at least 6 hours before.

How Long To Melt: I’m not sure when it was melted since you can’t touch the ice, but at about 3 hours the plate started to warm up.

Nice and frosty at hour one.
We’ve got edge bubbles at hour two.
Hour three – bubbles everywhere!

Pros: So easy.  I love just rolling it out.

Cons: It’s so small! Can someone create a giant one of these to go over a whole table? That’d be great. Although I don’t know how you’d freeze that.

Best For:

Barbecues and potlucks. How great would this be if you’re bringing a cool dish to someone else’s party but you aren’t sure they’ll have a way for you to keep it at the right temperature?

Decision: What are the Best Ways to Keep Drinks Cool at an Outdoor Party?

My decision here is there’s not a best way. It seems like a cop-out, but really, it depends on what kind of party you’re having. Is it a fancy event? I think the Yeti coolers will look classic, but baby pools will look, well, cheesy. Is your party only lasting an hour or two? Then any of them are fine. If it’s in the middle of the day and super hot, I would say the inflatable cooler is not one of the best ways to keep drinks cool at an outdoor party, but if it’s an average temperature or an evening party it will work. Also, how much are you serving? Do you really need a kiddie pool full of drinks? Do you need to lug everything to a picnic area? Think about these things, and the you be able to choose the appropriate cooling device for you.

The best ways to keep drinks cool at outdoor parties aren't always the cutest, but practical is important! #party