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

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

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

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

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
how to (1)

A Mexican Inspired Brunch Menu

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

I’ve been wanting to write about a Mexican inspired brunch menu for awhile. I love brunch. Seriously, if someone wants to see me on a Sunday, I’m going to suggest brunch. Occasionally I even cook it myself. Me being who I am, when I do host brunch, it has to have a theme. I can’t just throw breakfast and lunch food on the table all willy nilly. Now, when I say Mexican inspired brunch menu, I want to be clear about something. I do not mean Mexican dishes. No, this menu is really just typical American food wearing tortillas. It’s still delicious though, so bear with me.

This is not the first time I’ve done this particular theme, but I did change up the recipes so we didn’t get bored. I actually was hosting a brunch, so my food is not really photography pretty, but that’s what real food looks like. Who needs every plate to look fabulous? Crazy people and professional chefs, that’s who. I also have a little secret I need to tell you all… I don’t follow recipes very well, unless they’re baking. In fact, the only one I followed in this Mexican inspired brunch menu is the muffins, and even those I got a little crazy with at the end. Mostly I just look at pictures and do what I want. I’ll tell you what I did, but I recommend just doing whatever tastes good.

Mexican Inspired Brunch Menu

The Egg Dish

I might do a different theme for every brunch, but I follow the same basic rules every time. You have to have an egg dish, so for this meal I chose sausage taquitos. You can see a recipe here or here. I didn’t read either, but they looked pretty. What I did was cook up some eggs with a little bit of salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne. Then I put the eggs on a tortilla, followed by cheese, and then a sausage link. I rolled them up and threw them in the oven for 15 minutes. That’s it. I was going to put in green peppers too, but chopping stuff, ick. That would require chopping. Another option: breakfast burritos. My only reasoning for making taquitos instead of burritos is so I didn’t have to roll them.  Who has time for that?

The Meat Dish

Next up is the meat dish. I saw these barbecue pork nachos on Pinterest and they looked amazing, so I had to try them. And I did… several years ago. This time I just cooked up some pork and whipped up a little queso blanco, then fried an egg on top. The rest would have been too time consuming. I did get a chance to use a pretty awesome gadget though. My crockpot broke about a month ago and I hemmed and hawed about what I wanted to replace it with. Then on Amazon Prime Day the Instant Pot went on sale. I snagged it since it had 19,000 mostly amazing reviews. I wasn’t sure I would need a pressure cooker, but it was awesome, and everyone should have one.  Anyway, I didn’t even season the meat. Yes, I was being that lazy.

The Sweet/Fruit Dish

I actually made two different dishes for this, but they were really the same thing. We had a blueberry quesadilla and a strawberry one. You can see actual recipes here and here, but all I did was slather some tortillas in cream cheese and then throw in the fruit and fry it up in a pan. Actually, I also sprinkled sugar on the strawberries so it would seem like I put in a little effort. They were pretty tasty though, I was a little surprised. As you can see, my Mexican inspired brunch menu had really left Mexican cooking behind by that point, but who cares? The last time I did this theme we had apple pie taquitos, which are honestly delicious, but also a ton of work.

Bonus Dish – Bread

So, I don’t make it a big deal to have bread at brunch, but I think that might be because I always have bread anyway. But, in this situation there was no bread since everything was some sort of tortilla dish. To remedy that, my sister helped me make the most amazing churro mini-muffins. I do follow the rules when I’m baking, so my only difference here was the very end. Instead of separating sugar and butter to make it all pretty, we mixed it up and dumped it on top. So much faster, and seriously addictive. Thanks for the recipe, Flavor Mosaic!

Drink Ideas

We didn’t serve drinks this go round since I’m nursing and my sister is pregnant.  Yes, I’m aware there are drinks without alcohol in them.  That doesn’t mean I care to serve them! Plus everyone else would have put alcohol in them anyway, and who wants to see that? The first time I followed a Mexican inspired brunch menu, I served tequila sunrises. They were too strong for me on a Sunday morning, but you could try them if you want. I also saw this and this, and I think they’d be perfectly acceptable and easy enough. Well, I hope this menu helps you have your own “Mexican” brunch. Enjoy!

A Mexican-inspired brunch menu is a fun theme. #brunch
4 Ways to Hold A

4 Ways to Organize a Copycat Recipe Potluck

Anyone ever held a copycat recipe potluck? I may throw a mean fancy dinner party, but heaven help me, I’d go crazy if I did it all the time. This week I thought I’d talk about something much, much simpler. So much simpler, you  barely have to work at all. In fact, you might even be able to convince someone else to host it. Lol. I haven’t actually done one of these yet, but I have been thinking about it for awhile. What do people love? Going out to eat. What impresses those same people? Cooking something from one of those restaurants they love eating at.

In theory, you could do the whole meal yourself, but sometimes a busy girl just needs a break. And sometimes a super pregnant girl just needs to eat and not stand on her feet cooking all day. I’m currently both, but even if I was only one or the other, I think this is the kind of party where sharing duties would be very comfortable. Copycat recipes are usually easy to find, easy to follow, and come out tasting pretty darn good. Even if your friends can’t cook, they can probably come up with something for a copycat recipe potluck. At the very least they can buy it from the restaurant and try to pass it off as theirs. Why not give it a try?

Option 1: A Copycat Recipe Potluck Free-for-All

What do I mean by this, you may ask? It’s simple. Put absolutely no limits on what people bring. Any restaurant, any course, any particular dish. It doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a tasty cocktail.

Copycat Happy Hour domestic beer mugs, everyone’s favorite.

The Drawbacks

My main concern with a copycat recipe potluck free-for-all is that you’d wind up with fifteen batches of Olive Garden breadsticks. But I guess that could be fun, right? You can judge each other harshly and pick one person to look down on for their poor attempt at fresh bread. Okay, kidding about that last part. Don’t be mean. They might not own a bread machine or have the time to knead bread. Why they chose breadsticks in that case, I don’t know. Your hypothetical bread baking friend clearly wants to be an overachiever. But I digress.

The Benefits

Honestly, what are the chances you wind up with fifteen batches of breadsticks? I bet there will be a couple of overlapping dishes, but for the most part it’s likely to be a surprise. Some people probably won’t even think of chain restaurants – they’ll use copycat recipes from their home towns, or some restaurant they visited once in New York. Plus, most of them will be glad not to have a restriction. You’re making them bring you food, and you’ve already put one theme on it. Adding more might stress them out.

Option 2: An Email Chain of Organization

What did people do before email? I mean, I lived without it for part of my life, but I can’t imagine trying to organize events now. Anyway, once you decide who’s invited you can start an email chain. Send it to all your guests, enjoy the necessity of the reply all button.

Yum, cheesecake copied from any old restaurant should be a winner.

The Drawbacks

One word: Delete.

The Benefits

This one is better for groups of friends who do not like surprises, like to stay organized, and prefer feedback before they choose a dish. They sound like a high maintenance group of friends, but they’re not really. They just don’t want to make a Cheesecake Factory dessert if no one’s going to eat it. You can’t blame them. By making sure in advance that everyone knows what everyone else is bringing, you’ll get a nice, cohesive meal and all the really bad ideas will be vetoed from the get-go. It might take a little more time up front, but it will soothe the indecisive people who don’t know what to fix.

Option 3: Assigned Restaurants

You can assign restaurants one of two ways. First, individual assignments. Everyone is either told their restaurant or they pick it from a list. Second, you pick three or four restaurants and assign groups.

Copycat Chili’s fajitas – maybe make more than one serving though, if you want to be nice about it.

The Drawbacks

There’s really only one drawback to this, and it’s that your friends may not agree with your choices. Generally when you have a potluck you’re telling people to bring their best food, so if you start putting restrictions on them left and right they might not want to participate. A copycat recipe potluck should be fun, not stressful, and not everyone is going to have the same taste as you. Of course, if you keep it really small to just close friends, you probably know exactly what restaurants you all like and this could make it super easy.

The Benefits

Anyone have a least favorite chain restaurant? I do! I mean, I had a gift card to this place for three years before I finally caved and bought a beer there. So imagine if everyone I knew brought a dish from that restaurant. Shudder. This way you’ll be sure you’ve got people bringing food from less questionable restaurants, plus for people who don’t want to think about what they’re bringing, you’ve really narrowed down the options.

Option 4: Assigned Courses

Instead of telling people what restaurants they should be copying, you can tell them what course to bring. Or, again, you can have them volunteer. Volunteering is fine, it’s just a matter of who you speak with first. You might want to suggest a course to people but be very flexible if they want to trade.

copycat recipe potluck
Copycat Panera soup, anyone?

The Drawbacks

The main drawback here is that you have to do a little more organizing than if it was a free-for-all.  The secondary drawback is that you should probably assign yourself the main course, if you choose to have a main course instead of a smorgasbord of sides and desserts. I don’t know that you really need a main dish, but if you do, it’ll probably be meat and probably cost more to serve a whole bunch of people. If it’s at your house and you’re the one doing the inviting, I would go ahead and take that hit yourself unless someone else actively wants it.

The Benefits

I mentioned breadsticks earlier, but I don’t really think you’ll get that much bread. I do, however, think you have a real chance of getting a whole lot of dips. It might be a huge variety of dips, and that might be a very fabulous party idea in itself, but is that what you want for a potluck? Probably not. Assigning courses at least guarantees you’re going to get a full menu.

If you’re feeling like a regular potluck isn’t the way to go, a copycat recipe potluck would be fun to try. Personally, I’d go with the free-for-all, because I just don’t have time to deal with organizing all those guests and their food. I will happily give suggestions, though, if they ask.  If you are going to throw one, I would go through a copycat website or two and be prepared with a few options that seem simple enough. CopyKat Recipes is a good place to start, but you can do a quick Google or Pinterest search and you’ll get plenty of ideas. Now get out there and make your friends cook for you!

Throwing a potluck is fine, but sometimes it helps to have a theme. Convince your guests to copy their favorite restaurants and everyone will enjoy! #party #potluck #gettogethers #dinnerparty
tips for hosting a housewarming party

Five Tips for Throwing a Housewarming Party

Throwing a housewarming party as an adult homeowner is a different ordeal than throwing one as a college student who moves to a new rental every two months. I mean, it’s fun either way, but when you’re young and don’t actually own the property you’re living in, housewarming parties are really just an excuse to drink, aren’t they? Whereas when you’re an adult, you want to say, “Look at this piece of construction I purchased! It has four walls and a roof and I actually care about cleaning the carpets!” You may even have transitioned to real, grown-up furniture. You know, pieces that were clearly purchased to complement each other and require a coaster. Either way, throwing a housewarming party really doesn’t need to be a big ordeal. Here’s five tips to get you started.

1. Don’t worry if you’ve lived there a while.

This only works up to a certain extent, but it took me two full months from our move-in date to even start thinking about throwing a housewarming party. No one seemed to think that was odd. Actually, no one even mentioned it. Throwing a housewarming party should be fun and you want to show off your house; if you can’t do that, what’s the point? We are a very busy family, plus I’m pregnant, so unpacking and all that jazz took quite a bit longer than it’s taken me in the past. We also needed to do some projects that took precedence (building a fence, installing a dog door, etc.), schedule around my husband’s Saturday school, and pick a day when I’d have a baby-sitter so I could prepare. I’m surprised it only took us two months to throw it, actually.

Of course, there has to be some sort of deadline on this. I don’t think throwing a housewarming party six years after you’ve moved in will make any sense. Could you call that a barbecue instead? It might ruffle less feathers. I checked a few websites, but there doesn’t seem to be a general consensus on how long is too long. For us, we took a couple of months because of packing, but perhaps you’ve moved into a fixer-upper and need a little more time. If I knew you were hard at work, I wouldn’t mind waiting a year to go to your housewarming. On the other hand, if you want to throw it before you take stuff out of boxes, kudos to you. Does anyone actually care what’s in the boxes? Not unless you’ve been recreating Seven, probably.

What’s in the box?!

2. Invite your neighbors.

Neighbors? Do people actually talk to their neighbors these days? Yes! I do, anyway, and I totally recommend it. Do you know how nice it is to have someone next door to borrow a tool from or a babysitter down the street? Those are a couple of benefits of neighborhood friendships, but there’s also the possibility you could wind up becoming, I don’t know, actual friends. Think about it. You chose the same neighborhood. There’s a good chance you have a similar income. If you both have kids, you found the same school district to be worthwhile. It can’t hurt to find out what you have in common.

The possibility of friendship is not the only reason to invite the neighbors though. Ever had an awful neighbor? Yeah, they exist too. You might as well find out who they are right away. I’m not suggesting they’ll show up to your party; they won’t. Awful neighbors never do. But, they’ll know you’re having a party, so if they have issues with parking or noise or anything like that, they can let you know beforehand. If the awful neighbors don’t out themselves, maybe some of the other, nicer neighbors, who do show up to the party will fill you in. They’ll also let you know if the neighborhood has a Facebook page and other things like that.

3. Don’t decorate.

I mean this sincerely. If you’re throwing a housewarming party, don’t decorate. Put the balloons down, Becky, I see you trying to sneak them in your cart. No, not even for the mailbox to let friends and family know which house is yours. If they can’t read the house numbers already on your house or mailbox, you need new friends and family. If you don’t have house numbers somewhere, you should get them, or you’re never going to be able to order pizza.

Still concerned? Try an address sign like this.

My reasoning for this is pretty simple. When people attend a housewarming party, what do they expect to see? A house. They want to see how your regular decor is done, not whether you are a streamer or plastic tablecloth kind of person. If you have a fixer upper and there’s something you’re trying to hide, put some boxes or a plant in front of it. Or, hey, leave it out in the open and see if you can get any suggestions for it. I did put a plastic tablecloth on my dining room table when I threw my party, but that was not for decoration. That was so people could spill whatever they wanted and I wouldn’t have to clean it.

4. Serve a combination of packaged and homemade food.

Speaking of spillage, you should serve food and drinks at your party. Depending on where you are in your life, you might want more food or more drinks, but you’re going to have to serve something. You may already have twenty fabulous recipes figured out, but even if you do, throw something store-bought out on the serving table. Why? Remember how I told you to invite those neighbors? Well, you’re probably a completely new person to them. They might not trust your cooking just yet. You know there is always someone who participates in the office potluck that just shouldn’t,  and it makes everyone wary of eating strangers’ cooking unless there’s a health inspector grading them on it.

Baby cup for baby guests only, pasta salad for all.

Personally, I’m a big fan of homemade dips, and they’re easy to make, so that’s always a good option. This Chili’s queso knock-off was a big hit if you want to give it a try. As for the store stuff, Costco brownie bites worked really well, and of course we had the standard fruit and vegetable trays. I made sliders (turkey and barbecue) for the main dish, since they’re both pretty easy and I’m always in a time crunch. Your menu doesn’t really matter here, as long as you choose things you know you will eat if your guests don’t. But, the reason you need to feed those guests is pretty simple. They’re probably bringing a gift…

5. Don’t ask for gifts when throwing a housewarming party.

Crazy, right? You don’t ask for them and they show up with one anyway. I think back in the day there was some sort of etiquette rule about gifts and housewarming parties, but I could not be bothered to look that up. Just don’t ask for anything. Is it your first house? They’ll bring you decor things, whether you want them or not. Are you quite young? They’ll probably ask you what you want. Did you just get married? Then you just had a whole registry they chose from, don’t be greedy! For everyone else… Be prepared for plants and wine. Seriously. I wound up with more wine than what I started with, and the only reason I had any wine at all was to serve to our guests. Not that I’m complaining; once I evict this baby next month, that wine is all mine!

Empty pre-party, stocked post-party. Only at housewarmings.

Your younger friends and your neighbors probably won’t arrive with gifts, but that’s fine. It is not anyone else’s job to furnish your house. You don’t buy friends gifts when they purchase cars and other expensive items, do you? I thought not. I don’t think it matters if you mention anything about gifts on your invitation or not. When people see the word “housewarming,” if they’re the gift-giving type, they’re going to show up with something even if you specifically ask them not to, so just leave it alone and don’t make it awkward later. Well, that’s about it. Congrats on your new house, go out and have a fabulous party!

What all do you need for your housewarming? Hint: It's not decorations.#party #housewarming #housewarmingparty
how to SET UP A 5 MINUTE BIG GAME SPORTS BOOK AT HOME

How to Host a Big Game Sports Book at Home

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

 

Have you ever wanted to host a big game sports book at your own home? As a native Nevadan, I always like to add a little gambling to my football parties. I’m not sure why, exactly. There’s just something fun about losing three different bets immediately because somehow the Giants forced Tom Brady into a safety in the first drive of the game. Of course, you don’t have to gamble with money. Some people have it, some people don’t, you know which one you and your friends are. You can also gamble with drinks, food, pride, or you know, whatever else you can come up with. We personally choose money or beer, depending on who we’ve invited, but to each their own.

This year I’m not hosting a Super Bowl party, as I’m living in a tiny, dark rental house for one more month. But, my friends did ask me to bring some Vegas type games with me. Since I don’t have to cook, I should have plenty of time – oh wait! I’m a frenzied hostess! It’s tax season and I’m a bookkeeper. I have NO time for anything (including this – which is why it’s late this week!). But, I said I’d do it, so here we go. Enjoy my ideas for making your own big games sports book, and please, don’t feel like it should take all day.

Big Game Sports Book Ideas

Are they a little crazy looking? Sure, but see what I have to work around?

1. Super Squares

If you’ve ever had coworkers, been to a restaurant with TVs in January, or casually glanced at game day ideas, you’ve seen these before. You won’t see them in a Las Vegas sports book, but they’re still fun and easy to get people’s toes wet in the gambling arena. I’m not going to go through the whole process – the folks over at Super Bowl Squares have that covered. Follow those instructions. Now, here’s my input: Get some poster board, don’t waste your time measuring squares because no one cares about that, and then tape it to a wall in an obvious place. You should also have some squares filled out beforehand so people get interested. Yes, you do have to pony up if you place the bets. Then direct your first couple of guests right to that big beautiful grid and get the game going.

2. Prop Bets

I took an extra two seconds per football. Fancy!

Prop bets are my absolute favorite. They are the reason I somehow managed to lose all those bets at once back in 2012. They’re basically just random things you can bet on, like what color Gatorade will get dumped on the winning coach or how long the national anthem will last. Here’s a good list of bets for 2017 specifically, but you could update this each year, minus perhaps the entertainment ones. I would not choose too many. It would get confusing, because you are not actually a sports book. Instead, pick about five, making sure to pick some from both game and non-game related bets. Then throw them on another poster board and have the bettors write their answers on it.

One other little addition I might add this year is to set up a couple of bets about the guests. Not everyone there is going to be a football fan, so to keep them entertained, I thought it might be fun to make some prop bets like “Who will start the backyard football game?” and “Who will cry at a commercial?” If you have big drinker friends, you can incorporate that as well. Since this is your own private big game sports book, you might as well involve everyone.

3. Who Will Win?

Okay friends, you should be doing this even if you aren’t going to make a big game sports book. Why wouldn’t you bet on who’s going to win? Now, there are a couple ways of going about this. The easiest, obviously, is to simply pick who’s going to win. I typically don’t collect any money for this, but when I have guests they write their name on a slip of paper and put it in a bowl dedicated to the team they think is going to win. Once the game is over I pull out a name out from the winner’s side and they get a prize. You could actually collect money and split it between winners; I would give them all something the color of their team, like a pin or beads, to prove they won.

4. Vegas Style

On the other hand, you could get crazy and go real sports book style. Here’s a link to the current odds. I can’t advise you to actually pay out on those odds, unless you’re a rich person, in which case you may want to consider something other than poster board for your sports book. I can tell you what those numbers mean. The line is pretty easy. According to that site, New England is favored by 3, which is the -3 you’re seeing.  Basically you bet on the Patriots if you think they’ll win by 3 or more. You pick Atlanta if you think they’ll win, or even if they’ll lose by less than 3 points. It’s not much of a spread, so good luck with this one.

The other fun part of trying to plan a big game sports book  is taking bets on the over/under. Usually the over/under is what Vegas thinks both teams are going to score combined. In this case, it’s 58 points. Fifty-eight! That’s a high scoring game they’re suggesting. The good news is, the betting part is much easier than the scoring. Do you think there will be more or less than 58 points scored during the game?  You can write down people’s bets for this if you want, or have people put their names down somewhere, or whatever you want. Again, I wouldn’t suggest you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to pay like the sports book would. I’d just settle on a wager from the beginning; perhaps pair over bettors with under bettors and let them choose their own terms.

Well, that’s about it! Enjoy your big game sports book, and don’t forget your amazing bookie visor! 🙂

Wanna gamble? Here's how to host an easy sports book at home (money not required). #footballparty #sportsbook #gameday #gambling #football #betting #partyideas #footballpartyideas #gamedayideas
Wanna gamble? Here's how to host an easy sports book at home (money not required). #footballparty #sportsbook #gameday #gambling #football #betting #partyideas #footballpartyideas #gamedayideas

 

GOUNELLE

Game Day Food by Football Team Cities

Have you ever tried to plan your game day food by football team cities? The play-offs are fast approaching, which means most people will have their eye on the big game. But, if you’re like me, your team will only be hosting the game, not playing in it. So, I celebrate them in earlier rounds. I try to be fair in my game day food, even when I have a preferred team. I’ll use one signature dish from each team’s city (or state, or region if that’s what they represent). I do this all of January every year, yet I never remember my research. It was high time to make a comprehensive list, and I had to share it. There are other lists of game day food by football team cities out there, I know, but I don’t want to buy specific ice creams or make cabbage rolls, so here we are.

The great thing about having a list like this is you can use it all year. Some teams see the play-offs all the time; others are Cleveland, where the best game of the season is game 1. (Sorry Cleveland! At least you have basketball.) Why not enjoy a little city-specific game day food all year long? It doesn’t have to be a big party; in fact some of these would be better for just a few friends. When it comes to game day food, it can be really fun to color coordinate things like cupcakes or punch, but it’s also fun to get  cultured. I tried to find three ideas for each team, using main or side dishes where possible. Some were easy – think Philadelphia or  New York. Some were ridiculously difficult – I’m looking at you, Jacksonville. If you know of better ideas, let me know in the comments!

List of Game Day Food by Football Team Cities

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals play in Glendale, but since they claim the whole state I didn’t feel obligated to stick to the area. You might think of Mexican when you think of the Southwest, but there’s also a heavy Native American influence to give you more of a variety of dishes.

Chimichangas
Fry Bread
Cheese Crisps

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta is a great food city. I would legitimately drive there right now just for dinner if my child enjoyed the car.  You can likely find any kind of food you want there, but when it comes to it’s signature dishes, think Southern.

Fried Chicken
Biscuits
Grits

Baltimore Ravens

I feel like it would be cheating if I wrote three different types of crabs, but friends, they have at least that many signature crab dishes. I listed Lake Trout here, although there seems to be an argument as to what that actually is. Have fun with that if you just can’t stand crab!

Crab Cakes
Pit Beef Sandwiches
Lake Trout

It wouldn’t be a list of game day food by football team cities without buffalo wings, would it?

Buffalo Bills

When you think Buffalo, I’m sure you think buffalo wings, and that is a good option. But it’s not the only option! There were actually quite a few dishes the city claimed to be good at, although they didn’t all seem like game day food.

Chicken Wings
Beef on Weck
Charcoal Broiled Hot Dogs

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are supposed to encompass both Carolinas. I was tempted to only do North Carolina since I lived there for five years, but I decided to be nice. When I say barbecue, you should be aware, there are very distinct types from each state. Choose wisely!

Barbecue
Shrimp & Grits
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Chicago Bears

Did I even need to bother with Chicago? I’m not sure that I did. It has so many signature dishes, you might as well make anything you can think of and just call it “Chicago-style.”

Deep Dish Pizza
Chicago Style Dogs
Italian Beef

Cincinnati Bengals

I was recently in Cincinnati and determined to stop by one of their chili places, but I didn’t make it. Their chili fascinates me though – they put it on spaghetti! Who thinks of this stuff?

Cincinnati Chili
Goetta
Montgomery Inn-Style Barbecue

Cleveland Browns

I thought I was going to have a hard time with Cleveland, but they surprised me. They have several dishes that not only make sense as a game day food, but they’re also pretty easy to make, even for a group.

Polish Boys
Pierogies
Pizza Bagels

Dallas Cowboys

Ah, Texas. So much food, so little time. Luckily there are two Texas teams to fit it all in. I tried to split them appropriately, but they both have that Tex Mex style to them and love meat. Perfect for games, right?

Brisket
Burgers
Tex Mex

Denver Broncos

I love Denver’s restaurant scene, but they have a lot of influences from all over the place, so it was hard to narrow it down. If you’re on the east coast, you’ll probably prefer a Denver sandwich over the omelette, but west coasters might enjoy them for an early morning game.

Bison Burgers
Green Chili
Denver Sandwiches/Omelettes

Detroit Lions

I always thought a Coney Dog was a Coney Island thing, but either I’m wrong or confused about the history. Apparently they’re Detroit’s signature dish. I’m kind of vague about apples, I know, but it gives you a chance to be creative.

Coney Dogs
Square Deep Dish
Apple Dishes

Green Bay Packers

The team’s fans are called Cheeseheads, and if I wasn’t sharing this list, it would be all cheese. Since I am, I did my best to find some other dishes. Wisconsin sounds like a good place for game day food!

Fish Fry
Cheese Curds
Brats

Houston Texans

Houston’s food is all over the place due to it’s history of immigrants from everywhere. There’s a big Cajun influence along with their Tex Mex, and of course regular ole’ Texas chili.

Chili (no beans)
Cajun Shrimp
Pecan Pie

Indianapolis Colts

Every source I looked at claimed Indianapolis loves breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, so I would have to say this one is actually definitive. Of course, if pork isn’t for you, there are other options.

Corn on the Cobb or Sweet Corn
Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
Sugar Cream Pies

Jacksonville Jaguars

Oh Jacksonville. You all claimed you have no specific dish, and after a morning of searching, I believe you. In fact, I picked shrimp for you because you had a lot of vague “seafood” comments. But your baseball team is the Jumbo Shrimp, so the crustacean must be cooked somewhere, right?

Camel Rider Sandwiches
Shrimp
Lubi Sandwiches

Kansas City Chiefs

I’ll be honest with you. After researching Kansas City food, I’m pretty sure all they eat is barbecue. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, it doesn’t matter. In fact, if you are a vegetarian, you might cease to exist once you cross city limits. I added some broader Kansas/Missouri foods to round it out.

KC Barbecue
Fried Chicken
Zwieboch

Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles claims to be good at everything, so go ahead and make whatever you want. I left a ton of stuff off this list, like tacos, but other cities needed foods too, so LA has to share.

Ramen
Thai Food
French Dips

Miami Dolphins

To me, Miami is all about Cuban food. They might serve something else, but I’ve never looked. I know some of these things look difficult and not like what a frenzied host might want to make, but they aren’t that bad. If you don’t have time to try them, make any Cuban dish and call it a day.

Ceviche
Croquettas
Fried Plantains

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota has a ton of regional food. A lot of it comes from Nordic influences, which is perfect for the Vikings. They may be hard to accomplish. But the other parts are kind of like what you would expect at a state fair or an unhealthy potluck (think Jello salad), so you have a variety of foods to choose from.

Lefse and/or Lutefisk
Deep Fried Cheese Curds
Tater Tot Hot Dish

New England Patriots

Friends, if you don’t have a good recipe for clam chowder or know of  a can worth serving to people, let your eyes skim right past that option. Pretend you saw oysters or cranberries. There’s probably many more choices as well, since the Patriots are greedy and represent a whole region.

Clam Chowder
Lobster Rolls
Boston Cream Pies

New Orleans Saints

You know what’s great about New Orleans food? No other city claims it, so it’s one of the most unique on this list of game day food by football team cities. They have a rich history of Cajun/Creole cooking that’s really distinctive, and it sure was nice not having to read about what kind of tacos they serve.

Gumbo
Jambalaya
Muffulettas

game day food

New York Giants

You may be aware that there are two New York teams. Two! And they play in New Jersey! It’s nonsense. But, I’m perfectly okay with it in this situation because New York has a ton of food they can claim as their own. Add a few more teams, I’m sure I could find a few more options.

Pizza
Hot Dogs
General Tsos Chicken

New York Jets

If you’re wondering, these are listed completely at random. I don’t feel like the Jets would be more likely to eat bagels than the Giants, or that the Giants would be more likely to eat pizza than the Jets. Wouldn’t it be kind of funny if they were though?

Pastrami on Rye
Chicken & Waffles
Bagels

Oakland Raiders

Yes, that’s right, I gave taco truck tacos to Oakland. All the forums I read were pretty insistent about this, so it is what it is. I’m not sure precisely what kind of tacos appear in those trucks, so I guess that means you can choose whatever you want.

Taco Truck Tacos
Barbecue
Oysters

Philadelphia Eagles

Philly’s really adamant that they’re more than cheesesteak, so please don’t feel like that has to be your only choice. Pretzels for game day sounds amazing. By the way, Irish potatoes aren’t Irish or potatoes. I wonder what the Irish think of that.

Cheesesteak
Irish Potatoes
Soft Pretzels

Pittsburgh Steelers

You are reading this right. Pierogies are appearing on the list for a second time. Who knew this country had such a love of pierogies? I ate them in North Carolina once and no one else knew what they were. Primante is a restaurant, but you can find their recipes online.

Pierogies
Primante Sandwiches
Fried Zucchini

San Diego fish tacos for creating your game day food by football team cities.

San Diego Chargers

Do I remember something about San Diego moving to LA with the Rams? I might have to change this soon. Until then, enjoy some more California food with a beachy vibe.

Carne Asada Burritos
Fish Tacos
Turkey Avocado Sandwich

 

San Francisco 49ers

I miss San Francisco clam chowder in a bread bowl. I ate clam chowder all over Boston, but nobody served it like they do on the pier. Cioppino’s a pricier meal, but it’s actually pretty easy to cook. Just remember to clean your shellfish.

Clam Chowder with Sourdough
Cioppino
Mission-Style Burritos

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle folks couldn’t seem to agree on anything other than salmon, so serve that however you want. They also kept mentioning coffee, but last time I checked you can’t eat that so I left it off the list of game day food by football team cities. They do say their vegan food is great, so if you are feeling like it’s time to try something animal product-less, might as well start with this.

Salmon
Fish and Chips
Vegan

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I bet you’re surprised to see Cuban sandwiches here instead of Miami. They actually started out there, but the more I read about Tampa, the more I realized this is where they belong. And yes, that says enchilado, not enchilada. Don’t ask me why, I didn’t create it.

Cuban Sandwiches
Crab Enchilado
Spanish Bean Soup

Tennessee Titans

Here’s my current home team (although not the one I root for). With these three dishes you’ve got Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville covered. I’m not a super fan of cornbread, but it is a nice and easy addition to a game day meal.

Memphis Barbecue
Hot Chicken
Cornbread

Washington Redskins

Our nation’s capitol is known mostly for food of other country’s. Neat, huh? Everyone agrees the main signature dish is the half-smoke, although they claim locals don’t actually eat it. But then, D.C. isn’t exactly full of locals anyway.

Half Smoke
Ethiopian
Mumbo Sauce

Well, that’s it! I hope this gives you enough game day food by football team cities ideas for at least a couple of years. If that’s not enough to make your football party awesome,  add a little adventure and try this DIY sports book idea. Have fun and go team!

Game day foods by NFL cities
ideas for hosting a casual viewing party

Ideas for Hosting Casual Viewing Parties

As you’ve probably noticed by now, the easiest way for me to host something is to make sure it’s small and easy rather than large and extravagant. That seems pretty obvious, but seriously guys, you can dress up any little gathering as a party and practice your hosting. Do you have any favorite TV shows or a movie you spend all day texting your friends about? Why not invite them over? Here’s my favorite part of casual viewing parties: there’s no reason to decorate. I mean, you’re all going to be facing the TV the whole time. If you want to jazz that up, go ahead, but your co-viewers might get annoyed. Just saying.

casual viewing parties
Too much? Or just improper bow placement?

 

Casual Viewing Parties: Get in and Get Out

You could serve popcorn and be done with it. If you have a weekly viewing party for a show, maybe that’s all you should do. Do you really need to impress your friends every week? There’s the opposite approach, like those insane Walking Dead-style parties where everything is themed. That’s too much work for me, plus I think they must party longer than the one-hour show lasts. If I’m inviting you to watch one show or one movie, I don’t want you there more than an hour before, and you better be gone an hour after. It’s nothing personal; I’ve got stuff to do. If you’re like me, make this clear in your text or email invitation. Luckily, most of my friends won’t have time to stay longer anyway. I’m not the only one who constantly says, “I’m too busy.”

The Fun Part

I’m not decorating for a viewing party, but I think only popcorn is boring. So what exactly am I going to do to impress people without going overboard? I’m going to pick either one dish or one drink to tie it all together and call it a day. For my example, I’m using a Shonda Rhimes show. Anyone watch How to Get Away with Murder? If not, here’s a quick breakdown: They try to get away with murder.  There, you’re all caught up! This might just be one example, but feel free to hit the comments up with more, or contact me if you can’t come up with anything for your favorite show. I think about these things while I climb up and down the stairs fifty times to amuse my son.

Special Food:

Philly Cheesesteak Sliders

Why? The show takes place in Philadelphia.  Since Philly is known for their food, I might as well take advantage of it. Were you thinking I’d suggest something that looks bloody since I’m using a show about murder? Nah. It’s not a murder party. It’s a viewing party. No one needs to think of dead bodies as they’re eating. Also, I linked to a pretty good recipe for sliders, but to make it even easier I’ll just cook everything at once in a skillet and call it a day.

Special Drink:

 

Vodka Tonic 

Why? The main character is an alcoholic and she chugs vodka straight like nobody’s business. Because I don’t want to serve straight vodka, a vodka tonic is a super easy solution. My home bar always has vodka in it, mostly because we don’t drink it, but it pretty much guarantees I won’t have to go to the liquor store. Sigh. I just got homesick for Nevada. It sure was nice buying liquor in Walmart.

These ideas for casual viewing parties are pretty simple, which is exactly the way I like it. Don’t have TV? You could always try a mini-wine tasting instead. Don’t drink? I don’t know what to tell you. Tupperware party? Or, everyone’s favorite, the game night. I’ll add that to my list of things to host.

Have some friends over to watch TV and make yourself a little theme - whatever show you're watching. #viewingparty #gettogethers #easyparty #tvparty #movieparty
how to

How to Host an Easy Wine Tasting Party

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

If you aren’t a drinker, then a post about an easy wine tasting party is not the one for you. I try to make food and booze interchangeable, but unless you’re going to do a prepackaged food party, it would take a lot more work to incorporate food. I’ve talked about having mini-cooking competitions before, so maybe that is the way to go for you. But if you do like wine, one of my favorite ways to have a classy little gathering is to host an easy wine tasting party.

Readers, you do not have to be a wine expert to do this. You honestly don’t need to know anything about wine at all, as long as you can read the labels when you’re buying the bottles. If you do want to know a little something before you start, you might want to pick up The Wine Bible or Wine for Dummies. Be warned: They’re not quick reads. There are other books about wine that are a lot smaller, but I haven’t read them so I can’t recommend any. When my sister and I started drinking wine, we went all in. You don’t have to read the whole book to host an easy wine tasting party though; once you decide what you’re tasting you’ll be able to find that specific chapter.

Steps to Hosting an Easy Wine Tasting Party

Preparation

Okay, so this is going to be a super easy prep. First choose, your guest list. I usually invite a couple or two, or friends that really love wine. Sometimes I’ll do a combination, but I try not to make anyone a fifth wheel during a wine tasting. I don’t normally mind being a third or fifth wheel but if you put me in Napa Valley with two couples and not  my husband, I think I’d wind up drinking too much.

Anyway, who you invite isn’t really that important, except for their level of wine knowledge. Do they like wine, but basically know nothing past red or white? Are they so advanced you’ll have to impress them with a tasting of Bordeaux by year? (Good luck with that one.) Knowing this will help you pick what wine to drink. Now, you can ask them to bring wine, or buy it all yourself, but that’s up to you. Just make sure they know what to bring. Last time I did various white wines; we each picked one and tried to see if we could guess what it was. Fun fact: We could not.

Execution

mini wine tasting

You already decided whether you’re buying all the wine or not. If you are, better go get some! You also absolutely need to make sure you have enough wine glasses. Guys, this is the easiest kind of gathering to throw. You’re not cooking or decorating anything. It would just be silly to put your good wine in plastic cups to avoid cleaning a few glasses. Everything else is going to go straight in the garbage, so get out the good dishware.

Next, you’re going to want some kind of a palate cleanser (like oyster crackers), or even little bites to go with the wines. Again, this is something you can ask your guests to bring if you like. Sometimes if I get the wine, my sister will get cheese, or vice versa. If you decide to have snacks, I would look at a wine pairing guide like this one. You can find others on my Pinterest wine board if you don’t like that one. To continue prep, set out your food nice and pretty, and then cut a few pieces of printer paper in half for tasting notes. If you want to get really fancy, you can print out your tasting notes instead. That’s it! Totally easy wine tasting party, right?

Wine Tasting Example

White wines

Need

1 bottle chardonnay
1 bottle sauvignon blanc
1 bottle pinot grigio

Cheese Pairings

Brie & chardonnay
mozzarella & sauvignon blanc
ricotta & pinot grigio

Tasting notes

You’ll definitely want to list what type of wine it is, along with taste. Some other ideas are aroma/smell, taste, finish, appearance, and points. I’m attaching a downloadable version of my own super simple notes here:

Notes for Wine

Things to write on tasting notes if you are not into wine but want to feel like you are: fruity, leafy, earthy, oaky, buttery. Or, my personal favorite, bramble. A sommelier once told me to call all wines brambley and everyone will be confused enough to agree.

I really do hope you can enjoy a little tasting party like this. There’s not a lot of effort to it, but you know what? Making wine the focal point of the event honestly does make it seem like it’s a high class affair. I don’t know why that is – I guess rich people have succeeded in their trickery of getting us to believe whatever they want to tell us. We’ll talk about beer tastings at some other time. If you don’t drink at all, I do apologize! I’m sure you could come up with an alternative; apple cider maybe? That actually sounds kind of fun. Maybe next time…

 

Holding a wine tasting doesn't have to be hard, and you don't even need to know anything about wine! #wine #winetasting #wineparty #tastingparty #easypartyideas #partyideas #winebeginner