Monday, November 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Family Night Activities

Although New Year's Eve is most often reserved for adult partying, the night can also be filled with fun and entertainment for the whole family fun at home with just a little planning.

Keep food easy and appealing for everyone, i.e., chips and dip, a veggie platter, chicken fingers, deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, or simply order in a pizza! Also have plenty of champagne ready for the adults, and fixings for 'mocktails" for the kids such as Virgin Pina Coladas or Shirley Temples.

In addition, follow these tips and suggestions for a New Year's Eve party game & activity ideas that will have family and younger guests cozying up to loved ones and family friends as they welcome in the New Year ....

New Year's Eve Predictions

For older teens and adults familiar with how to play, break out the Ouija board or tarot cards for a spooky night of fortune telling.

Introduce the younger kids to "Magic 8 Ball" and stand back for the giggle-producing results as the classic novelty toy mysteriously answers their questions about the future.

New Year's Eve Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are a great ice breaker, and usually result in lots of laughs - as holiday revelers compete to find items hidden throughout the house, in the backyard, or around the entire neighborhood. (Tip: alert the neighbors so they don’t think there are intruders in their backyard!)

Depending on how well you’ve hidden your ‘treasure”, items in a New Year's scavenger hunt can be awarded separate points for ease, or difficulty. The party contestants who amass the most points are named the winners, so be sure to have prizes ready for the highest scorers.

Suggestions for items to hide for a New Year scavenger hunt might include: a party hat, streamers, noise makers, plastic champagne glass, a clock, Happy New Year card, Happy New Year balloon, drink stirrers, coasters, chocolate coins, a calendar, or silver bells to ring in the New Year.

New Year's Eve Pinanta

Who doesn't love a pinata? No reason not to have one on New Year's Eve for a fun kid competition.

Make your own homemade pinata using 1. a large shopping bag, 2. New Year's Eve clip art 3. paper glue 4. stapler.

Instructions: download and print out a picture of a New Year's Eve party hat, Father Time, or other holiday clip art and glue it to the shopping bag. Further decorate as you please with tinsel or glitter. Fill your decorated shopping bag with candy and staple the bag closed. String up from the ceiling using heavy cord. Provide a pinata stick or plastic baseball bat, line up the contestants - and stand back!

Happy New Year!

More about New Year's Eve family night games & activities around the Web:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Christmas Family Night Games & Activities

Yep, everybody's a kid at Christmas. And why not? It's the time of year for shaking off day-to-day cares and letting down your guard, especially when you're partying with family! Just don't make the mistake of thinking a holiday get-together can be pulled-off without a little planning.

Just up ahead, have a warm and joyous holiday get-together with our pick of top games and activities that will get the kids and teens giggling, and the adults joining in with happy abandon:

Christmas Trivia

Create your own Holiday Trivial Pursuit game by typing up a list of questions to pose to guests on party night. To get you started, here are some of our favorites:

1. What are the names of all eight reindeer which appear in Clement Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas”?
2. In “A Charlie Brown Christmas” what did Lucy want for Christmas?
3. Who yelled “Stop!” at Frosty?

Answers: 1. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen. 2. Real estate. 3. The traffic cop.

Christmas Movie Trivia

Everyone loves Christmas movies. Test party-goers knowledge by reciting famous lines from popular favorites to see who can come up with the most correct responses. Here are a few to get you started:

1. What is the location of “It’s a Wonderful Life?”
2. In “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, who provides the voice for Sally?
3. What actress plays Bill Murray's love interest in “Scrooged’?

Answers: 1. Bedford Falls 2. Catherine O’Hara 3. Karen Allen

Name That Holiday Tune!

Grab the CD player and your favorite holiday music CD. Let contestants guess the title of each song after hearing only a few bars, and award a prize to the player with the most correct answers.

Another way to play: simply type up the most obscure lyrics from Christmas songs or carols and read (or sing!) them aloud. For example: "There'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories..." (It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year) or how about "…bells are ringing, children singing…" (Here Comes Santa Claus). It's not as easy as you might think but, anyway, you get the idea. Check out this site for more Christmas song and carol lyrics.

Christmas Pinata

With a little bit of creativity, you can easily make a homemade Christmas pinata using 1. a large shopping bag, 2. a picture of a holiday scene 3. paper glue 4. stapler.

Download and print out a picture of Santa or holiday scene and glue it to the shopping bag. Further decorate as you please with tinsel or garland. Fill your decorated shopping bag with Christmas candy and staple closed. String up from the ceiling using heavy cord. Provide a pinata stick or plastic baseball bat, line up the contestants - and stand back! This one can be fun even for the adults, just make sure you don't serve TOO MUCH eggnog beforehand.

Christmas Bingo

Fun for all ages, game players must first understand the general rules of bingo and how to play. Simply subsitute the traditional numbered cards with a variety of Christmas symbols, words or pictures. Download and print a variety of Christmas bingo playing cards for free here.

More about Christmas family night games & activities around the Web:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gross Halloween Food Ideas & Recipes

Sure, everybody likes gross-out food at Halloween, but what are the easiest recipes to follow for homemade yucky food ideas guaranteed to make your guests giggle and (hopefully), gag?

Here are some quick instructions and ingredients for making truly disgusting snacks and spooktacular party treats that will make any Halloween party a hoot:

Mummy pizza
Follow any simple recipe for English muffin pizza, but instead of just sprinkling mozzarella cheese over the top, use strips to make a "mummy wrap" topping. Use slices of black olives and bits of pepper for the eyeballs.

Wormy pudding
Grab a bunch of gummy worms and hide them inside chocolate pudding cups (homemade or store bought). For an added touch, stick more gummy worms on top to make it look like "the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out..."

Witches' fingers
Buy plain premade cookie dough. Roll small pieces of dough out in to a ball and then in to a log shape. Making regular notches to resemble knuckles. Make an indentation at one end and fill with raspberry jam. Top with a slivered almond piece for the fingernail. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Skeleton bone cookies
Pinch off pieces premade cookie dough and roll into 8-inch ropes. Fold 1 inch of each end back to form a small ball and pinch ends to make bone shapes. Repeat to shape all the dough into skeleton bones. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

Kitty litter cake
The grossest of gross Halloween recipes, all this requires is a vanilla cake mix, crumbled cookies, and some Tootsie Rolls. Make the cake, top with cookie crumbs and add softened Tootsie rolls to resemble cat poop. Heighten the illusion by serving in a new, clean kitty litter box. Serve with a clean pooper scooper. Yuck!

More gross & disgusting Halloween food ideas around the Web:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oktoberfest Party & Food Ideas

Nothing says autumn fun like Oktoberfest! A centuries-old tradition begun in Munich, Germany, the seasonal festival is now beloved the world over and celebrated everywhere from Tokyo to Milwaukee.

Host your own Oktoberfest party with these step-by-step tips and instructions, and get ready for some fall fun, feasting .... and lots of beer:

1. Willkommen friends over by printing your own invitations using German Oktberfest clipart of beer kegs, beer steins, beer glasses, bratwurst or party goers in lederhosen.

2. Decorate in the colors of the Bavarian flag, with lots of blue and white balloons. Also consider German travel posters, or printouts of Bavarian food and beer steins to hang on the door and walls.

3. To make your venue look like a traditional German beer hall, line up tables in a long row - for a fun night of communal feasting and drinking. Use a beer stein or beer pitcher filled with fresh flowers, and surround with small German flags as an easy and decorative centerpiece.

4. Search the Web for traditional German & Oktoberfest food and recipes which are a tradition of any German party or Oktoberfest theme - such as weiner schnitzel, bratwurst, sauerkraut, gingerbread, apple strudel and black forest cake.

5. And what would an Oktoberfest be without the beer? Just make sure it's German beer such as pilsner, wheat beer, stouts and lagers.

6. Get everybody in the party mood by playing a German music or drinking song collection CD, or if your budget allows hire a local German band for a memorable live performance.

7. Lastly, no Oktoberfest celebration would be complete without a traditional chicken dance to get everyone up and mingling. (It's even more fun after hoisting a few!)

Prost! – Cheers!

More about Oktoberfest party & food ideas around the Web:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cheap Kids Party Venue Ideas

How to throw a a cheap or affordable party away from home for your favorite birthday boy or girl?

It may take some work, but the money you save makes for a fun and memorable party that you may want to repeat year after year.

First, start with a party location checklist to make sure your chosen venue can accommodate the kind of kids birthday party you have in mind:
  • Budget
  • Number of guests
  • Food storage or cooking facilities
  • Indoor or outdoor (depending on time of year and liklihood of good weather)
Once you decide on the type of birthday party venue that works best, start thinking about local organizations that may fit your plans and budget.

These may include neighborhood groups, clubs, or places of worship that may offer free or very affordable party space for neighborhood families. Also consider neighborhood playgrounds, community centers, the local YMCA, or even the local firehouse. Most of these venues are open to hosting kids birthday parties for a small deposit or donation.

Helpful hint: If you don't reserve a date and time WAY in advance everything will be fully booked. If so, there is always the local fast food joints like McDonalds. Most chains in suburban areas will offer the use of an indoor or outdoor playground for free, with the only major cost the purchase of a kid's meal for each child.

Meanwhile, if your child's birthday happens to fall during the summer months - lucky you! The warm weather season provides one of the cheapest outdoor venue ideas for hosting a great kids party at a nearby park or beach. Of course, the weather might interfere, so always have a "Plan B" ready in case of rain.

For a great beach party, simply lay out a couple of beach blankets, unload the cooler, take out the sunblock, and party! Don't forget games and activites like sandcastle building or a fun seashell scavenger hunt.

Picnic areas in public parks also make for a fun summer barbecue party. Best of all, hosting a kids party on a weekday (especially in the morning hours) may guarantee that you'll have the whole place practically to yourself.

Finally, in what may be one of the biggest drawbacks to the DIY party venue (unlike party-and-go restaurants where you leave the mess), most free or affordable venues means the final cleanup falls to YOU.

If that's the case, be sure to arrange a special activity that involves the kids and some small trash bags, called "The Cleanup Game". It was devised by one clever mom who routinely gives out a cool prize to the guest who fills up their trash bag the fastest!

With a little ingenuity, finding a kids party venue location - from planning to final cleanup - can result in a fun and easy birthday celebration that doesn't break the bank.

More about cheap kids party locations around the Web:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Elvis Birthday Party Ideas

Yes, the King still lives! His music and films continue to inspire Elvis themed weddings and Elvis birthday parties that are still going strong worldwide commemorating the rock n roll icon.

Celebrating Elvis is as easy as turning the ol' jukebox on (today, that's a CD or DVD player) and letting the good times roll. Decorate with Elvis posters, feature some popular 50's foods, add a party game or two - and you have all the makings for a hunka hunka popular party idea.

Set the mood by selecting a general Elvis theme, or center the party around one of his most popular movie hits like Viva Las Vegas or Blue Hawaii for a fun luau party theme.

To decorate, search online for affordable Elvis posters, rummage around antique shops for old Elvis album covers and records, or simply print out images from the Internet.

And what would an Elvis party be without the party games?

Since music is such an important part of any Elvis party, get the house rockin' with a round of Name That Tune or a hip-shaking Elvis karaoke contest. Prizes can also be given out for the best impersonation or dance moves during the performance.

For the non-musical guests, try "Pin the Tail on the Hound Dog" or an Elvis trivia contest. Finally, buy a life-size Elvis cutout so that all guests can gather round for a picture with the King!

Food ideas "Fit for a King" can include fried chicken, 50's burgers and shakes, chicken "love me" tenders, or the famous fried peanut butter & banana sandwiches that Elvis loved so well. And don't forget the guitar shaped cake for a sweet ending to your Elvis celebration.

Say "thank you, thank you very much" by sending guests home happy with a goody bag filled with Reeses Pieces, toy sunglasses, a CD of Elvis hits, and photos from the party for an Elvis party keepsake they'll long remember.

More about Elvis party themes around the Web:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Easy Tailgate Party Recipes

Whether it's a football game, a rock concert or a NASCAR race, time spent out in the parking lot at a tailgate party can often be the most memory-making event of the day!

Getting together around the tailgate with good friends is a great way to bond or reconnect with other "weekend warriors", so sweating over a grill shouldn't be your biggest priority.

Veggies and dip (and lots of beer!) are the time-honored way to kick off a tailgate party, along with one-pot meals, or foods that can be quickly grilled so that cooks can be free to join in the fun, too. Chill out with these easy recipes for easy one-pot meals or otherwise filling finger-foods that are fun, flavorful, and sure to wow guests at your next tailgating party:

Easy quacamole

In a large bowl, add the juice of 1 lime and 3 Hass avocados. Mash up the avocados until slightly chunky and add 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/2 onion, chopped; 1 small plum tomato, chopped; 1 clove garlic, minced; and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Mix all ingredients until thoroughly blended. To store, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 4.

Quick and easy chile

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1 chopped onion, 3 cloves garlic, minced; 1 tablespoon salt; 1 tablespoon chili powder; and 1 teaspoon oregano. Stir until thoroughly heated, then add 1 pound ground beef and 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and cook until beef is slightly browned. Add 1 can kidney beans, and 1 can crushed peeled tomatoes (and their juice). Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook for 10 minutes until thickened.

To serve, ladle the chili into bowls and serve with guacamole, sour cream, grated Monterey jack cheese, and tortilla chips. Serves 4

Easy shrimp kabobs

In a large bowl, make marinade by mixing together 1/2 cup teriaki sauce, 1 chopped scallion, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Add 16 large shrimp and toss to coat, reserving marinade. Place 1 pineapple chunk in the curve of each shrimp and place on skewer. Place on heated grill and cook for about 1 minute per side, brushing with marinade until done. Serves 4.

Easy beef stew

In a large skillet, cook 2 lbs stew meat over medium heat until browned. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Immediately lower heat and add 4 large potatoes, cubed; 3 large carrots, sliced; and 1 large onion, coarsely chopped. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Cover and let simmer for an hour or until meat is tender. Serve in bowls with rolls or crusty bread.

More about tailgate party main dishes

While grilled burgers, steaks and chicken are always a favorite around the barbecue, finger foods are the way to go at a tailgate party. Along with the recipes listed above, also think about ribs, buffalo chicken wings, or hearty sandwiches.

Favorite tailgate party desserts

To satisfy everybody's sweet tooth, store bought cupcakes and cookies are the easiest bet for feeding a crowd, but for homemade desserts, brownies are always a mess-free, inexpensive alternative. If you have time, add a little excitement with any simple cookie recipe frosted in your favorite team colors.

More about easy tailgating recipes around the Web:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Easy Labor Day Party Ideas

Labor Day is a bittersweet holiday - a final goodbye to the summer and all the fun memories of vacation time and weekends at the beach.

Although your first idea may be a really big blowout for Labor Day, our best advice is... fight the feeling! Not for nothing do they call it Labor Day. So chill, kick back and relax, and honor a job well done with a quick and easy Labor day celebration - whether its a luau, a picnic in the park, or a pool party in the back yard.

Cheap and easy decorating can be accomplished in a flash with American flags, red and white carnations, or red, white and blue balloons.

On Labor Day, the last thing you want to do is spend any time in the kitchen whipping up a really complicated recipe. Gather round the barbecue and make it ribs and chicken. Add some store bought macaroni salad, potato salad and watermelon. Your Labor Day party will be a piece of cake.

And speaking of cake, that's where the real fun comes in, with these cool and easy recipes for a Labor Day party that's truly special, AND easy on the budget:

Easy Strawberry Shortcake

Toast a piece of pound cake, cover with 1/2 cup berries or other fruit, then top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

Beat 8 oz. cream cheese until smooth, then gradually beat in 1/3 cup of sugar. Blend in 1 cup sour cream, 1 cup whipped topping and 2 tsp. vanilla. Pour into prepared graham cracker pie crust and refrigerate for 4 hours until firm. Top with strawberries.

Labor Day Trifle

To begin, simply line the bottom of a dessert cup with store-bought lady fingers or thin slices of pound cake. Top with vanilla pudding, add a layer of berries, followed by another layer of cake. Add more pudding, top with whipped cream, and crown with an extra berry. (This is our personal favorite that always manages to wow an audience. Be sure to use a clear glass dessert glass or cup so you can see all the layers.)

For a patriotic Labor Day celebration, also check out Easy 4th of July Cake Decorating Ideas for decorating sheet cakes and bundt cakes in a red, white and blue theme.

More about easy Labor Day party ideas around the Web:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Kids Birthday Goodie Bag Ideas

First, let it be known that there is no law that says you HAVE to give out favors or goodie bags at every party.

Although it's a fairly popular tradition at kids birthday parties, it's also increasingly falling out of disfavor with moms and dads who don't want their kids filling up on a bunch of sweet, gooey candy after every party they attend.

But if you still want thank  party guests for coming, and not buck the trend, here are some ideas for keeping kids AND parents happy at your next kids party:

Instead of candy, how about filling up your goodie bags with stickers, small toys & trinkets, colored pencils, sidewalk chalk, crayons, comic books, granola bars, snack juices, balloons, hand puppets, play doh, marbles ... and the list goes on with only a little thought and creativity.

Chances are good that at least half the parents will be eternally grateful for your thoughtfulness. The rest will probably be impartial or just grateful that you made their kids feel special.

Forget the bag, give a favor

Or, forget the goody bag altogether, and choose one simple gift as a special party favor "thank you" for coming.

Think coloring books, a colorful beach ball, flip flops, a small toy, kiddie umbrella, fannie pack, a kite, McDonald's or Baskin Robbins gift card, a group party picture in a frame, sunglasses, or bubbles.

Shop around or check online crafts and party goods at Michaels, Oriental Trading, Target, The Dollar Store and Wal-Mart. You're bound to find something you can buy in bulk that won't break the bank.

Alternatives to goody bags:

While we're at it, here are some more creative ideas if you want to give a goody bag that's not a bag:

  • Try paper or plastic cups (with lids) or how about toy piggy banks filled with chocolate coins or candy?
  • Flower pots or straw baskets - filled with seed packets and flower stickers - are perfect for a "Flower Power" theme or garden party.
  • A beach pail with shovel and party theme stickers are great for a pool or beach party.
  • Colored cellophane tied with a ribbon, or a cheap party hat filled with goodies are other alternatives to plain 'ol, same 'ol goody bags.

More about party favors and goody bag ideas around the Web:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Easy 4th of July Cake Decorating Ideas

While a backyard barbecue may be at the center of any festive 4th of July party, what's a celebration without dessert?

Check out these simple, fun and easy cake decorating ideas sure to wow family guests this 4th of July:

1. 4th of July Flag Cake

Probably the easiest of all, this one calls for a sheet cake and vanilla frosting. Decorate with blueberries and strawberries to form the stars and stripes.

2. Stars & Stripes Cupcakes

Bake up a batch of your favorite cupcakes. Use vanilla icing and food coloring to frost with patriotic red, white and blue. Arrange on a tray in the shape of Old Glory.

3. Uncle Sam's Hat Cake

This also calls for colored icing to decorate Uncle Sam's hat, made with strategic cuts to a homemade sheet cake. If you like, frost with vanilla icing and substitute red and blue icing with strawberries (or raspberries) and bluberries.

4. Star Cake

Make dessert shine with this star-shape cake frosted in red, white and blue. A sheet cake will do, or start with a layer cake with vanilla frosting in between the two layers.

5. Red, White and Blue Bundt Cake

Start out with your favorite bundt cake recipe and make a "fireworks" burst by dribbling basic frosted icing down the sides. Fill up the center with strawberries and blueberries.

More about 4th of July cake decorating around the Web:

Also see in the Chiff Party Blog:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

80s Party Food Ideas

Sure, it's easy enough buying the 80s posters, or jammin' to Duran Duran and just letting the good times roll.

But what food does a party purist serve at an 80's party?

Check out the following ideas and suggestions for an 80s party menu guaranteed to be not only authentic but, like, totally mondo:

80s drinks - Two words: wine coolers. A fashionable mix of wine, fruit juice and soda water, they were a huge hit with 20-somethings when they were first introduced in the 80s. And those who attended college during the 1980s will definitely remember jello shots. Seriously trendy cocktails of the day also included Long Island Ice Tea, Kamikazees, Grasshoppers, and Fuzzy Navels.

For the teetotalers, fill the cooler with Fresca, Tab, Crystal Light or Capri Sun.

80s party snacks - Although invented in 1964, buffalo chicken wings really only took off in 1981. And the rest, as they say, is history. Also think about serving heaping bowls of a relatively new-fangled snack called microwave (wow!) popcorn. "Lite" low calorie versions were huge.

80s party food - Sushi hit the scene! Veal or chicken francese suddenly became the favorite of 80s foodies in restaurants throughout the land, along with equally popular pasta salad - washed down with lots of cheap house wine - white, preferably.

80s cakes and desserts - Of course, no 1980s restaurant dessert menu would have been complete without mud pie or dirt cake. For a down-home (and easier to serve) dessert, try trendy 80s pudding pops. For the calorie conscious, remember that frozen yogurt stores could be found on every street corner in every major city, and was the decade's equivalent to Starbucks, at least for a few years.

Want to get your sugar rush on? Pass around favorite 80's junk food such as Skittles, Reece's Pieces, and Pop Rocks. Or, put them in a goody bag for guests to take home.

Gnarly, dude.

More about 1980's party food around the Web:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Top Ten Father's Day Gift Ideas

Of course, there are plenty of bad father's day gift ideas

Then there are the classics that are always sure to please. If you've already given the tie, the socks, hankerchiefs (or the requisite bottle of Old Spice), check out these time-tested Father's Day gift ideas that will really make him feel like King for a Day:

1. Sports events tickets - If dad's a sports lover, tickets to his favorite team's sporting event will catch his attention on Father's Day. Get tickets for you and your siblings to make it a fun family outing.

2. Beer of the month club subscription - If Dad is a beer drinker, this surprise is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year, and a great reason to stay in touch to find out which one's he liked, and which one's he didn't, and why.

3. Food gift basket - Buy one premade online, or create it yourself. Just make sure it's filled with all his favorite foods, snacks or beverages for a truly enjoyable and memorable Father's Day Gift.

4. Universal remote - A great guy gift for any occasion. (For a good laugh, consider buying one of those oversized giant TV remotes that are too big to misplace. Mom will thank you, too.) If Dad's not tech-saavy, help him set it up. 

5. The gift of travel - Send Dad AND mom on a short cruise, a local winery tour, a weekend getaway, or golf resort. If money is tight, chip in with other siblings to defray the cost.

6. Dinner for two to his favorite restaurant - Does he rave about a great but pricy restaurant nearby that's normally only reserved for special occasions? Purchase a gift certificate to treat dad and mom to a night out on the town.

7. Keep him entertained - Shop around for his favorite movies of all time, like the Godfather trilogy, or a gift set of favorite action movies or westerns. You might also consider adding to dad's cable subscription with an upgrade to a favorite premium sports or movie channel.

8. Go top shelf - Make it special with the premium 12-year old single malt, or how about a vintage bottle of wine? Also consider upgrading him to a pair of hi-tech digital binoculars, or check out that new Swiss army knife complete with USB hard drive for geek dads.

9. Magazine subscription - With thousands to choose from, you're sure to find one he likes, whether its Travel & Leisure, Golf Digest, or even a Newsweek subscription for great bathroom reading.

10. Still not sure what to get? - Treat dad to a gift card or certificate to his favorite automotive center, home improvement store or clothing shop, and let him go wild.

More top Father's Day gift ideas around the Web: