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: