I had a blast planning my sister-in-law's bridal shower which was held on Sunday! If you would have asked me three years ago if I would be willing to host an event like that, and I would have laughed with a hearty, "No way!" I just never thought I had what it takes.
Then two years ago I moved to a little country across the world. In a place where everyone is far away from mothers and sisters, it's up to us friends to plan the parties for each other. All of us had to step up to the plate and make things happen for each other. We became each other's family. I never, ever, ever thought in my wildest dreams that I would be able to put together a baby shower or birthday party for someone else. But after a few attempts, I realized that it wasn't all that difficult. The key? Make the guest of honor feel special. When the focus is, "How can I bless my friend?" instead of, "How can I impress everyone?" it makes everything so much easier. Because really that's what it's about- blessing the ones we love and making them feel important.
I discovered that there are really only a few main steps involved in making a party great.
1. Ambiance- If it's a bridal/baby shower or birthday party for an adult, use candles and soft decorations to make the mood relaxing and lovely. Play music in the background according to your guests (for example, for the bridal shower I played upbeat and romantic music). If it's a youth hangout or a child's birthday party, use fun and bright colors for decorating like crepe paper and tissue paper balls to hang from the ceiling. Play music that teenagers or little kids would like.
For the bridal shower I wanted a fall theme because my sister-in-law's wedding is in October. I used pine cones, acorns, fake leaves, candles, brown ribbons, and fall colored table cloths.
I also made a fun banner to hang on the wall that said, "Congrats Annah". I cut out big triangles from scrapbook paper, then cut out circles of plain color and glued them on the triangles. Then I wrote the individual letters on the circles. I hole-punched each triangle and strung them together with hemp.
2. Games- Pick games that honor your guests. I use trivia question games for birthday parties and showers. That way the game is all about the guest of honor, and everyone gets a shot proving how well they know them. I also like games that involve a bit of surprise and creativity. It's fun to think outside the box and do a little research- don't always play the same games everyone else plays at parties.
3. Prizes- Make sure there are a variety of prizes for the winners to pick from. That way it almost feels like they are going "shopping" :) Pick prizes according to who your guests will be. Make sure your guest of honor also gets a shot at winning a prize!
4. Food- This is the part that used to scare me away from planning parties. I'm not really a gourmet cook, and I usually try to get by with easy recipes most of the time. But I realized that parties don't necessarily require gourmet food, they just require a fun variety! Thankfully my mother-in-law took the reigns in the food department for the bridal shower. We planned a meal consisting of a cheese and cracker tray, fruit salad, vegetables and dip, a snickers caramel apple salad, and pumpkin spice cream cheese muffins. We also had apple cider and coffee to drink. It's good to have a nice mix of salty, sugary, and healthy foods. Too much of one kind can be boring.
5. Make your guest of honor feel special- Remember, the event is not about you, the hostess. It's about blessing the guest of honor and making sure they felt special the whole time.
Interested in some of the recipes from the party? Here they are!
Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 (18.25) package yellow cake mix
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 stick butter softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat over to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves until smooth. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the prepared muffin cups.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- With electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until very smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and slowly mix in
- Add vanilla extract and mix
- Spread over cooled muffins
Snickers Caramel Apple Salad Recipe
- 6 Snickers candy bars, chill and chop
- 6 apples cored and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip
- 1 (5 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding (do not prepare- use dry mix)
- Garnish for extra flair- 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping and 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- Mix Cool Whip and dry pudding mix together
- Chop apples and chill Snickers
- Mix together
- Heat caramel sauce a bit in the microwave
- Drizzle caramel sauce on top and sprinkle peanuts on top
- Chill for an hour then serve