How to Throw Your First Thanksgiving Dinner Party

Whether it’s your first year at college and you can’t get home for the holiday, or you’ve offered to give your mom a break and have everyone come down to your house for dinner instead, your first Thanksgiving dinner party can be nerve wracking. Getting the right Thanksgiving decorations and making sure you have enough seating is only the tip of the iceberg. But don’t worry, we have the ultimate guide to make sure hosting your first Thanksgiving party goes smoothly.

The Food

The food—the biggest part of the day, the reason everyone has gathered at your pad. There is perhaps nothing more daunting than trying to cook a turkey to perfection, especially if you’ve never done it before. For most of us, our mothers were in charge of the turkey, and if we were lucky, she would let us help stir the stuffing, right before it went into a bowl to be put on the table.

Now that the food is your responsibility, you might feel like you’re drowning. Don’t worry! Putting on a great Thanksgiving dinner is easy if your break the meal down in to separate parts and do as much prep work ahead of time as you can.

For example, pies can be put together days ahead of time and stashed in the fridge or even the freezer until Turkey day. The same goes for mashed potatoes and stuffing. You can make the mashed potatoes and stuffing the day or two before, seal them up in Tupperware, and break them out on the day of the meal. As long as you don’t let anyone see you reheat them (either on the stove or in the microwave), no one will even know that you’ve had the side dishes ready for days.

That leaves just the turkey for Turkey day. Some recipes will have you brining the bird for days beforehand. You don’t have to do anything so elaborate. There are plenty of recipes rolling around the internet that just require you to salt and pepper the old bird and shove her in the oven. Just watch the time. Turkey can get notoriously tough and chewy if it is overcooked.

If you are really scrambling to pull together a Thanksgiving dinner, farm out some of the least desirable tasks to your relatives. If the turkey is really giving you fits, you can always ask Mom and Dad or a friend who’s more familiar with cooking to make it their responsibility. You’ll provide all of the delicious side dishes and host the party, if someone else will be responsible for the bird. We think that’s fair.

If it isn’t the turkey, but all of the other dishes that are worrying you, dole out those tasks to your friends or family, so that they are in charge of showing up with mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, stuffing, pies, etc. There’s nothing wrong with going potluck for the biggest meal of the year.

The Decorations

You don’t want your home and table to be bare, just because you didn’t have time to come up with decorations. Thanksgiving decorations can be as simple as a few hand-traced turkeys adorning the walls, or as elegant as cornucopia and seasonal fruit arranged on the table. If you don’t have time to make your own decoration, check out a party supply store (we know a good one). They will almost certainly have decorations that are somewhere on the scale between kitschy and classic.

If you are really strapped for time, you can always turn decorating into a Turkey Day activity. Your Thanksgiving decorations can be hand tracings, turned into turkeys by your nieces and nephews, paper-link garlands made out of red, yellow, orange, and brown paper, or fall leaves cut from red, yellow, and orange paper and taped to the wall.

Thanksgiving decorations do not have to be complicated and they certainly shouldn’t be expensive. You can even use pretzel sticks and frosting to turn Oreos into little turkeys, which can double as a sweet snack and a decoration.

Again, you can assign a friend or family member to bring decorations, if you aren’t much of a decorator. This is a great assignment for someone who hates to cook, but still wants to be a part of your Thanksgiving Day potluck event. Just make sure they come a little bit early so that the place is already full of Turkey Day spirit when the other guests start arriving.

Seating

Having enough seating, especially in an apartment or small home, is one of the major challenges of hosting your first Thanksgiving dinner. If you can borrow a table and chairs from your local church, that might be a good place to look for a free or low-cost seating solution. Alternatively, you could always rent tables and chairs from a party rental store.

For a truly unique Thanksgiving dining experience, you could gather around a coffee table and sit on the floor. You are only limited by the floor space and how much of the food you can crowd on the table. While it might not sound like a fun adventure to some people, it will truly be a unique experience that you and your family will look back on for years to come.

Activities

Thanksgiving Day doesn’t necessarily require activities, but most families or friend groups like to do something together while the turkey is cooking. This could range from watching the football game on the tube, to getting outside and playing your own football game. Creating Thanksgiving decorations is another great way to pass the day.

You could also spend the entire day in the kitchen, working together to create all of the delicious dishes you will be eating later in the day.

Don’t let the stress of Thanksgivings past get to you! With a little pre-planning and coordination with your guests, you can have a fun day and a delicious meal, with no stress and no cooking catastrophes.

Want to go big for turkey day?  Tent Rentals, Party Rentals & Event Rentals in Philadelphia can be found here: BucksMontParty.com

Halloween Party Ideas for Kids

Halloween Napkins

A Halloween party, either before or after trick-or-treating, is a great way to keep kids in the spirit of Halloween. Even if they are too young to appreciate the spooky and scary parts of Halloween, they can still have fun on the spookiest night of the year. Putting together a great party doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. In fact, coming up with decorations and games can be majorly fun and remind you why Halloween was so great when you were a kid. It’s time to put the fun back in one of the biggest kid holidays of the year!

Costumes

If your party is going to be before or after trick-or-treating, costumes are probably already sorted. Kids can feel Halloween approaching and have probably been alerting you for weeks about what they want their costume to be. If they haven’t picked something yet (or haven’t picked something reasonable yet), there are a few simple costumes you can whip up in less than an hour that will still leave your child looking great.

A black cat is as simple as dressing your child all in black and making some ears and a tail out of felt. If you are really feeling industrious, you can glue the ears on to a black headband and sew the tail and stuff it with fluff to give it some body and movement. Either pin it to her pants or to a belt and she will be ready to go.

Turning your little man or woman into a super hero is super easy. All you need is a length of red or yellow fabric to make a cape, and maybe some felt to make a letter for his chest. If he has some red, yellow, or blue clothing, use this as a base, and then pin on the cape and letter. For an added touch, make him a mask to hide his secret identity, either out of some felt or some leftover fabric from the cape.

A robot is as easy to make as a box and some tin foil. Painting on some buttons and accents will make him look like a real metal man.

If your party is a few days before Halloween, you might consider having pre-made costumes prepared for your guests that show up without anything. These could be as easy as capes to turn them into super heroes or tiaras to turn them into princesses.

Games

Games are definitely one of the best parts of any party, especially for little kids. There are plenty of games that are fun, easy to set-up and easy to clean up, once the party is over. For example, take a classic dart game and give it a spooky twist. Use orange balloons and arrange them like a pumpkin, or use white balloons and make a ghostly figure. Then, let kids taking turns popping the balloons. Whoever pops the most gets a candy prize!

Another twist on a classic game is bobbing for donuts. Instead of putting a bunch of apples in water and letting kids try to fish them out using only their mouths (though that would still be fun), tie donuts to a string and suspend them from a tree or from the ceiling. Then, let the kids race to see who can eat their donut and free it from the string the fastest.

Take pin the tail on the donkey and give it a Halloween theme. Cut out a big pumpkin from a piece of orange paper and pin it to the wall, then cut out pumpkin faces from black paper. Then, after blindfolding the guests, let them try to pin a face on their pumpkin, doing the mouth, nose, and eyes separately. This is a great way to get all of the guests involved and everyone will laugh looking at the silly faces that are created.

For little kids, Halloween is all about candy. And what’s a better way to get candy than from a piñata? Buying or making a bat or ghost piñata will give this classic party game some Halloween punch.

Especially if your party is before Halloween, you can get a bunch of pumpkins and let the kids decorate them with glitter, stickers, and markers. If they want to carve them, let them draw on their designs, but be sure that only adults are wielding the knives.

Food

Food for a kid’s Halloween party should be spooky without being too gross. If you tell the kids the spaghetti is brains, they are probably not going to eat it. However, spiders made out of Oreos and pretzel sticks, tombstone cookies, and carrots in the shape of fingers are probably all safe. They will look great on the plates and add some creepy flair while still being kid-friendly.

You can add some dry ice to your punch to make it fog and bubble like witch’s brew, but just be careful that none of the children get any of the ice into their glasses. Other creepy classics include eyeballs made of carrots, cream cheese, and olives, and cakes decorated to look like graveyards.

Decorations

halloween skeleton

Decorating can be one of the best parts of any Halloween party. Making spooky pumpkins, ghosts, and skeletons out of paper is a great way to cut down on costs without cutting down on décor. If you want some authentic looking decorations, look at our party supply store. Not only do we have high quality plastic goods, we have themed cups and plates, plastic flatware, and just about anything else you could need to outfit your party.

 

Want to go big?  Tent Rentals, Party Rentals & Event Rentals in Philadelphia can be found here: BucksMontParty.com

How to Make Halloween Great for Children

Halloween can be one of the best nights of the year for kids, but one of the most stressful for parents. In today’s day and age, it is often not an option to let children go trick-or-treating by themselves, and before October 31st, there are plenty of preparations that must be made, both to the yard and house, as well as the costume for your kid or kids.

While it might seem like something of a production to make all of these preparations for one night, Halloween can still be majorly fun for kids of all ages, with just a few preparations on the part of the parents. When it comes to costumes, decorations, and trick-or-treating, we have a few tips to make Halloween smooth and fun for all parties involved, even if you’re not a fan of the scary or spooky.

Costumes

When it comes to costumes, the best place to start is a costume store. Even an online costume store can have a great selection and make it easy for you to buy or rent the costumes you want for yourself and your child. However, in some instances, it might be easier or cheaper to make the costume, instead of buying or renting it.

If your child wants to be something very specific, you may not be able to find a cheap pre-made version of that costume in stores. This is where hitting the craft store and picking up a pattern and a few fabrics is a great plan. If you’re handy with a thread and needle, you can fashion exactly the costume he wants, in his size, and maybe be able to get two or three years of wear out of it before he moves on to another costume.

If hand making a costume from scratch is not an option, there are several costumes that you could make just out of things you have lying around your house. A great costume doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, a yellow sweatshirt and tights can be dressed up with strips of electrical tape, in order to make a bumblebee. A black cat can be as easy as cutting some ears and a tail out of felt or sturdy black paper and dressing the child up in all black.

If you are going trick-or-treating with your child, a costume is not a necessity, but it can make the night more fun. Check out our list of last minute costume ideas for a better idea of how to whip up a quick costume, without breaking the bank or spending the entire afternoon making something.

Yard Decorations

While yard decorations might not be an essential part of every neighborhood’s Halloween festivities, it is a great way to have a little more fun with this holiday and make sure kids know that your house is giving out candy this year.

Yard decorations can be as simple as a few gravestones, bought from your local party supply store or as complex as a tableau of classic movie monsters. Whatever decorations you decide to implement, make sure they are well-lit, so that all of your hard work can be seen from the sidewalk and driveway.

If you want to create a few easy decorations, we do have some ideas to get you started. If you save Styrofoam from deliveries, you can use a knife and some dark gray spray paint to create custom tombstones. Just cut out their shapes, and given them a coat of the paint. Keep in mind that if you want a marbled look, you shouldn’t completely cover the entire piece with paint.

Other easy decorations come in the form of pre-made ghouls and monsters. All you have to do is buy them from the party store and stick them in your yard. For an extra scare, stick them in your side yard or in a tree, with just a little bit of light on them, so that when they’re spotted, they’ll be extra frightening.

Trick-or-Treating

Now that your costumes are made and your yard is decorated, it’s time to hit the streets and start trick-or-treating. This part of the night can be some parents’ worst nightmare, but with just a little pre-planning, it can actually be an enjoyable time.

Instead of taking your kid out alone, try coordinating with the parents of your child’s friends. Trick-or-treating is more fun in a group of friends, and if you all live in the neighborhood, it will be easy to switch off watch duty. In some cases, there might even be a parent who volunteers to stick with the group for the entire night, so the rest of the group’s parents are off duty all together and can just stick to giving out candy.

Candy to Give Out

Choosing what kinds of candy to give out doesn’t have to be difficult. Most companies make mixes of fun-size candy bars, so all you have to do is open the package and let the kids choose their favorite out of the bowl. If you want to give out something more unique, try mini packages of pretzels or even a little toys, instead of candy.

If your neighborhood doesn’t see a lot of trick-or-treaters, you might consider buying full-size candy bars, to reward those intrepid kids that do make their way out to your street on Halloween.

What if my neighborhood isn’t great for trick-or-treating?

If your neighborhood isn’t great for trick-or treating—and some neighborhoods just aren’t—but you still want to give your kids the trick-or-treating experience, don’t be afraid to take them to another neighborhood or to connect with a parent of one of their friends who does live in a kid-friendly part of town. Just because your neighbors are all in bed before eight doesn’t mean the kids shouldn’t have a great time on Halloween.

How to Make Back to School Feel like a Party

Back to school can be one of the most stressful times in a child or teenager’s life. Along with the social aspect of school, there is homework, tests, teachers, clubs, and extra-curricular activities that the teenager often feels like they must perform well in. While doing well in school should be a top priority, it’s also important to remember that loading too much stress onto a young person’s shoulders can only make things worse, not better, in the school department.

Going back to school doesn’t have to mean the end of summer fun. There is still plenty of fun your child can have, after school and on the weekends. And school itself doesn’t have to be a downer. Making school fun can seriously increase the child’s desire to go to school and perform well. Here are a few simple ways to make going back to school feel like a party.

Make at Least One Part of School Fun

The biggest reason that most kids hate going back to school is that it is just not as much fun as summer vacation. While school might be plenty fun for some students, others might find that recess is their favorite part of school because it gets them out of the classroom and doing something physical. When a child moves on to middle school, junior high, or high school, there are fewer breaks and far fewer chances to do something fun and outside.

Find something that your child really excels at and make sure that they know you are proud of them for that talent, whether it be running, math, or reading. Knowing that they have at least one talent that is valued can make the rest of school, whether they just dislike it or whether they really do not excel in other subjects, bearable. Help them find a way to relate the fun parts of school to the parts that they don’t love, in order to make the entire experience more fun.

School doesn’t have to be just about the drudgery of learning. When a child finds a place where they really shine, it’s easy for him to have fun at school.

Dress Up Their Lunch

If lunch is the highlight of their day, make sure that their lunch is a nice one! If they pack a lunch, there are several things you can do to make their lunch as fun as possible. Looking through our party store, pick out some fun napkins, plates, and plastic flatware to send along with the brown paper sack. A few colorful accessories are really all you need to make this one meal of the day feel a little bit more fun.

In addition to a party cup instead of a regular one, or a brightly colored or patterned napkin, try adding a fun note to your child’s lunch, just a reminder that you love him or her. This can add some much needed light to the gloom that might otherwise overcast the day of a child who doesn’t like school.

Throw a Party

Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that the fun has to be over as well. Why not throw a party to celebrate the first successful week or month of school. Sometimes the first few weeks can be the most stressful, as the child is settling into their new class and routine. A party can be a great way to remind the kid that they are doing great and that you appreciate them.

What does a back to school party look like? Lots of food and games. While the days are still warm, it might make sense to take advantage of a nearby park or green space. Make the games completely non-school related. If it is still warm enough, have a water balloon or squirt gun fight (or both!). A fun party like this will ensure that your child knows that summer has not completely left them behind and that the school year doesn’t just have to be about school

Less Pressure

We all want out children to perform well in school, but sometimes putting more pressure on their shoulders is not the right way to elicit better grades. Especially if there is one subject that seems to be giving your child trouble, most schools provide resources to help deal with these instances. Alternatively, you might be able to find an outside tutor who can provide the necessary help, without piling on even more pressure.

School doesn’t have to always be fun or always be a party, but students who actually like learning and going to school are more likely to put effort into their own schooling. Finding a way to bolster weak subjects and praise kids for subjects in which they excel is one great way to do that. Throwing a small, intimate party for friends and family when they succeed in something that has been difficult in the past, can be a great reward for students.

Make It Social

One of the best ways to make school feel like a party is to allow your child and his friends to use your house as a study place—as long as they actually study. Gathered around the table, they can help each other with subjects and have fun while they get their homework done. Making school social as well as educational is a great way to get students who are not focused to put a little more effort into their work.

What to Do With Leftover Party Supplies

You’ve held your birthday party, graduation parties, Halloween party, etc., and now you’re left with all of these extra party supplies. Either you bought just far too many, believing that your party would somehow spiral out of control like a home alone party in an after school special, or that each person attending would need, for some reason, six plates and cups apiece. Your party went off without a hitch, no spiraling, no wasteful use of your carefully selected floral paper products, but now you have all of these extra party supplies hanging around. Don’t throw them out! We’ve got ten things you can do with left over party supplies.

1. Reuse, reuse, reuse.

If you don’t have one yet, set up a box just for party supplies like streamers, paper poufs, lights, etc. You’ll keep everything leftover together, so next time you are throwing a party, you can raid your own stash before heading off to the story to buy party decorations. Leftover napkins and cups can also be used around the house or in packed lunches for weeks on end. They can even dress up a boring day and bring back memories of all the fun you had at the party.

2. Throw them in the car.

When it comes to high quality plastic party supplies, the last thing you want to do is just throw them away. But where are you when you often need a fork, spoon, or knife but don’t have one? The car. Extra flatware, napkins, and cups can make a great addition to your jockey box. And again, as you use them, you’ll reminisce about the great party you threw.

3. Share them with friends.

Post on Facebook or Twitter that you have a bunch of left over party supplies from your super great party and your friends will probably come running, just to take them off of your hands. No reason you can’t share with your friends, right? Make a list of everything you have leftover, especially if they are things that you know you won’t use again (like holiday-specific decorations that won’t last until next year), and post it on your social media. People are sure to claim what they want or need and will be grateful to save a little cash.

4. Sell it online.

If you really went overboard and have unopened or only gently used party supplies, again, take them to the internet. Even craigslist is a great place to start. You can write up an advert for your left over supplies and make sure that everyone in your area knows where they can get some supplies on the cheap. There are even websites specifically designed to help you

5. Donate it.

There are probably plenty of churches or shelters in your area that can’t afford to build a stockpile of party supplies, but would really like some to dress up their spaces for special occasions. Whether your left over supplies are for a specific holiday or more general, for example, birthday decorations that are just in a specific color or pattern, nonprofit organizations in your area would definitely benefit from your donation. Instead of throwing out what you don’t use, drop them off at your local church, homeless shelter, or halfway house and see if they can be put to good use.

6. Throw another party.

Have too many plates, cups, and streamers laying around? None of your friends want to take them off your hands? Don’t have the closet space to house them? It sounds like you are going to need to throw another party. Even if it is just a low-key lunch with friends, why not dress up the room with all of your beautiful supplies, using up those extra plates and flatware, instead of just letting them gather dust in your pantry.

7. Store it.

There’s no reason you can’t tuck everything away for use next year. If you have a storage room or container, pack everything leftover up in a box and clearly label it for next year. This tip is especially useful for holiday-specific decorations, like cookie plates for Christmas or turkey wall hangings for Thanksgiving. They’ll be safe and sound for use next year, and you don’t’ have to have them hanging around your house.

8. Create a communal party supplies box.

If you don’t have room to store them and you don’t have a friend that wants to use them right away, consider banding together with a couple of friends and creating a communal party supply box. Stored at someone’s house, it will hold all of the extra supplies you have accumulated over the years. Next time any of you are throwing a party, that box will be first stop, before hitting the party store. Just make sure that it’s understood that once it goes into the box, it is fair game.

9. Host a party supplies swap.

Did everyone just throw a birthday party for their child or a Christmas party to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year? That means now is the perfect time to host a party supplies swap. If you aren’t keen on using the same decorations again next year, this swap will give you the ability to get a while new batch of supplies that will liven up any decorating routine.

10. Throw them out.

If none of these options work for you, it’s time to just throw them out. If you really have nowhere to store them, no one to give them to, and no way to sell them off, and in reality, just a few scraps of streamer and rumpled napkins left, the trash might be the best place.