Ten Tips for the Perfect Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine's day heart cutout

Yes, it’s January, but Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. February 14th will arrive faster than you thought it would, and if you want to plan something special for you and your loved one, now is the perfect time to start. Whether you just want to plan the perfect romantic evening for two or are throwing a blowout for all of your single friends, we have a few tips and tricks to get you started and make sure your Valentine’s Day is perfect.

Just the Two of Us

If you’re planning a date just for you and your sweetheart, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are our first five tips, for those of you who are planning an intimate evening.

1. Don’t skimp on decorations. Even if you’re going out to your favorite restaurant for dinner, you might still want to spend some time decorating the house. Every party supply store will have mounds of Valentine’s Day decorations to choose from, whether you want to go sweet and kitschy or upscale and elegant. Decorating your house is a great way to set the mood, even before you leave on your date.

2. Get some flowers and chocolate. It may seem cliché, but chocolate and flowers are a staple of the holiday for good reason—nothing says I love you like a single rose (or a whole bouquet, if you’re feeling fancy) and a box of chocolates, even if you just picked them up last night at the grocery store. This is a tip especially for guys: even if she says she doesn’t want anything, you might still want to consider picking up a flower. It’s a nice gesture and a good way to show her you remembered that today was special. If you really want to spoil your significant other, send flowers to his or her office during the day.

3. Write a love note. If one or both of you have to work on Valentine’s day, a cute way to get ready for a romantic date tonight is to write a sweet note and slip it into their lunch before they leave home. They’ll find it when they open that sack for lunch and it will definitely bring a smile to his or her face. You can use a paper heart left over from your Valentine’s Day decorations or even one of those cheesy kids’ Valentine’s you can buy at any grocery store. Even if you’re not a poet, just a few nice words will do.

4. Do something different. Valentine’s Day should be special. If you always grab a bite to eat and then go see a movie, maybe try something new (unless your significant other hates change—you know him or her best). A ride in a carriage through the park, a walk along the river, ice-skating, or even just staying in if you always go out can be a nice change of pace on the most romantic day of the year. Better yet—have your first date over again or take her to all your favorite spots.

5. Get outta town. You could use this day as an excuse to get away for the weekend. Chances are, everyone else that you know will also be out on Valentine’s Day in your city, which might make it difficult to have a nice evening, just the two of you. Instead, why not go where no one can find you? A bed and breakfast out of town or a snuggly cabin in the woods?

For the Singletons

Just because you don’t have a significant other on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great time. This holiday isn’t just about couples, it’s about love in general. So, why not use this time to throw a party for all of your loved ones? Here’s how to do your Valentine’s Day party up right.

1. Time to decorate. Hit your favorite party supply store (you’ll probably find the best deals online), and get lots of decorations for your venue. You can stick to the traditional pink, white, and red, or you could go extra classy and go with black and gold. Whatever theme you choose, keep in mind that hearts are the name of the game when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Whether you buy all of your decorations or spend an afternoon cutting them out of construction paper, you’ll want to fully adorn your venue prior to the start of your party.

2. Get the food ready. While you might want to just do heart-shaped cookies and chocolates, if you are only going to have a few people over, you could have a fancy pot-luck or catered dinner, just for the single ladies or lads in your circle. Just because you don’t have a husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend to spoil you on Valentine’s doesn’t mean you can’t spoil each other.

3. Pick a playlist. Your playlist will likely depend on what theme you’re going for, but love songs are always a good bet. Your favorite artists probably have plenty of them, but if you’re at a loss, check the Top 40 list.

4. Choose some activities. Do you want to watch a sad movie? A romantic comedy? Just a regular comedy? Play two truths and a lie? Have some games on hand so once you’re done eating, you can have a little fun.

5. Pick the right time. If you want to invite friends that do have significant others, holding your party on Valentine’s Day might not be the best bet, as they’ll likely already have plans. Additionally, if Valentine’s Day is on a weekday (in 2015, it’s on a Saturday), some people might not want to stay out too late if they have commitments or work in the morning.

Want to go big for your Valentine’s Day party?  Tent Rentals, Party Rentals & Event Rentals in Philadelphia can be found here: BucksMontParty.com

Plan the Perfect Kid’s Valentine’s Day Party

Cupid cutout

If you have a kid, Valentine’s Day is probably one rung lower than Halloween on the ladder of fun holidays (Christmas or Hanukkah being the top, of course). Whether you’re hosting a party for your child’s entire class at school or just for their closest friends, it might seem daunting to come with enough ideas that are both on-theme and interesting enough to keep the kids engaged. These ideas are great both for classroom parties and for after-school bashes, and are sure to make your party a hit with the kids and their parents.

Decorate Cookies

What’s the best way to cut down on the time it takes for you to prepare for the party and give the kids something fun to do? Have them decorate their own cookies! You can even prepare one set of cookies beforehand and also have some raw dough so they can cut out their own shapes to frost, once they’re done cooking. Getting this party ready is as easy and getting a few tubs of frosting (or making your own if you’re feeling industrious), some sprinkles, and some wax paper to protect your table from the bright colors. If you don’t want to make the cookies, you could enlist some other parents or even buy plain sugar cookies from the grocery store.

Make Valentines

Most classes have some sort of Valentine’s Day celebration, and that usually means that your child wants to take some Valentines to her friends. A great way to enable her to express her creativity is to invite her friends over and using constructions paper, glue, and markers to make their own Valentines. A great way to supplement their supplies is with some heart-themed decorations, purchased from a party supply store.

Make It Sweet

Whether or not you want the kids to decorate their own treats, you can still center your party on treats. When you’re a little kid, Valentine’s Day is really all about sweets anyway—so why not spoil them this one day out of the year, with a range of sweet treats. Heart-shaped cookies, cakes, rice crispy treats (these are great if there is someone in her class or circle of friends who is gluten intolerant), and more could be the focus of the party. Making Valentines or playing games can round out the party.

Cake Walk

Your kids might not be old enough to understand the history behind a cake walk, but they’ll love the interactive treat-winning game. An easy way to get this party started is to cut big hearts out of pink and red construction paper, number them, and put them in a circle. Make sure there are enough numbers for everyone and there are enough treats that everyone can win something. Augment this game with musical chairs set to some famous love songs or with a fun movie (the kids might not mind if it’s not Valentine’s Day themed).

Heart Games

A great way to make your party Valentine’s Day themed and still really fun is to have a bunch of heart-themed games planned. Whether it’s heart tic-tac-toe (which is as easy as making a game board and giving the kids pink and red hearts to use as game pieces or heart hide and go seek (where one child leaves the room and then another child hides a paper heart—the class then leads the other child to the heart with a game of hotter or colder), having a few games handy is a good way to keep the party from stalling.

Make It Heart Healthy

While you might not want to turn the entire party into a field day (it may be still too cold for that), you can get the kids out to do a little bit of exercise. They’ll probably need it if they are going to be eating sugary cookies or other treats throughout the day. If you turn it into a game or have a heart relay, the kids will be sure to love getting outside or doing something active during the school day.

Get Crafty

Kids love doing crafts and this is a good way to exercise their motor skills as well as give them a built-in party favor. There are lots of different crafts that you could do—these are just a few examples. Making Valentines for their parents or friends out of construction paper and a few craft supplies is going to be a popular option. Coloring pages that are heart or Valentine’s Day themed are great for younger kids who might not be up for working with scissors and glue yet. Making heart rings or necklaces out of pipe-cleaners is easy and inexpensive. If your kids are a little bit older, they might be able to make woven friendship bracelets out of red and pink string.

Match the Hearts

This is a great way to work some learning into your party—which is great if you’re planning your party for the classroom. In this party, you write a bunch of words on some hearts and stick them around the room. Each child has to pick a heart off of the wall and then find their word match—which might be held by another child or it might still be on the wall.

Heart Attack

This idea is a great for an after-school party and is a great way to show some love to someone in your neighborhood who needs it. Spend the first half of the party cutting out hearts and writing nice things on them. Then, tape some to skewers and just put tape on the back of others. Then, take your party outside and stick those hearts all over someone’s yard to show them they are loved.

Easy Party Planning: A Checklist

Party Supplies Bucks County PA

Party planning can be stressful, but it can also be fun and easy, when you have the right tools. The best way to cut out the stress is to make sure that you have everything covered. When you’re not worrying about things falling through the cracks, you have a much better chance of not only getting everything done and lowering your stress level, but actually having fun while you’re planning your party. Here’s a week-by-week checklist to help you make sure everything is covered.

Three Weeks Prior to Your Party

Three weeks before your party, it’s not yet time to start making the food or decorating the venue, but there are a few things that you can and should knock out of the way during this time.

1. Decide who to invite. Make a list of people that you want to attend your party. Is this party just for close friends or for everyone you know? Is it a party for the entire neighborhood or are you cutting back and just inviting your work friends? A good rule of thumb for determining how many people to invite is to invite 20% more people than your venue can hold, as 20% of your invitees probably won’t show.

2. Start gathering decorations. While it might not yet be time to decorate, it’s definitely time to start finding decorations. Whether you hit an online party store (which can probably offer you some great discounts), or your favorite local party shop, or even borrow decorations from your friends or from your local church, now is the time to start getting some décor together.

3. Send out invitations. After you’ve given yourself a day to make sure you haven’t left anyone off your invite list, it’s time to send out invitations, whether they are going through snail mail, e-mail, or even if you are going to call and personally invite each person.

4. Decide what you want to eat. Again, it’s too early to start making anything, even anything you can make and freeze, but it’s not too early to start planning your menu. Get the recipes you want to use together and make a list of how early you can prepare the whole or just part of the dish, how early you need to place the order with your caterer, or when you need to start cooking.

5. Think about getting help. Not professional help—but definitely some kind of help. Do you want someone to bus tables? Serve hors d’oeurves? Just be on hand for whatever you need? Consider hiring a trustworthy high school student or even one of your own children to help restock the buffet or fetch drinks.

Two Weeks Prior

1. Get your silverware and linens ready. Whether you are renting them or just using your own silverware and linens, start preparing them by washing everything, ironing the linens, and storing them somewhere where they will not get dusty or dirty before the party.

2. Pick your music. This might be a good job for that teenager you’ve enlisted to help you—during this week, start making your party playlist, with the tone and theme of your party in mind. In general, the music should be upbeat and mellow. If you’re going to be dancing, however, you might want to come up with something faster-paced. Take a look at the Top 40 for an idea of what music is popular right now.

3. Start grocery shopping. If you are making any of the food, now is the right time to shop for anything that can sit in the freezer until it’s time to prepare it.

One Week to Go!

1. Make sure your venue is clean. Whether you are having the party at your house or a local party venue, now is the time to make sure it is thoroughly clean. While it will probably need a little bit more cleaning before the party starts, deep cleaning it a week prior means only a little bit of cleaning the day-of.

2. Decorate! Take out the decorations you’ve gathered and make your venue beautiful!

3. Make sure you have all of the serving dishes and utensils you need. You probably don’t want to set all of your food out in the pan or cookware it was made in—so make sure you have the serving dishes and utensils you need for a beautiful spread that’s easy to share.

4. Make sure you have enough alcohol. If you’re serving alcohol, make sure you have enough wine and liquor for everyone who is attending. Three bottles of wine are enough for four people (usually), and most guests will drink four cocktails over the course of three hours.

5. Finish grocery shopping. Get the rest of the food that you need to make any of the recipes you plan on serving.

Last Minute

1. Finish decorating. If there are any finishing touches you want to put on your decorations, now is the time!

2. Set up a coat depot. Even if it’s relatively warm outside, someone will likely bring a coat or jacket that they won’t want to carry around all night. Have a place for that coat to go.

3. Do a quick clean. Make sure your house or venue is clean with a quick once-over with the duster and the vacuum.

4. Set up the food. Even if you’re not going to be ready to bring the food out until after guests arrive, make sure you know exactly where it’s going to go.

5. Be the gracious host or hostess. Now that you’ve taken care of all of the details, you can be ready and waiting at the door as your guests arrive, to take their coats and thank them for coming, instead of being harried, trying to get your party together at the last minute.

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

Small Things You Might Neglect When Wedding Planning

Wedding centerpieces

There are a lot of facets of planning a wedding. Because there are so many different moving parts and because so many other people are involved (the bride or groom, your parents, his/her parents, a wedding planner, bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc.), it’s easy for small details to slip through the cracks or get lost in the shuffle. In thirty years you probably won’t remember the little things you forgot on your wedding day, but you still want to make your big day as perfect as possible. If you’re afraid you might be missing some of the small, but important details, don’t worry! Here are some of the things that brides and grooms most often forget to do:

Bring Your Marriage License to the Venue

You’d be surprised how often this happens—a bride and groom arrive at the venue and they’ve forgotten to bring their license. Many people get their marriage license weeks or even months before the wedding itself, and that document can easily be forgotten, despite being extremely important.

Some people even forget to get the marriage license until the day before the wedding—and in some states, it’s impossible to get a license at such short notice, as blood tests are required (to make sure you’re not somehow siblings and just weren’t aware of it). Make getting your license one of your top priorities, very early in the wedding planning process and then put it somewhere you won’t forget to bring it on the big day (like with the wedding dress).

Food for the People Working Your Wedding

If you have servers, wedding planners, photographers, and other staff working your wedding and reception, make sure that you’ve planned enough food and drink to keep those people happy. Many of these people, like your photographer, will be working all day, especially if you’ve asked them to come and take pictures of your getting ready or check in with you before the ceremony begins. Many couples forget that these people need to be fed and that having a few extra bottles of water on hand is important. Many caterers will supply food for the staff at a reduced cost.

Wedding Favors

Most brides and grooms don’t intentionally forget favors. With so many resources for making your own favors, it’s easy to get swept away by the choices and just never select something to send home with your guests as a “thank you” for attending your wedding. This means that you might be left without any kind of favor, even if you originally meant to give one. When it comes to favor, pick something that reflects the spirit of your wedding—and don’t get too caught up in making something special and handmade for each person who attends. That can lead to you sitting at your kitchen table for days and days, just making favors.

A Guestbook

One of the biggest things couples forget these days is a guestbook. It’s one of the smallest gestures, and also one of the easiest to forget. It’s also the best way to remember everyone who attended your wedding and to make sure that you send out thank-you notes after the wedding.

Your guestbook doesn’t just have to be a blank book people can sign their names in, it could be anything from a quilt, complete with fabric pens so your guests can leave you a personalized message right on the quilt, to a scrap book accompanied by a photo booth so guests can take a picture and leave it with a message in your scrap book. If you prefer something more classic, a blank book with plenty of pens so your guests can sign their name and leave their well wishes is always a good idea—as long as you remember to pick one up.

Cake Knife

What happens when you’ve rolled the cake out and then you realize that you forgot to get a special cake knife for the occasion? You have to use one of the generic knives provided by the caterer—or else, what my brother used: a pocket knife. In short, don’t forget this detail. If you want to make sure you have something to cut your cake with, go out and buy a special set or order or rent one online. If you buy your own set, every time you use that knife to cut cake or slice bread, you’ll be reminded of your wedding day—but you have to remember to get one to the venue first.

Chargers for Phones of All Kinds

This isn’t just for you and the bridal party, but for everyone who attends, and is especially important if you have opted to play music off of an mp3 player, instead of hiring a DJ. You want to be able to charge those devices so you can keep in touch and keep the tunes going, even in the fourth hour of the reception. Having a fully-charged cellphone might be the last thing on your mind on your wedding day, but what if your phone is dead and you’re stuck in traffic on the way to the church? Having a phone charger will ensure the groom doesn’t think you’ve run out on him.

Online Reviews and Thank You Notes

After the wedding and honeymoon are over, most couple hurry into their married lives and neglect to thank all of the vendors that made their wedding possible. Go online and leave a review of the caterers, wedding planners, party supply stores, and any other companies that help you make your special day special. You can even send thank you notes to those that really went the extra mile to make sure you had what you needed.

The Top Ten Apps for Party Planning

party planning apps

Did you know that your smartphone can help you plan parties? While it might not have been its original purpose, there are now plenty of apps that can help to eliminate the stress of planning a party. Whether you are planning your family’s annual holiday get together, a party for your best friend, or a back-to-school bash during the summer, these apps can help you make sure that your party is not only completely planned, but also help you get the best deals on decorations, food, and other party necessities.

1. Touchnote

This app lets you order paper invitations right from your smartphone. All you have to do is pick a template, add a picture and some text, and put in the address. The service will then send out the paper invitation. It’s an easy way to make sure you guests are invited, even if you’re planning your guest list on the train to and from work. All of the addresses and names are saved in the app so you can see who has or hasn’t been invited yet. You can even use it to send out holiday cards while you’re at it.

2. Evernote

If you’re the kind of person that likes to build a to-do list for planning your party, then Evernote is the app for you. Not only does it let you collect text, pictures, or notes that serve as inspiration for your party, it also lets you build customized to-do lists. It’s great for organization, with the ability to store gifts, organize your menu, and keep you up to date with what you need to do and when to be ready for your party.

3. Retail Me Not

You’re likely going to be doing at least a little bit of shopping for your party. Retail Me Not makes it easy. This app collects coupons from over 50,000 retailers and sends them right to your smartphone. You can even search for a relevant coupon while you’re standing in line with your purchases. In addition, you can make a list of your favorite or most-used stores and Retail Me Not will collect those coupons so they’re ready and waiting whenever you open the app. If you’re buying food for a party or even just decorations, this app can help you cut your costs.

4. Pocket

If you are spending a lot of time online, researching decorations, recipes, or activities for your party and you want a way to store all of the information and links you’ve collected through that research, pocket is a great way to do that. If you find that you have been emailing yourself link after link, this app is a much better way to keep track of your party research. Sort of like Pinterest for your phone, this app lets you save a link, article, picture, recipe, etc. for later, just by clicking a single button.

5. Food 52

If you’re stuck for what to serve at your party, this app is for you. Whether you’re planning a special party for a holiday or just want to try something new and unique for your party, this app lets you search through thousands of recipes and even provides ready-made menu suggestions. Many of the recipes even come along with tutorials. For example, if you’ve never stuffed a turkey or want to know the right way to set a table, they’ve got both videos and written tutorials with all of that information.

6. Waze

Sure, this is an app for finding the shortest distance between your current location and your ultimate destination. How can that help you with your party planning? There will likely be day that you have to go out and run errands for this party, picking up party decorations from the party supply store, grocery shopping, stopping by the florists, and so on. Waze can help you plan the shortest, least stressful route for all of that shopping, so you’re not sitting in traffic for hours, on top of the shopping you need to do.

7. TripIt

Do you have guests coming in from out of town? If so, TripIt can help you store and manage that information, even creating customized itineraries so that all of your guests know exactly where they need to be and when. It’s easy to use—all you do is forward the confirmation emails from the airline, hotel, and car rental company to TripIt and they provide you with an itinerary that has all of the your travel information ready to go.

8. Martha Stewart’s Cocktails App

Want to try out some new cocktails for your party? Want to know what snacks to serve during cocktail hour? Just want to learn how to make some fancy drinks? This is the perfect app for anyone who is going to be serving alcohol at his party. Not only is it chockfull of recipes, it also has instructional videos and tips.

9. Little List

Whether you are buying gifts for everyone attending your party or just for the special birthday boy or girl, this app can help you organize your wish lists. It even allows you to provide helpful information like preferences, clothing sizes, and where to send the presents. You can share all of this information with the other attendees and the app itself will provide gift suggestions, based on the wish list you build for each person.

10. Shop Savvy

Again, you’re likely going to be doing at least a little bit of shopping for your party. Shop Savvy is a great way to make sure you’re not paying more than you need to on food or gifts. All you have to do is scan the barcode of the item and the app will tell you if there is somewhere else you can get that item cheaper. It will even store information and let you know if something that you need goes on sale.

Best Party Decorations to Keep on Hand

Have you ever been called on to have a spur of the moment party? While this might not be a common occurrence in your life, you might occasionally find that you wish you had some decorations. A friend might call you up and ask if you have streamers. Maybe your daughter wants to invite her friends over for an impromptu tea party and some pink decorations would be nice. What if your daughter gets an award at school and you want to reward her with a special dinner and a fun evening? All of these are instances in which having some party supplies lying around could come in handy. If you’re looking to build your stockpile, here are our suggestions for the best party decorations to keep around.

1. Candles – There’s the one thing that you always think you have in the house, but when you look for them, they’re nowhere to be found. Not only are candles great when the power goes out, there’s an essential both for short-notice birthday parties and for spontaneous romantic dinners. Keeping number candles, the short and skinny birthday candles, or a range of taper candles in your party stash is a good way to make sure you always have mood lighting, should you ever need it—from an intimate dinner to a spooky Halloween shindig.  Yankee Candles also help the house smell great!!

Yankee Candles

2. Balloons – Not only can a single blown-up balloon keep kids busy for hours (just ask them, “How long can you keep this off the ground?”) they’re a great addition to just about any party, but especially for birthday parties. Whether you slipped and forgot someone’s birthday and now have to throw a party on the fly, or just want to set up a quick celebration for that promotion your wife or husband got today, balloons are perfect. If you can get them filled with helium—that’s even better, but even just plain old oxygen-filled balloons will do.

3. Butcher paper – Butcher paper, crate paper, and craft paper have so many different uses, it’s silly to not have any on hand. Whether you need to cover a table, create a back drop for some photos, stuff gift baskets, or make just about anything, crate paper or butcher paper is the answer. If you have a big roll of butcher paper, you can even put a strip around the lower part of your walls, and leave out some crayons or markers so kids can create murals on the wall—trust me, this is a great activity for a party or just a lazy summer day. Craft paper (you know, the thick, brown, rustic-looking paper) is great for everything from making banners to invitations to cards to wrapping small gifts.

4. Paper garlands – Want the world’s easiest and most stylish decorations? Go with a range of plain paper garlands. You can pick them up from just about every party supply store. Many will come with messages already on them, but you can find plenty that are just colorful. You may even be able to find some that are covered in chalkboard paint, allowing you to create a custom message for the occasion. Others feature peel and stick letters to the same effect. You can easily spruce up a room by hanging one on a wall, but hanging up lots in a room really makes it festive.

5. Napkins – They’re a party essential and you probably have some leftover from your last bash. Having a supply of generic napkins is not only a good way to make sure you’re never run out of napkins in your everyday life, it’s also the best way to be prepared for a spontaneous bash. Especially if you work in an office where a random party can start any time someone brings in baked goods, having an extra supply of napkins is a necessity. Any time there’s going to be food or drink is a good time to bust out your extra napkins and basically be named king or queen of the office.

Premium Tableware

6. Cups – Being the holder of the extra plastic cups is another great way to earn favor among your coworkers or friends. Whether the party is planned or impromptu, you still might not want to use real cups—that could add up to a lot of dishes. There’s no such thing as too many plastic cups—that that’s not even to mention that they come in just about every color and are extremely inexpensive. Whether your party stash is for the office or for your own home, keeping extra plastic cups on hand is never a bad idea. You can use them to portion out snacks, label them with a sharpie to be sure whose drink is whose, or even use one as a punch ladle if you’re really in a bind.

7. Confetti – Yes, this probably means you’ll have to vacuum a few times to remove all traces of it from your home, but confetti is a fun way to celebrate and can make even the most spontaneous of spontaneous parties feel festive. Confetti is, again, really, really cheap, easy to find, and easy to store. Throw a few handfuls when your best friend announces the sex of her baby or when your child gets home from his first day of school.

8. Drink accessoriesStraws, tiny umbrellas, and skewers—the perfect addition to any drink, whether it’s just lemonade or something harder. Super cheap, easy to find, and great for the times your best friends shows up unannounced and wants to watch Beaches and drink margaritas. You can even user the skewers to help hold toppers on cupcakes or to make little signs to stick into those cupcakes. The possibilities are endless.

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