Punch-A-Present

This is a throwback post. I’m probably going to have a few of these over the next week or so because I’ve recently gone back through old photos and found a lot of crafts I’ve done or parties I’ve thrown. Also, I have a few ‘irons in the fire,’ so to speak, with different ongoings in my daily life, so until those are post-ready, I’m bringing out some old goodies.

Punch-A-Present was something I decided to create for my husband’s birthday one year. I can’t really remember why, but well, it’s me and I like to do weird stuff for fun. So, the concept of Punch-A-Present is this – you punch into a hole that has slip of paper inside that leads to a prize. Whatever you find behind the hole is what you get. If you’ve ever seen The Price is Right, this should sound familiar to you, like the game called Punch-A-Bunch. Unlike in that game, you only punch one hole at a time. You could use this craft in a few ways. As I said, I used it with my husband by purchasing 6 individual gifts (you could do whatever $$ or type of gift you wanted – even like individual packs of his favorite snacks, etc.), numbering them, and then putting a number (1-6) behind each hole on the board. He then got to punch one hole a day to claim whatever gift matched the number behind the hole. You could also use this to award prizes randomly (bridal/baby shower, in a classroom, at a children’s party) or as part of a game night to pick clues for things (same concept as on Jimmy Fallon when they play Pictionary).

Materials:

  • Tri-fold board (I usually pick mine up from my local Dollar Tree – it’s my jam, if you haven’t noticed)
  • Fun colors of tissue paper (or not, ya know, whatever you want to do)
  • Sticky notes
  • Marker
  • Scissors or Exacto knife + cutting mat
  • Cup or bowl with the circle size you want for your holes
  • Pencil
  • Tape (ideally something stronger than scotch, but not as strong as duct – masking, maybe?)

Layout your board. This step includes a few sub-steps:

  • Add your title – I kept it simple with ‘Punch-A-Present’ but you can write whatever you want….or…nothing at all! I recommend starting with this step for two reasons. 1. I find it easier to write on a smooth flat surface and 2. I like to base the spacing of the rest of my board on how much room is left after my title, rather than trying to fit my title in after the fact.
  • Trace & cut your holes – The trick for getting good, evenly sized circles is to trace. Find a cup or bowl that has the right size mouth and trace (in pencil). Once all your circles are laid out, you can go back through and use your scissors or Exacto knife to cut them out. Make sure to move your cutting mat as needed to avoid ruining your work surface!

Add the tissue paper. I used 6 different colors, but you could absolutely use all the same color or more of a theme. Fold your tissue paper into squares that just cover the circles with a little overlap around the perimeter. You will want to make sure you have a few layers of paper for each circle so you can’t see through, but not too many layers that it’s hard to punch through! Then, tape around the edges of the square. Be sure to tape it securely, otherwise the excitement of the punch will be lost when the fist doesn’t bust through, but instead pulls the whole thing off.

Prepare your presents. Once you’ve got your prizes or gifts ready and wrapped, use sticky notes to number them 1-6. Then, on the inside of the tri-fold side flaps, label the spaces next to the holes with sticky notes with numbers 1-6. (In my version, I made things a bit more complicated by adding little shelves on the back of the board under each row of holes. This is where I placed my numbered sticky notes so they could easily be found through the hole. This approach also gave the setup more stability, so you could go this route if you wanted. I used some foam board pieces from a sheet I bought at the Dollar Tree. I cut it into slices the same width as the main portion of the tri-fold and about the same depth as the flaps. I then used a bunch of tape to put them into place. Basically, I taped the edges of each shelf to the outer wings and taped the back of the shelf to the back of the section with the holes.) Once you’ve got your numbers in place, you’re ready to play!

I have to say, even this may seem corny or juvenile, it’s a super easy way to make someone special feel just a little bit more special / have just a little bit more silly enjoyment in life. Just go for it!

 

Annual Cleaning Plan Design

This post is by reader request (thanks, Mama). At the beginning of 2017, I decided I wanted to try out a few resolutions to see if I could make them behaviors. I made three goals (two personal, one home) – this one is all about my home goal of getting on an weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, semi-annual and annual cleaning schedule. Now, let me start by saying you don’t have to go to that level. I have  found that sometimes I slack on the more regularly recurring items, but in general am doing a decent job sticking to this. So, here is a step by step guide to building a cleaning plan, along with my cleaning plan as an example.

  1. Decide the granularity. This is a thing I talk about with co-workers a lot (due to the nature of our work) – how granular into the detail do we get? You need to sort this out first because it will impact your upcoming steps. Do you want to plan down to the every week activities? What do you want your recurrences to be? Here are some options to consider: Daily, Weekly, Bi-weekly (also known as fortnightly), Semi-monthly, Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-annual, Annual. I suppose if you wanted, you could go to larger periods of time (like Bi-annual, or every 2 years), but I would recommend you cap it at Annual.
  2. Make an activity list. This can be a bit hard, especially for the items that occur less frequently (you probably think about them a whole lot less frequently too, or it’s something you never really notice). I would encourage you to check out Pinterest – there are some good suggestions of items to include using search terms like Cleaning Schedule or Seasonal Cleaning. You can also check out my plan below for what I’m doing. When you’re working on this step, consider your level of granularity – if you are not considering daily or weekly activities, you don’t need to include things like laundry, dishes, or taking out the trash. On the flip side, if it’s easier for you to make a list of all your cleaning duties, you can just filter these items out in the next step.
  3. Sort the activities. Next to each activity on the list, determine the frequency you need to complete it each year – once, twice, every 3 months, etc. Consider the level of granularity that you chose in #1 – you want to break your list up into these groups. If something on your list is outside those cadences, you need to determine if the frequency changes, the item is omitted, or you add a level of granularity. Basically, this is what my paper looked like: Schedule no assignments
  4. Determine the when. For this step, you can basically ignore anything that will occur monthly or more frequently. If you have quarterly, semi-annual or annual activities, this step is for you. Start with your annual activities because this group will be the easiest to assign. Take the number of activities and divide by 12. This will give you how often you need to schedule an annual activity. I had 12 annual activities, which made it really easy to determine I needed to schedule 1 activity every month. (You may be thinking to yourself – I don’t get it, why don’t we just do all the annual stuff at the same time every year? Well, because that sounds like it’s going to suck a lot, in my opinion, to have to do that. However, if that is your style and you’re okay dedicating a weekend to knock everything out, you may also feel free to skip this step.) I went through my list and decided which month paired best with each activity, taking into consideration factors like weather, other activities at the same time of year, etc. I then applied this same method for my semi-annual activities list, except this time, I divided by 6 because these activities would occur 2x a year (12/2=6). I had 14 items on this list, which meant I needed to schedule 2 activities per month and then add 1 activity to four months (ie, 8 months would have 2 activities (4 semi-annual sets) and the other 4 months would have 3 activites (2 semi-annual sets). I then paired up my months (January/July, February/August, March/September, April/October, May/November, June/December) and assigned them to the groups of tasks. I didn’t go to the quarterly level, but for that, you’d divide by 4. As with my annual activities, I applied reasoning on weather and time of year impacts to these pairings. Here is how it worked out for me:Schedule with assignments
  5. Schedule the activities. Once you’ve worked out what you need to do each day/week/month, you need to go through and schedule it onto a calendar with reminders. I am a fan of the Google products (and am a Samsung Galaxy Note 5 user, aka Android), so I have my calendar synced to my Gmail and on my phone. This enables me to get both phone alerts and email reminders. I even have a smart watch (Samsung Gear Fit 2) that’s connected to my phone and vibrates my wrist with reminders, so it makes it pretty hard to ignore. The other great part about using a synced calendar like Google Calendar is that you can sync other email addresses to the same calendar. I have my hubs hooked up so I can invite him to events we have going on (like our Family Dinner Meeting every Friday night – more about this in another post, or my family gatherings, of which there are many). So, he is able to see what’s going on and, when he’s interested, will take part in the cleaning plan. (NOTE: I do not have him set up to receive reminders – something to think about if you share your calendar with anyone, you can customize who gets what reminders.) I entered my activities in this order: Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly, Semi-Annual and Annual. I went in this order so I could try to ensure one Saturday didn’t end up getting activities in EVERY category – if you vary between days of the week, this won’t be as big of a deal. For each group, I added the recurrence, set the time I wanted to set aside for the activity and also set a reminder. See below for how to do this in Google Calendar: GoogleCalendar
  6. Clean. This is the final, and if you ask me, hardest step. Since I can tend to be really good at planning and sometimes slackerish on the follow through (can’t we all), I went one step further and made a tracker to keep a record of the actual dates I completed my semi-annual and annual activities. I have justified this level of ridiculousness to myself by adding a cost column to track anything I have to spend to complete the activities (ie, purchasing a new filter for my fridge). But, and this little tidbit is a non-cleaning related bonus, I also have started keeping track of the money I spend on my home (which comes in handy for insurance purposes, should you ever need it, and is helpful for reference later on). This includes things like purchasing large pieces of furniture, installing new features or items, building any custom pieces, or making any significant changes. Each of these trackers is a separate tab in an Excel spreadsheet – here are some screen grabs of what these look like:Trackers

If you’re a control freak like I am and like to plan and document everything, check back for a post on my Monthly Budget Excel Book.

How to Host a Murder: 1920’s Mediterranean Cruise

As you might imagine, I like to write. For my 17th birthday, I decided to write my own murder mystery party by creating all the different characters, clues, and ultimately, the premise of the murder. I then sent out packets and prepared for the day. The party itself went well and was a lot of fun, but I was sad I couldn’t really ‘participate’ – since I wrote everything, I knew who the killer was and therefore didn’t get the experience of using the clues to solve the case. So, I went online to do a bit of googling and came across boxed murder mystery party sets by How to Host a Murder (I usually order from Amazon). I’ve now played two of these (and have two more on deck to be played), so I feel I can say with confidence that these games are legit and a great time. I don’t have many photos from the first one (How to Host a Murder: 1969 Hippie Party), so hopefully you find this post a little more informative.

  • Choose your guest list. I’ve had one friends party and one family party thus far and both have gone well. It was important for me to think about who would actually get into costume and character to make the evening fun. It’s okay if some of the participants aren’t completely all out for it – you just need them to be willing to dress up and play their roles. If you have an SO, you’ll need to invite 6 guests. I’ve done a mix of all couples and couples + singles. Both of the games I’ve played haven’t had couple alignments in the characters, so it doesn’t matter if you have couples or not, BUT you will likely need 4 guys and 4 gals, unless someone is willing to cross dress (which is always good for photos). Also, one super critical factor in putting together your guest list is reliability. If someone doesn’t show for the party, you won’t be able to play (unless you have someone play two roles). Pick people that you can count on to show up. Finally – plan a date that works for your guests to make things easy. The hubs and I will pick out a few dates that work for us and then shop them around to our selected friends. Once we find a date that works for everyone, we lock it in asap.
  • Pick your game. I like to go on Amazon and browse all my options, which includes reading as much as possible about each game (through both the product description and product information). There are a variety of different time periods and themes – I would encourage you to think about your guest list when picking the period/theme. You’ll want to make sure it’s something you think they will get excited for so they are more likely to put effort into their costumes and the game play. Once you receive your game, be sure check for all pieces (usually 1 host guide, set of clues, set of name tags, cassette tape or cd, invitations and envelopes, map of the crime scene, 8 character booklets) and then read the host guide. This will walk you through how the game is played and will even give you suggestions for food. The invitations will give you a description of each character and costume suggestions so you can assign each guest a role that fits him or her and also make sure they have ideas for what to wear.
  • Plan your food. While the menu suggestions in the host guide are very helpful and usually pretty decent options, I like to do some research and craft my own menu from scratch. In planning my menu, I’ll think about any dietary restrictions of my group (we have a friend who is no dairy, for example) and also my time period / theme. For this party, I did a lot of research on Mediterranean cuisine. Generally, this type of cuisine can include influences from a couple of countries – Italy, Greece, Croatia and sometimes even France. For an appetizer, we decided to go with a charcuterie board, which came out absolutely amazing. My sister put this together and she did a fantastic job. We used two wooden cutting boards to give them a rustic feel. The boards included a selection of sliced and spreadable cheese, grapes, olives, sliced salami, rolled prosciutto, tomatoes and peppers. We also included little ‘bread crackers’ to pair with the meats and cheeses. Our second appetizer was Bruschetta which was super easy to prepare and was a hit. For the main, we went with a Mediterranean Chicken and Pasta Bake, which make food prep super easy because we just had to pull it out of the oven at the right time. My other sister made this and it was delicious! We also paired this with a sliced Italian loaf (are you sensing a theme with bread…). For dessert, we served Homemade Cream Puffs and chocolate dipped strawberries dusted with edible gold. My sisters and I all like to cook, so we went homemade for everything. You could easily buy the cream puffs and charcuterie tray, or even get takeout from somewhere if you don’t like to cook.MM-MCFood

  • Set the mood. Since this mystery is set on a yacht, I thought it might be fun to set up the outside of the house as a gangway for my guests to walk down to ‘board the ship.’ I did this by grabbing a few logs from my backyard that were each about 3ft tall and then wrapped some sisal rope around them and draped it between. I made a very simple white sign that I placed in my front window with the name of the ship (The Gilded Vessel) to further set the stage. As you can see from the above photo, I went all out on my table setting to make it feel luxurious, like dinner on a yacht. I used recycled glass bottles filled with water to create a more fancy experience (filled these up from my fridge!). I also used cloth napkins and place mats, along with silver chargers to complete the look. All in all, I probably spent about $30 on the cloth and decor for the table, which isn’t bad considering I’ve reused all the pieces multiple times (you may recognize the table setting from my Globe Trotter Bridal Shower). I would encourage you to look on Amazon, at local discount or dollar stores, or even at thrift stores for your table setting components. You never know what you’ll find and if you buy simple pieces, there’s a good chance you won’t just use them once. The last component to my decor was the huge bar I placed in the middle of my living room. My husband’s grandfather recently gave this to us and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. However, it has come in handy for many parties I’ve had thus far, so I’m glad I kept it / didn’t refuse to accept it. I set the bar with the components for making cocktails, but also used an extra silver tray to stack champagne glasses on for my guests to have a toast to commence the party. These glasses were a snag from my local thrift store at $0.50/glass. What I love about them is that they also help set the mood for the time period since they are more old school looking than the normal flutes you see nowadays. If you have non-drinkers at your party, you can easily sub in sparkling grape juice.MM-MCDecor

  • Prepare for the game. If you don’t do anything else, you must do this step. Pull out all the materials from the game box and set them up for easy game play. From left to right, I’ve laid out all 8 character booklets, a copy of the invitation (for character description referencing), the crime scene map, name tags and the clues for each round. I also decided to purchase mini notebooks and pens from the Dollar Tree for everyone to use to note any information revealed throughout the game that might help them with solving the murder. This ensures my guests don’t write in the character booklet so I can resell or share the game with a friend so it’s used more than once. (If you happen to have a game and want to swap, leave me a comment to let me know!)MM-MCGameSetup

  • Make a playlist. I did a little bit of research on music from the time period to build a playlist that would help set the ambiance for the evening. I pay for a Spotify Premium account (which I LOVE, since I don’t regularly buy new music), so I was able to find a lot of songs and build a playlist that I could bluetooth through a speaker for easy listening and control. You can look me up on Spotify by n.neiger.MM-MCPlaylist

  • Plan your costume. This is a critical step you can’t forget – if you expect your guests to come in costume, you better be ready too! Use pinterest and google to find the appropriate period clothing. Also, definitely use the costume suggestion provided in the invitation. I found almost everything in either a thrift store, my closet, or on Amazon.

MM-MCCostumes

Custom Coffee Cups – Cats

I’m toying with the idea of making this into a series of sorts and doing other custom coffee cups applying different techniques than those used in this post. Let’s hope I do it – I guess you’ll have to come back to find out (if you’re into coffee cup crafts, that is…). This craft is pretty easy if you just take your time, relax and enjoy the experience. I made a few of these for Christmas for my siblings-in-law since we decided to not exchange gifts this year. I thought’d it’d be a fun way to still give them something to open. Plus, I filled them with candy, so they were an easy hit. The below design is for a cat face, but you could customize for any animal face (or design, really). I even made one cup that was a deer face and neck for a hunter we know.

Materials:

  • Clear coffee cup (I found mine at the Dollar Tree)
  • White scrap paper (5.5″ x 8″ approximately)
  • Permanent marker (I used black)
  • Paint set with appropriate colors (I got mine from the Dollar Tree with red, blue, green, yellow, black, brown and white)
  • Paint brush
  • Mod Podge (Dishwasher safe)
  • Pencil

First, take the paper and put it inside the cup and press it against the side where you want to put the image (consider which hand your user will drink with if you want to do a face design). Mark the edges of your coffee cup ‘canvas’ (aka the design area of the cup) on the paper so you know how big to make your design. Then, draw your design (cat face, deer face, etc.) within that area of the paper. I looked at a couple of different photos for mine and did some editing to my drawing before I was ready to put it onto the cup. Once you’re happy with the design, put the paper back into the cup with the design pressed against your ‘canvas’ side and trace the design onto the cup using the permanent marker.

Once your design is on, you want to paint. I had two different colors to do – white and pink, so I used my batch assembly approach and drew on all of my cups, then painted all the cups with white and then the pink paint (which was a blend). You may have to do a couple of coats of paint to get the desired opaque. Once your paint is FULLY dry (I did this over 2 days, I think) go over any areas with your permanent marker, as needed.

The final step is to Mod Podge over the whole area. I used my clear dishwasher safe Mod Podge from my Photo Coasters post. You want to apply 2-3 coats of Mod Podge so that your user doesn’t have to worry about throwing the cup in the dishwasher (because NOBODY likes hand wash only items).

Voila!

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With String

Christmas 2016, although technically my 2nd Christmas in our new home, was the first year I actually decorated and set out presents (we moved in 4 days before Christmas in 2015). Normally, I buy some cute / festive wrapping paper and just pick out a few patterns or designs that I like and go for it. This year, I decided to do something a little bit different. If you’ve read my post about Thanksgiving crafts, you’ve learned about my giant and mysterious roll of brown paper that I found in the attic of my old house. I used that same role for ALL of my Christmas gifts (and still have a huge amount of paper left – it’s crazy). Since this was my first year decorating, I wanted to have stylized wrapping for the gifts under my tree. And, since we have four kitties who LOVE to eat curling ribbon, I am a bit restricted in what I can put on gifts that I’m going to set out. Therefore, due to a combination of factors, I landed on the below wrapping design this year:

Materials:

  • Plain paper (you don’t have to use brown- you could use any matte paper color you find – so long as you can find a complimentary ink color, of course!)
  • Stamp ink – I used a combination of red, green and black (I bought a multi-pack with these colors)
  • Letter Stamps – I got a great deal on my set by using a 40% off one item coupon
  • Ribbon – I used a variety of designs with the same general color scheme; see below for my thoughts on the best size/type to use

As I’ve said before, I find the most effective way of doing things to be the batch assembly (unless you have others involved and then the assembly line is my preference). So, to start, I would pick a group of gifts I wanted to wrap, go through and wrap them all in brown paper, and then choose what ribbon to use for each. Each ribbon has a coordinated stamp color that I liked to use, so I would batch the same type of ribbon and color of ink to avoid having to clean the stamps a bunch. In selecting ribbon, I found the following things to be true:

  1. 1/2″ thick satiny ribbon is probably the best, even with designs on it. It’s easy to tie and make pretty bows with. You will need to spend a little bit of time to get the bows right, but once you do, they’ll stay in place really well, which is helpful when you need to transport gifts to other places
  2. Glittery ribbon is a pain in the butt. You won’t see this in any of my photos because it was the hardest to work with and get it to look good. I would not buy this ribbon again for future projects.
  3. Really thick (2-3″) wired ribbon can also be a great choice, but use for smaller gifts because it takes a lot of ribbon and it can be more expensive than other thinner ribbons

I hope you’ll give this design a try!

Treeandgiftwrap

Photo Coasters

This is a classic craft that you can find a lot of places and one that I find works great in a pinch, especially around the holidays. It’s very simple to put together and requires cheap and easy to find materials, some of which you probably already have in your craft room/area/toolkit.

Materials:

  • Mod Podge – I like to use the dishwasher safe Mod Podge for this one so I can wipe down the coasters without worrying; it looks pricey, but I’ve had the same bottle for 10+ projects and still have about half a bottle left!
  • Plain white 4″x4″ tiles – I usually go to Home Depot to get mine – they run about $0.20 -$0.40/tile, so a decent size set of coasters is still super cost effective
  • Cork – I like to line the tiles in a cork bottom to protect whatever your coasters may be sitting on; this cork has a nice grid backing which makes cutting perfect and consistent squares a cinch
  • Printed photos cut to 4″ x 4″ – I’ve found that the online ordering at Target is the easiest/cheapest/quickest when I’m using photos from my phone
  • Hot glue & gun
  • Alcohol and paper towel/cotton ball/equivalent

First things first – you need to choose your photos. This will determine the number of coasters you want to make and therefore the amount of supplies you need for the rest of the project. I like to gift coasters in sets of 4, but I have actually done a gift set of 5 (it was photos of the couples in one family). I have a set of 8 coasters because my dining table has 8 seats. Anyhow, my point is – you can do whatever you want – just determine that up front. When you’re choosing photos, make sure you consider the amount you will have to crop the photo. When you print at somewhere like Target, your photos will come out as 4″x6″, so you’ll need to crop out 2″ from the longer side. This is especially important for photos with faces – you don’t want to have to crop out a forehead or chin.

Once you have your cropped photos and other materials, the first thing to start with is the cork bottom. Use the grid lines on the paper backing to cut out the appropriate size square to cover the bottom of the tile, leaving a little bit of room around the edges so it doesn’t overlap the sides. You should cut one cork square for each tile. Once all your cork is cut, then you want to start applying. Flip all the tiles over and use your hot glue and gun to apply the cork to the bottom. Don’t forget to remove the paper backing to reveal the sticky side of the cork. The hot glue acts as an extra bond to ensure the cork doesn’t come loose, especially since the bottom of the tile isn’t smooth.back of coaster.jpg

**Note, I can’t stress enough how batch working is the way to go when doing crafts, especially when you have repetitive actions like cutting out a certain number of the same thing and applying a step to multiples. This type of organization will save you time and stress and will also ensure your creations are made consistently.

Once all your cork bottoms have dried, flip your tiles and use your alcohol and paper towel/cotton ball/equivalent to clean the top of the tile. Rubbing alcohol is fine – you really just need to remove any oil / hair / finger grease from the area where you’ll be applying the Mod Podge, which is the whole top of the tile. Once you’ve alcohol’d all tiles, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to each and place your pictures on each. I like to use a tissue or equivalent to place between the picture and my fingers so I can press down the whole area of the photo without leaving a bunch of fingerprints. Just be careful not to get the tissue stuck to the Mod Podge! Allow your Mod Podge layer to dry for a few hours and your picture to set into place. Apply 1-2 additional thin layers of Mod Podge to the photo and tile, allowing each layer to dry in between. When you’re applying, it may look streaky. Don’t worry – Mod Podge dries pretty clearly, so you won’t see this. It’s probably a good idea to use uniform straight rows, but you won’t notice them in the end.

 

Globe Trotter Bridal Shower

My niece and I are pretty close in age and she got married last summer. In her honor, my sisters (including her mother), our mother and I decided to throw a bridal shower for my niece with the ladies in my mother’s family. Since I have an absolute love for planning parties, and my niece didn’t really  have any special requests for the shower (oddly, she was not a Bridezilla at the shower phase of her engagement…), I decided to come up with a creative theme that I could ‘go all out’ with. As such, here is what I referred to as the Passport Bridal Shower, hosted in my home.

Invitations. Since my niece had already had two other showers (she has a big family / church), we decided to throw her a personal shower. Basically, this is different from a regular bridal shower in that you get personal items for the bride, rather than things for the home or off the registry. As such, I wanted to give out her sizing info for clothes, shoes and underthings. I also had a pretty big guest list that I wanted to nail down for seating arrangements, so I needed to get all the info out and collect RSVPs. To go along with the travel theme, I decided to make a passport and airline ticket filled out with all the details. The passport is printed on robin’s egg blue paper and I incorporated red on the passport and ticket, as these were my niece’s wedding colors. I was able to print 3 tickets per page (I just used white printer paper) and two passports per page. I printed the passports double-sided and then cut them in half with my paper cutter.Invites Combined20170211_162833

Shower Favors. We kind of went all out for these, but in the end, I actually don’t think they ended up being all that expensive, just time consuming with a lot of components. In keeping with the travel theme, we decided to make mini suitcases filled with travel goodies, including mini shampoo and conditioner, chap stick, and a luggage tag. I ended up getting a pretty good deal on everything. The mini shampoo and conditioners I found for $0.25 a piece at Big Lots. My sister bought the chapstick at Wal-mart for $1/piece. The luggage tags and suitcase boxes both came from Amazon at $0.30 and $0.63 per person respectively. All in all, each box cost us about $2.45. We made a total of 20 boxes, so total favor cost was $50. A few weeks before the shower, we got together and had a whole craft day to put these and some of the other party items together. Below is the final product and how I set up stations to make suitcase assembly relatively easy.Noted assembly line

Game Prizes. For the main attraction, we played one of my versions of Hollywood Game Night (hoping to write a post on this soon – will update when available). For this game, we needed 5 prizes, as it’s played with two teams of five players. We decided to make little cocktail sets using a mason jar with a handle, cute straws and ribbon, a mini can of mixer and a mini bottle of alcohol. The combinations we used were: Baileys and coffee, Kahlua and coffee, Vodka and pineapple juice and vodka and cranberry spritzer (x2). The glasses were from Pat Catans, the ribbon was from Jo-Ann Fabrics, and the straws were leftover from a previous bridal shower. The alcohol and mixers were from a local grocery store. The prize pack you see on the right below was for a second ‘game’ we played. When the guests arrived with gifts, we made sure one of us wouldn’t see who brought what. After all gifts had arrived, my sister went out and ‘tagged’ the two gifts she thought were the cutest. The tag was a long slim piece of red paper which said the following: To ensure the bride is fully prepared with personal items to delight her groom, The Sexiness Administration (TSA) is required to inspect all gifts. As part of this process, some gifts are randomly identified for additional inspection by the bride and gift opening audience. Your gift was among those selected for additional inspection. During the inspection process, your gift was deemed to be ‘adorably packaged,’ ‘cutely bagged,’ or ‘nicely wrapped.’ As a result of this identification, your gift will now be opened by the bride and inspected for ‘sexiness,’ ‘total cuteness,’ or ‘ooh, I love it-ness.’ Regardless of Taylor’s reaction to your gift, you are now the proud winner of a prize. We hope you enjoy it and thanks for joining us today. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation through this process. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please do not contact us at tsa.gov. The giver of the gift with a tag then won the little kit of tissues, gum, a mini bottle of vodka, a TUMI pen, a lip gloss and lotion set and a pair of socks. I travel a lot for work and had saved a few nice TUMI case sets from a couple of flights in first class. They worked out perfectly!prizes

Thank You Cards. As is tradition at most bridal showers, we wanted guests to write down their name and address to make it easy for the bride to return thank you notes after the shower. In keeping with our theme, we decided to get post cards from all over the world and have guests choose their favorite locale to address. This was really well received because not only did they get a thank you note from the bride, as they should, they also got a scenic photo to hang on their fridge!Thank you cards

Decorations. To set the environment and give guests an overview of the shower, we created an Arrivals board like you would see in an airport with all flight details. Rather than flight details, we included the itinerary for the day. This was set behind the bar where guests filled out their thank you cards and grabbed their ‘complimentary champagne’ upon arrival. We also had seat assignment cards on the bar to direct guests to either ‘First Class’ or the ‘Business Class’ tables. Then, as guests left, we used a luggage rack with an old school suitcase filled with the mini luggage boxes for guests to take as party favors on their way out.DetailsBoard1

Food. We decided to go for a Europe food theme, so we chose items from 12 European countries (see menu for further details). These were placed at each table so the ladies could review while other guests arrived / everyone got settled. Also, it made food selection a lot easier when people were going through the line because they knew what everything was. We also had little signs next to each dish to identify them against the descriptions in the menu. For more information on the menu items, including recipes, see the bottom of this post.tablesettings

Costumes. Finally, my sisters, mother and I decided it would be fun to play-act as ‘flight attendants.’ We all wore a navy skirt, white top, and red chiffon scarf (made out of 1 yard of fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics). I also made us little name tags with the flat back safety pins, a slip of red paper and some glue. As guests arrived, we strategically placed ourselves around my house to direct traffic and move them through the different stations and ultimately to their seats. Once everyone arrived, I made an announcement using a phone handset (not connected to anything) so it’d look like the handsets used on planes. My announcement was: Good afternoon ladies! Welcome onboard Virgin Airlines Flight 709 bound for the United State of Matrimony with a layover in Europe. I’m your In-flight Service Director. Your cabin crew this morning also includes Sister #1, Sister #2, and Mom. We’d like to kindly remind you that the use of phones to share sexy lingerie pictures with the groom is strictly prohibited. We have 4 exits located…In the event that the fun level dips too low, please help yourself to additional libations at the bar. As we’ve reached our cruising altitude, please move about the cabin as needed. Restrooms are located…Our in-flight entertainment today will be the Cleveland wedding game, which will commence following the lunch service. Our lunch service today will feature a variety of cuisines from all over Europe. Please refer to the menus at your table for further information. You may begin serving yourself once the bride has gotten her meal, and once again, thank you for joining us today on Flight 709.

The party was a great time and it seemed that everyone loved the theme all around!

Recipes:

Where to buy: