Getting ready for the holidays

The holiday’s are here!! I haven’t been around much, but I’m hoping to get back on track with you, my food and exercise plan, and my holiday planning! Here’s the first few things I started working on for the holidays.


 Number 1: My holiday budget

Holiday Budget PDF: This is a PDF for a holiday budget. I make sure to write my “guesstimate” budget on top. What I did was write down each person I buy for, including Yankee swaps and co-workers, and then on the back I added a space that I use for my husband. You could use this space for anyone special though. I write down each gift idea and the estimated cost. On the bottom, I write the estimated total. Then, as I purchase gifts, I write down the gift and actual cost. At the end I see how I did budgeting my holiday spending.

I’m part of a Christmas club with my bank. Many banks offer a Christmas club membership. They took $10 a week out of my savings account and placed it into the Christmas club. Even though it was only $10 a week, I managed to save $600 by the first week in November. (Sometimes when I had left over funds I hadn’t expected too, I would add them to this account.) I made sure to write out my gift ideas early and when the money came in I purchased almost all of my presents! So it’s before Thanksgiving and I’m proud to say, I only have a few things left to buy!


 Number 2: Holiday Party

My husband and I throw our annual Holiday party the Saturday in between Christmas and New Years. This way we know we have a big crowd and we are not stressed for time. I started making my menu already:

Appetizers:
Veggie Tray & Antipasto Skewers
Cheese & Crackers & Chips & Dips
Buffalo Chicken dip, Queso Dip, Loaded Baked potato dip

Food:
Chicken Wings & Cheeseburger Sliders
Pizza & Spinach and Ricotta Rolls
Desserts: Cookies & Brownies 😉

Drinks: BYOBeer!!
Drunken Gummy Bears & Holiday Punch
Soda, Water, Mixers:
We have lots of leftover liquor from previous parties please feel free to enjoy!

I made an event on Facebook and sent out my invitations. I even already started making my to-do list on what to prep and when! This makes my life a little easier, especially before all the hectic Holiday stuff starts up. Plus I can make sure to have my Peapod delivery ready for food. I started doing Peapod, so when I’m busy I don’t have to worry about food shopping and I’m sure that I will need it right before this event!I already put the things in my cart that I want to have delivered for that day! I’m a prepper, so this may sound crazy to some. But it makes me feel like I’m ready to go.

The To Do list is also super important for making me feel a little at ease. I list out the week prior to my party and write down each day the things I think I can do. Lets peek at the list: Party to do list

You’ll notice I write “cookies and brownies”- It’s in quotations because I’ll probably just buy cookie dough and throw it on a pan and call it a day. I’ll also probably hear from one of friends who wants to bring something and I always tell them to bring delicious desserts! Less work for me!!


 Number 3: Holiday Decorations

I took my wireless lights from the Halloween decorations and put my lanterns together. This is how I usually start to prep my house for the holidays. I like to use the red bulbs because they are more reflective. I put a few bulbs in, wrap some lights, a few more bulbs, a few more lights and so on.

lantern christmas

Our Christmas Tree is VERY nontraditional. We usually do, black, purple, and silver ornaments and a silver star on top. It looks more…us!! We are nontraditional people. My mom always had this tradition of putting our tree up Thanksgiving day, after we finished our meals. I like to keep that tradition going, except we do it the night after. So we spend Black Friday the way people should spend black Friday….not out running around shopping for the best deal, but with each other. We decorate the house, lounge in our jammies, and eat leftovers. So that ha not been put up yet, But I’ll make sure to post pictures when it’s done.

I also…for whatever reason…had pine cones in my Christmas storage bin. I couldn’t figure out what to do with them. As I was cleaning I found this really unique vase my hubby bought me when he had anniversary flowers delivered to my work. So I put a candle in the middle, and placed the pine cones around it. Voilá!

christmas pine cones

 And that’s it for this post! Within the next week I’ll be posting my Christmas tree, some gift ideas for grabs, and party prepping when it’s time!! See you soon…

Game Night- Part 3

Game Night has finally arrived! (See: Game Night- Part 1  &  Game Night- Part 2 with menu) I went to the grocery store right after work on Friday and picked up almost everything on my list. (OOPS! I did forgot the sour cream though…) I came home, cleaned up and prepped a few of my food items. Then, I tidied up the kitchen and put out my serving dishes. On Saturday morning, I cooked the chicken wings and then covered them up and left them on stove. I made the kielbasa bites in the crock pot and left it on warm when they were done. I made the dips, finished cleaning the kitchen, and got myself ready!

We decided to play Guys vs. Girls!! So I made a scoreboard and hooked my computer up to the TV with a HDMI cable. (Anthony’s always proud when I know technical stuff!)

Game Night Scoreboard

I also made some cute Decorations!! I found an old game I had with cool pieces, so I put everything in a little vase and wrapped twinkle lights around it!! Quick, easy, cheap, and adorable….

Game Night Decor

These we my serving dishes. When I registered for my wedding, I picked out a lot of entertaining pieces. Specifically B. Smith from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I love the style of her dishes and it always looks good! Plus almost everything is dishwasher safe. So at the end of the night I can rinse everything out, put it right into the dishwasher, and turn it on so in the morning everything is clean!  B Smith- Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Once people started arriving, I put the veggies, chips and dip out. I started mingling right away and totally forgot to take pictures of everything!! Once everyone was there, I put out the chicken wings, pizza, and kielbasa bites! Almost everything went. My friend, Jamie, brought tripe chocolate chip cookies…wow!!!

Never expect anything to run on time or things to work perfectly as planned. We didn’t start playing games until about 10:00. Everyone was chit-chatting and telling stories. It had been awhile since some of us had gotten together, so we needed time to catch-up. Once a few of us sat on the couch I took out my phone and we started to play Heads Up, which is an app on my phone! Once a few of us started getting loud and laughing, everyone came over and wanted to join in. All-in-all, a pretty successful event! And definitely want to plan another game night soon.

Hosting Game Night- Part 2 including menu!

I already sent out the invitations (Game Night- Part 1) via text and I received my response back for how many people will be attending. I had 8 guests RSVP, plus us makes 10! Here’ my menu:

 

Corn Chips & Salsa

Potato Chips & Dip

Veggie tray & Dip

Kielbasa Bites

Chicken Wings

Tofu Bites

Bakery Pizza

Corn Chips & Salsa: I buy Tostito scoops and make my own salsa. The salsa is pretty simple to make. Just a can of diced tomatoes, a can of Rotel, a half onion chopped, a jalapeno chopped, a squirt of lime juice and some spices (cumin, salt, pepper, garlic powder). Throw everything in the blender or food processor and call it a day! Its delicious and you can make it as thick or soupy as you like. I’ll make this evening before.

Potato Chips and Dip: Pretty simple. I make EVERYTHING homemade so the dip is made by me as well. Here’s the recipe I use French onion dip. The only thing I make adjustments for is the bouillon cube because I have a guest with a known MSG allergy, so I make sure everything I buy is MSG free!

Veggie Tray: I love this idea of the dip in the pepper and have made it a few times at other events I’ve hosted! One tip for this is to make sure you get a BIG pepper, then I place a plastic cocktail size cup in the pepper. This is so the dip does not make the pepper soggy and then end up spilling out. I used another homemade dip as well, but I do not eat Greek yogurt so I’m just substituting sour cream instead. Ranch Dip   I’ll also make the dips the evening before, they just might need a good re-mix before serving

veggie tray

Kielbasa Bites: These are so easy to make, it’s ridiculous! Bourbon Kielbasa Bites    I’ll make these the day of the party. They need to stay in the crock pot for 4 hours, and then, I’ll just turn the crock pot onto warm and leave tooth-picks out for guests. I will actually double the recipe so I make sure to have enough.

Chicken Wings: Chicken wings are sometimes tough, they are always a party favorite and you never want to run out! So, what I do is plan on each guest having 5-6 chicken wings, then I multiply by the amount of guests I have. I have about 10 guests eating, so I’ll plan on buying 60 wings (probably about 3-4 lbs). I’ll marinate the wings the night before and then in the morning, I’ll cook them through. I’ll reheat right before everyone arrives. (Also, I know that 2 of my guests are vegetarians, so I know I will have extra!)

Hence, the Tofu Bites: I like to make sure I have something for everyone. So my veggie friends are going to have BBQ tofu bites. The night before I’m going to cut up the tofu and marinate in a BBQ sauce. Then about an hour before guests arrive, I’ll bake them at 375 for 15 min each side! Easy Peasy!

And then I’ll buy a bakery pizza from a local pizza place. It’s pretty cheap and one less thing to cook that I know everyone will eat. Plus, Anthony can take leftovers to work!

And my menu is complete! I’ll make a quick shopping list and probably go the evening before the party. Then I’ll come home, whip up the few things I can refrigerate over night, and get the house finished up.

Next: I’ll show you my party prep and how all my food turned out!!

Hosting Game Night- Part 1

So, First Party Planning Blog!!! Exciting!!!!!!!

I decided to host game night at my house for 4 couples and us! I picked an evening that I knew would work for all the couples and put my plan into action!

Game Night Invite

Game Night Invite

So I made this invitation in Word.

I found a fun border (I Googled playing card border) and then inserted the picture into Word! Then I added a text box, input the information: Time, Place, What I would be serving, What guests should bring and BAM all done! You may notice in the invitation I have down “Time: 7:30- Games start at 8:30”. This is so you give people a general time of when they should show up. (Guests never show up directly at the time on the invitation. People usually like to be “fashionably” late)

Then I emailed it to my IPhone, took a screenshot, and texted all my guests with a little RSVP Note! I like sending out invitations like this even if it’s through a mobile device. It still makes it fun, a little formal, and more personal. I also made sure to send it out at least 3 weeks in advance, so guests could have plenty of time to check their schedules and RSVP.

I always do BYOB at my gatherings. It easier, less expensive, and we are not big drinkers anyway. I also like to do most of the cooking, but leave a specific category out for friends to bring. I usually leave dessert out because I’m not a big baker. So when my guests ask “What can I bring?” I can say “Cookies” or “Brownies”. One less thing to worry about!

 

Next Entertaining Blog Post will have: Party Menu and Food Shopping list!