4 Tips for Throwing a Midsummer Ice Cream Social

Ice-cream-2We don’t get weather hot enough to eat ice cream all the time, so we should make the most of it while we can. But how can you make something as exciting as ice cream more exciting? By making a party of it! Here are 4 tips for throwing a Midsummer Ice Cream Social for adults and kids alike.

ice-cream-3Flavors
For the ice cream itself, keep it simple and keep it classic. Everyone likes either chocolate or vanilla, so include those and a sorbet or Italian ice as a non-dairy option. Make sure to keep the serving scoops separate to prevent any cross contamination — if your guests want to mix up the flavors, let them do it with their own spoons. With three ice cream flavors, you can leave the excitement for the toppings – that’s where you and your guests can go nuts.

Ice-cream-1Toppings
Make the toppings as elaborate and simple as you want. There’s nothing wrong with serving the basics – fudge, caramel, sprinkles, whipped cream and nuts; your guests can design their sundaes with mixed and matched toppings. If you really want to go the extra mile, crush up cookies, add some candy bar pieces, slice berries, spoon out marshmallow fluff – go wherever your imagination takes you.

Keep it Cold
It’s ice cream; by definition it’s cold and you want it to stay cold. For serving, fill a deep serving tray or large bowl with ice to hold your ice cream in the room but well below room temperature. For ice cream packaged in cardboard containers, place them in a plastic tub to go on top of the ice so the containers don’t get soggy. Until serving time, keep your ice cream dishes and spoons in the freezers so the ice cream doesn’t melt as your guests top their sweet treats.

Keep it Neat
Ice cream is full of sugar and when it melts, it’s sticky. To prevent too much mess, put a vinyl or oil cloth table cloth down for the serving area with a small bucket of warm water and a towel for immediate cleanup.

With the Fourth of July behind us, we only have a few weeks left to enjoy hot weather and cold treats — let’s make every day count!

Graduation Gifts: Etiquette for Giving and Receiving

Graduation-tassleGraduation is just around the corner and that means presents! People are always concerned with the rules about gift giving – here’s what you need to know about the giving graduation gifts and receiving them.

Giving Gifts:

If you receive a graduation announcement, it is just that: a statement of an accomplishment. Graduation announcements are usually sent to an inclusive list, meaning there are a lot of people on the list with varying degrees of social importance to the sender, so announcements are not a request for gifts. A gift is not required.

It is up to the recipient of the announcement on whether it’s appropriate to send a gift or if an acknowledgement of the achievement – like a greeting card — is sufficient. If the graduate is the daughter of a co-worker you once bought Girl Scout Cookies from, a card is a fine way to recognize the occasion. If the graduate is someone you know personally or thgraduation-giftse graduate’s parents are good friends, sending a gift would be good form. If you are invited to attend the ceremony or the graduation party, the social standard is to give a gift.

If a gift is in order, you have options. You can send a personal keepsake or something functional for their new dorm room or apartment. You don’t have to go big to make the gift count — toaster ovens and microwaves are useful gifts and things a graduate can keep for a long time. This goes for gift cards and money as well. You should only give what you are comfortable with or can afford. If everyone else is sending $1,000 and you can only afford to send $10, that’s OK; it will still be appreciated.

If you are not attending the graduation ceremony or party, sending the gift or delivering it in person is fine. Bringing the gift to the graduation or party is also acceptable.

Receiving Gifts:Graduates

If you are the graduate, you did a great job and recognition should be reward enough. Don’t expect gifts – no one is required to give you anything, even if you sent them an announcement. If you do get a gift, show your gratitude: that is polite.

Thank you notes should go out as soon as possible — don’t take more than a month to give proper recognition.  Though getting out a note fast is important, a quick email for the $25 check isn’t going to cut it. For any gift, big or small, a handwritten note is necessary. Invest in a nice set of thank you cards. Because no gift is required, make your thank you count. Put thought into it with keywords like “generous” and “thoughtful.” It doesn’t have to be long – just a few sentences to show your appreciation.

No matter what the occasion or the season, gifts are a delicate detail when it comes to celebrations. When in doubt, a token for the festivities will be appreciated and it should always get a thank you note.

7 Ideas for Throwing the Perfect Weekend Party with Kids

Family-Party

As we grow, the term “party” seems to evolve. In college the word meant “all night experience” filled with lots of friends and unknown shenanigans. But things like a full-time job, children and other responsibilities get thrown into the mix as we get older. We have a few ideas that can incorporate the entire family when throwing a fun weekend party.

Keep it Simple, Keep it Small

It doesn’t have to be tiny, but when you want to keep both kids and adults entertained, it’s easier to keep everyone engaged when there are fewer people to deal with. No one gets overwhelmed, and parents can keep track of their kids.

Invite Adults with Kids

It’s easier to keep kids interested in the party if they have other kids to play with. Having playmates will make the party feel less like a chore for kids – you can even encourage them to invite their own friends. There’s more incentive for them to get out and have a good time if they have someone to have a good time with.

Game OnFamily-dancing

To stir things up and get guests of all ages mingling, make a game the centerpiece of party. Divide everyone up into random teams, have several big games like charades or a dance competition planned that involve team-work and keep score. Everyone stays involved, everyone behaves and everyone has fun. It also gives the party a clear beginning, middle and end so guests and kids can gauge their comings and goings.

Go Easy on the Booze

If you’re serving alcohol, keep it simple and stick to single-serving beer and wine for the adults and soda for the kids. The single-servings will prevent mix-ups with mixers so the kids stay safe and the adults can still have fun responsibly.

Host as a Group

Divide the hosting responsibilities up and give everyone a job to do. It will keep kids busy, involved and feeling important. The pressure of entertaining the kids will be taken off parents and it will keep the adults socially active.

Taco-Bar

Photo credit: http://frostmeblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/mexican-fiesta-party-ideas-and.html

Make the Food Fun

A build-your-own taco or burrito bar will keep the kids as well as adults active and interactive. With finger foods and barbeque, it’s easy to walk off on their own to eat.  They have more opportunity to talk with everyone and stay engaged if they have to fiddle with their food rather than if a grab and go buffet is an option.

Hard and Fast Times

Have a set starting and ending time. It’ll save you the grief of putting a cranky child to bed and your friends will be grateful that they have answer to the question, “When are we leaving?”  It doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but try a party with kids without a closing time and you’ll notice a difference.

 

It’s Almost Game Day! Get Ready with The Lakeside Collection

NFL Mickey ThrowThe biggest game of the year is right around the corner, so it’s time to make sure your home is stocked with all the game day gear. You’ve got two weeks until the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks, and it’s expected to be an incredible game. Are you ready to support your team in the final face-off? If you’re hosting a huge party at home or just watching the game with a couple of friends, here are a few of the essentials you’ll need to pull off an energetic football party.

Meal Preparation

It’s time to break out the generations-old recipe for 7-layer bean dip. Time to stock up on your favorite baked hot wings, and plan a football-shaped cheese ball for the appetizer table. You should also look into kitchen essentials that will make your prep work a breeze, like the soak and strain bowl, or the Easy-Grip Cutter Set. Check out these great kitchen essentials and more at The Lakeside Collection to make sure you have everything you need to prepare all your favorite game day snacks!

Dip Bowl Hangers

Serving Bowls and Platters 

Is your home stocked with enough serving bowls and plates for chips, dips, appetizers and more? Will your guests know where to grab a napkin or put their garbage? Make sure you have enough serving ware to keep everything organized! Use nice plastic plates that can be kept or tossed for guests, but make sure your serving bowls are sturdy and efficient, leaving plenty of room on the table for dips, salsas, and spreads. And for those of you heading to someone else’s house for a party or potluck, check out the NFL Casserole Carriers to keep your cold dishes cold and your warm dishes warm.

Party Glasses

NFL Party drink sets are a must-have item for this year’s big game! If your team isn’t in the championship game this year, you can get multiple different team sets and individuals can choose what cup they use. Complete with a coaster, your guests will never lose their cups!

A Decorative Touch

Every football party needs some sort of decorative touch, so if you’re not into the crazy tablecloths and streamers, check out the Team Pride Canvas Wall Art, or grab a few pendants. You can also get decorative NFL blankets and throws for the couch as decoration and to keep viewers warm throughout the party!

Planning the Perfect New Year’s Eve Party

ImageYou survived your Aunt Susie’s infamous fruit cake and you got that “perfect” sweater for the cold winter ahead. Now, you just have to plan an amazing party to mark the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. So what can you do with little to no time? Check out our tips below to create a wonderful end to the year.

 Perfect Theme
When creating any party, a theme is a great way to go. A theme sets the tone of the party, lets guests know what to wear, and makes your life easier when planning the décor. Since we all can celebrate the Mayans being wrong, why not throw a party to celebrate? If you want something a little more elegant, try a 20’s theme.

Finger Food
You don’t have to cook a 7-course meal for your guests. Most of us had enough food the past month. Instead, have some fun finger food instead. Real Simple suggests mini salami puff sandwiches. Deserts are always a hit, so why not use our Cup Pie Baking Set to create single-serving size pies for your guests?

Drinks
It’s not New Years without some fun drinks. For those who don’t drink, cranberry juice with sparkling water in a fun glass is a good option. Check out TasteofHome for more alcohol-free drink options. For a spin on the traditional glass of Champaign, try adding a splash of mandarin liqueur and a citrus peel. If your party is kid friendly, a classic Shirley Temple never fails.

Games
Trivia games and poker are always a good option, but don’t forget you can always get creative. You can Google famous quotes for 2012, and write them on note cards. Then, have your guests guess who said them. Another option is to have your guests write down predictions for 2013. This can become a fun tradition–you can read all of your predictions next New Years.

Friends and Family
The must have “item” for any successful party are your friends and family. You don’t need fancy food, kitchenware, or a DJ to impress your true friends. They will be there no matter what—and have a blast. As Marlene Dietrich said, “It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”

What are your favorite ideas for planning a New Year’s Eve party? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: Penn Foster

Sweet Treat – Cupcakes

Three of my favorite online only items are closely associated with one of my favorite desserts, cupcakes!  From baking to displaying here are some ideas to help make your next get-together delicious.

Step 1 – Baking

Creative recipes with tantalizing names: Baby Cakes one of the sweetest cookbooks around.

Baby Cakes Book

Step 2 – Display

The whimsy of cupcakes does not stop at the frosting.  Here are 2 ideas for a show-stopping dessert display.

8-Pc. Silicone Teacup Bakeware Set

Cupcake Stand