Category Archives: Party Planning

Australia Day BBQ 2012

Wednesday night we decided to throw an impromptu bbq for Australia day on Thursday the 26th of Jan. Got on the phone, fb and email to invite a few friends. All said yes. Everything came together so well for a last-minute party.

Not to say I did not follow my party plan procedure – it was just done in a very short time frame. I do still need my “to do lists”. Which I wrote in the car on the way to the supermarket. Made the meal list, made the shopping list, made the decor list  – hmm, missed that one. Did ask the kids to clean up the back garden and arrange it ready for the fire pit that a friend was bringing with them.

One friend brought me flowers, one a lovely hostess gift of candles and another specially imported home-grown pecans from a tree in her garden back in the USA. I am so blessed with such special friends.

Everyone very kindly offered to bring some nibbles and such, so we ended up with quite an international spread. Australian Lamington fairy cakes, Arabic Hummus, dip and vegies along with those Louisiana Pecans that had been candied and a Louisiana Shrimp Dip with Scoops. Yummm!

We also brought out the Australian Minties and Musk sticks I picked up last time I was at home. We introduced our guests to the Minty game and some of them really got into playing it. The Musk sticks were not as big a hit. Maybe an acquired taste.

Don’t know what the Minty game is? Find yourself an Aussie and see if they know. It was something we did at parties when I was a child and it is a lot of fun. Mind you, the wrappers seem to have changed so it is a bit more challenging now.

We had a bbq – with Aussie lamb of course. We also had beef and some tasty chicken kebabs. Fried onion, roasted garlic bulbs, coleslaw, mash spud and a potato gratin rounded out that part of the evening.

Somehow I was too busy to take a photo of the main meal table. There were plenty of others snapping photo’s so I might be able to find one of the bbq feast from them.

Desserts were the icing on the cake. Literally. One friend brought the most delicious carrot cake to share. Oh my – it was fabulous….and while I am trying to stay off wheat and sugar – it was not going to happen on a night like this.

Sticky date pudding with caramel sauce. Both from hubby’s Aunty’s recipe. Carrot cake. Fresh blueberries and strawberries with cream – in keeping with the blue red and white of our Australian flag.

Plus a cheesecake to fit the diet.

You know – the grain and sugar free diet I am trying hard to make a part of my lifestyle. I am experimenting with coconut flour and Natvia in combination with 100% Sweetleaf Stevia to develop this baked cheesecake, and it is coming along better each time. It was the first time I have cooked it in the new oven so it needs a little more tweaking. It is enjoyable to know there is a delicious alternative to the things that do not agree with my body – and is not made with anything artificial.

Everyone seemed to have a good time and as no-one had ever been to an Australia day BBQ before we were quite chuffed to have introduced them to “our aussie” day.

Happy Australia day to all my Australian friends and family, both at home and abroad.




Gingerbread House Decorating Party

As with all party planning there comes a time when it takes over and you just have to get it done. Hence my lack of posts for the last few days. Mind you lots of stuff to add to my party planning guide.

Our gingerbread house decorating party was this weekend. The children had so much fun – as did the adults, who could not keep themselves from helping out with the decorating. In fact I think throwing one for a bunch of adults would be an even bigger hit. :)

The table was pretty much set up the night before. This left me a few things to prepare for the buffet brunch and time to snap a few photo’s before the guests arrived.

At each seat was an apron with the child’s name on it serving as a place card. Each place had its own setting complete with a gingerbread house, a bottle of milk with a cute striped paper straw (remember those?) and a Wilton piping tube with royal icing per child.

I used a professional cardboard cake plate for each gingerbread house to sit on. It was intended for them to go home with each child and I wanted them to be on something sturdy that would also not get wet with the drips of icing.

Our candy bar was quite a challenge. Here abouts there was not much in the colour scheme with had chosen. Note to self – research candy colours before choosing colour theme for next party.

I made the shingles for the roof from Fondant icing. Polo’s and Tic Tac’s came in handy. The long red and white strips as well as the blue and white tubes were a last-minute find in Cairo – score! The one thing here that was a total surprise was the Christmas candy found in a local supermarket.

The tablescape centerpiece uses some Christmas picks, and the silvery foil sticks saved from my sons 16th. That blue is in this year so a few new Christmas picks nicely enhanced the aqua and red look we wanted. We picked them up in Bahrain on sale. The three candy canes are similar to Fimo and were a total fluke find at a local bazaar.

I love it when you happen across things just when you need them. Is the word for that “serendipity”?

The white shabby chic doily edge tin holding the centerpiece came from Ikea. As did the little blue bowls. The red fluted bowls are labeled Reco and I found them in Lynchburg Tn in a fabulous little kitchen store. The glass apothecary jar was found in a Crabtree and Evelyn store in Perth Australia. That cute bottle with the tiny blue balls inside was from a local pharmacy and came with an electrolyte drink in it. It even has measurements on the side. I might just need to stock up on some more electrolyte drink before next summer!

The small red bowls with the pattern around the edge are by Karidesign. I found them at Ross’s this summer while we were in the USA. They all looked so pretty with the candy in them.

See that glass vase with the peppermint and white chocolate covered pretzel sticks in it? A surprise addition to the table. I had made those intending them for the buffet table. My youngest daughter kept sneaking them back in to the gingerbread house decorating table.

I snuck them back. :)

This is the amazing result from that table. These kids age from 2 – 16 and were given carte blanche to create what they wanted. One daddy had a little input – I really should have given him his own house to decorate. He even wants an apron!

All up I would count it a fabulous success. The buffet was a treat – you’ll just have to wait for photo’s of that one. Along with more of my party planning guide – which we’ll get back to after the season. If you need my party planning guide or some more input then leave me a comment and I will be happy to help you out.

I’ll leave this you with one last thing. My biggest hope in planning a party is that my guests would have their socks blessed off and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

By the looks of this table they did – including the cute rubber duck who joined the party too!

Linking up to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch, the Charm of Home and CafeD’s Friday Free for All.

Party Planning with Organisation Tools.

I mentioned in my inspiration post carrying my photo inspiration board with me and lists to keep myself organised when planning a party. This is different to organising a party but is one of the things that helps me do that.

Baring circumstances outside my control – but more on that later. :(

It used to be any old notepad was used to jot down idea’s, guests lists, menu plans and to do lists. Many of those are still sitting in my recipe card box from parties going back at least 15 years. They are great to look back on and help with planning another party. If something is successful why not bring elements of it out again.

Now days, I create a themed package for myself to keep it more organised and tidy. Some of this has to do with my scrapbooking habits and wanting to include these everyday lists and planning tools in memory books. They look so much prettier in a scrapbook album when they co-ordinate with the party theme and intended photo ops. :)

Once the party colour theme is chosen I pull together Theme, Menu and Tablescape cards, shopping and to do lists, along with some blank notepaper. Initial notes are jotted down randomly, while searching the internet or cookbooks, on A4 ruled notepads. These brainstorming ideas are then corralled into where they fit.

I grab a cuppa, sit down and read through them, finalising my choices. Then transcribe onto my cards and added to my Franklin Covey Day Planner along with any photo’s or other inspiration pieces that are helpful to my party planning.

My Day Planner is a must for me. I have always been a list person but they often ended up in weird places. Like in my recipe box! Whenever I need something to do with the party it is all together, ready to use. Somewhere to throw a recipe or receipt related to the party until I can get it written out properly. The planner spend it’s nights on my bedside table for those random thoughts and ideas that wake me up.

Party planning is so much easier with organisation tools.

Till circumstance beyond my control come into play.

Our sweet sixteen party has been postponed. My daughters closest friends, from here, are staying longer in the USA – and she does not want to do it without them. It is one of the things about the expat life and people not being local. You learn to roll with it.

We are still going ahead with gingerbread house decorating with the other neighbourhood friends that are coming and will just scale back on the buffet brunch menu.

Menu planning is the topic up next in my Party Planning Guide – Part Two

Party Planning Inspiration

Our inspiration for the Sweet Sixteen Party.

Image Credit

I have admired this image for quite some time, and think my daughter had it in mind when we were discussing the party theme. Strawberries are one of my daughter’s favourite fruits so she loved the photo anyway. From the time I painted my nail salon in the middle of last year in that wonderful light blue, robin’s egg, Tiffany blue type colour (ok – so I don’t know what it is called) we have both been enamoured of that blue and white combo with a touch of red.

Red has been my go to colour this last 18 months since we moved into the house with a light blue but messy patterned tile. I needed to bring in a pop of colour to tone down the blue a bit. Since then I have been slowly adding red in everywhere. Right now every time I go out I find myself seriously drawn to red in everything from decor items to nail polish and kitchen accessories. Even shoes!

I am sure some colour analyst could have a field day with that one.

Luckily that particular blue and red look gorgeous together. My Christmas journal ended up with shabby vintage variation of these colours on the cover. Not intentionally either. Strange how that happens when you are drawn to something.  Guessing aqua blue and raspberry or cherry red are my current favourite colours.

Fortunately this colour scheme seems to be trending right now with the whole “teal or aqua” thing becoming quite the feature on home decor and other DIY blogs. This really helps when looking for ideas. It also helps for coordinating decorations and decor.

Nice to know I was up with the start of a new trend using that blue too.

Ok – so back on track with my party planning inspiration.

Credits for images below – all found on Pinterest

I made myself an inspiration board to carry my colour scheme with me while working on the party plan. It is a “party theme & colour” photo montage to print and have for instant comparison.  It goes right into my Franklin Covey Diary Planner along with other notepapers and things I use to keep me on track with my party planning.

Yes – I need lists to keep me on track! :)

That in itself is a whole other post.

Image Credits on Board Pic1, Pic 2, Pic 3, Pic 4, Pic 5(Some images on Pinterest only link back to pinterest for iphone and not the actual site. If an image is yours please let me know so I can credit fully.)


Journaling December

Took a break today from preparations for the Sweet 16 birthday party to celebrate my youngest daughters birthday. We always celebrate with lots of food, good times spent together and gifts but we don’t always throw a party. We tend to do that for our family choice of “milestone” type birthdays.

Every birthday is special though and today was no different.

She chose to hang out at home, do some crafting, play some games and have a meal of “grazing” food. She loves dips and nibbles and salsa and chips. It made for a lovely day together.

She had also requested that I take the day off and enjoy myself, spending time with her. We did some playing around with the camera and I was under strict instructions that I was not to do any “party planning”.

I was happy to oblige.:)

Happy Birthday Sweetheart – I love you!

Today was also the start of December. It is a busy and often momentous month for us and over the years I have really made an effort to journal it since discovering Shimelles Journal Your Christmas back in 2008. I am a scrap booker and it is a nice way to finish to the year.

Today we worked on the cover and a few things for the inside. Also printed off and filled in the flash card that Shimelle included with today’s class prompt which you can see tucked into the cover in the photo above.

I tend to take a more relaxed approach these days to the journal instead of trying to do it exactly to the class ideas. It works for me and helps me keep some balance during our month. I enjoy Ali Edwards Daily December as inspiration also. As long as I share something about this time I consider it an accomplishment covering many memories of our life.

Not sure how I will go keeping up though as we are going away for five days next week, then the week after is sweet 16. At least this year it is a spiral bound notebook that I can just add things into as we go. Maybe making an “on the road” mini scrap kit to take along on the trip might help.




16th Birthday Party Theme

Over the last week or so I have been discussing party planning as it works in our household. We talked about choosing a theme in Party Planning Guide – Part One. Which brings me to choosing the theme and finding inspiration for my daughters upcoming 16th birthday.

We had our usual chat and discussed various options. She loves a surprise, enjoying the anticipation, so she helped decide the theme with some suggestions I had. However she won’t know the details, nor what food or decorating will be done, until the reveal just before the party.

This makes it a little trickier for me.

After choosing a date, and whom she wanted to attend we were more able to determine our theme. Her initial request was for some sort of buffet. Possibly a candy bar or cupcake type affair in keeping with “Sweet” sixteen.

This buffet idea is perfect because so much can be done ahead, leaving me to enjoy the celebrations too.:)

She also wanted to do some sort of activity or party games. This was a little complicated as we have a wide age range of children attending. We had wanted to hold a gingerbread house decorating party with some neighbours, and with this right before Christmas that became the perfect activity.

Plus one less thing for me to fit in during December. :) Yay – gotta love that.

Theme Chosen!  Buffet Brunch with Gingerbread House Decorating.

Next up – the inspiration for our decorating and buffet.




Party Planning

Party planning is something I have always like doing. My earliest memory of planning a party and even making the cake was when I was about 14 or so. It was for my brothers 5th birthday and at that time I was just getting into cake decorating, with the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks as my inspiration.

From there I ended up on the catering track and spent many years dabbling in cake decorating. It’s been a long time since I did anything real fancy as the whole food/supermarket scene here has been very substandard till recent times.

I had a look online and was excited to find that Womens Weekly have re-released the original cookbook, of which I have worn out two, as a “vintage edition”. Guess that makes me vintage as well! :)   One day I must hunt out and scan the photo’s of those cakes I made way back then….just for fun!

Now days party planning is something I get a real kick out of doing. From the initial concept right through to the moment before the guests arrive. That moment, when you exhale and sigh with delighted relief, knowing everything you have accomplished is all just as you wanted – and planned.

Is it that way for you? Or is the thought of planning a party, let alone holding one – with real actual people, enough to send you running for a booking at your favourite restaurant?

Over the years I have developed, without consciously thinking about it, a way that makes the whole process easier for me. The main part of it is the planning. By having that in place, and a work flow to follow, I don’t have to worry about it and wonder what still needs doing. Nor have to second guess myself that it is all in hand, and going to happen on time.

Given that I have a semi suprise party to throw in December, which is one of just 5 celebrations we have including Christmas, I am smack in the middle of the planning process right now. I am not a professional and there must be a bunch of other ways to handle planning a party, and maybe even steps I have not covered. However I am a busy mum and this works for me. I want to document these steps into some form that I can pass on to my children.

Over the next week or so my focus here on the blog will be to detail the steps I take in party planning – and some of the execution of those plans as it pertains to the upcoming surprise party. Hopefully, if holding a party is something you secretly long to try or you are having one soon, perhaps this may help you out and give you some tips or even the confidence to have a go! Let me know if you do.

Check back tomorrow for the start of my Party Planning series.

Oh, and if anyone is interested, you can find that new release “vintage edition” cake book here. (Not an affiliate link…just found it :) )