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Halloween Party Planning

September 30, 2016

If the usual trick-or-treating just won’t do to celebrate this year, the time is right to host a Halloween party. Whether your guest list is full to the brim with wee little ghosts or full-grown goblins, read on for inspiration on hosting the perfect frightful fete.

FOR THE KIDS

For little ones, keep things more sweet than spooky by decorating with goofy grinning pumpkins, wiley witches or cartoony monsters.

Keep the kiddos busy and take care of dessert in one foul swoop with a decorate-your-own cupcake bar. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination! For example, make jack-o-lantern cupcakes with orange frosting, black licorice strings cut into 1-inch segments and M&Ms for eyes and noses. Or let the creativity fly with a make-your-own-monster bar with brightly colored icing and kooky candy such as gummy worms and rock candy.

Game time! Divide guests into teams of three to four and arm them with rolls of toilet paper for a mummy-dressing contest. Make sure to have your camera ready to capture the process and the finished results!

For a parting gift, send party-goers home with bags of popcorn tossed with Halloween gummies or candy corn.

FOR THE GROWN-UPS

Spooky tunes are a must for spooky soiree. Setting the soundtrack is as simple as hooking up your smartphone to a bluetooth speaker and tuning the channel to Monster Mash Radio. Don’t have a speaker? Put your phone in a bowl for a DIY solution.

To mix up the decor from the usual orange and black, try an offbeat theme such as a mad scientist’s laboratory with brightly-hued cocktails in beakers and test tubes, or evoke a creepy apothecary with mercury glass skull jars, shot glasses  and metallic pumpkins

The best way to encourage guests to dress up is to tempt them with a costume contest! Stuff cool striped trick-or-treat totes with your favorite candies to hand out to the winners.

For a nightcap, brew a pot of pumpkin-flavored coffee and set out spirits such as spiced rum or Irish cream to mix in.

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Skeleton couples = forever love

Day of the Dead decor

Skull cups add a little scare to their sips

 

Décor Party & Event Ideas

Harvest Decor: Traditional or Contemporary?

September 16, 2016

When it comes to decorating your house for fall, there’s a lot more out there than just jack-o-lanterns and corn husks. Whether your style skews more traditional or contemporary, we’ve got plenty of harvest-inspired accessories to dress up all different parts of your home.

FRONT PORCH

Traditional: Adorn your front porch with a hay bale topped with pumpkins and gourds (or even a twig turkey!) for a rustic nod to the harvest season. (Natural Twig Turkey, $8.99)

Contemporary: Set a cluster of ribbon-wrapped straw bundles on your stoop for an elegant twist on harvest time decor. (Wheat grass stack bundle, $12.99)

DOOR

Traditional: You can’t go wrong with a classic wreath. Look for options featuring golden sunflowers, burlap ribbon or glitter-kissed leaves (Pinecone Sunflower and Mums Wreath, $24.99; Teardrop Glitter Maple with Burlap Ribbon, $14.99)

Contemporary: For a more modern vibe, hang a splashy chevron pumpkin emblazoned with your family initial. (Pumpkin Initial Wall Hanger, $7.99)

MANTLE

Traditional: Garlands stuffed with twigs, leaves and acorns are a sweet addition to a fireplace mantle or shelf. Tip: Look for wired garland to easily arrange it among other accessories, such as candlesticks or lanterns. (Acorn Pinecone and Pip Berries Garland, $14.99)

Contemporary: Prop up a colorfully painted wood sign to celebrate the season. (Autumn Wood Sign, $8.99)

TABLE

Traditional: A faux floral bouquet will add a pop of color to your tabletop for your next family meal. (Sunflower, Maple and Berry with Bow Floral Pick, $9.99)

Contemporary: Put a pillar candle in a rich autumnal hue (think cranberry, rusty orange or golden yellow) inside a glass lantern for a modern yet homey centerpiece. (Raw Metal Clear Glass Hanging Jar, $17.99)

harvestchair modpumpkin mantle

 

 

 

Fashion Food Party & Event Ideas Shop

Game Day Style

September 1, 2016

The end of summer always feels bittersweet, but if there’s one thing that gets us psyched for fall, it’s the start of football season! Whether you’re headed to a game at the local high school or hosting a big game-watch at home, you’ll want to suit up in style. Here’s how to get ready for kickoff.

ADD A VEST

Layering on a vest is a fun and easy way to spice up an autumn outfit. Traditional puffer vests are a cool weather staple and never go out of style; for a slimmer silhouette, look for more lightweight quilted styles in textured fabrics such as tweed or houndstooth. For a day that’s crisp rather than cool, military-inspired vests can also add a bit of extra warmth without too much added bulk.

ROCK STRIPES

Wearing a striped tee, tunic or blouse featuring your team colors gives off a sporty vibe without going for the full-on jersey ensemble. Add your favorite pair of jeans and slip on sneakers or ballet flats and you’re good to go!

ACCESSORIZE

If your team colors aren’t hues you’d usually wear, showing team spirit can be a challenge. Rather than spending a lot of money on clothing—jackets, sweatshirts or sweaters—in a color that you don’t love to wear otherwise, focus on accessories. Start with a blank slate of neutral colors—think jeans and a black, white or gray top—and add sunglasses or a scarf in one of your team colors.

TOP IT OFF

Your gameday look isn’t complete without a finishing touch on top! For just a couple bucks, you can buy a foot or two of ribbon in your team’s colors at your local craft or fabric store—and how you use it to tie up your tresses is up to you! Try using a wide ribbon as a headband, weaving thin ribbons into a braid or topping off pigtail braids with sweet bows.

Family Party & Event Ideas Shop

Curbing Summer Boredom For Kids

July 18, 2016

Summer vacation is having it’s last gasp, and you’re starting to hear those dreaded words from your kiddos: “I’m boooored.” Before you threaten to put them to work scrubbing toilets, inspire their summer play with this bag of tricks.

BUILD A FORT

Stuck inside on a rainy day? Assemble a good old-fashioned fort with chairs, pillows and blankets. Or set up a ready-made teepee and play a card or board game inside.

>>Canvas Teepee, $59.99

>>Finding Dory Guess Who, $16.99

>>Shopkins UNO Game, $5.99

CHALK IT UP

Channel your artsy side with sidewalk murals. Encourage your kiddos to draw out your hometown or a garden in bloom, or to sketch their own waterpark or roller coaster. Or channel your competitive side by drawing hopscotch, four square or tic-tac-toe.

>>2 Holder Frozen Chalk Set, $2.49

WAGE A WATER WAR

When temps are soaring, head outside and cool down with water toys. Launchers and rapid fillers make the summertime classic of water balloons that much easier and more fun. To up the ante from your usual water guns, look for water tag sets to add an extra element of competition.

>>Water Tag Set, $19.99

>>Rapid Fill Balloon Pumper with 250 Balloons, $8.99

>>Bunch of Balloons and Launcher, $12.99

GARDEN

Recruit your little ones to dig into the garden with you. Plant flowers in a hanging basket, pull weeds from your flower bed or harvest produce from your vegetable garden together. Or assemble a fairy garden with the help of super-cute miniatures.

>>Minnie Mouse Shovel, $2.99

>>Cars Toy Rake, $1.99

>>Leafy Fairy House Statue, $12.99

PLAY PRETEND

Sometimes a new prop can inspire an entire afternoon of make believe. Bestow a wand upon your fairy prince or princess or furnish a toy safe with alarm for modern-day spin on cops and robbers.

>>Disney Frozen Wand, $1.99

>>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Battle Shell, $14.99

>>Steel Safe with Alarm Toy, $16

 

Family Party & Event Ideas

6 Ways To Keep Your Kids Active This Summer

June 29, 2016

Summer break is upon us and even though your kiddos are ecstatic, we all know it will be approximately one week before you hear the dreaded phrase, “I’m bored!” Sure, you can set limits on screen time to help keep your littles off the couch. But then what do you do next? Here are our top picks for active summer fun.

Go for a bike ride

Strap on a helmet and get peddling! Whether you pick a destination near or far, a bike ride of any length is a fun summer activity. Cruise to the local ice cream shop, take a leisurely ride along the local bike trail or roll on over to your closet friend or relative’s house for a visit. Involve your kids in the preparation by having them help map the route beforehand.

Get splashy

When the temps soar, cool off by hitting the waves–what kind is up to you! Set up a sprinkler or play with water balloons in the backyard, take a mini-road trip to a nearby beach or lake or sign up for a pass to your local community pool or waterpark.

Have a dance party

Indoors or outdoors, this one is fun for all ages: Just crank the music and bust your best moves! Have your kiddos create the playlist beforehand by electing their favorite songs and putting them in order for the party’s beginning, middle and end.

Discover a new playground

If your whole crew has grown tired of your local playground, plot a trip to a new one in an area you’ve never been to before. Discovering a new set of slides, swings and playtime friends is sure to make a usual activity more of an adventure.

Make an obstacle course

Challenge your children to create their own obstacle course with toys and gear that’s hanging around the house. For example, you might jump rope for 1 minute, hula hoop 50 times in a row, complete a full game of hopscotch and then balance a frisbee on your head while standing on one foot …. the options are only limited to your imagination, really!

Step up and volunteer

Volunteering your time for a local cause is a great way to get out of the house and stay active. You can walk dogs at your local animal shelter, sort donations at a food bank or walk in a famly 5K to raise money for an organization with a cause that you care about.

>What are your tried-and-true ways to keep your kids moving during the summer? Share in the comments below! And when you’re spending time outside, don’t forget to keep your skin safe from the sun.

Ways to keep kids active in summer!

Summer fun ideas for kids!

Décor Family Food Party & Event Ideas

Yay USA! How To Get The Americana Look

June 23, 2016

With Independence Day on the way, the time is right to give your home decor a dose of Americana. Ready to bring a little red, white and blue through your front door? Here are four easy ways to set the scene with USA pride, just in time for the July 4 holiday.

Hang spirited signage

Decorative artwork can bring a touch of patriotic flair to your front door or living room wall. If you’re short on wall space, prop a box sign up on a desktop or counter. Go for the classic primary color combination, or look for rustic designs with softer, more muted variations of red and blue. Either way, the sentiment will be heard loud and clear!

My Home Sweet Home Map Box Art, $9.99

Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness Plaque, $10

Every Heart Beats True Box Sign, $5.99

Set the table

Switch out your everyday dinnerware for Americana-inspired pieces. Think table linens (placemats, napkins, tablecloth or table runner) in eye-catching stars or stripes, plus plates and platters in bold reds or blues. Or just start your day with a fresh splash of USA pride in the form of a cute mug for your morning coffee.

Americana Stripe Table Runner, $7.99

Barberware Dishware Set, $49.99

Americana US Heart Logo Jumbo Mug, $4.99

Perk up the patio

Your backyard or front porch is the perfect place to incorporate classic Americana colors without changing your whole interior color scheme. Add cherry red cushions to your existing wicker furniture, perk up a rocking chair with a printed pillow or hang an oversized metal star from your fence.

Enterprise Outdoor Pillow, $9.99

Kane Geo Outdoor Cushion, $29.99

Rustic Metal Star, $6.99

Party in retro style

Hosting a barbecue for July 4 weekend? Channel the heart of Americana with accessories that look like heirlooms plucked from your grandmother’s kitchen. Look for a pristine white deviled egg dish or cake stand for an old-fashioned dessert display, or pour lemonade or punch into Mason jars filled with ice.

Deviled egg dish, 9.99

Mason jar coolers, $9.99

Pedestal cake stand, $11.99

With a touch of patriotism inside as well as out, all that’s missing is a slice of oh-so-American apple pie. Happy 4th!

pillowamericana pillow americaoutfits

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Décor Family Food Party & Event Ideas Shop

Host A Hot Summer Soiree

May 25, 2016

Whether it’s to celebrate Memorial Day, graduation or no reason at all, hosting a shindig under the sun is a fitting way to kick off the summer. Some careful consideration when it comes to eats, drinks and ambiance will go a long way to make sure a good time is had by all.

PUMP THE JAMS

Music makes the difference between just hanging out and a true celebration. A portable outdoor speaker is an easy alternative to a full-out outdoor sound system; just connect your smartphone via bluetooth and click your favorite party tunes. Or fake an impromptu speaker by putting your phone inside a bowl (the shape will help amplify the sound) and pressing play on Pandora. Whatever you do, just make sure your playlist features Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” already a slam dunk for the song of the summer.

LIGHTEN UP

Look to lighting to set the mood. String lights are a fun and easy way to make your space feel festive. Try stringing a set or two along your deck railing or twist them around a tree trunk. Lanterns provide a subtle glow and instant ambiance; light a real candle inside or sub in a LED-powered pillar or votive to up the safety factor.

TIME TO TOAST

Refreshing drinks are the centerpiece of a successful bash, but you’ll want to spend your time having fun with your guests, not playing bartender. The key to a low-maintenance drink plan is prepping ahead of time for self-service. Fill a galvanized tub or cooler with ice to hold sodas, and juice boxes and beer. Use easy-to-pour pitchers or spouted coolers for lemonade or fruit punch for the kiddos (or spiked for the grown-ups). In the wine department, look for screw-top bottles so guests aren’t left hunting for a corkscrew.

CHOW DOWN

For a fun alternative to the usual barbecue menu of hot dogs and hamburgers, try veggie and meat kabobs on the grill. Prepare steak, chicken or shrimp skewers ahead of time and have guests assemble their own veggie kabobs with sliced pepper, cherry tomatoes, onion wedges and zucchini chunks. Staples such as potato salad or coleslaw are classic side dishes, but serve only if you can confidently keep them cold for the whole day. (Nothing like mayo in the hot sun to tempt the food-poisoning gods!) Fruit salad, corn on the cob and vinegar-based slaws and salads all hold up well over the course of an afternoon and don’t need to be reheated for latecomers. Cookies, popsicles or brownie squares leave guests free to grab their sweets as they like without having to ask for help slicing and serving.

 With all the essentials accounted for, the guest list is up to you. Cheers!

summerparty2 summerparty3

Family Fashion Party & Event Ideas Shop

Last Minute Spring Break Plans

March 7, 2016

Just because a big trip isn’t in the cards doesn’t mean you can’t have a pleasure-packed Spring Break with your family this season. Make the most of your time off together with these ideas, all easy to pull off with limited planning.

FAUX BEACH TRIP

You can fake a beach day even if you’re nowhere near a seaside destination. Locate your nearest body of water, whether that’s a lake, waterpark or even an indoor pool at the park district or YMCA. Load up an oversized tote bag with towels, toys and snacks, and don’t forget the SPF if you’ll be under the sun.

What to wear: A swimsuit, your favorite cover-up, wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sandals.

MUSEUM DAY

Be a tourist in your own town and spend a day at a museum. If you’ve visited your major metropolitan museum umpteen times, look for a smaller one within driving distance that has a regional or topical focus. You’d be surprised how many smaller towns have history museums that could teach you and your kiddos something new (or old, rather) about your hometown’s past.

What to wear: A drapey cardigan, cotton tank, jeans and walkable flats or sneakers.

MOVIE MARATHON

Pop some popcorn or order a pizza and gather the whole family for an all-day film fest right in your living room. Start early and make your way through multi-movie series such as “Harry Potter,” “Toy Story,” “Back to the Future” or “The Hunger Games.” Or pick a theme for a double feature, such as toys (“The Lego Movie” and “G.I. Joe”), dinosaurs (“Land Before Time” and “Jurassic Park”) or dance (“Center Stage” and “Save the Last Dance”).

What to wear: A cozy hooded sweatshirt, leggings and slippers.

VOLUNTEER EFFORT

Give back to your community by volunteering as a family. Contacting a local volunteer organization for suggestions on a one-day opportunity such as assisting at a local senior center or animal shelter. Or lead your kids in collecting pantry goods or unused clothing and toys that are still in good condition to donate to a local organization.

What to wear: A lightweight blouse, skinny jeans and booties.

Food Party & Event Ideas Series

Leonardo DiCaprio Themed Oscar Party

February 25, 2016

It’s award season! Who doesn’t love the fashion, the drama, the movies, the parties?? It’s a great excuse to get together with friends to eat, drink and make merry during these last few dismal weeks of winter.

Hosting a great Oscar party is all about making the evening fun and relaxing for your guests, and being organized and prepared so you can enjoy the evening watching the show instead of slaving in the kitchen. When inviting people to an Oscar viewing party, it’s also important to emphasize that you don’t have to have seen any of the films or know anything about the event to still have a great time.

That being said…

Can we all agree that it’s Leo’s year to win??? Just give the man the award. One more year seeing his fake-smile-congratulatory-towards-his-fellow-nominees reaction might make us weep. It’s been established that he’s pretty talented. He’s been nominated a million times, right? It’s time celebrate these facts with a new, different, (and slightly obsessive) Leonardo DiCaprio themed party Oscar Party!

How to do it: Plan the menu and décor around themed delicacies all in homage to Leo’s dapper mug. Plus, include framed photos from his famed movie appearances next to each dish or drink to help guests make the connection.

Check out these super easy themed menu items that are simple to make and can easily be prepared in advance.

The Revenant – Gummy Bears: Is it too soon? To joke about bears? (This joke may only be relevant to those who have seen this movie…)

Django Unchained – Candy of any variety: What better way to play tribute to a character named, Candy, than with an awesome assortment of sugary treats. An assortment of theatre candy in colorful dishes is always a crowd-pleaser.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – Grape Parfaits: This is a fantastic, make-ahead, fancy-looking delicious treat that could not be easier to make. Use your favorite yogurt parfait recipe and substitute grapes for other fruit mentioned. Assemble the dessert in festive wine glasses for a very upscale, Oscar party-esque look featured within the buffet spread.

 Gangs of New York – New York Style Hot Dogs: Wanna get fancy? Wait for it…take little smokies and carefully cut standard hot dog buns to fit their tiny size. They become delightful little handheld savory snacks to balance out other sweet items on the menu.

The Beach – Seaweed Dip: Make your own favorite dippable concoction, or pick up your favorite from the store and pop it in a pretty bowl so you can take all the credit. If you’re near a Trader Joe’s grocer, they have a great Spinach Artichoke Dip that is inexpensive and delicious.

The Departed – Boston Crème Pie Bites: This is the only menu item that has any significant baking or prep required. You can plan to make this the day before and chill until ready to serve. Check out these super cute mini desserts on House of Yumm and was delighted with how easy they were to put together.

Titanic – My Heart Will Go On Cocktails/I’m the King of the World Celebratory Champagne: Just print your favorite “Jack” photo and paste onto your favorite bottle of bubbly. If he doesn’t win? Save it for your next personal victory, goal achievement or career success – and you’ll feel like the king of the world.

Finally, one of our favorite elements of a good Oscar Party is the ballot for guessing the winners. Each attendee is provided a sheet of the nominees and places their guess on who will win before the show starts. For some categories, people may have a good guess, but things like Best Sound Mixing and Best Animated Short Film are anybody’s game. Each category is worth a different number of points and a winner is recognized at the end of the show. It’s always fun to have a small prize like a movie theater gift card to gift to the winner, however the bragging rights of walking away as the winner are more than rewarding. Download your own party ballot with this year’s nominees and may the best person, (LEO), win!

Guest written by Gordmans theme-party Queen, Beth. 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Party & Event Ideas Shop

Volunteering With Your Pet

February 17, 2016

Donating your time to a cause you care about is a win-win situation, all around. Why not get the whole family involved, your pet included? These creative volunteer ideas will open your mind to the ways you can give back to your community with the help of your pet. Options vary by location, so contact your local animal shelter or nonprofit humane society for local leads on the following volunteer opportunities.

GO FOR A WALK

Up the ante on your daily walk by signing up for a dog-friendly 5K walk or run. Races benefit a wide variety of charities, ranging from pet rescues to cancer research. Browse a list of dog-friendly races all around the country at irondoggy.com.

bonniedog

SIT, STAY AND READ

For a child learning to read, dogs can provide a non-judgmental, morale-boosting companion. There are myriad organizations around the country—SitStayRead in Chicago, Illinois, and Bow Wow Reading Dogs in Austin, Texas, to name a few—that connect owners of well-behaved dogs with school-aged kiddos in need of a four-legged reading friend. Therapy Dogs International has a presence in all 50 states and is a great place to start.

DONATE BLOOD

Blood drives can help people undergoing medical procedures, and the same goes for animals. If your pet is in good health, donating blood may be an option. The next time you’re at your local veterinarian’s office, ask about dates for upcoming blood drives.

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MAKE NEW FRIENDS

Pets of all kinds and their owners can get involved in service programs to benefit other members of your community. Perhaps your poodle could visit a senior center, your parrot could lend a wing during an elementary school’s science lesson or your golden retriever could assist with physical therapy tasks (like fetching a thrown toy from a patient recovering from an arm injury) at a rehabilitation facility.

FOSTER A PET IN NEED
Before certain pets can be eligible for adoption, they may need a temporary home and caretaker. If you’re willing serve as a host and your current pet is friendly, he or she can help socialize a foster pet for a few much-needed days or weeks before moving on to a forever home.

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>>Don’t have a pet yet? Consider volunteering your time or donating items such as food, litter or cleaning supplies to your local humane society or animal shelter. Don’t be afraid to ask what special needs that a charitable pet organization currently needs. You might be surprised what skills you have that could be of use, from photographing pets for adoption to helping promote events via social media.

>>HELP US CELEBRATE NATIONAL PET DAY – Saturday, February 20th Gordmans will be celebrating National Pet Day at all it’s stores by letting you bring your furry friend in to shop! There will be free treats, photo stations for you and your pet and a chance to win fun prizes. Find out more HERE!