How to Host a Party at a Party Place

Usually, we have birthday parties for our kids at our house. We have a kid-friendly home, and enjoy having people over. Our new house isn’t quite as spacious as our old home, so I thought I’d host my son’s birthday party this year at a party place. Overall, it was a success, so I thought I’d share with you my tips on how to host a party at a Party Place.

How to Host a Party at a Party Place - all the tips to make your party a success!

Party Place Research

Start by researching locations. On my phone, I went into Google Maps, and typed in terms “Play Place”, “Kids Party Place”, “Play Area”. Since we’re new to the area, this gave me a good idea of the options that were not too far from our house. I chose three to check out – an indoor playground, a trampoline park, and an arcade/fun center.

What to consider when choosing a Party Location

I took an afternoon to check out the locations. I brought my son with me so that he could weigh-in as well. It is good to check hours of operation before heading out, two of the locations I was considering were not open in the mornings. There were certain criteria that I was looking at for our party, so I kept these in mind as I looked at the locations.

Price – Price will always be a factor when choosing where to host a party. But different party locations break down their pricing differently. Some only factor in children, and food for adults needs to be added on for an additional cost. Some offer a limited amount of time in the party room or playing on the attractions. The final price tag can vary greatly when you consider items that you would think are standard, but the location considers “add ons”.

Location – How far will my guests have to drive? I was looking for a location no more than 15 minutes away from our home. This distance will vary depending on if you are in a more urban or rural setting.

Activities – For my 4-year-old and his friends, I wanted activities that they’d enjoy doing. Slides are awesome at their age, Laser tag is frustrating and hard.

Variety of food – Most party places don’t allow you to bring in your own food, and they have a limited menu. I have two picky eaters, so I wanted food that my boys would enjoy.

Space – How much space do we have for the party? How far is the party space away from the activities?

Other considerations – Other things I considered were how much time they allowed for the party, how far the parking was from the location, and how friendly the staff was. You might also want to consider looking at upgrade packages (some offer party favor bags, or bonus gifts for the birthday boy/girl), if those interest you.

Questions to ask when choosing a Party Place

When you host a party in your own home, you have an idea of what to expect, but when you’re hosting it offsite, you’ll want details on how they structure your party.

Food – how much, and when is it served? Can you bring your own cupcakes/cake? If there are children with allergies attending, are there other options?

Party Host – are you offered a host? What are their responsibilities? Do you share the host with other parties that are happening?

Decor – do they offer decor? What does it look like? Can you bring in your own decor? Is there anything that they do not allow (glitter, helium or mylar balloons, etc)? Are you able to come in advance to decorate? How far in advance? If your family loves pinatas, will they allow a pinata? A traditional one, or a pull-pinata?

Invitations – do they offer invitations? Is there a parent consent form that needs to be included in the invitations?

Deposit – do they require a deposit, and how much?

Final head count – when do they need the final head count for the party?

Rain contingency – if any part of the facility is outdoors, is there a rain contingency?

Where is the party hosted? – is there a special room? Upstairs/downstairs/outside? You’ll want any special instructions for the invitation.

cupcakes for party

 

Booking your party

Call or show up to book your party, and make any deposit needed. Confirm any special details at that time, and confirm the time and date to send out invitations. Depending on the popularity of the party location you’ll want to book a month or more in advance of the date.

Send out invitations, either those that were supplied by the location, or your own. Make sure to include your contact details for RSVP.

Party Prep – the week of

The week of the party, you’ll want to square away the final details.

Cake – if you’re ordering a cake or cupcakes, you’ll want it ordered already, or order it now. If you’re making your own, you’ll want to decide on your recipe or boxed mix and frosting.

Favors – will you be offering a traditional favor bag? What items do you want to include? Purchase those items, and put together the favor bags based on the number of RSVPs (plus your child and any siblings), adding a few extras for any extra guests.

Decorations – will you be using the standard decor, or adding your own touches? Themed confetti, plates/cups/napkins, balloons, streamers, or special table cloths will add to the theme, but can also add to the expense.

Final Head count – get a final head count including family, guests and family of guests.

Confirm with the party place – mix-ups happen! Call a few days before to confirm the day and time of your party, as well as any special details. Clearing up any misunderstandings before you show up will make the special day much less stressful!

party decor

Extras to put in your Party Bag

In addition to the cake, favors, and specialty decor, there are a few things you’ll want to have in your bag. These are things you might be used to having at home, but you might forget to bring to an offsite location.

Scissors – these will come in handy for cutting tablecloths, opening a stubborn gift, or cutting ribbon on balloons.
Candles – your candles might already be on your cake – if not, be sure to grab them and have them with you.
Matches or a lighter – so easy to forget! Remember to pack something to light those birthday candles.
Cash – you’ll probably want to tip the party hostess, and servers always appreciate cash – consider having cash on hand to tip at the end of the party.

tables at party place

The day of the party

Here are a few tips to have a great time on the day of the party:

Show up early – if you’re adding to the decor, show up at least 30-45 minutes early to help set up.

Check in with the party host or hostess – be sure to remember their name!

Take photos of your party set-up before the kids come.

Take lots and lots of photos during the party.

Enjoy yourself!

playing party games

Snow Party

Over the winter break my boys and I had a snow party. A great way to celebrate the winter, any time of year!

Snow Party

The Snow Party Included:

Snowy Decor

Food:
Donuts on Sticks
Cakes
Cookies

Activities:
Snowball Fight
LCR with Snowballs
Coffee Filter Snowflakes
Borax Snowflakes

Party Favors
Mini Snow Dough Jars

Snowy Decor

For the Snowy Decor, I put down a blue plastic tablecloth, with snowflakes I cut with the Silhouette. Here is the snowflake file I used.

supplies for snowball backdrop

For the backdrop, I hung white plastic tablecloth, and strung styrofoam balls onto yarn using a doll needle…

pierce ball with needle

And sprayed with glitter blast.

spray with glitter dust

Then hung in front of the white.

snowball party decor

I also hung these large snowflakes cut with the silhouette from the ceiling.

snow decor

Snow Party Food

For the food, I picked out some white treats. Just simple and sugary.

cakes-and-cookies

I also skewered donuts and donut holes onto bamboo skewers and put them in a vase – food that doubles as decor!

Snow Party Activities

We had a snowball fight with our no-melt snowballs.

throwing snowballs

And played Left, Center, Right (a dice game – find it at Target in the games section), using pom poms as chips.

snowball left center right

We played for about 30 minutes, and the kids loved it! My 3 year old had no problem understanding how the game worked – and even ended up winning!

playing left center right with pom pom snowballs

Coffee Filter snowflakes are simple to make, and cost almost nothing. You just need scissors and coffee filters.

supplies for coffee filter snowflakes

Fold the filter in half, then in thirds.

fold coffee filter into thirds

Then cut away. The more cuts, the prettier your snowflake will be.

coffee filter snowflakes

coffee filter snowflakes

Making Borax snowflakes was lots of fun.

Borax Crystal Snowflake

You’ll need:

supplies for borax crystals

Mason Jar
Borax
Scissors
White Pipecleaners
Measuring Spoons
Pencil
String
Boiling Water

Cut the pipecleaner into 3 sections. Make sure the sections are shorter than the diameter of the jar.

cut pipecleaner

Twist together to make the snowflake. Tie a string to the top.

twist together pipe cleaner

Measure 3 Tablespoons of Borax into the jar, then fill with boiling water (kids don’t get to help with this part!). Stir with the pencil, then hang the pipecleaner snowflake in the jar. Allow to sit overnight.

making borax crystals

The next day, you’ll have gorgeous crystals!

finished borax crystals

And, of course, we needed snowy favors, so I made snow dough.

Snow Dough Party Favors

You’ll need:
2 cups Cornstarch
1/2 cup iridescent Glitter
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

supplies for snow dough

 

Mix ingredients.

mix snow dough together

Put the snow dough into jars.

I used mini jars I found in the wedding section of the craft store.

fill-jars-with-snow-dough

I foiled the snow dough labels. Here is the printable snow dough label file I used, printed on a laser printer onto OL1762 from Online Labels .com.

snow dough labels

I then used a laminator and Thermoweb Decofoil (in blue) to foil the labels.

run foil through machine

foiled snow dough labels

It adds the perfect touch!

finished snow dough favors

The party didn’t take too long to put together, and the kids loved it! They’ll be asking for a snow party every winter!

snowball party decor

 

Gingerbread House Party 2015

We did find time to have our annual Gingerbread House party this year. It was a little different, not being able to celebrate the holidays with all of our friends in Las Vegas… but we’re making new friends here in San Diego, and enjoying incorporating them into our traditions.

holiday-traditions---Ginger

I like to have the party the first week in December, but we got busy, and it ended up being just a week before Christmas. It was lightly attended, as was the party the first year we did it in Las Vegas. But it was fun for those who came…

decorating-house

Since we have family here, we were able to invite our family, as well as friends from my son’s class.

frosting-all-the-things

I don’t know if the kids enjoy sampling the candy or making the houses more… but they all seem to have a good time! And they get to take their houses home when they’re done.candy-in-bowls

I made the houses a few days before out of sugar cookie, and put the houses together the day before, so they would be nice and sturdy when the kids went to decorate them. I made extras so that we adults could make our own after the kids were finished. I think the adults have as much fun as the kids do!

If you’re interested in how I set up the party, you can read more details about my gingerbread house party tradition.

 

The Ultimate Cookie Exchange Recipe Guide

This is the ultimate cookie exchange recipe list. These cookies are all delicious, and there is something here that almost everyone can eat. There are options that are dairy-free, and egg free, and gluten free. If you’d like additional gluten-free options, add Rice Krispies Treats, or baggies of Muddy Buddies (made with Corn Chex).

The ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies! These 6 cookie recipes, and one perfect decorator icing recipie will help you make the perfect plate of holiday cookies. Tips for making all the cookies yourself over 2 days - or divide up the recipes among friends for the ultimate cookie exchange!

I like to add a chocolate-chip cookie to my plate of cookies as well. You can go with whatever your favorite recipe is. I like the one on the back of the Costco brand chocolate chips, but if you’re looking for a more festive cookie, try the pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies.

You can make all these cookies yourself in about 2 days. Or, you can divide the recipes up among a group of friends, each make a couple batches, and share at a cookie exchange party. I put these cookies on a simple decorated plate from the dollar store.

Tip: If you’re going to make all of these cookies yourself, make sure that you have enough ingredients on hand, flour, sugar, eggs, and butter all go fast when making this many cookies! Also, start with the Sugar Cookie and {Almost} Speculaas recipes, because these doughs need to be refrigerated/frozen. I usually make these doughs the night before my big day of baking. I also like to make my chocolate chip cookie dough the night before. I make a double-batch, and freeze tablespoon fulls on sheets of parchment paper. The next day, I throw the balls of dough into a zip-seal bag, and have dough ready to go.

At the end of the first day, I make the meringues. Because it is best for them to slowly cool as the oven cools (so they dry out), I bake these at the end of the first day. When they are done baking, I turn off the oven, and let them sit as I clean up the kitchen and get ready for day two… then I can put them in airtight containers overnight.

The Ultimate plate of Christmas Cookies

 

Meringues

These meringues are simple to make – they’re light, and fluffy, and melt-in-your-mouth sweet! They look fancy on any cookie plate. If you hate tossing out egg yolks, you can poach them and chop them up to sprinkle on salads.

2 egg whites
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees

On high speed, beat egg whites, salt and cream of tartar with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Slowly and steadily, add the sugar while continuing to whisk. Then slowly whisk in the vanilla.

Transfer mix into a large pastry bag with a large star attachment, or a large zip top bag (cut the corner off the zip-top bag). On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, form mounds, each about the size of a tablespoon, and at least 2 inches apart. Bake at 25o degrees for 40-45 minutes. Do not allow them to brown – if you start to see golden edges, turn off the oven!

When they are done baking, turn off the oven but do not remove the cookie sheets. Allow to sit in the oven as the oven cools, or for about 2 hours. Remove and store in air-tight storage containers.

 

{Almost} Speculaas

This egg-free cookie dough is the closest I’ve found to a traditional Dutch Speculaas Cookie Recipe, and uses ingredients you can find at most American grocery stores. I prefer it to traditional gingerbread. It has a great spiced flavor, and is perfect for the holidays. For the uninitiated, I compare it to a spiced shortbread cookie.

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c hot water
1 C unsalted butter, softened
4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp mace
1/8 tsp cloves

Dissolve baking soda in water. Beat with butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Divide into 3 parts. Place each part on an 18″ length of plastic wrap, and form into a log about 2.5″ in diameter. Wrap tightly, twisting ends. Freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one log from the freezer, using a sharp kitchen knife, cut log into slices about 1/4″ thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12 to 14 minutes. Repeat with additional logs.

 

Sveta

This recipe is a family recipe. It was given to me by my in-laws, passed down from family friends. It is a Slav cookie recipe, perfect for the holidays! The Nucoa is non-dairy, making these a great dairy-free cookie option.

1 cube Nucoa (margarine)
1 1/2 C sugar
6 eggs
3 C flour
3 1/2tsp baking powder
2 tsp anise extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 C powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream Nucoa and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add in dry ingredients and mix well. Add in extracts. Mix until incorporated. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, the cookies will be soft, and slightly brown around the edges. Sprinkle warm cookies with powdered sugar and allow to cool.

 

D’Amaretti Biscotti

This biscotti recipe, and the one below, are family favorites. Make these two, wrap them up, and you’ll be asked for them year after year! Though biscotti is twice-baked, that doesn’t mean it is twice as hard to make! It is a delicious cookie that stores well for gift giving.

3 1/4 C Flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
3 eggs (plus one egg white)
2 tsp lemon peel, finely shredded
1 tsp anise extract
1/2 C toasted and chopped hazelnuts (if you really can’t find them, you can use almonds, if you must)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly Grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients, set aside. Beat butter and sugar, then beat in eggs, lemon peel, and anise extract. Slowly add dry ingredients until well incorporated. Stir in nuts.

Divide douh in half, form into two logs on the cookie sheet, each about 12″ x 2″ x 1″. Beat egg white until foamy and brush over the top.

Bake 20-25 minutes until light brown. Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool. Store in air-tight container.

 

Biscotti Toscani

This biscotti has the extra step of adding a layer of chocolate to one side, making it both delicious and fancy-looking! When you are done adding the chocolate, turn the leftover melted chocolate into hot cocoa! Add 1 cup of milk, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a dash of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Microwave for a minute, stir, microwave for 30 more seconds, and enjoy!

1/2 C Whole Almonds
1/3 C Butter, softened
3/4 C White Sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
2 tsp Grated Orange Zest
2 1/4 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 C semisweet chocolate chips

Bake nuts in 325 degree oven about 8 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Allow to cool, then rough chop so the almonds are cut once or twice each.

Lightly grease cookie sheet.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and orange zest. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. DO NOT ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS.

Split dough into two halves. Place each half on cookie sheet, and form into logs. Each log should be about 1/2″ thick and 12 inches long. Keep them at least 2 inches apart, they will expand a little in baking. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow logs to cool to the touch. Then cut with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle into slices, each about 1/2″ thick (like cutting French bread). Lay slices open-faced on a baking sheet. Put them back in the oven for 10 minutes, turning at 5-6 minutes. Let cool.

Melt chocolate in microwave. Use a spoon to spoon about 1 tbsp onto one side of each cookie, use the back of the spoon to spread it across and to the edges. Allow chocolate to set. Store in air-tight containers.

 

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

These sugar cookies are tender and sweet – and keep their shape when cut out with cookie cutters. Decorate using the royal flow icing recipe below, or with your favorite frosting and sprinkles.

1 C Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 1/2 C Sugar
2 eggs (room temp)
1/4 C Sour Cream
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Almond Extract
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
4 1/2 C All Purpose Flour

In mixer on high speed, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs until well incorporated. Add Sour Cream and Extracts. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until dough no longer sticks to sides, then STOP! Knead the rest of the way by hand on a lightly floured surface if needed. Do not overmix – this makes the dough tough.

Divide dough into 3 parts, form each part into a ball, then flatten into a 1″ thick disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Once the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick. Cut out with cookie cutters, and transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 8-11 minutes until edges are *just* starting to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and move cookies to cooling racks. Wait until they are completely cool to decorate.

Flow Royal Icing

This icing is liquid enough to flow, but solid enough to create outlines, so you don’t need two icing consistencies to decorate your cookies! To prevent bleed, allow one color to set a little before adding a second color.

5 T of Meringue Powder (available at the craft store in the Wilton baking section)
1/2-3/4 C of water
2 lbs powdered sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract (buy the clear stuff when you’re buying the Meringue Powder)
1 T Light corn syrup
Gel food coloring

Add the ingredients, in order, while you mix at a low speed. Once they are incorporated, beat on high for several minutes. Mixed icing should be matte colored and stiff peaked. Keep icing stored in air-tight containers until ready to use. Keep refrigerated, but allow to come to room temperature before using. Add gel food coloring to tint.

Hosting a Dr Pepper and Dye Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

For more ideas on how to create your own #BackyardBash, check out the tumblr page at www.drpepperbash.com.

hosting a dr pepper and dye party

This past weekend, I invited my friends over for a backyard bash for some one of a kind tie dye fun. I recently took a class on shibori dye techniques, and it amped up my pre-existing love for dye. I wanted to share this with my friends who haven’t tried dye before and… (spoiler alert) they loved it! I love throwing parties, including outdoor parties, and this was a one of a kind idea for creating a get together for my crafting friends!

Several of my friends came over, kids in tow, for a fun mommy-date. I hired a sitter to stay inside with the kids while we moms braved the 100+ degree heat to play with our dye.

I have a big bin in my craft room filled with all my dye supplies, so for me hosting the party was as easy as having people bring their own items to dye, pulling out the bin, gong to Wal Mart for some Dr Pepper and Cheeze-Its… and tidying the house of course! If you want to host your own dye party, but don’t have a dye bin handy, I’ll give you some tips on what to buy at the end of this post.

dye party supplies

We had a great time trying different dye techniques. We did traditional twisting dye…

pour on the dye

and I shared some techniques for using rubber bands to get different looks.

rubber bands to tie dye

Once everything was sitting in dye, we headed inside to snack. The fabric got to marinate in the dye, and develop a nice, rich color.

dye in a mason jar

After we ate, we took turns rinsing out our dyed creations.

rinse off the dye

It was so much fun to see what everyone created! This blue shirt below was as easy as folding, clamping, and soaking in dye.

shibori tie dye technique

 

These pearl grey and petal pink dyed fabrics will be going into a quilt.

grey and pink tie dye

Different colors and different techniques, and in one afternoon we made half a wardrobe!

drying off the clothes

Although it was hot, we had a perfect day with just a slight breeze. To keep garments down while dying, I was able to use Dr Pepper cans! These worked perfectly!

use dr pepper to hold down clothes

This shirt is a new technique I thought I’d try – I can’t wait to show you the results later this week!

 

If you want to host your own dye party (and you know you do!) here are my tips:

Tips for hosting a dye party

Start by deciding on a day and time that works. I picked a day when I would have a sitter handy to watch the kids. Half a dozen kids over while I have my hands in dye could be a recipe for disaster… so I wanted someone to keep an eye on the goings-on inside the house. Since I live in the desert, I wanted an early morning time (but not TOO early!), so we went from 10-2. This gave us enough time to prep our pieces, let them soak in the dye for at least an hour, and give everyone time to rinse.

If you’re new to dye, look for some different dye techniques online. Try them out before the party, if you can. I had a sampler from the class I took to show my guests what different dye techniques would look like. You might want to print out instructions for various techniques if you have lots of people coming.

Make sure you have the supplies you need on hand. Depending on the techniques you’ll be showing your guests, you’ll need different supplies. I headed to Wal Mart to buy my Dr Pepper, and any other supplies I didn’t have on hand already. While I was there, I also picked up a little Coleman cooler to keep my drinks cool during the party.

shopping for dr pepper at walmartMy shopping buddy wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures.

Here is my supply list:

Several different colored bottles of Rit Dye
Rubber Bands (I buy the large pack of black rubber bands from the hair section of the store)
Several containers for dye baths (large mason jars, wash bins, and plastic storage bins all work well)
Salt (helps give more vibrant color on cotton)
Stir Sticks (to stir your dye)
Water
A sink close at hand for rinsing
Rubber gloves (or guests who like colorful hands)
Dr Pepper, pizza, and some snacks – like Cheeze-Its!
Puppy Pads (for under dye trays)
Squirt and spray bottles
Plastic bags for taking home wet dyed clothes.

Have your guests bring their own items to dye – shirts, towels, sheets, shoes – anything white or light-colored (over-dying on pinks, yellows, light blues, and other light colors looks awesome!). The items can be old and stained (the dye will help hide the stains) or brand-new from the store.

 

After your guests rinse out their clothes, have an area they can hang them to dry. Because of the Las Vegas heat, lots of the clothes dried before my guests headed home. I also gave them washing instuctions: Wash each piece in LOTS of water (with a second rinse cycle if your washer has it). Don’t mix colors – if you have several garments with blue dye, they can be washed together… but don’t wash two different garments of different colors. Washing red and blue together, if you haven’t fully rinsed, can result in a whole lot of purple (ask me how I know!)…

Thanks again to Dr Pepper for making this such a fun party! #BackyardBash #CollectiveBias

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Donuts

These vanilla chocolate chip donuts are downright delicious! I decorated them with vanilla frosting and chocolate sprinkles, but you can really eat them without any frosting … they are great right out of the oven!

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Vanilla Chocolate Chip Mini Donuts

Making these vanilla chocolate chip mini donuts is easy with the Wilton Nonstick 12-Cavity Mini Donut Pan. The pan is inexpensive, but only holds 12 mini doughnuts, so I have two pans, which makes the baking go twice as fast.

1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean – scrape the inside, add to the batter, throw away the shell
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 c mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray doughnut pan with nonstick spray.

Stir together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients until fully incorporated, then add chocolate chips.

Fill a plastic zip-top bag with the batter, and snip off a small corner. Use this to fill each cavity of the baking pan half full. Bake for 5-7 minutes.

Allow doughnuts to cool slightly before removing from pan.

 

These donuts are delicous unfrosted, but you can easily frost them with some canned frosting that has been thinned. Scoop out 3tbsp vanilla frosting into a bowl. Slowly add 1-2 tablespoons of milk, mixing well to incorporate. Dip each doughnut in the bowl, then sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Mini Donut Recipe

Check out my other mini doughnut recipes – chocolate mini donuts and banana spice sugared donuts.

Banana Spice Donuts

These Banana Spice Donuts are super delicious, and easy to make! I whipped up a couple dozen of these mini doughnuts the other day, and had a tough time not gobbling them all up! They get much of their sweetness from the banana, the spice adds some extra flavor, and the sugar on top adds crunch and texture. These are delicious all around!

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Banana Spice Sugared Donuts

Make your own banana spice sugared donuts by using a Wilton Nonstick 12-Cavity Mini Donut Pan. I have two of these pans, which makes it much faster to whip up the 6 dozen mini doughnuts that a single batch of dough makes.

BANANA SPICE SUGARED DONUT RECIPE

1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 ripe banana, well mashed
1/2 c whole milk
1 egg
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray pan with nonstick spray.

Mix together dry ingredients. Add in wet ingredients and mix until fully combined.

Put batter in a zip-top bag, snip off a small corner, and squeeze batter through the hole into the cavities of the mold. Fill each cavity about half full.

Bake 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan.

 

To coat with sugar:
Put a 1/2 c apple juice in a small bowl, and 1/2 c sugar on a plate. Dip each doughnut in the apple juice, then shake off any excess juice. Dip in the sugar, then place on a plate to dry.

 

You can substitute another juice, such as orange juice or lemonade, if you like.

Sugared Banana Spice Donuts

Mini Chocolate Donuts

Over on 30 Minute Crafts, I’m doing a whole week of printables for a donut party. I baked up over 200 mini donuts for my little party, and thought I’d share the recipes with you! Today I’m sharing my Mini Chocolate Donuts. They are super easy to make, and not too sweet!

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Chocolate Mini Donuts Recipe

These donuts are baked in the Wilton Nonstick 12-Cavity Mini Donut Pan. I have 2 of the pans, which makes the baking go a whole lot faster! I topped them with my cheater chocolate ganache. Simple to make in the microwave, and no heavy cream needed, my faux chocolate ganache is the perfect way to top these mini mouthfuls. Afterwards, you can also add sprinkles! Yum!

CHOCOLATE MINI DONUT RECIPE

1 1/4c flour
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 c whole milk
1 egg
2 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray donut pan with nonstick spray.

Mix together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix until fully combined.

Put batter in a zip-top bag, and cut off a small corner. Use bag to fill each donut cavity 1/2 full. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully remove from pan.

Makes about 6 dozen donuts.

 

CHEATER CHOCOLATE GANACHE

1 c mini semisweet chocolate morsels
4 tbsp whole milk

Put ingredients in microwave-safe bowl, then microwave for 90-120 seconds. Stir to combine ingredients well. Carefully dip baked donuts into ganache to coat the top. Place in refrigerator to set the ganache.

Chocolate Mini Donuts

 

Whimsical Holiday Entertaining Recipes

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.Holiday Entertaining with Smart & Final #shop

This Holiday season, we’re staying at home. I have let my family and in-laws know that they are all welcome at our house… but we don’t plan to do any holiday traveling. We traveled last December, and we’ve done a lot of traveling this year for family parties and events. Now, we get to enjoy some time at home. Which is perfect for me, because I love Holiday entertaining. I love dressing up our home, and welcoming guests. I love cooking and preparing delicious treats. This holiday, with the help of Smart & Final, I thought I’d come up with a sweet twist on drinks and appetizers.

Instead of traditional drinks and savory appetizers, I came up with some sweet candy sushi and drinks that use Country Time Lemonade and Kool Aid as the base. But don’t let the Kool Aid and Lemonade fool you… these drinks have kick!

I started by making the Candy Bar Rolls and Starburst Nigiri.

candy bar sushi platter #choosesmart #shop

For my “sushi”, instead of rice I used Cheerio treats.

To make your own Candy Bar Sushi Rolls you need:
2 tbsp butter
2 c  mini marshmallows
3 c Cheerios
2 Snickers bars
2 3Musketeers bars

Melt the butter in a nonstick saucepan on med heat. Add marshmallows. Stir until melted together. Add Cheerios, and stir until fully combined.

Tip: to keep everything from sticking to your spoon, spray your spoon with non-stick spray.

To turn the Cheerio treats into candy sushi, pour half of the still hot Cheerio treat mixture on a piece of aluminum foil, sprayed with non-stick spray. Use your spoon to spread it out into a large rectangle. Place two candy bars (with wrappers removed, of course) down on the middle of the rectangle of cheerio treats. Fold in the sides of the foil so that the Cheerio treats encircle the candy bars. Roll the treats in the foil to even them out around the candy bars. You’ll feel them melting into the chocolate coating on the candy bars a little. That’s fine.

Remove from the foil and set aside to cool. Repeat with the second half of Cheerio treats and two more candy bars. You can use the same piece of foil, and no need to re-spray with no-stick spray. There will be enough left on the foil.candy sushi roll #choosesmat #shop

Once the Cheerio treats cool, cut into pieces about 1″ wide with a SHARP knife.

Make Candy Bar Sushi #choosesmart #shop

To make the Starburst Nigiri, you need:
2 tbsp butter
2 c mini marshmallows
3 c Cheerios
Starburst Candies (unwrapped)
Sprinkles (optional)

Make a batch of Cheerio treats, just like before. Make tablespoon-sized balls of treats on foil. Make sure to spray both your spoons and foil with non-stick spray.

Put 3 starburst in the microwave. Times will vary based on your microwave, but mine took about 10 seconds. You want them slightly softened, NOT melted.

Pull the warm Starburst into the shape of a slice of raw fish, and set on top of your cereal treat “rice ball”. Dip in sprinkles if you like.

As long as I was giving Cheerios and candy bars a more “mature” look in the form of candy sushi, I thought I’d give CountryTime lemonade and Kool Aid a makeover. Because what is more welcoming after a long drive than a refreshing drink?

Pitcher of Kool Aid #choosesmart #shop

I made a Kool-Aid a-rita. Which is the delicious love-child of a Margarita and Kool-Aid. You can make it on the rocks or blended, the recipe changes a little based on how you want to serve it.

kool aid a-rita #choosesmart #shop

Kool-Aid a-rita on the Rocks:

3 parts Kool-Aid
2 parts Tequila
1 part Grand Marnier
Shake and serve over ice. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Blended Kool-Aid a-rita

3/4 c Kool-Aid
1 c Tequila
1/2 c Grand Marnier
Add a scoop of Kool-Aid powder
Fill blender with ice, blend until smooth. Garnish with a slice of lime.

 

I like giving my guests two different drink options when entertaining. That way, if they’re not a fan of a particular drink (or the booze in that drink), they have options. I made the second drink with Country Time lemonade:

Sweet Suprise CountryTime Lemonade Drink #choosesmart #shop

Sweet Surprise

Sugar rim with 50/50 mix of CountryTime Lemonade and Sugar
3 parts CountryTime Lemonade
1 part Vodka
Pour in glass over ice
Top with a splash of Chambord (about 1 tbsp)
Add a Maraschino Cherry
(the Chambord and Cherry will sink to the bottom)

The surprise is the cherry at the bottom of the drink.

If you’ve never sugared the rim of a glass before, it is easy to do:

How to Sugar the rim #choosesmart #shop

Mix a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of the lemonade mix together on a small plate. On a second plate, pour a little of the prepared lemonade.

Dip the rim of the glass into the lemonade. Let the excess drip off. Then dip into the sugar mixture. It is that easy!

Holiday entertaining has never been as sweet!

Oh – and keep a pitcher of un-spiked Kool-Aid and Lemonade around for your under-21 houseguests!

Smart and Final is a great store for all your entertaining needs – from meat to dairy, produce to paper goods, they’ve got you covered! Check them out on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/SmartFinal and on Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/SmartFinal

And right now there is a great promotion going on! Save $5 when you buy 5 select General Mills, Mars, and other products (like the cereal, drink powders, and candy bars used in my recipes), AND get free Adult-Child movie passes!

Save 5 and get a free movie ticket #choosesmart #shop

Fast and Easy Baby Shower Games

I love hosting showers, and today I’m hosting a shower with some bloggy friends of mine, for four blogging friends who are all expecting!

Super Easy Baby Shower Games

When I plan showers with friends, I’m almost always in charge of the games. I like to come up with games that suit the mommy-to-be. Since for this virtual shower we’re celebrating four different mommies, I thought I’d stick with some of the classics… which also happen to be my favorites.

First comes the safety pin game. This can also be played with clothespins, and is often called “Don’t Say Cute”. Everyone is given a safety pin when they come into the shower, and are instructed that they can’t say the word “cute”. If they do, the person who catches them gets to take their pin. The person with the most pins at the end of the shower wins! I like to add a little color to my pins with some ribbon. You could also use the big diaper pins, if you can find them.

safety pin baby shower game

Another classic is guessing how big mommy’s tummy is. All you need for this game is some yarn or string, and a pair of scissors. I like to use a piece of ribbon or a different color of yarn to measure around mom’s tummy. It makes it easy to see which is the “true” and which was the player’s guess!

guess mamas tummy shower game

Lastly, I love playing baby shower bingo. You can download my baby shower bingo card if you like, or make your own. I love that it livens up the gift giving! Instead of just watching mom open gifts, the guests become really invested on what will be opened next!

You can get instructions for my super-easy prize bags here, and find more great baby shower games here.

Be sure to check out all the moms-to-be

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… and all the other great projects included in this fun virtual baby shower!

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