How to throw a fun themed holiday party

(BPT) – This year, why not choose a fun theme for your holiday party? You can create a great atmosphere while providing entertainment for all ages with a little creativity – and local resources.

You could do the usual “white elephant” gift swap, or hold an ugly sweater competition, but that’s so last year – why not brainstorm a few new ideas?

Silver screen soiree

How about designing your party around a favorite movie? Choose a film or movie franchise that means a lot to you and your crew. Is it something you all grew up on? Or a current favorite?

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Whatever cinema theme you choose, let guests know ahead of time so they can choose outfits to represent a character or idea from the movie. Offer a link to an online trailer in your invitation for guests who may not have seen the movie. Plan decorations, food and beverages to go with your movie theme. Get the movie soundtrack to play during your party and create the right ambiance by renting a popcorn machine for your guests.

Small screen inspiration

Along the same lines, a TV show theme could be fun. Again, pick a show that you and your family or friends grew up with, or that’s an obsession, a guilty pleasure or even a current fad show you all love to hate! Encourage guests to dress the part, and create a trivia game based on the show, with prizes for the best-informed partygoers.

For entertainment, rent a projector to play episodes on a big screen or on the wall.

Take a “journey” with your party

Choose a place – city, state or country – to be the “locale” for your party. Let the food and music you play be inspired by the location that’s meaningful to you. Your hometown, where you went to college, your first overseas trip or honeymoon location would be good choices. Serve foods from the location you have in mind, whether they’re homemade or purchased.

Or you could journey to another time, since there’s nothing like time travel to spice up a party. Choose an era from the past, or even go with a futuristic, sci-fi theme for your party this year, and tell your guests to dress accordingly. Have fun and get creative with your ideas for the decor, music and entertainment!

Step into the pages of a book

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Let a favorite holiday storybook or novel inspire your party’s attire, snacks and decorations, whether it’s a childhood favorite or a recent bestseller. You can find games to complement the theme of your book, ranging from giant chess boards or carnival games to sumo wrestling and casino games, at rental locations near you. Give guests a chance to give back to the community by asking everyone to bring a children’s book to donate to a local library or children’s hospital.

Break free from the party clock

Shake up your usual entertaining routine. Do you usually host a dinner party? Make it a festive brunch. Always serve a lunch buffet? Offer your friends or family a late-night, post-theater get-together instead. Don’t have matching dishes, stemware or flatware for a fancy do? No worries – it’s possible to rent what you need rather than spending a ton on items you might only use a couple of times a year.

No matter what creative idea you come up with for your themed party, the good news is that you can rent anything you might need to make your unique party happen. Find your party supplies at a rental store near you by checking out Rental HQ.

5 essential planning tips to make your outdoor wedding perfect

(BPT) – There’s so much to love about an outdoor wedding. Whether it’s set on the beach, at a winery or even in the backyard of a family member, pledging your eternal commitment to your partner in beautiful natural surroundings makes the day extra memorable.

If you’re thinking of holding the big day in the great outdoors, you’re in good company. Over the past decade, outdoor ceremonies are on the rise: 52 percent of couples tied the knot in an outdoor ceremony in 2017, compared to 29 percent in 2009, according to the TheKnot.com’s 2017 Real Weddings Study. Couples are also shying away from churches, hotels and banquet halls as settings for the ceremony receptions and opting instead for less conventional sites, such as rooftop event spaces, historic homes, wineries and parks.

Unlike the traditional venues, an outdoor ceremony and reception has its own set of considerations when it comes to planning. These practical tips will get you started in building the outdoor wedding of your dreams.

* Sketch out the itinerary early: Before you sign the contract with your chosen venue, discuss in detail your vision with the coordinator, and before you leave, be perfectly clear on what’s permissible and what’s off-limits. If you’re envisioning dancing the night away under the stars, you don’t want to find out three weeks before the big day that the venue has restrictions on equipment and noise. Before you sign any contract, have your itinerary ready and discuss it from start to finish.

* Plan your equipment needs: One thing to know about holding a wedding in a less conventional spot is venues can vary wildly on what they can provide for you in terms of supplies and equipment. Take time to walk through the entire event so you’re clear on what you may need to supply yourself. Even if a venue lacks essentials like power outlets and bathroom stalls, don’t give up. There are affordable solutions out there to help you upgrade the space to a fully functional venue. Your local rental store, for example, is an essential stop for anyone planning a wedding. In addition to all the wedding gear you could need, from decorations to seating, they also have lots of other equipment and ideas to help you plan the perfect outdoor event.

* Always have a Plan B: It’s impossible to predict what the weather will bring for an outdoor wedding, which can add uncertainty. But you can reduce the stress by planning for the worst conditions. Is hot and humid weather a possibility? How about a thunderstorm? A deposit on a rented air-conditioned tent and a set of misting fans can be a smart move. You may not end up needing these, but your peace of mind will be worth every penny.

* Set up a kids’ station: Many outdoor reception spaces have a built-in advantage for hosting pint-sized guests: There’s more space for them to stretch their legs and be kids without disrupting other guests. Create a kid-friendly corner featuring games, activities or even a rented inflatable bounce house that lets kids be active and let off some steam. They’ll be thrilled (and so will their parents).

* Encourage exploration: If the big event is held in a public place, help your guests fully appreciate the experience. Does the park have a hiking path that leads to a beautiful waterfall? Have maps printed and leave out a stack for those who decide to take a little break. Are you getting married in a beautiful garden at a historic mansion? Ask the venue if you can take extra brochures to offer the guests, or set aside time for special guided tours. This is a sure way to show consideration for your guests and make the day memorable.

When the pieces fall into place, planning and hosting an outdoor wedding is a beautiful way to begin your lives together. To find a rental store in your area to help you plan the perfect event, visit RentalHQ.com.

Keep entertaining fun and easy with a make-your-own-pizza party

Want an easy way to incorporate veggies into food your kids love? Make a Rainbow Pizza!

(BPT) – Pizza night is something the whole family can look forward to, especially after a long week of work, school and activities. Fortunately, pizza night doesn’t need to be fussy or a lot of work. And for parents of picky eaters, it’s a great way to help kids get a balanced meal by incorporating vegetables into a food that they love. One of the easiest ways to enjoy time with the family on pizza night is to get everyone involved in decorating the “rainbow pizza”!

With a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to save time, serve delicious pizza with fresh flare and get kids involved in the activity:

Step 1: Stop by your local supermarket for supplies

On pizza night, there’s no need to start from scratch! Grab a Tombstone Original 5 Cheese Pizza from the freezer aisle and you’ve got the perfect base of crisp crust topped with mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, Asiago and Romano. No need to worry about sticky dough or getting sauce everywhere – all you need to do is figure out what toppings to use!

Step 2: Pick your toppings

Research shows that most Americans are not meeting the MyPlate recommendation for vegetables, fruit, proteins, dairy and grains, so pizza night is a great opportunity to have some fun while helping your family get the nutrients they need. Incorporating both prepared and fresh foods is a huge time-saver, and you can feel good about what you’re putting on the table. While shopping, stock up on seasonal vegetables to top the pizza. Choose colorful vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli to use for pizza decorating.

Step 3: Get creative with decorating

Have kids join in on the meal prep fun. Big kids can help chop fresh veggies and children of all ages can make their own pizza creations. Kids will have fun arranging all the colors into shapes and patterns and parents will love how easy it is to make sure their kids eat their veggies. This rainbow recipe is a time-saver with a nutritious boost of veggies that is ideal for brightening up your family pizza night:

Rainbow Pizza

    Ingredients:

Tombstone Original 5 Cheese Pizza

Your choice of colorful chopped vegetables

1 teaspoon olive oil

Pinch of salt and pepper

 

Directions:

Warm oven according to package instructions. Then place unwrapped pizza directly on center rack and bake for two to three minutes until cheese softens but doesn’t melt. Remove from oven and help kids arrange the veggies in a rainbow pattern starting along the crust of the pizza. Then, drizzle with one teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Return to oven and bake pizza 10 to 15 more minutes. Remove and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

With these few simple steps and time-saving tricks you’ll be hosting a pizza party to remember. Whether it’s four guests or 40, have fun making memories while enjoying good food! For more delicious recipes for balanced meals, explore the Nestle Balance Your Plate website at http://www.nestleusa.com/nutrition/balance/recipes.

Chocolate platters have replaced cheese platters at parties

Chocolate pairing replaces cheese platters at parties

(BPT) – Whether a five-course social event, laid-back barbecue or progressive dinner party, what separates average from impressive entertaining is innovative and original ideas. One way to catch the attention of your guests while tempting their taste buds is to feature chocolate pairings in your entertaining itinerary.

Fine chocolates add decadence to any event, but they are relatable and broadly enjoyed. Chocolate platters have replaced cheese platters at soirees, but what’s really on trend is chocolate pairings. This interactive offering is a conversation starter that will delight guests – the perfect way to conclude a meal with friends or family.

These tips from Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates will help you pair fine chocolates with beer, wine and spirits so you can impress guests at your next event.

Offer an array of flavors

To ensure you have something for all guests no matter their preferences, opt for a variety of chocolates. White, milk and dark chocolate selections offer an array of flavors. Some guests may gravitate to one over others, while other guests may choose to sample all three. Suggest sampling from light to dark to balance the palate.

Pairing 1 suggestion: White chocolate

White chocolate is sweet and buttery, integrated into numerous types of confections, many of which feature fruit.

Consider serving with a stout beer that will bring out that buttery goodness. If selecting a wine pairing, opt for a zinfandel or another variety that won’t overpower those delicate flavors. Spirits can be a nice pairing addition, too, like a classic bourbon.

Pairing 2 suggestion: Milk chocolate

Americans adore milk chocolate and expert chocolatiers can transform this delight into virtually endless tempting flavors. The Kohler Butterscotch Hop is one such example. The smooth, creamy butterscotch filling is enhanced by a custom blend of premium chocolate to elevate this flavor combination.

Milk chocolate is smooth and sweet, and drink pairings should complement that element without overwhelming. A light crisp beer or a refreshing chardonnay brings out the buttery undertones of silky-smooth milk chocolate. If you decide to serve butterscotch, it’s sure to be unique as it’s a pretty rare find in the chocolate world. A honey whiskey is the perfect pair for butterscotch chocolates.

Pairing 3 suggestion: Dark chocolate

Rich and undeniably decadent, dark chocolate is the ideal final pairing to offer guests. The flavors of coffee and dark chocolate are often fused together as they mingle together well.

A bold, rich beer or heavy ale matches dark chocolate well. A tawny port that isn’t too fruity can be a nice complement to coffee flavors while bringing out the dark chocolate elements. Finally, a sweeter bourbon with a smoky finish pairs nicely with the dark chocolate, which in turn brings out the barrel notes of the spirit.

Serving

You can serve chocolate pairings in a variety of ways. If you prefer to set up a beautiful buffet, you can display chocolates on a platter and place drink pairings nearby, each labeled appropriately. Guests can help themselves at their leisure. You may also opt to serve guests by bringing out each pairing one by one and offering guests their choice of beverage to pair with the featured chocolate. No matter how you choose to serve, it’s bound to be a memorable event.

5 ways to serve up Hollywood magic at your awards night party

Red carpet entrance

(BPT) – What makes a great party on a big awards night so much fun? It probably has something to do with why we still go to packed movie theaters: We love a shared experience.

This year, make your red carpet viewing experience one to remember for you and your friends, and host a bash that celebrates our decades-long fascination with movie magic, celebrities and Hollywood mystique. To make it special, try some of these tips when planning your awards night viewing party.

Set a dress code: Let your friends know they’re in for a special night, and make it a dress-up affair. Or for something both glam and comfy, invite everyone to come in their fanciest lounge wear. (Think slippers, smoking jackets, dressing gowns and satin pajamas.)

Kick it off with red carpet glam: Build a red-carpet photo booth in your entryway, complete with red fabric, gold stars and topiaries and urge your guests to work it for the camera. To make it more fun, have photo-ready props handy, like oversized sunglasses, wigs and feather boas, and they’ll do the rest!

Make it interesting: During the big event, bring the spirit of competition into your living room and hand out ballots, asking your guests to predict who’s taking home the gold statue. To enjoy the unpredictable fun of live TV, make up some bingo cards. Up the stakes and prepare a few swag bags for the winners. Some ideas: DVDs with winning movie titles of yore, movie theater passes, gourmet popcorn and locally made candies.

Get bubbly: Champagne is always in style with the rich and famous. Popping open some chilled bottles of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut will make your guests feel like A-listers, because this year, special edition bottles from the famed champagne maker will be also poured at the ceremony and after-party. To learn more, visit piper-heidsieck.com.

Serve delicious, sophisticated bites: Serving up platters of tasty hors d’oeuvres is always a simple but classy way to feed your stylish guests because it lets everyone eat, mingle and watch the show. This year, let your menu be inspired by Wolfgang Puck, the creator of the luxurious, over-the-top feast served at the awards show after-party. Try his recipe for Gougères with gruyere, and your guests will give you a standing ovation. (Find the recipe below.)

Gougères

Makes about 75 bite-sized puffs

Gougères are savory puffs flavored with cheese and served hot from the oven as a quick hors d’oeuvres.

Gougères batter:

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 1/2 ounces bread flour

2 extra-large eggs

3 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Gougères toppings:

1 extra-large egg

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Fleur de sel

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Set rack in the center of oven.

Insert paddle attachment in a stand mixer. In a heavy metal saucepot, combine the water, butter, cayenne and salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, add all the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined to form a smooth paste. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer.

Put the paste in the bowl of the stand mixer. Mix at medium speed for 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed until each is fully incorporated and stopping to scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the 3 1/2 ounces of grated Gruyere and mix until incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip and pipe nickel-size mounds onto a non-stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray, 2 inches apart.

In a small bowl beat together the egg and egg yolk forming an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, brush each of the Gougères with the egg wash. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere cheese and a pinch of fleur de sel.

Bake the gougères on the center rack in the preheated oven until they are puffed and golden brown, about 18 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Source: Wolfgang Puck.

 

‘Tis the season’: 5 expert tips for seamless holiday entertaining

(BPT) – As we gear up for the busy holiday season, a foolproof plan is essential for throwing an unforgettable party everyone will be talking about. Whether it’s a casual weekend brunch, formal sit-down dinner or a glitzy cocktail party, you want to make sure the atmosphere is set, and that you’re party ready.

Interior designer and artistic advisor to LG STUDIO appliances, Nate Berkus, is not just a design guru but also an expert party planner and host.

“The key to minimizing stress during the holiday entertaining season is to keep things simple, and be as prepared as possible,” Berkus says. “Making sure everyone, including the host, is relaxed and enjoying themselves is the most important element of a good party. Whether it’s the food, the décor and anything in between, nothing should feel uptight or over-complicated.”

Berkus shares his best holiday entertaining tips – from the festive to the practical and, of course, always stylish. Continue reading

5 ways to take your holiday party to the next level

(BPT) – On the one hand, the holidays are all about traditions. You and your family probably have some favorite recipes you like to cook up, or maybe it’s a trip to the tree farm or pumpkin patch. But just as much as holidays are about tradition, many have an insatiable drive to outdo themselves and try something new, to outdo the festivities of years past and make this holiday season the most memorable yet.

How can you outshine yourself this holiday season? The answer is simple: Think big. Don’t be confined to the party supplies you have around your house; stretch out and rent equipment similar to what professional party planners use. RentalHQ can connect you to nearby rental stores and help your party stand out from the usual traditional gatherings.

Here are some other great ideas to jump-start your holiday party planning. Continue reading