2. Click here to complete the process. Sac Thrift Chick

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mad Men Party Ideas: Celebrate Season 7 Premiere

The final season of "Mad Men" premieres next Sunday, on April 13. What better way to celebrate Don, Peggy, Roger, Joan and Pete returning to our TV screens than with a Mad Men premiere party?

Here are some ideas from my Mad Men party a couple years ago:

Mad Men Yourself for your e-vite.

Ads, ads and more ads! Go with icon Sterling & Cooper accounts: Lucky Strike, Heineken, Belle Jolie and Kodak.
I also set out bestselling books from the era and put my record player front and center.

Budget-Friendly Menu
Pigs in a blanket
Deviled eggs
Chips and dip
Veggies and dip
Cheese and crackers

And, if you want to be as fabulous a host as Megan, you have to do fondue. If you want to be more like the first (well, second, technically) Mrs. Draper, set out the china.

Martinis are a must.
Sprite or 7-Up with cherries make good nonalcoholic options.
A full drink cart with ice in the bucket will really sell the experience. Check out the official Mad Men Cocktail Guide.

Charades with clues from the Mad Men era will break the ice.
A Hula Hoop or Limbo competition will get everyone laughing like they've inhaled one of Stan's herbal cigarettes ...
This 60s Slogans and Taglines quiz is a toughie, or at least it was for my friends -- before our time. (For easier play, adapt the game to play in teams.)

Photo Backdrop
Snap photos of guests against a Mad Men backdrop. A Man Men or Sterling & Cooper sign, New York buildings or the ad agency's offices will do the trick.

And don't forget, have a drink and cigarette in hand at all times. In Sacramento, you'll find a selection of classic candy cigarettes at the candy stores in Old Sacramento. I got mine at Candy Heaven.

Book-Themed Baby Shower on a Budget

I love to throw themed parties, and I love to throw parties for other people. One of my favorites was the book-themed baby shower I co-hosted for my friend Nicki, who was pregnant with her first child, a baby boy. Nicki requested a co-ed baby shower without a lot of cheesy baby shower games. My co-host and I kept costs down by making it a backyard potluck. Although a potluck might not be an appropriate choice in all circles, it was perfect for this large guest list

  • DIY cardstock invitations set the theme with a simple request that guests sign a favorite book instead of a card
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar fed a group hungry for sweets. The cake was a great focal point, and simple to create: 23 frosted cupcakes for the body and and one round cake for the head. With black licorice, the caterpillar sprouted legs and antenna. 
  • A sheet cake decorated as the title page from "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" provided extra servings.
If you look closely, you can see the White Rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland" chilling on the far right.
  • Favorite kid's lit characters -- in stuffed animal form -- joined the guests. (Winnie the Pooh, Corduroy the bear and Curious George, to name a few.)
  • Hardcover children's books sat on each seat. These books gave guests something to look through as everyone arrived; they also served as writing surfaces for the pen-and-paper games.  
  • Onesies (picked up for free on Craigslist) hung on twine made a banner above the guests of honor.
  • A little crate paper, balloons and plastic table cloths tied the baby's room colors into the party. White string lights added sparkle.

Baby's uncles battle it out.

  • Fill-in-the-blank trivia on classic children's books kept the theme going. 
 The other activities were more for laughs:
  • A contest to see who could cloth diaper baby the fastest. (Make sure to pit mom against dad at a co-ed party.)
  • Taste and guess baby food flavors. (Probably the least popular activity for our mixed crowd. It wasn't a game Grandpa was going to participate in.)
  • Guess mom's belly size by sheets of toilet paper. (Never not funny.)
  • Present Bingo: To keep guests from boredom during the present parade, they fill out a Bingo card with predictions of what the parents will receive. The first guest to get five in a row (or blackout the playing card) gets a prize and bragging rights. 
  • Decorate onesies with fabric paint. This was the costlier part of the shower, but totally worth it. The results were hilarious.
It helps if your guests are awesome.

Produce box covered in wrapping paper, adorned with a bow.
  •  Guests took home goodie bags with baby-themed candies: Baby Ruth, Sugar Daddies, Sugar Babies, etc.
  • Classic rock with some alternative and a sprinkle of local favorites sounded in the background. Baby, boys and love were key subjects.

Baby Avin is now 4 years old, and his super cool mom throws him a super cool birthday party every year. Nicki's themed parties are so legendary, they've been featured on Apartment Therapy, and she has her own party-planning business. Check her out.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sacramento Museum Day is Saturday

California Automobile Museum, 2012

It's that time of year in Sacramento: 30 museums will offer free or half-price admission on Saturday, Feb. 1. Check out Sacramento365 for a list of participating museums and all pertinent details.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DIY Valentine's Day Gift: Love Note Playing Cards

I will admit something. I was mad at my husband around Valentine's Day of last year. Why? I don't remember. I just remember that I procrastinated on making his gift because I wasn't feeling very lovey-dovey.

But then I got over myself and wrote down 56 reasons why I love my husband and pasted said reasons onto a deck of cards for this simple DIY Valentine's Day gift.

As I wrote each reason, I smiled more and more. I have one pretty amazing partner. And he absolutely loved my last-minute gift.

If you want to make this gift yourself and add to the package, consider buying a poker set for your guy. I actually used the cards from the poker set I bought Aaron for our one-year wedding anniversary, so I really upped the ante on the sentimental value. 

Warning: Sexy, hot strip-poker may ensue. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Budget Christmas Gift Idea: Cocoa Cups

I didn't do my annual baking this past Christmas, but I was still busy in the kitchen, making cocoa cups. I bought Dixie hot beverage cups and filled each one with a baggy of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, a baggy of mini marshmallows, and three individually-wrapped caramels. I attached a peppermint candy cane to punch up the flavor and presentation. Very simple and very inexpensive.

I decided to go with the Dixie cups because they were portable, practical and affordable. I toyed with the idea of doing dollar mugs, but if my gift recipients are anything like me, they don't really need another mug taking up cupboard space. (I paid about $0.50/cup on Amazon, but later found the same 14-count package for about  $0.25/cup at Winco and Target! Target also sells a 26-count package for just $4.39.)

Best Way to Store Christmas Lights

If you've ever fought with tangled cords, you need to head to the 99 Cent Store and buy these simple, yet fantastic, orange, plastic storage units. They are perfect for wrapping up all those Christmas lights.

Just remember to start wrapping from the end of the cord you'll use last. Since we start our Christmas tree lights at the top, that means the end that plugs into the wall goes first. For our outside lights, the opposite end wraps first. Easy peasy.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

5 (More) Moving Tips to Make Life Easier

I've decided that no matter how organized you are, moving is a pain in the butt. Still, planning and organization goes a long way to making the move easier.

As a follow up to Top 10 Tips for Packing Early for a Move here are five more tips I found helpful.

1. Take notes. Alphabetizing makes me happy, but I knew that as I packed up my CDs, that ABC-order I so love would get a little mixed up in the boxes. To solve this problem, I used paper placeholders to mark the beginnings and ends of shelves within the box. If I opened a random box, all I had to do was look at the first placeholder to tell me where to shelve that stack of CDs. "Shelf 4 begins with Jet," for example.

2. Take pictures. Books are one thing I don't alphabetize. I arrange books by genre and, of course, group books by the same author. Having a picture of my bookshelf before I packed up my books made all the difference. All I had to do was pull it up on the computer and I could glance it at it from time to time to ensure each book went into its designated place.

3. Clean bedding, curtains, rugs, etc. Immediately before the move is the perfect time to steam, shampoo or launder those items that might otherwise arrive at your new house less than pristine. Everything we took down went immediately into the wash. That meant as soon as curtains came off the rods, into the machine they went. While the bed was stripped off all bedding, we went to work vacuuming and steaming it.

Don't forget small appliances and knick-knacks. While I am obsessive-compulsive about organization, I am far more lax when it comes to cleanliness. This means little things like the spice rack, the paper towel holder and the utensil holder don't get cleaned nearly as much as they should. I wanted everything like-new again for the new house, so I spent some serious scrub-time to shine everything up.

Invest in a steamer! It makes a world of difference in keeping furniture clean.

4. Keep handy a portable file tote with any papers you may need in the next month. My move happened to coincide with a whole bureaucratic mess to deal with, so that file tote was my life-saver. It's also a good way to keep coupons in one safe place. I have a large four-drawer file cabinet, but making the file tote my go-to spot for papers just simplified things.

5. Stock up on household essentials and grocery shop for far more food than you think you need -- preferably a variety of easy-to-prepare items. At the end of a long day of moving, running to the store for pack of paper towels or a gallon of milk is the last thing you want to worry about. And easy-to-prepare doesn't have to be frozen. Think fixings for sandwiches, cheese, rice and dry beans for burritos, and fruit and granola bars for quick snacks.