Girl’s Night :: Crafts & Cocktails

Some of the best parties happen when something goes seriously awry and last week’s Girl’s Night of Crafting & Cocktailing was no exception. I had expected about 40 gals to be here gabbing, crafting, and sipping the night away.The Southern Californian Edison Power Gods had other plans and threw a Tijuana-to-Orange County blackout our way.
If you’re from SoCal, you know that we can’t even drive in the rain, so imagine the panic that set in when we were told we wouldn’t have power for up to two days. (It only ended up being about 12 hours, but still!) It was like the sky was falling. No power meant no cell phone use (which I still don’t really get), no computers, and most sadly, no party. Juuuuuuuuuust kidding! A power outage wasn’t going to kill this shindig.
Most of the people who were supposed to come, now couldn’t. They either assumed I cancelled the party, their husbands were stuck in traffic for hours (really! the sky was falling!), or they just wanted to stay close to their kids (this was days before 9/11 and I think some people were a little freaked out.) I ran to the dollar store (cash only!), bought Mexican candles and flashlights that I hung from the chandelier, and tried to toast bruschetta bread in my car (to no avail… I actually ended frying my adapter and not being able to straighten my Chewbacca hair – oh the horrors!), but the show must go on! And on it went… with 15 brave (child-avading, husband-ditching, cocktail-guzzling, blackout-loving) ladies.
I had two crafts planned – Glittering G.I. Joe type figurines… (Elephant glittered by me.. Rat glittered by my 3 year old) … and making a necklace out of washers. Yes, I’m talking about washers from Home Depot. And actually making a necklace that looked like it was from J. Crew. Impossible? I think not!

No one glittered because it was so dang dark, but everyone made one (or more) necklaces!)As far as decor went, I wanted to keep it funky, crafty, and urban (is that a possible combo?) but super simple. I wrapped branches with colorful yarn (idea stolen from Ohdeedoh) and used them as decor. I also hung them from the chandelier & the outside overhang to hang the signs. (Had to use fishing line somewhere! Love that stuff!) The result was floating colorful branches. Loved it.I set up the “Make A Washer Necklace” table inside using galvanized buckets for “BIG,” “MID,” and “WEE” sized washers as well as for the instructions. And I have to give a HUGE thank you to Pinterest for addicting me introducing me to so many fun projects. I found the instructions for the washer necklace through Pinterest on Tiny Sparkly Things Blog and I have to say what FABULOUS and detailed instructions she drew up for me to follow. Because I knew that my friends would need to read the instructions themselves, I redrew her instructions in Illustrator and made instruction sheets. So thank you Tiny Sparkly Things! What a fun resource you are!

I wrapped the tables with kraft butcher paper, gathered various ribbons in glass jars, drew out how long each ribbon should be using a sharpie directly onto the butcher paper, and used this crazy awesome roll of Greenwrap that I found at The Container Store as a runner on the tables as well as on the mantles. I just love that extra texture. Because I was expecting many more peeps, I had pie tins ready so that you could bring your washers & ribbon anywhere you could find a spot. They were a great way to contain the chaos!Look how seriously cute the necklaces turned out! (PS – please note, that this was at the end of the night. Purple teeth, wine-soaked eyes, and frizzy Chewbacca hair should please be ignored. Please focus your attention on the necklaces. Thank you.)Oh and before moving onto the glitter station, I have to mention two things about the mantle. One: that I also found that seriously cute fringe stuff in the gift department of The Container Store. Who knew? And Two: Did anyone (besides my super fab & with-it sister) pick up on the “She’s Crafty?” reference or am I just a freak? For the record it’s a Beastie Boy’s song and I could not stop singing it while I was getting ready for this party, so it made it’s way onto the mantle. If you got it, you’ve earned yourself a License to Ill.Okay… onto the glitter station. Crafty Jan owns all of this stuff, so I just borrowed it. Such pretty glitter, though it can get super messy. The blackout made it nearly impossible to see outside, so these little figurines never got their glittery new life, but that’s just a reason to throw another party in my book.There’s the set-up with the added candles as night started to fall. For food, I luckily kept it simple. Well, I always keep it pretty simple since I am a horrendous cook, but I mean there was no heating involved which turned out great since the use of an oven was a no-go after 4pm. Here’s the un-toasted guacamole ‘bruschetta’ (recipe here), which was still pretty good even though it was just bread. I also had cut veggies in plastic wine cups lined with cupcake liners with ranch dressing at the bottom. This was not my idea. I found it somewhere in the blogosphere but I cannot figure out where. If anyone knows, let me know and I will give credit. I’ll totally do this again. It was a nice individual way of serving veggies. Added bonus: no clean up! Just toss. Finally, just brownie bites from the grocery store to satisfy any sweet tooth. And we were very thankful for those candles, even if they didn’t fit the theme! (Though there’s nothing wrong with a little Jesus at a party, right?) We sipped away and this…
turned to this…I love hosting girl’s nights during the week. I think most of the gals I know (especially the ones with young ones) are DYING for a night off and a mid-week night off is even sweeter. Another thing I always do is provide some alcohol but ask everyone to bring a couple beers or a bottle of wine to share if they can (no problem if they can’t.) That way, it doesn’t put you out financially to host which means you’ll be more inclined to have more parties, and no one ever seems to mind pitching in for a fun night. It’s a win all around!Here’s the night in progress… mind you we could barely see so these pics are pretty bad! I love the flashlights hanging from the chandelier. I think I might do that again if my boys ever want a scavenger hunt or camping themed birthday. It kind of looks cute.I think that the blackout actually made this night even more fun. I mean, what else would we all have been doing? Talking to our husbands? Playing with our kids? Oh man! (I am TOTALLY kidding!)

What an unexpectedly fun night without light. And what’s that you say? You want to host a party just like this? Okay! Here are some free printable PDF files for you just because I’m feeling glad to be back and thankful that you all are hanging in there!
Here are the FREE printable PDF files for:
How to Make A Washer Necklace Instructions (3 to a page)
She’s Crafty banner
Hello You Crafty Minx door sign
Make a Washer Necklace sign
Little signs for ribbons, big, mid, wee, sip, & yum
DOWNLOAD HERE (clicking the picture above won’t get you the files): CRAFTforBLOG

Have the best week!
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Party Mellow :: Using What You Have

As I’ve said before, I know that having people over for a party or even a mellow dinner can be intimidating and stressful for people. There’s a lot to think about… what to serve… when to serve it… do we have enough to drink… is the house clean? It can be hard. One way you can simplify your gatherings is when it comes to setting the table.Take a look around your house and see what you already own that may be a cool centerpiece. Buy a tablecloth that looks good with your every day plates so that you will always have a “go-to” party look. Instead of rushing out to buy flowers, go pick lemons from your neighbors house, or daisies from your own front yard. Everything in these photos are things we (or my parents) already had around the house. Having fun every day plates makes dressing them up easy, and clean-up a cinch. No hand-washing fine china means more time with your friends. I forgot to put the napkins and utensils down before taking these photos but we used paper napkins so no washing there either. (I stock up on napkins at places like Tuesday Morning or Home Goods from time to time, so I always have them on hand.) Obviously you surround yourself with things you like to look at in your home, so why not repurpose them for parties? That collection of old mason jars you have could make beautiful vases. Putting your unicorn collection together in the center of the table for your diners’ viewing pleasure would be a hoot. Stacking books with a simple bulb vase and a single flower on top would be lovely. The point is make it easy. Make it funky. Don’t over-think it. Just have people over. Party mellow, my friends. It’s better than not partying at all!

Party Mellow :: Stripped Down Italian Night

For however much I love a big blowout of a party, I think it’s important to know how to throw a low-key affair as well. If all you throw are perfectly styled, over-the-top shindigs, you probably won’t be invited to many spur of the moment “let’s just order Chinese” last second get-togethers. Let’s face it, when it comes down to it, getting together with people in any kind of environment is more important than the perfect party. That being said, you can satisfy your need to create a fun atmosphere without making it too intimidating for a mellow gathering. Every month a group of our friends plans a dinner on Tuesday nights at rotating houses. It was our turn to host and we were ordering (not making! See? Mellow!) in Italian food. To make things a little more fun, I threw red & white checked tablecloths, (a great buy! Think Italian night, picnics, even Christmas. Get them! You’ll for sure use them!), raffia-wrapped chianti bottles & candles, and tomato cans with flowers in them on the tables. Notice there are no plates, napkins, or utensils on the table. Those were all up by the food. People took what they needed and ate where they wanted to. An extra detail was the clothesline. Go through your closet and grab items that read Italian. I have to admit, this collection of stuff is about 25 years old. My mom had an Italian party that long ago and has kept it in her party pack that long. But you can recreate very easily. Red & white stripes, a tea towel, a wife beater, (gondolier hat not necessary, but in the off chance you have one, go ahead and add that too!)If you are thinking to yourself, “Uh, yeah right that’s easy.” Think in steps.
1. Buy a red and white checked tablecloth
2. Start drinking chianti and save the bottles. Even one bottle would be cute at a small get-together. Then add a candle.
3. Plan to make something that requires canned tomatoes. Make Lasagna the day before and save the cans, then you’re all set! Just add plants! I like daisies and geraniums but I ran out of those so I just grabbed a cyclamen from our yard for the last can. Whatever you have, just use! You don’t need to buy anything! Just repot what you already have!
4. Go through your closet and string up a few items on a clothesline (just rope & clothespins. This is great to have on hand for baby showers as well!)
So really, it IS easy. AND mellow. It just looks a little more exciting than your typical low-key get together but it won’t alieniate people who don’t really like to fuss with parties.
5. If you have the space, SAVE all of this! You can add cans and chianti bottles as you throw these parties and each time you host, it gets easier and easier!
The number one thing is to just do it… host your friends. If something like this doesn’t seem fun for you, don’t even try it! Just have people over. No one really cares what your house looks like. They just want to spend time with you! But if you want a little extra umph for a mellow night in, give it a go! And come on? Who doesn’t like “drink chianti” as a homework assignment to prep for a party!?