Mocktail Party

So, I have been dying to throw a mocktail party, and New Year's Eve seemed like the perfect time to do it.  Basically, it's like a cocktail party, just for fun, but without alcohol.  My husband and I, and many of our friends, are Mormon, so we don't drink alcohol.  But that doesn't mean we can't dress up a little fancy, sip on a mixed yummy drink, and nibble on hors d'oeuvres!  Even if you do drink, a mocktail party is still a family-friendly party that is a blast to plan and host.

And although we did this for New Year's, it is easily a get-together for any random night, and I think it would be an especially fun Valentine's Day party as well.  So feel free to adapt and use this idea for any time of the year!  I'll share a few photos with you, and give you some direction on tutorials or inspiration that inspired my frugal decor and food.
 black and white paper garlands: DIY
colorful pom pom garland: DIY
golden animal label holder: DIY (tutorial here)
sheer polka dot table runner: 1 yard of fabric from IKEA (99 cents/yard)
glass jars holding chex mix, nuts, and kisses: DIY (dollar store glasses and candlesticks glued together)
wooden tea light holder: thrifted for $3 (similar DIY version here)
black vases: gift from friend, but appear to be thrifted vases spray painted--easy DIY
gold frames and sayings/labels: gold frames from Dollar Store, sayings/labels created in picmonkey and printed as jpg file
 Drink recipes:
So here is how I kept this party affordable--I made most of the decor using really inexpensive products or used what I had, I made two pitchers of "signature" drinks (the Cos"mock"politan and Mint Mojito), and then had a few bottles of sparkling cider and some grenadine and 7up for Shirley Temples, and I purchased all of the paper goods (plastic "glasses" for drinking [6 pack for $1], paper plates, napkins, silver plastic utensils) at the Dollar Store.  I asked half of the guests to bring an appetizer to share, and the other half a dessert to share.  I was worried about having enough food, but we had way more than necessary!  I also had a small container of chex mix and mixed nuts on the table, along with a few garnishes (cherries, olives, and lime wedges).

All of the black-and-white garlands as well as the gold garland for the photo booth backdrop were made with scrapbook paper.  I was inspired by this pin, this pin, and this pin for all my garlands.  I used my silhouette machine, but you could easily cut strips out with a papercutter, go to your local scrapbook store and use a die-cut machine, or purchase a scrapbook punch of a circle/square/triangle to make a garland easily and quickly!  I simply used a tiny bit of hot glue to attach the paper to some yarn I already had on hand.

For the pom pom garland, I bought 3 packages of pom poms from the Dollar Store, and then used a thicker quilting needle to string them onto yarn.  It came together super fast!  I love the pop of color, and I didn't even use a set pattern to string them on, I just tried to make it a little random and quirky.  I will definitely be pulling this garland out again and again.

I created all the "sayings" and "labels" in the gold frames, using picmonkey.  I printed them at Costco as a 5x7, and then put them in gold 5x7 frames from the Dollar Store.  I plan on reusing the frames for home decor or even a future party, I still haven't decided yet.

Probably my most favorite project I did for this party, were the gold animals that held up the names of the drinks and a few other labels.  I used this tutorial from Sugar & Cloth, and it came together super well!  Brett helped me with the drilling and spray painting, but it was super inexpensive and they made a fun eclectic statement.  I kept these to use for place card holders or on a desk as a memo holder, in the future.  They are dollar store animals, a dowel, and an alligator clip!  Who would've thought?!

The drink stirrers and toothpicks are either skewers or toothpicks with a piece of gold tinsel garland (from the Dollar Store) glued to one end.  Honestly though, these weren't used much, so I have a bag left of them.  I do like the pop of gold they added though, and I'll just save them to reuse for another party!

I also cut out some photo booth props using my silhouette machine, but there are tons of free printables on pinterest that you could easily print and cut out!  I just hot glued them to skewers to turn them into a "prop".  They are in my "party" box, ready to get reused (and possibly added to) for another fun occasion.  I just hung a little bit of garland on a blank wall, and guests had a great time snapping photos.  Unfortunately, we didn't snag a group one with everyone (we took it after midnight), but here is still some representation of the guests we had in attendance!

Aside from the photo booth, the party didn't have a lot of "structure".  I didn't have any planned games or anything.  But it worked out since it was a come-and-go party for a handful of guests.  I enjoyed getting to just catch up and chat with everyone.  I also gave a little house tour, since many of our friends haven't been to our new home yet.  Jacob and Camille were so kind enough to bring sparklers and we rang in the new year having some fun out in the backyard with them.

If you read through this entire post, then you can see that most everything came from the Dollar Store!  And many of these things (the golden animals, gold frames, pom pom garland, etc.) are things I will definitely be reusing!  Which means, that they were great to buy or make, since I'll get more out of them than just this one evening.

We had a great time hosting and mingling with so many of our friends, ringing in the new year!  I have a feeling 2014 is going to be a big and exciting year for us...we are so excited!  Happy New Year!

By the way, Camille did the sweetest post on attending our party, you should check it out here!  Her blog is fantastic, and includes a plethora of ideas for frugal or free date nights.  She has inspired many of our own activities.  Go visit her blog, she posts weekly, you won't be disappointed!  

To see what other things inspired this party, you can check out my Mocktail Party Pinterest Board!

PS--I am sorry that some of the photos are showing up grainy, I have no idea why, but plan on trying to figure it out ASAP!


Fondue Fun: Romantic Date Night or Family Gathering

Have you ever had cheese fondue?  Or chocolate fondue?  If you haven't, you are missing out!  Depending on the atmosphere you create, it can be romantic and intimate or social and crowd-pleasing!  We made fondue two time the last two weeks, and created both of these very different experiences and had an amazing time with both!  I've heard that fondue restaurants can be such fun experiences, but are usually pretty pricey.  So if you can't afford to indulge in a night out on the town, give an at-home experience a try.  It really is a blast!  I'll share my recipes at the end of the post, they are both tried-and-true!

First off--let's talk "equipment".  If you have a fondue pot, use it!  If you don't, it might be something to consider purchasing if you think this might be something you enjoy.  It would also be a fun gift-giving idea for a family member!  We actually got ours for our wedding, which was a fun thing to receive.  A small mini crockpot would also work fine.  Or you could dip over the stove, although it's probably not as convenient or comfortable.  You just want to keep your cheese warm, so it stays ooey and gooey and easy to dip in!  You can buy the one we have here, at Target for less than $25.  It has worked great for us.

The romantic date-night "in" we did with fondue was on a Friday evening after Landon went down to bed.  It was a very uncharacteristically cold and stormy weekend, so we opted to light up our fireplace, laid down a blanket, grabbed some pillows, popped open some bubbly and ate right there on the ground.  We also had some tunes playing on pandora, in the background.  It was so fun!  We just relaxed, ate, visited, and enjoyed the evening together.  We ate slowly and really enjoyed each other's company. It was actually nice not being at a restaurant, feeling rushed to leave or wondering how badly it will hurt to pay the bill!

Here is a peek into our romantic evening...

Eating fondue is a much more interactive and social experience than most meals, so it is also very conducive to a bigger group!  A week or so later, we had my parents, siblings, and grandparents over to have a fondue dinner on Sunday evening.  We also had a chocolate fondue for dessert, which was a hit.  You could always just have friends over for chocolate fondue and skip the cheese and "meal" component all together.

Here is a peek into our family gathering...

I really hope this inspires a few of you to give fondue a try!  I have tried a handful of fondue recipes over the last couple years, and this cheese one (I got from a friend's mom) has turned out great every time.  The other ones I made didn't taste bad, but the consistency didn't set up well.  This chocolate fondue recipe is a really yummy and easy one as well.  Give them both a shot!

There are also a few ideas on things you can dip into your fondue.  Obviously, these lists are not comprehensive, by any means!  If something sounds yummy to you, try it!