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This Fourth of July stay cool for the summer these with these fun desserts!

You can purchase your favorite cookie brand or bake your own (you can remake the cookie dough and freeze extra), and serve with different flavor ice creams and coatings. 

Ice Cream Sandwich Bar
Ice cream sandwiches are a guilty pleasure of mine!

There are many cookie options to choose from these days! So why not serve a selection of cookies such as chocolate chip cookie dough, sugar, peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, or double chocolate chip.

You could even add or replace the cookies with waffles; yum! Next up, serve the cookies with different ice cream flavors that pair with the cookies you serve. Some ice cream staples would be vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or rocky road.

Coat your cookies with mini chocolate chips, rainbow or chocolate sprinkles, crushed nuts, minced fruit like berries, banana, and raspberries, your favorite crushed candy bars.

Jello

Serve different flavors of jello, or add it to your favorite summer cake recipe! This is such a simple dessert that can stand on its own or serve as a complementary element to another dessert. 

Fruit Salad

Go ahead, go berry crazy! I love a good fruit salad, and after washing and slicing all the fruit, sometimes I will add freshly squeezed lemon and oranges and stir. You could even sprinkle a little brown sugar in and let it sit for about an hour or two if you'd like. The only topping you'll want for this dessert is whip cream.  

Lemon adds extra umph to most desserts.
Lemon Cupcakes

Cupcakes are a great party dessert! You could offer different icing options and have guests ice their own cupcakes or serve up cups with lemon-lime or orange lemon icing. 

Ok, so now that we have some solid dessert options perfect for summer, let’s think about what beverages to serve your guests.

Beverages

There are many ways to stay hydrated at a gathering, and serving up options aside from the standard juices, and fountains sodas is key. I like to create a little “bar” area for guests to concoct their preferred drink. 

Offering flat or sparkling water, freshly brewed ice tea, or lemonade allows some room for creativity. With those four main nonalcoholic drinks options (you can add others as well!), serve alongside a large plate of sliced fruits such as oranges, limes, lemon, ginger, cucumber, blood oranges, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mint, or basil. 

Serve mocktails at your next celebration.

If you happen to have a few glass bottles or mason jars, you can offer sweetness like orange-sweetened simple syrup, honey, or even maple syrup to help add a little sweetness to the drinks. The best part about allowing your guests to serve themselves is making it as sweet or not a lovely as they’d like. 

Whichever mocktail they decide to create will serve as a wonderful conversation starter too! And, one of these options is bound to certainly inspire the youth of the party to stay hydrated in the summer sun! 

You could even serve some smoothies, sweet fruity drinks (loaded with hidden vegetables!). #MomConfession: Sometimes, when my kids aren’t in the veggie-eating mood, I will offer a smoothie packed with spinach and kale buries under the sweet flavors of banana and maple syrup.

However you choose to celebrate your holiday weekend with your family, I hope it's a healthy and happy one! Share with me on social what your favorite foods are to enjoy during the July 4th weekend!

Stay crafty,

Jaime

Whenever I think of Summer, grilling always comes to mind! Trading family dinners indoors to outdoor backyard dinners and baked to grilled dinners. Grilling delivers flavor, elevating meats, veggies, and other food favorites such as slices of bread and fruits!

When gearing up for cookout season, grill prepping is key! Here are a few tips and tricks for grilling season.

PREVENTATIVE CARE:
Add flavor to your meals this summer with grilling!
Add flavor this summer with grilling!
COOKING TIPS:
Up your grill skills this summer!
Grill up your next meal with ease!

Start with simple recipes and work your way up to pro status through time and practice. Summertime always brings a sense of freshness to the table when dinnertime arrives. Serving fresh vegetables with a smokey, grill flavor in the backyard is what it's all about at home.

So, why not develop your grilling technique and evaluate your cooking master power in the backyard this summer with your family?! Share on Instagram or Facebook your grilling tips and tricks or even some of your favorite grill-worthy recipes or when you began learning how to grill?

Stay crafty,

Jaime

Every BBQ or backyard cookout needs a few appetizers to serve before serving the main course or options off the grill. Some of our family favorites has

Here are a few ideas and some of my personal to serve: 

CHIPS & DIPS
Chips and dip options is so simple and a time saver appetizer when in a pinch!
Serving simple app help to save time.

Chips and dips is in my opinion a classic nosh worthy food at cookouts, I mean who doesn’t like enjoy chips and salsa till the main "course" is ready . Since chips and salsa is such a simple appetizer, you can practically make the salsa from scratch, but if you do not have that kinda time, purchase your favorites dips at your local market. 

You could even make (or buy) roasted corn salsa, salsa verde or a cucumber mango salsa! These salsas are packed with flavor and also vibrant in color! 

You can make anything from a pineapple jalapeño dip or a corn dip with tomatoes, lime and cilantro (salsa hack: cilantro is such a great ingredient to any salsa recipe!).This dips also make a great hot dog or burger topping too.

If you want to take it up a notch, serving up black bean dip, spinach and yogurt, hummus (garlic and roasted hummus are a classic party staple). Just remember to keep those dips that require refrigeration, cold. 

Oh, and since the grill may be on already, you can create a yummy cheesy dip and cook it on the grill (in a cast iron, of course). 

APPETIZERS OFF THE GRILL

Grilled Corn: If grilled corn doesn’t scream summer, I don’t know what does! You can brush with butter and a little salt or dressed with a brush of mayo and top with cojita cheese! Oh, and you can top it with a little bit of freshly cut cilantro.  

A classic summer staple, grilled corn!

Veggie or Fruit Skewers: There are another fun way to serve appetizers, I am fan of loading up skewers with fresh fruit or veggies and whoever would like there’s grilled, great, if not, still to the basics. You could brush a yummy balsamic glaze on the veggies or serve it on the side for your guests. 

Grilled Pineapple: Slice, grill and enjoy! This one is so simple and so yummy to enjoy, especially during cookouts! You could even chop the grilled pineapple and mix with minced intro and jalapeños for a smokey, sweet, spicy topping for your summer dogs and burgers! 

Grilled Nachos: I bet you didn’t think you could grill nachos, well you can! In a cast iron, load your nachos with all your favorite toppings, and serve freshly melted oozing with cheesy goodness!

Off the grill wings for the win!
Make a homemade rub in minutes!

Wings: Who doesn’t love off the grill wings! Create your own dressing to brush on the wings like a bbq or hot sauce. You can even create a glaze for your wings with a few simple ingredients from your pantry!

No matter what food items you decide to serve at your next cookout, I am sure your guests will enjoy it and the festivities! Do you have a food suggestion you'd like to share? Share your family cookout favorites on Facebook and Instagram!

Stay crafty,

Jaime

It's SUMMER, what party plans do you have in store for the summer? The longest day of the year is June 20th, the Summer Solstice (also, it's Father's Day)! Why not have this day be a cause for celebration? With a bit of extra summer fun to be had, you can spend more time creating fun chalk murals or a backyard camping adventure! 

Here are a two other summer celebrations to plan this season:

BYOBG

Bring your own board game night! These nights in are fun because you never know which game someone will bring. You can focus on the snacks and setup, and let the guests bring the entertainment. Proceed with caution, as nights like these can quickly turn into a sleepover! One tip for board game night is to write on masking tape which game everyone brought and offer small lunch bags for pieces of each game so they do not get mixed or lost.

Serve a toppings bar for your next summer slumber party!

Movie Night

A movie night (or afternoon) is a great way to have a low-key party without much work! Family movies such as Shrek, Despicable Me, Monsters Inc., and Toy Story offer sequels or trilogies, making for a great movie-watching slumber party. You can offer a different snack for each film and create an intermission for the celebratory eats! 

Some of my favorite snack ideas are popcorn, marshmallows, cookies, fruits, cotton candy, and pretzels! You can even bump it up a notch and create snack boards (move over, cheese boards!). Oh, and don't forget to ask the kiddos to bring a sleeping bag which will help you save time and space for worrying where everyone will sleep. 

What summer parties do you enjoy throwing for you and your family? or with friends? Share with me on Instagram or Facebook!

Stay crafty,

Jaime

Summer grilling becomes a state of mind right before Memorial Day Weekend! With getting our home summer-ready (here's what I do to summer-ize our home), this checklist helps me get holiday weekend ready!

HERES YOUR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CHECKLIST:

2-3 WEEKS BEFORE:  

Invitations: It's up to you if you would like to have a large family gathering; we tend to keep things more intimate. So, check with your immediate family to see who would like to join you for some backyard fun with a summer menu.

Menu: What do you want to serve as the main course? What snacks and desserts will you serve? Be mindful to consider any allergies that a family member may have.  

Celebrate in your backyard this Memorial Day Weekend.
The backyard is prepped for a celebration!

THE WEEKEND BEFORE:

Backyard Ready: I like to ensure the outdoor furniture is cleaned and ready for company. Also, I like to make sure the backyard is ready for any outdoor activities or family games we may play.

Grill Prep: Clean and check if all the burners are working, if you have enough propane, and be sure you are stocked up on essential grilling supplies, including propane, charcoal, lighter fluid, etc.

A COUPLE DAYS BEFORE:

Pantry cleanout: Where will all your groceries for the holiday weekend eats be stored? I usually take a day to clean out the fridge and pantry to ensure all the condiments, snacks, and dressings are not expired, and if so, I will add them to the shopping list.

Serve up all the summer favorite foods!

Refrigerator makeover: Before venturing to the market, ensure you have enough fridge space for all your nonperishable foods. I can't tell you how many times I had to play refrigerator Tetris to try to make it all fit.

Decorations: I love summer decor, and adding some to a family BBQ adds a little something extra. Sometimes it's fresh flowers as a centerpiece, a bright table cloth, or even some citronella candles (and it helps keep the bugs at bay!).

Clean up: I like to take a day before and tidy up of all the things around the house.

With all the planning done, gather and celebrate!

THE DAY OF:

I like to wake up a little earlier on days where our family gathers for celebrations. Food prepping in advance allows me to be a better host while interacting with family and guests simultaneously.

There you have it, my simple checklist to planning our kickoff to summer! How do you prepare for family gatherings or summer BBQ's? Please share with me on social (Instagram and/or Facebook) and don't forget to use #CraftyHolidayHelper!

Stay crafty,

Jaime

Here are a few reasons why I love the month of April, it's FIRST family holiday after Christmas is Easter! I always get so excited seeing families come together over a meal, dressed up in the most colorful attire and decorations coated in bright pastel colors!

The SECOND is that Spring serves as a reminder of the new season. We can shed the beginning of the year and the cold winter, leaving that behind us. From now on, days are filled with sunshine and the smell of flowers growing and BBQing!

The THIRD is all the possible backyard parties we can have! With the weather slowly warming up, you can host a small get-together in your backyard! I love hosting Popsicle parties or donut parties and pairing them with a scavenger hunt or activity kits!

A neat idea is hosting an Earth Day celebration! You can have little planting stations where the children can plant their desired flower or herb. You could even plant a small tree in your backyard and then celebrate by firing up the grill!

Here are some other party ideas to try this April that can be hosted outdoors in the comfort of your backyard this weekend:

Earth day party: They all can plant a new herb, veggie, or flower in honor of Earth Day!

Ice cream party: Create the ultimate ice cream bowl!

Tie dye party: Design their very own tie-dye shirt!

Do you have any other fun April Party ideas? Please share with us by commenting on Facebook or Instagram!

Stay Crafty,
Jaime

Take your virtual baby shower to the next level in just a few simple steps! 

Hosting a baby shower is such a fun celebration! And, yet, planning one (especially when celebrating virtually) can be a little overwhelming. A virtual celebration is certainly different than in person – you can’t touch a mom’s belly and feel the baby kick. Still, here are a few steps to ensure a memorable experience. We’ve taken some of our favorite baby shower moments and replicated them to fit the online space to create the perfect memory for your mommy to be. 

Step 1: Checklist 

My Virtual Party Guide is the template I use when planning a virtual event that will prepare you for these next few steps, helping take your virtual baby shower to the next level, making mom feel extra special. I always encourage asking for help from another close friend or relative from the mom to cover more ground. Note all the steps in the virtual party guide still apply; however, we’ll go more in-depth on some steps with added tips to make the day memorable for the mommy-to-be. 

Step 2: Mommy Wishlist

Begin with a call to the mom-to-be to understand her wishlist, expectations and availability. Understanding her expectations will ensure the party will be a success, but some elements can also be left to a surprise. 

Must Ask Questions

  1. Guest list – names and emails
    1. It’s recommend breaking the party up into smaller groups to allow for a more intimate setting with groups that know each other. 
  2. Appearances
    1. Dad to come by near the end (assuming it’s a woman only party)
    2. Nursery showcase
  3. Preferred date & time 
  4. Gift Registry
    1. There are many online companies online that provide registries that will ship the products straight to the celebrant’s home and will even do the gift wrapping for you. Confirm where so it can be included in the invitation. 
  5. Open presents on camera or separate day
    1. Our suggestion is to open a separate day and to say a generalized thank you at the end of the call.

Step 3: Guest List

The best thing about hosting an online event is more people can participate in the fun as there are no limitations, only a phone and laptop/computer required. Now that you understand the mom-to-be's expectations begin planning the guest list. 

I recommend, if possible, separating your party into smaller groups of 6-10 people, preferably with people who know each other. A smaller intimate group will allow for better flow regarding activities and a more intimate setting with mom. 

Step 4: Theme

Choose a theme. Yes – when it comes to baby showers, a theme is essential! This will come into play in steps 5 and 10. The theme should consist of a theme type and theme color – for example, animals and Blue. Helpful hint: Ask mom if she has a nursery theme and try to plan around the theme. 

Step 5: The Invitation

Send out invitations at least one month before the big event. Luckily, there are a few options online to help you and tons of websites with formal e-vites that can help you track guest lists and send reminders, etc. Alternatively, you can track them yourself in an excel sheet and send an email using a template from Canva. To tie everything together, don’t forget to include the theme. 

However, this is not just your ordinary invite. You’ll need to include two things not typically included in a regular virtual invite which will help set your party to the next level which are the registry details and the address of where the gifts should be sent to.

Step 6: Baby Shower Activities

Here are five easy virtual games to play at the shower. I recommend playing three games at the event. Note: Since the games take place virtually, many of the games will have to be on the honor system unless you have a smaller group and can have each person say their answer. We suggest having some prizes for the winners, such as a virtual gift card (reach out to the winner after ensuring the gift card can be used where they are located).

Step 7: Itinerary

Have an itinerary and don’t feel the need to stick to it but use it as a guideline. Itineraries are great and can help keep things moving and on track but sometimes things change or another great idea sparks in the moment. This is key to hosting a virtual event as there are many variables and so we suggest keep an itinerary with length of time things should take and use this as a guide to keep the fun moving. 

Example Itinerary:

Step 8: Reminders

You will want to send 1-2 reminder emails depending on the response rate. 

Step 9: It’s Party Time! Extras for Mom (morning of or day before)

Since we can’t be together, we like to do this as a nice extra personalized touch for the mom to be so she still gets some of the glitz and glam of an in-person baby shower. We like to shop locally and send a local meal to the parents to enjoy before the party. As well as an at-home baby shower box with the following items:

Step 10: Thank-you card and the Guestbook

Within a week of the event, send mom the guestbook, include pictures from the event. This can also be sent electronically; however, we like sending a good old fashion scrapbook keepsake. Mom to be to send out thank you cards to guests for attending within one week.  And, there you have it, my Crafty Holiday Helper’s ten steps to taking your virtual baby shower to the next level!

Please share any tips or tricks you've learn along the way in planning your virtual baby shower!

We love celebrating Valentine’s Day with the family as it’s a way to shower our children, family, and friends with love and joy while spending a meaningful day together. Plus, who doesn’t love a day with chocolate, candy, and flowers? We’ve planned out a special day for you and your kids, including some of our favorite activities from our latest blog: 24 Valentines Day Activities for Preschoolers. 

Breakfast

The most important meal of the day is breakfast. Why not serve a heart-shaped breakfast as a family treat?And, maybe some heart-shaped strawberries to add an extra touch of love. 

Activity 1: Arts and Crafts

Activity 2: Baking – Cupcakes & Cookies

We found this easy cupcake and cookie recipe you can do with your kids. Our kids love decorating cookies and cupcakes so let them get creative. Remember: no frosting is too much. Try to save these treats for dessert as you don’t want to spoil lunch or dinner. 

Lunch

Edible bread painting for lunch. Make lunch exciting with cute sayings or heart designs for Valentine’s Day. 

Get Active: Chose one or complete all three

Game 1: Walk Around Neighborhood

It’s always good to get some fresh air and go for a family walk. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, play a game of “I spy” something red or pink in the neighborhood. Another fun idea you can do with the kids on your walk, take some of Valentine’s Day cards and distribute them to your neighbor’s mailbox for a pleasant surprise. 

Game 2: Valentine’s Day Musical Hearts

For your at-home dance party, this game will get the heart pumping. Layout a bunch of hearts with different phrases to dance out like “walk like an Egyptian,” “move like a robot,” “do the moonwalk.” When the music stops, each player grabs the nearest heart and dances out the phrase. To make sure your kid doesn’t dance around the same one, take away the used hearts every round. Keep going until all the hearts have been completed.

Game 3: Pin the Arrow on the Heart

Each person will have an arrow. Blindfold each player, turn them around 3x, and have them try to pin the arrow onto the heart. 

Free Time

We included some free time for you and your family to choose or to take a one-hour nap for those with preschoolers. There is nothing wrong with taking a break and resetting before dinner!

Dinner

Whip up a simple dinner where the kiddos can assist you in the kitchen. Turning cooking into a family activity will certainly be a lot of fun especially when its something as easy as taco night! Of course, compliment your meal with the Crafty Holiday Helper Valentine’s Day Table Setting. Lastly, don’t forget dessert – there is nothing sweeter than ending a family dinner with a tasty dessert with some laughter.

End the Day

We love to end the day watching a family movie together. One of our favorite family films is Shrek as it's full of funny moments to get the family laughing with a hint of romance to get everyone feeling the love on Valentine's Day!

Stay Crafty,
Jaime

Just because we are spending more time online doesn’t make an event less special or that it should be on hold. Entering a new year means celebratory birthdays, holidays, and milestones are amongst us. Virtual events can bring family and friends together to share those big moments from all around the world. Here is my ultimate virtual party guide and checklist to ensure your party goes off without a hitch.

Step 1: The cause for celebration 

In the invitation, it's crucial to list the cause for celebration! Are you and your loved ones coming together to celebrate a birthday, baby shower, graduation, engagement? Once you decide on the type of milestone you are celebrating, it's best to find out the date and time that will work for everyone's schedules and timezones! Depending on the amount of people attending we recommend the ideal party length to be between 1.5 to 3 hours. This time frame allows enough time for people to settle in (fix any tech issues), fun activities and good banter.

Step 2: What's the theme?

I love pondering the theme to any party I plan to host (virtually or in-person). The theme can be determined with 1-2 colors used in the invitation, itinerary, and activities which helps deliver consistency with a personal touch! Themes help tie everything together and adds an extra special touch when celebrating from a distance. You can even encourage attendees to decorate their space based on the theme and share who had the best decorations! 

Step 3: Virtual Location

There are plenty of apps and platforms to host a virtual event in today's tech world, depending on how many individuals are attending. However, the two favorites I have used are Google Hangouts and Zoom. The reason is that I can have over a dozen attendees join! The only downside is you would need an account to use these platforms. You can also use HouseParty, which hosts up to eight attendees, and you can play games within the platform. Even Messenger Rooms (no account needed) work as another option, especially if you don't want to ask your attendees to create a new account. 

Step 4: Invitations

Virtual invites are just as crucial for virtual events as they are in person and should be treated as such. They can be both informal (text) or formal (evite or email). We recommend a calendar request also be included with the invitation or when the attendee says YES! The invite should list all the details you would share for any party invite. For example, below is a simple guideline of details to include, but feel free to add more flair than what we did:

Step 5: Activities

Keep the energy going with virtual activities and believe it or not; there are quite a few games you can play virtually. One of my personal favorites is playing Pictionary (using the Zoom whiteboard), a Dance Party, or even a Mad Lib! Stay tuned to our next blog on virtual activities you can play, including FREE downloadable templates. 

Step 6: Itinerary

Itineraries help keep things moving even as the agenda changes. Have a loose itinerary to use as a guideline and use it to keep the fun rolling. 

Here is an itinerary I put together for a previously virtually held event: 

Step 7: Assign a co-host

When it comes to hosting a virtual, one thing for sure is although you can do it alone, you shouldn’t do it alone. Ideally, you want someone organized and tech-savvy – this role will monitor time (keep things moving), assist with tech issues, and set up the games (share screen). The second co-host would be more active as a game leader for instructions and banter (break the ice). 

Step 8: Reminders

Your invitations are out, the itinerary is set, and all the props for your themed event have been ordered! Just one more thing to do is share a reminder for yourself to ensure you begin to set up everything on time without any technical difficulty. 

Step 9: Enjoy & have fun!

You did it - it’s the big day, and everything is all set to go! Now that everything is planned ENJOY and HAVE FUN! Relax and enjoy the time spent together virtually online. Lastly, don’t forget a group picture because this will be one for the picture books.

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