November 28th, 2018
My friend, Jane, has incredible taste and she happens to be a fabulous hostess. When she invited a small group of friends for a Chanukah celebration, no one knew what to expect, since none of us celebrated Chanukah. Jane made sure to tell us prior to the evening, that we weren’t expected to do anything special, just to come and enjoy the beautiful dinner she prepared for us.
First, I noticed the elegance of the table. Jane didn’t dress the table with a lot of items, just a few beautiful elements that played off each other. Her centerpiece was a wire and bead art piece which traveled across the table. Her placemats mimicked the look with a silver wire design. Jane also mixed her metals to bring in the gold of the chocolate coins and the silver of the table decor. Of course, she brought in some blue with the small votives at each place setting.
The menu was full of home-made foods which looked beautiful but simple to prepare.
To end the evening, we toasted champagne and mentioned how grateful we were to have each other in our lives. I love experiencing my friends’ hospitality. As always, Jane did an outstanding job creating a warm and loving atmosphere which we all cannot wait to experience again.
November 16th, 2018
Family at the Thanksgiving Table
Simple Thanksgiving Decor
Each year, my sister Anna, volunteers to host Thanksgiving and our family gathers at her home to celebrate the holiday. Anna is a wonderful hostess, I’ve said this many times. She and I are always stealing each other’s ideas and recipes. Unlike me, Anna does things very simply with a relaxed feel but always seems to WOW her guests. She never seems to stress over the details. Even the few times she’s asked me for help, Anna always seems relaxed and at ease while I’m running around stressing over pretty much everything. Nevertheless, we always seem to pull off a great party and when working together, we make a good team.
During this particular celebration, her table was simple with red placemats and a bouquet of fresh flowers. However, she added candlelight as her main decor element, creating a soft, warm, and quiet atmosphere. She used different style and height crystal candleholders which were set on mirror tiles to reflect the light. She also placed some candles in her silver candleholders on the back buffet. Last but not least, she added some votives to bring various levels of height. It looked so beautiful.
This look was very minimal but definitely brought the WOW factor.
Smoked Salmon Appetizers
It’s no secret, our family is ALL ABOUT THE APPETIZERS… Anna always prepares a wonderful appetizer spread that is easy and festive. Above are the smoked salmon appetizers which she serves at practically every function. They are served on small pieces of bread, smothered in plain cream cheese and topped off with a generous slice of smoked salmon. She finishes by sprinkling green onion on top and watches them disappear off the plate in a matter of minutes.
Veggie Plate and Hummus Dip
I’m always in charge of the veggie plates and dip.
Veggie Plate and Basil Hummus
This veggie plate featured my favorite basil hummus which I make for practically EVERY occasion.
I also love bringing my beet hummus which adds a vibrant color to an otherwise boring cracker bowl.
The dinner is typically traditional with turkey, cranberry source, her famous mixed roasted vegetables, and of course, mashed potatoes. Here’s my son and my parents enjoying her delicious buffet.
Last but not least, the dessert always comes from The Smoke House Market, which is a wonderful store in Chesterfield, Missouri. It is affiliated with Annie Gunns, which is a famous steak house in St. Louis, and sells many of their freshly prepared food creations. Their pies are in HIGH DEMAND during the holidays and since my niece worked there, we always had fresh pies for Thanksgiving… with a bit of vanilla ice cream on top.
All in all, my sister does a fantastic job with Thanksgiving. And I’m alway impressed with how beautifully and seamlessly she executes this annual celebration.
October 16th, 2018
Pumpkin cake I ordered at Sam’s
As you may or may not know, I love to throw my two sons Halloween parties. I invite tons of kids and their parents and it becomes a fun potluck. I ask the parents to bring one Halloween dish they would love to showcase and they NEVER disappoint. Here are some of the fun and easy Halloween dishes the parents brought to the party.
Healthy monster jaws.
I love these delicious apple, peanut butter, and marshmallow treats made to look like monster jaws. The mom also added a fruit roll-up as the tongue. This was a fun treat for the kids.
Monster, ghost, and pumpkin cookies from Sam’s
If you know me, you know that I outsource as much as I can, especially baked goods. When it comes to my annual Halloween parties, my favorite place to outsource from is Sam’s. I order my Halloween cakes from there as well as any thematic cookies. I would imagine Costco has the same fun desserts, but either way, buying in bulk is always a great thing for parties, so I highly recommend it! Best of all, these cookies were a fraction of what I would pay for custom designed cookies.
Dirt n’ Worms
You cannot help but fall in love with this adorable dessert created by my friend Zalina. Dirt n’ Worms! I love how she used fun black kettle containers. Needless to say, I don’t think we had any left over!! They are filled with chocolate mousse (or you can use pudding), crumbled Oreo cookes, and gummy bears.
Monster Eye Cake Pops
My friend Tara did NOT disappoint with these fun and funny Monster Eye Cake Pops! We all know how hard it is to make cake pops look perfect… well, with this theme, the more imperfect the eye is, the better! She made a regular cake pop mixture, rolled it, and dipped it in candy melts. Last but not least, she popped a candy eye on top and VOILA!!!
Fruit ghosts and pumpkins
Seriously… can these be any cuter? My friend Jenna created these adorable tangerine pumpkins and banana ghosts. Adorable and healthy!!
Spider Web Dip
I’ve made spider web dips before, but mine NEVER came out so cute! This was a delicious seven layer dip created by my friend who is an incredible entertainer. This Halloween dip was a HIT and was the perfect savory accompaniment to all the sweet items on the buffet. DELICIOUS!!
Some of the kids enjoying the Halloween buffet.
The calm before the storm. This was early on in the party when just a few kids arrived. I typically have fifteen or more people hanging out in my kitchen which include adults and children. When the party starts, everything is so well organized and displayed. By the end of the party…. it’s not a pretty site!
Halloween Bat Wings
My friend created these fun Halloween Bat Wings from Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Oreo Cookies, and candy eyes. They are ADORABLE!
October 10th, 2018
Loving this beautiful Halloween Cake with Green and purple witches fingers.
I have thrown fun Halloween parties for many years. I usually throw a party every week in October… yes, every Friday, I will have some sort of a Halloween party. I like to call them “taste testing parties” since the guests are bombarded with fun Halloween goodies and they get to choose their favorites. Sometimes I create all the items for the buffet, but most of the time, other parents bring their creations and we all just watch the kids devour their favorites. It has become one of my most fun and exciting events which I look forward to. As you will see, I try not to do anything super scary, although I have been known to create some gory dishes on occasion (like my severed fingers hot dogs, which is a Pinterest favorite!).
Here are some fun photos from one of my parties, which I like to call Purple Witch’s Finger Cake (shown above). You may say… “Why Arina, I had no idea you were a cake baker!” Well, rest assured… I AM NOT!!! If you know me, you know that I am well aware of my limits. Throwing a party for 60 children means I do as much outsourcing as possible. This cake was ordered from Sam’s and I simply chose it from one of their cake catalogs, available in the bakery section.. It came with the purple, green, and white frosting, clouds and bats. The cake bakers did a great job making a two tiered cake. There were times when I would order the three tiered ones, but they always came out crooked, so I stick with the two tiered cakes.
To customize it to be a Witch’s Cake, I went to Michael’s and purchased the fingers and witch silhouettes separately. I have NO idea how the colors came out so perfectly, but even if they didn’t match, … my motto is and will always be… kids don’t care! I was very happy with the cake and so was everyone else. Oh, and it was soooo affordable, only $40!
Cake with fun Halloween plates, my friend Heidi gifts me with every year.
My sons’ decorations.
Buffet set-up for Halloween Party
I typically do a buffet set-up and provide the cake and a few other dishes. Then, the parents of the guests bring their favorites. Parents are always invited to the parties and are encouraged to stay and enjoy the festivities.
Here are some of the fun and creative Halloween inspired desserts created by my guests’ parents.
Adorable cupcake ghosts created by my friend Deborah.
Cheese Stick Ghosts… so clever and easy!
My friend Nina prepared these wonderful and healthy cucumber eyes made with cucumber slices, cream cheese, and black olives. She sprinkled a bit of cumin for the “red”
These wonderful Donut Monsters were created by my friend Maureen, who is incredibly creative and no stranger to wonderful Halloween parties. Apparently, they took her no time to create. She purchased ready-made donuts, then stuck fake teeth and skeleton arms inside them and some candy eyes. That’s it! The kids loved playing with the fake teeth afterwards and took them all home as favors.
Yummy and healthy pumpkin bread, prepared by my friend Dana.
This is such a wonderful and easy Halloween dessert, created by my friend Nicole. They are witch’s brooms. Two ingredients … Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and Pretzel sticks… you’re done!
This skeleton appears in different parts of the house at every party. At this party, he’s hanging out in the sunroom!
I re-use many of my decorations at each Halloween Party. As I said, kid’s don’t care and there is really no reason for me to keep buying decorations when I have plenty stored away from my previous parties. Sometimes, I even get decorations gifted to me by other moms who’s kids may no longer be living at home. I truly believe that re-puposing and re-using, as well as borrowing is the best way to decorate for a party.
Fun table place settings
December 19th, 2016
December 2016 on Better Kansas City
December is always a wonderful time of year… Christmas lights, holiday parties, reuniting with family, seeing old friends, making new friends, lots of opportunities to use the fireplace, holiday cards, egg nog, cake, and food, food, food!!!
I think we can agree, December is a month that may be hazardous to the waistline, so when I was invited to come up with some fun ideas for KCTV’s Channel 5 Better Kansas City, I thought I would develop a gift that was straight from my heart AND kitchen but also a healthy alternative to cookie or hot cocoa mix in a jar.
Soup in A Jar – Great Holiday Gift!
PROTEIN PACKED PEA & LENTIL SOUP:
Hold on to your hats, because this soup packs a massive amount of fiber, protein, and magnesium! So easy, delicious, and super healthy! Substitute the beef bouillon cubes for vegetarian cubes, to turn this soup vegan/vegetarian friendly.
1 Cup Dried Split Peas
1/2 Cup uncooked white rice
1/2 Cup lentils
3 Tbsp Minced Onion
3 Tbsp Dried Parsley
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 beef bouillon squares
1/2 – 1 cup of elbow pasta (pack in a zip lock bag since it will be the last
step in preparation)
1.In a wide mouth 1 quart jar, start layering the peas, rice, and lentils.
Then add the onion, parsley, salt, pepper, bouillon cubes and bagged pasta.
2. Seal with a lid, and place a gift bow on top. Attach a gift card with
ribbon that reads: Add Contents of Jar To 4-5 Quarts of Water. Bring to a boil
and then simmer for 45 minutes, add pasta, simmer for another 15 minutes and enjoy. To elevate this soup recipe, add two stalks of chopped celery, two sliced carrots, 1 cup of shredded cabbage and two cups of diced tomatoes.
VAPOR RUB SHOWER BOMB
3 tablespoons of VapoRub
1 cup of corn starch
Blue and green food coloring (optional)
3 tablespoons of water
1. In a bowl add in the three tablespoons of VapoRub. You can use any variety of VapoRub you wish.
2. Stir in the cup of corn starch. Mix well. You will notice that the
VapoRub takes a little time to soften. Continue to stir until it becomes a
3. Add in the two tablespoons of water. The goal is to make a paste that can
easily be manipulated with your hands, since you will be creating balls out
of it. Once you see that your mixture is thick enough to work with, it may
be a good time to stop. If you pick it up and try to shape it and it falls
apart, it needs a little water. If it can’t hold a shape, it has too much
water, so add more cornstarch.
4. When your mixture is the right consistency, add several drops of green
and blue food coloring. Continue to stir. This step makes the Shower bombs look like they have mint and spearmint in them, a little visual trick. But if you prefer to omit the food coloring, feel free.
5. Once the color is mixed in well, scoop the mixture into your hand. It
will have a play dough feel to it. Knead it into a ball and set on a piece
of wax paper. For a square look, pack the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze. When frozen, cut each rectangle in two to create smaller squares.
6. Place in a freezer for 20-30 minutes and then put in a jar. If this is
a gift, include direction on the gift tag to place directly on the drain of
the bathtub while taking a shower. You don’t want the ball to be floating
in the bathtub water during the shower, since it can make the bathtub slick.
Placing it directly on the drain will make sure that it will melt directly
in the drain.
March 25th, 2016
It’s no secret, my youngest boy loves PEEPS and since his birthday falls around Easter, there is no shortage of the cute little colorful bunnies and chicks decorating store shelves and calling out our names. So why fight it?
Each year, my kids and I purchase a crazy amount of PEEPS boxes and set out to create our PEEPS creations. In the years past, I’ve had them create centerpieces and edible treats. This year, we decided to create story ideas on construction paper. We also invited a couple of their friends to join us. The kids had a blast and came up with some funny ideas. Next year, we are going to continue with this tradition and invite even more friends. It’s so fun to see their imaginations take off, even if it involves marshmallow bunnies and chicks!
PEEPS table, ready for some creativity!
We used PEEPS, jelly beans, paper grass, and markers as our art supplies
We used PEEPS, jelly beans, paper grass, and markers
PEEPs Easter Egg Hunt
October 2nd, 2014
One of the reasons I started partytipz.com is to showcase foods that are “out of the box”, fun, and unforgettable for your guests. I love to give my guests new experiences with fun party food and combinations of foods they wouldn’t typically think of putting together. Today, is National Ice Cream Day and I’m having some friends over for dinner. I’ve prepared a fun menu, but my favorites will be these chocolate covered ice cream sandwiches which I dipped in nuts, sprinkles, and yes.. bacon! These were easy to make and my friends will love them!! I hope you have a wonderful National Ice Cream Day!!
May 1st, 2014
Looking for something to celebrate? How about because it’s friday… it’s summer… and it’s the first day of August?! Still not excited? What about the fact that today is National Raspberry Cream Pie Day… yep, thought that would get your attention! Today we celebrate beautiful raspberries in a delicious pie crust resting inside (or out) of a delicious cream pie filling. Okay, I have to be honest, I’ve never made a raspberry cream pie before, so I had to look for an easy recipe. And here’s the good news… I found one! I had to tweak it a bit, but it worked out! I created mini-pies, that way I wouldn’t have to cut into it and everyone would receive a beautiful little mini-pie instead of a piece of pie that tends to get a bit sloppy! I think they worked out and I highly recommend the recipe! Enjoy…
2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
4-5 tablespoons lemon juice
12 oz fresh raspberries
6-8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 mini graham cracker pie crusts
- Whisk sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice together in a bowl; gently fold in raspberries.
- Gently spread cream cheese onto the bottom and sides of graham cracker crusts using a spatula or the back of a teaspoon. The secret here is to make sure you purchase good crusts and that your cream cheese is WELL softened. Otherwise, your pie crust will crack. Divide raspberry mixture between the mini pie crusts… about 2 Tablespoons per crust. Top with some fresh raspberries.
- Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.