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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Laura-Ashley Story: Using Empathy to Establish Friendships as a Military Spouse

Recently, I went to my hair salon for my monthly root touch-up just like I had done for the last 2 years while living in El Paso, TX. At first, everything was pretty typical about this visit, except this time I had news to share with my stylist, Brenda.

Brenda is a native to Mexico. She resides in El Paso while attending college at the University of Texas at El Paso to become a secondary education teacher. She colors hair on nights and weekends as means of paying for costs not covered by her generous scholarship. Her boyfriend, mother, father, sister, brother, uncles, aunts, cousins, and nieces all live in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. She has a few close friends in America whom she also refers to as family. Brenda makes the 30 minute commute over the border on her time-off from school and work to visit her biological family "back home." She was the very first cosmetologist I saw when arriving to El Paso, and we built such a fast, gratifying relationship that I remained with her ever since.

Last week I sat down in her chair and delivered the news: I'm moving to the Washington D.C. area in 2 months due to my husband's PCS move. She was as shocked and excited as I was when I first realized that this move was actually happening. Brenda and I then shared stories about how different our lives were growing up "back home" and how more confident and adaptable to change we have become by moving away; experiencing different cultures and communities. Then a story was shared that ultimately rocked my world. It lit a fire so strong beneath me that I felt the emotional effects long after leaving the salon that day.

Brenda told me about a client that came in to the salon a few weeks prior to get a perm from another cosmetologist at the salon. This co-worker cosmetologist, Laura, is a military spouse. The client asking for the perm, Ashley, is also a military spouse.

Laura asked Ashley to have a seat to discuss the perming process since this was her first time at the salon. Right away, Ashley had a chip on her shoulder because she had to wait in the lounge a little longer than expected. Laura advised that she'd take Ashley to the sink to perform a special rinse which preps the hair for the chemicals needed to perm. This was a regular procedure at this salon for this hair treatment. Ashley told Laura that she already performed the pre-rinse at home and that it wouldn't be necessary, and to move onto the next step. Laura told Ashley that she'll need to do the rinse herself since this is her first time working with the client, that this was just a typical step in the process, and that nothing bad will happen by rinsing again. Ashley then responded, "You obviously don't know what you're doing, and no matter what, you're going to mess up my hair. You're incompetent." She went on to declare that no one could ever do her hair like the stylist back home. "It was my husband's fault for bringing me all the way out here," she sobbed.

In response, Laura also got defensive and shot back everything else she advised earlier. With both women at odds, Laura ran to the back room crying uncontrollably to her manager and store owner, Carlos.

Carlos then marched out to confront Ashley.

He said to her, "Why did you make my stylist cry like that? We will not be performing the perm on your hair today because no matter what we do, it's not going to be good enough for you. I will do a cut and color myself, but you'll need to reschedule the perm for another day. You need to grow up and deal with moving away from home for the first time. As a military spouse you need to be strong. This is what you signed up for..."

Completely stunned at how Ashley was treated by the owner, I asked Brenda, Then what happened?

"She just sat there crying in the chair for awhile, then she left without getting a treatment."

Well, did she come back another day to get the perm? I ventured.

"No."

What happened to Laura?

"She was totally pissed that Ashley treated her like that - for calling her incompetent."

What are your thoughts about what happened?

"We were all shocked that this woman acted like that. Like, just get over it. The pre-rinse is what we normally do before a perm. I dunno... I guess we just don't understand what it's like to be a military spouse..."

Well, Laura is a military spouse. She understands what it's like to move away from her family and close friends back home for the very first time, and to find a new job, a new house, a new gym, new friends, and a new salon for the first time. Why do you think she didn't try to comfort or empathize with Ashley? The whole situation could have ended very differently...

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I left the salon that evening with fabulous new roots, but I also left feeling really upset for Ashley. I know exactly how she felt that day when she tried to get her perm - and no one, not even a fellow military spouse, looked her in the eye and said that it's going to be ok. Or perhaps didn't say anything; just wrapped their arms around her and given her a warm, comforting hug. Instead, she left the salon feeling even more isolated than when she arrived.

Let me make this clear: I do believe that Ashley must take responsibility for her words and actions. Even if a person brings anger and resentment to a neutral situation, I don't think it's right to take anger out on someone else, let alone to a complete stranger. However, I still feel like Ashley could have left the salon with a new perm and perspective on change.

In the fall of 2007, I was giddy with excitement over moving away from home for the first time to be with my then-fiance, and to finally start our lives together. I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ and ended up attending an in-state university. The most traveling I did before then was to California to go to Disneyland, or up to Washington state to see my grandparents. So when Brandon said that he was being stationed in Colorado Springs, CO, I was super stoked. MySpace was more popular than Facebook at the time, and I remember changing my MySpace background to a photo of the snow-covered, woodsy Rocky Mountains. I would sit staring at the photo and could almost feel the crisp Colorado air hitting my lungs. I was so happy. I could not wait to move.

Within weeks after my big move from Arizona to Colorado, the enormity of moving away from home for the first time finally began settling in. I was not mentally prepared for all the change that was happening to me. I knew before hand that I was going to have to find new friends and learn how to drive through a blizzard, but actually doing those things was very difficult at first.

I began feeling really depressed. I cried a lot. I felt isolated from the family back home but also from the people I encountered in Colorado Springs. I got my hair done at a hip salon called Toni & Guy, and I was never able to build a relationship with a single stylist at that salon. In fact, each stylist I was scheduled with seemed so impersonal that when they asked if I was "from here" (meaning native to Colorado Springs... there are a lot of Colorado Springs natives...) and I answered no - that I was a military spouse originally from Arizona, they all dismissed me. None of them seemed remotely interested in getting to know me and my story, let alone empathize with what I was going through at the time.

When I see my El Paso stylist, Brenda, I truly feel like I'm going to see an old friend even though we've never hung out together outside of the salon. Being vulnerable by opening myself up to others, and also listening to what someone has to say goes a long, long way.

This is what bothered me so much with the Laura - Ashley story. It's two-fold:

Laura knows what it's like to move away from home for the first time. And yet, she didn't extend a hand to a sister military spouse. On the other side of the same coin, though, Ashley wasn't vulnerable, allowing herself to open up and describe - in a healthy manner - what she was going through. I believe that Ashley could have let her walls come down to become more vulnerable with Laura if she didn't feel so threatened. I mean, the store owner marched out to basically tell her shape up or ship out. And she did. She never returned to the salon.

I began wondering why there's this invisible barrier up between spouses, hindering our ability to support one another and build friendships. I believe it's due in part by the better-than you / less-than-you approach to military relationships. In my experience, I notice that there are spouses who take a pompous approach to their military spouse title. Likewise, I have seen spouses shy away from getting to know a seasoned spouse because she feels inferior for no other reason than because of her husband's job. I have attended seminars that emphasize the fact that spouses do not retain their husband's job or rank. Experts, who are often seasoned military spouses, advise to "get over yourself - this is your husband's job, not yours." They suggest to find your own niche and reach your own accomplishments that you can be proud of and toot your horn with. Perhaps if we begin to look past the in-house hierarchy of what our husbands do for a living and view other spouses with a competently neutral slate - after all, isn't that how you meet people on the street or at your place of work anyway? - that maybe we can begin to build closer relationships and establish mutual support with fellow spouses.

I also want to note that we should be sensitive to the fact that many people who have never been in nor raised in the military truly don't know what we're going through. And they're likely to unintentionally say things that are hurtful such as, "You have to be strong. This is what you signed up for..." What an incredibly high expectation to put on someone who knows not what she's getting herself into nor how to "be strong." But that's the very reason why we need to open up and share our stories. Likewise, for my civilian readers, listening to our stories will help you to, in the words of Brenda, "understand what it's like to be a military spouse." Assuming that we are strong enough to handle anything does the exact opposite. Not being able to confide in someone because they placed us in the solid-as-a-rock category makes us feel weak and isolated. These are the very walls that must be lowered in order for us to build lasting relationships.

The hurdles we must jump with regard to in-house support might never fully come down in my lifetime. But if I accomplish only one thing with being a military spouse activist in my community, it's to shout from the rooftops of sistering-on. Support one another. Listen to one another. Be vulnerable and open up to those who know what you're going through. After all, we're sisters in this thing together.


Postscript:

For about a week I struggled with some unanswered questions about this story. I knew who I needed to speak with, but I was reluctant because being vulnerable is oftentimes hard. I eventually contacted Laura because I was writing about vulnerability - about military spouses opening up and sharing stories in order to connect. I knew that I had to take the step forward to talk with Laura about why she didn't give Ashley the big warm hug or even try to calm her down by using empathy. She helped fill in some blanks and validated the story I'd heard from Brenda. She also confessed that she was dealing with her own walls of isolation from the local community as well as from other military spouse clients of hers.

She states, "Most of the customers I had (at the salon) were quick to judge me." She goes on to admit that her clients native to El Paso and Mexico were wary of her ability due to racial favoritism. Moreover, she writes that she didn't get many military wives in her chair, but the few she did get came with what I described above as the better-than-you / less-that-you attitude (oftentimes expressed through fear.)

Laura further states, "I do feel for (Ashley) because I understand what it feels to be uprooted from everyone and everything that makes you, you. I've lived in Rhode Island, Georgia, and now here in Texas. I miss home every day, and although my husband is my home away from home, he is often busy, leaving me to try and put myself together in a strange place. I barely know my nephews. My grandmother is loosing her memory. And my parents look 10 years older every time I see them. I have one friend and I've been here a year. This has been the hardest location so far."

Oh, to dream what the outcome of the Laura-Ashley story would have been if Laura would have said this exact thing to her in the moment. They could have really bonded and become friends on common ground.


When have you felt supported or unsupported by a sister military spouse? 
How has that experience changed the way you interact with other spouses?

EB Butterfly Free Signature 2
Erin Bettis


(*Some of the names in this post have been changed to protect identities.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Valentine's Day GoGo Squeez Free Printable


I made these gift tags for Whitney's pre-kindergarten class last year. The kids loved them! Print on bright white card stock, hole punch the top, and attach a pretty little ribbon. I decided to have the tie in the back for easy twist off of the cap.





EB Butterfly Free Signature 2

Breakfast at Tiffany's Themed Bridal Shower on a Budget


When my sister’s wedding approached, I knew that a Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed bridal shower was the perfect way to celebrate sending her off into marriage. Its fun, sophisticated style speaks across generations and I knew that I’d feel confidant throwing this type of party for guests ranging in ages 25 – 65. If you’re looking to throw a stellar Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed bridal shower this year, here are some party planning ideas to help make your event exciting and memorable while remaining under budget.


Before I began making any purchases, I had to put together a formal party budget. In doing so, I was able to stay under the threshold and enjoy the party planning process without the panicky feeling of overspending due to unaccounted for costs or overindulgence.

My youngest sister, Jessica, and I decided on a $600 budget for 27 guests including the bride and hostesses. With 6 months to plan this event, myself, Jessica, and our mother, Patricia, were able to save $200 each toward the cost of the party.


I used an Excel spreadsheet to organize every single party detail. From cost to seating charts, this spreadsheet had everything I needed to pull off this affair. It was so unbelievably helpful, that I highly recommend using it for your own event. Download your copy of this Excel spreadsheet here.

Here's an example of our food and beverage cost.


My food and beverage budget ate up over half of the total party budget. When I first started planning, I was excited to buy all kinds of pretty Breakfast at Tiffany’s party favors and decorations, but after breaking down the dollars and cents, I had to re-think my whole vision for the party. After more consideration, I realized that if I fed my guests good food and gave them delicious cocktails, they should really enjoy themselves. However, while I had several decadent breakfast danishes and croissants, my guests were not big drinkers. When planning your own budget, consider the audience. If your bride/guests drink like fish, account for enough alcohol. Likewise, if your bride/guests are more into appearances than food, or if your party will be a light meal (think afternoon tea), your budget won’t require as much attention to the food and drink section of the overall budget. Once I took control of the budget, I was then able to think about planning the cake, decorations, and games.

For weeks I went back-and-forth about whether to do a cupcake tower or a cake. A cupcake tower is significantly cheaper and very popular right now, but I really wanted to impress the bride with a Tiffany’s box cake. We used Jessica’s personal connections to get an impressive discount on a beautiful Tiffany-inspired cake from a prestigious local bakery. Don’t shy away from using your own or someone else’s contacts to help make your event magical. It doesn't look cheap. You look like you got your shit together.

Photo credit: Jessica B.

To add drama, height, and to clear counter space at the food display, I DIYed three 3-tiered stands using silver platters and crystal-looking candle holders found at my local dollar store. I found the inspiration for this project at Shelterness.


Photo credit: Jessica B.

Those blue boxes on the food table? Yeah. Those are emptied, old, square tissue boxes elegantly wrapped in blue gift-wrap paper I found at WrapAndRevel. To finish the look, tie them up with white satin ribbon.

DIY bottle labels were found at Michael's craft store:

Photo credit: Jessica B.

Photo credit: Jessica B.

I also made these simple little guys: Labels for wine glasses and champagne flutes. Just print the sheet out on signature Tiffany-blue card stock and cut. Don't forget to cut a slit so that it can slide on to the base of the glass.




The decorations were simple and elegant with a black and white damask design with splashes of Tiffany blue.

Photo credit: Jessica B.
The center pieces were silk Tiffany blue and white daisies found at the local discount craft store. Recycled square vases and planter rocks were used to save money.
Photo credit: Jessica B.
To let guests know where they can hashtag their photos so that the bride can see all her images in one place from the Shower, I used a frame recycled from my own wedding and just replaced the photo with an 8.5"x11" sign I created in Microsoft Word.

Photo credit: Jessica B.

Want this unique sign for your next event?



The party favors were Tiffany-inspired boxes filled with a strand of faux peals found at the local dollar store in the party section.


We played a few games and passed out gift bags filled with spa items to each winner.




Need an idea for a game? We played He Said, She Said. Just ask the Bride and Groom your questions separately. Make a game sheet with several answers mixed at random. The guests have to guess who made each statement. The guest with the most correct statement pairings wins a prize. Of course the racier, juicer the answers, the more entertaining the game...




I downloaded a free game card from Everyday Dishes. Get yours here.

There you have it. A beautiful and memorable Breakfast at Tiffany's themed Bridal Shower on a Budget. If you're diligent in your search for freebies and you reuse items from past parties, you can pull off an air of sophistication that this theme calls for. If you're lucky, you might even find brand new or gently used favors and other decor at Recycle Your Wedding. For more Tiffany themed party inspiration, check out my Breakfast at Tiffany's Bridal Shower on a Budget Pinterest page.

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Quick list of all the printables in this post:


EB Butterfly Free Signature 2 

Friday, June 13, 2014

I Survived My First Year as a School Mom

I’ve been walking a tight rope strung between two high rise buildings in the middle of New York city. Too much weight on one side and I could’ve slipped, free-falling 72 floors to my premature death. For the last 10 months, I tried meticulously to find balance in my first year as a mom of a school-aged child.

As I reflect on this first year, I’m relieved it’s over and scared out of my pants for what kindergarten will bring. Yes, she just completed PRE-kindergarten. Her curriculum was fast-paced, yet fair. Many outsiders believed the day was only filled with play; however, her teacher had a steady program that did involve play, but mirrored that of full-day kindergarten.

Kindergarten scares me because I haven’t found the right balance of finding the right way to parent a school-aged child. Last August when school began, I wasn't prepared for the journey on which it took me. My maturity grew in ways I didn’t know needed maturing. This year constantly challenged me to find a balance I wasn’t in tune with.

Several days before Spirit Week we were given a flyer announcing what outlandish costumes she had to wear each day. Up first, Monday = Pajama Day. You’d think that would've been the easy one for me, but remembering my own school days, I never wore pajamas on Pajama Day. Back when I was in school you almost had to show that you were too cool for Spirit Week and show your coolness (aka extreme insecurity) by not wearing pajamas. Yeah, that was me. Going against the system when I so desperately just wanted to wear pajamas.

Fast forward to Whitney’s very first Spirit Week ever. Monday Pajama Day. I decided not to put her in pajamas. My school insecurities surfaced in a suffocating cloud and I panicked and put her regular clothes. I didn’t want her to be the only one wearing pajamas. I didn’t want her to feel insecure or the odd-girl out for doing what the “system” asked her to do. Like the goody-toe-shoes who always does as she’s asked. I figured, when in doubt, go with plain ‘ol regular school clothes to “feel out” this Spirit Week thing.

I was wrong.

Everyone and their principal was wearing pajamas.

As we walked up to the school the feeling of Parent Fail washed over me. It’s the same feeling as shame. Whitney looked up at me with those beautiful blue worrisome eyes and said, “Mom, I’m suppose to be wearing pjs today! Why didn’t you put me in pjs?!!” She was reluctant to get lined up for class and I could tell that she was feeling like the odd-girl out – the very thing I didn’t want her to feel. All the other little kids were showing their dinosaur pajama bottoms and Disney Princess tops. It was like the Annual Pre-k Pajama Day Fashion Show and Whitney had no pjs to showoff. For a 5-year-old, that is the worst day of her life. So I went full throttle for the fun day, Crazy Hair Day. But, this day proved worse than Pajama Day and sent me spiraling back into Parent Fail.

For Crazy Hair Day, I went all out. I had been planning this masterpiece in my mind all week. I was going to style her hair like a Who from Whoville, and it was going to be best crazy hair that trumped all Crazy Hair Days. If Pajama Day was like a fashion show, I just knew that Crazy Hair Day was going to be the same.

I was wrong.

Everyone played crazy hair day totally chill like they didn’t want to do what the “system’ asked them to do.





When Whitney got to school, all the kids stared at her in… I don’t know… my hope was amazement, but I don’t think that’s what they were really thinking. When kids walk by with gapping jaws and eyes the size of walnuts, they’re probably not thinking, “Wow! That’s the BEST crazy hair that trumps all Crazy Hair Days!”

I left the school in tears. I began Spirit Week not doing enough, and I ended it doing too much. What’s more, I let my own suppressed school insecurities surface and dictate how I responded as an adult. I was heart broken and sitting in major Parent Fail muck.

As the school year continued, I found it challenging to stay in balance – never overstepping into I’m-the-crazy-mom-and-my-daughter-is-going-to-have-best-fill-in-the-blank mode - nor into I’m-super-lazy-and-don’t-feel-like-doing-anything-for-the-class mom.

In honesty, it's difficult making parenting decisions on my own as a married single parent. My husband was in field training exercises nearly half the school year, leaving me to have school-related dialog with myself. “Should we buy the yearbook?” “Well, she’s going to have class pictures taken soon, and that’s all we really want memories of, anyway, plus, she’s in pre-k. It’s not like she had multiple teachers or was in clubs or anything…” No, I did not buy the yearbook, but I did buy the class picture. A meticulous balance to preserving pre-k memories.

I learned a lot this year about myself, and yet, I wasn’t the one in school. I had to learn to let her go and be a kid. I had to learn to guide her own decision making while teaching her empathy. I learned that I need to go with the flow more often while staying on an organized schedule. Always in balance.

And so, even though I wobbled quite a bit on that tight rope, taking each step cautiously while desperately clinging to the long pole of stability, I made it to the other side. I survived my first year as a school mom. On to kindergarten we go.

Some first and last day pre-k memories...

IMG_3541
IMG_3561
Last day of Pre_k 01
Last day of Pre_k 02
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Congratulations to Big E, the winner of the Lady Bird Press Father’s Day Coupon Book. Your coupon book will arrive in your email box by the end of today. Although I had only two entries, the winner was chosen by random.org:

True Random Number Generator: Result:1 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Friday, June 6, 2014

10 Dignified Father’s Day Gifts Under $10



Father’s Day is June 14th and if you’re like me, you’ve had the date penciled on your mental calendar only for May to flip to June and you’re suddenly left feeling panicked because you haven’t yet planned a gift for that special father in your life. Children’s artwork gifts can melt those burly, fatherly hearts. They are meaningful, inexpensive, and can be completed at the last minute. However, after years of construction paper ties and little hand prints painted to look like farm animals, the idea of kids crafts as gifts begins faring low on the uniqueness scale. If you’d like to stray from the traditional handmade presents of years’ past by giving that special man a gift that is elegant, useful, and that doesn’t break the bank, then check out this list of 10 dignified father’s day gifts that cost you under $10.

1.) Photo Cufflinks $8.00 (Originally $28) by Jerseymaids
Whether your guy wears French cuff dress shirts regularly or not, this gift is like your Mother’s Day pearl necklace. He may not wear them every day, but they’re special to own for that rare occasion when the crisp, white, French shirt comes off the hanger. This cufflink set comes with a polaroid heart image and can be customized with your own photo for a fee. For only $8, this price cannot be beat.
Image Source


2.) Personalized Loving Heart Pocket Token$7.95 (Oiginally $9.95) from Personalization Mall
I love this idea for our military fathers – especially those deployed or on TDY. He can carry this heartfelt message with him in his uniform pocket and be reminded of his loving family. This pocket token can be customized with any name followed by 3 lines and an ending message. Show that special father your love in a small yet meaningful way.
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3.) Handcrafted Walnut iPad Stand$10.80 (Originally $12.00) by btrWoodWorks
So... this may be $0.80 over, but I can’t resist adding this gift to the list. This hand-carved, finished walnut iPad stand is perfect for the chef or desk-working dad. Got a guy who watches a lot of movies or plays games on his iPad? This stand will definitely come in handy. Imagine your guy whipping out delicious meals from recipes on his iPad easily in the kitchen with an upright iPad – and for only $10.80! What’s more? It’s an inexpensive, dignified gift that is sure to get a lot of use.
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4.) Maple Business Card Holder $5.40 (Originally 6.00) by btrWoodWorks
This spalted maple business card holder, made by the same company, is yet another gift idea for the hard-working business man in your life. It is a simple way to beef up an otherwise boring office desk. It holds 15-20 cards and is rubbed with orange oil and beeswax.
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5.) 5x7 Photo Book – From $9.99 by Walgreens
Another wonderful idea for the deployed and TDY dads. This is such a meaningful, yet affordable gift that he will treasure. If your guy isn’t deployed, get creative by designing a recipe book instead. Or, perhaps, celebrate Grandpa this Father’s Day with a photo book of his grandchildren that is sure to bring out a smile.
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6.) Guitar Pick Keychain $8.00 by PickMyPick
This item made the list because of its endearing message displayed in a super cool way. For only $8 you can customize one side of the keychain for Dad to always carry a note from his children.
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7.) Father’s Day Coupon Book – Instant PDF Download ***$5.00 by LadybirdPress
With an instant download from Lady Bird Press, you can have this gift in a hurry. The download provides 12 pre-made coupons, book cover, and 1 sheet of blanks for you to create your own ideas. What a sweet way to show dad he is king for a day.

*** Lady Bird Press is giving away one FREE download of their Father's Day coupon book. Comment below telling me how your guy goes over and beyond as a dad. Giveaway ends Thursday, June 12th at 9pm MST. Winner will be announced here Friday, June 13th and on my Facebook page. Prize will be sent to your email address.
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8.)  State Map Wall Art – Instant PDF Download $2.50 (Originally $5.00) by RedJuanPrintables
For the man always on the move, this timeless state map wall art is sure to win hearts. What a wonderful way to honor his home state and his or his children’s birthplace. Each state comes in your choice of 3 different layouts and sizes ranging from 5x7 up to 20x30. The frame is sold separately.
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9.) Natural Shaving Soap For Men $7.00 by HomeBrewedSoaps
Our military dads need to keep a clean face. Why not make a splash with this all natural face soap made of lavish oakmoss, cedarwood, and beer? The beer is homemade and the product packaging is created out of recycled materials. This soap uniquely brings a manly aroma into the bathroom – in a good way.
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10.) Hawaiian Coffee Fire Starters$7.50 by doublebrush
For the gourmet cook and BBQing dad, these coffee-smelling fire starters are a conversation piece sure to heat things up. Chemical-free, they provide a healthier way to outdoor cooking. If your special dad isn’t into cooking or grilling, use them for a night of entertaining around a fireplaces or a relaxing around a fire pit.
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Military fathers are special because they’re not only a major source of support for our family, but for all the families around the world. Our guys have a love of country that often requires them to be away on holidays including Father’s Day. Although we may tell our special dads we love them often, Father’s Day is reserved not only for expressing love, but showing sincere gratitude for being a beaming light of heroic inspiration in the hearts of our children, and the hearts of children everywhere.

*** Lady Bird Press is giving away one FREE download of their Father's Day coupon book. Comment below telling me how your guy goes over and beyond as a dad. Giveaway ends Thursday, June 12th at 9pm MST. Winner will be announced here Friday, June 13th and on my Facebook page. Prize will be sent to your email address.







Tuesday, May 20, 2014

10 Quick Ideas for a Kickass Memorial Day BBQ

10 Quick Ideas for a Kickass Memorial Day BBQ
Memorial Day is a time of remembrance for those men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice in military service for the United States. Customarily, the weekend is considered the start of summer. Kids are finishing their school year, and adults want to spend the long weekend in the warm outdoors.

For many, once respect is paid in remembrance, backyard BBQs are their Memorial Day weekend staple. What better way to kick off summer than with hosting a kickass BBQ? BBQ parties don’t require much planning, but having a general outline before you begin purchasing your supplies makes you look organized and, well, pretty kickass. Here, I’ve gathered everything you need to pull off a quick and easy party with this list of 10 ideas to throw a memorable Memorial Day weekend BBQ.

1.) Theme
It’s easier to plan a party when you have a theme in mind before you begin buying your food and party supplies. With Memorial Day, patriotism is a common theme. You can find cheap patriotic party supplies, such as plates, cups, and napkins at your dollar or party store. In a hurry? Spend $0 on these patriotic party printables to really liven up your backyard gathering.


Home of the Free Printable

Love these printables? So do I. Here is a list of more printable party decorations:

2.) Meat
What do you BBQ? Meat of course! And food is probably the most important aspect of planning a BBQ. Therefore, take time to think about what meat you’re BBQing. Even if you’re hosting a potluck style affair, plan a good meat for the barbie. I love the idea for a burger or hotdog bar. If you choose to serve ribs, steak, chicken, or fish instead, you can still create a nice food arrangement using cheap reusable bowls and platters from your local dollar store.



3.) Fruit
Creative fruit displays are a sure-fire way to make your Memorial Day BBQ stand out.




4.) Side Dishes
If you like the idea of easy grab-and-go appetizers and sides, create single serve seven layer dip cups, or perhaps individual containers filled with carrot and celery sticks. Wanting more variety? Skewer some asparagus or bacon wrapped scallops to throw on the grill for a mouthwatering side dish.




5.) Drinks
Get creative with your drink recipe or display. Try serving this summery watermelon lemonade or blue long island ice tea. If you have a kiddie pool on hand, dump some soft drinks, waters, and beer in a ‘pool’ of ice, and you got your backyard BBQ drinks easily accessible in a fun and creative way.



6.) Utensils
Dress up your utensils for an ulta-special attention to detail. Try adding a fork to those easy grab-and-go sides I mention above. It adds a little flair to an otherwise boring cutlery display - and you can continue looking pretty awesome with your quick kickass BBQ.




7.) Music
Create the right mood with the right music. Many people have their own portable music player or sound system for use outdoors. Make sure you provide music that’s tailored to your audience to set the right party atmosphere. Need song ideas? Check out this list of Top 10 Country Songs for Saluting Our Troops on Memorial Day.




8.) Games
Providing activities is always a win when entertaining guests for a BBQ. It allows your friends to really enjoy themselves and the day. Some all-time favorite outdoor games include corn hole, horseshoes, beer pong, darts, and volleyball. For the calmer crowd, offer cards, shuffleboard, or golf toss.

If you don’t have any of those games lying around the house for your last minute party, you can either make your own or ask your guests to bring them from home. For example, shuffleboard boards can be made in the grass with spray paint or on concrete with duct tape. Plus, most people are excited to bring anything they can to help.




9.) Desserts
Give them an excuse to save room for dessert with this Berries on a Cloud recipe by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. For the health conscience, try offering Healthy Light Berry Dessert Pizza by Undressed Skeleton.




10.) Kid Zone
Kids need a lot of stimulation and activities to keep a party going strong well into the evening. I love the idea of providing kid friendly outdoor games, a kid’s table full of activities, or a backyard movie under the stars to ensure that everyone has a good time.




If you’re planning a last minute Memorial Day BBQ and need a short list of ideas for throwing a party that looks like it took weeks to plan, look no further than this list of 10 Quick Ideas for a Kickass Memorial Day BBQ.

Need an extra dose of quick inspiration? Check out my Pinterest Page that includes more party foods, games, music ideas, and printables.



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* Image source: Cover image: Stock, Image 1: A Little Crafting, Images 2-10: Dollar Photo Club
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