Entries in affordable party ideas (4)



Hi Friends...

If you have noticed, I've been very absent from my blog in recent weeks-months as I worked on a new, better website... where you will be able to find party plans, recipes, wedding advice, and tips for bringing your friends and family together for holidays, celebrations, or just a casual weekend get-together.

For now, as I move and add the recipes and content to the new site, I will leave this blog intact but eventually merge them. The new site is much easier to navigate. You can find party ideas for casual get-togethers and holiday celebrations under the celebrations tab. Ane the new site has a place for all of the "how-to" videos I will begin creating soon.

I'm so excited to take Martie Knows Parties on to the next level... Please tell me what you think!


Easy and Affordable Recipe: Meringue Party Cookies

I am a big fan of these little meringue cookies. Meringue cookies are light, and airy... they just melt in your mouth. Add food color and they become a whole different thing... they become party decorations, too! You can use them on trays, on cake pedestals, in paper cones or simply fill pretty bowls with them and completely change the look of your dessert table. Since these little gems only have a couple of ingredients, they are not only pretty and delicious, the are also very affordable. You can even make sandwich cookies out of them with Nutella, almond butter, icing, or any other favorite filling. They are simple to make- but they do require a little time so make them the day or night before your party.


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place your rack in the center of the oven so the air can circulate easily around the pan. Best to bake one pan at a time. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. "Glue" the parchment to the pan to prevent slipping by using a bit of butter on each corner of the pan.

Makes about 20 cookies, depending on the size

Use a pastry bag, a large plastic zip top bag, or even two large spoons to form the cookies.

6 egg whites

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (use superfine sugar if you have it- it dissolves faster)

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or sub your favorite flavor. I like almond equally as well for the white cookies)

OPTIONAL: a very tiny drop of food coloring to make pastel colored cookies

Fit your mixer with the wire whisk attachment. Put the egg whites into the bowl of the mixer and beat on low-medium speed until they are frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Turn up the speed on the mixer to medium-high and begin to add the sugar a little at a time, giving each addition a minute to fully incorporate before adding the next bit. Continue to beat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture holds very stiff peaks. You can rub a bit between your fingers to check to see if it is gritty-- if it is, it needs more time. Keep beating the egg whites until you can no longer feel the sugar. Beat in the vanilla.

Use a spatula to transfer the meringue to a plastic bag. Easily work the meringue into the corner of the plastic bag and snip the corner of the bag. Pipe 2- 2 1/2" rounds, leaving a little room between each one. If you mess up on the piping, just scrape it off and put it back in the bag and try again. (It usually takes me a couple of tries before I get it going the way I want them to look.)  

 Bake for 1 1/2-2 hours. Make sure to turn the pan halfway through so that the cookies bake evenly. They are done when they are pale and crisp. Turn off the oven at this point and leave the cookies in the oven overnight to dry out completely.

These can be stored in airtight plastic containers at room temperature for up to a week.



Valentine's Day Party Ideas for Singles or Couples: Host a Wine Find!

Do you have a mix of singles and couples you’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with this year? Select a party theme that doesn’t necessarily require any partnering or couple-oriented activities. Instead, select something that can be fun for all... Host a Wine Find!

Photo: Arden Photography 

A “Wine Find” is always lots of fun. You know how everyone just loves to introduce a good, inexpensive and interesting wine to their friends--- "I found this amazing red from just outside Burgundy and it was only $12.99!"  Well, you can turn the quest for a great, inexpensive bottle of wine into an inexpensive party theme. Here's how:


Ask each guest to bring their favorite "cheap" wine  along with a simple food pairing and tasting notes for the wine. You can usually find these at the store or online. Set a price limit if you want to really challenge your guests... say, nothing over $15 per bottle.  


Award prizes for the winners with the best white, red and sparkling wines with one special prize for the overall winner.


Photo: Arden PhotographyNeed prize ideas? Boxes of nice chocolates, wine accessories, a really good bottle of good bubbly, gift cards to a favorite wine shop or book store, or movie tickets are always a good bet. Hope you and yours celebrate the day that celebrates love with lots of fun and laughter!


For a variation on this party theme, watch my Host a Wine Around the World Party video or read the how-to and take your party to a whole new destination!


Wedding and Party Planning: Cheap is the new Chic!

Okay, we are all feeling the pinch and cutting back on everything non-essential. That doesn't mean we have to completely forego important life events and celebrations--- or completely give up everyday fun, either. My long-time friend and wedding planning pro Lori Stephenson of LOLA Event Productions in Chicago came up with a fab and frugal party idea--- a fashion swap party. She calls it a "New to You" party--- she and her friends get together over drinks and appetizers to exchange their never worn or gently used clothing, jewelry and accessories. Everyone winds up with a couple of exciting new pieces to add to their wardrobe that cost little or nothing. Very worth the price of the party.

On the wedding front, I have gotten wind of at least ten low budget bashes this year! It seems as if everyone is foregoing extravagance for simplicity and instead of begrudging going economy, they are embracing their inner skinflint and enjoying the challenge of saving money. Love that!!

We're on the lookout for every cheap, frugal, tightwad, money-saving tip and idea we can find to help all of us celebrate these days of our lives--- even when the economy (and our bank accounts) tell us we shouldn't. Send us your ideas and we will post our own--- cheap is really the new chic!

Chic Cheap Tip #1: Cupcakes!Even for weddings, cupcakes have become quite chic and are very affordable. Best of all, they make people happy! Have you ever gotten (or given) a cupcake and not immediately seen a smile? For about $12, you can make enough to serve a large crowd. Add your favorite beverage and you've got a good start on a great party. There are entire companies dedicated only to cupcakes--- so no matter if you buy them or make them, the cupcake is a cheap chic tip for any party. These elegant cupcakes are perfect for a wedding, anniversary party or bridal shower.Devil's Food cupcakes with Seven Minute Frosting Milk chocolate cupcakes with mocha buttercream icing