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Monday, July 9, 2012

Style A Successful Party On A Budget, Without Junk Food? YES!

Test Party Success!

The Fourth of July was my newest "test" party.  I am putting together a plan, a compilation of sorts, that include inexpensive party decoration staples from the dollar store or craft store, and a collection of HEALTHY party recipes so everyone can style an amazing successful party without all the sugar and is even KID approved!  Scroll down and enjoy some great recipe ideas and inspiration to add to your next event.  Make it special, make it healthy!

Many party blogs are showing wonderful backdrops for styling the party table areas.  I bought simple boards from the dollar store and wrapping paper (you could also use contact paper) to cover the boards with.  I stood it up on a simple small easel, also picked up at the dollar store.  You can decorate them with stickers, cut outs, ribbons or any creative thing! 

Use items already around your house to add decorations to for centerpieces or to add height to the food table.

I keep a box for each holiday with  simple decorations that can be reused or reset in different ways.  I keep ribbon, faux flowers and inexpensive seasonal items to pull from.

Here, I used a wonderful idea from "In My Own Style" blog where she tied the napkin and utensils to the paper plates by putting a simple hole punch in the plate and securing with ribbon.  This allowed everyone to fix their plates without carrying the extra items.

I made a low sugar "sugar" cookie by using organic unbleached flour and substituting organic unprocessed coconut crystals for sugar.  There was some sugar in the tiny fondant decoration, but I stopped covering the entire cookie and switched off to Martha Stewart push molds, sold at Michael's craft store to style the cookies without using a lot of sugary frostings.  They are so simple to use with just a tiny bit of fondant, anyone can do it!  Just secure it to the cookie with a tiny dab of agave nectar or honey. 

Guess where?  Yup, the Dollar Store...napkins, basket and cups.  The red cups were for Valentine's Day so I covered the heart with clip art and ribbon.

Paper goes a LONG way in trying to create theme and color.  Just google in free clipart and use hole punches to create little labels, signs or design. 

Here, I covered little glass vases from the dollar store with a half piece of paper secured with tape in the back. I use those vases for EVERYTHING!  Pick up about four of them.  The red ribbon was a post Christmas clearance item for .15!  The fireworks stars were at Michael's at 40% off.  They literally cost spare change! 

Confetti was a re-use from last year's saved whole punched stars.

Here is that tiny glass vase again!  My staple dollar store item!

One word: spray paint.  I use spray paint all the time.  I color and recolor a few simple buckets or stands over and over.  I get spray paint at Lowes for  .99.  This cute little red bucket was a yard sale find for a dime and stands in many a party to add color or hold a centerpiece. 

Paper lanterns are inexpensive, easy to store and can be used for many different themes to add color and a festive atmosphere. 

Let's talk about food!  So many gorgeous colored stylized parties are filled with nothing but sugar!  Colored candy filling vases and bowls, massive cupcakes, sweet treats and sugar filled everything.  You can bring in wonderful foods  for your color and theme that don't send your kids climbing the walls!  Here pretty organic fruit makes a pretty statement in colored containers.  I found these at Michael's also.  

Organic blue corn chips and organic carrots are paired with the most delicious sweet onion, creamy spinach and guacamole dip I have ever tasted.  Chips are full of fiber, low fat and the dip is packed with healthy oils, protein and veggies. 

Creamy Spinach/Sweet Onion Guacamole Dip
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium sweet onion like Vidalia or red
1 clove of garlic
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1 avocado or already packaged organic guacamole
1 C plain GREEK yogurt
1 tsp grated lemon zest and 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

Saute onions in oil on low- med heat until caramelized, add garlic to saute last minute of cooking, throw in frozen spinach to thaw.  Puree the avocado, Greek yogurt and lemon, then combine all and chill. 

Little healthy appetizers like vegan pepperoni, organic low fat cheese cut into cookie cutter shapes, olives and grape tomatoes placed in cupcake wrappers turned inside out to add color and theme without using candy or sugar and chemical laden products.  Little cucumber rounds hold a dab of low fat organic cream cheese with dill, chives and black pepper. 

My great chocolate cupcake recipe is definitely a party MUST with no sugar or flour!  It is high in protein and has healthy heart oils.  See the recipe HERE.  I changed up my frosting recipe this time and everyone raved over it.  A few real dedicated self proclaimed sugar loving guests were astonished and amazed at this cupcake.  The stack was gobbled up in minutes! 

Chocolate Frosting "Buttercream"

1 cup organic dark chocolate morsels
1/2 cup (one stick) vegan vegetable shortening like Earth Balance or Spectrum brands
1/4 cup organic raw agave nectar 
1 T pure vanilla extract
1/4 C organic dry skim milk
1/4 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Melt your chocolate over a low heat in a saucepan. Stir and cool for 10 min, blend in the shortening and begin to mix with hand mixer.  Add the remaining ingredients.  You can chill to harden or heat to soften.  I found it to pipe through a piping bag and star tip wonderfully! It was yummy!

My lemon cuppies made their showing!  This is also a no sugar no flour recipe that is good for you.  See the recipe HERE.  I also tried a new frosting that was fully kid approved!

Healthy Buttercream Frosting

1/2 C (1 stick) Spectrum  or Earth Balance all vegetable vegan shortening
1/2 C (1 stick) organic butter 
3/4 C of  organic raw agave nectar
1/4 - 1/2 C organic dry skim milk
2 packs dry Stevia
1/2 t meringue or egg white powder
1 T vanilla extract

Beat with hand mixer and chill for about  2 hrs to stiffen, add more dry milk if it needs a touch more stiffener.  Spread or pipe through a piping bag. 
You can add any flavor of extract.  I put in some raspberry oil flavoring and it was delicious. 

I did make hamburgers, BUT see my LINK for a hidden healthy trick! 

Fun photo booth back drops can be made with so many creative things.  We hung a flag, but think about curtains, cardboard or accessories like hats,  glasses, silly theme items or even picture frames to peek through. 

Don't invite junk food or heavy sugar laden food to your next party and try a few of my recipes!  

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