These days, my inner self is pretty desperately trying to convince my outer, more reasonable self that what I really want to do is be a party planner. Or professional organizer. Or full-time crafter. Never mind the seven years you spent becoming a counselor, she says. Forget the 50-60 hour work weeks, she promises. Alas, I love being a counselor, so for now, these other jobs will just have to wait. I do enjoy throwing a good party though, and last Saturday was one of my favorites. A night filled with beautiful ladies, delicious food, a drink bar, organizational items, and glitter?! Yes please.

I’d been considering have a Pinterest party or demonstration for a while, so my decision to host a Thirty-One party was kind of the best of both worlds. I could continue working towards my 40 tasks of organization with their beautiful bins, baskets, and bags while also spending some time with the ladies in my life and trying out some of those Pinterest pins that had been hanging out on my boards, ignored, for some time. The theme of this party was “New Year, New Bag”, which extended to me putting new twists on some more commonly used recipes and helping people purge in anticipation of their new Thirty-One products. We did an “old bag” party, where everyone donated a purse or tote they no longer wanted. I’m excited to take down many bags this Saturday to the Baltimore location of “Dress for Success”. It’s a great organization that supports women trying to find work or develop careers.

Being my first ladies only event in a while, I wanted to go all feminine – helping my friend with her daughter’s first birthday had me aching for some glitter. I started with a drink bar, which, let’s be honest, is really appropriate at anything. Don’t think the notion of a milk or juice bar hasn’t crossed my mind for little man’s next party. This particular drink bar paid homage to my favorite drink of all times – the margarita – and a pomegranate champagne cocktail. Bonus: I found out two days before that National Margarita Day happened to fall on the same day as my party. !!!!!!!!!!!!!! My mom has some seriously lovely glass pitchers that I think make any drink look fancy, so I used those, along with some martini and champagne glasses. I know what you are thinking: for a person who swears that margaritas are her favorite drink, how can she not have margarita glasses?! I know, I know, it’s a travesty. I had a glowing pregnant lady partaking in the fun, as well as a few designated drivers, so I also had some lemon water and pretty glasses for them. No paper cups at this party!

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The colored margarita salt and gold sugar that I used to rim the glasses can be found on Amazon (here and here). I’m also fairly certain you can get the gold sugar from Michaels or anywhere that sells Wilton baking supplies. As a margarita lover, I was way too excited about the lime, salt, and sugar rimmer, also from Amazon. Found the cute little napkins in the check-out line at Home Goods a couple weeks ago while out with my mom. At that store, you are truly only out of the spending-money woods once you have paid, have your receipt in hand, and have loaded your items in the car. I once went back in after pulling my car around to get a big piece of furniture, only to see a table runner that I had to have.

How amazing is that “Cheers” sign?! I found this gem on Etsy, and after a brief moment of considering whether or not I could make it myself (seriously, like one second), I decided that it was well worth the money. As has been my experience with many people on Etsy, this shop was fantastic, and I will definitely be returning, should I ever need a wooden glitter hanging banner again.

For food, I was going for simple, but different.

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I loved the little chalkboard signs, which complimented my larger chalkboard at the entryway.

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Michaels seems to be having a bit of a love affair with chalkboards right now, which gave me lots of options for cute displays. I had to strongly resist the urge to buy other chalkboard items, and was doing pretty well until I came across a chalkboard mini banner. I immediately envisioned separating the flags and using them as wine charms.

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Here was my menu, complete with links! You are welcome.

Edamame Hummus: I omitted tahini because it is expensive and unnecessary, in my opinion. I also got lazy at the last minute and bought pita chips instead of making my own. They really are easy, and I have made them before, but the store bought chips were also delicious. Verdict: Other than the color, tastes just like chickpea hummus.

Bacon-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes: I cut these into very small pieces because I was afraid they wouldn’t be soft enough. Next time, I will probably make them bigger. Because they were so small, we cut the bacon into smaller strips as well. We didn’t use toothpicks; just rolled the bacon. Finally, a warning. The recipe suggests using a baking sheet. I’m not sure if it’s because my baking sheet didn’t have the lip around the outside or because we put more bites on the tray than the writer over at Simply Living Healthy, but the grease got a little out of control, and we may have had a small fire in the bottom of the oven. Fortunately, no one was hurt, the house aired out before people began arriving, and most importantly, the sweet potato bites were delicious. Oh, and God bless self-cleaning ovens. Verdict: Would make again, but on a safer apparatus.

Proscuitto Balls with Marinara Sauce: These were amazing. I sincerely wish we had made more. That is all. Verdict: I’m surprised I haven’t made these again already.

Avocado Bruschetta: I’d definitely encourage you to use both the yellow and red tomatoes if you can find the yellow ones. These were so colorful and awesome looking. I timed making the balsamic reduction poorly, so that didn’t end up happening, but it worked out. I made all of the bread ahead of time and just put it on a big tray so that people could spoon avocado mixture to their hearts’ content. Verdict: definitely making again, probably to eat gluttonously by myself.

Stuffed Pepper Soup: If I had known what a big hit this soup would be, I would have made more. My poor husband didn’t even get to try any when he got home two hours later, that’s how quickly this went. Because I had enough other things to do on the stove, I turned this into a crock pot recipe. I did the first step on the stove, but instead of adding the tomatoes, sauce, etc into the pan, I put it in the crockpot and added the meat mixture to it.

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I put it on high for about four hours and mixed in cooked brown rice when we were about an hour out from eating.  I loved the little bowls my mom and I found at Target (on sale!); they were the perfect portion size, and fit on everyone’s plate alongside their other goodies. Verdict: definitely making again.

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Caramel Apple Bites: When planning out a menu for a party, there is always a dish that frustrates you. This was that dish. Deceptively easy, the instructions fail to mention that butterscotch chips melt differently than chocolate chips, and that the butterscotch takes some time to harden (i.e., longer than chocolate which practically hardens as you use it). They tasted good, but took a really long time to get done, and took up precious stove top space, which I was not anticipating. I did get a melon baller out of the deal, so it wasn’t all bad. Verdict: I need to figure out a different way to do these, because they were yummy. Just not pretty.

Cupcake Fondue: What a fun idea! I made these cupcakes, but held the frosting and made them mini. Bake them for about 12-15 minutes so that they don’t get too well-done. The first batch was good, but more the consistency of cornbread, so a little drier. After I started taking them out sooner, they were a little more cupcake like. They also softened overnight once they were in sealed containers. The recipe encourages you to dip the cupcake completely into the fondue, but everyone just spooned the glaze over the top since the cupcakes had wrappers on them. No worries,  it was still delicious, and probably a little less messy too. Verdict: Fun, easy, and a definite keeper. Those cupcakes were awesome on their own.

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Yes, more adorable napkins from Home Goods.

The party was a ton of fun, and we all ate, drank, and shopped. Our party was the biggest my Thirty-One consultant has ever done! Am I an overachiever or what?! I can’t wait to show you when I get all of my goodies into the various closets in my house. Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed the night with me. A couple people have already asked me when we were doing it again, to which I say: Challenge Accepted.

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