Vanilla Ice Cream Challenge – Which is Best?


Shindigz Vanilla Ice Cream Challenge

Take the Shindigz Vanilla Ice Cream Challenge

Which brand of vanilla ice cream is best? That’s the question being put to those sweltering in 100+ degree temps across the United States today.

Here’s your chance to weigh in and vote for your favorite brand of vanilla ice cream.  Shindigz is conducting a vanilla ice cream challenge poll today.  Take the poll now.

Brands in the challenge include: Blue Bunny, Edy’s, Breyer’s, Haagen-Daz, and Blue Bell.  Results of this national survey will be tallied and released by Shindigz just before National Ice Cream Day which is July 15th.  This sweet day is celebrated during the heat of summer on the third Sunday of July (or would you say Sundae).

Plan to serve your favorite brand of vanilla ice cream (maybe the challenge winner) as you cool off this summer with unique ice cream party supplies from Shindigz.

Summer Asian Festivals to Recreate at Home


People love international reasons to party.  The 2012 Olympics in London presents opportunities to celebrate cultural traditions from around the world.  Jacquie Downey, Director of Sales and Marketing at Shindigz.com, a leading source for party decorations and Asian party supplies says, “The Asian culture gives us incredible festival ideas that can easily be recreated at home for more intimate gatherings with family and friends.”

Boryeong Mud Festival

“Mom and Dad will have to keep an open mind with this one,” says Downey.  “A mud party is a party to remember for a lifetime for everyone involved.”

The Boyreong Mud Festival takes place July 14 – 24 in South Korea.  Millions of visitors flock to the city of Boryeong for a festival where they literally make a mess of themselves in mud on the beach, while remembering mud’s many benefits for the skin.

Recreating this famous festival at home requires some creativity to get everyone involved. For the kids, it’s rather simple. Consider a mud pit in the back yard and watch their eyes light up when for one day a year, they are allowed and even encouraged to cover themselves in mud. For the women, have a collection of mud facial masks and let them pamper themselves for the day with a spa party.  Set up a mud-wrestling tournament for the men, and see how everyone involved can enjoy a good day in the mud.

Conclude your Mud Festival just as they do in South Korea, by washing up and shooting fireworks.  If fireworks are too big a task to take on, use sparklers and wind down the day talking about all your crazy experiences in the mud.

Songkran Festival

If mud isn’t your thing, maybe water is. The Thailand Songkran Festival takes place in Thailand’s hottest month, April, and is one of the world’s largest water fights.  Host a July Songkran Festival in the USA with pool party supplies.

Unlike the Mud Festival, Thailand’s festival focuses on the cleanliness of water.  “Think water balloons, water guns, sprinklers and even something as simple as the water hose,” suggests Downey.  “Have some good old-fashioned family fun with a giant water fight in the back yard, while also celebrating a popular Thailand tradition.”  Make sure your party drinks include personalized water bottle labels.

Chinese Lantern Festival

Each year in China, September begins a celebration called the Chinese Lantern Festival.  For most, the festival recreates the best of summer time fun in backyards.

“Chinese lanterns are beautiful,” Downey said. “What better way to spend time with family and friends than surrounded by these gorgeous lanterns in different colors and patterns?”

Hang lanterns from your porch, trees, or anywhere you can find. To stay with the theme, have a spread of popular Chinese foods. Invite friends and family over at dusk and give the kids glow party favors.  Have a relaxing evening in the beauty of your own yard.

4 Cocktails Guaranteed to Produce Fireworks


We’re sharing four cocktails to consider serving during your 4th of July events. They are all tasty, so to help you in deciding which to make — but mostly just for fun — we’ve also developed a “firecracker” rating system. Each concoction will be graded on each of the following characteristics, up to a possible perfect score of 4 Firecrackers:

  • Has coloring that matches our 4th of July theme
  • Uses seasonal ingredients, such as summer fruits
  • Is easy: 4 or fewer ingredients, not including ice or garnish
  • Originality: it’s so unusual that guests will talk about it after the party

Raspberry-Lemon Ricky (Serves 4)
In a cocktail shaker, muddle together 8 ounces of berry-flavored vodka, 2 ounces Limoncello, 2 ounces simple syrup and about 10 raspberries. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Pour over ice-filled cocktail glasses and garnish with additional raspberries and lime wedges.

Rating: 3 Firecrackers for red color, use of seasonal fruits and ease in making.

We found this cocktail at iVillage.com

Island Time (Serves 4)
Place 8 ounces dark rum, 4 ounces coconut nectar, and 8 ounces of pineapple juice into a blender filled with ice. Blend until smooth and pour into curvy glasses. Garnish with pineapple chunks speared with tropical fruit picks or drink parasols.

Rating: 2 Firecrackers for matching (closely enough) the white in our red-white-blue color scheme and for its simplicity (you could add seasonal berries for a third Firecracker if you are so inclined).

This one also came from iVillage.

Cucumber-Lemonade Chiller (Serves 4)
Start with 3 large cucumbers. Cut 12 thin slices from one of them and set aside; then peel and chop the rest and put them into a food processor with 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary. Puree the mixture. Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl (or large measuring cup), pressing on the solids to extract all the juice. Add 1 cup water, ¾ cup gin, ½ cup lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of agave syrup to the cucumber juice until dissolved. Pour over ice-filled glasses. Garnish with the reserved cucumber slices and rosemary sprigs.

Rating: 2 Firecrackers, for use of seasonal ingredients and for originality.

We discovered this cocktail at Delish.com.

Guadalajara Sour (makes 1 at a time)
Combine 1-3/4 ounces blanco tequila, ¾ ounce lemon juice and ¾ ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled rocks glass over fresh ice. Hold a spoon with its back side facing up on the surface of the drink and slowly pour ¾ ounce chilled rosé over it, in order that the rosé only mixes with the top of the cocktail.

Rating: 3 Firecrackers for color, simplicity and originality (we love the two-tone look).

This recipe was published in the New York Times.

Lots of “firecrackers” given or no, we think any of these cocktails would be just dandy for your Yankee Doodle day; but of course, the rating system that counts is your own! Be sure also to check out and rate our selection of cocktail accessories and to visit Party Tableware for beverage napkins and cute new centerpieces to enhance your 4th of July party experience.

Americans Celebrate the Olympics across the USA


On July 27, all eyes are on London for the opening ceremony of the 2012 summer Olympic games, but across the United States, Olympic party planners and festival organizers are hosting time trial events and ordering party decorations for celebrations.

USA Olympic Sports Events & Parties

  • Sailing:  In Portsmouth, Rhode Island, fans can send off the US Olympic and Paralympics Sailing Teams at a “Good Luck USA” party on July 14. The party is free and open to junior sailors from around America.
  • Track:  From June 21- July 1, 2012, Eugene, Oregon (Track Town USA) hosts the US Olympic team track and field trials.  Enjoy a week of watching track events, meeting athletes for autographs, strapping in for a pole vaulting experience, and shopping at the city’s Olympic festival.
  • Water Polo: The USA Water Polo organization is hosting a USA Water Polo Olympic send off party and 2012 Hall of Fame induction in Los Angeles, California on July 7.  The organizers are taking names for the event’s waiting list.
  • US Olympic Committee Home:  Deck out in red, white, and blue for the Olympic viewing party in downtown, Colorado Springs, CO on July 27 from 4- 10pm.  Locals can check out the Olympics on a 15-by-27-foot, high-definition video screen in front of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s offices.  Besides watching the Olympics, guests will have a chance to meet some former Olympians, watch a fireworks show and practice their own athletics.

Your Olympic Party
Host your own Olympics party or sports party.  Whether you’re a professional planner or a do-it-yourself, party enthusiast, don’t let the high airfare to London scare you away from enjoying your favorite event at home.  Love dressage and show jumping?  Plan a horse party. Only have time for the closing ceremony?  Plan a welcome home party.  Find a theme party that suits your Olympic interests and make your own opening ceremony.  Even Brad and Angelina will be enjoying an Olympic party of their own this year.  How will you celebrate the 2012 Olympics?

4 Killer Appetizer Recipes for 4th of July Celebrations


What do we want for 4th of July nibbling? We want appetizers that are seasonal in ingredients and/or method of preparation, achievable without stove top or oven, and lookin’ fab on patriotic party tableware. It’s a tall order, but we’ve succeeded in identifying four killer concoctions we’re unabashedly calling Chill, Fill, Grill and Dill!

Chill: Prosciutto Wrapped Melon with Shrimp and Basil
Dan Eaton of NY1 Living crosses the classic prosciutto-wrapped melon with shrimp-and-melon cocktail. The progeny are bite-sized delights.

Ingredients:
1 cantaloupe
3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto
1 lb. cooked cocktail shrimp
12 basil leaves
olive oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper

Slice the cantaloupe into a couple dozen bite-sized chunks of ½” thickness. Look at the shrimp and if necessary cut them to be similarly bite-sized. Toss the shrimp in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Place them in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the appetizers.

Slice the prosciutto into strips as wide as the cantaloupe chunks (you can do this in advance, but don’t assemble anything until serving time, and keep all ingredients chilled until then). Wrap each strip around a cantaloupe chunk. Tear basil leaves in half and put a leaf half – folded if necessary – onto each wrapped cantaloupe chunk. Place a shrimp (piece) on top and secure the bite firmly with party picks.

Fill: Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives
You can pay up to $36 for an imported jar of pre-stuffed olives, so doing it yourself makes a lot of sense!

Choose whatever color/type olives you like, as long as they’re fairly large and reasonably firm. Also, use a pastry bag to fill them because other methods tend to nurture the impulse to throw the whole shebang against the wall, especially if you’re doubling or tripling the recipe!

Use about 3-4 ounces of cheese to about two dozen pitted olives. Cream the blue cheese before putting it in the pastry bag. If the cheese is too stiff, let it sit at room temperature a little longer before creaming.

Place a plain, fine tip on the pastry bag. After filling, chill olives thoroughly before serving.

Grill: Ginger Beef Bites
This savory, spicy grilled appetizer is adapted from a recipe found in 365 Great Barbecue & Grilling Recipes by Lonnie Gandara.

Ingredients:
6 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ c. each chopped fresh ginger, soy sauce, dry sherry, rice wine vinegar and peanut oil
3 lbs. top round stead, trimmed of fat and cut into 1” cubes

Thoroughly combine all ingredients except the meat, then add the meat and toss to coat. Refrigerate eight hours or overnight.

Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Thread 2 or 3 chunks of meat onto each skewer. Grill the skewers over a hot fire for 4-5 minutes, turning once during that time and using reserved marinade to baste them. They should be browned on the outside while pink on the inside.

Dill: Cucumber-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Here’s a wonderfully cool, seasonal and very pretty appetizer from Taste of Home.com.

Ingredients:
24 cherry tomatoes
1 package cream cheese, softened
2 T. mayonnaise
1/4 c. peeled, minced cucumber
1 T. finely chopped green onion
2 T. minced fresh dill plus more for garnish
salt and pepper

Cut a thin slice off the top of each tomato. Scoop out and discard pulp; invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain for 30 minutes.

Combine cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth; stir in the cucumber, onion, dill and seasonings to taste. Fill tomatoes with the mixture and chill them thoroughly. Garnish with reserved dill just before serving these beauties on a clear tray from catering supplies.

Find more serving (and decorating!) ideas for the 4th of July in Patriotic Party Supplies.

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