We celebrated my husband’s birthday in quarantine last weekend and here’s what I planned. It was hard to do surprises since he’s always home and it was difficult to find supplies, buttt I think it turned out okay.
VIDEO CALL PARTY! I wanted to have planned activities during the call since those can get out of hand with nothing to do. First I had to settle on a platform – I wanted one where it was easy to share your screen since I had a lot to show. We ended up choosing Go To Meeting (you need a subscription).
We started off with flip cup. I split everyone up into teams, put them onto a power point document and shared my screen. That way everyone knew when to go. It worked pretty well. Make sure you tell people to have cups to flip before the call.
Then we went into a personalized game of Jeopardy. I downloaded this template and made it my own. We had 11 people, so I split everyone up into 3 different games (3-4 people per game). The winner of each game went to the final round game. I asked everyone to submit questions about themselves, the friend group and just any other topics that they wanted included. After I got all the submissions, I tried to break them up into categories. I made sure that if someone submitted a question, their question went into one of the games that they were not playing in. That way no one is answering their own question.
For the finals game – I made up all the questions to be fair since I didn’t know who would make it to that round. After I made up categories out of the submitted questions, I filled in the rest with real jeopardy questions – this website was really helpful. Overall the game was made up of questions about specific people, things that had happened in our friend group and then real trivia questions. I did four categories per game, did a Daily Double per game and there was a Final Jeopardy question per game.
For the actual game play, I shared my screen and read each question out loud. There was a big lag in what people saw so keep that in mind. Also videos and gifs didn’t really work. People held up a piece of paper to buzz in and the other players watching/not in that game were the judges. Also designate someone to keep score – it’s too hard to keep it while you’re reading the questions. If you get a question wrong, you have to drink. If no one can guess the answer, the whole group drinks. I added a birthday shot slide into the last game. You could add more drinking surprises throughout the game. Like “drink before you answer this question” or something like that on the slide.
I made brownies and put candles on top. We sang happy birthday and I told everyone to have a dessert on hand to eat with us.
A good theme makes the call more fun! We did band t-shirts. Other ideas were Hawaiian/beach, flannel and goth. Decorations are also key! I made the house festive with birthday balloons and banners. I had this stuff already, but I think you can get deliveries from Target.
PICNIC PARTY The next day was his actual birthday so I planned some fun stuff for us to do. I ordered bagels on Door Dash the night before and scheduled a delivery for the morning. That way I could sneak downstairs and set up a cute breakfast for us.
Later in the day, we went out for a picnic. Yes our whole day/lives revolve around food. I got some of our favorite cookies and beer delivered earlier in the week. When we got groceries, I added some cheese, bread, meat and some other charcuterie items. He didn’t really notice because a lot of them were used in other recipes throughout the week. I packed all that up in a cooler and we picked a park that we’ve never been to in our area. We walked there and set up a picnic blanket, a little cheese board and drank our beer. I brought a candle sparkler and put it in one of the cookies. It was nice to get out of the house for a while!
Ann Arbor is home to Michigan University, lots of artsy places and tons of restaurants/breweries – there are a million+ ways to make a day or weekend trip here!
My sister and I went for a concert and focused our day on only the best – drinking and shopping! Here was our plan – everything is walkable and easy.
HOMES Brewery: We stopped here before dropping off our car at the airbnb. It’s a brewery known for its sours. The food was good too!
From here on out is all walking!
Treasure Mart: Two floors of vintage goods – dishes, furniture, knick knacks, etc.
FOUND (3 min walk): One of my favorite stores. Unique, cute gifts and home items.
16 Hands(1 min walk): Kind of an art gallery vibe with jewelry and other hand made items.
Thistle & Bess (3 min walk): Another cutesy store with gifts, books and more.
Blom Meadworks (3 min walk): Another one of my favorite stops. Come here just for the aesthetic. It’s all clean white and wood lines. With really good mead!
Blue Tractor Brewery (1 min walk): We stopped here to get a beer at the bar. It was one of the few breweries we hadn’t tried yet. It was okay! Definitely more of a restaurant vibe (that’s not necessarily veg friendly).
Literati Bookstore(1 min walk): This an Ann Arbor legend! You must go here if you haven’t! A famous cute little bookstore. You have to go just to say you’ve been.
Graffiti Alley (6 min walk): An alley full of street art and graffiti. You have to walk through if you’re in the area!
Urban Outfitters (6 min walk): We always have to stop by Urban. I like this location because it’s big and usually has a good sale section.
Sava’s(6 min walk): We wanted to try something new and this place was great. They take reservations and have vegetarian options.
The Ark (13 min walk): This is supposed to be THE artsy venue to see shows. It’s veryyy small and intimate with all seats. You have to be a member to get alcohol. We didn’t LOVE it since it was so quiet you couldn’t even singalong.
Alley Bar (1 min walk): We stopped here after the show. It has dive like qualities and cocktails!
The Last Word: For our last stop, we went to The Last Word heheh. It has a speakeasy vibe and more cocktails!
We stayed overnight, but you could definitely go home at night depending on your drive.
Below is the itinerary for our time in Florida. We needed a break from the March cold! Our days were kind of all over the place, so this is how I wish we organized our time. We went over International Women’s Day weekend so I tried to pick a few women owned businesses as well.
We rented a car and I think it’s pretty much necessary. We stayed near downtown St. Petersburg by Vinoy Park, but no matter where you stay everything is a 20+ minute drive apart. St. Petersburg is in the middle of the beaches and Tampa.
DAY 1: ST. PETERSBURG MUSEUMS + BREWERIES
Our first day had the lowest temp and the most clouds so we decided to do our indoor activities.
The Library: We got brunch here to start off our day. It’s in the hospital, which is super weird. But it has a cute ambiance and an outside patio. Make sure you make a reservation if you want to sit inside. *Woman Executive Chef
The Dali Museum: Definitely worth the hype. All the gallery rooms are upstairs – they are kind of small and crowded but there’s a lot of cool stuff to see. Downstairs is a big gift shop, cafe and park area. They had a wish tree, which I thought was so cute. You take off your wrist band, write a wish on it and tie it to the others on the tree!
Sunken Gardens: This is kind of a tourist trap, but still really pretty. We got a Groupon to enter for $12 total (vs $24 total). There are birds in cages and flamingos (I’m assuming with clipped wings) in a closure, so that made me feel a little bit weird. BUT the plants were all really pretty and relaxing.
Then we did our usual brewery tour! Here are the ones we tried: -Cycle Brewing -Aggregate Brewing -St. Pete’s Brewing -Overflow Brewing -Green Bench Brewing
Cycle and Green Bench were our favorites! Cycle had a cool vibe, good music and they were really nice. Green Bench has an awesome outdoor area with lots of grass and seating.
We decided to go to the beach later in the day for optimal sun, but you could reverse this day easily.
Fort DeSoto Park: We started here since it’s the most southern stop over there. It costs $5 to get in and you have to drive on a few toll roads. When you get in the park, you can drive to the historical fort, piers and beaches. The fort was interesting and you can go on top of it for a cool view of the water. The beaches were small, but quiet. A good alternative to the big ones! You can see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge from the East Beach.
Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli & Gulfport: We drove up here for lunch and it was so good! All vegan sandwiches, sauces and sides. They have alcohol too. We were going to take our sandwiches to go and eat at the beach, but they didn’t seem like they would travel well. We walked around the small town of Gulfport before leaving. It’s cute with other restaurants, small stores and a pier. *Woman owned business
St. Pete’s Beach: Next we drove over to the beach for a few hours. It wasn’t hard to find parking later in the day. It does cost like $2.50 an hour though. The beach was moderately crowded, but really pretty!
John’s Pass: A little bit north of the beach is a small fish town called John’s Pass. There are a bunch of tourist souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. I’m not sure I would go back here. Unless maybe you were bar hopping at night. There is a boardwalk along the water that’s nice.
Red Mesa: When we got back, we got tacos at this regional chain. They were pretty good and had a nice outdoor patio.
DAY 3: TAMPA AREA – HYDE PARK + YBOR + SEMINOLE HEIGHTS
We tried to go to everything on the Tampa side in one day to save some drive time.
Hyde Park: This is a higher end shopping district with stores like Lulu Lemon, Anthropologie, Bluemercury, etc. This wasn’t really our scene so we only walked around for about 30 minutes.
Ybor Historical District: This area was weird to us! We went in the morning so a lot of places were closed, but there are a ton of bars, restaurants and cigar shops. It has more of a “gritty” vibe and has a little bit of a New Orleans feel with the historical balcony buildings. We did find some really cool stores though! –La France: Really cool atmosphere and lots of real (more fancy??) vintage. –Revolve: A more laid back vintage/resale store – I got a skirt, sweater and dress from here! More affordable prices. –Dysfunctional Grace Art Co.: Probably my favorite store stop of the trip – full of stuffed animals, bones, Ouija boards, candles, seance stuff, etc. Lots of spookiness set up in a unique way. *Woman owned business
Seminole Heights: This is definitely the hipster area of Tampa! There’s a bunch of cool stuff along N. Florida avenue, but you definitely have to drive to each one. There’s industrial (??) buildings in between: –Cleanse Apothecary (we didn’t go here, but it looked cute) –Vintage Post Marketplace: Lots of cool vintage furniture and other home goods. A small section of clothes. -Microgroove Records: Small, but cute place with new and vintage records. –Angry Chair Brewing (we didn’t go here, but it looks cool)
Then there’s an area by the Riverwalk that has a lot of action. This would be a good place to get dinner or spend a night/afternoon.
–Armature Works: We got dinner here! It’s a big hall with a bunch of different vendors – everything from sushi to sandwiches to ice cream. And obviously lots of bars. There’s a ton of indoor and outdoor seating, games to play, and a great view of the water. There were cute restaurants right in front of this too that had good reviews: Ulele and Stone’s Throw. *Has women owned restaurants inside like Graze 1910 -Tampa River Walk: You can walk, bike, Bird along the river walk for quite a way! –Hidden Springs Ale Works: This is walkable from Armature Works. We stopped in here for a flight of their unique beers. –Bake ‘n Babes: This inside of The Hall which was similar to Armature Works, but much smaller. They have cookies, brownies, sundaes and vegan options! *Women owned business
DAY 4: CLEARWATER BEACH + CENTER AVENUE
Clearwater Beach: We felt like we had to try the famous Clearwater Beach since we were in the area. It was about a 45 minute drive from our St. Pete’s place. There was a lot of traffic near the beach and it was much harder to find parking here. The beach itself was also much more crowded than St. Pete’s beach. The sand was white and the water beautiful though! Next time, I think we’d just stick with St. Pete’s beach since it’s a closer drive and less hectic, but I’m glad we got to see Clearwater. There are a ton of touristy looking restaurants and bars by the beach as well.
Vinoy Park: This small park was right by our airbnb so we walked over to sit on the tiny beach and people watch. There’s a nice path to walk along the water and volleyball courts.
All of the breweries on our tour above were on Central Ave. and this was definitely my favorite area of St. Pete. It’s more hipster and has a cool vibe. There’s a lot of street art, restaurants, breweries, etc. We wanted to go back and walk around more.
Pizza Box: A super cute family owned place! They were super attentive, sweet and the rest of the people there were regulars. The pizza was good with authentic Italian crust.
No Vacancy: Right next to the Pizza Box is this cool bar. It has an outdoor patio full of flamingos, umbrellas and other beachy vibes. They have those huge shareable drinks that come in a big pink flamingo! We went for happy hour and deals were good.
The Bends: Our last stop of the night was this dive. It’s a super skinny bar with Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. We sat outside and got cheap beers.
Overall we would definitely go back! Our advice is to definitely rent a car and stay in the St. Pete area. Definitely visit Central Ave and Seminole Heights! Four days felt like enough, but we would probably add one more to make it more relaxing.
We usually host a party or at least a pre-game every year for the best Spring holiday of all – St. Patrick’s Day!
The key is to make EVERYTHING green and get outside as much as you can.
Food Ideas -Green bagels – Brueggers always has them by us. I think Einstein’s does as well – you can dye the cream cheese green too! -Green & orange veggies – carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, green peppers + dip -Green grapes + cut up kiwi -Orange chips – BBQ or Cheetos/Doritos -Rainbow Sour Patch Kids or Twizzlers -Anything with Lucky Charms cereal – rice crispy treats, etc. -Corned beef sliders
Drink Ideas -Baileys + Jameson – DUH -Irish car bombs -Guinness – DUH -We dyed our light beer green using food coloring (get the liquid kind, not gel)
Decoration Ideas -We got headbands and necklaces from the Target dollar section! –Party City has a million cute decorations every year -Green tinsel curtain for a photo booth -Use gold glitter letters to make a banner -Green plants/shamrock plants!
Every year I host a Galentine’s Day party for my girlfriends – we taste wine and eat lots of snacks.
This year I went with a pastel succulent theme. We did a France vs. USA wine tasting. Here’s how to do it!
Choose what type of wines you want to taste. We did pinot grigio, rose and cabernet sauvignon. Assign each person a wine to bring – so a French pinot grigio, a USA pinot grigio, a French rose, USA rose, etc. It may be easier to purchase all the wine yourself.
Create a wine tasting key and sheet. To make a key – decide what factors to rate – aroma, color, taste, finish, bottle design. We did a 1-5 rating. You can look up all this criteria online! Keep the key general – so it works for all wine types.
Then create a tasting sheet for each guest. It should describe that wine (aroma, color, taste, etc.) and allow space for them to write in a score – one for USA, one for France.
Pair food with each wine. I got snacks that pair well with each type of wine and put them in a small bowl on top of that wine’s tasting sheet. I used: -Pinot grigio: mini mozzarella balls, basil, crostini, olive oil + salt/pepper -Rose: melon balls, prosciutto, pistachios -Cabernet sauvingnon: pecans, cheddar cheese, dried cherries
Set the table! Each place setting should include: -Two different coasters – one for their USA wine and one for their french wine. I made mine from glitter card stock. You can do this other ways, like labeling the glass – any way for guests to distinguish between the two wines. -Wine tasting key -Wine tasting sheet -Pen -Snack bowl for each wine -I gave each guest a Tattly tattoo! -Optional place cards
Serve the wine. I served both wines at once (USA pinot grigio and the french pinot grigio) and allowed for discussion and rating. Each guest gave me their winner for that particular wine, I tallied and announced the overall winner.
I planned a birthday brunch for a friend at Gold Cash Gold in Detroit. I still wanted to decorate even though we were in a public setting. Here’s what I did!
Obviously, find a place that takes reservations. I got there about 20 minutes before to set it all up. The birthday girl arrived about 20 minutes after the reservation to make it a surprise.
I think the easiest thing to do is make place settings for the table. And that way you get to pick the seating arrangement ;). I found a Polaroid template online and put a photo of each person with the birthday girl – I tried to find one of just the two of them. Then I glued them to sparkly card stock so it was more durable and the back was glittery! I did three colors – black, purple and gold. I put each person’s name below the photo. Then everyone got a sparkly gold and pink 30 straw to put in their brunch cocktail.
I sprinkled 30s all over the table, got a cute plant center piece with Happy Birthday in it and cupcakes with 30s and stars!
Overall super easy, but still seems thoughtful and personal. And like a party! You could also hang up a birthday sign or get number balloons. The restaurant we went to was smaller so I didn’t want to overcrowd the area. Getting a private room somewhere would be great too!
Pretty much every season we do a beer tasting party with our friends. It’s a fun drinking activity that feels like you’re doing something more sophisticated than just chugging beers.
PICK A THEME. The most important part! Since we do them seasonally – that’s usually the theme for us. So summer beers – the quintessential summer flavors or labels. In Michigan, that would Oberon type stuff. My favorite is fall – we do pumpkin beers and carve pumpkins. We also do a Christmas beer tasting – this one is fun because there are a lot of holiday related beers with cool labels. You could do other themes like Michigan (or local) beers or the type of beer (IPAs, stouts, etc.)
DECIDE ON BEERS. I think it’s easier to provide all the beers for the party yourself vs. asking people to bring beer. This way there are no overlaps and you can make sure there’s a good variety. You can ask everyone to pitch in with money if you need to. You do end up getting accidentally drunk during these things to be careful of how many beers you select with how many people are attending.
MAKE A TASTING SHEET. I make one based on Color, Aroma, Taste, Body, Name and Label. We like to breakout Name and Label since it really skews the results. Each item is ranked 1-5. I put a key at the top of the card so people know what is good and bad about each category. Then at the bottom make a chart for them to add their scores. Obviously I make the chart match the theme – so black and orange for fall! Download my tasting sheet here and see an example below.
PARTY LOGISTICS. We like to do a blind tasting. One of us puts each beer in a paper bag and labels the bag with a letter. Then pours each person a little tasting cup of each. Give time for people to taste and discuss. It’s nice to have matching food to snack on in between. After all the beers are tasted – we announce the winners based on the first set of criteria. Then we reveal the names and labels of each. Everyone discusses/rates and we add up the new winners.
We went to Toronto over Thanksgiving since we both had time off of work. Our airbnb was on Queens street in the Fashion District. We loved this location – it was near a bunch of bars, restaurants and shops. We were only a short walk from a lot of sites. And there was free overnight parking on a few blocks nearby.
We tried to choose places that would keep us warm in the cold November weather.
DAY 1: A CASTLE, SHOES + LOTS OF VINTAGE SHOPPINGIN KENSINGTON MARKET
Fahrenheit Coffee: We stopped here to start our day and this place was crazy! Everyone was dressed in costumes and they were all going insane when we walked in. It was the store’s birthday and all drinks were free! What a great start to the day.
Casa Loma Castle: We hopped in our car and drove over here. Anddddd found out tickets are a little bit pricey + you have to pay for parking (there are streets with free parking nearby). We opted out of the tour tickets and just walked around outside. They had cute holiday decorations up so it was still nice. They do have shows and other events at night, which may be more bang for your buck.
Bata Shoe Museum: This place was super cute and definitely worth a stop! The rooms get a little bit repetitive, but overall I would definitely stop in.
Hogtown Vegan: We went here for lunch and it was delish! There are two locations to choose from. The food was really good and the atmosphere was cuteeee.
We dropped off our car and headed out for shopping and more in Kensington Market. It’s a super cute area – definitely more hipster with street art, vintage, shops, record stores and breweries. We went to way more than this, but some of my faves places were: -The Cocktail Emporium – SO CUTE. Great prices and unique stuff for making drinks. I tried to find some of the stuff on Amazon when I got home and couldn’t. -Space Vintage -Kensington Brewery -Bungalow -Blue Banana Market -Sonic Boom Record Store (a little bit further down)
We went to Gusto 101 for dinner – really good pasta and pizza. I would recommend making a reservation. Then got drinks at Bovine Sex Club – a divey bar with live music.
DAY 2: LESLIEVILLE + DISTILLERY DISTRICT
I realllyyyyyyyy wanted to go to The Crazy Doll House in Leslieville so I built our morning around this. So first stop – the house! It’s weird and cool and very Atlas Obscura.
Allan Gardens Conservatory: We drove over here next for some free plants! You can walk around the whole thing for free and it’s warm.
After a fairly atypical morning, we jumped back on the tourist wagon and went over to the Distillery District. It was all dressed up for Christmas. There are a ton of shops, restaurants and places to get drinks here.
We started off our day at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Definitely a must-visit, especially if you need indoor activities. We stopped at the Half House – another Atlas Obscura find – a house that looks like it’s cut in half!
Next up, we had lunch at Maker Pizza (the Downtown location). We love Matty Matheson so we had to give it a try and it didn’t disappoint! It’s mostly a takeout place, but they do have tables if you want to get a box and sit down.
In the afternoon, we headed over to the Ossington area. We got drinks at Bellwood’s Brewery and walked around taking in all the shops and cute streets. We stopped at Grasshopper Records and then got dinner at Hello123. Hello123 was very good. A little bit pretentious, but the food was fresh and all vegan! They had cute drinks that were on special. We then got some more ice cream at Bang Bang Ice Cream.
Toronto in the winter is definitely cold, but also definitely very COOL 😉
I love everything spooky and wanted to incorporate that into my big 30th birthday party!
I kicked off the party with a girls only candle making session! I hired a local occult specialist, Pentacle Path, to come over and teach us how to make our own magic candles. It was honestly a perfect way to start off a new decade (in my life and 2020 for the rest of the guests). She taught us how to set intentions and more. We built our own candles – each color, crystal, scent, flower and herb meant something and aligned with our intentions. She focused the session on starting new/setting goals for a new year.
Then our husbands/boyfriends came over for cake and sparkly margaritas. I got a ghost meter as a gift and we tested it out around the house.
We then went over to the most haunted bar in Detroit, The Two Way Inn. The ghost meter was off the charts at that place!