You know “when it rains, it pours?” Well, I'm in a bit of a monsoon season it seems, ha! I swear I'll have weeks with nothing going on, then a time where everything lands on the same week and it's no-showering-what-day-is-it-have-i-eaten-today-have-to-be-in-3-places-at-once B-U-S-Y. That was this week (if you don't remember my breakdown and tears on Instagram…).
Once upon a time there was one week where I was trying to launch an enormous project (Budget Boot Camp), pack and move my entire house, teach at a huge blogging conference, cram in 4 different doctor's appointments for me and my kids, and pack and prepare the entire family to be out of town for 2 weeks to Arizona and Hawaii (more on that soon!)…
…oh yeah, and Bubba and I were put in charge of our ward adult Valentine's Day party. And were given $0 budget. And we had no idea how many people were coming. And had only a few days to throw it together.
PS – a “ward” is what our church congregation is called.
VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY PRESSURE
I was feeling pretty self-conscious about it. This Valentine's Day party is kind of a big deal! It needs to be frilly! And cute! And hand-made! And clever! And soooo fun! And perfect! And adorable! And the food needs to be amazing! And fancy! And and and and…
But how can I physically pull it off? I literally have to leave a conference the second I'm done teaching to rush home (in traffic) to get to the church just in time to set up the party. But how will I feed everyone? I'm a terrible cook. But how can I make sure everyone has fun? I don't know who's coming and I've never thrown a ward party before? But how will we afford to decorate and do food and everything on our own? It'll be so expensive! But how? But how? But how?
This is going to suck. (Pardon my french-ish.)
Do you ever get inside your own head like that?
LET THE PARTY PRESSURE GO, PEEPS!
After freaking out, stressing out, and worrying unnecessarily, I buckled down and got to work. I decided a few things:
Perfectionism is the greatest form of procrastination. Sometimes you just need to let go of perfection and Get. Shiz. DONE.
(Pardon my french-ish again.)
I let go of the perfectionist mindset that I was caught in and changed my thought process. Here's how a framed my thoughts to help me knock this Valentine's Day Party outta the park… in like 5 minutes!
- They asked us for a reason. They aren't expecting perfection, they are just expecting us to do it our way.
- The only people that are going to care about the “fluff” is us, because we set our own expectations and stress ourselves out.
- I can't do it on my own. Not only that, I shouldn't have to. Delegation is necessary!
- It doesn't take much to throw a cheap, yummy, and SUPER FUN Valentine's Day party.
I took a deep breath and we made it happen! Here's how we pulled it off:
VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY DECOR
The party was to be held at the church, on a Friday night. I physically wouldn't be able to get to the church early enough to set up and decorate, since I was coming straight from my conference. I delegated the table set-up and decorations to the youth group of girl's (Activity Days is what we call it) who did it as a service activity, which let them cross off several things in their certifications book.
For an activity, they bought strips of burlap and painted stencil hearts along the burlap, as runners. So easy and cute! And the girls got to take them home and keep them so they LOVED IT.
They also brought a picture of their mom and dad (most of them were wedding pictures) to put in the center of the tables. They used Dollar Store doilies, clearance candy hearts, and paper heart decorations on the tables as well.
It cost them only a few dollars (which fit into their activity budget) and it was a HUGE relief off my back to have the tables set up and decorated by the time I got there. It gave them a chance for service, AND no one cared that they were simple or imperfect, because 10 year old girls made them and they were ADORABLE!
I bought inexpensive red plates and napkins from Walmart, as well as a few $1 red vinyl table clothes for the food and drink tables. I also bought $10 in red balloons (which was sad, because I accidentally lost 3 of them in the parking lot because it was windy. DOH!)
VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY FOOD
They told me there was $0 budget for the party, so we needed it to be a potluck. I asked around for opinions then settled on a Taco Bar. Who doesn't love TACOS?! And a bar is great because people can make a salad if they eat gluten-free, which is so nice.
I used Volunteer Spot which is a site that helps people sign up to bring things to a party or gathering. I put in the different food assignments, sent an email to everyone in our ward, and BAM! Potluck DONE. Bubba and I then picked up any items that weren't signed up for, or things we felt like we might need extra of.
EASY TACO BAR SET UP
We started with small flour tortillas and hard shells. We microwaved them in the church microwave just before the party started, then had a skillet going for people to warm them quickly before going through the line.
We did salad next (we ended up having 1 bowl by the tortillas for those who wanted to make a salad, and 1 bowl at the end for those who just wanted it as a topping).
Next we had Mexican Rice (the darker one made by yours truly – white rice cooked, then fried in a little oil with lots of taco seasoning and some salsa mixed in, topped with some fresh cilantro):
Next we had ground beef and beans (and yes, I used my favorite triple crockpot server to keep the meat warm):
Then toppings: tomatoes, cilantro, cheese, olives, taco seasoning…
…then salsa, sour cream, guacamole, ranch, and chips,
Tip: put the silverware and napkins LAST! No one needs to carry them in their hands as they go through the line, it's hard to balance so much in your hands.
At the end of the table we did desserts. We didn't have many dessert sign-ups so I went to the store and bought a bunch of cookie varieties. I wanted to make homemade cookies, then abandoned the idea and went the easy route…and it was great! Everyone loved them.
I bought some discounted Vday cookies (that still tasted AWESOME). Then put out everything else on various trays we found in the kitchen:
Note, I discovered these inexpensive cookies from Walmart and they tasted SO good! For $5!
We put pitchers of water on the tables, then I made a huge batch of my “perfect party punch“…aka store-brand Sprite + store-brand crystal lite (any flavor is delish!).
(I used plastic cups I had on-hand already)
VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY ENTERTAINMENT
Bubba and I decided:
If you put us in charge, it won't be fancy or pretty, but by golly…it will be FUN!
So that was our mantra!
Then we played games! (Duh. I mean, it is Jordan and Bubba, after all…)
VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY GAMES
We printed off a big list of G-Rated Newlywed Game questions. We chose 9 couples at random while everyone was eating. We brought 3 couples to the front at a time, and asked each couple 3 questions. We handed out paper and pens to everyone at the tables as well, so everyone got to play along at keep score, rather than just watch the people at the front. After their 3 questions, we brought up 3 more couples so people didn't feel like they were in the spotlight too long.
GET TO KNOW YOU GAME:
We wanted a game where each table to get to know each other better, so we made up a fun game. We made sure there were equal numbers of couples at each table. We asked a question such as “who at your table has the most kids?”. The table had to hurry and find out which couple at that table has the most, then that couple (rather, 1 person from that couple) had to run to the front and try to beat the other tables to a buzzer at the front of the room. The first person to hit the buzzer got a point for their table. Then, of the 3 couples, whoever had the most kids got a bonus point for their table (so that way people who were old or slower than others weren't at a complete disadvantage). It was SO DANG FUN! Here are the questions we asked:
- Who’s been married the longest?
- Who’s been married the least amount of time?
- Who got married farthest from SLC?
- Who has the most kids?
- Who got married the youngest?
- Who was engaged the longest?
- Who was engaged the least amount of time?
- Who has travelled outside of the country as a couple, the most times?
- Who has moved the most times in their marriage?
- Who met at the youngest age?
So there you go!!
It was NOT fancy, it was NOT frilly, it was NOT overly pretty…but it was fun, it got done, and it served the most important purpose; it gave people an opportunity to get to know each other better, and perform some service at the same time, since we all contributed to the party in some way or another.
I hope this inspires you to see that you do NOT have to throw a Pinterest-Perfect Party in order for it to be exactly what it needs to be…a good time :)
…and pretty easy when you just don't have the capacity for complicated things in your life. That too.
Hope this helps someone, somewhere! Have a great Wednesday!