Mar

12

2013


The Toastmaster’s Companion: A Proper PA

When hosting, toasting or roasting, it’s not quite the same when no one can hear you. A public address system, or PA system, gives words that extra boost when the guest list goes from a gaggle to a herd. While in a previous career post of mine, our marketing department kept a set of amps and a microphone in supply to help event music and remarks travel the extra mile. I’m now in the market for my own mini PA system for parties, public relations professional needs and the karaoke potential.

Getting on the loud speaker is not necessary at every shindig. Hosts and hostesses should consider the size of the crowd and the appropriateness. Are remarks expected? Will it disrupt more than it will enhance the gathering? Wedding toasts are a different beast altogether and a topic for another day.

When there is an opportunity for a brief-yet-meaningful toast or welcome, a PA system is often a dandy addition, especially for outdoor events. I’m honing in on the options below, and my eyes have been peeled for these user-friendly features: Portable (preferably on wheels), simple / low-tech, sturdy, preferably with an iPod dock, and with both battery-charge and AC options. In the running:

  1. PylePro PWMA100 Rechargeable Portable PA System $71.49
  2. Alesis TransActive Mobile Portable PA System with iPod Dock $199
  3. Ion Audio iPA16 Block Rocker AM/FM PA System with iPod Dock $175.97
  4. DJ Tech iVisa 50 Light Wireless iPod PA Speaker $149.99 (a little too tour-guidey)
  5. Pyle PCMX240I Battery Powered Portable PA System with iPod Dock $182.71

Jan

14

2013


Just 229 Days until College Football!

I miss college football already. It seems like it ran by faster than Percy Harvin. The tailgates, the reunions, the fall mornings, the gameday attire, the roar of the stadium… Josh and I spent many of those twelve Saturdays in Gainesville, Florida, setting up our Gator-home-turf tailgates in a lot (quite possibly the happiest place on Earth) filled with other weekend warrior friends. I am already looking forward to next year.

The tailgate tune-ups and pepper jelly research paid off this past season. Our friend Ethan was probably half serious when he said he’d start timing my tailgate setups from arrival until the last detail was placed to see how I was improving. We had a blast in 2012 and were left with lots of fun memories. The game my parents attended was the highlight for me – it doesn’t get much better.

I enjoyed blogging about some of our tailgates and wanted to relive them just a bit with a recap to tide me over and serve as a scrapbook when getting ready for next year’s details and decor. I mean, I only have 7 months and 17 days to start planning! I hope you find some inspiration here as well. Here’s our 2012 tailgate season in review (links to more details and tips below):

UF v. Bowling Green: Bandanas & Flamingo Fans

UF v. LSU: The AstroTurf Experiment

UF v. South Carolina: Orange and Blue Jeans

UF v. Missouri: Katherine’s Birthday Brunch

UF v. FSU (away, Tallahassee): Breakfast & Bloody Mary Bar

UF v. FSU (away, Tallahassee): Breakfast & Bloody Mary Bar

…and a few more 2012 snippets:

Sprinkles! Sprinkles! Sprinkles!

Baby’s breath at a tailgate? Sure!

ESPN College Gameday Bus Stalking

Steve and Josh with Coach Corso

Natalie in her old-ball-coach jersey, watching Gameday shenanigans at the Peters’ tailgate

Ethan approved of the Blueberry Bourbon recipe, which I nicknamed the “Orange and Blueberry.”

Cheers! Until next season!

For more tailgate ideas and tips, also see:

Oct

16

2012


Home Turf Tailgate

Going into one of the biggest games of the football season, our tailgate deserved something fresh. I found myself at Home Depot on the Thursday before the game buying a ginormous strip of AstroTurf to create a unique table runner – the added turf was just the ticket for this tablescape.


I used a chalkboard we usually display in our kitchen (made using an old frame and some spray chalkboard paint) as a canvas for one of my favorite lines in the song “We Are the Boys of Old Florida.” The letters looked nice and bold using chalkboard pens.


Patterned craft paper went the distance to create not only the table’s flag banner but also some mini-flag cupcake topers. I found the “We are #1” toppers at Michael’s, and the mini SEC helmets (which come in a set of all SEC teams) were also a fun addition to the cupcake stand.

My approach to tailgating is no different from planning any other gathering. You must consider things like the guests attending, the number of guests, time of day and flow of the event. Knowing this would be one of the busiest games of the season and with a tailgating window around lunchtime, I opted for grab-n-go foods that didn’t require much fuss or prep for mingling guests.

On the menu:

  • Publix chicken fingers with a side of ranch dressing – manageable and delicious
  • Pepper jelly, cream cheese and Ritz crackers
  • Cucumber sandwiches made with white bread, cucumbers and chive/herbed cream cheese (Just smear a little cream cheese on one side of each slice of bread, add cucumber slices and you’re done!)
  • Seedless grapes
  • Orange-flavored cupcakes (box mix) with whipped frosting (I loved how the orange cake mix showed through the white cupcake liners.)

Added creature comforts such as mints and hand sanitizer help keep guests clean and minty fresh. I was inspired by She’s Kinda Crafty to decorate the pump dispenser – she outdid mine for sure!

We were excited to again use our customized tailgate cups and pom-pom drink stirrers, serving Bloody Marys and sweet tea vodka-lemonades to our family and friends.




Last but not least, my husband’s tailgate contribution may have outshined the whole spread. He brought and chilled the largest bottle of beer I have ever seen, nine liters of St. Feuillien Triple. As someone once said, “Win or lose, we’re here for the booze!” …and the football, friendship and fun! Have a great time tailgating this weekend, wherever you may be!

More tailgate tips:
Tailgate Tune-up
No Celebration Penalties Here!

Sep

11

2012


No Celebration Penalties Here!

Tailgate season is in full swing, and inspiration to spruce up your spread can be found just about anywhere…no matter what your team colors.


During a recent tailgate, a few yards of burlap plus some orange and blue bandanas made for a casual-yet-colorful table dressing. The bandanas ended up being quite versatile, and at just 99 cents each at Hobby Lobby, quite a deal. A couple of clothespins, and presto!

I had to improvise on the location of my flamingo friends. They wouldn’t stand in the gravel but showed perfect posture perched inside the drink bucket.



Daytime cocktails included Bloody Marys, sweet tea vodka with lemonade, and gin and tonic. To hold a smattering of garnish options, including pom-pom drink stirrers, I used some sturdy orange and blue hand-blown glasses.

Customized cups – No celebration penalties here! – were a hit with our tailgate visitors. Visit the Oh My Goodness Goodies section for a coupon code on your own cup orders, plus some fun tailgate tagline ideas!



Extra bandanas helped decorate the food spread, which included the winning pepper jelly-cream cheese-and-cracker combo, sugar cookies, and salmon and herbed cheese pinwheels made from a Williams-Sonoma recipe.


Tailgate tips: A pop-up cooler lined with a trash bag makes a great collapsible, easy-store trash bin for tailgates. Add a paper towel holder to your tabletop for when a cocktail napkin will not do.

Aug

10

2012


A Place to Rest Your Buns

End-of-summer sales mean great deals on outdoor entertaining essentials. Plastic deli baskets are among the items I’ve seen frequently marked at 50 and 70 percent off, and now’s a great time to pay less for what would normally be (in my opinion) overpriced plastic baskets.

I found these blue baskets heavily discounted at Jo-Ann Fabric. A few other locations you may want to explore include World Market or Bed, Bath and Beyond. You can always visit a restaurant supply site for deli baskets year-round, but bargain baskets are bound to be better.