It’s Grad Season

Grad season is upon us!  If you have a lot of grad parties to go to this year and want to give something a little different than just cash, here are a few gift ideas that both high school and college graduates will love.

Personalized Towels from PB Teen

For the high school graduate, a set of personalized towels is a great way to distinguish his/her towels from all of the other freshman towels in the communal dorm showers.  The college graduate will appreciate the personal touch for their first post-college house or apartment.

Mac and cheese?  Or Ramen noodles?  When I was in college those were my choices for cheap eats.  Now there are a plethora of cookbooks showcasing recipes that are inexpensive and use minimal ingredients.

Having to get out of bed and to class all on their own can be a scary transition for some college freshman.  A stylish alarm clock that doubles as a phone docking station makes a smart gift.  For $60 you can even get one that shakes the bed just like mom or dad would!

iLuv iMM153 iPod Alarm Clock


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Entertaining Tip #2 – Quicker Liqueur and the Signature Cocktail

Lychee Martini

Lychee Martini

Infused vodka is all the rage right now and couldn’t be easier to do.  Nothing tells a guest that you’ve thought of every detail more than having a signature cocktail made from your  own infused vodka.  Look out Martha Stewart!

As much as I love infused vodka, I’m a gal who leans toward a fluffier cocktail as long as it’s not too sweet.  The solution – Homemade Liqueur!  A liqueur is basically a flavored vodka plus a simple syrup.

I have found a simpler way to make a liqueur that’s quick and easy – canned fruit.  Canned fruit already comes in a syrup which makes it perfect for liqueurs.


For my next infusions, I’m going to try peaches, pear, apricots and mandarin oranges. Here’s all you need

  • Canned Fruit
  • A mid-priced Vodka
  • A large, clean glass jar with a lid (one per fruit)

It’s as simple as opening the can of fruit, pouring it into the jar (syrup and all) and then covering with vodka.  Put your jar in a cool, dark place and let steep.  Shake the jar every couple of days.  You should be ready to party in 2-3 weeks.  Voila – Homemade liqueur!

Here is a Lychee liqueur I made several months ago.  Although it looks like floating eyeballs from some mad-scientist experiment, it’s really fabulous!  My favorite way to enjoy it is with cranberry juice.  It’s light and refreshing enough for a summer drink.  However, that beautiful ruby color garnished with a slice of lime makes it a great holiday cocktail as well (see above photo).  Watch my blog…In 2-3 weeks I’ll have some festive recipes using my newly-made liqueurs!

Lychee Liqueur

Lychee Liqueur

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Hosting a party where the guests don’t know each other well?  Worried about lulls in conversation?  A quick and easy way to ensure lively conversation is to have conversation starters at your party.  You can sprinkle conversation starters in many places.  For instance, write topics of conversation on cocktail napkins, paper coasters, or drink markers.  Have you seen these cute DIY Drink Stirrers on the web lately.  How easy would it be to put a different conversation starter on each person’s drink marker?

Need some ideas for conversation?  Here are just a few:

  1. If you could have a dozen of anything at all, what would you choose?
  2. Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?
  3. What did you dream of being when you grew up?
  4. What’s your favorite dessert and why?
  5. If you could adopt a feature from any animal, what would it be?

If trying to come up with things for guests to talk about seems too overwhelming, you could just buy one of these great Chat Packs.

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April 17, 2012 · 3:32 am

There’s a Party in my Pant-ry!

Every entertainer knows that a well-stocked pantry is essential for when those impromptu gatherings happen.  Quite frankly, those always seem to be the most fun for me as I don’t have time to stress out over the little things.

To pull off a spur-of-the moment soire, here are some items every home entertainer should keep around:

  • Mixed nuts
  • Olives
  • “Fancy” crackers – Ritz and Goldfish are good in a pinch but an adult party should have adult crackers.
  • Pickled vegetables – Green beans, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower.  If you buy these at the store, they can get horribly expensive.  Watch this blog for a cheap and easy way to pickle your own veggies for a fraction of the cost.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – You probably won’t use these often, but they’re nice to have around to add flavor to dips and spreads.
  • Cured/Smoked meats (i.e. Summer Sausage) – These should be kept in your freezer and can be pulled out and thawed fairly quickly.
  • Chickpeas & Tahini – You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to make your own Hummus.  Click here for my favorite recipe.  Tahini is rather expensive but it lasts forever in the refrigerator (once you’ve opened it) and a little goes a long way.  If you don’t care for hummus, an alternative would be to keep white beans on hand.  A white bean dip can be whipped up just as quickly as hummus.
  • Pita chips – These are amazing with hummus!
  • Club soda & mixers – They’re good for mixed drinks, non-alcoholic drinks and club soda gets out the inevitable wine stain from carpet. It may also help settle your tummy the morning after your party.
  • Wine! – Even if you don’t drink wine, it’s nice to keep a bottle of red and a bottle of white on hand for guests who do.  A good Cabernet will work for red fans and a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio for white drinkers.  I would also recommend a bottle of Prosecco for special occasions that call for some bubbly.
  • Beer – Micro-brews are growing rapidly in popularity.  If you don’t drink beer, keep a nice 6-pack of micro-brew on hand.  In my area, Surly and Flat Earth breweries are two local favorites.

That’s really it!  If you have these ingredients in your pantry you’ll be able to throw together a party in a pinch.  The only things you’ll have to grab at the store are an assortment of cheeses, some grapes or fruit for your cheese plate and a lemon & lime.

Watch my blog as I’ll be adding some great recipes for easy entertaining.  Party on!!

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Welcome to my world!

Welcome to Wow Factor Party & Events, LLC!

In my youth, I suffered with identity crisis as I’m sure many teenagers do.  I often wondered where I fit in in the world and what my purpose in life would be.  As an adult, I have had three “Aha!” moments where my purpose has become crystal clear.  The first was when I became a mother.  The birth of each of my four daughters brought increased clarity and joy to my world.

Event Production:  The second Aha moment came when I started producing events for nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities area.  Upon completion of my marketing degree I knew that the event world was where I wanted  needed to be.  I was new to the event world in the formal sense but had been organizing parties and event for years.  Helping organizations meet their marketing and promotional goals by producing an event where guests have a great time, gain inspiration and insight, and network with one another…well, just insert photo of a ray of sunshine shining down upon me through the clouds, choir singing!  Hallelujah, I’ve found my calling!

Dishware Rental:  Event planning is only one facet of Wow Factor.  I also offer dishware rental for the home entertainer.  As a person who frequently entertains at home, I strive to make every party unique.  I like to switch up the dishes, glassware and serving pieces based upon the theme or color palette of my event.  However, I’d have to buy a whole new house to store it all.  My third, and final, Aha moment came when I looked to the local rental companies for dishware but only found plain white dishes for rent.  Hence, Wow Factor Dishware Rental was born!  My tabletop and serving pieces will help you create a party where guests can’t help but say, “Wow!”.

Alicia Baraga

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