I’m not much of a hostess. I completely admit that. Between the two of us, my husband is more likely to plan a party than I am. In recent months, though, we’ve had a number of family members come visit us, and I’m usually floundering in terms of what to eat, what to do, etc. When Walmart offered me the opportunity to plan a party for any occasion, any way I want, for under $100, I thought it was a great opportunity to put myself to the test. We plan to have guests next weekend, and this time, I intend to be prepared.
Food is the one area where I still struggle to do better. Avoiding processed foods is still not my forte. Still, I have a few tried and true recipes, and there’s one I love to pull out whenever we’ll have guests. Mostly because I can make a lot of it really easily and cheaply. It’s a meatless meal (yay, vegetarians!), and it’s very inexpensive to make. I call it Ziti-Penne. Why? Because it’s a baked ziti recipe, but I prefer to use whole wheat penne noodles.
Here’s the recipe:
- 2 13-16oz. boxes Great Value whole wheat penne pasta (uncooked)
- 24 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp. grated parmesan-romano cheese
- 1 26 oz. can Hunts roasted garlic and onion spaghetti sauce (though any brand is fine)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese
- Garlic powder to taste
- 1 jar Ragu organic pasta sauce (or any other brand)
Preheat oven to 350Â°F. Cook penne pasta according to package directions, or 12 to 14 minutes, stirring often. After cooking, drain pasta well, but don’t rinse. Combine ricotta, parmesan-romano, Hunts sauce, pepper and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl. Combine the cooked ziti with the cheese/sauce mixture, stirring gently (it’s easy to make a mess doing this). This recipe will make 2 13″x9″x2″ pans of pasta â€” which makes it great for entertaining, and you’ll have leftovers for yourself! Spread a 1/4 cup of organic pasta sauce on the bottom of each pan. Put half of the pasta mixture in each pan and top with mozzarella cheese. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake until mozzarella is thoroughly melted and slightly bubbling (about 20 minutes). While the pasta is baking, warm the rest of the organic pasta sauce in a small sauce pan, stirring occasionally. Serve with warm sauce on top and garlic bread.
I also plan to make a wonderful tropical punch that my mother passed down to me years ago.
- 1 46 oz. can unsweetened 100% orange juice (though a half gallon of sweetened juice will work in a pinch)
- 1 46 oz. can pineapple juice
- 4 13 oz. cans Jumex guava juice
- 1 can Coco Goya cream of Coconut (NOT coconut milk)
Mix them all together in an empty gallon bottle or jug and shake to mix (or mix with a spoon). Chill, and enjoy! And I don’t drink alcohol, but I’ve been told this punch is great for mixed drinks. Anything to keep the guests happy, right? Not only that its healthy, I learned from eHome Remedies that pineapple juice has tons of health benefits.
On the side, we’ll have an organic baby herb salad (thank you Walmart for making that easy to pick up and eat as is!). We also loaded up on snacks like tortilla chips and salsa for the adults, and organic juice boxes and baby carrots for the kids. And last on the list, I’ll make the carrot cupcakes that I made for the holidays last year. Don’t remember? Check out the video:
What to Do?
While my husband and I are content chatting with the adults, reminiscing about old times, etc., the kids need something to do. Given that Ja’Naya and I LOVE dancing, we decided to grab the newly released Just Dance 3! Aaaand…we love it. Of course, we had to test it before subjecting our guests to it, and much like Just Dance 2, it’s awesome! It’s filled with hit songs that make you want to get up and dance, and the new dance modes allow up to 8 people to dance together. So ALL of us can get in on the fun. I honestly cannot wait!
And while dancing with the Wii is fun and potentially hilarious, we’re always in the market for new music that we can use to impress our guests. Right…lol. Seriously though, since my husband and I have eclectic musical tastes (read: mostly reggae) we like buying singles of some of the more popular songs that other people might recognize too. So I also picked up a $25 iTunes gift card so we can download some new tunes to the computer before our get together.
Decor & More
Forgive my laziness, but I don’t really feel like decorating. Not in the traditional party decorating sense, anyway. I prefer to keep the house looking well-decorated all the time so I don’t have to do anything super special when we’re having company. I know, I know. Very unlike me. Still, I love Walmart’s 97 cent decor section, because if I feel so inclined sometime between now and Saturday, I can buy tissue paper in tons of colors for just $0.97 a pop to make tissue paper poms, wreaths and ornaments. I like all of these because I can repurpose them to decorate the table, even on a regular day, or just put them up in our bedrooms for some extra fun.
Also, although I am one of those people who believes in using the “good” dishes for any occasion, I get that some people will want to use disposable plates when they’re having guests. I don’t necessarily approve, but if you’ve got to buy them, you may as well buy them cheaply. You can find plates and napkins in the same section for just 97 cents a pack. There are some pretty great patterns and colors to mix and match for almost any occasion or theme.
Lastly, I picked up some swatches of fabric in the craft section to use as extra cloth napkins. We only have a few, which means not enough for everyone. That’s no excuse to use paper! These fabric swatches were inexpensive, and more importantly, they don’t require me to sew and they’re reusable. Win-win.
Because I”m not much of a party planner, I was really impressed with the fact that I was able to accomplish all this in just one store. We all think of Walmart as the type of place where you can get a little of everything, and that proved true in this case. I didn’t buy the traditional party “favors”, invites and other one-time use items, but I was still able to get everything I needed, all of which I will eventually use again. Now that’s what I call a green party 🙂
Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. I was provided with compensation for my time and effort in sharing their party planning selection with you. Participation is voluntary and as usual, all opinions are my own.