Margaritas and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly. We’ve rented out so many margarita machines this summer, and I get many of the same questions over and over so I decided to create this FAQ page.
How many drinks does a margarita machine make?
Most standard machines make 5 gallons (640 ounces). A typical serving (whether in a margarita glass or a plastic cup) is 8 oz; so, the machine will make approximately 80 servings. A dual machine will hold 2 flavors, and the bowls range from 3-5 gallons per side.
Note: These estimates are for alcoholic beverages. If you use choose to use the mix to make slushees or other frozen drinks without alcohol, each batch will make approximately 60 servings.
How many guest will one machine serve?
This is of course dependent upon how many drinks each guest will have and how long the party will be. Here are some general guidelines:
- 1 machine for up to 100 guests
- For up to 50 guests, you will use 1-2 mixes/batches
- For 50-100 guests, you will use 3-4 mixes/batches
- 2 machines for up to 200 guests
- For 100-150 guests, you will use 4-5 mixes/batches
- For 150-200 guests, you will use 5-6 mixes/batches
Note: this is based on the number of guests that will be drinking margaritas. If you are serving other drinks as well, only a portion of your guests will drink margaritas. Read more about that here.
How long does it take to make a batch of margaritas/frozen drinks with the machine?
This varies for each machine. Most machines take about an hour to freeze, but some machines can take up to 4 hours. You can speed up the process by having the ingredients already cold, but not frozen, before adding them to the machine.
How much alcohol should I use?
Your machine and the mix you use will come with instructions. General guidelines are one bottle (750 ml) tequila and 1/2 bottle (750 ml) Triple Sec per batch.
Who provides the mix and liquor? Does that come with the rental?
The rental company will provide the mix. You will get to choose from a variety of flavors. Most companies have margarita, strawberry and pina colada. Some companies have many other choices as well. You can also purchase your own mix. I personally love this organic one available on Amazon. And if you want to get fancy, you can make your own. See my healthy-ish (skinny margarita) recipe here.
What other things should I plan for?
Make sure the rental comes with an electrical cord and that nothing else is plugged into the outlet (110v, 20amp circuit). Note: you cannot use your own electrical cord with the machine.
Do you have other helpful tips?
The machine will work much better if it is in the shade instead of direct sun.
Party Drink Calculator: How Much Alcohol Do I Need?
How Many Glasses Do I Need?
If you haven’t heard, Austin is not only the 3rd fastest growing city and the #1 place to live in the United States but now it is also one of the country’s best destinations for a summer getaway according to a new study from WalletHub.
WalletHub, a personal finance website, compared 40 key indicators of budget-friendliness and fun-friendliness in 100 U.S. metro areas across six key categories: 1) Travel Costs & Hassles, 2) Local Costs, 3) Attractions, 4) Weather, 5) Activities and 6) Safety to come up with its list. Overall, Austin ranked third behind Washington, D.C. (No. 1) and Orlando, Florida (No. 2).
Austin’s highest marks were for most attractions (No. 13) and most activities (No. 18). So, it has to be asked, what are we all running from in Austin’s summer months? Sure it’s hot but if you get creative, there are lots of ways to stay entertained and “cool” if you just put your mind to it. Here are some suggestions for a great and easy summer “staycation”:
Lost Pines Resort + Spa
When I think of a “Staycation”, I typically think of a hotel and night(s) away without having to pack a big suitcase, fly or drive long distances, or plan a big trip with all of the activities way ahead of time. A visit to Lost Pines Resort + Spa definitely meets these criteria.
Situated on 400 acres along the banks of the lower Colorado River, the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is a great way to get away from it all and is just 23 miles from Austin. With onsite activities ranging from horseback riding to a waterpark with a lazy river, there are plenty of things to do without ever leaving the resort. If that’s not enough, try zip lining through Lost Pines nature park, kayaking the Colorado river, or hiking through nearby McKinney Roughs Nature Park.
While a weekend or even a night away sounds amazing, not all Staycations need to involve sleeping away from home. Some of my favorite Staycations are day outings doing things that are different than we normally do, making memories, and taking a whole lot of pictures to look back on.
Day on the Lake(s)
There are several lakes in and around Austin which provide a range of activities for both the water sports enthusiast and the occasional floater or boater. For a day of fun and a few thrills, rent a boat on Lake Travis or Lake Austin and go waterskiing, wake boarding, or tubing. Or, for a more relaxing experience, rent a stand up paddle board, kayak, or canoe and get a view of downtown Austin from Ladybird Lake. Whatever you choose, be sure to take a cooler full of drinks and snacks to keep you going.
After a day on the lakes, be sure to take a dip in Deep Eddy pool, the oldest swimming pool in Texas. This pool isn’t chlorinated or heated and is fed from a hand dug clear water well so is a perfectly refreshing way to end a hot summer day. If you plan ahead, you may even be able to catch a Deep Eddy Splash movie!
Finally, be sure to enjoy a burger and cocktail at Pool Burger – an Austin original Tiki Bar and burger trailer right there at Deep Eddy Pool.
Barton Springs Pool and Zilker Park
While I often visit Barton Springs Pool for a quick dip (it’s cold after all), rarely do we make a family day of it…and, why not? For a fun filled day, load up a wagon with everything you need – swimsuit, towel, a good book and plenty of food and head down to Zilker Park. With very little planning, you can spend a day splashing in Barton Springs Pool, playing on the playground or playing pickup soccer or football at Zilker Park, and then lighting up the barbecue before heading to the Summer Musical at Zilker Hillside Theater (be sure to reserve your space early though – these summer productions are popular!).
Photo Op Tour
Another great adventure is to spend a day visiting and photographing all of the great “Austin-y” murals. You can even use this opportunity for some great family (or selfie) pics! We are all well familiar with the “i love you so much” mural on the North facing wall of Jo’s Coffee Shop on South Congress, but there are so many other great murals in Austin to visit and take your own photos. Some of our favorites are: Hope Outdoor Gallery, also known as the Austin Graffiti Park, at the corner of 11th and Baylor Street; the Greetings from Austin Mural on South 1st Street; the “HI HOW ARE YOU?” mural at Guadalupe and 21st Street, and the Austin, Texas Mural on Guadalupe. Or, you could visit some of the less photographed and “different” murals, check out this mural guide for some ideas.
For a treat between murals, make sure to stop for a light and healthy summer lunch at Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, Picnik, or my personal favorite, Koriente. For a late afternoon cool down, head to Amy’s Ice Cream – an Austin tradition for over 30 years.
When you are done, turn your photos into a gallery to adorn the walls of your Austin abode. There are a million gallery ideas on Pinterest and many tutorials on how to create your gallery wall. Personally, I think bright mural photos would make a great canvas print gallery wall.
If you want a vacation experience without ever leaving your house, try a backyard fun weekend. Rent a water slide, outdoor movie screen and projector, and some outdoor games to stay cool, entertained, and relaxed right in your own backyard. Just add a pop up tent and some concessions to turn it into a party with friends and neighbors to celebrate birthdays, back to school, 4th of July, or just summer! For some ideas, check out our blogs on outdoor games and concessions.
If you can’t decide which of these “staycations” to embark on this summer, why not try a few, or try them all? Or, if you have some great “staycation” ideas of your own, we would love to hear about them!
Photo by Marina Cohen
From the moment Kelly Frances West and Michelle Solorzano Daly (aka. Lesbutante + The Boss) picked up the phone, I knew exactly why they are considered “the premier lesbian event producers in Austin, TX.” They are personable, funny, open, great conversationalists… in short, an interviewer’s dream. I loved them!
During our call, the two of them talked freely about how they met, formed Lesbutante + the Boss and ended up planning and hosting this year’s official women’s party during the Austin Pride Festival.
Here’s the story:
Kelly (aka “The Lesbutante”), an Austin native and professional event planner turned interior designer met Michelle (aka “The Boss”), a disabled Army veteran from Washington D.C. who had been in Austin for about a year, at a brunch in 2013. Kelly had recently moved back to Austin following a failed 10 year relationship, and Michelle was struggling to meet people in Austin. At the time, there were no good ways for Lesbians to meet. The only two bars in Austin had closed in 2012; Tinder didn’t exist; and the online dating options were limited. From their first encounter, it was a match made in heaven, but Kelly was not in a position to start a new relationship (although Michelle had a huge crush on Kelly). So, the two became friends…and then business partners.
The business relationship kicked off in the fall of 2013 when a married lesbian couple who had met on a speed date asked Kelly to help them set up a speed dating event to “pay it forward.” They had about 75 people attend and afterwards everyone went to a separate space in a bar to hang out. The event was a huge success and the guests wanted more.
Kelly and Michelle realized there was demand for events where women could meet other women and hang out in a safe environment; so they set up their first monthly happy hour in December 2013. These monthly events, held at Sellers Underground in downtown Austin
, have grown to 300 attendees – a number that includes a steady group of regulars along with newcomers every month. Through the years, L+B have maintained their focus on community building – they do not charge for the events and they always make sure to have a DJ as well as a photographer to memorialize each happy hour. To make people feel welcome and included, Michelle often stands at the door to greet guests and make introductions so it is easy to come as a single person.
Photo by Anne Van Zantwijk
About a year after their business kicked off, Kelly & Michelle’s friendship evolved and the two started dating. In fact, they recently got engaged in Amsterdam during a European vacation. This power duo is here to stay and Austin and the LGBTQ community is definitely happy about that!
Year of the WOMXN
Now that they are back from their European travels, Kelly and Michelle are busy preparing for their next big event. On August 10th from 8pm to 1am, the two will be hosting the Womxn’s party of the year right here in Austin, Texas. Appropriately dubbed “YEAR OF THE WOMXN”, the party is this year’s official women’s party during the 2018 Austin Pride Festival.
This is L+B’s 4th straight year to host Austin’s official “Women’s Party” and they have something really special planned. Committed to Austin Pride’s 2018 theme – REVOLUTION – L&B’s focus for 2018 is on breaking down racial and social barriers, creating a safe place for WOMXN to be themselves for the night, and showcasing influential WOMXN of different cultural backgrounds, specifically WOMXN of color.
During a regional Pride Conference last February, Kelly emphasized that it is important to have spaces and places dedicated to women. She cited that cities that hosted a separate party specifically for WOMXN, had double or triple the attendance at their Pride events. “The women’s community is particular about where they spend their money. They need to feel included.” So that’s what L+B set out to do – create an event which is welcoming and inclusive for women.
The party, which will take place in the parking lot on the corner of 4th St. and Congress Avenue downtown (a space from which they can also watch the parade the next day), will feature a fantastic lineup of WOMXN entertainers including Chulita Vinyl Club, DJGiiQ, and headliner DJ Citizen Jane along with professional dancers and Angel SUPASTUD Hamilton as the celebrity host. Sponsors include Tito’s and Deep Eddy Vodka, Lonestar Beer, Torchy’s Tacos, Soul Cycle, Gypsy Spirit, NSSI, and many more. Holding the party in a fenced off parking lot will allow them to accommodate 1000+ attendees – a much bigger number than other event spaces in Austin.
Get Your Tickets
VIP Tickets include access to the all-inclusive VIP lounge sponsored by Tito’s Vodka, Deep Eddy Vodka, and Lonestar beer. The VIP section will be in close proximity to the performance stage, is the ONLY area with a designated lounge and seating, and will have access to the celebrity DJ’s. VIP’s will also receive a swag bag full of amazing swag from the sponsors of the event.
General Admission tickets include entrance to the party with access to cash bars to purchase drinks (beer, liquor, sodas, water).
Austin Pride Festival with L+B
The Official WOMXN’S Party on Friday night is just the beginning of the celebration for the weekend. L&B will also have an Official Parade float in the Pride Parade on Saturday, August 11 and then on August 12 will be hosting a rooftop pool party at the Westin Azul Rooftop Pool & Bar from 1pm – 6pm. Further details can be found on the L+B Facebook page.
If you have questions or want to know more about this amazing couple and their upcoming events, be sure to follow them on Facebook or Instagram or just introduce yourself during Pride Weekend.
Photo by Anne Van Zantwijk
About a year ago, I threw a 5th birthday party for my daughter. While I “think” it turned out great – homemade aprons, spoons, cookie decorating, piñata, snacks, etc., I can’t really remember much of it at all and I have absolutely no pictures to look back on. I was simply too busy trying to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, that all the guests were taken care of, and that the event went smoothly. I didn’t enjoy it at all and I vowed never to do it again.
All that said, I am not a fan of parties at establishments that do the whole thing for you. As a self-proclaimed pinterest mom, the regimented schedules, loudspeaker announcements to eat cake, establishment led renditions of “Happy Birthday”, and impersonal nature of the whole thing is not really my style.
Not knowing which direction to turn, in the past year, I have somehow managed to talk all 3 of my other kids out of big birthday bashes in return for a bigger gift, a piñata with friends, and a party sometime in the future…I know, poor kids. Now, however, I have the answer to my birthday party problems – Party Host Helpers! I can throw my pinterest mom parties and still enjoy the events!
So, “What does Party Host Helpers do?” you might ask. Well, everything it takes to make your party go without a hitch while you sit back and enjoy the event. Think wedding coordinator for corporate events, fundraising events, birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, bridal showers, baby showers…you name it!
Party Host Helpers set up party space, greet guests, put out food, take coats, serve drinks, … and the list goes on. Whatever it is that will help make your party worry-free, that’s what they are there to do.
While Party Host Helpers has been around for a few years in cities across the US, it has only had an Austin presence since March of this year thanks to Austin Regional Manager Alison Spring.
Meet Alison Spring
A stay at home mom of 4, Alison is now busier than ever setting up a business that will allow party throwers to enjoy their parties. We asked Alison what drew her to Party Host Helpers and her response summarized my own thoughts on throwing parties.
After hosting her 7 year old’s birthday party at a “loud, germ-y, dangerous, and expensive bounce house venue” last year, Alison decided she was not doing it again. While the venue had it’s perks – very little set up and clean up and virtually no logistics planning, the upsides did not outweigh the noise, grime, and cost. She had a hard time enjoying the party and decided the next event would be at home. But, she had to find a way to enjoy the next event, her family, and her guests rather than running herself ragged. So, she began to research a way to hire someone to help host a party and ran across Party Host Helpers, a national party staffing company.
After realizing Party Host Helpers didn’t have an Austin presence, Alison sent an e-mail to the owner of the Company, Renee Patrone. After a few conversations and a chance to understand their business model, she was sold. She quickly signed on to roll out the Austin regional branch. “I’ve been a stay at home mom for the last 5 years, and I was finally feeling ready to get back into the working/adult conversation world” Alison said. The timing was perfect.
Since setting up the Austin branch in March, Alison has worked with Kendra Scott, Austin Mom’s Blog, the Thinkery, Ryan Companies, as well as several private parties. “Our goal is to revolutionize the art of entertaining. Order the cake, order the catering items, order the Party Host Helpers, relax and enjoy your party.” Business is good and Alison is having a great time.
Win 4 Hours Assistance from a Party Host Helper
This month, Loanables is partnering with Alison and Party Host Helpers to give away 4 hours assistance at your next event, a $160 value. Whether you are having a neighborhood barbecue or big fundraiser, this is your chance to really enjoy your next party rather than spending the whole event running around making sure everyone else is having a good time.
Head on over to Loanables’ Instagram and follow the directions to enter. Like both Loanables and Party Host Helpers and tag your favorite hostess with the mostest so she can enter to win!
Like many Texans, my parents shipped me off to camp every summer when I was a kid. For years, I spent my summer days in 50-year-old cabins on stilts above Lake LBJ. Evening activities ranged from dances to fishing night, and somewhere in the middle were my favorite and most memorable nights, the “county fair” and the Fourth of July. On these special nights, colorful games, booths, and activities adorned a field of dry, Hill Country grass. Needless to say, we were entertained for hours.
In an era of decreasing face time and increasing screen time, outdoor games are a rare escape, especially for kids. So for your next event, instead of video games, why not bring out real games? For adults, a chance to compete can be a great opportunity to break the ice, reminisce about their childhood, network and meet new people. For kids, games are great for entertainment, a way to introduce a little competition, and a way to get the giggles going. You too can bring summer camp to your backyard by renting a few outdoor games like croquet, corn hole, or even a dunking booth.
If you have a large flat grassy area, try your hand at croquet. This croquet rental includes equipment for 6 players and setup of the croquet course. Croquet is great for all ages and can range from mildly competitive to a high stakes team competition.
Bring a backyard classic to your party or event with corn hole. This rental is super portable and includes 8 bean bags and a carrying case.
Cool off with a dunk in the dunking booth or a less expensive alternative “Soaking Wet Booth”. Both of these provide hours of fun for kids and adults of all ages.
When the summer heat is too much to bear, channel an old school arcade and bring the party inside with arcade games, an air hockey table, or shuffleboard.
You can opt for a racing game or a less expensive but equally fun old-fashioned stand-up cabinet of classic arcade games.
Air hockey is a staple of any arcade worth its salt. The game uses air piped through tiny holes in its surface to create a near frictionless playing area in which players use paddles to knock a puck into the opposing goal.
Shuffleboard is a classic bar game in which guests slide weighted pucks across a low-friction table in order to land within point boundaries without going over the edge. This indoor table is a perfect alternative to more traditional Air Hockey and Foosball tables and will provide hours of fun!
If none of these are quite what you are looking for, check out Loanables for other game ideas, or, let us know what you are looking for and we will find it for you. And remember, whatever you choose, beware, your family and guests are sure to have such a great time they will be begging for another summer camp game night soon!
While we love Austin, my husband is British and essentially can’t tolerate the Texas summers. So, on the first of June each year, our family heads to the beaches of California for 3 months to escape the Texas heat. It’s a luxury and a necessity in our lives and although I can’t imagine life any other way, I often find myself hankering for a dip in Barton Springs pool or a delicious Taco Deli taco while we are away.
You see, while we are gone, I find myself talking about Austin a lot. Although I am originally from Arizona, I consider myself a Texan and I am proud of it. I spend much of the summer telling our California neighbors all of the reasons we love Texas, and especially Austin.
Over the past 2 years, one of our friends in California has begun frequent work trips to Austin where he meets with (and entertains) his Texas clients. He often comes to me for ideas on the best places to take and entertain clients in Austin. Through numerous discussions and a lot of research, these are my favorite new and different ways to entertain clients in Austin…plus a few recommendations on filling them up with good Texas food:
NLand Surf Park claims to be the only surfing destination of its kind in North America and I believe it. I have met several surfers who live near the beach and surf in the Pacific Ocean every day who are making a trip to Austin just to experience this wave park. Check out some of the videos – you will want to try it too.
And entertaining clients is something NLand is set up to do. Their concierge can help you tailor your event to your needs whether it be for very small or very large groups. They can accommodate speakers, live music, yoga, custom gift bags, and the list goes on.
While this is not an ideal option for large corporate events, if you are entertaining a few clients, you can’t beat a tour of Austin from the sky. Austin Helicopter Tours offers a number of different tour options to satisfy the interests of any Austin local or visitor. They also have options to charter a helicopter to the Flat Creek Winery for some wine tasting and dining or even to the Salt Lick to enjoy some authentic Austin barbecue.
Out on the Range
I am not talking about the driving range/golf course although Austin is full of those as well. When clients come to Texas, they often want to check out the shooting range.
The Range At Austin is a great indoor range that services both seasoned shooters and beginners and can accommodate everything from small client meetings to large corporate events up to 150 people. They offer instructors, catering services, and they rent everything you need for a fun day at the range. So, if a day at the shooting range is what your clients are looking for, check this place out.
Wine and Dine ‘Em
One of the most important part of Client entertainment is great food and great drinks. Since Austin is full of both, you really can’t go wrong. I recently wrote a blog about Still Austin Whiskey Co. They offer tours, whiskey tasting, and have a great event space for larger corporate events. This is still my pick for your next client outing but some other food and drink options to consider include:
Second Bar + Kitchen – Not only is the food amazing, this downtown spot offers multiple options for entertaining clients. With 3 distinct spaces, Second Bar + Kitchen can accommodate parties of up to 100. The first floor is great for smaller group dinners amidst the energy of Austin’s Second Street District. The second floor, with an open air balcony overlooking Second Street, is perfect for private events up to 44 people. The third space, Congress Hall, is a fully independent event space which can accommodate 80 seated or 100 for passed hors d’oeuvres. Congress Hall also has a small private dining room which seats up to 12 guests. The options are endless and foodies will love it!
Franklin Barbecue – An Austin sensation, Franklin Barbecue is open 6 days a week from 11am until they sell out. The food is delicious and visitors love the chance to sample the famous bbq. We suggest pre-ordering because the line starts early and the bbq sells out!
Salt Lick – I mentioned it above and have to throw it in as a Franklin Barbecue alternative. Salt Lick has been a tried and true bbq experience in Austin for ages. It is a great place to entertain groups big and small and give them a taste of Texas cuisine.
Whatever you choose, remember to check out Loanables for all of your rental needs. They have everything from chairs for the surf park to pop up tents to rental items for a full scale client conference.
\ We’re always looking for cool, local, Austin-y places to explore and lucky for all of us, there are a ton of places that meet these criteria. One of our current favorites is Still Austin Whiskey Co., a “grain-to-glass” distillery located in The Yard, a burgeoning South Austin development located just south of Ben White Blvd on St. Elmo Street.
About Still Austin Whiskey Co.
Still Austin Whiskey Co. is a grain-to-glass distillery which produces whiskey made 100% from scratch using local ingredients. Their whiskey is made by hand right here in Austin, Texas using ingredients provided by Texas farmers.
Founded by CEO Chris Seals and distillery co-founders Sal and Joanna Salinas, Andrew and Lisa Braunberg, and Cleveland and Carrol Seals, Still Austin Whiskey Co. mills, mashes, ferments, barrels, and bottles all of their spirits in-house at the distillery.
Still Austin Whiskey Co., through their partnership with Texas farmers, is able to use a wide variety of local grains (corn, wheat, and even rye can be grown here in Texas) and the warm Central Texas climate to facilitate the expansion and contraction of their barrels to make authentically crafted whiskeys. Unlike so many whiskey distilleries that buy whiskey already made and aged, Still Austin Whiskey Co.’s name says it all – they do it themselves right here in Austin!
The Texas inspired spirits are currently sold and served in Still Austin’s tasting room as well as at Twin Liquors, Spec’s, Total Wine & More, and several Independent Liquor Stores in Central Texas.
Still Austin has two goals in mind when crafting their whiskey: authentic and original. They are the first distillery in Austin since prohibition and, as such, control the quality and the flavor of their spirits at every step.
Because bourbon and other whiskeys take time to age, Still Austin started by releasing New Make Whiskeys which are taken straight from the still rather than aging in barrels. These whiskeys take advantage of the unique Texas grains and are never sweetened or artificially flavored. Flavors like Mother Pepper Whiskey provide a spicy mix of fresh chile sequin, smoked serrano, and ari amarillo peppers whereas Daydreamer Whiskey is a sweeter, cleaner spirit infused with a combination of Valencia, Tangelo and Bergamot citrus. Whatever your pleasure, these New Make Whiskeys can be enjoyed straight up or in a cocktail. For cocktail ideas, check out Still Austin Whiskey’s website. My personal favorite?… Becky with the Good Hair. Plus, I love the name!
Visiting The Distillery
Situated in The Yard, a new development that claims to celebrate community and culture in the heart of South Austin, the 9,600 square-foot distillery fits the description. The distillery is both industrial and intimate, providing a comfortable and authentic Austin feel.
Still Austin Whiskey Co. offers tours of the distillery on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at various times throughout the afternoon and early evening. These 30 minute tours allow visitors to get a look at the silos where the milling is done, the distillery, including the 42-foot column still made in Scotland by one of the most prestigious still makers in the world, and the barreling process.
After touring the Distillery, visitors can visit the tasting room where they have the opportunity to sample a flight of whiskey or other seasonal specialties. The goal of the tasting room bartenders is to get non-whiskey drinkers to give it a try. With a menu ranging from Frozen Whiskey Margaritas, a twist on a Texas standard, and Frozen Gin and Tonic, made with their recently launched Rye Gin, to some Still Austin originals like The Daydreamer, a citrus infused whiskey, there is something to please every cocktail lover’s tastebuds.
This month, Loanables is giving away a tour and tasting for 6. Check out Facebook or Instagram for details on how to enter.
And, if tours and tastings are more than you are looking for, why not stop in for a cocktail with local flare and to relax outside in the Whiskey Garden?
Finally, if you are looking for a cool unique space for your next event, Still Austin Whiskey Co. may have the space for you!
Picture an open warehouse just south of Downtown Austin with ample parking opening up to a patio with tables and games. This space can accommodate up to 300 guests and is the perfect way to stay true to the local Austin vibe. You can see a tour here.
So, now that you know a little bit about Still Austin Whiskey Co. I hope it’s your next stop for a tour, tastings with friends, date night, or your next big event.
We would love to see pictures from your next visit…enjoy!
Party and event trends today change faster than the blink of an eye. We are always seeing new and popular themes, decorations, and aesthetics which might be based on the newest Disney movie, decorating trend, or even historical or political event. Some themes go beyond the realm of our imaginations – the sky is really the limit!
I often write and speak about the party essentials: guests, entertainment, and, of course, the food! When I am invited to a party, I always look forward to the spread of delicious and fun things to eat and I am not alone. If guests are served an array of delicious treats and go home full, they are happy and the party goes well. When there is not enough food or the food is bad, that becomes the only thing people remember. I think one way to ensure great food that goes with your party theme is to include concessions in your party or event menu.
Here are some of the popular concession items available to rent for your next event. Below are some of our favorites along with the average rental prices:
My kids LOVE Cotton Candy and while I can’t claim that I have ever been a big fan, I recently had the opportunity to taste some delicious mango cotton candy from Fancy Fluff which changed my tune on the whole Cotton candy concession idea. If you missed our blog about this fantastic Austin based Cotton Candy company, check it out here.
If you decide on a Cotton Candy Machine for your next event, most rental companies have the option of adding the sugar floss to your order at an additional charge. Amazon also sells sugar floss in many flavors. My personal favorite is the 5 Flavor Candy Floss Sugar Pack which includes the flavors you love from your favorite state fair – Blue Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Grape, and Pink Vanilla.
If you are feeling ambitious and want to try mixing up some of your own flavors, the internet is full of great ideas. My personal favorite is Maple Cotton Candy – check out this video and get inspired to try making some yourself! Or, if you don’t want the hassle, you can book Fancy Fluff to make it for you for $85 per hour.
This Frozen Drink Machine can be used for smoothies or milkshakes for the kids but it can also be used for margaritas – a Texas must have at any adult get together.
My personal favorite margarita flavor is the Mango-Rita. If you are looking for a twist on a traditional margarita, below is a great recipe to try making them in the Margarita Machine for your next party:
MANGO MARGARITA RECIPE
Ingredients: (per Margarita – you can increase the recipe to feed your crowd)
- 2 ounces tequila
- 2 ounces lime juice
- 2 ounces mango juice
- 1 ounce orange liqueur
- 1 lime wedge
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- zest of 1 lime
- Add tequila, lime juice, mango juice, and orange liqueur to the margarita machine and run machine until mixture is frozen
- Mix together salt, sugar, and lime zest on a plate. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass and dip the glass into the salt and sugar mixture.
- Dispense frozen margarita in to the glass
- Garnish with a lime wedge
My mouth is watering!
At our house, popcorn is what it’s all about. We eat popcorn for snacks, meals, while watching a movie, and it is even the kids’ favorite part about going to the car wash – free popcorn. Popcorn machines are perfect for carnivals, a circus, a movie themed party, or even just as a good healthy snack for a kids’ birthday party.
If you are looking to make popcorn more of an activity or to spice up the butter and salt variety, why not have a “Gourmet Popcorn Bar”? To do this, have bags, boxes, or buckets for guests to fill with popcorn and their favorite mix ‘ins. Our personal favorite items to include in the popcorn bar are:
- Chocolate Covered Raisins
- Sugar babies
- A variety of popcorn seasonings such as Doritos Cool Ranch, Cheddar Cheese, or Butter Flavor
WARNING: Younger guests may need help creating their gourmet popcorn. I am certain that my two youngest children would happily add Doritos Cool Ranch seasoning to their popcorn and M&M’s and then refuse to eat it after realizing that was a bad combo!
Summers in Austin are hot! I always try to plan a cool treat for any outdoor event – ice cream, popsicles or SNOW CONES! A Snow Cone Machine can create a perfect snack (or drink) for an event for kids and adults alike. Whether you are planning a pool party, outdoor fiesta, or carnival, snow cones can go with your theme.
For a variation on traditional snow cones, try adding an array of sliced fruit for guests to add to their drinks – strawberries, watermelon, bananas, pineapple, or even maraschino cherries. Pretty much any fruit tastes great in a sweet frozen snow cone!
Hot Dogs make a great a main course for a party with kids and the hot dog carts are super cute. A couple of things to remember for hot dogs:
- Are there any non-meat eaters at the party? If so, make sure you have some veggie dogs.
- Don’t forget the toppings. I hosted a kids’ party once and all was going well until someone asked me where the ketchup was! Ketchup, mustard, and relish are the standards but feel free to include your personal favorites – chili or cheese perhaps?
Who doesn’t love a chocolate fountain? It is a great concession for events ranging from a classy bridal shower to a fun kids’ fondue party.
Chocolate fountains go great with your favorite droppable foods:
- Sliced strawberries, bananas, and pineapple
- Angel Food Cake
- And the list goes on…
Really, there are no rules when adding concessions to your party – you can usually find a way to make any of these fit your theme. My advice is choose what you like to eat just in case you have leftovers:) Or, rent them all and have a concession food park where guests can try any or all of the concessions on hand – this could even be the theme of your next event!
Holidays give us a chance to get together with friends and families, eat, tell stories, create memories, and celebrate! One of my favorite holidays is the 4th of July – it is fairly low key with kids out of school, the lazy days of summer, and often the entertainment provided by means of your local fireworks display.
When planning an annual 4th of July bash for our family and friends, I always keep in mind the 3 F’s (which I actually apply to all parties) – Food, Folks, and Fun. If you get the 3 F’s right, your party is sure to be a success.
When I think of 4th of July, I think of potlucks, barbecues, and good American staples – hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, vegetables and dip, and Jello. Since I am from the Southwest, I always throw in chips and guacamole. In fact, I add guacamole to pretty much every meal, holiday or not.
Below are a couple of my go-to recipes which are a perfect addition to your 4th of July meal.
12 Layer Jello
I make this Jello for every holiday and change up the flavors to get the color combinations I want. For example, at Christmas I use red and green, at Thanksgiving I use orange and yellow, and for the 4th of July it’s red, white, and blue! It is always a hit with grown ups and kids alike!
- 6 (3oz) boxes of Jello in flavors/colors of your choice – for 4th of July I like Strawberry or Cherry and Berry Blue
- 1 8oz container (227 grams) Sour Cream
- Choose the color of Jello you want on the bottom layer of your Jello
- Add 1 Cup Boiling water to your first box of Jello and stir until Jello is dissolved
- Divide Jello in 1/2
- Add 2 Tbsp sour cream to one 1/2 of the Jello and stir until smooth
- Pour into a 9″ x 13″ pan
- Refrigerate for 25 minutes
- Pour the remaining 1/2 of your first color of jello over the top of the chilled layer
- Refrigerate for 25 minutes
- Repeat process for the remaining 5 boxes of Jello alternating colors
- When the Jello is done and chilled, cut into squares and serve
I love guacamole as does everyone in my family and during the spring and summer when the avocados are best, I make a batch pretty much every day. When friends and extended family come over they always say “I love your guacamole!” which is pretty funny given that I keep it really simple and rely on the avocados for the flavor. Here’s my “not so secret” guacamole recipe.
- Avocados – I usually use 5-6 for a party but the recipe can easily be adjusted for number of guests/guacamole eaters. Normally I buy my avocados from Costco and they come in a bag of 5 or 6. If you do shop at Costco, however, make sure to buy them 4-5 days in advance and leave them out on the counter to ripen up. As soon as they are ripe throw them in the refrigerator. If you don’t shop at Costco, look for large Haas avocados at your local grocery store.
- Green Onions – I figure 2 onions per avocado but this may depend on the size of your onions.
- Lemon juice (or lime juice if you prefer) – I actually buy my lemon juice in a bottle at the grocery store but if you prefer fresh lemons, you will probably only need 1. I use about 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and then add more to taste. Really the lemon juice helps keep the guacamole from turning brown too quickly. You can also add the pit of one avocado to your prepared guacamole which also helps stop browning.
- Salt to taste
- Chile Powder to taste
- Slice avocados in 1/2 and remove pits. Scoop pulp into a bowl.
- Finely chop 1-2 green onions per avocado and add to bowl.
- Squeeze 1/2 – 1 Tbsp of lemon juice into bowl.
- Add a fair amount of salt. I start with 8 good turns of my sea salt grinder.
- Add about 1/2 Tbsp of chile powder.
- Smash avocados and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Taste and add lemon juice, salt, and chile powder as necessary.
If the avocados are in season and perfectly ripe, they do the work with the other ingredients helping to bring out the flavor.
Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or veggies – I love guacamole on carrots – and make sure to reserve some for your burgers!
If you are looking for a way to add some American pride to your food, you can always add some American Flag Toothpicks to your burgers, dogs, and/or Jello. They are available on Amazon here.
And, if you want to add some extra fun treats to your party, consider renting a cotton candy machine or popcorn machine. Popcorn and cotton candy are two of my kids’ favorite treats and adding them to your menu really makes it seem like a party!
I always try to remember that the right combination of party guests is key to party success. We all know there are certain people who are easy to have around and others who are a bit more high maintenance. I find that sometimes the higher maintenance guests force me to up my game a bit and make the party extra special. Plus, they often add an extra flair to your party and some memories you won’t forget.
As a mom of 4 kids ages 2, 4, 6, and 8 I know that everyone in our house has a playmate…until we invite a friend or two that are the same ages as some (but not all) of my kids. For this reason, I always consider having a friend for no one or a friend for everyone. The right combination of guests can make my life as a host a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Besides who you invite, consider how many guests you would like to have at your party. Are you looking to host an all out bash or a small, intimate get together? Here are some things to consider:
- How much food are you planning to have? Potlucks and catered events work well with bigger parties but if you are planning to cook everything yourself, you may want to limit your numbers if you don’t want to be cooking for a week before.
- What kind of entertainment (aka “Fun”) are you providing? Will everyone be able to participate in the activities if you have big crowds vs a small get together?
What kinds of entertainment are you planning to provide? Fireworks are a 4th of July staple and they are something you don’t need to plan yourself. Here is a list of the best Fireworks displays in Austin.
Aside from public fireworks displays, you may want to consider sparklers, party snaps, or other small fireworks at home. Remember to read the instructions and make safety a primary focus when using fireworks at home, especially with children.
At our house, we always have some kind of water fun and/or bounce houses for the kids. One of our favorites is the bounce house/water slide combo to keep everyone busy and cool during the summer party hours. Loanables can find you exactly what you are looking for at the best price for your 4th of July bash.
In addition to fireworks and bounce houses, why not try an outdoor game like giant twister, giant jenga, corn hole, giant connect 4…the sky’s the limit. At our house we often split into teams and have a big playoff – the winner after several games gets a prize (or doesn’t have to help clean up). This helps get everyone involved in the games and gets any spectators cheering. There are several rental options for outdoor games so if you don’t have these at home, check out Loanables.com to get ideas and reserve your event rentals.
Food, Folks, & Fun
So, there you have it. Food, folks, and fun (and a little thought and preparation) – if you get these right, you are sure to have a fun and memorable 4th of July!
Anyone in the event world knows that events, like everything else, are a sign of the times. Current values on Unique Venues, Going Local, Creating Memories, Going Green, and Technology are here and are taking the event world by storm. Halfway through 2018, we are seeing these 5 trends emerge and everyone should take note of them when planning their next event.
Trend #1: Unique venues
Forever gone are the days when events were confined to four walls. The demand for non-traditional spaces has grown and a hotel or traditional conference center is no longer enough.
Ideally, venues should make an impression immediately, even before one sets foot on the location. We hear all the time that people are attending an event because they haven’t been to a specific venue or seen a certain space.
To get guests excited about attending your event, choose an unusual setting that also reflects the personality, values, and purpose of the event. These are those venues that integrate an experiential aspect to events. These include unique places like castles, museums, and boathouses.
For a list of utterly cool and unique venues, check out our Top 10 Event Spaces for Rent in Austin blog.
Trend #2: Going Local
When we talk about going local, we mean more than just the food. The entire event should be infiltrated with local flavor. Some examples of “Going Local” are:
- Making sure the location is part fo the event’s attraction. Consider guided tours, dinners, receptions, and more to showcase the best of the event’s locale.
- Supplying gifts and souvenirs which are characteristic of the location and made locally where possible.
- Allowing event goers the opportunity to document their experiences as a memory and send some “wish you were here” messages to those who could not attend.
- And, then there is the food. Where possible it should be sourced locally, prepared by a local chef, and be authentic to the event location.
Trend #3: Creating Memories
Providing an amazing experience that is memorable may seem like an obvious goal for any event, but it can never be overstated. Attendees need to come away having had a brilliant time and in no doubt as to why they were there.
In order to help attendees create more memories, consider customizing your event for each guest. Digital photo walls with real time photo displays, Tweet walls, LED displays, crowd-responsive lighting, etc. Or, varied activities and amenities that will appeal to guests differently. These things can help ensure each guest has his or her own unique take-aways from the event.
Another sure fire way to create a lasting memory is to give each guest a gift from the event. A photo booth picture, a prize won during an event game, or a bottle of local brew. There are really no rules, just something to ensure guests remember and hopefully cherish.
Trend #4: Going Green
With all the negative effects of our unsustainable practices are now coming back to haunt us, sustainability on the upward trend.
One of the most common ways to foster sustainable events is to go paperless. Use digital replacements like apps and emails instead of sending out paper invitations or handing out paper materials such as brochures, schedules, and more. If you just can’t avoid using paper, think about using recyclable, recycled or reusable materials instead.
Social responsibility doesn’t stop with simply becoming eco-friendly. You can also include the following activities when thinking about creating a sustainable event:
- Support local businesses by using them as suppliers for your events. This generates job and income for locals and can help with the mission to “Go Local”, too.
- Integrate charitable activities into the event, and give back to the local community this way.
And, just to bring the whole “going green” point home, consider green foliage as a backdrop for your event. The trend to decorate with foliage has been around for a few years now and has never disappointed. So look out for stunning garlands, walls and even hoops. We have a feeling it is going to be big and sticking around for a while.
Trend #5: Technology
Technology can be used to both ease and enhance the event experience. Used well, technology can help accomplish all of the aforementioned trends: enhance engagement by creating unique experiences, bringing in local experiences and flavors, creating memories, and making the event more sustainable.
It can also help connect people, create common ground, and shape the course of an event. Imagine an event where people from all over the world come together. Handing out name badges and wine really isn’t going to get the party started, but, you can use technology to encourage interaction. Apps, gamification, RFID, and virtual reality activities are all ways to do this.
Other technology trends that have been around but that are becoming increasingly prevalent are:
- Virtual speakers at a corporate event, or virtual toasters at a wedding. While we already do this to some extent with screens, a 3D visualization adds a certain depth to the speaker’s virtual presence.
- Live footage of the event allowing those who could not attend to feel like they are part of the party or event.
- Host digital hangouts that add a new dimension to networking and interaction. These hangouts can be accessed at any time during the event to engage other participants, speakers, and virtual audiences right from your device.
So there you have it, these are the 2018 event trends which are pushing the industry forward and changing the way we think about event planning. If you are planning an event, be an innovator of the industry by taking a close look at each of the above trends and see which ones you can implement to make your next event as memorable and impactful as possible.