10 Ideas for Post-holiday Parties

The presents have been unwrapped. The out-of-town guests have skedaddled. And you’re now scratching your head over what to do with the freed-up sched.

Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean you have to put a red light on the merriment. Reconnect with your buds (stress-free!) by trying out these mini-parties to keep the festive spirit bright.

1. Throw a new-season jam sesh. Have every guest bring three of their favorite newly released tunes, and then pop them on for all to enjoy. The upbeat melodies will keep you in a feel-good mood.

2. Hold a post-holiday photo shoot where everyone must model a new outfit. The best pose gets bragging rights till next year!

3. Throw a disco Christmas. There’s an excuse to celebrate Christmas again when you’re doing it in costume! Raid your mom’s closet for the greatest (free) vintage finds, then blast ’70s holiday covers like Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”

4. Conduct your own neighborhood Winter Olympics. There’s still time before the big summer sporting event, but you can bridge the gap between seasons with some winter team spirit. Designate a country for each friend and go head-to-head in events like snowball-throwing, snowman-building or sledding.

5. Go eco-chic. Grab all of the wrapping paper scraps around your house and invite your friends over for an “It’s a Wrap” craft party. Make useful items like bookmarks and magazine holders with the odds and ends, and then store them away for mini Earth Day prezzies.

6. Hold an ornament exchange party where everyone anonymously swaps a wrapped ornament from their tree this year. You’ll be counting down the days till the next holiday season to show off your new accessory in all of its seasonal glory.

7. Kick off a “12 Months of 2012” bash. Instead of confining all your celebrations to the end of the year, celebrate a year’s worth of occasions in one night! Have everyone dress as a different month and bring a dish that is special to that season. Think of it as taking a glimpse into your 2012 future.

8. Pull an all-nighter with a Christmas movie marathon. Slipping into those cozy PJs and watching a selection of your favorite holiday hits will bring the jolly glow back to the forefront of your mind.

9. Indulge in a baking bonanza. Invite your buds over to bake the cookies you missed out on while eating your umpteenth treat over the holidays. Chuckle about the wackiest prezzies you each received while snacking on the fresh-baked goodies.

10. Heart a chocolate-tasting dessert buffet. From a fondue station to an assortment of decadent brownies, spend one night satisfying your sweet tooth with all the chocolate you can consume and gabbing about your celeb and class crushes. Guarantee it will hold you over until Valentine’s Day!

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/JBryson

15 Fun Things to Do for Fall!

Cool air, warm apple cider and cozy knit sweaters! Who says the fun’s over when summer ends? Celebrate the changing season with a bundle of activities you can only do in the fall. We’re shoveling out 15 must-do’s for autumn:

1. Up a Tree
Schedule an outdoor playdate to pick apples at a nearby orchard or farm. Bond with buds, breathe in the fresh air and stock up on a batch of the season’s finest fruits.

2. All About Apples
Now that you’ve gathered a fresh basket of delish apples, throw yourself a hoorah! Bake hot apple pies, serve up cider for beverages and bob for apples.

3. Pumpkin Patch
Nix the trip to your local supermarket and handpick pumpkins at a patch instead. You’ll have a day of fun and bring home even more DIY activities for entertainment.

4. Gourd-geous Crafts
Now it’s time to make pumpkin crafts, of course! Hollow out the insides, let them dry and use them as vases to store fresh flowers. It makes the perfect centerpiece to brighten up a table. Or go classic with Halloween jack o’ lanterns.

5. Pigskin Party
Are you a football fanatic? Or do you just want a reason to hoot and holler it up? Host a sporty shindig -- and don’t forget to invite your crush. Get decked out in your team’s colors, whip up some nachos and root your team to victory!

6. Door Decor
Spice up your space with a handmade wreath of colorful leaves. Use pliers to bend a coat hanger into a circle shape, and then use floral wire to attach leaves all around it.

7. Crafty Costumes
Raid a few closets to come up with some creative Halloween costumes. Maybe your mom has some cool retro pieces, or maybe you can snag your brother’s paintball getup!

8. Roll in the Hay
Check local papers to take a spin on a hayride. Whether it’s haunted or just scenic, you’ll have a blast with this autumn-only activity.

9. Score More Moolah
A new season means new opps to make money. Rake neighbors’ leaves, open a hot-cider stand, or gather up all your unwanted goods from last year and throw a yard sale.

10. Backyard Bonfire
Take the cover off of summer’s charcoal grill and ask a parent to torch it up. Roast marshmallows for s’mores, sing campfire songs and even pitch a tent.

11. Spooky Sleepover
Invite your besties over for a fright-filled night. Watch your favorite scary movies, tell haunted tales and make ghastly goodies like a gummy-worm mud pie.

12. A-maze-ing
A lot of farms open up a corn maze for fall. With sibs or friends in tow, spend hours getting tangled in a corn field.

13. Fall Fashions
Lay out your clothes and accessories and pair up new outfits for fall. Have a fashion show and snap pics of everything you’ve put together. Rushed to get dressed in the a.m.? Look through your snapshots … duh!

14. Hit the Trails
Grab the fam and hit a nearby nature trail by foot or on mountain bikes. There’s nothing like taking in the beauty of the changing leaves while getting a bit of exercise.

15. Clubbin’ It
Chat up your classmates and bookworm buddies about organizing a book discussion club. Set up meets at parks and coffee shops to gush over your latest read.

Look Fashionable on Any Budget

To avoid breaking a budget in a flailing economy, lots of girls are keeping their wardrobes replenished by relying on thrift shop finds or hand-me-downs. So you loved your sister's blouse, but that was two years ago. Now it's yours, and the blouse -- and your love for it -- has faded. How do you wear it without becoming a fashion “don't”? Read on for our tips on how to make old clothes snazzy and looking like new again!

Try New Colors
You can totally change the look of a piece of clothing by changing its color. Make sure it's dyeable -- dying works best on things made of cotton, while polyester and nylon are much harder to dye. Ask a parent to help, since dye is messy and can permanently stain anything it spills on. Also, wash the dyed item separately from other clothes for the first few washings (as much as you may love it, your family might not want everything they own turning violet).

Change the Buttons
Flashy new buttons give an instant lift to a tired sweater or outdated jacket. Pick buttons that are really different from the original buttons -- but be sure they’re the same size so they’ll properly fit the buttonholes. Use shiny metal or rhinestone buttons to add some bling. Or, go with a geometric design or contrasting color -- anything that pops!

Shorten the Length
You can really change the look of an outfit by changing its hem. Take a too-long skirt and custom fit it by hemming it to just above your knees. Wear it with flat-heeled leather boots and thigh-high knit socks. You love the tee, but it’s too long? Take it up a notch. The jacket fits, but the sleeves are too short? Make it short-sleeved or even sleeveless.

Lavish Embellishments
Add adornments, dah-ling! Sew a cool strip of ribbon or lace around the cuff of a hand-me-down sweater. Iron a patch onto the back pocket of those worn-in jeans. Use crystals, rhinestones or sequins to jazz up a plain denim jacket. Use your creativity and imagination to turn basics into one-of-a-kind pieces that turn heads. Your sister is sure to come asking for her blouse back now!

Clean-sweep Your Bedroom!

Want to eliminate the clutter-y chaos in your crib -- and keep it that way? Give your room a good spring-cleaning! Try these tips to get motivated:

Set a Date
Set aside a full day, or even a weekend, to get the job done. Pick a date when you’ll have few distractions and no other commitments. Starting the process and then stopping to go to piano lessons or a movie with friends will leave you too distracted to focus and follow through.

Make It Fun
Get stoked in advance by making a playlist of your favorite high-energy tunes for cleaning day. Wear comfy clothes and pin your hair back, then dance around your room while you get your organizing groove on. For extra motivation, decorate your tools of the trade (bins, boxes, photo albums, and the like). Touches of personal flair will make you want to fill ’em and keep ’em organized!

Start With the Big Stuff
Make the hardest and most time-consuming tasks -- cleaning out the mound of junk under your bed, for example -- your first priority. Getting stuck organizing tiny areas won’t show much progress and will have you feeling too overwhelmed to tackle larger tasks. Once you see how much you’ve already done, it will give you the mojo to power through the smaller stuff.

Get to Organizing
De-cluttering your space is really all about sorting things out. Make piles for all your goods, laundry, put-aways and trash. For stuff you’re keeping around, make sure that even the tiniest items have a designated home to call their own. Pencils need a holder, nail polish needs a bin, magazines need a rack, CDs need a case, and so on.

Dust, Wipe and Sweep
Once all your gear is stowed away in its proper place, break out the cleaning supplies to really make your room shine. Grab a dustrag and swipe your electronics, desk, shelves and dressers. Then, wipe down other surfaces that need some extra elbow grease -- like mirrors, windows and your vanity -- with a furniture polish or glass cleaner. Lastly, vacuum or sweep your floor to pick up leftover dirt and dust.

Make It a Habit
Now that your room is tidy, it’s not too difficult to keep it that way if you hit it a little bit at a time. Write up a schedule to get you into a clean routine. Give each day of the week a to-do: Laundry should be one day, vacuuming another, and organizing another. Spreading out your tasks over time makes them manageable so you’ll actually stick to your plan. Keep it up, and you may never be stuck in a messy room again. Phew ... high-five, girl, on a job well done!

Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/Figure8Photos