Last Minute Gifts for Dad

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This Father’s Day guide for dad contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure agreement for details. 

As seen on The Today Show

Tomorrow is Dad’s big day. Are you ready? Last week I published my Father’s Day Gift Guide for Every Kind of Dad, but if you procrastinated getting your guy a gift, never fear, I’m here to help. As the clock ticks down, I’m offering my favorite last minute gifts for every kind of dad. Trust me, they’re so good, your guy will think you spent weeks planning to surprise him.

Man’s Man

Philips Shoqbox Mini Rugged Waterproof Speaker

Don’t let this bluetooth speaker’s tiny size fool you. The Philips Shoqbox is loaded with features and tough enough to take on the road anywhere you want to go. The whole thing is small enough to hold comfortably in the palm of your hand, but it’s completely waterproof, has a built in mic for taking phone calls, oh, and it floats too. Did you hear that? IT FLOATS!


Nuts and Bolts Picture Frame

Nuts and Bolts Father's Day Picture Frame

Honor the dad who does it all with this cute DIY nuts and bolts frame. A frame, some nuts and bolts, some glue, and the tutorial from SheKnows is all you need to make this cute gift a reality. The best part is this is an easy gift for little hands to help with too.


Perry Ellis Water-Resistant Nylon Travel Kit

Perry Ellis Water-Resistant Nylon Travel Kit

Even the most organized dad could use a little help keeping it all together. This water-resistant travel kit will lend a hand, and makes a stylish travel companion to organize all his toiletries on the go. You can pick one up at a Macy’s near you.


DIY Shaving Cream with Printable Label DIY-Shaving-Cream

Who knew you could make your own shaving cream? This simple recipe from The Idea Room is cute, practical, and will leave Dad’s skin feeling great! Don’t forget to use the free printable label to take this gift over the top.


DIY Beard Oil with Printable Label DIY-Beard-Oil

Sure, your mountain man may save time on shaving, but that doesn’t mean his facial hair doesn’t require love and attention. This DIY Manly Man Beard Oil from is simple to make, but will impress your guy on Father’s Day.


Foodie Father

Tara Teaspoon’s BBQ Rub

Tara Teaspoon's BBQ Rub

My 10-ingredient BBQ rub recipe makes enough to last all summer long, which means it’s the gift that keeps on giving. A few Tablespoons is all you need each time you use it. With a little bit of luck, this is a gift you’ll get to enjoy too.

2 1/2 Tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
7 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 1/4 tsp celery salt
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
5 tsp dry mustard
5 tsp ground cumin
5 tsp chili powder
1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients, making sure brown sugar is evenly distributed. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Makes 1 1/4 cups


DIY Handprint Apron

DIY Handprint Apron

What do you get when you combine an apron, iron on transfers, paint, and tiny hands? A gift any dad would be proud to wear in the kitchen or while manning the grill. Simply Kierste has the full tutorial for how to make your own customized apron.

Mantry Man’s Pantry

Mantry Man's Pantry

Your Foodie Father can’t get better than his own curated pantry of snacks, sauces and artisan foods. Subscribe him to receive crates of delicious food just for him at You’ll get a printable card to gift him so he knows what to expect in the mail, along with stories and recipes to use the cool products.

“Shirt” Gift Wrapper

Shirt and Tie Bottle Wrap

You COULD gift the standard shirt and tie this year, OR you could scrap it (literally), and use it to wrap up a bottle of Dad’s favorite drink. According to the step-by-step directions from The Tamara Blog, you don’t even need to sew a stitch to pull off this unique look.

Sentimental Dad

Printable Room Service Kit

Printable Room Service Kit

Even if you burn the toast and undercook the eggs, this adorable printable room service kit will start Father’s Day off right. The card and food toppers from The Dating Divas will add tons of noticeable cred to your special breakfast delivery service.


Cooper and Kid Activity Kits

Cooper and Kid Activity Kits

It can be tough finding fun activities that allow for quality “Dad and Me” time. The Cooper Kit from Cooper and Kid is a quarterly subscription box that is designed with Dad in mind. It comes packed with products, activities, stories, resources, and even recipes. The box comes with everything needed to have stress-free, creative together time.


My Hero is My Dad Printable Questionnaire

My Hero is My Dad Printable Questionnaire

You won’t believe the answers your kids will give as they fill out this cute printable questionnaire about their Dad. It’s a cute way to mark the day and remember the little people who made him a Dad in the first place.

If you procrastinated Father's Day shopping, I'm here to help. These last minute gift ideas for Dad are so good your guy will think you spent weeks planning

Father’s Day Gift Guide For Every Kind Of Dad

By | Craft, DIY, Father's Day, Food Gifts, Gift Guides, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Outdoor, Uncategorized | No Comments

This Father’s Day guide contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure agreement for details. 

Check out my Father’s Day Gift Guide for every kind of dad. Whether he’s an outdoorsman, a foodie father, or just a classy guy, I found the perfect gift ideas.

You’ve heard it said before, “My dad is the BEST dad in the world!” Perhaps you’ve even said it a time or two, and if I’m being totally honest, I believe my dad is the very best.

Bob and Tara

Me and Dad

Every dad has unique qualities that make him worthy of that description. Those special, individual traits that set our fathers apart from one another,  so shouldn’t the gifts that we give them match their personalities? I think so! Check out the following guide, help the kids pick out the perfect gift for dad, or get your own pop a thing or two.


The Outdoor Dad

The Outdoor DadPack up the goods, the outdoorsy dad is ready for an adventure! Some dads spend time with their families at the movies or out to dinner, but not the outdoor dad! He loves gathering the family together on the mountainside and out in the fresh air.


Hiking Shoes for Dad and the Kids
Take a hike…in a good way, in these “Daddy and me” VERSATRAIL KEEN hiking shoes. These stylish and comfortable shoes come in big and small, matching sizes, so the whole family can be in on the adventure. See large selection on the Keen site.

Keen "Daddy and Me" Shoes

Eco-Friendly Fish-Shaped Cutting Board
If dad likes to cook in wide open spaces, he needs a cutting board for the job. These Epicurean Camp Series Cutting Boards come in a fish shapes! How great is that? They also come in standard sizes, but the quality remains the same. Made from natural wood fiber, and heat-resistant up to 350ºF, they’re light, durable, eco-friendly and work just as good in the home as they do outdoors.

Epicurean Camp Series Boards


One Skillet, Full Meal
For dad, the campfire cooking doesn’t stop with the cutting board! He’ll need a skillet if he wants to whip up a fantastic meal under those blankets of stars. This Master Pan Non-Stick Divided Grill/Fry/Oven Skillet allows dad to make a full meal with just one pan. I mean, it only takes one propane burner for the skillet to grill up a hot meal? Amazing!

Master Pan Non Stick Skillet

Good Lookin’ Board Shorts
Beach and pool trips are coming up now that the kids are out of school and Father’s Day is here. If dad needs a new suit, swim suit that is, check out this stylish pair from Target. The Mossimo Supply Co. swim trunks are crafted with a durable poplin weave and a touch of spandex for a great fit.

Tara Teaspoon, Father's day, gift guide, father's day gifts


The Classy Dad

The Classy DadThe classy dad values quality. He likes a nice thing or two. He loves those tech gadgets that keep him up to speed and on time. A nice shave kit and great pants are his thing. And maybe your classy dad even likes a cocktail/mocktail here and there.


Cool Shades
Dad will look good in these Aviator Polarized Sunglasses no matter where he’s going. Classy or not dad’s lose sunglasses, or maybe he just needs a pair in every car, or mansion he owns. Either way you won’t go wrong with these stylish shades on Father’s Day.

Tara Teaspoon, Father's Day, Gift guide, Father's day gifts


Hanging Travel Bag
A shave kit that doesn’t have to sit on the wet sink! It hangs on the door knob, hook or towel rack, so no matter where dad goes he stays classy. This Perry Ellis travel bag is compact and looks cool and manly! Plus it’s on sale! Get it now!
Perry Ellis Mens Hanging Travel Bag

Hanging Travel Bag, Black, hi-res






Mix It Up All In One
Shake things up with the Tovolo 4-in-1 Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker. This cocktail shaker allows you juice, jig, strain and mix cocktails all with one shaker. Your dad will not only be impressed with the simplicity of the shaker, but he’ll also be excited to put it to good use!

Tovolo 4-in-1 Cocktail Shaker

A Little Down Time
A classy dad is ever the busy dad. Whether playing ball with the kids, or fixing the garage door, or repairing his little girl’s bike, he keeps it all going strong. Give him a little break with a Massage Envy Gift Card. Receive a free 30-minute upgrade and choice of a free Enhanced Therapy with $125 in gift card purchases – or get discounts on these items during this next week: Murad Shaving Essentials Set – $67 value, $50 – Whish Shaving Kit with reusable travel bag – $50 value, $25 – Spongelle Men’s Super Buffer, $14 value, $10.

Treatment Gift Card


The Foodie Father

The Foodie FatherThe foodie father loves to spend time in the kitchen cooking up a masterpiece for his family to enjoy, so why not make his hobby a little bit more enjoyable?

The next steak that your dad makes will be the best one yet with help from the SteakChamp Ultimate Steak Thermometer. Any great grill master knows that the perfect steak takes time and patience, and this thermometer lets dad know exactly when the steak is done to perfection. LED lights guide the way and the probe reads heat along it’s entire length. Good stuff.

 SteakChamp Ultimate Steak Thermometer


Dad will be obsessed with this Sphere Ice Maker from Tovolo. At least I am! He can make perfectly round, clear ice cubes with this awesome gadget. The insulated stand creates two ice spheres that won’t dilute drinks. Plus they look super cool and dad will get all the praise!

Sphere Ice Maker

Decorate A Cake You Didn’t Have To Make
No fuss, with all the glory! Any dad will be grateful for a delicious ice cream cake. Did you know you can get an un-decorated Carvel Ice Cream Cake at the store, then decorate it yourself? What a great way to send your own message on Father’s Day and get the kids involved. Eat fast! It melts. GET IT at your local grocery store!

Decorate An Ice Cream Cake


The Coolest Dish Ever
Take dad’s cooking game to a whole new level with the Le Creuset Dish with Platter. The multi-function design of the dish allows your dad to keep things simple and delicious around the grill by cutting out multiple dishes that hardly keep the food at the sizzling heat of deliciousness. Marinate meat in the dish and serve it on the cool platter included!

Tara Teaspoon, Father's Day, Gift Guide

So Much More Than Ice Cream
I have to say I think this is a pretty cool kitchen appliance! It’s not just an ice cream maker. The new Cuisinart Fruit Scoop Dessert Maker churns fresh fruit into a frozen dessert. So if dad is on a health kick he’ll absolutely love it! The special mashing paddle gets the fruit perfectly smashed with no extra ingredients. No when his health kick is over…The machine makes regular ice cream and frozen yogurt like a dream!

Tara Teaspoon, Father's Day, gift guide


The Tech Dad

The Tech Dad

Father’s who love technology are the most fun to shop for because they’re interested in the latest and greatest gadget. Sometimes shopping for the techy dad can be dangerous because you end up shopping for yourself after finding all the cool things there are out there.


Never Miss A Thing
Dad might lose his wallet or phone every once in a while (or maybe the kids just play tricks on him), but the techy TrackR Bravo helps him track it. Dad sends a request through his phone and the tracker rings on his keys. Dad’s phone goes missing? Well, this little device works on the opposite way too, and calls his phone to set off a ring, even if it’s on silent!

 TrackR Bravo  TrackR Bravo


Keep It Together
His smart phone can do one more amazing thing – double as his wallet! Get dad this Card/ID Holder iphone Case and lighten his load. No more bulky wallet, it’s all in one place!

Card/ID Holder iphone Case


Dad On The Go
For a gadget guy on the go there’s nothing better than having all the right cords, cables and chargers. This portable, waterproof case keeps his cords and hard drive in one place. Easy to carry on, or keep at home. Velcro straps and pockets allow everything to stay separated and untangled. I want one! Forget Father’s Day, when is Single Girl’s Day?

portable, waterproof case

Happy Shopping! And Happy Father’s Day!

Glossy, sweet candied lemon zest is the perfect topper to a citrusy cake.

Candied Lemon Zest

By | Cake, Candy, DIY, Entertaining, Fruit, Lifestyle, Tips And Techniques, Uncategorized | No Comments

Glossy, sweet candied lemon zest is the perfect topper to a citrusy cake.

Candied zest is nothing but the rind of citrus simmered in a sugar syrup. But the results are far from ordinary. The rind gets shiny and the bitter flavor disappears, but the candy retains its citrus taste.
I use a generous pile of candied zest on my Pink Lemonade Cake. You can use it to top any type of dessert, or chop it up and add it to cookies. It will keep in the fridge, tightly covered for several weeks, and the sugar syrup that goes along with it can be used in cocktails as a simple syrup.

Candied Lemon Zest


  • Zest from 2 lemons
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar


  1. With a sharp vegetable peeler, cut long strips of zest from lemons, being sure not to take any of the biter white pith. Slice the strips into ⅛-inch-thick strands.
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan; add the zest and simmer until translucent, about 20 min. Remove from heat and let cool in the syrup.
  3. Strain zest and use for garnish. Use the syrup in drinks or on pancakes. You can refrigerate both for 2 weeks.
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Cake pops that get their colorful toppers right from the pantry! Dried fruits, nuts and cookies make beautiful and tasty decorations for this classic treat.

Cake Pops With Pantry Toppers

By | Baking + Desserts, Birthdays, Cake, Candy, Cookies + Brownies, DIY, Entertaining, Fall, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Uncategorized | One Comment

Cake pops that get their colorful toppers right from the pantry! Dried fruits, nuts and cookies make beautiful and tasty decorations for this classic treat.


The gooey, soft centers of cake pops are irresistible!  Pretty sure that’s why they are ever-so-popular. They’re pretty fun to make (crumbling up a perfectly good cake into tiny crumbs and mashing it together with frosting!). They’re also very fun to decorate.

Cake Pops With Pantry ToppersThis variation is not claiming to be healthy because of fruit and nuts. But my goodness they make for pretty decorations. I love the pop apricots and cranberries make on the white and brown chocolates. I chopped the dried fruits into tiny little pieces to they look like little jewels on the cake pops.

Any nuts or seeds will do, but the green pepitas are the cutest; and white speckles of coconut are quite tasty. I don’t need to tell you crushed cookies are a great topper. You know that!


Cake Pops

Cake Pops

You'll be the coolest mom in your kid's class when you show up with cake pops.


  • 1 boxed cake mix
  • 1¾ cup prepared frosting
  • White-chocolate candy melts
  • Milk-chocolate candy melts
  • Chopped nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Sprinkles
  • Lollipop sticks


  1. Prepare and bake cake mix and let cool. Grind the cake with your hands or in a food processor to form very fine crumbs.
  2. Mix the crumbs with 1¾ cups prepared frosting in a bowl until it forms a sticky dough. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and freeze for 15 min.
  3. Dip lollipop sticks in melted chocolate and stick each one into a cake ball. Freeze 20 min more. Dip the pops in melted candy melts and decorate with chopped nuts, dried fruit or sprinkles.
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Recipe Tara Bench
Photograph Lisa Hubbard
Food Stylist Susan Vajaranant
Prop Stylist Penelope Bouklas
Originally published Ladies’ Home Journal September 2011

Get your snack on with these ingenious and delicious bites using frozen mozzarella sticks.

5 Mozzarella Stick Snack Hacks

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Back To School, DIY, Entertaining, Fall, Holidays + Seasons, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Snacks, Tips And Techniques | No Comments

Get your snack on with these ingenious and delicious bites using frozen mozzarella sticks.



Rock and roll with these Mozzarella Stick Cordon Bleu Bites from The Frugal Fairy. Roll, eat. Roll, eat. My kind of snack!

Mozzarella Stick Cordon Bleu Bites


Fried Mozzarella Caprese Bites are calling my name. So loud! Can you hear them too? Oh thank you Easy Peasy Mealz for sharing such a loud and delicious snack!

Fried Mozzarella Caprese Bites

Farm Rich


Just for the record I will not complain if you make this Mozzarella Stick Grilled Cheese Sandwich for me. Ever. And if you have some tomato soup to go along with it I might even hug you. Fair warning.

 Mozzarella Stick Grilled Cheese Sandwich


Bacon Fried Mozzarella Sticks are two-ingredient gifts from heaven. Try them here. Then check out 101 Ways To Love Bacon for more heaven-sent genius.

Bacon Fried Mozzarella Sticks


Thank you Brown Sugar for this snack gift. Oh the spicy, blue cheesy, mozzarella gooeyness that makes my mouth water! Buffalo Cheese Sticks are to die for.

Buffalo Cheese Sticks

real-life good

Thank you to FarmRich for the most delicious Mozzarella Sticks  

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Tara Bench Today Show: How to beat cabin fever

The Best Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

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Did you happen to catch the Today Show this morning? I made a guest appearance to share a few creative ways to beat your cabin fever and survive the last few weeks of winter. That’s right, spring is on the way. Hooray! You’ll be able to get outside soon enough, but until then, you can keep busy with these activities for you and your kids, your spouse, and your girlfriends.

(I start at 1:40 in this video)

Cabin fever Ideas for SPOUSES

1. Indoor Campout

Who says forts are just for kids and camping is only for summer? Set up a tent in the living room, or build a blanket fort like this one from In the Corner. Indoor Campout

You can fake a fire (or light a real one if you’re lucky enough to have that as an option), add some mood lighting, blankets, pillows, and of course, snacks. This s’mores tray from Twelfth Avenue would be amazing!Twelfth Avenue S'mores Tray

It would be fun to put on a movie, or just snuggle. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

If you’re not the “fort building type,” you may want to consider this Black Striped Teepee Playhouse from Amazon. You can say it’s for the kids. Your secret is safe with me.Black and White Striped Teepee

2. board Game Tournament

Playing board games is a great cabin fever buster, but let’s take it up a notch. Intentional by Grace had the bright idea to start a board game tournament. Pick a game like ScrabbleTicket To RideYahtzeeUno, or another favorite, and keep a running tally of points or wins and losses. At the end of the year you can have a tournament for bragging rights and maybe even a DIY trophy.

3. Cook Dinner Together

Of course, I love cooking, and it’s always a good time when I can get someone else in the kitchen with me. It is fun to work together on a recipe, or have each of you tackle a course in the meal and surprise each other. If you need some inspiration, I happen to know where you can find a recipe or two.

4. Take a Virtual Vacation

Want to take a quick jaunt to Paris, or spend an evening in Egypt without leaving the house? When time or money don’t permit you to take a real vacation, you and your spouse can take a virtual one. Happy Wives Club suggests you and your spouse pick a destination and spend the evening planning your trip. You can look up pictures of the sites, scenery, and wildlife, and talk about what excursions you would go on if you visited. With no limits, you can plan the biggest and best trip ever. It’s fun to imagine the possibilities together. I like to round out the evening with food from destination. Did someone say French fries? Yes, please.

5. Create a Date Night Bucket List

Sometimes the best thing you can do with your together time is plan more together time. The girls over at The Dating Divas put together these free printable bucket list planners you can use to plan a year of dates. You can schedule dates to stay in, go out, and hang out with other couples. They’ve even included suggestions for things you can do each month.The Dating Divas Date Night Bucket List Planner


cabin fever IDEAS FOR KIDS

1. Bubble Art

All kids love blowing bubbles with straws, right? Moms seem to be less keen on the activity when it’s done at the dinner table, but I haven’t met a mom yet who doesn’t love it for this art project. Odds are good you already have paper, paint, dish soap, straws, and water hanging around the house.Today's Creative Life Bubble Art Supplies

If so, you have everything you need to make these one-of-a-kind masterpieces from Today’s Creative Life. I love that this activity used household items and the results can last long after the day indoors. They’re so fun, you may just want to put the kids to bed and spend some time making your own works of art.Today's Creative Life Framed Bubble Art

2. PlayDough

It’s so easy to make playdough at home with pantry ingredients. Plus you can color it any color you want! Domestic Superhero has spent a lot of time experimenting with homemade recipes, and shares her secret formula.Domestic Superhero Homemade Playdough

I LOVE the idea from Modern Parents Messy Kids about creating your own play dough tool kit from household items. No need to go out at all and you can get creative with your kids making projects.playdough2

3. Photo Scavenger Hunt

Not only is it a great learning activity to have kids look for shapes in everyday items, but the sooner your kids learn how to take pictures, the sooner you can stop using your selfie stick. Make a list of things to find (i.e. the number 7, a white sock, three triangles, etc.) and turn your kids loose in the house with a phone or digital camera. If you don’t trust them with the camera, you can go along and take the pictures for them. I love that older kids can help create the clues with you too.

4. Board Games

Pull out the old board games and have a tournament! Classic games are always great to revisit with the whole family. You could even print out your own NEW games like this Inside Out one from Strawberry Mommycakes. This game of emotions is fun for everyone.Strawberry Mommycakes Printable-Inside-Out-Emotions-Board-Game-3

5. Science Experiments

These science experiments are so fun, your kids will forget they’re indoors, and won’t have a clue they’re actually learning.  First, you can make these magic rainbows in a jar, like Today’s Creative Life did. It’s a super fun science project that you can do over again and again. Each one is different and it’s fun to see how everyone’s turns out.Today's Creative Life Magic Rainbows

The ocean in a bottle activity from Happy Hooligans will keep kids making waves for hours. Throw some little toys in the jar and watch them float on the ocean.Happy Hooligans Ocean in a Bottle

6. Cardboard Castle

Years of extensive studies have shown that kids love to play in cardboard boxes. You can be like Cloudy Day Gray to win the parent of the year award (at least in the eyes of your kids). She crafted this amazing cardboard castle to provide hours of fun. But the best part is, it folds up nicely so you can pull it out any ol’ day your cabin fever starts to set in.Cloudy Day Gray Cardboard Castle

7. serve others

At the very moment when you think everyone is going to crack from boredom and too much time inside, you can take a pause and teach your kids how great it feels to do things for other people. Mique from Thirty Handmade Days wrote the book on service. Literally. Her book, Make & Share Random Acts of Kindness: Simple Crafts and Recipes to Give and Spread Joy, is packed with simple ideas, like leaving inspirational quotes where others will find them, that will fill your kids with the warm fuzzies and teach them the value of service.Thirty Handmade Days Make and Share Random Acts of Kindness

cabin fever IDEAS FOR FRIENDs

1. Spa Night

A day at the spa can get expensive, so I love the idea of hosting a spa night with friends using these make-at-home treatments. You can make them together, or have them prepped ahead of time for maximum relaxation minutes with your best girls. The simple ingredients make for a fun night in sweats and aromatic oils!

The Casual Craftlete has a great recipe for DIY cuticle oil that uses things like vitamin E oil that you may have around the house already. Her oats and honey face mask would also be a great spa DIY.

The Casual Craftlete DIY Cuticle Oil

The coconut oil hair mask from DIY Candy would be a fun one to try too.Coconut-oil

To finish off the night, you can send your girlfriends home with their own jar of bath salts like these from Today’s Creative Life.Today's Creative Life Detox Bath Salts

If you’d rather not go the DIY route, the gift sets from Farm Aesthetics would be perfect!Farm Aesthetics Facial Gift Set

2. Favorite Things Party

Favorite things parties are becoming a hit all over the country. These are so fun that you may even want to make it a monthly girl’s night. You can make them as simple or as detailed as you want. For example, Jessica at Fantabulosity threw a great plaid themed favorite things party, complete with a dress code and themed menu. The biggest part of the party though, is a gift exchange.

You can run the gift swap like a white elephant exchange where everything is wrapped and gifts are selected at random, or you can do like Jessica did, and have people bring three smaller gifts and draw names. In the second scenario everyone puts their name in a bowl three times, so each person leaves with three gifts from other people. However you do it, have each person talk about the gift they brought so you can learn more about it and the person. It’s also a good idea to have someone taking notes to make it easy for people to track down each item on their own after the party.

Ask me any time, and I’ll tell you without hesitation that my favorite thing is chocolate chip cookies. My chocolate chip cookies in particular, so that’s what I would bring to a party.Tara Teaspoon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know a lot of people who would say wine is their favorite thing. The Vivino App is a great tool for helping select the perfect wine, like the Kenzo Estate, PahlmeyerRussian Valley Pino Noir, or this fun one from Speak Wines.Speak Wine You're My Favorite

3. Craft Night

This isn’t your typical craft night with the girls! As much as I love food, sometimes it’s fun to get together for a night that doesn’t center around eating. I fell in love with these super chic jewelry bowls from She Wears Many Hats. They’re easier than you think, and you can make and take them home in one night. They use white sculpey clay, and a few other simple supplies you can order online.She Wears Many Hats Ring Bowls


These striped mason jars from The Crafted Sparrow would also make a fun addition to craft night.The Crafted Sparrow Striped Mason Jar

If you’re a little more ambitious, I adore this wood sign from Lolly Jane. It would look so cute in a dining room!Lolly Jane Wood Gather Sign

Those are a few of my favorite cabin fever busters. What are some of yours?

This post includes affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure policy.

Valentine’s Day Hacks (that cover all your bases)

By | Baking + Desserts, Craft, DIY, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Uncategorized, Valentines | No Comments

Valentine’s Day is on Sunday! Whew that’s soon. You still have all week for kids boxes, gifts, decor and treats.

Valentine’s Day sneaks up on us in the middle of a quiet winter month. But if you forget about it well, you’re in big trouble. If you’ve let something slip your mind this V-Day, don’t worry, because I’ve got your back with these 9 Valentine’s Hacks that cover all your bases.


Blog Valentines Garland

Even if you’re late to the game on the Valentine’s Day décor, the good news is the entire month of February is dedicated to love. My friend Liz used to live in New York, and she posted this cute 10-minute vellum heart garland on her blog, Say Yes. If you’re in a pinch and don’t have any vellum on hand, you could use construction paper, yardstick, or even regular paper for a cute and simple look.


Food Stirs Valentines Baking Kits

I love the idea of a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Subscription boxes are all the rage right now, and the actress, Sarah Michelle Gellar, has developed the cutest subscription baking kits at Foodstirs. Each one is themed, and you can order a single kit, or a kit every month for a year. They are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers with your little chefs.


I Heart Naptime Valentines Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Four ingredients and five minutes, need I say more? Ok, I will, but only because this homemade vanilla sugar scrub from I Heart Naptime is such a fabulous idea. A homemade gift from the heart will surely make anyone feel special, and no one needs to know how easy it is to make.

Kid’s Valentines

Tatertots and Jello Valentines Box

Forget about complicated shoe box and construction paper menageries. This year, you can simplify your kid’s Valentine box with this cute hot air balloon. All you need is a helium balloon and a basket of some sort, and your kids will be ready for any delivery that comes their way.

Housing a Forest Emoji Valentines

Teens, tweens, elementary school kids, or even text-happy adults will flip out at these creative DIY Valentine. Housing a Forest has the full tutorial, but you can really let your imagination run wild as you create these.


The Paper Mama Valentines Bacon Hearts

Oh I heart bacon. I really do! The Paper Mama might just be the smartest woman in the world, because—bacon hearts! Nothing says “I Love You” better than the sizzling sounds of bacon. The simple and smart heart shape is just an added bonus.

The Idea Room Valentines Heart Salad

Fancy up a simple green salad with heart shaped tomatoes and carrots. Amy from The Idea Room has the simple tutorial for this salad of love.


Super Make It Valentines Treats

My friend Jodi from my Martha Stewart days is a creative crafter extraordinaire. She and I would  work on food craft projects together and she always had the most fun ideas. She has her own food craft book, and she recently shared this cute idea for a V-Day heart treat. It’s really a triple threat: a treat, décor, and it uses up leftover Christmas candy.


Date Night

Brit and Co Valentines Date Plan

I didn’t forget about date night! Sure, you could make reservations and go the traditional route with the crowds, or be with your love at home. Stick with the Ultimate Romantic Dinner Date Brit+Co outlines, and you’ll finish off Valentine’s Day looking like a champion.

What are some of your favorite Valentine hacks?

Produced by Melanie Donahoo

The Ultimate Golden Globes Party Guide

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Craft, DIY, Entertaining, Holidays + Seasons, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Side Dishes, Snacks, Tips And Techniques, Tutorial | No Comments

You say “Golden Globes” and all I hear is “party.” I love any excuse to get people together, have fun, and of course, eat!

I’ve pulled together some of my favorite ideas to throw the Golden Globes get-together of your dreams—everything from food and decor to games and favors. And if you haven’t been dreaming for weeks about a Golden Globes party, not to worry, because these ideas are so simple you can pull them together with time to spare for the big bash.


It’s no surprise that the food is where my heart is. A few of my favorites are Chicken Meatballs with Cumin and Orange, Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts, and Moroccan Shrimp with Pomegranate Sauce.

Chicken Meatballs with Cumin and Orange Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts Shrimp with Pomegranate Sauce

For an easy treat, try dipping the tops of donuts in a simple icing, and then adding gold sugar or sparkles.

Glittering-gold-donutsUse store-bought glazed donuts (easy!), mix together some confectioners’ sugar and milk to make a thin glaze (also easy), and dip the tops of the donuts in the glaze then into gold sprinkles.


If you’re looking for some signature drinks to spice up the evening, look no further than the Golden Night Cocktail from Salt & Wind or a Sparkling Golden Globes Cocktail. 



Golden Globes Cocktail


Or if you don’t want to mix up a cocktail, a little champagne, sparkling wine or cider is just as chic in a golden sparkled rimmed glass. Sparkle Rimmed Glass

Red Carpet

The entrance sets the tone for the entire party, so why not wow your guests and welcome them in style? I love the idea of doing a red carpet. If you don’t have an actual red carpet, you can use a roll of red paper, fabric, or a long red plastic tablecloth. You can even go a more simple route and just decorate your entrance with gold stars and helium balloons. I love the look of this entrance Red Tricycle did for a Netflix viewing party. Red Carpet

Photo Booth

The paparazzi may not be hanging out around your house, but if you give your guests a selfie stick, you can pretend like they are. If you still have gold or silver Christmas wrapping paper and New Years photo booth props laying around the house, then you’re halfway to the finish line on this one. Put the wrapping paper on the wall and set out the props and selfie stick. It’s as simple as that. Trust me, your guests will have no problem taking it from there.

If you really want to take your photo booth to the next level, try this sequined backdrop from Oh Happy Day.

Sequined Photo Booth Backdrop


And the Golden Globe award goes to . . . anyone you choose. Have everyone cast their votes on these fun printable ballots, then see who gets the most answers correct.

2016 Golden Globes Ballot

Golden Globes Bingo

What’s a party without a little friendly competition? I’ve created this bingo board (you can download it here) to track the funny and noteworthy moments of the night. You’ll be hoping a winner takes a selfie, someone says it’s the “end of an era,” or a speech gets cut off by music. With four different cards, the competition will be stiff as you each race to mark off five in a row. You have to be on your toes though, or you might just miss your chance to mark off a celeb looking bored.

Golden Globes Bingo

Download the Tara Teaspoon GG Bingo Boards PDF

Party Favors

Not everyone nominated at the Golden Globes takes home a statue, but at my parties I like everyone to leave with a little something. These balloon “statues” are a fun take away for your guests. You can use mini statues like the ones below from Studio DIY, or you can make a simpler version. Personally, I like to wrap candy bars in paper (the fancier, the better) and label them with different “awards” like best dressed, most selfies, prettiest mani, etc. Tie a helium balloon to each candy bar, and you’ve got a fun gift in the spirit of the event.



If you missed it, here is the video of me running through all these tips on the Today Show.

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Buffets, Christmas, DIY, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Lifestyle, New Years, Party Foods, Snacks, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian | No Comments

Golden mixed nuts might be my new favorite party food. Gold makes everything a little more fantastic! I am loving all the edible gold food adornments, sprinkles, dusts and sprays that you can find now. Snacks for my Golden Globes viewing party just got…well…more gold!

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts
I wanted something easy, mostly store-bought to go with some of the other treats, snacks and drinks I am preparing. But I wanted it to be special. I’m very supportive of mixing store-bought prepared foods with things you may have made, or semi-made! Tricks like that let you enjoy the party instead of being completely exhausted from prep.

Mixed nuts are just the thing. You can add little bowls all over the room and on your buffet table so people can snack and mingle. But it is the Golden Globes! It must be just a bit fancier than a can of mixed nuts.

So…I took a can of mixed nuts and seasoned them with a little garlic, rosemary and pepper. Delicious. To make them gold, I sprayed a few with edible gold spray, which you can find in your area or here.

color mist-food spray


I’ve sprayed nuts to go on top of cookies before, so getting to that place of spraying nuts with gold, wasn’t a stretch. I love them all shimmery and metallic mixed into a simple bowl. And with simple seasonings the flavor is elevated to celebrity status. Ready for the red carpet!

sprayed nuts seasonings Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes 2 cups

Golden Rosemary Garlic Mixed Nuts

Make these for a fancy party or special gathering. Edible gold spray makes for metallic shimmers in the bowl of savory mixed nuts.


  • 2 cups fancy mixed nuts
  • 1 can edible gold food spray
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • crushed pepper


  1. Spread ¼ cup of the nuts on a sheet of parchment. Spray with gold food spray and let dry a few minutes. Turn nuts over and spray so each nut is completely covered. Let dry.
  2. Chop 1 sprig of rosemary and leave the others intact. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the oil, garlic powder, cayenne, chopped rosemary, rosemary sprigs and pepper for 10 to 15 seconds to heat the oil. Toss the remaining mixed nuts with the oil mixture to coat.
  3. Transfer nuts to a serving bowl with the gold painted nuts mixed in and on top.
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Recipe, Photo and Food Styling Tara Bench

Holiday Recipes On Studio 5

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Buffets, Candy, Christmas, DIY, Entertaining, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Homemade Gifts, Lifestyle, Meat + Poultry, Party Foods, Tips And Techniques, Tutorial, Uncategorized | No Comments

Today on tv Brooke and I talked about holiday parties, holiday recipes, food buffets, how much to serve your guests and how to make food gifts at home that look like artisan delicacies!

I love visiting the beautiful Brooke Walker on Studio 5, on KSL here in Utah. She is honestly such an amazing host. So genuine and keeps the show upbeat, positive and informative.
We had so much fun talking about (well I talked everyone’s ears off) holiday-worthy apps and bites as well as delicious sweets that are perfect gifts.
Watch below!

Spicy Grapefruit Guacamole Holiday RecipesPeanut Butter Bites Holiday RecipesWonderful-Halos-Prosciutto-Bruschetta-Bites-1024x683 (1)
palette square holiday recipesHam Gruyere Mini Turnovers Holiday RecipesGINGERBREAD Caramel Holiday Recipes

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels + Video

By | Candy, Christmas, DIY, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

My mom used to hand me the wooden spoon (there were no silicone spatulas back then) and hold her hand over mine with the spoon handle inside, then swirl the caramel in the pan in a “figure 8.” Always a figure eight pattern—so that there were no spots on the bottom of the pan that didn’t get stirred and then scorch.

Once I got the figure eight motion down she’d let go of my hand and let me do it. She’d attach the candy thermometer onto the side of the pot and show me a line where the mercury needed to rise to before I could stop stirring.

Buttery Black Licorice CaramelsI actually loved it. I would watch the sugar and butter mixture bubble and turn from blonde to gold, then to caramel brown. All the while watching the mercury rise. Then we would stir in the black coloring and anise oil and the entire house it seemed would smell like deliciousness.

Now when I make caramel I laugh thinking how smart my mom was to teach her 5 or 6 year old to stir the caramel for almost half an hour so she didn’t have to stand by the stove that entire time! Good form mom! Good form.

Watch my how-to video below to see how we made these Buttery Black Licorice Caramels. Don’t worry, we sped the almost 25 minutes of stirring up, so you can go on with your day! LOL

Also try my Vanilla Salted Caramels, recipe here. And find the pretty cellophane candy wrappers here if you don’t want to use waxed paper.

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: over 100

Buttery Black Licorice Caramels

The recipe for these divide black caramels came from Aunt Leila Ruth, my grandfather's little sister. Mom has made these for as long as I can remember. I grew up stirring the caramel and wrapping them. Convince everyone to try these! Even if they don't love black licorice, they will fall for these little candies.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp anise oil
  • 1 tsp black gel-paste food coloring
  • cellophane wrappers or waxed paper


  1. Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using some butter, coat the inside of a 4 qt heavy saucepan. Add the sticks of butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and continue stirring constantly until the temperature is 244ºF (for sea level. check local temperature adjustments according to your elevation), or medium firm-ball stage. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in anise oil and black food coloring and pour into prepared pan. Pan will be hot. Transfer to a flat surface and let cool overnight. When caramel sets after a few hours you can wrap the pan in plastic wrap to rest overnight.
  5. Transfer caramel to a clean cutting board and remove any parchment. Cut with a sharp knife into desired sizes. I cut mine about 1/2 inch deep and 1 1/4 inches long. You will get over 100 pieces.
  6. Wrap well in cellophane or waxed paper. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.
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Recipe from Mom
Photography Tara Bench
Videography and editing Melanie Donahoo


Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels + Video

By | Candy, Christmas, DIY, Food Gifts, Holidays + Seasons, Uncategorized | No Comments

Salted caramel started as a food trend. Something fancy chefs devised in restaurant kitchens and it made it’s way into fine chocolate shops, magazines, cookbooks, regular awesome restaurants and now, well, everywhere! (thank goodness!)

Tara Teaspoon Buttery Vanilla CaramelsIn cooking, salt is a preservative, a yeast inhibitor but also a flavor enhancer. The reason we put salt in baked goods is simply to enhance or bring out the flavors of all the other ingredients. It brings out buttery flavors, the caramels of brown sugar, enhances chocolates subtle flavors and balances each bite.

These caramels are super easy, thanks to a combo of sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup that speed up the process of homemade caramels by at least half! Use a candy thermometer (order it here) to get just the right consistency.

There’s a bit of extra salt (sea salt for a lovely flavor) in the caramel itself, but I also sprinkled gorgeous sea salt crystals on top of each piece before wrapping. Find the pretty cellophane candy wrappers here, or at specialty candy stores.

Tara Teaspoon Buttery Vanilla Caramels WrappingThe salt on top gives you a burst of that flavor enhancing power and immediately makes the butter, vanilla and caramelized sugar flavors explode in your mouth!

Watch my video for a glance at how simple they are to make. And check out the Buttery Black Licorice Caramels recipe in the demo for another amazing flavor.

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: over 100

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

I used a vanilla bean paste so I get flecks of beautiful vanilla seeds in the caramel. You can just use vanilla extract if you'd like.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • cellophane wrappers or waxed paper


  1. Line a 9-by-13 inch pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Using some butter, coat the inside of a 4 qt heavy saucepan. Add the sticks of butter, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and continue stirring constantly until the temperature is 244ºF (for sea level. check local temperature adjustments according to your elevation), or medium firm-ball stage. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in vanilla bean paste and pour into prepared pan. Pan will be hot. Transfer to a flat surface and let cool overnight. When caramel sets after a few hours you can wrap the pan in plastic wrap to rest overnight.
  5. Transfer caramel to a clean cutting board and remove any parchment. Cut with a sharp knife into desired sizes. I cut mine about 1/2 inch deep and 1 1/4 inches long. You will get over 100 pieces.
  6. Sprinkle each piece with flaked sea salt before wrapping well in cellophane or waxed paper. Will keep for up to 2 weeks.
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Recipe by Tara Bench
Photography Tara Bench
Videography and editing Melanie Donahoo


Perfect Pie Crust Plus 5 Expert Crust Tips

By | Baking + Desserts, DIY, Holidays + Seasons, Pies + Tarts, Thanksgiving | 3 Comments

Perfect Pie Crust is flaky, tender and most of all tastes great! You want it to taste so good, the filling is second thought! Follow this easy recipe to find out how to do just that.

Perfect pie crust can sometimes be intimidating. But it shouldn’t be. It’s as simple as getting some cold butter mixed into flour with a bit of cold water in the right proportions, in the right way. Piece of cake. I mean pie!


Below are 5 Crust Tips that will help you make perfect pie crust–and then take a look at this little video on how to make it in the food processor. You’ll see I try to work quickly and not handle the dough much. Warm hands can melt the butter in the dough and make it tough. This one recipe makes 2 single crusts and you can see how I bring the dough together and divide it in half. It doesn’t have to be rocket science.

These 5 tips for perfect pie crust might just change your life.

1  Start with chilled ingredients
Refrigerating everything—yes, even the flour—is key to creating tender, pliable dough. Warm ingredients make tough crust because they bind too quickly with the gluten in the flour.

2  Use shortening and butter
Shortening provides flakiness while butter adds flavor; combining the two gets you the best of both worlds.

3  Add water carefully
Too much water makes the crust tough. But don’t try to play it safe and be stingy. The crust will crack and fall apart without enough liquid. Be sure to have a light hand so you don’t over mix the dough.

4  Crumble-proof your crust
Do this by using a tenderizer such as salt, vinegar, vodka or lemon juice. Each provides a different hint of flavor.

5  Roll the right way
Lightly flour your work surface, then roll dough from the center outward to create a circle. Lift and move the dough frequently as you work so it doesn’t stick to the surface. Avoid stretching it: stretched dough shrinks during baking.



Perfect Piecrust + 5 Crust Tips

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 single crusts

Perfect Piecrust + 5 Crust Tips


  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 12 tbsp (1½ sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup chilled shortening
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ cup very cold water


  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and half the butter. Pulse 8 to 10 times or until mixture is coarse crumbs and some of the butter is pea-size. (Alternately, combine in a bowl using a pastry blender or a fork.)
  2. In a measuring cup, combine vinegar with ½ cup cold water. Add the remaining butter to the food processor, and while pulsing processor, drizzle in just enough water mixture to form dough, 5 to 8 tbsp. (Dough may be slightly dry but will hold together when you pinch it.)
  3. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap to bring the dough together in one ball. Halve dough, wrap each half in plastic wrap and press into disks. Chill 1 hr or until ready to use. May be kept refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 4 months.
  4. To pre-bake crust, roll into a 12- to 13-inch circle and gently transfer to pie plate. Trim edges (or decorate as desired) and chill or freeze until very cold. Line cold crust with a double thickness of foil or line with parchment. Fill with pie weights or dry beans and bake at 375ºF until edges are just golden, 12 min. Remove foil or parchment and weights; bake another 10 to 12 min until cooked through. Let cool before filling.
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Recipe by Tara Bench
Photography Kate Mathis
Food Styling Sara Neumeier
Prop Styling Megan Hedgepeth

DIY Mummies hold your Mozzarella Sticks for a Halloween Snack

Mozzarella Stick Mummy Bowls

By | Appetizers + Nibbles, Craft, DIY, Entertaining, Halloween, Holidays + Seasons, Kid Friendly Dinners, Kids, Kids Crafts, Lifestyle, Party Foods, Uncategorized | No Comments

Cute craft alert!!!!

Mozzarella Stick Mummy Bowls

Who doesn’t love to eat a crispy mozzarella stick out of the top of a mummy head? Mozzarella sticks have got to be one of the best, quick, crowd-pleasing snacks around. (Seriously, I made some for my friends on a beach trip this summer and I almost didn’t even get one, they were gone in two seconds!) Also, how perfect are they for a pre trick-or-treating snack? Very perfect.

Kids are typically too excited to eat dinner on Halloween night. Thoughts of a sugar rush just around the corner. Any kid (or adult food blogger like me) would get a kick out of snacking on a toasty cheese stick with “bloody” marinara sauce. They can even help make the googly-eyed mummy bowls!

For instructions click to the Farm Rich site!



Photos and idea courtesy of Farm Rich