5 Tips for Rockin’ the Labor Day BBQ

Written by Laura Murphy
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1. Have a game plan

Know who you’re feeding
Is it a more intimate event where you can invest in finer ingredients you know your guests will enjoy – or will the neighborhood storm your backyard with varied tastes and dieting restrictions?

Allow 24 hours for food prep & last-minute purchases
Don’t wait until the day-of to start cooking! You can make cold sides ahead as well as start seasoning the meat for richer flavor.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
For larger parties, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask your guests to bring their favorite BBQ side dish or dessert. Even if you’re catering the entire event, don’t do it alone! Enlist family members to run to the store, do prep work, and help serve during the party!

 

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(photos, clockwise from left: BBQ Bloody Mary, Orange Pineapple Sweet Ribs, Memphis Style Rib Rub, Grilled Hawiian Hot Sauce)

2. Set the scene
A Labor Day BBQ should have a laid-back end-of-summer atmosphere. Go simple with wipeable red-checked table coverings; baskets of paper & wet napkins; and environment-friendly reusable plastic tableware. Fresh flowers in mason jars can pretty-up any picnic table + a string of lanterns will make the atmosphere festive.

Don’t forget to plan for hot weather: Stock a serving tray with band aids, sunscreen & bug spray and fill your coolers with frozen water bottles – when they melt you can give them to guests to drink!

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(photos, clockwise from left: Twined wild flowers, Sunscreen & Bug Spray, Cutlery basket, Checked Table Cloth, Paper Lanterns)

3.  Make it fun 

A multi-family BBQ will likely include kids of all ages. Have a deck of cards on hand and a few balls to toss around. For actual kids, hula hoops, sparklers, bubbles and sprinklers are always safe bets. Give young adults and teens a little independence from the kiddies and the grown-ups with lawn games like bocce ball or horseshoe.  And as always, s’mores are a universal crowd-pleaser.

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(photos, clockwise from left: Sprinkler, Bubbles, Sparkers, DIY S’mores Station, Lighted Bocce Ball Set)

4. Plan for a rainy day

Even the sunniest end-of-summer days can have a spot of showers so be sure to equip your backyard with a few shelters. If you invite people inside, pull the board games and Guitar Hero out or, if your space is small, propose a back-up location.

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(photos, clockwise from left: Peppers, Onions & Brats; Corn Husk SkewersGrilled LemonadeBBQ Chicken)

5. Get Grilling

Grilling Newbie or Master of the Grill? Here are our tips for a quality meal

Start out with a clean grate
Protip: It’s easier to clean the grill if you do it immediately after cooking, but if you have a summer’s worth of BBQ residue on those grates, pull out the steel brush & get scrubbing. Afterwards, oil a paper towel with canola or vegetable oil and rub it on the grates to prevent food from sticking.

Choose your charcoal
The charcoal you use informs the taste of everything you BBQ. Kingsford has a number of varieties – our pick? Kingsford Smokehouse Style Brickets with Hickory

Center your heat source
Bank the coals properly so you have the highest concentration in the center. That way, if you want to sear your food, you put it in the center, while items you wish to grill over lower heat go on the perimeter.

Take your time
When it comes to the BBQ, patience pays off. Let the food sear before testing it and only flip it over when grate marks from the grill begin to form. Chicken is best cooked over indirect heat – cook it evenly on both sides, then only place it on direct heat for the last five minutes.

Protip: Take lots of pics. Use our Pinterest board for photo inspiration.

What are your tips for a perfect Labor Day BBQ?

Crowdtappers Go Back to School Shopping!

Written by Laura Murphy
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It’s that time of year again: The days are a little shorter, nights a little cooler, and all the little Tappers are heading back to school!

We know Tappers are the savviest shoppers around, so we asked YOU to tell us about your back to school shopping strategy. Not surprisingly, most Tappers turn to social media to discover the latest products and score amazing deals!

Here’s what you said matters most when it comes to back to school shopping: Crowdtap Back to School Shopping Infographic

Crowdtap Back to School Shopping Infographic

Tell us, how do you score deals on the latest back to school items? Which social media sites are your favorite for discovering cool, new items?

Score tickets to Food Network in Concert!

Written by Laura Murphy
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foodnetworkinconcert

 

If music be the food of love, play on.  - William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

The Food Network joins tastings from the country’s best chefs & music by today’s top artist in a sensory celebration at Food Network in Concert at Ravinia in Chicago on September 20th, 2014. Food Network in Concert is a day-long festival featuring food-related events and seminars as well as a number of outdoor concerts.

Sound like the event for you? We’re giving away 8 pairs of Lawn Seats + Greatest Hits Tasting Event tickets to winners of the #FNICFans Mission! All you have to do is:

  • Complete a few Quick Hits
  • Tell us to what food-inspired destination you’d like to go
  • Create a pin-board featuring your favorite music-inspired recipes

Get started now!

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Still craving more? @Crowdtappers hosts the #FNICFans Twitter Party on August 22nd at 3pm EST where we’ll be giving away 2 pairs of Lawn Seats + Greatest Hits Tasting Event tickets & copies of the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine! We’ll also be previewing some of the amazing events at Food Network in Concert & chatting about our favorite summer recipes!

Never been to a Twitter Party before? It’s a lot of fun!

Just follow @Crowdtappers with the hashtag #FNICFans & tweet along with us. Twitter parties are a great opportunity to meet other Tappers and maybe score a prize in the process! RSVP here.

Where: Twitter #FNICFans
Follow: @Crowdtappers
Prizes: 2 pairs of Lawn Seats + Greatest Hits Tasting Event tickets & copies of the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine
RSVP: On Facebook

Get the details & see the schedule of events at FoodNetworkinConcert.com!

 

 

Who’s that brand? The Sensory Stop

Written by Laura Murphy
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You might have noticed a few of the Crowds you’re tapping into don’t seem to have a specific brand associated with them… What gives? Is anyone actually listening to all that, tip-top-Tappin? 
Fret not, gentle Tapper! These “mystery” Crowds are actually driven by brands that want feedback so real, so raw, so honest, they won’t even show their faces. 
The “Who’s that Crowd?” series will draw back the shroud of mystery surrounding these anonymous Crowds & reveal to you, the master Tapper, how your Tap-Happy habit impacts the brand and the products you shop every day. 

Stopping to smell the roses? Meet the Sensory Stop Crowd

What does Orange Beach Sunglow smell like? Why does Night Scented Orchid candle transform an ordinary bedroom into a luxurious paradise? How does Vanilla Bean packaged ice cream taste so buttery? What flavors combine to deliver the aroma of strawberry?

The brand behind the Sensory Stop Crowd helps fragrance and flavor scientists develop new products to awaken your senses and enhance your everyday life.

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It might sound a little sci-fi, but it’s not unprecedented: The quest to discover new flavors and explore the world through the lens of the senses stretches all the way back to 3000 B.C., when the first travelers set out to trade spices with neighboring communities!

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Today, the laboratory is the new fragrance and flavor frontier. There, chefs, scientists and perfumers join forces to expertly develop new sensory experiences for your home and your table.

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…but what if these experts didn’t know what people wanted to taste? We could live in a world where stores are stocked with Toothpaste-Flavored Orange Juice, Burnt Hair-Scented Candles, or New Coke!

taylorswiftEW

That’s where you come in, Crowdtappers! As a Sensory Stop Crowd member, you let this mystery brand know which tastes and scents you want in your life – like sparkling water with a hint of summer citrus or the warm aroma of freshly laundered sheets – and which ones you don’t.

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So, if you have a nose that knows or a palate that picks, join the Sensory Stop Crowd & start tapping into the fragrance & flavor products that will be on the shelves tomorrow! What’s your favorite scented candle? If you could create a new flavor, what would it be? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter with hashtags #Crowdtapper & #SensoryStop.

 

Join Scott for a #TosstheTube Twitter Party 8/21 at 2PM EST

Written by Becca
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The time has come to #TosstheTube with Scott toilet paper! Let’s get together and #TosstheTube during the Twitter Party with Scott on Thursday, 8/21 and take little steps to help protect the environment. RSVP here!

Just follow #TosstheTube on Twitter and answer questions from @Crowdtappers for chances to win gift cards. Over $725 is up for grabs, so come with your best tweets and maybe you’ll snag a prize! Not a member of the Simply Scott Squad yet? Join here!

Simply_Scott_Squad_Banner6_FINAL

The #TosstheTube Party Plan:

Prizing Details: No purchase necessary. One prize per winner. US Residents only please. Eligible participants will be selected at random to receive prizes. The prize winners will be announced at the party and will be DM’d by @Crowdtappers to complete shipping details and select product of choice. Prizes must be claimed within 24 hours.

More Details: Winners will be selected at random every 10 minutes.  No purchase necessary. Just RSVP by clicking through to our Facebook page. See Official Rules.

5 Tips for Family Game Night!

Written by Laura Murphy
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A family is a well-oiled machine with a number of moving parts. On any given day, your family unit is going to work, attending school, shopping for groceries, keeping house, studying for tests, playing sports… the list goes on and on!

It’s about time you take a little time out of your busy schedule to celebrate your accomplishments as a family. And what better way to celebrate than with Family Game Night?

Here are our tips for hosting a Family Game Night to remember:

1. Make it special

A streamer here and a balloon there can turn an average night-in with the family into a special celebration. Start prepping a few days in advance: set a “Game Night” budget & ask your family to help you choose what portion should go to decorations and which decorations they’d like to make or buy. A color-theme is an easy way to tie it all together!

We decided to go with a red & black theme in honor of the #VZWParentParty sampling:

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(photo credits: Funny Face Wall Decals; Tissue Paper Tassel Garland; Lips Party Straws; Polka Dot Balloons; Party on a Stick Fun Faces)

2. Offer some treats!

Pair your food choices with your party-theme. It’s a special night, so feel free to include some treats! Be sure that the entire family is involved in choosing and preparing your snacks.

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(Photos, clockwise from left: Black & red licorice; Fresh Roasted Salsa; “Cherries” by Food and Cook; Red Velvet Cookies; Red Velvet Cake Jars; Lady Bug Babybel cheese rounds)

3. Invite friends & choose games

If your family unit is smaller, invite another family over to join in the fun!

Trust & communication exercises
Build a sense of teamwork and togetherness through trust & communication exercises!

Tappers hosting the #VZWParentParty will play Don’t Go Over: Party-goers will pair up. One team member gets a blindfold and a pitcher of water and the other team member gets a lined cup. The person pouring the water will be blindfolded while the other person will direct them on when to stop pouring. Team who spills the least amount of water wins!

ProTip: Not only does Don’t Go Over encourage good communications, it’s also a great way to educate the kids about your family data plan.

Share family memories
Use this time to recap some of your favorite family moments – bonus points if you can turn it into a game! Remembering happy moments together will make your busy family feel more connected and pave the way for more great memories. Get some inspiration here!

At the #VZWParentParty, Tappers will share moments where they wished they had a content filter – either for themselves or for a less-than-discrete family member. Along the way, partiers will also learn how to use Verizon’s Content Filter app!

Hide & Seek
Get active with a traditional game like Hide & Seek! If the weather is nice and you have a yard or public space nearby, go outside and play flashlight tag! Here are some variants on the traditional Hide & Seek - call ‘em Hide & Seek 2.0!

#VZWParentParty people will receive 5 family-member cut-outs to hide around the house. After learning about the Family Locator app, partiers will race to find the most family members first!

Bingo
Bingo is a fun, flexible game with which to end the night. Tailor your Bingo cards, pieces, and prizes to your party theme! Pinterest is full of different Bingo ideas & free printables – so go wild!

Verizon Wireless Hosted Party samplers will receive a Verizon Educational Tools Bingo set featuring some of the coolest educational apps available with Verizon. As app cards are drawn, party-goers will learn about each app. The person to land on Bingo first will receive a $10 Visa Gift Card to purchase an app of their choice!

4. Everybody wins!

Provide a few party favors for all your guests, but also reward your best players! Prizes don’t have to be expensive – in fact, winners can receive free rewards like choice of dinner for the next week, a special outing, or even picking the next game.

Make Family Game Night an on-going competition by creating a Winner’s Board featuring the night’s top player as well as memorable photos from the night.  Bequeath the champion with a trophy or crown which she can keep until the next Game Night!

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(Photo credit, clockwise from left: stock photo – family playing game; Bravo Board; Trophy; Face-off; unusual point of view)

5. Make Memories

Be sure to capture the moment! Take a few photos to share with on your social networks with friends & family.

Tips for taking instagram-worthy photos:

  • Stoke competitive energy & have opposing teams pose facing-off with one another
  • Take action shots of your family engaging in a game
  • Snap pictures of the game pieces & decorations from unusual perspectives

Stay tuned on Crowdtap to hear how Tappers used their #VZWParentParty kits to host their own Family Game Night and learn more about Verizon’s family-friendly apps. Follow the hashtag #VZWParentParty on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter to scope out pictures from Tapper events! Interested in becoming a Verizon VIP? Join the crowd here! 

 

 

Walmart’s got us catching savings! #SavingsCatchers

Written by Laura Murphy
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What kind of Tapper joins the #SavingsCatcher Crowd? The coupon-clipping, specials-shopping, deal-digging, money-saving mastermind kind! And the Walmart Savings Catcher is yet another tool in their thrift-store shopped tool belt!

Join the Savings Catcher Crowd to learn more about Walmart’s latest way to save on your day-to-day purchases.

Here’s how it works (from the Savings Catcher site):

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That’s right, Tappers: if an item at you bought at Walmart costs more than the identical item at a local competitor, you get a gift card covering the difference. It’s a no-brainer…. and we know how much Tappers love gift cards!

Go to the Savings Catcher site or download the Walmart app on your mobile device & access the #SavingsCatcher feature to get started.

We suggest pairing the Walmart Savings Catcher with your current price comparison habits for maximum savings, but if you don’t compare prices   presently – or are just too busy to hunt through your local circulars – it’s a great way to get started by saving a dollar here and a dollar there off your daily purchases.

But why stop there? The most dedicated deal seekers boast savings of up to 30-50% – off their daily shopping bills just by comparing the costs at local retailers. That’s right: a little bit of price comparison research goes a long way. The Walmart Savings Catcher is your virtual safety net for scoring those overlooked deals!

Some things to know about Walmart Savings Catcher:

  • No minimum purchase requirement – simply submit your receipt to earn savings
  • Savings Catcher only applies to in-store purchases
  • Some promotions are not included in Savings Catcher
  • Walmart Savings Catcher does not currently apply to all Walmart merchandise

Learn more at Walmart Savings Catcher’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Meanwhile, we may have gotten a little carried away fantasizing about what we’ll do with all the money we save through our newfound financial habits…

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Tell us, what makes you a #DealDiva? Create a Pinterest Board or share with us on Facebook or Twitter with hashtag #SavingsCatchers! Still haven’t joined the Savings Catchers Crowd? Do it today!

 

Join Triscuit for a #TriscuitSnackoff Twitter party 8/13 at 1PM ET

Written by Becca
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All summer long, Triscuit has been celebrating the best of summer snacking with the #TriscuitSnackoff competition! From berries to peas to greens and beyond, Triscuit is the perfect canvas for your seasonal snacking! Get in on the tasty tweetage during the Triscuit Twitter party on Wednesday, 8/13. RSVP here.

Just follow #TriscuitSnackoff on Twitter and answer questions from @Crowdtappers for chances to win gift cards. Over $750 is up for grabs, so come with your best tweets and maybe you’ll snag a prize and Triscuit swag! Not a member of Team Triscuit on Crowdtap yet? Join here!

TriscuitSnackoff

The #TriscuitSnackoff Party Plan:

When: August 13, 2014 at 1PM EST

Follow: @Crowdtappers

Where: #TriscuitSnackoff on Twitter

Prizes: Over $750 in gift cards

Questions? Ask @Crowdtappers

RSVP

 

Prizing Details: No purchase necessary. One prize per winner. US Residents only please. Eligible participants will be selected at random to receive prizes. The prize winners will be announced at the party and will be DM’d by @Crowdtappers to complete shipping details and select product of choice. Prizes must be claimed within 24 hours.

 

More Details: Winners will be selected at random every 10 minutes.  No purchase necessary. Just RSVP by adding your Twitter handle to the comments section below. See Official Rules.

When life gives you lemons… start a lemonade stand!

Written by Laura Murphy
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This summer, 250 Tappers will host a #TruFanStand & enter to win a $1,500 tuition scholarship from Truvia Natural Sweetener! Stay tuned to see what thirst-quenching solutions Tappers come up with – follow the hashtag #TruFanStand on Twitter Facebook.

Hosting a neighborhood lemonade stand may be a childhood rite of passage, but it’s also an amazing learning opportunity for your kids.

Lemonade stands can:

  • Promote the value of quality work
  • Encourage responsibility
  • Help children socialize with adult neighbors
  • Nurture young entrepreneurial spirits
  • Emphasize the importance of team work

…not to mention they’re also a lot of fun!

Here’s a few tips for helping your child create a refreshing lemonade stand:

1. Location, location, location

Choose a location in your neighborhood with lots of foot traffic – but be sure to check with local authorities to ensure that you’re allowed to set up shop there.

2. Stand out from the crowd!

Repurpose an old end table, crate, or pallet board to create a real shop-feel to your stand. Not particularly handy? Cover a foldable table with a brightly colored table cloth and spend your creativity on designing a stand-out sign. Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 5.08.07 PM

 3. Don’t skimp on quality

When it comes to lemonade, it’s either love at first sip… or not so much. Explain to your children that your customers expect a great-tasting drink in return for their support of the business. Our favorite recipe? Classic Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade with Truvia Natural Sweetener

4. Diversify

Sweeten the deal with an array of tempting treats! Allow your children to choose from a few options and bake them together the night before you plan to open your stand.

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Some of our favorite recipes include: Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches; Tangy Lime Bars; Double Chocolate Avocado Cookies; Gluten-free Almond Macaroons with Raspberry Filling; & Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cookies!

Each is made with Truvia Baking Blend  - so even your most health conscious neighbors can’t say no!

5. Name your price

Itemize the cost of your supplies & show your kids how much each cup of lemonade is actually worth. Explain that successful businesses make profit, but also charge their customers fairly. Help them choose a reasonable price point for the lemonade. Practice with this virtual lemonade stand!

Use the profits to treat your kids to something special, or ask them if they’d like to donate to a charity!

6. Advertise

Create an eye-catching sign advertising your products & prices. Many sites offer printables (like FrogPrincePaperieSomewhatSimple, and Tater Tots & Jello) but you can also DIY by using a chalkboard, painting on wood, or drawing on poster board. If you’re using products sweetened with Truvia, be sure to let potential customers know that your products are a healthy choice!

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7. Put on the finishing touches

Engage your kids by encouraging to dress “in uniform” (think cute aprons or color coordinated outfits) and adding a few decorative extras like fun straws, cute cups, and balloons!

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(photo credit top right: Creamy Style; photo credit bottom middle: Flickr)

 

8. Make it picture perfect!

Snap a few photos to share on your social networks. Use Pinterest to find photo inspiration & then unleash your inner photographer! Some cool ideas include a “Life Gave Me Lemons” still-life, pics of the kids taste-testing their creations, & quality photos of your decorations. Share your work on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

Serving lemonade made with Truvia? Be sure to add the hashtag #TruFanStand & to include the product in your photos!

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(photo credits, clockwise from left: Refinery29; Confessions of a Prop Junkie; Studer V.; Centsational Girl; Elizabeth Designs; & Crave Photography)

Stay tuned to see what thirst-quenching solutions Tappers come up with – follow the hashtag #TruFanStand on Twitter Facebook.

Crowdtappers put their game face on for the World Cup #NTGAdvocates

Written by Laura Murphy
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adrianl1

The crowd over at Neutrogena Advocates knows that when it comes to skincare, it’s imperative to #RespectYourFace.  So, with the World Cup coming to its major crescendo in July, Neutrogena suspected that Crowdtapping sports fans might be snapping some serious party pics while celebrating the big game. To help these guys look their best, Neutrogena sent a party pack full of products specifically designed for men’s skin.

The kit included:

The result? Some serious soccer fans with jaw-dropping good looks!  Crowdtap selected the top partiers to win signed Landon Donovan jerseys, with the grand prize winner to receive both Donovan’s home & away jerseys.

The competition was intense, but 6 partiers rose to the top of the pack.

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Grand prize winner Adrian L. wowed us with stellar party pics. He recruited 3 friends to test & try out the Neutrogena Men’s products as they watched the game. Even better? Adrian let us know that he’s a huge fan of the face wash & even included some action-shots of himself using it! Lookin’ fresh, Adrian, lookin’ fresh. All in all, the party looked like so much fun, we found ourselves wishing we had been invited. Maybe next time?

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 1.54.55 PMOur runners up also showed off their Neutrogena swag with a collection of selfies, groupies, and great commentary on the Neutrogena Men’s product line.  Way to go, guys!

Congratulations to our winners & a big thank you to all who participated! Want to learn more about men’s skincare? Join the #NTGAdvocates Crowd on Crowdtap today and find out how to address the unique needs of men’s skin.

Finally, be sure to Like us on Facebook & Follow us on Twitter for the latest from the Crowdtapping community!