Sunday, October 12, 2014

Totally 80's Party

This past Monday, marked 8 years of continuous monthly dinners for the girls and I.  It is crazy to think that I have hosted  96 different dinner themes over the years! Time has flown by, and I love the friendships that have been strengthened over these past 8 years.  I wanted this month's dinner theme to tie in with the 8 idea.  I ended up deciding on a Totally 80's party!

Invite:  I tried to pull in as many 80's references on my invite as possible.  I looked up a list of the top 100 80's songs to find some song titles that could go with what I wanted to say.  I also used some popular sayings of the 80's.  It was fun to create.  Inviting your guests to dress up is essential to any 80s party...what a fun decade for clothing!

Entry Decor:  I made this Lite Brite inspired sign for the entry.  It is a piece of black foam board that I made a frame around with card stock.  The logo letters are also cut from card stock.  Then I just poked colored Christmas lights through the foam board to spell out "hello" and plugged it in.  My plan was also to put down a yellow slip 'n' slide leading up to the front door, but I couldn't find one at Goodwill, so I had to forgo that.

Inside decor:  I made this giant Pacman backdrop with a black plastic tablecloth, blue painter's tape, and dot/figures cut out of card stock.  It was easy to put together and made a great photo backdrop.

For centerpieces on the table, I bought colorful Slinkies from the Dollar Tree.  I also made a giant Rubik cube out of a box and card stock.  I glued the card stock and then used black electrical tape (sliced into thinner strips) for the black lines.  As you can see in the photo, some of the tape didn't stick that well.  If you create this, you may want to glue it down to avoid falling tape.

On my serving table, I also put out some of my old toys from the 80's.  I decorated with the Cabbage Patch Dolls and My Little Ponies that my daughter now plays with. My husband has old Atari joysticks and a Space Invaders game that I set out.

I made Pacman plates using yellow and black paper plates. I simply cut a wedge out of a black plate and glued it to the yellow plate.  I added a black eyeball cut from card stock.  I found My Little Pony napkins at Party City.

For place cards, I used Garbage Pail Kids images.  I found each of my guest's names and printed out the image. I did not order the actual cards.  It wasn't worth the money for me, and I couldn't get all the names of my guests.  For those guests that I could not find Garbage Pail Kid cards for, I found ones that I could just change the name on Photoshop (example Martian Mary changed to Martian Maria).

Drinks:  For each of my menu items, I pulled in movie quotes/concepts from popular 80's movies.  I always serve wine at these parties, but I wanted to serve a fun cocktail as well. I decided on making a watermelon cocktail to go with the famous line from the Dirty Dancing movie, "I carried a watermelon." .

I found the recipe on The Taylor House for this drink.  It was tasty, but not sweet enough for my taste. I liked the idea though.

For wine charms, I used images of neon cassette tapes, and I added each guest's name.

I made wine labels using two popular songs from the 80's.  I found the cassette covers of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" for my chardonnay, and UB40's "Red Red Wine" for my Cabernet.

Menu:  We started with a Footloose and fancy free spinach salad with Kevin Bacon dressing.  I made this salad with spinach, hard boiled eggs, bacon, and red onion.  The dressing was made with the bacon grease, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper.  It was yummy!

I served chicken as my main dish to represent the quote from Back to the Future, "What you are McFly, Chicken?"  This is an easy chicken recipe I make all the time.  Nothing special, but always a big hit.

The side dishes were green peppers cut to resemble light sabers from Star Wars and mashed potatoes with pepper eyes to represent Ghostbusters.

For dessert, I served Strawberry Shortcakes.  Simple and easy.

Favor:  I decided to make cake pop joysticks as favors for the guests. I bought a 2x4 at Home Depot and cut it into squares.  I painted each square black and drilled a hole large enough to fit my lollipop stick.  The red button is cut from card stock and adhered with double-sided sticky foam so that it was elevated a little bit.

I designed a Game Over tag on Photoshop to attach to the joysticks.

We had a great time at this party celebrating 8 years of Monthly Dinners. Hope you enjoyed these ideas, and you are inspired to host your own 80's party.  It was radical!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Spin on Salads Party

When trying to come up with a creative spirit week for my ASB Leadership students at work, I gave them the idea of salad dressings as dress up days.  I created this classroom flyer to display the idea..

My students loved the idea, and I decided to make it my monthly dinner theme as well. On top of the dress up fun, a salad menu is always a perfect way to end summer, so this theme fit perfectly.

Invite: I designed the invite on Photo Shop changing the Ranch bottle to reflect my party details.  I included the dress up examples at the bottom to let my guests know exactly what I was asking them to wear to the party. If I were to make this invite again, I might have put these details on the back just to lessen the amount of words on the front.

Entry Decor:  I made this entry sign out of card stock and foam board.  The label I again edited in Photo Shop.  The "green salad" my 3 and 5 year old helped me make by cutting light and dark green tissue paper into pieces and crumpling it. We also added some yellow cheese shavings by cutting card stock.

Inside Decor: I stayed fairly simple (at least simple for me) with my decorations for this party. I set my table with a light green tablecloth, white plates, and dark green napkins. For my centerpiece, my kids and I created another tissue paper salad. For this one, I added red tomatoes out of scrapbook paper.

Also as part of the centerpiece, I made these vegetable vases and candle holders.  For the candle holder, I just removed the stem of the red pepper and fit the tea light candle on top.  You may have to shave some of the bottom of the pepper to make sure it stands up without tipping.  the vases are just red cabbage that I stuck skewers of vegetable flowers into.  Red, yellow, and orange peppers were cut to look like tulips and a mushroom was placed in the middle.  Flower radishes rounded out the look.  To cover the skewers, I used green onion!

My favorite idea I had for this party was to make the place cards look like mini salad dressing bottles.  I used travel-size nail polish remover bottles that I found at CVS.  I created the main label and the label on the lid with an image I found on Google and edited with Photo Shop.  I tried to think of salad-like words that described the guests to add with their names (i.e. zesty, sweet, spicy).  I printed these on sticker paper, so they were very easy to peal off and stick over the nail polish remover label.

For wine charms and napkin rings, I wanted to use real salad garnishes.  Radishes worked perfectly for my napkin rings.  I used a thick needle to string ribbon through the radishes and tied it in the back.

My wine glasses have various etchings on them (2 of each kind), so I needed two different charms to distinguish between each of the two matching glasses.  I decided on a crouton and a black olive!

Menu: Salads of course!!  One of my guests had the idea of everyone bringing a salad, so this is what we did.  All of them were delicious!  We had pasta salad, tomato/feta/cucumber salad, fruit salad, taco salad, bbq chicken salad (pictured above), and edamame salad.

I also found a neat dessert salad recipe to try - Snickers Caramel Apple Salad! I didn't take a photo of it at the party, so this photo is from the Chef in Training website where I found the recipe.  It was a neat pairing of rich chocolate and caramel mixed with the juicy sliced apples.

Favor:  I sent each guest home with homemade Italian Salad Dressing mix.  I washed out baby food jars (you need to have a container that seals like a jar or zip lock baggie) and spray painted the tops to add a bit of color.  I create this cute tag to attach designing it so that "Dressing" and "Mix" stood out a little bit.  I also gave each guest the recipe of what was in the jar and what they will need to add in order to make the dressing at home.

We had a great time as always.  Here is just a photo of some of us and our costumes...Blue Cheese, Ranch Dressing, and Thousand Island!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer Social: Ice Cream Party

I Scream....You Scream...We all Scream for Ice Cream!!  To finish off the summer, I decided my August theme would center around ice cream.  Even though we had a small group at this one, it turned out cute, and we all had a great time.

Invite:  I designed the invite on Photoshop using images I found on Google.  My original plan was to make ice cream cones out of card stock and have the ice cream part lift up to reveal the party details, but my last minute theme decision left me with no time to do this.

Entry Decor:  I made this simple sign for my door out of foam boards and card stock.  The Dairy Queen sign I changed to MD for Monthly Dinner.  My plan was also to make these balloon ice cream cones to line the walkway to the door.

Inside Decor:  I set my table with a pink tablecloth and pastel plates and napkins.  For one centerpiece, bought terracotta pots and painted them to look like ice cream cones.  The perfectionist in me had a hard time with this because I did it freehand.  If you really want it perfect, I would tape it off and figure it all out beforehand!  I used pink carnations for the ice cream and white ones for whip cream.  The cherries were craft balls.  The banana splits I made with pastel tissue paper.  The banana boats I already owned.

For napkin rings, I cut out the bottom of ice cream cones and slid utensils and napkins through.  I made a simple paper cover to put around the cone.

The place cards were cute little ice cream trucks.  I bought the image off of Etsy for this and then just added my guest's name using PhotoShop.

To hang from the ceiling, I also made an ice cream popsicle banner. I cut foam noodles and then just glued popsicle sticks inside.  I used fishing line to string them.

My 5 year old daughter wanted to help decorate, so she drew ice cream cones with spoons and taped them up!

Menu:  I always like the theme to be reflected somehow in all aspects of my menu. I started out with ranch dip tinted with green food coloring and chips to symbolize "Mint Chip" ice cream.  I served the dip in a waffle bowl.

Next was a green salad with "cherry" tomatoes.

For the main dish, I bought banana split boats from Baskin and Robbins to use as my serving dish.  The banana split was mashed potato scoops as "ice cream", brown gravy as "chocolate syrup", meat cubes as "chocolate chunks", yellow squash as the "bananas", and diced red pepper and carrots as "sprinkles".  The dish was delicious and the banana splits were cute.

For dessert, I made a Neapolitan Brownie Ice Cream Cake.  I found the recipe on the Cake Boss Baking website.  It was really good.  The brownie part was a bit hard to eat because it was frozen, but beyond that, the cake was easy to make and well-liked by the guests.

Favor:  As a take-home favor, I gave each guest an ice cream sundae with topping ---in this case a loofa and shower gel.  The bowls and spoons I ordered from Amazon.  They came in a package of 12. The container for the shower gel is just a Tic-Tac container I emptied and them refilled with shower gel.  I couldn't find a plain container, but this seemed to work fine.  I made the label to attach to it.

All in all, it was a simple party that didn't take too much time to put together.  Ice Cream Socials are always fun, and this one was no exception!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lego Birthday Party

Just realized I forgot to post the details of my two kiddos birthday party last month.  They are both really into building things with Legos, so we decided this would be the theme of their joint birthday party.

Invite:  I designed the border and text of the front of the invite on Photoshop.  I then used scrapbook paper, circles cut from my Cricut, and foam tabs to create the green, yellow, and blue Legos on the front of the invitation with the 3D look.  This took quite a bit of time to do, but I do love how they came out.  For the back side of the invite, the kiddos and I  built the number 3 and 5 out of Lego Duplos and then had a mini photo shoot in the front yard.  I took these photos and added them to the invitation I designed using Photoshop. I downloaded the free Lego font to do the main text.

Attire:  I made this Superman Lego shirt with the help of one of my friends.  We bought a plain red shirt, and  we cut out the fabric pieces and ironed them on the shirt.   My friend sewed them along the edges to help them stay.  My son's superman did lose an eye during the party, and it didn't really hold up after the washing machine, but it sure was cute!

My mom made my daughter's super cute dress.  I made the Lego hair clips to add to the outfit.  To make these, I just bought plain silver hair clips and then used hot glue to adhere the white Lego (with the smaller red one on top) to the clip.  They were really cute!

Entry Decor:  I made a giant Lego on my front door using a red plastic tablecloth and red paper plates.  It was super easy to do.  Just used duct tape to make the plates stay (and they did).  The Lego head I made using yellow foam board.  I drew the face and then cut it out and used red and black Sharpie markers to make the face.

Inside Decor:  On the fireplace mantle, I used some brightly colored garlands.  One of my friends made these out of felt for her daughter's rainbow-themed birthday party, so I was lucky enough to just borrow them.  The giant yellow Lego I made using poster board, card stock circles I cut out, and the foam tabs to make the Lego 3D. I made several of these giant Legos in various colors to spread throughout the party.

I also made this Lego banner.

For the centerpieces, my daughter made Lego Duplo creations. She had a lot of fun with this.  I set each creation on a 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper that I made to look like a Lego/Lego base.

I also built a utensil and napkin holder out of Legos.

Party Games: We ordered this super cute cake bouncer and borrowed the corn hole game from a friend. My original plan was to make the bean bags look like Legos by stitching felt circles to the top, but I ran out of time.  We also had a Lego pinata.

Menu:  I wanted to stay simple on the menu, but I also wanted to at least have some items that related to the them.  I decided first on Lego My Eggo turkey and ham sandwiches.  These were good, except that the waffles were not as crisp as I had hoped once people started eating.  My advice is toast them right before you are going to serve them.  This way they stay warm and don't have a chance to get soggy.

For the kids, we also had hot dogs - the cheap and simple staple of birthday parties!  My original thought was go have square shaped pizza with pepperoni because it can look like Legos, but we went with Plan B to save time and money.

I made these jello Legos with a silicon mold set I bought off the Amazon (also used on favors).  As you can tell in the photo, these were VERY hard to use for this particular project. The little men came out fine, but the Legos didn't work. The knobs on the Legos stuck to the mold, and it just did not work well. I ended up using the same mold I used on the candy cake pieces (discussed below), which worked better, but not great.

We also had fruit salad, chips, and veggies to round out the meal.

I had a lot of fun making the cake and cupcakes, and I love how the cake table turned out.  I used the giant poster board Legos I made as backdrop.  I also bought a Lego storage head from Target to add to the decor.  All the desserts were served on Lego mats that my kids build their Legos on all the time.

The cakes were very simple to make.  Just 9" cake rounds frosted.  I used Lego Duplos on the top because it was simple and I could customize it to each of my kids loves (firemen and princesses) very easily.  As I mentioned above, the chocolate molds did not work, so I quickly ordered a different set off Amazon to try.  These chocolate candy molds worked perfectly, and I would recommend this set if you are making chocolate Lego bricks.

The inside of the cakes were two different colors.  I put food coloring in white cake mix to make these.

I saw Lego cupcake wrappers on Amazon, but they were outrageously expensive.  I decided to make my own.  I found a Lego border on Google images and used Photoshop to make it as big as I needed it. Then, I borrowed the Cricut Lite Cupcake Wrapper cartridge from a friend to cut the scalloped wrappers. The Lego chocolates on the top are the same ones as the cake; I just cut them in half for the cupcakes.

Favor:  Honestly, I couldn't decide on what to do for favors as I had too many ideas! First, I made goodie bags.  The multicolor bags I purchased at Michaels and just added the card stock circles/foam tabs to make them 3D.  I made the tag on Photoshop...

As with all my parties, if you would like the file for this tag, I am happy to share it.

I spray painted baby food jars yellow and added these silly Lego faces with Sharpie markers. Each jar was filled with Lego candy I bought on Amazon. I bought a 3 pound bag to fill these jars about 3/4 full and had plenty.

I also made mini Lego coloring books. I found the images on Google and then made them four of them fit on piece of typing paper.  Then I just printed one on back of the other.  It took me forever to find the images and get them positioned correctly.  If you are interested in doing this for a Lego party, please email me and I will send you the file.  It will save you hours!!

I made the crayons using the Lego man mold I bought.  I bought a few boxes of cheap crayons, soaked them to get the wrappers off easily, and then broke them into 5-6 pieces to put inside the mold.  Then just put them in the oven for about 10 minutes to melt. I only needed one crayon per mold for these.  I placed them in candy wrappers bought at Michaels and made an address label as a sticker to close them up. This was much faster than tying bows!!

After the party, I took this silly photo of my kiddos to use on a Thank You card.  The border/text I did in Photoshop.

All in all, the party was a success and the kids had a great time. Can't believe my little ones are 3 and 5 already!  Thanks for reading this super long post...Please comment below.  I just love hearing your thoughts!