Saturday, April 11, 2015

Celebrating April 6th


I've been hosting themed monthly dinners with my friends for 8 1/2 years, so some months I have difficulty deciding on a theme. This month was one of them.  Even with Spring Break to try to and figure it out, I was struggling and just couldn't find one that inspired me.  So Saturday night (before the Monday party), I typed "April 6th Holidays" into my computer to see if there were any holidays that fell on that day.  To my surprise, there were several, and they were so hilarious, I decided to go with it and incorporate them all into my monthly dinner!


Entry Decor: I picked two of the "holidays" to represent in the entry. For "Plan Your Epitaph Day" I made a tombstone out of wood and created a calendar with April 6th circled and the holiday.  For Army day, I covered a crate with my brother's old Marine jacket and an American flag I already had.


I also made this sign for the door to represent Army Day. I made it out of foam board and scrapbook paper.  Luckily one of my students is a really good artist, so she helped me get Uncle Sam just right.


Inside Decor:  For my centerpiece, I randomly decided to try to make a cake out of beer cans and Twinkies to represent New Beers Eve and National Hostess Twinkie Day. Actually LOVE the way it came out as it was perfect for this party!  To make it, I cut a 2-liter soda bottle just above the label.  I turned it upside down to lay in the center and placed 8 beer cans around it (they fit perfectly).  I then taped the Twinkies to the bottle to make them stay in place. Lastly, I added a thick ribbon around both layers and stuck a bow I bought at the Dollar Tree to the top of the bottle.


Also on the table, I place vases with caramel popcorn in them for National Caramel Popcorn Day.  I made flags for each of the holidays I was representing at the dinner to stick inside.  I made the flags on PhotoShop, they are all pictured at the top of this post.


As a final touch to the centerpieces, I borrowed two cars from my kids' toy box and made Z's with my Cricut to glue to toothpicks and stick out the windows.  These represented Drowzy Driver Awareness Day.


I used camouflage napkins to represent Army Day.


For the place cards, I made tombstones out of foam board and used my Cricut to put each guest's name on them.  I left a blank spot of guests to write their own epitaph for "Plan Your Epitaph Day". These were some of them....they gave us a good laugh.


I made wine bottle labels also themed around "Plan Your Epitaph Day".  As an English teacher and Hemingway fan, I love that I was able to incorporate one of his quotes.


For wine charms, I used beer bottle caps to represent New Beers Day.  My husband drilled a small hole in the cap, and then I threaded the string through.  Simple.


Menu:  We started out for a green salad with bacon, egg, and tomatoes. I paired it with Sorry Charlie Day only for the alliteration!


For the main dish, I served Beer Can Chicken to represent "New Beers Eve".  I had never made it before, but it was very tender and super easy.  I followed this recipe.  We cooked it on the grill.


I also served tater tots...what adult doesn't love an excuse to eat tater tots!  These represented "National Tater Day".


For a vegetable, I cooked up three green veggies to represent army green for "Army Day". I cooked green beans, asparagus, and broccoli.


For dessert, I made strawberry shortcake using Twinkies.


Favor: Anyone who knows me, knows that my favorite snack is popcorn.  I couldn't pass up National Caramel Popcorn Day, so I used this as the inspiration for my parting gift.  The popcorn boxes I found at Michaels.  I created the tag to thank guests for "poppin" into the dinner party.

We had a fun time celebrating random holidays for April 6th!

Friday, April 3, 2015

March Madness Dinner

The March Madness basketball tournament was our theme for the March monthly dinner.  I've been so busy, I wasn't able to post about it!  Better late than never right?


Invite: I created a ticket with images I found online and just added the wording to match my party details. This is the original ticket I sent, but I did have to change the date to a week later.


Entry Decor:  I made a scoreboard sign out of foam board and card stock for my front door.  Although it looks like a Bible verse as the time, it was actually the date (March 17th), that I had the party.  The score is the year, 2015, broken up between the two teams. 


I also placed my son's toddler basketball hoop by the front door just for fun.


Inside Decor:  I set my table with a simple black tablecloth and bought contact paper that looked like wood to use as a table runner. I found the contact paper at the Dollar Tree!  For the centerpiece, I borrowed a new basketball net from a coach at my work and covered a glass vase. I bought a basketball to place on top.  For the side centerpieces, I bought megaphones from Party City and mini basketballs from Michaels for the top.  I also purchased basketball napkins from Party City to place on each plate.


Place Cards: Relied on my creative juices to come up with a fun place card to fit the theme. I made orange play-dough and then shaped it into balls.  I then used black embroidery thread to create the lines on the basketball. I did them the night before and they set out, so they did harden up a bit and lose their bright orange color (you can see in the photos that they have a speckled look), but they were cute. I created pendants inspired by various colleges participating in March Madness, but changed the university name to each guest's name.  I tied these to skewers I cut in half.


Wine Labels/Charms:  I made simple labels for the wine that said "Red Team" and "White Team".  I found images of the popular college teams' mascots to use as the wine charms.


Menu:  As a starter, I set out carrots and celery with ranch dip.  Just easy items for guests to "dunk."


The main dish was blackened turkey basketball sliders.  I found the recipe for these at Hungry Happenings.  These were SUPER tasty and easy to make.  To make the buns look like basketballs, I sprayed them with Wilton's Color Mist food coloring and then drew the black lines on them with a black food coloring pen. I bought the pen and color mist at Michaels. FYI - it took one full can of color mist to spray the tops of 9 buns.


I served potato wedges that I cut in the shape of triangles and called "Three Pointer Fries."


We also had a fruit salad with fruit balls of watermelon, cantaloupe, and blueberries.


For dessert, I made ice cream sandwiches. I made sugar cookies using a pre-made mix and then added orange food coloring to get them to look orange.  The lines I piped on with black frosting.  I made these ahead of time and froze them as a sandwich.


Games Activities:  If your theme is March Madness you better have an actual tournament going on!  I made a bracket out of foam board, and since there were only 6 of us at this party, we played 3 simple Minute to Win It games.  


The first game I title, "This Team is STACKED", but in Minute to Win It terms, it is called Tilt-A-Cup.  The goal is to create a tower of alternating plastic drinking cups (8) and ping pong balls (8) in one hand, by bouncing the ping pong balls and catching them in the cups.  Once the first ball is caught in the cup, the player pulls the bottom cup from the stack and places it on top, covering the ball he just caught, and bounces another ball to land in the new cup.  This continues for all 8 cups.  The first player to make a wobbly tower of eight balls and cups without the whole thing toppling over is the winner and advances in the tournament.


The second round game I called "Don't BLOW the Game; Make the Bucket!" I taped 3 plastic cups to the edge of my coffee table.  Each player got an empty paper towel roll with a basket of ping pongs balls to share.  Using only the paper towel roll, the players had to blow the ping pong ball across the table and try to make a basket in one of the cups.  The player who made the most baskets in one minute was declared the winner and advanced in the tournament.


The final round game I called "Ka-Broom".  For this game, the player holds a cup in one hand and a broom (bristle side touching the floor) in the other.  On a table 7' from the player, set up plates so that they hang halfway off the table with a large marshmallow centered on the portion of the plate covering the table.  When the clock starts, the player releases the broom handle so it makes contact with the plate.  This catapults the marshmallow in the air and the player then tries to catch it in the cup.  Whichever player caught the most marshmallows in one minute was our Tournament Champion!

The winner of the tournament made the game winning shot, so she gets a "shot" of whatever alcohol you desire!


Favor: As a parting gift, I gave each guest a Skor bar and a Cutie orange that I drew black lines on to look like a basketball.  I created the tag to match the gift using PhotoShop.



It was a great dinner party. The games were easy and a lot of fun!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A CEREALsly Fun Dinner

Who doesn't love a party you can come dressed in your pajamas?  That is exactly the kind of party I hosted last night.  It was a CEREALsly Fun Monthly Dinner with all the decorations and food made with various cereals.


Invite:  I designed the invite on Photo Shop and tried to use names of cereals somehow in the wording. Another cute idea would be to mail mini cereal boxes to each guest with the party details, but I was last minute (as usual), and sent my invites by email.


Entry Decor:  I made this Frosted Flakes sign out of foam board and card stock.  It took me some time to draw and cut out Tony, the Cricut letters, and put it all together, but I think it's GR-R-REAT!!


Here's a close-up.  I also put a bowl of frosted flakes in front of the entry sign.


Inside Decor: I set my table with a bright green tablecloth and then made cereal themed centerpieces.  In the middle of the table I filled an outer vase with Fruit Loops and an inner vase held colorful flowers.  I also saved two milk cartons and used them as vases on each side of the glass vase.


Above the table, I hung empty cereal boxes with fishing line.


For place cards, I bought individual boxes of cereal, and attached a spoon with alphabet beads (bought at Michaels) that spelled out the guest's name.


My 5 year old daughter helped me make the napkins rings.  I think she ate more Fruit Loops than she put on each ribbon, but she was eager to help!


I made this banner out of cereal box fronts to put behind my beverage table.  Oh...and a little photo prop for the evening out of another cereal box..



It was hard to think of cereal brands that went with wine, but I settled on Oh's and Total to inspire the labels I wrapped around my red and white wine.

This is the full image of the labels.


I didn't get a good photo of the wine charms, but I used the charms in Lucky Charms cereal.  I threaded a needle through the charm and attached them with sewing thread.


Menu:  All the cereal party theme ideas I saw online served just various cereals, but since I was serving dinner, I needed to adapt the menu for a late day meal.  I had to invent entrees, but all were delicious.  We started off with a green salad.  To add in the cereal, I made croutons out of Mini Wheats (not the frosted kind). I poured melted button over the mini wheats and seasoned them with garlic salt and Italian seasoning.  I baked them in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  They were actually very tasty on the salad.


For the main dish, I served chicken coated in Corn Flakes.  This was yummy, and I will definitely make it again.
1 3/4 cup corn flakes
1 egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 lbs chicken (I did 7 whole breasts)
3 tablespoons margarine (melted)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put corn flakes in a bowl or pie tin.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs and milk.  Add flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and mix until smooth.  Dip the chicken in the batter and roll in crumbs.  Place on a pan with foil and drizzle with butter.  Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes.


I also served crispy rice to represent Rice Krispies.


On top of the green beans, I sprinkled Grape Nuts right before serving.  These don't have much flavor, but they gave the beans a crunchy kick.


For dessert, I made a crust out of Cocoa Pebbles. I mixed 3 cups of Cocoa Pebbles, 1/2 cup of melted butter, and 1/2 cup sugar and then shaped this on the bottom of a spring-form pan. After it hardened I topped it with vanilla ice cream, a layer of fudge, then more ice cream.  For decoration on the top I sprinkled more Cocoa Pebbles and drizzled butterscotch.


Favor:  As a parting gift, I made each guest Chex Mix.  I used Photo Shop to create a mini cereal box inspired by the Rice Chex box front and just added the word Mix to it. The slogan on the back of the box read "Chex you later.  Can't wait to MIX it up with you again!"


This was a really fun party, and I had a lot of fun decorating for this one.  There is so much you can do with this theme that it is CEREALsly fun!