Sunday, June 13, 2010

St. Patrick's Day party

We had a St. Patty's day party with adults-only (notice I didn't say an Adult St. Patty's Day partyTotally different conotations to that!)  I had to set two tables to accomodate the 18 guests we had. 

The green thingies in the glass jar on the left are moss-covered styrofoam stones from the dollar store.  They reminded me of Ireland when I saw them.  Nearly all the decor came from the dollar store, or was something I had already.  I'm becoming a fan of the glass beads.  They dress up a table, and come in almost every shade.
The flower vase is a beer mug from the dollar store.  This was an alcohol-free party, but I thought it was still fun to add the "true" Irish element to the decor:)
I thought the addition of a sliced lime to the cup rim was so creative, but the instructions didn't mention needing to use glass cups; the limes were too heavy and tumbled the glasses, until I got smart and added ice to the bottom to weigh them down.
The beverage was rainbow sherbet and Sprite.  I had intended to hang the "Irish kissing ball" in the archway leading to the Great Room, like an Irish mistletoe, but forgot.  So here is where it ended up.  Another idea forgotten: a Blarney stone inside the front door to kiss for luck.
It's not a Jill party without cupcakes.  Here are my green velvet cupcakes with buttercream and chocolate cream cheese icing, and my creation, mint chocolate ganache-filled cupakes with mint buttercream icing.  Oh, they were delish!
Aren't cupcakes divine?
I asked everyone to bring a green side dish; I had everyone email me their dish choice so we didn't end up with 4 green salads.  I made Thai cilantro chicken and pasta.  The cilantro sauce made it green.  You can see it in the white dish on the upper right.
I love white Christmas lights in decor!  The bar decor consisted of floating limes, and some silk flowers I spray-painted green and stuck in my Bloom Box I found on clearance at Zurcher's many months ago.  They resembled 4-leaf clovers when green.
Non-alcoholic Jello shots.  I googled a recipe, but just ended up making it up myself.  These have lime jello, green tea Sobe, and a little heavy whipping cream.
I loved the green deviled eggs.
After dinner we played a few games.  I bought about 20 green items from the dollar store: Irish spring soap, green candy, Andes mints, etc.  Everyone sat in a circle, and I dumped the items on the floor in the middle of the circle.  As I read a silly Irish folk tale story that I had made up, when I said the name of an item, the one who grabbed it first got to keep it.  This worked well with the number of people we had, and is easily adapted to fit any holiday or theme.
We played another game I got off of Maggies Dinner Dates in which one member of the group reads a question, and everyone else in the group answers it anonomously on a slip of paper.  The person then collects the papers and reads them out loud, trying to guess who answered what.  We played this in husband-wife teams, which worked well.  The party went for close to 5 hours, with the first couples to leave after about 3 hours.  The last hour was just spent visiting.

Twilight: New Moon party

In honor of the release of the new movie, I threw a New Moon party.  This was my front hall table:
I wanted the Great Room to feel like a forest, as that's where so much of the drama takes place in the book.  I borrowed these trees from my awesome sister-in-law, who used them for a school Halloween carnival the month before.  There were 3 of them that we placed at both entrances to the room.  I intended to place my fog machine under the table to simulate the atmosphere of Forks, but I forgot.  I placed Edward at the end of the hallway, on black fabric for a later photo-op, but also to appear like he is waiting for each guest to arrive.
That's my cute little 3-year-old son that popped into the picture at the last second:)
This is my serving bar prior to food.  I decided on an Italian theme (I know, so original!) because of the trip to Italy in the book.  I debated on the color scheme, with so much of the book taking place at La Push, with Jacob, I considered using earthy tones instead.  But I went with the traditional red, black and white, as it has a greater dramatic impact.  Also, I wanted to tie in with the sea of red cloaks in the movie scene at Volturra.  I covered my bar in some old black fabric my husband had purchased long ago for another project.  It worked perfect and created some visual interest with the pin-stripes.  And you can't go wrong with white lights and candlelight.  It's hard to see, but the candle at the bottom of the picture is glitter-covered.  I found these gems at Dollar tree, which was a perfect tie-in to the sun effect on Edward's skin.  The framed quotes are courtesy of Hostess with the Mostess, as well as the drink labels.
I assigned out the food, so I was only making one main dish, plus the dessert bar.
Sorry for the slightly-blurry photos; I must have had the camera setting wrong!
With inspiration from KSL's Studio 5, I did a candy apple bar.  I provided caramel, red and milk chocolate, plus all the toppings: oreos, butterfinger, Skor bar, Heath, 100 Grand, marshmallows, peanut butter chips, etc.  I had intended on making mini apple balls, so one didn't have to commit to just one topping, but the melon baller didn't work.  So we just sliced them instead.  My clever sister-in-law used my serving dishes to "snake" around the table. 
You can't read it in the picture, but the framed quote in the bottom right corner says "I have always loved you and I will always love you."  It was our humorous tribute to the chocolate and candy nearby:)
I used red glass beads, scattered through-out the dishes, to give the appearance of drops of blood on the table.
I made raspberry-filled cupcakes with buttercream icing.  The quotes are from the book, and courtesy of Maggie's dinner dates.  I intended on sticking them on with black forks, but they were too tall, in my opinion, plus my order from OTC didn't arrive in time!  I had also ordered white paper globes to hang, to simulate moons, but had to go without, alas!
Guests were instructed to fill their purses with these Twilight-themed mints on their way out the door to the movie.
After dinner we played New Moon trivia, with questions from the book.  The winner was awarded a Twilight necklace pendant that I ordered from Lily Lane.  I was able to design it myself, but I failed to get a picture of it.  What a zing!  We ran out of time and had to play the second game, Twilight ABC's, while waiting in line and in the theater. Guests had to think up 26 words dealing with all things Twilight.  The winning prize was a bottle of Twilight lotion from Bath and Body Works. 

Red Hat party candy buffet

I created this buffet for my mom's 75th Red Hat birthday party.  We had red twizzlers, purple chocolate-covered pretzels, cinnamon bears, swedish fish, marshmallow pops, dark chocolate kisses, chocolate-covered pirouette cookies, red hots, Mike-n-Ikes, red and purple runts, and cupcake bites, from Bakerella.  The cake came from the grocery store.

We're going on a safari!

My oldest daughter loves animals, so we threw a Safari party for her 9th birthday.  I made invitations that looked like a passport.  Inside it read "We're going on a safari! Get ready to go into the wild and have some fun! This is your passport for _____'s Safari birthday party. We will be taking you on a safari trip around remote areas of Africa. Our expedition starts on ________ at 4:00 pm. All explorers should bring their passports. Safari wear is optional but adventurers may want to dress to go outdoors, weather permitting. Our trip will conclude at 6:30pm." On the reverse side of the invitation we typed Passport ID#_______
issued to (name) of (city) on (date) expires (date).  
To decorate, I made trees from colored butcher paper and put them all over the walls of our house. My husband and I spent hours making the vines from brown crepe paper.
The "waterfall" came from Zurchers.  It "pooled" into a butcher paper pond below...

and ran down the steps of our unfinished basement, which we painted blue to match.

I painted warnings with washable Crayola paint on all the front windows.  Notice the smeared handprints on the left?  I thought about doing it in red paint, but thought that would be too gory for little girls.
My husband dressed up as Sir Nigel Higginbotham, the Safari tour guide.  He's such a good sport to play a part in all our kids' parties!  He even spoke with an English accent.
This is me, obviously not prepared for a picture:)  I ran the Red Cross welcome station.  As the girls arrived, they had to present their passport invitations, which I stamped.  I welcomed them to Africa, warned them not to touch the animals, gave them an innoculation "shot" with an empty, needleless syringe, a malaria pill (red candy in a hospital grade jar marked with the red cross sign), and outfitted them with binoculars and plastic safari hats (from Zurcher's).  Then they were able to decorate their hats with sharpie markers as we waited for everyone to arrive.
Sir Higginbotham led the girls on a tour of our backyard.  We have enough stuffed animals to start our own preserve, which came in handy for this party.  We placed groups of African animals around our backyard, such as zebras, lions, tigers, monkies, snakes, etc, and my husband improvised names for them as they came upon each section.  The girls liked the black-butt monkies and brown butt bears the best. 
After the tour we led them back to the patio, where they had to follow the elephant prints (spray-painted on the grass), to the elephant watering hole.  To follow they had to walk holding hands like below.
At the elephant watering hole, we played elephant tag, an idea I got from Family Fun.  I cut off the legs from nylons and placed a rolled-up sock in the toe.  The girls had to put these "elephant trunks" on their heads, and keep them on while trying to pull off everyone else's; the last one still wearing a trunk was the winner.
Musical animals: when the music stopped (in this case my husband sang "The Lion Sleeps tonight"), everyone ran to grab an animal.  The girl who didn't get one was out, until we ended with 1 winner.
Inside we played animal charades and a game where everyone had a piece of paper; the first person draws the first half on an animal, folds it, the second person draws the middle, the third draws the rear end.  I thought it was a bomb, but the girls thought it was funny.  Go figure.  I also had the girls try to find all the monkies I had hidden in the house, and the one with the correct number won a stuffed monkey.  There were 33.
Then we told the girls they were about to enter the most dangerous part of our tour, and descend into the bowels of the African jungle to search for snapping crocodiles, hissing spiders, and vampire bats.  They'd have to be on the look out and watch themselves if they were to survive this leg of our tour. We had them follow the "river" across the floor, down the basement stairs, and through the hallway to the carpeted area of the main open space.  We told them to avoid touching these hanging crepe paper vines, as it was poisonous jungle weeds that would grab them. At the end of the river we constructed a relay they had to get through in order to go eat at the banquet hall.
First they had to swing over the hissing crocodile swamp.  The skull on the floor was from our last tour that  didn't do so well and poor ol' Joe had gotten himself eaten by the crocodiles

Next they had to crawl through the bat cave, which was constructed from 2 large appliance boxes.  I hung black crepe paper and plastic bats from the "ceiling" of the cave.
Then they had to dig through the cauldron of worms (cooked cold spaghetti noodles floating in water in a dutch oven) to retrieve the diamond crystals that were stolen from the Goblet of Death by Evil Lord Norbert and return them. We hid clear glass bubbles (the kind used to make your own magnets) in the noodles and had the girls put them in a skull hand Halloween cup when they found them (pictured on the left behind the girl in pink).  Surprisingly, the girls LOVED this part.  I was afraid they'd be too prissy:)

Then they had to fish out a "hissing spider" from another black cauldron and place it next to the bowl (I put plastic spiders in ice cold water.)
Then they had to walk "the bridge of no return" ( a line of duct tape on the floor), jump three times on the "bottomless quicksand pit" (a mini trampoline covered by a sand-colored carpet remnant) and then lastly eat a "hanging glow worm" without using their hands (sour gummy worms hung from the ceiling by black yarn). I sent the girls through fairly quickly so they wouldn't get bored waiting for thier turns. I was surprised; all the girls wanted to do the relay multiple times.  They even had me dump the "diamond crystals" back into the noodles so they could dig them out again. Even the squeemish, prissy ones wanted to do it again.
Last we fed them a dinner of mini hamburgers, "snakes on a stick" (I sliced hot dogs in fours length-wise and skewered them on a shish-ka-bob stick), chips, "swamp juice" (a sickly-looking concoction of kiwi strawberry juice and sprite, with pop rocks and gummy snakes.  The girls loved the jungle juice but some wanted to know if the pop rocks were store bought or not as their mothers warned them about drugs looking like candy.), animal crackers, fruit salad,

...and "bugs on a log" (peanut butter-coated pretzels with chocolate sprinkles).
And of course, jungle cake!  Obviously I am not a professional cake decorator; it did the job and my daughter loved it.  I did have fun making the palm trees though!  I've since discovered the "grass" decorating tip; that would have been fun to have for this.

My whole thing with throwing parties is to do it for a cheaply as possible.  I estimated this party cost about $50, but it's one my daughter will always remember.  This party is featured on birthday party as well; I won their October 08 birthday contest!