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Covid-19 Indoor Camping Trip

Your summer plans are likely in a bit of disarray due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be rethinking plans to send your children to summer camp or your camps may be cancelled altogether. No need to worry! Check out these great ideas for an “Indoor Camping Trip”!

The first part of this adventure is to set up a tent. Move large pieces of furniture out of the way so you have a nice sized area to create your campsite. If you don’t have a real tent you can use sheets or blankets to make a canopy. You can get some great instruction for constructing temporary tents here https://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Indoor-Tent  If you have sleeping bags put them under the tent. Or you can pile up pillows and blankets. Anything comfortable.

Bonfires aren’t very transferable to indoor camping parties (unless you don’t mind burning your house down) but this is a really easy way to make a safe, indoor campfire using some old toilet paper rolls. Paint the tubes different shades of brown. You can make them look like wood with light colored stripes.  Arrange them like a camp fire and tuck in some red, yellow and orange tissue paper. You can use some tissue shred as well. Cut red and yellow shiny card stock for flames. Pop a few LED candles in the middle. LED candles are battery powered and much, much safer than a real flame and won’t cause a fire if they’re knocked over. They shine pretty brightly too so you could create a bit of atmosphere by turning off the lights and eating in the light of your fake bonfire!

Stringing mini Christmas lights around the area can mimic a starry night sky. If you have some camp chairs bring them down from the attic and place them around the campfire. If your kids have large stuffed animals bring them to the party too. Place the creatures around the area to be your forest friends. Look for a CD of nature sounds and play that in the background. They can be found online or at Barnes & Noble. Also check a used book store. Grab a bunch of small flashlights for everyone to have. They will be great tools for storytelling and games. Stock up on some glow necklaces and bracelets for fun in the dark.

Now it is time to stock up on tasty camping food! An indoor camping party means you can really go to town on themed food! Think about all the things you’d eat if you were going on a real camping trip and simply recreate them! Here are a few ideas to get you started: Hot dogs or burgers. Sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly is my favorite!), one pot meals like stew or mac and cheese or any finger type food and/or trail mixes. And it wouldn’t be a real camping experience without Smores! You can easily make indoor smores and they literally take about 30 seconds and are so yummy!  You can use standard ingredients, add peanut butter, use Nutella, or substitute a chocolate bar of your choice. Cut the graham cracker in half and add a big marshmallow on top- pop in micro for 15 seconds.  Add your chocolate bar of choice and micro for 5-10 more seconds. Top with the other half of the graham cracker and voila! One little slice of heaven on a plate. Don’t forget breakfast treats the next morning. Pancakes and bacon – Yumm!

Hopefully you can convince your kids that you can have fun without the internet. Make a rule – NO PHONES – for this camping trip. Sit around your faux bonfire and sing camp songs. You can find the lyrics and guitar chords to some of the classics here https://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/camp-songs.html#.XvT8IyhKjIU If you are unsure of the melody check on YouTube beforehand. Make sure you print out the lyrics so no one is staring at a cell phone screen.

Play cards games. My favorite game to play on our yearly camping trip was Cribbage but if the kids are to young for this game there is always Uno, Fish or Old Maid. An unusual card game that the kids will adore is “Blind Man’s Bluff”. The standard version is simply high card wins. Each player is dealt one card from a standard deck and they display it to all other players (traditionally stuck to the forehead facing outwards- supposedly like an Indian feather). This is followed by a round of betting. Players attempt to guess if they have the highest card based on the distribution of visible cards and how other players are betting. Not to get cash involved, bet with jelly beans or candy bars. Art and craft projects are always fun and keep kids entertained. Rock painting has become very popular and people love leaving them in public places for others to find. Set up a craft table and find smooth river rocks. Have paint supplies handy for the rocks and maybe some other projects like popsicle stick frames and tin can pencil holders.

Next, I remember so well how scary stories around the campfire was the highlight of the night! A good resource for some of the most memorable stories is here https://www.bustle.com/articles/191893-10-spooky-campfire-stories-to-tell-your-friends-in-the-dark. Again, print them out so you keep the no phone rule. Reading a book to the group is another way to enjoy your campout. Chose some kid friendly books like Don’t Feed the Bear by Kathleen Doherty, Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt or Mouse Scouts: Campout by Sarah Dillard. Maybe you can have an older child read to the little ones.

Now that you know how, lets get to camping! Stay safe and wash your hands!

Covid-19 Event & Party Guide

Covid-19 Party Collage

It’s graduation season, wedding season – and Father’s Day is coming up. And birthdays keep coming—last week I supplied balloons for a birthday “parade”. They all drove past the kid’s house honking their horns. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled… actually they probably were. Anything to break up the monotony.

You can still have that bachelorette party – and all your other events, and they don’t have to be boring. You are your biggest hurdle – think creatively! Try to think about ways people can still have fun at a social distance. And put in place some important safety measures. Here are some ideas.

I would first start by not thinking of it as a pandemic celebration – that feels so anti-celebratory! You’re creating a celebration, a gathering, or an event that happens to be during our “temporary new normal”.

In-person events are going to be a challenge, but can be achieved. As the host I know you have the right intentions, but haven’t been prepared for the attendees’ mindset around coming together in person. You need to realize that the attendance may be much lower than you anticipate, because your guests might not be prepared to gather in person, after being separated for so long. Lack of attendance is not a personal reflection on you, just a normal human reaction. Perhaps you should consider a hybrid event between live and streaming?

Keeping guests down to a smaller group is the first thing that must be followed. When setting up tables and chairs for your friends and family lessen the settings per table. A 60” round table or an 8ft. banquet table usually seats 8 people per. Spread the chairs apart to seat a maximum of 4 to 6. If you want to place 8 chairs at a table, fill a few seats with large stuffed animal friends to bring some joy to the process. If placing only chairs around the party area make sure they are 4ft to 6ft apart. If someone wants to get closer it is on them to move. You have done your due diligence. Make sure all the tables and chairs have been sanitized properly before guests arrive. Rigorous cleaning of the other areas of your home or venue should be done too. Wipe down with appropriate disinfectant agents. Remember door knobs, hand rails, bathrooms and counters. When setting your tables supply hand sanitizer on each table and perhaps some baby wipes.

For the health of yourself and your attendees conduct temperature screenings as they arrive. You can purchase a no touch forehead thermal thermometer for around $30. Individuals with temperatures higher than 100 F should be gently asked to leave. Make face masks available for everyone, if they feel unwell. Implement a “No Hand-Shake” policy at your party. Use fist bumps, “ebola” elbow bumps, virtual hugs, air waves and hellos, and other mechanisms to replace the handshake during the crisis. You can supply people with small pom-poms for hello waves. Wash all hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after any eating, blowing of the nose, coughing, sneezing, and using the bathroom.

Safety measures for food preparation can be difficult. It is suggested if you have a buffet setting that you need to have splash guards and sneeze guards. Since this isn’t something readily available in a home environment you might think about getting individual box lunches/meals delivered or pick them up. You can do this on your own by wrapping sandwiches and placing salads in inexpensive plastic containers. Cookies and other snacks can be purchased in individually wrapped packages. You can also buy individually wrapped plastic cutlery at Walmart or a restaurant supply. Drinks can be served by the can or bottle. Make sure you place hand sanitation devises near the meal station. Some folks may not have been able to get into the bathroom to wash their hands. Just try to be on the safe side.

Setting up an area to carry on a Virtual Party for the people who could not attend will help include everyone. The right chat platform will be different for different groups. I like Zoom because it’s user friendly and it’s easy to send invitations to anyone. The drawback to Zoom, though, is that the free version will only allow for a 40-minute group meeting. Google Hangouts, Facebook, and Skype are all viable options, and there are many more. Choose whichever platform your family and friends are most familiar with or like best. Be sure to give your virtual people instruction on how to use the service you choose, especially the older folks.

Designate one of the younger “geekyer” family members to monitor the Virtual station. They can give the networked guests a blow by blow description of what is going on. They can guide everyone at your event to make sure they stop and visit the electronic invitees. Decorate the Virtual area with balloons and streamers to make it stand out. You can also hook up to a flat screen television to make a bigger impact.

I trust these ideas will help you begin to get back to a place where we can all be together again! “And Party!”

Coronavirus Drive-by Parties & More

Because of the recent orders for Social Distancing we have had to come up with innovative ideas to keep peoples spirits up for Birthdays, Anniversaries and quite possible the upcoming Graduations. All over the county, birthdays for young and old are being celebrated instead with drive-by caravans/parades of honking, decorated cars. From 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds caravans tickle the fancy of the birthday people!

Balloons are a great way to mark the location of the guest of honor along with decorating the vehicles. Large foil numbers can be used for the age or letters can spell out a name. Tie clusters of latex balloons to mirrors, luggage racks or bumpers. Make large bows or puff balls (check our blog for directions on how to make your own!) and tie to door handles and front grills. Custom make signs on poster board and attach to the side of the auto.  Some people may hand gifts out the windows but a safer way is to give gifts virtually. Wish list can be set up on Amazon. Email details to friends and family. If you know anyone who can bring a fire truck or police car by, go for it. Make sure they honk the horn and have lights flashing!

It looks like Graduations this year will be impacted by the Stay-at-Home orders too. Along with the cancellation of Senior Grad Nights and Commencement Ceremonies the Class of 2020 will have a lot to remember; NO OTHER class will have this Pandemic in their memory books. Celebrate at home with a meeting online with family and friends via Zoom. Be sure to decorate the area with balloons, banners and streamers so the graduate has a great background to show everyone. If you have a drive-by event guests can use large 2020 foil numbers to decorate the vehicle along with balloons, banners and bows in school colors. Decorate your yard with 2020 Graduation decorations. Place photos of the graduate on stakes showing them through the years. Your drive-by visitors will enjoy this! You can find a Drive-by Graduation Invitation here https://tidylady.net/collections/drive-by-birthday-parade-invitations/products/drive-by-graduation-parade-invitation-779801514

Whatever you do stay safe and alive. God Bless us all! If you need balloons we are here to be of help. Out of the Denton area? Call me I can ship anywhere!

 

 

 

Spring Equinox Celebration

Spring Equinox Party

The spring equinox, or Ostara, is also called the vernal equinox and has long been celebrated as a time of renewal, rebirth, and new beginnings. The exact date and time of the spring vernal equinox changes slightly each year and marks the first astronomical day of spring in the Gregorian calendar. The word equinox is derived from Latin. It means “equal night.” On the day that the sun passes over the equator, the length of day and night are said to be approximately equal. This means that there will be approximately 12 daylight hours and 12 hours of darkness on both the spring vernal equinox and the autumnal equinox.

The spring equinox is an awesome reason to celebrate with friends and family. Try getting everyone together (aside from Easter) to enjoy the change of season. Celebrating outside is the optimum way to enjoy Spring. But, since next week the forecast is rain, you can bring the festivities inside or under a covered patio. You can plan on a day party or late afternoon into evening party. If it is clear enough it is fun to have the party flow into the evening to view the night sky and stars. You can have a constellation naming contest. If weather permits consider a bonfire. It is always fun to sit around the fire and tell stories, sing or make smores.

Since you are celebrating the beginning of the Spring Season make sure you display lots of jars or vases of flowers from your local Florist or Grocer. You can decorate walls with cutout flowers and birds. Make them yourself or buy pre-made cutouts from a party store. Balloons in beautiful spring colors can be tied to chairs or bundled and weighted down around the party area. Decorate a Spring Nature table. These tables are used for placing natural items that reflect the season. It is meant to be explored and used as a nature study. Ask your guests to bring something to add to the display. Allow them to share the story behind the items they give. The benefit of hosting this party is that you can keep the nature table intact. If you have children you can study the table and the children can add things they discover outside. Playing with nature tables provides a rich sensory experience for the developing child. See more about nature tables here https://rhythmsofplay.com/spring-nature-table/

Serve fresh food reminiscent of Springs bounty. Fresh fruit skewers made of strawberries, kiwi, pineapple and grapes. Green salad with lots of cut cucumbers, shaved asparagus. Radishes, cherry tomatoes and the like.  Deviled eggs and local fresh baked breads. Fire up the grill – even if it a little chilly outside and make up grilled chicken and vegetables. End the evening with fun delicious macarons decorated like chicks. Here is a great video on how to make them! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7j9jCuHzvw

Since the spring equinox celebrates a time new beginnings a fun activity is to have everyone make a list of new things they want to do. Share them with each other. You might find other people that would like to share the same experience with you. Or you might find someone that can help you achieve the new skill. An example is that you want to learn the piano and someone in the group knows how to play and would love to help you with that dream. Another activity, if you are so inclined (for the mess it makes!), would be for everyone to get their fingers in paint and get creative. Children and adults alike will enjoy this. Set up a table with plenty of paper or canvases, finger paints, paper towels and paper plates to use as palettes.  Make sure you cover the table with newspaper or a plastic table cover. Let your guests make paintings of all things related to spring. You can find a ton of ideas here https://rhythmsofplay.com/the-best-fingerprint-and-thumbprint-art-ideas-for-kids/  Finally send home all your party goers with a small flower, vegetable or herb plant that they can plant themselves. Make sure you print out some simple instructions in case the little pot goes home with a novice farmer.

Happy Spring!

 

Plan a Game Night Party

There really isn’t anything more fun than introducing your kids to classic games that you loved when you were a child or getting together your adult friends to indulge in your guilty pleasure!  I don’t know about you but a classic game of Monopoly, Scrabble. Twister, Parcheesi, Candyland or Sorry are more fun and engaging than everyone sitting on the couch focused on their phones, not communicating and self-absorbed.  Who knows, planning a game night with friends and/or family might start a trend of talking and laughing with each other regularly! Here are some ideas to get you started on this new adventure!

Greet your guests with a fun “Move ahead 12 Spaces” sign, laying down directional squares (like a game board) made from colored napkins or construction paper, and brightly colored balloons. As your friends enter the party area, make sure your food table hits them in the face with the fun theme. Make a backdrop from air filled round foil balloons in different colors. Tape them together to resemble a twister game mat. Attach to your wall with Command strips. If you don’t have the budget for balloons use colored paper plates.  Pile up games as risers for glass containers or bowls filled with brightly colored candy. Wrap water bottles with candy dots; add a homemade Monopoly inspired “Water Works” sign. If you are serving sparkling drinks serve them in candy rimmed glasses. To do this dip the rim of each wineglass in melted white chocolate and then press into a saucer filled with confetti sprinkles. Use scrabble tile food signs next to your food’s trays. Serve simple foods that can be taken to game tables and eaten casually during the evening or day (based on the timeline of your event).  Popcorn is an awesome choice, make Domino inspired popcorn bags using white bags and colored card stock. You can find instructions here https://www.hwtm.com/2015/12/game-on-5-easy-creative-ideas-for-game-night/ Make crispy treats, cookies or a cake and decorate with M & M’s. The bright colors and circle design mimic so many board games. Some other heartier food items that tend to be mess free are Miniature Corn Dogs, Miniature Pizza’s, Hero Sandwiches, Taco Dip and Chips, Cheese and Crackers, Pigs in a Blanket or Chicken Fingers.

Making decorations for your game theme party may need a trip to a thrift store. You can make garlands from Uno Cards or Monopoly money. So, not to steal from the game you are using to play with, take a trip to a second hand store and buy up any games you can find to tear apart and use for decorations! Tape game cards on helium balloon ribbons, hang from the ceiling and use as place cards or invitations! Use Poker Chips or gold Coins to scatter on tables like confetti. Fill flower vases with poker chips and place flower stems inside. Wrap paper cups and cutlery packages with playing cards. You can hang game boards from the wall behind game tables or beverage stations.

Create several game stations. Set up games in various corners of the room. Using 3ft or 4ft card tables and chairs (4 at each table) is a perfect setup. If you don’t own these, consider renting them. Divide guests into groups of 4 and let them start a game circle. Set a timer for a specific time (15-30 minutes) and let the fun begin. When the timer rings, guests move to the next station noting who was the winner at each station. After everyone has played all the tables the best 4 people will have a playoff. The champ gets a prize, like a special edition of Monopoly.

Everyone walks away a winner when you reveal the biggest surprise of the party: secret prizes hidden behind the balloons (or paper plates) at the buffet! As you setup your twister backdrop, tape scratch off lottery tickets on the back of each balloon or plate. Then at the end of the party ask each guest to pick one for their prize!

I hope you try this fun party and find you have created new bonds with friends and family! My family always plays board games on holidays but after writing this blog post I think we need to get together more often! God bless!

Communal Dinner Party

Communal Dinner Party

Communes were plentiful in the 1960’s & 1970’s. Communities of people sharing everything and living off the land were pipe dreams of peace, brotherly love, harmony, blah, blah, blah. Today there are a few left but the disillusionment of communal living started when the “Laid back attitude” translated to “they have absolutely no ambition”! However, the idea of sharing a meal with friends and/or family is still an attractive and heartwarming experience. So, this dinner party is taking the best of the communes of old and spinning them into a fun and relaxed night with people you love!

It’s a peaceful, easy feeling at your table. We can even imagine someone’s legs thrown over the corner of the table. The menu here is very simple. Just like it was in communes. Soups, Salad and lots of home baked bread. If you don’t have all day to simmer a variety of soups, pick them up at a deli or look for some hearty frozen soups. Soups like Navy Bean & Ham Soup, Potato or Broccoli Cheddar, Cream of Chicken, Barley Vegetable and Clam Chowder are perfect. Toss a salad with plenty of greens and place out a homemade vinaigrette dressing. Have baskets of fresh bread, breadsticks and croutons to accompany the yummy delights. For dessert bake up some Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip Cookies. For communal type libations have pitchers of Sangria, Ice Water with Lemons and an assortment of teas. Serve in big mugs or mason jars.

The Décor will be down to earth too! Bring in greens and flowers from the garden or purchase at your local grocers’ floral shop. Set out votive candles with an assortment of different sized candles along the tables. Hang string lights around the party area. As hostess, put on a peasant dress if you have one or look for a similar type of loose-fitting garment from the thrift shop.

For background music you have to choose a mellow blend of tunes. Look up some New Age artist like Kitaro, Enya, Yanni, Secret Garden, David Lanz, Jim Brickman, Shadowfax or Suzanne Ciani; which are among my favorites. If you prefer to tap into the 60’s vibe choose anything by Peter, Paul & Mary, Donovan, The Association or Crosby, Stills & Nash. If one of your friends plays and instrument invite them to serenade the group.

This party is mainly to have friends share a meal. But if you want to add an activity or two that will incorporate a bit of “how well do you know each other?” here is a couple of suggestions.

  • At each place setting, include a pen and pad of paper. Have each guest write two statements about him or herself that are true and one that is false. The statements should be things the other guests would likely not know. An example would be 1) I once hitchhiked across Europe; 2) I had my picture taken with President Reagan; 3) I played the Tuba in the high-school marching band. Other guests then determine which is the false statement. Play for points or for fun, and play at least two or three rounds.
  • Purchase an inexpensive white tablecloth and colored permanent markers, one or two for each guest. During dinner, invite guests to doodle, draw caricatures of themselves or of one another, or sum up their life philosophies in one sentence each.

Enjoy the night breaking bread together and be at “Peace”!

Anniversary Party – Celebrate Love!

It’s truly a cause for celebration when a couple shares a milestone anniversary. The couple gets a chance to renew their love-perhaps even their vows-and your guests get to share the joys of that enduring love.

There are generally two types of anniversary parties. You can host an anniversary party for you and your partner, and perhaps ask your friends to bring “memories” and special mementos rather than gifts. Or you can host an anniversary party for a couple celebrating a number of years or decades together. Here are a few ideas for a memorable affair.

  • Try re-creating the original wedding (or is the couple eloped, creating the wedding they never had), complete with an authentic wedding cake, photographer, and even a minister or justice of the peace. This could be a fun surprise.
  • Bring back the “good old days” when your guests of honor were young and newly in love, by providing music, decoration, and food from their courtship years. The Big Band sound, bebop, or even the music of the Beatles can suggest a theme for the party and create an atmosphere that represents the time the couple was married.
  • Host a community party where everyone chips in and rents a cabin or block of hotel rooms in a nearby resort town. It’s fun, easy, and different. The money contributed for the party can also be used for cleanup, which makes for an easy finale. And everyone gets a romantic weekend away!

Any anniversary year may be celebrated, but the big ones – 1st, 5th, 10th, 20th, 25th, 40th, and 50th – are the most popular milestones. Commercially you can find decorations, plates and gifts for the 25th (Silver), 40th (Ruby), and 50th (Gold). However, you do not have to decorate in those specific colors. You may consider using your wedding colors for the décor instead. You can find a complete list of traditional and Modern Anniversary Gifts/theme here https://www.eternityrose.com/anniversary-gifts-by-year

Decorating your party, whether it be a theme event or traditional, can be as simple or elaborate as your budget permits but one of the main things is the memories. Make sure you set up a memory table with photos of the couple through the years. You can make up a timeline highlighting major events in the couple’s life along with photos.  Ask guest to participate by bringing a photo of the couple and writing a recollection they have to add to the board. Have an enlarged photo of the couple at their wedding and maybe another current portrait. Place them on easels banking the memory table. If you have old movies you can have them running, muted, during the party.

If your party will be at home display lots of helium and standard balloons in your front yard-on trees, gutters, doorknobs, the lamppost, the mailbox-everywhere. Dangle several lengths of white curling ribbon from the end of each balloon. You’ll have a stunning display to welcome your guests! Fill one wall of your party room with balloons. To do this, tape lengths of string about a foot apart, from ceiling to floor, along one wall. Tie balloons to the string, alternating colors. Or you can use linking balloons. Air fill them and tie them together, then hang each length from the ceiling, tie the bottom balloon to a weight. If you are going to have the event at a venue consider setting up a head table for the couple and some other special people in their lives. Have an organic garland swag the front of the tables for a dramatic effect. Create an exciting entrance with pearl arches, add large anniversary numbers to it. Use balloons for centerpieces and columns with the anniversary numbers as toppers too!

If you have a desire to play games during the party you can play the classic Newlywed Game with the couple or put together trivia questions to guess about the couple. Personally I think just talking and getting together with loved ones and listening to all the stories is plenty of entertainment for me, but it’s up to you, most of all make more memories!

Jungle/Safari Parties for Young & Old!

Jungle-Safari Party

A jungle themed party is fun for a wide range of age groups. Safari/Jungle themes can be used for Juvenile Birthdays, Older Children, Adult Parties, Baby Showers and even a Wedding Shower theme (Tropical Destination Weddings). You can find a wide range of decorations for any of these age groups. Crossover to a tropical theme can make this party idea more grown up.

Decorating your house, garden, or rented space for a jungle party is great fun. You can always buy jungle party decorations but a little imagination and some clever use of materials, balloons and decorations will really set the jungle scene. The good news is that jungle colors can be any colors really, as long as you include lots of green. An archway of green, red, orange, yellow, blue and brown balloons would be a great way for guests to enter the ‘jungle’, and how about attaching some strips of soft green and brown material that will hang down like vines, making them feel like they really are headed into the undergrowth. I love the Balloon Columns & Centerpieces (pictured) placed around the party area and on tables.

You could present each guest with a map and a passport so that they feel like real explorers. Or alternatively, you could give them animal masks, which you can pick up pretty cheaply from most party shops, so you can get them all monkeying around in the jungle.

Cover your chairs and walls in green material, and hang green streamers from the ceiling like crawling vines to make your party space look really wild and untamed. And if you don’t mind a bit of extra mess, you could even scatter some leaves about that you’ve collected from your garden. Stick some google eyes to the green cloth to make it seem as if there are lots of animals peeping out through the trees. There are lots of jungle backdrops available today so you can use those along with green plastic tablecovers, leaves and house plants to create your jungle. Using stuffed animals or cardboard cutouts of safari animals go a long way to make people feel like they are in the wild.

You can convert most common party games into a Jungle theme. Things like Charades, Pin the Tail, Backyard Tag and Scavenger Hunts take on a Safari theme easily. Crafts can range from decorating your own Safari/Pith hat to Making your own Animal Masks. Face painting is always a favorite for kids, you can paint on the animals faces. For older party goers consider pasting an animal name on each guest back as they enter. The game is for them to guess what animal they are by asking only “yes” or “no” questions to others to gain clues.

Food for a juvenile party may consist of Animal Crackers, Unshelled Peanuts, Gummy Worms, Bugs on a Log (Celery with peanut butter and raisins) or Animal-striped Pizzas (you can be very creative with this one by making your own pizzas using alternates of white, yellow and orange cheese strips to look like animal print. You can also add toppings in alternates, like a row of olives in a diagonal, then a row of cheese, another row of olives, etc. for tasty animal stripes). Feeding older crowds can include a specific cuisine. You can decide what jungle you may be re-creating and choose the cuisine to match. The ten most amazing jungles are in Borneo (Indonesian), the Brazilian Amazon, India the Jungles of Kipling, Sri Lanka (Indian Ocean), West Africa, New Guinea, Australian Christmas Island, New Zealand, Peru and Costa Rica. As you can see you have a wide range of foods you can choose from.

Whatever direction you decide to go just make sure your get your “ROAR” on and enjoy!

Divide & Conquer – Best Potluck EVER!

 

May I speak freely? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had much luck at a potluck.

I don’t want to offend, but why do potluck members have such a fervent desire to make Jell-O? Don’t pretend you haven’t seen this. For the spring potluck, someone always shows up with a Jell-O bunny mold surrounded by-oh the wonder of it all! -green coconut. Within an hour, the black jellybean eyes have bled into the Jell-O, and the bunny looks as if it came straight out of Children of the Corn. Standing nearby without fail is its creator, needling people into “just a little taste of the ear”.

When reduced to the simplest form, the Divide and Conquer party is a potluck with one important exception: You will take on the title of Supreme Potluck Commander in order to make it an elegant affair. And if anybody asks, “should I bring Jell-O?” the answer is no.

As Supreme Potluck Commander, you’ll contribute the main dish. Ask each guest to provide one or more items to complete your menu. The key is to create something stylish without demanding too much on short notice. Assign categories of food to participants. Try a simple sign-up sheet that you can email around to everyone. When making your list specify what foods should be brought. Use the guide below to put this upscale meal together.

ENTRÉE: Chicken Breasts, pork chops or pork tenderloin – using a marinade and grill or broil.

SALAD: Fresh Greens, Veggies, Fruit tossed – with dressings on the side.

VEGGIES: Steamed are best (avoid casseroles) broccoli, corn, green beans or mixed. Sprinkle with lemon juice and/or Mrs. Dash type seasoning.

RICE AND/OR PASTA: Using stock to cook rice or pasta makes it more flavorful, sprinkle with herbs.

BREAD: Rolls or French loaves should be warmed for the best flavor. This donation should include butter or flavored olive oil to dip bread. Flavored oil can be placed on the tables in small glass bowls.

DESSERT: Brownies dusted with confectioners’ sugar, seasonal pies or cake.

BEVERAGES: If your organization allows wine and beer, coffee, iced tea, water and here in Texas you must have Dr Pepper.

A special note to label your food. Don’t make guests guess at what they’re eating. Provide a recipe name and any warnings necessary (i.e., contains nuts, shellfish, dairy, gluten, etc.). Your extra effort will be appreciated, especially by those with food allergies or intolerances.

Ask for help with utensils, cutlery and dishes. Because you want this potluck to be a swankier event use real dishes and cutlery. You can mix and match designs, in fact mismatched table settings is a fashionable trend.  Make sure you have pitchers for water on the tables, plenty of serving pieces and wine and/or drink glasses. If your organization does not have a coffeemaker you can easily rent one. If you don’t have cloth napkins purchase the better “almost like linen” napkins. Use some twine or pretty ribbon for a napkin ring. And definitely use linens on the tables and candles. You can use votives in mugs and on saucers or if you have enough taper holders place them on the tables too.

Prep a playlist for background music for your party. The last thing you want to be doing when your guests arrive is fiddling around with the playlist and trying to get it right. Plan ahead of time by making a suitable playlist in advance. Set the mood for your celebration because there are no awkward silences allowed at your potluck!

Be prepared for leftovers. Have plenty of plastic containers on hand. Keep food safety in mind by throwing away any leftovers that have been sitting out for more than two hours.

Follow this guide and you will never have a potluck fail again!

Roaring 20’s Theme – 2020 New Years

20's Roaring 2020 Party

People have always enjoyed the glitz and glamour of 1920s or The Great Gatsby themed New Year’s Eve parties, but this year, as we ring in 2020, this theme is very “BIG”! At your party, turn back the clock 100 years to a time filled with dimly lit speakeasies, homemade gin cocktails, jazz, art deco and iconic fashion trends. Ask your guests to arrive in their best flapper dresses and tuxes and you’ll be well on your way to a party fit for Gatsby himself.

Keeping in the fun Speakeasy feel have “security” at the front door asking for a password, which you can include in the invitations.  The color scheme you will use is Gold, Black, Silver and White. You can find New Years Party Kits that will include Top Hats, Tiaras and Noisemakers in these colors.

Activities If your budget won’t afford renting Casino tables, set up a few Poker Tables and you can find Felt Game Sets that include Blackjack and Craps. Beistle’s set includes the craps rake, cards, dice and instructions, you just need a table to place it on! Hire a Jazz band or put together a play list, you can see and hear the top 20 hits of 1920-1929 here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07f0TPfNLnk to give you some inspiration. Play classic movies during the party (with or without sound) these are a some of the classics of the 20’s, The Kid – Charlie Chaplin, The Jazz Singer – Al Jolson, Safety Last – Buster Keaton, The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Charles Laughton, Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – John Barrymore or Steamboat Willie – Mickey Mouse.

Décor for this theme will also be in Gold, Black, Silver and White. Hang strings of clear lights and have plenty of candles around the party area. Use Gold and Silver shimmer curtains as a backdrop for buffet tables, the bar area and a photo area. Include beads and feathers (signature items for the 20’s) in your centerpieces. A cool idea is to glue glitter on to wine bottles and then add beads and feathers. Balloons can be used too! The balloons pictured above are called “Bubble Strands” and they have the theme colors plus clear balloons filled with gold confetti in the arrangements. These are perfect for a Gatsby touch, and what would New Year’s Eve be without large 2020 numbers? Use them in your photo area or stage. Use both colors, mix or match.

Food – At this time in American history, Wonder Bread was fresh on the scene and foods such as Chinese and Italian were considered ‘exotic.’ Glam up your party with crab stuffed mushrooms, deviled eggs, tea sandwiches with different meats and vegetables, and glazed hams. To achieve an elegant feel, you can hire servers to pass plates or create a presentation incorporating gold and silver sprays, confetti, balloons and feathers. Elaborate cheese, olive, and nut displays are right on theme, involve no actual cooking, and can be set out and replenished throughout the night. For sweets, pineapple upside down cake, lemon cakes, and Jell-O were all popular.

Cocktails – Combining a holiday and a decade that revolved around spirits makes this part of planning exceptionally fun. Champagne, or your favorite sparkling wine, is a must. Unlike the champagne flutes we use today, the coupe glasses were most commonly used in the 20s. You can find this style at most party stores. As for cocktails, gin was in. This was during Prohibition when bathtub gin was the common spirit. You can find the recipes for the classic mixed drinks of the day here https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57719/origins-10-popular-prohibition-cocktails

Here is to a wonderful New Year, thank you for reading my Blog, I promise to try and continue posting great ways to celebrate life! Happy 2020!