Monday, September 26, 2011

Rags to Riches

Since I have been hosting themed monthly dinners for my friends for exactly 5 years now, my next 5 posts will detail the Top 5 Favorite Monthly Dinners based on 5 different categories.  I gave the girls these 5 categories to vote in for our October dinner which will be a collection of all of them.  Winner in the attire category was the Rags to Riches party.  Guests chose which they wanted to represent and came dressed in that attire.

The premise of this party was to trade your unwanted items (rags) for items you wanted (riches).  Each guest was instructed to bring 10 items they did not want any longer.  The girls brought everything from clothing & purses to household items and games.  Guests drew numbers and we went "shopping".  This was so much fun & I definitely got some great riches from others' rags.

Decor: The decorations were super fun for this one.  Since the guests were split half rags and half riches, that is how I divided my table.  On the riches side I had a black linen tablecloth and crystal candlesticks.  I used my fine china, glass stemware, sterling silverware, and folded cloth napkins in a standing fan.  For the placecards, I made elegant cards like you'd have at a wedding and referred to the guests formally "Ms. Susan Johnson". 

On the rags side, I used newspaper as my tablecloth and set up ugly mugs with tea lights inside as their mood lighting.  No fine china for these ladies...this side of the table ate off paper plates, plastic utensils, styrofoam cups, and paper napkins.  Their placecards were torn pieces of scratch paper with only their first names hastily written in pencil.

 The centerpiece for the table was a pile of rags with money sticking out of it to tie in the two sides.

Food: At first I had a hard time thinking of a menu that would be eaten by a wealthy person as well as someone living in rags.  So instead, I played up the idea of money.  I cut a large dollar bill stencil using my Cricut machine. I placed the stencil on a large tortilla and used green food coloring to stencil a dollar bill onto the tortilla. These I made into chicken and steak burritos and served them with Spanish rice and corn with diced red peppers.
 For dessert I continued the money theme.  I served both sides mint chip pie with an oreo cookie crust.  The "rich" were served on fine china with 100 Grand bars.  The "rags" were served on a paper plates with penny coins.

This theme was so much fun and the girls keep asking to do it every year so they can get rid of unwanted items and gain some great riches.  It would be a neat party to do for a church or community fundraiser as well. It's an added spin to the generic garage sale!  Definitely try this one!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blogging Here I Come!

So I've only done a few write-ups so far, and I am still figuring this blogging thing out, but I am so excited to share this site with everyone. I hope you'll become a follower and comment from time to time.  Also...if any of you out there want to help to design a cool heading and logo I am definitely looking for one!  This plain text box with writing is about the extent of my abilities when it comes to graphic design!

A Ba-BEE Shower

Back in 2008, I hosted a baby shower for my close friend who was having her second little girl. I decided to go with a bumble bee theme and pull in pink as well.  The invitations were simple with bumble bees and pink and yellow paper.  The English teacher in me wanted the wording to rhyme, so this is what I came up with: 
What’s all the buzz about?
Wendy’s ba-bee girl is soon to pop out!

We’ll celebrate at my little bee hive
To (hostess’ address here) you’ll drive.

Saturday, May 17th, 2008
At 1:00 pm so don’t be late.

Lunch will be served, so come for the fun
Just RSVP to Carole at (phone number here)

No solo gifts as per mom-to-bee’s request
She’d like a dual stroller from all of us the best.
(Please let me know if you’d like to contribute)

As each guest arrived, I had a guestbook for them to write well wishes in.  I made this out of the same cardstock paper and colors that I had made the invitations.  I did simple daisies as the centerpiece and added sliced lemons to the water to give color and hide the stems.  I also found small wooden bumble bees at Michaels that I added to the flowers.  

I also had two favors that I placed at each guest's setting.  One was a collection of some of my favorite songs.  Although the outer appearance of the CD was bee-themed, the songs were definitely not!  The second favor was a jar of honey with a cute tag replacing the label.  They had honey bears at the 99 cent store, but I thought they were ugly, so I did pay more and got them at the grocery store.

The delight came with dessert. My ultra-talented mother helped me craft an amazing beehive cake. We made 4 round cakes in various sizes and stacked them up on top of each other frosting them with bright yellow frosting (it would probably be smoother with fondant, but I hate the way it tastes).  To make the bees, I just used black frosting to pipe on the stripes, tail, nose and eyes.  Lastly,I cut out the wings from wax paper.  I also added white daisies to the cake to tie it with with my centerpiece flowers.
Absolutely nothing about this party theme was difficult except maybe the cake.  And..the hardest part of the cake was transporting it from my mother's house to mine!!  The other details were super easy, but added a lot to the party.  If you are planning to host a ba-bee shower in the future, this is definitely a great theme.

Friday, September 23, 2011

High School Stereotypes Party

We all remember those high school days with the various clicks on campus and the clothes we wore that we thought were "hip" at the time.  Well, I wanted to bring some fun and craziness of high school back with a High School stereotypes party. I do most of my invites on Evite for monthly dinners, but a fun invite for this one would be to photocopy the guest's photo from their high school yearbook and then list the party details on the back.  I had each guest RSVP with the stereotype they were planning to dress as so I could make sure nothing was repeated (and get my placecards ready). We had everything from a pregnant Catholic school girl to a out ese!

Decor: The decor was simple for this one. I grabbed anything high school related for my centerpiece - a flute, a basketball, graduation cap, whatever you can find laying around your house. I served the food cafeteria-style on a side table and each guest's plate was a styrofoam cafeteria tray (purchased in a pack of 10 at Dollar Tree). I also put graffiti in my bathroom to make it seem like a real H.S. bathroom with cheesy things like Joe + Suzy = Love 4ever and silly things like that.

Remember...they are suppose to look cheesy!
  As a favor, I made goodie bags with mini packs of Nerds candy inside.  The label read "Thanks for bringing your inner NERD to our high school stereotype party."  For the place card, I made fake ID cards from whatever high school the guest actually went to.  I invented an ID number that had something to do with the character they were dressed as -- 2468CHEER, 666GOTH, etc.  The photos I found by Googling the stereotype. I then cut out the face of the appropriate guest and glued it over the face in the original photo.  If you are good with Photoshop you can do this without the glue, but I am not that talented! I scanned this example in...

Food:  When you think cafeteria, you often think tater tots and burgers, but I like these monthly dinners to have more interesting food.  So all I did was think of recipes I could rename into stereotypes.  Here is what I came up with:
  • Jamaican "Jock" Chicken -- easy & super tasty (just bought Lawry's Carribbean Jerk marinade)
  • Mashed "Pothead" Potatoes with a Chicken "Goth" Gravy
  • Band "G(r)eek" Salad
  • "Stoner" bread joints -- Pillbury bread cut into small sticks rather than into biscuits
  • "Cheer"-io Ice Cream Crunch -- found this Ice Cream Crunch recipe on the Cheerios website.
Activity:  We played Pictionary with phrases that had to do with high school. I made them up...from Homecoming Queen Sash to Yearbook Editor and Chief.  

Some other ideas I didn't do for this one, but you totally could if you had more guests -- Have each guest take a photo with a "yearbook photographer" then put them all together as part of a thank you gift for attending.  This was a fun party and a great one to do in September or anytime during the school year.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bad Luck Bash

Our monthly dinner was going to fall on the 13th for that I thought I would play off that idea with a Bad Luck Bash.  Everyone loves these crazy superstitions right? The set-up and invites are easy...think of every omen of bad luck you can and decorate with it!  For an invitation, you could purchase inexpensive umbrellas and write the party details on the inside. That way guests have to open the umbrella (and they will probably be inside) to read the message -- bad luck. Or...send each guest a salt shaker with the party details on a paper rolled inside.  Guests are bound to spill the salt as they retrieve the paper -- bad luck!

 Outside the front door, I drew cracks on the sidewalk with chalk and a sign that warned guests about stepping on cracks.  I also set up a ladder at my door, so guests were forced to walk under it to enter. A stuffed animal black cat greeted guests as they entered & they had to cross it's path.  Open umbrellas were spread throughout my party area.  On the table I had mirrors I bought at the Dollar Tree with hammers, salt shakers already tipped over, and upside down pennies. I also placed a number 13 (made using my Cricut) on each guest's napkin.  As placecards, I used the Cricut again to create 8 balls with each guest's name.

My menu was not all that special at this one, but I did use a cookie cutter to make black cats out of brownies and served these with ice cream.  We also played a short game where guests had to balance a salt shaker on their head in a relay.  It made for some fun laughs.

I didn't want the guests to leave the party with bad luck, so their parting gift was a mini box of Lucky Charms with a lottery ticket attached.  Unfortunately, I didn't hear of any mega money winners...or at least they aren't sharing with me!!

Vacation Fun for Everyone!

 Since I am starting this blog in September, I decided to begin by reviewing one of the dinners I hosted in September over the past 5 years.  Since summer is the major vacation time, I decided to focus my dinner around traveling.  Hence...Vacation Fun for Everyone.  To plan for the details of this dinner, I needed to know each guest's favorite vacation spot. Although I didn't do this because of time, my plan was to call each guest and pretend to be a travel agent (of course they would know it was me with caller ID).  I would ask their favorite travel destination and then tell them they were entered into a drawing to win a free would be announced on date/time/place of your party. I even dressed up as a flight attendant to greet guests at the party!

For the table, my brother helped me design an airline logo and attached it to everything. Place cards were airline tickets with each guest's favorite vacation spot as the destination. I found these printable tickets at which had an airline ticket image generator. I then just added my logo and folded cardstock to make a jacket.  I couldn't find peanut packages anywhere, so I made them myself by just folding aluminum foil and putting my airline logo on the front. The placemats were maps I found and then I laminated.  My centerpiece was paper airplanes that I affixed the logo to, passports, and a mini globe I found at Target.

The menu was taken from the guest's favorite vacation spots. I found one dish from each of their favorite spots and this was my menu:
Baked yummy!
  • Coors Light - to represent Colorado
  • Orange Juice - to represent Florida
  • Peruvian Ceviche - to represent Peru
  • Greek Salad - to represent the Mediterranean
  • Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding - to represent London
  • Fruit Salad - to represent Costa Rica
  • Baked Alaska - to of course represent Alaska

This was a really fun dinner.  I had asked each guest to bring a photo from their vacation, so this brought some funny stories to the party as guest's talked about their photos.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Welcome to Invite and Delight!!

This blog has been a long time in coming. I've been asked by my friends, family, and others to write a book or somehow publish my ideas, themes, and recipes for various parties I've thrown.  Well...blogging here I come!! I'll share my fun party themes with all the details that go with it. I've been putting together monthly dinner parties for my girlfriends for 5 years now, so bear with me as I try to play catch up with this blog!

Please keep in mind a few things as you read/follow this blog:
1.  I know very little about this whole blog thing, so bear with me as I attempt to figure it out.
2.  I am one of the most thrifty people out there, so if my parties look a little cheesy...they are!  Almost everything is handmade from placecards to signs.
3.  My photos are not taken by a professional, and my recipes are usually not authentic.

Those are my disclaimers... I hope you enjoy this site & get some use out of the ideas!