Sunday, September 20, 2015

Monday is "Booked"

Since it is Back-to-School season, and I am an English teacher, I decided to have our monthly dinner themed around classic literature. I absolutely love all the details of this party (yes...I am tooting my own horn just a bit), and I definitely recommend this theme for those of you in a book club or other reading-based gathering.

Invite: I know our libraries don't use card catalogs anymore, but they make for such a cute invite! I found an image of a card on Google, and then just added text on Photoshop.  I used two different fonts: AA Typewriter for the bolder font and Traveling Typewriter for the thinner one.  Both are free downloads online. To make the envelope, I cut a large manila envelope the width of my card plus two flaps to fold back. I glued a black ribbon along the front and cut a page from a book before adding my "You're Invited" text.

By the way...only one book was harmed in the making of all these party details! It was a book I purchased at the dollar store, so I apologize to the author for not actually reading the book before cutting it up into pieces.  On the bright side, the pages received many a compliment at the party!

Entry Decor: The first thing I did for this party was look up the top 100 classic novels of all time.  I went through the list writing down titles that I thought I could work into my menu or other decor items. I thought Great Expectations was perfect for my entry as I hope my guests walk in with a positive attitude and expect to enjoy the evening.  I found an image of the book cover online and imitated it as best I could.  The drawing isn't great, but it worked since the original book cover was sketch-like. I added a few other classic books to the entry table as well.

Decor:  I made a table runner out of pages from the book I bought at the dollar store. This was really simple to make and only took about 10 minutes. After ripping out the pages, I used my paper cutter to trim the rough edge.  I glued the pages together with a glue stick and was done.

As centerpieces, I printed classic book covers and taped them around dollar store vases I already had. I filled them with some simple flowers.  I didn't want colorful flowers because I wanted the focus to be on the book covers.  I used classic novels I already had on my home bookshelf to elevate each vase.

In the very center of the table, I made a book topiary out of pages of the same dollar store book. I love how this turned out and took it to my classroom after the dinner, but just to warn took me 2 hours to make!  I bought the candle holder at the dollar store along with a fake orange. I went to the store looking for a foam ball, but couldn't find one.  The closest round object I could find was a fake orange, but it did the job. I cut rectangles (four to a page) out of each page in the book and used decorative scissors to trim the edges.  Then folded the paper and used a straight pin to secure each square into the orange.  The entire thing I hot glued to the candle holder.  Here's a close up of the topiary...

Since it took me 2 hours to make, I thought it deserved two photos on this post!!

For place cards, I stuck with the card catalog theme. I made the envelopes and added the ribbon and the first initial of the guest.

I found images of classic book covers online to use as napkin rings.

I used these same images to make wine charms.

I created wine labels with another classic book War and Peace.  For the red wine, I used a dark red cover of the novel, and for the white wine, I used a light blue cover.

Besides wine, I also served margaritas.  I didn't serve any Mexican food that evening, but I thought of "tequila" to replace "to kill a" in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and I couldn't resist.  It's such a great novel, that I had to find some way to fit it into my evening.

For each menu item I served, I made these card catalog inspired signs as labels. The initial image I found online and then just added text in the same fonts as I used on the invite.
I placed the classic novel that matched the dish next to each food label.  The novels I didn't already own or find at school, I checked out from the local library.

Chapter One - Appetizers:  One of the appetizers I served, was shrimp cocktail to go with the novel The Old Man and the Sea.

A second appetizer was individual servings of vegetables and dip. This went to with novel Moby Dick. (Moby DIP).

Chapter 2 - Salad:  When we sat down at the table, I served a green salad first.  The salad had tomatoes, cucumbers, and cheese cut into flowers.  This represented the novel The Secret Garden.

Chapter 3 - The Main Course: For the main course, I served Monte Cristo sandwiches.  I had never made these before, but I've had them once at Disneyland.  When I saw The Count of Monte Cristo on the top 100 novel list, I really wanted to try them out.  The only problem is that I did not want to spend a ton of party time at the stove top. I wanted to spend time with my guests. After finding a recipe on Pinterest that bakes them like a casserole in the oven, I knew I just had to try it.  They were delicious!  The only additions I made to this recipe was adding Dijon mustard to the bread, and I served it with both ham and turkey slices.  I served the sandwiches with a side of strawberry jelly so guests could control how much they wanted.

I served french fries to go alongside the Monte Cristo sandwiches. This became my Lord of the Flies (Fries) inspired dish.

I also served fruit kabobs.  I used two types of grapes, so that they would represent the novel The Grapes of Wrath.

Chapter 4 - Dessert:  Looking back on this meal, I served some very rich foods.  The Monte Cristo sandwiches themselves are very filling and dessert-like, so I really didn't need a dessert, but I made one anyway not paying attention to that.  I decided to make a dessert out of Three Musketeer bars.  My kiddos loved this dessert, but it is VERY rich and has lots of chocolate! I found the recipe here.

I asked each of the girls to bring a wrapped, used book for a book exchange.  We had some great books exchanged, and I am excited to read the one I received. I included this photo to show the wrapping job one of my friends did.  She used wrapping paper to fold into a bow -- genius!  It looked so good, I had to include a photo.

Favor: My parting gift was inspired by the novel, The Great Gatsby. I gave each guest chocolate coins I bought at the dollar store with a tag that read "Spending time with you is better than all the riches of West End."  If you've read the novel, you understand.  I designed the label on Photoshop.

I had a great time with this theme, and I think it would be great for a book club gathering, school party, or even a baby shower theme if the mother-to-be loves books.  There is just so much to do with all the amazing book titles out there.

Thanks for reading!