Sunday, October 16, 2016

NEON Party

With today's post, I am celebrating 10 years of Monthly Dinners!  It was 10 years ago, that I hosted my first Monthly Dinner in hopes of seeing and spending time with my closest friends in what I hoped would be an easy night out for them without any cooking, cleaning, or spending money on their part.  Now, here it is 10 years and 120 dinner themes later, and we are still going strong! I can hardly believe it!

To celebrate 10 years, I themed my party around the 10th Element on the Periodic Table..NEON!  There are several ideas on the internet for black-light neon parties that look amazing, but I wanted to focus my party mainly on the scientific element and the bright colors instead.  It was a dinner party, so didn't want to have the lights off while we ate or anything.  Here's what I came up with...

Invite:  I designed the invite on Photoshop with various images I found online. I kept it simple with bright colors.

Decor: I originally made this giant neon green sign for my entry door, but decided I liked it better on my favor/beverage table inside.  I made it with foam board, poster board, and card stock and tried to make it look like an element on the periodic table. Of course I changed the element number and name to fit my dinner.  I borrowed several glass laboratory flasks from a Chemistry teacher at my school (thanks Sam!) to use around the room as decor.  Some I placed flowers inside and others just water colored with Wilton's Neon food coloring. I also made a banner to string across the wall alternating the neon element symbol with plain neon card stock.

Table Decor: I used a neon pink plastic tablecloth and found neon green contact paper at the dollar store that I was able to use as a table runner. I printed out large Neon element signs I made on PhotoShop to place along it.  The neon vases I found at the dollar store and filled them with bright flowers.  I used laboratory flasks with neon liquid along the runner as well.

As I place card, I made coasters out of black tiles I found at Michaels.  I designed an element with each of my guest's name on PhotoShop, and then cut it on my Cricut cutting machine. The neon paper I found at Michaels as well.  I adhered each "element" to the coaster with Mod Podge.

I found these neon Slinkies 6 for a dollar at the dollar store, so I had to figure out some way to use them.  I decided to use them as napkin rings!  The neon orange plastic silverware I also found at the dollar store.

Another look at how the napkin and place card looked together. I added a neon glowstick necklace on the plate as well.

I also used the neon glowsticks (bracelets this time) for my wine charms.  Just wrapped them around the glasses.

I designed wine labels to go with my theme.  I used the Ne element sign as well as light up sign images I found.  Then put it all together with PhotoShop.

What the entire labels looked like.

Menu:  The idea of dying all my food neon colors was not very appealing to me, so I tried to think of foods that had "Ne" in the name, so I could use the element sign.  I also wanted foods that might have some sort of bright color.

I started with a PiNEapple Teriyaki Chicken that I grilled on the bbq.  The bright yellow pineapple rings gave it the bright color I wanted along with the green onions.  I found this recipe on The Recipe Critic, and it was delicious.

Next, I made PolyNEsian rice and served it in a steamed orange pepper.  This recipe I found on Baked in Arizona, and it cooks the rice in the oven! I hadn't ever heard of that before, but I wanted to try it.  Once you have all the vegetables diced and prepped, it really was quite easy.  Very tasty too. My original plan was just to place the rice in the hollowed out peppers, but I decided last minute to steam them so they wouldn't cool the rice as fast...great idea, Carole!  They were delicious as well.

I also served grilled veggie skewers. I tried to use bright veggies - red and green peppers, red onion, yellow squash, and green zucchini.  I mixed brown sugar, basil, salt, garlic powder and pepper in a bowl and, after tossing the veggies in olive oil, I added this mixture to coat them.  Then I put the veggies on skewers and grilled them. The sweet flavor was nice and went well with the rest of the meal.
For dessert, I served rainbow sherbet in lime green and blue mini margarita glasses that I bought a long time ago from Party City. I also baked sugar cookies and used neon food coloring to dye them bright purple and pink.  Easy and good.

Activity: Just for fun, I had guests take a little 10th Anniversary Quiz to see how many of the monthly dinners they remembered.  There were several correct answers to each question which was great because it really had us reminiscing about the fun we had at past dinners as we each chose different answers on some of the questions.

Favor:  As a parting gift, I painted wooden boxes purchased from Michaels various neon shades.  I used a permanent marker to create the Neon element box on the front. Inside the box, I had a highlighter and a neon sticky note pad on which I wrote the number 10.  My gift tag read, "Thanks for STICKING with me for 10 years of Monthly Dinners.  They've been a HIGHLIGHT of each each!"

I can't believe it's been 10 years of these dinners, but I am so grateful to have these couple hours once a month to spend with my girlfriends.  We've celebrated marriages, new jobs, babies (and more babies), birthdays, and so much more together.  I love each of these ladies and cherish spending this time with them.

Happy 10 Years!