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Friday, April 20, 2018

Tour de France Office Party

I wanted to set the scene for beginning our Tour de France office party with downtown Paris.  I set up the office lobby as a Paris cafe with small tables and chairs, fresh greenery and candle centerpieces, large checked black and white tablecloths. All this was under two green market umbrellas I got on sale on Amazon at the end of the summer.  It was
hard getting Paris down to eight panels.  Here are the first four.  I have evolved to the idea to now make the panels into sets of two.  It looks better as two large murals instead of four individual ideas.  You will see the difference in my next blog about the Grand Canyon for our chili contest this year.  You can see in the Provence Panels below how the
first two line up.  In the holiday crush, I didn't notice that the road for the third panel
did not line up with the first two. 

The idea of the party was a bike race on the two adult sized trikes the office owns.  We have used them over and over again over the years, so I needed a new twist.  So we started the race in Paris, and it wound its way to Provence (where games and desserts were located) and back to Paris again. 

You can see above the last three panels make a better scene  There are mullions on the windows that are 8 inches between windows, so lining up the panels to match is difficult.
I am working and practicing on this process, but in the printing of these the measurements get thrown off.  I will blog with the photos of the party and game details in the next post.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Margaritaville Down Under

The Reef

My Margaritaville party theme all begins with the idea of where can we go that has palm trees.  Last year we even went on Safari.  This year we went to Australia, hence the name of the party.  I wanted to build a centerpiece around the idea of a coral reef, since the Great Barrier Reef is something you really want to visit in Australia.  I built one using my two four-foot chicken feeders.  I used floral tape to attach Styrofoam blocks, that I cut to fit in them.  Since the party is always near the end of September, I started collecting "greens" from Michael's and Amazon that looked like under the water plants.  I found these six tree-like rubber things and just knew they would work.  I spent a lot of time on Amazon searching and buying rubber fish in various sizes that looked realistic.  In the picture above, you are seeing an eight-foot pvc backdrop with blue bubble wrap stretched
across it.  I found blue blinking battery-operated lights which we taped to the back
of the bubble wrap.  The human sized scuba diver is one of my characters I make from
wall insulation and fun foam.  The next photos below show up close pictures of the reef.
The clients LOVED this.  The barbeque foods were placed on the table in front of this.



Sydney Harbor Dessert Bar

Since most people arrive in Australia through Sydney, I decided to reuse my ferry boat as a harbor prop.  I had spent a LOT of time designing banners to represent the harbor as
a backdrop for this.  At the last minute, the company announced that they were putting up monitors in the kitchen to display marketing information during the parties.  I insisted they let me use them as a part of my display instead.  So I adapted the panels to fit the monitors.  They told me they would animate the next ones I design for a party. 
The sail boats are actually cake pop boats with shaved chocolate on them.  The sticks hold the paper sails.  I reused my favorite boats and dock to hold desserts. 

I used my mini cheesecake pans to make key lime cheesecakes.  I bought the key lime juice on Amazon, and I got the recipe on Pinterest.  Because it is a LOT of baking, I did cheat and buy the fruit tarts at Wegmans and the pound cake at Costco.  I made homemade whipped cream with diced strawberries in it.  You simply had to spred it on the slice of cake to make strawberry shortcake.  I have tried this dessert in so many ways, but this was the EASIEST and most consumed way of doing it.

I also baked small tarts and filled them with a lemon pudding mix I made with  fresh
squeezed lemon juice, a recipe I also got on Pinterest.   Of to the side on the dock, were bite sized brownies made from a mix with caramel in it.  So I added crushed candies and caramel sauce with whipped cream to bring them up a notch.  There were no desserts left at the end of this party. 

We put high-tops in the kitchen-party area every year.  I had them covered with deep blue tablecloths.  I like to reuse every item I own in a new way for each party.  So the fish bowls this year had sand (from Michaels) with sea shells and plastic crabs I found on sale on our beach trip.  Simple and easy.  My two manzanita trees held stuffed koalas.  I had shrimp cocktail on these two tables, which actually worked out better than putting it on the food table in the tent.

The Food and Set-up

Speaking of food, we tried out a new barbeque restaurant in our area.  They had catering, so I ordered pulled beef and chicken, sausages, slider rolls, beans, salad, and brisket.  Instead of plates, I have been ordering cardboard "boats" for guests to eat out of.  They don't overstuff their plates and can always go back for more.  And they make it easier to carry their food around.  I order salad and have a fruit, veggie, cheese platter for those that don't eat meat.  My recipe for ordering numbers is to count the number of RSVPs, then cut it in half for the food amounts.  It has always worked out.  The catering companies are usually working on food amounts for a sit-down event.  Anything left over gets eaten by the staff, so there is no waste.  This company sent along at least 10 bottles of sauces, which took the sliders up three notches.

The Outback

Since the garden is "outback" of our office, it seemed the best place to theme it.
My hubby and I went to local Merrifield Garden Center, where they sold us a ton of flower baskets that were near the end of their season, but worked great for our party.
I also placed the "BEACH" rug here for in front of the band.  I added a 5' new alligator to my beach supplies, and a crocodile.  (The band fell in love with the crocodile, so I let them have it.)

The palm trees this year were only tabletop ones. I reset the kitchen rectangular tables up on the patio as a long bar using bedrisers to get height.  I rent bar stools along with the high top tables and tablecloths.

 I made three large banners of my version of the Outback for the sign-in area by the garden. I felt including Jeff Irwin was important.  I also had a sheep farm panel because there are many sheep farms in Australia.  Yes I had a large stuffed kangaroo.  The chart is a welcome poster with Aussie sayings on it.

Here is my version of an Aussie farmer and his sheep.  The clients and guests thought this was hysterical.  They are coming to my office Christmas party, as the farmer also has a sheep farm in Provence, France.  Our theme is Christmas Tour de France.

By the way, my daughter Annie's office is borrowing all of the coral reef items for their Christmas Hawaiian theme they chose.  I already have all of the props and games planned for them.  You will see a future blog about what we did for her office. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Make Your Own Doilies


WHY would you want to make your own doilies?  You are probably thinking I will just buy some paper ones, they are good enough.


I always want some to match my theme.  So, when my friend Nancy came to visit last summer, she got me hooked on hole punches for craft projects.  I took the idea one step further and bought the following:

It is a FISKARS 4X-Large Lever Punch, Pretty Scallop that cuts a 3.5 inch circle.

Since the Margaritaville party is always centered around a nautical theme, I wanted
blue and white stripes to cut the cardstock doilies onto.

So I made the above sheet in 8.5" x 11."  I printed it.  I folded it in half length-wise and
cut it.  I put each side through the slot with THE ORANGE CLEAR DOOR OPEN.  It still punches with the door open.  This way I could see where the paper was, and I could press the lever from the back (instead of pressing the lever on the top).  I got three circles from each side-or six in total.
photo of doily on white background

Because the office parties are quite large (200-400 clients/staff), I serve bite-sized desserts.  These small doilies are the perfect size. I could even laminate them, as they are cardstock, and use them to match my parties at home for coasters.  Even though this is a short post, I will link it to the actually party post in September so that you can see the results.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Moana Party

Moana Party

The Moana boat I built from two cardboard boxes.  The sail is a post I bought at Michael's 
and two large sheets of white fun foam glued together. I started the boat by cutting off
the two long flaps of the rectangular boat for the larger canoe.  I cut the end pieces off to create triangles.  I used the side flaps by scoring them and cutting them to fit under the triangles. I cut off any excess and masking taped them together.  I used two pieces of scrap cardboard to make the top triangles and taped them on also.  I did the same thing to a longer and shorter box for the outrigger. I used a smaller, lower, wider box for the middle piece. I cut slits where it connected once placed on the "canoe.

I printed out the wood pattern above and tacky glued it on all sides of everything. My box might be a little high, but as a cupcake server it made a big impact.  Where did I get the bamboo?  You can buy bamboo fencing at Home Depot.  It is fairly easy to snip and cut down to any size you want.  I had these pieces wrapped around jars from a jungle party, so I simply reinvented them. I had thought about using Lincoln Logs and wiring them together.  You could also use dowels wired together.  I use E6000 glue from Michael's for anything I want to REALLY stick together for projects.  It takes 24 hours to set, but boy does it hold.

Here it is with Moana's pig and chicken.  I bought the standup Moana and Maui cardboard figures from AMAZON.  Yes, Amazon.  The little girls liked having their picture taken with the plastic tablecloth headbands.  If you want those directions go here: 
                                Moana headbands

The bottom left photo is the birthday girl with her headband.  If you see the top right photo, that is the Maui standup with one half of my cornhole game.  I bought a dozen stuffed fish from Amazon, then I cut open the bottoms, took out most of the stuffing, and replaced it with dried beans.  After sewing them back up, they were perfect for helping Maui go fishing.  This game was VERY popular with the smaller kids.  The older kids used the other half of the game with the bean bags that came with it.

The middle photo above shows the Shiny Things Whiffleball game: Go here for directions

We also played Elimination Bingo with the Moana characters.  You can see the bingo directions here

The fourth game we played used a large tall box which I covered in green card stock cut
to resemble hills.  I glued coconut Kakamora warriors to it and some palm trees I printed.
There is a shallow box taped to the open top of the box.  (I used a LOT of masking tape).
I order SNOWBALL THROWERS for people to use as launchers.  I search for themed small bean bags to launch for parties.  Amazon just happens to have the Kakamora coconut characters. I now have a large collection of bean bags that fit into these launchers.  They are fun for ALL ages (seriously).

Of course, two of my palm trees were at the party.  They use plumbing pvc pieces.  Hobby Lobby has the best palm leaves in our area.  The birthday girl, her mom, and her grandma (my friend) loved all of this.  She was one happy little girl, and that made all of my work worth every minute I spent on it.  Of course, if you know me, I will reuse lots of the game pieces.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Moana Flowered Headband

Moana's Flowered Headband
My good sported daughter modeling headband made from a plastic tablecloth

Sparkly sticker flowers from Michaels

One green plastic tablecloth cut lengthwise into 4" wide strips

Paper flowers from Michaels

Three different sizes of flowers sorted

The three sizes of flowers glued together sorted into bags of eight
I usually have the photos inserted between paragraphs, but I wanted you to see all of
the supplies first.  I also bought 5mm elastic string in the bead section, along with large  needles that would work with the string. I precut the tablecloth into 12 strips and folded each one, so that they would all fit into a gallon sized plastic bag.  Since I pre-glued the flowers, each child will go to the craft station we set up for this and receive a bag of flowers with the stickers in it.  There will be an adult measuring their heads for the string, then doubling it to go through the needle.  I think four adults would work great at this station.  The adults will gather the strips right down the middle going lengthwise.  Once it is the correct circumference for the child's head, the can tie of the ends with a knot.  The kids then staple the flowers onto the center of the bands and put on a sticker to cover the staple.  That's it folks.  Done.  No tons of leaves to cut.  No flowers to cut or color.  I will include photos from the party to update.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Moana's Target Throw

Moana Party Target Throw
Shiny Things
If you want to see the post with the Moana Stand-up Bingo, go here:
I am reusing the frame and tripod from previous events for the Disney themed Moana party.  My hubby cut holes in the backboard for me for our holiday party.  It was very popular with the adults, so I thought future first graders would enjoy it also.  I printed out shiny clipart objects and taped them next to each hole.  I enlarged the crab character for the top.  I am using koosh balls and launcher I got on Amazon.  EVERY SINGLE -party, someone begs me for the launchers, which I give away.  I have to stop doing this.
Angry Birds Star Wars - Han Solo Koosh Ball Launcher
It works like a highly technical slingshot, but you just pull the handle back and release it.
The balls shoot out of it quickly, so the trick is in the aiming.
I will use a marker to assign the point value for each of the holes on the target.  I will use low numbers the kids can add up easily.  They will earn a prize ticket for getting 20 total points.  I will most likely use lots of the number 5.  Below I have included the shiny things cards and crab for you to print.  Just right click and save or print.

The clipart is copyrighted to Disney.
Do you know that when using Photoshop, you can print as a pdf file?  Once saved, a box comes up with the print icon.  If you click on it, the POSTER option opens and you can
print any size you want.  You have to trim and glue the pages together, but it is a great option for enlarging.  The other option is to save images, j-pegs to a thumb drive and take them over to your Office Depot.  They will enlarge them to any size you want. 
Above are the Maui tickets to print out on cardstock if you like.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Moana Bingo

   If you want to see the post about the Moana's Shiny Things Target Game go here:
I am helping a friend with her granddaughter's sixth birthday with a MOANA theme. It was planned to be an outdoor pool/yard party with about 15 kids from her kindergarten class and neighborhood.  It is calling for thunderstorms on the day of the party.  So, I needed a simple-to-set-up game for inside.  I have played ELIMINATION BINGO with my own children and elementary classes for many years.  It works better for a big group when a sit-down bingo can't be played.  I made 25 laminated cards with characters and clipart from Disney's movie. 

Usually I will provide clipart for you to print, but because it is Disney's (and they are generous to share for free if you use it for yourself) I am only taking a photo of the game board.

How to play: Up to 25 kids could play, but since we are having 15, I would review who each of the characters are to the group.  They will be more spread out than in the
photo above.  I will ask each child to stand on a square.  I love finding spinning and dice apps online or at the app store.  I downloaded one called  DECIDE NOW!. It lets you create a spinning wheel with any number of spaces. So I built one with the following 25 categories:

Moana, Maui, Baby Moana, Father, Mother, Grandmother,
Village Kids, Pig, Hei Hei, Tahiti, Hawk, Crab, Boat, Sharkhead, Tattooes, Island, Horned Hat Coconut, Straw Hat Coconut, Fish Head Coconut, Conch Hat Coconut,
Necklace, Heart of Tahiti, Spike Hat Coconut, Villagers and Wave.

The object of the game:  to be the last one standing

As a  spinners category comes up (it is actually highlighted in the app), if you are
standing on that square, you must sit down.  You are not out unless the category you are sitting on comes up again.

As children begin moving off the board when their character is called twice, empty boxes become available.  There is a rule that you may change to any other box between spins. This adds an extra level of fun to the game.  Of course, you may always stay put on your original square.

Pretty soon, there are only a few kids left on the board.  You can decide at any point to award prizes.  I like to give out 1-5 prizes if I have a time constraint.

I will update this post after the party to let you know how it went.  I will be posting later with photos from the party and other ideas and games.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Polar Bear Party


THEME: We have a large group BEACH party in Delaware, Maryland every year for my daughter's friends and family.  I have posts about previous ones, including the Minions one.  I alwayspick a theme.  Because it is usually a group of 16 people, I make placemats to match the theme.  If you are interested in doing this, go to:
Above are two of the characters I added to the mats, along with ice bergs, ships, buoys, etc.
DRESS:  I asked everyone to bring an all white outfit. I ordered white knit hats from Amazon, along with white pompoms and bear noses.  I sewed the pompoms on the hats and glued the eyes onto the hats at the beach.
This is the birthday girl front and center.

I even bought two large plush polar bears, which we used as footstools all week.

I like to have a craft of some sort every year.  Last year the group made Minions cup cakes. It was like I had asked them to jump off a bridge.  Using a decorating bag seemed to be like using a foreign tool.  But those cupcakes turned out ADORABLE.  Search Minions on this blog to see the results.  So this year, they were better prepared.  If you look closely at the last picture above, you will see the placemats.
A few years back, I bought miniature beach chairs from Amazon that are meant to hold
American Girl dolls.  They held plush polar bears for the centerpieces. Any toddlers coming usually get to take the plush animals home.
One of the couples from the South have started making a low country boil for the birthday dinner. It consists of sausage, shrimp, corn, potatoes.  Once cooked, it is dumped on brown bags covering the table and is eaten with your fingers.
Over the years, I have assigned cooking each night to couples or groups, since after-all it IS my beach vacation.  I always bring chili supplies, though, just in case the group wants
to go out on the town one night.
So, are thirty-somethings too old for themed parties?  No, they tell me.  They are
anxiously awaiting how I am carrying out the OWL theme this year.