Monday, October 15, 2018

Margaritaville Luau Style

For those of you who have been following me for the last five years or so, you know that
I have been trying out new palm tree props.  I have progressed from the cardboard tube ones to silk palms.  I wanted the office garden to look PLUSH.  The party goers told me
I had achieved that goal.  I purchased many silk palms on sale and put two or three in big pots that stay in the garden year round.  I added silk tropical flowers and palm leaf to the bottoms.  When we were setting up, it was windy, so we went and bought BRICKS to weigh them down.  This worked like a charm.

The garden itself is pretty green.  I bought the water fountain years ago for the office.  I brought over my red patio 9' umbrellas to give two extra pops of color to the event.

Normally I have the tables up on bed risers to make them into bars.  Unfortunately the rental company stopped providing us with bar stools that raised and lowered.  I will have to find a new company, as the only stools they did provide were too tall to even sit on.

I debated with myself about making this seal pool, but one of the clients brought her daughter and grandson, who LOVED the pool and played in the balls.  It was worth it.

I reworked the coral reefs from last years' Australian party.  I needed the chicken feeders for my tropical floral arrangements this year.  I found these two metal tubs at Hobby Lobby and spray painted them. The diver was Velcro strapped to the tree.  If this is your first visit, those are rubber fish I purchased online.

The high tops were covered in green tablecloths to show off the fish bowls.  I have reused these bowls for so many events.  They were so worth the purchase.  I put them on the
candle stands I made, added blue rocks to the bottom, and  I added tropical garland strands I'd made.  The best touch was the hollow ceramic koi fish I found in a California gift store.  The fish floated around in the water.  The staff and clients really took note of this.

The office is growing rapidly.  They put up TWO monitors in this kitchen area to have
extra conference space.  I now design computer posters for both of these to match my dessert bars.

Every single log/wooden serving piece I've bought or made fits into my themes.  I actually created the pattern on the hula dancers and made these Polynesian people bit by bit in Photoshop.  If you enlarge this, you will see that the girls are triplets.  Ha ha.  The hotel in the background actually took me hours and hours to design.  I wondered if anyone would even notice.  They DID.   What was really a difficult job was making ocean waves.  

 Above is the Tiki Bar I designed for this scene.  I originally wanted people sitting on the sand at a luau.  I couldn't do it, so I put them sitting at a bar. This was weeks and weeks of work, but worth it.  In the photo you can see my little chairs again.  They also get used a LOT.  They are in the tray filled with crushed cookie sand and sugar cookie flip flops.  I made the straps with fondant.  The flamingos are sitting on lemon pound cakes.  The glaze looks a little sloppy, but no one cares, because the cakes are delicious.  I have found that guests don't like to be the first one to slice a cake, so I always start that first slice right away.
In the front of this photo take note to the palm leaves I cut out for doilies.  The tiny pies are key lime cheesecake filled.  I REALLY wanted to make tiki god cake pops, but I'm not that talented.  So I used big candy eyes, m&m noses, white cane sprinkes for mouths.  I finished them off with paper umbrellas. The guests found them hilarious.  The pineapple cake pops are actually made with pineapple cake.  I dipped them in yellow chocolate and added yellow jimmies.  I struggled for two weeks as to how to make the leaves.  I ended up cutting rectangles of green fondant, rolling it into tubes, snipping one end and bending back the leaves.  They dried overnight.  I poked holes in them and slid them onto the sticks. 

 The other pies were just okay.  I ended up going to a funeral the afternoon of the party.  I learned a VALUABLE LESSON.  When you make a cheese cake filling and have chocolate in it, and you put it in the refrigerator overnight, everything stiffens up.  It takes HOURS to defrost.  I spent those hours honoring someone.  NO REGRETS.

What about the beach rug you always put out?  You were thinking that, weren't you?

Well, the big turtle made it back.  We moved the band farther into the garden, so there was more room for it. This photo shows my parrot arrangement and one of the chicken feeder floral arrangements.
 Yes, the tiki hut I made from bookshelves was back.  See all the barbecue sauces the caterer brought on the shelf.  The stuffed parrots are a BIG HIT every year.

Here's a closer shot of the chicken feeder arrangement with orchids (silk).

Here is my sister-in-law who comes to both client parties every year and works and works and works, so that I can talk to clients and keep things moving.  She is standing in front of one of the Waikiki Beach check-in posters and my captain made from wall insulation.
We really liked this area for check-in since it was close to the party, but I made four posters (since I thought we might be inside with the hurricane coming).  I learned that I can only use two in this area.  This is hubby's office with sliding doors, so posters don't really work here.

Lois made Charleston's Ultimate Coconut Cake because we couldn't have it shipped up due to the ----Hurricane.  It was fabulous.  They actually post the recipe online.  

I wanted guests and clients to check-in at Waikiki Beach.  I have four posters representing that.   You can also see Hawaii's famous pink hotel and people on the beach behind the check-in table.  There's the yacht on which the Captain and his first mate arrived.

We moved the band farther into the garden under their own tent this year.  

I wanted to cover one of the partner's messy computer chords, so I put up these two posters.

This worked great, but when we found out my animated pig centerpiece danced to the band, that was PERFECT.

I am going to end with this beautiful LIVE arrangement one of hubby's partner's wives made.  Isn't it gorgeous.  I am now beginning to plan for next party.  

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Tiki God from Cardboard Tube

My cardboard tube (from Amazon) was a 5" diameter.  I could have spent a LOT more money on a sono tube, which are used for pouring cement forms, but wanted to keep the costs down to a reasonable expense.  I found a 5" diameter plumbing piece at Lowes with a 7" base which holds his light weight and makes a perfect stand.  His arms are 2" mailing tubes (from Amazon).  Before covering the larger tube, I cut holes into it for the arm slits.

I started by wrapping the entire tube in brown fun foam.  I use tacky glue that I mix with just a small amount of water to make it a thick, paintable substance.  I also use painters tape to secure the edges until my characters dry.  It peels off of the fun foam easily.  If
you look closer, you will still see a piece down by his feet.

Lowes and Home Depot (not sponsors) sell wall insulation in 2' x 2' sections.  I bought a piece of that size for the hands and the feet.  

After he was dry, I cut holes through the fun foam where the arm slots had been cut.  I pounded 3" of each end of the 2" tubes flat with a hammer.  I used E-6000 glue to attach them.

I made patterns for the hands, feet, and face in Photoshop.

If you see the hand has an extension box.  This is 2" tall at the end.  It fits into the end of the arm mailing tube.  I used a peach Sharpie to color the nails.  I made the face in layers.  I enlarged each pattern to the size I wanted.  If you convert images to Adobe in your print menu, a box appears to let you enlarge items to any poster size you want.
You can look up the directions on how to do this on the internet.  I never knew that converting images in the 'choose printer' menu did this, until my hubby showed me.
I doubled the size of the 8" x 11" image to get my face.  I glued the four sheets of the pattern together, then cut it out, traced it with a sharpie onto the fun foam, and cut it out.  I did the same process for the hands and feet.  

His FEATHERS are 5 feather picks from Michael's.  I used a 5" diameter insulation piece and glued it into the top of the tube.  When I used my foam burner to cut the circle, I also burned holes into middle of the circle to stick the picks into.

I used this guy's headpiece as inspiration for the darker brown crown under the feathers.
The hula skirts (Amazon) is an adult size one that I wrapped around three times and sewed in place.  He is about 5 1/2 feet tall. If I had tried to buy one this size, he would have been hundreds of dollars.  I am quite please with the result.  When I post photos of the actual Luau in September, I will tell you how people reacted to him.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Grand Canyon Desert Chili Contest

Grand Canyon Themed Chili Contest

  I have started the post with the check-in area at the front of our office, where we have the chili contest for clients and friends every year in March. In the background you see three of the first four 36" x 72" posters that represent the top of the Grand Canyon.  In the forefront you are greeted by our wolf who overlooks the name tag distribution.

 I set the tables in the hall up into a U formation.  I chose beige vinyl to represent desert sand.  One of my new umbrellas brings the ceiling down for intimacy.  You can see two of the silk plants, a deer, and the centerpiece rings I used to add cacti to the theme.  I had another table for seating farther back by the live band.  This space is quite large and we have used it in many ways for functioning.


The second set of four posters represented the bottom of the Grand Canyon, with the mule riders, rafters, and camping represented. The band is to the right
of the red chairs.

 In the conference room, I used the monitor to represent the entrance to the park.  The posters in this room showed hikers going down into the canyon. Under the monitor, you see my chili crockpot which has a smaller one to the right of it filled with hot dogs.  There is a container of hot dog buns next to it.
This was very popular last year, and again this year.


The conference table was also covered in the beige vinyl. If you are new to the blog, you will see the reusable tin trays under the chilis, which really help to keep the table organized. I reuse my chicken feeder every party.  It is narrow and long and is perfect for the spot.  For this party, I spent months buying cacti to fill it.  I found nice sized ones at Pier One and on a site called  (I am not associated with any stores I mention.)

In the corner of the conference room is my huge camp cook, new to the scene of party characters.

Party goers could "hike" to the back kitchen area to the Canyon Cafe.  My other umbrella was set up back here, along with the trailer tent I bought a few years back and two of my large stuffed deer props.  This is where the dessert bar was.  You see my sister and brother-in-law making final dessert touches to my presentation.  They are the best helpers ever.  I am not entirely sure our clients know that they do NOT work for our company.

Above are the monitors in the kitchen (Desert Cafe) with another entrance to the Grand Canyon Park.  I made cactus cake pops, lemon pound cakes, three different types of pies AND. . .

cactus cookies AND. . .
thin mint cheesecakes (and a chocolate pound cake).

I have added more pieces to my log themed serving platters. 

About five years back, I had a State Fair themed chili contest.  It had a LOT
of carnival games.  The clients loved it.  So, as requested, I have a few every year at this party.  It gives people, who have NOT made a chili, at shot at the cash prizes.  Below you can see the directions board and the hoops on the 
deer's antlers. 


In the main hall that runs front to back in the office, I had PRAIRIE DOG CURLING.  I use the soft side of industrial size velcro to make wood disks slide.
I bought six round wooden disks at Michaels and painted half red and half blue.
Then I used e-6000 glue to put the six stuffed praired dogs (Amazon) on the disks.  Home Depot sells the mop handles without the heads.  We put soft sided velcro on that also, to prevent floor scratches.  The targets were just blue painters tape.

The last game was a feed the baby owls one.  I reused my ever popular frame with the door knob sized holes my hubby cut for me.  There was a bug points tag next to each one. I reused my nerf ball shooters.  This is fun, but difficult, so that made it popular.  My small bread bowl held candy bug prizes.  The chocolate ones are small chocolate covered oreos (which you can buy) added to chocolate covered pretzels (which you can buy) with melted chocolate.  I attached two candy eyes and licorice antennas.  I actually tied knots in the licorice lace, then dipped the knots in the chocolate to attach to the cookie.  They were all gone at the end of the party, so I assume they were popular.  I had gummy worms and candy ladybugs which I purchased on Amazon.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Narnia Baby Shower

Narnia Baby Shower

When one of my best friends invited me to her daughter's Narnia themed baby shower, I was intrigued.  Then they asked me to help plan it, knowing that I have lots of props.
I twisted it to include more of the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe forest theme, as I have many over-sized realistic animals, such as the bear in the photo above.  I already had the
pattern for enlarging the light post in my files, so adding a bow and a welcome sign was easy enough.  

She is a REALLY good friend, so I splurged on the lion from Amazon.  All of the creatures on the mantle are mine. I found some clip art of shield shapes, enlarged them in Photoshop, added letters.  A hole punch and some string made this banner easy to do. She added some Christmas greenery (even though the Ice Queen banished Christmas in Narnia.)  Her elf stays there year round, but the I made the flowers in my community college floral class.

The Polar Bear was from my Polar Bear Party at the beach.

I made the white arrangement for the food centerpiece to represent the 100 years of winter.  This area was winter, while the family room with the lion was spring. She and her other daughter, our hostesses, had fun serving only ROUND food.  Since Narnia takes place fictionally in medieval times, they thought using their ROUND table was perfect.  They had meatballs, spinach balls, crab balls, melon balls, olives, tomatoes and mozzerella balls.  I loved it. 

When the guests first came in the front door, they were greeted by mama skunk and her babies.  As a skunk is in the books, she was appropriate.  The babies are on boards with the soft side of industrial hook-and-loop tape covering their surface.  This lets them slide.  We played skunk shuffleboard using mop poles, without the head.  This was new to the ladies who haven't been to any of my parties that include games.

Beavers and Badgers are also characters in the series.  So when I found these tossing sticks, I had to set up this game.  When I am looking for tossing items, I always start on Amazon in their dog tossing toys section.  You will be surprised what you find there.

The wardrobe plays such an important role, so I cut brown paper to the size of my friends electronics cabinet and used a black Sharpie to outline following a clip art picture of one. 
When I saw this metal pole stand at the garden center, I just knew I would use it many times.  So I enlarged a sign I made and glued and taped the pieces together.  I added ribbons.  


I wrote a poem to tie the theme into the baby shower, borrowed bits and pieces of Narnia illustrations and gave this to her as another gift. I have a LARGE mouse puppet.  I made the sword he carried with a small sign-post from Michaels.  I took its little blackboard off, glued a wooden letter T to it, and painted it with silver paint.  The shield was cut from glitter fun foam.

Above are the shields if you'd like to use them.  

Our third game was a Narnia Animals Match.  I put two moles on the list by mistake.  The mice are used twice.
One last image.  I am always recycling my props to new themes.  I bought these glittery twiggy rings years ago for a ski themed event.  My friend put them under the sauce bowls and amidst the snow.  Those brown tablecloths have been to many events.  Using brown for a forest theme and building up with snow or green makes a nice statement.  The mom-to-be cried when she saw everything, so it was worth all of our combined efforts.