Friday, September 21, 2012

Margarita Party Luau

The above photo shows the check-in table.  If you look to the right you can see a part of the Margarita Man I made to greet the guests.  See previous post.  I had the sign made at a sign shop last year.   That's our fabulous interior designer, Phannie in the pink.  I love to pop over to the office sometimes just to see what shoes she's wearing.

      We had the first ever sunny Margarita Office Party.  It was the first time in 25 years that it hasn't poured.  So, even though we had an outdoor tent set up connecting to the office kitchen/party space, we didn't have to put up the sides to keep out the wind and rain.
    I will start the photos with a picture of one of the two big palm trees.  I had the time this year to spray paint the cheap buckets brown.  They looked so much better.  My husband and I made the bases for last year's party.  You can't just sink a pole or pvc pipe into a bucket of cement or concrete (concrete has rocks in it).  It will lift right out.  So, my husband the architect glues with pvc cement a three-way pvc connection to the bottom of the pvc pipe.  This way, the cement seeps into the connection and holds.
I used a 3 1/2 " diameter pipe. 
   I slide a 4" cardboard mailing tube that I have opened to its full extent.  I duct tape the two parts together to get the height I need. I cut off the metal end with a mat knife.  I have covered many of these during All Night Grad Parties, but never really got the look of a palm tree trunk.  I started playing around with paper patterns until I found this one.  I figured if the triangles were on top, they would bend down and look like bark.  Click on the picture to see what you think.  I cut 3 yards of burlap per tree in long 6" wide strips with large wide triangles on the top border.  As I wrap them around the pole, when a strip runs out, I just duct tape it to the cardboard tube and start another strip, duct taping over the last end piece.  Wrap the burlap to hide the tape.

    Then I needed leaves on top.  I've used long skinny green balloons in the past.  I've used those tin foil palm tree toppers.  I've used silk leaves.   I wanted something easier.  I thought about using green umbrellas.  These big trees needed green golf umbrellas, which I found on line.  Was I afraid to cut up the edges?  Sure, but I did it anyway.  The trick is to not cut past the middle of the cloth.  You need to have a small leaf half way between the spokes so that the leaves are all kept taught.  My first effort of making a leaf on each spoke left each one drooping.  That effort was on a cheap, used umbrella.  
     For the bottom, I put in Styrofoam blocks with three branches of fern.  

Food labels are a big deal to me, as they set the mood.  I visited many, many tiki god clipart pieces before choosing this guy.  When I found the mini white boards on sale at Staples this summer for $1 each, I grabbed them up.  Then I had to piece together pieces to make the arms like this.  I laminated each tiki god and rolled a ball of tape and stuck them together.  I went on line and found common Hawaiian words and just had fun matching them to the foods to make sounds I liked.

In case you are bored reading this, I'm throwing in a little something sweet....the dessert buffet.  Notice, please, that it is OUTSIDE.  I rent tablecloths and bar height tables and stools.  Since the party is for clients, it just goes into the budget.  I just fell in love this year with dessert dips I've found on  When I came across a pina colada one, I had to save it and use it. I served it with coconut cookies from Harris Teeter's bakery.
       It was one 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple in the juice.  Add it to one 8 oz. softened cream cheese bar.  I added one small package of instant coconut pudding mix, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup cool whip.  I used my hand blender.  I actually doubled the recipe for over 150 guests. 
       I had been serving those small round brownie bites from Costco.  No one was eating them.  So, when I served them with Kahlua dessert dip, they went like hot cakes.    That was one 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, 2 Tablespoons of evaporated milk, 1/4 cup Godiva Chocolate liqueur, and a touch of Kahlua.  (I ran short on Kahlua.)
       I made the same cookies from the Motorcycle Ballerina baby shower (see recipe on that post.)  But, this time I broke them up and put them in shot glasses.  Do not do this.
The dessert was too small.  The clients wanted more cookie in the dessert.  It needed a full size spoon.  Find 4 oz plastic glasses.  Put cookie pieces in bottom of each.  Put a dollop of cool whip on top, sprinkle with cookie sand. (Put a box of Vanilla Wafer Cookies in your food processor.  Throw in one long graham cracker for dimension.  Blend.  It looks like sand.  Call it Wikiki Beach Sand Desserts.  They were good.  Yum!!!!

  I chose this picture because it's one of the partners with his burrito bowl and margarita cup in one hand.  He also stayed unti 11:30 to help wash dishes.

 I was proud of my tiki bar in my basement.  As a centerpiece for my burrito bar, it was fab.  I put my three burner crock-pots in the middle.  They held Chipolte's (restaurant in Virginia) fixings.  I ordered everything separately for 50 people full serving, which translated to 100 people appetizer size.  See the small banana boats I ordered online.  They were just the right size for walking around.  I got them on
The white crock pot held the rice and kept it warm. I ordered their 50 servings of chicken, 50 servings of steak, 50 servings of black beans.  Along with that I ordered 50 servings of rice and 50 servings of their tomato chunky salsa.  The guests LOVED this.    In my "chuck wagon" to the left, I served the "fixins."  We bought these at Costco to save money.  We put in sour cream, shredded cheese, cut up lettuce, and guacamole. (It was so good that the staff this morning was eating it for breakfast.)

   The photo of tiki bar was taken during set up.   I had wrapped the extra fencing from the hut's roof around cans and tied them with raffia bows.  I saw this on Pinterest.  We put the silver ware in the cans.  Guests can't deal with crock-pot lids, so I ended up putting them on the top shelves.

Since my eldest daughter photographs bands for a living, I use her musical connections to get fairly inexpensive entertainment.  Live music isn't as expensive as you'd think.  There are a LOT of struggling artists out there who would love to do your party for a reasonable price.  Mathew here, playing the ukelele to my fun foam/foam core (see previous post) hula girl was a big hit at the party. AND.... he is part of a larger band.  I am definitely going to his next gig to hear the whole band.  I had a steel drum player on the other side of the large patio, around the corner.  Yeah, live music.!!!

I am showing her in context.  But, I told you about my jar chandeliers with the parrots on top.  Click on picture for larger view.  There's nothing like twinkling candles to set the mood.  I had battery operated wax like candles everywhere.


  Without rain, we could light a fire outside.  And serve s'mores.  We could light gas tiki torches.  We could stay later.

Here is our new marketing manager and one of our architects.  I am using this photo because it looks like Sarah has never seen a graham cracker before.  This was my first chance to sit down with her and get to know her.  She is delightful.  I like Patrick because he likes my jokes.  Enough said.

Does my husband look like he's having a good time?  You bet.  That is my daughter Annie in the black and white.  She's the one we threw the beach bash for.  Those are two of her friends.  They spent the night here before flying off EARLY for San Francisco.  No, I did not drive them.  I had to put this party on after being in the hospital for a week.  

Oh, you wanted to see the sand cups?  Here's a picture.


     Yes, here is a picture of part of the food table.  It's not crowded, because it is LATE.  Someone needs to stay and clean up.  It wasn't me, but my husband's brother Chip and his wife Lois.  They came over to my house and baked all of the appetizers in my double ovens, then carted them down the street to the office. (Isn't that convenient?)  The warming oven that I had bought on had to be expedited.  I had asked for one months ago, and was told no.  Illness sometimes works to your favor.
      But...on the table you'll see the big pig I bought on  She sat right next to the wrapped hot dogs.  The boat is one I bought at the beach last year because of its size and the five sections.  I put in it Costco's box of mixed crackers.  I can put a different kind of cracker in each section.  Behind it is a small crock-pot with hot crab dip.  I accidentally found out that if you put Costco's frozen small crab cake appetizers on warm for long enough, they make a delicious crab dip.  I bought Costco's frozen Bourbon Chicken Strips.  They went so fast, we couldn't blink.  No, I am not getting sponsors for any stores or sites I mention 

The purpose of this blog is to help you do things yourself from my experiences in teaching, girl scouting, and party planning.
    The green bowl held shrimp cocktail.  I ordered one of those big wooden boats that have a metal liner, so that it can be used as a tabletop cooler.  I waited three years to find one I could afford.  I found it this summer.  It is going to be my "shrimp boat."  It came today AFTER the party.  Not to worry.  I'm using it next week for the Safari Baby Shower.

I just knew you'd want a sneak preview of the Safari Baby Shower.  Okay, see the table top palm tree.  I made two of them.  I used regular green umbrellas.  I had my husband cut up a tail pipe I got from the automotive store.  My besties (bffs) were with me when we saw this pipe that was bendable and so cool.  They both looked at me and said it would make a GREAT PALM TREE.  I said no, it is $35.  That's too much for one tree.  "What if we cut it into two pieces and make TWO trees?" they asked.  When I found the small brown ceramic pots at Lowe's I had to buy not only them, but the pipe.  They are the centerpieces for the sit down luncheon baby shower.  But...we are hanging stuffed monkeys from the spokes.  So dang cute.  The future mom came over to help with the party.  I am surprising her with a maternity tee shirt with a skeleton and skeleton baby on it.  I bought it at this morning.  How many opportunities do you have to wear one at Halloween?  I couldn't pass it up.  I'm sorry.  I've been sick.  It will make me feel better to shop.  (See how illness works?)  Seriously, I will get better.  I have to.  I have another party to put on.


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