Monday, October 10, 2011

Planning a Dinner Party

For my husband's birthday, I decided to throw a dinner party so that I could show off my culinary talents, use the decorating tips I've received from Pinterest, give my friends a chance to put their best outfits on and of course, celebrate the birth of my favorite person in the whole world!  Since my husband's birthday fell so close to my friend's birthday, it became a joint party and I got someone to help me out with the party plans!

Party Planning
I used Pinterest for a good portion of my party planning.  I found great decorating ideas, recipes for the evening and hair style options (none of which I used because my hair did not cooperate!).  I created a "board" for the party which helped me keep all of my party plans in one place with links & pictures.  I definitely recommend using Pinterest for party planning!

I also created a word document that had all of my recipes, shopping lists broken down by type (food, decorations, dinnerware), timeline (weeks leading up to the party & day of) and wording for the invitations.  I broke up everything that needed to be done leading up to the party in my word document into a nice timeline.  I had the decorations made two weeks ahead, the shopping and cleaning done a week ahead, the decorating done days ahead and the cooking done the before and day of the party.  Everything was so perfectly spaced out that I wasn't stressed in the least bit on the day of the party :)

The Food
For the party, I created a five course meal plan & asked my friend to pair wines with each course.  Here are the courses:

Course 1:  Appetizer: Spinach and Artichoke Dip & baguette slices
Course 2:  Salad: Ceasar Salad
Course 3:  Soup: Butternut Bisque

Course 5: Dessert: A small white cake for each birthday boy & a pumpkin cake with pumpkin lattes

My little puppy loves to be in pictures!

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take pictures of the food during the party, but the links to each recipe have photos :)  I loved every recipe!  The appetizer was incredibly easy to make.  Everything just blends together then goes into the oven!  The salad was the easiest since I just mixed romaine lettuce with Caesar dressing then sprinkled Parmesan cheese on top.  The soup was a nightmare to make!  Butternut squash is incredibly difficult to cut, so it took me a whole episode of Parks & Recreation to finish skinning & cubing it.  After cooking all the ingredients, then next step was to puree it.  It took me about five batches to finish all of the soup in my little bullet blender & after each batch was complete, I had to put the bullet in my freezer because the heat had expanded the plastic and it was impossible to open it.  After finally finishing the soup, I realized that I'm going to buy already pureed butternut squash from now on!  The entree & dessert were also incredibly easy to make and I had fun making them! 

 I made the soup, mango salsa, blackberry salsa and cakes the day before the party.  The day of the party I made the pork, dip & salad.  Forty minutes prior to the party I put the dip in the oven then I put the soup in my crockpot.  By the time we started the party the dip was ready & by the third course the soup had been warmed by the crockpot.  Because I needed time to put the entree together, my husband led the group in a party game.

Party Games
The party games were an idea that my brother came up with and shared with me.  He knew one that he shared with me and the rest I looked up my googling adult party games.  We played three games throughout the evening.  The first was Assassin.  In this game we gave each person a different card from a regular bicycle card deck.  One person received an Ace and that person became the assassin.  For the assassin the point of the game is to kill everyone in the party by winking at them.  For everyone else the point of the game is to stay alive and guess who the assassin is.  If you are winked at by the assassin, you are dead.  You can announce it or act out a painful death.  If you guess who the assassin is, and you are incorrect then you die.  The game ends when everyone dies or the assassin is found out.

We also played a Phrase Game.  Everyone had a different, odd phrase written on a piece of paper and placed under their plate.  The point of this game is to work your phrase into conversation without just blurting it out. We had phrases like "I started a Justin Bieber fanclub this weekend," "I'm going to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz for Halloween," "When do you think George Michael will be making a comeback," etc.  The first person to say their phrase was the winner and the last person ended the game.  This game lasted until dessert which was great!

In between the third and fourth course, my husband led everyone through a game of Psychiatrist so that I had time to assemble the entrees.  In Psychiatrist, a psychiatrist is chosen and they leave the room.  While they are out the group left decides on a group mental disorder that they will share.  You can choose for everyone to be OCD, afraid of fire, think they're Marilyn Monroe, hypochondriacs, etc.  Then the psychiatrist comes back and they have the duty of figuring out what the group disorder was.  This one was really fun and we ended up playing it twice!  I definitely recommend party games for a dinner party because they added a whole new element to the evening and sparked different conversations.

The Decorations
Finally, I have pictures of something!

I have a bright yellow & orange wall normally, so I bought King Size flat sheets from Goodwill & nailed them to the wall so that I could have a blue party like I wanted :)  I have a pretty ugly light fixture in the room, so I covered it with these tissue paper pom poms.  

Here is a view of the room with only candlelight.

A close up of my table.  I tied silver bows around the candles & placed them on top of mirrors.

These decorations are thin vases with a flower, water and a tea light on top.  They were also placed on top of small circular mirrors.

This was my photo backdrop for getting a shot of everyone in their formal wear.  It's normally a plain ole glass porch door but for the night of the party, my hubby nailed Christmas lights up outside & I hung sheer curtains in front.  I placed a bench in front of the lights so that people could sit and have their pictures taken.

Here was the table right before the party.  Everyone had a place mat (felt mats that were on sale at Hobby Lobby!) silverware, hard plastic plates from Party City, napkins folded in the fan fold, a wine glass, a water glass & a name place setting.

Here is a close up of the place setting.  I used small frames from Party City for the place settings.  These were also party gifts because I gave each person the frame so that they could put a picture of themselves at the party in the frame and remember the evening :)

Each chair had a little party banner around the back.  I made it using paint chips, ribbon & staples.  

After Dinner
When dinner was finished, the birthday boys opened their presents and we took pictures!  Since I didn't ask my friends if I could post them on the web here is a shot of my dogs & one of my hubby and me:

Bones wore a turtle neck and Buffy wore a dress for the party :)  

After we finished taking pictures, we all took a walk around the apartment complex so that everyone could burn off their buzz from the wine.  Afterwards everyone went home & I started the dishwasher :)  It was a great evening & I am now a huge fan of dinner parties!

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