2015 started off much smoother this year than the previous one with an elegant shindig at our place. At our 2014 NYE party, several partygoers ended up nursing a case of the flu the following week, including Greg. Being in good health this time instantly put all of us in good cheer!
Dress Code: all came dressed to the nines. The gents sported jackets or vests & ties while the ladies sparkled in cocktail dresses & bright-hued gowns.
Food: I popped some potato skins in the oven along with smores brownies & set out a shrimp tray. My generous friends supplied the remaining dishes, including barbeque chicken wings & Italian meatballs. Most years, I opt for a theme with the hors d’oeuvres relating, but with everyone volunteering their efforts, we all went for favorite foodies to share with everyone! & of course, we offered a champagne toast to our guests just before midnight.
Games: I created a fortune game, encouraging each guest to write down a fortune to be pulled out of a bowl at random after midnight. Guests could write one for a specific person (with no guarantee they’d get it). The answers ranged from sweet to funny, including ones like “Taylor Swift will write a #1 hit song about you this year” and “you will become engaged this year!” We thoroughly enjoyed unwrapping the creative fortunes & they helped us all look forward to the fun we shall have in 2015!
Cover photo C/O of Martha Dahl at Essence Photography by Martha.
c/o Martha Dahl at Essence Photography by Martha
I hope you had yourself a very merry holiday this year filled with all sorts of festivities. We always make a point to celebrate with our close friends before family comes into town. It is quickly becoming a tradition of ours to do a small gift exchange rather than stress over affording every friend a gift. Greg’s parents host & we get to enjoy Christmas in our own quirky way.
The “white elephant” gift exchange is a simple gift-giving tactic that packs a whole lot of fun. Choose a low dollar amount & have each guest purchase one item to bring wrapped to the party. Suggest a gift anyone can appreciate like gloves designed to be used on smart phones. …Or you could opt for our route: picking something funny & unexpected. This year, we all knocked the white elephant tradition out of the park.
Our friend, Aaron (above), landed our contribution to the party: a bag full of unknown books, which turned out to be all mystery books! Martha (lower right) won our other gift, a disc shooter in the shape of a spaceship that shoots out foam discs at rapid-fire speed. Casey (lower left) was clearly thrilled to unwrap The Best Cat Book Ever full of comical cat portraits. Others brought zany games & gag gifts, including a velcro helmet to throw fabric doo-doo at & poo-tanium to leave a more pleasant smell in the restroom.
The key to hosting a white elephant gift party is to make the exchange a game. There are multiple ways to play it, but make your guests gamble for their presents before a single one is unwrapped because that is where the real fun happens. We play with dice and pass them around the table. Whoever rolls doubles gets to grab a present from the middle of the table. If you roll doubles multiple times, you can grab another gift from the pot or steal from another guest. Set a timer somewhere in the ballpark of fifteen minutes, & once the time is up, the game is over. It’s a smart move on the host’s part to keep some extra gifts available (like an elf hat or candy cane headbands) so everyone will undoubtedly receive one at the end of the night.
This year, we added a dress code to our holiday party. Everyone came wearing a colorful, overly decorated holiday sweater to encourage the festive mood. From a Home Alone inspired shirt to a hand-crafted mini-elf sweater, our friends got creative with their attire. Some even decorated their clothes with duct-tape & package bows! Looks like we’ll be bringing the ugly Christmas sweater theme back next year. What holiday traditions do you have with friends & family? Don’t forget to stop in on Friday for my latest muse moments!
Cue the spooky music, carve the pumpkins, & prep the candy bowl…it’s time for Halloween, ladies & gents! Whether you will be handing goodies out to trick-or-treaters or celebrating in style, here’s some costume inspiration for you from past shindigs we’ve hosted:
Featuring: two creepers inspired by the Lonely Island Boys music video, “The Creep.” Leeloo Dallas from The Fifth Element. Batman & Catwoman. One scrub, one Kermit the Frog, Bowser, & Ash from The Evil Dead.
Starring: Schrodinger’s Cat, Indiana Jones, Red Riding Hood & one frightening clown.
Introducing: the Terminator, Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction, & a seriously spooky zombie teen. One caveman, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, one I-don’t-even-know-so-we’ll-go-with bubblegum, & the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.
& my personal favorite: the crew of Serenity. For you fans of Firefly, you likely recognize Kaylee Frye, Crow, Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Inara Serra, Badger & YoSaffBridge. What clever costumes have you created for Halloween? Hope you have fun (& stay safe) this holiday!
My fantastic friend, Casey, celebrated her birthday recently, & as a girl with a Fall birthday who loves a good brew, she came up with the brilliant notion of hosting a blind pumpkin beer tasting. Each guest brought a beer to share. The labels were ripped off & the bottles numbered. Our lovely host created a proper list of our beer selection & laid out the challenge: whoever guesses the most beers correctly wins the prize! Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the numbers got jumbled & the samples got bigger, but we did declare a winner: the lovely Jen who named all 9 pumpkin beers correctly. Jewel Staite (actress from such sci-fi hits as Firefly & Stargate: Atlantis) wrote a hysterical post on hosting a blind wine tasting via her blog Happy Opu, & I’m beginning to think these two ladies are onto something with their party planning methods. Both had entertaining results!
Here is the part where I shock & offend most people: I don’t like beer. Trust me, I’m surrounded by friends who pride themselves on their beer knowledge & they’ve been trying to find a beer to woo me for years. It still has yet to happen. Regardless, one of the guests brought a mulled wine complete with pumpkin spice so I was set. & I opted to bring pumpkin brownies for my tasting addition:
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Buy your favorite brownie mix. (I chose Ghiradelli’s Double Fudge Brownies.)
Follow directions on box. Pour 3/4 of brownie mixture into pan.
Before popping that pan into the oven, prepare the pumpkin. You can select pumpkin puree or opt for the pumpkin pie filling like I did.
Add to the pumpkin: 1 large egg, 3 oz. cream cheese, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon & 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Mix ingredients well.
Pour the pumpkin blend over the brownie in the pan & top off with the remaining brownie mixture.
Take a butter knife & run through the ingredients in the pan in a swirling motion. Pop in the oven & follow the brownie box instructions for cooking time. Viola!
Be sure to visit again tomorrow for my newest addition of “Muse Moments!”
Wow people at your next social engagement with some scrumptious morsels & a bubbly concoction sure to please. Here’s a social savvy dessert & drink recipe for you to impress any guest: thin mint truffles & the peach mimosa.
Thin Mint Truffles: the recipe
Take 1 package of Thin Mints or the comparable Keebler Grasshopper Cookies & crumble the contents.
Take 4 0z. of cream cheese & combine with the ground cookies until they are well-blended.
Form small balls with the mixture & dip into white chocolate bark (1/2 a bar ought to do) until fully coated.
Place dipped cookie balls onto wax paper.
Before the white chocolate hardens, take mint chocolate chips (Andes mints crumbled works beautifully) & sprinkle on top.
Place truffles into freezer for an hour or two & viola! Dessert is served.
Peach Mimosa: the recipe
Combine 1 part champagne & 1 part Peach Schnapps with 2 parts orange juice. Then, lift your glass in praise!
I first discovered the amazing Peach Mimosa at Silky O’ Sullivan’s in Memphis (read my accompanying post “mapped it: Memphis, Tennessee” to see what else I found in the city of blues). I simply adored the fruity take on the classic Mimosa & adapted the recipe for a simple style to serve at home. Hope you enjoy these two heavenly treats as much as I do!