The more you celebrate your life,
the more there is in life to celebrate
My life feels full when I make time to celebrate friends, food, and having fun. I love holidays, but I also love the impromptu, celebrate-for-no-particular reason sort of parties. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
Just Dance- This is the only Wii game I enjoy, and it has so much potential for a great party. Up to eight people can officially compete at the same time, or you can just take turns dancing and have fun. My friend was commenting the other night on how fun it would be to set up a t.v. and a Wii in three different rooms and have a competition where the winner moves forward to the next room. No matter how you do it, I have to bear my testimony that even people who swear to be non-dancers have been known to join in and shake a tail feather while we're Just Dancing!
Hot Cocoa Tasting Party- Set up different cocoa tasting stations around your kitchen with specialty cocoa flavors such as white chocolate raspberry, salted caramel, dark chocolate peppermint, etc.
Soup Contest- I've done this party in the past and here's how it worked: Ask all of your guests to bring a pot of their best soup and then number each pot as the guests arrive. Provide everyone with plastic spoons and Dixie cups to taste all the soups. Invite everyone to write down their vote and stick it in a glass jar, and then tally the votes at the end of the evening. Winner gets a new soup cookbook, runner-up gets a new ladle. The fun thing about something like this is that you can invite a lot of people since everyone is standing up anyway, wandering from soup to soup. Crowd control isn't a problem for "standing parties" like this! And if soup isn't your deal, you could change the theme to anything-cookies, appetizers, salads, etc.
Cooking Competitions- If you are a food network junkie then you're familiar with my beloved Chopped series where contestants compete in a three round cooking competition. Last year we modified this idea, dividing into three teams and competing against each other in an appetizer round and then a dessert round. We simply divided my kitchen into cooking stations and invited a couple of "judges" to evaluate our work. Since our competition was timed you can imagine how much fun it was for us all to be racing around my kitchen competing with each other, arguing over who needs to use the oven or who put hot soup in a blender causing it to explode all over everyone else. This party required meticulous planning and the clean up took some time, but it is by far one of the most enjoyable evenings I've ever had...and my team even came in last place!
Also, my sister-in-law Emily has participated in Iron Chef competitions over Thanksgiving with her husband's family. I think they elected a couple of judges and then everyone else divided into two teams. The judges decided on the secret ingredient and then both teams had three or four hours to plan, grocery shop, and execute their meal. I think this sounds so fun, although you either have to cook in two different houses or you need a house with an upstairs and downstairs kitchen.
Gourmet Chocolate Tasting- This party is at the top of my list right now. A few years ago my dad and step-mom brought thirteen flavors of gourmet, foreign chocolate back from a little chocolate shop in London. Then they hosted a party, first serving appetizers to their guests. Afterward they set out thirteen numbered plates of chocolate, the bars were broken up into small pieces. The guests were given a matching "quiz" that listed the definitions of the thirteen flavors of chocolate. I kept my "quiz" in my journal, and here are a few examples of the chocolate we tasted:
Lumi- Milk chocolate high in cocoa, infused with perfumed lime sundried on the trees from Iran.
Origin Venezuela- Made from the contrast of cocoa beans grown in the mountains and sea front. Subtle with notes of warm bread and chestnuts.
Madong- The marmite of chocolate- love it or hate it! Very unusual chocolate froma single plantation in New Guinea, grown on volcanic soil with notes of hay, leather and smoke.
|cocoa beans left out to dry|
After tasting each flavor of chocolate we were supposed to match it with its corresponding definition. Now, before this party I fancied myself a conniseur of all things chocolate. I am ashamed to say, tail between my legs, that I got FOUR out of the thirteen correct. But oh my, what fun. And you don't have to go to London to find good chocolate. Most big cities have gourmet chocolate shops somewhere, or you could resort to my good ol' friend Whole Foods Market.
Cinco de Mayo- Invite friends to bring their favorite Mexican dish. Between main dishes, salsas, and drinks, there are so many fabulous culinary directions to go with a party like this.
Miss America Party- A friend was just telling me that she hosted a Miss America party earlier this month. After hearing about how each guest received a banner and a tiara to wear, and how they had ballots to vote on their favorite Miss America contestant, I knew that this was a party I must do in the future. I imagine it would involve LOTS of laughter.
So this is where I'm going to stop because even as I type my list keeps getting longer and longer. There is so much good, clean, fun to be had. Most of these ideas center on food themed parties, but there are movie parties, television finale parties (I really want to have an American Idol Season Finale Party), game parties...and MOST of the time these parties don't have to be expensive or a lot of work. Provide the theme, send out an evite, clean your kitchen and vacuum, and the rest always takes care of itself.