Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Party Planning 101

Tex here, and while I still may not be doing a whole lotta cookin', that's about to change. There are par-tays on the horizon. The first is this weekend with my son's graduation party. Next weekend I'm hosting a bridal shower for my daughter. Then there's the big kahuna--the wedding. You know, like the biggest party ever.

First, party planning--at least for a special occasion--takes some thought. Are you kidding me? I don't have time to think these days. But I forced my brain cells into over time.

For the grad party, we're talking some adults and LOTS of kids. And since this grad is a boy, my train of thought went to those carnivore-esque hollow legs. That meant there had to be meat on the menu. Hamburgers? Done it. Sloppy joes? He doesn't like them. Rolling my eyes, I glanced at my smoker.



That's the ticket. I'll smoke several pounds of brisket. You can see how I do that here.

Now if we're having barbeque, then we gots to have at least one traditional side. For me, that would be potato salad. But grad-boy has no sense of taste. He doesn't like potato salad. Mashed potatoes? At every meal. But put 'em in a salad and, well...you get the picture. So I'll rustle up some pinto beans. Which works out better for me anyway. I simply put everything in the pot, and let the stove do all the work while I work on other stuff. Hmm...I would have sworn I shared my bean recipe, but I can't find it anywhere. Guess that's a post for another day.

Aside from all the barbeque fixins--bread, onion, pickles, and jalapenos--we'll round things out with a veggie tray, chips, salsa, maybe some guacamole, and chocolate cupcakes.

A manly meal if I ever saw one.

So now we shift gears to the feminine crowd of a bridal shower. A brunch no less. Do guys even do brunch?

Since the brunch isn't until 11, I thought some people might be more interested in lunch, so I wanted to cover all the bases.

I knew I wanted to make these Lemon-Blueberry Cupcakes I saw on a certain Food Network show. And since my daughter's colors include blush and pale yellow, I thought they'd be perfect. But cupcakes don't exactly scream brunch. In reality, they're just calling to me:-)

In the end, the menu rounded out with quiche (not sure which kind yet), a strawberry-spinach salad , vanilla scones, and a fruit tray (with that totally awesome dip that only consists of cream cheese and marshmallow cream. Who knew that those two ingredients mixed together would only make the fruit a formality? Gimme the bowl of dip and a spoon:-). Another one of the hostesses is whipping up some chocolate-raspberry treats that will bring the whole menu together. Yum!

Okay, so I've told you about my party plans, how do you put together a menu for your next shindig? Consider your guests (or guest-of-honor). What do they like or dislike? Any allergies? My son-in-law-to-be is allergic to almonds. There will be no almond paste or almond extract in anything at the wedding.

Now that you have the menu, how do you want to serve? Buffet style (my personal preference) or sit-down meal? Is it casual or do you want things a little more formal? The grad party will definitely be informal--buffet, yes, but with school colors. red and black.

The shower will also be a buffet, but with a shabby-chic aura. Crystal and burlap. Flowers. Tones of yellow and blush.

As always, you want to keep the senses in mind. You want a treat for the eyes, music that fits the mood of the party. For the shabby-chic theme, I might have some bluegrass or dulcimer music playing softly in the background. What are your guests smelling when they walk in the door? Bleach? Roasted garlic? No, you want the fragrance to fit the mood. Whether it's the smell of the food or a candle, make sure the aroma doesn't detract or offend.

You're turn now. What do you think about when you're planning a party? Tell me about the last party you threw.


  1. Will she let you post pictures of the shower? I LOVE looking at party pictures and can't wait to see the shabby chic! I've always love bold colors until about ten years ago. Now it's all about the blush and mint and pale yellow.

    Sounds so beautiful!

  2. Virginia, I will definitely post the shower pix. Her maid-of-honor is in charge of the decorations. Even I can't wait to see what she comes up with:-)

  3. Would you believe I didn't give any of my children a graduation party? The timing of our moves had us moving in either the Junior or Senior year of high school for each of our four children. No time to make friends before the big day, for either them or us. Too far away for family to attend...so the six of us celebrated, but that doesn't really make a party.

    No weddings coming up in the near future, either. The oldest is finally serious about a girl who is serious about him...but they have a ways to go before wedding bells start ringing.

    Not to mention that the thought of giving a party makes me break out in hives.

    So I'll watch and learn from you, Mindy!

    1. We didn't do graduation parties, either, Jan. Just invited family in and had a nice dinner out to celebrate. Since our family comes from so far away, that's always made it a big celebration. :)

    2. The grad parties are mostly for them to celebrate with their friends before dispersing far and wide. But we throw in family and our friends as well, those who've watched them grow up.

      Jan, parties are nothing to fret over. Right, Ruthy?

  4. I love the idea of burlap and crystal mixed! And I'd add canning jar "lights". :)

    I love canning jar lights.

    Mindy, we love throwing parties and we just go crazy with food... and decorations... and fun.... and we believe in moving things along. Showers tend to get bogged down, but with Mandy and Lacey around, they keep the tempo flowing so that the showeree can just relax and have fun. We've become the "LULL POLICE" at showers because I think that's what folks dislike, long stretches of empty time or too many games.

    So we went to drawing names/numbers for big beautiful baskets we make, we avoid games like MERS in Europe and we keep things moving.

    That's huge up here but then.... (small sigh and laugh) We are New Yorkers!!!

    1. Yeah, these girls aren't into games either. I think they may have one or two up their sleeve, but I'm not touching them.

      Yes to the mason jars, Ruthy. Already on tap for both the shower and the wedding. I have tons, so it was like a freebee. Which is a good thing because not much else is :-P

  5. Sounds like so much fun, Mindy! I'm sure your parties will be amazing.

    Great idea on the barbecue. My daughter had friends over last night for the big launch of the new season of Teen Wolf, so I did a big Boston Butt in the crockpot, shredded it, and added barbecue sauce (home made). We ate it on slider buns. Then had roasted veggies and fruit.

    I almost always do buffet--serve yourself in the kitchen.

    1. Missy, buffets are just so much easier. Mmm, the Boston butt sounds yummy. I always love a good butt...roast that is :D

  6. Congrats on all accounts! I will be posting on the NC version of a barbeque this weekend! Barbeques are easy unless you have to get up at the crack of dawn to smoke a pig.

    Can't wait to hear about the wedding!

    Peace, Julie

  7. Pig? Sorry, Jules, no can do. It's gotta be beef. I generally smoke my brisket 4-6 hours, sometimes longer, then wrap it in foil and put it in a 190 degree oven overnight. Perfection! And no getting up early.

    BTW, it took me a second to realize you meant North Carolina BBQ. I thought NC was one of your abbreviations. Yes, it was a blonde moment :-)