Sunday, January 27, 2008

What a Theme!

Ok, completely off the subject of motherhood, but every once in a while moms should get to throw a party that does not involve cone-shaped hats and pinatas, don't you agree? I mentioned my impending "Pub Night" dinner club theme the other day and I had so much fun putting it together that I just had to share it! Part of the reason I am so pleased with it, is because I was feeling in a real rut with what to do for this dinner party. We have been getting together once a month for the better part of 8 years and it rotates between 4 couples, so it is at my house close to 3 times a year. We've done murder mystery parties, fondue night, Caribbean night, Hawaiian night, Italian night -- you name a country, and we've probably done a dinner around their food! We've also covered some of the holidays -- Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and I'm pretty sure there was a Cinco De Mayo in there too. We usually do favors that we give out at these dinners, but after one garage sale where we were all selling the many kitsch-y plastic glasses that we had acquired as dinner party favors, we decided to keep it to things that we could easily use, but that would also not clutter our houses. With all of that in mind and the fact that frankly, having this dinner fall after Christmas and between my daughter's and my husband's birthdays, I was feeling less than inspired about coming up with a theme that we hadn't already done, that would also not break the bank (because, as you may have guessed, I can go a little over the top sometimes...).

My party ideas always spark from something small -- in this case, I thought about the favor -- as I've mentioned before, my husband and I love music and we love to burn cd's, so I thought that we could make a cd mix to give out as our favor. We have tons of blank cd's and tons of music, so that would be free, essentially, and hopefully something that our guests would enjoy. For some reason, that made me think of all of the British groups that we have on cd, which led to thinking about having a pub night. My husband started working on the music and I started working on decorations. From the internet I found and printed pictures of some of "the Royals" (the Queen, Prince William, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Diana) along with other famous Brits -- Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, and of course, David Beckham! I went around my dining room and living room and I stuck these pictures into frames that I already had out with pictures of my girls and family. I searched on the internet for other ideas -- found a recipe for pickled eggs which I made for the novelty, but there were actually a couple of guests that were brave enough to try them! I also read online that most pubs have frosted windows so that patrons can't be seen from the outside. On our trip to the dollar store, I bought a white plastic tablecloth that we taped up on the front window of our dining room which made it look like a frosted window. I also took some of my daughter's "window paint" and I painted the name of the pub that we had come up with -- "The Bull and the Nag Inn" (nagging, get it? that was mostly my husband's idea, I suppose he's the bull).

Here's a great tip for working out a party theme with limited expense -- talk to your friends and family about what you are planning! Just from sharing my idea with my office mate, she came in with trays and beer steins and plastic pitchers for me to use for the evening! And my father let me borrow his dartboard and his new Union Jack flag (which I hung over the portrait of my daughters that hangs over my fireplace)! My best "find" for this dinner party, was truly a find -- I knew that when we bought our house from my grandmother, that she had left some china for us in a tub in the basement. When I went down to look for it (I thought it looked slightly more British than mine) -- I found 2 sets down there, one that I had never seen and it went perfectly with my theme! Not to mention it's a great set -- full service for 8, so I cleaned it all up and put it in my kitchen cupboard to use on a more regular basis.

The most fun part of the decorating for myself and for my girlie, was that we took dry-erase markers and wrote on the (non-porous!) tiles on the walls of our bathroom! It was a silly thing that I thought of to get a few laughs from our guests, but I got my girl to help me and she had a great time writing "Liv was here!" and drawing pictures on the tiles. Maybe that was stretching the theme a bit, but sometimes you just have to have fun, and I think it's great to let my girl do something a little "crazy!" Don't worry -- she's well aware that we don't normally write on the walls! And, with the non-porous tiles, the dry-erase markers wiped right off! Easier than the paint on the window -- it came off, but it took MANY wet paper towels!

It was a fun night for us, and I think our friends had a good time too. One of the most important things that I have learned as a parent is that while we love our children and want to spend as much time as possible with them (especially when you are a working mom, like I am!) it's also so important to get to have some time with grown-ups, too! This dinner group is actually a great idea for parents -- we rotate between our friends' homes and our own home, and when it's at our house we don't need to find a babysitter! Our girls were great last night -- with the way dinner was timed, we got them to bed right around dinner, so it wasn't a late night for them, and before dinner they were both a little in on the theme -- my older daughter was all dressed in green (for Ireland) and she put a tiara on, and we had our little one dressed in a little Scottish/English-looking outfit. Hey, everyone has to participate in the theme, right?


Christine said...

I had a pickled egg!!! It was pretty good actually!!

Having been a guest at the party I can attest that it was one of the best themes ever!!! (except for the time I wore the Sari, and yes, I'm going to keep saying THAT!)

The food was wonderful as was the company!

The best part of the theme was that everywhere I looked there was something that I had not noticed before! The pictures were a hoot and free! That bathroom wall was hysterical although I swear everyone at that party must suffer from dehydration except for me!!!!

Deanna said...

You are a brave soul!

I was sick for the Sari party, but I will take your word for it!

Really some of my favorite things that we did -- front window ($1 for tablecloth from dollar store), pictures, and the bathroom wall -- were either free or extremely cheap!

Christine said...

Oh that's right-you were sick. Trust me. I looked great. ;-)

Deanna said...

You always do!