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Entries in party themes (53)


Host an Orange Bowl party!

This post originally appeared in December of 2009, but I absolutely had to revise it for the 2013 Orange Bowl...

When I was a student at Northern Illinois University, our football team had the distinction of being the very worst among Division I schools. To give you an idea of how bad we were, the students rushed the field and tore down the goal posts when we won a game. Not Homecoming. Not against a rival. Just a regular game that snapped our 80 million game losing streak. The next Monday, the gameday results were featured in a two page wraparound of the student newspaper.

Back in the day, gametime = sequin time!The team steadily improved, but even after I graduated, my friends and I could casually roll up to Huskie Stadium on Homecoming morning and easily grab a primo tailgating spot just a few yards from the stadium. And then, things changed. We started winning more games, sometimes even against "good" teams like Alabama and Maryland. Sportscasters began to take notice. Alumni donated money. New buildings popped up around campus. And the tailgating area next to the stadium turned into a top-tier donor lot.

This brings me to January 1st, 2013. NIU is playing in the Orange Bowl. I don't care what the angry tangerine-hued man on ESPN says. I am beyond excited, and I know my fellow alumni are, too.

If you're not going to the Orange Bowl itself (which, le sniff, I am not), or a sponsored watch party, the next best thing is hosting an Orange Bowl party at home. Take inspiration from the Cuban cuisine of Miami, along with some tropical touches.  Some ideas to get you started:

DISH: Serve Mini Cubano Sandwiches, Cuban Shortbread Cookies, and Citrus fruit salad

DRINK: Orange basil mojitos by Recipegirl.com (photo from Fine Living)

DECOR: Spruce up your space with oranges and cloves in addition to a general football motif and team colors. Also stock up on these Cayman 7" plates from CB2. And remember...


(Hello to my 'Nole friends. My love for you will return on January 2nd.) 


More football watching merriment:
Rose Bowl
Sugar Bowl
Fiesta Bowl
plus general football party tips



Today's post is part of the #HolidayHQ Blog Hop. See the links below for more posts from the best party and entertaining experts!

We're officially in the months that contain the letter "R", which means it's oyster season! If you're looking for a unique event for autumn, host an Oyster Roast. These convivial gatherings are best done outside - or at the very least on hardwood floors if you must be indoors - on a large table covered with newspaper. Your guests will enjoy gathering around the grill with a drink in hand, waiting for the magical moment when the oysters pop!

To Prep

Oysters are typically sold about 120 per bushel. Most guidelines advise serving a minimum of six per person...although I could easily eat a dozen on my own. Be sure to pick them up no sooner than the morning of your party, for maximum freshness. They should be closed tight and free of strong odor. If you find an open oyster, give it a tap. If it doesn't close immediately, it's a dud - throw it away. Clean the oysters with a scrub brush and keep them in a cool, moist environment until ready to roast.

To Roast

Arrange the oysters in a small pile on a metal cookie sheet, and cover with a wet cloth. They have a tendency to explode if roasted dry, so be sure to keep the towel wet. Place the cookie sheet over a grill or fire pit at medium-high heat, about (350º to 400º).

After about 10 minutes, the shells will open ¼ to ½ inch, which means they're done. Dump them onto the table with condiments (see below), paper towels, a bowl for shells, and oyster knives and gloves - or dishtowels - at the ready.

To Open

Your roasted oysters shouldn't be too difficult to shuck. Cover your hand with a glove or towel and hold the oyster flat side up. Insert the knife into the opening, and give the knife a twist to pry the shell open. This video explains how to shuck raw oysters, but as I said, a roasted oyster will put up much less of a fight.

To Serve

Purists will recommend serving nothing but Saltines and condiments such as hot sauce, mignonette sauce, lemon, melted butter, or grated horseradish. Others consider the oysters part of a larger meal which could include roasted bratwurst, garlic bread, corn on the cob, and other picnic favorites. In either case, I recommend ending your roast on a sweet note with a seasonally appropriate pumpkin dessert.

To Pour

As a rule of thumb, dry, crisp white wines pair best with the briny bivalves. Avoid anything too sweet or syrupy. Champagne is the perfect accompaniment, as its versatility pairs well with oysters' complexity. Porters, stouts, and IPAs work well if your guests would prefer beer. Or you can mix the two and make a...

Black Velvet
Fill a champagne flute halfway with Guinness. Pour dry champagne over the back of a bar spoon and into the glass, to prevent mixing the layers. Serve immediately.


See the links below for more October party tips. We'll be back in November and December, too!

Housewife Bliss  |  Planning the Perfect Halloween Party
Celebrations at Home | Dress Up Your Drinks for Halloween
The Gracious Girl  |  Halloween Parties Dos and TaBoos!
With Style & Grace | Sweet Treats for Halloween Entertaining
The TomKat Studio | How to Make an Adorable Halloween Sign + Free Printable
Tatertots & Jello  |  Halloween Tablescape
Home, Life & You Style | A Halloween Party in the Woods
The Partybluprints Blog  |  Get Corny This Halloween!

Join us on Twitter this Thursday, October 13th 8pm EST for #HolidayHQ chat - a Halloween roundup with some ideas, recipes & tips from top crafting, foodie & entertaining experts

photo credit - oysters 1, oysters 2


Royal Wedding GIVEAWAY plus an authentic British menu for your Viewing Party


Sometimes, our British cousins confuse me...

On the one hand, they have a lock on all things proper and restrained. Stiff upper lips, and all that. On the other hand, walk past any souvenir shop in London and you'll see the Royal Family's face plastered on all manner of knick-knacks with gleeful abandon and no thought to good taste or propriety. So it stands to reason that the UK's tourist merchandisers (and graphic designers) have really gone to town for the Royal Wedding.

The above set was purchased this morning at London Heathrow airport. Pickings were slim (the happy occasion is only a few days away, after all) and it was either this or a needlepoint throw pillow sporting Wills & Kate. Didn't think anyone would want that. The shortbread tin, though, will be easy to reuse once the cookies are gone, and the mug has great kitsch value. I'm sure you can find a use for the tea towel, too. I purchased an identical one at the end of my study abroad term at Oxford and turned it into a scrapbook cover.

To enter...

1) Leave a comment below detailing an unlikely item you'd love to see graced by the happy couple.
2) Contest ends Wednesday 4/27 at 4pm Central. Depending on where you live, you could have your prize in time for the wedding!
3) You must be a US resident over 18, and you must provide your info in the email address field below, so I can contact you. Winner will be chosen randomly.

The contest is closed!


Viewing Party Menu

To eat
Since the wedding will be horribly early for us Americans, it's the perfect opportunity to serve an English fry-up. This traditional breakfast consists of toast, sauteed mushrooms, a fried tomato slice, baked beans, back bacon, and eggs. God save the Queen your cardiologist!

Or, you could go the afternoon tea route and arrange a selection of finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam.

To sip
It's not quite yet Pimm's Cup season, but let's dispense with tradition and mix a batch! If you can't bear to pour Pimm's so early in the day, a selection of tea would be lovely. Don't forget to pop the champagne for the Balcony Kiss!

To sweet
The wedding party won't be consuming cupcakes adorned with printables, so why should your guests? Instead, serve something that will be on their menu, and is really easy to make - William's chocolate biscuit Groom's Cake. A sweet ending, indeed!

Many happy years to the future King and Queen, and good luck winning the contest!


Winter revelry Part I - "Chalet Night" at The Peninsula Chicago

A few weeks ago I was invited by The Peninsula Chicago to partake in Chalet Night at their Pierrot Gourmet restaurant. What fun! Chalet Night runs every Thursday until March 31st (and is only $19 per person!), but if you can't get there, I hope these photos will inspire your own "Chalet Night"...


Lions! (outside The Peninsula)


Bears! (inside Pierrot Gourmet)


Vintage snow shoes decorating the walls. Has anyone ever tried these? Do they actualy work?


Chef de Cuisine Tony Schmidt (formerly of Blackbird, Everest, and Trio) stopped by to explain the menu.


To start, a salad with just the right amount of acidity to counteract the rich cheese...


Rich indeed. Behold, a three cheese fondue made of gruyerer, appenzeller, and fontina.

I had no shame, and dove right in.


Cute little design on the fondue pots. So Swiss!


Fondue was served with a hearty bread, pickled vegetables, and shaved speck (the Swiss version of pancetta).

About the speck - don't dip it into the cheese, thinking that you'll invent a clever variation on the ham-and-cheese sandwich. Someone at our table tried that, and just made a mess. Honestly, I have no idea who that might be. ::shifty eyes::


A meal that ends in French Macarons? Just marvelous, in my book.

Oh and if you're an astute Second City Soiree reader, you know that these are macarons and not macaroons.  :)


Macaron cross-section, before I devoured it. I have so little control in the face of these.


We finished with a bit of Eau-de-Vie pear brandy. This powerful little digestif packs a warming punch!


Chalet Night technically ended here, but I couldn't resist peaking in Pierrot Gourmet's pastry case...


While I'll never say "no" to a deliciously rustic gallete, I love the look of formal pastries. So pretty!


Happy and very full of cheese and macarons, we continued down the street and a thousand feet up in the air. More about that next week...

Need more inspiration? Look at this Apres Ski party!


Super Bowl "Just the Commercials" Party (with free printables)

So...who else zones out during the Super Bowl game itself, but then perks up for the commercials? Well, me too! For those of us who don't thrill to every touchdown, I've created a Super Bowl Commercials Party, inspired by ads from the 1950s and 60s. Enjoy!



The extra space on the side is for your party info. Download, add your text, and save in any image editing program, or write the start time and party location by hand, if you're going to print and deliver. Print on cardstock. If you have the capability, these are sized so that two can print on one landscape oriented page.






I don't think this party needs a ton of decor, but a few cheeky pieces on the TV (as in the photo above) gives you something to look at during the game... ;)

Download "A word from our Sponsor"

Download Color TV



Bingo game

Don't just watch the commercials...turn it into a game! The first person to get a full row (or four corners, or diagonal, or however you like to play) wins! 

Download filled out bingo sheet

Download blank bingo sheet


A full list of suggested bingo squares:
A-list celeb, Animals doing tricks, Animated, At-home scenario, B-list celeb, Bar scenario, BBQ grill, Beach scenario, Beer, Burger, Car, Car commercial aimed at women, Catchy song, Cleavage, Commercial that tried to be funny but failed, Computers, Confusing commercial, Country music, Credit card, Fast food restaurant, Former athlete, Mobile phone, Mobile phone provider, Office scenario, Party scenario, Pizza, Pop singer, Post superbowl TV show, Rap star, Reference to Facebook or Twitter, “See more online”, Slo-mo, Snack food, Soft drink, Sports drink, Things talking that shouldn’t be able to, TV show plug, Upcoming movie, Video game, Web site



This is really up to your crowd. You can do it one of two ways...

Traditional Bar Food: e.g. wings and quesadillas washed down with beer
Girly: e.g. sushi, cucumber cocktails, and fancy cupcakes

Which do you think your friends would prefer? You really can't go wrong either way, in my opinion!

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