Thursday, January 12, 2012

Black, White, and "Read" All Over - Crossword Puzzle Party

My wonderful father turned 80 in August, and my brothers and I decided to throw him a surprise birthday party.  My dad LOVES all kinds of puzzles and does the newspaper crossword every morning.  Therefore, I decided this would have to be the theme of his birthday. This was also the theme of our monthly dinner this past Monday, so I was able to use these ideas for multiple occasions.  Most of the photos are from the monthly dinner.
Invite:  The invite for this theme has to be a crossword puzzle in which the clues give the party information.  For my father's party, I added the answers in a simple format to the back of the puzzle just in case guests couldn't figure out one of the clues.  I created the crossword puzzle using a Crossword Puzzle Maker website.  It basically creates the puzzle for you.  I did type my own clues so that I could change the font, add the stars, etc.  The color scheme for the invite and party was black, white, and red to go with my slogan Black, White, and "Read" All Over.

Decor:  At the entry door for my monthly dinner, I created a huge crossword puzzle using a foam board and scrapbook paper.  All guests were asked to answer one clue as their ticket into the party.  The clues were very easy and all had to do with red/read.

I used red tablecloths and found some black and white crossword puzzle fabric at Joanns fabric store.  I cut the fabric into squares and sewed the edges. For the centerpieces, I bought crossword puzzle books at Dollar Tree and used the pages to make crossword puzzle roses.  The stems were pencils.  I placed these in a vase ($1 at Dollar Tree), tied them with a red ribbon, and filled them with Hot Tamales.

On each plate, I also had a crossword puzzle with pencil for guests to complete.  For my father's surprise birthday, this served as a way to pass the time while we waited for him to arrive for the big SURPRISE!  The clues were all about my dad, so the guests tried to see how much they knew.  At the monthy dinner, all the clues related to the 12 monthly dinners of 2011 since this was our first dinner of the new year.

Looking for any way to incorporate my theme, I made fun tags for the utensils. I made these tags on Microsoft Word. If you want to throw a crossword puzzle party and want these, just email me or comment below. I had similar crossword tags next to each of the menu items I served.

Menu:  I used much the same menu for both crossword parties I hosted.  I served a green salad with lots of yummy fixings as well as lasagna and garlic bread. I tried out this lasagna recipe, and it was delicious...

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.  Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

We finished off with a cake.  Again, I designed the crossword puzzle on the computer.  I feel bad to say it, but I actually didn't make the cakes myself for these parties.  I took the printout of the crossword to Albertons Bakery and had them make the cake.

Here is the one I had made for my dad's party.  To elevate some of the menu items (as seen here), I also wrapped empty boxes in crossword puzzle paper to add to the decor.

Activity:  To make the monthly dinner a little bit more fun for my girls, I also asked each guest to bring a $5-$10 wrapped gift that was either black, white, or red/read.  We did a fun exchange/steal.  We had everything from a homemade red/black scarf  to bottles of nail polish in all three colors.

This was such a fun party theme.  It was perfect for my father's birthday party, but also neat for the monthly dinner.  You can even incorporate some of the ideas into a game night party.  Enjoy!

PS. If any of you are interested, I would be happy to post photos and directions of how to make the paper roses.  They take time, but are not very difficult.  Comment below if this is something you would like.


Anonymous said...

Doing an 80th birthday for may dad who loves crossword puzzles. Got so many good ideas from your site. I would love to know how to make the roses.

Anonymous said...

Could you post directions for how to make the roses?

Anonymous said...

I would love to know how to make the roses as well! Directions for the food tags would be great to have as well.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know how to make the crossword roses as well

InviteandDelight said...

So Sorry it took me so long to post a tutorial, but here it is...

InviteandDelight said...

Thanks for asking. I posted one for you!

Carolyn said...

I love these ideas. Would it be possible for you to send me the food labels you did? I would love to use those! Thanks.

InviteandDelight said...

Thank you Carolyn. Please send me your email, so I can send these to you! :)

Anonymous said...

Just saw your ideas about the crossword party. I loved your ideas. Can you send me directions on how to make the roses and the food labels.

Georgie Eckart said...

I love this theme as my husband is a crossword fanatic!!! I would also like to know mhow you made the food labels and tags

InviteandDelight said...

I made the labels and tags on Microsoft Word. I would be happy to email them to you if you leave me your email address.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to make the tags for the eating utensils