Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year's BALL Party

For a little twist on the typical New Year's celebration, I decide to host a New Year's BALL Party.  No...not the Cinderella-kind of ball, but a party where everything was round like a ball. From the menu to the decor, I tried to incorporate as many round items as possible.  This would be a great birthday party for the guy/girl who is really into sports as well. It was a lot of fun.

Invite: I wanted to create a round invitation like I made for our summer pool party (see it here), but I ran out of time, so I created just a simple invite.  The text was...

Ready for another ROUND of Monthly Dinners with 2014?
BOUNCE on in and get ready to
have a BALL this Monday
at our

New Year's Ball

We'll celebrate the BALL dropping on another year of great Monthly Dinners.
Everything will be round at this party, so dress with pocadots or beads or whatever you can find that is circular.

Entry Decor: I bought punch balls from the Dollar Tree (they come 3 to a pack).  The punch balls already have a rubber band on one side, so I used it to attach each one to the next and weights to keep them down.  Since there is no helium, I used strings to keep them up.  I thought about using beach balls to create the arch, but it wasn't cost effective for me.  This was cheap and all I had to do was untie them for my kids to play with after the party. (= super cost effective AND super happy kids!)

As each guest entered, they drew a card from a round bowl for the night's activity.  These are just some of the examples of charade-type movements.  This was meant to add another bit of humor to the party!

Decor: I wanted bright/fun colors, so I used a bright yellow tablecloth. I hung a few more punch balls from the ceiling over the table.  My centerpiece was a vase with a collection of my kids' rubber balls.  Inside this vase, I painted a dowel rod white and used the disco ball from my Dancing with the Stars monthly dinner to be like the New Year's Eve New York ball drop. On both sides of this I filled tall vases with colorful marbles and bright flowers.

As place cards, I tried to think of a ball that represented each guest. The ones shown above are:
Soccer ball - for my friend that loves playing soccer; Disco Ball - for my friend that loves to dance; text from Pride and Prejudice - for my friend that loves to read (especially this book); Chocolate Chip dough ball - for my friend who loves to cook. Other balls I made were a yarn ball, 8 ball, and beach ball.  I bought the wooden balls at Michaels and hand painted the soccer, beach, and 8 ball.  I used Mod Podge to do the Pride and Prejudice ball and Playdough/mini chocolate chips to make the cookie ball.

I matched the napkin rings to the place cards. 

I set up my wine glasses in a triangle like in the balls at the start of a game of pool.  The wine charms were numbered pool balls surrounded by a triangle like you use in pool.

I spray painted the wine bottles for my party white and used red electrical tape to make them look like bowling pins. I set a plastic black bowling party next to them.

Menu:  I wrote the menu on mini beach balls I found at Party City. I used a small piece of tape adhere the ball to the plate so it didn't roll around.

The appetizer was goat cheese balls coated in various items - toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds and chives, mixed nuts and paprika.  These were served with Ritz crackers.  

Goat Cheese Balls
8 ounces goat cheese
16 ounces cream cheese
3 T chives, chopped
1/2 t lemon juice
1/2 t worcestershire
1 t black pepper
1 T dried minced garlic
1 t Italian seasoning
*Tablespoon and teaspoon measurements are approximate as we seasoned to taste.

For the main dish, I wanted to do a chicken meatball rather than the typical ground beef one.  I found a recipe online and altered it just a bit.  It was very tasty and kid-friendly if you are looking for that.

Chicken and Apple Meatballs
1 onion, finely chopped
1 apple, peeled and grated (or cut into chunks for the food processor)
2 large chicken breasts
1/2 T fresh parsley
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs 
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
Plain flour for coating (if you are cooking them on the stove)

Saute the finely chopped onion for 3 minutes until cooked but not brown.
Put into the food processor the chicken, apple, onion, parsley and breadcrumbs and pulse until the chicken is minced and all well combined. 
Roll into small balls and coat in the flour. 
Shallow fry until lightly golden and cooked through.
*I needed stove top space, so I baked them at 375 degrees instead of frying them. 

As side dishes, I served Parisian carrots (bought at Trader Joe's) and couscous (also TJ) with peas. It was a yummy meal, and one I will definitely make again.

For dessert, a friend and I made Chocolate Truffles in three flavors - coffee, orange, and chocolate/peanut butter.  These are super rich, but definitely delicious.

 Dark Chocolate Truffles
1 lb. dark chocolate (I used bags of dark chocolate chips)
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
8 oz. heavy cream
Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, tempered chocolate (optional)

For Flavorings:
1 large orange
2 T coffee
Chunky peanut butter

Chop chocolate and butter into small pieces and place in a large metal bowl.  Bring cream to boil.  Immediately pour over chocolate/butter.  Stir until completely melted.  Place bowl in the refrigerator to set up/harden.  Pipe or scoop ganache into uniform circles and drop each ball into a pan of sifted cocoa powder or powdered sugar, rolling it around to coat completely.  Truffles can be stored in the refrigerator 7-10 days. Allow them to soften slightly at room temperature before serving.

For the coffee and orange truffles:
Bring cream to boil.  Add 2 T ground coffee/zest of one orange.  Cover pot with plastic wrap.  Steep for 10 minutes.  Reheat quickly and pour over butter/chocolate.  Stir until smooth.

Favor: I bought gumballs from the Dollar Tree to fill a tennis ball as my favor. To cut the tennis ball, I used a shot glass to draw a circle on the top of the ball.  Then, I carefully cut out the circle using an exact-o knife.  I wiped the inside to clean it, placed a little tissue paper in the bottom, and added the gumballs.  To help it stand up, I used a bottle cap. I created my tag after the ball/round theme, but you could also use tennis phrases like "glad you could RALLY" and sign it "Love/Love".

If you like any of my ideas for this party, please comment below.  Also, I would be happy to share the templates for any of the items if you would like them.  Just include your email address in your comment.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Holiday Cards Galore!

One thing I love about the holidays is receiving cards from friends and family in the mail. It's so nice to get photos and letters instead of just bills!!  Throughout December I display the cards on a string along my windows, but after the holidays are over, the cards are often placed in the trash sad.  This year, I decided to try something different...

I made this simple coffee table display book and placed all my holiday cards inside. I absolutely love it because it can be added to each year as a scrapbook of how ours and others families have grown throughout the years.

To make this album, I used a chipboard kit I found at Michaels.  This kit had several boards included as well as the binding rings.  I couldn't find a kit in the size I wanted, so I used an Exact-o knife to cut the chipboard to be a smaller size.  I cut mine 6.5 x 8.5 because this fit my largest photo cards with just a bit extra on the sides.

I used Mod Podge to adhere the scrapbook paper to the chipboard, added my embellishments, and sealed it all with a couple layers of Mod Podge.  The scrapbook paper wrinkled at bit with the Mod Podge, but it doesn't bother me.  If it bothers you, you may want to try something different.

The thing I like about this project is that I made the book to be able to hold multiple years.  I made divider pages for the two years of holiday cards I have so far. Next Christmas time, I will set this book out on my coffee table.  Then in January, I will make another divider page to add my cards from 2014.

I hope you had a great holiday.  We sure loved celebrating Jenna's first Christmas.  Here's our Christmas card for those that haven't seen it!