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Monday, April 23, 2018

Christmas Tour de France Party Games

Tour de France Office Party

I chose the theme for the Christmas Party because of these trikes.  They are adult sized.
We have used them many times, so they were worth every penny.  I added baskets this
year and filled them with things you could throw along the Tour de France "route."

We have a large chart with the staff's names on it.  The staff were split into 4 teams by
lottery.  The assignments and speed charts were posted in the main lobby.  They were also given color coded badges, a booklet of game tickets, and a baggie with paper gambling chips as they checked into the party.

In a previous blog I posted the posters to show you how I set the theme.  They can be seen

The fresh greenery wreaths have not been added to the centerpieces.  I loved how the
green market umbrellas made the area cosy.  I used vinyl tablecloths at parties in order to reuse them in the future.  I rent tablecloths for our largest fall/client party, though.

Above are two of the tossing stations along the tour.  I always bring "Santa's dogs" to each party and give them a task.  Each stop had a cardboard street lamp  to which I added a pole with game directions.  I also added a bow for more holiday favor.  The photo with the dalmation  show the water bottle recycling station.  (They just had to toss empty plastic bottle into the can.  Easier said than done when you are riding past on a timed event.)  Along the way you saw Santa (of course) on a bicycle with another of his dogs with his feeding dish and plastic bones.

The tour went down the main (and very long) hall of the office, turned a curve into the kitchen area (which is large), went around a Christmas tree, and repeated this back to the main hall and office lobby.  I labeled the kitchen area PROVENCE.  Ratatouille was in there with his pots and stove.  He was making frog legs.  You picked up your frogs on the
way by, and then threw them back in the pot on the way back.  You had passed by the chicken and the fox area where you had been required to throw rubber eggs and a chicken into the chicken nests.

Here is a bird's eye view of the basket.  This event was very popular AND hard to do.  I always give the staff a few days ahead of the party to practice as there are fairly large cash prizes for the winners.

For those not wanting to ride the trikes, there are chances to play games that are not along the route.  Here is my sheep farmer.  There were black buckets behind each sheep you had to toss balls into.  There was also a goose in a hay wagon.  I had large rubber balls at another spot with bigger buckets.  I bought a cardboard standup tree.  You had to bounce the ball against the tree in just the right spot to make it land in the bucket.

                                       For the kiddies, I had more bone tossing.

                                      I also had a cat house in the Cafe de Chat area.  See the
mice on the shelf.  You had to get them in the holes of the house.  Not easy, but fun.
I also had gambling (not real but using paper dots).  The spinners were part of that.

We pretended the route went back to Paris, where our gambling cafe with food buffet was located (conference room).  On the table with Santa were large plastic envelopes I use for my family parties.  I used them to make eight roulette boards.  I loaded an app on my ipad labeled "Number Roulette Wheel."  Guests could simply press the screen to make the wheel turn.  The boards were designed with only 25 squares.  In the picture below,
you see the game called "Dice."  It comes with TEN sets of different colored die.  I put them in my bowls I use at lots of parties.  I used my condiment server to put the three different colors of dots (yellow= 1 point, blue=5 points, red= 10 points).  The guests could make their own "change" or "wins" from the dots in the baggie they received at check-in.
Everyone sat by the bowl and someone  (leader of round) yelled a number from 1-6.  The winner was the person who had all of their die rolled to that number.  You could also bet
on any other person at the table.  These two games were very popular.

In the building's lobby, I had one more tossing game and skiing in the French Alps.  My wooden three-man rope skis came back out and teams competed against each other.

At the end of the evening, I drew raffle tickets from each game and the gambling area.
Friends and family of staff also not only earned points for their staff member in the bike race, but raffle tickets for playing that also.  A winning team was chosen with a special prize.  The other raffle tickets were awarded wins to go to the huge prize table I set up every year.

There were also guests in the Provence BAKERY. See the black and white striped pie boxes.  I adjusted my boat box down to make these.  It made serving the pie "easy peezy".
We have a Wegmans by us with a fabulous bakery.  Their gingerbread men are to die for.
I served carrot cake from a restaurant, cream puffs from Costco, can cake pops and a cake log I made from scratch.

Of course our big tree and Santa were there, along with a live band "Irresponsible." My daughter does photo shoots for live bands and gets them for us at family/friend rates.
These bands are getting more and more famous as the years go by, even doing international tours.  I feel sooooooooooo lucky to have them come play for us.  On that note I am closing.  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Tour de France Office Party

I wanted to set the scene for beginning our Tour de France office party with downtown Paris.  I set up the office lobby as a Paris cafe with small tables and chairs, fresh greenery and candle centerpieces, large checked black and white tablecloths. All this was under two green market umbrellas I got on sale on Amazon at the end of the summer.  It was
hard getting Paris down to eight panels.  Here are the first four.  I have evolved to the idea to now make the panels into sets of two.  It looks better as two large murals instead of four individual ideas.  You will see the difference in my next blog about the Grand Canyon for our chili contest this year.  You can see in the Provence Panels below how the
first two line up.  In the holiday crush, I didn't notice that the road for the third panel
did not line up with the first two. If you want to see photos of the party go  here

The idea of the party was a bike race on the two adult sized trikes the office owns.  We have used them over and over again over the years, so I needed a new twist.  So we started the race in Paris, and it wound its way to Provence (where games and desserts were located) and back to Paris again. 

You can see above the last three panels make a better scene  There are mullions on the windows that are 8 inches between windows, so lining up the panels to match is difficult.
I am working and practicing on this process, but in the printing of these the measurements get thrown off.  I will blog with the photos of the party and game details in the next post.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Margaritaville Down Under

The Reef

My Margaritaville party theme all begins with the idea of where can we go that has palm trees.  Last year we even went on Safari.  This year we went to Australia, hence the name of the party.  I wanted to build a centerpiece around the idea of a coral reef, since the Great Barrier Reef is something you really want to visit in Australia.  I built one using my two four-foot chicken feeders.  I used floral tape to attach Styrofoam blocks, that I cut to fit in them.  Since the party is always near the end of September, I started collecting "greens" from Michael's and Amazon that looked like under the water plants.  I found these six tree-like rubber things and just knew they would work.  I spent a lot of time on Amazon searching and buying rubber fish in various sizes that looked realistic.  In the picture above, you are seeing an eight-foot pvc backdrop with blue bubble wrap stretched
across it.  I found blue blinking battery-operated lights which we taped to the back
of the bubble wrap.  The human sized scuba diver is one of my characters I make from
wall insulation and fun foam.  The next photos below show up close pictures of the reef.
The clients LOVED this.  The barbeque foods were placed on the table in front of this.



Sydney Harbor Dessert Bar

Since most people arrive in Australia through Sydney, I decided to reuse my ferry boat as a harbor prop.  I had spent a LOT of time designing banners to represent the harbor as
a backdrop for this.  At the last minute, the company announced that they were putting up monitors in the kitchen to display marketing information during the parties.  I insisted they let me use them as a part of my display instead.  So I adapted the panels to fit the monitors.  They told me they would animate the next ones I design for a party. 
The sail boats are actually cake pop boats with shaved chocolate on them.  The sticks hold the paper sails.  I reused my favorite boats and dock to hold desserts. 

I used my mini cheesecake pans to make key lime cheesecakes.  I bought the key lime juice on Amazon, and I got the recipe on Pinterest.  Because it is a LOT of baking, I did cheat and buy the fruit tarts at Wegmans and the pound cake at Costco.  I made homemade whipped cream with diced strawberries in it.  You simply had to spred it on the slice of cake to make strawberry shortcake.  I have tried this dessert in so many ways, but this was the EASIEST and most consumed way of doing it.

I also baked small tarts and filled them with a lemon pudding mix I made with  fresh
squeezed lemon juice, a recipe I also got on Pinterest.   Of to the side on the dock, were bite sized brownies made from a mix with caramel in it.  So I added crushed candies and caramel sauce with whipped cream to bring them up a notch.  There were no desserts left at the end of this party. 

We put high-tops in the kitchen-party area every year.  I had them covered with deep blue tablecloths.  I like to reuse every item I own in a new way for each party.  So the fish bowls this year had sand (from Michaels) with sea shells and plastic crabs I found on sale on our beach trip.  Simple and easy.  My two manzanita trees held stuffed koalas.  I had shrimp cocktail on these two tables, which actually worked out better than putting it on the food table in the tent.

The Food and Set-up

Speaking of food, we tried out a new barbeque restaurant in our area.  They had catering, so I ordered pulled beef and chicken, sausages, slider rolls, beans, salad, and brisket.  Instead of plates, I have been ordering cardboard "boats" for guests to eat out of.  They don't overstuff their plates and can always go back for more.  And they make it easier to carry their food around.  I order salad and have a fruit, veggie, cheese platter for those that don't eat meat.  My recipe for ordering numbers is to count the number of RSVPs, then cut it in half for the food amounts.  It has always worked out.  The catering companies are usually working on food amounts for a sit-down event.  Anything left over gets eaten by the staff, so there is no waste.  This company sent along at least 10 bottles of sauces, which took the sliders up three notches.

The Outback

Since the garden is "outback" of our office, it seemed the best place to theme it.
My hubby and I went to local Merrifield Garden Center, where they sold us a ton of flower baskets that were near the end of their season, but worked great for our party.
I also placed the "BEACH" rug here for in front of the band.  I added a 5' new alligator to my beach supplies, and a crocodile.  (The band fell in love with the crocodile, so I let them have it.)

The palm trees this year were only tabletop ones. I reset the kitchen rectangular tables up on the patio as a long bar using bedrisers to get height.  I rent bar stools along with the high top tables and tablecloths.

 I made three large banners of my version of the Outback for the sign-in area by the garden. I felt including Jeff Irwin was important.  I also had a sheep farm panel because there are many sheep farms in Australia.  Yes I had a large stuffed kangaroo.  The chart is a welcome poster with Aussie sayings on it.

Here is my version of an Aussie farmer and his sheep.  The clients and guests thought this was hysterical.  They are coming to my office Christmas party, as the farmer also has a sheep farm in Provence, France.  Our theme is Christmas Tour de France.

By the way, my daughter Annie's office is borrowing all of the coral reef items for their Christmas Hawaiian theme they chose.  I already have all of the props and games planned for them.  You will see a future blog about what we did for her office. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Make Your Own Doilies


WHY would you want to make your own doilies?  You are probably thinking I will just buy some paper ones, they are good enough.


I always want some to match my theme.  So, when my friend Nancy came to visit last summer, she got me hooked on hole punches for craft projects.  I took the idea one step further and bought the following:

It is a FISKARS 4X-Large Lever Punch, Pretty Scallop that cuts a 3.5 inch circle.

Since the Margaritaville party is always centered around a nautical theme, I wanted
blue and white stripes to cut the cardstock doilies onto.

So I made the above sheet in 8.5" x 11."  I printed it.  I folded it in half length-wise and
cut it.  I put each side through the slot with THE ORANGE CLEAR DOOR OPEN.  It still punches with the door open.  This way I could see where the paper was, and I could press the lever from the back (instead of pressing the lever on the top).  I got three circles from each side-or six in total.
photo of doily on white background

Because the office parties are quite large (200-400 clients/staff), I serve bite-sized desserts.  These small doilies are the perfect size. I could even laminate them, as they are cardstock, and use them to match my parties at home for coasters.  Even though this is a short post, I will link it to the actually party post in September so that you can see the results.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Moana Party

Moana Party

The Moana boat I built from two cardboard boxes.  The sail is a post I bought at Michael's 
and two large sheets of white fun foam glued together. I started the boat by cutting off
the two long flaps of the rectangular boat for the larger canoe.  I cut the end pieces off to create triangles.  I used the side flaps by scoring them and cutting them to fit under the triangles. I cut off any excess and masking taped them together.  I used two pieces of scrap cardboard to make the top triangles and taped them on also.  I did the same thing to a longer and shorter box for the outrigger. I used a smaller, lower, wider box for the middle piece. I cut slits where it connected once placed on the "canoe.

I printed out the wood pattern above and tacky glued it on all sides of everything. My box might be a little high, but as a cupcake server it made a big impact.  Where did I get the bamboo?  You can buy bamboo fencing at Home Depot.  It is fairly easy to snip and cut down to any size you want.  I had these pieces wrapped around jars from a jungle party, so I simply reinvented them. I had thought about using Lincoln Logs and wiring them together.  You could also use dowels wired together.  I use E6000 glue from Michael's for anything I want to REALLY stick together for projects.  It takes 24 hours to set, but boy does it hold.

Here it is with Moana's pig and chicken.  I bought the standup Moana and Maui cardboard figures from AMAZON.  Yes, Amazon.  The little girls liked having their picture taken with the plastic tablecloth headbands.  If you want those directions go here: 
                                Moana headbands

The bottom left photo is the birthday girl with her headband.  If you see the top right photo, that is the Maui standup with one half of my cornhole game.  I bought a dozen stuffed fish from Amazon, then I cut open the bottoms, took out most of the stuffing, and replaced it with dried beans.  After sewing them back up, they were perfect for helping Maui go fishing.  This game was VERY popular with the smaller kids.  The older kids used the other half of the game with the bean bags that came with it.

The middle photo above shows the Shiny Things Whiffleball game: Go here for directions

We also played Elimination Bingo with the Moana characters.  You can see the bingo directions here

The fourth game we played used a large tall box which I covered in green card stock cut
to resemble hills.  I glued coconut Kakamora warriors to it and some palm trees I printed.
There is a shallow box taped to the open top of the box.  (I used a LOT of masking tape).
I order SNOWBALL THROWERS for people to use as launchers.  I search for themed small bean bags to launch for parties.  Amazon just happens to have the Kakamora coconut characters. I now have a large collection of bean bags that fit into these launchers.  They are fun for ALL ages (seriously).

Of course, two of my palm trees were at the party.  They use plumbing pvc pieces.  Hobby Lobby has the best palm leaves in our area.  The birthday girl, her mom, and her grandma (my friend) loved all of this.  She was one happy little girl, and that made all of my work worth every minute I spent on it.  Of course, if you know me, I will reuse lots of the game pieces.