Renee in Knoxville, TN USA
Recipe Party. (Adult "Girls Night Out" Idea). I hosted a recipe party last year that is still talked about today. I was getting fed up with my everyday recipes and decided I wanted more. I chose to host a 'Recipe Party' as a fun way to collect more. I printed up invitations on clear velum. I did two to a page and attached them to colored paper with ribbon at the top. It was a very classy and elegant invitation. It was a long and wordy invitation, but I thought a cute rhyme would be fun. WORDING: My tast buds are bored! My pantry is bland! Please won't you all come and lend me a hand? Tis the same 'ole stuff at the same 'ole store. My old stand-bys are dying and I need some more! We can all gather 'round with nibblings and tea, and swap our ideas for some new recipes! Brind the cream of the crop, your best five will suffice. Make twelve copies of each, 'cause not writing is nice! Since our discussion is food while the clock keeps on tickin' You know for a fact we'll end up in the kitchen. So RSVP, that's my one simple wish, To sign up for dinner, we will each bring one dish. The 28th of this month is slated for fun. Please show-up around six. I hope you can come! The response was overwhelming as each invited lady couldn't wait to come and swap recipes. Not one lady declined their invitation! Twelve ladies were invited and they each had to bring five recipes - so we're talking about a TON of new dishes to try! And each recipe was considered 'the best of their best'! I asked them to each bring recipes for 2 main dishes and the rest could be anything from appetizers, vegetables, salads, breads or desserts or more. When the women called to RSVP they signed up for a dish. I arranged it so we would have a full meal to eat. Several appetizers with punch, three main dishes, 2-3 vegetables, two salads and several desserts. The great thing about dinner was we were eating dishes that we were about to receive the recipes for! SET UP: I set up two large tables of six for us to eat at. One was my dining room table and another table was set up in my den. In my living room (these three rooms all open up to each other and are connected so you didn't feel too far removed from everyone) I set up another long table borrowed from my mother-in-law. This was the food table. I set the dining tables with my best linens, gold charger plates, my best china and crystal goblets! This was going to be a girls night out to remember! I made lovely centerpieces for each table. The food table had greenery going down the middle with lots of light candles for a soft glow. MAKE AHEAD: I made pretty name tags on the computer before the party and had them out for the women to put on when they arrived. This helped with the conversation since these friends didn't all know each other. The tags helped with familiarity and everyone got along famously! The other thing I did was make pretty place setting cards. I printed out everyones name, cut it out and glued it on a small decorative piece of paper folded like a tent. Using this same layout I made food label cards so people would know the name of the dishes on the food table. I also printed out the women's names on an envelope to hold the recipes they would receive at the party. I had candles light all through the house (the hubby and kids were out for the evening and it was a calm and peaceful household!) and used nothing but my best hostess items. If you don't use those wedding gifts at times like this, you'll NEVER use them! THE PARTY: I made a large bowl of punch, and set out an appetizer I made as well as made places on the appetizer table for dishes others had signed up for. We mingled and ate our pre-dinner food on little hostess sets (and plate with a cubby for a matching punch cup) left to me from my grandmother. Then everyone found their seats and we enjoyed an amazing dinner provided by everyone present! This was wonderful for me, becasause as the hostess I only had to do the set-up and make just ONE dish! I used my silver tea service and we poured our coffee and tea and settled in the living room for the recipe swap! RECIPE SWAP: This was a fun time! Everyone brought 12 copies of their five top recipes. Each woman took their turn passing out their copies and giving some history on why it was their favorite and some tips and hints for making them. My mouth was watering already as I anticipated trying them! Afterwards we sat at the tables again and enjoyed our choice at not just ONE, but TWO scrumptious desserts! This, of course, was made even more sweet by time with friends as we each talked, visited, swaped stories and throughouly enjoyed an evening away from our kids and talking 'adult' for hours on end! Most ladies stayed quite late and enjoyed themselves. I have been given continued compliments to such a novel idea as a party for gaining recipes as well as how grateful each lady was to walk away with SIXTY awesome recipes! I had no idea my friends were such good cooks! I've been asked so often if I'm going to do it again that I've decided to make in an anual event and I hope to do another one next month as we prepare for the coming holidays! I might even try a new twist this time and asked people to bring recipes good for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas! I hope this gives other ladies some good ideas on how much fun it is to host an evening in your home and spoil yourself as well as your friends! Happy Cooking!