how to Throw A Disney Themed Dinner for ADults

How to Host a Fancy Disney Themed Dinner Party

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Well, friends, I finally had my Disney themed dinner party. It may have been a month late, but it happened, and that is the important thing. We did have a few little issues getting it all together, but for the most part it was a lot of fun and we got to hang out with some new people. They even appreciated the silliness of a Disney theme at an elegant adult party, with one of my guests bringing crowns for all the ladies. You can’t get much fancier than that! I did learn one thing about my fancy dinner parties – hosting them while 7 1/2 months pregnant with a toddler is just a teensy bit exhausting. Try it. You’ll see.

Anyway, let’s get on with it. Hosting a fancy dinner party is a ton of work, and I usually only do it once a year because that’s how long it takes me to figure out everything I want to do. Hosting a fancy Disney themed dinner party took me a little over a year, and I’ll be honest, I still want to try fifteen more recipes to see if it is possible to come up with the most perfect Disney dinner anyone has ever seen. Of course, I did eventually have to give up and go with what I had, or I’d never have another dinner party again, and I simply can’t have that.

The Invitations

Surprisingly, the invitations were my first problem. I used Punchbowl to create some free online ones (I wasn’t a very green hostess for the most part, but I tried to have at least one thing not ruin the earth). They had Disney character invitations you could use for free, so that was about perfect. I picked a Beauty and the Beast one because it said “Be Our Guest,” and not “Birthday Party for a Small Child.” The invitations actually worked fine for a Disney themed dinner party, although I was a little worried about sending something pretty childish to strangers. That’s where the real problem was – strangers.

I’ve lived in Knoxville less than a year and I work from home, so I have a pretty small circle of friends right now. We usually have about seven to ten people at our dinner parties, and we were set for six this time around. I had to special order the meat (venison) for this particular dinner, so I waited as long as I could to get RSVPs, then ordered for eight. I really didn’t think we’d wind up with anyone else. The two people I already considered friends couldn’t come, and our guest list had two people we legitimately didn’t know even at that point. But, my husband operated in the shadows and somehow we got us to ten after I’d already ordered. Luckily only nine showed, but still, we were a little short on meat. Lesson: Don’t let your husband know where the invitations are.

The Decor

Hey, did you guys notice I put “fancy” in my post title? That’s right. This was not a Disney themed dinner party with little Disney figurines all over the place. Plus I’m super lazy when it comes to decorating, because, well, more decorating more cleaning, which means more time out of my day. So I stuck with very simple table decor. I had already planned on using Beauty and the Beast for this because I’d left poor Belle and Co. off the menu, and when I found those Punchbowl invitations I knew it was meant to be. Now, if you have a bunch of old candlesticks or some fabulous rose holders lying around, you can probably do a better job than I did, but I’m okay with that.

My main goal here was to get a yellow table runner and some roses. Everyone knows Belle wears that fabulous yellow dress and the whole movie revolves around a single rose, so I thought it would be pretty easy to get the theme across. I found some bright yellow fabric at Walmart, when I wasn’t even looking for it, which is not surprising at  Walmart. I could have made it into an actual table runner, but my sewing machine is broken and I want a two-sided one anyway, so I just left the thing folded up long ways and put it on the table. Then I put a single rose in three different vases and sprinkled some rose petals around. Wah-lah. Super easy, but still both Disney and grown-up.

The Disney Themed Dinner Party Menu

Here we are. The most important part! If you’re going to throw a Disney themed dinner party meant for adults, it’s all about the food. I mentioned that we had strangers at our party, but I’ve previously mentioned you should not invite picky people.  How would I know if they were picky if I didn’t know them? Well, in this case, the strangers were my mom’s coworker and her sister-in-law, who came knowing what kind of food was going to be served. We got really lucky with the rest, and now I have new foodie friends. Hooray! Anyway, it was really important they not be picky, because my menu included beets, venison, and sushi.

I add recipe ideas to my to-do list all year long. Eventually I’ll give them a try or delete them.

How did my menu come out with such a strange assortment of dishes?  Blame it on Disney. First, I went through all the films I could think of and wrote down specific dishes that were already in the movies. Next, I wrote down different foods that appear in the movies. You know, bananas in The Jungle Book, corn in Pocahontas, porridge in every single Disney movie ever, and don’t forget the variety of talking animal meat (muhuhahaha). Then came practicing, combining, and ultimately deciding on the dishes I felt would best fit the theme that I could also cook. They were not all literal. I’m sharing my menu, but there are so many more options. I barely scratched the surface. If you decide to try this, if you can come up with a dish that fits a Disney name, that’s really all you need to do.

The Menu

Disney Themed Dinner Party Menu

Appetizers

Alice’s Trippy Stuffed Mushrooms (Alice in Wonderland)

Was Alice on mushrooms when she went down the rabbit hole? I don’t think that’s what Lewis Carroll meant, but either way she eats them. These have some spice to it to give them a little kick. It also worked to kick off the Disney themed dinner party with a classic character since most of my guests weren’t up to date on all the new movies (and neither am I).

This Could Have Been You Sebastian Crab Cakes (The Little Mermaid)

Remember the scene where Sebastian escaped the cook’s pot? Well, I used imitation crab, so I know it’s not Sebastian, but still, it could’ve been. These were also spicy and served with an aioli sauce.

Drink pairing: The Enchanted Rose Cocktail (sweet to counter all the spicy)

Amuse-Bouche & Bread

Bruce’s Fish are Friends not Food Nori Rolls (Finding Nemo)

Amuse-bouches typically aren’t put on a menu, so you won’t see them on mine, but they did get served. I have no recipe to link because I just made them. It’s a nori sheet, sushi rice (here’s a recipe for that), cucumbers, pickled radishes, and avocado. There’s no fish so I didn’t worry too much about serving sushi, but it is really important to practice this one if you’re going to try it. Oh, and I drizzled this sauce on top to look pretty.

The Tramp’s Scavenged Breadsticks (Lady & the Tramp)

Also not on the menu, this is the one thing that was already on the table when I started serving. I used a copycat Olive Garden recipe and made the dough in a breadmaker. Also, if you don’t have a good non-stick surface, I recommend these non-stick silicon mats. My grandma got them for me and I love them. I used them for the nori rolls too.

Salad

The Evil Queen’s Definitely not Poisoned Apple Salad (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)

I made this recipe myself when I got obsessed with using beets and my husband wouldn’t eat them. My plan must have worked because only one person left the beets on the plate, and it wasn’t even Hubby. I do tell everyone it’s okay not to eat everything, by the way. I certainly don’t.

Drink Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc (earthy to go with beets – also served it for the nori roll)

Soup

Pocahontas Grows a Lot of Corn Soup (Pocahontas)

Serving soup when it’s hot is always a concern of mine, so I choose something with fresh veggies. This one’s spicy. And you guys, Pocahontas totally does grow a lot of corn.

Drink Pairing: Riesling – a little sweet to go with the spice

Main Dish & Side

Bambi’s Mom (Bambi)

What? Too soon? Not soon enough, I say. She died in 1923, you guys, unless the book was supposed to take place in the future. No meat needs to age that much! I don’t have a recipe for this either. It wasn’t venison season so I ordered it through Highbourne Deer Farms, and it was delicious. I only used olive oil, salt, and pepper to season, then grilled it. Just don’t make my mistake and overcook half of it, I was getting tired of getting up and down by then.

Remy’s Ratatouille (Ratatouille)

This is the only dish specific to a movie that made it onto my menu. Weird, huh? You could use any version of this, but I’ll be honest, I did not practice enough to make it look beautiful. It tasted fine though. Roasted vegetables, not really that hard.

Drink Pairing: Pinot Noir – I wanted rioja but my sister couldn’t find it, so we went with the next best choice for red meat and roasted veggies.

Dessert

 How ‘Bout a Little More Baklava Cheesecake (Aladdin)

Yes, that’s right, I remembered one tiny little line in one song in Aladdin, and it turned into my whole dessert. I can make baklava, but it’s not as pretty, so I turned it into a cheesecake. This recipe works fine, but I cut the honey, cooked it about twenty minutes longer than suggested, and skipped the whole topping. Instead I sprinkled plain walnuts then drizzled honey for looks. Also, if you’re not  phyllo dough expert, it is not going to stand up as beautifully as the recipe creator makes it seem. Mine only had one piece left standing and I considered that highly successful.

Drink Pairing: We had both Port and Sparkling Wine – cheesecake is impossible to pair with, and baklava’s not much better

Organization Tips

I am a huge advocate for properly planning your Disney themed dinner party in advance, but I totally messed up this time. My son would not sleep Friday night so I didn’t get anything done in advance. That meant I had to get up at 6:00 A.M. to make up for it on Saturday. I also would not have survived if my mom hadn’t come to baby-sit. My sister came to help cook, but she wound up taking over baby duties after my mom left. I did manage to get everything done in time, but the dinner took longer than it normally does and we did not get a chance to clean at all. For the record, my husband was in class all day, so he actually couldn’t help. He did clean everything the next day though!

To alleviate some of the dish pain, we had to reuse our forks and knives, and we used the fancy Costco disposable plates for each course, in different sizes of course. Each person got a real wine glass, but a plastic cup for water. I usually plate dishes in advance, but I didn’t have room in my fridge, so I did feel rushed. Overall, though, it was a great party. We got to make new friends and even played a little Cards Against Humanity afterwards (come on – we served Bambi’s Mom, you knew we were awful people). I hope this menu helps you out and you enjoy your own Disney themed dinner party one day!

Make a DIY Kentucky Derby

10-Minute DIY Kentucky Derby Hat

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I’ve never needed a DIY Kentucky Derby hat for the Kentucky Derby, but  I have needed one on the quick before. Back before I was an overworked bookkeeper, I was an underworked financial aid officer. The other gals in my office and I decided we were going to have a Derby hat day. The timing was weird; the derby had already passed for the year; but it made for a fun day at work as we all looked quite ridiculous dressed as southern belles for no apparent reason. I actually live pretty close to Louisville now, so maybe one day I’ll make it there and need a real hat. Until then, my makeshift easy hats will have to do, because those real ones are super expensive.

Many of you may think you have no reason to make a DIY Kentucky Derby hat, but if you are ever in the need of a quick theme party, I would go with this one. Obviously I’m not particular about my derby timing, but if you are, think about this. You could do a derby party instead of Cinco de Mayo. Do you really want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo anymore? Tequila and sombreros. Blech. That’s for college girls. Grown-ups like myself get sloshed on mint juleps while wearing sunhats with flowers on them. This kind of party could be particularly fun. I’m a fan of gambling, so make a little sports bet and party on! Plus the race is over super fast, so you can kick everyone out whenever you feel like. Anyway, here’s my suggestions for a hat of your own.

DIY Kentucky Derby Hat Instructions

Option 1: Permanent DIY Kentucky Derby Hat

What you need:

hat
ribbon
hot glue gun
scissors
fake flowers
feathers (optional)
other decorations (optional)
tulle or netting (optional)

What to do:

  1. Measure ribbon around the center of the hat. Cut the ribbon slightly longer than you measure, just in case.
  2. Hot glue the ribbon to the hat.
  3. Pick what you want to decorate with.
  4. For flowers – pull plastic stems off. Glue flower to ribbon. More in one spot is better, instead of around the brim.
  5. For feathers – these should go after flowers if you have them. Put a bit of hot glue on the end and stick it behind the flowers. If you decide to do all feathers instead of flowers, cut the stem down to an appropriate length and glue as many as you want to the ribbon.
  6. For any other decorations – glue away! Wherever you see room, go for it. These are ridiculous hats after all.
  7. For tulle or netting – Measure how long you want it to go around the hat. Typically they’ll only be in front of the face. Cut the amount you want. Bend a small piece over and glue it to the bottom of the brim. If the tulle looks too log, trim it down.
Measure and glue your ribbon.
Pull stems off of flowers.
Start gluing your flowers to the ribbon and hat.
You can glue flowers to each other to keep wild petals down.
Stems will start to show, so make sure to glue more flowers with stems facing the opposite way.
Now the stems are hidden.
Now the fun begins. Add whatever else you like, such as feathers. Glue behind flowers.
Woohoo! A completed Derby hat.

Option 2: Temporary DIY Kentucky Derby Hat

What you need:

hat – Since you’re reusing it, I suggest something nice for the beach, like this one.
ribbon
fake flowers
stapler
scissors

What to do:

  1. Measure ribbon around the center of the hat. Cut the ribbon a couple of inches longer than what you need.
  2. Wrap the ribbon around the hat and staple it where it feels tight enough. You can trim down any extra. Then slide the ribbon off the hat.
  3. Pull plastic stems off flowers.
  4. Staple the center of the first flower to the ribbon, preferably where you’ve already stapled. Then put the  ribbon back on the hat.
  5. Staple any other flowers you want to the first flower. You’ll probably see some green, so it’s a good idea to staple two opposite petals to either a flower or the ribbon.
  6. You can add other decorations if you want, but try not to overload or it’ll fall apart before your party is over!
Measure your ribbon by putting it around the hat. Easy!
Staple where it’s tight and leave a little extra.
Pull the ribbon off, trim, and straighten staples if necessary.
Begin stapling stemless flowers to ribbon.
Do the bulk of the stapling before you put it back on the hat.
Put the ribbon back on the hat.
Add more staples or flowers if necessary to hide stems and reshape.
Maybe not as fancy as the first, but totally reusable!

Notes:

These are pretty similar. The main difference is that you can add a lot more to the permanent version without worrying about it falling apart. Could you pull hot glue off your hat and make it a temporary version? Sure, I guess. Sounds like a messy hassle to me though. Could you leave your staples on your temporary hat forever if you love it? Probably, if you don’t plan on wearing it very often. Making a DIY Kentucky Derby hat is really a piece of cake, plus it’s fun to dig through your craft box and see what all you have. Now get out there and bet on the horses, you fabulously hatted gal!

 

Ugly Sweaters V. Tacky Sweaters

To Make a Tacky Sweater or buy an Ugly Sweater?

I can hear you already. No Beth! Not another tacky sweater party! I can’t handle it! Can’t we just wear something cute and be done with it? Well, sure. I’m not going to your party. I don’t care what your dress code is. I’m not even having an ugly sweater party myself, at least not this year. But there’s been a shift in recent years that’s driving me crazy, so I wanted to chat about it. Ugly sweaters have become tacky sweaters, and friends, I don’t have time for tacky. Literally, I don’t have time to make these crazy contraptions parading themselves as sweaters. So, humor me while I explain this evolution and which is easier for a time-crunched hostess.

The Ugly Sweater

When I first heard about an ugly sweater party, circa 2007ish, I was all in. The fad was a few years in, but it became trendy in Canada first, so cut me some slack. My friends and I had to throw an ugly sweater holiday party immediately.  We went on a sweater hunt to our favorite thrift store and in about thirty minutes we all came out with hideous, but amazing holiday sweaters. Now, thirty minutes may seem like a lot of time for a sweater hunt, but let’s be honest, there were five of us and we were in our twenties. We were easily distracted by other things the thrift store had to offer. I’d say thirty minutes is really a success. This is why I advocate for the ugly sweater over the tacky sweater, if you’re going to buy into this nonsense trend. It’s so much faster!

That’s the sweater I bought back in 2007. I still have it. Ugly right? Your great aunt Mildred probably turned it in to the thrift shop, but who can say for sure? Anyway, that’s another bonus to the ugly sweater. If you’re a costume hoarder like myself, you probably already have one. Do you think I’m ever going to find an uglier sweater than that? No! It’s an awful fabric with an awful color combination. It’s like the designer knew what it’s eventual purpose was going to be.  But, if I did want to go look for a new one, I’m pretty sure I could go down to Goodwill and find one in a matter of minutes, as could you. You might even need to head there anyway. It is Christmas after all. Donations run high this time of year. Now you’re done with your party prep. Easy, right?

The Tacky Sweater

Oh, the tacky sweater. How did it come to this? I admit, there has always been a crossover between ugly and tacky, but in recent years the tacky has soared to new heights. I don’t have one. I’m not going to make one. But I did borrow this image from my friend Allie, who was happy to share how ridiculous they’ve become:

tacky sweater

Do you see this? How do you even wear it? The worst part is this one isn’t even that crazy – and it still probably took awhile. And then if you’re hosting the party you still have to cook and clean and decorate? No thanks. Also, they seem a little wasteful, don’t they? I saw one a couple years ago on Live with Kelly and whoever else was hosting with a stuffed reindeer cut in half and glued on the front and back of the sweater. This is crazy to me. This could be a lot of fun if you aren’t time-crunched. I suppose you could even buy a whole bunch of supplies and decorate as a group, at the party. That might be an interesting take. But if you’re hosting it, just remember you get the cleanup.

The In-Between

There are, of course, ugly sweaters for sale just about everywhere. Here’s one on Amazon that crosses over between tacky and ugly. Tugly? I’ll work on it. The problem with buying ones like this instead of thrift store shopping is, obviously, the price tag. If your income is mostly disposable, this might be the way to go. It would be, in all honesty, the most time-saving. Ten minutes on your phone and bam! Your sweater is on the way, and you can get the fun of tacky with the real sweater feel.

To sum it all up, you have  few options in the ugly sweater department. The quickest way to go is to order it online. You don’t have to leave your house or get out the arts and crafts bucket for that. But, if you don’t want to spend the money on a sweater you can only guarantee you’ll wear once, the thrift store is going to be a lot less work than taking the time to DIY something so horrifying. Plus, what if all those lights and candy canes fall off your sweater and you have to do it all again next year? The horror! No matter what you choose, if you choose to celebrate the strange centennial creation that is the ugly sweater party, have fun, and look awful.