Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Favorite Things Party

As the new entertaining columnist for At Home TN magazine, I wanted to share some "snippets" from my April article.
To see the entire feature online, click here.

In the spirit of Oprah’s “favorite things” (and seriously, who doesn’t love a good insider tip from the woman who has everything?), host a “My Favorite Things” night with your girlfriends. The rules for the evening are easy. You simply bring your favorite thing, whether it’s a beauty product, a kitchen gadget, a book or a combination of smaller items. But there’s a catch— you can’t spend more than $10. I recently hosted this party at my friend Lori’s house in Brentwood and when our husbands found out the money limit, they all wanted to see if we could really pull this off!
I imposed the money limit because it forces people to get creative! I have a group of girlfriends who get together at Christmas, and we all exchange gifts, but they have to be less than $10. You would not believe what amazing presents we receive each year, and what lengths some women will go to in order to stay under $10. I have one friend who buys the day after Christmas for the following year, just to stay under the limit. I thought it would be fun to do a similar gift exchange during our monthly girl’s night.
As guests sent in their RSVPs, I asked them to bring an appetizer or dessert. Once again, it had to be a favorite! The night of the party, each girl showed up with her gift bag in tow (all items had to be wrapped). While we waited for everyone to arrive, we nibbled on some yummy appetizers and desserts.
Asking everyone to bring her favorite food item turned out to be a huge hit of the evening. Our appetizer table was filled with sushi, homemade stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, mango chutney cheese ball (recipe follows), brie with raspberry jam, and crudités with dip, just to name a few. We even had Chick-Fil-A nuggets (We all know adults love them as much as kids!)
The conversation around the food and who brought each item definitely started the evening on a great note! Not to mention, after we stuffed ourselves full of delicious savory appetizers, we had a whole buffet of desserts to conquer. The girls really outdid themselves in this category. We sampled cream cheese and Oreo balls dipped in white and dark chocolate, gingersnaps with a pumpkin spice dipping cream, mint chocolate chip mini cookies, and mini-turtle cookies (recipe follows).
After everyone got their fill of delicious favorite foods, we moved into the family room for the excitement to begin. I wanted to make the evening very casual, and I wanted to make sure we all left knowing a little something about each other. As part of the decorations, I created a “Favorite Things” tree that would determine the order each girl went in (do-it-yourself instructions follow). On this tree, I hung individual cards from pink and silver ribbon. On the back of each card was a number and a question. We had 27 guests, so each card was numbered 1-27. In addition, each card asked a different question ranging from “What is your favorite date night spot?” and “Where is your favorite place to vacation?,” to “What was your favorite TV show in the 80s?” Once we knew everyone’s order, each guest started by reading her question, answering and making her choice from the bevy of gifts. Once the gift was opened, the woman who brought it explained why it was her favorite thing.
Another catch to the evening was that each gift could be exchanged a total of three times. (We use this rule— “You Pick It, You Steal It, You Keep It,”—for our annual ornament swap.) This rule makes the game a little more entertaining because the gift can exchange several hands before it is considered “dead.” As the night went on, I kept a running list of the items each guest brought and emailed the list to each participant after the evening. It was a great way to help everyone remember what we all brought. Since we shared what we love, I made individual pink heart cookies in glassine bags to give to each guest as she left.

Need gift ideas? These great products are $10 or less!

•Gouguenheim Malbec 2007 Argentinian wine
•Covergirl Outlast lipstick in “Forever Fawn”
•Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo
•Pampered Chef ice cream scoop
•Walgreens’ Alpha-Hydroxy face cream
•Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla
•OPI nail polish in “Suzi Loves Sydney”
•Vaseline Intensive Rescue Clinical Therapy Body Lotion
•Trapp candle, mango-scented

For instructions on how to make this banner, other DIY projects and recipes, check out the April edition of At Home TN magazine!

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