Category Archives: Office Parties

Mrs Adams’ Crunchy Turkey/Chicken Salad with Watermelon Rind Pickles

<strong>Mrs Adams’ Crunchy Turkey/Chicken Salad with Watermelon Rind Pickles</strong>

This chicken salad recipe is the favorite dish of my sister’s ever brought to a church fellowship. It was her pastor’s wife (now pastor’s mother) who introduced everyone to this fantabulous salad.  The only thing is though, in Wyoming there aren’t ever any watermelon pickles available in the stores, so often times she has to substitute bread and butter pickles, although grapes would probably be a better substitute.

Mrs. Adams is from Texas and apparently, they are a southern thing – watermelon pickles, and since I live in Texas now, I was able to find them at Central Market in San Antonio and send them to my sister, who passed them along to Mrs. Adams, so she could make her famous salad the way it was supposed to be made. 

But the crazy thing is, I remember, as a kid, my grandmother making watermelon pickles in the summers. She always wanted us to save our rinds for her so she could make a big batch. She always had a jar of them in her fridge – and she’s not southern at all, although my grandpa was, and so maybe that’s where she got the idea.  Maybe his mom (or stepmom) made them?  Well, at any rate, a few years ago, I decided to try and make them myself, ‘cause San Antonio is a long ways to drive for a jar of pickles.  As far as recipes, all I had was a Ball Blue Book for inspiration, and after trying both types that they had listed, I realized that neither of them remotely resembled the taste or gooey consistency of the ones my grandma used to make. 

Then, a few weeks ago, on one of my many visits to Facebook, I saw Brenda Gantt had posted a video of herself making them, and after watching, I decided hers looked a whole lot like the ones my grandma made, very thick and gooey and sticky.  So, I thought I’d try her method out and see if it was a match.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with who Brenda Gantt (#BrendaGantt) is, well, let me just say she is this most darling little ol’ cooking grandma lady from Andalusia Alabama who ever put videos on Facebook.  They are down-to-earth and practical, charmingly unprofessional, and downright homey.  Shot by her using a little ol’ cell phone, in her very user friendly, fully equipped, but dare I say, a little bit old school kitchen, where friends and grandchildren frequently make an appearance.   Sometimes Brenda is all done up, make-up on, hair done, cute outfit, and other times she is in her housedress with no makeup and hair going every which way or stuffed under a ball cap.  She is a popular lady with lots of friends and a loving grandma and mother. She is a patriotic and Christian lady who shares her faith and love of country often, and has the most adorable personality.  She is a widow and retired school teacher, and has a little Bed and Breakfast that she operates called Cottle House. She is so beloved that her videos often get pirated and posted to You Tube (without her permission), but perhaps you have seen her there?  Below is the link to the little video she did of the watermelon pickles, which I hope you’ll go and watch here. If you have a cell phone you can aim your camera at this QR code and then click on the link that will pop up on your screen. It will take you right to the video.

This summer I have had such a craving for watermelon, and because of the abundance of watermelon rinds, I decided I would give Brenda’s recipe a whirl.  Let me tell you, it turned out exactly like my grandmother’s recipe, except my grandma’s had whole cloves in hers.  I thought they might be even better if they were spicy, so I added some garden jalapenos along with a lemon and a few spices just to see how they would turn out. Weeee doggies, they are my absolute new favorite!!!!! I love them soooooo much that I have made two whole watermelons worth now.  They make the chicken salad even better than it already was, if I may say so myself. 😉 

I made a little video capture collage from Brenda’s video. I thought it might be helpful to aid in the instructions for my watermelon pickles. As you can see, it took her a couple of days to put this one together, sometimes she is fixed up and sometimes not, and if you watch the video you will get to meet one of her beautiful granddaughters and a prankster grandson.

MrsH’s Spicy Watermelon Rind Pickles

INSTRUCTIONS: (numbers correspond to the numbered sections of the Brenda collage above)

1.  Cut watermelon in half.  Scoop out the red part

2.  Cut the rind into strips about an inch wide

3.  Cut the green skin off each piece of rind

4.  Cut the rind into bite-size pieces

5.  Once the rind is all cut up you should have a pretty good pot full.  I actually transferred my rinds into a large ceramic bowl to set overnight instead of leaving them in the metal pot.

6. Cover the rind pieces with sugar (do not stir).  Use regular, white, granulated sugar.

7.  Make sure the sugar covers every piece.  Let the rinds sit, uncovered, on the counter for 8 hours or overnight (do not stir).  The next morning you will see that the sugar has leached the liquid out of the rinds and has formed a sort of wet crust on top.

8.  Pour the liquid and rinds into a large pot and bring to a boil on the stove.  (I added about a dozen small, really spicy jalapenos from my garden (stems removed, chopped up), plus one lemon sliced, two cinnamon sticks, and about a heaping tablespoon of Ball Pickling Spice – which I added to a reusable tea bag, and let it all cook together on a medium boil for about 2 hours or so. 

It will cook down quite a bit.  The rinds need to cook until they are translucent.  Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are translucent while they are boiling, so I remove a piece from the pot and let it cool to see.  Once the pickles are translucent, they are ready to be jarred, but in the meantime, while the rinds are still cooking, it’s a perfect time to get the your jars ready.

Get a few clean jars with lids and place them in a pot of water.  *I used old olive jars that I had saved, and their lids, and to my utter amazement they actually sealed when they cooled. 

To prepare the jars, bring water to a boil in a large pot on the stove and keep it at a simmer.  Let the jars and lids simmer together while the pickles finish cooking, until you are ready to use them.  Use tongs to take one jar at a time out of the boiling water, tip it upside down to drain it well, and then place it upright on a towel near the pot of pickles. 

9.  Use a canning funnel and ladle to fill the jars with pickles.  Fill the jars almost to the rim, but leave about a half inch of headspace.  Clean the rim of the jars with a clean, wet paper towel so that there is nothing sticky or any pieces of pickle on it. This will ensure that the lid seals properly so no oxygen gets inside to spoil the contents.

10. Using tongs, take a lid from the boiling water, tap off the water, and place the lid on the jar.  Screw the lid on hand tight.  Set the jars back away from the heat, or on a wire rack, and allow them to cool until the lids seal.

Since these pickles are not being water-bath canned, and because I used previously used lids instead of brand new canning lids and rings, it is safest to keep the pickles in the refrigerator.  If you would like to make some that are guaranteed safe for long term storage, here is the Ball Blue Book recipe:

I would recommend using Brenda’s pickles within a month, which is no problem when the goal for making them is to also make Mrs. Adams’ Chicken Salad (recipe below).  These pickles are so delicious just to snack on, as you would any other type of pickled veggies.  They are sweet and spicy and I can’t wait for you to try them. Brenda says that she first tried these as preserves spread on a buttered biscuit, accompanying a steak dinner she and her husband dined out on at a restaurant.  I tried them that way and they are delicious. My grandmother always had them around as a side for meals and snacks.  She always added whole cloves to hers while they were cooking, along with cinnamon sticks.  I like the Ball pickling spices, it has all the spices in it. And the cinnamon stick, jalapeno, and lemon rind just makes them perfect.

Mrs. Adams’ Crunchy Turkey/Chicken Salad

Original recipe courtesy of the Ladies of Grace Bible Baptist church (Casper, Wyoming), Favorite Recipes cookbook, published 2002 by Morris Press Cookbooks.  I modified her recipe slightly to avoid any copyright liabilities.

4 cups cooked turkey or chicken, pulled and chopped into bite-size pieces

1½ cups chopped celery

3/4 cup chopped green onion

1 (20-oz) jar of watermelon rind pickles, drained (if liquidy) and chopped

1 (5-oz) bag slivered almonds

1½ to 2 cups Mayonnaise, as preferred

The juice of 1 lemon (or a Tablespoon of bottled lemon juice)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ teaspoons salt, or more to taste

2 Tablespoons Curry Powder (I used Hot Madras), more or less to taste

2 cups Chow Mein Noodles (wait to add until just before serving)

Toss turkey/chicken with the next 4 ingredients until well incorporated.  Mix the mayo, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and curry powder together and pour over chicken. Mix well. Add more mayo if a creamier texture is desired.  Add more salt, pepper, curry powder – if more is desired.  Cover tightly and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Stir in chow mein noodles just before serving.  Great dish to bring to a church pot luck, Bowling pot luck, Bunco night, cards, dominoes, or other game night get-togethers.  If you are a grandma and live in the same town as your kids and grandkids, take a batch over to them to be a blessing after a long day at work. Can be made up to 12 hours before serving. Add the chow mein noodles just before serving.

“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matthew 6:11-12

Spring Luncheon, with flower pot cupcakes

Spring Luncheon, with flower pot cupcakes

Can you hear the birds chirping?  And smell the wildflowers in bloom?  The pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof?  Ahhhh…SPRING!!!!  Everything old is new again.

How about having all your gal-pals over for a quick, impromptu lunch, easily prepared on a Sunday afternoon, and served on a manic Monday!!!  Do you work outside the home?  Text your closest circle of co-workers on Sunday night and tell them not to bring in lunch for themselves, because you’ve got a little surprise for them.  Then carry in this little luncheon for your super spoiled little crowd.



I used Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Quiche recipe, from her cookbook, Food From My Frontier (one of my absolute FAVS), I cheated though and used a store-bought deep-dish pie crust, two in fact.  And, I did it myyyyy waaay, with a couple of special touches (to make it a little more girly without being PW’s “Cowgirl Quiche,” because I didn’t have those ingredients on hand).  Here’s how I did mine:


  • 2 whole Unbaked Pie Crusts (from the freezer section, thawed and poked)
  • 1 lb. Bacon, fried until crispy
  • 2 Tablespoons Bacon fat (left over from frying the bacon)
  • 1 whole red Onion, Sliced
  • 8 spears of fresh, raw asparagus (I have it growing in my garden, lucky me)
  • 1 cup of diced smoked sausage (I like the spicy jalapeno variety)
  • 8 whole Large Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream Or Half-and-Half
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups Grated Colby-Jack Cheese

Let’s Make it…

Fry the bacon until crisp. Chop into little bite-sized pieces and set aside to cool.

Fry the onions in the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes (until translucent), stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fix the edges of your pie crusts, if you want them to look a little less store-bought, and then poke them with a fork around the bottom in a few places.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon, chopped smoked sausage, onion, and raw asparagus around in your pie crusts, of course dividing evenly between the two pies.  Cover both with cheese.

Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and then pour the mixture into the pie crusts.  Use a fork to pull the contents around a little and make sure the egg mixture seeps down into it all really good.

Place the pies on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche doesn’t jiggle easily when moved and the crust is golden brown. (The quiche will still seem slightly loose, but will continue to set once remove from the oven.)

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into slices with a sharp knife, and serve!

You might like to top yours with a little dallop of sour cream, maybe a spoonful of pico de gallo, or torn cilantro leaves.  Maybe a drizzle of Shiracha?  Or just naked!






<  <  <  I got the idea for these when I saw this photo on DSCN8908.JPGPinterest, and then made it a reality when I found these flatbreads at my local HEB >  >  >

I purchased several packages of the flatbreads (and have them in the freezer, because the lady at the deli counter said our store is discontinuing them.  Bummer!!!!  Why do they do that just when I find something that I like???  Husband even liked. Ugh!!!)

Anyway, I took the thawed flatbread and drizzled it with olive oil on both sides, then grilled it for a few minutes on each side on a hot, preheated grill, which gave the bread the nice grill marks and made it really soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  I cut each flatbread into thirds and placed on a platter for my guests.

I purchased a tub of Veggie Cream Cheese and a tub of Chive Cream cheese to spread on the warm bread.

And then I had several veggies chopped up for toppings:

Sliced Radishes

Sliced Cherry Tomatoes

Sliced Red Bell Pepper

Sliced Cucumber

Sliced Red Onion

Baby Arugula, Kale, and Spinach mix

Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Olive Salad

Black Olives

And an eater’s choice of seasonings:

Fresh ground Salt & Pepper

Pizza Seasoning


Olive Oil

Basalmic Vinegar

I got’ta tell you, these are just darn good pizzas.  Even hubbie liked them, like a LOT!!!!  Even said I knocked dinner out’ta the park, and that I was back on my game.  Which made me blush a little.  And now I really want to impress him more!!!  Fresh, crunchy, delish!!!!




2 or 3 cans of frozen concentrate Lemonade (I like the kind with pulp, pink or regular)

Assorted Fruits:











Prepare a large pitcher with lemonade, following package instructions.  Fill large glasses with ice and set out a platter of cut-up fruits.  Let your guests pile whatever fruits they want on top of their ice, and then fill the glasses with lemonade.  When they are done sipping, they’ll have a nice fruit salad to eat!


And for dessert…..



I found these adorable, tough, reusable, silicone flower pots online, and once they arrived (and I washed and dried them), I used a boxed muffin mix to fill them, and then a canned frosting to frost them.  Who says cheaters never prosper?  Lol!

I should have purchased the chocolate rocks when I saw them at Amazon too, because there were none to be found in my little town (I’d insert a little sad face here except I don’t have the cute little emoticon stickers on my computer.  I guess I can always paste something from Google…….like this……which actually, surprisingly gives me a tiny bit of satisfaction).


At least we have a Wal-mart, and at least our Wal-mart has a cake isle in the hobbies section with a few choices.


And I found Chocolate mushrooms at FIVE BELOW:

choc mushrooms

And I had an abundance of MINT growing in my garden!!!!  So, I did the Martha Stewart thing!  Which was to poke a sprig of mint into each little cupcake after they were all decorated with the other stuff.


After frosting each cupcake, I sprinkled them with crushed Oreos (I whirled a handful of the cookies in my food processor until they turned into dirt), and tinted coconut flakes.  I really could have done a better job with the tinting!  Made it more green.  I’m a dork!

Just look at these chocolate rocks!  Gosh, they would have just been sooooo cute to put on top of the oreo dirt!  (I’m still sore about it!)


Oh well, “Be content with such things as you have!”  Nobody likes a whiner.

(((UPDATE:  I found chocolate rocks at Cracker Barrel!!!  $2.99 for a 3 oz. tube!!!!  And I also found these cute cute cute Gummy Lightning Bugs!!!!  Gosh, now I want to toally remake my cupcakes!!!)))

This is what mine looked like….before I poked in my mint leaves!



After my little luncheon that I hosted I thought of another way to make flowerpot cupcakes that you may like better…


Flowerpot Trifles

flower pot measurementsYou can use real terra cotta pots for the trifles, which come in larger-than-cupcake sizes.  And since the cake is not being baked in the terra cotta you won’t have to worry about dyes or other toxic elements leaching into your batter in the oven.  I soaked my pots in the sink to get the price stickers off, then I put my pots in the dishwasher and ran them through a full sterilizing wash cycle.  When they were done I put them in the oven on warm (170*F) to dry them out completely before using.

You can also decorate your pots all pretty before filling them with the trifle ingredients – just something simple that wouldn’t compete with the cuteness of the cakes themselves. Something like this, I was thinking..


Aaaaand…. if you’re feeling especially ambitious, as I was, you can make some cute little flower pot pens to give as gifts for your gal-pals desks, or home offices.  Or, even better, let your gal-pals make their own… after lunch. OOOO fun…cRaFt PaRtY!!!!!!  🙂


I found all the stuff for mine at Wal-mart (because seriously, that’s all we have), and when I got my little pots home I soaked them in hot sudsy water to help get the price stickers off.  I filled them with aquarium rocks.  Then I took a spring assortment of flower bouquets that I found in the floral section, cut them apart, and used floral tape to attach them to my pens.  I even found colored ink pens (Bic Cristal).

If you’d like, you can even have a nice little devotion while your eating your lunch!!!  Check out this one that I thought was really  sweet:



(NOTE: Bible Seeds devotional is now out-of-print, but you can find used copies online.)


“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusts in Him.”

Psalm 34:8




Break Room Bashes…

Break Room Bashes…

…and How to Have Fun at Work


Hello there. Are you a manager browsing for some good morale builders for your employees today? Or some good team building activities for your company? Or maybe you’re a small business owner looking for creative ideas for some workplace fun to kickstart the new year.

WELCOME (to my little corner of the web)! I’m excited to share my ideas with you, and hope, with fingers crossed, that you find several somethings that stir up your imagination. I know you know, or you wouldn’t be here looking, that happy, healthy employees make for a happy, healthy company. And a happy, healthy company, in any economy, is a coveted thing indeed. My list of workplace fun ideas begins just a hop, skip, and a jump down from here. Go, check them out and enjoy!

Or, are you just a guy or gal on the bottom rungs of the corporate ladder, in a job


where you feel used up, unappreciated, and insignificant. Boy, been there and done that, believe me – I‘ve got the t-shirt, or I should say HAD the t-shirt.
Thankfully I’ve long since burned that garment to smitherines! But, it is fresh enough in my memories that I want to give you a big hug, speed some encouragement your direction, and reach my hand out to you to help you up out of that deep, dark pit!

I recently heard, and was so touched by a story. It was titled, The Bagger. It was about a grocery store employee who had Down’s Syndrome. He had recently attended a conference where everyone was encouraged to make a difference in their workplace by creating memories for the customers.

The bagger didn’t think he had much to offer being the lowest paid, most insignificant person in the company. But that evening an idea popped into his head. He had the notion to create a thought for the day. He could get them out of a book or off the Internet, or even just make them up. He could sit down to his computer and type them up several to a page, print off several sheets, and cut them apart. So he did it, signed his name on the back, and the next day he put these strips in his pocket. As he was bagging groceries he tucked a little slip into one of each of his customer’s bags.

The next day he had a new thought of the day. After a few weeks the store manager was making his rounds and noticed that one check-out line was so much longer than all the rest. He let these people know that there was no waiting down on lane two, but no one budged. Puzzled by this he finally asked one of the customers what was so special about that particular line? They told him about the bagger’s thought of the day. They liked it and had come especially to see what today’s thought was.

The store manager marveled at Johnny‘s ability to bring people joy. It wasn’t long before word spread through the store and other employees wanted to create memories for people. The floral department started pinning their broken flowers on elderly women and little girls. And people who never shopped at this store before started coming to shop here for the bagger’s thought of the day and the friendly service. People who only came once a week started coming in every day just to pick up a little something and get that thought of the day. Sales increased and this particular grocery store began outshining all the others in the area. And all because one insignificant person desired to make a difference.

Dead Sunflowers

I admit, I was not having a very good time in my workplace when I first heard this story. It’s why the Bagger’s story had such an impact on me. I was inspired by his sweet positivity to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And I also thought that maybe if I started to try to make things better where I worked, perhaps my coworkers would one by one lay down their hatchets and work to lighten the mood too. I figured, it was worth a try.

I read a few books that I hoped would improve my mood:

1.) Get Out of That Pit, by Beth Moore. I got the Audio version of the book and listened to it during a vacation, and then on my way to and from work.

2.) How to Respond When You’ve Been Mistreated, by John Bevere is a must-read resource. Consult it first before doing something rash in retaliation for something you perceive as mistreatment. At the very least it will give you pause to re-examine. You may not choose to follow his advice, but at least you will have heard it. And…

3.) How to Get Along With Difficult People, by Florence Littauer. Great, great book with lots of humor, explaining the various personalities. It will give you insight into how other people tick. It will make you laugh at them and yourself a little, and it might even give you mercy for them. At least these books will empower you with tools you didn’t have before. And that’s more muscle than you have right now.

And this online resource:

Michele Moore, the author of The Happiness Habit has a list of happiness habits for the workplace, and some no-nonsense tips for how to deal with “evil” bosses and coworkers: Happiness & Devil, and Psychopathology Check-list

She has a page on how to spot them, treat them, avoid them, and generally deal that I found very helpful.

There is a lot of proven fact behind workplace fun and a happy atmosphere having a direct effect on the health, success, and productivity of many Fortune 500 companies today. Go ahead and Google it and see where the Schools of Fish are swimming (those are two bold hints, btw). See what turned Southwest Airlines around (if you’ve flown with them any time in the last several years you’ve probably heard a flight attendant or two who presented the pre-flight “In Case of Emergency” speech like a stand-up comedian),

Sunflower crop

and Pike’s Fish Market (if you’ve been there you know the fish mongers make a big
production out of every fish order, tossing fish through the air, catching them, and all while chanting a loud, flamboyant rap between themselves). Crowds gather daily to watch the show, and the entertaining routine catapulted them from the brink of bankruptcy. It’s because they weren’t satisfied with the status quo and made a concerted effort to infuse their workplaces with fun!


Sooooo… I rolled up my sleeves and rather than spending my time, my sleepless nights, my depressing Sunday afternoons, stewing on the negatives I started collecting some positives. Maybe if I became a ray of sunshine in a dark place it would have a butterfly effect?

So, here are the ideas I began packing into my

golden rule

little pink bedazzled briefcase. Please drag them all out and spread them around on your floor. Try any of it on that looks fun to you and dance in it all like nobody is watching. Go! Go, my dear friend and make a difference in your surroundings. Go make someone smile. Go turn your coworkers lives around, and your workplace around, and your world around. Because you CAN! Go!!!!!


Now here’s the thing… You can choose to be a one-woman-act who takes on the responsibility of organizing and running each of the following games and activities with pure workhorse determination, or you can get an accomplice, or maybe even go to your boss and ask if you can form a committee to carry out these activities. If you go, go armed. Take him or her a copy of the book Fish by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul and John Christensen.


Happy Face

Taste of Home magazine was my source of inspiration for this treasure hunt game, also like a Where’s Waldo. It’s a treasure hunt where two identical copies of a picture are posted, one in the lounge, and the other in a random area of your workplace, taped to a corner of a window, or the side of a garbage can, or inside a cupboard door in the kitchen, for example.

I decorated a shoe box and put the first copy with a sign posted above it that said “Another picture identical to this has been hidden somewhere in the building. If you find it, jot your name on the back and place it in this box.” The pictures were things I cut out of a magazine or made out of construction paper (simple things, just like this smiley face). I checked the box daily, and sure enough in a day or two the picture would be in there. I would then place a candy bar in the person’s mailbox with a note that said, “Congratulations, fearless hunter, enjoy a chocolate break!” SNICKERS bars now have little “hangry” sayings on them, so you could

Happy Face

also attach a note that says something like, “I hope this chases the “Loopys” away!” The next day I hung a new picture in the lounge above the box and its twin somewhere else in
the building. It was a fun game that I played all school year.

The fun for me was in not getting caught!!! I had to be reeeeeally sneaky to hide the pictures, and dispense the candy bars, and not let anyone catch me in the act. On occasion I overheard people talking and wondering who was doing this, but I didn’t want credit. I just wanted to make them all smile. I think I made the janitor smile the most. She found more of those pictures than anyone else. That’s okay; she had a dirty job and definitely deserved some sweet treats.


Doodle Cloth: One of our teachers did this for one of our luncheons and I thought it was a great idea. Cover the tables in butcher paper and set out buckets of crayons. Encourage employees to doodle on the paper, or play games of tic-tac-toe. When one paper got filled up, it got peeled off and a new cover got laid down. Especially clever art could be surgically extracted from the overall sheet, mounted in a frame, and posted on the Wall of Fame.

Table Games: Set out table games like table football, spinning tops, checkers, or dice games like LCR, Farkle, or Yatzee. Set out little stacks of trivia game cards from Trivial Pursuit, or Fact or Crap, or Smart Ass. Set out a set of conversation cards like Table Talk. Or invest in electronic games like the hand held electronic games of Twenty Questions, or Catch Phrase. Maybe someone has one at home they wouldn’t mind lending?

Puzzle: Set out a puzzle for people to work on while they take a break. Your group may like the puzzle idea so much that you could glue it to a board when you are finished and display it on a wall of the lounge, and then keep a puzzle going all the time.

Loungy lounge: Take up donations to make the lounge nice with comfy couches, magazines (encourage the staff to lend their magazines from home after they’ve looked at them), a boom box with CD’s and a radio, and a TV where people can catch up on news, weather, etc.

Salute our Soldiers Wall: Have all employees who have loved ones who are currently serving or have served in the military during any of the wars to bring a photo with the soldier’s name, branch of the military, and job they did while in service. Display these pictures on a memorial wall to honor them during Memorial and Veterans Day, and to remind us to pray for military, currently serving, for a safe return home.

THE 2:00 PM STRETCH: At 2PM every day hold a 15 minute break (just to get the blood flowing again when the afternoon sleepies hit). It can be the same thing every day (like line dance, or Hula Hoops, or jump rope) or a different thing every day.

Snack Break: Set up a Popcorn Bar where people can come get a bagfull and season it with various flavored salts or candies, and get themselves a coke (or bottle of water) out of the machine.

Yoga Break: Set up a video on a TV in the break room for a 15 minute physical and mental stretching exercise, and don’t forget the bottle of water and mat.

Play break: I found some fun little slingshot animals at that make a loud obnoxious squeal as they fly. Buy at least one of each animal, dump them out on a table and encourage everyone to grab one and start shooting at their coworkers in a frenzied free-for-all. Everyone will be laughing and it will truly sound like a zoo or barnyard. Tons of fun! Can’t find the animals…use soft round nerf or hacky sack balls (at least 20 to 30) and have a snowball fight. Or get out the hula hoops, skip-its, BBops, or pogo sticks. (See Active Play Toys).

Walking Break: grab a bottle of water, an ipod (if you want some music), and meet others in the lobby for a 15 minute walk around the building, down the street, or across the parking lot and back. The fresh air and sunshine is rejuvenating.

YouTube Break: Meet in someone’s office to watch a funny, cute, or uplifting YouTube video of the day. Or, if you have a favorite radio program (Dr. Laura, Blue Collar Comedy, old Paul Harvey reruns, etc.) give it a listen.

Chat Break: Go visiting to another person’s office. Bring them a beverage and just chat about anything but work. Make your office a good break place (candy jar, Nerf basketball hoop over the door, dart board on the wall, treadmill in the corner, etc.)

*Make your boss aware of the rule of 52/17 and ask to give it a one-month trial: (

CASUAL FRIDAY: Every Friday the staff could be allowed to wear jeans to work. Or, make it a….

CRAZY OUTFIT DAY: Taking Casual Friday to the outer limits…not just jeans, but themes! Here are 52 dress suggestions, one for every week of the year. Be creative. Be tasteful. Have fun.



Polka Dots



I Love Lucy

Holiday theme – Halloween

Sequins, tassels, or fringe





T-shirt with a funny saying on it



Holiday theme – Thanksgiving


Inside out


Cross Dresser: men have to wear something feminine and women have to wear something masculine. (There was a time when such behavior wasn’t “outting,” but rather just silliness! I hope we haven’t lost our sense of humor).



Holiday theme – Christmas

Duct tape


T-shirt, favorite rock band

Favorite Sports Team


Holiday theme – Valentines’s Day

Mardi Gras



Holiday theme – Saint Patrick’s



Old, vintage

Something touristy, purchased on vacation

Holiday theme – Easter/April Fools

Native American

Something with holes in it




Work-out clothes


An apron

Corsage (or, taking that to a Texas level: Homecoming Mums)

Something from your prom or your wedding

Holiday theme – 4th of July


Lace or ruffles

Silk or satin

GUESS WHO? BOARD: Put up an employee bulletin board in the break room that features various monthly or quarterly themes. Have every employee bring a throwback photo of themselves when they were in Kindergarten, Jr. High School, wedding photo, baby photo, high school senior photo, funny face photo, etc.

Make sure the photos are not labeled on the front, so the staff can guess who each person is. If you want, you can give each picture a number and make up ballots with blank lines next to the numbers and have employees submit signed guess sheets into a ballot box. Whoever guesses the most correct wins a prize.

You could do vacation photos and ask everyone to guess the correct location where the photo was taken. Vacation photos are fun because you can post a world map and put markers on all the places represented by the pictures, which also makes a great conversation starter.

BRAG BOARD: Whenever anyone goes on vacation, ask them to bring their vacation photos to display on the bulletin board. Give the board a title, “Jim’s 2014 Vacation.”

If anyone has a new baby or grand-baby, has a kid graduating from high school, college, medical school, passed the Bar, etc. ask them to bring in photos for the brag board.

If anyone receives an award, buys a new car, gets married, gets a new pet, wins a volleyball/softball/tennis/golf/bowling/other tournament, whatever… ask them to bring pictures and items for the brag board.

EMPLOYEE OF THE WEEK: For no special reason, this employee gets to have the closest parking spot to the front door of the building for a whole week, plus half an hour of a longer lunch break on Wednesday that they can share with another employee of their choice, and they can be featured on a paper-covered bulletin board in a high traffic area where their coworkers are encouraged to write nice or tastefully funny public compliments about them. Employees are encouraged to tuck notes and small gifts into their private mailbox. The boss might also consider giving this person Friday afternoon off with pay.

LITTLE BEAR BLUE: Purchase a small teddy bear, hopefully a blue one. Copy this poem onto a sheet of paper, laminate it, and tie it to the bear.

I’m sorry to hear you are feeling blue

I’ve been sent to give a big bear hug to you

I’m yours as a reminder for as long as you need me

That someone has noticed and is praying right speedy

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Don’t worry if you don’t feel you can be stronger much longer

You have people praying and rooting for you

We’re in your corner until you pull through

And one of these days when your sorrow has passed

When you open your eyes and there is sunshine at last

Look for another nearby with a tissue issue you know

Who could use some encouragement deep down in their soul?

Pass me forward along to them as quick as you can

And share some compassion and a helping hand

For we all soon realize just how much it has meant

When in our tough times, caring and bear hugs were sent

When you hear of an employee that is going through a tough time (death of a family member or close friend, divorce, miscarriage, loss of a pet, spouse lost their job, someone is suffering a terrible disease, etc.) set this bear on their desk. As a recipient you keep the bear until there is someone to pass it along to. You have the responsibility to be on the alert and pay it forward.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Celebrate birthdays with a monthly cake and ice cream social in the lounge. Write that month’s birthday celebrants names on balloons and display all over the room. Optional: employees get their birthday off (or half day off) as a personal paid holiday.

Celebrate the SUPER BOWL with a POOL, or MARCH MADNESS with a BRACKET RACE

In celebration of the Super Bowl, organize a 100 squares board. You and your coworkers can purchase squares, with the money going into a prize pool. It is rumored that these are legal as long as ALL the money is given away. Your group may also choose to donate the prize fund to a needy family or local charity. Celebrate March Madness with a bracket pool (basketball) in the same way.


Send the joke of the day (or scripture, funny cartoon, thought of the day) to everyone’s email, or print it and post it on the wall of the bathroom in every toilet stall. Find a hilarious page-a-day calendar, or use the Sunday funnies or a graphic novel of a riotous cartoon strip (Far Side, Dilbert) and post something new each Monday morning in the bathroom stalls facing the toilets. Maybe you saw a ridiculous picture, or the funny ads, pictures, signs like what used to be featured on Jay Leno. Start collecting and posting these things. Humor is the best medicine for whatever ails you. Spread the joy. You can also post a “power scripture” for the day in those places if your company is okay with it. Log on to and use their daily scripture if you want.


Encourage everyone to participate in April Fools. Let it be a free-for-all of practical joking. Pull out all the gags and all the stops, with some discretion. Warn everyone that they might get wet, or dirty, and they will probably get startled at least once. They are not allowed to harm people’s property – such as breaking things or causing harm, nothing that stains is allowed, doing anything permanent. No scratching off paint or applying stickers that won’t come off easily, etc. Also, no mean jokes, no hurtful scemes, nothing that would cause embarrassment or make someone cry. Be fun, but be NICE.


Thinking my coworkers would appreciate it, and wanting to serve them, I put together a bulletin board in our lounge that featured all the menus from all the nearby restaurants. I drove around to all the neighborhood restaurants, from the bowling alley next door to the supper club down the road, and all the fast food places in between, and got their take-out menus. I even went online to find menus and printed them out. I pinned all these menus on the board making sure each one had the phone number for call-in orders, and highlighted those who delivered. It was so nice and convenient to have for when someone didn’t bring lunch and needed to get food delivered, or called in and picked up in a hurry.


At my new job they celebrated every employee’s anniversary – the anniversary of the date they came to work there. They celebrated by having donuts brought in at 10:00AM. As soon as the gooey morsels arrived, everyone gathered around, grabbed a confection, and took a short break from their work to socialize. After several minutes everyone meandered dutifully back to their lonely little cubicles, or the shop, and went back to work. It was kind of a nice little thing.


One cold and snowy afternoon, after lunch, I showed up to work with all the stuff to make 5-minute, microwave mug cakes. It was a nice afternoon snack and a huge highlight to an otherwise dreary day. We had so much fun with it that I decided I needed to share it with you all. I also discovered that any old cake mix will do. We are not limited to the chocolate cake recipe that has circulated on the Internet. The following recipe has been tested by me, and my coworkers, and works perfectly.

What you will need:

1 large mug for each person

A Tablespoon to measure with

Box cake mixes of choice

Canned frostings of choice, or Cool Whip



Small Eggs

In your large mug place 5 rounded Tablespoons of cake mix. Add 3 Tablespoons of oil and 3 Tablespoons of milk. Break an egg in a separate bowl/dish/cup and scramble it. Use just about 1 tsp of egg per mug cake. Stir until well mixed. Place in microwave for TWO minutes on high. The cake will begin rising above the rim of the mug when it is close to being done. If the mug is too small the batter may spill over, but it won’t make a mess. Of course microwaves vary and it may take the cake longer to cook. Do the spring back test and if still doughy return it to the microwave for another 30 seconds. When the cake is finished cooking, remove it from the microwave and let it cool. Frost as desired.

Monthly Mini Theme Parties for the Office Lounge

At the school where I worked many moons ago, the staff took turns, by grade level, decorating the lounge and hosting a monthly luncheon. Usually they were things like “A Salad Bar” or “Soup & Sandwiches” or “Loaded Baked Potato Bar” or “Hot Dog Bar” or we went with themes like “Italian,” “Mexican,” “Chinese,” and served speghetti, enchiladas, or egg rolls, and all that sort of thing. The staff that were assigned to each month would be in charge of decorating the lounge (if they wished), bringing in snacks, wiping tables, washing dishes, keeping the refrigerator cleaned out, etc., and providing the end-of-the-month carry-in lunch. The Parent-Teacher council also brought in a cake for dessert and we celebrated all the birthdays for the month as well! It was a really nice thing! I served on this committee many times and here are some of the ideas the ladies and I came up with:


The holidays in September are Grandparent’s Day, Patriot’s Day, and usually the first day of autumn.

Theme 1: Back to School

Decorations: Green checkered place mats, baskets of apples, hand bells, cups full of sharpened pencils, and slates with a stick of chalk laid across each.

Table Games and Diversions: Famous Lines (write a famous line up on the board, something from a book or movie, that everyone can write a guess to on the board next to it and then sign their name next to their guess. The correct answer wins a prize in their mailbox and a new famous line is posted).

Luncheon: Crock-pot Sloppy Joes, buns, chips, veggie tray, and desserts


Theme 1: Scarecrows

Decorations: Homemade scarecrows, pumpkins, Indian corn, corn stalk bundles, rakes, and colorful fall paper leaves.

Table Games and Diversions: Get a beautiful 1000 piece fall scene puzzle started for people to work on at their leisure, as they are available.

Luncheon: Crock-pot Soups, green salad with toppings, and crusty bread. Desserts.

Theme 2: Spooky Halloween

Decorations: Spooky music, dangling spider webs, bowls of “Body Parts” gummy candy, or have an Alfred Hitchcock or other chilling mystery book-on-cassette playing at all times.

Table Games and Diversions: Have an ongoing mystery game (like Clue, or How to Host a Murder Mystery) going in the lounge, where you give clues and tidbits of info every day. You can take a short story mystery from a book and post a small portion of it every day for employees to read and follow. The first person to solve the mystery by writing down their guess and turning it in to you wins a prize. Keep one going all month long.

Luncheon: Hot wings, celery and blue cheese, salads, beverages, and spice cake for dessert (with plastic bugs crawling all over it).

Theme 3: Oktoberfest (see my Oktoberfest blog post for ideas)


Theme 1: Pilgrims and Thanksgiving harvest theme

Decorations: Pilgrims, Indians, and Mayflower ships, Cornucopias filled with corn, gourds, pumpkins, etc. and turkeys.

Table Games and Diversions: Cover the tables in light colored paper and leave colored Crayola markers around for people to randomly jot down things they are thankful for.

Luncheon: A Thanksgiving feast (anything but turkey – please), but don’t forget the sweet potato pie! Try a variety of chowders and finger sandwiches.

Theme 2: Elections (if it is an election year)

Decorations: Patriotic with Democrat and Republican symbols

Table Games and Diversions: Election trivia and candidate profiles, absentee voter cards. Have reruns of West Wing or The American President playing on the TV.

Luncheon: Lasagnas and spaghetti, garlic toast, green salads, desserts


Theme 1: Christmas (what else?)

Decorations: Find or make little stockings for each staff member and fill with a candy cane or other small gift and use to decorate the tree. Bring in a CD player and a variety of Christmas music that will appeal to everyone’s taste and play it continuously. Stew some good smelling potpourri in a crock-pot.

Table Games and Diversions: Scatter around on the tables Christmas Trivia cards. Also scatter around either some little toys that people can play with, or the parts to a super easy craft that each person can make. Maybe the craft can be to make decorations for the tree. Or let everyone decorate their own sock.

Luncheon: Since everyone is sooooooo busy over the holidays, the luncheon can be pizza delivery, a large bagged salad, and a ½ sheet store bought cake (or whatever size works). Instead of everyone signing up to bring something, they just put $3 in the envelope instead and cross their name off the list as paid.

Need ideas for your company Christmas party? I’ve got a few ideas for that…. see the post coming soon.


Theme 1: Super Bowl

Decorations: Cover the tables with green paper and draw the yardage lines -or- use vinyl tablecloths with this theme if you can find them. If you can find pennants from every team in the NFL, get them. If not, try to make them out of construction paper. Toss footballs, mini-helmets, jersey shaped beverage coozies, pennants, pompoms, referee whistles, megaphones, big foam hands with the #1 finger extended, and everything football around on the tables. Toss some Easter egg basket grass under the items. Hang the pennants from the ceiling. As each weekend of January passes remove the pennants of the teams who are eliminated in the playoffs and post the updated bracket chart. Keep the lounge/break room stocked with finger food snack items: chips and dips, salsa, guacamole, tortilla chips, crackers and cheese, veggie trays, etc. all month if possible. Add some excitement with an NFL Power and Glory CD, or the more recent NFL Films Original Music by David Robidoux Promotional Release (2007), Fox Sports Presents: Game Time! ~ Various Artists, Stadium Anthems: Music for the Fans ~ Various Artists, and ABC Monday Night Football Jamz ~ Various Artists.

Table Games and Diversions: Set up a goal post (inflatable from Oriental Trading Co.) and some Nerf footballs that employees can toss around and kick field goals with. Oriental Trading also has a football player cut-out with a hole where his hands should be so that you can practice tossing the football right to his hands. And the little football table game is a must.

A football 100 Squares Pool. The week before the Super Bowl game post a football pool poster in the break room. It will cost each employee *$3 per square to write their name on a square of the board. You can make them answer a trivia question to decide what square they get, or make them roll the dice, or just let them choose. On the Friday before the game fill in the numbers across the top and down the side of the board so everyone will know what score to hope for to give him or her the win. (See complete instructions on how to host this game in the chapter Super Bowl Theme Office Party, page 128). The money is divided into 4 portions and a prize awarded for the score at each quarter of the game. So watch the game and write down the scores. On Monday you will distribute the prizes. I am told that as long as all money is distributed it is legal to hold these. If you’re uncomfortable with the gambling aspect you can have everyone write on their square a worthy charity or needy family in the company who could use the donation, then on Monday those organizations or persons will get the prize monies. (*Amount is your choice).

Luncheon: Host a “tailgate party.” Decorate a table to look like the tailgate of a truck. If someone has a BBQ grill and wants to grill hot dogs and burgers for everyone – perfect! If not, carry-in various kinds of chili – like a chili cook-off. Or cook hot dogs in a large pot and let people create their own hotdog concoctions by having an array of toppings (sweet relish, dill relish, chopped onions, hot peppers, sauerkraut, chili, shredded cheese, thin sliced pickle wedges, jalapenos, mustard, ketchup, tomatoes, etc.). Serve with potato chips, a veggie tray, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

On casual dress day encourage everyone to wear his or her sports team shirts or colors.

Theme 2: Snowman

Decorations: Ask everyone to bring a snowman from home. Almost everyone has either a stuffed snowman, a picture of a snowman, a snowman mug, a snowman candy jar, or something tucked back in a closet. Cover the tables in blue paper and set snowman parts around on the tables (corncob pipe, lumps of coal, top hat, scarves, small tree branches with mittens fitted on the ends, rubber boots, etc.)

Table Games and Diversions: Wad up 40 or 50 sheets of white paper into balls. Stack the balls in bowls and set around on the tables. Encourage people to engage in a snowball fight whenever the mood strikes them.

Luncheon: Hot pastrami sandwiches; Tater skins; Spinach Salad with cranberries and walnuts, and Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette; and shave ice or snow cones for dessert.


Theme 1: Academy Awards & Hollywood Walk of Fame

Decorations: Cover the table in Black, Silver, and Gold table cloths. Put centerpieces of film reels, film strip, movie trivia cards, clapboards and balloon bouquets. Hang gold stars and spot light and camera decorations from the ceiling. Roll out a red carpet from the entrance of the room to the center. Make a Hollywood Walk-of-Fame star tile for each employee with their name on it. Hang the WOF stars all over the walls of the room. Decorate the snack table with a sign that says, “Studio Commissary,” and go with snacks with names like “James BonBons with Halle Berry Sauce” or “The Queen’s scones.” Or set out bowls of flavored popcorn and Raisinettes and Juji Fruits. Set up a boom box with a CD of Movie Themes music. See also my Academy Awards post specifically featuring this idea.

Games and Diversions: Lay out several packets of sticky notes and pens. Feature 10 Walk-of-Fame stars per week to pin up on the board. Ask employees to post sticky notes with compliments to the front of each of the stars each week. Take those stars down on Friday, attach the sticky notes to the back and laminate them. Rotate in 10 new Walk-of-Famers the following week. At the end of the month give everyone their stars with the peer compliments attached and laminated to the back. Good morale booster.
Come up with 20 or more gag awards (best dressed, best supporting staff member, most animated story teller, most pleasant intercom voice, most punctual, best sense of humor, most artistic, etc.) for which you can hand out ballots and receive nominations for each category. Have an awards show at the luncheon and give out little “Oscars” to each employee for outstanding effort in whatever category they were nominated and got the most votes for.

Luncheon: Have a carry in salad luncheon: Crab Salad, pasta salad, bean salad, green salad, etc.; crusty rolls and butter; and sparkling cider in champagne flutes. Strawberries, angel food, and Tobblerone chocolate fondue for dessert.

Theme 2: Valentine’s Day

Decorations: Cover the tables in pink paper with sheer lace over the top. Toss around rich red paper hearts, heart shaped boxes of chocolate, rose peddles, and cupid and heart shaped balloons. Set up the boom box with CD’s of romantic love songs.

Games and Diversions: Set out the makings for valentines, red construction paper, white lace, little stickers and stick-on jewels, Cupids, small dowel rods and arrow heads and fletching that can be attached to the ends after it is woven through the heart, black sharpie markers. Ask everyone to participate in a Valentine exchange, just like the kids do at school. Everybody makes a special box for their desk for coworkers to drop Valentines in. Also, put everyone’s name in a hat and have everyone draw out one name to be a secret pal to all month.

Host a poetry contest. Everyone has to post a poem (any size and any kind) in the break room, but they can’t sign their names to them. Everyone reads and judges the poems. They put their choice for best poem on a slip of paper and drop it into the secret ballot box. At the end of the month the ballots are tallied and the winner announced. At that time the poet’s name may be disclosed.

Luncheon: Gazpacho soup or Borscht (hot or cold), heart-shaped shrimp sandwiches, Strawberry smoothies or white sparkling cider, Red Velvet Cake for dessert.


8 cups beef broth

1 pound cooked tender beef stew meat or sliced Kielbasa

1 large onion, peeled, quartered

4 large beets, peeled, chopped

1 leek chopped

3 stalks celery sliced

4 carrots, peeled, chopped

1 large russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 cups thinly sliced cabbage

1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes

3/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or parsley)

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)

1 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Bring 4 cups of the beef broth, the beef stew meat, and onion to boil in large pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes.

2 Add remaining 4 cups broth, beets, leek, celery, carrots, and potato; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

3 Stir in meat, cabbage and 1/2 cup dill; cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in vinegar.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and remaining 1/4 cup dill.

Serves 6


3 cups tomatoes, red ripe, seeded and diced
2 cups red bell pepper, diced medium
2 cups red onions, diced medium
1/2 cup celery, diced medium
2 cups cucumber, diced medium
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups organic vegetable juice
pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon cumin

1 Mix diced tomato, peppers, red onions, celery and cucumber together in a medium bowl.

2 Divide the mixture in half and separate in two bowls.
3 Add garlic to one of the bowls and empty into blender. Add vinegar to the blender and puree until smooth.
4 Add the vegetable juice, cayenne and cumin to the blender. Blend.
5 Add the puree to the bowl of diced vegetables.
6 Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with lemon and cilantro.

Serves 8


1 small package (3 ounces) cream cheese

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

dash garlic powder

1 cup chopped cooked cleaned shrimp

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1 teaspoon grated onion

20 to 40 slices white sandwich bread, lightly buttered

Blend cream cheese with mayonnaise; blend in the ketchup, mustard, and garlic powder. Stir in shrimp, celery, and grated onion. Use as a filling spread only in the center of two slices of sandwich bread. Or if you can squeeze two cookie cutter cuttings out of a slice of bread, spread the filling in each of the opposing corners of the bread. Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut the sandwiches out. Toss the scraps. Makes about 1 cup of shrimp sandwich filling, for about 20 sandwiches.


Theme 1: Saint Patrick’s Day

Decorations: Cover the tables in light green table cloths or paper. Cut out dozens of various sized dark green shamrocks from construction paper. On each shamrock write an Irish blessing. Scatter these blessings around on the tables. Set out small black kettles filled with gold foil covered chocolate coins. Make rainbows out of construction paper and toss around on tables under and around the kettles. Hang up paper leprechaun cut-outs. Set up a CD player with Irish pub music, or Celtic music, or Riverdance music. Lounge snacks : Corned beef dip and toasted rye bread; scones and Irish tea or coffee.

Table Games and Diversions: Find a nice coffee table book about Ireland and set that out to be browsed through. Encourage everyone to greet coworkers with an Irish blessing every day.

Luncheon: Baked potatoes with various toppings (in memory of the potato famine), iced coffee with Irish Cream, and chocolate cake for dessert.

Theme 2: March Madness ***Basically like the indoor tailgate from January above, except with a basketball theme.
Theme 3: Easter (If it falls in March)

Decorations: nests with colored eggs in them, and pans of real green grass with eggs nestled in them.

Table Games and Diversions: (craft) have all the stuff sitting out to make decorated eggs. Have a large basket of hollowed out eggshells. Everyone gets to keep what they make.

Host an Easter Egg Hunt. Pick the day, maybe the Thursday before Good Friday. The night before, go and hide plastic eggs all over the building. Hide some in each person’s desk and more in the break room. Tuck little jellybeans, Hershey kisses, and/or cute notes (fortunes or blessings) inside the eggs. Place a small paper basket on each person’s desk with a note inviting him or her to the Easter egg hunt at a specific time. The instructions should tell them that eggs have been hidden in their personal space and in the break room and that all they find are theirs. Also inform them that the person who finds the most eggs will win a special prize so that they need to put their number found next to their name on the poster in the break room. This is a lot less work if you can find an accomplice to share the labor and expense with you. The prize can be anything you want: car wash tokens, movie passes, pizza gift certificate, post-it notes and colored pens, a pedicure/manicure, etc.

Luncheon: Chinese take-out, Almond cookies for dessert


Theme 1: April Showers Bring May Flowers

Decorations: Decorate the break room with hanging umbrellas, rainbows and big raindrops. Cover the tables with light blue paper and set rubber duckies and rubber boots as centerpieces. Fill each rubber boot with a bouquet of daffodils or tulips (real or silk). Play a CD of nature sounds – thunder and rain.

Table Games and Diversions: Purchase a small clay pot for each employee and let each staff member fill a pot with potting mix and a plant seed of their choice. Have them stake in a marker to tell what the plant is (flower, vegetable, etc. be specific) and also their name. Scatter the empty seed packages around on the tables along with little cards that say, “April showers bring May flowers”. Water the plants every day as needed. Give away the pots to each employee on the last working day of April.

Luncheon: Soup and Sandwiches, and Mississippi Mud Cake flowerpots for dessert.

Theme 2: April Fools

April Fool’s day has to be a day of practical jokes and silliness. It can be a silly dress up day, or a crazy hat day. Or everyone can wear his or her clothes backwards. Make it a free-for-all of clowning around. Be creative.

Decorations: The three little monkeys (hear/see/speak no evil)

Table Games and Diversions: A month of practical jokes and pranks that start with a week of a white elephant being left on people’s desks. If you find the elephant on your desk you have to do something nice for someone AND cleverly hide the elephant in someone else’s desk without being caught. If you get caught you have to do something nice for the person that caught you, and try ditching it again on someone else. This is followed by three weeks of Friday dress-up days. The dress code will be posted in the lounge on Thursday. It may be a special color (red, purple, green), or style (cowboy, hippie, Goth), or pattern (plaid, polka dot, stripe) that you will have to wear. If you forget and don’t wear what you’re supposed to you have to buy a chocolate bar for every staff member and bring it to them on Monday. If you don’t bring the chocolate – you have to wear the ugly shirt all day on Monday. (The ugly shirt is a shirt that someone brings that must be totally hideous looking).

Luncheon: Have you ever had a “mystery dinner?” (<– Click this link for the basic instructions). Try to adapt it down to a 30-minute version, or however long the lunch breaks are at your workplace. Everyone signs-up and brings their potluck items as with any other luncheon, but with this luncheon you place a number on each dish and keep them hidden from the employees away from the eating area. The day before the luncheon require everyone to fill out a menu card where they choose their “lunch” from the code words listed. They must do this before they leave work on Thursday and sign their name to their menu and leave them in the envelope posted. The next day, you make up each person’s meal plate based upon their choices and serve it to them. The combinations of foods may be hysterical, as well as the utensils they are required to eat it with. Your meal can be a theme or it can be a hodge-podge of whatever people want to bring – including strange things, but nothing they wouldn’t be willing to eat themselves.

Make the Casual dress day a crazy hat day too.


Theme 1: Gardening

Decorations: gardening gloves, hand shovels and rakes, seed packets, straw hats, and watering cans

Table Games and Diversions: Guessing Jars. Each week set out a large jar filled with items (jelly beans, peanut M&Ms, dumdum suckers, bubble gum, Hot Tamales, etc.). Set out stacks of small note papers for staff to write their guesses on. They should put their name on the sheet with their guess and place it in the box next to the guessing jar. The person who comes closest to the correct number wins the contents of the jar. Winners are determined on Fridays.

Luncheon: Meatball subs with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese, green salad with Italian dressing, beverages, and assorted desserts.

Theme 2: Cinco de Mayo – Fiesta

Decorations: Cover the tables with Mexican blankets, Use sombreros, piñatas, maracas, ponchos, and pottery for centerpieces. Also have a nice mariachi band playing on the CD player for atmosphere.

Table Games and Diversions: Learn Spanish words by scattering Lotería cards around on the tables along with English/Spanish dictionaries.

Luncheon: Nacho or Taco Bar, fruity lemonade, and cinnamon crisps for dessert

Theme 3: Mother’s Day

Decorations: cover the tables in pretty floral tablecloths with lace tablecloths layered over. Use teapots and teacups and little wrapped tea bags for centerpieces.

Table Games and Diversions: Ask each of the staff to bring a picture of their mom that we can post on the Guess Who? Board. Each photo will have a number on the front of it so staff members can guess what mother goes with which staff member.

Luncheon: Make you own sandwich bar with assorted bread, cold cuts, cheeses, condiments, lettuce, sprouts, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., a large veggie tray, potato chips, assorted beverages, and strawberry parfaits for dessert, or order a few 5 foot subs from the deli.


Theme 1: Beach Party

Decorations: string ropes up across the room going in several directions. Hang beach towels, bikinis and wraps on the lines with clothes pins. Sprinkle a little sand in the center of each table, and use beach balls, flip flops, Frisbees, sand box toys as centerpieces. Perch beach umbrellas in the corners of the room or stand in the center of the tables by pushing four tables together leaving a gap in the center for the umbrella rod and hanging it from the ceiling. Play a CD of either Jamaican Reggae or Beach Boys music on continuous play.

Table Games and Diversions: Cover the tables in white paper and set out little sand box buckets filled with crayons. Encourage the staff to doodle and draw on the paper. Set up some four on four basketball courts in open areas of the room, using Nerf basketballs and hoops and masking tape on the floor. Encourage tournaments during break times. You can also incorporate some cruise ship games, like shuffle board, darts, or an indoor putting green. Or set up a volleyball net and court outside, or crocket, for some outdoor fun during breaks.

Luncheon: grilled kabobs, chips, chocolate chip cookies, and watermelon.

Theme 2: Father’s Day

Decorations: Cover the tables in brown paper. Use tackle boxes, fishing lures, and nets for centerpieces. Hang a sign on the door that says, “Gone Fishing.”

Table Games and Diversions: Set out a half dozen of those electronic fishing games, that look like the handle of a fishing pole with a rod and reel, that you cast and then watch the video screen to see if you caught anything. Ask around… you probably have a few people on staff that have one and will donate it to the lounge for a month.

Have several tall-tale fishing stories printed out on paper that you can lay around. Have the guys bring pictures of their big catches that you can post on a board.

Luncheon: Fish and Chips. Bake up several batches of battered fish and fat French fries. Offer lemon wedges, tartar sauce, and malt vinegar as condiments. Brew up some fresh sun tea and lemonade. And Klondike Bars for dessert .


Theme 1: Red/White/Blue

Decorations: Anything patriotic, and patriotic music too (like they play at the fireworks display)

Table Games and Diversions: Have a frog-jumping contest in the hallway using plastic frogs.

Luncheon: Have a picnic with various yard games set up (sack races, three-legged races, hula hoop contest, crocket, Frisbee, volleyball). Serve BBQ beef, salsa, crusty bread, baked beans, fruit salads, and popsicles for dessert.


Theme 1: Summer/Picnic

Decorations: Pots of grass, hand shears, hammocks

Table Games and Diversions: How many words can you make from the word (?). Write a very long word on the board and place dry erase markers for people to write smaller words all around. If the staff together can come up with 100 total words we get to have a root beer float party on Friday.

Luncheon: grilled burgers, corn-on-the-cob, and watermelon

Theme 2: Dog days of Summer

Decorations: anything dog related, stuffed animal dogs, collars, dog food bowls, leashes, obedience school ads, rolled up newspapers, fire hydrants, etc.

Table Games and Diversions: Dog trivia games, funny dog names, famous dogs and dogs of movies stars, dog tricks

Luncheon: Hot dogs with all the trimmings, baked beans, salads, ice cream

So there, there you go. You can poke your head out of the hole now and come out of hiding. You’re armed with plenty of ideas to keep you busy. Don’t be a little rascal. Be pro-active!!!

Racoon in tree

I’m sure hoping that if you were in a bad mood, had a bad attitude about work, or maybe just in a funk, that something here pepped you up, encouraged you, or gave you the intestinal fortitude to go fight a good fight and make your workplace a fun place for everyone, including YOU!!! 🙂

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

Academy Awards Employee Appreciation Luncheon

Academy Awards Employee Appreciation Luncheon

Soooooo, my daughter and I host a monthly staff appreciation luncheon for the teachers and staff of one of our local schools, and this was our creation for February!  I share it with you because it might give you some ideas for what to do for your own Oscar Party at work or at home, for the teachers at your children’s school, for the residents or staff of an Assisted Living Center or Senior Center, for your local fire station, police station, or military group, for a bowling league party, for a Bunco party, or for a High School Musical Final Curtain After-Party (Ha! yes I did that one too — very memorable and the kids made it sooooo much fun!!!!).  This party can be adapted for whatever group you are trying to honor.

What’s really rather awesome for us is that our teachers work in a place with “Academy” in the name of the school, so…how perfect is that?

Party Preparations – One Month Before…

WOF Star Books

I sent a note home with each child in each classroom, asking their parents to write a note of appreciation or compliment for their child’s teacher(s) on an index card size notecard, and return those to me.  (BTW: This is a great place to direct parents who are unsure what or how to write in such a note: Teacher Appreciation LetterSimple Thank You Notes for Awesome Teachers). I am using these notes to create Walk-of-Fame star booklets for each staff member.

How I made my booklets:

  1. Purchase pocket size photo albums from Walmart and remove the covers that come in them.
  2. Spray paint the card stock covers with chalk board paint (to cover any design they may have and prime the surface) and then spray on some stone
    DSCN8358paint.  I made half of mine gold (for variety) with a light coating of gold metallic paint over the stone paint.
  3. When dry, attach a Walk-of-Fame star (I created mine on my computer “Paint” program) to each front cover with a scrapbooking glue dot.
  4. Replace all the covers in the photo books with the new ones.  I gave all the ones with gold front covers plain stone back covers, and all the ones with stone front covers got gold back covers.
  5. Insert notes into the inside pages where the photos go.

.I’m really excited for our teachers to see these!



I’ve also given each of the staff members a SECRET BALLOT, asking them to nominate their peers for various awards (see the list and sample ballot several paragraphs down on this page).  And I posted this Ballot Box in the lounge where they could deposit their ballots until I was ready to pick them up, about a week or so before the party.  I used that info to make up award certificates (see below) placed in special (black) envelopes, to go with their Oscars (cookies) and their Walk-of-Fame stars.

Oscar Party flier - Copy


This is the luncheon flier I made and posted on the school’s Facebook page (which I hoped would alert the staff to our menu and theme this month, and hopefully also remind the parents to get their notes to me).  My daughter has also printed it and posted it in the staff lunchroom for all the staff to see, so they will be reminded to “save the date.”  The design for the flier was something I found online and adapted.  But here is a spectacular idea I found for more personal invitations.

Cookie Awards


Aren’t these the cutest?  Some people are so clever!!!  I’m making these adorable edible Oscar cookies for dessert from an idea I stumbled upon at  Well, let’s be real real about it….mine are nowhere half as adorable as these.  I’ve never been a great baker!  But, if they never see this photo they’ll be none the wiser and think mine are cute.  Note: She also includes a recipe for the perfect cookie dough that will hold the shape of the cookies as they bake, and I can attest that it works beautifully.  I didn’t have any meringue powder for the royal icing though (I’d never even heard of it in fact), but, so I substituted knox gelatin disolved in the liquid that was called for in the recipe.  It worked, but I can’t say it worked as well as the right stuff.   I found a plastic, 4½” tall cookie cutter at (sold by that I used to shape my Oscars, and then Walmart (or any local grocery store with a baking isle) had a good assortment of cake and cookie decorating sprays, glitters, icings, etc. that I used to decorate them with.  The detailed instructions for making these lovely cookies is found at

Here is my much lower level attempt:




funny-teacher-awards-600Now, in my web travels I also found some funny awards certificates for teachers that I thought would lend a lighthearted, sort of soupçon, to our OSCARS party.  The author of these awards does share some freebie images (featured on my ballot), but otherwise his certificate sets sell for $35.  I also added a few of my own.

Once the ballots were turned in, I made little awards certificates and sealed them into envelopes.  See a photo of them later on down this page.

Awards Categories (the freebies):

P’s & Q’s Award – for Best Manners

Burmuda Triangle Award – for the desk where things go in but never come back out

Raisin Award – for Most Deserving of a Raise in Pay

Dewey Decimal Award – for Most Organized

Smart Cookie Awards – for the Staff Member with the Biggest Sweet Tooth

Single File Award – for the Staff member most capable of keeping everyone in line

Locksmith Award – for the Staff member who is the Key to our Success

Bunsen Burner Award – for the one who has the Hottest Ideas

Baby’s Bottom Award – for the One who is Smoothest in Times of Crisis

Duct Tape Award – for the one able to fix just about anything

Carpe Diem Award – for the one who makes the most of every moment

High School Musical Award – to the one most likely to break into song

And these are the extras I came up with….

Adam Award – for the one who has been here from the beginning (most ancient human)

Noah Award – for the one who is always ready and prepared to save us all from disaster

Mary & Martha Award – for the one who brings treats often and makes everybody feel welcome

Secretariat Award – for the one who runs the race with the biggest heart

Red Carpet Award – for the one who stuns us daily with the cutest hair, nails, shoes, and outfits

Anne Sullivan Award – for the teacher who is amazingly gifted to seemingly be able to teach anyone

Maria Montessori Award – for the teacher with the most amazing motivational skills (gets her kids to do anything)

William McGuffey Award – for the teacher who is (him or herself) the most ferocious reader

Emma Hart Willard Award – for the teacher with the biggest dreams for her students, gift of encouragement

Jaime Escalante Award – for the teacher whose students often outscore everyone else

GOOGLE Award – for the one most likely to know the answer to anything

Thomas Edison Award – for the one with the most inventive ways to accomplish things

Albert Einstein Award – for best hair (what were you thinking?)

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award – for the one who tells the best stories

Baby Huey Award – for the youngest staff member

Wilma Rudolph Award – for the marathon runner in the group

Peter O’Toole Award – for the one with the most skill, talent, longevity, but who never wins an award

Secret BallotA

I typed up my ballots, printed them out, and made sure every staff member got one.  Another option would be to give out simple awards for “outstanding effort in” whatever categories (i.e. Out-the-door Fire Drill Skills, Genius Mathmatics Game Inventor, Huff-n-Puff P.E. Fun Stuff, Hilarious Staff Meeting Antics, Top Teacher’s Lounge Comedian, Genius Science Guy/Gal Shinanigans, Oscar Worthy History Lesson Dramatics, Most Imbarrassing Library Faux Pas, High Brow Hallway Decorum, Best Dressed, Best Supporting Staff Member, Most Captivating Story Teller, Most Pleasant Intercom Voice, Most Punctual, Most Artistic,  Most Likely to End Up as Teacher-of-the-year, etc.)

Once the staff members filled out their ballots, they deposited them in the Ballot Box in the middle of the teacher’s lounge table, and then a few days before the party I picked up the box, went through the ballots, tallied the winners for each AWARD, and then made up my little black envelopes.  On the outside of each envelope I wrote the AWARD:  “And the Dear Abby Award” goes to….  Inside I had a little card with the Award written on the outside and the staff member’s name who got the most votes written on the inside.  I intended them to be keepsakes for everyone.



Red Carpet and WOF Stars TableclothThis is the tablecloth I found at to decorate the table.

I placed the Oscar cookies in the center, and flanked the plate with the Walk-of-fame star booklets and the black envelopes with the awards inside.  I also found some nice compliments for teachers online that I printed and scattered around on the table.

For your party it would be fun to scatter some Movie Trivia Cards around on the table, and decorate with some helium filled star-shaped balloons; maybe some old film reels, and clapboards.  The party stores have cut-outs too that your guests can stick their faces in and you can take photos of them.

Silver serving trays, plates, and utensils, and stemware for the non-alcoholic bubbly beverages.



FOOD  “Studio Commissary”

“Straight Outta (insert your town name here)” Cheese Fondue, served with torn crusty bread, cooked and cooled fingerling potatoes, and mushrooms.


“Straight Outta (my town)” baked Fontina fondue (Ina Garten’s recipe from Food Network), and omg you cannot begin to imagine how magnificent this dish smells as it is broiling in the oven its short little six minutes.  Super quick and easy to toss together and absolutely the best thing you will put in your mouth this whole week.  Make sure though that you find a good Italian Fontina.  The other stuff doesn’t melt very well and will soon turn to a rubbery mass as it cools.  It will still taste awesome, but not have that gooey, dripping, oooo la la lushiousness that you want in a fondue.

Another option is to slice your crusty bread into thin slices, toast them lightly, and lay them out on a cookie sheet, top them with a couple few small cubes of cheese, a sprinkle of the seasonings, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Place the sheet in the broiler until the cheese is melted, and there you go.  This way if all you can find in your grocery store is the rubbery Fontina, you’ll still end up with a nice grilled cheese snack that your guests will enjoy.


“The Revenant” Meat Fondue dip can be just a warmed cream or brown gravy, an Asian style Sauce, or a sweet & spicy Jezebel/Henry Bain BBQ sauce (which is what I did), served with various chunks of little smokie sausages, chicken and or beef chunks, or meatballs to dip in it.



“Spotlight” Fruit Fondue – you can go with a melted sweet cream vanilla sauce (or I made a Toblerone Fondue: 1 cup heavy cream, 5 (3.5 oz) bars of Toblerone, broken, 1 1/2 Tablespoon Hazelnut-flavored coffee syrup.  Heat cream to a simmer. Remove from heat.  Toss in Toblerone.  Let sit a few moments.  Add Hazelnut syrup.  Whisk until blended and smooth. Keep warm in fondue pot).

I did cream cheese filled strawberries (1 8-oz block cream cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. Vanilla.  I placed these three ingredients in a gallon size ziploc bag, sealed it, and then kneaded the bag until the contents were completely blended.  Then smooshed the contents to to bottom of the bag, cut a small hole in the corner, and piped the cream cheese into my strawberries.  Oh, after you core your strawberries, nip the bottoms off so they will sit nice and upright on your plate).

You could have all sorts of dipping fruits for your fondue (strawberries, grapes, banana slices, pineapple chunks, apple slices, etc.


“Inside Out” Lettuce Bundles – I used a recipe from Betty only I used Blood Oranges to squeeze my OJ, because I love them, and the store had them, and they make such a pretty colored red-carpet-like dressing.


“Star Wars” Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Cider, served in Champagne flutes





You could go with a HOT DOG BAR instead of the more intimate fondues I served, and wrap your little “Oscar” Mayers in cute little tuxedos  (click on the blue link for the Better Homes and Gardens tuxedo instructions), and then flank them with a huge spread of topping choices.  You could even print and post this poster to give your guests ideas for how to dress their dogs, once they’ve undressed them out of their fancy duds.  You could even give each topping combination a special celebrity name from this year’s A-list.


AND finally, for dessert, or snacks later in the afternoon…


A “Shaun the Sheep” Popcorn Bar (there are tons and tons of great serving table ideas on Pinterest), like the one pictured above.  Mine was not so fancy, with tied cloth and labeled shakers and pretty signs, but I did figure out how to tilt the popcorn bucket like the ones above.  Just roll up a towel and tuck it up under the back of the bucket.


I ordered Popcorn Bags, from Oriental Trading Co. but also found them at the dollar store.

I popped a bucketful of plain popcorn, no butter or salt or anything.  (I found the coolest popcorn popper at World Market.  It’s a glass pitcher with a resin lid.  You measure your kernals into the lid, pour them into the pitcher, pop in the microwave for about 3 minutes, and voila…POPCORN!)

I found my popcorn buckets at Dollar General, probably intended for plants, since they were in the garden section, but they worked perfectly, and I lined them with clear plastic bags.



Milk Duds

Reeses Pieces

Toffee coated Peanuts

Malted Milk Balls

Butterscotch chipscondiment bottle

Candy Corn


Juji Fruits or Dots


*Olive Oil (served in a condiment dispenser, like this one —>

Italian Seasonings (I mixed some garlic powder in with mine)

Parmesan Cheese, grated

*Melted Butter (served in a condiment dispenser, like this one —>

Plain Sea Salt

“The Hateful Eight” Kernel Seasonings assortment




I played a Hollywood’s Greatest Hits CD on the BoomBox to set the stage as the staff members arrived in the lounge.  (BTW, if you have time, a great game to play with this Hollywood music CD: Name-that-movie.  Once your guests are fed, awarded, and honored, you can see how good they are at music trivia.  Play just the first few seconds of a song on the CD and see if they can guess what movie it is from.  The first person to guess the movie for that score could win a prize).

I also found a wonderful blog with lots of other game ideas for an Oscar Party that you might like to do at your party if you have the time!!!!!



First the teachers walked on the red carpet that I had laid down outside of the teachers lounge.  I had the Hollywood music playing to greet them as they stepped inside, and our amazing school secretary played the part of Paparazzi with camera flashing as the teachers entered the room.  They were directed to the food buffet “Studio Commisary,” and then to the table where where they discovered their “Walk-of-Fame Star” booklets set out like place-markers all around the table.  Scattered in the center of the table were the black envelopes with an AWARD written on the outside and the winner’s names secretly sealed inside.

As the staff ate their lunch, each person took a turn grabbing a black envelope, reading out loud the AWARD written on the outside of it, and then tearing it open to reveal the winner of the award inside.  Winners were awarded with an Oscar cookie (the plate of cookies was passed to them)!

They each continued eating their lunch and quietly browsed through their little Hollywood Star booklets reading to themselves some of the kind comments written inside.

At the end of the luncheon they each gathered up their booklets, and tucked their black envelope AWARDS inside, grabbed their Oscar cookies, and made themselves a bag of popcorn to go, then headed back to their day, hopefully feeling loved and appreciated.

AA Luncheon Ad2



May the LORD now show you kindness and faithfulness, and I too will show you the same favor because you have done this. — 2 Samuel 2:6



Thank you teachers, here and everywhere, for all you do for our little people!!!!!  May God bless your gifted hands, as you bless all our hearts with your sweet service!  We love you!!!!!




Super Bowl Indoor Tailgate Party

Super Bowl  Indoor Tailgate Party


Are you ready for some football?

Ahhh… it’s that time of year again.  The weather outside, well, basically sucks for an estimated 75% of us, and is getting colder and nastier with each passing weekend.  Every Sunday, however, from September to February, those of us not sitting in stadiums will make huddles in warm houses all across this great motherland from sea to shining sea.

Houses jolting off their foundations as men and recliners collide to the play-by-play action of the NFL.  It’s football season!  Mmmm… smell the popcorn popping in the microwave.  Hear the crackle of potato chips under foot.  Tweet!  Who fumbled the chip bowl?  Or was it pass interference? Maybe illegal use of hands?

Feel the tension in the air as the excitement mounts.  Will our favorite team make it all the way to the big game, or be eliminated in the playoffs?  A hundred thousand nerves are on pins and needles with anticipation.

If we wives have not retreated to the mall in desperation, we’ve probably rolled up our sleeves, put on our gear, and tackled the season like a girl – from the kitchen…counting down the days to the big game with the workhorse determination of a defensive lineman; tackling the holidays one by one on first downs as football season charges through. We hit Halloween low, take Thanksgiving off sides, sack Christmas in the end zone, and before we know it, we’ve got the playoff season at the goal line.  Will we run in for a touchdown or kick a field goal with our party?

Believe it or not, I actually enjoy football season.  I like the sounds of it from the other room as I’m folding laundry or baking.  I get a kick out of my husband’s antics and wild displays of emotion.  No matter how far to the outer recesses of our dwelling I may go to escape it, the yelling rings in my ears as “moron” refs make bad calls, and “idiot” players fail to do their best.  “C’mon ref!  Oh… WHAT WAS THAT ?  YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME [insert player’s name here]!  Jeeminy Krismas (only it’s not ‘jeeminy Krismas,’), not another interception!!!” 

From the kitchen to the laundry room and even the garage I can pick up on the tone of the game by the shouting in the next room.  Add to that the sounds of muscle bound, sweaty men in heavy armor crashing into each other like a pile up on the freeway.  Whistles blowing.  Huddle chat.  Hollering from the coach.  And, of course the play-by-play from the guys in the booth.

Time out!

Whether I am having a houseful or its just hubby, kids, and me, we have a Super Bowl party every year — complete with food, decorations, and beverages. It doesn’t matter whose playing.

Superbowl party Welcome Table



Official NFL Super Bowl invitations are available from party stores, or you can be creative and make your own.

Ask your guests to bring a 12-pak of beer (non-alcoholic if you prefer) or other beverage, and a snack item.  Be sure to mention that there will be a pre-game Super Bowl pool starting an hour before the game that they’ll need to bring wager money to participate in.  Send invitations out two to three weeks in advance.

What to wear

Encourage your guests to wear their favorite team colors, official team jerseys, or other crazy party duds.  If your guests come with painted bodies – the maniacs – make sure it doesn’t rub off on your furniture.  Have a sheet handy to drape over just in case, or park them in a chair that doesn’t matter – like lawn furniture.


OUTSIDE:  Stake down a lawn sign that says the party is here!  Hang a team flag on the flagpole.  Toss some toy footballs around in the snow or yard.  (Last year the footballs I tossed around were all flat – because I am ornery and my son-in-law is a die hard Patriots fan.  (Remember “deflate-gate?”)

Tie balloons or hang pennants along the fence railing or stake pennants on individual sticks all along the walkway to your front door.  Set a boom box outside with an Official Music of the NFL CD playing continuously.  This should have your guests frothing by the time they reach the front door.

INSIDE: cover the serving tables with green football field tablecloths – the kind with the yardage lines marked on them, available at online party stores.  Steel a handful of the green Easter basket grass out of the kids’ baskets (that are hanging on a nail in the garage from last Easter), and put little tufts of it in the center of your serving table and on various tables around the room, and around the house.  Place on each clump of grass a mini football, mini jersey koozie, and a gumball machine mini football helmet.  I found jersey beverage koozies at Oriental Trading Company.  I found gumball machine helmets on eBay.

Decorate the walls and windows with football player cutouts.  Thread some NFL mini pennants (found mine on eBay or you can make them really easy on the computer) onto a long black cord, like clothes on a clothesline, and hang from the ceiling.   I found pennant banners at Oriental Trading Company.  Also at Oriental Trading were inflatable goal posts and also an inflatable football player catch game.  Put the goal posts on each end of the serving table and set the player over in a corner of the room.  Do you have a life-size football player cutout?  You can get one at  You can also find the cool, high definition, life-size wall stickers at, but they are kind of pricey.  Pick up some balloons and streamers of both the teams colors and string those up too.  Scatter around #1 fingers, pom-poms, bam-bams, and other such fan paraphernalia from your local party store.

I found a football crock-pot at Wal-mart.  I also found a large, brown, 3-section football bowl and a stadium pictographic serving tray at the grocery store, and a football helmet chip and dip snack bowl on eBay (they also have these at the NFL website – official NFL helmets, your team choice).  I also saw the cutest idea in a Taste of Home magazine recently (Laces Out Bottle Coozie, p. 26, February/March 2012)…homemade football koozies.  You take your old beverage koozies and spray paint them “football brown.”  Then you cut fat little lace shapes out of craft foam sheets and attach so it looks like a little football.  So cute!

Put an NFL music CD on continuous play on a CD player in the entry room of your house.  Purchase plates, cups, napkins, etc. from a party store or Wal-Mart.  You can go with the official NFL Super Bowl stuff or anything with footballs on it.  Or do the team colors.

I found some super soft Nerf footballs and piled them in a basket for the boys to throw at the TV when the players do something bad or the ref makes a bad call. I called them “bad-call-bricks.” I’ve heard it isn’t good to throw them directly at an LCD screen when it is on, so my boys were instructed to chunck them on the floor to relieve their aggression.

Buy a piece of Astro-turf (do you know why they call it “Astro” turf?) at your local hardware store to cover a coffee table or serving table. Some hardware stores (Home Depot) sell it for less than a dollar per square foot.  It’s an inexpensive way to add a great touch of the game. You can spray paint some lines on it and let it dry before placing on your table.


If I want to really plan ahead I’ll go with whatever foods are indigenous to the host city of the Super Bowl, since that information is available much ahead of who the actual teams are that will be playing there.  For instance, this year, Super Bowl 50 will be played at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California (which is really part of the greater San Francisco Area).  Having visited San Francisco many times, and eaten myself into a food coma on almost all of those occasions, I can vouch that the food choices are wide open.  One could easily go with Chinese from Chinatown, which, in its own rite is a vast menu (thinking of Dim Sum — little nibbles of many things, or Chop Suey and fortune cookies — which were both invented in San Francisco).   Or Italian foods, straight out of North Beach!  Or, perhaps my most favorite, the street foods from down on Fisherman’s Wharf.  My personal favorites are the dungenous crabs that they sell (or at least used to sell) from little stands down by the water — bought by the pound, then cooked to order, and beaten with a mallet on the chopping block, scooped onto paper and served with drawn butter and lemons.  Oh my!!!  Lord have mercy!!!  If you grab a fresh, hot loaf of sour dough bread first to go with it, and find yourself a bench to sit on, that is eating like a king, baby…truly eating like a KING!!!!  Or, my other fav is sitting outside in the salty air eating Boudin’s clam chowder in a Bread Boule, with the seaguls (and street people) scavenging about.

So, with that in mind, this year (2016), I went with Sour Dough Bread Bowls of Boudin’s Clam Chowder, Crab Louie salads, with homemade Thousand Island Dressing, and Ghirardelli Mug Cakes for a luncheon that I hosted…

Clam Chowder in Bread Boule

DSCN8309Clam Chowder in a Sour Dough Bread Boule  (I used a recipe found on Taste of Home, that truly is “Contest-Winning” New England Clam Chowder).  I tripled the recipe and it was perfect for serving the 20 people in my crowd.  I got the bread boules at Wal-mart.  I had Super Bowl plates that I served the luncheon food on, but of course failed to grab a photo of those.  This photo is of the left-overs I fed to hubbie for supper that night.  His is missing the crumbled bacon on top though.  🙂

Crab Louie

Crab Louie (which is said to have been invented in San Francisco), with homemade Thousand Island Dressing.  I actually put the crab meat on top of the salad that I made for the luncheon, but failed to get a photo of that dish as well.  So this is a recreation of the salad (which I am feeding to hubbie tonight).  It is missing the avacado and black olives, and I’m saving that can of crab meat for tonight’s supper: Grilled Red Fish smothered with a lump crabmeat cream sauce on top, and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat!!!

Ghirardelli Mug Cakes (because a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf is not complete until you’ve stopped in for your chocolate fix at this famous San Francisco fixture)!  I whipped up the mixes and baked them in ceramic mugs in the oven (325* for approx. 28 minutes).  The white cups were a Chocolate cake batter made with a big bar of Ghirardelli chocolate, and then a Ghirardelli gnache (made with Ghirardelli chocolate chips and heavy cream) spread on top, with some chocolate sprinkles for garnish.  The black mugs were a box mix Ghirardelli Caramel Turtle Brownies (2 boxes for 8 mugs) mixed as directed on the package, and with a spoonful of the wonderful gnache on top of each.  ***Take these to the next level by serving warm out-of-the-oven with a scoop of vanilla (or caramel, butter pecan, or even coffee flavored) ice cream and a drizzle of the warm gnache on top, and a sprinkle of chopped pecans.

And… now that we know my Denver Broncos (wooot, wooot, wooot) will be playing in Super Bowl 50 (Squeal, whistle, doing my touchdown dance, uh huh, uh huh — I’m really trying to contain my excitement), I’m going to do the Denver thing for my personal Super Bowl party at home this Sunday.  And what is the Denver thing you ask?  Well, I’m going with anything that can be stacked up or piled high – “Mile-High Nachos” (like the ones they serve at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville), or “Mile-High BLT’s” (which will take the triple or Dagwood sandwich to a whole new level), and a monster pile of “Mile-High Garlic Fries,” and/or a heaping platter of “Mile-High” Hot wings (yeah, you get the idea)!!!!  And of course anything made with “Orange Crush” soda — like an orange Creamsicle cake with cream cheese frosting, or orange and cream jello parfaits (or jello shots).

Here’s what my “Stadium Concessions” looked like:  (and, how ’bout them Broncos?  🙂  Wow…I can barely contain myself!!!  They said it was gonna be a blow-out.  It was the Sheriff’s best rodeo!!! I guess if a black cat crosses your path you just squish’it with your defense!!!!  Congrats to Von Miller for MVP!!!  Way to go Payton!  All the way Elway!  Kube..Kube..Kubiak!  Way to stomp ’em Orange Crush!!! Yeehaw!!!


But if, for instance, the Eagles were playing this year, then I would definitely be serving Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches.  Chicago = Chicago Dogs or Deep Dish Pizza.  New Orleans = Jambalaya, shrimp Po’Boys, Muffalettas, or Gumbo!  Texas = BBQ Ribs, Texas Chili, or Tex-Mex Enchiladas!!!  New England = Clam Chowder or Boston Baked Beans.  New York = Coney Dogs, New York style (pizza) pie, Buffalo Hot Wings, or Manhattan Style Clam Chowder.  Kansas City = Ribeyes.  Seattle = Smoked Salmon served wrapped in newspaper, or a Crab boil (crab legs, mussels, clams, shrimp, baby red potatoes, corn on cobbetts, and kielbasa, poured out on a paper covered table, served with drawn butter.

This was my personal last year’s menu:

Patriots Seahawks Party flier

And this is what it really looked like in reality (just before I ate mine):


Or…you can do tailgate foods:

Chili cook-off (red chili, white chicken chili, green chili, and chili with and without beans), and serve with corn bread or Mexican corn bread, or over Fritos, and have various chili toppings

Hot Dogs done all different ways (mustard, relish, sauerkraut, chili, cheese, Chicago style, etc.) and served with pasta or potato salads and chips

Nachos Grande (chips, ground beef, crumbled bacon, cheese, pico de gallo, jalapenos, etc.)

Hamburgers cooked on the grill with all sorts of toppings, and served with salads and chips

Sloppy Joes

Baked Potato Bar featuring large baked potatoes and a sundry of toppings

Smoked Brisket, beans, coleslaw, hot rolls, potato salad, pickles and onions

Or, you can just go for some awesome snacks: homemade soft pretzels and a melted Monterey Jack with poblano peppers fondue dipping sauce, or a sandwich tray, cold cuts, cheeses, and spreads.   Maybe your guests would enjoy a platter of little cheeseburger sliders.  You can also add a veggie tray from the grocery store, or a shrimp tray from Red Lobster.  Try take-and-bake pizza like from Papa Murphy’s.  The freezer section of the grocery store also offers a sundry of appetizer items that can be baked in the oven and added to your table in a hurry, like TGI Friday’s spinach artichoke dip, or twice baked potato skins, and such.

25543922856562623casj26s0cHave a LARGE ice chest in the TV room filled with ice where your guests can chill the beverages they brought.  Put all the beer and pop in it.   Keep it in the same room as the TV so people don’t miss anything when they need another brewski.  And be sure to set out bowls of popcorn, pretzels, chips and dip, salsa and tortilla chips, mixed nuts, M&M’s, and snack size candy bars.  Or set up a popcorn bar (there are tons of ideas on Pinterest), with a huge barrel of plain popcorn and sundry toppings (chocolate covered peanuts, M&M’s, Jr. Mints, candied pecans, Malted Milk Balls, Reeses Pieces, mini peanut butter cups, etc.), or melted butter in a squeeze bottle and various seasonings (check out Kernal Seasonings) and flavored salts.

Check out these cookbooks for more recipe ideas:

NBC Sunday Night Football Cookbook (ISBN 160320797X)

The NFL Gameday Cookbook (ISBN 0811863956)

ESPN Gameday Gourmet: More Than 80 All American Tailgate Recipes (ISBN 1933606158)

FOX Sports Tailgating Handbook: The Gear, The Food, The Stadiums (ISBN 076274622X)

Games and Activities for the kids

Set up a craft table for the kids and give them blank pennants to decorate (available at Oriental Trading Company).

Purchase several tabletop football games (with suction cup goal posts and a cardboard football), one game for every two kids.  Set them up on a long table and have the kids play off against each other.  Winners continue playing against each other while losers watch.  Have some prizes for the final winner of each match.

Have some small soft Nerf balls for the kids to play catch with.

Set up a goal post kicking game in a far corner of the room (or down a long hallway) where the kids can take turns kicking a mini nerf football through the uprights from several distances marked as yard lines on the floor.  The kid with the most goals wins!

Set up a tossing game by cutting a hole out of a large piece of cardboard and leaning it up against a corner of the room.  The kids can take turns tossing a mini nerf football into the hole.  The kid who tosses the most in the hole after several rounds wins.

Make sure to have special snacks and beverages for the kids that they can help themselves to throughout the party.

Games for grown-ups

You can collect money from your guests for the hundred squares pool (explained later in this post) and also scratch off tickets.   The hundred squares pool will get cash prizes, and then if you want, you can give great non-cash prizes for the scratch off tickets.  Here are some ideas for prizes that I found at Wal-Mart:

Official NFL football jersey or hat

Official NFL football, signed by all your guests

This month’s issue of Sports Illustrated

A poster of an NFL Quarterback or favorite player

Sports Illustrated poster of a swimsuit model

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar

A best-of CD by whomever is performing the half-time show


The Football Pool

An hour before the game, have your guests start filling out the hundred squares board (I’ll explain how this game works in just a little bit).  Each participants pays a quarter, 50 cents, or a dollar for the opportunity to put their name in a block on a hundred squares board.  You can also, or alternatively, make them answer a trivia question for the right to a square, if you want to keep money out of it.  If they answer it correctly they get a square, if not, they have to wait their turn to try and answer another one.  Guests can continue answering trivia questions until the board is full.

You could also make them do something to earn a square, like tossing a football through a hoop, naming five NFL teams, naming five quarterbacks, or naming five NFL stadiums, or guess the colors of a particular team.

Hundred Squares Board

The Hundred Squares Board

Get a large sheet of poster board; I like the stiff foam type (available at Wal-Mart in the craft or school supplies area).  Draw a grid on it that is 10 squares wide by 10 squares long.  Write one team’s name across the top of the board and the other team up the left side of the board.  ***Do not fill in the numbers yet.***   Players will fill in their names in the squares (first) either by purchasing a square, or by answering a trivia question correctly.


Once the grid is completely filled up with names (one name in each square) then you can fill in the numbers.  This is done by first writing the numbers on slips of paper ( 0 thru 9) and then drawing the slips out of a hat to fill in the numbers going across the top.  Put all the slips of paper back in the hat and repeat the process to fill the numbers going down the left side of the hundred squares board.

Divide the money into four portions.  The first three portions should be less than the last portion.  If you charged $1 per square you’ll have $100, so your portions should be $20, $20, $20 and $40.  At each quarter of the game the person whose block matches the last number of each team’s score is the winner, and wins that quarter’s prize.  For example, using the grid above, if the score at the first quarter was Green Bay 7 and Denver 10, Ann would win $20.00. Whoever has the correct block for the final score wins the final and largest cash prize.

Scratch off tickets

These are party favors that look like lotto scratch off tickets.  They usually come in a set of 10 or 12 with one of them being a winner.  I found sets of them on eBay advertised as “Football Party Favors Scratch-off Game” a few weeks before the Super Bowl.  I have also seen them at party stores.  This website has a set specifically for Super Bowl that costs just over $5 for a set of 12 cards, personalized.

Guests can buy a ticket from you, or you can just give them out at any point during the game, or before or after.  They are like lottery tickets that you scratch off with a coin to reveal what’s underneath.  If you made your guests purchase a ticket, the winner wins the cash you collected.  If you just gave them out, winner gets a prize that you have purchased.

If you can’t find scratch-off tickets, or you waited until the last minute to play this game  and don’t have time for the shipping (that would be me), here’s a great alternative.  Hide prize coupons in random places in the house – an index card with the words, “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU FOUND IT!” printed on the front, and instructions for redeeming it on the back.  If a ticket is spotted the finder can redeem it with you for a prize!  Some good hiding places I used were

  • laying on the bottom of the inside of the chip bowl
  • hidden in the roll of toilet paper in the guest bathroom
  • taped to the bottom of a plate in the paper plates stack
  • taped to the hidden side of a bottle of beer in the refrigerator

Don’t tell your guests anything about the “treasure hunt.”  Let them discover it all on their own.  Of course, after a couple have been found your guests will be asking if there are others and where they are – especially the kids.

On the backsides of my cards I told them to bring the card to me for a prize.  I had 4 cards hidden and 4 prizes: an NFL football, a CD of the featured halftime entertainment, a Sports Illustrated magazine, and a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit poster.  Those were the choices I happened to find at Wal-Mart.  I wrapped each prize and labeled it with an alphabet letter, and then hid the prizes in a back bedroom closet of the house.  I marked each index card with the corresponding letters of the prizes so that when someone came to redeem a prize, it would already be predetermined which prize they had won.  Only the winner could accompany me to the prize closet.

It’s all about the game… focus, focus, focus!

Make a list of several things that could happen during the game:

  1. Who wins the toss?

2. Who scores first?

3. First field goal,

4. First Touchdown,

5. First Penalty (offensive/defensive),

6. First Punt,

7. First Blocked kick,

8. First QB sack,

9. First Fumble,

10. First Interception, etc.

Use a symbol, or sticker, or just number the items as I have done above to identify each of these things on a wager sheet, shown below.

Take a sheet of notebook paper and write all of your guest’s names descending down the left side.  Divide the right side of the sheet of paper into two columns, one for each team, and write the team names at the top (see example shown).


Each guest antes up a quarter for each thing they wish to wager against. Set the limit low to encourage everyone to participate.

Each guest selects the team that will be the first to commit. This makes it simple for folks that are not football fans, but are attending the party. All they have to do is select one of the two game3

Now make a game board using a sheet of poster board, and draw a grid on it, like the hundred squares board.  Place little football game pieces for each player (marked with their initials) along the bottom of the board, and draw a goal post at the top of the board.  Each time a guest gets an item right they can move their game piece up one square on the game board, towards the uprights.  In the end, the player closest to the goal wins the pot.

Since anything can happen at any time, this creates interest in the game.

Other activities

3-D glasses: sometimes there are advertisements or half time events that are broadcast in 3-D.  In 2009 3-D glasses were available at various grocery stores and fueling stations for use during the Super Bowl.  Shrek 2/Shrek 3-D: Party in the Swamp, the DVD, came with 4 pairs of 3-D glasses.  Perhaps you bought the movie and saved the glasses?  Otherwise look for them online.  Have several pair of 3-D glasses on hand so your guests don’t miss anything cool.

How daring is your crowd?  Make “Jell-O-shooters” (non-alcoholic for the nondrinkers and kids) ahead of time to have on hand.  Make two different color shots and celebrate whatever you wish.  You could ask your guests to designate a Team upon arrival and give them a name tag.  Whenever the “Giants” score a touchdown all those fans can make the other fans take a shot.  That way everybody is having a good time.  Or you could do it like this, when the “Falcons” score EVERYBODY has to take a peach shot, and when the Packers score EVERYBODY has to do the green apple shots.  Jell-O shooters are made my replacing half the cold water in the recipe with liquor (vodka or peach schnapps usually).

At the risk of stating the obvious… please, please, please be a responsible host and don’t allow underage drinking, nor let your guests drink and drive.

Pre Game Games

Maybe you’d like to make your party all day rather than just an evening affair?  Have your pals over for some pre-game Games, such as ESPN Sports Trivia version of Scene-It, or NFLopoly, just to name a couple.

Prearrange for a party referee (especially if you have ill mannered guests at your party or one especially bossy person that you want to give something to do).  Ask one of your guests ahead of time if they would be willing to serve as party referee.  This person will wear a referee shirt and throw a yellow flag for the following offenses:

Holding – Such as holding on to the popcorn too long

Party Foul – guest caught double dipping anything

Illegal Use of Hands – self explanatory.

Most important element to a successful Super Bowl party, don’t run out of drinks or things to snack on.

Party favors and parting gifts: Send all your pom-poms, bam-bams, pennants, mini-footballs, football koozies, etc, home with your guests.

Tailgate Party

NOTE: this party transfers well as an office party, or what I like to call a”Break Room Bash.”  Do you and your coworkers get together each month and have luncheons?  I worked at a school once where the staff took turns by grade level decorating the lounge and hosting a monthly luncheon.  Usually they were things like “A Salad Bar” or “Soup & Sandwiches” or “Loaded Potato Bar” or “Hot Dog Bar” or that sort of thing.  The staff that were assigned to each month would be in charge of decorating the lounge (if they wished) and also taking care of it (wiping tables, washing dishes, keeping the refrigerator cleaned out, etc.), and providing the end-of-the-month carry-in lunch.  The Parent-Teacher council also brought in a cake for dessert and we celebrated all the birthdays for the month as well!  It was a really nice thing!  Click here for more about “Break Room Bashes.”


“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”   

1 Corinthians 9:24



First Saturday in May — KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY

First Saturday in May — KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY

Jolee & ColtIt’s April.  My sweet little granddaughter is over and she is chompin’ at the bit to take a carrot across the road to feed the colt.  The neighbor’s painted mare has had her foal and he is just about the cutest thing we’ve ever seen!  He looks just like his mama, but with l-o-n-g legs and a miniature little body.  He is the star attraction at grandma’s house these days, following his mama around, nursing, nibbling on grass, and growing like a weed. Now that he has learned to walk and run, he has begun to jump and romp and play.  Oh my goodness he is darling.

Just like that little colt I’m jumping in the stalls to have a party!!!  And perhaps because of him, I want to have a Kentucky Derby party.  The timing could not be more perfect.  The annual Run for the Roses is held the first Saturday in May, the Preakness is three weeks later, and the Belmont Stakes rounds out the triple crown another two weeks after that, in June.   How fun would it be to dress up and get to go to the actual Churchill Downs in Louisville, and see the horses run live?  So much history.  So much tradition.  So many stories.

I’ve always loved horseracing.  When I was a kid, while other kids’ dads were leaping out of the stands at little league baseball games, my dad was listening to a commentator on the radio announce, “The horses are at the paddock…they’re in the gate, aaaand…(ring) THEY’RE OFF!”  Our town used to hold pari-mutuel racing at our fairgrounds for a good many years and my husband and I would go for the afternoon almost every weekend of the season.  As far as I’m concerned any sport that you can attend LIVE is the best.

At the official website for the Kentucky Derby ( there is a tab for planning your own Kentucky Derby Party.  There you can preview the horses and bet the derby, pick up recipes like Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and the Early Times Mint Julep, and sort through a fitting spread of party game ideas (

Think I’ll call my party the Hoffman Stakes, and of course hold it at the Hoffman Downs (aka: our house).  I kind of like the idea of Derby foods too, and bluegrass music is picking in my ears.  I think it would be fun to have everyone come dressed nice, as if they were going to the real Kentucky Derby…fancy clothes, and fancy hats for the ladies (or, we could be casual and do crazy hats for the ladies and gents).  I like the idea of a Buffet of derby foods, so guests can help themselves for the duration of the party.  If I have them arrive about an hour before the telecast we can spend some time getting to know the horses and making our wagers with each other, and then when the race is about to begin we can gather around the television to watch the run-for-the-roses LIVE! After the race and the excitement and the exchange of wager winnings, I have an evening of games planned, a video game, a board game, and a yard game, in addition to all the snacking and sipping, and contests and white elephants, and…..oh just keep reading….it’s gonna be a  hoot (I hope).  I’m so excited!!!

Here’s my plan:

horse clipart1 Month Ahead – Find everything for the party:

Rose clip artPARTY GAMES (for after the big race)

Purchase and get familiar with them.  My plan: Set up a video horse racing game in the living room for 10 players, a horse race board game in the dining room for 10 players, and a horseshoes pit game outside for 10 players.  Rotate between games about every hour.

DSCN9201I chose Derby Day DVD game

This DVD game comes with a DVD, play money, lucky horseshoes (cardboard), a bookie betting board and pen, and instructions for play. I purchased mine from several months ago and paid about $20 for it (I believe), and it works perfectly in my USA zone DVD player.  The game is super easy to play. Just pop the DVD in the player and press start when ready. The instructions say to hand out $100,000 to each player or team for betting money. Once that is done and someone has been selected as the bookie, you press play on the DVD. The pre-race parade for race #1 pops up on the screen. In the parade each horse is shown briefly with their name and odds. There are 12 horses in each race. Once all 12 horses are shown on the board the DVD goes into pause mode so that everyone can place their bets. Once all bets have been placed you just hit the pay button and the horses are off. You watch the race and the announcer gives the play by play. At the conclusion of the race a slow motion photo finish comes up with the winning horses listed. The DVD goes into pause mode again so all winners can receive their winnings from the bookie.

There is a quick betting guide on the back page of the instructions that tell you what the pay off is for each bet under each of the odds. The horse that finishes dead last is the “Wooden Spoon” and the person or team who bet on him gets their money back. When all winners have been paid the DVD may be started again for the next race. Eight races finishes a game, and whomever has the most money at the end of the eighth race is the winner. Lucky horse shoes are used by players or teams when placing a bet and will double the amount won if the horse bet finishes in the money. Lucky horseshoes may only be used once.

At the end of 8 races you can start another eight. The horses will be the same for each of the next 8 races, but they will not finish in the same order as they did in the first 8 races. So you can play and play and play until you are sick of playing. The horses are simulated. The races are not actual race footage. It is like a video game, but it is well done. Your guests will be screaming at the TV just as if they were at a real racetrack.

DSCN9204The Horse Race Game (board game)

I purchased my game from quite a while back and paid around $25, I believe.  This is the game description from the manufacturer:  “Add some excitement and a real adrenaline rush to your next get-together. The Horse Race Game is one of those games your friends will ask for again and again. Players line up their horses at the gate, pay entry fees and place bets. Then roll the dice to move the horses forward or add to the purse. The anticipation grows as the pot gets bigger and the horses advance, till one crosses the line and the “”owners”” share the winnings-it’s a different race every time and anyone can win! 8 years and up.”

And this is the Product Description: “And down the stretch they come! Bring the excitement of the track into your own home with this board game tribute to the sport of horse racing! In fact, it’s the official board game of the Kentucky Derby. Don’t worry – you can’t lose any real money in this game – you’re playing with fun money! Players pay a $1.00 entry fee and are then dealt cards with racehorses on them, such as Skybiscuit and Peace Admiral. Some unlucky horses have been scratched from the race. If you roll the number of a scratched horse, you’ll have to pay the pot! If you roll the number of a remaining horse, that horse advances a spot. You’ll experience the rush of a neck-and-neck horse race, board game style! Only one horse will cross the finish line first – will it be the favorite, or will Longshot Louie take the prize? If your horse wins, you’ll collect the pot. The person with the most Fun Money at the end of the game is the winner. Game comes with Game Board, Fun Money, Horse Cards, Dice, Plastic Racehorses, and Game Instructions. For 6 or More Players, Ages 8 and Up.”

DSCN9206Outdoor Game of Horseshoes

Set up a horse shoe pit outside (I think I’ll set up an Easy-up behind each pit for shade and put misters all around each shelter to keep my players cool, since it is sometimes pretty warm in this neck of the woods this time of year.  And also, a cooler for cold beverages at each pit, and a boom box with music).

Horseshoes is an outdoor game played between two people (or two teams of two people) using four horseshoes and two stakes. The game is played by the players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at stakes in the ground, which are traditionally placed 40 feet apart.

In horseshoes, there are two ways to score: by throwing “ringers,” or by throwing the horseshoe nearest to the opposite stake. (This scoring system gives rise to the popular expression “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” — I’m such a sucker for such random and possibly useless information) A ringer is a thrown horseshoe such that the horseshoe completely encircles the stake.

Point System
1 Point – The nearest horseshoe to the stake within 6 inches
2 Points – If both of one player’s horseshoes are closer than the opponent’s or a leaner, the case where a horseshoe literally leans on the stake
3 Points – A ringer! (If each player throws a ringer, the ringers cancel and no points are scored)
Most games are played to 21, winner must win by two.

I made permanent pits because I had the perfect place and lots of room for them, but maybe you don’t want to.  Champion Sports has an indoor/outdoor horseshoes set with rubber horseshoes that can be set up instantly anywhere and offers a little bit safer play.

Rose clip artAuction & Door Prizes

Purchase a few Auction Prizes (DVDs: Secretariat, First Sunday in May, The Long Shot, Seabiscuit, a gift copy of the horseracing board game, a horseshoe ring puzzle, or…

horshoe from the kda dirty old horseshoe from Churchill Downs (pictured left)

I think I’ll also make a big batch of Bourbon Balls (recipe below) to send home with my guests, placed in cellophane bags and tied with jute and a little rose attached. Or, I could do inexpensive mint julep cups filled with dirt and have live mint plants planted in each (I have a ton of mint growing in my garden).  These could be part of the decor during the party.

blue ribbonMake Blue Ribbons for the Hat Contest

(I made blue ribbons out of construction paper years ago for a bulletin board at an elementary school.  This is what I will do with the leftovers!)

hat ladies
The Derby hat is a longstanding tradition of the Kentucky Derby. Almost all the ladies at the race or any Derby party will be wearing a spectacular hat.  For my party I was thinking I would require ALL of my guests (boys and girls) to come in CRAZY HATS!  The girls may want to wear the frilly stuff, but the men can get creative.  Drag out those Mickey Mouse Ears hats from the family trip to Disneyland, or the Rasta Hat with Dreads from the party store.  Got a sombrero?  Or Cowboy hat?  Oh my gosh…where is that coke can hat my grandma crocheted in the 80’s? Or that beer can helmet with long curly straws?  description

I’ll offer prizes for the most ornate, the most stylish, the most creative, and the most bizarre and possibly even most juvenile.


Most Outrageous Hat

Ugliest Hat

Most Colorful Hat

Biggest Hat

Smallest Hat

Most Boring



Rose clip artDO THE SHOPPING:  Buy Plates, Napkins, silver beverage cups, etc. and all the silver service I can lay hands on to serve my buffet foods in, and find decorations.

Jocky cut-outMake a banner for front door, and a jockey cut-out for photo-ops

Purchase play money to use in place of real money, if preferred for all the betting games.


Rose clip artParty Music

Every party needs great music. To set the tone for your Derby Day celebration, try a Kentucky-based play list. Here’s some inspiration to get you started.

Here is a fun selection I found from the PARTY SOURCE:

Louisville (Dwight Yokam)

Kentucky Moonshine (Pure Prairie League)
Eight More Miles to Louisville (Willie Nelson)

Kentucky Borderline (Rhonda Vincent)
Louisville (Lou Peggy Lee)
Kentucky Gambler (Merle Haggard)

Louisville KY (Ella Fitzgerald)
Blue Kentucky Girl (Emmy Lou Harris)
Kentucky Jelly (Brad Paisley)

Kentucky Derby (Chet Atkins)
Blue Moon of Kentucky (Patsy Cline)
Kentucky Rain (Elvis Presley)

My Old Kentucky Home (Three Dog Night)
Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond)
Going Back to Old Kentucky (Ricky Skaggs)

Mint Julep (Etta Baker)
You’re in Kentucky (Rosemary Clooney)
One Mint Julep (Xavier Cugat)

*** You can go to, click on digital music in the search box, search for Kentucky Derby music, or any of the music listed above, and then place all your favorite tunes into your mp3 cart.  Once you’ve downloaded all your music you can burn it to a CD, or save it to a portable jump drive, or send it to your phone or mp3 player, and be ready for your party right now.  Here is a playlist I made recently:

Kentucky Derby Party Music



Rose clip artInvitationsDERBY TICKET - Copy

Plan the guest list. Let guests know that there will be a CRAZY HAT contest in various categories (craziest, prettiest, biggest, etc.) for both males and females.  If desired, ask each guest to bring one horse-themed white elephant type gift to trade for wager money (use these gifts as Auction/Door prizes at the end of the party).

Make a flyer listing this information, and include a ticket (like the one I made, pictured to the right, based on ideas I found online) for each guest in the envelope with the flier.  Tickets can be created on the computer or ordered from Party411 online.

The invitations/tickets should have the seat assignments for each guest listed somewhere on the ticket.  I placed mine at the bottom.  The guests won’t have a clue what those numbers mean until they arrive at the party and are asked to present their ticket.  The numbers will tell them what game they will be starting at.  I will have a number taped to each “seat” of the three games.  The players will have to walk around and find their starting place.  After the first game is played, divide the players of the horseshoe pits into two groups, and also the DVD and board gamers.  Send half of each group to join half of another group at a new game (so that everyone mixes and mingles).  Do the same for the last game as well.

20160523_132117-1[1].jpgRose clip artSET THE TABLE!  There are a few horse print tablecloths available online (Horse & Hound, Party City,,, if you plan ahead and give yourself time for shipping.  OR, you can toss any  tablecloth down (burlap, black and white, turf, white linen and lace, etc.) and then find some cute horseshoe eyewear at the party stores, or some real horseshoes from your local seed/feed store (painted gold, black, OR flat gray) and scatter them around on your table, along with a selection of little horse figurines (found in the toy section at most Wal-mart stores).  Set each place with red plates (layer a square plate on top of a large oval plate, and top with a small round plate, even alternate colors – red with a black print and silver charger/underplate on bottom).   Add a ROSE  print hand towel to each (you can even tie up the silverware with a thin leather lace, and silk rose), and then for a centerpiece fill a galvanized metal bucket with stemmed red roses.

Rose clip artPlan the Food and Drink (make my shopping list)   Purchase the ingredients that are not perishable now, and those that are perishable a day or two before the party.


Henry Bain Sauce was originated by the head waiter at the Pendennis Club in Louisville in 1881 and is a mainstay of Derby cuisine.  Freeze any leftover sauce for later use.

YIELD: Makes 3 dozen appetizer or 12 main-dish servings


1 (9-ounce) bottle chutney

1 (14-ounce) bottle ketchup

1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce

1 (10-ounce) bottle steak sauce

1 (10-ounce) bottle Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (4 1/2- to 5-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed

Dinner rolls


Process chutney in a food processor until smooth. Add ketchup and next 4 ingredients, and process until blended. Chill sauce at least 2 hours.

Stir together butter, salt, and pepper; rub over tenderloin. Place on a lightly greased rack in a jellyroll pan. (Fold under narrow end of tenderloin to fit on rack.)

Bake at 500° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of tenderloin registers 145° (medium-rare). Loosely cover tenderloin with aluminum foil, and let stand 15 minutes before serving. Serve tenderloin with sauce and dinner rolls.   — Southern Living MARCH 2004



Another cornerstone of Louisville cuisine is the Hot Brown Sandwich. Created by the chef of the Brown Hotel, this open-faced sandwich consists of two slices of toast topped with juicy roast turkey, tomato slices, crispy bacon, and a blanket of Cheddar-Parmesan cheese sauce. The sandwich is then broiled until the cheese sauce turns golden brown.  Many variations can be found, most commonly country ham is added and a cheddar sauce is substituted.

Serves 8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


2 pounds sliced turkey breast (I have used the sliced packaged roast turkey breast, found near the sliced hams in the meat section at Walmart…and I have also purchased peppered sliced turkey breast from my grocer’s deli counter – sliced just under about 1/8th inch thickness.  Both worked really well.)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
16 thick slices ripe beefsteak tomato
16 slices apple wood-smoked bacon, cooked crisp
Cheese sauce (recipe follows)
8 slices of good fresh-baked farm bread (I found an english muffin bread loaf that was perfect)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups half and half
1 ½ cup grated sharp white cheddar (I used a mixture of sharp, medium, and mild)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two until the raw flour flavor has cooked away. Whisk in the half and half and bring to a steam, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese until just melted.  Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

To assemble: Top each slice of bread with about 3 slices of turkey breast. Ladle the sauce over the top, sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano over the cheese sauce. Place under the broiler and cook until bubbly and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and top each with two slices of tomato, and two pieces of bacon. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


From Louisville’s Benedict Hotel comes the Benedictine, a cucumber canapé spread.


1 large cucumber, grated

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 small onion, grated

1/4 tsp salt

1 drop green food coloring (optional)

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Squirt of Tabasco Sauce or dash of cayenne

Crustless white bread

Olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, or watercress for garnish

To make it, start by grating the cucumber, skins and all. Wring it out in paper towels to absorb most of the moisture. Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined.

The most common way to eat the Benedictine is to make finger sandwiches by spreading the mixture on bread. With a round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut rounds out of bread slices. Spread a small amount of mayonnaise on bread rounds. Spread cheese mixture on half the rounds and top with another round. After spreading the mixture on the bread, thread cherry tomatoes and black or green olives on decorative toothpicks and use for a garnish. Or, garnish with a sprig of parsley or watercress.

This mixture also makes a fantastic dip for veggies and crackers.


The cranberries make these Cranberry Chicken Salad finger sandwiches a bit sweeter than cucumber sandwiches. They are colorful and look great on a tray of canapés.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 cups shredded chicken

1/4 cup onion

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Add mayonnaise, sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse until well blended.

Add chicken, onion and cranberries and pulse until mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. If needed add a couple tablespoons of milk to achieve a spreadable consistency.

Spread cranberry chicken salad on bread squares (I like whole wheat) and serve cold. Makes 24 finger sandwiches.


1 (18 ounce) jar peach preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar orange marmalade

1 (18 ounce) jar apple preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar pineapple preserves

5/8 cup ground dry mustard

1 (4 ounce) jar prepared horseradish

In a bowl thoroughly mix all ingredients.  May be stored in sterile containers in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  Great served poured over cream cheese and served with wheat thins crackers.


There can be only one dessert on Derby Day and that is Derby Pie.  The original Derby Pie is about half a century old.  George Kern and his parents Walter and Leaudra worked together to invent the dense chocolaty, nutty dessert at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky where George was manager.  If you want true authenticity, order one and have it shipped right to your door ( If you order it from A Taste of Kentucky they will ship it with an honest to goodness dirty old horseshoe from a horse that has run at Churchill Downs attached to the top of the box.  Fun!

Although I’ve never been to Kentucky, nor ever had a slice of George Kern’s original creation, the descriptions remind me of a Nestle Toll House Pie I made several years ago.  The pie was soooooo yummy that I clipped the recipe from whatever magazine and saved it for all these years.  This is a fitting time I think to pull it out and make it over into my own Racetrack Pie.  Since there’s not a Kentuckian on my guest list, I doubt anyone will ever know it’s a knock off.


2 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shells, thawed, pricked with a fork.
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon  (Jim Beam)

1 1/2 cup butter, softened room temp
1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you prefer)

PREHEAT oven to 325° F.


BEAT eggs in large bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, sugar, brown sugar, and bourbon.  Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts.  Spoon into pie shells, dividing equally between the two.

BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve with a scoop of ice cream on top, and a tiny drizzle of bourbon splashed over (optional).DSCN8946


Note:  If you live in south Texas and have an HEB near you, they have recently come out with some designer ice cream flavors.  The Whiskey & Honey is a perfect topper for this wonderful pie!  If you don’t live in Texas and don’t have an HEB, I’m sorry for you.  Maybe Ben & Jerry’s has something similar???



1 cup finely crushed vanilla wafers

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1-1/2 cup of powdered sugar, divided

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 tablespoons bourbon

1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. In a measuring cup, blend the bourbon and corn syrup and stir into the dry mixture.

When thoroughly blended, cover and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Sift about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar onto a large piece of waxed paper. Shape small amounts of the dough into balls then roll in powdered sugar.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Makes about 3 dozen.


20160523_131146[1]MINT JULEP

I had my first sip of Mint Julep when my husband and I visited the Oak Alley Plantation just outside of New Orleans and dined in their little restaurant on the grounds.  Seems like they had a few different versions.  I don’t remember which one he ordered, a lemon one I think, and I remember liking it.  You can’t have a Kentucky Derby party without Mint Juleps.  For my party, I was thinking of making a pitcher and lettin’ people fix their own glasses, first with crushed ice and mint sprigs, then julep mix, and stir.  They can help themselves all party long.

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

6 or 8 sprigs fresh mint

Crushed ice

5 cups good Kentucky Whisky/Bourbon  (a pint + a fifth)

Silver Julep Cups (they must be silver, never paper or plastic)

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered pitcher with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.

Ideally you would make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces Whisky. Then stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. For the sake of convenience I’ll add my bourbon/whiskey and my mint syrup to a beverage DSCN8949container just before the party and let my guests toss a shot of this Julep mix over a cup full of crushed ice (Sonic sells their wonderful ice by the bag, by the way, and it’s PERFECT!!!).  Garnish with mint sprig.

NOTE:  I made a non-alcoholic version of mint julep for a luncheon recently.  I added the minty simple syrup to my large galvanized beverage serving container and then substituted the bourbon for 5 quarts of Lemon Seltzer water.  I chilled it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  I filled each Julep cup with Sonic ice, covered the ice with minty seltzer water mixture, and then garnished each with a lemon slice and sprig of mint.  It wasn’t bad…refreshing actually!

I have looked and looked and looked for inexpensive metal cups for my Juleps for several years, and have been unsuccessful.  At the last minute I ended up buying my little silver disposable (taboo plastic) cups at Party city.  You might have some luck shopping at the Party Source  for yours.


Mix up a big batch of fresh brewed iced tea and/or a huge pitcher of real lemonade and have in a serving container on the drink buffet.  Have a container of the minty simple syrup setting nearby, along with crushed ice and mint sprigs.  Let your guests fill their silver cups with crushed ice, drizzle the desired amount of syrup over the ice, and add their tea or lemonade, then garnish with mint sprigs.

Want more food ideas?  Check out these Top 20 Kentucky Derby Recipes


9. May Luncheon

Rose clip artA Derby Party is also a great theme for a luncheon.  I had the honor recently of hosting an end-of-the-year luncheon for the staff of a local school.  Since the luncheon landed in May, in the middle of the triple crown horse racing season, and since it was getting down to the finish line of school, a Derby theme seemed a perfect choice.  


horse clipart2 Weeks Ahead

Make and send invitations (and remember to mention the CRAZY hat contest)

Order red roses from florist, or purchase silk roses

Play the board game(s) enough to get familiar with how to play them, and how long a game will last.  Make sure race DVD works.

Arrange for helpers.  Need a helper to be the bookie for the DVD races game, and one to explain play of the board games; another at the horse shoe pit.  (You will be busy keeping the food fresh and drinks full).  Need someone to serve snacks, and usher people to their start locations, and someone to take pictures.

Confirm that you have all your serving dishes and pieces, glassware, etc.  If you are throwing a big party, this is the time to make sure you have enough tables and chairs and make arrangements to rent some if needed.

horse clipart1 Week Ahead

Grocery shop for all non-perishable items and stock the bar.

Prep and/or cook any make-ahead items.

Make blue ribbons for the hat awards, and ballots.

horse clipart2 Days before the Party

Clean the house

Do all the decorating and set up the buffet table.

Adorn tables with vases for the red roses and set some decorative horse shoes around.

Set up the jockey cut-out.

Set up the betting booth.

Check to make sure you have all the parts and pieces to all the games and enough plates, cups, napkins for guests.


horse clipartDay before the Party

Get out all serving pieces, fill vases with flowers and place in fridge, chill beverages.

Do all the perishable grocery shopping, beers, and get several bags of ice.

Prepare whatever foods can be made up a day ahead.

Pick up the roses from the florist and keep in the refrigerator until ready to set out.

Make sure the horse shoe pit is ready to play, set up gazebos, and set out a cooler for ice and beers.

Set up the prize table.

Have blue ribbons for the hat awards.

Set up the table for Auction/Door prizes

Arrange for a helper to serve snacks on trays


horse clipartDay of the Party


Prepare last minute foods for party.

Place roses on tables.

Place a sign on front door and/or yard signs.

Set music up in CD player and horse race DVD in DVD player.

Set up the board game(s) on the dining table. 

Place race forms, funny money, betting cards, and pencils near the TV where the DVD races will be shown.

Set up board game(s) at dining room table(s).

horse clipart2-3 hours before guests arrive

Chill out; take a nap, a shower, veg in front of the TV, relax.  Be a guest at your own party.  It will be so much more fun that way.


Make sure the horse shoe pit cooler is filled with ice and beers and have it ready to take out at last minute.

Set out food and drinks on hot plates and in ice buckets, buffet style.

Start music playing in the background for when guests arrive.  Make sure the CD with the trumpet tune is ready to go on a boom box.

Make sure you’re dressed and ready to greet your guests with your full, relaxed, warm, southern hospitality.

horse clipart4PM  PARTY TIME! 

As guests arrive make a big to-do about their hats and take pictures.

Encourage guests to help themselves to drinks and snacks

Collect the horse gifts brought and place on Auction/Door prizes table; inform them of what game they will be starting with and have your helper assist them in locating their seat

Let everyone mingle until all guests have arrived.

Parade of hats (take lots of pictures)!  Encourage guests to take photos of themselves behind the jockey cut-out (silks) between sets of play.

Explain the order of play for the evening.

Ask guests to help themselves to the buffet table to eat, and let them know it will be open all evening.


Hand out Racing forms with the lineup of horses.  Direct guests to the Kentucky Derby website if they want to place any real bets.

Have the television tuned to the station that the race will be broadcast on.  Allow guests to mingle and talk about horses.


Watch the race on TV.

Give guests a few minutes to celebrate and talk about the race.


Begin play at each game station, and the wagering for the first race, at the sound of the trumpet tune (which should be ready to play on CD player).

   …And They’re Off 

Play the video for the first race, and start the other games simultaneously

Repeat wagering and video races at whatever pace will keep things hopping, allowing guests to snack and talk between races.

If the DVD has 12 races, play one every 15 minutes (to go with the board game taking about an hour).  Each group will watch 4 DVD races before moving to the next station.

All players rotate to next game.  Allow time for snacking and drink refills.

***Pass out ballots and have guests vote on the hats.  Collect ballots.


All players rotate to next game.  Allow for more snacking or dessert and coffee.


All sessions wind to a close.

Call guests together and let them use their winnings to bid on the Auction/Door prizes

***Award prize ribbons for “best hats”

What if I have a guest list of night owls who want to party on late into the night?  I want to be prepared with plenty of snacks and if we have to run out for more beverages we will.  We could gather everyone around the TV and play the DVD game, or gather everyone around the table and play the board game, or set up some lights outside for a night game of horseshoes…for as long as everyone is having fun.

Before my guests leave, remember to give door prizes (gifts) as they head off into that good night. 🙂

“I returned and saw … the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all”    Ecclesiastes 9:11