One Party Theme…Two Ways – Part Two!

February is an odd month amongst my friends and I, because there are a very large quantity of birthdays crammed into that month. This might explain why I haven’t been posting as much lately, since I’ve been planning and making birthday packages and birthday party-ing all month.

You read about Lauren’s version of the Wine Tasting and Tapas Birthday party….now here’s mine!

The Theme: Wine Tasting and Tapas Birthday Party

The Premise: I too, wanted to do something a little different. One of my best friends and I practically share a birthday – Samantha’s is the 20th, mine is the 21st, so we agreed that the Wine Tasting and Tapas would a lot of fun to do as an all-inclusive birthday party. I’ve always wanted to do a party that functioned around serving appetizers and finger food…so we jumped on board and started planning! Also, our group of friends tends to be beer drinkers and being the wine-o that I am, I was loving the idea of having wine only.

The Invitation: We ended up changing the date of our party fairly last-minute so that more of our friends could attend, so I wound up sending out a little e-mail with the basic info in it. Like Lauren, we asked everyone to bring a bottle of wine. Cheap wines were requested, for the purpose of discovering that there are plenty of inexpensive wines that are delicious. We were not nearly as ambitious with creating cards with information on them. In fact…we wound up not doing much of a “educational” tasting at all, but just had the wines as various options.

The Menu: When planning, I just got so excited by the idea of being able to do appetizers that I forgot that I should probably stick with a theme so that the dishes were all cohesive. Live and learn! So our menu was VERY widespread, and probably a little too eclectic. I was also trying to think of budget-friendly options…and by budget-friendly, I mean buying as little as possible. Appetizers require lots of different ingredients which can get expensive. Here’s what we wound up making. Feel free to laugh and wrinkle your nose at how completely random it is. All my recipes came out of the books “Appetizers, Finger Food, Buffets & Parties” by Bridget Jones and “Skinny Dips” by Diane Morgan unless otherwise noted. (And also get excited…I’ll gradually be posting these recipes later on down the road so you can try them too!)

  • Yakitori Chicken – Japanese-style kebabs alternating chicken & onions with a sweet glaze
  • Futo-Maki – Thick rolled sushi (homemade!)
  • Eggs Mimosa – A deviled egg with avocado mixed into the filling…although, since our avocados were overripe, we wound up just making deviled eggs! No recipe required.
  • Caramelized Sweet Onion Dip & Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa, served with a baguette.
  • Various cheeses, served with crackers
  • Vegetable platter, with ranch dip, of course!
  • Apple cake, courtesy of Samantha’s awesome little sister, Patience
Tips: Like Lauren, I tend to learn the hard way.

  • We invited our guests to bring their own wine glasses which helped differentiate. Since Samantha’s kitchen is separate from the dining area, we wound up just all cramming in around the dining room table and doing a quasi-sit-dinner and not migrating much, so glasses didn’t really get confused. Which leads to…
  • Know your floor plan, and your guests. Lauren’s apartment is very similar to my own, with a very open floor plan where those in the kitchen can still be in conversation with those in other areas. Samantha lives in an older, adorable little house with lots of separate rooms, so you could only mingle with those who were in the same room as you. Also, our group of friends knows each other very well, so standing and talking and mingling wasn’t really a necessity. It worked out best for us to just all pile elbow-to-elbow around the table and chow down.
  • I would highly recommend following a menu similar to Lauren’s, or at least make it a point to make sure everything flows together. While all our food was delicious, it just didn’t feel right to have deviled eggs with sushi. Definitely, definitely not.
  • Kebabs are wonderful and fun, but I would highly recommend serving them when you and a bunch of friends are gathered around a grill outside, and not broiling them in a pan. Ours turned out to be fairly high maintenance (albeit easy to make), and we wound up pouring the chicken, onions, and glaze into a large pan and cooking them up without the skewers, serving them as “bites”. We wanted to be able to hang out with everyone rather than spend the entire evening in the kitchen.
  • Plan lots of prep time. We made ours fun by having the girls arrive early and spend the afternoon prepping and having time to chat without the “boooyyyss” around.
  • Like Lauren, we LOVE games. Our game of choice recently alternates between “Things” and Balderdash. Things is….absolutely hysterical, and we highly recommend it.

The Verdict: Despite the mismatched food choices, I wouldn’t have traded this night for anything. I had a great time with my girls while prepping the appetizers, and the party itself was a blast. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but with some slightly altered menu options. Who knows…maybe I will soon! A very merry un-birthday…to me! to you!
And oh, here’s some pictures too. 🙂

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