Monday, November 28, 2011

Giddy Up Time!

Every year we try to have a Carolina Hurricanes Storm Squad party to kick off the start of the season.  We hold tryouts in September so this is usually our time to get to know the new squad members. We decided on a hoedown theme for our 2011-2012 kickoff party as we wanted everyone to be comfortable and relax.  We wanted to incorporate all the great elements of a hoedown and make everyone feel like they were partying with cowboy style.  Since we have such beautiful fall days in Raleigh we wanted the party to be held outside as much as possible.  We held it in Courtney's garage/lawn so that everyone could get to know each other playing yard games.  We set up corn hole, beersbee (an awesome game where you knock bottles off of a pvc pipe with a frisbee), and washers. 
To help keep the flow of movement going we placed the food in the garage with seating and the drink station on the back porch with more seating. That way people didn't congregate in one small spot and everyone had a place to sit while eating. We cut out cardboard arrows and painted them with chalkboard paint to show where the different stations were: Don't you love how we used cowboy terms like "Grub & Mugs" and "Mugshots." Cute little details like that made it more special and everyone commented on them.
We also made lettered signs out of scrapbook paper to distinguish our different stations at the party. Our drink station was labeled "Watering Hole." We had fresh squeezed orange drinks and "boot kickin' margaritas" that our wonderful, bestest friends Catherine and Allison made (they're the gorgeous ones in the above picture with us). We set up on an outside bar Courtney had made (we'll post a tutorial soon) and added a straw basket with peanuts in their shells for snacking. Since it was a hoedown theme, we knew we wanted to center everything around mason jars. First of all they are cheapo and second, they just look so darn cute.
We made a drink station out of a chalkboard frame Kim had made (I think we are obsessed with this stuff) and wrote this adorable quote that we had seen on pinterest.  We used a bunch of mason jars we had hanging around for everyone to use as their drinking glasses for the night.  Just had to use a circle puncher and cut out some chalkboard (yep, there it is again) tags to attach with twine.
Boot Kickin' Margaritas
- 1 (12 fluid ounce can) frozen limeade concentrate
- 12 fluid ounces tequila
- 12 fluid ounces water
- 12 fluid ounces beer
- Ice
- Lime, Cut into wedges

Directions: Pour limeade, tequila, water, and beer into a large pitcher. Stir until well-blended, and limeade has melted. Add plenty of ice, and garnish with lime wedges. Adjust with additional water, if needed.

We provided dinner for everyone and kept it simple - something cowboys would eat.  Well, not exactly but we like to think it went with our theme perfectly.  We provided boston butt tacos, mac & cheese, cowboy salad, and chicken wings.  Catherine made little signs for each dish out of popsicle sticks, burlap, and labels and made up awesome cowboy themed dish names. We bought all the serving dishes/utensils at the Dollar Store and they even had sterno containers so we used those to keep some of the dishes warm. We wanted to be able to throw everything away at the end of the night and not have 30 dirty dishes so we had everyone eat out of pie tins purchased at the Dollar Tree as well. They sort of look like the metal saucers they used in the Wild West don't they? We made utensil pouches out of paint chips we stole grabbed at Home Depot. Love the freebies!
Appetizers & Snacks 
- Assorted Cheeses, Crackers, Fruits
- "Giddy Up" Guacamole Dip and Chips
Main Course
- "May Hay" Mac & Cheese
- "Sakes Alive" Slaw
- "Cowboy" Salad
- "Buckaroo Brisket" Tacos
- Chicken Wings
Dessert - "Dough Belly"
- "Six Shooter" 'Smores
Drink of Choice
- "Boot Kickin" Margaritas
- "Fresh From the Farm" OJ & Vodka

We also set up a photo booth area out in the garage to catch some memorable moments.  We just bought some hay stacks from a local pumpkin patch and hung a sheet of burlap on one of the walls with our infamous scrapbook paper lettered "Mugshots" sign.  There are many other items that we placed around this photo opp such as a DIY tree stump table, chair, rope, horseshoes...we pretty much went crazy and made it as country western hoedown as possible! We got some toy mustaches at the Dollar Tree and glued them to dowels for props and placed everything into a tin pale off to the side so people could pick and choose what they wanted for their picture.
It was a little tough to fit the entire Eye Care Associates Storm Squad in the shot but everyone had so much fun posing with the props and creating memories!
We had to squeeze in the Carolina Hurricanes somewhere into the mix of our hoedown so we opened up a "Canes Store" right in Courtney's dining room. We really wanted the girls to have fun with this theme so we went all out and bought: bandannas, Sheriff badges, Cowgirl Hats for dressing up...we also had our amazing party favors in the store.
Since we had been using mason jars for everything else, the cowgirl cookie favors were also in mason jars! We made these Cowgirl Cookies favors and put them in quart mason jars with some purple paisley fabric squares on top. They were such a hit and the cookies taste amazing! These are
such a great, budget-friendly favor and there are even printables for the labels with the directions on the website. We highly recommend these!
All in all it was a great party and we had such a great time planning this party together.  To do a party for 30 some people on a budget is a tough thing but we were able to pull it off and loved all the details we put into it.  Thanks to all those who came and had fun!

Other decorative items we used were our recycled pom poms from the bridal shower Kim held, mason jars with burlap covers with "recycled" flowers, and horse shoes we had on hand from a friend's horse shoe pit game.

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