Theme Parties Are Awesome – Indoor Picnic

18 Jul

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of throwing a theme party at work. I try to utilize a theme whenever possible for our events (you’ve got to know your audience, though – for example, I could NOT have done this for our New York office). We don’t usually have much of a budget for decorations, so what I’ve gotten used to is decorating with food – my new favorite thing actually! I love carrying a theme from decor to food.

Since we don’t have much of an outdoor space in our building, and had to utilize our own space for this event, I went with an “indoor picnic/bbq” theme.

I hit the dollar store and got some gingham napkins and plastic gingham tablecloths. Before you cringe – because most people did when I told them about it beforehand:

See? Not too shabby!

I am telling you now that it did NOT look cheap. This event was pretty much living proof that you can decorate with even the most MINIMAL of budgets (if you couldn’t tell, I’m big on decorating for everything!). I also felt like it wouldn’t be an “indoor barbecue” with white linen tablecloths. Who has a barbecue with white linens?? Nobody, ever. Well, we put them underneath the gingham. Whatever.

In addition, because I know that was just one table, I also got some dollar store baskets and some sunflowers from a local florist.

Anyway, onto the goodies – the food! I love planning menus for theme parties. It’s like hmm what do I really love at a barbecue? Ok fine, and what do other people like, too.

Our menu (and yes, we are lucky enough to have a fantastic in-house caterer to make all of our culinary dreams come true):

– Grilled vegetable skewers
– Pigs in a blanket
– BBQ chicken skewers
– Slider bar (with options of beef burger, BBQ pulled pork, and veggie burgers)
– Fresh watermelon wedges
– Potato salad shooters
– Deviled eggs (what’s a BBQ without deviled eggs?!)
– Strawberry shortcake

A few things that I thought were awesome (if I do say so myself):

1 – The slider bar. Bars of any sort (as in, build it yourself bars, also called stations) are such a good thing to have at an event. It breaks up the monotony of walking around and scooping up some preassembled food onto a plate. And all the fixin’s placed around instead of on, give people the opportunity to be as picky as they want. Bars that are “so in” these days include: mashed/baked potato bars, taco bars, cupcake bars, slider bars, and, of course candy bars (which most of you know I had at my wedding).  Mixing up the slider bar options is fun, too! We’ve done turkey slider bars for fall receptions – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc.

2 – Carrying the theme through beverages as well! I went with both red and white sangrias, and also flavored water decanters. Delicious, functional, and pretty! All that fruit floating around in the glass decanter. It’s so… summery. I also had our caterer seek out some old time-looking sodas (you know, glass bottles, pop top). He was even able to find Philadelphia soda! I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

3 – The potato salad shooters (think shot glasses of potato salad). Shooters are awesome. They just are. I don’t even like potato salad nor did I eat any of it, but it’s just the idea of shooters. We use it often. For Mardi Gras we had jambalaya shooters. For a fall reception we had pumpkin bisque shooters. Shooters go along with everyone loving mini everything these days at events. Think about sliders – everyone loves sliders! They’re mini and cute. Shooters are mini and cute. Also, easy to hold and eat at a cocktail reception. Also I’m going to share my favorite thing that I can’t wait to try for a fall event (soup isn’t really a summer thing, unless it’s gazpacho!): grilled cheese and tomato soup shooters.


Ok, I’m a big geek for stuff like that, so maybe YOUR mind’s not blown, but mine sure was when I first saw it. And I am SO doing this at some point this fall. Or in my home for myself.

Anyway, this was just a post to tell you about my (not so cheap looking) cheap decorations, carrying a theme through food, and leading up to what I’m planning for this weekend…

Stay tuned.



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