* Parent Experiment of the Month: PARTY EXCLUSIVE!
I come from a really classy family. Since my youngest daughter is turning 2 years old, I knew that we needed to have the best party around: good food, elite conversation and flawless execution as a hostess. So how did we ring in the big T-W-O without losing our flare or finesse for the finer things in life? Add Miller Lite, southern cuisine, and one too many sports fans, and call it a tailgate! Ok, so maybe the “classy line” was crossed when my mother brought a large coffee mug filled with red wine, but a good time is not always marked by a price tag on the table. In fact, even though my husband and I tend to avoid throwing parties like the plague (attending is so much easier), we had more than one reason to celebrate this weekend.Â After six years together, two kids and way too many mortgage payments, “The Hubs” finally had a job to be excited about: a newly contracted police officer heading to the Academy!
Since he received his badge the same weekend as our youngest’s birthday, we decided to mix kids and cads together for a Tailgating themed festivity filled with gifts, games and gluten-free food. The first order of business was finding recipes that everyone could enjoy. My husband invited some of his new police office teammates (or “co-cops” as I like to call them), who needed some truly satiating items to fill their stomachs. Since cooking and myself don’t always go hand in hand, I decided to simply heat up a Digiorno pizza from Walmart, cut it into small slices, and serve it as a mouth watering appetizer to which the men definitely approved. And since no tailgate is complete without an icy cold brew, my beer-obsessed spouse broke out the Miller Lite for a satirically sophisticated combination.
Since my daughters and I have to eat gluten-free, the rest of the party fare needed to be free of wheat but full of flavor. The best tailgates have true southern treats, so I used outdoor barbecues and football stadium grilling as my inspiration for the menu. In addition to gluten-free pasta salad with artichoke and cherry tomatoes, cucumber salad with onions, coleslaw, beef brisket (grilled in aluminum foil), and hot dogs for the kids, I whipped up this amazing salad recipe. Trust me, even the utmost of “lettuce haters” will love this dish…
* Make It Yourself: Creamy Strawberry Bacon Salad
* Equal parts romain lettuce and fresh spinach leaves
* 1 cup of sliced strawberries
* 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
* 1/2 cup of chopped bacon, turkey bacon or vegetarian bacon
* 1/2 cup of Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette
Directions: Even if you aren’t a salad fan, this recipe is so creamy, crunchy and sweet that you’ll find yourself craving leftovers the next day. I personally recommend buying Oak Hill Farms Vidalia Onion dressing from Walmart to save yourself an extra step, but if you love creating items from scratch, you can also combine 1 Vidalia sweet onion, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/3 red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of mustard, 1 cup of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds in a food processor until blended. Finally, make sure to serve the bacon or Walmart Real Bacon Bits on the side incase you have any resident vegetarians (like me) who want to opt out of this additional topping. Mix it all together and you’re done!
* Play It Yourself: Tailgate Team Challenge
So what if the kids at the party aren’t excited by hours of watching sports? Even though I find that hard to believe (yes, that’s sarcasm), there are plenty of games to keep kiddos occupied. Since we had 8 children at our Tailgating Parting, I decided to put our trampoline to good use by creating an outdoors competition. Here’s how you can do the same…
* Pick an outdoor activity that all kids can play: trampoline, hula hoop, roller skating or otherwise. If you need to buy some outdoor activities for your kids, use this code for promotional deals from REI to help you save!
* Let kids choose small teams if they want (or choose them yourself to avoid any backyard drama).
* Assign a task that everyone can easily do and set a timer for 30 seconds (for example, jumping on one foot on the trampoline without falling or roller skating in a circle). If a child makes it through the first round, they continue to the next.
* Make each goal slightly harder as you go along. If a child doesn’t make it through the round, let them take over as the person timing the competition to keep them from feeling excluded.
* The winner gets to pick the first piece of dessert (in our case, Gluten-Free Lemon Cream Cheese cupcakes!) In my opinion, this is a totally worthy prize.
The party was definitely a success, and finding ways to mix football fans, family and food was even better. My daughter loved getting time to play games with her friends, and my husband loved getting pizza and beer without the words “gluten-free” on the label. Best of all, I was able to celebrate the people I love the most without stressing out over an uptight event! Could I ask for anything more?
* Speak Up: What party idea did YOU like the most? Check out all of the images from our Tailgating Bash by clicking on this Flickr album.