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Birthday party idea around food?

I'm planning my husband's 50th birthday party and we both love to eat so I'd like to plan it around that. I think it would be fun to rent a room at a vineyard and have a wine tasting pairing w/ meal but there are little ones in his family and this wouldn't work, pus it isn't nearby. Renting a place and having a pig roast or clam bake might work but this will be in November near the DC area so could be on the cold side. I don't want it in my house and other than possibly making the cake or other desserts, I don't want to be cooking this time. I want to enjoy the event. There will be over 30 people, I'm guessing, could be more. Any ideas? Thanks!

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  1. You might try posting this request on the regional boards once you settle on a location for the party.

    1. Well, you could do the vineyard room for just the two of you separate from the family fesitivities.

      You'd need to post on the DC board for venue ideas, but if you do rent a function room or hall, I would encourage guests to bring a dish they know that your husband has enjoyed, or that they've enjoyed with him. Maybe do this by group email so that you won't get 29 salads or something.

      Happy birthday (in advance) to your husband!

      10 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        Thanks, critter and pinehurst. If I knew what I was looking for, I could find locations. I was hoping someone had done something different and creative and could give me a direction. I've even thought about renting a house in the Shenandoah and cooking meals myself, maybe his favorites for each meal. So...until I know what I want to do, I need to wait on the venue. My favorite idea is to have it at a trampoline place (roomful of trampolines floor and wall) and have it catered. But, he nixed that.

        1. re: chowser

          A lot of people like hiring a hall that serves the food, but I'd prefer separating the two. Find a venue and find a caterer. On Friday night I ate at a charity event held at the Women's Club in Washington Grove near Gaithersburg, which probably seats 30 people and has a small kitchen for food prep.

          1. re: GraydonCarter

            Yeah, I was hoping for something different. If it were just about catering food, I could get a private room at one of his favorite restaurants.

          2. re: chowser

            A cool idea could be to rent out his favorite restaurant and have them share some techniques and ideas with the party. Would work only if the chef is willing, but worth a shot

            1. re: cheesecake17

              That would be fun but with little ones, probably not be too safe!

              1. re: chowser

                I was thinking more along the lines of rolling pizza dough or a demonstration. If there are a bunch of kiddos paper chefs hats and plastic knives would probably work

                1. re: chowser

                  chowser, just a thought: it seems like, no matter what venue you choose, this would be a great time to hire a sitter for the kids - a separate table, with a few fun activities? They'd be in sight of their parents, but it would leave the big kids a bit more free...

                  1. re: mamachef

                    Ha, you don't know my in-laws.:-) While I would have loved that when my children were little, they are personally offended that their children aren't nearby. For my MIL's big birthday party, I suggested that children not be part of the scene, mostly so my MIL could enjoy herself. When the little ones are present, she's busy helping and doesn't get a chance to eat. Let's just say it wasn't well received.

                    Some of the little ones are well behaved. Some are out of control crazy. Don't get me wrong, I love my in-laws and don't want to offend them. That's why I'm trying to work within tight parameters. I'm thinking Chuck E Cheese might be a good place for my husband's 50th--it's HIS family!

                    1. re: chowser

                      Bummer that the 'cheez won't let you bring in food, eh?

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Because they have that AWESOME pizza.;-)

          3. Bear with me. I am rereading the Tim Dorsey pantheon and have the essence of Serge Storm rattling around my few remaining brain cells.

            So these hovering adults need to be with the kids? It's time for a Himilayan themed party. Call a local outdoor store and tell them you want to rent the place for an evening of partying and product demonstrations. Use those camp stoves to prepare the oh so delectable freeze dried meals. Tell your guests that their refreshments have to be carried in the 1 liter aluminum flasks designed for the alcohol used in the stoves.

            Can't stand being far from the kids? Issue them back packs, put the little darlings in them, and tell those in-laws they are now the designated Sherpas. They do all the cooking, cleaning, and shlepping while the rest are the pampered climbers. If the kids are 12 years old, so much the better. Pass around tanks of oxygen for realism and strongly resist the urge to switch a couple with repainted tanks of nitrous oxide. Naturally, the dessert should be a baked Mount Everest, large enough for a suitably unattired individual to pop out of to bring an end to a most memorable evening.

            Or just rent some small seedy bowling alley for the evening. Have a hazmat team clean the rest rooms and snack bar, bring in your food, and have fun bowling and eating and drinking the night away at a price far cheaper and more memorable than just renting a hall. The one I went to is still memorable for frame eight. Would you trust your spouse to bowl between your legs blind folded with a hundred dollar prize to whoever gets a strike?

            4 Replies
            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              I'd love to do a real sherpa outing! Kids are younger, though, at least the out of control ones are. The bowling alley has promise--I wonder if they'd let me have it catered. I was hoping to have something cleverly food related, pig roast, clam bake or something but maybe I'm wishing for too much. For his 40th, I catered it, all bacon food for him and it was exhausting. I need something easier this time. Maybe I need to blow off his family and just go to the Inn at Little Washington for the weekend for the money.

              1. re: chowser

                Call Jeff Neely at the GSA for party planning, I'll bet he has some thiinking outside the box ideas.

                1. re: chowser

                  Just reread and saw it will happen in November. Here is what I did in cold rainy West Germany for one of my November birthdays. Rented a small church with a great organ and organist. OK folks, get your mind out of the gutter! This was the disco seventies and we had a great time. Amazing what a hundred year old organ can do with ABBA and Euro pop. Rather than potluck it, we ate at a gasthaus across the square.

                  And I wonder which would be wilder, a bunch of GIs in their teens and early twenties or a few ankle biters?

                  1. re: chowser

                    Bowling is a greAt idea. I don't see why they wouldn't let you being food in, especially if you choose a place that doesn't have much of a menu.

                2. A friend of mine went to her cousin's 50th bday party recently in an ice skating rink. This was in NY (Westchester County) and within the rink there are 2 smaller rinks that they rent out for parties. So people, adults and kids, were skating in their own private area. Not sure if this is an option in your area but I know that everyone had fun.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: valerie

                    Since I love skating, this is one of the first things I looked into! But, I decided it would be like my husband planning my birthday party on a golf course. And, as I think about it, the bowling thing might work for the kids but no one in my family really likes bowling. I'd also like a party based around food w/ possible activities thrown in. What I'm leaning towards right now is renting a house in the Shenandoah's. People can join us during the day and they can be out hiking, kayaking etc. while I cook dinner. They can spend the night and I'll have stratas (I think it'll be easy--bags of dried bread, cooked fillings, eggs/milk/cream and assemble in the evening) and cinnamon rolls ready to go for breakfast. If I go this route, I'll be asking on Home Cooking for dinner ideas on what to make for 30+ people w/ few rental kitchen!

                    1. re: chowser

                      If you go this route you'll need a vacation from the vacation!!!!

                      1. re: cheesecake17

                        Exactly! Especially since it says in the original post "I don't want to be cooking this time" :-)

                        1. re: valerie

                          I know! The more I think about it, the more I think it might be the best option just to roll up my sleeves and do it. Then, I'd be alone in a nice house, a glass or so of wine and ready to cook. I always seem to get myself into these, "How hard could it be to..." situations and then as I do it, I realize it's much harder than I ever thought.

                      2. re: chowser

                        if you go this route, do a "Chopped" style weekend... ask people to bring ingredients (ample portions) then do challenges to create meals...

                        1. re: Emme

                          That would be fun! My FIL and MIL are excellent cooks but the others sibs only make green bean casserole, Jiffy corn bread pudding and mac and cheese.

                          1. re: chowser

                            you can include other cooks or not... or just let people try to stump you... my friends enjoy this... i had to set rules though. at least one protein and one vegetable. items 3 and optional 4 are negotiable. don't expect a quality meal from rainbow sprinkles, smoked gouda, chow mein crunchy noodles and bernaise sauce. just sayin'.

                            if you include other cooks, then the green bean casserole crowd becomes the peanut gallery/audience :)

                            1. re: Emme

                              I would love to do this, on another occasion with friends who like to cook (although finding the space would be a challenge--sorry only one oven, you're out of luck!). I think there's a restaurant that rents out space so we could use an off time. The problem w/ green bean casserole crowd is that they 1) think they could cook and might be insulted if left out and 2) like green bean casserole.

                              1. re: chowser

                                oh what is it that they say about not being able to pick your family... ;)

                    2. Can you find a caterer who will work with you to prepare recipes from 1962? You could check the archives of popular magazines from that year or hunt down a cook book published that year. Of course, I suppose that runs the risk of tuna casseroles or jello molds with canned fruit . . .

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: gaffk

                        Apparently, they were very, um, creative with food presentation in 1962.

                        http://lamingtonsandlasagna.com/2011/...

                        1. re: chowser

                          But it would be a fun 50th? (And then rush to the nearest restaurant?)

                          1. re: gaffk

                            It would be a riot. We could do an all jello meal, even.

                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/23446766...

                            1. re: chowser

                              That's hysterical . . . I say go for it!

                        2. re: gaffk

                          I started a thread in the Mad Men thread of TelevisionWithoutPity.com where we planned cannapes and cocktails for each viewing in the first season.

                          We came up with some pretty fun menus.

                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                            You should send Chowser the link. Canapes, cocktails and jello. Sounds like a perfect celebration!