Gretchen Schock shares her love of recipes, crafts and frugal living. She also speaks very opening about the challenges and triumphs of parenting a neurotypical child and a child on the Autism Spectrum. After a breast cancer scare in 2012, she decided to say goodbye to her nightly glasses of Chardonnay. It was time to get sober and live life with eyes wide open! The CocktailMom name remains, however with a new focus on healthy and authentic living.

12/28/2007

Gift Exchange

The Jitterbug gals and I exchange gifts each year but we have a rule, well 2 rules. It has to be handmade and it has to cost less than 10 bucks. I look forward to this exchange every year more than any other gift. It's so inspiring to see what everyone comes up with and many ideas are copied the next year. I recently stumbled upon this blog where the blogger asked for ideas for gifts under $20.
These were my personal favorites:
  1. tea
  2. pedometer
  3. knitting or crochet needles, yarn and a cheap instructional book
  4. Road ID- for the runners, cyclist or tri-athletes in your life
  5. The gift of "green"- Fill a cloth grocery bag with compact fluorescent bulbs, earth friendly cleaning supplies and a micro-fiber cloth
  6. Gift Baskets- buy items in bulk and divide into multiple baskets
  7. Magazine subscription
  8. Biking supplies- if you know someone who is interested in a physical activity buy them items for that; ie: socks, gloves etc
  9. yoga mat
  10. beauty in a bag- fill a bag with new fingernail polish, emery boards and cuticle cream

12/27/2007

Holiday Clearance

If I've said it once, I'll say it again...Saving money isn't all about budgeting BUT thinking ahead.

There are so many great deals after the holidays but skip the major purchases and go right for the holiday clearance. Even if you don't have an attic or basement these items can be easily stored under a bed, top shelf of a closet, or the area between the refrigerator and the wall...yes you can store stuff there!

  • Buy your wrapping paper (if you use it) right after the holidays when you can get it for 75% off. And this is also what you can store between the wall and your fridge.
  • Holiday packs of cards. If you don't plan on using them for yourself, say you prefer the picture holiday card variety, you can give them as a birthday gift to someone you know that has an October or November birthday with stamps and return address label already affixed. Or use the cards to make holiday crafts. I've also picked up holiday cards that said a generic "wishing you joy this year" and sent them as birthday cards, it has gotten many chuckles from the recipients.
  • Holiday decorations. Now is the time to plan the decor you'd really like to create next year. And it's the perfect time since you are very aware of what you are missing. For me, personally, I'm looking for a holiday wreath for our front door, preferable something that doesn't shed.
  • Holiday parties. If you throw a holiday party every year or an open house, stock up on party supplies now. Napkins, plates, tablecloths. And if you don't throw a party but you have kids who will be having birthday parties buy the solid red and green table cloths and napkins and use them for the birthday party decor. Red tablecloth can go along with = Spiderman decor, Ariel (little mermaid) or even a Valentine's party. Green tablecloth = Pirate themed party and draw a big X in the center of the table cloth, green goblin or even a Saint Patty's Day party. I've even seen shiny gold and silver tablecloths that would be perfect for a princess party.
  • Along with the decor you can also pick up red and green candles for cheap. Create a valentine's themed gift for someone you love using the red candles you bought for 90% off, pair it with a bottle of wine and a romantic movie and also some holiday chocolate that you put in your freezer to keep fresh and then take the wrappers off and place in a decorative bowl or bottle right before delivering it and Wha-la an inexpensive Valentine's gift. Also the candles can be using in many other crafty ways by hot gluing pictures or trinkets to them and giving as gifts throughout the year.
  • Books. I've found some wonderful holiday themed books on clearance that make great gifts for the next year. Whether it be cookbooks or last year I picked up a few crafty holiday gift making books and then gave them to the crafty women in my life. Even if they have an April birthday they will appreciate the book and the motivation to create and start their holiday planning. Cause we all know that the crafty folks who make their gifts start planning or at least thinking about what they will make by September at the latest.
  • Gift boxes. Even if the face of Santa adorns the box it is so easy to use scrap wrapping paper that you have to cover the top of box. Adorn a bow and now the recipient can very easily open the gift and recycle the packaging for his/her next function.
  • Fabric. I am already seeing signs at Joann's for 75% off holiday fabric and it will only get better from there. I always stock up on holiday fabric for many reasons, one being I like to wrap gifts in fabric to the crafty folks in my life. Plan on making napkins and place mats for someone on your gift giving list next year. You know what...a set of Everyday Holiday Napkins would be a great "elephant gift" at your office party next year. Or plan on making those stocking you have been talking about forever..OK that may be just me! :)
Plan ahead and make a stop at your local Target, Michael's or Joann's...wherever you see the 75% off holiday clearance sign blowing in the wind...stock up and save yourself some money!

12/25/2007

Hand-Made Magnets

Gretchen and I decide in January 2006 to make these mini-magnet sets as Holiday gifts. So we've both been cutting circles out of magazines for the whole year. Sometimes, I would get to a new magazine too quickly and Greg would have to read a Time that looked like Swiss cheese.

I simply loved making these mini-magnets and hope that everyone that received a set is happy to add them to their refrigerator. In fact, when the day came to take them off my door and hand-pick them into sets I was sad to see them go.

You will need:
*3/4 of an inch circle cutter (look in the scrapbook aisle of a craft store)
*Clear drying jewelry adhesive
* 3/4 inch or 1/2 inch magnets
* Clear Florist marbles (the ones with a flat side)
* Plenty of thumb size pictures from magazines and newspapers

1.) Using a toothpick put a small amount of glue on the picture and place the florist marble on top. Squish the glue around and center the picture while you adhere them together.


2.) Glue the magnet to the back of the picture.

3.) Let dry.

I know the directions are pretty simple because these mini-magnets are the easiest craft I've ever made.

Packaging is such an important part of gifting. It was important for this gift that the magnets be presented in a metal box so that the receiver can see all the magnets at a glance.
At first the plan was to use Altoids tins (which I believe Gretchen did) but I don't like that candy so I search around and found circle tins at a local Herb and Tea shop.

I think these little presents are a perfect gift for just about anyone for Birthdays or Thank Yous. I even think they would make a great party favor at a kids birthday party or baby shower.



Please make a comment if you received magnets from Gretchen or me and let us know if you liked them.

Happy Holidays!!!!

12/23/2007

Recycle Holiday Waste #3 Mini Scrapbook


I am so in love with how this turned out that I'm going to be making many more in the new year. I made this one as a quick gift, took me 1 1/2 hours from start to finish. I created this book for my brother and sister in law to capture a moment in their lives for the next year. So each side of a circle is a month. I wouldn't suggest doing anything larger than this, this is borderline too big but is still awesome. The next one I make I'm going to square off the bottom so that when the book is open it can be displayed across a mantel or tabletop.



So here is how I got started. I used the box that my son's Spiderman playset came in and taking my creative memories circle shape cutter I traced the circles on the box with a sharpie marker and cut out with scissors. I then cut 2 inch pieces of ribbon to attach each circle. I alternated affixing them to one side of the circle and then the opposite side so that when you fold up the album it folds like an accordion. I first attached them with adhesive and when I knew it was what I wanted I went back and stapled each ribbon to the circle.


I had to play with folding it a bit before I figured out what would be the front and back of the album. These circles need to be 2 circles that are attached together with ribbon so that the ribbon becomes the binding to keep the album closed. Once I had that figure out I labeled each circle. Since my album is to go in order of months once you open it completely. I then attached a longer piece of 5 inch ribbon to the front and back circles opposite the binding ribbon so that the album can be tied closed.
Then I let my creative juices go wild and I designed each month's circle. I only used scrap paper to keep with my recycled theme.
I hope the scrappers reading the blog give this a try, it's a lot of fun and so easy to make. I think the mini albums will make nice gifts throughout the year; birthdays, mother's day etc. Come back and share your creation in the comments section!

12/22/2007

Luggage Tags

Yes I am always one of those people filling out my name and address on one of those airline tags and every time I do it I say to myself...Gosh I need to make these. And I finally did. And just in time for our flight to spend the holidays in AZ. I keep all the cards we get for birthdays and holidays, I used the cards left over from my son's b-day to make these cute luggage tags. On the opposite side I used scrap card stock in bright orange that I had and laminated the whole thing, hole punched the top and to attach them to the bags I used 1" binder rings, found at office supply stores. The entire project took less than 30 minutes for 4. So don't put it off another day...make those luggage tags!

12/21/2007

Recycle Holiday Waste #2 Box

Make a Custom Box out of a Box!

There is a wonderful article in Craft magazine Vol. 5 giving step by step directions on how to make a box from trash. I think it would be so cool to make smaller boxes out of the large toy boxes that my kids' toys come in. But they say any box will work; cereal box, corrugated boxes etc. In the magazine they show the artist, Phranc, using a Bisquick box. I haven't personally tried it yet but it's on my "things to-do" list after the holidays.

Pick up the magazine this month if you love paper, there are so many wonderful articles to keep your interest instead of eating another holiday cookie.

12/20/2007

Reusing the Pretzel Tub

Our Costco stopped selling the gigantic bag of pretzels and replaced it with a large tub of pretzels.

So? Who Cares? Why does this deserve a post?

If you saw how many pretzels my husband consumed in a month or week you'd understand. Looking at these plastic tubs I thought to myself..this can totally be used for something else. And then it hit me....STORAGE!!
Martha always says you should use clear plastic containers for storage so that you can see what you are storing. So I've come up with many storage uses for the pretzel tub.

Toys that are in rotation. Every few months I rotate the kids' toys so that they don't become bored with what they have and also to save space, we don't have the room to have every toy they own out at one time.

Yarn or fabric to store in an attic or basement so that it never takes on the smells of its environments. Also seasonal clothes for the same reason.

Random bits of scrap booking paper. You would think by reading this blog and how often I talk about using scrap items that I am a hoarder and unorganized. I'm actually so far from that. I'm borderline OCD about organizing. And if I set up a container, like the pretzel tub, to be the holder of all scrapbook paper of a certain size (are you seeing the OCD yet?). Then once the tub is full it's time to sit down and create something from the jug. Whether it's making a ton of cards or making personal embellishments for layouts or gift tags for presents.

Holiday decorations, now I can see what holiday each tub is instead of labeling a Rubbermaid box.

And that's where it ends for me. So now I need your suggestions, what would you use the pretzel tub for?

12/19/2007

Holiday Cookie Tray Time

It is that time of the Holiday Season when we give sugary goodness to others.
Personally, I love baking cookies - but hate having too many around the house. So making a few Christmas Cookie Tray is a perfect activity for me. I get to eat a few, but give the majority away.

Here are a couple of Quick Tips to improve your cookie trays:

Add some Chocolate Covered-Somethings
It is super easy to make chocolate covered pretzels. They add nice shapes to the tray and salty flavor.

Recipe:
Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper.
Melt some really good dark or milk chocolate
Dip the pretzels and lay them on wax paper to set.

*Try the same technique with dried apricots or other dried fruit.
Or do a few fresh Strawberries!*

Use a real dish, plate or tuperware container.
If you are giving a cookie plate to a close family member use a real dish and save yourself the cost to you and the environment of the plastic or paper holiday plates.

Don't try to over do it.
2-3 cookie varieties are plenty. It is easy to want to make every Christmas cookie you love. But you might feel overwhelmed when you are staring down 6 different recipes. Instead make double batches of 2 or 3 great cookies.

Bar Cookies
I always include a bar cookie, brownie or something that bakes all at once to offset the time
of making drop cookies or cut outs.

Chex Mix
My mom makes the best fresh Chex Mix. And I simply love it around the holidays. The recipe is the one that has always been on the side of the box. CHEX MIX RECIPE. I hate the chemical taste of store bought Chex Mix There are literally dozens of different Chex Mixes you can make. There is such little baking involved with making a mix, you might want to just give out bags of it instead of cookies.

Enjoy the baking and making.
If you are too overwhelmed to have fun while baking don't overextend yourself. There is
plenty of SUGAR everywhere you look during the holidays. If you are going to enjoy making
the cookies right now pass on it this year and make sure to make it a priority next Holiday
Season.

The biggest hit this year on my cookie tray was a Black Forest Cookie. I got the recipe from Every Day Food. Please email me and I will send you a copy. There is no link online and the PDF showed up blurry on the blog, but I will happily pass it along to anyone that desire it.

12/17/2007

Free Rice Story on NPR

In case you haven't clicked on the FreeRice.org link from the Cocktail Moms' page. You really should check it out.

Here's a link to NPR.org where you can read or listen to more about the fantastic site.

Costco Electronics Recycling Program

Did you know Costco has a recycling program for Electronics? Go to Costco.com
and click on electronics, towards the bottom of the list on the far left hand side click on Trade-In & Recycle. You can select the item you want to recycle and Costco will give you money in the form of a costco gift card for your trade in value. And get this...Shipping is free!!!

12/16/2007

Office Party Update

The Office Party was a success! Quite frankly most people were dreading it, but in the end I think everyone had a good time. Even two of the people I doubted ever had fun, seemed to crack a smile while playing Bingo. This is an office of very competitive numbers-loving-type-A people, I knew they would get involved if there were games. And they did! Completely giving themselves up in the quest to win the Holiday Movie Trivia Quiz.

In order to keep things moving I printed the Christmas Movie Trivia Quiz on Christmas stationary. I placed the snowflake stationary on top of a double sided 4-up Bingo card and finally on top of that was the snowflake themed plate and napkin. As well as silverware, each place setting had a pen for the quiz and to cross out Bingo. Finally, I topped each plate with a candy cane for the "Change" game and "Don't say it" game. Once everyone was seated no one ever had to get up unless they wanted to. The party was all in the place setting.

I kept everything moving and we were completely done with lunch and all games in a little over 90 minutes. Many people commented that it was one of the best Christmas parties they'd ever been to, and I think they meant it.

12/13/2007

Milk Jug Bathroom Toy Holder

My milk jug gets a second life. My youngest son goes through milk like you wouldn't believe, I often joke that if we lived in a less urban area I would buy a cow. It's that bad. I recently discovered that we can buy organic dry milk, which would save on waste but I would have to order it online because none of the health food stores in my area carry it.
So we end up with a recycling bin filled with milk jugs. I've turned this gallon jug into a bath toy scoop. I simply cut part of the jug off, opposite the handle. And then I turned it upside down and literally jabbed scissors into the bottom repeatedly to create holes for water to drain out of. Now when my hubby gives the kids a bath he can scoop all of the toys in the jug and allow them to drip dry. At one point in my life of many apartments, this would have come in handy to store my shampoo, conditioner, facial scrub etc. since in our bathtub we didn't have the storage to hold anything in the tub. I've also created one to hold gardening tools.
The possibilities are endless!

12/12/2007

Recycle Holiday Waste #1 Mini Book

Every home ends up with a ton of waste around the holidays. Some of us secretly tuck away salvaged pieces of wrapping paper and bows and others turn the holiday cards they receive into gift tags for the following year.
I've been trying to come up with some ideas to recycle the toy boxes that we end up swimming in on Christmas morning. My kids, as most do, love the box as much as the toy and will stare at the pictures on the boxes whether to recreate the perfect Island Of Sodor out of Legos or to learn all the tricks and trap doors of the Spiderman play set. One idea is to make books for homemade coloring books or to-do lists books. This is something your child can do with you.
Measure and cut each piece of the book, front and back, and punch holes along the side. You can use either yarn or string to bind it or use book rings, found at your office supply store in the fasteners section. I used 1 inch book rings so that I can continue to add pages to the book. Fill the book with either blank pages, recycled paper or coloring pages that you print out.
Whether you have kids or not, most people are swimming in cardboard boxes around the holidays. Even adult toys come in cool boxes, for example: apple products and the much loved Tiffany box!
You can make the books out of any box and fill with blank pages to keep track of your to-do list or shopping list. The great thing is you can make it whatever size you want. I made a small one, as shown, to easily fit into my purse whether to make a note to myself or entertain my son during church.

12/11/2007

From craftster.org

Great American Craft-Off

Unique contest open to all American crafters to submit their homemade, handmade American-themed creations for a chance to win a Grand Prize package valued at over $6000.

Click the image above to learn more about it!

Gift Ideas for the People Who Don't Need Anything

Have a friend or a parent or a boss that doesn't need a damn thing. Then give to someone that does have a genuine need. My favorite tip is to discover a not-for-profit that caterers to the passions of person you are trying to give the donation in honor of.

Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow's Charitable giving guide, the 2007 edition (complete list on Boing Boing) is a great example of finding interesting not-for-profits to donate to this holiday season. He suggests: Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons , Free Software Foundation/Defective By Design , and the The Internet Archive because he obviously loves the the tech/computer charities. Check out his list for the tech geek in your life.

Go to Heifer International to give a gift that is sure to start a conversation. Gifting a cow can do that.

Kiva.org is the gift that keeps on giving, as well as, the gift that keeps on letting you give. Give someone $25.00 to invest in pre-screened individuals whose lives can be radically changed by a micro-loan. The most amazing part happens when they pay you back. You can then re-loan your same investment to help another person.

Craft Site Directory has a whole page of Craft Charities.

Without a doubt there is a charity out there that your friend will thank you for donating to in their honor. And the best part is... is that they don't have to find room for it on their shelf.





12/10/2007

Advent Box Calendar

I first saw this crafty advent calendar on Ali Edwards, this picture is from her blog. And she wrote that she got the idea from Martha Stewart. I had great intentions of making one and posting it on the blog but I still have so many Christmas presents to make that I can't pull myself away. I am so behind this year in making gifts. Normally I'm done by this time and have time to pursue crafty endeavors like the advent calendar boxes. Oh well...tis life.
What I plan to do with my advent calendar boxes, and why I don't want to rush myself to make it, is to have a family activity for each day and print the activity out and attach to the inside of the box and also to make an ornament for each box that symbolizes the activity. For example each year we watch Charlie Brown's Christmas. So I plan on making an ornament to symbolize that, maybe recreate the tree or felt a little snoopy. I'm really looking forward to starting this tradition in our family. And I may even start them early and give them as gifts for next year! I'll keep you updated.

12/09/2007

Shirley Temples and Shirley Temple-Blacks



As we all remember from our childhood Shirley Temples are a the perfect cocktail to make children feel all grown up and part of the party especially around the holidays.

Recently, I had friends over for dinner and drinks. They were bringing their adorable 3 year-old with them so I thought I would make him a Shirley Temple. As it turns out, 3 is still too young to understand the joy that is a Fake Cocktail. Now that I think back to it, I mostly loved Shirley Temples from around age 7-11.

However, it turned out to be a hit cocktail at dinner anyway, because we made Shirley Temple-Blacks. (Black was Shirley's married name). Shirley Temple-Blacks are the same great faux cocktail you remember from your pre-teens spiked with vodka! My friend Jessie told me about spiking Shirley's months ago but this was the first time I tried it. (BTW Jessie has a great blog about crafting etc. check it out at: chartreuseluna.wordpress.com)

There are several different versions of Shirley Temples out there. For a brief history check out the wikipedia entry on the drink.

I fussed around for about a week and find the recipe below to be the recipe that worked for me.

Shirley Temple

8 oz. Ginger Ale
1 splash Grenadine
Garnished with a twist of an orange and a maraschino cherry

Serve over ice

I found that if you squeeze the twist of Orange in the drink before using it as garnish it gave it a nice citrus flavor. Some recipes call for adding O.J. or up to an ounce of grenadine, I found this to make the drink to heavy and syrupy. I remember a Shirley Temple being light and bubbly so add the juice or extra grenadine at your own risk.

Shirley Temple-Black

Same recipe as above just add Vodka to taste!

This Holiday if you're having adults and children over to your party add a Fake Cocktail to your menu for the Cocktail Moms in training.


Dinner Party Questions

It's happened to all of us, you have a group of people over for dinner and you are bored to tears with the talk of politics or TV shows. My Jitterbug girlfriends and I had a MNO (MomsNiteOut) at a hotel before I left Seattle. We each came equipped with 10 questions and we put them in a bowl and each took turns answering the questions. I have sense played the game with my In-laws and my mother and sister while on a long car trip. My friend Corie sent me these questions that I believe were featured in Real Simple magazine.
Print out the questions and place them in a pretty box or jar and take it to your next dinner party with a bottle of wine. Or print out the questions on card stock and wrap a question around each dinner napkin. It is so fascinating to hear the answers and learn more about your friends than you would have imagined, without anyone being embarrassed.


What kind of student were you?


Other than family, who were the most important people in your life?


What were your hobbies as a child?


Who was the first person you ever kissed?


What did you imagine your adult life would be like?


What has been the most amazing part about raising kids?


What has been the most difficult part about raising kids?


What was the best job you ever had? What was the worst?


How did you decide what field to enter?


Was there one person who had a big impact on your working life?


If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same career path?


What were the best years of your life?


What was the hardest decision you’ve made?


What are the most important things in life?


What do you consider to be your strongest character traits?


What traits or habits do you wish you didn’t have?


Has life made you more hopeful or more cynical?


What do you consider to be the biggest world events of your lifetime?


Do you think life now is harder or easier than when you were young?


What are you most proud of in your life?


What do you hope to be remembered for?

12/08/2007

DonorsChoose.Org

If you can't find the perfect gift for the person on your list who has everything or if you have a retired teacher on your list this is the perfect gift for them. It's actually the best gift you can give to anyone.
This website has all 50 states listed and you can search by your state and read the proposals from teachers on what they need for their classroom.
DonorsChoose.org gift certificate enables your recipient to fund project(s) of his/her choice and to receive the classroom acknowledgment. As the giver, you receive the tax deduction and can see the chosen proposals in your account.
Or recognize someone special by funding a project in his/her honor. You get the tax deduction, and your honoree is acknowledged by the classroom!
Spread a little holiday cheer to our classrooms this year and help out the most underpaid workers...our teachers.

12/07/2007

Recycled Envelopes

With two last names it doesn't matter how many times I put myself on the no-junk-mail list. Thopse credit card people are sneaky and always around the holidays I end up with 2 credit card offers a day. I came up with a cool idea to recycle those rely envelopes.
On the back of the reply envelope slowly separate the flaps from the back of the envelope. Then turn the entire envelope inside out and tape the flaps to the back of the envelope. If the envelope has a print on it, like mine, you can use labels to handwrite the To and From adresses or simply print the address from your computer on labels and secure.

12/06/2007

Pink Eye

Both of my kids have pink eye right now. A first for us. I read online that you should change their pillowcases daily. Well each of my kids only has 2 sets of sheets/pillowcases. One to be on the bed and one to be washed, typically. And since both boys have been climbing into bed with my husband and I at some point in the night, we are changing our pillowcases daily also.
I refuse to allow this pink eye epidemic to make me consume more. In 10 days I won't need a weeks worth of pillowcases for everyone in my household. And I don't have the time to do a load of laundry everyday with 2 sick kids.
My solution---T Shirts! A large t-shirt fits a standard pillowcase. Considering my hubby has more t-shirts than needed for one man I can change everyone's pillowcases...uh...t-shirt pillow covers daily. File this in your mommy brain for the day your child arrives home from school with the highly contagious pink eye.

12/05/2007

Holiday Office Party

Currently I work in a 9 person Family Office. Family Office's are businesses that are set up to run the assets, investments, and daily affairs of extremely wealthy families. Essentially, I do personal concierge work for the wife and administrative work for the rest of the office, who are a handful of accounts and investment bankers.

Although I've kept my identity as a Cocktail Mom secret to all but my one alliance at the office, when the opportunity rose to plan the Holiday Office Party I thought that in the spirit of Holidays I'd try to give this grumpy little office a Great Office Party.

There are obstacles of course. The main one being that no one in the office truly likes each other. Sure, sure everyone is nice enough to each other - but this isn't an office full of people that are going to happy hour together every Friday. In fact, when the Boss of the office posed going out to a restaurant after hours for the party there were more than a few grumbles - this is when I took over the project. I started informally polling everyone about what they wanted and didn't want in an Holiday Party. What they wanted was lunch ordered in at around 2:00pm on a Friday AND ABSOLUTELY NO GRAB BAG!

I couldn't agree with them more. I hate an office grab bag. Who needs another $20.00 bath set and or smelly candle. Worse, I always get the person I don't really like something great and always receive something I suspect might have been re-gifted from the office cheapo.

So instead of the grab bag I talked the Boss into giving me $100 to buy prizes for Holiday games, that I will plan, and that we will play at the party. Don't groan. Everyone always groans at Party Games but the right games can make a boring party with people you see every day down right enjoyable.

With the $100 I am going to support local business by buying gift certificates. That's right, instead of the standard $20.00 Amazon gift card, I am going to buy a gift card at the locally own and operated Boulder Bookstore. Instead of a Starbucks gift card, I'm going with Laughing Goat the best local coffee shop.

Keeping with my buy local theme, the husband of one of the accounts in the office owns a local green house so I ordered several white poinsettias to use as decorations instead of buying wasteful paper party decorations.

In order to keep the tradition of White Elephant Christmas present exchanges alive, I am going to establish the following rules for prize winning: The first person to win a party game will be allowed to open one present. The second person to win a prize can steal the present already opened or open their own present/prize. If a person has a present stolen from them, they open another present. This continues until all the prizes are won and presents opened. If a person wins two games they may open or steal another present - but will only keep one prize and give the other away to someone that hasn't won a game yet.

We will be playing four different games.

The Lucky Chance or Random Game

I'm a big fan of the Random/Chance game. Often this is as simple as whoever has the paper plate with the Santa sticker on the bottom wins a prize. I purchased solid colored Gobstopper candy canes in green and red and one in white. I am going to tie the candy canes with ribbon or yarn around napkins and place them at each seat before the party begins to decorate the table. The person who gets the all white candy cane will be our first winner! Let the games begin.

The "Don't Say It" Game

This is my all time favorite party game. I first played it at a baby shower for my friend Colleen.
Versions of this game vary. When we played it at the baby shower each guest was given a cute little duck diaper pin and instructed to pin it to their shirts. We were then instructed that from this point until the end of the party we were not to say the word BABY. If you heard another guest say the word BABY you could steal one of their pins. The person with the most pins at the end of the party won a prize.

For the office party, I intend to play the game in the following manner: Using the candy canes that everyone already has, I am going to instruct everyone that from this point on in the party there will no absolutely no talking about WORK. Using the same concept as above, party guest will steal each others candy canes if they catch a co-worker talking about work. The person with the most candy canes at the end of the party will win the final prize.

The Quiz Game

Many people do not like to participate in group games so I think it is a good idea to have a simple paper quiz. This could be a word search, cross word puzzle, or trivia game.

For this Holiday office party I am going to use a quiz that I found online. It's a Holiday Trivia Movie Quiz. I found it online by google-ing "Holiday Quizes". There are many sites with holiday quizzes but most of them are made for kids and super easy. I liked this one because even I didn't know all the answers.

BINGO

Virtually everyone in my office has children so I asked around to find out what group games they had at home. It turns out that someone has a Bingo game complete with cards, chips, and a shaker to drop the letter/balls out of. Perfect. Once we are finished eating, we can play two rousing games of Bingo. I chose Bingo because it is an easy game that everyone can play while still holding a conversation (provided that conversation isn't about WORK).

Since I am in charge of taking everyone's lunch order, I have resorted to using the -dreaded by some and loved by others- EVITE. I personally love Evites. For this party it is doing the "taking lunch order job" for me. I embedded links to the menus of the two restaurants that party guests can order their lunches from and then instructed them to include what items they want to order for lunch when they post their reply. It is working out perfectly. My plan is to place the orders with the restaurants very early in the day so there won't be any problem with getting the food to the office in a timely manner. This way I won't be stressing taking people's picky lunch orders on the day of the party, but can instead make sure that my games, gifts, and decorations are all perfectly set up.

Finally, I will be making a huge Christmas Music mega-mix to play from my Ipod throughout the lunch.

Will my grumpy little office have a fun holiday party? I don't know, but I think I've done my best give the office a well-organized Cocktail Mom holiday party.




12/01/2007

Sage Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

This recipe can be made either vegetarian or vegan, just by omitting the yogurt. It's low in fat and so yummy for the fall. Will serve 6-8 people.

Sage Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
3 gloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of an onion, diced
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 cup Vegetable Broth
3/4 cup soy milk
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt, optional
29 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1 tsp ground sage
salt and pepper to taste, I love pepper so the more the better in my opinion
1 cup chopped walnuts


Saute garlic and onion until cooked. Add the remaining ingredients, except the walnuts. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add walnuts, stir and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. Serve over any type of pasta you desire. Enjoy!

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