Theme Nights

Easter Theme Night!

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Easter is here and of course, so is the theming!  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I can’t stop myself.  Eventually, Papa Bear is going to take away my keyboard and write to you all asking for an intervention.  Today is not that day!
We decided to have a lovely Hop themed evening this year with Daddy Bug, Firefly and Ladybug all in attendance.  In addition, we had a new friend over as well.  Dancer and her Mom, Momma Dancer  We also invited a new friend to our party this week.  We’ll call her Jitterbug for now.  I have had a blast waiting for the kids to get here for our Hop theme night.  If you haven’t had a chance to see the movie Hop, it is a very cute film about an Easter Bunny who doesn’t want to take over from his father and become the Easter Bunny in his own right.  Needless to say, he is a mischief maker and finds lots of adventures and eventually his own path – righting the holiday.
Our craft for this theme night is died eggs of course.  We are going to do a few different methods for the kids to try.  The first method is to take the eggs straight from the water, pat them dry, and sit them in the egg carton with wide end up.  Make sure that adults do this step as it could cause some stout little burns on tiny fingers.  We are going to use crayons to decorate the eggs!  Method one is to chop the crayons into bits and sprinkle over top of the egg – it creates the most beautiful streaks as it melts the shavings and they run down the sides.  Method two is to color directly on the eggs with the crayons, transferring the way in patterns rather than free form.  They are adorable and the kids get SO creative.  Be sure to sit them in the fridge and let them cool completely before taking them out of the egg carton – hot wax and bare skin do not mix!
Our next method for coloring the eggs is going to be rice shakers.  I put ½ cup of rice into a zip lock bag and two big squirts of food color.  Then, as the method name suggests, shake-shake-shake until the color has rubbed off onto the egg.  This creates the cutest little speckled effect for the eggs.  They are great pastels, but it is hard to get vibrantly colored eggs using this method.

For a more vibrant egg color, I am using a PASS coloring kit.  Instead of dying the eggs with just water, I use a solution of ½ vinegar and ½ water.  The vinegar helps the color penetrate the shell and really makes the colors vibrant and bright.  The longer you let the eggs sit in the dye, the brighter they will become.
You can also get creative and add glitter, heat the eggs in the oven in a muffin pan and add wax shavings after they have been dyed, etc.  Let your imagination run wild and channel your inner child.
Food for this even was so much fun!  I made deviled eggs – I like to color the egg whites so that the eggs themselves look like Easter eggs.  You can either crack the shells and let the dye color the whites between the cracks, leaving a cracked effect, or you can drop the eggs directly into the dye and create solid colors.  Both are beautiful when done.  To make the filling, I mash the egg yolks in a glass bowl, add just enough mayo to bind (I don’t like overly mayo laden egg salad or deviled egg), two heaping tablespoons of sweet pickle relish and give it a good mix.  Once the mixture is smooth, pipe or spoon into your egg halves.  I like to garnish with a bit of fresh parsley and a black olive slice.  YUM!  The best part about these deviled eggs is the super colorful egg salad sandwiches that are going to come to work for my lunches the following week.  I LOVE a rainbow.
Our other little egg treat are tiny hatching chicken deviled eggs.  I only made a couple of these as decoration so as not to over do the deviled eggs.  Once boiled and peeled, slice a small bit off the narrow end of the egg so that it will stand on it’s own.  Using a granny knife, cut a zig zag design around the egg so that it looks like a cracked shell.  Remove top of egg and put yolk in your deviled egg mix using the recipe above.  To decorate the eggs, fill the egg with deviled yolks and place the top of the shell back on the egg, slightly askew.  Use two cloves for your little chick’s eyes and a carrot sliver or pimento triangle for his beak.  All done!  Cute as can be and very easy!

Another cute little chickie idea is to turn a cheese ball into bite size chicks.  I can’t wait to try this.  I love any excuse to make a cheese ball, so this is right down my alley.  My recipe is a classic southern staple.  I don’t ever remember seeing this written down anywhere, it is just one of those recipes passed down by making it with my Maw Maw and Mother at almost every holiday and party we hosted or went to.  Take one brick of Philadelphia cream cheese and 2 shredded cheese of your choice.  I am going to use Colby jack for this cheese ball.  While you can use pregrated cheese, I suggest grating your own.  There is a difference in the texture and flavor!  Add powdered garlic to taste, 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (I always default to Lea and Perrins), and 1/8 cup each grated onion and bell pepper.  Add cayenne powder or hot sauce to taste and mix thoroughly.  Get in there with your hands and mix, squish around a bit, and really incorporate the ingredients.  This is one of those recipes that you really want to make the night before and let it sit so that the flavors blend nicely.  To finish the large ball, I typically roll it in chopped pecans.  This time, to create the chick effect, I am going to roll bite size cheese balls, then roll them in grated cheese or chopped pecans.  To make their wings, I am going to use a small circular cutter and stamp wings out of thickly sliced cheddar cheese slices.  The feet and beaks are simply cheese with orange gel food color painted on for effect.  The eyes are made from black olives.  I selected a writing tip from my decorating tip assortment in the size that I wanted for my eyes and used the tip as a cutter.  Just turn the tip over and tap it on the counter a few times or gently push through with a skewer to remove eyes.  You can easily use a plastic straw as well.  Paper ones just don’t work.  Don’t place on crackers until ready to serve.
I’m cheating a little with the other items for our party.  My picky eaters love peanut butter and jelly, and the adults are going to love the ham, rotisserie chicken, and cucumber sandwiches I am making.  I simply assemble the sandwiches and cut into Easter shapes using Easter themed cookie cutters.  Done!
My Cheeto carrots are as easy as it gets.  I simply use Wilton’s icing bags as my cone shape and fill with Cheetos (you could also use Goldfish).  Tie the tops with green ribbon and done!  The kids are going to love these snack size portions and I love that they are not eating the entire large bag in one sitting.

Finally, we are making peeps Twinkies and flower pretzel bites for dessert.  Using one twinkie, carve a “seat” from the back 1/3 of your Twinkie car.  Use nutter butter minis, oreo minis or vanilla oreo minis as wheels – affix with white chocolate (melted) or butter cream icing.  Coat mini pretzels in white chocolate, sprinkle with rainbow nonpareils while still wet and allow to dry.  Affix the pretzel to the front of your carved area as a steering wheel.  Sit your Peep Bunny in his snazzy little roadster and one sweet treat is done!

Our other sweet treat is a great blend of sweet and salty.  I use Wilton brand candy melts to make my life easier with this recipe.  Be sure to use square pretzels for this recipe to get the right shape for your flower.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then with rows of pretzels.  Place one white candy melt on each pretzel and pop into a preheated oven (at 300 degrees) until chocolate melts.  I advise making in small batches so that your chocolate doesn’t have time to cool before you get to your last pretzel.  Using M and M’s place one candy in the center and six candies in a circle around the center candy.  Let dry completely and store in an air tight container.

Now on to the really fun part!  Once the eggs are dry, we can hunt them!  We started this theme night a little later in the evening so that we could add some excitement to the egg hunts this year.  The little ladies and tiny gentleman were surprised and excited to see a glow in the dark egg hunt!  We simply filled jumbo plastic eggs (they generally come six to a pack) with glow in the dark bracelets, rings and tiny balls and hid them in the yard for the kids to find.  They had the best time!  I love hearing all of the squeals and giggles when all of the kids get together, it always does my heart good to shake off the constraints of being an adult for a while and get back to my creative roots when channeling my inner child.

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