Last week, Smalerie mentioned that we’d be doing a series on how to stick it to Old Man Winter and actually get some enjoyment out of a season that, here in New England anyway, can be best summed up as “grey.” Sometimes the outdoors is a frozen wasteland, other times it’s warm but muddy, but no matter the temperature and precipitation, winter can just seem a bit ho-hum. Once the holidays are over, there’s just a lot of staying indoors, dreaming of warmer, drier days. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. The depths of winter are scientifically* proven to be the best time for a theme party. Plus, planning a party fits in well with several of Smalerie’s blues-busting tips, including starting a project and having accountability. And hey, if you host, you don’t need to actually leave the house!
We’ve had a few posts on this subject before, but here are a few we haven’t yet shared that you might consider specifically for shaking the winter doldrums.
Granted, this particular theme appeals to a slightly morbid sense of humor – unsurprising, given that my husband, Mr. Menace, was responsible for dreaming it up. When the snow is thick on the ground and the air is frigid, what can be better than a reenactment of the Soviets surrounding the Germans at Stalingrad?
We were fortunate to have this party hosted at the home of our dear friends, who have a spectacular fire pit in their backyard, which allowed us to create a hard-core bonfire. If you are not so lucky, even a small fire pit will add the right amount of flare and sell the idea that you are huddling for warmth on the front. (We were also aided by the fact that this party took place in the February 2015 – winter where the Boston area saw about 8 feet of snow pile up on itself in rapid succession, followed by a deep freeze. Authentic!)
Cheap fur hats from the party store are also a must. Here the goal is less about authenticity, and more about a sense of fun and staying warm.
As for the most important part of any theme party, the food, this is your chance to put out an assortment of hard meats, cheese, and vodka, and call it good. At our hosts’ request, I also made piroshki, which are Russian buns filled with meat and onions.
Meat, cheese, vodka, and hats – a recipe for pulling anyone out of a slump.
The very next winter, our friends with the fire pit hosted another vaguely historically themed party – a Viking raid! This was a ton of fun to figure out costuming for – and a great excuse to break out the fur and cape from my Red Sonja costume from a Halloween party long past.
To host a good Viking party, consider offering mead, more of that wonderful meat and cheese, and an assortment of dried fish, if you’re feeling fancy. Horned helmets are not historically accurate, but if you change the theme a tad, you can host a 19th-century Romanticist opera revival party and the helmets are totally on brand.
Our latest party was a long time coming, and one of my favorites to date. For years, Tiny Doom has dreamed of hosting a “giant” party. The concept was that everything at the party would actually be extremely tiny – thus allowing the party participants to feel like giants. (Tiny Doom is, as her name suggests, pretty small herself, so getting to be big is a novelty.) For years, we discussed this party – what food we would serve, the tiny plates we could use, the props that we’d have – and we kept not hosting the actual party. Finally, after nearly half a decade, I decided to make it the theme of my annual New Year’s Eve gathering. 2017 was a pretty tough year all around, so I thought we could all use an excuse to feel bigger.
This party was heavily centered around two things – the food, and the table-scape. What’s great about this theme is that many appetizers are already small, bite-sized versions of regular food. You just have to make sure to play up that similarity – so cocktail weenies aren’t served in sauce, they’re lovingly encased in tiny buns. Sliders are regular burgers, a Cornish game hen is a whole roasted chicken, and so on.
Mr. Menace helped with the decor by getting two different sizes of figures – 1/6 scale GI Joes and 1/16 scale Star Wars figures – and strategically placing them around the food. The result was a sort of Lilliput-England-Brobdingnag vibe with the Star Wars guys as Lilliputians, the Joes as the humans, and us as the Brobdingnagians. It was pretty darn magical, and shockingly simple to pull off.
Ultimately, that simplicity makes this a perfect winter project – you don’t need to dress up or get too fussy with the decor to create a good time for your friends and help snap everyone out of a funk. After all, everyone needs to feel big sometimes.
Finally, it’s important to note that while we did this party on New Year’s Eve, it works on any random winter night equally well. How about you all – any other whimsical ways to punch Old Man Winter in the face?
*The science is extremely limited.
For those of us who are feeling a little bit of Doctor Who withdrawal as we wait for the upcoming Christmas special, sometimes the best cure is a good old fashioned Doctor Who viewing party, complete with themed food and snacks. Need some ideas on what to serve? No problem! Well, we at LOC are happy to share our ideas with you, and maybe even a recipe or two. Because let’s be honest, we LOVE theme parties. Really really REALLY love theme parties.
Snacks, appetizers, and drinks:
- Jelly Babies (duh)
- Tiny Doom’s Thyme Lord
- “The Power of Three” Bean Salad
- “Weeping” Angels on Horseback
- Something with squid or baby octopus and call it Time Lord’s Revenge (Get it? Cause Daleks have squid-y faces, and yes, I’m a jerk)
- Anything typically British: fish and chips, fish or meat pies, Bubble and Squeak
- Get some inspiration from the Foods and Beverages list on the TARDIS Index File
- Or as suggested by Cartoon Sara – Cybermanwiches!
- More Jelly Babies!
- TARDIS Shaped Cake
- Mini Dalek Cakes
- “Fish Fingers” and Custard (instructions for our version below)
The premiere of the current Doctor came a rather infamous dish. I know that there are a million different versions out there, but I figured that I would share my own. The great thing about this recipe is that you can make the whole thing yourself or take a lot of short cuts if you are not much of a baker.
Fish fingers and Custard (Ladies of Comicazi Style!)
Pound cake (store bought or made from scratch)
sweetened shredded coconut
peach or apricot jam
custard (once again, buy it or make your own)
Here we go, quick and dirty. I made my own pound cake but pretty much any recipe would do. A dense cake is best for this recipe because you are going to be handling the cake some and you don’t want the whole thing crumbling in your hands. Once you cake is completely cool, cut the cake into “fish finger” blocks. Think about an inch or more thick because if you go too tiny, you can once again run the risk of the cake breaking as you try to work with it.
Now, toast about a cup and a half of the shredded coconut (instructions can be found here if you need them). As you can see from the pics, I let mine get pretty dark. I wanted the color to be as uniform as possible. Just be careful not to burn the coconut because once it does start to toast, it goes fast.
Next take half a cup of your jam of choice and heat it to loosen it up. I just nuked mine in the microwave for about 30 secs and stirred it. Hot jam is like hot glue, so be very careful with this stuff. You don’t want to heat it so that it is like water, think more like a runny glue. And speaking of glue, that is exactly what you are going to be using the jam for.
Take each “finger” of pound cake and paint it with the jam. Once covered in jam on one side, roll that side in the toasted coconut. Repeat this until you have covered all sides of the cake. The good news, you now have a super yummy fish finger. The bad news, do this over and over again until you have covered all your cake pieces. Once finished coating each piece, store the fish fingers in a single layer on a plate in in a container while you make the custard. If you find yourself out of room and you need to stack them, place a layer of wax paper in-between the rows to avoid a big solid sticky mess.
Now, on to the custard. I am not a huge fan of custard, so I cheated a bit on this one and used Bird’s Custard Powder. I’ve been told that this is kinda a staple in some British households, so using it is rather forgivable. Phew! Also, since I was making this for a lactose intolerant friend, i replaced the milk with coconut milk. Might I recommended this even if you are not lactose intolerant? The double coconut was super tasty.
For serving, I reheated the custard and placed a healthy pool of it on a small plate. Top with about two fish fingers per person and have at it. The fruity jam help cut through the buttery and milky sweetness of the cake and custard, while the toasted coconut adds a welcome crunchiness against the soft cake. Mind you, it is improper manners to lick the plate, but what the others don’t see, won’t hurt them. Besides, the Doctor isn’t one to stand on ceremony anyway.
Do you have any food ideas for our next Doctor Who celebratory bash? Let us know below. I enjoy a challenge and would love some ideas on what to tackle next.