That Martha…

by Cate on August 31, 2006

Martha Stewart never ceases to amaze me with her endless talent with creativity in the world of food and entertaining. We’re having a party on Monday (The Husband’s surprise birthday party … shhh, don’t tell!) and I was looking for some decorating ideas and spied these Shell Skewers. Aren’t they adorable? Won’t work for the theme I’m planning, but I’ve definitely filed it for future reference. (Directions to make your very own are included below).

Now here’s where you can help me. The Husband is turning the big 4-0 this weekend, and we’re having some family and friends over to celebrate on Monday. I’m going to cheat in a MAJOR way and I’m going to do Chinese take-out for the meal, but I will be making his favorite desserts. This way, I can keep it nice and simple and still manage to be a guest … there’s also a limit to how much cooking I can do and go unnoticed, you know? Since I’m going with Chinese food, I’m planning to decorate the backyard along that theme, with lit Chinese lanterns and the like, setting the mood. I could use some more inspiration in how I can transform the backyard and create a festive occasion … what to get? what to do? what to make? how to celebrate?It’s not like he turns 40 every day you know. ;) First five ideas in the Comments section get a copy of the Spring Season’s Best Pampered Chef cookbook. And if you miss out on that, don’t let that stop you from sharing your ideas … keep ’em coming.

Until tomorrow …

A year ago today … birthdays, Bhel Puri and Butters (Mary Jane, that is).

Shell Skewers
Courtesy of Martha Stewart
Here’s an enticing way to present poached shrimp at a summer meal: Spear them with seaside-themed utensils. Purchase assorted shells from a crafts store; wash them, then glue onto wooden skewers. Set them out with shrimp, alongside various sauces for dipping.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

patsy August 31, 2006 at 1:58 am

What about getting some Chinese fans and putting them at each place setting – all opened up and maybe in an empty water glass?


Abby August 31, 2006 at 3:01 am

Just ran across your blog, but I love the idea for the party! I would probably put bowls of fortune cookies around – use them as centerpieces and such – and let guests tape them onto a big board as a message to your husband! It’d be a great keepsake and pretty funny, too. People love those things.


Robyn1007 August 31, 2006 at 3:45 am

What about getting some chinese gold coins to scatter on tables or looking up some chinese symbols for good fortune and health and then painting them (or get them enlarged on iron transfer paper) on canvases that you could then hang around the back yard.


Culinarily Obsessed August 31, 2006 at 4:27 am

Oooh those shell skewers are so cute! I would love to use those for a party – I’ll have to keep that idea on file too =)

Hmm, party decorating ideas? Definitely the lanterns, chinese fans & lots of fortune cookies are a good idea. Maybe you could find an inexpensive bonsai tree somewhere and use that as a centerpiece? I know I’ve seen them in the florist section of my grocery store before.

I would go to the craft store and buy some of the chinese takeout boxes colored to match your other decorations. Or you could just try to get some from the restaurant and sit those out on the tables to hold fortune cookies, chopsticks & utensils, and party favors.

I’ll keep thinking…


LizzyAnne August 31, 2006 at 11:05 am

I love the idea of a Chinese theme party. You have to incorporate traditional take-out boxes into your buffet line or you can use them to send a favor of some cookies home with your guests. Also, chopsticks and bamboo place mats could be incorporated into each place setting for guests. Also, a traditional Chinese tradition is fireworks…you could have sparklers around for the kids after dark. Use chinese umbrellas in drinks for extra flair. You will have so much fun doing this. Good luck.


The Cookbook Junkie August 31, 2006 at 12:20 pm

Just hit the party store – they seem to have something for every theme.

How about making your own fortunes for fortune cookies?


Randi August 31, 2006 at 12:22 pm

How about making your own fortune cookies and dipping them in white or dark chocolate? You could also go to Chinatown in NY and get prettier chopsticks and cheap change purses or other nicknacks for the favors.


Joan August 31, 2006 at 12:45 pm

Cate, we did the following for a friend’s 40th birthday party and it was so much fun. She loved it.
Here’s an idea – a 40th survival kit.
40 lollipops – for when life sucks.
40 paperclips – to hold things together.
40 gladiola bulbs – because we’re “glad” you finally joined the 40 club. Or some of us are “glad” it’s you and not us.
40 rubber bands – to remind you to give tight hugs.
40 hersey kisses – to use at your discretion, or local high school – your preference.
40 tooth picks – to remind you to pick out the good qualities of everyone including yourself.
40 carrots – to keep your eyesight now that you’re old.
40 screws – no explanation needed!
40 pennies – for 40 good wishes
40 garbage bags – to get rid of your old garbage/baggage
40 mls of oil – to keep your joints lubricated.
40 chili peppers – to spice up your life
40 marbles – spares for when you lose your own
40 erasers – to wipe out the mistakes you’ve made in the past
40 matches – to light your fire in any way shape or form that may need to be assisted at your advance years
40 sheets of paper – to write the next chapter in your life
40 nuts – because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t
40 beans – because you have BEEN such a good friend to us all.
And finally, some Thyme – because everyone can use a little more time.

I put them all in a big basket with a huge ribbon.


Anonymous August 31, 2006 at 12:49 pm

You can’t forget the “OVER THE HILL” Balloons. I know it doesn’t go with the theme but it’s a must!

We’ll pick them up. I’m sure he’ll love them. lol

The Neighbors (wife)


wheresmymind August 31, 2006 at 1:10 pm

Make fresh cocktails with real fruit. I’ve made mango and watermelon ‘ritas in the past few weeks and they are not only tasty, but really colorful and fun. Garnish with little plastic monkays or bamboo umbrellas…FUN! lol A couple of these and everyone will be feeling pretty groovay


Anonymous August 31, 2006 at 3:10 pm

You are wonderful. I wish I could be so clever and be like you. You are really my idol! I am serious!



Cheryl August 31, 2006 at 3:59 pm

What about hiring a local Kung Fu school do come in and do a lion dance?
I also found this site that has lots of interesting things, you could give everyone something to wear (embroidered slippers maybe?).
Sounds like a fun party!


Cate September 1, 2006 at 1:53 am

Wonderful ideas, everyone – thanks tons for the help. Keep them coming! I definitely have a little shopping to do this weekend. ;)

Patsy, Abby, Robyn, Jaay, Lizzyanne and Paula — drop me a line with your address, and I’ll get the Pampered Chef recipe book out to you.

The Neighbor Wife – you’re on your own with that one. ;)

Cheryl – excellent link!

Dianka – thank you, I think. ;)


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