Monday, December 15, 2008

Ornament Party

We had a ball yesterday hosting a Christmas party for elementary-age children from our church. Our youth minister planned for the children to make ornaments to place in fruit baskets for our shut-ins, so this set my theme for the day. Plastic tablecloths and rolls of gift wrap gave the children a stress-free place to eat and craft, while ornaments hung from the chandeliers and clustered in vases added sparkle to the tablescape. Fresh greenery and berries finished off the tables.

I had planned to make ornament cupcakes for the occasion, but the past week has been so busy that when I bought groceries for the party, I realized that I was too tired to even shop for the ingredients. So I bought mini-cupcakes. Yes, I did, and what a relief! The children still loved them and my husband said that he had never been more proud of me.

Other parents contributed sandwiches, chips, cookies and drinks to our meal, and I served the spinach-tortellini soup pictured above. Although many of the children were afraid to try the soup, the ones who ventured a taste seemed to like it. And this recipe met rave reviews from the adults who ate it.

Spinach-Tortellini Soup

This tasty soup is a quick fix anytime, but I thought it would be fun to serve for the holidays since it is red and green. And if you're in a festive mood, the tortellini might even look like little wreaths. Yield: 34 cups

32 ounces organic chicken stock
8 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen spinach, unthawed
4 (14 1/2-ounce) Italian stewed tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
26 ounces three-cheese tortellini (boxed or refrigerated)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Bring first three ingredients to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add spinach, tomatoes and garlic; return to a boil. Stir in tortellini and cook 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and serve warm. Sprinkle each serving with cheese. (Note: I made the soup the day before the party, and the flavor was good but the tortellini was soft. I suggest serving the soup as soon as you make it if you prefer pasta al dente. Plan to thin the soup with chicken stock when you reheat it if you need to prepare this dish ahead.)

Our dining room chandelier got special treatment at the party today with 24 ornaments hung from its branches. For this look I cut lengths of ribbon, tied an ornament to each end, and draped the ribbons over the arms. I tied a cluster of ornaments to the center of the fixture, and played with the positioning of all the ornaments. Fresh greenery fashioned loosely into a wreath finished the design. The resulting look was easy, inexpensive and festive.

Happy faces from today's party. I hope you kids had a ball!

P.S. Happy birthday to Hannah! I wish you could have joined our party!

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