Friday, December 10, 2010

Spelling Bee Celebration Dinner

Last week we shared one of my favorite family dinners ever: a bee-themed celebration on the eve of Christian's participation in the school spelling bee. We were thrilled for Christian to represent his class in the bee, and I wanted to plan a special family gathering to honor the work he put into preparing for the competition.

I have had ideas buzzing for this bee-themed dinner for a while, but kept the celebration a surprise. Christian was so surprised to come home from school and discover our kitchen table set up for a special night.

Add Special Touches

This celebration came together with the help of several creative friends. Sweet little bee tags made by Katy Larson let Christian know this evening was all about him. Katy is a wonderfully talented photographer, graphic designer and party planner. I have gotten to know her through blogging, and I am so glad she is putting her considerable talents to use through a new party planning business. Find out more here.

Spend a Little

Soup bowls with a beaded edge were a steal from Dollar Tree, and I will have plenty of opportunities to use them since they are white. Napkins from Party City were an inexpensive way to bring out our black-and-yellow color scheme.

Save A Lot

Shopping the house and borrowing party goods helped keep costs low for our special evening. Fabric saved from a previous project served as a graphic black-and-white table cloth, and letters usually displayed on the wall made a great statement hung from our chandelier for the evening. Yellow-rimmed plates purchased from Target years ago served as chargers for our soup bowls, and ribbon from my stash tied the look together.

Party-planning friend Nancy Itson allowed me to borrow a basketful of decorative items to pull the theme together, including wired bees, leftover bee fabric, a pretty yellow pitcher and a beehive tea set. Sharing party goods among friends is a great way to go all out for an event without spending unnecessarily on items you won't likely use again.


I could not resist one splurge for this otherwise economical tablescape: these Wallace Silver Napoleon Bee spoons.

I have actually been eying this pattern for a while and know we will get a lot of use from these. We seem to run out of spoons quickly around here, so we can look forward to using these spoons in the morning to eat our Honey Nut Cheerios.

Serve Supper

For our pre-bee dinner, we enjoyed a meal that was letter-perfect. For the main dish ...

Of course, we had alphabet soup! Along with our soup we enjoyed warm, toasty whole-grain rolls with honey butter.

Nancy gave me the idea to mix up honey butter and sculpt it into a hive. To do this, I mixed 2 sticks of butter with about 2 tablespoons of honey. I pressed the honey butter into a teacup lined with dampened cheese cloth, then inverted the butter onto a saucer. I used spoons to further shape the dome, then finished off the hive with a pecan door and wired bees.

Bee-themed cookies provided a sweet finish for our meal. I discovered Lisa Stone of The Cookie Jar on Etsy and could not be more pleased with the cookies she made for our celebration. They were absolutely adorable, and the hint of lemon flavoring has had me craving more ever since.


Alphabet Soup

I developed this recipe for our spelling bee dinner, and it was well received by the whole family.

1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup matchstick carrots
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound chicken, boiled and shredded
96 ounces chicken stock
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
8 ounces alphabet pasta
Saute onion, celery and carrots in margarine or butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir. Slowly stir in stock. Add thyme and chicken. Bring to a boil, and add pasta. Return to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

One of my goals as a mother is to celebrate the talents and passions of each child -- cultivating a family dynamic of support and encouragement.

I hope our pre-bee dinner showed Christian that no matter what happened at the school competition the next day, he was already a winner in our book.

More than anything, when Christian surveyed the table and sat down for dinner, I wanted all those little details to spell ...

... and let him know that no matter the result of the bee, to us Christian was ...

Christian did a great job in the bee. He lasted seven rounds, and we couldn't bee prouder!

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