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!


Sue said...

I love this post! What an absolutely adorable dinner celebration! I'm sure your son felt very loved!

Mrs. Cozy Home said...

Oh bravo .... creative genius as usual!!

The Martys said...

Oh my... another creative party. What neat things you do for your kids. I am going to try some of these ideas when my kids get to be school aged. ( I do some things now but it will be fun when they have activities in school.)

Thanks again for sharing.


La Table De Nana said...

It's amazing:) You son will be spoiled for life..I hope his partner in life..can make cookies:) Or she will hear..My mom .......:)

Sue said...

Absolutely perfect in every detail. I am sure he loved it! Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had your energy. You do it all so well. Those kids are blessed. You make everything a celebration for them. Great memories.


Lin said...

Bee-autiful! So creative & fun!

Rach said...

This makes me smile. So cute and sweet. I'm sure Christian loved the support!

Christina said...

Neat stuff! I don't know how you came up with so many creative ideas all at the same time (practice, maybe).

My Name is Kirsten Not Kristen said...

What wonderful ideas. Love the alphabet soup idea. Perfect for Spelling Bee C-E-L-E-B-R-A-T-I-O-N!

Glenda said...

What a cute idea! Christian is a very fortunate young man to have such a supportive family!

Nancy Hood said...

too cute, and I have bookmarked the cookie site!!! thanks for sharing all of this, it was such fun for me, Melissa!! Merry Christmas ~

Anonymous said...

Geweldig en mooi ook ! Wonderful and beautiful too ! What a great idear for coaching your son together. I really hope he is also proud of himself.
Have a nice week end
Lieve groeten
Godeliva van Ariadone

ps. my word verifivation is proste = Cheers !

Jennifer Driver said...

Adorable Melissa!

Akela Joy said...

What a special priviledge your adorable children have in such a talented and creative mom. Memories to last a lifetime! I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

Very nice pictures, and beautiful children:)
Greetings from Polish!
We wish you much luck and have a nice day.We hope you will visit our blog and add a comment.

The Cookie Jar said...

Oh my gosh! I am so honored to have been a part of this wonderful event! You have created the most bee-u-ti-ful and memorable time for your family. PLEASE continue to include me =) Your pictures are amazing and I would be honored to use them on my shop. Is that ok with the photographer? What a gift you have for party planning. Thank you for introducing me to your readers and your site.

Lisa Fliehman said...

This is so awesome. Makes me wish my boys were younger and maybe going to be in a spelling bee. I hope you don't mind. I linked this to my facebook page for my friends to check it out. LOVE your Blog!!

Anonymous said...

YOU are incredible!

Brittany Schwaigert said...

This is ADORABLE!!!!!! As a former spelling bee champion myself, this has a special place in my heart! I love bee themed parties--I did one in January and they are SO cute!

erinstwo said...

This post was so long ago, I'm not sure if you will see this, but just in case - My son came home from school this week to inform us he had been chosen to represent the 1st grade in the Spelling Bee and I immediately thought of this post.

I'll be using so many of your ideas to help make my son's pre-spelling bee dinner special too! Thank you so much for sharing the celebrations in your life!

I found your blog via a mutual friend over at sweeterandthebubbas :-) and I have to say you have one of the best blogs I have ever read.
Thank you again,

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