Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fun Activities for the Thanksgiving Dinner Table

Sometimes when my husband, Ken, and I host parties, we have games prepared to make the gathering more enjoyable. In the past some of the most fun events have included Murder Mystery games and The Newlywed Game. We love getting to know our friends better with fun activities like these.

This week I have been researching some fun games for our Thanksgiving dinner table. At www.celebrations.com I have found useful game guidelines as well as terrific game ideas. Here are suggested guidelines from this website:

“As a host or hostess it's your job to organize the game and make sure everyone's involved. Here are a few tips to make sure everyone gets into the game.


1. Familiarize yourself with the game. If you're not an expert it will be difficult for you to explain it to guests who've never played before.
2. Make sure that everyone can be involved. Don't choose a four person game if you know that there will be five guests. You never want someone to feel left out.
3. If the game is complicated, print out instructions and distribute them during dinner. That way, once the plates are cleared the fun can begin.
4. Go Potluck. Ask each of your guests to bring along suggestions for a favorite game. That way you won't have to bear the burden of leading.
5. Don't force participation. If a guest wants to sit out a round, go with the flow. The important thing is that everyone enjoy themselves.
6. Get outside. If weather permits, it's always nice to use the outdoors. “

Below is a game from this website we plan to use this Thursday.

• Write or print a different phrase on each of several small pieces of paper. Place one card under each of your dinner guests' plates. Make the phrases usable but strange. Ex: "I am a space cowboy," or "Have you tried ostrich eggs?"
• Before dinner, ask everybody to read the card under their plate-- they're not to read it aloud or share its contents with anybody. Instruct your guests to use their phrase or question as naturally as they can in conversation.
• You can decide to make this a race-- whoever manages to use their phrase last loses. Or it can be a competition between guests. The goal is for each guest to figure out when another guest is using an assigned phrase. If they're able to slip it into conversation naturally without anybody noticing, they win.
• You can also choose to assign guests several phrases-- increase them in difficulty as they go along."

Another website I like is: www.divinedinnerparty.com Here is a game from this website we also plan to use on Thanksgiving:


“Summary and Supplies: This is a simple one to play around the dinner table-- but more difficult than it sounds. All you need to play this is a decent memory.
The Game
• One guest is chosen to begin by saying something they "bring to the party" (doesn't have to be true). Example: "I went to a party and brought a bouquet of flowers."
• The next guest must add another item to the previous guest's item. Example: "I went to a party and brought a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of peach schnapps."
• This goes around the table, and each person must list off all the items, then add their own. Players can generally go on for a surprising amount of time.”

We have dear friends coming for dinner and look so forward to our time with them on Thanksgiving! We think these games will enrich our time together and create lots of laughs. We can envision our friends playing this game already!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

God bless you-

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ken's Hospitality

I’ve always said that the hospitality provided at our house is a joint effort. I simply could not do what I love to do so much from a welcoming standpoint, if it weren’t for my husband, Ken. He never cares how often we entertain or how many we invite when we do. Just as importantly, he helps with shopping, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and so much more. He’s come a long way since our wedding day 25 years ago. He was a shy, quiet young man. And although he still has those tendencies, he’s come a long way, baby!

When Ken surprised me last summer with a weekend stay at a bed and breakfast, we were given special little plates with the event package he purchased. On these plates were the delicious signature cookies from the bed and breakfast. When we brought those little plates home, we started giving each other ‘treats’ using those plates.

When I made cookies for a friend, I saved Ken a few cookies, place them on the plate and covered it with plastic wrap. I then placed it on “his” table in the family room (the end table closest to where he normally sits when we watch TV or read the newspaper). Likewise, Ken uses my plate to serve me treats when he’s dishing up something for me. My favorite is the when he puts bacon on there after he makes it crisp, just as I like it. Then he serves the bacon to me at the table. It makes me feel so special that he makes something just exactly as I like it and then takes the time to make the presentation memorable!

One day last week, we ordered take-out from Barnstone Cafe, which Ken picked up on his way home from work. He surprised me with a piece of the Reese’s pie they make that I LOVE. Later in the evening we usually have a late-night snack (which I really don’t need!). He got our snack that night. He placed the piece of pie on the special plate and even used decorative icing to decorate the plate. When I saw it, I just melted (see the photo - it even has a heart made from the icing!). He was excited for all the ‘brownie points’ he received. His thoughtfulness and his presentation were priceless!

Of course, this is not unusual. I am so lucky because Ken treats me like a queen every day, and I absolutely love the way he takes care of me. He is so sweet and so good to me. I wanted to share the photo I took of the pie, complete with Ken’s beautiful garnish. Now this is what hospitality is all about!

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Almost Thanksgiving!!

I am so excited that Thanksgiving week is upon us. In fact, I have recently decided that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Why? Because it’s all the fun of family, without the stress of Christmas. Now, don’t get me wrong: Christmas is near and dear to my heart as the day we celebrate our Savior’s birth. Nothing has more meaning than Christmas, except of course, Easter, the day we celebrate the day He rose again after died for us. Just looking at the days as holidays, though, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

Thanksgiving means warmth to me, pure and simple. It’s a warm kitchen with smells of a turkey roasting in the oven, pumpkin pies cooling on the counter and freshly-baked cookies begging to be enjoyed. It’s a fire in the fireplace and laughter in the house. It’s greeting friends at the door and ushering them inside, out of the cold.

Yes, Thanksgiving is warmth and memories and hopes of a fun day and weekend to come. Here are the parts of those days I most anticipate:

1. Our boy will be home! Matthew will be home from college and able to relax at home for a few days. Ken and I have anticipated these moments for months! Yes, Matthew has been home a couple of times since he began college in August. Yes, we’ve gone to visit him to celebrate Family Weekend and then, his birthday, but this time, he’ll be HOME! And he’ll be home for a few days. We can’t wait!

2. We’ll have lots of friends in for Thanksgiving Day. We’ll have a wonderful meal where we all prepare dishes to share and we’ll relax and enjoy each others’ company. I envision football and board games and video games and comments about eating too much and needing a nap. I can’t wait!

3. Our kids will be home! All our kids will be home from college and they’ll pop in to see Matthew and to see us during the week and we’ll love it! They’ll all head to the Matt-Cave and it will be awesome! Laughter will once again be the language of the day coming from the basement family room. Ken and I will love it! We can’t wait!

4. Our boys will be here. Sometime over Thanksgiving weekend, I just know our boys will be here overnight, playing video games all night! Ken and I will make breakfast for sleepy young men and we’ll get to hear stories about what their lives are like now. We will love it! And...you guessed it: we can't wait!

Yes, Thanksgiving is upon us and we are so excited! We pray that all arrive home safely and that the week unfolds as we envision. We are so blessed and thank God for the many blessings we enjoy.

I am so grateful for you and your support. Happy (early) Thanksgiving, friends! I wish you great planning for your own warm and happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Matthew!!

On this date in 1990 my husband, Ken, and I had the privilege of welcoming our only child into the world, and our lives have been blessed immensely every day since. We have experienced the depths of every emotion from the time that 9 pound 3 ounce bundle bounced into our hearts and lives!

From his sweet baby laugh to the toddler who had a temper tantrum in the checkout lane at a huge grocery store in Durham, North Carolina, while his flustered, shocked mother looked on, Matthew has always been his own person. He has always had the confidence to be his own man – even as a little boy! Style, fashion and even hairstyles meant nothing to Matthew unless they were of his own choosing.

This child, who had such amazing confidence to face the world, has grown into an incredible young man his father and I have always been proud to call our son. With his sincerity and his convictions, he continues to be the one who expresses himself so well that he could sell ice to an Eskimo. Even as a little boy Matthew would come to us to “present” a case of some sort: the reason he should be allowed to do this, or why we should consider that. He was always so thorough and so well-prepared that we usually said “Yes” because he impressed us so much with his antics!

We are so excited to see what Matthew does in his life. With his God-given abilities and talents, we know it’s going to be wonderful. We want to enjoy each day and not wish our lives away, yet we are excited to see what awaits him in the days ahead.

Matthew entered our lives and our hearts and forever carved a place in the center of our world. God blessed us with a wonderful son – one who has brought immense love, joy, adventure and gratefulness to our lives. Matthew means "gift from God" and he has truly been an incredible gift.

Happy Birthday, Matthew. We love you.