{real parties} Aa retirement made in michigan: the party

Grab a glass of water and put your feet up for the second installment of…

{The Party}

This past spring my sister, Dorothy, decided to retire from teaching after 34 years. She asked for our help in planning a celebration for family and friends. We were more than happy to oblige!

Inspiration: Dorothy wanted a blue and gold color scheme in honor of her school’s colors. She also want to incorporate Michigan since she had been a Michigan Studies teacher for 22 years of her career.

The Invitation: We created a custom invitation to set the tone for the event. Click here to read all the details about the invitation in our first installment of “Aa Retirement Made in Michigan: The Invitation.”

{The Invitation: Cookie Bag and Envelope}

{The Invitation: Peninsula Sugar Cookie Inserts}

The Location: The party was held in Dorothy’s backyard and garage. She rented a yellow and white striped canopy, the sweets table and 60 folding chairs. All the tables were either borrowed from friends or owned by a family member.

{The Canopy}

The Décor: The Sweets Tables was covered with a homemade yellow gingham tablecloth. A white folding screen served as the backdrop for the sweets table and hid the rest of the garage. We created a “Chalkboard” Banner and Dorothy asked us to use a giant pencil with red apples from her classroom somewhere in the décor. The garage limited our options so we hung it from the garage door opener.

{The Sweets Table}
{The Chalkboard Banner}
The Sweets Table was flanked by the Welcome-Awards Table on the left and the Beverage Table on the right. Both were covered with homemade blue gingham tablecloths.

 

{The Welcome-Awards Table}

 

{The Emerson “E”}

The Welcome-Awards Table featured an “E” for Emerson which is the name of the school Dorothy taught at. It served as a guest book and will be framed as a memento of the celebration. We also featured the teaching awards that Dorothy had received throughout her career.

{The Beverage Table}

“School’s Out!” “All-Day Recess,” “Retirement,” “Since 1976” and “Made in Michigan” were some of the phrases that graced little gingham flags attached to blue and yellow striped straws. Guests searched for their favorite phrase before picking a glass.

We served “Michigan Blueberry Lemonade” and “Great Lakes Water.” I loved the lemonade dispenser except when perfectly-sized blueberries clogged the spout. Lesson learned–no small fruits in that dispenser! We ended up using our standby dispensers for water so my mom quickly sewed “shepherd’s hats” to match the party decor.

{Invitation-Inspired Banner}
{Invitation-Inspired Banner}

We hung custom banners above the Welcome-Awards and Beverage Tables. They were another way to distract from the location–a garage. We missed taking photographs of them at the event but we wanted to share them with you.

The Food: Our Sweets Table showcased some of Michigan’s well-known food products. We created custom food labels and “Cake Stakes” featuring elements taken from the invitation. The sweets were placed in yellow and blue patterned cupcake wrappers from The Cupcake Social and served on white plates.

Hank’s Hint: Purchase premium quality plastic plates–10 for $9.99–to use as serving platters. Wash them by hand and you can use them over and over for all your parties!

{Michigan Apple Cobbler}
{Mmm…yummy!}
{Traverse City Cherry Pie}
{Upper Peninsula Cookies}
{Lower Peninsula Cookies}
The “Peninsula Cookies” were supposed to look exactly like the ones in the invitation. Due to a tornado watch and an overheated electric mixer, the royal icing turned to paste and we didn’t have time to run back to the grocery store for more supplies. The morning of the party I whipped up an extra batch of buttercream and it was all hands on deck to frost the cookies in record time!

 

{Retirement Cupcakes}
{Mackinac Island Fudge: Smooth or Nutty}
{Michigan Strawberry Shortcake}
{A little closer–delicious!}
{Battle Creek Rice Krispies Treats}
{The Little Fridge}
{Surprise! Whipped Cream}

One of the surprise hits on the Sweets Table was the Little Fridge filled with Whipped Cream. The guests were so intrigued that they would open and close the door without taking any whipped cream. It was a fun way to keep the whipped cream cool in the 90 degree weather!

Designer Tips: {1} It’s important when producing a large event to create a staging area that is hidden but very close to the action. The white screen performed double duty by hiding the staging area from the guests. {2} If you have an extra platter, fill it with another round of food so you can quickly exchange an empty platter for a fresh one.

{The Prep Table}

The Favors: I thought it would be fun for the guests to receive a “sack lunch” favor from the teacher when they left. Dorothy filled the bag with Michigan supplies and we sealed it with a custom label.

{The “Sack Lunch” Favors}

The Challenges: First, we planned the event in less than 4 weeks. Second, we planned the celebration long distance via phone and email. Third, all of the food was homemade since my hometown is very small and custom vendors are hard to find. Fourth, J and I were exhausted from wedding season and my family was exhausted from closing up Dorothy’s classroom.

The End Result: Even with all the obstacles we faced and the fact that I was snapping pictures while guests were walking up the driveway… {Do you see the crooked fudge label and the spoons tilted in different directions? Ugh!} …the end result was an overwhelming success! It was so exciting to see the pure joy in each face as the guests explored the Sweets Table. Our greatest joy though was the guest of honor’s reaction…

{Dorothy}: “It was such a fun party! The reaction to the decorations and all the little details like the favor bag labels were a huge hit. People are still writing me notes telling me what a great party it was and how much they got into the spirit of the celebration.

Piggy Bank Parties went above and beyond my expectations. Every detail was taken care of. Thanks again for a great celebration!”

{break for a “Happy Dance!}

Dorothy, we are very proud of you and all that you achieved during your teaching career. It was a pleasure to plan a special celebration for you! {OXOXOX}

Join us tomorrow for our last {and yummiest!} installment…

{The Recipes}
Stay tuned to Oink! for more inspiration…

 

About Hank

I'm Hank, the Piggy Bank Parties' mascot, and all around fun pig. My favorite movie is "Babe," my favorite song is "This Little Piggy Went to Market" and my favorite book is "Charlotte's Web".

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