Going Away Party

For awhile now, I’ve tried to keep a Thankfulness Log. When I think of it, I write at least five things down that I’m thankful for. (And of course I always start it out like this: “Thankfulness Log, Stardate 2014.5.28.”) It’s amazing how many times my friends make this list. Between our neighbors, former classmates, and fellow churchgoers, my husband and I have a wonderful community of people we call friends. Unfortunately for us, for a variety of reasons, sometimes those friends move away. And despite our sadness at losing them, we’re not gonna let them go without a big party as a last-ditch effort to make them stay here warm sendoff. The friends I’m talking about are our music minister of the last three years and his wife. Our involvement in our church’s music ministry was the original channel through which we met these two wonderful people, but our friendship definitely evolved over time to encompass much more than that. We’ve shared many dessert nights and stupid movies (like when the husbands tried to prove to us wives that Wrongfully Accused with Leslie Nielsen was AWESOME), and eventually became involved in a Catholic prayer group called Teams of our Lady together. Jake and Yesenia have touched our lives in so many ways, from Jake getting me back into singing at mass to Yesenia giving me hours of her time as a physical therapist for free (!). We will miss them and their sweet daughter very much, because now these dear friends are off to new adventures in Boise, Idaho, where they are from. I thought I would post some of the ideas that made the Going Away party we held for them last Friday a lot of fun. (But sad.) (But fun.)

Let’s start at the entry point to the party: the front door. A while back, I picked up a customizable pennant banner at Party City–and wow, what a useful thing this is! With something like 40 flags and multiples of every letter of the alphabet, there’s nothing you can’t spell. (Though there are some things you should not spell. Like “Surprise! You’re a Moron!”) This version says “Bon Voyage.” See? Appropriate. Tasteful. Nothing like “Welcome to Turd City” it said last time we had a party.

Underneath the banner, next to the front door, we had a signpost pointing to our friends’ past (the name of our church) and their future. Have I ever mentioned we live really, really close to our church? This particular signpost was devised on the cheap using an ice bucket for the base, broomstick for the post, and a five-pound weight with a circular hole in the middle to hold the broomstick in place. Sharpie your destinations and distances on a couple of construction paper arrows and viola! Custom signpost.

Inside, I wanted to go for a travel theme, for obvious reasons. We have a couple of decorative smallish hatbox suitcases my husband normally uses to house his collection of guitar cables (not his collection of dapper hats, sorry to disappoint). These moonlighted beautifully as centerpieces–one with a simple construction paper travel tag attached…

…the other filled with potpourri surrounding a candle.

Now comes my favorite decoration of the evening: a whimsical take on the classic “pin the ____ on the ____” game. For “Pin the Inecks on the Idaho,” I thumbtacked a ribbon vertically on the wall with wallet-sized photos of our friends paper clipped/clothes pinned to it. The blindfold and double-stick tape next to it were self-explanatory….

and yes, people actually played it!

Up next–can you tell what that is?

Could it be…and Idaho-shaped cookie cutter? Do they even make such things? Yes, they do, and they sell them on Amazon! How fun is that? I’ll bet you’re wondering if this cookie cutter was used to make any actual Idaho-shaped cookies. But you’ll have to keep reading to find out. At any rate, with a tea light inside and beads nestled around, I thought it made a cute little decoration on the dessert table. Take note: if you buy a state-shaped cookie cutter, be sure to give it to your going away party guest(s) of honor as a parting gift. There is no way you are ever going to use an Idaho-shaped cookie cutter ever again.

One other decoration that may have been a little cheesy but ended up being educational for my kids was the road from AZ to ID over our mantle:

I printed off the Arizona and Idaho state outlines from 50states.com. My two older kids got really into having me print images of other states so they could color them. We now have 18 purple and green Californias. Thanks, 50states.com.

Lastly (as far as decorations) as people were leaving, they had the opportunity to write a farewell message to the guests of honor. (Since one of them is a music minister, the music theme made sense.) A small photo album with 4 x 6″ notecards that slid into the photo sleeves served as a small keepsake that won’t take up too much room in the moving van. My main piece of advice about a message station like this is to make it large and/or conspicuous enough for people to notice it before they leave.

And finally, a word about food! For this party, because of the large number of attendees, we decided to go with a pizza dinner and some gentle requests for potluck sides included in the invitation. As for dessert, there was the ever-convenient Costco sheet cake:

Someone couldn’t wait for the picture before cutting into the bottom corner of this cake. And that someone was me.

And the less caloric but more distinctive Idaho sugar cookies:

“I’m so hungry I could eat the entire Gem State!”

These were a blast to decorate. I always use Our Best Bites’ sugar cookie recipe and Betty Crocker’s vanilla buttercream frosting.

Now I just need to get an Arizona-shaped cookie cutter. (Yes, they make those, too.) Because as far as I know, we are here to stay. So even though sometimes it’s hard living at peace with the transience of this world and losing beloved friends…we really do wish them the very best and hope they (and everyone else) had a fantastic time at their going away party. Bon Voyage, Inecks!

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