I love buffets and build-your-own-meal events. The only thing I love more than going to them is hosting them. Last night several students were coming over for a Christmas party and I decided to have a baked potato bar as our dinner. I didn’t know how it would go, but it was so well-received!
The great thing about dinners like this is that everyone can find something they like! Here are some of the China-friendly options that we put out.
- Baked potatoes
- Baked sweet potatoes
- Cheddar cheese
- Sliced green onions
- Sliced Chinese chives
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced onions
- Ham cubes
- Sliced chashao pork
- Pulled pork
- Steamed broccoli
- Sliced steamed pork (la rou)
Other good options if available are cheese sauce, butter, sour cream, and bacon.
Our friends piled their potatoes with a ton of toppings and loved it!
I made labels for our baked potato bar. Here’s a preview of what two of the five pages look like:
To download the English-Chinese combination labels, click here: Baked Potato Bar
To download the English-only version, click here: Baked Potato Bar- English Only
Last night we hosted another Christmas party for 11 of our favorite friends. They came over to our place for a baked potato bar, some Christmas activities, and decorating Christmas cookies. It was another successful event with lots of laughter, happiness, and intentionality.
Here are some of the activities and printables we used. Some of them overlap with the previous post about Christmas parties, but there are some new ideas here too:
- After dinner, we kicked things off with a team challenge. The girls worked in small groups to decorate one member of their team like a Christmas tree. Groups had 10 minutes to perfect their tree. The best tree received a prize.
Yeah… we have the cutest friends in the world!
- After the competition, we sat down and gave them a quick run down of the history of Christmas, which most of them were somewhat familiar with already. Then we divided them into two teams again. Teams had 15 minutes to prepare a re-enactment of the Christmas story. Each team was given a bag of random props that they had to somehow incorporate into their performances. The bags included things like a butcher knife, space heater, hair dryer, cheese grater, roach spray, mascara, high heels and tea. It was like Sunday School meets Chinese soap opera. Memorable. Definitely memorable. The winning team also received a prize for this competition.
Lee, who is one of the sweetest, classiest girls I know, really wanted the prize and came after Austin with a knife.
- Some of the girls wanted to do a dance performance for us. They love putting together songs and dances. You could have a whole party where you just prepare some snacks and tell them in advance to prepare performances. They love it!
- Then Austin sang some Christmas carols with them. We used lots of the same ones from the printable posted in the previous Christmas party idea post. However, we added singing “Silent Night” in Chinese, following along with a music video that they really liked, especially after they’d just acted part of the story.
- And finally, we decorated Christmas cookies. We had sugar cookie dough and gingerbread cookie dough. The girls made their cookies and arranged the dough on baking paper, which was so convenient for sliding on and off of the single cookie sheet that can fit into our glorified toaster oven! They loved the cookies and said they were so much better than the cookies sold out on the street. Yes!
Here’s a preview of the sign we used to explain the general idea behind making Christmas cookies:
And here’s a preview from page one of a two-page document with some labels for the Christmas cookie-making table:
Click here to download the document containing the instructions and labels: Christmas Cookies
Our little family of students love Channing Tatum and requested a movie night when they found “The Vow” on our bookshelf last month. So we arranged a pizza and movie night with Channing and the girls.
Our apartment lacks the luxury of carpet, so we took the comforter from our bed and spread it out on our floor to cover the space between our couches. Then we lined the area with pillows and got out all the blankets we could find.
I wanted to add a little more of a Channing theme to our evening, so I grabbed some pictures of him and turned them into positive, encouraging “Hey Girl” pictures, which I hung on a line across the living room to greet the girls when they arrived. They were so excited.
When the girls arrived, we ate dinner and then piled into the movie-watching area. They loved the movie.
At the end of the night, they each got to choose their favorite Channing picture to take with them. Movie night success!
To download the Channing Tatum “Hey Girl” picture document, click here: Channing
We can’t buy cake frosting where we live, and the few times I’ve made it, (a) it’s been hard to spread, and (b) about half of our local friends say it’s too sweet. I’m always looking for good ways to frost that don’t involve making my own frosting. This year, I was making 5-dozen cupcakes for a party and decided to try going frosting-less by using powdered sugar. It was a HUGE success– easy, pretty, and well-received.
I just filled a small sifter with the powdered sugar and sifted it over the chocolate cupcakes. It looked like snow and within 1 minute, all of my cupcakes were “frosted.”
I may never frost a cupcake again, especially not for Christmas parties where this snow-like alternative works.
One word of warning if you’re living in a place with high humidity: after a few hours, the powdered sugar will just sink into the cake, so you’ll want to do this within an hour or two of serving them. (If the powdered sugar sinks in like mine did the first time around though, you can always just re-dust them.)
I printed and assembled the pretty cupcake toppers from Peonies and Poppy Seeds.
We love holidays. And we love sharing them with our local friends. It can be hard to figure out what to make to please a big crowd, but we’ve been making a successful Thanksgiving menu the past few years. Here’s what’s on our Thanksgiving menu:
And here are some printable labels for your table or buffet bar. There are English versions and English-Chinese combination versions. The Chinese translations are from one of my Chinese friends who has spent 2 Thanksgivings in America and has a good amount of knowledge about American culture. However, because most of these foods simply don’t exist in China, at least not served in the typical American Thanksgiving way, the translations are still just approximations. The purpose of labels at our parties and gatherings is largely just to give our guests some idea of what all the food is as they come in and alleviate hundreds of inquiries to the chef as I’m finishing up jobs in the kitchen… and these labels do that quite well!
Here’s a preview of what two of the pages look like:
Click here to download the English version :Thanksgiving Labels- English Only
Click here to download the English-Chinese version: Thanksgiving Labels- English & Chinese
Please let me know if you need any changes, additions, other document forms, etc. Happy holidays!
Here’s a link for the Thanksgiving subway art I framed for decoration on our buffet.