Category Archives: Entertaining Guests

Ice Cream Sundae Party

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We invited one of our groups of friends over to let them know we’d be having a baby (news they’d long been waiting for!), watch “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (we love theme nights), and eat ice cream sundaes! We had a wonderful, special evening together and left feeling quite full of all the sugar you could imagine. Here are some pictures of our evening:

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To download the PDF, click here: Ice Cream Sundaes And finally, here are just a few basic words and sentences that may be helpful in directing and discussing the activities from this post with local friends:

  • Ice Cream Sundaes- 新地
  • Ice Cream- 冰激凌
  • Oreos- 奥利奥
  • Snickers bars-士力架
  • sprinkles- 装饰彩糖
  • chocolate syrup- 巧克力酱
  • bananas- 香蕉
  • whipped cream- 鲜奶油
  • ice cream cone- 蛋筒
  • almonds- 巴木旦
  • walnuts- 核桃
  • chocolate chips- 巧克力丁
  • caramel sauce- 焦糖酱
  • shredded coconut- 椰丝
  • Choose any toppings that you like to put on your ice cream.- 选择任何你喜欢的装饰配料放到你的冰激凌上.

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Fruit Sculpture Contest

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We had another good term with students. One girls’ night we hosted was a fruit sculpture contest. We all went out for dinner first, and then 16 girls came back to the house to compete in a flurry of cutting, skewering, and designing. It was a wonderfully simple event; all we had to do was buy the fruit and provide knives and cutting boards.

We told the girls they should work in teams of 3-4 and that they had 30 minutes to complete some sort of fruit sculpture. They had a lot of fun; some teams built vertically, and other teams made elaborate pictures more horizontally across their plates. When the time was up, we gave each team a chance to explain their creation, any symbolism, etc. I think they had as much fun with that part as with making the sculptures in the first place. We recognized each team and let the girls choose prizes from our prize table (which was conveniently filled with things we were getting rid of as we moved anyway.) Here are some pictures we took that evening:

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And finally, here are just a few basic words and sentences that may be helpful in directing and discussing the activities from this post with local friends:

  • fruit sculptures- 水果雕刻
  • Use the fruits provided to make a sculpture out of fruit. Please work slowly and carefully. Put any edible parts of the fruit that you are not using into the big bowl for making fruit salad. You have 30 minutes to complete your sculpture.- 用所提供的水果来做一个雕刻。请小心谨慎进行。把任何用不上但可食用的水果部分放到这个大碗里做水果沙拉用。你有30分钟来完成你的雕刻。
  • cutting board- 切菜板
  • knife- 刀
  • fruit- 水果
  • toothpicks- 牙签
  • first prize- 第一名
  • second prize- 第二名
  • third prize- 第三名
  • Most Elegant Sculpture- 最优雅雕刻
  • Most Creative Sculpture- 最具创意雕刻
  • Most Colorful Sculpture- 最具色彩雕刻
  • Most Special Sculpture- 最特别雕刻

Make-Your-Own-Pizza Night

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We love pizza. And movies. A few weeks ago, we invited some students over for a pizza and movie night. It was a bit of a slow process, feeding 15 people pizza out of our glorified toaster oven, but we just took it slow and got to eat for the entire duration of the movie. Our friends were so excited to try real pizza.

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I prepared a big batch of pizza dough in advance. It was really good pizza dough. You can check that recipe out in the previous post. I rolled the dough out into roughly 12-inch crusts, each on a sheet of baking paper for easy transferring. The girls worked in groups of twos to top their pizzas.

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Here are some topping ideas:

  • Green peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Pepperonis (if available)
  • Sausage
  • Chashao pork
  • Spinach

I made a sign with English and Chinese instructions as well as some labels to help identify the ingredients. Here’s a preview of the sign:

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To download that sign, click here: Pizza Night

And here’s a preview of some of the labels:

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To download the labels, click here: Pizza Labels

Christmas Party Ideas, Part 2 {with Cookie-Making Printable Sign & Labels}

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lee, who is one of the sweetest, classiest girls I know, really wanted the prize and came after Austin with a knife.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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Here’s a preview of the sign we used to explain the general idea behind making Christmas cookies:

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And here’s a preview from page one of a two-page document with some labels for the Christmas cookie-making table:

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Click here to download the document containing the instructions and labels: Christmas Cookies

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“The Vow” Movie Night {& Printable “Hey Girl” Pictures}

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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.

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When the girls arrived, we ate dinner and then piled into the movie-watching area. They loved the movie.

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At the end of the night, they each got to choose their favorite Channing picture to take with them. Movie night success!

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To download the Channing Tatum “Hey Girl” picture document, click here: Channing

Thanksgiving Menu {& Printable Labels}

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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:

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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:

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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.

Hot Pot(火锅)

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If you’ve been in China for any length of time, this one warrants little to no explanation, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s so easy and very well-received by our Chinese friends of course!Hot pot nights have been a great thing to do with students for several reasons.

First of all, they’re easy to host because all you need to say is basically, “Hey guys, today we’re going to have hot pot (火锅),” and everyone knows what to do and how to eat it.

Another reason is that the biggest job for this meal is washing vegetables, and washing vegetables is a great activity to do with friends who want to help prepare. When we make western food, it can be a little tricky to direct between 5 and 10 sets of hands who are eager to help with prep work, but with hot pot, I just direct them toward a pile of meats and veggies and the washing begins! It’s a great way to spend time with friends, cleaning veggies and chatting at the same time.

And finally, I like these nights because it’s a fun way to connect with my students’ heart culture. They love western food, but when they sit down around our hot pot with our little space heater under the table warming our feet, they say things like, “Now we’re really like a family,” and I think they have a warm, close-to-home feeling in their hearts like the one Austin and I have when we see a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving or a picnic spread on the Fourth of July… and that’s a feeling worth giving.

Some of the things we most enjoy putting out when we eat hotpot with friends:

  • several varieties of mushrooms
  • tofu balls
  • meatballs (We buy hotpot style meatballs in the open market.)
  • rolls of sliced lamb or beef (available in most bigger supermarkets during winter months)
  • sliced pork or beef (marinated beforehand for extra flavor)
  • lots and lots of green, leafy vegetables
  • lotus root
  • small wedges of corn on the cob
  • sweet potato noodles (or any noodles, sold in open markets. Soak in water for 20-30 minutes before putting them out to be boiled in the hotpot broth.)

There are several varieties of ready-to-go hotpot broth flavoring packets available in markets and supermarkets. I’d like to figure out how to make my own really good broth some day, but for now I stick with the packets. I just add a packet (or 2 depending on packet size and flavor strength) to a pot of water and stir until evenly mixed.

We cook up a big pot of rice to go with and make sure to have heaping bowls of mini oranges for “dessert.”

Another great idea for added fun and flavor is to have a little bar set up with different oils, soy sauce, sesame paste, hot pepper sauces, etc. for guests to make their own dipping sauces.