Thursday, July 24, 2014

Miss Manners Kitchen Shower

Our Miss Manners Club has been meeting for over a year now.  These young ladies have had a great time attending the parties, but more importantly, they've been learning manners and skills that will serve them a lifetime.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, we've learned how and why to RSVP. We've learned how to handle it when we're served food we don't necessarily like, and how to control ourselves when the hostess serves something we love!  We have learned how to wrap presents and how to conduct ourselves at a sleepover.  We've practiced making introductions and learned the importance of writing thank you notes.  It has been a busy year, filled with friends and fun parties!
Nancy and I decided that we wanted to give the girls a chance to practice what they have been learning and also give the ladies at church a glimpse of our program and what it's about.  We decided that instead of just attending parties, it was time for our young ladies to throw one of their own!  Our church kitchen was a little out of shape from frequent use, so we decided to throw a kitchen shower for University church of Christ.  Our group has gotten so large that we have broken into two sections - Little Miss Manners (1st - 3rd grades) and Miss Manners (4th - 6th grades), but we decided to host this party as a group.
We began by having the girls meet one Wednesday night before church.  We spent an hour cleaning out and organizing the cabinets.  I brought my trusty label-maker and the girls "helped" me make labels.  Nancy also found some cute bubble stickers of kitchen gadgets and tools at Hobby Lobby and we allowed the younger girls to place corresponding stickers on the cabinet doors.  (Just between you and me, they got a little over zealous with the stickers, but after all their hard work, they deserved it!) Our last task of the night was filling out our "gift registry".  Some of the older girls suggested things like a soda machine and granite counter tops, but overall, they did a good job and listed items like kitchen towels, knives and serving spoons.  We had pizza and cupcakes for dessert and finished up just in time for Bible Class. 
Once we had an idea of what was needed, we invited the ladies of the congregation to a "Stock the Kitchen" shower on Sunday, June 29, from 2:00 - 3:00 pm.  We have a "Showers and Teas" table at church where information can be found for all the upcoming baby and wedding showers.  We placed our registry in the book, and then we ran an announcement in the bulletin for about a month inviting the ladies to attend. 
When the day of the party rolled around, we had the girls meet us in the fellowship hall after the morning service.  We had pizza and cupcakes for lunch again.  (Don't judge!  There's a Domino's across the street!  And what kid turns down pizza anyway?!)  I had grabbed my brothers and had them to move the tables in and most of the chairs out of the Fireplace Room right after church was over.  (Gerald narrowly escaped by offering to go get pizza!)  A couple of brave, helpful moms volunteered to stay and help wrangle the girls.  (The were a little excited, after all!)  Somehow, we managed to eat lunch and keep our dresses clean.  I told you they were little ladies!

Nancy had picked up some simple pink and white carnations over the weekend at the flower market, and she taught the girls to make a simple but elegant corsage.  The girls loved making them by themselves, and the carnations held up well under small, eager hands.  (Smart Nancy!)

While Nancy and the girls worked on corsages, I iced the cupcakes I had made the night before and made lots of lemonade for my big, glass beverage dispenser.  Over the years, I have tweaked the Country Time recipe for what I feel (and have been told) is a delicious and refreshing blend.  Here's my recipe:

Almost Homemade Lemonade
6 level scoops Country Time lemonade mix
1/2 cup sugar
2 quarts cold water
sliced lemons
This tastes almost as good as an old-fashioned, homemade lemonade.  The only thing missing is the pulp!
When the girls were done with their corsages, Nancy gave them a quick lesson in floral arranging using some of the leftover carnations and a lot of fresh "pretties" she had cut from her yard that morning. 
After they had all contributed to the arrangement, we had them help us decorate for the shower.  Nancy brought some beautiful linens for the table, including a vintage floral appliqued cloth for the food table.  She also grabbed a handful of ribbons and flowers to use.  We set up one table for food and one for gifts. 
While Nancy and the girls were decorating, I called the girls into the kitchen a couple at a time and had them "plate" their party food.  We talked about how we eat first with our eyes, and how we can make food look even better by neatly arranging it on beautiful serving pieces.  Then each girl (carefully) carried her dish in to Nancy who helped her find a place on the table for it.
Finally, each girl was given a job - from greeting guests, to recording gifts, to serving punch, to refilling food trays, everyone was busy with their own hostess duties.  We also encouraged the girls to walk around to the ladies and thank them for coming.  Some of the ladies asked the girls what they had been learning in Miss Manners.  Not only were they able to recount what they had learned, they did it with confidence and grace...which was the whole point of our program!
I was really nervous about the food.  We had asked each young lady to bring their favorite "party food" on a clear glass dish.  That way, everything would be coordinated when we set out the food.  I wasn't sure what we'd get, but it all turned out great!  We had a wonderful mix of food from cheese straws and mini cold cuts with crackers to tiny brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar to Jello-dusted grapes.  I should know by now to always trust Nancy!  She and I did the rest of the preparation.
Before the party ended, I took a moment to thank the ladies for attending and for the gifts they had brought.  I also took a moment to tell them about our program and what we were trying to do.  I know that they were impressed by these young ladies and several even offered to host parties for us in the future!
The shower not only gave the girls an opportunity to practice what they had been learning, but it also gave them an idea of the hard work and planning that goes in to hosting a party. 

Every good hostess should take a moment out from her busy responsibilities for a quick game of "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack..." 

Mothers were impressed...

Daughters were proud...

And everybody had a good time.  Especially Alyssa!

Near the end of the shower, Brother David Fletcher (deacon in charge of our kitchen ministry) dropped in to thank the young ladies for their hard work in organizing the kitchen and the successful shower.  This tickled the girls and made them feel very important...which they are!

The church kitchen was restocked with a lot of much needed supplies.

By the end of the day, Nancy and I were exhausted, but it was a sweet and fulfilled tired.  We are both so blessed to be working with these young ladies.  Their joy and enthusiasm is contagious. Before we had even cleaned up, Jewell was saying, "Mama!  We could through another shower for the nursery!  And the work room!  And the..."  Slow down there, honey!  Let mama recover from this one!

It had been difficult to schedule the shower amidst VBS, church camps and personal vacations, but in the end, we had 12 of our 23 young ladies participate in the kitchen shower.  We somehow managed to have lunch, make corsages, decorate, throw a party and clean up between 11:15 and 4:00!  It was a wonderful day and the perfect culmination to the first year of Miss Manners.  We are looking forward to many more!


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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