Thursday, March 3, 2011

Relief Society Birthday Celebration 2011

My new calling at church is the Relief Society Meeting Coordinator. That means that I get to organize the weekday Relief Society events (formerly known as Homemaking and/or Enrichment) for our ward. Last Tuesday night was our Relief Society Birthday Celebration. The 169th Birthday of Relief Society falls on March 17, 2011. This year, for a fun treat, we chose to do a Mad Hatter Tea Party theme. It was so much fun to plan, work on, and carry out. Enjoy the details of our event!


We made 100 invites to pass out to all the sisters in our ward. Our committee got together one morning to assemble these super cute Mad Hatter paper hats. We got 4 invites out of one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of green cardstock. They were inexpensive, but added that special touch to make the invites more personal for each sister. (FYI: that little "3/1" on the front of the hat is not a hat size. It was the DATE of our event!)

Total cost for invites: $3.00 for cardstock (ribbon & gluesticks were already in our closets!)


The lighting was key in our design plan. Our goal was to make it feel like you were at Disneyland standing at the Mad Teacup ride. The lights and lanterns added that perfect Fantasyland vibe. We borrowed from EVERYONE to gather all the supplies we needed for this event - the lights are our actual Christmas lights we hang on the outside of our house every year (a HUGE thank you to my awesome hubby for helping set up those lights - even after they fell and broke several times :/), 10 Chinese lanterns from my mom (leftover from Marcos & Melody's wedding!), 10 more Chinese lanterns from the dollar store, and I made 10 posterboard lanterns.

TOTAL COST FOR LIGHTING: $10 for posterboard lanterns

Let's preface this next section with this idea: the entire feeling of a Mad Hatter's Tea Party should feel random, eclectic, and a bit wonky. That is how we tackled our table decor - knowing that it would all be a mismatched mish-mash of anything and everything we could put together for FREE!

The table linens were multi-layered:
layer 1: dollar store plastic table cloth
layer 2: a piece of random fabric from the RS committee's personal fabric collections
layer 3: a fun tutu or piece of tulle

Centerpieces: a 3-tier server for the food! borrowed from 7 different sisters. With a super cute "Eat Me" tag.

Place Settings: we purchased ZERO paper goods for this activity. We dug out all the leftover paper plates, utensils, doilies, and napkins from our RS closet and made do with what we had.

Tea Cups & Pots: surprise to us all - we collected more than enough tea sets from members of our ward. (We LDS ladies do not drink caffeinated tea, this is the reason for our surprise!) To add to our eclectic feel, we mis-matched the tea cups at each table. It was fun to see all the different styles and collections.

TOTAL COST FOR TABLE DECOR: $5 for Dollar Store tablecloths

* (see a list of all the Riddles at the end of this post)

1. Disney's Animated Alice in Wonderland Soundtrack was playing throughout our evening. All of the songs were downloaded for FREE over time using different promo codes from

2.During our dinner we largely projected on the wall the Mad Hatter Tea Party scene from the Disney animated DVD version of Alice in Wonderland. It was a fun addition to the ambiance.

3. At each place setting was a riddle* to try and figure out through the course of the night. (The riddles were inspired by the DVD. Remember the Mad Hatter's "riddle" he gives Alice in the movie? "Why is a raven like a writing desk?")

Total cost for ambiance: FREE!

(see the end of this post for all the recipes we used)

The rules of a true tea party state that food must be small or in small portions. We enjoyed lots of small things! Orange slices (FREE from a sister's orange tree), cucumber sandwiches, turkey/mozzerella panini sandwiches sliced in quarters with a honey mustard dipping sauce, and a delicious Chinese Chicken Salad. Of course we did not drink tea. Instead, we served sparkling strawberry vanilla lemonade from our teapots. The food was served family style using the 3-tier servers in the center of the tables.

Our dessert was inspired by the first cupcake picture on the left. Are those the most darling little green hats?! We used our resident pastry chef (who, coincidentally, is a member of our RS committee) to create these cute hats made out of fondant. 4 of us got together to make the little hats. Another sister baked the cupcakes, and I whipped up some yummy cream cheese frosting to go on top. Ours turned out similar to the inspiration, but tasted sooo good because of that cream cheese! The cupcakes were also set out with each place setting. They added a perfect pop of color to each table.

Total cost for food: ??? Still haven't tallied up those reciepts...The dinner was where we spent most of our budget, naturally.


Our goals for the evening:

1. To make it feel like a party – it is a celebration after all!

2. To honor the beginning of Relief Society

3. And to celebrate YOU as modern day RS sisters (A Very Merry Un-birthday to you!)

4. To remember the purpose of Relief Society

5. To inspire each of us to fulfill the our responsibilities as RS members & serve others!

This short youtube video encompassed everything spiritual we wanted to share this evening. It touches on the history/birth of RS, discusses the purpose of RS, and tells us how to proceed as modern day sisters in the RS program.

This video was projected extra large up onto the cultural hall wall to be easily seen and heard by all sisters in attendance.

To summarize:

Pres. Monson: We are surrounded by opportunities for service. Small acts of service are all that is required.

Elder Uchtorf: You don’t need money to create. Start small. Smile.

Especially in our world today. Money is tight for everyone. We need to dig within. Within our creativity and within our closets! Make do with what we have and turn it into something extraordinary.

Small examples of this creativity is around us this evening:

- The honey mustard dipping sauce was made with food storage honey

- The oranges we ate were grown in one of our sisters backyard

- Your handmade gifts were made entirely of FREE items from our sister’s craft supplies – nothing was purchased!

- The cupcakes were made using the talents of sisters right here in our ward

The message for the evening was this:

1. Act on the promptings of the Spirit. (like pres. Monson said)

2. Be creative. (as Elder Uctdorf directed)

3. Do something extraordinary. (as emma smith envisioned in the beginning of RS).

Use all of these tools to serve others and serve God.

The sisters, were given an opportunity to do something extraordinary. Right then. We had several infant quilts that were created by a neighboring ward's quilting club.They graciously gave us the opportunity to do the final touches on this project before they being delivered to a NICU at our local Community Hospital.

This was an opportunity for us to create - just as we had been inspired to do.

No money was required (Every bit of fabric, batting, thread, was already in someone’s closet). Since we are celebrating the birth of RS it felt only natural to do a SMALL service project. AND since we are also celebrating your “Very Merry Unbirthdays” it is also appropriate that the sister leave the activiy with a SMALL gift.

The sisters each gave a gift of service and then chose a gift from our gift table to take home.


The 4 quilts were already made. All we had to do was tie them. The supplies were all donated FREE from sisters personal closets and leftover materials. It took about 20 minutes to do this project. We had several quilt savvy sisters take man each of the 4 quilts for quality control. They had a great time working and visiting. And it ALL got finished!

Total cost for service project: FREE!


I handmade these greeting cards with supplies already in my craft closet. Tracy and her mom sewed up 30 of these super cute pincushions. The sisters could choose from the cards or the pincushion to take home after the service project.

Total cost for 65 Un-birthday gifts: about $3 for the cute heart pins in the cushions

We had a lovely time celebrating the birth of Relief Society. It was a lot of work, but was so worth it to make each sister feel loved, celebrated, and special that night. We had so many sisters come with a hat in hand. Some were silly. Some were fancy. Some were plain ol' cute! These 2 tables below had EVERY SINGLE SISTER wearing some sort of hat!

It was great to get so much support from the sisters who helped put on the event and also from everyone that attended.

Until the next RS Meeting.... "A Very Merry Un-birthday to you! To Me? To YOU! So blow the candle out my dear and make your wish come true.... A very merry un-birthday toooo you!"


1. I am only useful when I am full, yet I am always full of holes.

2. I end the race. I am the beginning of the end. The start of eternity and the end of space. There are two of me in Heaven and one in hell. I am in water, fire, sunshine and darkness. I am the beginning of earth and the end of life. What am I?

3. I have seas without water
I have forests without wood
I have deserts without sand
I have houses with no brick
What am I?

4. No legs have I to dance,
No lungs have I to breathe,
No life have I to live or die
And yet I do all three.
What am I?

5. There is a common English word that is nine letters long. Each time you remove a letter from it, it still remains an English word - from nine letters right down to a single letter. What is the original word, and what are the words that it becomes after removing one letter at a time?

6. Pronounced as one letter and written with three, two letters there are and two only in me. I'm double, I'm single. I'm black, blue and gray. I'm read from both ends and the same either way. What am I?

7. What gets wet when drying?

8. He who has it doesn't tell it. He who takes it doesn't know it. He who knows it doesn't want it. What is it?

9. What is it that you will break even when you name it?

10. What is it the more you take away the larger it becomes?

11. What goes into the water red and comes out black?

12.What goes into the water black and comes out red?

13. What kind of room has no windows and no doors?

14. Which is correct to say, "The yolk of the egg are white?" or "The yolk of the egg is white?"

15. What has a foot on each side and one in the middle?

16. What do you fill with empty hands?

17. A tree doubled in height each year until it reached its maximum height over the course of ten years. How many years did it take for the tree to reach half its maximum height?

18. What's the difference between a penniless man and a feather bed?

19. When is a door not a door?

20. What's brown and sounds like a bell?

21. What's brown and sticky?

22. Why is six afraid of seven?

23. What is yours but your friend uses more than you do?

24. If you remove four letters from this five-letter word, the letter you're left with will be pronounced the same as the original word.

What is the five-letter word?

What's the same-sounding letter?

25. The names of five animals are hidden in the sentence below. Can you find them?
(The letters are in consecutive order.)

He is rich or seems to be, since he buys from expensive catalogs and ogles million-dollar homes for sale.

Answers to RIDDLES

1. I am a sponge!

2. The Letter E

3. I am a map!

4. I am fire

5. The base word is: Startling









6. an eye

7. a towel

8. counterfeit money

9. Silence

10. A hole

11. A red-hot poker

12. A lobster

13. A mushROOM

14. Neither, the yolk is yellow!

15. A yardstick

16. Gloves

17. Nine Years. Because on the 10th year it doubled for the last time and reached the maximum height

18. One is hard up, while the other is soft down.

19. When it's ajar (a jar).

20. Dung.

21. A stick.

22. Because seven eight (ate) nine.

23. Your name.

24. The Word is: queue

The letter is: Q

25. · horse

· pens (female swan)

· cat

· dog

· lion


Cucumber Sandwiches

by Elizabeth Minnick

1 8 oz. pkg. Cream cheese, softened

½ c. mayonnaise

1 pkg. Dry Italian salad dressing mix

2 loaves French bread, cut into 1 inch slices (or any bread you prefer)

2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced

1 pinch dried dill weed

1. In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayo and Italian dressing mix. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.

2. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto slices of French bread. Top with a cucumber slice, and sprinkle with dill. Serve open faced.

The cream cheese mixture keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.

Chinese Chicken Salad

By LaShay Sapp & Tracy Fletcher

2 heads of Romaine lettuce (or any lettuce blend)

1/3 head of cabbage shredded

3 green onions sliced

3 celery stalks sliced thin

3 cooked chicken breasts seasoned and diced

2 packages of dry Ramen noodles-no seasoning packet

Chinese chicken salad dressing (Girards)

1/3 to ½ a package of Wonton wrappers (Slice ¼ inch strips with pizza cutter. Deep fry in oil until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar while hot.)

Combine lettuce, cabbage, onions, celery, and chicken in bowl. Dress salad right before serving with ramen noodles, dressing, and wonton wrappers.

Yummy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Mix the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Cover and chill in refrigerator overnight.

Cream Cheese Frosting

by Jennifer Ward

1 8 oz. brick cream cheese at room temp.

2 lbs. powdered sugar

3 T. milk

1 T. vanilla extract

food coloring (optional*)

Beat cream cheese smooth in a stand mixer. Continue mixing as you add vanilla and small amounts of powdered sugar. Add milk one tablespoon at a time when frosting becomes too thick. Beat frosting until all powdered sugar is mixed in. More or less milk may be required depending on your desired thickness consistency. *Make your frosting slightly thicker if you are using food coloring. The food coloring will thin your consistency. Add food coloring once your frosting is completely mixed.

Sparkling Strawberry Vanilla* Lemonade
makes 5 gallons

6 Hawiian Punch Lemon-Berry Squeeze (sugar-free) packets
2 cans frozen Pink Lemonade concentrate
2 2-liters Fresca soda
1/4 c. vanilla extract*

Mix punch packets, lemonade concentrate, vanilla*, and soda in a 5 gallon water jug. Fill the rest of the jug with cold water and mix well.

*vanilla is optional, but take care to use REAL vanilla - not imitation

Serves 60


Corey & Annaleesa said...

YOU ARE AMAZING JEN!!! you and your committee did a wonderful job. Thanks so much for posting the details for all of us that could use some new ideas.


Amy said...

Everything- down to the very last detail- was amazing! I love your write-up of it too. So fun to be able to remember and share with others. Let me know if I can help with your next one. Looks like fun!

kelly said...

Wowee! I hope our RS has a birthday party! That looks like so much fun.

5 Gals said...

Wow!!! The gals in your ward are so lucky to have such a wonderful committee and Enrichment Leader and E. counselor! Good Job! I am going to remember this. How fun!

The Faridoni Fam said...

So creative! What a fun theme!

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great activity. I lwill certainly be borrowing some ideas for our birthday. Thank you

Andrea said...

What a beautiful activity. I'm planning ours for the end of the month and I had also run across the very same youtube video. I love it! Question for you: did you use it straight off of youtube or did you need the original copy for higher quality?
Andrea from Ogden, Utah

Pepper said...

Wow! This was amazing. I am planning a bridal shower for one of my friends I think this would be a cute theme.

Sarah Harward said...

Found this on Google, and LOVE it. We're doing it in the middle of March for our RS birthday celebration. I was wondering how you hung the lights though. Was it terribly time consuming? We want to do that too, but on committee member has informed us that it would probably take 5+ hours. Any tricks you learned while doing it?
Sarah (from Indiana)

jennifer said...

Hi Sarah, Thanks for your comment. Yes, it took some time to put up the lights, it just depends on how much you want it. We spent about 2 hours putting them up. My husband, his brother, and myself. 3 people. It was only half the cultural hall - not the entire room. We set up the volleyball poles and used them to section off the room. It helps to figure out exactly how they will be hung before you get there. Make your plan and do it! It will turn out great and your event will feel so magical :)

Emily @ RemarkableHome said...

Wow! What an amazing night. I can't get the video to may. Can u email me the name of it so I can find it on YouTube? Thanks!

The Asays said...

I have a question about the punch you made! It says Hawaiian Punch Packets, I have only found these in the "singles" variety and your recipe doesn't specify what size. Are the singles the correct size. If not, where did you find your packets- do you remember? Thanks so much! Looks like such a fun night! -Shayla

jennifer said...

Asays, the Hawiian Punch packets I buy are from Winco grocery store. They come in a container similar to the Crystal Light canisters. Each packet makes 2 quarts. Good luck!

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing. I am new to our RS committee and we are going to use your great ideas for our RS Birthday Party!!