What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

As some of my friends & readers know, I’ve spent the last two weeks globetrotting the U.S. for a number of parties.

I will use today’s post to recap some awesome key learning’s from my adventures.

Family Vaca
For a week, 22 members of my dad’s side of the family stayed in one massive house in North Myrtle Beach. The house had a pool, hot tub, big game room and was across the street from the beach – it was awesome!

Of course it’s hard to organize 22 people, so the following are things that “worked”
* Rather than dine out, each family cooked on a designated night. Themes ranged from tailgating food, Italian night, seafood and kids night (pizza, wings, burgers). All of the families chipped in for breakfast and lunch foods and of course the alcohol!

* One of the most popular dishes of the weekend was the Ice Cream Sandwich Cake.
Here’s the recipe, if you dare:
- In a deep casserole dish (the throw away kind works best), line the bottom of the dish with unwrapped ice cream sandwiches.
- Next, drizzle on Hershey’s Syrup & Carmel sauces and nuts. You might also toss on some jimmies or sprinkles.
- After that lethal layer, add a layer of Cool Whip
- Repeat : )
- When you are finished, freeze the dish until serving.
- I’d probably add some cherries to the top layer of Cool Whip before serving.
- Cutting this masterpiece can be tricky and no one gets a small piece!

Jillian’s 21st Birthday* Yes, folks, this former AA graduate is 21 (she got an underage once, so she had to go to five classes – it wasn’t via an intervention or anything). She may have been drinking for the last seven years, but Jillian is officially legal to now buy us beer.

* To celebrate her non-sobriety, the fam hosted a “Bar-ty” at a local establishment that was open to all ages. In attendance were family and friends from 6 months to over 60.

* We provided apps and beers to all who were in attendance, which helped control the bar tab. If you are hosting a “Bar-ty” and want to pay for some, of the tab, tell guests you’ve got the food covered and hand out drink tickets for the beer. Some bars are also willing to provide a wristband deal.

* Before going all out on birthday girl/boy flair, ask your guest of honor what is willing to wear. Sometimes people aren’t fans of crowns, boas and hats. In this case, our birthday girl was happy to sport her own pimp cup and 21-branded beads.

* Designate someone to stay with the birthday girl/boy. This way you make sure he/she gets home okay. In this case, Brady was a trooper!

4th of July
* By the luck of the draw, my parents were able to rent out the picnic grove that is in the same part where my town’s annual 4th of July fireworks take place. Therefore, The Bonkowski picnic was back. The 4th is also the birthday of my adopted sister, Lindsey Jean Spieler!

* The best thing my dad has ever done for picnic entertaining was rent a beer truck (above). Similar to a small U-hall, the truck was a massive cooler that had taps hanging out the side. This kept the kegs and food cold until we were ready to eat.

* Rather than fire up the grill for three shifts (lunch, dinner, late-night), but parents started the party at 3, so there would only be two food sessions.

* For children and adults of all ages, there were a number of yard games. We had cornhole, ball toss, washers, horseshoes and volleyball. Oh and who could forget the annual softball game. Let’s just say, I still have game!

* At night, the pong balls were bouncing as we played beer pong and flip cup. Always having pong balls on hand for impromptu games.

* The party was DJed by non other than my mom. Her iPod is filled with patriotic songs and some good dance mixes. I think it’s pretty standard now that iPods are the way to go vs. hiring someone to spin the hits.

* Jell-O shots are a Bonkowski signature. When you make them, buy the little cups with lids from Sam’s Club. The lids double as spoons.

* During clean up/transporting, put all of the food/items that need to be refrigerated into one car and all of the other items into another. This helps separate what should be unloaded immediately and what can wait until the morning – especially if your party runs late.

I think the most important entertaining tip is that the host and hostess of the party set the whole tone of the event. If you are happy and are having a good time, your guests will too!