Gardening Gift Exchange, Lovely Luncheon and Parsley Bacon Sandwiches!

“He who plants a garden plants happiness.” Old Chinese proverb.
Who doesn’t love to get flowers, a special card or a ‘just because’ gift?  I know it always brings a smile to my face, that’s for sure.  Here are a few novel ideas I have picked up along the way and have done myself.  Have fun and remember there is no pressure in gardening, only smiles.

A Gardening Gift Exchange is a great way to start the Spring season off! Here’s a few tips on how to host & organize one.
*Make your Invitations!  This sounds harder than it is.  If you don’t have any idea books on scrap booking or card making try the library and they are sure to have several that you can borrow. 
*Ask each of your guests to bring a small wrapped gift that is related to gardening.
*When your guests arrive have each one draw a numbered slip of paper (1 through however many guests you have invited) out of a clay planter that you have prepared ahead of time.
*Have each guest sit with the gift they brought.  The guest who pulled number one chooses a gift from someone.  The person who chose number two gets to choose another unopened gift OR take the one the previous person chose. 
It keeps going until everyone has had a chance to choose a wrapped or opened gift.  When the party is over, each guest will leave with a little gift… and a little inspiration for her own garden!

Of course no Party is complete without a tastefully done Luncheon, so here are some ideas on how to create a welcoming and cheerful event….
The Food~
*Try cutting softened butter into shapes using cookie cutters.
*Using a honey dew or cantaloupe melon, cut in half, hollow out and fill with your favorite ice cream.  Make homemade ice cream- it is super easy! 
*Deviled eggs look even yummier with fresh chives tied into bows and placed on top of them.  Use the chive blossom’s to set on the bow.
*For extra special dinner buns- combine in 1 stick melted butter your favorite herb such as rosemary or thyme.  Dip the roll into butter mixture and bake.
*A special punch bowl will hold Raspberry Lemon tea with lemon, lime & orange peel spirals combined with ice cubes containing mock orange or orange blossoms. 
*Of course mini sandwiches- see Parsley Bacon Canape below! 
Set the Tables with something that will make them go ‘ahhh’~
*Use pretty floral sheets or plain white that drape to the floor with quilts laid diagonally over for table clothes.
*Use 3 clay pots of the same size to hold forks, spoons and knives in.  Tie a piece of raffia around the rim with a bow to make it even cutter.
*Use baskets  lined with floral napkins to hold napkins & breads.
*Mason jars make the cutest drinking vessels, especially if they are blue! Not to mention flower vases and candle holders.
*A hodge podge of old plates & platters are a great way to serve your sandwiches, cheese & crackers & appetizers.
*Use an old galvanized wash tub filled to the top with ice and put bottled water, juice or pop in for guests.
*An old pickle crock thoroughly cleaned makes a spectacular punch bowl.
*Print the menu out on card stock and lay over each guests plate. 

Parsley Bacon CanapeOf course use Garden Gates awesome bacon for this special treat…

1 cup fresh chopped Parsley from Garden Gate                                                                              1/4 tsp garlic powder                                                                                                                              1 pound Garden Gate Bacon, fried, drained and crumbled                                                             1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise                                                                                                                                  1 loaf Old World Bread from Sunflour Bakehaus
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1. Combine chopped parsley, bacon, mayo & Worcestershire to spreading consistency. 
2. Mix garlic powder into butter.
3. Roll the bread with a rolling pin slightly.  Spread bread with garlic butter mixture.  Spread parsley mixture over the butter.
4.  Roll the slices up and wrap in waxed paper and twist ends.  Freeze.  to serve, unwrap and slice 5 per roll.  Thaw.
Yields about 10 dozen.

Happy day,