Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The JABC Christmas Banquet

 We've been planning the annual JABC (Jefferson Ave. Baptist Church) Christmas Banquet for the past 12 to 15 years (none of us can remember exactly when we started doing it)!!  It's really become a part of who we are, and even though it's hard work, it's such a fun thing to do!  Tim and I love the challenge of figuring out how to put together a wonderful meal in a beautifully festive environment for 250+ people.  I'm a total foodie, so I love trying out new recipes and determining whether or not I can get them to work for that many people. 

This year, we got the fun task of decorating our brand new, very spacious gymnasium.  We were DELIGHTED with the space but challenged by how to turn that giant beige box into something with some ambiance!  We also got the pleasure of cooking in our brand new kitchen. . .what a blessing!
 Another thing we like about the banquet is working with our friends Rick and Helen.  Though Tim and I sometimes get more publicity for putting the banquet together, they are totally with us the whole time (Friday through Sunday), and I LOVE working with them!   We also get a lot of help from various church members who drop in over the weekend to help us decorate the tables, prep food, etc.  And, Sunday afternoon before the banquet, it is ALL HANDS ON DECK!  You don't have to be incredibly skilled to help with the banquet--just show up with a willingness to work and take orders from a slightly-stressed Christina!! 

Banquet planning schedule:

Thinking about and trying possible banquet foods--all year long

Trying out final dessert candidates on my Close to My Heart customers September through November

Hope to have the menu set by Thanksgiving (didn't happen this year)! 

 Start shopping for decorations and non-perishable foods in November.

One week before banquet:  start trucking LOADS of groceries to my house or the church.

Thursday before banquet:  Make cheesecakes (usually about a dozen)

Friday before banquet (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.):  Set up tables in the morning, start decorating, more shopping and cake baking.

Saturday before banquet (9 a.m. to 10 p.m.):  Finish all decorating; finish desserts; start prepping and cooking foods.

Sunday after church (1 p.m. to 6 p.m.):  ALL HANDS ON DECK.  Chop, slice, cook. . .dinner starts at 6 p.m.

This year's menu:

Wedge salad with Texas Ranch dressing
Fabulous Fruit Salad
Southwestern Braised Beef Roast
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Loaded Twice Baked Potato
Asian Vegetable Medley
Dinner rolls
Dessert Choices:  Chocolate Truffle Pie, Hawaiian Sunset Cake, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake and Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

 Greenery and lights can go a long way!!
 We always try to decorate the buffet
lines as beautifully as we can make them
. . .I'm sure it makes the food better!

Poor Tim spent an awfully lot of time on a ladder trying to get these wreaths up on this giant gym wall (a little to the right. . .no, a little higher), but I loved them.  Thank you, Tim!

 Rick and Helen and Tim and I started brainstorming about the possibility of having a very tall tree of lights in the middle of the gym.  Rick and his brother came up with a great structure that we were able to use for it!

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