This party has been less stressful than many of them. The atmosphere was quite casual. For this party I gave all guests a food assignment, most couples brought a pair of camp chairs to put around the 'fake' fire, and most important- THEY GOT A BABYSITTER LINED UP!
Food Because the theme is an indoor weenie roast Jeff BBQ'd the hotdogs outside on the patio, and the rest of the food was the kind you eat when camping. We had chips right out of the bag, potato salad straight from the tub, some macaroni salads, cowboy caviar (I must get that recipe from Sarah), hotdogs, and apple crisp with vanilla chocolate chip icecream for dessert. We bought 2 huge packages of hotdogs at Costco and went through both. I think most all 18 adults each ate two.
Atmosphere We wanted our living room to look like an actual clearing in the woods. I took some paper bags from a grocery store and tore them to make some rectangle signs. I wrote on them different directions using arrows and miles and instructions like 'Do Not Feed The Bears' or 'Stay on the Trailhead' I then took some matches and burned the edges. The signs were put on our front door, the path in front of our home, different walls in our living room and in the pine tree branches. We needed to consolidate furniture in the living room so we just stacked a lot of it up into a corner of the room and then through a neutral colored sheet over it. It looked like a mountain. We put a few mini Christmas trees on it. I had lanterns, flashlights and other lighting all around the room. I had a sign on the front door that said "Mt. Goebel 1 mile" and then a couple other signs in the 'forest' as well as many different sized pine trees and a table with red and white checked tablecloth to look like a picnic table.
Why I picked this theme: When I was a kid we would have family reunions that would end with a weenie roast in a wash just outside of Mesquite. We would drive out into the desert to a ravine and set up some folding tables, get a fire going, us kids would climb through the desert and then the bonfire would begin. I also thought it would provide a more casual atmosphere to get to know our friends and see what it would be like to have a larger group.
The turnout was fantastic!!! It was our biggest group yet... though it felt more intimate than our other parties because we all were able to visit and listen to everyone share their fun stories. It was not at all a serious party... a totally different feel from regular church gatherings. As everyone left we talked about needing to do this again.. and I knew that I definitely wanted all these friends back in our home.