Mom’s Potato Salad – A classic recipe with a few modern updates!

In the 50s and 60s, every Southern country cook had her own variation of classic, homemade potato salad. If you didn’t have one, you got one. Miss Party’s Mom was no exception. These days not so much, it’s easier for everyone (including Mom) to order a quart at the deli to take to the barbecue.

Unfortunately, though, Miss Party almost always comes away disappointed with deli, store-bought and restaurant variations. If you do too or have never actually made your own, give this good, old, ‘tried and true’ potato salad recipe a try. This particular recipe has hung in there for half a century, it must be doin’ somethin’ right!

Note: Miss Party has updated the original recipe to make it a bit less time consuming to prepare and a bit healthier to enjoy.

*Hard-boil the eggs one day before preparing potato salad or earlier in the day and refrigerate them. Cold hard-boiled eggs will dice much better than warm eggs.

Serves 18-20

5 lb red potatoes, washed
1 large yellow onion, minced
1 cup celery, diced
8 large eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and diced
1 cup (8 oz.) organic sweet pickle relish or 1 cup organic sweet pickles, diced
2 Tbsp. sweet pickle juice
Kosher salt (1 tsp. Kosher salt for potato water + 1/2 tsp. for cooked potatoes + 1/4 tsp. for dressing)

1 cup (good quality) low-fat mayonnaise (Miss Party prefers Low-fat Hellmann’s Mayonnaise)
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1) Cover clean potatoes with water, add 1 tsp. salt. Bring water to a boil and continue boiling until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain (do not rinse) and set aside to cool.

2) While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the other vegetables and dice the eggs. (Everything can be placed in one medium mixing bowl until needed.)

3) In a small mixing bowl, prepare the dressing. Set aside.

4) When potatoes have cooled enough to handle, dice into medium-sized pieces. Place potatoes into a large mixing bowl and immediately sprinkle with a 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt. Add diced eggs and pickle juice; lightly toss.

5) To the potato mixture, add onion, celery, sweet pickle relish (or diced sweet pickles) and dressing. Fold ingredients at few times, then mix gently to keep from breaking up potato chunks, until combined.

Place in a sealed plastic container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Due to the eggs and mayonnaise do not leave unrefrigerated for more than 1 hour.

5 Secrets to Planning the BEST EVER High School Graduation Party!

This is one of those milestone parties that is planned with excitement and anticipation, but also anxiety and exhaustion from everything else swirling around senior activities. No matter what everyone’s individual drama is, Miss Party encourages you to mark this happy occasion with a celebratory party. So, just how does one plan the ‘Best Ever’ High School Graduation Party? Well, read on…

A graduation party is pretty much an open house party (with an RSVP if you’re lucky), where it is expected and understood that guests will come and go. Many guests, teens and adults will attend multiple graduation parties or other events on a lovely weekend date in May or June. So, what are the secrets to getting a good turnout and, thereby, making this the BEST EVER Graduation Party? Miss Party’s super-secret secrets are…

Secret #1Plan for a staggered food and entertainment schedule AND giving invited guests a HINT at what is planned in the invitation. Do both to pique your guests’ curiosity before and while there. For example, in the invitation write: “Lunch will be served and an ‘iSCREAM! Dreams Sundae Buffet’ begins at 2 o’clock”; or, for entertainment, “Check out the Band on YouTube”; or, “Dunk your favorite Grad at 3 o’clock”. Whatever you and your teen thinks will draw in his/her friends to attend the party. Family members are not nearly so hard to please, it’s the teen’s peers that are the tough nuts to crack, just getting them there is half the battle when there are so many other parties and fun things going on at the same time.

Here is a very general, staggered schedule for a 4 hour party:

Party starts:
-Party begins with Lunch or Dinner buffet (keep available for 1 1/2 hours to cover guests arriving late)
-Have open-ended lawn games or amusements available from the start, such as Badminton, horseshoes, Ladder Ball Toss, Frisbee toss or swimming
-Begin a new entertainment 1 hour into the party

Halfway through:
-Pull lunch and put out grazing-type foods, refresh bar, set out party favors (many first arrival guests will now need to leave)
-Dessert buffet (set out desserts 1 1/2-2 hours into the party so that first arrival guests will be able to partake before leaving)
-Begin a new entertainment or amusement midway into the party (which may keep some guests at the party longer)

Party ending:
-Let party wind down over the last hour with dessert, general lawn games and socializing

Suggestions for teen-pleasing stations, activities or entertainment:

Lunch or Dinner Buffet
Salad Bar
Salsa Station (See ‘Spotlight Tasting’ post for ideas on how to put one together)
Candy Buffet (for 1 of 3 posts on setting up a colorful candy buffet table)
Ice Cream Sundae Buffet
Dessert Buffet
Photo Booth
Swimming, Basketball, Volleyball
Badminton, Ping Pong, Ladder Ball Toss, Horseshoes, Frisbees, hula hoops
Water games like Water Balloon Toss
an ‘old-school’ activity like a Piñata
Dunk Tank (Dunk the Grad)
Inflatable Bouncy House, Moon Walk, obstacle course or other large Inflatable (speak with a couple of rental companies for other ideas that are popular for teens)
Live Band or DJ with a stage and wood dance floor
Face Painting Makeup Artist
Fortune Teller or Palm Reader
“BLING Your Beverage!” Station
Yearbook Signing Table (have Grad tell teen guests to bring their yearbooks for signing)

Secret #2– Be organized! Start a ‘Grad Party’ file folder. Print out a good Party Planner Checklist and use it, get a calendar and use it. Pencil an outline schedule for food, dessert, amusements, entertainment, and a list of activities offered all afternoon (such as swimming or a lawn game) that your teen and his/her friends would enjoy; put it in the folder. Start collecting catering menus and recipes to consider; put them in the folder. Get referrals for tents or party rentals you’ll need; print pictures from party planning websites that have the look you want; put together an “inspiration board” to keep you focused –put it all in your folder. Be organized so you can pull out what you need, when you need it.

Secret #3 – Grab a party date and time very early in the game and send ‘save the date’ emails AND have your teen do a Facebook invite to get on the teens’ theoretical calendars. When to start your party may already depend on parties you know are slated on that day. At the least, try your best not to conflict with the parties of your Grad’s best buddies, there’s no bigger downer for your senior or his/her friends. Sending a quick note to ‘key’ guests is a good idea. Send invites 3-3 1/2 weeks ahead for this party.

Secret #4 – Reserve early! DO NOT WAIT! Once you have a party outline, call to reserve an entertainer or that Princess Bouncy House your Grad knows her friends will want to move into. If outside, you may need to rent a tent, stage, dance floor, tables, chairs, etc. If so, get in line for an on-site estimate. You can’t even imagine how busy party rental businesses are April through June. It will take a couple of weeks to get the estimate, proposal and finally sign a rental contract.

Secret #5 – The secret here is in doing something about the situation ASAP (AS SOON AS POSSIBLE). If the grad party will take place in your backyard or, if rain, inside your home, look at all your spaces objectively with a critical eye. Is there landscaping or exterior house maintenance you’ve been putting off? Dirty windows? A broken fence that needs repair? Line up ALL the people needed to take care of jobs like landscaping, spring clean-up, deck cleaning/power washing, house painting, repairing, or window-washing, as necessary. The same goes for interior projects. Do public rooms need repainting, repairing, updating? In the spring, all maintenance-types of businesses are slammed with outside work, it could take weeks just to get them to your house and still have time to do the work you need done. DO NOT WAIT! You’ll be the one doing the job yourself or going without.

Find yourself a yellow pad, make a cup of coffee or tea and find a comfortable seat. Pick a party theme that you and your Grad can fall in love with – it will help sooo much in keeping you on track when there are too many choices. Keep going…have your teen help make a guest list of teens, important adults and family members so you have a ballpark total to work from. Stay organized! Yes, it’s a lot to think about, but you can do this. Your teen will love you for it (they might even tell you so)!

Check out these awesome teen party themes that are or could be easily adapted for a grad party, here on On Cloud Nine!, Part 1; Their Future’s Bright!; Reach for the Sky!; Keep Calm and Carry On!; iSCREAM Dreams!; Mad Tea Party. Also look through all of Miss Party’s DIY section for party decor projects you see in the posts for those themes.

One more thing! Don’t forget about yourself amongst all this craziness! Senior Mama needs to look and feel great on the day of the best ever grad party. Look at Miss Party’s Party Ensemble Planner so you’ll have all your ducks in a row on party day!

‘MAD MEN’-inspired 60s Theme Party – The final season to indulge!


If you’re a ‘MAD MEN’ devotee and have secretly wanted to throw a 60s themed party (not of the hippee variety) but never got around to it all these years the show has been rocking it –now is the perfect time to do it! It’s the final season of ‘MAD MEN’ and there’s no time […]

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch – Fruity and delicious!

Don Draper would have appreciated this delicious whiskey-based punch recipe taken from a 1961 advertisement for Canadian Clubhouse Whisky. Your guests certainly will! Yield: About 2 quarts (which is approximately 12 punch glass-sized servings). The vintage atomic-shaped punch bowl pictured holds 4 quarts of liquid, so Miss Party doubled the recipe to have 1 quart […]

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3 outstanding reasons to throw a BIG pre-summer party this year!

Summer Party

1. “…I like large parties. Large parties are so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.” —The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Miss Party loves this quote. The first time she read it, it took a few moments to realize the truth hiding amongst the paradoxical words. Miss Party, herself, has always preferred […]

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DIY Guest of Honor Memory Board – A quick and easy way to display pictures!

Bright and beautiful graduation party

Lots of parties honor a particular guest –grad parties, birthday parties, engagement and baby showers or retirement parties. A ‘through-the-years’ homage to the guest of honor is always a nice and thoughtful touch. If you have access to lots of good pictures showcasing the guest of honor, make a low-tech, montage memory board and/or table […]

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DIY to Living a Beautiful Life – Could it really be that simple?

Cafe in Paris

A DIY to living a beautiful life? Sounds cute, but can there really be something as simple as a DIY tutorial to teach someone how to live a beautiful life? Well, in a nutshell, that’s pretty much what I’m proposing. Years and years ago, I made it a priority to live a beautiful life in […]

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Miss Party’s misadventures in entertaining overnight guests – Part 5, Decorating


Thought those of you who’ve followed this thread of posts on updating Miss Party’s guest room, might like a peek into the room to see how it’s starting to shape up. Miss Party’s younger daughter is home from college for spring break week so this corner is about the only spot in the room fit […]

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Miss Party’s misadventures in entertaining overnight guests! – Part 4, Still Updating/Decorating

Summer Party

Woohoo! Miss Party survived the wood floor refinishing week! It was darn stinky but she hunkered down in a few rooms at the other end of the house and survived it. Thank goodness it’s finally over and done with. That crazy, last-minute decision stopped everything in it’s tracks for close to 3 weeks (the waiting […]

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Delicious Cake – A cake that lives up to it’s name!

Old-fashioned Peonies in Springtime

This cake is so delicious, it’s called Delicious Cake!! Miss Party’s Grandma, Great Grandma, and Great, Great Grandma were amazing country cooks. They often used this rustic cake recipe for family gatherings over the last 100 years. The cake recipe was requested for family birthdays, dressed up as Coconut Cake at Easter, and later in […]

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Miss Party’s misadventures in entertaining overnight visitors! Part 3 – Updating/Redecorating

Path to Mill Brook, Medfield, MA

Here’s this week’s latest ‘going’s on’ with the updating and redecorating of Miss Party’s guest suite. As you’ll see there’s been quite a bit of buying going on this week. Some things work out, lots of others don’t. Such is the way of these sorts of projects. The floors are scheduled to be refinished at […]

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