Going Away Party. Difficulty Level: Minnesota-themed.
May 24, 2016 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Our awesome boss is leaving/retiring to move back home to Minnesota. My co-worker had the fabulous idea of throwing him a party with a "Minnesota" theme. However, we have never actually been to Minnesota. Can we pull it off? Give me all things that are awesome about the North Star State. Thanks, MeFites!!

FWIW, I'm pretty crafty, so, good at decorating. Budget is an issue - everyone has families and limits things like this. We probably don't want to spend more than $50 on decorating.
posted by onecircleaday to Grab Bag (48 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Walleye, walleye, walleye. Walleye as an ingredient in every party snack, pictures of walleye in every party decoration.

State fair foods - fried things on sticks, giant tubs of fresh chocolate chip cookies.

When I moved here, my coworkers back home threw me a hotdish party - everyone brought some sort of casserole. Bonus: topped with tater tots.
posted by heurtebise at 4:05 PM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]

Do you have convenient access to cheese curds? The squeakier the better
posted by aubilenon at 4:12 PM on May 24, 2016

My main culinary association with Minnesota is lutefisk, but I don't know if you could find it and/or want to subject party-goers to lutefisk. Lutefisk.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:12 PM on May 24, 2016

The soundtrack part is easy: Prince.
posted by zamboni at 4:13 PM on May 24, 2016 [15 favorites]

You could make a silly banner with the state flag, state bird, state motto, etc.
posted by ReluctantViking at 4:13 PM on May 24, 2016

Tater tot hotdish is the real deal.

Bars are a thing. Apperently other places don't do bars? Seven layer bars and Special K bars are the best.
posted by advicepig at 4:15 PM on May 24, 2016 [11 favorites]

You can't go wrong with cabin- and fishing-themed decorations. Bobbers, reels, deer, cedar wood, buffalo flannel, etc. Food should include bars, hotdish, anything on a stick. Or spam.
posted by Elly Vortex at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2016

Make a butter sculpture of him, even a mini one out of a single stick of butter.
posted by jabes at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2016 [12 favorites]

Also for the soundtrack, the Replacements and Husker Du.

Cheese curds are more of a Wisconsin thing, but they wouldn't be out of place. And your life will be infinitely richer for eating them.

Charles Schulz (Peanuts) and Garrison Keillor are/were both iconic Minnesotans. You might somehow incorporate them into the theme.

Personally, when I think of Minnesota, I think of canoeing and high school hockey, but those might be difficult to bring in to a work environment.

Realistically, just say "you betcha" and "uff da" a bunch, and it will be just like the Twin Cities.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:28 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Wild rice
posted by Jahaza at 4:34 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I love the idea of a hotdish party. And in addition to Prince, you could have Husker Du and The Replacements on the playlist.
For decorations, how about Prince decorations? Purple, amazing ruffle collars for everyone. Purple is also the Vikings color.
You could have Lefse on the menu too. And Surly beer. Can you get surly beer? I hope so. This party sounds fun!

On preview: what kevinbelt said.
posted by areaperson at 4:34 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Norwegian bachelor farmers, although I'm not sure how you can work them into a party theme.
posted by Bruce H. at 4:36 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hot dish on a stick: skewer a Swedish meatball and a Tater Tot, then dip into batter like a corn dog. Straight from the Minnesota State Fair!

If you REALLY want to go State Fair, you can sculpt his head in butter like Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Even a halfhearted attempt with a couple packages of butter will be hilarious.
posted by St. Hubbins at 4:37 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

OMG you guys are awesome. Loving the food ideas (hotdish! bars!) the cabin/fishing theme and Minnesota music. He's into 70's rock but it would be super fun to make a playlist of Minnesota bands that he might like but has never heard of. More along the lines of the Replacements maybe.
posted by onecircleaday at 4:38 PM on May 24, 2016

There are a lot of cheap gag gift ideas:

- Mosquito-related Items: Bug Spray, Fly Swatter, One of those bug net hats.

- Fishing-related Items; One of those fishing hats with hooks in them, a life jacket to wear during the party

- Cold-related items: Yak-Trax, Moon Boots, Hats, Gloves, Ice Scrapers for the Car

- Scandinavian-related items: Ole & Lena joke books, Lutefisk-related items, "Uff Da" themed things

Food ideas:
- I love the idea of everyone bringing different "bars"
- Lefse, if you can find it
- Summit Beer, Grain Belt, etc
- Maybe just make some fish-related app and pretend it is Walleye if you can't find it

Watch some of Grumpy Old Men to get the style and some of the jokes right. Definitely a good source for ideas about fishing-related items, clothing ideas, etc.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 4:44 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Decorations: Seed art. Photos of local news broadcasters (they are celebrities in Minnesota). Joe Mauer sideburns for everyone.

Food: Pizza cut into squares, Minnesota bar-style. Tater tots and cheese curds, maybe some spam for appetizers.

Music: Har Mar Superstar, Husker Du, Replacements, Mark Mallman, Prince, Atmosphere.
posted by Maarika at 4:48 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

For hotdish inspiration, see the MN congressional delegation hotdish off.
posted by zamboni at 4:49 PM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

More music:
The Andrews Sisters (all three born in Minneapolis!)
Bob Dylan (raised in Hibbing)
Dr. Dememto (MN native, although he got his start on the west coast)
Judy Garland (born in Grand Rapids!)
Gary Puckett of Gary Puckett & the Union Gap
The Jayhawks
posted by easily confused at 5:12 PM on May 24, 2016

OMG, I want to go to this party.

If the boss asks anyone a question the ONLY answer is "You betcha".

Nthing putting all food on a stick.

If the party happens to be on the first Wed of the month, have a tornado siren go off. At 1pm if the stars all align to allow this.

Other bands that I am pretty sure are MN related: Marcy Playground, Soul Asylum.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 5:25 PM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]

Bob Dylan. Also movies by the Coen brothers. And lakes, though I'm not sure how you'd incorporate that.
posted by geekBird at 5:27 PM on May 24, 2016

The state soil is Antigo Silt Loam. That's gotta be good for something.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:34 PM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

I can't believe we've gotten this far without a mention of Garrison Keillor.
posted by Sublimity at 5:35 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best songs about Minnesota. (Also includes a link to the worst songs about Minnesota!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:41 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jello salad as a side for the hotdish.
posted by freezer cake at 5:50 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

Can you do some kind of center piece that's an homage to the bent spoon sculpture?
posted by areaperson at 6:14 PM on May 24, 2016

I'm in MN for my project and I swear, they had Turkey Taco Tater Tot Hotdish in the cafeteria, complete with bright red grease in the bottom of the pan. WHO eats this?????

I'd nail 95 Theses to the door, you know. Lutherans. The link is to Garrison Keillor's and they are hilarious.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:30 PM on May 24, 2016

Duck, Duck, Grey Duck as a game.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:51 PM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Put the mighty ducks movies on a screen if you can!
posted by nakedmolerats at 6:59 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Juicy lucy cheeseburgers.
posted by brujita at 7:09 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Antigo silt loam is the state soil of Wisconsin, not Minnesota.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:19 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Minnesota has deep, well-drained Lester Loam instead.
posted by zamboni at 8:07 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pickled herring in a jar with toothpicks available.
Venison sausage, if it can be tracked down (summer sausage would also be okay)
Lawn chairs for people to sit on. Beer koozies.
If it's too warm for hot dish, the Minnesota summer buffet usually involves small white dinner buns (usually called dollar buns up here but I don't know if that is universal) + cold cuts and cheeses, plus bars or a supermarket cake for dessert. And coleslaw and pickle spears and potato chips, plus a few JellO fruit salads or ambrosia salad. Alternatively, you can grill hamburgers and brats (make sure sauerkraut and mustard are available). This may not be as purely Minnesotan as hot dish, but it's still accurate.

Decor, like others have said, should be cabin themed. Fishing bobbers and buffalo check and moose silhouettes and knotty pine and loons.

An even more accurate soundtrack might be to stream a local radio station. 92.5 KQRS is classic rock; 89.3 The Current is alt/indie/local; 830 AM WCCO radio is as old school Minnesota as you can get (news/talk/sports/weather, what everyone's dad listened to, if he's retirement age he's definitely familiar with 'CCO).
posted by castlebravo at 8:30 PM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Dala horses, for the Scandinavian heritage.

Chicken and wild rice soup (or anything with wild rice, really) is very popular. Walleye, as mentioned above.

The band Low is also from Minnesota.

Throwing it in a church basement would be *kisses fingers* muah. Definitely bars, hotdish (tuna hotdish with egg noodles and potato chips crumbled on top is my personal fave, here's what looks like Chrissie Teigen's spiced up version from her recent cookbook, I don't put cheese in mine). "Salads" on the side, by which I mean Minnesotan-style salads of Cool Whip and assorted ingredients. My fave from growing up: A tub of Cool Whip, a packet of dry vanilla pudding, and a can of fruit cocktail. Add all three ingredients to one bowl and stir. (Disgusting, perhaps, yet oh so good.) I'm sure you could make a classed-up version with real whipped cream and real fruit salad.

Weird Al's song "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota," a classic. Garrison Keillor. Fly fishing, canoeing, etc.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:32 PM on May 24, 2016

I can also nth that dollar buns + cold cuts + cheese, some salads, some bars, and chips/pickles/olives/veggies is de rigueur for a summer get together, if no one is grilling up brats and burgers. (My boyfriend and I recently attended a funeral in MN where the food was exactly identical to the baby shower in MN we'd attended a month earlier. In this case, buns + cold cuts, a crockpot of baked beans, and an "Italian" pasta salad resembling Suddenly Salad, plus a large assortment of bars and sheet cake.)
posted by stoneandstar at 8:35 PM on May 24, 2016

Paul Bunyan and glorified rice.
posted by lakeroon at 9:09 PM on May 24, 2016

Agree on the hotdish. Here are some recipes from the annual MN congressional delegation hotdish contest..

Do not subject anyone to lutefisk!! But just for kicks you could always make this "Minnesota Grape Salad" so says the New York Times, upsetting many.

Get him a t-shirt?

You could always screen some Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the background.
posted by citron at 10:05 PM on May 24, 2016

For decorations: Loons. Possibly the skyline of Minneapolis and St. Paul if you think you could somehow manage to trace them and cut them out of paper.

More soundtrack: Tapes and Tapes, Lucy Michelle, Sister Species
posted by azalea_chant at 11:14 PM on May 24, 2016

You should play Bob Dylan's song, Highway 61 Revisited, since Highway 61 is in Minnesota.
posted by colfax at 2:39 AM on May 25, 2016

For vintage MN ephemera inspiration, consult the Minnesota Historical Society flickr page.
posted by zamboni at 6:09 AM on May 25, 2016

If he's a 70's rock-loving Minnesota guy, then you need music by Lamont Cranston, like "Upper Mississippi Shakedown" [SLYT].

Give him a signed picture of Kirby Puckett in a frame (print out this one, ideally on the office printer) if he likes baseball.

Pictures of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are easy decor options. Or decorate with Minnesota Vikings stuff, or with MN North Stars stuff if he lived there before the 1990s.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:24 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite new wave bands, The Suburbs, are from Minnesota!

Beyond that, the biggest things I know about Minnesota are Red Wing work boots, Minnesota Vikings, and the Mall of America.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:27 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I see that you live in the desert, so probably no hotdish.

Summer appropriate Minnesotan foods:
* I agree with the dollar buns with cold cuts (with butter of course)
* Definitely herring and toothpicks.
* Bean salad
* Jello salad
* Minnesotans are fond of summer sausage and cheese, just not as much as Wisconsinites.
* Green Giant, SPAM, and Pillsbury products.
* The only condiment allowed at your party should be ketchup.
* If you can't get Grain Belt or Summit, go with Hamm's, the Beer Refreshing

* Cross-stitch! (in a wood frame, of course)
* Cross-stitch of loons on a lake, with a pine forest behind them
* A cross-stitch of a pink ladyslipper
* A cross-stitch of loons with pink ladyslippers behind them
* Cross-stitch of a walleye

* I definitely agree on the Duck, Duck, Grey-Duck recommendation - that literally exists only within the borders of Minnesota. I've talked to people who grew up in towns that bordered on Minnesota and they played Duck, Duck, Goose.
* Fishing (or ice-fishing) with toy fishing poles with magnets instead of hooks
posted by baniak at 7:51 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, this iconic Minnesota imagery
posted by baniak at 7:56 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

You should all go and get hockey hair ahead of the party.

As a born-and-bred Minnesotan, I concur with jello salad, but if you don't include marshmallows in it, he will see through your ruse immediately. Super gross, but necessary.

You've had a lot of food suggestions but I haven't seen anyone mention the Jucy Lucy yet. They're awesome and you should definitely make.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:18 AM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

GRILLED BRATWURST. With kraut, natch, but you may be unwilling to simmer the brats in beer before grilling, what with that smell on top of the sauerkraut smell possibly making your kitchen uninhabitable. (I think that Johnsonville brats are distributed nationally now.) And be certain to serve Old Dutch potato chips and potato salad (a little mustard, hard-boiled egg, mayo, and a bit of celery and some onion).

If you like fish, try to find some Shore Lunch and fry them, or else use crushed Saltine crackers with a little salt & pepper before frying them. If you're feeling fancy, make a fried walleye (or other white-flesh fish) sandwich.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2016

Someone really should make a jello salad with tiny marshmallows.
posted by theora55 at 2:06 PM on May 25, 2016

Soundtrack suggestion: Beyoncé
posted by mahorn at 2:28 PM on May 25, 2016

Don't forget the "Minnesota Goodbye!" After someone says "we ought to get going," don't let them leave for at least another hour.
posted by rocketbadger at 3:50 PM on May 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

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