How can I have a great Texas Independence Day party?
February 25, 2006 10:12 AM   Subscribe

I'm having a Texas Independence Day party this week to introduce my English friends to the joys of Texas. General party hosting advice and advice more specific to this party requested inside.

So first the general questions—I've never had a larger party like this before (I invited 50 people) and was looking for tips on how to make it a success. For background, it'll be in the dining room/kitchen of my student accommodation, and the people attending will be between 20 and 30 years old.
  1. I'm already getting replies but invariably many people won't write back—what percentage of these people should I assume are coming?
  2. How much in the way of snacks, beer, and non alcoholic beverages should I provide? It is customary here for drinking guests to bring some alcohol with them, so I'm not too worried about that part.
And as for more specific questions to this party—if anyone has any fun food/drink/activity/music/decoration suggestions I'm all ears! I'm already planning to make nachos, and have chips, salsa, and guacamole around. If I can swing it I might enchiladas too.

Thanks MetaFilter, and remember the Alamo!
posted by grouse to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
I'd say, skip the enchiladas. They're so time-consuming, and making enough for your potential 35 or so guests could get extremely expensive Instead, make Frito Pie! It doesn't get more Texas than that.

It also doesn't get more Texas than cheese dip. You make it by buying the giant block of Velveeta, cutting into small cubes, opening a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes with jalepenos, and microwaving the cubes and tomatoes in a bowl until it's all melty and wonderful. Even snooty foodies will eat the entire bowl once they taste it.

For non-boozers, have sweet tea and lemons.
posted by Miko at 10:28 AM on February 25, 2006

The cheesedip is right on, but I add a can of cream of mushroom soup for extra creaminess. Mmmmm, mmmm good.

/goes out to buy Frito Pie fixin's...
posted by youcancallmeal at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2006

Response by poster: Those are great suggestions Miko, but I'm not sure if I can get Fritos, or some of the other ingredients, easily in the UK.
posted by grouse at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2006

When it comes to bite-ize appetizer-type food, the general rule of thumb as I recall it is count on 4-6 per person, per hour. Beer, well, that depends. If it's my friends, count on at least a six pack per person every couple of hours. Your mileage may vary.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2006

Texas Caviar! with nacho chips! I substitute the Italian dressing for oil and wine vinegar, though.

No fritos? Any corn chip will do, I think...

Make a cake that looks like an oil well!

As for music, try Willie Nelson, Tejano music, old country (like Johnny Cash... not a Texas boy, but that's okay) and the like.
posted by lalalana at 11:03 AM on February 25, 2006

Food: Frito Pie is an excellent suggestion. My family has always been partial to Crispy Dogs -- take a hot dog and slit it lengthwise, stuff the slit with strips of American cheese (like Kraft singles), roll in a corn tortilla and secure with a toothpick, then fry the thing in boiling oil (use a shallow pan on top of the stove) until the tortilla is nice and crisp.

Tex-Mex Chile Hot Sauce requires 2 cans of whole tomatoes, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt to taste, 1/2 medium onion cut in quarters, 1 teaspon garlic powder, and 1 to 4 jalapeno peppers (according to how hot you like it). Cover the jalapeno(s) in water and boil until the bright green color turns olive. Then use a food processor or blender to combine the cooked peppers, onions, tomatoes and spices. Blend it to the texture you prefer, and you can add lime juice and/or cilantro if you like it.

Drinks: Is it possible to track down Lone Star (bleh) or Shiner Bock (mmm) in the UK? If not, how about margaritas? Tequila shots always work. Coca Cola is practically a food group in Texas. So is Dr. Pepper.

Music: Try downloading the faster songs found on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack.
posted by justonegirl at 11:38 AM on February 25, 2006

Personally, I like the enchiladas.

Also: beef. Texas is cattle country. If you can manage, I would say that it might be good to procure a brisket.

Ro-Tel dip is a good suggestion, but strikes me as being so much more ubiquitous than just Texas.

My family's been in Texas for ages upon ages, and my grandmother was one of the best country cook's I've ever known. Let's see... barring the beef, what did I eat growing up?
  • pecan pie
  • fresh radishes, jalapenos and green onions served at the table like condiments and eaten raw
  • wilted salad - made with mustard greens, collards, radishes, red onion, tomato, bacon crumbles...with a warm dressing flavored with bacon grease.
  • chicken fried steak with cream gravy
  • biscuits and sausage gravy
  • biscuits with ribbon cane syrup for dessert
  • collards, black eyed peas or green beans, cooked with bacon grease
  • red beans with jalapeno
  • guacamole, you already have...
  • salsa verde
  • chili... made with ancho peppers and topped with cotija cheese
  • cornbread. with red beans. It doesn't get more Texas than cornbread. Has to be made in a cast-iron skillet... none of that sugary cake-like crap.
  • banana pudding
  • sweet tea with lemon (brew the tea with the sugar)
And yes. Brisket. Must have a brisket. Or ribs. Ribs work, too.

Shiner Bock to drink, and myabe margaritas... plus perhaps some Texas wine. The Llano Estecado region is starting to get something of a name, and various other wineries in Texas are starting to turn out some good product.

There is a cookbook called Texas On The Plate that might be worth ordering from Amazon. It's got tons of great (and real!) Texas recipes.
posted by kaseijin at 12:18 PM on February 25, 2006

Response by poster: Tequila shots always work.

I'm wary of that—someone always seems to end up hurling whenever tequila is involved. Don't have a blender, unfortunately.

I don't think I can source Lone Star or Shiner in the UK, unfortunately. Dr Pepper, yes (I was shocked).
posted by grouse at 12:19 PM on February 25, 2006

Bah... spellcheck is my friend. No apostrophe in "cooks."
posted by kaseijin at 12:19 PM on February 25, 2006

Best answer: Let's see... for music:
  • Willie Nelson
  • Buddy Holly
  • Roy Orbison
  • Janis Joplin
  • Stevie Ray Vaughn
Or, if more modern music what your friends would be into, check out some more recent Texas bands like The Octopus Project or Treewave.
posted by kaseijin at 12:25 PM on February 25, 2006

I grew up in Texas, so this is fun. Let's see:

Longshot, but can you find a pin~ata anywhere, maybe just for decoration -- but you could also let who ever is interested go at it as a party game.

You also need a Texas flag, but you probably already have this covered. If not, maybe a cake with the Texas flag in icing?

You don't necessarily need a blender for Margaritas (i.e., not frozen margaritas).

Seven layer dip should be pretty easy to make for a large group. Real guacamole. Another great idea to save you some work is to set up a taco bar with all the ingredients and guests make their own -- (tortillas, ground beef, cheese, jalapenos, salsa, etc.)

Soundtrack suggestions:
Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys (Willie Nelson)
Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi)
(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone (Charley Pride)
All My Ex's Live in Texas (George Strait)
Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks)
Rio (Duran Duran)
The theme to the TV show Dallas
Streets of Laredo????
Texarkana (REM)
If You're Going to Play in Texas (Alabama)!!!!
God Blessed Texas (Little Texas)
Yellow Rose of Texas (Johnny Lee version)
Ohio -Come Back to Texas (Bowling for Soup)
Texas (George Strait)
Texas on my Mind (Pat Green)
Deep in the heart of Texas (various)
La Charreada (Linda Ronstadt) just because...

This was fun... if I think of more I'll post later...

Have a great party!!!!
posted by jerryg99 at 5:18 PM on February 25, 2006

being born and raised in Texas... I say kaseijin has it dead on! Starting to make me hungry. That list of food was every family reunion that I have ever been to.

If you can find some REAL Dr. Pepper that would be best. I mean the kind made with cane sugar. mmmm... with some BBQ and potato salad (made with mustard).
posted by nimsey lou at 9:24 PM on February 25, 2006

Best answer: What kaseijin said, especially the pecan pie! And when your drunkest friends come to in the morning, make them a few breakfast tacos.

(Also, don't forget that in Texas we call cheese dip 'queso.' Yes, we know it means 'cheese.' Microwaving queso works in a pinch, but it will cook unevenly and burn at the bottom of the bowl, so ideally, you ought to cook it on a stovetop or in a crockpot, which will keep the goop warm for the duration of the party. You can probably find a substitute for Ro-Tel tomatoes, but can you find Velveeta in England?)

As for music, if your intent is to perpetuate dumb stereotypes about Texans, go ahead and follow through on the cowboy-themed advice, but I'd suggest widening the net a little. If you Google around a bit, you should be able to come up with a reasonably varied mix of music from Texas. Off the top of my head:
  • Ornette Coleman
  • Butthole Surfers
  • the Dicks
  • Joe Tex
  • the Geto Boys
  • Poison 13
  • Freddy Fender
  • the Sir Douglas Quintet
  • Archie Bell & the Drells
  • the Zachary Thaks
  • Blind Willie Johnson
  • the Thirteenth Floor Elevators
This isn't to say that you shouldn't play any country or honky tonk at all, of course.
posted by cobra libre at 9:48 AM on February 26, 2006

Response by poster: cobra libre: Thanks for considering the UK-limiting items here. And actually non-country music is most helpful. Knowing how to replace Velveeta in the UK would be very very helpful. Also, you have a great username.

Searching for Texas at Epicurious works pretty well. Although they don't have a recipe for "Texas Meatloaf" (WTF?), a dubious invention of the cafeteria at my lab.
posted by grouse at 10:09 AM on February 26, 2006

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