Saturday, December 7, 2013

An Affair to Remember--Party Planning in Autumn

We, along with several of our close friends, recently hosted a dinner party celebrating the marriage of two people whom we all love dearly.  My assignment was to host this sit-down dinner for 30 in our home.  I was not responsible for the food which gave me plenty of time to really give this event the attention to detail it deserved.  Like all my interior design projects, my parties begin with an inspiration piece--in this case, the inspiration for the party décor was this beautiful fabric!

This brown, green, red, orange and pink fabric was the jumping off point for the special occasion planning process!  Once I found the fabric and gave instructions to my amazing seamstress regarding the squares and runners for the tables, we began to think about the invitations.  I much prefer handmade invitations for relatively intimate casual events--I also love printed ones, but there is something that just feels good about receiving an invitation that clearly was thought about and made with care.
The guests of honor are avid bikers--we thought it would be cool to do an invitation with a bicycle built for two--Grace drew the cover graphic, inspired by Ramona and Beezus, and we scanned and printed the invites.  The grosgrain ribbon and the ric rac on the inside were just neat little details that made the invitations extra fun and festive:)
I love tabletops and all things related.  I begin every tabletop with at least the bones of the actual tablescape--the big pieces, or centerpiece if it is a small table
Table squares were placed, then the foundation of the tablescape.  The wooden fruit pieces with the cherubs are some of my favorite pieces to use for the table--they are showy enough for special events and holidays, but they are not so large that they obstruct views.  Sugared and natural fruit, roses and ivory tapers complete the major decorative components of the tablescape.
The vine adds an earthy organic feel to the scheme--the juxtaposition makes me happy, especially when the delicate roses get involved!  I learned this week that the juxtaposition that I have always loved and craved in every aspect of interior design is called "tension".  I LOVE tension in design.  You will find it in almost all my work.
Napkins are a great way to add special details to the tabletop.  It is at this point in every tabletop design that I really really wish I had listened to Mrs. Virginia Grice and my BFF Sandy Loggains Massey when they begged me to apply myself during the sewing portion of Home Ec.  I was wrong, and I regret it at least twice a week.
  I favor white napkins for almost every occasion.  I repeated the orange accents from the inspiration fabric and the invitations and added a super fun trim to the napkin edges.  I used a neat little product called Liquid Stitch for this project (see above, failed home ec), and I'm happy to report they weathered the washer VERY well!  Note--do not use the Singer brand fabric glue stuff.  It does not work, or at least it did not for me.  Liquid Stitch works.
I think they are so pretty!  I can't wait to have another reason to use them!
I love to give our guests a little something to take with them when they leave--a party parting gift.  It makes them feel good and packaged properly, it adds a fun element to the table décor.  For this party, we selected small jars of jellies and preserves.  The idea of that made me happy--my sister-in-law's Grandma makes delicious pear preserves and I was lucky enough to have enjoyed 2 new jars around the time I was planning this party.  I thought about a play-on of the word pear/pair as in "think of this sweet pair when you enjoy this sweet pear" or something like that.  In the end, I decided against it because we honestly did not want to share Grandma's pear preserves and I couldn't find any store-bought pear jelly or preserves.  Instead we went with raspberry-key lime and strawberry rhubarb.  They turned out great; nothing nearly as incredible as Noreen's pear preserves which Mark eats directly out of the jar (he says when something is that good, bread just gets in the way), but pretty good!
We printed labels with a cute picture of the couple--you might not think this is difficult.  When you are as technologically challenged as I, however, you could spend literally days trying to figure out how to size these little things.
Eventually, they turned out perfectly!  And by eventually, I mean a couple of days later. 
We used the same ribbon on the invitations and the jelly jars.  Place cards were added to the bow--2 birds, one stone, whatever.. 
Selecting the china, crystal and table linens for this event were so much fun for me. 
Mom and I both love dinnerware and we use it.  We don't save our china, crystal, and sterling because "special dishes are for special people, not special occasions."--Ma to Half Pint on LHOP (Little House on the Prairie if you aren't a fan, LHOP to me).  Because this event was a sit-down event for 30, I got to use several different sets and I LOVED it. I mixed sets like Fitz and Floyd salmon dinner plates with my precious Lou Lou's vintage rose salad/dessert .  There is never an event at my house where Lou is not well-represented.  I mentioned that to Mom when we were prepping and she said she would give anything to be able to tell her that.  We miss her.
Tulips are my favorite flowers.  They can really surprise you though, particularly overnight.  They can be drooping perfectly the day before your event and then stand straight up overnight.  They are beautiful nonetheless!  I love that we were able to find orange ones. 

The most special and beautiful parties, parties that are remembered and talked about for years, are those in which great attention is paid to detail.  My favorite special detail to date has to be these phenomenal cookies made by Sarah DeClerk of Annie Potter Baking Company.  If you don't know about Sarah, you need to.  We gave Sarah the invitation and told her a few things about the couple.  We were blown away when we received these little works of art.
I hope all your holiday parties are beautiful and special, filled with as much love and fun as this one was!  Happy late Thanksgiving!