In 1995, the year I was married to Doug, an author introduced me to the idea that living a beautiful life was a matter of paying attention to life's daily rituals, observing meaningful ceremonies and finding occasions for celebrations. Without mindfulness on these moments, life can be just an endless stream of activities, obligations and duties. In this phase of my life, beautiful living is manifesting itself with lots of happy celebrations.
In my previous home in Naples, FL, I had begun to express the results of my years-long studies in beautiful living in the area of celebrating. The crab boil feast I threw for Doug's birthday was replete with foods to remind him of beloved summers spent in Rehoboth as a little boy: crab with butter, corn on the cob and lemon cake with chocolate frosting. I also hosted a periodic Ladies In night, author publishing parties and a Send Off luncheon just before moving to Texas.
Since getting to Texas, I am hosting Girls Night In about every couple of months. We had a cookout for Easter. I organized an evening out for my Pilates class to mark the completion of our 6 month program. Upcoming are Doug's 60th birthday party in May and a July publishing party for Deborah Ford, in honor of her fourth book, Bless His Heart, The GRITS Guide To Loving (Or Just Living With) Southern Men .
Saturday night we had our friends, Paul and Suzan Newkirk, over for an Italian Bon Voyage dinner. They are heading to Italy in May, where their tour will include visits to Rome and Venice. Since Italy is a place Doug and I are passionate about, the dinner was a joy to put together. I selected Tuscan wines and the Newkirks contributed an Orvieto. I altered a lasagna filling to stuff bell peppers, making a more healthy dish. We had an Insalata Misto drizzled with 12 yr old Balsamic vinegar from Modena that we brought back from Italy 5 years ago. I added some steamed broccoli to Giada De Laurentiis' Lemon Spaghetti . For dessert, we served Pistachio and Chocolate-Hazelnut gelato and Amaretti cookies, with a little Sambuca! The table was dressed with white plates and napkins on a red/white checkered tablecloth, Italian bistro style. We played selections of Andrea Bocelli, Putumayo Presents Mediterranean Odyssey and Pavarotti. We gifted the Newkirks with our favorite MapEasy guide maps.
This is not something I would have put together even a few years ago. It simply would not have occurred to me. Now I see what the author saw, that we have a cause for celebration every day!
I used to think I had to be as talented as my friend, Kimberly Bean, at throwing a party. I am now inspired by her and tweak events to fit my own personality and abilities.
At the Southern Lady Conference two years ago, one of the speakers gave some helpful advice:
1. Find a reason to celebrate and get organized.
2. Develop your theme and determine your budget.
3. Decide what type of party and location.
4. Make your guest list.
5. Select your vendors.
6. Enjoy the party and celebrate.
For each event, I now create a project worksheet. I categorize Invitees, Theme, Decor, Print/Electronic Materials, Menu and Party Favors. For my next Girls Night In, my Theme is Andalusi Dance (I arranged for a 45 min lesson with a great teacher), my Decor will remind one of Flamenco red with rose blooms and music entitled Obsession and Tabu, my Printing is my invitation to set the tone of the evening, my Party Favor is a Spanish fan and my Menu will be Tapas and Tinto de Verano, a Sangria like preparation we had in Seville. I supplement my project worksheet with a shopping list and time line for the day of the party.
Your reason to celebrate can come from anywhere. Victoria Moran used to throw a Mozart's birthday party with her daughter, Adair. The speaker held a fabulous "It's A Dog's Day", where pets and their owners celebrated that special relationship. Our new friends, the Golightlys, threw a dinner in our honor to introduce us to more San Antonians, where we met the delightful Richard and Carla Veliz. Notice what's important to your friends and let that serve as the motivation for an occasion. Certainly don't let the days special to you and your family pass without some marking of the milestone. It doesn't have to be elaborate, just designed with fun and creativity in mind.