Party Season

So… after 3 parties in 3 weekends, I was a little pooped. So I apologize for the delayed post(s) on said parties. 

Party #1 – Porchfest
This was a great time had by Quincians and non, alike, strolling the streets of downtown Quincy and enjoying live music on the porches of beautiful historic homes. Read the post on Porchfest here

Party #2 – Halloween Party
Post to showcase my Victorian-themed Halloween party to come…

Party #3 – My Mother’s 70th Fiesta
I can’t believe my mom actually turned 70 this year! She doesn’t act like what I always thought “70-year-olds” act like, and she certainly doesn’t look it! But she turned 70, nonetheless! 

My mother is the most selfless and giving person I’ve ever known, and she has put together countless celebrations for milestones in many others’ lives. So I really wanted to be able to honor her in a way that she would enjoy. But she’s also very humble and doesn’t like a lot of spotlight and attention placed on her. So I had to tread carefully. I enlisted the help of two of her best friends. And we began conspiring…

The party would have to be imagined within a very limited budget. I love a theme party and quite honestly I really and truly NEED a theme to even know where I want to start when planning a party. My sister suggested a “Mexican restaurant” theme, since my mom loves meeting her girls for Mexican food and margaritas, so I decided to go with a “Fiesta” theme. I also knew that I wanted to hold the party in my home in order to maintain control over details and cost. And that meant the guest list would have to be kept very short in order to accommodate a seated meal, so it was only immediate family and a few of her oldest friends that joined us. 

While the party was not a surprise, I arranged for her to be the last arrival, and we met her at the door with maracas and her very own party hat!

I am so lucky that one of my mom’s besties is an amazing cook and caterer. So she handled all of the food. We had soft tacos, Spanish rice, frijoles con queso, black bean salad, grilled peppers and tomatoes, guacamole, several kinds of pico de gallo and salsa, and queso blanco. I borrowed the serape from a friend, and the centerpiece is a planter I found at Home Depot for $32. Filled with bright yellow mums, it added the height, color, and excitement I needed to anchor the food buffet/display. 

I also enlisted the help of a friend from work to make the adorable cactus cupcakes that I had seen on Pinterest here

One of mom’s favorite desserts is key lime pie, so I challenged my friend with creating a key lime cupcake. She pulled it off beautifully. I popped them into mini terra-cotta planters that I found at the Dollar Tree for 3/$1, and we were off to the races. I displayed them on a “cake stand” that I had pre-assembled with an upside down terra-cotta planter glued to a terra-cotta saucer. 

And don’t forget the margaritas! We made a big batch with tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and agave. No overly sugary “margarita mix” here. No sir. Just the booze, lime, and a little natural sweetener (okay, maybe a lot of booze!) I ordered the super cute sombrero straws from Oriental Trading Co., and supplemented my margarita glass collection with striped glasses in our color theme that I also found at the Dollar Tree. 

For decor I hung “papel picado” that I ordered from Oriental Trading Co. from command hooks I strategically placed near the ceiling (command hooks are a girl’s best friend). I had considered making my own papel picado, but with three parties to plan, I opted for their pre-cut plastic version. Plus, I could get 100 feet for only $14.99, and I liked the idea of being able to reuse it for my next “fiesta”! I also found large tissue Pom-Pom flowers and smaller versions on ribbon at the Dollar Tree that I took advantage of. I added them to the Spanish moss and fallen limb display I wasn’t yet ready to take down from my Halloween party, as well as on a grapevine wreath that I keep on hand unadorned for just such occasions. 

In addition, I made tissue paper flowers of my own using this tutorial to enhance the decor. I had intended to use them on the dinner tables, but I was placing them on the mantel as I made each one and ended up really liking them there en masse instead. 

I also combed all of my photo albums and enlisted the help of my sister to put together a photo retrospective of my mother. I hung them from string that I had strung above the drink station and across the mantel (also using temporary command hooks). Mom enjoyed perusing all of the old pics, as did the party-goers. 

The tables were set with simple white cloths that I made especially for the party (since I didn’t own any and couldn’t afford new ones), table runners that I made, as well, from bright pom-pom trim and felt (which meant I didn’t have to sew side seams, yay!), black bean cans that had been emptied and cleaned and filled with simple but oversized mums, extra aji dulce peppers I had on hand, white plates, and napkins/plastic ware that I had picked up from… you guessed it – the Dollar Tree. 

After dinner, we were regaled by a parody of “Send In The Clowns” (newly termed “Send In Ann Todd”) by our dear friend, Bob Gibbs, who had written the punned lyrics just for the occasion and accompanied himself on guitar. It was very touching and hilarious all at the same time! It highlighted what everyone in the room already knew – that when you can count on no one else, you can count on my mother. When no one else has the will, mom has the way. When you need her, she is always, always, always there. And she always makes the room brighter (and snazzier) for it!!!!

After that I challenged her to “break” a piñata, inside which were personal notes (along with some of her favorite types of candy) written by attendees that recalled favorite memories with my mom that I had requested and collected prior to the event. We sat encircling mom while I read each one aloud. Lots of laughs and some tears later, we had traversed down memory lane and all connected with many of the reasons why she made and continues to make a difference in our lives. And she got to hear it. In our words. Just how incredible, persevering, creative, positive, funny, talented, loving, accepting, and fun she really is! 

There was a part of me that questioned if I should have made a bigger “to do” of things. You know… rented space, hired musicians, made a guest list that would have rivaled my wedding invitation list… but in the end, I’m really happy we did what we did. I know she appreciated it, and it was “us”. It allowed it to be an intimate get-together instead of her “holding court”, as I like to say.

I’m so pleased to have been able to add this to mom’s “memory book”. 


2 thoughts on “Party Season

  1. Julie…What a special moment in my life you made for me. I will always remember it and lllllllooooovvvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeee you for the creative being you are. Thank you, my precious daughter.

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