Sunday, January 14, 2018

Party plans (part one)

I'm sitting here, sifting through about three dozen blog post ideas.  The general topics I've gotten requests and suggestions on, all have a common theme.  Organizing, downsizing, living with less and hosting more.  Have I mentioned that I love you guys? I am probably going to be a little repetitive at times, for those of you long time readers (though many of you who asked for tips on the above, have already heard many of my thoughts over the years and wanted more!) I can't wait to dive into this blogging year now.  I was feeling stuck, but as I was purging my closets and such, I kept getting such sweet feedback and comments asking for more on these topics, that now I'm excited to share.  (At this point, I'm tentatively planning a Lent series on "Seeking Much," which will probably touch on topics ranging from heart to home.  I'm planning an organizing series for our spring cleaning which may overlap a bit, into the seeking much series- I'll see as it comes together.  It will include things such as junk drawers, laundry rooms, master closets and paper clutter. I'm thinking about writing a short travel tip post on packing, storing and staying organized and I may also touch on creating kits for various things in life as well as a few other random posts. You know me... I hope you enjoy, and as always, I welcome your feedback in comments. 
 Today, I'm sharing part one, of how I plan impromptu, inexpensive yet meaningful parties from start to finish with little effort and time.  (Next post, I will share the recipes for the foods I made.)  For large holidays I tend to sit down and plan ahead a bit on paper, but for smaller gatherings, I tend to find one thing that inspires me and go from that point outward.  As far as the starting point of inspiration, it could be the color of flowers in season, napkins that I'd like to use, a food theme, etc.  

Basically, inspiration can come from anywhere and when it hits me, I normally know immediately and it shapes the direction of my remaining plans from there. I figured the best way to explain how I go about this process is by telling you somewhat step-by-step, how I made decisions and preparations for my most recent party, as this is my typical method.

Mainly, I don't overthink any of the details when I host, and I like this approach for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's a lot less stress to simply go with the flow.  Secondly, parties that come together in a more organically inspired way tend to be less wasteful and more fun.  (That's an opinion, but try it and see if you don't agree.) As I go along, I kind of mentally keep track of what I have on hand, as well as what I might need or want to add in order to bring it all together. I'm constantly on a strict household budget, so I never go very extravagant and recycle much of my serving and party items which may seem repetitive for long time readers but it's very real life, so I think it's relatable.  Few of us can go out and purchase all new items each time we host and if we did our storage closets would be bulging with items we store and don't use. (I also like multi-use things, for example, in spring, I might host using a pretty and fresh centerpiece that I plan to plant in the backyard once the event is finished, or I might hang platters on the wall for décor which double as... serving platters.  You get the idea.) I try to look for ways to keep my good basics feeling fresh with each event, even if it's in small ways. 

 I think that's actually a key to inexpensive party planning.  Nice, quality basics that can be reinvented and reused regularly. Oh, and not stockpiling too much.  That can honestly suffocate your hosting gene.  Think, too much of a good thing.

Personally, I recommend  the following: One full set of nice white dishes that you can use for everyday, as well as special events.  At least ten place settings. (Any more guests than this, and you're probably in paper product zone anyway.) 
A set of 8-10 crisp white linen napkins, set of off white napkins for more casual events, and a printed or colored set that compliments your overall decor. (I like to use all of our items indoors and out, so nothing is too precious for use.)  I like quality items but overspending on something that can be broken or soiled is ridiculous so I hunt for deals.  The same goes for vases, glassware, candles and serving pieces.  Good quality, classic shapes and good enough for everyday as well as special occasions.) 

When it comes to organizing any party/hosting/serving items, I like to keep vases together, on a high shelf in the kitchen, and often vases can double as candle holders/hurricanes.  I keep a set of drawers stocked with basics like cloth napkins, table runners, candles, tea lights and matches.  All near the table and handy. I keep them sorted, labelled and ironed if needed, ready for use. (This also helps limit any hosting stress, as I am ready at a moment's notice, to pull items out for use.) I seldom fuss with things that get left on the table anymore, such as fancy and useless place settings and napkin rings.  They clutter the eating surface and bug me so I don't even own any napkin rings. 

I keep two sets of silverware, our every day set and the silver set I inherited.  I keep them in two separate drawers one on top of each other and that makes for simple options and much more use than if the good set was stored away somewhere.  I don't personally believe in having anything that isn't used fairly regularly.  Life is too short not to use and enjoy the pretty stuff. 

I keep platters, trays, drink dispensers, carafes, etc., organized in the cupboard above my refrigerator.  (I'll be sure to share more about all of this in my upcoming organizing posts.) 

The party we threw on Friday was a small going away dinner for my sis in law who is moving.  I used that as the example for this blog post.  My starting point was the food because I knew it needed to include a menu with seafood of some kind since she loves that.  I decided to make a Whisky Crab Soup recipe and then remembered that she also loves my Caesar salad, so I figured soup and salad would be a perfect pairing.  She's not big on sweets so I made a very basic pound cake in a bundt pan and served a dark chocolate ganache over top.  Once I had that simple menu nailed down, I hit the grocery store where I found a few little mini bottles of prosecco on sale.  They were so cute that I grabbed them and while I wandered, I remembered that I had a few small galvanized buckets up in my cupboard with platters, that would work perfectly for individual chilling buckets for them.  (I've used them for condiments, utensils and lined them with parchment for food serving in the past.  They are a really useful serving item to keep on hand.  I found mine at the grocery store last year, when summer items were in stock, but Pottery Barn has some more costly versions.) 


 I wanted the feel of the event to be casual and relaxed and I have been loving the table throws I've seen in Pottery Barn, rather than a tablecloth and strictly set table. I own a very lightweight, blue kantha stitched throw that I almost consigned because it hadn't been used, being so light.  I flipped it over and loved the solid background with the stitching.  I decided to add that item into my table décor stash, and will now use it as such.  I let that inspire the rest of the table/party décor.  I pulled out my cloth  napkins and loved the white plates with blue stripe classic napkin style.  After that, I shopped my supplies and gathered items such as candles, soup spoons, a large bread board and the buckets with prosecco bottles.  Once on the table, I felt that I needed some kind of greenery so I ran out to Trader Joes and found two bunches of Queen Anne's Lace, for $2.50 each.  Those were exactly what I was looking for and they looked perfect on the casual, unset table.
*A brief note about the unset table look.  Obviously not appropriate for every gathering, but I couldn't help but love this casual and undone approach to hosting.  It made for a pretty look that was both practical and functional for self service.  My table is nine feet long but you could easily adapt this for a smaller table and it would work well for brunches or small group settings as well. It was festive without being fussy, stiff or formal. Perfect for the party feel I was reaching for.

Up next, I'll be sharing the recipes I made.  I hope this helps you as you put together parties, consider storing and organizing supplies and stocking up on basics.  Hosting is a lot about being properly prepared and well stocked so being organized and editing anything that is excessive or unused is incredibly helpful.  More than anything, I hope it inspires your hosting approach, helps you relax and let it take you where it wants, which will put you and your guests  more at ease.  As always I welcome any questions and will do my best to get comments answered within the week so make sure and look back if you leave anything. 



  1. Thank you so much for breaking down your party planning process! I love all of your ideas for the basics you keep on hand! I also love your upcoming post ideas! Can’t wait to read them!

  2. Love the approach you took with this get together. Casual table and casual meal. So often I feel like I have to cook a great big meal just so there is something everyone likes. Looking forward to you sharing the recipes post.
    I think we are all so wanting to know your organizing tips and tricks is because your home is always so tidy in the photos………even when you show pics of it untidy it still looks tidy. I think your secret is you have gone through the editing process of purging and only keeping what you love and use.
    I am working on that for our home. All the extra stuff is so overwhelming for me. I need simplicity in my life this year.

    1. Thank you so much Cheryl!! I think it might just be the stage of life (kids almost never here) and my love for constantly cleaning... I am a weirdo, I know! Haha!~

  3. Great ideas and great photography, thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for sharing Sasha!! I just love the "unset table" look. Makes me want to go do it right now with my table. :D Love your ideas and I am looking forward to that scrumptious soup recipe!! And other blog posts! :)

    1. Gina, Yes it's a fun one for sure... I am finding myself unsetting the table a lot!
      Thank you!!

  5. Great ideas.
    Thank you for sharing the info.

  6. I seriously love everything you do! I want my house to be as clean and fresh as yours!!!!!
    You have the BEST ideas!!! You always write in such a "calm" way. Do you rarely get stressed?
    Thanks for your awesome blog!

    1. Michelle, thank YOU for this... it really blessed my heart to read. I want to say that I'm a calm woman but I fear just the opposite...feisty, passionate and tendencies to worry more than I ought. I'm a true work in progress. My word of the year is "Breathe!" haha!!

  7. I love the casual table setting! That suits our style perfectly!

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