Friendship and a Supper Club

Entering into my mid-30’s I think about all of the friendships I’ve had over the years and as we get (cough cough) a little older, I think we start to choose our friends more wisely.  Typically we have narrowed down the relationships to the ones who you “do life” with… you know, the friends that are around for the good, bad and the ugly, because that’s life.

It can be challenging to create these 10 year plus bonds, with crazy life schedules of work and travel and well all the other stuff that just seems to make time abysmal. So when do you actually create or even maintain these friendships?

Over a glass of wine, as most important conversations happen in my circle of friends, I popped this question, “Ladies how do we grow our friendships, how do we connect with  other men and women, our age, in our community?”

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A little fact about me, I celebrate life every day – because it’s a gift.  Really think about that for a second.  How would you live your life differently if you treated it like a gift?  Part of celebrating life is celebrating others, the ones you care the most about.  My friends and I started a small birthday dinner tradition a few years back, it was simple, we would take the birthday girl to dinner and celebrate her by paying for her meal and of course a little bubbly.  We made it special and a celebration of friendship.

One night at our little favorite Italian restaurant in Bryan, Texas, we talked to the owners about the idea of creating a dinning experience that would encourage the building of new relationships and the strengthening of old ones.  Keeping in mind that we wanted to expand our friendships and continue the birthday tradition of celebration, a supper club was born.

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So how does supper club work? … And how do you create your own?  If you are interested in starting your own supper club here are a few steps to help you get started!

Step 1:  Establish the Core Group  We established a core group of five ladies who are in charge of choosing the featured menu at the supper club, coordinating calendar dates that are best for everyone’s schedule and determining how the supper club event will flow the evening of.

Step 2:  Responsibilities  After you have created your managing group of the supper club, the five members are responsible for inviting 2 to 3 new guests for each supper club.  This gives us approximately 15 to 20 guests at each supper club.

Step 3:  Choose a Venue  Each quarter we partner with Amico Nave Ristorante, a locally owned Italian restaurant, to bring our guests a themed dinner and a evening full of fellowship.  The owners and staff at Amico create a custom menu and prepare seating for up to 20 people in their private dining area, where we can either crank up the music loud or just enjoy visiting with new and old friends.

Step 4:  Creating the Menu and Price Point Our goal is to offer our friends a special dining experience, something that we wouldn’t normally do on a week night.  The price point was set a little higher to accommodate a signature cocktail upon arrival, a five course pairing dinner and dessert.

This experience of creating a supper club has truly created so many new friendships and strengthened the old ones.  Cheers to friendship and doing life together!  xx Jennifer

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Off to the Races

Y’all should know by now that I love love hosting parties at my house, and if I could do it full time and get paid for it then I totally would.  I had the joy of co-hosting a Kentucky Derby watch party with one of my favorite gal pals, Carmen.  Her home is always decorated to the nines with every season, she is my home decor spirit animal.

This year the party gods decided that Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby should be held on the same day.  Leaving us with so many theme choices that we could barely contain our little closet-party-planner selves.  We decided to combine the two themes and name the party “Cinco de Derby – Off to the Races.”  Guests were encouraged to dress in Derby attire and in true Derby fashion the over-sized hat was a must.

Anytime I throw a party I take on the challenge to find the best decor, but at bargain prices… it’s a hunt and a badge of honor that I wear proudly when I conquer this challenge.  The dollar store is always my go to, looking for items that I could re-purpose, paint or tweak just a little to make a show stopping presentation at the party.  I have to say y’all I cleaned up this year at the Dollar Store, spending only $50, I bought the cutest accessories that just made the whole party sparkle.

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Dollar Store Finds:  Silver picture frames that I used throughout the decor to display fun party printables.  Silver candle votives, over-sized play money, silk red roses, dice and my personal favorite the red bow ties to add to the bottles of wine.

One of my signature party planning “moves” is to always have a custom sugar cookie that goes with the theme.  I am so blessed to have found Elise with Sweets by Elise, she is a cookie artist and she always comes up with the most clever cookie designs.  This party theme was more of a challenge, but she rocked the cookies… and yes they tasted just as good as they look.

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We really went over the top on the food, but I’m not sorry.  We planned a beautiful charcuterie tray that was adorned with fruit, we even selected cheese infused with fruit and stayed with the fruit inspiration all the way down to the lemon biscotti.  To incorporate the Cinco de Mayo theme, beyond the sugar cookies, we had a seven layer dip, queso, and taquitos.  I also made my famous “Larry’s Pinwheels”,  if you want the super simple recipe check out my blog post from My Favorite Things Party.

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Spray painting dozens of tiny plastic horses from Dollar Tree was probably my favorite project for this party.  P.S.  I found faux grass runners at JoAnn’s Fabric Store, this was my splurge item, but totally worth it!

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Larry’s Famous Pinwheels and more of my spray painted dollar store gold horses!

 

I used Canva, the free online design platform, to create four 5 X 7 images to frame and display throughout the party.  The framed images helped define spaces and create a Derby atmosphere.

 

Y’all I found the perfect Derby dress at a new local boutique in town called Coterie Boutique, I fell in love with it and just had to have it!  Now my only problem is that I can’t find enough places to wear it to!  Perfect for Spring and perfect for a day at the Derby, I felt beautiful in this dress… p.s. it has pockets (in my Oprah voice).

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From food to fashion to fellowship, “Cinco de Derby” was a hit!  We all had a wonderful time celebrating each other and the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby!  xx -Jennifer

 

You’re My Favorite… Part 2

OK, you finally have your date set and your best gal pals invited! If you don’t, then go back and read Part 1 of “You’re My Favorite” blog series and all of the setup details are there for you in three easy steps!

Now what?  This is my favorite part, deciding on the decorations and food!  I always create a signature cocktail for events, it ties in the whole theme and makes a great impression on guests.  For the Galentine’s Day Favorite Things Party, I wanted to make a drink that was simple and pink with hints of red.  I decided to mix pink lemonade, sprite and of course Champagne and it accomplished all of my goals of being simple and delicious.  Frozen fruit is also another great way to add color to your drink, keeps it cold and it won’t dilute the drink.  I’ve made a cheat sheet for you to save for your next event, just right click and save!

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Each guest brought their favorite dish (appetizer or dessert) and I decided to make my meal prep super simple by outsourcing custom sugar cookies. I have a friend who has her own cookie business, Sweets by Elise, and she makes cookies almost too beautiful to eat!  Having a signature dessert that went with the theme of the party was totally worth it because my guests just loved the “we go together like” themed cookies.  It was definitely a conversation starter!

Copy of Copy of Copy of Favorite Things Party!And true confession time, I had great intentions of making Larry’s Famous Pinwheels,  but I flat just ran out of time.  This is one thing I’ve learned about hosting, I just don’t stress out anymore.  If I can’t make a dish or the decor isn’t perfect, I go with it because at the end of the day it’s all about friendship and getting together to celebrate life.  Trust me this wasn’t overnight, but I’ve learned to just go with the flow.  Making the pinwheels are super simple:  in a large bowl mix together two 8 oz cream cheese with a jar of hot pepper bacon jam (this stuff is so good I could lick it out of the jar), spread the mixture over a large tortilla and roll it up like sushi.  Slice into bite size pieces of heaven, put in the fridge to cool and serve right before your guests arrive… they wont be able to stop eating them, I promise!  And here’s a cheat sheet for later…

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Ok y’all, I have to brag about the decor, I set a small budget for this party since it wasn’t scheduled too far out from the crazy holiday season.  I did some bargain shopping and I had tons of fun getting great deals on party supplies.  It was almost a game to see how cheap I could get… I know that sounds crazy.  On Valentine’s Day I went to Dollar Tree and found tissue paper balls, red plastic silverware and gift bags.  They have really stepped up their party supply aisle and they will now be my go to place for basics.   I used mason jars to hold silverware and chalk board signs to write cute valentine’s messages.  And the big deal of the day was my $4 find on the Marquee letters at Hobby Lobby.  They put the lights on clearance and I luckily found an “X” and “O”, major score!  The deals are out there, it’s just a matter of time

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Join me next week when I reveal a complete product list of all of the gifts my friends brought to the Galentine’s Day Favorite Things Party!  Spoiler alert, beauty products stole the show!  I will also share with you a beautiful hostess gift I received from a friend that literally took my breath away and made me cry… no joke if was truly amazing.

xx Jennifer

You’re My Favorite… Part 1

Valentine’s Day to me has always been a holiday to share, not just with a significant other, but with the one’s you truly care about!  So don’t forget to tell your friends that you love them and what better way to do that than a “Galentine’s Party.” (Well… any excuse to throw a themed party, let’s get real.)

This year, I’m putting a spin on the Galentine’s party and sharing every little detail with you in a three part blog series!  I’ll tell you all the secrets of how to plan a party with a theme that creates excitement and becomes the whole framework for executing a memorable event.

Have you ever heard of a “Favorite Things Party!”?  Not only is it a great theme, it’s also a fun party activity to get to know each other… and oh yeah you get to take home a bunch of cool stuff.  Here’s how it works in three easy steps:

Step 1:  Pick a date and invite your best gal pals to join you!  I created a Facebook invite to help keep up with RSVPs and to communicate important details about the evening.  But you could also create an Evite, this might be the best solution for those who may not be online.

Step 2:  Ask friends to each bring three of the same gift (see gift ideas below from some of my favorite things for ideas).  The gift should be their favorite thing… a favorite lip gloss, a favorite scarf, a favorite book… you get the point.  All three items should be the same, but can vary in color.  So if the favorite thing is lip gloss, you could buy it in three different colors.  Each gift should be wrapped in a open top gift bag.

Tip: Set a budget.  For example, each item’s cost is under $25.  This makes it a level playing field for everyone…

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(1.) Clinique, Long Last Glosswear, in Adore U color.  (2.)  Love love this “HEY y’all!” tote (3.) Nothing makes me happier than an adult sippy cup for my wine. SWIG knows what they are doing. (4.) Every girl needs a signature scent, I love anything by Chanel, but this one is my favorite. (5.) Just one of many great books by Brene Brown “The Gifts of Imperfection.” (6.) BootayBag because who doesn’t like getting sexy underwear in the mail. (7.) You can’t go wrong with anything from Accessory Concierge, my new online go to for accessories.  A Texas based company and amazing customer service by the way (8.) Have you ever wanted to scrape the bottle of your favorite foundation or lip gloss … if only you had a tiny spatula to do that?  Prayers have been answered y’all…Spatulas have saved me money and changed my makeup game. (9.) Stop damaging your hair by putting it up in a ponytail with plastic hair ties… these are amazing and I think I own them in every color they make.

Step 3:  To make it easy on the hostess ask guests to bring their favorite adult beverage and appetizer or dessert to share with the party.

Now, it’s time to pull together your guest list and get that invite out… Check back next week when I give you the inside scoop of planning the decor, recipes and every little detail to make your party a smash!  xx Jennifer