In my family of origin we have the custom of always sending out invitations to events that people already know about and are coming to anyway. Welcome to our own special brand of crazy.
Thanksgiving is always on the 4th Thursday of November. My sisters and I are pretty much in constant discussion for weeks ahead of the party. Who will bring what? Who is coming? How many? All those details that I'm pretty sure everyone's family discusses before major events.
Now, having all this information, we dial up the planning to include invitations to the people we already know are coming. Like I said, our own special brand of crazy. But it's our crazy and we like it.
I have also been one-upping myself every year when it comes to setting the tables and creating the atmosphere for the last few Thanksgiving celebrations. Here are the links:
I went to Pinterest (where I spend way to much time collecting inspiration and if you don't already, you should totally be following me, but that's not important right now) and found an invitation design I liked well enough to copy in my own fashion.
Also, I've been throwing a lot of parties every month for the past few months that I haven't even written about. (Imagine!) I think I'll just have to write about all of that now that I have time to sit down before the Cuban Christmas Crazy begins around here.
I am now officially declaring that this first week of December will be:
Over-Sharing About My Parties Week. (It has to be done.)
Let the Over-sharing begin!
Here's my preliminary sketch:
Here's the finished invitation:
So, I sent out the invitations the first week of November and everyone who was able to attend responded happily. We only had 20 this year because the people who usually travel, didn't this year and the ones who trade off holidays with other families went elsewhere. It felt more intimate than usual.
If you can technically call a sit down dinner for 20 intimate. Hello? It's a Cuban thing.
Paper Chain Garlands
I know. What??
Paper Chain Garlands. I became kind of enamored with paper chain garlands this year. You know, like the kind you used to make in school out of construction paper? Only in 2014, scrapbooking is a thing and there are a bizzillion choices for decorative papers.
For my color scheme, I chose oranges and purples, with touches of green and teal blue.
And in case you've forgotten, here's how to make paper chain garlands:
- Cut strips of paper into 8" x 1 1/2" strips.
- Create a loop and close it with tape, overlapping just the ends.
- Link the next paper strip into the first loop, again closing with tape and overlapping just the ends.
- The finished chain is determined by how much paper and effort you want to put into it.
I recruited the fam and we created and hung yards of chains in less than an hour. As you can see, I hung the Give Thanks banner we made last year. Before we even got to decorating tables the place already had a really festive air.
When I'm entertaining in my freakishly small cottage-like home, we usually have to move furniture to fit the tables into my front room. We're getting so pro at this, I swear.
We remove two big armchairs, the coffee table, a side table and lamp to make room for the two 8 foot long tables we put together to seat 14. Our regular dinner table seats 6. If we have more guests we "create" a room in the back, but that's another story. Because we only had 20, we were able to host everyone in one room. (Yay!)
I was originally going to use burlap tablecloths that I found online from a place that will remain nameless because when we opened up the package it reeked of petrolium. I decided to address that problem at another time and just pulled out my classic white tablecloths (which I have in multiple sizes, but again, not important right now) and grabbed some beautiful runners from Pier One.
I used gold chargers for the base, my most favorite white dishes from Pier 1. They're called Antique Scroll and I have been collecting a few every few weeks until I had at least 14 to set the big table with. These are everyone's favorites and because they're white I tend to get lots of great mileage from them.
Once the gold chargers and dishes were in place, it seemed purple cloth napkins were ideal to pull off the look.
I designed menu cards to be used as napkin holders. Mostly because I did a version of them for an event last month for a completely different group. I'll blog about that one later this week. All that to say that the whole menu-cards-as-napkin-holder-thing made me really happy, so I decided to use it again.
I created them in Photoshop, using the Market Deco font from the invitation and the cute silverware graphic.
I was not in charge of the menu at all this year so we went with a very traditional all-American menu with a few add ons.
I printed the menus on cream cardstock and cut them in half horizontally. We folded, taped the back, and slid the napkins and silverware in each one. I liked how striking it all looked.
The place cards were simple. Everyone's names in the Thirsty Script Font with the fork-knife-spoon graphic to the side. These were also printed on cream cardstock. (I do all the printing on my home color printer, an Epson Artisan.)
On the smaller table I used some beautiful square white plates (that totally match my other plates except for they are square!) that I found at Home Goods. (Win!)
For the centerpieces, I grabbed a few bouquets of fall flowers from Costco and hastily (read, "sloppily") trimmed and put them into gold and silver vases and threw some eucalyptus leaves down and called it good. (Don't look too closely at the centers. I have other skills, I swear.)
The overall effect felt elegant and warm. The paper chain garlands added a whimsical touch. Very much the effect I wanted.
We had two turkeys. One roasted, one barbecued. Both crazy-delicious.
The sides were the usual suspects. I love using the disposable chafing dishes to keep the food hot. Not as pretty as serving dishes, but when you're feeding a hungry crowd they seriously appreciate the meal served hot.
The Photo Booth
Our dear neighbor (and fabulous photographer), Rafael always generously lends us his photo-booth-making gear and we set that up in Jonathan's room with a white sheet for a background.
Then we march each person, family, couple, kids, whoever, in front of the camera and let the magic happen.
While informal candids will always have their place in our celebrations, I usually have a very low-light situation in the dining area, so the photo booth setup gives us the photos we are wanting with the people we care about. We have so much fun taking turns having our silliness documented forever.
Also, it's becoming more difficult for me to host and document. The photo booth takes care of that for me. Thanks to Lucy for making it happen every year.
Plus, my mom, Luza (yes, she's 100!) totally gets into this part of the evening because she gets to spend at least a few moments with each and every person present.
Yet another way to track the growth of the kids. All of them.
I'm extremely grateful that I have to get to do all of this work to celebrate the gratitude I feel for all the good things in my life.
What a gift.