Monday, February 2: Festival of Lights/Candlemas/Groundhog Day
Concept: Woodland creatures
Think,,,woodland creatures afternoon tea party.
- Festival of Lights from the Roman and Germanic traditions that mark the midway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox.
- The day is also known as Candlemas Day and commemorates important events to the Christian tradition, but is popularly known in the United States as Groundhog Day.
- All these holidays have a similar theme in the prediction of winter’s end by observing the restlessness of hibernating creatures.
- Originally, the hedgehog was sought for weather insights, but with the absence of this ground-dwelling creature in North America, the groundhog is used instead.
- Use wintery evergreens, pinecones, and acorns to create a tablescape, and incorporate chic woodland creature statuettes, especially badgers, hedgehogs, and/or groundhogs to symbolize the coming end of hibernation spring.
- Place vases of cut twigs to add height to the centerpiece, and add lit thematic votive candles for a warm glow and mini-string lights in a cut crystal bowl for a sparkling effect.
- Add taper candles decorated with holly sprigs to windowsills, mantelpiece, and end tables.
- Place wooden statuettes of squirrels, rabbits, and birds in strategic locations for your guests to discover.
- Add early daffodils to a small vase to adorn the tea tray, and scatter pine cones and acorns on tabletops.
- Serve groundhog-shaped ginger cookies along with pecan shortbread, pumpkin bread, and finger sandwiches.
- Brew a pot of fragrant black tea, such as Darjeeling or Earl Grey, but offer a selection of teas and individual tea pots for more options.
- Greet your guests with a plastic party “top hat” for the occasion.
- Optionally, include more traditional Groundhog Day accouterments, such as bowties, monocles, and pocket kerchiefs.
Dress: Casual dress, with Victorian-inspired accents, e.g. top hat, pocketwatch, bowtie, monocle, cutaway jackets.
Food: Groundhog-shaped ginger cookies, pecan shortbread, pumpkin bread, finger sandwiches (cucumber, pimento cheese, turkey & swiss, watercress, cream cheese and strawberry), scones, toast and jam
Drink: Fragrant black tea, assorted herbal and green teas for individual pots
Items associated with this concept (Motifs): pine cones, evergreen trees, cut twigs, holly berries, acorns, nuts in the shell, groundhogs, badgers, hedgehogs, squirrels, birds, winter tree silhouettes
50 Shades of Fuchsia
Saturday, February 14: Valentine’s Day
Think...hot pink cocktail affair that happens to occur on Valentine’s Day.
- The color fuchsia was introduced in 1859 with the discovery of aniline dye, and is derived from the multi-hued fuchsia plant named after the German botanist Leonard Fuchs.
- The color became known as magenta in honor of the French victory during the Battle of Magenta, and quickly became the fashionable color of the day.
- It is one of the three “primary colors” of the subtractive triad of pigments, found universally in color printers, and does not appear in the spectrum of visible light.
- Choose a “base color” fuchsia for the tablecloths and accents that will unify the party interior.
- For example, find a shade of satin ribbon that perfectly matches the table cloth, and tie them around floral arrangements, taper candles, martini glasses, and party favors.
- Then find as many different “shades” of fuchsia as you can to decorate everything else, from “pale fuchsia” to darker “antique fuchsia.”
- Mix several kinds of fuchsia confetti to spread of across surfaces
- A range of colored taper candles placed on tabletops
- Fuchsia-tinted water in clear glass vases for a bright shelf display
- Variegated orchids and/or blooming fuchsias as focal points
- Multi-hued hanging pom-poms from the ceiling
- Pink electric string lights to enhance railings, doorways, and columns
- Invite your guests to wear a range of themed-colored evening attire; cocktail dresses for women and fuchsia suiting accents for men.
- Incorporate the color into food and beverage selections to really wow the crowd.
- Fuchsia food ideas include:
- Pink pastries
- Strawberry frosting
- Smoked salmon
- Boiled shrimp
- Red cabbage
- Drink ideas:
- Kir Royale
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- Pink Lemonade
- Pink Sangria
- Rosé wine
Dress: Cocktail attire
Men: Fuchsia suiting accents (e.g., tie, bowtie, pocket squares, cufflinks, boutonniere)
Women: Shades of fuchsia cocktail dresses
Food Ideas: Pink pastries, strawberry frosting, smoked salmon, boiled shrimp, watermelon, raspberries, red cabbage, ham, and prosciutto
Drink Ideas: Cosmopolitan, Paloma, Kir Royale, Daiquiri (classic and frozen), Pink Lemonade, Pink Sangria, and Rosé wine
Items associated with this concept (Motifs): Orchids, fuchsia flowers, hearts, ribbons
Krewe of “You (Insert Name)
Tuesday, February 17: Mardi Gras
Think...custom-themed Mardi Gras ball, evening cocktail affair.
- “Mardi gras” is French for “fat Tuesday,” signifying the last festival day before the 40 days of fasting that characterize the Christian Lenten season.
- Although the holiday is technically the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the Mardi Gras tradition may be celebrated for several days or weeks.
- The New Orleans Carnival season famously begins January 6 and culminates with “Mardi Gras Day” morning parades.”
- Invite your guests to join the “Krewe of You” featuring your last name or sobriquet, with costumery based on your favorite theme.
- For example, if you are famously known as a lover of cats, invite guests to wear cat-inspired costumes and/or themed masks.
- Alternatively, provide themed masks as party favors for your guests to wear throughout the evening.
- Encourage creativity by holding costume contests with themed prizes.
- Add accent lighting by stringing up tri-colored electric lights around the bar and party interior.
- LED ice cubes keep drinks cold without diluting them, and add an extra dash of fun to each drink.
- Decorate the party area with:
- Traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, gold, and purple
- Tri-colored streamers & swirls from the ceiling
- Glitterball bouquet centerpieces
- Flamboyant door wreaths to welcome the crowd
- Motley-patterned tablecloths
- Ornate mask wall-hangings
- Add some atmosphere with a mix of Mardi Gras dance tunes to keep the crowd dancing all night long. Include jazzy brass band and Zydeco artists for a swingin’ celebration, and be sure to include the “Mardi Gras Mambo” and “Carnival Time” in there somewhere.
- Classic food and drink options during the Mardi Gras are indulgent, at the extremes of savory and sweet. King cake, fried seafood, meat-heavy jambalaya and gumbos are traditional featured selections, with frozen daiquiris, hurricanes, and Bloody Marys at the bar.
Dress: Themed costumes and/or masks, evening attire
Food Ideas: King cake, beignets, rum cake, hand pies, muffalettas, fried seafood balls, fried shrimp/roast beef po’boys, seafood/chicken/Andouille jambalaya, seafood & Andouille gumbo, Cajun dirty rice, oysters Rockefeller, barbecued shrimp
Drink Ideas: Frozen daiquiri, hurricane, Bloody Mary, Sazerac, Vieux Carre, Ramos Gin Fizz, brandy milk punch, Pimm’s cup
Classic New Orleans Artists: Professor Longhair, Rebirth Brass Band, Earl King, Preservation Hall Brass Band, The Wild Tchoupitoulas, Chuck Carbo, Louis Armstrong, Joe Lutcher, Al Johnson, Dave Bartholomew, Dr. John, Beau Jocque, Dukes of Dixieland, Treme Brass Band, The Dirty Dozen, The Wild Magnolias,
Items associated with this concept (Motifs): Masks, jesters, beads, doubloons, feathers
Beer Garden at the End of the Rainbow
Tuesday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day
Concept: Beer Garden
Think...casual evening dinner and social hour with beer, potted greens, and sequined accents.
- St. Patrick’s Day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, but is better known as the Irish drinking day.
- The holiday occurs in the Lenten season, during which alcohol and feasting is typically proscribed;
- However, these restrictions have historically been lifted on this day, and it is one of the most important festivals for the sale of Irish beer and liquors.
- The three-leaved shamrock and wearing of green celebrate Irish heritage and Christian symbolism, and is characterized by social gatherings, parades, and traditional Irish dancing.
- Recreate the beer garden atmosphere with an Americanized Irish twist by serving (cold) Irish beer and dinner fare at picnic tables; outdoors if far enough south, or recreate the scene indoors in northern climates.
- Use green table runners scattered with gold plastic coins, potted shamrocks, and leprechaun garden gnomes.
- Place a glittering shamrock plant stick in each pot, and tie with glittery green ribbon for simple yet dazzling effect.
- Add rainbow placemats and coasters to complete the scene.
- Incorporate shamrock-shaped electric string lights on the bartop and fill a martini glass with gold-colored bead necklaces.
- Use green votive candles as accent lighting, and hang rainbow tube lights over the bar area for extra effect.
- Ceiling swirls and crepe streamers make attractive ceiling decorations.
- Add pots of colorful spring flowers (e.g., tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, pansies, petunias, etc.) around the party space to give a dash of color and enhance the garden-inspired atmosphere.
- Invite your guests to wear green lest they get “pinched” by cranky leprechauns, but offer a variety of shiny green wearables just in case. Some of my favorites include
- Light-up shamrock deely-boppers and wands
- Glittered top hats
- Metallic green shamrock party beads
- Add-on leprechaun beards
- Rainbow sunglasses
- Glow bracelets
- Serve Irish-inspired American food favorites like Guinness cheese fondue, green apple brie bites, bacon-wrapped asparagus, mini Reuben finger sandwiches, pot roast mini pies, and Guinness chocolate cupcakes.
Dress: Casual green attire or St. Patty’s day costumes
Men: T-shirts, sequined tuxedoes
Women: T-shirts, sequined mini dress
Food Ideas: Guinness cheese fondue, green apple brie bites, bacon-wrapped asparagus, mini Reuben finger sandwiches, pot roast mini pies, and Guinness chocolate cupcakes.
Drink Ideas: Irish beer, Irish coffee, Irish whiskey drinks (e.g., The Emerald, whiskey sours, Blarney Stone)
Items associated with this concept (Motifs): Rainbows, gold coins, leprechaun garden gnomes, sequined top hats, shamrocks
Afternoon Flower Power
Friday, March 20: March Equinox
Concept: Tea party
Think...afternoon tea incorporating spring-inspired flavors and accents.
- The term “equinox” is derived from the Latin words of “equal” and “night” and refers to a point at which night and day are roughly equal; however, the day is still slightly longer due to the refractory nature of the earth’s surface.
- The historical astrological reference for this day is a ‘cusp,’ or ‘first point’ of the sign Aries, now relinquished to Pisces in modern times.
- This mystical yearly event designates the official start of spring and has been celebrated by many cultures around the world.:
- Welcome the lengthening daylight hours by hosting a late-afternoon get-together that revels in the lengthening hours of spring and incorporates floral accents and herbs.
- Use fresh cut flowers like peonies and early roses as table accents that will fill the air with fragrance.
- Tuck daisies or baby’s breath into the place setting for an extra special touch, and adorn the tea tray with rosemary sprigs.
- Flowers don’t appear without the activity of pollinators, and they make attractive accents.
- Place butterfly and bumble bee plant sticks in the vases and pots of decorative flowers;
- Incorporate cute bug-inspired confetti to table tops and tea trays.
- Add pastel taper candles in cut glass flower bases to incorporate subtle atmospheric lighting.
- Illuminate rooms to the fullest with natural light by raising the blinds, adding mirrors to the walls, and using metallic utensils and tea service.
- Paper lanterns and electric string lights can add just the right effect as the evening hours settle.
- Create rustic floral ice cubes by freezing spring edibles like mint leaves and violas in large ice cubes and adding them as refreshing drink accents.
- Add them to strawberry cream cheese finger sandwiches, and create flowery salads using violets, carnation petals, pansy flowers, as well as blossoms of nasturtiums, bachelor’s button, and calendula.
- Savory herbal cream cheese spreads incorporating garlic, chive, and basil work well on bagel crisps as shrimp or cucumber canapés.
Dress: Semi-formal attire
Food Ideas: Floral ice cubes, strawberry cream cheese finger sandwiches, flower salads, herbed cream cheese canapés
Drink Ideas: Ceylon and jasmine teas
Items associated with this concept (Motifs): Butterflies, bees, ladybugs, flowers, tulips