I really enjoy the Pioneer Woman. I read her blog every day, and I drool whenever she shows pictures of her Lodge kitchen.
The other day, she had a post that really struck a chord with me. Every year, she hosts some of her oldest and dearest friends for a weekend of catching up and general girly fun. I host a similar gathering for my friends, and so I thought I’d share my experience with you.
In the summer of 2007, my friends and I started a tradition. It was the first summer we realized we were all back in the same city, after being scattered around for a few years. My friend Liz and I were the organizers of the event, and we decided to throw a Hawaiian Luau.
We all wore our best Hawaiian gear. Sir Tommy Bahama would indeed be proud.
Gosh, we look like babies!
It’s become a yearly tradition as a sort of summer get together for our entire group. Through the years, the guest list has changed, and there have been years where not everyone in our core group of friends could make it, but still, every year, there was a luau.
I remember one year, it seemed nearly impossible to find a date that worked for everyone, so we chose to meet on a Friday night (the luau was usually held on a Saturday). There was a powerful storm that night, so there were only three of us there. I don’t even think I dressed up, and just wore jeans and a shirt with a mermaid on it. And I believe the appetizers consisted of nothing but frozen pizza and other frozen items purchased in bulk at my local Costco. I know, classy. No wonder we didn’t take any photos.
We had the 2011 Luau last weekend. We kept it small, with just the four of us attending. We also changed it up a bit.
This year, I thought we were a little bit passed the cheesy Hawaiian Luau theme. As I’ve started to really get into cooking, baking, and party planning, I just couldn’t bust out the tacky blow up red parrot that was once a staple at the event in good conscience.
Instead, I opted for more of a grown up, summery, lady-like party. Here’s my party how-to, because you know I like to share all the gory details.
I decided to still keep some Hawaiian touches, as a nod to the party’s beginnings. For instance, I served grilled margarita chicken skewers as the main dish, and dessert was a half batch of skinny pina colada cupcakes.
Also for the first time this year, the event was hosted as a potluck. I made artichoke parmesan crostini, the skewers, and the signature drink (pomegranate margaritas), and guests each brought something to share.
As a general rule, I don’t like asking guests to bring anything to a party. But, this was kind of always “our” event, and my guests oh-so-kindly volunteered to help out, since I’ve had a lot going on the past couple weeks in terms of weekend events. I happily accepted their offer.
For decorations, I kept it super simple. Since we didn’t have an outside space, I set up our dining room table so we could all eat there. The table cloth came from Homegoods, I believe for $14.99. I have matching napkins, but after seeing them on the table, I decided there was matched pattern overload. Instead, I used the napkins to create a runner on the sidebar by the food.
On the sidebar, I created a few flowery poofs made out of tissue paper. You can see how I did it by viewing Martha Stewart’s tutorial here.
I kept the table decoration simple because of the busy tablecloth pattern and used a red candle (got it for free from Pier 1!) in a hurricane jar. Too bad I didn’t take a photo before the party started. Instead, I’m left with only the after shot.
I set the table using, get this, my wedding china! Yep, Dan gave in and let me register for the most traditional of all wedding gifts. Ours is made by Lenox in the Twirl pattern. I make it a point to bring out the china pretty often. Ours is more durable than most, and get this, it can even go in the dishwasher! So I bring it out whenever I think of it. Why get wedding china if you’re never going to use it? Life’s too short to keep your pretty wedding china in a box, or even worse, in a curio cabinet, all the time.
Finally, I put our Miguel Margarita Glasses from Crate & Barrel. First time I got to use my glasses and pitcher set.
All in all, it was a most successful party. I had a great time with my girly-friends.