Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Valentine Luncheon 2009, part I: party preparations.


I had a really busy week leading up to my luncheon.

I'm generally not a very organized person, but for this event, I had to be. Early in the week I made out my grocery list. I also made a note of everything I needed to do before the luncheon and made a timetable of when I would complete each task so that I could be sure I didn't leave too much for Friday morning.

My task list

I went to the grocery store on Wednesday. Wednesday night and Thursday during the day I was helping with a Literary Festival at my son's high school (I will post about that later), so when I got home Thursday at 4:30, I really had to hit the ground running.

My friend Anne-Murray arrived from Birmingham around 6:00 that evening. I greeted her warmly and begged her not to run back to Alabama when she saw how much work there was to be done! My friends Priscilla and Ricca also came over Thursday night to help. I so wish I had taken pictures! They went to work setting tables, ironing a few errant placemats and napkins, and putting party favors into cellophane bags and tying them with pretty ribbons. I was busy with food preparation in the kitchen.

This was my menu:

Almond Tea
Kir Royale (champagne with Creme de Cassis liqueur)

Hors d'Oeuvres
Seafood Buttons with Dijon sauce
Baguette slices with basil-cream cheese mixture, Roma tomato and freshly grated Parmesan

Main Course
Mango Salad with Grilled Shrimp
Indian Baked Rice
Yeast Rolls

Warm Soft Chocolate Cake

Sweet Robert went straight from work to Hockey Boy's high school game. As soon as he got home, I sweet-talked him into grilling the shrimp for me. Little did he or I know it would take almost two hours! Yikes. I told him that counted as my Valentine present.

We accomplished everything on my list for Thursday night by about 11:00.

The next morning I got Vivian off to school and then made the dough for the yeast rolls. My sweet friend Karey had offered to drive Dots's carpool for me so I was free to concentrate on my morning tasks.

My schedule for the ovens

At 10:30 the servers I had hired to assist during the party arrived. I showed them a few things I needed help with that morning (like assembling the baguette hors d'oeuvres, filling water glasses, etc.), explained my menu and oven schedule to them and described how I wanted the food plated. They were fabulous: they worked hard and intuitively figured out what needed to be done without needing a lot of direction from me. They really freed me up to be able to visit with guests and enjoy my party.

Shortly after the arrival of the servers, the florist delivered my flowers, which were exquisite. Anne-Murray had suggested I use mint julep cups for my centerpieces this year, and I was so pleased with how they turned out. She and I placed the flowers on the tables and stepped back to check them out. Everything looked so pretty!

The breakfast room table

The den table

The living room table

The dining room table

My talented blog friend, Cherry, made me some beautiful decorations using vintage papers. They really added to the festive atmosphere, and I received many compliments on them.




My sweet friend Kim from 3 Peanuts sent me this wonderful tin heart last week. It was such a delightful surprise! I hung it on the door to the guest room

to be continued...

Coming up next: the guests arrive!


Mary Alice said...

You are such a talented hostess....and your home is really beautiful. I know your friends are blesed to enjoy such lovingly prepared parties.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, that is absolutely gorgeous!

I cannot wait to see what the dishes looked like!

JMW said...

Your party decorating is divine! You are the hostess witht the mostess!

JoAnn said...

As usual....flawless.

You, not organized? AS IF!

Preppy Pettit said...

Everything is so pretty!

3 Peanuts said...

It is all gorgeous Eloise! You are quite the hostess:)

The 5 Bickies said...

What a party! It is such fun to see all the detail and how you put it all together. You are a very talented hostess! Can't wait for Part 2.

The Mrs. said...

That looks so divine. I only wish I could have been there!!!

Hopsy said...

You are so very talented Eloise! Your party was fantastic and no detail went unnoticed. The decor is lovely and the menu make my mouth water! I love the first photo you posted. For work whenever we have somethign like this out or on the table the guests have everyone at their table sign it as a momento. Then, you can have it framed in a two sided frame (you could even do a photo on top of it). You can start a little collection and put them out every year in the future!

Tami said...

What an amazing party! I think your friends are very lucky to have been invited to such a special and delicious luncheon. Very nicely done.
Did you fall over afterwards?