Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Secrets to My Fete Success: Part One

So I'm sure I've mentioned once or twice that Ryan and I hosted our first party two weekends ago. Our dear friends Melanie and Jon are engaged, and since Melanie is a super-powerful Chief-Of-Staff who will be traveling through the November election, we wanted to celebrate their engagement before their wedding snuck up on us!

Here are my tips/secrets to a successful fete...

Tip: Pick a day with good weather. Alright, this is more luck than careful planning...but Ryan and I managed to pick the only weekend this summer where the weather was below 95 degrees. It was actually a lovely 85. Thank goodness because I didn't know how we could fit so many people in our tiny upstairs!

Tip: Skip the tired evite. Now considering my love for all things paper & custom, I would NEVER recommend sending an online invitation. But this new website, is so AMAZING!!! I totally recommend Paperless Post. You can customize your own designs, and even the envelope liners. So it arrives in your guest's inbox and they are able to still experience the thrill of opening an invitation...and bonus--they can add the address to their PDA.

Here's the invite I created:

For the ambiance, I knew I wanted to keep the decor very causal, fun...and of course coastal! I decided to use mostly blues and whites, with splashes of red and natural because I knew this would go best with my home furnishings.
Real Life:

Since I couldn't find any tablecloths I liked, I went to Jo-Anne Fabrics and had them cut 4 yards of great 2 outdoor fabric patterns. I absolutely loved the nautical ropes for my dining room table, and the blue swirls for outside. To keep the whole nautical rustic charm, I also purchased burlap at Jo-Anne's and put it under the tablecloths. Lastly, I found this great fisherman's netting which I placed on the outdoor tables. All options were super affordable!

I was finally able to use the 1 million white platters I received for my wedding, along with these fantastic blue and white plates I picked up at Potterybarn ages ago. The napkins were a great find at Ikea.

I used empty San Pellegrino glass bottles (with the labels peeled off) as outdoor flower vases. I love how the green glass looks with the pops of colors.

The white drink buckets from Target kept the beverages chilled outside (and are more attractive than coolers), while the drink dispenser filled with White Sangria ensured nobody had an empty glass. I bought the blue and clear glasses from Target.

Tip: It's always a good idea to have a signature drink in a large container. I added the white sangria to this help-yourself drink dispenser so I never had to worry about people with empty glasses. This Costco-steal was the floor model and the last one they had left. So although it was originally priced at $30, I got it for $5!
Potterybarn also sells some great drink dispensers (but not for $5):

Our party extended from our living room, dining room, and kitchen through our deck and back patio.

Tip: Create numerous conversation areas. A wide open space with chairs on the perimeter can feel awkward and intimidating. However, chairs set in groups facing each other lend well to party flow. We separated the patio into 3 areas, all complete with their own table for drinks and food.

Kaela, Jon, Andy and Amanda
Ryan did a fabulous job of making our patio feel like an extension of our house. With simple outdoor lights and throw pillows from Target, and grocery store flowers he transformed the space into a beautiful retreat.

Tip: If your party is divided into various areas (outside, inside) make sure you have a combination of both food and drinks in all locations. This will keep the conversation and laughs flowing continuously.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. We had friends, food, drinks, and great weather to go around!

I think everyone really had fun, and I hope Melanie and Jon felt as special as we all think they are...
Amanda, Melanie, and Ann
A little Moet Champagne to toast to the newly-engaged
Soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs
The Hostesses
Me and Pat
Looking back, I probably wouldn't have taken on so many large home renovations (guest room, downstairs bathroom, kitchen tile, paint touch-ups) the week of...but I'm thrilled with how everything turned out!

A big thank you to my husband who was a champ through it all :)

Check back in later this week for the Menu and Recipes!



  1. cute home! I am currently in the process of looking in the area for homes there. Moving from Boston but I am very excited!