I have learned that funny looks and failed ideas can pay off big time. One thing I have always tried to do is make every get-together just a little over-the-top. This means that I receive many funny looks from friends when I am describing what my plans are and I have a history of many failed attempts in my still unwritten hospitality journal. It has all paid off though because the memories are happy and many! Here are some fun ways to spark creativity into your hospitality:
- Look for unique serving trays at a thrift store or garage sale. I have spread buffet bowls on an old-fashioned sled, served hors devours on a beautiful mirror surrounded by candles and sprouted a veggie tray from flowerpots. Anything is game as long as it is clean and food safe!
- Use old stuff in a new way. Do you store things? Go through your “treasures” and decide how you can create a theme for a dinner party around things that you already have. Clean up that old typewriter in your attic, print a fitting quote or message for the honoree in old-fashioned typewriter font and slip it through the typewriter – maybe write a quirky little poem about how your guest of honor is turning forty and remembers using things that are now out of date, like typewriters! Make it a centerpiece for all to see as they walk through your buffet. If you have a theme for your event, go the extra mile with it. It is so much fun when your guests expect the unexpected.
- Always have a little something for guests to remember the event with. It doesn’t have to be laborious to be meaningful. For instance, of you are having a small dinner party with your best girlfriends, give each person a different kind of flower that makes you think of them. Attach a note explaining why they received the beautiful bloom that they did.
- Sometimes it is in the little things. I get most of my funny looks from friends when I spend a little extra time to make a small thing memorable. I have used gorgeous ribbon to hang beautiful old silver forks and spoons from our simple dining room chandelier. When my daughter was about 10, we had a garden party and every girl received a “green thumb” with green ink upon arrival. For our son’s fifth birthday, I enlisted the help of friends to create an “army boot camp” in our back yard complete with shooting pop cans with bb guns (with adult supervision, of course) and a swimming pool “swamp” to cross over with a balancing beam. So much fun!
- As my mom always said, “Homemade was better than store bought.” I used to think she was crazy for making our homemade Halloween costumes but I am a firm believer now that she was absolutely right. Anyone can go out and buy a plastic mask, matching party napkins or hire a party planner but when you infuse your own style into the festivities it is way more fun and once you give it a try, you will see that you have more creativity than you thought… not to mention, you will make plenty of memories trying to get all of the green food coloring off of your child’s face when you dress them up as the Jolly Green Giant’s sidekick, Lil’ Sprout!
- From beginning to end, it is all about relationship. I have learned the hard way that if your planning isn’t fun and keeps you in the kitchen, then you might want to simplify a bit more. If you are trying new recipes, go easy on the decorations. If you are doing it up big on the decorative theme then choose recipes that you use over & over again or do a potluck. I always start with my “big ideas list” and work it down to a bite size list that I can afford and accomplish.