Party prep that made all the difference

In July 2011, when we moved from Arizona, Mike’s parents hosted a party. It was a sort of combination going away/graduation party for Mike, since he would live in Charleston when he (actually) completed his degree. At the time, we thought that day was a few short months away. The day came about a month ago.

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This highly anticipated accomplishment called for celebration, of course. If we weren’t still paying for that fancy piece of paper with those three hard earned letters, I might have rallied for a weekend away to celebrate instead of working my tail off. Even if money were no object, this was not a victory won in isolation and shouldn’t be celebrated as such.

I’d been (coincidentally or not) reading Shauna Niequist’s latest book, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. It’s a beautiful book, filled with stories of love, healing and celebration around the table. Reading it felt like a long, satisfying meal and reminded me that food can bring people together, creating a backdrop for connection and celebration. Food is essential to the gathering, but entirely not the point.

Mary Carver’s ebook, Plan a Fabulous Party {without losing your mind} nudged me into spending some time thinking about the point of the party. What was my goal? What would make it a success?

Maybe it seems obvious, but without establishing the true motivation and goal of a party, we can get lost in lesser objectives. Perfectionism can derail a party and twist it into an elaborate performance instead of an act of love.

This party had two important goals: to celebrate Mike’s accomplishment, and to thank the friends who stood with us and prayed with us through the process, the people who embraced us even when we weren’t fully available.

Keeping those two key goals in mind helped me make all the tiny decisions around the event. I made cheesecake and peanut butter fudge for dessert because Mike loves both. I decided to give a toast so I could directly acknowledge Mike and thank our guests.

Making most of the food myself was more work than I imagined but also (surprisingly) worth it. I don’t love to cook, but somehow getting the right mindset helped me truly do it out of love without feeling burdened or exhausted. (Most of my menu is on Pinterest if you want to see what I made. The cheesecake and peanut butter fudge recipes aren’t on there, but email me if you want them.)

Four Practical Take Aways:

1. A husband who’ll talk you out of making fresh squeezed lemonade for 30 people is a real gem.

2. Cheap (er, inexpensive) flowers can go a long way. I almost didn’t buy flowers because I don’t know anything about floral arrangements, but I learned that they are kind of impossible to mess up if you have small enough vases (or Mason jars, in my case).

3. Everything takes longer than expected. The food I made the day of took so long that I didn’t start decorating until 5:00. (The party started at 6:00.)

4. We should celebrate more often.

Throwing the party was out of my comfort zone, but I’m really glad I did it. If it’s not worth the effort to gather some of the dearest people we know to celebrate the culmination of a decade of work, then what is?

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2 thoughts on “Party prep that made all the difference

  1. You did a fabulous job with the party Jacey! You definitely accomplished both goals of honoring Mike and showing your gratitude to friends, and you did it with grace, levity and amazing fudge! :) Dan and I were honored to be your guests!

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