Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Over the weekend, my siblings and I teamed up to create an intimate celebration dinner for our parent's 25th wedding anniversary. We held the event at their home and sent them away for part of the afternoon while we staged the set up. While a lot of thought and planning went into how we would set this apart from other family dinners held more regularly, we worked together to make this affair come together surprisingly easy. 

One way we did this was to divide and conquer. Each of us managed an aspect of party. My husband and I took charge of creating our dinner setting for the evening on my parent's patio. Early on, I decided that we should leverage the built in greenery in the surrounding yard and adjacent golf course. I riffed on this naturally beautiful setting by pulling together a table using natural materials - woods, linens, branches and lots of greenery on the table.

A long dinner table kept the vibe casual and communal, as did the table effects. Rustic dishtowels served as napkins. We pulled together the flatware from extra sets my sisters and I have collected. I had the idea to fashion some inexpensive chargers out of birch plywood sourced from my local Home Depot. The staff were kind enough to cut a 4x8' sheet down into 13x13" squares which helped pull each place setting together. Yard clippings, boston fern, lilacs, wax flower and cream colored roses were intermixed to compose mini arrangements set into my collection of bottles and silver goblets that were placed down the center of the table. Once the day's heat settled into evening, we backfilled in between with candles to establish a festive glow. The regular shaded overhead lighting was also swapped for filament bulbs to create a clean and modern lighting scheme. 

We loaded up our respective cars bright and early on Saturday morning and met over at my parent's home to dispense with set up and meal prep. I had to laugh driving down the freeway in our own car.  The dog and I barely squeezed into the front seat we are so loaded up with lanterns, flowers, linens, plates and pillows!  The day felt burgeoning and full with activity as well. Meal prep took on the hustle and bustle of an industrial kitchen line at one point, each dish out timed with precision out of the oven so the next could be put in. Our fellas all helped out as well. As he always does, my husband worked his magic with our soundtrack for the evening while tending bar. One of my brother in laws manned the grill, while another dished up one of my favorite appetizers - stuffed dates. 

I also created a colorful board of goodies to nosh on while we sipped cocktails and took turns with the photographer my sister hired to take some formal family portraits.

To keep our table intact prior to the meal, I carved out a section of the yard and created a little side lounge at which to sit and visit during cocktail hour. 

I think one of the best aspects of the evening was the collective effort that went into this celebration. We honored our mom and dad who sat in the middle of the long dinner table by working together to make this happen for them. My sisters and brother and I went around with each dish, serving guests at the table and then filed into the kitchen to wash up once the cake had been served. We have a very large family, full of volume and chaos, but I'll always look back fondly at that evening and how we all worked as a team and made some more memories to mark the day our parents married and we all became a family.

*photos by erin neally for holtwood hipster


Wenni Donna said...

Elated to know about this information on anniversary dinner. Couple of months ago, I arranged my sister’s wedding reception dinner at one of graceful New York venues. Decorated the venue with beautiful flowers and every guest had lovely time there.

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