30th Birthday Party – How to host an elegant dinner party

This year has been quite terrific with the arrival of our beautiful golden boy, Silas. I couldn’t have asked for anything more other than some quality time with Ned and a solid eight hours of sleep as my birthday present. But, for the first time in about ten years both of my younger sisters and I were together in the same city. I moved to Raleigh in 2008 from Toronto and since then my family’s visits revolve around special holidays. This time however, my sister Sony and her five beautiful kids are spending their family summer vacation with us in Raleigh. I knew I had to take this opportunity to plan a beautiful and special evening to celebrate with a few of my favorite ladies.

Ned and I came up with a brilliant plan completely within our reach. We’ve loved hosting grand parties flowing with delicious made from scratch meals and drinks, but with a newborn we needed simple and quick. Ned having served at many fine dining restaurants in the past suggested that he host the evening as our house server. I knew this would be a great idea because I wanted an elegant evening where I can sit back and enjoy the company of my girlfriends. Simple household tasks take three times longer with a new baby and we needed help to successfully host this event. My incredible mother-in-law hung out with Silas and helped me set the tables that afternoon. Not only that, she also rocked him for about two hours while I enjoyed quality time with my friends. I am an extrovert and times like this fill me with life so this act of kindness from my husband and mom is one I will never forget.

The evening started around 7:30 on our back porch and Ned served mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice as the ladies arrived. The evening progressed with delicious cheeses, homemade hummus and baba ganoush, and fresh pita slices. The main dishes were a fresh summer pasta salad with pesto and vegetables and a rice pilaf with baked salmon. Our evening ended with a lemon tart and french macaroons (not homemade). It was the perfect evening!  Our drinks were consistently filled, food arrived at a timely manner, empty dishes were cleared, and our entire kitchen cleaned by the time our guests had left. Ned spoke my love language and I completely understood and felt extremely loved. I’m thankful for such incredible girls in my life that spoiled me with their time, gifts, and honoring words.

If you love hosting as much as I do here are a few tips to help you keep it elegant but simple.

  • Set the mood

The gorgeous Crape Myrtle trees were in full bloom in our backyard so I chose pink roses and eucalyptus for the table to compliment the already beautiful backdrop. I also used the Crape Myrtle clippings and green plants throughout the area for a pop of color and it was gorgeous. Candles and strands of lights go without saying for an outdoor event!

  • Keep the menu fresh and simple 

I didn’t want Ned to be in the kitchen cooking all evening so we made simple dishes full of fresh ingredients. Incorporating fresh seasonal vegetables in your menu will add bright vibrant flavors and colors.

  • Plan ahead

We cooked everything ahead of time and chose to serve cold dishes to keep things easy. No need to keep things warm and no worries about serving lukewarm food. Our menu included pasta salad, rice pilaf with baked salmon, fresh-made hummus, pita bread, cheeses with fresh berry jam, raw honey, and crackers.

  • Mix it up

The plates, napkins, and cutlery we used for this party did not all match but the colors came together perfectly to compliment the setting. I used our classic white plates and added a variety of mix matched plates I purchase for food styling. 8 oz mason jars for mimosas and regular glasses for fresh watermelon and herb infused water.

  • Keep the bugs away

I wanted an outdoor event but forgot about mosquitos and bugs! Ned being the incredible problem solver ran to the closest dollar store and purchased very inexpensive citronella defusers…

Hope you enjoy these pictures!

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