A Night of Celebration!

A few years back, my husband’s new book at the time was my initial spark of inspiration for throwing a party for my husband.

Because his book, No More Christian Nice Guy, had just been released, I knew we had a lot of friends (60 came) who would want to celebrate with us!

Many people get hung up on “large group parties” because it becomes too overwhelming trying to make everything perfect. But I focused on why we were all gathering in the first place – and created the food and festive environment around that.

I also decided that I couldn’t do it all on my own! I asked for help from friends! I set the date, mailed out the invitations, figured out the menu – and then I started making a lot of lists of the details of the party, and who could help me with what. This was the type of party that, if I did not get an RSVP, I called myself to see if the guests accepted our invitation.

I’ve learned a lot from party-givers – and my goal, once the day of the party arrived, was to really sit back and enjoy my guests and myself.

Sharing with you some pictures of the night, I’ll let you in on the details and how this party came to be! (Sorry, I don’t have pictures of the food – what was I thinking?! This party took place long before Reluctant Entertainer was even thought of.)

The food was arranged on the table, and the guests went through the line and filled their plates.

-Different friends brought appetizers and we set up the “appetizer station” in the laundry room, where one person was in charge of refilling the trays of food.

-A friend, who specializes in barbequing tri tip, cooked the meat in advance and brought it hot and ready to eat. He and his wife even served it for us! (I gladly reimbursed him for the cost involved.)
-I made two very large spinach salads with toasted almonds, cranberries, and feta cheese, served with a balsamic, poppy seed dressing.
-I filled small baked potatoes with a Gorgonzola/pistachio nut filling (that’s it – both ingredients mixed with cream!)
-We purchased fresh baguette bread from a nearby bakery and served it in small breadbaskets on each table.
-Dessert included 3 of Costco’s rich, dark, delicate chocolate cakes.

Table Setting
-Simple, yet eloquent. We rented round tables, white linen, and 60 white chairs. Also 2 industrial patio heaters. (Party Rental places usually have everything you’d ever need for a party!)
-I used my glass party dishes and rented what I did not have.
-I used my stemware and rented what I did not have, along with the silverware.
-Simple tiny pumpkins, Fall leaves, and candles were placed in the center of each table.

-A “live” jazz band serenaded our evening. It was the icing on the cake! All I did was arrange it – and they made beautiful music.

-Our kids performed for their Daddy – Abby on the violin and Garrett on the piano.
-A friend rewrote a Van Morrison song for Paul, relating to his book.
-Different friends got up talk, toasted, and even prayed for Paul and his ministry. They talked about his courage and passion.
-Oh, and did I fail to tell you that the sprinklers went off right as we were all sitting down to eat?

Special Touches/Details
-Our friend, Hoppi, made personalized bookmarkers that said, “Good Guy.”
-We had a guestbook for our guests to write in!
-Paul signed a lot of copies of his books!
-We had a few surprise visits from out-of-towners!
-We rented fun lights to put around the perimeter of our lawn. (We had just purchased this house 4 months earlier – and the backyard needed some “help.”)
-We let our kids each invite a friend to the party (the kids had their own table, but out with the adults) and the girls served the appetizers!
-As the party ended, a HUGE thunder and rainstorm took place – perfect timing! Everything got soaked.
-I got a migraine the next morning, so friends and family bailed me out and took all the tables/chairs down and hauled them back (great friends!)

The purpose of this party was not to impress or out-do. My purpose was simple and it served its intention: CELEBRATION. Taking my initial idea, and running with it (I pulled off a semi-surprise), and making the effort to create a night of magic was very satisfying.

Ending with this, I want to share one of the last lines that our brother-in-law Steve wrote in a short speech he read to the group of 60 people (I saved his speech for a scrapbook). It sums up the night well – and the purpose of our gathering. Three years later, these words ring even stronger within The Protectors.

Paul, I hope you will continue to champion the cause of truth.”
And that made the whole night worth it.

(These pictures were taken 3 years ago when our backyard didn’t quite have the “love” that it has now – if you notice a difference!)

17 comments on “A Night of Celebration!”

  1. I love the simplicity of the night. I wish I could take that to heart…in fact I’m going to from now on. Simple and fun. I never would have thought to hire a band. Great idea!

  2. I love what you said about it being a celebration and not being about impressing or out doing. That statement is so powerful. Sounds like it was a wonderful evening.

  3. I’ve wishlisted your husband’s book – it looks very interesting.

  4. Sandy, I love this post, I love the ease in which you talk about it, as if it was nothing too difficult, your confidence in yourself as a hostess is a gift from God and I am hoping for more of this gift for myself

    as ever when I visit here, I get inspired to entertain and am chipping away at the reluctant entertainer in me and starting to think “no I’m not a reluctant entertainer I am a hospitable hostess giving a gift” !!!!!

    this post even makes me think a big party is do-able……

    My two-week entertaining date is looming this weekend and as yet I haven’t invited anyone, because now I really have to go out of my comfort zone and invite someone who ya know I probably wouldnt invite if I hadn’t found your blog and had a bit of a push…I’ll see how I go, it’s already Wednesday so it’s looking unrealistic

  5. How wonderful. I love nights like this. You make everyone feel so special…

  6. Focusing on why you were having the event was key to your successful celebration. Once I learned to relax and stopped trying to have the perfect party, my parties got better. I now understand that being surrounded by my family and friends is the most important part of the celebration and everything else will fall into place – even if it rains or the bacon/scallop appetizers burn and set off the smoke detectors! I like the positive mood of your blog!

  7. As I read your party story, I keep thinking of my husband turning 40 this year. How nice to honor yours like this.

  8. How beautiful – and *real*. :o)

  9. What an excellent reason to get together and celebrate! I’ll bet there are others who have fond memories of that time together in addition to you! :-) It looks like a wonderful time!

  10. You’re such an inspiration! Thank you for all the great ideas.

  11. thanks for sharing your gift of hospitality with us!

    shalom aleichem sista!

  12. So great! this post made me feel like i was there!! What another incredible and meaningful gathering at your home Sandy, again the love represented by those you invited and the way you put together the celebration just jumps off the blog!
    You truly do inspire me to take a deep breath and jump in again!

  13. what an amazing job you did! you make all of this seem so much more managable and less intimidating!

  14. So lovely… and so encouraging for those of us that want to host a big gathering like yours.
    Thanks for sharing the details and just how simply it can be with a little creativity and help from loved ones.
    Thanks Sandy!

  15. Hi Sandy,
    Thought I would drop bye and say hello! Cheers, Amy

  16. I found your site a month or so ago, and you have already inspired me a great deal. I love to entertain but am often paralyzed by the perfectionism – you are helping me to see that I can get beyond that. Your party looks like it was wonderful!
    I am always looking for new potatoe recipes(our family’s favorite vegetable)….did you mean pistachio nuts chopped up in your potatoes with the gargonzola and cream or something else?


  17. Celebration indeed! That looks like a wonderful party.

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