When it comes to organizing a Housewarming Party the key to a job well done is personalizing the party. We decided to go with the theme of "All Things Audrey". The significance of an "All Things Audrey" theme is not easily defined. Yet, we managed to narrow it down to some fundamental characteristics of our friend, Audrey.
First, we decided upon a menu. Knowing that it would be a hot day we kept the food light and simple. Roasted and BBQ chicken, a variety of croissant sandwiches, pasta salad, beet salad and Tivoli salad. http://parleneparis.blogspot.com/2008/03/tivoli-salad.html
Several weeks in advance I ordered a handmade greeting card from my favorite vendor, Toya's Designs. I have been ordering cards from her for the past few years and have never been disappointed. In fact, she seems to come up with unique ideas that continue to amaze me. I merely tell her what I would like the card to say ("Audrey in Alhambra") and Toya does the rest of the work. The above card was the end result. It was perfect! toyasdesigns.etsy.com
There we were in 103 degree weather on a Sunday afternoon when our guests began to arrive. Our first order of business was to serve cold drinks. We purchased some clear plastic cups and decorative flower straws to create a similar atmosphere of a smoothie bar. We guided our guests to refreshing appetizers such as chilled grapes, cheese & crackers, fresh watermelon and cool dips & chips.
We then started to pull the theme together by announcing our first treat. We handed a special little envelope to our guests. Each petite envelope contained an item directly related to Audrey. Inside was one of her favorite things, tea. Audrey is particularly fond of London and so we used "English Teatime" tea bags with a special printed message enclosed in the envelope. The envelope was closed with a seal with her initial of the letter "A". Our guests were taken by the idea of receiving a gift at party instead of only giving a gift.
Later we passed out decorative cards with Audrey's first initial in the corner. We asked our guests to write on the card a personal message to Audrey. It could be clever or funny. Long or short. The idea was to leave Audrey with a personal note that she could reflect upon afterward.
Next, we performed in "All Things Audrey" Theatre. Since Audrey is a great admirer of Jane Austin, we performed scenes from Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma. We also played on Audrey's Japanese culture and had a skit in Japanese.
After the "All Things Audrey" Theatre we passed out a second gift to our guests. We gave petite bottles of Japanese Cherry Blossom shower gel. This little gift is clearly directly related to our guest of honor and continues to carry the theme.
We moved along to the anticipated event of opening the presents. While we "oohed and awed" at the gifts we served dessert. Beautiful and delicious little cupcakes from Audrey's favorite Cup-cakery, Dots Cupakes is located in Pasadena. We added in the extra touch of cute little butterfly cupcake toppers that we ordered online. www.dotscupcakes.com
When the last bow had been untied and the last ribbon had been cut, we offered our guests one last treat. In the spirit of giving, we truly wanted to thank our guests for showing love and support to our friend. We handed out one last "thank you" gift. Wrapped with ribbon and containing a thank you card, each guest received a bag of homemade cookies. The enclosure read, "Thank you for helping us turn Audrey's house into a warm and cozy home". This extra little gesture added the final element of tenderness and gentility, much like Audrey.
As if there had not been enough surprises for one evening, we surprised Audrey with one final surprise. Weeks before the event we asked each guest to contribute a recipe in order for us to create a personal recipe book. We all contributed a favorite recipe and compiled quite the collection for Audrey. Not only was this a useful gift but it is also a great keepsake.
For my gift to Audrey I decided to get personal again. I found an adorable apron and matching oven-mitts. I took the apron to a local embroidery shop and had her name embroidered on the apron. Voila! A personal gift. I also found a book (knowing that Audrey loves to read) that went with the theme of the party and had the perfect title. The title of the book was "What Would Audrey Do?" The book is based on the life of Audrey Hepburn. It matched the theme of the party so well, I couldn't resist.
With a lovely evening coming to an end, we happily passed out our little bags of cookies and thanked everyone for coming. We were delighted with the outcome of over a month worth of planning. Audrey was elated. Our guests departed feeling appreciated and we, the organizers, were content and overjoyed by observing everyone enjoying themselves tremendously.
The party dwindled down to about 8 guests and we retreated to Audrey's deck. We were satisfied when we contemplated the events of the evening. We tailored the House Warming party with specific features of Audrey's personality and everybody went home with a sense of warmth and friendship. When planning an event using a few personalized elements goes a long way. Personalization shows how much you really know your friends. Hosting a successful party for a good friend is just another day in a European Style Life.