Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Party

Oh y'all. It was quite the party! We have been wonderfully exhausted. That gave-it-all-we-had-completely-content kind of exhausted - that is simply wonderful.

We left family early the Friday morning after Thanksgiving and headed home to start gettin' ready. I'd packed matching Christmas outfits for the kiddos. Unfortunately, it was rather frigid and short-sleeved smocked dresses with light sweaters just wouldn't cut it. So, we had a cozy drive and stopped for a tree a few miles from home - in pajamas. Rock on.

Regarding the great tree picking dilemma? Experience? Whatever...I let the kids pick. Every. Year. 

Life is too short to get upset over finding "the perfect tree." We have some big ornaments that fill in those holes, plus, I want to build fun memories during that time. So, I choose not to care. And it's really worked out beautifully. (But I'm kind of thinking, maybe I should freak out about a tree once a year, instead of silly little things every day of the year?)

We bought the second one the nice man pulled out for us. 

I always do the lights (all 1500!), and then it's a free for all. We put all the ornaments we have on the tree and I don't move them, so sometimes we have fifteen on one branch. We have one ornament for everything The Engineer ever did in his life, all carefully labeled, a handful of mine from childhood, and some stinkin' adorable handmade ornaments - some I even made in kindergarten! As each year passes, those ornaments become even more precious to me.

We always top the tree with our Fred's tinsel light up star. That was a "first married Christmas, we have no money and are livin' on love" purchase, that, again, as the years go by, becomes more and more precious to me.

We let both kids take a turn topping the tree.

And all of this, in preparation for the party!

I cannot believe I didn't take a picture of our bedroom. My husband gets the Man of the Century award! Without ever losing his temper or sporting a bad attitude, that man helped me move nearly EVERY stick of furniture into our bedroom...because you need a lot of space for what turned out to be a seated dinner for fifty. And fyi, my man can dance with an almost 8 foot sofa in the tiniest of hallways, and somehow, coax her through the door of our bedroom. I suggested we leave her on her end in the hall...we could squeeze past and who needs to get in that closet anyway? He'd have none of that and miraculously got her through. I am still in awe.

No pre-party prep is complete without a roof leak. Lovely. It had dried by party night, but we still had a small strip of ceiling dangling during the party. Festive, eh? The lights were low. I'm not sweating it. Whatever.

In fact, as we prepared I noticed how dirty my fan blades are, how much of our trim needs a fresh coat of paint, how many windows need scraping, etc. and I prayed that if anyone noticed any of that stuff, they might be encouraged - and that God would keep my heart in the right place. People, not stuff. 'Cause I get it wrong. A lot.

I decked our makeshift rail with garland. It sure spruced up the area - and The Engineer tacked plastic over the still exposed ceiling/floor of the upstairs bedroom.

But check it out...we still lack trim and lighting, but oh baby, the library is coming together. We painted the shelves a light gray. I almost went dark - charcoal black, actually. Right now, I'm so thankful we went light. I am loving this room. LOVING this room.

The Engineer and I were responsible for preparing the appetizers, meat, and dessert. 

Note the floor around her chair...that's how you get marinade on all that meat. You let your 17 month old mush and then chunk all manner of sticky stuff all over  the floor.

I assigned a "table host couple" for each table. That couple was responsible for setting up (with their own china, etc.) their table, serving drinks and food during the party, clearing, and packing up their table post party. This worked beautifully. 

We organized china by table, and tried to put the dishes in order of use - salad, dinner plate, coffee cup/saucer, and dessert. This was helpful, but really, it was just crazy serving that many people. And it was a blast. People jumped in. We had a few tables that wound up host-less, one for the entire evening and one for the first part, and couples jumped in with ready smiles and eager hands. I love that! The Engineer and I worked side by side, dishing it out. I love that man.

I made tomato soup for our appetizer. We served it in tea cups. It was awesome. Stole that idea from The Engineer's cousin.

We put 16 in the library. All party-preppin'.

I had to use a flash, without was just too dark (see above)...and I didn't take as many pictures as I'd have liked. I should have specifically asked someone to. Hindsight is usually 20/20, right?

So I ran and snapped a few as guests began arriving. (A friend let me use his totally crazy-nice wide angle lens, hence the distortion.) 

{Random, but just because, our dining room table, when fully extended, seats 18 comfortably. However, we are missing, um, all but one leaf. A few years ago, The Engineer routed mdf and made several more leaves. That Christmas, we swapped the living and dining rooms and seated 21 at the table. Friday night, we seated 12. And covered the mdf with a table cloth I made six years ago for my mom's birthday luncheon, which was the same day we announced we were expecting Sister, and the making of that table cloth prompted The Engineer to purchase a sewing machine for me (it's still goin' strong)  and that was back in the day - livin' on love. I still remember picking it out at Walmart and watching him with a mixture of awe over his kindness and desire to provide well for his wife, and sheer terror over the price...thank you, God, for bringing Dave Ramsey into our lives!}

We seated 16 in the living room...I can't stand how the flash distorts the romantic glow of the evening...check out Mr. Hottie to the right of the buffet. 

We put six in the breakfast room...

Another shot of the living room...

I did all the centerpieces, thanks to my Mom's stash from my sister's wedding. I livened things up by tucking boxwood clippings (from our bushes) into the wreaths for a little greenery.

I got a kick out of how passionate southern women are about their sliver and china...whose grandmother had what pattern and why they picked this and what their husband had to say about it and where this pitcher came from, etc. It was a blast. My neighbor dropped off some Christmas goodies and when she saw what was going on, she ran home and grabbed her Christmas china and brought it back, insisting I use it! China, crystal, and silver are a big deal in the south. I love that.

Check out the ceiling! The leak...and you get a little of the ambiance in this shot!

I cringe a little over this shot. We served creme brulee for dessert. Oh my. Heaven in a little ramekin. The Engineer assured me my little kitchen torch would not cut it. (I had 60 to torch.) So he brought home the big guns. A propane torch and an extra tank of propane, just in case. As soon as the last dinner plate was served, we started torching creme brulee. It was awesome.

Not all our furniture would fit in our bedroom, so we put what wouldn't fit on the driveway, along with three fire pits and a few throws. Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot until everyone was inside and the fire had died down...but seriously, how fun!?

We prayed the evening would be honoring and glorifying to God. We prayed that marriages would be strengthened and encouraged. We prayed that God would be pleased, that it would be a sweet offering to Him. My heart is peaceful and content. I am so thankful for all the help, all the sweet attitudes, for everyone who bent over backwards - setting up and hosting tables, preparing food, keeping our children (for most of Friday), and washing dishes - two couples stayed until 11pm Friday night! I am so thankful they stayed and helped! We crawled into bed a little after 1am, got up early Saturday and went strong all day and pressed on Sunday after church. Monday The Engineer was off and we all (even Little Bit) slept until 9:30am. 

It was all so completely worth it. What a precious night. I pray it was a blessing to everyone attending - married, single, young, and old alike. I get a little teary thinking of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Friday night was beautiful and went off without a hitch. It was a precious evening. And it was merely a whispering, a hint, if that, of what is to come. 

To God be the glory!

Merry Christmas, y'all!


  1. Beautiful! Love that shot of you workin' that torch! ;) Love you!

  2. What an AMAZINGLY beautiful party Jenn!! How wonderful it all was...I can tell how the "ambiance" was...I'm so glad you included that *dark* photo...so GORGEOUS!! Your home is lovely. Your heart is even more lovely...you are precious! Wish we could have been there...maybe one day. :)


  3. Wow - your home is beautiful! The party was such a blessing to your friends, I'm sure. Good for you for being willing to do it, and serve! I must admit that I'm rather envious of all the style....us Northeners aren't very good about the dress up thing, and also aren't interested enough, in my opinion, about the silver, crystal, and china. But, you've heard that from me before! Anyway - lovely, lovely job!

  4. Looks like yall had a blast!! Everything looks so good! Love the bookshelves! Tell the Engineer good job ;)
    Love yall

  5. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!!!!

    You done, Good!!!!!!!

    Hint on the creme brulle. I make ginger/blueberry cream brulle (sp?) and I put on the ginger/raw sugar when it is cold, then stick them all in the oven on broil on high under a very watchful eye. I can do as many as can fit in the oven.

    Oh, I'm so proud of you for going with the flow and not stressing as much as you normally would. You look beautiful and delightful as a hostess.

    Your home and library are beautiful, too. It is all coming together slowly.

    I better run, I need to go wake up hubby for work! Yikes!!!

  6. The party looked so beautiful! So good to see A.P. and A.S. in those pictures!! We miss all of you so much!! We will be home from Christmas day until New Year's, would love to get together with everyone if they are in town!

  7. What a lovely night! I love the old but new look of your home. I had chills while reading and looking at all the pics---and especially imagining what the Marriage Feast will be like. What a beautiful glimpse you gave us!

  8. Not even sure where to start, but congratulations on a beautiful event. I really am so impressed - 50 people?! Good grief!!! But, it all worked out, and your hard work made for a delightful evening, I'm sure! I loved getting a glimpse into more rooms in your home...love your style and all the details.

    Oh, and I can relate to "picking out the tree." Man, I used to be so picky and now it's all about what the hubs is willing to bring home and put up!!! I have no energy for "the perfect tree!!!"

  9. What an effort all that must have taken. I'm exhausted just looking at these pictures. Looks like you pulled it off beautifully, though. :)

  10. What an effort all that must have taken. I'm exhausted just looking at these pictures. Looks like you pulled it off beautifully, though. :)

  11. You are superwoman! It looks beautiful!! I'm so glad you posted the pics. I love all of them, especially the kiddos picking out their favorite tree in their "js"!
    Merry Christmas, sweet friend!

  12. great job! you did awesome..knew you would. love your home and the china! the library is gorgeous.Oh and I loved the kids getting the tree in their pajamas..good times!

  13. I'm so glad the party went well! Your house looked BEAUTIFUL. And the library! Wow. It looks awesome.
    Hope you have fully recovered from all the festivities.

    Those first pictures of the kids in their pj's are too fun! What a great memory for them.

  14. Looks like such a fun party! You have the most beautiful house and it looks so pretty all decked out for Christmas!

  15. I've been looking forward to this update! The party, my dear, was beautifully executed but what is more beautiful to me is your humble heart and your willingness to use your home (despite being mid-renovation) to serve and bless others. You challenge me by example.

    I love the idea of table hosts -- how fun and practical! I love your outdoor sitting area -- whimsical and romantic!

    I see that in your kitchen you have the cabinet doors off of some of your cupboards. I made a strong case for this when we did our kitchen renovation but the husband was opposed... I still love the way it looks!

  16. WOWSER! Aren't you just SUPERWOMAN! What a beautiful job! It looks like so much fun, and I know your friends adore you for all your hard work and beautiful spirit!

    ON A SIDE NOTE: I NEED that bullitin board in your kitchen..where did you find one that size? I want something like that for Samuel's room.

  17. So real-life. So exceptional. So beautiful.