Can you feel it? There’s just something different in the air. But you can’t quite put your finger on it.
I’ll tell you what it is. It’s normalcy. Or to be more accurate, it’s what we have all been referring to as our “new normal.” Some of us received a shot or two in the arm and all of a sudden it’s “Okay kid, get back in there and swing!”
But restoration of normalcy is easier said than done. While schedules have ramped up at a rapid rate, you may have experienced a sense of whiplash. All those celebrations that were put on hold are being rescheduled. Gatherings that were thought unsafe just months ago are now on the calendar. And aren’t we thankful?
As we open up our homes once again, welcoming loved ones from near and far, take a deep breath. Give yourself some grace and allow yourself to catch up. Each of us are suffering from a bit of “pandemic-lag.”
Rather than break out the crystal, fine china and silver in one fail swoop, why not opt for a casual outdoor gathering? A summer evening in the backyard might be the perfect way to catch up with those friends you haven’t seen this past year. Consider limiting the number of guests. This allows you to spend quality time with those in attendance rather than spending the evening scurrying around trying to satisfy a mob.
Do (Not) Do It Yourself
Nothing will stress you out more than preparing the entire menu single handedly. Remember, we are coming off of months of mask wearing, physical distancing and dreaded lockdowns.
There is no written rule that says you must make every single menu item with your own two hands. Our community is full of good food. Make the most of it!
Do you make a killer brisket but need help with dessert? McKay’s Bakery is just a phone call away. Or maybe you’ve got a dip recipe that everyone requests, but the idea of making the main entree is giving you a migraine. Call Cypress Street Station, where they are only too happy to help out.
Even Ina Garten, New York Times best-selling author and star of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa, is a believer in delegating a dinner party.
“I’m a big believer in buying things,” says Garten. “Use the resources around you…your friends won’t have any more fun if you make everything yourself.”
Source Your City
As you begin to entertain again, you may be on the lookout for the perfect tabletop items to compliment your gathering. When you search, be sure to look in our own (Abilene) backyard. Here are just a few shops I enjoy visiting when searching for well-priced treasures:
TARGET (Ridgemont Drive) Rattan napkin rings and candle hurricanes
When it comes to purchasing trendier items, I don’t like to invest a lot of money in them. Enter: Target. We can usually rely on Target to offer the latest in home trends and a reasonable price. I was able to pick up these items in store, but Target offers a larger variety online, which can ship to store for pick-up.
TJ MAXX (Catclaw Drive) Scalloped jute chargers
You never know what’s going to show up on the shelves here. Always keep an eye out for items you may need for the future and be sure to snatch them up before they are gone. Natural fibers, like jute, are very on trend right now and look especially fantastic in the summer.
KIRKLAND’S (Catclaw Drive) Green check placemats and green bumble bee water tumblers
A variety of styles can be found at this well-stocked store. There’s even more available online to ship to our Abilene store for quick and easy pick-up. The quirky bumblebee motif adds a sweet whimsy especially appropriate for outdoor parties.
ANTIQUE STORES AND ESTATE SALES
Don’t shy away from unusual sources like antique stores and estate sales. These shops and events not only have furniture and home decor, they also have a treasure trove of entertaining pieces. Have an open mind and have some fun!
TUESDAY MORNING (South 14th) Blue Italian Spode Dishes
Inventory is ever-changing at this shop so dropping by from time to time is really worth your while. These classic Spode dishes are made and England, launched in 1816 and have been in production ever since. Use them inside and out, they are microwave and dishwasher safe making clean up a breeze. What’s even better, they never go out of style and match most any table design.
Double Duty Centerpiece
I’m sure all of us would love to have a centerpiece designed by a florist and delivered to our door for each gathering we host. But sometimes, it’s not in the budget. Here’s a good trick that will add beautiful blooms to your evening, but last the entire season.
First thing’s first. Measure the container you will be using as the centerpiece. You’ll want to find a plant that will fit snuggly in your container. Now, hop in the car.
Visit your favorite garden center and select a potted plant that will work as a centerpiece but can then be planted in your garden or planter after the party is over. In this instance, I used a happy pink geranium that would compliment the blue and green tablescape.
Fill the base of the container with plastic to protect it from any dirt or water. In this case, I repurposed some plastic groceries bags. Now it’s safe to place the plant, still in its pot, in your container. Give the plant a good spritz of water. No wilting plants allowed at dinner parties.
To finish off the centerpiece, add some moss at the base of the plant. This gives it a polished yet natural look. I found this moss in the floral section at Hobby Lobby.
Remember that perfection is never the goal. What we missed during those months of social distancing was the connection with loved ones. When connection is our focus, memories are made and friendships are nurtured.
By Callie Harris
Photography By Shayli Anne Photography