P.O.P!

I can recall the moment it dawned on me I would start this business.  My son’s graduation party was a day away and there was still an unending list of things I hadn’t thought of that I needed to do popping into my head like bubbles, one after another.  Lawn games.  Flowers for the bathrooms.  Pick up new mascara. Storage containers for leftover food.  Ice tongs. Coffee. COFFEE!!! Creamer, sugar, stirrers… These forgotten details had my brain on overload as the list of last minute things kept growing.  My head hurt. I was tired. I had been reeling for a week already, every day tackling what I could do ahead of time.  Or, maybe it hurt from the beers I had the night before when I went on a trip down memory lane going through photos to create a picture collage.  Laughing, crying, drinking. Texting my friends and family every hilarious or adorable picture of my sweet son. It was very cathartic. By 3 a.m. I found my lot and left a huge mess in the living room, adding even more on my plate for the next day which now included creating the photo board I mistakenly assumed would happen in conjunction with the picture looking.  Au contraire.

You see, I had thought through every last detail of this party and had made list after list.  I truly love the mechanics of a party from the birth of an idea down to the last toast of the evening.  I love the cycle of adrenaline rushes followed by exhaustion, a moment of rest then getting myself back in the game.  I’m one of those people who wanted chafing dishes for Christmas my 2nd year wed. I read and watched Martha Stewart like a junkie, feeling the dopamine pouring into my brain the minute I laid eyes on her creamy neutrals and luscious lemon bars.  I have torn out pages of Prime Rib 101 tucked safely in a manilla folder in my pantry and still refer to it every single year for that special occasion meal. I know exactly what to do by now, but seeing her step-by-step instructions and that part about the yorkshire pudding gives me the feeling I get when all the lights are off and only the Christmas tree is lit.  There’s just something brand new and timeless about it all at once.

My life now is different.  I once had time to labor and toil and do everything the long, hard way.  Now, I’d rather prefer to leave some of the unsexy parts of party hosting to someone else and if there was a way out for that last graduation party, I would have taken it.  

Once upon a time, beginning my first year married, there were many small dinner gatherings in our first apartment.  I was eager to cook and learning to drink wine. At 23 I was delighting in this sensual world of adult sophistication.  “Wine makes me amorous!” I told my husband, as I stirred the sauce. Looking back on it now, I think it was the sauce (the other one). I would plan my meal throughout the week, make lists, consider what kind of visuals and ambiance would convey my inner emotions.  That was during my renaissance art phase so I recall a lot of grapes and black dresses and fragrant perfume (Jilsander No. 4).

Then we bought our first home.  I hosted EVERYTHING. (On a side note, I happen to live my entire life in ceremony, hosting was just my way of making people join me). We lived in a 1200 square foot bungalow and it was a dollhouse to me, my dream home.  Soon we had an epic house warming party. There may have been 75 people there by the time it was all said and done. I planned and shopped and cooked for days.  We had a tent, tables with centerpieces, and a lovely food buffet in the decrepit, unfinished basement because it was the only place I could fit the ginormous spread. Gross. This is also the party when I learned the hard way there’s some kind of wizardry in creating your guest list.  Party tip: “Everybody” is not recommended. I also hosted my second Christmas that year and things had improved from the year before. I learned from my mistakes that I could only enjoy myself when my food did not require over an hour of my attention to finalize and serve.  I don’t remember what I served to remedy this but I picture someone with a toothpick in hand. We had so many more dinners that first year in our new home. I remember perfectly the recipes I tried. The ones that succeeded are still served today, the failures were put to pasture then and there.  But the first gala event was our daughter’s 1st birthday party.  OMG.  I planned the crap out of that party.  Literally.

As this went on year after year, my love of entertaining continued to grow.  Party after party, holiday after holiday I continued to refine my skills by learning along the way.  As I reflect on this, I can say that mistakes and failures never stopped me from venturing further and trying new things.  Once I was onto an idea, it became my obsession, both a creative outlet and an uncomfortable confinement until it was achieved: my ideas released and brought to life.  

I was fortunate enough to have been able to stay home with my children for 14 years to raise them. It was a blessing for them and me. This allowed me the gift of time to plan and execute elaborate events.  I look back and realize those years filled with parties and dinners with family and friends are our story. Every party I ever hosted became another story, another memory. At least for me. Before the iPhone, I had a big clunky camera I was always regretting not using enough.  I was usually in the kitchen or hosting and giving my attention to people. Enjoying them. There were many unforgettable events I wish I had pictures of now, but the truth is, the memories withstand. I don’t care what people wore nor did I need to document who was there.  I know exactly who was ever there and how I felt that day. Probably close to 60 parties later, I can still remember that weird smelling blue candle I bought at Pier One for my first housewarming party and the coffee table art book I put out to encourage interesting discussion, which it did.  I remember that one Christmas my lasagna was awful, literally inedible (that occasion requires no pictures, I am quite certain everyone there remembers perfectly the details of that culinary disaster).

I remember my first dinner party. I invited a friend from work and her husband and they were much older than we, over 30! They were such gracious guests. It was my first sophisticated grown up “dinner with friends”. They told us that night they had danced to Let’s Stay Together by Al Green for their wedding song.  We sat at our tiny tile-top table in a cramped corner in our apartment kitchen.  I also remember being so proud that I knew how to properly set a table. Thanks Martha.  

All this eventually lead to this last recent graduation party.  There I was, a day out and still powering through hours upon hours of running around.  Costco, the flower shop, the candy shop, the beauty shop, box up a thousand flowers to transport to the clubhouse, stop at Staples to pick up the banner I had made, prepare food, make the damn photo collage.  My son sailed on the high school sailing team and we belong to Crescent Sail Yacht Club.  The party was held there. I decided to decorate with a nautical theme and it just so happened that my friend from work, Barb, was planning a nautical themed rehearsal dinner for her son at the Farms Pier.  As I listened to her explain the planned details of this dinner for 60 she was hosting, it was like hearing myself plan a party. She was energized about it. Her creativity was flowing. She enjoyed spending her lunch hour working on it.

And she was gracious enough to offer her tablecloths and other various beautiful decorations, lawn games, and servingware for me to borrow. It was truly a gift because I could not have purchased all those items for my party. I pulled up to her house, loaded my van, went home, loaded it more, then drove to the clubhouse and dropped things off. Went home, loaded up coolers and beverages and more miscellany, then back to the clubhouse.  It is now evening. I’m dog tired. Still more to do… Next morning, begin again. Costco, pick up cake. CVS, who knows what but I needed it. Load up again, transport more. Shower, dress, more pit stops, then off to the clubhouse to set up. Along with family, I prepared straight until 3 p.m. when the party started.  Phew! All was well. The place looked fabulous. The food table set up perfectly. The bright white flowers atop the navy tablecloths were stunning. Guitarist was playing, sun was shining, and hopefully our guests felt well-received and cared for. I believe they did because many close friends lingered long after the 7:00 ending time.  Another wonderful party, this one for my special, dear son. But for me, the day was a blur and I was about ready to drop.

When I pulled out of Barb’s driveway that day before with my van full of her beautiful belongings, I was overcome with gratitude that she shared her things with me.  I cannot always afford to purchase every last detail I would like to have for my parties. I can’t always make my Pinterest ideas come to life with the time and budget I have.  I work now, my time is valuable. Driving around town to piece together a party is exhausting.  

This is when it dawned on me:  If the many items I had borrowed from Barb were available to rent, I would gladly have rented them.  There’s only so much you can do with party supply store items and honestly, I am a party snob. I’ll admit it.  I want the good stuff. I want linens, not plastic. I want TONS of flowers. Everywhere. I want presentable servingware.  When my guests walk up to my bar or food table, I want them to feel a little pampered, delighted.

I own many large, bulky practical items needed to host a big crowd.  I have chafing dishes, commercial coffee maker, two large roasting ovens, ice buckets, platters, boxed stemware.  I have been collecting this stuff for decades. Owning it is great, storing it…not so great. Hauling it back and forth is zero fun bordering on a living hell.  But I own it so I use it. I realized after hosting my second graduation party in a row there is a need in our community for a service that can make hosting parties, especially at the clubhouses, less stressful.  Imagine if you could rent the club, plan your menu, and pay to have someone deliver straight to your venue the things you do not have but need plus classy party decor, unload it, and take that whole hassle out of the equation?  

Truth be told, I would have loved if I could have enjoyed making the photo collage for my son more than I actually did because I had 10 million other things piled up to do.  I would have loved if my hairdo wasn’t being finalized in the bathroom of the clubhouse 10 minutes before guests arrived. What if I could hire two experienced, creative, professional women with boutique inventory plus a killer work ethic to assist me so I could still feel confident things would be done well and done right, specifically the way I want them, while I enjoy a cup of coffee and prepare myself for my guests?  What if I didn’t have to load and schlep and set up, and instead could enjoy fussing with the flowers or finalizing food details in the kitchen, or taking in the sight of a beautiful room without wiping sweat off my brow?  I’ll tell you now it would be worth every penny to me.  I have hosted my children’s birthday parties in my home for years.  I’m ok easing up a little now and hiring some help. And if I could use my local clubhouses without the hassle and headache of all that loading and unloading, I so would.  I would hunt down those ladies and book them for my parties time and again.

There exists a limited few places to rent the items you need to host a crowd.  They exist, but I’ve never had an inspiring or pleasant experience with them. I found a handful of “event planners” in the metro area and none seemed to offer the niche kind of thing I was looking for. None seemed personal or well-appointed, or with the kinds of boutique items I envision for my parties.  And none were a single place I could get everything from a few items to rent to full-blown private party planning, and none offered the service of having all the stuff delivered straight to my venue. You want that chafing dish or those tablecloths? Pick it up, drop of off, adding even more running around.

Barb and I believe in this service because we ourselves are our own ideal clients.   We love beautiful things and creative events. We appreciate a well-run party. We like to be pampered a little, and want our guests to be, too. We happen to be the type of gals who throw and attend parties for the purpose of connecting with others. We believe it’s a core value this community is built on and it is our desire to help others continue to use their homes and community spaces to make their memories when the convenience of less personal venues lures them to avoid the stress of hosting.

We believe every party tells a story and there are many factors that will drive what that story will be.  We know that a stressed-out hostess can never coax out of people those deeper emotions and heartfelt moments. When you have a stressed-out hostess, guests quickly sense the whole room is filled with people making small talk as the party giver is giving the vibe she can’t wait until it’s over so she can exhale.  We’ve all been there a time or two.

We created Parties On Pointe with the vision of bringing forward into our community what we simply love and enjoy doing for ourselves.  We are both notably the type of women who blur the line between work and fun. For us, this business is work we love.  The amount of joy we have both derived from late night, afternoon, and early morning discussions evolving ideas and imagining the things we can’t wait to do for future clients affirms everything we know to be true.  

We are thrilled and honored to present to you Parties On Pointe. Let’s get in touch. We’ll take the load off, and make your parties P.O.P!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Good, Nancy?

This is my son’s humor when he’s driving, as he cranes his neck to see if traffic is clear and says, “We good, Nancy?” I laugh every single time.  I picture it, and then my mind wanders to the life of Harold and Nancy.

Harold wears a hat, of course.  Cigar-scented and sunken into the seat of an old classic with bad suspension, he peers over the wheel to get a glimpse of the road.  Nancy is wearing a camel wool coat and a great amount of rouge.  Her hair is stiffly coiffed and she smells like rosewater.  Underneath the layers of sweaters and slips of this diminutive woman, there rests her black belt in marital arts.  “We good, Nancy?”  With a hailing hand, Nancy gives him the go ahead.  “Ok Harold, all clear.”  Harold has been deferring to Nancy for over half a century and she’s never steered him wrong.  She is his strength, his conscience.  His Bobby Kennedy.  He built his empire and she is his Empress.

My husband just announced that his job is in jeopardy.  This disclosure was difficult for him but he reassured me that he WILL provide for this family whatever it takes, and he will.  Of course he will.  And I will provide for my husband the fortitude it requires to emotionally balance this man who’s walking a tightrope, and whatever else it takes to shield him from the pressures of family life while he manages a crisis.

Perhaps I feel more endeared to Harold and Nancy on this occasion and imagine the day when I finally get my crown, earn my own black belt in the marital arts.  When my husband is no longer the king of his kingdom but I first, his queen.  Instead of having answers, there will only be one question:  “We good, Amy?”

Welcome To My Wilderness

Hello, I’m Amy.  Mother of three and 22 years wed.  I’m a Leo, fire and fixed.

Here lies an open invitation to join me on my travels into the depth of the human condition.  A space to sort things out and reclaim the sanity that escapes us all.  This blog is a tool designed entirely for the purpose of exploration, growth, change, and self care.  A place to engage in the world beyond ourselves, while also celebrating and honoring ourselves.  Where the the unthinkable is thought and the impossible made possible.  Where goodness is held to the light and the dark, terrifying realities can surface and then depart us.  A space to explore the mysteries of our existence and attempt to make simpler the complexity of our lives.

Water & Bloom is a dream blog.  It is both a sabbatical and my work.  A place to sojourn and a place to roll up my sleeves and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN.  Thanks for joining me!