Recently Real Simple® Magazine and Buitoni® held a joint sweepstakes; the prize was a Dinner Party for 14 guests, with the meal prepared by a Professional Chef. In addition, the winner would receive the services of an Event Planner to handle all the details of planning the party. The winner was right here in Roseville, CA, and my company (DKG Events) was brought in to orchestrate the event.
A few months before the party I met with the winner, Michele; two of her closest friends; and the Chef. After getting to know a little bit about Michele and her husband, we decided on an “Old World” Italian Dinner Party theme.
The Chef, Gillian, of Foodie in the Kitchen, went to work on the menu, and I went to work on all the other details of the event.
Over the past year or so, Michele’s husband Jay had gone through a life threatening illness, but thankfully he had beat it! Because of this, they decided to hold the dinner party on his birthday, and would invite all their closest friends who had supported them throughout his illness, as a celebration of his life and their friendship.
We decided to call the event a Celebration of Friendship. Keeping with the Italian theme, I looked up these words in Italian, and created an invitation and titled it Celebrazione di Amicizia.
Most people do not have dining room tables large enough to hold 14-16 people and this was also true in Michele’s case. Therefore, in order to achieve the look and feel that we were going for, I suggested we rent tables (one 8′ X 4′, and one 4′ X 4′) and put them together creating a 12 foot long table. Then we covered the extra-large table with King sized table clothes, which we also rented from Classic Party Rentals, along with a table runner, dinnerware, chargers and glassware.
The other thing we did was to move their furniture around a bit. I suggested that we place the “Old World” dining table in their family room where their couch was currently, and move their couch in their dining room where their standard size dining table was. They agreed to make the changes.
Michele’s best friends wanted to be involved with the party planning, so they arrived early on the day of the event, and helped with set up, made the appetizers, assisted me with the setting the table, making flower arrangements and many other pre-party planning aspects before the other guests arrived. They were truly lovely to work with. These are their appetizers.
Guests enjoyed the appetizers and wine out on the patio prior to dinner.
Candles are lit, lights are dimmed.
I created menu cards and placed one at each place setting, along with a chocolate truffle in a gift box. Ambiance was created with flower arrangements and lots of candles set on a runner down the center of the extra wide (and long) table. Keeping with the Old World feel, we choose to use the Gibraltar glassware, instead of stemware. I also created a playlist on my iPod with a fabulous mix of music that played in the background throughout the evening.
Chef Gillian and her assistant.
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Broccoli Rabe, Fontina & Pine Nuts
Pasta with Seasonal Spring Vegetables
Fresh Berry Crepes with Amaretto Zabaglione
Special friends sitting down for a celebratory meal.
A toast to Friendship!
During the dinner the guests shared stories about their lives, things they had been through, and the reasons they cherished their friendships so much. After spending the evening with this wonderful group of people, I felt like I had a glimpse into their lives, and was touched by their closeness. They even brought me into their dinner conversation by asking about me and my family, they seemed truly interested in my life. When Chef Gillian was able to take a break from the kitchen, they did the same with her. We might have been the “hired help” but they made us feel like friends.
From the prospective of an event planner the event was a success, and Michele thanked me for all I did in helping her host such a nice dinner party. But really, I feel thankful that I was able to be a part of such a wonderful evening – to witness this Celebration of Friendship.
And yet again, it came to mind how everyone we meet comes into our lives for a Reason, Season or Lifetime.