A few years back, my husband’s new book at the time was my initial spark of inspiration for throwing a party for my husband.
Because his book, No More Christian Nice Guy, had just been released, I knew we had a lot of friends (60 came) who would want to celebrate with us!
Many people get hung up on “large group parties” because it becomes too overwhelming trying to make everything perfect. But I focused on why we were all gathering in the first place – and created the food and festive environment around that.
I also decided that I couldn’t do it all on my own! I asked for help from friends! I set the date, mailed out the invitations, figured out the menu – and then I started making a lot of lists of the details of the party, and who could help me with what. This was the type of party that, if I did not get an RSVP, I called myself to see if the guests accepted our invitation.
I’ve learned a lot from party-givers – and my goal, once the day of the party arrived, was to really sit back and enjoy my guests and myself.
Sharing with you some pictures of the night, I’ll let you in on the details and how this party came to be! (Sorry, I don’t have pictures of the food – what was I thinking?! This party took place long before Reluctant Entertainer was even thought of.)
The food was arranged on the table, and the guests went through the line and filled their plates.
· Different friends brought appetizers and we set up the “appetizer station” in the laundry room, where one person was in charge of refilling the trays of food.
· A friend, who specializes in barbequing tri tip, cooked the meat in advance and brought it hot and ready to eat. He and his wife even served it for us! (I gladly reimbursed him for the cost involved.)
· I made two very large spinach salads with toasted almonds, cranberries, and feta cheese, served with a balsamic, poppy seed dressing.
· I filled small baked potatoes with a Gorgonzola/pistachio nut filling (that’s it – both ingredients mixed with cream!)
· We purchased fresh baguette bread from a nearby bakery and served it in small breadbaskets on each table.
· Dessert included 3 of Costco’s rich, dark, delicate chocolate cakes.
· Simple, yet eloquent. We rented round tables, white linen, and 60 white chairs. Also 2 industrial patio heaters. (Party Rental places usually have everything you'd ever need for a party!)
· I used my glass party dishes and rented what I did not have.
· I used my stemware and rented what I did not have, along with the silverware.
· Simple tiny pumpkins, Fall leaves, and candles were placed in the center of each table.
· A “live” jazz band serenaded our evening. It was the icing on the cake! All I did was arrange it – and they made beautiful music.
· Our kids performed for their Daddy – Abby on the violin and Garrett on the piano.
· A friend rewrote a Van Morrison song for Paul, relating to his book.
· Different friends got up talk, toasted, and even prayed for Paul and his ministry. They talked about his courage and passion.
· Oh, and did I fail to tell you that the sprinklers went off right as we were all sitting down to eat?
· Our friend, Hoppi, made personalized bookmarkers that said, “Good Guy.”
· We had a guestbook for our guests to write in!
· Paul signed a lot of copies of his books!
· We had a few surprise visits from out-of-towners!
· We rented fun lights to put around the perimeter of our lawn. (We had just purchased this house 4 months earlier – and the backyard needed some “help.”)
· We let our kids each invite a friend to the party (the kids had their own table, but out with the adults) and the girls served the appetizers!
· As the party ended, a HUGE thunder and rainstorm took place – perfect timing! Everything got soaked.
· I got a migraine the next morning, so friends and family bailed me out and took all the tables/chairs down and hauled them back (great friends!)
The purpose of this party was not to impress or out-do. My purpose was simple and it served its intention: CELEBRATION. Taking my initial idea, and running with it (I pulled off a semi-surprise), and making the effort to create a night of magic was very satisfying.
Ending with this, I want to share one of the last lines that our brother-in-law Steve wrote in a short speech he read to the group of 60 people (I saved his speech for a scrapbook). It sums up the night well – and the purpose of our gathering. Three years later, these words ring even stronger within Coughlin Ministries.
“Paul, I hope you will continue to champion the cause of truth.”
And that made the whole night worth it.
(These pictures were taken 3 years ago when our backyard didn’t quite have the “love” that it has now – if you notice a difference!)