01 May, 2007

Derby Party Update (boy, will you be surprised...)

So, how was everyone’s weekend? Good? Mine was pretty decent. Nothing too exciting, other than preparing for the party. Yeah, THE party. The Derby Party that is. But I have some very sad news on that front. Due to some unfortunate circumstances (coughMr.Monogram) we had to unexpectedly cancel the party on Sunday evening. I know, I know. I’m beyond disappointed. You all know how excited I’ve been about this for a few months now, but with my husband not being here pretty much all week (which just came about on Sunday) there is just no way I can pull this together with completing the yard, the décor outside, the tablescape and all the food without assistance from him this week. And I didn’t even mention lending a helping hand with the mini monograms either. So my beautiful new Derby hat will have to remain hanging in the closet until next year I suppose, unless I get a wild hair and decide to don it to mass next Sunday (which if you knew me, you would know is entirely possible).

But don’t fret! You know what they say, Big Girls Don’t Cry! And once I personally made all the telephone calls to our guests, I do have to admit I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks. Ahhhh… No stress. So perhaps this was really a blessing in disguise although I’m still quite disappointed I will move past it and look forward to other fun and fresh parties to plan in the future. But that doesn’t mean you have to! In fact, quite a few of you have commented and/or emailed to ask me for all the details as you are planning your own Derby parties, so I’ll share with you my entire party outline and what was going to be shaking at the Monogram household. It’s never too late for ideas, right?

Invitations These beautiful invitations went out a month prior to the event. I always like to send invitations in plenty of time when I know the majority of my guests have children and need to make babystitter accomodations. This isn't actually the final result, as I had the printer move the two attire lines and the RSVP line to the bottom left and right of the invitations.

Garden/Yard Décor This is a picture I took to show you what our fence looks like. Originally I was going to do painted aluminum hanging wall bucket thingy on each post with fresh roses (similar to what I have on my front door during the spring and summer), but there were going to be too many. So I scratched that idea. Then I decided to do hanging cones, much like you see florists do at the end of church pews for a wedding. But I wasn’t in love with that idea either. I just really had in my mind I wanted lots and lots of pretty ribbon. So I purchase tons of Ribbon in different textures (gossamer, satin, etc.) and sizes in reds, pinks, and lime greens. I then decided to keep it simple and tie a large gathering of ribbon with really long tails so it would flow very pretty in the light afternoon breeze, to each fence post. Also, each fence post would have clusters of roses tied on with the ribbon as well.

The yard décor was also going to include natural wicker torches filled with fresh roses at the top (in lieu of the fire), and long strands of all the ribbon tied to each one as well, to match the fence décor. The wicker torches were to be placed along the backyard walkway from the entry gate to the back deck (where the food and bar was supposed to be). Speaking of the back deck, did I mention that we added onto our entire back deck specifically for this event? Ughh. Oh well, at least it’s ready for summer entertaining now!

Betting When I mentioned planning this party, a very sweet MM reader, Marie K emailed me and told me they were pro’s at doing Derby party’s and offered to share how they set up their betting. Since we were having a hard time figuring this out ourselves, I was all too happy to receive her advice! Marie wrote, “To keep things simple, each bet was only $1. We didn't take odds into account (image the math headache that would cause!). Before each race, betters would come to me and to place their bets (no limit on how many they could place). If three people bet on the winner, then they split the pot for that race. If one person wins, they get the entire pot (you get the idea) If no one bet on the winning horse, we would carry the pot over to the next race.” Simple enough, right? But another way to make is super simple also is to have everyone drop $2 into the pot upon entrance to the party, and in return, they pick out a folded piece of paper with a contender’s name on it. Whoever has the winning horse after the race, wins the entire pot.

Now, another thing Marie mentioned was going here and downloading racing programs the day before the Derby party. It only costs $1.50 and Marie also told me that she printed up racing cards to match her invitations (as an aside, you can also go to the official site of the Kentucky Derby to get the contenders and their stats). Now, what monogram momma was planning on doing was printing up the racing program onto nice, thick Kelly green cardstock. Using craft sticks, the plan was to make the racing programs into fans for each guest, much like you see done at outdoor Southern weddings with the wedding programs. My thought process was that the party was starting in the middle of the hot late spring day in the South and the fans would be useful on multiple levels. ;-)

Serve Ware Too many people were invited to use my monogrammed dinnerware. And besides, did I really want to spend the entire night after the party cleaning all those additional dishes? So what I finally settled on was clear plastic dishes that look like cut crystal. Normally, I would never do this, but while I did not want dishpan hands for the next two weeks, I knew the party was a little too dressy for paper products. Naturally, all the serving dishes and serving pieces were all going to be my silver and china, lots of hurricane’s and a basket or two for rolls (I love to turn the baskets on their side so the food is literally spilling out onto my buffet table). The napkins (both beverage and luncheon sized) were (are!) white with our monogram in green. They were pre-purchased from an ebay seller I was lucky enough to find, and highly recommend (I guess we’ll be eating off of these things for quite a while!).

Food & Drinks Typical Derby fare was to be served. Here is my menu: Louisville Benedictine, Fried Green Tomatoes, Grits Casserole, Miniature hot Browns (many thanks to MM reader, Kristie for the recipe), Cream Biscuits with Ham Filling, Cheese Straws, Horse Head & Rose shaped cookies, and Grasshopper Pie. As for the drinks, we were keeping it simple. Mint julep of course, sweet tea, iced water, and wine. For the bottles of wine, I’d made personalized wine labels to accompany the party theme, as you can see here.

Tablescape My plan for my table ended up changing a few times, and to be honest, I love the final idea so much that it’s really deserving of its own post. So, I’ll leave you with a picture of what I was somewhat going to do (I was changing this idea a bit) and write more on this later.

So those are the important key aspects of the party.

Okay, so hopefully I've given you one or two new ideas to add to your own Derby party this weekend. And really, don't feel bad for me that I had to cancel. Yes, I'm disapointed after all the planning and preparing I've put into it, but I truly can't pull this off on my own so it had to be done. Stay tuned for the tablescape post headed your way tomorrow!


A F said...

I really DO feel bad that you had to cancel--you obviously put tons of time and energy into planning this lovely event! I hope you will be able to store your goodies and put on a wonderful 134th Derby Party instead. *sigh* I must say you're taking it very well, and it is nice you're not having the stress of an upcoming party. But still....it all looks so beautiful!

gilley said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about the party. Bless your heart. I say you should still make a batch of mint juleps while you watch the race. :) And definitely wear the hat to mass.

Gabriella said...

Perhaps you might consider that for the cost of all you spent and time you used you might simply have hired caterers. Then you just need to decorate and mingle. Relax and enjoy your Derby time anyways.

Meg said...

You are being so brave, MM! The invitations are just gorgeous, I can only imagine what a lovely party it would have been. I do hope you can reschedule for next year. Ironic, but your explaining how you called everyone and broke the news is a little bit of a Martha moment, too...as in, how to graciously announce a change of plans. I'm sure your guests are already looking forward to next year.

Kerry said...

Good for you for cancelling and not trying to do it all on your own and then end up regretting it and sick because the of the stress!

Melissa said...

Oh everything sounds so fabulous. I love the outdoor decor ideas. I do hate you had to cancel. There is always next year!

Debbie said...

Oh I can't believe the party was cancelled. I'm so sorry, all that planning and the invitations. Well, at least you are well prepared for next years party, right?

Preppy Rider said...

It looks as though it would have been a BEAUTIFUL event, very thoughtful and every detail just perfect. Sorry you have to cancel, but it is a lot of work to do all on your own. I am sure everyone understands. And I think you should wear your hat to mass and perhaps even on a visit to Target in the near future ;) Please post a pic.

Tres Poshe Preppy said...

Everything is just gorgeous! So sorry you had to cancel.

TCP said...

Oh...so sad!! I can relate, as a fellow "work widow." But all the plans were so lovely, I definitely think you should recycle some of those ideas for another party at a later date!

Anonymous said...

Just think, now you are all set & ready for next year!! It's been a weird Spring, we are really behind on our yard-work - trying to hustle to have it completed by Memorial Day weekend, which is usually no problem, but thanks to all those April showers, we (Hubby) hasn't had much time to work in the yard - but hey, he did take time to go fishing this weekend with his Dad - Ah, these boys!!!

Anyway, your party looked amazing & Derby hats off to you for all that you did to prepare :)