When Life Hands You Lemons

• 26 June 2009






























Fairly recently I was asked to organize the quarterly events for the women's organization in my local congregation. While nervous about it initially, I can honestly say that I'm excited to continue to plan these special evenings. Last week my committee and I carried out an event themed around the well-known mantra, "when life hands you lemons...make lemonade". It was a wonderful way to celebrate the blessings we do have and to not dwell on some of the negative aspects of our current situations in life.

Being incredibly inspired by this tabletop design and these sandwich papers, we centered the decor around these details. First, we hung about 40 pom poms--what a beautiful effect they created (we recycled a few of them for the couples shower I mentioned here). Second, we used flowers--from a garden and Costco--of the same hue and then placed them in small bud vases and mason jars. The sandwich papers doubled as placemats and added vital visual interest. For party favors we printed out Paula Deen's Lemonade recipe and placed them in cellophane bags tied with ribbon.

I'm kicking myself now for not taking a picture of the finished product, but we also put to use this fantastic idea from Brooke over at inchmark. Instead of Valentine-themed papers we wrapped up the little boxes in lemon yellow paper and filled them with lemon Jelly Belly candies. After wrapping them in raffia and a lemon cut-out tag we passed them out to each woman in the congregation on the Sunday prior to our event as a little reminder. Given our attendance that evening we think our efforts paid off :)

Upon sitting down, each guest received her own picnic dinner placed inside a gable box. What she found when she opened it was Chicken Salad on a Croissant, a fresh fruit cup and a Lemon Cupcake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. One lucky gal also found a fresh flower inside her dinner and as a door prize we offered her a box of homemade cupcakes to take home to her family. For beverage options we served lemonade and ice water--simple but delicious complements to the picnic dinner.

Recipe notes: the ingredients for the chicken salad are spot on, but I find the measurements to be off a little; I like it best with about half as much tarragon, a little more chicken and a touch more mayonnaise. Combined these make for a flavorful, moist chicken salad. If you make the lemon cupcake, use 4 whole eggs instead of the 2 egg/3 yolk combo; also consider using more zest for a tangier cupcake.

P.S. If anyone has great tips on planning a dinner + program for 75/80 people, do share! Thanks...

22 comments:

Katie @ goodLife {eats} said...

Bravo to you! Everything looks wonderful. I wish there were creative people like you in our congregation. EVery little detail is in place for a perfectly lovely evening.

Amy said...

Steph, this looks amazing!

Birdie in DC said...

Amazing Steph! I keep wishing that i lived closer to you. Your ward is seriously lucky to have you in this calling.

KJ said...

you really outdid yourself for RS; it's lovely. Is that a longaberger basket I see? My mom has been sending them to me for years. I still don't know why.

Charmaine @ randalswife said...

Gorgeous!! I absolutely love it!

Nicole said...

This is so nice! I've never attended a church event with this much care and style put into it, that's for sure. You've inspired me to help change that :)

Just subscribed to your blog yesterday, and am so happy to wake up to this today!

Leigh Anne said...

Loved your ideas and decorations for your Enrichment meeting. I have done a lot of large group cooking - up to 450 people for our Stake. I have a couple of posts on cooking for a crowd you might want to check out.
http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/top-tips-and-recipes-for-feeding-a-crowd/
http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/feeding-a-crowd-holiday-dinner-part-one/
http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/feeding-a-crowd-holiday-dinner-part-two/

Let me know if I can answer any questions!

Andrea said...

What a fun idea to pack the ladies' dinners in gable boxes. And those sandwich papers add just the right touch. SO darling.

J+S said...

I find myself wanting to copy everything you do. One of these days, I need to take one of your classes so I can meet you. Wow, I do not mean that to sound as stalkerish as it did!

Great job. Your ward is so luck to have you.

J+S said...

I also meant to say that when I was the Enrichment Counselor we did a Chinese New Year celebration that was pretty cool. If you have anyone in your area that has been to China or Taiwan, it could be fun.

Joy said...

I love this idea. Can I use it in my ward? I also use the pom pom idea for our RS Birthday we had a few months ago. You can check it out over at my blog at:
http://joyslightbulbs.blogspot.com/2009/03/i-was-in-charge-of-our-churchs-relief.html

Let me know if I can use your idea. Our ward could use a theme like that.

Becky said...

I was thinking about doing those tissue pom poms for an upcoming party. For the showers, what did you suspend the pom-poms with? Tape? What kind? Thanks!!

Amber said...

My crop of tarragon is always huge, thanks for giving me an application for it! Also, what a perfect calling for you! Your ward is lucky to have you.

stephmodo said...

A few questions to answer...

1. Yes you may use this idea...I'm all about sharing. Heaven knows I glean many ideas from others so I'm happy to return the favor. I'd love to see other interpretations so do send pictures!

2. Yes it is a Longaberger basket. Love this piece.

3. I suspended the pom poms with thread and then attached them to the ceiling with a pearl tipped sewing pin. Our "cultural hall" has those old swiss cheese sound absorbent squares on the ceiling so we pushed the pins directly into them and left a minute footprint. We hung them two days prior and not a single one fell down. I was so relieved...

Jules said...

I need you in my stake to help spice things up. This is totally my style. I told Sam I am a party snob. I went to a baby shower today and let's just say that my 6 year-old b-day party that I threw this morning was WAY classier!! (It was a Birthday Baking Bash. It was so fun. I had the girls baking. Maybe I'll blog about it...)

Becky said...

sorry -- I wasn't specific enough. When you re-used them for the showers which look like they took place in someone's home(?) how did you suspend them?

thanks in advance.

Laurie said...

I'm on the enrichment committee too, and it seems really difficult to get all the other members of the committee to see what I envision for enrichment decorations. It's frustrating at times! It is a pretty fun calling though.

Jenn said...

Beautiful! I absolutely love how you throw parties. I forgot to mention to you that I got "upgraded" (sarcasm) to Enrichment leader. Looking forward to what else you have planned for the rest of the year. BTW, was this your birthday party theme?

emily said...

What I wouldn't give to be in your Relief Society! It looks AMAZING.

brittany said...

great job~ it's never easy coming up with good ideas on a budget, i'm hoping to put this one to good use.

Maggie said...

I have just found this wonderful site. My husband and I live in Vegas and have had new move-ins into our ward at least once a week for the last 6 months. Last July we began hosting a monthly dinner party (for couples only) in an attempt to meet the couples (I'm in YW and don't get to meet a lot of the new people). So... every month I pick a theme, send out invites for 8-10 (most all of them make it and then... then we have a wonderful party. My blog is www.maggiesdinnerdates.blogspot.com
Please check it out if you need any ideas. I loved your lemon party!!!

MommaMcCarthy said...

Just wanted you to know I linked to you for the tissue-paper flower inspiration. We ended up displaying ours in a basket :) Thanks for the idea!

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