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...


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