My mom always threw me the best birthday parties when I was young. When she turned 60 this year, I was eager to return the favor. She knew she wanted an event reflective of her style – casual, warm and simple – for her close friends. My sister-in-law-to-be and I took her instructions to heart and planned a sweet spring boil for a chilly April night in Sonoma County.
We chose a boil because we wanted to include elements that celebrate “Jillsie” (as my mom is affectionately known) without having the event be too eclectic or expensive. My mom loves biscuits, making jam, books, teaching and wildflowers. She also expresses her love for friends and family through cooking, so it was important to her that most of the food we served be homemade. To do this for 40 people and not break the bank, we decided a southern style boil would be the perfect way to go.
We started guests off with a drink and bar station offering lemonade, iced tea, water, wine, beer and a sweet tea lemonade signature cocktail. Each guest was given their own mason jar to help themselves to refreshment throughout the evening.
For appetizers, we made a “Biscuit Bar” complete with several types of jam and whipped honey butter. We also offered homemade pimento cheese, pickled vegetable skewers, and my brother’s special spicy ribs.
We set a long communal table for the main meal, adorned with simple arrangements that were reminiscent of wildflowers (my mom tells stories about losing track of time picking wildflowers above the hills of our town in her youth).
The boil itself included tiger shrimp, langoustino lobster, clams, andouille sausage, red potatoes, corn and onions. We poured it on its own large table so guests could help themselves to what look good – it made for a really fun presentation.
Finally, for desert, we made mini cobblers (peach and blackberry) in mason jars. We used gold patterned washi tape to make sure everyone got a tiny wooden fork to eat them with. The cobblers were delicious and adorable!
My mom is a teacher and has a deep love for reading. I sent a library card and sleeve to each guest requesting that they write down their favorite memory of my mom and bring it with them to give to her (in lieu of gifts). She loved reading through them at the end of the night and was so touched by all the friendships and memories she has acquired over her lifetime. The library cards made for a cute display on a trellis in the garden.
We also used Scrabble tiles (from her favorite game) to label the drinks. We also put microlights in mason jar “lanterns” to look like fireflies.
We tried to use items native to her garden to decorate with. We used her potting/gardener’s bench for the drink display, the trellis to collect the memories, a wheel barrow to ice the beer, and a wicker garden chair as her “birthday throne.”
The napkins and cake topper were adorable Etsy discoveries. Many of the other decorations in the gold and black theme (the chalkboards, bunting, etc.) were found in or made from the Target dollar section(!). In short, this was a great spring party theme at a reasonable price!