I’m not one for showmanship or making a big deal out of things, or being trendy, so throwing a small party for ourselves to reveal the gender seemed a little icky to me. I didn’t want to be doing something just because everyone else was. But, then again, I didn’t want to not do something just because I didn’t want to follow a trend. So, I’m so glad I got over myself and went ahead with the party. It was amazing.
It was simple and small, just immediate family. We had a simple lunch beforehand of pork tenderloin sandwiches with caramelized onions and a horseradish sauce, vinegar coleslaw, potato salad, and a green salad. And for dessert of course we had our gender reveal cake made by the same bakery that made all of our desserts for our wedding. After harassing everyone to hurry up and finish their lunch, we finally got to cut the cake. And with that first cut, we finally found out.
It’s a boy! And his name will be Weston Payne Uhl, Payne being my maiden name and Weston being the name of my father’s dorm hall at his college. He’s forever talked about Weston Hall throughout my life and he even uses it as part of his personal email addresses. Weston has always just been there. So, when my husband and I were engaged we thought of the entire name if we had a boy, and never looked back. We never changed our mind, never thought of another name, and never had the name of a girl picked out. So, having a boy, our Weston, was clearly meant to be.
Now, throwing this party was certainly more difficult than ones I’ve thrown in the past as I’m 21 weeks pregnant. I have a lot of energy, but not as much as I used to. Now I have my clear limits, whereas before I would just keep pushing for things to get done. So, this time, I had to do things a little differently. And I might stick with some of them even after the baby is born.
First of all, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t ask for help, and almost prides themselves off of it like I do, I do not recommend this when pregnant! When you’re pregnant, accept the help offered, and ask for it even if it’s not, especially when it’s family. At this party I had anyone with a free hand doing something, lighting candles, chopping celery, or washing lettuce. Just as it takes a village to raise a baby, it took a village to get our little party together on time. And, it was a blast. Our kitchen was abuzz and everyone was pitching in. And because it’s family, no one minds, they are there to help and help celebrate.
What also helped, having a plan. Even though I needed help executing it, having a plan beforehand helped a ton. I wrote up a time schedule the day before so I knew exactly when each item needed to be prepared, caramelize the onions at 11:00, put the pork tenderloin in at 10:45, start the potato salad at 8:30, etc. Also, the night before, I prepared the table as much as I could. Usually I’m able to fully set it, but my in laws were coming in the night before and we also had to clean the house from top to bottom.
What I did manage to do was set out the flowers and candles, get the napkins ready, and plan out the tableware I was using. So, the next day when it came time to set the table, I could set out the plates and tableware, and ask others to do the rest. It was simple, meaningful, and beautiful. The cake was white on the outside speckled with tiny white dots, and was reflected in white and yellow tulips that I placed in three different vases on the table where I interspersed votive candles.
We used our gold rimmed china partly because it was the only set that had enough plates for all of us, and partly because I love to use it whenever I can. The napkins I used were paper because I didn’t have enough linen napkins, so they had a simple white flower placed in the middle. It wasn’t as fully coordinated as I sometimes make it, and unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of it, but, that’s not what I was thinking about when I was minutes from finding out the gender of our baby. So, let’s recap some tips on how to throw a casual party.
1. Accept help when it’s offered. Give people simple jobs that have little room for poetic license – fill the glasses with water, light the candles, etc.
2. Have a plan before you start. Know what you’re serving, when it needs to be prepared, and what your decor should look like. This will also help with number one. When you know what you want, it’s easier to tell other people what you need help with, or to even show them your timeline and say, I need this to happen.
3. Set the table as much as possible the night before.
4. Keep your decorations simple, and have a signature look. I always use our gold rimmed china. It makes it easy to coordinate with napkins, placemats, and other decor when I automatically know I’ll be using the gold rimmed china. It also helps when you want to create interesting place settings with accent plates, napkin rings, etc. because everything is chosen to mix and match with the china that you always know you’ll be using. And, keep your other decor simple, be it birthdays, holidays, or a dinner party. Candles, flowers, and other natural in season elements help to keep the budget under control, gives you an easy, elegant look, and keeps time spent to a reasonable amount. Setting a table should take no longer than 10 minutes, 15 minutes max.
5. And last but not least, relax and have fun. Things may go wrong, and that’s ok. My mother in law once told me this and I’ve never forgotten it. “Never apologize for what you put out.” No one knows what it should have been anyways, and you’re just bringing attention to what you want to ignore if it really is an issue. So, just pretend that what you’re presenting is on purpose and no one will think twice.
So there you have it! 5 ways to throw a fun-filled casual party. Let me know in the comments below your tips for throwing a casual party.