What if when you look back on this time 10 years from now, the first thing that comes to your mind is a feeling of happiness, not fear? What if you choose to remember a series of celebrations of life and living, more than moments of trepidation and awkwardness?
To cap off our series on “Celebrating at Home,” I’ve reached out to five local experts. Though they all share different tips and tricks, they all have the same goal: Use this time to come together with the ones you love and make some happy memories that will last you for years to come.
“Take the time to clean the house and prepare as if your least favorite nosy aunt were coming; she’s not. Act like this is the most important party ever; pretend it’s the biggest holiday: The celebration that we can be safe,” says Dunn and Sonnier Antiques, Flowers & Gifts’ Managing Principal and Owner Stephen Sonnier (3433 Magazine St., 524-3235, DunnAndSonnier.com).
“Set the table with the best china, silver, crystal and linens. If you can’t call the shop for flowers, then pick something form your garden or balcony planters – have some type of natural fresh decorations. Light candles in the appropriate locations.
“Prepare a great dinner or order take out form one of the amazing restaurants in New Orleans (they all need our help). Now get dressed up; no sweat or yoga pants. Put on a tie, a jacket and some jewels – the very best you have – and enjoy. Life at every turn should be celebrated.”
“Entertaining at home has never been so popular – or required!” says Owner, Lead Planner and Creative Director Susan Zackin of Z Events Co. (508 Metairie Road, 510-5838, ZEventCo.com) and The Event Glossary (EventGlossary.com).
“Now that we all have a little more time on our hands, pull out some of your favorite recipes or try one you’ve wanted to experiment with for a while. There are lots of ‘how-to’ videos available on the internet, so find something that will inspire you. You can take lessons from well-known floral designers, event planners and even make a custom playlist with your favorite musical artists.
“Become a DJ in your home. Take requests from your guests, order a pulsating light that beats to the music and turn your den into a disco. For another fun twist, pull out your vinyl and a turntable and let everyone pick their favorite album to spin.
“Or have a progressive meal through your home. Make each room representative of a country. Start the first course in one room and progress to a different room for each following course with a different food and wine pairing. Each room could be decorated differently like the country you’re pretending to be in!”
Monique Chauvin, owner of Mitch’s Flowers (4843 Magazine St., 899-4843, MitchsFlowersNola.com), suggests creating a bouquet or centerpiece out of wildflowers and greens you can find in your backyard or while on a walk. “Picking ginger leaves, peppergrass, buttercups and clover blooms make it nice. Loquat, ginger and palms (which can be braided and manipulated) look great with wildflowers and wild grasses.” (Editor’s Note: City Park has an abundance of beautiful wildflowers right now! Just remember to wear your mask and practice social distancing outside of your quarantine group.)
“A great way to recycle newspaper, old maps and wrapping paper is to make an ‘artichoke’ lantern of paper (learn how here). And flowers made from plastic spoons and odd items around house look great when decorated with bottle caps and plastic bottle caps.”
With 48-hours of planning, you can order a 9-inch round cake or pie from Gracious Bakery (GraciousBakery.com). Jay Forman, Co-Owner and “3rd-string Dishwasher” says that the Coconut and Passion Fruit and Chocolate Caramel cakes are his favorite, but that the Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake is also delightful. Choose from 15 flavors and add writing for $5 more, just choose the location nearest you for pickup.
And here’s a hot tip: On their online pickup/delivery menu is an amazing Chocolate and Cinnamon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting in a “Self-Pity Size” that’s not meant to be shared!
Desiree Ontiveros, Owner of Badass Balloon Co. (BadassBalloonCo.com), shared the following fun party ideas:
“Let’s put that backyard to good use with a ‘Backyard Glamping Party!’ There is nothing we love more than a chance to costume in New Orleans, so whether we’re pushing the ‘Troop Beverly Hills’ look or ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ turn your backyard into a magical campground for your family. Every party needs a photo moment, so build a fort with that Mardi Gras fabric you never used and drape a Badass Balloon Co. DIY Balloon Garland Kit down the side with holographic tassels down the other. Arrange those parade chairs and picnic blankets around your fort and pepper loads of throw pillows around, which are key to the GLAM in Glamping. Cocktails, a perfect picnic from a local restaurant and S’mores makes this backyard party an enviable Instagram moment.
“A Full Home Balloon Installation is the ultimate way to celebrate in style. Bring joy to your family and community with a large-scale balloon installation cascading across the front facade of your home. For those who can ‘treat yo self’ these original art installations by Badass Balloon Co. will set you back $3,000 or more. But it’s the perfect scene setter for a drive-by birthday party and also truly raises up the community. Your home will be the center of your neighborhood that week and your wine cellar will mysteriously grow with all of the lovely gifts left at your porch as a thank you from your neighbors.
“Virtual Activities can include: ‘Great American Bake Off: Zoom Edition’ – all your friends bake you a cake and you judge them, which is my favorite pastime; Drag Queen-led Virtual Bingo – hire a drag queen to host you and your friends though a game of bingo for your birthday; and House Pageant – a fashion show with your best gals.”