Saturday, February 15, 2014

my vintage-inspired Valentine dinner party


Hello friends.

As most of you know we’re getting ready to move shortly and my blog posts have been scanty these days because there’s so much going on. But last night we hosted our annual Valentine dinner party and I thought I’d share some pretty pictures with you.



I think this Valentine dinner is such a fabulous idea; each year we celebrate the occasion with our long-time friends Mary and Dave, Kirsten and John and Tracey and Andy. We rotate homes and alternate cooks. One year the wives cook the meal for the guys and the next year the guys cook for us and we dress up and basically have a blast.

The first year we bought the husbands matching heart covered ties

(“Mom did the guys wear those dorky ties again?” “Yes, Michael they sure did.” )

and we wear lots of red and have so much fun cooking our gourmet dishes together.

This year I was happy to host it at our house because every gathering we have here….now takes on such special meaning. I even decided to add an old-fashioned vibe to the decorations because these days I’m in a downright sappy mood.

I started with the place cards…


Do you remember those simple, brown paper sacks we decorated in grade school for our class Valentine parties?

Remember how excited we were to have these be our ‘mailboxes’ for all those store bought Valentines from our classmates?


Well…when I saw these miniature bags at Hobby Lobby I thought they’d make adorable place cards so I decorated them with white doilies and slipped a box of candy hearts into each one.


I used red chargers and my Christmas napkins trimmed with white stitching.


I bought a piece of red fabric and folded it down the center of a white tablecloth.

For drama I stuck to a monochromatic theme and used red tulips down the center with red rose petals tossed on the table for texture.





I tied five red tissue balls with fishing wire and hung them from the ceiling.





And I added little mason jars sprayed with a can of gold paint and dipped in glitter. I wish I had a picture of these at night, they actually sparkle.




Oh-and I did spend a ridiculous amount of time on these Valentine Cootie Catchers for the husbands. (But it was worth it).

Because I thought that any old fashioned Valentine party had to have a Cootie Catcher, so I made this version. Only instead of using colors and numbers, I chose images from romantic movies. The opening line is, Which Leading Man Are You? And in place of a fortune at the end, I had a trivia question having to do with Valentines Day and romantic movies.

Honestly, the funniest thing was watching the husbands try to open and close their Cootie Catchers. I never realized how much coordination it took.

Do you want to know how I made these? I promise to show you in another post.


For the dinner I was in charge of making a cheese board, the salad, and these home-made sugar cookies.



The dinner was wonderful. Kirsten made a wild mushroom Risotto, Mary made the main course, a Macadamia-crusted Halibut with a Blood Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce and Tracey made the green beans and the Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes.

And like all cozy dinners we drank good wine, reminisced about old times and don’t ask me how, but at one point we even sang the theme songs to the Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan’s Island.…TV shows from our childhood.

It was simply magical, one of those evenings where you sit back and relish the joy of being together with the same friends that once stood outside the kindergarten classroom with you. And waited for those baby-faced six year olds that are now an amazing twenty-one years old.


It was also a night with gratitude in the air.

Tracey had been at the hospital that day while her Dad underwent a successful surgery and I was so relieved to find out that morning that Patrick didn’t have to have surgery for his broken foot. Oh yes…Patrick’s broken foot. That’s a story for another post.

In the meantime, I just keep counting my blessings.









linking up to these parties:



Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...


This sounds like a very special evening. How wonderful to have such good friends. You are blessed to be surrounded by the love and friendship, and to make a few more memories at your house.

I am sure all of these friends will visiting you at your new house and new memories will be made.

A belated Valentines Day to you.

Xx Elizabeth

Blondie's Journal said...


I am actually envious of you to have such a great group of friends, having this traditional Valentine's day tradition and your pretty table, the talent that went into making it and the wonderful menu!! Okay, maybe I'm shallow, I just miss these days...maybe I should work at bringing them back!

I never would have thought of using red fabric for a runner...I would have exhausted myself looking for a red runner! Ha! And I'm wondering what the guys prepared last year. Your menu sounds sensational!!

So fun...thanks for sharing it! :)


Custom Comforts said...

What a gorgeous table you set for your friends. Simple and elegant. I can only imagine how much fun you had and your meal sounds delicious. There is nothing more special than wonderful friends to share a meal with.

Sarah said...

What a nice tradition! Nothing like spending special times with longtime good friends.
Your table is lovely with all your sweet valentine details.

anangloinquebec said...

What a wonderful evening that must have been Leslie! Those red tissue pom poms would be beautiful under candle light!! Gorgeous. I think it is wonderful that you were able to share another Valentine's Day dinner with your friends in your home.I am going to have to scroll through your blog... has the house now sold?

michele said...

oh leslie, that evening sounds so enchanting. what a thoughtful tradition you have kept and so fun! hope your guy is on the mend and that the move is progressing with minimal drama.

cootie catchers! who can resist one!?!


Art and Sand said...

I get so excited when I see Gwen Moss at the top of my blogroll.

Your dinner party looked fabulous. I love the tradition with your special friends, sharing the cooking, and your beautiful Valentine gifts.

I know it must be hard knowing that soon you will be gone and I love how you are embracing each moment.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Oh what wonderful way to celebrate Valentine's Day! Your table is lovely and the food sounds delicious. But it's gathering with dear friends that is really just so special. So glad the event was at your house this year. ... And I think I need a refresher on how to make a cootie catcher!

Holly @ Down to Earth Style said...

Amazing photographs and how beautifully set is the at table!!! Eye candy galore!

simone antoniazzi said...

Oh Leslie, maybe it's the mood I'm in today but this post brought tears to my eyes! Everything looks SO pretty, I always love your table settings & I smiled as you described your friends, their dishes & the fun you had, how precious. No doubt they will be visiting your new home too Xx

Catherine Robinson said...

This looks and sounds WONDERFUL, Leslie...hope all goes well with your move...we are moving home next month too...exciting times :) xx

Carla from The River said...

Beautiful dinner and decorations. And wonderful story as you described your friends.
xx oo
Praying for you as you move.

Dayle Allen Shockley @ A Collection of Days said...

I didn't know they were called cootie catchers but that used to be one of my favorite things to make as a youngster. We filled ours with questions of love and answers of possibilities, all the things young girls are good at doing.

Love your table!

Mindie Hilton said...

Looks like a fabulous dinner party. So festive. I would love for you to join our party on Friday at Bacon Time.

Lori said...

So much of this post made me smile ~ the cootie catcher ~ wow ~ that brought back memories! What a great group of friends and I am so glad you had this at your place ~ another memory to add to the vault. You will just have to travel back for it next year. xo Hope Patrick is healing. xo

Jeanne Henriques said...

Leslie..this is wonderful...absolutely wonderful. That you have time to contemplate all of this with your move..amazing! What I love most of all is how much you enjoy it, your enthusiasm is contagious which explains so much about you. I imagine your friends adore and cherish the time they share with you. I also imagine this weighs on your mind as you contemplate your move. I hope you are not moving too far..

You were right about us both embarking on a new adventure. With your creative energy and spirit, I have a feeling you will make the very best of it!

Jeanne xx

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

What a lovely party, Leslie! Good friends, sharing a great time...everything looks perfect! LOVE the cootie catchers...I'm still smiling! You are blessed to have such wonderful friendships!

Jeanette@Creating A Life said...

What a lovely table, and so many pretty details! I love the sweet place card bags you created and those festive red tissue balls. I actually felt a pang of jealousy (not proud of that) reading about the traditions you've shared with a wonderful group of friends. That is such a gift, and I do know you acknowledge and appreciate that. How truly wonderful that you've made another happy memory together this Valentine's Day!


Heather Lindstrom said...

Ahhh Leslie-I always marvel at your creativity and energy. This beauty while selling your house? Bravo! Your evening sounded absolutely perfect-the friends, food and wine, ambiance and the laughter. These are the memories life is made of.
Thanks for sharing and for reminding me of cootie catchers ;).
xx, Heather

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