Winter can be incredibly drab and depressing in the Northeast - it's cold and snowy and generally unpleasant to be outside (unless you are a lover of winter sports... I'm not).
Valentine's Day provides a lovely break from the snow and the cold, the post holiday bills, and the long dark nights, and it's a wonderful opportunity to celebrate love and friendship. My husband and I have a special way of doing that.
We both love to dance and we enjoy fine dining, but we've always disliked going out to celebrate Valentine's Day. Our favorite restaurants pack in extra tables, offer a revised (and much less varied but more expensive) menu, and rush us through a marginal meal and out the door to make way for the next couple. Where's the fun in that?
Several years ago we started a tradition of inviting friends who love to dance in for a private dinner dance. We "hire" our college age son to be the waiter and DJ, and we host 2 or 3 other couples for a very fancy formal dinner and dance. Dress is evening attire, a suit or tux for the gentlemen and evening gowns for the ladies, plus flowers. Think "prom" for the over 50 crowd.
We decide on a menu as a group and each couple pitches in with the cooking. This year, the evening started with an assortment of gourmet cheeses and hot and cold appetizers in the living room in front of the fireplace. After some wonderful conversation, we moved across the room to the dining alcove where dinner began with an authentic Italian antipastos and fresh baked bread courtesy of friends whose origins are in Rome.
We followed that with a remarkable beef tenderloin, a variety of side dishes, and beverages for everyone's palate and culture, a dark merlot, the last bottle of Pino Grigio from our wedding, and some sparkling grape juice from Israel.... all this on fabulous china and crystal laid out on spectacular linens.
I've been collecting Haviland Limoges for years and I
set the table using pieces of this exquisite antique china in a variety of patterns, but all with pink roses. Adding pink candles and napkins pulled it all together. I arranged some small pink roses, fern, and baby's breath in a sugar bowl and creamer to make low but delicate floral table decorations.
I made Artist Trading Cards for place cards. I began by printing the names of our guests in a fancy script (Vivaldi). I used Versamark and Detail Gold embossing powder to stamp a spray of roses underneath each name. I watercolored the roses and then cut each name and rose spray with a plain oval Nestabilities die.
Using some luxurious papers from two different premium paper stacks by DCWV, I cut scalloped ovals in a green print to mat the names and then cut two additional layers of card stock in a pearl pink print and the same green to mount and mat the ovals. Before adhering the layers, I edged each with gold ink. After I assembled the cards, I added an organza bow and embellished them with sprigs of baby's breath.... truly "multimedia".
After dinner, we moved to our great room for dessert in dancing.
We had moved out the regular furniture and carpet and brought in two bistro tables from our garden furniture storage shed. They were the perfect size at which to enjoy Waldorf Cake (Red Velvet Cake) and Tiramisu and cappuccino. The remainder of the evening was spent dancing to all of our favorite music and sharing pleasant conversation.
Consider hosting a formal "dress-up" event for a few friends. (Who doesn't like to get all dressed up?!) It's an economical way to have a million dollar evening. With formal attire, corsages and boutonnieres, it was like being at our own "mini prom".