As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

"Celebrate Spring" Game Night

When I told you that I was hosting a game party this weekend, some of you asked for details. This is that post. (If you're not interested in all the details, feel free to click away! My feelings won't be hurt! Remember, my response to requests for details usually leans toward TMI. ) 

Photo by Bekah

In early February, I had talked with a few friends about getting together to play games, but so many Friday nights were already filled for one or another of us that we looked ahead to March. 

I chose March 21, the first full day of spring, and decided to let SPRING be our theme. I went to PicMonkey to design a simple invitation and sent it out to my guests via a Facebook group message. I suppose that is a very "21st century" way of inviting. Do you prefer a traditional handwritten invitation, or does an e-invite suffice?

Of course, I did not even notice until this afternoon that I had a typo in the invite! "Diinner?" Really? Yikes! 

As the day of the party drew nearer, I got a wee bit nervous. One thing that I have learned about hospitality is that it is easier the more you do it...and it had been a while since I had hosted a party for anyone other than family. So I kept reminding myself of the things that I had written in my 31-day series on hospitality. Things like this...

We must open our homes, and our lives, not to impress, but to bless.  

If my intention is to impress, then I will fret over the menu and worry that I am not a fabulous cook.  

If my intention is to impress, then I won't be able to invite them over until I get new living room furniture or have my carpet cleaned or move into a bigger house or have a collection of matching dishes.  

If my intention is to impress, then I must wait until my schedule allows plenty of time to make my house perfectly clean and I must wait until my children are older and there are no messes.  

But if my purpose for hospitality is to bless...oh my, well that sheds some new light on it, doesn't it?  

If my intention is to bless, then I will be more concerned with making my guests feel welcome than with an appearance of perfection.  

If my intention is to bless, then why would I worry if my toddler spills his milk or there are a few toys in the kitchen floor?  

If my intention is to bless, then I will swallow my pride, ignore my worn furniture, and open my doors.

If my intention is to bless, then I will take the time to reach out, even in small ways, to make someone feel wanted and loved.


By the day of the party, I was in party mode, excited to spend the day preparing for my guests, and looking forward to an evening of fellowship!

Decorations were simple. (Almost.) Since "spring" was the theme, I sprang off the invite design and went with a green and pink color scheme. I've been on a tulip kick, so I purchased a bunch of variegated pink tulips for a table centerpiece. I put them in a large mason jar and the tied jar with some pink jute. 

photo by Bekah

I stole Kati's asked Kati if I could use her sweet little bird salt and pepper shakers for an extra spring touch on the table.

photo by Kati

I had planned to use some bright green paper napkins, but when we were setting the table, I kept feeling "pink." And then I decided that I needed to have some flowers to decorate the island (which is where we were placing the hors d'oeuvres), so Kati and I dashed off to the grocery store to make some last minute purchases. We quickly found some potted pink tulips for the island, but the store did not have any pink napkins. We went to two nearby pharmacies to hunt for pink napkins in their party goods departments. No luck. Home we came, resigned to use the green napkins. Then Bekah went to my linen cabinet and came out with a package of...yep, pink napkins.  Sheesh.

photo by Kati

photo by Bekah

One of  my challenges for this particular party was meeting a wide variety of dietary needs! "Indecision about the menu" is one of my recurring challenges to hospitality, but this one really had me stumped. I have Kati who is on a strictly fat-free regimen pre-surgery. Another guest is also pre-surgery and is totally changing her eating habits. Another gal is doing a month of Whole30, and another has already done the Whole30 and is eating very healthy and natural. 

Hospitality is all about blessing and serving others, so I set out to find a way to have beautiful and yummy food to serve that would also meet the varied dietary requirements. 

Appetizers. Since appetizers are optional, I used a little leeway here. I served baguette slices and the bacon jam that I had made earlier this week. We also had butterfly crackers and cream cheese and Red Onion, Lemon, and Caper Marmalade. If you're thinking that the marmalade sounds like an odd combination of flavors, let me assure you that the ladies raved about it more than the bacon jam! (Check out Potlicker Kitchen for an assortment of artisan jams and jellies.)

photo by Bekah

Main course. A salad bar! The perfect way to accomodate everyone! We set up a bowl of organic mixed greens and another of organic spinach. Then we had small bowls of salad fixin's. Tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli. Sliced red onion, mushrooms, chick peas, black olives. Carrots, red pepper, shredded Parmesan, crumbled feta. Fat-free and regular croutons, bacon bits, sunflower seeds. A variety of dressings. Everyone found goodies to fill their plates!

Dessert. Again, variety was the key. I made a pound cake (no diet food there). One of my friends brought a large bowl of beautiful sliced fruit. We had fresh whipped cream and fat-free Cool Whip. Each lady could choose to eat cake or fruit or both, with or without topping. 

Although the guests all know one another and keeping the conversation flowing is not an issue ~smile~, I decided to direct the conversation during dinner. I asked everyone to share something that they were looking forward to this spring. It was lots of fun to hear each lady's answer (gardening, new job, daughter's college graduation, running a half marathon, and so on). We all learned more about each other, and it was a good way to offer opportunity for the quieter guests to have the floor for a turn. 

After dinner, we had dessert and coffee or tea. (We decided that games could wait until after dessert. You know the saying, "Life is uncertain; eat dessert first.")

We played the same games that we played last year, Catch Phrase and Apples to Apples

photo by Kati

It was such an enjoyable evening! Every time we host a gathering, we wonder why we don't do it more often. 

Hospitality is worth overcoming all of the challenges.


  1. What an encouraging post! I was waiting to see what you would serve because I have to admit everyone's various diets these days takes a lot of the fun out of going to the trouble of serving a meal. A salad bar is perfect. Everything looks beautiful, too.

  2. I can attest... the d├ęcor was perfect, the food was excellent, and the fellowship was wonderful. Laughing, sharing, and story-telling. What could be better?

  3. Looks like a great gathering and I'm sure your guests appreciated all your efforts!

  4. I am a happy recipient of this party planning! And Cheryl, I am ALWAYS impressed with your party hostessing. I always feel welcome and the dinner was indeed easy to flex and flow with [and delicious]

    I enjoyed the games so much more this year I think and the companionship of all was a wonderful evening.

  5. How lovely to treat your friends to such hospitality. I always think about your mantra--to bless not impress! Wise words indeed. Oh and your photography gene is passed to your daughters. Bekah and Kati are great photographers. ♥

  6. What a beautiful gathering all wearing sweet smiles. Looks as if the evening was a success!

  7. Everything looks and sounds perfect, Cheryl, the happy smiles says it all. Thanks for sharing.

  8. It sounds like everyone had a great evening. Thank you once again for the encouragement to offer hospitality even when situations or circumstances aren't ideal.

  9. You are an awesome hostess! All your little touches make it so special.

    What fun to share an evening with friends!


  10. That is such a good reminder about the blessing it is to have people into our homes.

  11. Just the right special touches! I'm sure EVERYone was blessed by your planning and hospitality.

  12. It looks like a wonderful way to kick off the spring season just right!

  13. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! I JUST this minute sent out the Facebook event inviting ladies in a 'Fun Gals Group' over for a Spring Gathering on April 5th! If we wait til we have 'our act together' we would never entertain at all!!
    Love the part on your blog post that explained the true meaning of hospitality!
    It all looked so lovely!!!!

  14. What a wonderful, lovely time! Thank you for sharing with us. I like your e-invites. It is the 21st century thing to do, and very practical. But I'm so glad you added your special touches of pretty papers and labels for your guests :) Happy Spring!

  15. What a great idea! And I love how you handled the food dilemma -- that is more and more of an issue these days. Thank you for the good reminder that hospitality is to bless, not to impress:)

  16. What a lovely evening! LOL about those pink napkins....who would've thought??!

  17. We talk about your last comments a lot. And yes, I do think we can get out of practice. Looks like a great, well planned evening with lots of food options for your guests and their eating "styles." I love pink and green. And oh yes, more and more invitations come electronically. I do miss it coming in the mail, but it is cost saving and as long as it can be cute and creative, such as yours, online is fine with me!

  18. Everything looks beautiful and the food sounds delicious(the fruit bowl looks wonderful)! In your first paragraph--what is "TMI"? Blessings, Sharon D.

  19. Sharon, TMI = too much information. I am accused of that occasionally. ;)

  20. Your comparisons of impress or bless clarify the subject nicely. Thank you for the encouragement.

    I like your salad buffet idea very much. Spring and salad seem to go together. Your table is elegance itself. So glad you found the pink napkins. When else, but with a group of feminine guests, can pink be put to such good use. And they compliment the beautiful tulips and happy faces of your friends.

    Karen A.


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