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Meet One of My Party Planning Heros, Kelly Welk!

I am SO excited to introduce you to my friend Kelly today! Kelly is a PNW mom of 3 and the owner of  the beautiful home and blog, Cider Press Lane. One fateful day, she attended a gathering for local nonprofit, Rescue: Freedom International, and learned about the reality of of human trafficking. She felt very strongly about making a difference with this cause, and decided to host a dinner party to raise funds to fight human trafficking. All of a sudden, Freedom Dinners, and her business blossomed and she is now a strong advocate and ally for Rescue: Freedom International.

In this episode, Kelly shares her best tips and tricks for hosting beautiful and unique dinner parties…but in a realistic way for the busy mamas listening! She discusses how she’s used her natural gifts for hostessing and entertaining-something she’s already doing in her everyday life, to create a business that actually makes a difference in the world.

 

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Much like me, Kelly loves to host. She has always been the house that entertains and has people gathered around the table. It’s something she enjoys and is comfortable doing. By turning those gifts into something meaningful, like hosting a dinner party for a cause she felt strongly about, she felt like she was turning something frivolous into something incredible impactful. She found a lot of meaning and validation in those talents of hers after seeing the impact the dinner parties were making. How cool is that?

What is a Freedom Dinner? 

Freedom Dinners are a totally volunteer-run dinner party, with almost every piece of the party donated. Produce from the local community members, table decor from local artists or handletters, fish that neighbors caught, etc. If community members or volunteers can’t donate food or tabletop items, then they volunteer their time in setting up, dishes, food prep, clean up, etc. This allows Kelly to give all of the proceeds to Rescue: Freedom International.

If you buy a ticket, you get to attend a gorgeous dinner party hosted by Kelly, enjoy a delicious meal at a beautiful table with your community, and know that your money is going to an organization that is helping someone drastically change their life. You can find all of the information on upcoming Freeom Dinners on Kelly’s website!

Not in the Seattle area? No worries! Kelly has you covered! If you subscribe to her email list, she emails you a guide outlining how to host a Freedom Dinner for yourself! Not to mention it’s filled with great tips for entertaining and creating a beautiful space to invite people over! How amazing would it be to invite your friends over for a dinner party where you all work together to create it and raise some money for a great organization! 

Kelly’s Dinner Party Tips for Hosts

How do you think of different themes each time?

Start with what you already have. Her goal is not having to buy anything and repurposing so she can donate the most money, but it’s one of my favorite budget tips as well. Use linens, dishes, candles, etc. that you already have- mix and match is totally fine and also cute!

Start with one piece and build from that. If you love a certain runner, dish, or even flower color combo, use that and build your decor from there. Also, think about what is in season. What’s the lighting going to be like? What natural resources do you have available to you? What fruits/veggies are available and in season at great prices?

Another great tip from Kelly is to have a place card for guests. There is nothing more awkward than guests going up to a table and not knowing where they should sit. Have a place card for them so they can have a home, grab their glass, and get to mingling. Kelly has some other ideas for taking the awkward out of the dinner party here also!

Kelly is also a big fan of using colored candles to bring color to the table. This is often so overlooked and people almost always go to white candles, so I loved this tip! Make sure they are unscented though so you don’t take away from the delicious food!

Menu Planning 

First, think of the seasons and what is going to be the most flavorful, but also pay attention to the various food aversions people have today. Kelly suggests not serving dishes that have a lot of mixed food groups (i.e. casseroles) so someone can eat most everything on the table. Have a meat option, a veggie, salad, bread. It sounds basic, but it allows people to eat the majority of the meal without worrying if they can eat it or not.

Decide what you want your main dish to be first and then build off that. The host should make the main dish because it’s usually the hardest/longest to make and transfer.

Delegation

Kelly and I have very similar views on delegation, and this is something I talk about a lot, so I loved the validation from her! The gist- you are hosting, you are in charge. You get to set the menu and you get to tell people what you’d like them to bring.

People appreciate you telling them what to do and it’s a win for all. You get to have a dinner party with a cohesive meal plan and know what people will show up with and your guests don’t have to wander around the store wasting their time thinking of something to bring. Being crystal clear takes the stress off all parties, and no one is going to think you are bossy. They are going to thank you for being direct and taking something off their plate!

I got messages from people constantly about parties being overwhelming and expensive. One of the quickest ways to beat that overwhelm…and cut costs is to ask for help a delegate. You don’t need to do everything, no one expects you to. It’s impossible because it’s WAY too time consuming an expensive! So Kelly and I are both giving you permission to take a breath and delegate away!

Top Hosting Items 

Kelly is an eclectic fan because matching is hard to have enough of everything- and it gets expensive!

Cake plates- all different styles is a great place to start your collection. They pair well with serving trays and bring height and interest to the table. 

Candlesticks- another way to add height- look for ones with a base or cup to catch the wax drips!

Muslim napkins- basic colors or just get a swatch of muslin at the fabric store and rip napkins from that! What a great, easy, and inexpensive tip! You can buy neutral or get colored to add a pop of color!

Different sized serving bowls and trays- don’t worry about matching! Not being matchy-match is interesting to the eye and makes your table look unique each time! Not matching also helps with asking to borrow items from friends and family members too- saves money also, bonus!

Setting the Table

Start in the middle! Get the table runner, candlesticks, flowers set first. Then you can add the plates, silverware and glasses down. Think about leaving space for the food dishes to be passed around family style also. I lay out the empty platters on the table when setting it because I’m very visual. It’s hard for me to be able to gauge how much space they’ll take up, so I lay it all out as a trial run, then often take a picture so I know exactly what I want it to look come party day!

Glass waterbottles or wine bottles on the table are great to have as an easy grab too! Get glass bottles at Ikea or even at the grocery store- they’re often filled with lemonade, but once that’s done, take the label off and you’ve got a beautiful bottle!

Have the whole table set before guests arrive, then they can go find their spot, grab their glass for wine, and mingle. Having the table set makes it look full and ready rather than having glasses be in a separate beverage area.

When it comes to flowers, remember to always get flowers that fall below the line of sight. There’s nothing worse than flowers that block the people in front of you making it so you can’t talk! Put your elbow on the table and arm up (arm wrestle stance) and that’s where the flowers should hit. If flowers go above your knuckles, they are too tall!

Keeping it Real- How This Works for the Busy Mamas Out There!

Kelly has an absolutely gorgeous book called Dinner Changes Everything. In the book she outlines menu plans, has all her tips for timing and easy prep, and givces you the ultimate blueprint for hosting a dinner party!

Her number on tip? The attitude you set for guests if the most important. How you feel when they arrive is what matters. If you are stressed or frazzled about the food, timing, etc. they pick up and feel that. No one cares about the perfect food or tablescape, they are just thrilled you are inviting them into your home. Give yourself the time you need. Prep as much as you can ahead of time, cook something you know how to cook, and ask for help. 

Go connect with Kelly and say Hi!

Website and Shop: Cider Press Lane

Instagram: Kelly and Cider Press Lane

Facebook

Tickets to the Next Freedom Dinner!

Kelly’s Books: Dinner Changes Everything and Dream Catcher

Please SUBSCRIBE to the show, SHARE with your friends, and leave a REVIEW! This helps get the show in front of even more mamas, and allows me to get awesome guests who are going to blow your mind!

Head on over to my free Facebook group, Memories in Moments Insiders! There you’ll find additional resources to support each episode, more information on guests and how you can connect with them, visual and video tutorials, and best of all, connection as we navigate parenting and making memories together!

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SHOW SPONSOR

It’s finally here! My Ultimate Busy Mom’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving This Summer!

This guide has everything you need to make cherished memories with your kids this summer while still tackling your to-do list and not playing cruise director for months. Looking for the answer to having the most memorable, productive, and fun summer of your parenting life thus far?

Click here and download your guide!

 

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